Posts Tagged grilling

VeganMoFo: Tempeh Ribs

I sadly don’t have time this week to cook the things I had planned to cook for my last theme, which was supposed to be using long forgotten pantry ingredients.  So, instead I will bring you posts that have been patiently waiting their turn to be written.

A few weeks ago Dave and I had some friends over to watch the NFL games on Sunday.  Dave was going to smoke some ribs for everyone else and I had a package of tempeh in the fridge.  I wondered what would happen if I smoked the tempeh in the same manner, so I gave it a shot.

I prepared my tempeh pretty much exactly like their meat counterpart.  First, I slathered the tempeh with mustard, which helps the spices stick and forms a sort of coating.  Then, I liberally sprinkled on a spice mix that Dave had made with paprika, onion, garlic, sugar, and probably a few other things.  I smoked the tempeh for just under an hour, flipping it halfway through, then I basted it in a makeshift barbecue sauce which I think included ketchup, apple cider vinegar, vegetarian worcestershire, cayenne and possibly some maple syrup, and cooked for another half hour or so.

(As far as the actual technique of smoking goes, I haven’t a clue.  Dave is in charge of the grills and fires at our house.)

Mmm, meaty!  It almost looks kind of like “real” ribs, right?

The tempeh had a nice crust from the mustard and spices, and was sticky sweet from the barbecue sauce.  It was neither moist nor dry on the inside, and if I make it like this again and aren’t being totally lazy I’d probably steam the tempeh first.  It would have also been nice to have some extra barbecue sauce for dipping because, while the outside was very flavorful, the insides were just plain tempeh.

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Tasty Tailgating

We didn’t do anything grand or fun for the Fourth of July this year, but we did go to an A’s game that weekend.  Weekend games are for tailgating!

In a patriotic bid, Dave made Philly cheesesteaks for the boys, so I made my version with portobello and a vegan cheese slice.  The cheese wasn’t my favorite brand for slices (Tofutti) and didn’t melt at all, but this was still a very tasty sandwich.

I had two lovely CSA tomatoes waiting to be used, so I whipped up a chickpea tuna salad and stuffed ‘em.

Stuffed tomato with grilled corn; patriotic plate and napkin presumably left over from last year.

Last weekend we had a biiiiig tailgate.  Normally it’s just the four of us – myself, Dave and two friends.  This time we were expecting a sister, a friend of Dave’s, his wife, their two friends and their four collective children.  Then, as we were cooking, another friend of Dave’s called to see if we were there.  He was on the way with his pre-bachelor party group, and we ended up having at least twenty five people!  Luckily, we had plenty of food.

Dave’s friend’s wife has celiac disease, so we wanted to make everything gluten free.  In discussing with Dave what we could and couldn’t make, I mentioned that corn tortillas are usually gluten free, so we went with Mexican food.

We started with chips and salsa made from a Rick Bayless recipe.

Dave made carne asada tacos for everyone else, so I grilled up some portobello.  Topped with salsa and cilantro, with a spot of guac on the side.

I wanted a substantial side dish as well, to avoid eating a bajillion tortilla chips, so I made this Mexican Bean and Rice Salad.  I was skeptical that the recipe didn’t include any oil, but the salad didn’t really need it.  If I made it again though, I would use less onion.  I’m just not big into lots of raw onion.

Since we were expecting a crowd, I wanted to make a dessert, and I do love the challenge of vegan, gluten free baking.  These White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies were adapted from this recipe.  I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour plus 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum for the flour, and used kosher white chocolate chips that I picked up at Food Fight in June.  The first batch spread too much in the oven, so I mixed in 2 Tablespoons of chickpea flour which seemed to do the trick.  The recipe says it should make three dozen, but I ended up with about sixty cookies!

I’m off to Portland for Vida Vegan Con tomorrow!  I will be attempting to live blog throughout the entire event, so check back here regularly for updates!

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Award Winning Grilling

In mid-July, our friends Matt and Amber hosted the third annual grill-off. They added a veggie category this year, which was basically an open category for anything vegetarian. I rejoined with Dave and our friend Tom to form our team Grilly D. Williams and compete for the glory. The boys took care of the meat categories, and I made four entries – two veggies, a sandwich and a dessert for the open category.

First, I hung out with these guys.

And fueled myself up with veggies and Sanctuary dressing while waiting for my categories to come up.

First entry:

Grilled Asparagus Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

1 bunch asparagus
large handful fresh basil, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbs white miso
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
18-20 button or cremini mushrooms

1. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat until slightly charred and crisp-tender. Allow to cool then chop into pieces, reserving the tips for garnish.
2. Place the asparagus pieces, basil, garlic, pine nuts, miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. It is okay if some texture remains in the pesto.
3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and wrap them in foil in a single layer. Grill over medium-high heat until tender.
4. Allow the mushrooms to cool enough to handle, then stuff with the pesto. You can spoon the pesto in the mushrooms, pipe it with a piping bag, or cut the corner off a ziploc bag and use that to pipe. Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Second entry:

Grilled Italian Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 Tbs EACH fresh minced thyme, oregano, sage and parsley
2 tsp capers
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
salt
freshly ground black pepper
tofu ricotta, for example the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance

1. Mix the herbs together in a small bowl.
2. Place the sliced leek, garlic, capers, 3/4 of the herb mixture, the red wine vinegar, 2 tsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small grill-safe container such as an aluminum pan. Grill over medium high heat, off the heat, until leeks are softened, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill the zucchini flat side down until charred and slightly tender, turning the zucchini to create grill marks. Take the leek mixture and zucchinis off the grill and allow to cool.
4. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the zucchinis, reserving the flesh and leaving at least an eighth-inch shell.
5. Chop about two thirds of the zucchini flesh into small pieces and reserve the rest for another use. Mix the chopped zucchini with the leek mixture, diced tomato and breadcrumbs. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
6. Mix the remaining herbs with the tofu ricotta.
7. Spoon the leek mixture into the zucchini shells, packing it down slightly. Top each zucchini with some tofu ricotta.
8. Carefully place the zucchinis back on the grill to warm through and cook the bottoms slightly. Serve warm.

