Posts Tagged Jake

Salads & Shrimps

A while back, I had a head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used, so I consulted How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and turned it into Wheat Berry Salad with Cabbage and Coarse Mustard.  I added celery per Bittman’s suggest and beans for protein, and used less oil than the recipe called for.  I really liked this salad but thought the red onions were overpowering; I ended up picking them out of the leftovers.  I really need to make more recipes from this cookbook!

Bad picture of a great salad – Caesar Salad with Eggplant Bacon from Appetite for Reduction, topped with broiled blackened tofu.  I didn’t have bread to make the croutons, so I toasted some tortilla strips instead.  I super duper love this salad!  The eggplant bacon is fantastic, and the Cesar Chavez dressing has become my go-to dressing, as I always have the ingredients on hand.

Orange-strawberry salad with fava beans, pea shoots, avocado-lemon-poppy seed dressing and almonds.  I had really high hopes for this salad but the dressing was, sadly, just okay.

Onto the shrimps!  Seafood was the very last meat I gave up before going vegetarian, and I had a rough time of it.  I really liked shrimp and tuna!  I haven’t craved seafood for a really long time, but I think it’s fun to eat mock seafoods every once in a while.

Dave wanted some noodle soup one Sunday afternoon, so I made a sort of combination of this recipe and pho.  I had a package of vegetarian prawns in the freezer for a long time, so I tossed it into my portion.


The prawns were interesting – the flavor was good, but they were really big and very chewy.  Strange, for sure.

What were not strange were these breaded vegan shrimp from Sophie’s Kitchen.  Imagine my delight when I spotted an assortment of new vegan seafood in the Whole Foods freezer!  I had to try it.

These breaded vegan shrimp are similar to the prawns above in taste and texture, but because they’re smaller they’re less chewy and weird.  And, they’re breaded, and, the breading stays on!  I really liked these shrimp and will definitely purchase products from Sophie’s Kitchen again.

Lastly, I realized it’s been a long time since I posted any pictures of Jake the handsomest cat, so here you go.

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Food For Sports

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that Dave and I like sports – we like inviting people over to watch sports, and we love going to games!  Here are some foods that we ate while watching or preparing to watch sports.

Our friend Tom is a biiiiig Green Bay Packers fan, so we were very excited for their final playoff game against the Bears.  (Yes, all the way back in January.)  We had some friends over and observed what we’re told is a Green Bay tradition.  Apparently, Packers fans bring chili to their tailgates, then mix all the chilis together in a giant pot.  We didn’t have a pot big enough to hold all the chilis, so we just mixed them in our bowls.  Well…everyone else mixed them, I just ate my vegan chili.

For an attempt at authenticity, I based mine on this recipe for Wisconsin Chili.  I used soy crumbles instead of meat, and the only other major change I made was to saute the vegetables before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This was a simple chili, and very tasty!  Even the meat eaters liked it.

I topped my bowl of hot chili with some shredded cheddar Teese.

Oh, yes I did.  I made a chili cheese dog, and it was amazing.  Carbs on carbs, mmmmm…

Imagine our delight when the Packers won and advanced to the Super Bowl!  Naturally, we had friends over for a Super Bowl party.  Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, to me, was practically good vs. evil, so I was rooting for the Packers big time.

Jake greeted our guests by the door.

I made a seven layer dip a la this post, and served it with Trader Joe’s Corn Chip Dippers, which are awesome.  I also put out some TJ’s Trek Mix with chocolate, which is also awesome.  All on a green tablecloth, of course.

Dave was preparing some sort of meat with baked beans and mac n cheese, so I put together a similar plate.

Buffalo Tempeh from Appetite for Reductions.  SO GOOD.  I will be making this again and again.

Mac and Trees, no trees, also from Appetite for Reductions.  I put some breadcrumbs on top and baked (overbaked) it.  Also so good!

Fantastic football dinner!

