Posts Tagged breakfast

VeganMoFo: One Feast to Rule Them All

VeganMoFo 2013 has come to an end!  I didn’t reach my goal of posting every weekday, but I did make 19 posts which is great considering how sporadic my blogging has been the past two years.

Dave and I are kind of nerds when it comes to how much we like watching movies.  We’ve been talking for a while about holding a Harry Potter marathon, where we watch all the movies in one day back to back.  This would take about twenty hours and we’d like to wait until the weather is cooler, so as a test run we decided to have a Lord of the Rings marathon with a few friends.  We originally intended to just make a bunch of easy food that we could eat all day in order to relax, but of course I had to get all intense about it and decided that we’d eat the way hobbits do, which is many, many meals a day!

“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).”  The Fellowship of the Ring, Prologue, J.R.R. Tolkien

In the movies it’s seven meals.  I thought we wouldn’t need supper and dinner after a full day of eating and lazing, so we stuck with six.  I found this post incredibly useful in planning the timing of the movies and meals, and this fan fiction post on meal etiquette helped us figure out what to actually serve for each meal.  In the interest of not being in the kitchen all day, we chose a lot of foods that could be made ahead of time and reheated or served cold.

Here’s the schedule we aimed for, although everything ended up running a little later.  We let the credits roll for bathroom and fresh air breaks, and only took real breaks for lunch and supper so that we could eat at the dining table.

8:30 – The Fellowship of the Ring
noon – The Two Towers
4:00 – The Return of the King

8:30 – Breakfast
9:45 – Second Breakfast
11:15 -Elevenses
1:00 – Lunch
3:45 – Afternoon Tea
6:00 – Supper

Our friends brought over their super awesome Salvation Army find, two authentic Lord of the Rings goblets!  The Arwen glass held my OJ, and later, beer.

Breakfast was Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal from Chocolate Covered Katie, baked in muffin cups for easy serving.  Rather than frosting, I thought Stewed Apples would be a nice, light topping to start with.  I wasn’t sure how the healthy, vegan baked oatmeal would go over, but everyone seemed to like it!

For Second Breakfast, Dave made everyone else egg and cheese casserole and sausages, so here is my version.  I made a variation of the Shiitake Dill Frittata from Vegan Brunch, swapping the shiitakes out for criminis, subbing chives, parsley and tarragon for the dill, and adding Daiya cheddar shreds.  The sausages are Vegan Dad’s Breakfast Sausages, which I like very much and now have a freezer full of.  The toast was made from a country style wheat loaf, with boysenberry jam.

You know we had to have some Lembas bread for Elevenses!  I veganized this recipe, adding some almond extract and chopped toasted almonds, since my extensive internet research suggested it was a good idea.  It turned out a little dry and plain, but good enough to eat, which was kind of exactly the point.  We also served Earl Grey tea and non-vegan chocolate biscuits.

Lunch was a picnicky affair, a build-your-own-plate type of meal.  In the Lazy Susan is heirloom tomatoes, canned beet slices, olives, marinated mushrooms, dill pickles, and two types of mustard.  Accompanied by potato salad with mustard vinaigrette, Black Forest Rye bread, and a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  Dave and our guests also had a platter of cold cuts and cheeses.

I had open-faced sandwiches with Tofurky roast beef slices and Daiya swiss.  I really enjoyed this meal, there were lots of different flavors and the dressings on the salads were very tasty.  It was very filling while still feeling light.

Etiquette dictated that we serve something sweet after lunch but we didn’t want it to be heavy since we still had one and a half movies and two meals to get through.  These fresh strawberries were nice with cool whipped coconut cream.

Afternoon Tea was a particularly special affair with a real life fancy tea set purchased last minute from Goodwill.

Tea sandwiches and scones seemed like the only appropriate food for high tea!  Dave wasn’t sold on the tea sandwiches, but they turned out really well – cucumber and Tofutti cream cheese or radishes and Earth Balance on white bread.  They would’ve been perfect if I had sprinkled on a bit of salt while assembling.

The scones were lemon poppyseed, adapted from my scone recipe and cut into mini scones.  I added lemon zest, subbed fresh lemon juice for some of the liquid, and used baking soda in place of some of the baking powder.

None of us were hungry when it came time for dinner, but we forged ahead in the name of The King!

Dinner started with vegetable barley soup that had been simmering all day, and actually simmered a bit too long.  It tasted good but the vegetables were definitely overcooked.

The main course was chicken (Gardein for me), mushrooms slow cooked in garlic and white wine, braised cabbage and kale, roasted root vegetables, and corn on the cob.

For dessert, I made a warm Blueberry-Blackberry Tart served with vanilla ice cream.  The crust turned out a little tough, but that was probably my fault.  I’m not that great with pie crust.  The filling was really good though, and it was a nice end to our gluttonous day.

Yes, we ate all that food in one day!  We finally finished the last disc after 10PM, and everyone pretty much went straight to bed.  It was actually exhausting watching movies all day.  I have to say that watching them all in a row made me appreciate them even more, including appreciation for my crush on Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn…

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VeganMoFO: Christmas in Central Texas

In what has seemed to become my unofficial theme for VeganMoFo 2013, here is another post about something that happened last year!

My brother was stationed at Fort Hood mid-last year and so he, my sister-in-law, and their baby Josie moved to Killeen, Texas.  My family decided to meet there for Christmas so they wouldn’t have to travel, and my mom found Weatherstone cabin bed and breakfast in the nearby town of Salado, which had the perfect amount of space for all six of us.

Flights into Killeen were super expensive, so I flew into Austin and rented a car instead.  I was hoping we would be able to work in a day trip to Austin but knew with the baby it might be difficult, so I wanted to choose a restaurant for a late lunch after landing.  It was really hard to choose one place from all the awesome-looking vegan food in Austin!

