Monday, July 30, 2007

Back from Austin

My friend, Candy, and I spent the weekend in Austin looking for houses to rent. After spending all of Saturday afternoon driving through neighborhoods and finding nothing that suited our tastes, we were exhausted. Just when we began to give up hopes of a cute little old house, and settle for a stuffy apartment, we came across what we will (hopefully) soon be renting. It is just small enough to be modest, but not cramped, and right across the street from a huge park with plenty of room to stretch. It is also just 3 miles from town.

Here is the front. Quaint, but just right. We won't have cars, so the carport will become an extra storage space. We also want most of our yard to become garden.
An area of our backyard is fenced off, which we learned is the remains of an old house from the 1920's that has been cleared away. It looks like an overgrown pet cemetery, which suits the area since we are surrounded by 3 cemeteries. This little table is part of the fenced area. To the right overlooks the park, and the hills of Austin.

A view of our overgrown backyard from the sidewalk. We love all of the green and plan to let it continue flourishing.Our adorable little red headed neighbor. He is quite vocal, but I think we will get along just fine.

After wandering the town in the Texas heat, I was far too exhausted to take a picture of any of the food we consumed that day. We just stopped at Wheatsville for some lunch, and soup and cornbread for dinner. I wish I would have taken a picture of the cornbread, because it was the best I have EVER had. Seriously. Hopefully I won't need a picture to remember though, because I may be seeing it everyday since I applied for a job there.

I did get one food picture on Sunday at brunch. We went to Bouldin Creek, which is fast becoming a regular. I had the Garden bagel, with hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and steamed spinach. Also a hippy shake on the side- Oj, banana, spirulina, and soymilk. Mmm, kept me going all day.

If everything goes well with the application process, we hope to be moving in to the house by the first of September. Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What a jerk

Jerk tofu (sauce from VWAV) with red bells, sauteed collards and garlic, baked sweet potato. Mmmmmm, saucey and spicy, and oh so filling. This way my first time making Jerk sauce, and I'm in love.
For dessert, I made this strange concoction. On the bottom is a piece of Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake from Fat Free Vegan (picture below), with chopped mango, topped with Coconut-Molasses ice cream and a strawberry. I totally made up the ice cream flavor as I went along. I think there's even some rosewater in there. It tasted kind of like burnt rubber, especially since it was hardly sweetened. I'll make sure to make something better next time.

After working all day in the hot sun repainting my mom's back porch, I was so exhausted that I fell into bed before midnight. Unusual since I have been staying up until 3. I woke up before noon the next day and decided to make a real breakfast. I made a mock version of Susan's Coconut Chai Breakfast cake, using the leftover glaze from my Tiramisu twinkies, and using agave and xylitol to sweeten it. I also added some chocolate chips. A bit dense, but good for a small breakfast, or snack. Especially good in a bowl with fruit and rice milk!

Feeling pretty uninspired after doing hard labor all day, with blistered fingers and a sunburn, I decided to have a "make your own bowl" night for dinner. I dumped the fridge out, heated everything up and set it on the counter for us to have our way with. Mine is: brown rice, pinto beans, sauteed onion, red bell, broccoli, and corn, shredded carrot, avocado, and cheeze sauce. Mmmm.

I swear, I'm going to gain 15 lbs. if I don't get a job soon! Being a bum is nice, since I get to catch up on my reading, and stay up until 3am. But, that also means I have ample time to cook and bake (and eat) whatever my heart desires. Meals have been a bit heavy lately, but I try to balance them out with a nice raw salad, or some veggie sticks and hummus. I am also trying to avoid sugar for a while. After the overload in Austin, and all of the cupcakes I have been making, I figured it was time for a bit of a detox. I still use some agave from time to time, especially since I have a big jar of cinnamon flavored Agasweet in my cupboard. Other than that, my sugar is strictly from fruit. We'll see how long that last this weekend with a spur of the moment trip to Austin to go house hunting!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Two dinners and a protest

The protests are over, and now I'm looking for other ways to pass the time. What better way to pass the time than to cook? Eat, of course! And I've been doing plenty of that..

Inspired byJess at Get Sconed, I made an herb crusted Gardenburger cutlet, with leftover chickpea gravy, some steamed broccoli, and polenta fries with red curry ketchup. I am not a big fan of most of the frozen veg burgers out there. They are good for a quick, hearty dinner, but I just don't like the after taste. Much better when crusted and coated with gravy. I especially liked it dipped in my ketchup, just like when I was a kid- only cruelty free!