I made a Packers cookie cake!  Toward the end of the third quarter, when the Steelers were threatening to mount a comeback, we decided we needed to “consume the power of the Packers” in order to help, and we dug in.  Cookie cakes are always loved.  After The Great Cookie Cake Catastrophe of 2008, when I dropped a blob of icing on the top of the N in NY, I was very careful with the frosting, and so happy with how it turned out!  To make a cookie cake, I just prepare the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance then press the whole thing onto a round pan covered with foil, and bake maybe a bit longer than the recipe calls for.  The edges get chewy but the middle stays nice and gooey.  The topping is just regular buttercream; I used the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

I like to believe that the cookie cake aided the Pack in the win.  After football was over, we had nothing to do other than look forward to baseball season.  For the first baseball tailgate, we needed a cold side dish to go with some barbecue, and I went with potato salad.

I don’t think a picture of potato salad can really ever do potato salad justice, because this potato salad was super duper delicious.  I started with Betty Crocker’s recipe for Creamy Potato Salad and replaced the mayo with half regular Vegenaise, and half low-fat.  I left out the egg, obviously, and added some relish and fresh chopped dill.  You can never have enough fresh dill.

Perfect meal for eating in a parking lot – potato salad, grilled mushrooms and barbecue tofu.

I wanted to make a special dessert for our first tailgate of the season, and I had a crazy idea about making something with Cracker Jacks.  I googled it, and found out that rather than baking with Cracker Jacks, I could make cookies that taste like Crackers Jacks.

I veganized this Cracker Jack Cookie recipe, swapping out egg replacer for the eggs and using organic brown rice cereal instead of Rice Krispies.  I also added peanuts, because what good are Cracker Jacks without the peanuts?  Somehow, the cookies actually did taste a little like Cracker Jacks.  I don’t like shredded sweetened coconut at all, but it was fine in this cookie since there were so many textures going on.  The cookies spread a little more than I would like, so I want to make these cookies again with more binder, and I’ll post a recipe once it’s perfected.

Finally, I know the Kentucky Derby isn’t very vegan, but its official drink is.  Dave is a fan of horse racing, so he invited a few friends over for the derby and we mixed up some mint juleps.

Apparently there are a few different ways to make a mint julep, but I followed the recipe on the derby website.  It’s super easy.  You just make a simple syrup and chill it with fresh mint, then strain out the mint.  Put ice in a glass, add syrup, whiskey and fresh mint, and sip!  Seriously though, sip.  This is one strong beverage.

We don’t have highball glasses or julep cups, so we drank ours out of half-pint mason jars.  We’re classy like that.

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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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CSA’s & Laptop Lunches

Geez, it’s been a long time since I posted my foods!  I’ll try to keep my rambling and descriptions short, since I’ve got a lot of pictures!

8-27 CSA:  corn, rosemary, pears, zucchini, cucumber & lavender

onions, figs, tomatoes, beets, squash & honeydew melon

When I got this CSA box, I was actually growing tired of snacking on fresh figs.  Gasp!  I’m spoiled, I know.  I decided to make a poached fig salad, based on a recipe I found online that I can’t find again now!  Which is a shame, cause it was really good.  The fresh figs were poached in a whole bottle of port, then the wine was reduced down to a syrup.  There was also a simple vinaigrette, pisatchios, shallots and faux feta cheese.  The poached figs were STRONG, but good.  I also had some herbed pumpkin seed crackers.

I had taken note of the Teriyaki Quinoa recipe in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan during my August cleanse but didn’t get a chance to try it then.  I’m glad I tried it afterwards, because I love it!  It’s so simple – just cook the quinoa and mix it with the sauce.  I served the quinoa with stir-fried veggies (seasoned only with tamari and ume plum vinegar), and instead of sprinkling with sesame seeds as the recipe called for, I used some sesame gomasio that I had bought for no specific reason.

Quinoa close-up!  Looks like…quinoa…

I had a huge heirloom tomato sitting around doing absolutely no good, and I decided I wanted to slice it up for a grilled cheese sandwich.  There’s a big hole in the middle cause the tomato had a big, tough core that had to be cut out.

I wanted to make bread machine bread for my sandwich and…FAIL.  I modified a multigrain bread machine recipe that I found online and it really didn’t rise at all.  It was edible but incredibly dense.  I don’t know if the recipe was bad or if it was the fact that I used the time delay feature and the ingredients sat there for hours before the machine started mixing.