Servings: 8

Third entry:

Hoisin Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, skin on, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
salt
1/2 cup vegetarian hoisin sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
loaf French bread or four bread rolls
vegan mayonnaise
lettuce
thinly sliced cucumber
cilantro sprigs

1. Place a colander over a bowl. Add the eggplant slices, salting each layer well. Allow to drain for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry.
2. Lightly oil the eggplant slices with olive or canola oil, and grill over medium high heat until softened and slightly charred.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, mix together the hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, tamari and peanut oil in a medium bowl.
4. Dip both sides of each eggplant slice into the sauce and shake off the excess. Place the eggplant back on the grill for a few more minutes.
5. If there is any remaining sauce, add a little to the eggplant and toss to coat.
6. To assemble, spread some mayonnaise on each side of the bread. Place the eggplant on the rolls then top with cucumber, lettuce, and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 4

Fourth entry:

Grilled pound cake with pineapple, rum sauce and coconut whipped cream. This is more of a collection of deliciousness than a recipe. I started with the Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomicon, brushing both sides with melted Earth Balance and grilling. The cake was topped with grilled pineapple and rum sauce veganized from this recipe. For the coconut whipped cream, I refrigerated a can of coconut milk and scooped the solid cream from the top, then mixed it with a bit of vanilla extract, powdered sugar and xantham gum. The cream was very thick, which worked well to keep it from melting too much when it was placed on the hot cake and pineapple.
I felt really good about the dishes I submitted, but the competition is stiff among our friends! Plus, the judges aren’t necessarily used to eating vegetarian food, so I never know what to expect. But, I won a few prizes! My eggplant bahn mi placed third in the burgers and sandwiches category, and my dessert placed second in the open category. Dave placed with a number of his entries, and Grilly D. Williams won as the best team overall. Plus, my dessert was picked as a judges favorite!

What’s funny is that I spent the most amount of time testing and prepping for my veggie entries, and they didn’t even place. My sandwich and dessert entry were more thrown together, and they both placed. Just goes to show that you should always trust your cooking instincts!

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Tailgate Cookies

In mid-November, Dave, myself and twelve friends went to see the Niners play the St. Louis Rams.  It was a big operation, getting fourteen people, tailgating equipment and enough food and beer over to Candlestick Park.  Everyone chipped in a little, and we had a great tailgate.  And, the Niners actually won the game!  Anyone who has been following along knows this season hasn’t been great for the Niners, so it was nice to see a win in person.

I wanted to make a special dessert, and after remembering my plethora of cookie cutters, decided on sugar cookies.  I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar.

It took hours and hours to bake and frost the cookies, and it was totally worth it.  The dough was easy to work with, considering how temperamental sugar cookies can be.  Firm yet buttery soft, nobody would suspect these cookies were vegan.  After the game when we reconvened in the parking lot, people asked for more!

We didn’t just eat dessert…

Dave grilled meaty tacos for everyone else, so I had some of my own with taco-seasoned portobello, onion, cilantro, pickled jalapeno, avocado salsa and salsa roja.  Our friend Tom made the salsas, along with the super-garlicky potatoes.  Also on the plate is curtido and refried black beans, made by me, and pinto beans prepared by our friend Teresa.  This was an extremely yummy, flavorful meal.

This is my favorite picture from the tailgate – Dave’s cousin Alex was trying to take a picture of his brother Daniel and his wife, and walking right in the way, this was my reaction when he yelled at me.

More pictures from the game:

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Big Kahuna Grill-Off

For the second summer in a row, our friends Matt and Amber hosted a grilling competition in their back yard.  We formed teams and entered dishes into the categories above to be judged and ranked.  The friendly competition is obviously very meat-centric, so last year I just hung out and helped the judges, since they had to be quarantined from the competitors.  This year though, I figured “Why not enter something just for fun?”.  So, I did.

I entertained the idea of entering a few categories, but for simplicity’s sake, and since three of us were sharing only two grills, I went with a sandwich.  I marinated a portobello in champagne vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and maple syrup then grilled it.  I served the mushroom on toasted herb focaccia with lettuce and homemade red pepper aioli.  The sandwich was VERY tangy, but that’s how I like it, so I was pleased with how it turned out.  I didn’t place in the top three, but I snuck a peak at the judge’s scores afterwards and saw that I came in fourth out of six entries!  The judges were all meat-eating dudes, so I was pretty happy that I at least didn’t come in last.

Despite trying to keep our area tidy, it resembled an explosion toward the end of the day.  The boys entered at least one item in every category, and with turn-in times only 45 minutes apart, it was a little hectic.