After the last circus protest, we went out for dinner to Madras Pavillion. It is my new favorite restaurant in Houston. They have the best Indian food around, and they are super vegan friendly, which can be hard to find in such a big meat eating town. We split some Samosas and Idli for appetizers, and then two different curries for our entrees- Chana Masala, and Dal Palaak. I had been craving spinach like crazy, so the Dal Palaak was my preferences, but they were both fantastic (even if the picture isn't). I need to start making more indian food at home.

As far as the protest goes, I'm not sure how many people we were able to reach, or if anyone actually took us seriously. I like to think positively and say that we made people aware, and maybe they will go home and do some research and be able to make a more informed decision when the Circus comes around next year. I don't think a lot of people realize the cruelty going on behind the scenes in these entertainment industries. I'm glad that we were out there to help inform, even if we got a lot of negativity and weird looks. I think the best thing we can do next is to get legislation passed to ban the bullhook here in Houston, if not the entire state of Texas.

Here are a couple of protesters. Danielle has the bull horn, yelling things like "animal cruelty is not a family value", and "all of the animals you see today are performing against their will". Janice, the host of Go Vegan Texas is holding a sign, and handing out pamphlets.
And me acting like a protest diva after our Wednesday protest.By the way, the dates at the bottom of the pictures are wrong. Believe me, I was there.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A twist on Twinkies

I don't know about you, but when I think about Italian dessert, I think Tiramisu. It was my usual go to when going out, but I never attempted it at home. Since going Vegan, I thought it would be on the list of the very few things that I wouldn't have again. No biggie...until a friend invited me to have an Italian dinner with some family. I came across a few really good sounding recipes. But, to me, they seemed to use too many pseudo replacer items (which I don't mind sometimes, but am trying to avoid because they cost way too much). Anyway, I toyed around with making some of Isa's Tiramisu Cupcakes, but then a great thought struck me. Bam, whowz, hooo! Tiramisu Twinkies! Or, as my friend and I dubbed them- Kakies (Kayla's spin on Twinkies..yeah, I rock). straight out of the oven. Golden and delicious

I turned them out and let them cool. Then, I carefully filled them with creme. It wasn't quite set, so began oozing out of the little holes (what a great mental picture), I shoved some chocolate chips in to plug it up. Genius!

I put them back in the pan, poked them with a toothpick and drizzled coffee/liquer glaze on the tops. They weren't quite ready yet, so I pumped some creme into the top, put a chocolate chip on top, and dusted with cocoa powder.

It made enough for 8 Twinkie sized cakes, and 6 mini cupcakes. I don't know the right equation for just twinkies, but a little extra never hurts.

I had no idea how I was going to construct these babies when I began the project, but as it progressed it all just came around. I was suprised at how well everyone took to them, some even had two! You just can't resist the creme filled goodness.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's all gravy, baby

Sleep would not come easy last night. After spending the day making posters for the Circus protest, and then spending a couple of hours at the protest, I figured I would be ready for bed. But, by 3 am I was still tossing and turning. I had a lot on my mind, of course. It seems I may be moving to Austin sooner than I thought. I am not getting much response from the farms in California, so I decided to send my resume to a couple of jobs in Austin. My friend also wants to move there, and is working on selling her house right now. So, if we can find a place to live, and get jobs, we may just be there by next month!

Other than that, I was thinking about the big, yummy breakfast I wanted to make in the morning. Candy made me some banana bread muffins (she knows my weakness), and I wanted to make some TVP sausage and gravy to go along with them. But, that wasn't all I was thinking of. I was thinking of the super duper fantastic new recipe idea I have been muddling over. We decided to have a veg Italian feast this week, and I chose to make dessert as usual. I wanted to try my hand at vegan tiramisu. I got to thinking, and came up with an insane idea... but you'll just have to wait and see how it turns out!

And now, my breakfast.. you didn't think I would leave you hanging, did you?I loosely based the sausage patties on my gramma's recipe, which I subbed TVP for ground turkey. The gravy is a nutritional yeast/chickpea type gravy, but not the kind from VWaV. Still yummy and comforting on this rainy summer day.

And, for good measure, hummus..Kalamata hummus, lettuce and sprouts, carrot sticks, seaweed rice crackers

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Foood, oh food

Since coming back from Austin, I feel like I have been a lazy ass recluse, burying my emotions in my food. In reality, I have been getting out and doing some important things. I spent my weekend protesting the circus in Houston. I've also unpacked and organized all of the clothes that were scattered all over my room in my mom's house. Now I'm working on more posters for the protests this week, reading some books I have been meaning to get around to (Diet for a New America, The China Study..), and thinking of starting a zine. I'm also working up the courage to call up my grandparents who are not in optimum health. I'll get around to all of that eventually. Now, the food..