In the end I went with Wheatsville Coop, first because I had heard the tales of their popcorn tofu, and second because I wasn’t sure what would be available food-wise at the cabin or in Salado, so I wanted to pick up a few supplies.

The Buffalo Popcorn Hero was really tempting, but I stuck with the classic Popcorn Tofu Po’boy, which comes with cashew tamari and fresh veggies.  I also picked up a kale and beet salad, mac and cheese from the hot bar, an oatmeal cream pie, and a Blue Sky Jamaican Ginger Ale.

The sandwich was good; the tofu was firm and chewy and made great little fried nuggets.  The salad was really nice, a good mixture of sweet and tangy.  The mac was saucy, warm, and cheesy.  The oatmeal cream pie was a good simulation of the Little Debbie classic; the cookies were chewy and had a strong brown sugar flavor.

Full, happy, and tired, I made the drive to Salado, where I met my baby niece for the first time.

That night we hung around the cabin, ordering pizza delivery for dinner.  I wasn’t very hungry after my big late lunch, so I just asked for a double side salad.  What I didn’t realize is that apparently they put shredded cheese on side salads at a lot of places in the area.  (This began a trend I saw throughout my few days there.)  I just picked the cheese off as best I could.

We chose 9AM as our breakfast time, and being on west coast time and in vacation mode, I slept right up until then (as I did the next two mornings).  Our host Kay had already been hard at work and had everything ready.  My mom had let them know about my diet when booking the rooms and they had said they could accommodate me, but I still had no idea what to expect.

Fresh fruit on a pretty plate is always a good way to start.

While the rest of my family was served an egg casserole, I got my own little plate of veggie sausage patties and bread which had been toasted in margarine.  Kay picks up the bread, which was delicious, from a local bakery.  She also had coffee brewed and offered refills while we ate, in addition to seconds on anything.  She had soy milk for me to use in my coffee, and the cabin was stocked with bottled water, soda, tea, and a few snacks.

We didn’t really have an agenda for the day, so I spent some time taking in the cute Texas decor.  We also got a tour of the barn out back, which they rent out for events.

my brother Tate and seven month old Josie

my parents and Kay

We eventually headed out and walked down Main Street, which is lined with antique shops and all sorts of cute little stores.  We ended up at Adelea’s on Main for lunch, which Kay had recommended.  I forgot to take a picture of my meal, but not because it wasn’t good!

They didn’t have anything vegan on the menu but I noticed that hummus was available as an appetizer special, and there was a veggie wrap that usually came with black beans and artichoke dip.  I asked our waiter if they could sub hummus for the dip on the wrap and he seemed a little flummoxed by my request, but immediately offered to ask the chef and returned with a positive answer.  Despite being a kind of random gathering of ingredients, the wrap was very tasty and nicely grilled, and it came with their freshly made kettle chips.

On the walk back to the cabin we came across Salado Creek Winery.  I was not expecting to see a winery in this tiny town!  My mom and I popped in for a tasting.  Their wines definitely have personality; for example, the Cowpuncher Cabernet.  I do not advocate punching cows though, and I don’t believe they do either :)

I first tried their “Vaquero” Shiraz/Tempranillo Blend, which I like so much that I bought a bottle to bring home.  Shiraz is my favorite wine, and this was a lighter, tangier spin on it.

I also tried the Brown Chicken Brown Cow, a sweet shiraz flavored with chocolate.  The winery’s website says “As far as we know the only ‘chocolate’ wine made in Texas!”.  It was definitely good, but incredibly rich.  A few ounces went a long way.

For dinner that night we headed to Johnny’s Steaks & BBQ, another local restaurant which had been recommended.  It’s the type of joint that puts meat in all the side dishes, so I went for the ol’ side salad and french fries dinner.  The point of being there was to spend time with family, so as long as I got some calories in my belly it was alright.  Josie didn’t want to sit in the high chair, so we took turns holding her and walking around the restaurant, while she made friends with all the other guests.

After we got back I sampled the Red Rabbit Bakery donut holes I had bought at Wheatsville.  They were a little dry, but to be fair it had probably been a few days since they were made at that point.  I liked the flavor.  My brother did not, but my brother is picky.

The next morning, breakfast for the family was french toast, and for me it was waffles piled high with fruit, and veggie sausage links.  The waffles were also gluten free, as Kay was looking to expand her resources for special diets, and they were quite good.

That day we headed out to the Round Rock Premium Outlets for some shopping action.  We took a break for lunch at the food court, which didn’t seem too promising.  I did find Phil’s Philly Grill which had a veggie philly on the menu, so I asked for that without cheese plus a side salad.  Again, the side salad came with unadvertised cheese which I had to pick off.  I also snagged a few of my brother’s curly fries.

After more shopping and the drive back a few of us weren’t feeling so well, so we decided to stay in and take it easy that night.  We were going to call for pizza again, when after searching around I randomly found that the burger place down the road was advertising a vegan veggie burger, actually using the word vegan!  That was a surprise for such a small town.  My mom and I headed to Old Fashioned Burgers and Ice-Cream and placed our order with the one lady working there, who promptly started working hard to make all the food.  I think she may have buttered all the buns but I didn’t say anything since she was clearly busting it to get the food done.

The burger was pretty tasty, and we shared a big order of fries too.

The next morning we were greeted with a gigantic platter of fruit.  I don’t know where Kay was buying the produce, but she managed to find good melons and berries in Texas in December.

The highlight of the fruit was the sugared bananas.  She just rolled sliced bananas in cinnamon sugar, and the sugar takes on the moisture from the bananas and makes something like a glaze.  Delicious.

My main dish was hash browns, veggie bacon, and biscuits made with margarine.

