Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boston Vegetarian Society Food Festival Review

This was my second time at the Food Festival (I went in 2006 and sadly missed out on Isa and Terry's Cupcake Demonstration for no good reason other than I didn't know the greatness). As I remembered last time, it was packed, sweltery packed since it was 70 today in Boston. We remarked that the gymnasium was waaay too small, and needed at least that gorgeous track area. My strategy going in, as a mostly veg*n, mostly non-processed (ie, rare use of store-bought analogs) foodie was to hit the products that had buzz and were like Christmas for me. Cos basically the whole festival is stuff I usually don't get: with three bakeries, May Wah (which had a line a mile long)

Exhibitors I was very excited about seeing were Teese, Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream, and VegNews (since I'm dying for the 2009 Veggie Awards issue).

Here are the highlights:

1. Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe the staff were really friendly, the table was neatly laid out and they had Soy Curls! (which I bought to make Isa's Vegan Brunch tacos, and, umm, also cos we don't have them where I'm from)

2. this incredible Fennel Almond chocolate bar I had from I don't remember what vendor

3. Teese! The cool people there had a dispenser full of nacho sauce and all the faux mozzarella you could want.

So those are my favourites. I bought a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake (mini!) from Vegan Treats. Somehow I always think I like white chocolate so much, then when I get it, I don't like it. I think it was good, if you liked white chocolate (really), and the pumpkin cheesecake looked incredible! It all looked amazing...they had at least eight different kinds of cakes and cheesecakes.

After assorted nibbles of vegan truffles, lara bars, pure bars, etc. and seeing the super inspiring vegan bodybuilders/fitness gurus, I headed out into the foyer for what was sure to be the penultimate taste experience, after all I'd heard about it: the aforementioned Wheeler's. I bought a large with vanilla cucumber and maple walnut. I was sooo excited for vegan maple walnut! Gentle reader(s), you know what's coming. After being assured that it was an excellent flavour combination, after months and months of nothing but rave reviews, when I sat down in the gorgeous autumn day, outside in the sweet sweet breeze to eat my delicious ice cream, it was a disaster. I've pored over The Vegan Scoop and read what most of the recipes consisted of: largely based on soy creamer and arrowroot. Gentle reader(s), you could taste the arrowroot, the starchy sludge that only tried to distract you from the thin, vinegary flavour of the ice cream. A dining companion agreed. To make matters worse, I do not know how they decided to serve the vanilla cucumber in such a state: it had large frozen chunks in it, simply watery, ice-y chunks. I was shocked. I am definitely going to give them another chance, but this, two flavours!, wasn't promising.

Thinking that perhaps I'd had too much of the nip lately (dairy ice cream), I tried to shake it off and test my tastebuds at the Coconut Bliss station, thinking maybe I had just forgotten what vegan ice cream tasted like (though I knew in my heart of hearts that wasn't true; I had, after all, nearly demolished a quart of Trader Joe's Cherry Chocolate amazingness scant weeks before).

Even though I don't like coconut ice cream (usually), I loved Coconut Bliss. I highly recommend Mint Galactica.

I ended the day happy that I'm a mostly veg*n, mostly minimally processed foodie, and very very excited to catch up on MoFo and make Cauliflower and Mushroom Potpie.

btw, the Teese was pretty good in my Chik'n Parm sandwich.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

this is just to say

i failed the Mole Skillet with Greens pie from Veganomicon. It was my own fault, I'm sure of it, since the beloved Isa & Terry can do no wrong; for the Chili-Chocolate mole sauce I used grain sweetened dark chocolate chips from the bulk bin. that simply has to be it.

well, at least i liked the biscuit top

Go To Foods

I've been sick the past few days and eating really really simply (see the aforementioned squash). Today, for dinner, I snacked on Yves Pepperoni, a gigantic Cortland apple, and a Super Protein Odwalla bar. I feel ridiculously lucky that Whole Foods is only three blocks away, so I picked up a bunch of kale that I didn't have the energy to chop and steam. Tomorra.

My childhood go-to food was mashed potatoes. They are so much work though! When I lived with my parents and felt crappy, I'd ask my dad to make them--which he would sometimes do. He has a variation he does with just Earth Balance, and it's phenomenal.

As far as go-to breakfast foods, I kill for cornflakes with soya and pancakes with agave and EB. Or sweet potatoes. Or sweet potatoes with some black beans or other kind of beans and ketchup. Or packaged salad mix with Annie's Goddess dressing. Or a Tibetan Tofu Wrap from WF...ohmyyes.

You know how some people's favourite food is pasta with sauce? Yeah, that's not me; I seriously dislike pasta plain. I had it in the pantry tonight, and I could've made it up really easy but I just couldn't stomach it! Same with rice usually; I'm definitely a whole grains, bread, or potato gal.