Here’s Dave grilling pineapple for his al pastor tacos.  Both he and our teammate Tom won a prize or two, including a Judge’s Favorite each.  It was a fun day, and I’m looking forward to participating again next year!

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Hello Fall!

Fall is quite possibly my favorite season.  I’ve been getting pumped up for Fall, but it hadn’t yet felt like Fall.  Until today.  It’s been hot lately here, thanks to our “Indian Summer“, but the air was crisp and cool today.

Every year when gourds appear in stores, I am compelled to buy a variety just to have around the house.  Here’s my collection so far.

Also, this:

Brussels on the stem!

It’s been a good day.  I took care of a bunch of nagging errands, shopped at my favorite grocery store, and now I’m watching college football and playoff baseball.  To take advantage of the weather, we grilled for dinner.

Balsamic portobello, fingerling potatoes and amazing baby yellow zucchini with garlic.  The texture of the zucchini was like buttah.  After dinner we were both feeling like dessert, so I made the fastest thing I could think of.

Microwave cakes!  I used this recipe.  I didn’t feel like mixing up an egg replacer, so I just added a bit of cornstarch to the mix.  With a proper egg replacer, I’m sure they would have risen more.  Either way, they were delicious!

It was much like a pudding cake, warm, dense and chocolaty.  I would totally make this again, and probably will.  I’d be highly interested in a microwave pumpkin cake for one.

Jake has been excited to sit on any blanket that we happen to leave laying around.

Really, that is Jake’s excited face.

Does it feel like Fall where you are?

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And For My Next Post…Here’s a Bunch of Food.

There’s always a bad reason for not blogging, but here’s a good one:  My internet didn’t work for two weeks!  But I’m back now, and what better thing to do than post a whole bunch of random food and get caught up?  Some of this stuff dates from last October.  Eep!  I’ll jump right in.

Ginger Cashew Tofu from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, with fried quinoa

Salad with chickpeas, sauerkraut, crackers and “special sauce” dressing

Whole wheat pasta with cooked beets and beet greens.  Turned the whole thing red!

Pizza burrito!  Leftover pizza toppings wrapped up and served with pizza sauce.

These potatoes were sold as “teeny tiny potatoes” at Trader Joe’s.  How cute!  Roasted whole, with broccoli & tofu scramble.

Roasted Fennel Salad from Veganomicon – test run before Thanksgiving.

Amaranth porridge with apples and pecans

Tempeh Tetrazzini, adapted from a magazine recipe.  Was tasty but dry.

Teriyaki tofu and veggies with red quinoa

This was a total clean-out-the-fridge dinner before I left to visit family for Christmas:  sauteed cabbage and carrots with shredded bleu Sheese and brown rice.  It sounds weird, but it worked well enough.

Shells n’ cheese n’ Tofurkey.  Mom was making mac n’ cheese with leftover ham for the rest of the family, and she made the white sauce with Earth Balance and soy milk so that I could partake too.  I added shredded Follow Your Heart cheese, cooked shells, diced Tofurkey slices that needed to be used up, and some spinach so I could pretend that it was slightly healthy.

“Special Tofu” with peanut sauce and jasmine rice, from Royal Orchid restaurant in Ocala, Florida.  Beautiful and delicious.

Fried rice with red cabbage and baked tofu

Braised red cabbage and carrots

Roasted root veggies with greens and tahini sauce

Tofu scramble and an English muffin to scoop it up

Butternut squash stuffed with rice, kale and vegan sausage, served with mushrooms.  This was super tasty.

When the weather started warming up, we decided to grill twice in one weekend.  For this plate, I bought every vegetable worthy of grilling – baby squashes, radicchio, mushrooms, asparagus and garlic scapes.  We also had some grilled toast and drizzled everything with balsamic reduction.

The next day it was a little more simple – store bought baked tofu, a marinated portobello, brown rice with carrots and hijiki, and steamed veggies with gomasio.

Hot and sour cabbage stir fry with noodles and cilantro

For this tofu scramble, I crisped some diced potatoes first then added the tofu and other ingredients, and finished it with fresh dill.

Savory amaranth with broccoli and pecans

Pasta with parsley pesto, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic-roasted veggies

Crunchy salad with black eyed peas, hemp seeds and spicy apple cider vinegar dressing

Teriyaki tofu bowl with short grain brown rice, raw red cabbage, steamed broccoli, green onion and extra teriyaki sauce

Gardein Crispy Tenders!  I bought these to try when I had a coupon, and I LOVE them.  They’d be good with any sauce, but they were especially good straight out of the oven with warm marinara.  The only problem with these guys is that I could easily eat the whole package at once.

Seasoned mashed fava beans with red bell pepper on Ezekiel toast for breakfast.

Springtime brown rice risotto with fresh peas, aspragus and dill

For a light side to go with the risotto, I dry-roasted some cauliflower that was liberally seasoned with a dry rub mix.

Ahhhhhhh, I feel better having purged my unposted photos a little!  Hope you enjoyed it too.

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August Cleanse: Days 11-14

Day 11

I started the day off with some repeats from Day 10 – the smoothie of the day was spinach, banana, mango, strawberries, udo’s oil, almond milk and amazing meal, along with a b complex and multi.  My morning snack was cherries and constant comment tea.  Lunch was a repeat of the Greekish salad.