That day we ventured to my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Killeen to check it out, watch football, and for them to get a workout in.  They’re very serious about weight training and power lifting – no breaks on vacation!  For lunch we headed to Red Onion India Bistro, which I was very excited about, only to find that they were closed on Sundays.  Sad Face.  There was a McAlister’s Deli next door, a suitable second choice.

I went for the Spud Ole with veggie chili and jalapenos (no cheese).  I used to go to McAlister’s a lot in Florida, so this was a fun trip down memory lane, as well as a filling meal.

That afternoon, Tate gave us a tour around Fort Hood.  I had never been on a military base, so it was a really interesting experience.  I didn’t realize that some bases are open to the public; Fort Hood has a visitor’s center and two museums.  It’s a lot like a college campus, there are offices, barracks, sports fields and training grounds, as well as business like gas stations, restaurants, and the commissary.

This was the last vehicle out of Iraq after the US withdrew.  Very cool to see.

I’m not sure if you can tell the scale of this helicopter, but it is massive.  Its job is to pick up and move other vehicles and equipment.

For dinner, we went to Texas Roadhouse.  I had a side salad with a dressing off of the “light” menu, a baked sweet potato, and a vegetable skewer.  Not bad for a vegan steakhouse meal.

The next morning I was up early, saying goodbye and driving back to the Austin airport.  I’ll remember this trip as a lot of things:  meeting my niece for the first time, spending time in a cute little Texas town, and eating a lot of potatoes.  A lot.

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VeganMoFo: One Day in NYC

Last October I got a last minute opportunity to go to New York City for two nights for a work trip.  I’d been to/through Manhattan a few times but never really had the chance to spend time there and explore, so I jumped at the chance and immediately started researching places to eat.  Food was, of course, the main attraction for me.  My workplace was paying for the flights and two nights at the Hilton Midtown.  I couldn’t afford to pay for another night on my own, so I decided to take a red eye in order to have a whole day to myself before I had to begin work functions.  Red eyes are always a better idea when booking than when actually taking them; I have a hard time sleeping on planes and get pretty wiped out.  But, it was too good of a deal to pass up!

My plan was:
breakfast – Cinnamon Snail
lunch – Candle Cafe
afternoon – Champs for Dun Well donuts or Bagel Store to pick up food for breakfast to bring back
dinner – pizza from Vinnie’s, beers at Brooklyn Brewery
dinner #2 (depending on tiredness/stomach capacity) – Beyond Sushi, Lula’s

When I discovered that Cinnamon Snail’s Friday location was a 15 minute walk from the hotel, my decision for breakfast was easy.  After landing at La Guardia at 9AM, cabbing it to the hotel, and checking in to my room which was surprisingly ready already, I headed to the truck that I had heard so much about.  The weather was overcast and drizzling, but I did not care.

I was absolutely starving and wanted one of the breakfast platters, and opted for the 200 Year Old Frog Man Breakfast Jamboree – maple pecan waffles with cardamom butter, candied pecans & Vermont maple syrup. Served with scrambled tofu, chipotle grilled seitan, and spicy French mustard greens.  I also got coffee, and a donut to enjoy later.  It was really hard to choose from the bakery case, everything looked amazing!

There was nowhere to sit near the truck, so I walked to the nearest park, Bryant Park, which I knew or from watching Project Runway.

This warm meal was perfect to fill my belly on a chilly, dreary morning.  The waffle was incredibly sweet, and incredibly good.  The spiced butter and maple syrup ran into the crevices, and the candied pecans were a nice crunchy contrast.  The greens were pretty bitter (and I like my greens bitter), but good when eaten next to the waffle.  The tofu scramble was standard; I do remember that it had some good herbs in it.  The seitan wasn’t my favorite.  The seasoning was good, but it was a little chewy.  I was plenty full from everything else though!

The next item on my agenda was lunch, so I needed to kill some time.  I checked out Parson’s (also of Project Runway fame) just because it was close by.

I walked through Times Square just to say I saw it, then hung out in the MOMA store for a while, to warm up and buy some Christmas presents.  (They have a great selection of super cute kids books.)

I also stopped by FAO Schwartz to see the piano from Big!  Around lunchtime I was just starting to feel a little hungry, so I started the walk up to Candle Cafe Upper East Side, about a half hour by foot.

The restaurant was pretty full, so I took a stool at the end of the bar, right by the smoothie supplies.

I started with a Green Goddess juice – mixed greens, apple, lemon and ginger.

The sandwiches and daily specials all sounded good, but I was overtired and starting to not feel so hot, so I stuck with the Good Food Plate, where you choose four sides and two sauces.  I went with steamed greens, mac & cheese, grilled tempeh, quinoa pilaf, and tahini and carrot ginger dressings.  The greens and quinoa pilaf were pretty plain, which made them perfect for mixing with the sauces.  The tempeh was well marinated and had a great grilled flavor.  I honestly didn’t love the mac & cheese.  It wasn’t bad, but just wasn’t very flavorful.

I really enjoyed my lunch at Candle Cafe.  The service was quick and friendly, and the people watching was great.  I was dead on my feet for the walk back…so, so tired.  I knew that taking a nap would force me to skip a planned destination or two, but I needed sleep more than anything else at that point.

I woke up after a few hours feeling much better, and recharged with the Cherry Chocolate Pretzel Party donut that I had bought from Cinnamon Snail.  This treat was definitely a party!  Possibly a party with too much going on.  I liked the donut okay, but wished I had stuck with a more classic flavor that I might have enjoyed more.

With that, I ventured over to Brooklyn, taking the NYC subway for the first time ever.  It’s a little confusing if you don’t know exactly where you’re trying to go!  I eventually got on the right train and managed to get off at the right stop, just over the Williamsburg Bridge.  My first stop was The Bagel Store.  I wouldn’t have much time for breakfast the next two mornings, nor were there any appealing options at the hotel, so I picked up some supplies to take back.  The Bagel Store was very cool.  They had all the typical flavors plus some seasonal options, and multiple flavors of tofu-based cream cheese!