The cheese in the sandwich is the Gooey Grilled Cheese from The Uncheese Cookbook, which I love.  I also love pickles on grilled cheese.  On the side was broccoli and cucumber with goddess dressing, and oven-baked beet chips.

I had corn and squashes left over from the CSA box, and thought they would make nice side dishes for black-eyed-pea gravy and biscuits.  I have no idea where I got the gravy idea from, but it worked out.

For the biscuits, I used Happy Herbivore’s Whole Wheat Low Fat Biscuit recipe, and they turned out quite well!  I rolled mine out and cut them into circles with a glass though, rather than just dropping them like the recipe calls for.  That way you get the flaky sides, and they’re easy to cut in half.

Gravy close-up!  The gravy turned out okay, but it was a little too acidic and the onions weren’t cooked enough, so I need to work on it a bit before I have an official recipe.  For the creamed corn, I just cooked some corn kernels till tender, blended up some of them in the food processor, added it back to the pan with some soy milk and cooked a bit just to thicken.  The squash and zucchini were sauteed with probably a pinch too much red pepper flakes.

9-10 CSA:  lettuce, thyme, zucchini, swiss chard & grapes

tomatoes, plums, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, garlic & oranges

There’s nothing particularly special about this salad, except that it was topped with Annie’s French Dressing, which I had never seen before and like a lot.

With the abundance of tomatoes in this CSA box, I thought I ought to try my hand at making gazpacho.  I’d had gazpacho before a number of times but never made it.  Turns out it’s ridiculously easy to make!  The blender does most of the work.  I followed the recipe from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons and it was perfect.

On the side is a slice of Bianca’s awesome Whole Wheat Beer Bread.  I grew up eating beer bread, and this totally hit the spot.  I added FYH cheddar and some rosemary just cause I could.  I also totally screwed up and mis-read the recipe.  I thought the bread only baked for 30 minutes, so I pulled it out then, let it cool, and was totally surprised that my first slice was completely raw in the middle!  Then I re-read the recipe – doh!  It bakes for 55 minutes.  The slice on my plate up there went in the toaster oven just to finish, which is why it looks funny, and the rest of the loaf went back in the oven.  Read your recipes all the way through, people!

9-24 CSA:  swiss chard, lettuce, cucumber & more lettuce

beets, tomatoes, red onions, grapes & peppers.  I also got a galia melon but it didn’t find its way into the picture.

Another sandwich, this time on store-bought sprouted bread.  I had an avocado ready to use, and thought it would go perfectly with the CSA tomato and lettuce in a great sandwich.  I was thinking along the lines of a BLT, so I sauteed tempeh then glazed it with soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke.  Delicious!  The sandwich also had red onion jam, spicy mustard and a slice of vegan cheese.  Those nuclear chips in the front there are Buffalo Chips from Food Should Taste Good.  They didn’t really taste buffalo-y, but they were tangy and spicy and good.  If you haven’t tried Food Should Taste Good chips yet, do so!  They feel so much lighter than other chips, and their flavors are fun and imaginative.

10-8 CSA:  arugula, lettuce, acorn squash, more lettuce & baby bok choy

plums, potatoes, apples, oranges, tomatoes, onions, peppers & beets

I haven’t done anything with last week’s CSA box yet, but…there it is.

Laptop lunches!  I don’t have the time these days to neatly pack everything every night, but I do when I can.

9-8 pasta salad, steamed carrots, beanie weenies, cauliflower

9-10 biscuit & black-eyed pea gravy, creamed corn, spicy sauteed squash

9-15 cheddar-rosemary beer bread, gazpacho, baked beans, grapes

9-17 sesame noodles, sauteed cabbage, grapes

9-28 peppers lavender tofu, scalloped zucchini,
slow roasted tomatoes, grapes

10-1 multigrain sesame-beet pilaf, spicy daikon slaw, gf corn muffin, grapes

Bonus Jake.

And armless Jake.