I made these quesedillas with some squash blossoms I bought at a farmers market in Austin. I spread some basil tofu spread onto a hemp tortilla (which I cannot in a conscious state recommend), then sauteed some sliced squash blossoms and put them on top. I folded it in half, put it in the oven for a minute or two, then sliced and consumed with my new favorite salsa- roasted garlic is the best!

I have had this insatiable craving for fig newtons lately. I considered buying the wheat-free version of fig newmans, but have always backed out at the checkout because they just seem too expensive and I would rather experiment with my own version. So, feeling particularly culinarily enhanced (say what?) one evening, I decided to try the Skinny Fig Bars on Fat Free Vegan. I used a few substitutions, so mine didn't come out quite the same. They were still pretty tasty, and far cheaper than the packaged alternative. I think next time I won't add as much lemon juice, and I will probably also opt to keep the dates in.

Tonight I wanted fries. But not just any fries. I wanted polenta fries to go with some leftover, thawed out chili. I found a great recipe on Shmooed Food, and gave it a try. These were really simple, and came out really good- even substituting stone ground cornmeal for polenta. I can't wait to get her book one day. Just waiting for a little extra cash flow..

Friday, July 13, 2007

Awesome Awestin, the end (finally)

Now the rest of my trip, in random food order...

Light lunch at Koriente. Complimentary miso soup, salad, and pickles if you eat in.

I enjoyed the Garden Handroll. Sliced avocado, bell peppers, radish, carrots, cucumber, caggage with dried seaweed wraps on the side to roll it all up in. The owner generously gave me a sample of hummus to go with it because she felt it was the best way to enjoy it.

James enjoyed the Japchei- sweet potato noodles with an assortment of veggies. His was made extra spicy.

We had a fun filled First Thursday. Dinner at El Sol y La Luna, I had the veggie fajitas with rice and beans.We enjoyed strolling through the various vendors set up on the sidewalk, and browsing through the stores that were staying open late that night. Lots of great stuff to look at, and I even got to enjoy 10 minutes of shiatsu.

Relaxed, full, and tipsy off margaritas, we went down the street to the 7 eleven, which was promoting the new Simpsons movie. For a couple of geeks who grew up on the Simpsons, we are super excited about the prospects of a full blown, action packed movie. We had to see the Squishee machine put in to action.

I wouldn't call it food, but we had to get one.

Don't worry, we didn't eat it.

I stayed a little longer than I had planned because some friends decided to come in for the weekend, since our camping trip got cancelled due to rain. I decided to go all out and get some really grubby stuff. We enjoyed veggie dogs at Dog Alighty, which has tons of vegan options, and a make your own menu. I decided on the vegan Beer Wurst- tofurkey brat, saurkraut, sauteed onions, mustard, and celery seed on a whole wheat bun. So. Freakin. Goood. We shared a small bowl of vegan chili and some french fries.

Somehow, we had enough room in our bellies for some more Dhaba Joy treats.
Humongous oatmeal creme pie, and a mini mint cookies 'n' creme cupcake

The oatmeal creme pie was so tooth shatteringly sweet, I could hardly take more than a bite. I would love to recreate this, but maybe a slightly less oily/sugary, more healthy version. Any one have any ideas?

Ending on a sweet note. If you're ever in Texas and get a chance to visit Austin, you won't be disappointed. I swear I did more than eat, but that's just how I spent the majority of my time. It's so easy to eat well because vegan options abound, and you won't have any trouble finding them. It is such a green friendly city, still ingrained with southern hospitality. Come on back now, ya hear?

Awesome Awestin, part 2

Since I was in Austin for the 4th of July, we were planning to hang out with the Vegans Rock Austin group at a BBQ potluck. Unfortunately, it rained all day long, so the event was cancelled. Fortunately, James and I found a great farmers market to go to that morning, and got some yummy produce to make a special festive meal.
We picked up one of the interesting looking black futsu squash, some savoy, pretty purple tomatoes, and some small yellow cucumbers. We were in the mood for indian food, which isn't a traditional meal for the 4th from an American standpoint, but we don't tend to be very patriotic.
James decided to make his famous vegan kale paneer, which I have been wanting to try since he made it up. It wasn't as creamy as I am used to saag paneer being, but the flavor was spot on.

And, in the spirit of all things summery, we decided on an indian inpspired burger, made with the squash, red lentils, and many other things I cannot remember. We topped them with the tomatoes, savoy, and a bit of chutney on a sprouted bun, served with sliced cucumbers, the paneer, and leftover green bean corn salad from the potluk. It made for a perfect festive meal.