From there, I headed to Vinnie’s Pizzeria.

this guy stepped out to instruct his dog just as I was taking a photo

When I first went into Vinnie’s I thought I was in the wrong place, and actually went back outside.  Although I had done my research beforehand, I didn’t see anything about vegan options anywhere.  Plus I think I was a little intimidated by the hipster vibe.  I went back in and found the section of the menu board I had missed, stating that they had vegan slices!  I should’ve taken a picture of the selection.  The guy behind the counter was really nice, and listed out all the vegan flavors for me to choose.  I took my pizza to go, so that I could enjoy it at Brooklyn Brewery.

I was a little sketched out by walking by myself at night, and very happy to turn the corner and see the big Brooklyn logo!

I bought some tokens, got a beer, and dug into the pizza.  I went with an eggplant parmesan slice and a bbq chicken slice, and they were both outstanding.  The crust was crispy even after walking ten minutes, and all the toppings were very flavorful.  They did have the Vegan Mac Attack available (topped with macaroni, ground beef, two cheeses and hot sauce), but I skipped it since I’d had mac with lunch.

As for the beer, it was great.  We used to drink Brooklyn Lager pretty often when we lived in Florida and can’t get it in California, so it’s a treat whenever we can have it.  The brewery is really cool place, it’s a big industrial style room with long picnic tables.  Groups of people were having lively discussions or playing games.  I didn’t mind being there by myself, I sipped my beers while reading a local paper and playing on my phone, and listening to conversations.  After a few beers I was getting really tired, so I gave away my last token and headed back to the hotel.  Despite wanting to go to Lula’s reeeally bad, there was no way I was doing anything else that night.

I had planned to rise early the next morning and run in Central Park, but that did not happen.  I was still on west coast time, and got up just in time to get ready and eat breakfast.

I sliced open the everything bagel from The Bagel Store with a plastic knife and spread on the jalapeno tofu cream cheese, and it was SO GOOD you guys.  I know everyone thinks it’s a joke when people say “New York bagels are better”, but they really are.  I can’t even explain why it was so good, but it was dense and chewy and crispy and light all at the same time, and the jalapeno cream cheese was the perfect complement.  I didn’t really take into account that the whole reason I was there was to talk to people all day…I chewed a lot of gum…

I had to be at my table from 10 to 3, and could only sneak away for 15 minutes and eat what they had available for lunch, which was a plain green salad and a sad veggie sandwich with the cheese taken off.  It was at least enough to get me through the day, along with a good amount of coffee and sparkling water.

After the forum was over I had to pack up and move hotels, since the hotel I was at was booked full for the second night.  The new hotel was right by Koreatown and I needed a quick early dinner before heading out to meet friends, so I checked out Woorijip.

It’s a buffet style, not vegetarian but offering plenty of vegetarian options.  Clockwise from bottom left: rice noodles with kimchi, greens, mung bean sprouts, bok choy and eggplant, seaweed salad, inari, veggie sushi, and tofu with vegetables.

That evening I went to watch the Gator game at a bar in Tribeca (whose name I can’t remember), which was surprisingly filled with fellow Gators!  After taking the subway back it was pretty late, and I needed to pack.  Believe it or not, I was hungry again, so I sought out anything nearby and found there was a Whole Foods a few blocks away that was still open.

Veggie wrap, salad roll with peanut sauce, Sweet & Sara S’more, and a beer.  Good packing fuel.

After a few hours of sleep I was up and getting ready to leave.  I enjoyed the last of my New York food, a pumpkin spice bagel also from The Bagel Store.  It was moist enough to eat on its own, with a cinnamon sugar topping.  A perfect way to end the trip!  I really enjoyed my short time in New York, and would love to go back sometime soon.  Beyond Sushi is at the top of my wish list for next time.

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VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Rosemary

My Flavor Bible ingredient for today is rosemary, from page 293.  I’m not the biggest rosemary fan (I’d rather have thyme or cilantro any day), but I will easily admit that fresh rosemary has its place in the world.  The flavor matches I picked out were apples, baked goods and cream cheese.  You got it – I made a baked good with rosemary, apples and cream cheese.

I’m not sure why I chose scones, but I think the biscuity texture went really well with the apples and rosemary, kind of skirting the line between a sweet treat and a savory bread.  These were a little bit of work to put together, but worth it, in my opinion.  The cream cheese is a special surprise on the inside; if you don’t want to bother, just skip that step!

I used some spelt flour in combination with all purpose because I thought the nutty flavor would go well with the rest of the ingredients.  I was worried about overworking the dough, as can happen with scones, but the consistency turned out great.  They’re soft and a bit crumbly but not heavy or too moist, and you get sweetness from the apples without adding very much sugar to the mix.  The rosemary turns into a background flavor, lacing an herbiness throughout.  One of these babies was hefty enough to stand in as my dinner one night, along with a banana and some carrot pickles.

Cream Cheese-Stuffed Spelt, Apple and Rosemary Scones

2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Earth Balance, cold
6-8 Tbs soy creamer
4 Tbs vegan cream cheese

1. Heat a small pot over medium heat.  Add the apples, rosemary and a pinch of salt and saute 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened.  Add a splash of water if the pan gets too dry.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
2. Preheat the oven to 400F.
3. Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the Earth Balance using a pastry cutter until there are no large pieces and the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in 6 Tbs creamer, just until the flour mixture is moistened.  Add more soy creamer by the tablespoonful, if needed, just until the mixture comes together.  It is okay if there is a little unincorporated flour as long as the mixture holds when pressed together.
4. Gently fold in the apple mixture.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll in the flour to coat.  With floured hands, knead gently 8times.  Add more flour to prevent sticking as needed.
6. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch-thick circle.  Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter dipped in flour to cut as many circles as possible.  Move six of the circles to an parchment-lined baking sheet, and place a rounded teaspoonful of cream cheese on each circle.  Gather the dough scraps together, pat to 1/2 inch-thick, and cut more circles.  You want to have 12 total.  Place six rounds on top of the rounds on the baking sheet and press lightly around the edges to seal.
7. If the dough gets warm while you’re working with it, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to chill.
8. Brush the top of each scone with soy creamer and press a small rosemary sprig on top.
9. Bake 15-18 minutes, until the scones are turning golden and the tops don’t give in to the touch.  Immediately remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Serve warm.

