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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

obligatory mofo post

i could eat italian feast sausages on whole wheat buns with veganomicon's marinara sauce every day all day. a food so good that you feel delighted and ecstatic eating it.

and i'll be more conversational tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009


yes, the pumpkin ziti with caramelised onions and sage breadcrumbs will still be okay if you cut out the cashews from the ricotta, mix sage into the ricotta pumpkin batter, and only sprinkle plain whole wheat bread crumbs on top which you dot with butter. but it's not the same. it is, however, way simpler, especially if you usually spend five minutes cussing at the blender while trying to puree cashews.

no, the italian feast sausages (VB) will not turn out well if you 'eyeball' the vital wheat gluten, omit the paprika since you don't have any, and completely forget the soy sauce. be ye careful on this one.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rasoi Review

I've been to plenty of times and in honor of Vegan MoFo, I'm gonna break down the sure-hit Saturday vegan gluten free brunch.

We were there for my aunt's birthday, and I totally blanked on a camera. One day...

The best part about the brunch is usually the masala dosa, a wafer thin super crispy crepe with golden buttery masala potatoes with wee bits of fennel seeds. Today, the dosas came to our table before we had gotten up to get our first plate, and so it took a few minutes before I cracked into it...unfortunately for me. Dosas (and potatoes in general) are at their best when they are hot off the pan, and this one had just passed its peak, so for the first time in history, I actually left half my dosa on the plate.

Lentil donuts (wadi) are usually my second love. More like fritters and less like lentils than a specialty of Rhode Island, clamcakes (joy oh joys, minus clam, natch). I slather them with a thick tomato red pepper sauce and coconut chutney. Strike number two, the donuts were cold. Much like dosas, they are not at their best when cold. So I left some on my plate (gasp!).

They usually have a salad, for some completely baffling reason. I never eat it.

Going down the line was sambar (thin, vinegary lentil soup), brown or white rice with peas, plaintain and okra curry in a tomato sauce, corn methi (in a green fenugreek sauce), roasted veg, and sweet potato kheer (puddin!).

I always try the sambar every time I go. My aunt adores it, and I keep thinking that I'll like it, but...this was no exception. It's just not my flavor profile.

The plaintain and okra curry was great. Thick matchsticks of starchy plantain in a nicely fiery tomato sauce. The okra...umm...not so much...when I split it open, I nearly gagged on the goopy seeds. Next.

Wow...the methi was phenomenal. It tasted just like spinach saag, but it was much thinner and slightly more savory. I had seconds so large that I couldn't finish it.

The roasted veg were the surprise of the meal. Steaming hot potatoes that tasted like they'd been bathing in a secret spice concoction for days, delightfuly surprising chunks of tofu, sweet potato, squash...yum. seconds on that one too

And then, sweet potato kheer (cold) which I ate waaay too much of (seconds and a half on that one). Very finely chopped sweet potato, just cooked through with some kind of non-dairy milk, coconut, almonds, and raisin. Divine.

If you're in Rhode Island, Rasoi is an absolute vegan must do. Do it!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Love Song to Lacinato Kale

or, how I almost burned down our apartment (maybe).

I was grimly julienning my local lacinato kale, dreading the two step cooking process (steaming and sauteeing) I'd have to do to make it palatable, and then how I'd have to chew it twenty bazillion times, pretending I liked it and it wasn't just to make up for no vegetables during the day. You could have knocked me over with a feather when Roommate tried a piece and said it was good. I had to try. It was delicate, mild-flavored...why I could practically eat it raw, in a salad (which it will be tomorrow, with cherry tomatoes). So clearly sauteeing was called for.

After briefly sauteeing it in olive oil, covered, until it was just a wee bit past bright green (maybe 3 minutes), I took it off the heat and prepared to devour it.

Who knew that if you covered a pan that contained oil you might consume your kitchen in flames? Roommate did.

The more you know....maybe next time I can wilt my kale in a dry pan or with a wee bit of water and then finish it off with some oil...hmmm

Lacinato Kale Forever! (aka Dinosaur kale)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keep On Going

Well, at least I roasted eggplant tonight. Following what I remembered of Terry and Isa's method in The Cookbook to Rule Them All (a/k/a Veganomicon), I sliced two light purple, white streaked eggplant orbs in about 1/4 inch quarters, put them on very lightly buttered aluminum foil, with a few slivers on top, and then cooked them for about 14 minutes. a nice, chewy complement to my polenta rancheros. next time i will salt & pepper it up. i remain enraptured by the creamy sweetness of the rancheros.