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New Stuff

It seems like I’ve got a lot of new stuff going on lately.  I’ve also received some new stuff and bought some new stuff.  Stuff!

Firstly, I started the Natural Chef program at Bauman College last week.  Although I haven’t actually cooked anything yet, I’ve been enjoying it a lot.  Our sanitation and knife skills classes are this week, and after that we can get into the kitchen.

Yesterday after class I headed into San Francisco to check out Economy Restaurant Fixtures for some supplies.  They have just about everything you could need to start or run a restaurant, right down to salt and pepper shakers or menu covers.  It was kind of funny to see it all lined up on shelves.

Apron, chef’s pants, knife roll, paring knife and knife covers.  I’ll look so official!  I also picked up some small stuff for home cooking – ramekins, a fine wire mesh strainer and large piping tips.

It was recommended to purchase a recipe management program, and I went with Living Cookbook after reading lots of reviews on Amazon.  So far I’m very happy with the software, and am working on importing all of my collected loose recipes.  One of the great features is having nutrition information for each recipe, like you can see at the end of this post.

I found myself with just a bit of extra money last month, so I bought some e-books that were on my wish list for a long time.

Sneak Peak and Pudge-Free Holidays by Lindsay of Happy Herbivore, and Impossible Pies and Lunchbox Bites by Hannah of Bittersweet.  I haven’t made anything from any of them yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

I also ordered Swell zine from A-K of Swell Vegan, and bought The Joy of Vegan Baking as a total splurge at Rainbow Grocery yesterday.  Haven’t even looked through either yet!

I don’t get over to Rainbow very often, but I happened to be in SF yesterday so I made sure to swing by to stock up on Teese and other such specialties.  I wasn’t looking for creamer, but I saw this coconut milk creamer by So Delicious and figured I’d give it a try.  I normally use Silk or Trader Joe’s brand soy creamer, but I’m not in love with either.  I tried the coconut creamer this morning and the verdict isn’t quite in yet, but I think I’m going to like it.  The flavor is pretty natural, with a little hint of coconut, and I only had to use about a Tablespoon, as opposed to the soy creamers which it seems I need to use more than one serving to achieve my preferred creaminess.  I haven’t seen this coconut creamer on my side of the bay yet, so I’m hoping that Berkeley Bowl or Whole Foods will pick it up soon.

A while back, my mom asked if I wanted anything from Pampered Chef because she was going to a Pampered Chef party.  I said there was nothing I needed, but made a few small suggestions.  A few weeks later she sent me a big box full of stuff!  It included a garlic peeler, garlic slicer, bamboo cooking tools, a stoneware baking sheet, chow chow relish, rice chips, glazed pecans and Southern Living magazine.  It also included a cookbook published by my parent’s church, chock-full of good old southern recipes.  My mom is the best!

Ever since hearing about the wonder of Kala Namak (black salt) on the internets and reading about it in Vegan Brunch, I’ve been looking everywhere for it.  For anyone who doesn’t know about black salt, it has a sulfuric aroma and flavor, which helps to simulate egginess.  I finally decided to just order it on the internet, and did so at Salt Works.  This 9.5 oz jar was only $7.95, and they offered free shipping in September, so I think I scored a pretty good deal.  This jar will last me a long time…

…making dishes like this!  This is the tofu omelet from Vegan Brunch.  I made the mushroom filling with white and shiitake mushrooms because the store was out of cremini, and substituted chard for the spinach because it’s what I had.  I also added some shredded cheddar Teese inside and on top, and broiled the omelet for a few minutes at the end to melt the Teese.  In the back is a roasted sweet potato hash with ketchup.  I had high hopes for these omelets after reading rave reviews, and they lived up to them.  It’s not exactly like a real omelet, but I think it’s the best simulation you could make without actual eggs.

This isn’t new, per say, but it’s new for this year.  I caught a glimpse of Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale and had to have it!  It’s my favorite pumpkin beer, although Shipyard Pumpkinhead is really good too.  Gotta get it while it’s available.

And finally, a first for me:  I won a blog contest!  Alisa over at One Frugal Foodie hosted a contest to get rid of some cookbooks she didn’t need, and I won a copy of Nonna’s Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan.  Score!