Yields:  6 scones

Amount Per Serving
Calories 299.81
Calories From Fat (40%) 118.43
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13.06g 20%
Saturated Fat 3.89g 19%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 555.5mg 23%
Potassium 145.35mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 42.63g 14%
Fiber 3.9g 16%
Sugar 14.18g
Protein 4.68g 9%

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All-In-One Scramble

My breakfasts are pretty typical, whatever I’m in the mood for and can throw together in a few minutes – cereal, overnight oats, smoothies, grits or frozen waffles if I’m feeling indulgent.  Every once in a while I get the itch to make a hearty breakfast dish that I can easily reheat throughout the week, and I usually turn to tofu scramble.  Scrambles are good in a wrap or served alongside an English muffin, but this time I wanted to put everything into one pan for an even easier breakfast.  This skillet dish has plenty of protein, a little fat, veggies and carby satisfaction from some potato.

(I can’t take credit for the idea of combining tofu and tempeh.  I was inspired after reading Vegan Crunk’s review of Blissful Bites, which included a Curry Chickenless Salad made of both tofu and tempeh.)

All-In-One Scramble

If you don’t have kala namak, regular salt is fine.  Kala namak provides an eggy flavor.

8 oz tempeh, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs coconut oil
medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
medium russet potato, shredded and patted dry
bunch kale, rinsed but not dried, stemmed and torn into small pieces
large carrot, shredded
14 oz firm tofu, patted dry and torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
3/4 tsp kala namak (black salt)
a few dashes black pepper
2 1/2 oz shredded vegan cheddar, such as Vegan Gourmet (optional)

1. Steam the tempeh and mushrooms for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a wide pan over medium heat.  Add the oil and onions and saute for five minutes, until translucent and slightly browned.
3. Add the garlic, thyme and parsley and saute 30 seconds.
4. Add the potatoes, mix well and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir, scraping up the bottom, then cook for 3 more minutes.
5. Turn the heat up to medium-high.  Add the kale and carrots and stir.  If the kale was fairly dry, add a splash of water.  Cover and cook 5 minutes.
6. Add the tofu and mix, scraping up the bottom of the pan.  Cook for a few minutes, until the tofu is heated through.  Turn the heat down to medium.
7. Mix together all remaining ingredients other than the cheese (nutritional yeast through black pepper).  Add this mixture and the cheese to the pan and mix well. Heat until the cheese is melty.  Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Servings: 4-5

Nutrition Facts for 5 servings

Calories 348.78
Calories From Fat (40%) 138.78
Total Fat 16.27g 25%
Saturated Fat 4.44g 22%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 175.15mg 7%
Potassium 968.55mg 28%
Total Carbohydrates 32.08g 11%
Fiber 7.27g 29%
Sugar 3.06g
Protein 25.75g 52%

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Good Times in Gainesville

Back in June, I traveled to Gainesville to attend a wedding and hang with some old friends.  The groom was my old band mate, and rather than a rehearsal dinner, he wanted to get the band back together.  Between family, friends, wedding guests and old fans who were still in town, we were expecting a sold out show!  We hadn’t played together in years and needed a few practices before we were ready to play, so I arrived a few days early and ended up spending four nights in town.  I hit some of my favorite food spots, and tried some new ones too.

I got into town on Wednesday night and met a few friends at Reggae Shack Cafe.

I like a lot of their vegetarian dishes, and this time I went with the Vegan Steak – handmade seitan simmered in a sweet Carribean sauce with vegetables.  The dish came with cabbage, rice and beans, and fried plantains.  I love this sauce; it’s sweet, savory and spicy.

Festivals, which are like sweet fried hush puppies.  Not very good for you, but they’re so tasty that I order them every time.

I didn’t even know Red Stripe Light existed!

On my way to visit my parents the next morning, I stopped at my absolute favorite coffee shop in Gainesville, Coffee Culture.

Vanilla soy latte.  None of the baked goods were vegan, but the guy at the counter said that they were planning to open their own bakery soon, and would have vegan options in the future.

Needing some solid fuel, I stopped by Bagels & Noodles on University Avenue.  This place used to be called Bagels Unlimited, but it seems they’ve made the odd move of also serving noodles for lunch and dinner.  Regardless, this whole wheat bagel with hummus and lettuce was exactly what I wanted.  The bagel was toasted and chewy, the hummus was garlicky and warm, and the lettuce added the perfect crunch.

Still fairly full from the bagel, I met my parents for lunch in Ocala.  Our go-to restaurant in Ocala is Amrit Palace, but my mom had heard of another Indian restaurant getting good reviews, so we gave that a try instead.

Bay Leaf Indian Restaurant has a buffet for lunch and a full menu for dinner.  After confirming that some of the buffet items were vegan, we sat down and helped ourselves.  I got veggie pakoras, mint chutney, rice, dal, potatoes and peas and tamarind chutney.  The dishes were well spiced and slightly spicy, and very delicious.

Coming back to Gainesville, I was in a rush to grab some food before our scheduled practice, so I grabbed take out from my very favorite falafel place, Gyro Plus.

Bad lighting, delicious pita – falafel, lettuce, tomato, pickles and tahini sauce, with a big side of fries.