Waking up to mid-30s this morning and eating cold Grape Nuts with soya and a dash of golden raisins was a nonsequitur. Yes, we have entered the season of Hot Breakfast Cereals. I'm pissed off that the quinoa flakes were $5.99!!! Cream of rye is a contender at %3.99 a cannister.

very excited for a review of an indian vegan gluten-free buffet this weekend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

'We Need All the Luck We Can Get'

I'm thinking about bad-ass American states, and Jamie Oliver's new save-a-town (in West Virginia) . And MacGyver.

Ok, I know there's a lot in America's food culture that's lacking. But, as a voracious reader of both Fannie Farmer and The Joy of Cooking when I was a girl, I know there's some serious U.S. of A. cuisine. Little House on the Prairie books, too. My favourite museum in D.C. is the National Museum of the American Indian, and I had a kick butt Lemon Guava Agua Fresca the last time.

I always think of Indian Pudding as the quintessential New England Native dish. Not lobster or blueberry pie--anyone can eat those (though, uh, everyone shouldn't be eating lobster).

But is it worth veganizing? I've only had it once, and it kind of sucked. What do you think?

(this post was brought to you by some serious Maine congressional representation today)

Monday, October 12, 2009

oh my

time flies! i've got to catch up on my MoFo posts...made Chocolate Marble Cupcakes (VCTOTW) and Polenta Rancheros today (VCTOTW) and lunch of Pumpkin Sage Ziti (Veganomicon). Next time I'll skip the bread crumbs. Maybe I'll make it into a straight-on pumpkin casserole. It would be phenomenal with golden raisins. My omni auntie was suitably impressed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Goods (and a How-I-Do on Meal Planning)

Wow. The CSA share was jam-packed in a 'not a plastic bag' screenprinted farm logo tote. I was shocked at how much it held. There were spicy bitter greens that I think are tatsoi, a bag of regular old salade greens, kale, fennel, chard, a petite kindergarten baby butternut squash, two turnips, compact and firm onions, a couple of green peppers, and radishes (which i thought were beets and teased my boss about incessantly since he has a phobia of the b-e-e-t).

I am really looking forward to invading my mother's spacious kitchen and cooking up a storm this weekend. I'm not set up yet for hard-core cooking at the new place; don't even have nutritional yeast or whole wheat pastry flour, two of my absolute staples. It's my fault; mom's place is so stocked and in easy driving distance, so I've put it off. But I've very very much missed cooking every weeknight. And I'm dying to make the Pumpkin Sage Ziti with Caramelized Onions from Veganomicon.

That reminds me. I can give you a how-to, or at least, a 'how-i-do'. I struggled with meal planning for a long time. What I've learned is that you have to know what you like, how you eat, where you eat, and how easily you get bored with food. The last one is the most important. I can eat the same general pattern of food for two weeks in a row---at best. Each Friday, before my Saturday shopping, I devise some sort of edible lunch solution (usually a wrap or some type of salad) and pick two dishes to make for dinners. Then I figure out if I'm still sick of oatmeal, and, if not, I'll have it. Otherwise, it's cereal or bagels with Tofutti.

I make a list, estimate how much it should cost, and then I shop from the list (mostly). Usually I'll buy whatever fruit is on sale, unless it's pears. Gah, I hate pears and peaches. Just thinking about fresh peaches and their skin makes me shudder...anyways, I eat a lot of apples. And oranges. In the summer, cherries and grapes. I've been known to eat two pounds of grapes in the course of the morning.

Since I'm only cooking for me, what I make could theoretically last for two weeks. In actuality, by the fourth day, I'm sick of the luscious kugel or savory soup.

I definitely need an easy-to-transport (no Thermoses!) fall substitute for lunchtime salads. Do you have any ideas? How do you meal plan?

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I have been asked to pick up the half CSA share of two dear friends while they are away this weekend. With the blissful blessing to "eat the spicy things" and "whatever you don't eat, I'll come pick up on Monday".

What treasures await me?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


This is the vegan $64,000 question, or, in modern parlance, the deal-or-no-deal bit.

When I went hardcore vegan in 2004, I faked like it was my life: veggie burgers from soy protein isolate, chik'n nuggets from soy protein isolate, soy ice cream, follow your heart vegan cheese (just thinking about the nacho cheez makes me shudder now), whole soy yogurt...finding any new vegan processed food was cause for celebration: omg, it's a vegan cupcake! omg, it's a vegan pumpkin doughnut! omg, it's a vegan vanilla glazed donut!

is it any wonder that, when i started eating dairy again three years later, i couched it as 'real food'?

what it comes down to (two years later and re-veg*nized [mostly]) for me, is just that: 'real food'. food that makes me feel good, is good for animals, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. i'm absolutely no puritan on 'fakery'--i've got a carton of TJ's Soy Creamy Mango and Vanilla softening on the counter for me as we speak. but...