Another fun thing I was able to do was get together with a friend who recently moved to Austin from Houston. We went to Dhaba Joy for lunch and yummy dessert. Dhaba Joy is known mainly for it's delicious Oatscreme, which is a soft serve style vegan ice cream, made from oats with no added sweetener. They also have a huge variety of yummy vegan baked treats, an expanding drink menu with selections from various coffee drinks, to more seasonal things such as lavender limeade. Most recently they have added a menu of vegan sandwiches, and salads.

I decided on the delicious Tempeh Reuben. Marinated sliced tempeh, topped with saurkraut, purple onion, and FYH mozzarella, on whole wheat bread (they were out of rye), with a side of rice chips. So, so good, and satisfied my craving for an awesome sandwhich. It was also the first time that I tried FYH cheese, and it wasn't too bad.

For dessert, oatscreme was a must. I got the vanilla and chocolate swirl, topped with dogoba chocolate syrup. This was suprisingly like the soft serve ice cream I remember getting from those various self serve machines. I couldn't believe that it had absolutely no added sugar (other than the syrup on top). Get ye to the place and have a cup!

Josh got this cute strawberry shortcake cupcake. Be forwarned, plastic animals may try to attack and steal it's deliciousness if you don't gobble it up quickly! If you go here, be sure to visit Toy Joy next door, a great little toy store filled with all the fun toys you could imagine.

That's enough fun for now. I had such a great time, I guess I will have to have a part 2, extended version.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Flashback in my mouth

Okay, this isn't Awesome Awestin part 2, but I had to post about the dinner I made tonight. I got my inspiration from a discussion I was having with my mom about all of the crazy foods she used to make when I was growing up, like tuna casserole, and broccoli rice casserole. I started craving the latter, and after running across a post from eat'n veg'n, I knew I had to give it a try.

Here is the casserole right out of the oven, beaming with gooey goodness

All plated up, along with some marinated, grilled portobellos and veggie skewers, and of course a salad on the side.

The casserole was so easy to make. Just boil your broccoli, then mix it with prepared brown rice. Make your cheeze sauce, mix half of it with your broccoli and rice, then pour the rest on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, then EAT. I think it might have been a little closer to what I remembered growing up if the sauce was made with some "No chicken" stock, just to give it more flavor. The mushrooms also took me back to when my dad would fry up sliced mushrooms with worscheshire and butter. Mmmmm, the good ol' days.

In conclusion, I had to share the super awesome cupcakes I made for our Harry Potter themed movie night, before the new movie came out. I think these caused my sugar induced 2 day migrane. But, oh, were they worth it. They were based off of the vanilla cupcakes with fluffy buttercream icing in VCTOTW.

Butterscotch cupcakes with Butterscotch Buttercream icing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Awesome Awestin

My trip to Austin was alot of fun. I have so many pictures to share. I ate so much food, I thought I would gain 15 lbs. Thankfully, Austin is such a ped friendly city that I had no problem biking or walking everywhere. Unfortunately, I think I had a bit of an overload, and I've been fighting off a headache for the last two days. It has finally begun to subside, so I can post some of my fun times.

When I got in Friday, I wasn't in the mood for much after being on a bus for 3 hours. We went to Veggie Heaven and had some yummy fried food. Then we went to an improv comedy show at ColdTowne. Lots of laughs, and then we got home and crashed. When we woke up Saturday morning, we biked to the farmers market and picked up some fresh produce for the potluck we were going to that night. It was a macrobiotic potluck, held by a student at the Natural Epicurean school that I am considering attending next year. I don't know much about macrobiotic diets, and decided to just make something really simple.

the green bean and corn salad from Vegetarian Times

and a blackberry-peach pie, sweetened with agave

And a money shot of the spread. We had a great time, and met a lot of new people. We ended up hanging out with a few Sunday night to see the Roller Derby, and saw a couple others around town later in the week.

My friend I was staying with works like a "normal" person (8-5, M-F) so I was left to myself most of the day. I mainly rode around town, did some shopping, and ate ate ate!
Here are some random meals from the week.

Falafel waffle from DaVine Foods, a little bus with a kitchen parked in an empty lot, surrounded by green. Super awesome, with a side of kick ass hummus and raw carrots. Totally worth the 2 mile bike ride. I also had it with a side of Chocolate Mock Shake. Tasted just like a chocolate shake you would enjoy in a diner, just much much better.

Since Mother's burned down, and they may not be rebuilt for a while, I had to find some kind of substitute. That would be Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse. They serve all kinds of yummy meals, mostly vegetarian, and all vegan friendly. Breakfast is served all day, but when I went for lunch, I enjoyed this light broccoli and tofu salad with ginger miso dressing and a side of their delicious vegan corn bread, which I tried first with the vegan soul food plate (beans, greens, and corn bread). Mmmm, cornbread

I have a lot more, but it will have to wait for Awesome Awestin part 2.