I knew it was going to  be a long night of practice, so I also picked up a spinach pie which I ate in the car during a break.

I needed to fuel up the next morning before heading to another practice, so I grabbed a friend and headed to 43rd Street Deli.  They used to have a location on 13th street which was great because they always had vegan items on the menu.  That location closed a few years ago, and I was hoping there would be something I could eat at the original location.

They had vegan pancakes on the menu but were sadly out of them, so I ordered the tempeh scramble with rye toast.  The scramble was more oily and salty than I would have made at home, but it was a nice, hot plate of protein and veggies, and it helped get me ready for more practice.

We practiced during the afternoon, and I don’t know if everyone knows this, but June afternoons in Central Florida are HOT.  It was possibly the hottest I’ve ever been.  I went back to my friend Janeen’s house where I was staying and was getting ready for the show that night, when Janeen came home with this:

Raspberry sorbet!  She must’ve been reading my mind, and got the sorbet for me when she stopped for frozen yogurt.  It was the perfect cold treat to keep me going.

To get a little more family time in, I met my parents, brother and sister-in-law for dinner at The Top.  I have a few favorites at The Top but selected a special that sounded really good – Tempeh Chimichurri with steamed broccoli and roasted fingerling potatoes.  The chimichurri was much more thick than those I’ve had in the past, but was herbey and citrusey and very delicious.

The show went really well, considering we hadn’t played together in years.  I was made to wear a cowboy hat because we covered a Mley Cyrus song.  Don’t ask.  Don’t ask about the other costumes either…

The next morning I met a few friends for brunch at The Jones.  I went to The Jones once or twice when I lived in Gainesville and was never that impressed, but over the past few years I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews so I figured it was worth another try.

The breakfast menu says that almost any dish can be made vegan, and I chose the Blackhawk Burrito – soy merguez, onions, bell peppers and jalapenos in a flour tortilla with organic black beans, topped with salsa fresca and avocado.  Served with homefries, organic black beans and brown rice.  This was a hugely filling and delicious breakfast.

I wasn’t sure what kind of food would be available at the wedding and was getting peckish by mid-afternoon, so I met Janeen for one last ladydate at Karma Kreme.  Karma Kreme opened soon after I moved away, which is probably a good thing.  Having freshly made vegan ice cream available that close to home could’ve been bad for my health!

An entire half of the ice cream case is dedicated to vegan ice creams, and they boast a variety of soy, rice and coconut-based ice creams.

Before I got to the sugary stuff, I needed some real food.  Not all of their sandwiches are available daily, and I felt very lucky that they had the Tofurkey Reuben that day.  Tofurkey slices on rye with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and vegan cheese, pressed and served hot.  This sandwich was gooey and fatty and wonderful.

You can’t really see how amazing this sundae is, what with the chocolate ice cream, coffee ice cream, cookie pieces, caramel and housemade coconut whipped cream.  It was so good!  If I still lived in town, I think I would be giving Karma Kreme plenty of business.

The wedding was great.  It was actually at the same venue Janeen’s wedding was at last year, and it was really interesting to see what two different couples did with the same space.  It was wonderful to see so many old friends, and the wedding was complete with 40’s brought in from Georgia and a nacho cheese fountain.  As my British friends said, “brilliant”!

Me on the right, with two very pretty lady friends.

reception aftermath

Sadly, I had to head home the next day.  I picked up another hummus bagel on the way to the airport and called it a trip.  I always said that it was very easy to be vegan in Gainesville, and it’s even more so now with restaurants like Karma Kreme and Boca Fiesta around, and mainstays like The Top, Reggae Shack, Gyro Plus and Satchel’s still in business.

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On The Road Again

Unless you know me in real life, you probably don’t know that I used to be in a some-what successful ska-punk band in college.  We never got signed or made a whole lot of money, but we did go on a few tours, including one to the United Kingdom, and we had a whole lot of fun.  I’m in a different band now, and I never really thought I would go on tour again because we’re “adults” with “jobs” and “responsibilities”.  A band that we are friends with from Florida, Morningbell, contacted us a while back, asking if we would be interested in going on an eight day west coast tour with them.  We would provide and haul the gear, and they would do all the hard work of booking the tour and making arrangements.  The answer was yes!  It was a different kind of tour, because we were actually at home for three days in the middle as opposed to being gone the whole time.

The thing about tour is, you’re in it together.  You obviously spend a lot of time in the van, but you also spend a surprising amount of time just waiting around, and you have to kind of go with the flow.  My goal on the trip was to eat as much delicious vegan food as possible without being a pain to anyone else.  I have a lot of pictures, so I’m gonna split this into two posts.

I prepared for tour by stocking up on some snacks and breakfast items, so that I would only really have to worry about finding lunch and dinner each day.  Apples, fruit leather, cheddar crackers, emergen-c and stevia, english muffins, split pea soup, bananas, kale chips, pumpernickel pretzels, a pro bar, bragg’s-roasted almonds, and a few kinds of nut butter.  The paper grocery bag that held my food became known as my feedbag, as in “hey guys, can you see if there’s a banana in my feedbag?”.  I also took a bunch of big bottles of water so that I wouldn’t have to buy small bottles at gas stations, and we may have stashed a few bottles of two buck chuck.

I was particularly excited about these.

And these.

I tried the “kool ranch” kale chips on the way down to LA.  They didn’t taste particularly ranchey, but did have those undertones of garlic and onion, and were very tasty.  The whole bag only had 200 calories, and I could only manage to get through half of the bag as an afternoon snack.  Filling!

I was hoping to eat at either Veggie Grill or Real Food Daily before our show in LA, as both were relatively close to the venue.  What I learned quickly is that in LA, “relatively close” means count on 45 minutes in traffic, so sadly I didn’t get to either.  We stopped at a grocery store and I got what I could.