This fabulous woman knows how to do go-to-foods right, and I suggest you check out her blog now!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

i actually cooked today!

or baked, rather. i finally roasted the plump li'l butternut squash that's been hanging out on our counter for three weeks. i quartered it with all my might, spent a hairy five minutes scooping the seeds (out of the potted plants too!), and dotted my quarters with beloved Earth Balance and two with some garam masala. they were placed on an aluminum lined cookie sheet, baked at 375 for 20 minutes, still super hard, so i put another aluminum foil tent over them and popped them back in for sixteen minutes on that side. then i flipped them over, and baked for another half an hour.

they were sooo delicious looking...the skin had roastedness to it, and i was so suddenly famished that i ate an entire quarter standing up.

indeed delish.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Let's Talk Cookbooks

The first vegan cookbook I knew was 'How It all Vegan' ( ). My BFF in Fall of my senior year at college bought it when she became vegan (I was veg at the time and thought she was crazy because our cafeteria was barely tolerable for veg). We spent $40 on lentil soup ingredients. It was good, but not that good.

Z, my first honest-to-goodness longterm vegan friend, didn't cook from books. He did make fabulous roasted chickpeas though...

When I chose to be vegan a year and a half later, the first book I bought was 'How it all Vegan'. I strongly believe in cookbooks. As a girl I read 'The Joy of Cooking' and 'Fannie Farmer' voraciously; experience has shown that approximations and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cooking result in gloppy messes.

HIAV was a great start. The Curried Veg were fabulous, the pancakes scrumptious and I used the recipe for years, Benny's Breakfast an unusual success, the chocolate pudding a favorite of my folks, the tofu lasagna satisfaction, the chocolate pudding cake treaty goodness (after adjustments to the baking powder) I bought, with an Easter gift card from my beloved Auntie, 'Vegan Planet' by Robin Robertson...the African Sweet Potato stew was good, except it took my dear cousin E and I two hours to prepare, the breakfast casserole a good idea except missing something in execution...the baba ganoush was excellent, yet i found that the recipes relied on too many expensive, packaged faux products, weren't consistent, and lacked oomph and satisfaction.

Several specialty cookbooks followed 'The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook' by Joanne Stepaniak (noteable for its Gooey Grilled Cheese) and her sauce book (which I've only used twice).

I went through a long period where I didn't cook for myself. I was grumpy, cranky. It wasn't till I bought Vegan with a Vengeance by the beloved Isa that I began cooking again, and loving it. My beloved sausage and biscuits with gravy were back, and I adored the Tempeh-Mango salad sandwiches.

The gold standard, which I bought last year, while omni, is Veganomicon. I've made over 20 recipes from VWAV and well over that from Veganomicon. As for cupcakes, VCTOTW has that covered.

I've lost steam. Perhaps I'll edit this tomorrow

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Vegan Mofo 2009 Quiz!

Brought to you by Lauren of Whoa Wren!
1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Soya. Versatile and, most importantly, protein packed.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
In the end, I cooked pumpkin sage ziti (from VCON), mole skillet pie with greens (VCON), and pumpkin cupcakes.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
mole skillet pie with greens...used the wrong kind of chocolate and it was awful!

5. Favorite pickled item?

6. How do you organize your recipes?

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash :( I dream of a situation where I can compost

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
italian feast sausages, ice creme, and chocolate

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
My dad's mashed potatoes. Lately, I've been having a major flashback to seasoned potato wedges.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Purely Decadent Mint Madness

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Muffin Tin

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
How it all Vegan

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Pumpkin sage ziti

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
In practice? Seitan or wheat gluten-ish stuff, tofu, then tempeh.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Brunch! Evening/night

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Assorted pots and pans

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Nothing that's mine! At my folks, it's chili-chocolate mole sauce, chickpeas, and tomato rice soup.

20. What’s on your grocery list?
Usually fruit, greens, maybe soya if I've run out, and then whatever I need for the two recipes I'm cooking

21. Favorite grocery store?
Whole Foods...those samples slay me!

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
My mum's pizza. and I haven't veganized it because I'm lazy!

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Snackface, This is Why You're Thin!/Vegan Lunchbox, Let's Get Sconed

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
This massive Icelandic chocolate from Whole Foods that's $3.99 for 8 oz.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Yves Veggie Pepperoni

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Xanthan gum and chickpea flour

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Or Maybe Not

sorry, not more conversational today. this posting every weekday is beginning to get a bit drudgery, especially when i'm not cooking much! however, i have plans to make the chili-chocolate mole pie from Vcon (of course) so the weekend should be better.

and i'll stop boring you with senseless posts.