For an afternoon snack, I ate some zucchini slices, carrot sticks and red bell pepper slices with the Black Bean & Orange Hummus from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.  It’s an odd combination, but just like the author says, it goes together really well.  You can taste the black beans, orange, garlic and almond butter without anything overpowering the rest.  It’s very good!

Dinner was leftover tofu vindaloo with buckwheat and sugar plum spice tea.

Day 12

This delicious smoothie had spinach, banana, cherries, chia seeds, chocolate hempshake, almond milk, and I took my multi and coQ10.  I really like using the chocolate hempshake, especially with cherries, strawberries or raspberries.  My morning snack was figs, an apple, and darjeeling tea, and lunch was another Greekish salad except this time with avocado, dried oregano and fresh parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice for dressing.  The salad was so big and filling that I couldn’t even finish it and wasn’t very hungry for an afternoon snack, so I just had a small piece of canteloupe and a few strawberries at a work event.  Dinner was the last of the tofu vindaloo and buckwheat, and afterward I had camomile tea.

Day 13


This green smoothie was made from spinach, half a banana, peach, kiwi, amazon acai hempshake, udo’s and almond milk, and I had my multi and b complex.  I had a snack of fruit at work, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.  I also had some coffee with almond milk.  I must say, soy creamer is one thing I’m definitely missing on this cleanse.

I had gotten an e-mail from VegWeb the day before, and while I don’t normally pay too much attention to their e-mails, this Polynesian Salad with Curry Dressing caught my attention because I needed a salad for the next day, I happened to have all the ingredients called for, and it just sounded good.  I wasn’t too sure about bananas in a salad, but this is one fine salad.  I didn’t have walnuts so I subbed pecans, and the contrast of textures and flavors in this salad definitely makes it a winner.  The only small issue was that it didn’t keep me full for very long.  I ate my afternoon snack of zucchini slices and carrot sticks with black bean and orange hummus earlier than I normally snack.

I had a plan for when I got home to exercise, shower, make dinner and take care of a few things on my to do list.  When I got home I was in a bad mood though, and these were all the last things I wanted to do.  I didn’t even have the energy to take pictures of my CSA delivery, for the first time ever.  I grabbed a handful of dill pickle cashews to appease my growling tummy, went to the store with Dave, and grilled up some dinner.

This is bbq tempeh and eggplant with portobello and steamed broccoli, all over a baked potato.  The bbq sauce was an on-the-fly concoction of tomato sauce, agave nectar, molasses, maple syrup, vinegar, onion and garlic powder, allspice and ground red pepper.  For throwing a bunch of stuff in a bowl, it turned out pretty well – it even got all sticky on the tempeh while it grilled.  I also “cheated” a little bit and had two glasses of wine on a Thursday night (I’m supposed to only have alcohol on the weekends), but at the end of the day I felt much better than I would’ve forcing myself to do things I didn’t have the energy for.  Sometimes it feels good to have a plan, then completely ignore that plan and do whatever you want.

Day 14

My smoothie on Friday had half a banana, blueberries, plum, orange, vanilla rice protein, udo’s and almond milk, and I took a coQ10, multi and probiotic.  It sounds like an odd flavor combination, perhaps, but it actually worked quite nicely.  Orange and vanilla are a natural match, and the blueberries and plum just kind of joined the party.

We had a large event at work that I knew was going to keep me busy all day, so I didn’t bother to take any snacks because I knew I wouldn’t have time to eat them.  I should’ve known that this was a silly move, because by lunchtime I was starving and the salad I brought alone wasn’t going to cut it.  I ended up eating a veggie dog on a bun from Top Dog, who was catering our event, and it was pretty much entirely made of wheat.  So, I cheated (again), but I had to make a decision and having food in my belly was a better choice than being out in the sun all afternoon running on just a salad.  It was another Polynesian salad, by the way, and again it was very tasty.

After work Dave and I went straight to the Coliseum for the A’s game.  I had brought leftovers from the night before (bbq tempeh, eggplant, portobello, baked potato and broccoli) to eat as dinner in the parking lot before we went in.  I also had a few beers – the beers inside the game are EXPENSIVE so we like to have some cheap ones before we go in.  Watching the game, I ate some peanuts and pistachios as a snack.

So I had a few missteps this week, but all in all I feel I did pretty well.  The food prep is getting easier; I’m getting used to putting a salad together every night before work.  I actually gained 0.7 pounds this week which I don’t understand since I’ve been eating well and exercising, but maybe I can make up for it next week.  Until then!

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Announcements!

1.  I have been accepted to, and am officially enrolled in the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College in Berkeley.  Yay!  Starting in late September and going through February I will be attending classes nights and weekends while holding down my 40-hour-a-week job and hopefully still cooking at home a bit (other than homework assignments).  Sadly, I probably will not be able to pay much attention to my blog during this time.  But at the end I will be a trained natural chef!  I am hoping to turn this into a career change sooner than later.

2.  With my crazy schedule impending, I’ve decided to take the month of August to clean up my diet through a “cleanse”.  It’s not a diet, per say, but my feelings won’t be hurt if I lose a few pounds in the process.  I lost 8 pounds between the beginning of this year and April, then went and gained it all back on my vacations in May and June.  Doh!  Mostly I want to focus on nutritious whole foods, and NOT CHEAT!  Details on the rules and first four days below.

3.  This one is inconsequential, but I feel like listing it anyway.  I’ve always referred to my boyfriend as bf on the blog because I thought he would prefer it that way.  It turns out he doesn’t care one way or another, so from now on he shall be called Dave, which is his name.