Apparently this is the part where we all look at our hands.

Morningbell

The next morning, I grabbed a soy latte from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a chain which seemed to be all over LA.

For breakfast, I tried the maple almond butter on an english muffin.  This stuff is the business.  Seriously, if all almond butter tasted like this I would eat it constantly.  Also, I learned that english muffins are hard to fork split without a fork.

Our lunch stop that day was at a stereotypical highway-side fast food mecca, and my choices came down to Subway or Taco Bell.  The veggies at Subway sounded really good, but so did the protein of a Taco Bell bean burrito, so I did what any normal person would do and got both.  No pictures, but the sandwich was possibly the best Subway I’ve ever had, due to the addition of avocado.

Upon arrival in San Jose we had about an hour until load in, so we checked out the Vietnamese place across the street.  On tour, you often have to eat what is close and easy.

Luckily, they had a few vegetarian dishes and I chose the tofu stir fry.  It wasn’t the most amazing stir fry every, but it was a warm and welcome addition to my tummy.

The show in San Jose was actually in a record store, Streetlight Records.  This is True Mad North, some of whom are old friends of Dave’s from high school.  I <3 these guys.

The next morning was Saturday, and I had to go in to work.  Well, they didn’t make me go, but there were some things I really wanted to take care of before I was gone for a whole ‘nother week, so I went in for a few hours.  As a reward for being dutiful, I treated myself to brunch at The Donut Farm.

Tofu scramble with spinach, mushrooms, herbs and green onion, hash browns and sourdough with house-made “butter”.  Sadly, they were out of the Dave’s Killer Bread they usually have, so I had to settle for sourdough.  My quest for Dave’s Killer Bread will continue in part II.

Apple fritter and coffee with coconut creamer.  I think I like Ronald’s apple fritters a little better, but really, if we’re ranking vegan apple fritters we’re splitting hairs.

I didn’t want to buy any groceries the two days we were at home, so it was mostly burritos and Chinese, which isn’t worth reporting since I eat them all the time!

The next day, we were fortunate enough to play a show at the Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa.

According to Barnivore, the beers brewed at the brewpub aren’t vegan, but the beers in bottles which are brewed off-site are.  So, bottled beer it was!  This redemption blond ale was really light and tasty.

Their online menu didn’t list a vegan pizza, but the in-store menu did.  This is “Mary’s Vegan Pizza”, which had spinach, artichoke, green pepper and olives.  It was a good pizza, but it really could have used a pop of flavor, like something spicy or sun-dried tomatoes or something.  Nevertheless, I’m not complaining any time I find something labeled vegan on a menu.

That’s all for today!  I’ll be back soon with part II, in which we went north to Portland and Seattle.

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Heading To The Cabin

I haven’t heard from the second winner of the Appetite For Reduction giveaway, so I’m hoping the third time’s a charm!

The new winner is number eight, Autumn Tao.  I’ve e-mailed you!

The day after Christmas, I flew to the east coast to spend time with my family at “the cabin”.  A few years back, my parents bought a cute little cabin in Clayton, Georgia, so now they head up whenever they can, and I was happy to be able to join them as well as my brother and sister-in-law.  I didn’t anticipate when planning my trip that Atlanta and northern Georgia would experience a big snow storm beginning on Christmas day!  I’ve got lots of pictures, so I’ll try to keep the text short.

For comparison, the same tree in October.

We didnt spend much time out here on this trip!

death icicles

I was a little concerned about finding vegan food in small-town back-country northern Georgia, but my mom assured me that I would find enough to eat.  The Ingles grocery store there was pretty well stocked, and downright pleasant!  Between what my parents brought, stuff we bought and local restaurants, I was plenty well fed.

Oatmeal with bananas, Back To Nature Harvest Blend trail mix (good stuff!) and agave nectar.

cute little kitchen set up

Possibly my favorite sandwich:  hickory smoked tofurkey, hummus, mustard, pickles and mixed greens, with baked chips and my mom’s veganized ginger cookie.

We found this really delicious, locally made bread at Ingles.  It even said “vegan” on the label!

My sis-in-law had never seen snow (I know!), so upon arrival she immediately jumped out of the car and made a snow angel.

bustling downtown Clayton

bookstore kitty!

For dinner, we went to Mama G’s.  The pizza crust was confirmed as vegan, so I ordered this delicious personal pizza with broccoli, garlic, artichokes and sundried tomatoes.  It was really tasty!

my family at Mama Gs

Yay for beer that I can’t get at home!  Ingles lets you build a six pack from single bottles, so I got to try a variety.

Tofu scramble breakfast made with onion, mushrooms and what I could find at the cabin – salsa, garlic salt, mustard and dried cilantro if I remember correctly.  My parents had some for breakfast too, although my dad wanted a swipe of Miracle Whip on his :)

Brother and SIL in Franklin, NC

On the way back to town, we stopped at Fatz Cafe, a local chain, for lunch.  I knew there wouldn’t be much for me on the menu, but what I did end up ordering was pretty tasty.

house salad (minus cheese, bacon and croutons) with raspberry walnut vinaigrette

baked sweet potato, loaded up with salt and black pepper

We stayed in for dinner that night – spaghetti, focaccia and roasted veggies.  I started to feel under the weather this night, but I wasn’t going to miss…

Our day trip to Asheville, NC, and lunch at Laughing Seed Cafe!

Before we left, I fueled up with peanut butter and banana on cinnamon raisin toast.

While we waited for our table at Laughing Seed, we walked around and checked out some shops, my favorite of which was The Spice & Tea Exchange.

I bought little packets of ras el hanout, zahtar and spicy cocoa mix, but I wish I could have bought a lot more!