That’s it for today.  Between going to school and working full time, I’m unfortunately not going to be able to post as often as usual, which wasn’t that often anyway.  I’ll probably have some interesting things to share from school – I have to make some recipes at home and write up reports for homework.  Either way, I’ll try to keep posting at least a few times a month.

Speaking of the upcoming month, it’s time for VeganMoFo!  I won’t be able to participate this year, but for a full list of participants check out Kittee’s post.  I will certainly be perusing the list and hopefully discovering some new blogs.

Bonus Jake pictures!

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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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Spring Grillin’

First, since I haven’t had a chance to post my latest CSA deliveries I’m just gonna do it now.  Three weeks ago:

salad greens, collards, rainbow chard, green garlic and asparagus

apples, navel oranges, radishes, strawberries, kiwi and sweet potatoes

And last week:

zucchinis, green chard, parsley, the world’s largest leek, lettuce

more apples, oranges, strawberries and radishes, teensy carrots and Meyer lemons

Now, spring is a great time for grilling. We all know this.   Summer as well.  Really, we grill year round, but I love grilling much more when the sun is out!  This was my first grilled meal after it turned officially Spring.

It was spur of the moment, and mostly from what we had at the house already – half a Tofurkey sausage, potatoes and a salad with grilled mushrooms, soy bleu cheese and balsamic reduction.  A fairly basic meal, but I wanted to share the method for the potatoes, which our friend Tom first introduced to us.  You pre-cook the potatoes, either by boiling them whole then slicing, or slicing then boiling.  The trick is to keep the slices fairly thick and cook them through, but not so much that they can’t stand up to the grill.  Once they’re boiled and drained, oil and season one side.  I think this time we only used kosher salt, black pepper and paprika, but you could go wild.  I think the paprika is key though, paprika makes everything better.  Grill the seasoned side over hot coals until it begins to char a bit (a little burning is good in this case, I think) and while the first side is cooking, oil and season the other side.  Flip, cook, eat.  Very good.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here yet, but baseball season started and we’ve got season tickets for the A’s, so we’ve been going to lots of baseball games.  And when those games fall on Saturdays, we tailgate!

Tailgate number one:  veggie dogs, grilled asparagus and coleslaw with radish and carrots.  We kept it simple for this one, since it was opening weekend and lots of friends came to join us.  The coleslaw dressing was just Vegennaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar and seasonings.

For tailgate number two we made kebabs!  In the past bf has been opposed to kebabs because they’re a little more work to put together, but we liked that they were a deviation from the normal burgers and dogs.  Above are my smoked tofu/pepper/onion/marinated mushroom kebabs, pre-cooking.  Yes, all of those just for me.

We didn’t bring anything to go with the kebabs, but the aforementioned Tom, who is apparently the potato master, brought these amazing garlicky parsley-y potatoes.  At Giants games and A’s games you can buy Gilroy Garlic Fries (Gilroy being renowned for garlic), and these were Tom’s version for grilling.  Did I mention they were amazing?

While we were grilling, this car pulled up across the aisle.

Awesomest baseball car ever!

(By the by, on a search for veggie food at the Oakland Coliseum I found veggie dogs!  They were $2.50 each if I recall correctly, which by stadium prices isn’t too bad.  They also weren’t more expensive than non-veggie dogs, which I appreciated.  I couldn’t tell you which stand they’re at specifically, but there’s something called the food court or food row or something, and it’s in there.  I had to walk almost halfway around the stadium from our seats in the outfield bleachers.  I plan on taking food with me from now on, but it’s nice to know that in a pinch there are vegan options.)

On the weekends we also like to drink a tasty beer now and then, and I wanted to tell you about this one.

This is Dale’s Pale Ale by Oskar Blues, and it comes in a can.  Don’t let this fool you though.  Just pour it in a pint glass and pretend it wasn’t in a can, cause this is one fine pale ale, if you into that sort of thing.

I leave you with Jake, trying to pretend he’s not interested in the fact that I’m sitting on the kitchen floor.

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