Now, here is the outline of my cleanse:

- first thing upon waking is a warm glass of water with the juice from a quarter of a lemon
- breakfast is a smoothie including fruit, greens, Udo’s DHA oil blend or flax or chia seeds, protein powder or nut butter and unsweetened almond milk, a multivitamin and either a CoQ10 or B complex supplement
- green or black tea or coffee with stevia at work
- morning snack is fruit or nuts or both
- lunch is a salad including some form of protein (open for interpretation – veggies salad/grain salad/bean salad, etc.) and a probiotic supplement a few times a week
- afternoon snack is raw veggies and hummus or nuts
- dinner is whatever I want, as long as it all fits in a normal dinner-sized bowl and is not high in fat
- decaf tea with stevia before bed
- minimal, if any, processed food
- no wheat (grains that may contain gluten are okay)
- no sugar or artificial sweeteners (stevia, agave and maple syrup are okay)

This is my own design, but I was inspired by a number of things including Jessy’s Adventure Cleanse Tune-up and re-reading Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat.  Jessy did so amazingly well sticking with her cleanse, but I’m not making mine quite as intense.  She cut out everything I am, PLUS coffee, alcohol and gluten.  I generally only have coffee two or three times a week and tea the rest of the time, so I think it’s not that bad.  And I do like my beers on the weekend, so I’m keeping them but watching my intake.  (Geez, that makes me sounds like an alky!  I’m not, I promise, but I have to be honest about it if I’m going to detail my intake day by day.)  I will not be drinking any wheat beers though.  Speaking of wheat – I say “no wheat” because I’m not worried about gluten so much, so I may eat oats or other stuff that may contain gluten.  I just want to take a break from wheat and kind of force myself to eat other grains.

All that being said, I had a plan in place to start the cleanse off right on the morning of August 1st.  I was going to go grocery shopping and buy everything I needed for the first week on Friday night so that I could get going on Saturday.  I had planned my first few meals and written out a huge grocery list, and as I headed out the door I realized I didn’t have my keys!  Through a series of unfortunate events, Dave had gone to band practice in San Francisco with my keys in his pocket, so I couldn’t leave the house.  So much for being prepared!  I ended up going Saturday morning, but it left me a little stressed and wasn’t the way I wanted to start.

Day 1

Since I didn’t have my special smoothie making supplies yet or any greens in the fridge, I had a pear and some cantaloupe for breakfast along with my multivitamin.  Not exactly a power meal, but it’s all I had.  I also drank some blueberry green tea on the way to the store.  By the time I got back I was ravenous, so I ate some apple slices with peanut butter.

The first day presented me with a challenge because we were tailgating for the A’s game.  Normally I would have a veggie burger or dog and do some grilled veggies on the side, so I had to figure out how to fit grilling into salad form.

My solution was to take a salad of iceberg, tomatoes, shredded carrot and sunflower seeds and top it with grilled mushroom and squash and a squeeze of lemon.  (I only used iceberg because I had it leftover from a work bbq.)  This salad didn’t have as much protein as it probably should’ve and didn’t really fill me up, so I had some pistachios as a snack soon after.  I also had a few beers.  Told you I was going to be honest!

We didn’t end up actually going into the game (long story), and instead went to Dave’s uncle’s house for some chatting and board games.  On the way there I ate some carrot sticks, celery & cucumber slices with Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Hummus from Yellow Rose Recipes as “dinner”, and then had two glasses of wine at their house.  So my dinner didn’t exactly fit into the dinner rules, but I felt it was the best I could do since we were very rushed that morning.

Day 2

Sunday went much more smoothly.  Dave took off to go fishing with his buddies (blech) and I slept in a bit.

My breakfast smoothie had a banana, strawberries, mango, kale, udo’s and almond milk and despite being a bit thick and me forgetting to add the protein powder, it was very tasty.  I also took my multivitamin and CoQ10.  The smoothie kept me full all morning, so no snack.  I also had some coffee with unsweetened almond milk.

Lunch was a second take on the salad from day 1 with iceberg lettuce, carrots, squash, mushrooms and chickpeas and a dressing of balsamic vinegar, mustard and agave (there was already oil on the grilled veggies).  It was more filling this time with the chickpeas – I couldn’t even finish it!

My afternoon snack was more of the roasted eggplant and garlic hummus with carrot sticks, bell pepper and cucumbers.  I have to say that this hummus is kind of weird.  It tastes really good and blended up smooth, but after sitting overnight in the fridge it had kind of gelled together, as if it had agar agar or something.  I had to stir and mush it up with a fork, and it was never again as smooth as when I first made it.

For dinner I made the Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango from Veganomicon and served it over spinach.  My first impression of this dish is that it was just a bit oily.  I get what the recipe is going for, and it tastes good and is easy to make, but it didn’t blow me away or anything.  After dinner I had camomile tea, which I’ve never had before, and was pleasantly surprised.

Day 3

My Monday breakfast was this tasty banana, cherry, kale, udo’s, almond milk and amazon acai hempshake smoothie along with my multivitamin and b complex.  It was actually more brown than red, this picture makes it look much nicer than it really was.  My morning snack was a pear, almonds and darjeeling tea.