When we finally sat down at Laughing Seed, we shared two appetizers.

pakoras - tri-pepper and squash-onion

crispy wontons with delicious sesame-ginger dressing

Moms plate - roasted veggies and sauce over toast, and a salad (their menu changes seasonally and this meal isnt listed any more...)

Dads "Lumberjack" - seitan with spinach and gravy over toast, and mashed potatoes

My Havana Cuban, with vegan cheese spread instead of swiss, and carrot soup. Didnt really taste like a Cuban, but it was good!

coconut cream pie; I dont love coconut usually, but this was nice!

Vegetarian food isn’t always my family’s favorite (I’m looking at you, brother!), but everyone found something on the menu that they liked well enough.  I thought the Laughing Seed Cafe’s food was really nice, and I’d love to go back sometime.

We passed by a gingerbread house contest - Dr. Suess house!

This house had its own garden, adorable!

last breakfast at the cabin - pita with peanut butter, soy yogurt with trail mix, and coffee

We said goodbye to the cabin (and the snow) and drove down to Florida, where my parents dropped me off in Gainesville, where my friends were getting married on New Year’s Eve.  I was pretty sick with a head cold by this time, but I only had two nights in Gainesville so I tried to make the best of it!

I met my friend Jackie for lunch at Boca Fiesta, which opened up soon after I moved away and now seems to be all the rage.

herbivore menu section!

Vegan queso! You could tell that it had been thickened with flour, but the flavor was good. I dont complain about vegan queso, ever.

I got a giant burrito, salad and collards. This was so much food, but I managed somehow.

That night, my wonderful friends Janeen and Mark got married!  I won’t post many pictures for privacy’s sake, but here’s one – look how pretty!

A few of the other guests were vegan, so there was a vegan-only food table.  Sadly, not everyone got the memo, and there wasn’t much left by the time I got there!

I had some vegan drumsticks, pakoras, mac n cheese, and vegan cheese and crackers, which was plenty enough for my sick head and tummy.

The cupcakes on the table were vegan!

We held sparklers instead of throwing rice, which was only slightly terrifying.

Despite catching a death-cold that ended up lasting three weeks, and having the worst flight home ever (my ear didn’t pop on the way down from my first flight, and I had to walk around the airport basically deaf and miserable), my trip was so fantastic!  I only wish that I could have spent more time with my friends and family.

On a side note, check out xgfx.org, a new vegan and gluten free website run by three lovely ladies – Allyson of Manifest Vegan, Kittee of Cake Maker to the Stars, and Jessy, my favorite happy-faced vegan!

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VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Chives

For the last full week of VeganMoFo, I have given myself a challenge – to randomly choose a page from The Flavor Bible and make a recipe using an interesting or unexpected flavor match from that page.  The Flavor Bible is a really interesting book which basically lists multitudes of culinary ingredients, and tells you the flavors that they go with.  It uses bold and/or capital letters to emphasize the best flavor matches, and sometimes gives dish recommendations from renowned American chefs.  I received the book for Christmas last year, and have enjoyed flipping through it for inspiration.


Today’s flavor match came from page 123, chives!  I must admit that, while I told myself I would go with whatever page my finger landed on first, I did have to skip a few, such as the asparagus page (I refuse to eat asparagus in November), and the page that listed only different cuts of beef.  Other than those two, I’m staying true to the challenge.

To be honest, there weren’t any truly interesting matches to go with chives.  Nothing crazy that I wouldn’t have considered putting with the little oniony guys anyway.  So, I chose to match it with the “egg dishes” listing, which was interesting to me because, obviously, I don’t eat eggs!  I went the easy route, using tofu instead, but tried to make the dish as eggish as possible.

I was inspired by this recipe, and used the Shiitake Dill Frittata from Vegan Brunch as a guide, making a few changes:

  • subbed brown mushrooms for the shiitakes
  • subbed a bunch of chives, chopped, for the dill
  • added 1/4 tsp garlic powder instead of the fresh garlic called for (only because I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to mince any garlic)
  • used kala namak instead of regular salt, for that eggy sulfuric flavor (I make it sound so delicious, huh?)
  • added 1/2 cup shredded Daiya cheddar

(I’m not going to post the recipe, but you can see it on Google books right now.)

The frittata looked gorgeous when it came out of the oven, but sadly didn’t hold together completely when I flipped it.

up close and personal

Served with persimmon wedges.  The frittata turned out really fantastic, even if it didn’t hold together.  It was quite possibly the most “eggy” dish I have had since going vegan, and for a former vegetarian egg and cheese lover, that was a positive quality.  I think the melted Daiya gave it that part-cooked part-runny texture that eggs can have, and the mushrooms and chives complemented it perfectly.

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VeganMoFo: Vegetarian Times Week – Oven-Roasted Apple Butter

For my final installment of Vegetarian Times Week, I chose Oven-Roasted Apple Butter from the October 2008 issue.  The article is about making and canning spreads, presumably for gift-giving, but this apple butter is all for me!

I grew up eating apple butter, and I honestly don’t know why I’ve never made it at home, considering how easy it is.  Usually the cooking is all done stove-top, but this recipe takes you from the stove to the oven, reducing the butter by “roasting” it.  I don’t really think the oven method is any lower maintenance than it would have been otherwise, since you have to stir every 15 minutes anyway, but the butter did turn out fabulously so something is working right.  The apple cider vinegar keeps the flavor bright, while the brown sugar and spices give it depth.  The recipe calls for two to two and a half hours in the oven, and mine was actually a little over reduced after 1:40, so watch it carefully.  Also, I would highly recommend using a chinoise to separate the apple pulp from the skin and seeds; I used a regular strainer and it took forever.  And, you don’t necessarily have to put it in jars!  I halved the recipe and am just storing it in the fridge, since I’ll eat it up pretty quickly.  Make or buy some apple butter and add it to a peanut butter sandwich – you won’t regret it!

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