what i love about isa and terry's books, what has changed my life is the emphasis on real food: beans, nuts, seitan, tofu, tempeh. though i started with just cooking main dishes from their approach, now, instead of having a clif bar for snack on a regular basis, i'll have pecans or almond butter with apples. or, instead of my beloved vegan sesame nuggets from the whole foods' hot bar, i'll have whatever new yummy tofu or edamame salad or....well, that's a lot of 'ors'. that's a lot of options.

if you're veg and you eat processed fakery on a regular basis, i challenge you to make your own meatballs (spaghetti and beanballs, veganomicon), your own sausage (italian sausage, vegan brunch), your own meat patties (chickpea cutlets, veganomicon), and your own veggie burgers (black bean burgers, veganomicon).

and, if you've found a really good soft cashew cheez recipe a la tofutti cream cheese, let me know.

Monday, October 5, 2009

short little ditty

this is just to say that i've baked Spinach Kugel and simmered Tomato Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans (from Veganomicon, of course)

agave cupcakes take over the world (VCTOTW, 'natch)

also, wheat-flax wrap with mashed cannelini beans, TJ's sweet chili sauce, and Sorrento salad mix (arugula, spinach, baby greens): soooo good.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I confess that I hated hummus when I first tried it in college. I knew it was one of those foods that I should like (like Indian food, which I'd successfully weaned myself onto at the age of 11), and so, I persisted. The cool kids ate hummus, okay. The veg kids. The kids I wanted to be like. So I ate hummus.

(But, to be honest, food service hummus is really bad. I don't need to tell you that.)

We all know that hummus is the workhorse of the veg*n on the go. We search restaurant appetizer menus for hummus & pita, we are consoled by the presence of hummus in chain restaurant salad bars, and, in a good independent sandwich shop or sometimes, blessedly, a mass market one, we are drawn back from the edge of tears (due to no falafel) by hummus.

The best hummus I have ever had was made by the Israeli mom of a staffperson on our literary magazine. Six of us carpooled to New York City for a retreat, and, when we got to J's house, late and famished, two enormous bowls of hummus, dusted with paprika, awaited us. Oh my. Oh my. wow. She made other Israeli specialties too, but that thick creaminess clung to me, like the comfort food she intended it to be.

My favourite brand of packaged hummus (if I must eat packaged) is Sabra. Hands down, it is the best (though I was a Tribe of Two Shieks girl until S came on the scene). It's creamy, not vinegary tasting and it doesn't taste fake. I once bought a tub of hummus made with canola oil straight, instead of tahini. That was a huge mistake, so consider this my PSA. It was bland, unbearable to choke down, basically something that a '50s mom might make. ok, '70s.

Tonight, I corralled three cups (or so) of chickpeas (from dried) and coaxed my blender into making Isa and Terry's recipe from Veganomicon. (Not surprisingly, like most things Isa and Terry make, it is the best recipe of its kind).

After patting it into an old frozen dinner tray for keeps (the only 'tupperware' in the house at the mo'), I scraped out the leftover creaminess with celery sticks.


Thursday, October 1, 2009


The facts: TP, a tantalizing taqueria, with the tastiest, most succulent burritos around, closed as of today.

The story: TP was the defacto lunch spot--a mere seven minute walk from my work, an affordable $7-$8 (sans limeade), with the best perfectly fresh, locally sourced, and impeccably grilled and spiced burrito this side of SoCal. veganized. in a town where vegan options in the bustling Worker Bee district were (until the new crepe place with vegan crepes and a tofu, peanut sauce, basil, bean sprout and mint filling to die for): veggie salad, veggie sub, salted to the point of submarine death soup (if it was the right day of the week). not even hummus--and that's a really low blow. no protein!

my order was the same even if my company wasn't. for nearly a year, i dined every week with my QC/BFF, and then a new dining partner stepped in, and that lasted for nearly six months. i've taken my mother, my brother, my roommate, my interns, and organized brunches for my crew after sampling the farmer's market next door. i was guaranteed to run into at least two people i knew every time, including my yoga teacher.

and by my order being the same i mean, usually. usually it was a half black beans, half pinto, no rice veggie burrito,veganized (which meant cilantro lime sour cream, no cheese) grilled and doused liberally with red Sauce of Doom. or, if the veg was sweet potatoes, all of the above, sans wrap and in a bowl.

and, over the past few years, as i flirted with different -vores, i tried most everything, but always kept coming back to that burrito.

i hadn't been to TP in a few months, and the memories were so good, i wasn't sure i was going to go last night. but...

last night's veggie burrito (with 1/2 summer squash and 1/2 sweet potato) was just as succulent and delectable, just as toothsome, savory, and back-of-the-book spicy, as the first.