Lunch:  leaf lettuce, green pepper, carrot, red onion, snap pea sprouts, cherry tomatoes, sauteed cajun tofu and Honey Mustard Dressing from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, and a probiotic supplement.  This dressing is wonderful!  I never would have though to use lemon juice in honey mustard and it gives the dressing the perfect tang.  No actual honey is involved – it calls for agave nectar instead.  The tofu was just sauteed in a little bit of oil and sprinkled with a cajun spice blend.

My afternoon snack was more of the eggplant and garlic hummus with carrot sticks, green pepper & cucumber.  Beginning to notice a trend?  A whole batch of hummus lasts me forever if it’s just for snacks.

Dinner was precisely the same as Sunday (quinoa salad with black beans and mango over spinach) with sweet wild orange tea to follow.  I thought the quinoa salad might be the kind of dish that improves overnight, but it was still just kind of “eh”. The orange tea, however, is awesome.  It’s by Tazo.

Day 4

I’m into this green smoothie thing.  This one had banana, mango, kiwi, kale, udo’s and almond milk, and I forgot to add the dang protein powder again.  This used up all my mangos – I got five small ones for 99 cents at Berkeley Bowl that were all ready to go mushy, so I didn’t want to let them go to waste.  I took my multivitamin and CoQ10 and had a pear, a plum, cashews and earl grey tea as my morning snack.

The lunch salad was much like the day 3 lunch salad, minus the onion, sprouts (they went bad) and cherry tomatoes (I don’t like ‘em!), and plus sunflower seeds.  Also had a probiotic supplement.  Afternoon snack was celery, green pepper & cucumber slices with more roasted eggplant & garlic hummus.

Dinner was a challenge.  I was going to the recently re-opened Souley Vegan in Oakland to meet up with some PPKers and was hoping they’d have enough decently healthy options for me.  I meant to take my camera and forgot it like a dufus.  I ordered a three-item combo plate with collard greens, black eyed peas and yams.  The collard greens were very good, and different from any greens I’ve had – they were quite spicy and had a combination of spices that I could not put my finger on.  It drove me a little crazy that I couldn’t figure out the spices.  The black eyed peas were also good.  The yams…were incredibly sweet.  I’m fairly sure there was about a ton of sugar in them.  But I tried to stick to the cleanse, and I think I did pretty well for being at a place that has delicious chicken fried tofu and mac n’ cheese, and life goes on.  When I got home I had camomile tea.

(Souley Vegan’s Yelp page says they’re closed, but they’re not.  They are very much open at 301 Broadway, near Jack London Square.)

I hope that this style of posting doesn’t bore you all to death!  I want to post everything I eat, day by day, to hold myself accountable and to show anyone who may think I’m crazy that it’s completely do-able.  I’m hoping to post every two or three days, as opposed to four or more, so that there’s not so much redundant content.

So far I haven’t noticed much of any change in my energy or anything like that.  I do feel more hungry in general than before I started, but it’s not the kind of hungry where I HAVE to eat something, it’s just a little lingering hunger that tells me I didn’t totally fill up my tummy.  I’ve been cooking less in general but spending more time preparing food, which I guess is what happens when you eat more raw foods.  The only way I can make it in the mornings is to prep everything the night before, including putting the greens and fruit in the blender jar in the fridge, which kills a good amount of time at night.

Here is my latest CSA delivery.

cherry tomatoes, cherries, pears, an eggplant, tomatoes

pattypan squash, onions, peppers, basil, a cucumber,
a crookneck squash, grapes

And just because I can, some pictures of Jake from this weekend.  He’s taken to squishing his face on the arm rest when he’s trying to nap on the couch.

Kitty paws.

I love how his body looks humongous from this angle.

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Vegan Weekends (or, The Post of Many Pictures)

Against my predictions, June was just as crazy for me as May, if not a bit crazier.  Almost every day of every weekend was booked, and then some.  So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to for the last five weekends…

The first weekend of June we had some friends join in on our tailgating for an A’s game and bf and I kind of went all out.  BF has been interested lately in making our own buns for hamburgers, which translates into ME making our own buns for hamburgers.  I had seen some loaves of Easy French Bread from La Dolce Vegan floating around the blog world, so I made some buns using that recipe.

I forgot to add the sesame seeds until after the second rise, and in adding them and trying to make sure they didn’t fall off I basically pressed all the rise out of the buns, so they were a little flatter then I wanted.  They tasted good though, and were definitely sturdy enough to stand up to burgers.

I don’t know what got in to me, but I had a mad desire to make Ramen Slaw, which is a dish commonly found at southern pot lucks and the like.  I found and followed a recipe online, but for the life of me I can’t find it again.  I’ll post up the link when I get home.

Ramen slaw, up close and personal.

Post-almond topping.

Here’s my plate:  veggie burger on homemade bun, grilled corn that I accidentally set on fire (like for real, flaming husks and all) and ramen slaw.  I went back for seconds on the slaw, so good.

It was bf’s cousin’s birthday, so I made dessert too.  I had a hard time deciding but in the end wound up trying the Black Bottom Blondies from My Sweet Vegan.

The look innocent enough from the top…

Bonus chocolate layer!  These were tasty enough, but honestly I didn’t like the texture.  It was kind of gummy and dense.  I’m thinking I may have overbeaten the batter, but the instructions say to beat it!

The next Saturday I was invited to a picnic at Tilden Park to celebrate the marriage of my friends Becca and Steve.  They got married in New York, so this was a nice was for us to get together.  I was completely blanking on a good picnic food to bring, so I asked Becca and she suggested the ranch dressing that she had at my house once.  Easy enough!

The food was good and simple, perfect for a picnic.  First plate:  veggie burger, chips & hummus, veggies & ranch.

Second plate:  fruit salad, pasta salad, tofu and tomatoes and more cucumbers.

Third plate, just because the roasted red peppers and grilled zucchini were done.

Lucky for all of us, Melisser of Sugar Beet Sweets made cupcakes!

Gluten free strawberry shortcake and peanut butter cup.

La la lemon and chocoate chocoalte.  I had a lemon and a pb cup.  Oink oink!  You can’t only have one of Melisser’s cupcakes.

Tilden Park is kind of amazing in an it’s-huge-and-you-will-get-lost kind of way.  There is a great old style carousel, and after lunch a group of us decided to act like children and go on it.  There are all sorts of beautiful, detailed animals.

Deer, zebra and kitty.

Lion, rooster, frog and horse.  There was also a dog and a panda and lord knows what else.  I chose the frog.  Becca didn’t want to ride because of motion sickness, so she tried to snap pictures of us.

My head is on the left above the rooster head.  Good times!

The next day I drove down to Santa Cruz to meet the NorCal PPK crew at Amey’s house for a potluck.  This was a vegan potluck of a magnitude never achieved before, and quite possibly never matched again.  Here’s the table when I got there, and food seemed to flow in continuously afterwards too.

Overflow area:

My contributions were a layered salad bar-style salad with iceberg, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, carrots, peas, red onions, seitan pepperoni, bacos, sunflower seeds, croutons and choice of ranch or balsamic vinaigrette.

And Fatfree Vegan’s Southern-Style Banana Pudding.  This was a big hit – really delicious and very easy to make.  I used EcoPlanet vanilla cookies because they were all I could find, and it worked well.

Obviously, I had to try a little of everything.  Plate 1:  empanada, mini bagel with herb spread, pirogi with caramelized onions, crackers with walnut miso dip, bread with yellow pepper dip, a spring roll with garlic scapes and mandarins and other crazy stuff, and grilled tofu on baguette with some sort of delicious spread.

Plate 2: pasta salad, salad with ranch, chips and guacamole,

I was stuffed at this point and put off dessert as long as I could stand, but it all looked so good!  Some more non-dessert arrived in the meantime, so that’s why there’s green on my mostly-dessert plate:  brussels sprouts with pistachios, braised peach and fig salad, swedish cinnamon roll, raspberries, key lime pie with white chocolate mousse, rice krispy treat, apple coffee cake and banana pudding.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Melisser made a ridiculous dessert.  If I remember correctly it was pie crust, cookie dough, cake AND meringue.  Here she is torching the meringue.

Inside shot.

Group shot!

There were SEVEN doggies at the potluck (three of which were Amey’s), and surprisingly enough I liked them all!  All the doggie owners tried to wrangle them in for a picture.

Here’s the ever-popular Strummer, sunning herself on Megan’s lap.

Our gracious host Amey with Snoopy the cutie-pie.

And my favorite pittbull, Fiona.

After pigging out we all sat around and chatted for a while, then Megan, Melisser, her husband Ryan and I went to downtown Santa Cruz to walk around and check out some shops, so at least I worked off a FEW calories.  Check out Amey’s blog post here, she has more detailed pictures of most of the food.

The next weekend we went to Vegas!  BF’s sister is graduating from her master’s program and wanted to get together to celebrate so a group of 13 of us went, mostly bf’s family and his sister’s boyfriend’s family.  Whew.  We scored an amazing rate at Paris, and really enjoyed staying there.  It’s a comfortable hotel, and the kind of place you wouldn’t really have to leave the whole weekend if you didn’t want to.

We got in late afternoon on Friday, settled in, and ate at a cafe in Paris that really isn’t worth writing about, except for the fact that I got a whole bottle of wine for $8 when most of their single glasses are more than that.

HERE is what Vegas means to me.

Ronald’s Donuts, my friends.  The donuts are out of this world good, they have soy milk for coffee, and I will happily make myself sick eating their apple fritters.  Here I am, slightly hungover and unshowered, in apple fritter heaven.

We had plans for dinner but needed to have a late lunch somewhere, because one cannot exist on apple fritters alone.  Enter Le Burger Brasserie in Paris.  I took a chance that this place would have something I could eat, and I won!  Upon inquiring of the waiter if their veggie burger had any dairy or eggs, he cringed and said “Yeah, I think it does…it has mushrooms, grains, vegan cheese…Wait!  Vegan cheese has no dairy!” and checked with the kitchen to be completely sure.

This was a good, good veggie burger.  The patties are made in-house, and are at least an inch thick and very tasty.  It comes with two topping, but I added one and chose portobello, avocado and caramelized onions.  Seriously, this was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had and I’d recommend Le Burger Brasserie over the meal I had at Burger Bar easily.

The one caveat about this place is that it’s not cheap.  The burgers don’t come with fries, you have to order them separately.  But I would recommend that you do.

Because their fries are really good, despite the blurry image.  They have steak fries, shoestring fries AND waffle fries and you can get a three fry sampler if you want.

Sometimes when the waiter forgets to ask whether you want an orange or lemon slice with your Widmer and they bring you both, you put them both in.  It’s Vegas, you gotta get a little crazy!

Dinner that night was at The Wynn Buffet, where the lighting apparently does horrible things to my pictures.  Like last time I visited, I didn’t get to check that anything was vegan, but when in doubt went the cautious route.  So don’t take my word for it on this stuff…

Plate 1:  salad with vinaigrette, asparagus and pea salad, strawberries, dried fruit, marinated artichoke, pickles and a little piece of bread.

Plate 2:  pita with hummus and baba ganoush, rice pilaf, curried chickpeas.

Plate 3:  Asian slaw, spicy cucumbers with citrus, sushi, seaweed salad, and the most amazing miso udon which I tried to replicate after the last time I had it but didn’t really come close.

I also had a few bites of sorbet for dessert, but it was nothing picture worthy.  For the life of me I can’t remember where or if we had lunch the next day.  Maybe I just ate a bunch of donuts?

For dinner, we had a date with Hoffbrauhaus, a full-on German-style restaurant like in Beer Fest.  You sit at a long table with other parties, there is a band with an accordion on stage, and the waitresses can carry multiple mugs of beer in one hand.  Look at this perfect pour!

The menu includes two vegetarian entrees, but they’re both laden with cheese or cream, so I asked about a few side dishes and ended up getting three.

Yummy pretzel with sweet mustard.

Cucumber salad, which was good but not worth the $7 it costed.

Red cabbage.  The flavor was good, but they somehow managed to make the cabbage HEAVY.  I couldn’t even finish this small bowl.

I would recommend the Hoffbrauhaus if you’re into that sort of thing, but warn that it is not really within walking distance of the strip.  It may look like it is on a map, but please take a cab!

After dinner we went to Cirque du Soleil Mystere at TI.  It was quite a show, but overall I think I liked La Nouba in Orlando better.  Not that Mystere was bad, it just wasn’t better than La Nouba.  It was also really expensive; our discount tickets were more than I really wanted to pay, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.

That was it for us in Vegas, but on the way out of town we stopped off at Ronald’s again.  I had asked around in the Bay Area to see if anyone wanted donuts brought back and had a large response.  So I bought ten half dozens, which didn’t include the donuts I bought for the ride home, or the donuts that the sweet people at Ronald’s GAVE to me!  Here are the donuts I distributed, with my pepper grinder for size reference (and bonus grease spots).

The next weekend, in addition to going to two baseball games, I baked a donation for the San Francisco Worldwide Vegan Bakesale.

These are Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondies from Vegan With A Vengeance, but made with Blackberries instead.  They are super-duper good and I can’t believe I waited this long to try them!  I did have a tricky time getting the blackberry filling to work, it kind of seized up and got stringy.  The recipe calls for tapioca powder and I used tapioca flour because I thought they were the same thing.  Anyone know if they’re the same thing?  I added some extra water to the filling and despite being really sticky, it worked out.

Seeing as SF is not a short trip exactly, and I had a hard time getting going that morning, I was a few hours late for the bakesale.  They had already sold out of a lot of items, but had enough to keep going.

We did really well with foot traffic due to our fantasitc location in front of Ike’s.  Ike’s has pretty much the best sandwiches ever (with extensive vegan options), so of course I had to get one.  I really wanted the Paul Reubens special but they had run out of Tofurkey, so I had a “Not So Sloppy” – meatballs and bbq sauce.

So friggin’ good!  And if you order a vegan sandwich they give you a vegan lollipop.

The bakesale was a HUGE success.  Between the two days and locations they raised $3,000 dollars.  Three thousand!  The proceeds were split between Animal Place and East Bay Animal Advocates.  I feel proud to have been a small part of such a great event.  Thanks to Melisser and Laura for organizing!

That brings us to this past weekend, which was the Fourth of July.  We kept it small and just went to a friend’s house to grill, hang out and play board games.  I decided to make a fancy grilled portobello sandwich, and started by marinating some big mushrooms according to this recipe.

During the veggie grilling session (after the grill had been cleaned of any remaining meats) we cooked the portobellos along with pattypan squash and corn.

I served the mushrooms on storebought ciabatta with lettuce, caramelized onions and avocado-horseradish sauce.  Delightful!  The portobellos weren’t the best I’ve ever made, but I think that had more to do with me cooking them over high heat for a few minutes too long than it did with the recipe.

In keeping with my one year tradition of making a red, white and blue dessert, I put together a trifle.  The layers are lemon pound cake from Veganomicon, strawberries, blueberries and coconut whipped cream.  I was going to do a simple silken tofu whipped cream but couldn’t find silken tofu anywhere, so I bought two cans of coconut milk, remembering that I had read somewhere that you could whip it into cream.  I followed the technique of this recipe, using all the cream from the tops of both cans (about 1 1/2 cups), 6 Tbs powdered sugar, 4 Tbs soy milk powder, 1 tsp almond extract, and a pinch of salt.  It did whip up and turned out nicely.

While I was carefully layering the trifle, bf asked me “Why are you arranging it so carefully if you’re just going to cover it up?”.  Well, this is why:

Trifle’s are supposed to look pretty from the side!

And from the top.  It tasted really good too.  There were lots of flavors going on between the vanilla and lemon in the pound cake, the coconut and almond in the cream and the berries, but it came together well and the pound cake had the perfect squishy consistency.

Lastly, here is how Jake likes to spend his time while I’m out galavanting and running around.

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