Monday, November 05, 2007

Anyway you want it

Have you ever found yourself with an overabundance of food in the house? That is where we have found ourselves recently. I guess that's what happens during the season on festivals, parties, potlucks, and overall indulgence. Not that I'm complaining or anything...

This weekend we enjoyed two opportunities to enjoy great food. The first was the 19th Annual Vegetarian Chili Cookoff. It is held at the Austin Zoo, and for a $10 admission fee, you get to sample all the chili you can stomach, vote on your favorite, enter into a raffle drawing, and hang out with all of the animals, including an abundance of bees..

Upon entering the gates, you are greeted with a faint smell of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spices simmering in harmony along with seitan, and all other forms of meat substitute. The first pot of chili we encountered was "Cari'bean'" and it indeed kicked up my senses and got me ready for exploration.
One of the best things about the festival is that you are introduced to so many flavor, color and texture combinations. It sends your senses into a flurry, and inhibits the mind from making wise choices. That is why the no seconds policy should be put in place. But, then that would just take all the fun out of it.
So, after much deliberation (and eating) we get to put our ticket in for our favorite chili. I really don't have any set standards for a quintessential chili. I just go by flavor, veggie combinations, and overall imagination. This year I chose the while chili made by G.R.I.T.S (girls raised in the south). I suppose nice southern girls also helped sway my decision a little. The smokiness of the corn, smoothness of the white bean, and earthiness of the mushroom really did it for me.

Just like last year, we had a lot of fun, and left stuffed. I can't wait until next year! For the rest of the fun we had with the animals, check out my flickr set.

Even though we left filled to the brim, somehow we made room in our bellies (and belts) to go to the Sunday potluck. This weeks theme was pie, and we couldn't miss out on that kind of fun.

Inspired by something I saw on the PPK a while back, which was inspired by Martha Stewart, I decided to make fall handpies. These were in the shape of pumpkins, and filled with roasted potaotes, acorn squash, corn, tomatoes, and a butt load of cumin. This was the cutest of the bunch. The rest turned out pretty beaten up because I am in no way a pastry aficionado. I used up the rest of the filling to make a nice frittata concoction, topped with cheezy crackers.
To avoid the humiliation of such a pitfall, we will turn now to dessert. My ladylove made these lovely mini pecan tarts. What screams fall more than pecan tarts? And what is cuter than mini pecan tarts? Of course, these are a veganized Paula Deen recipe. How awesome is that?

We had no idea what to expect from this theme that could go in so many directions. I read something about hobo pies, and when I looked them up, I was a bit appalled and frightened. But, as luck would have it, I was very pleased when we arrived and saw the spread. Everything from mini potpie/popover things, to shepherds pie, to berry chocolate pie, and so on. What was my favorite thing that night? Believe it or not, the hobo pies! I loved the versatility, simplicity, and overall awesomeness of the little pies.Here was the filling station, complete with a rice and bean mixture, what I think was leftover potpie filling, some kind of faux ground beef mix, tofu onion dip, and fresh spinach and herbs.
Just put all of your filling onto a corn tortilla (not the traditional platform for a hobo pie, but much better than white bread in my opinion), put another tortilla on the opposite side, press them together and put in the fire for a good 5minutes or so. Remove, then voila! A perfect handheld pie. Great for camping, and obviously potlucks!

A chocolate whoopie pie! I have been wanting to make one so bad, but just haven't gotten around to it. Someone took the work out for me, and now I know what I've been missing. Oh, and that's my hobo peeking out from the corner. Always trying to steal the spotlight.

So, in short, I'm stuffed. I can't wait until next weeks potluck. I heard rumors of a gourmet school food theme. Mmm, mac n' cheese, yeast rolls, steak fingers, chocolate pudding. What was your favorite school food?


Vegan_Noodle said...

Missed you at the chili festival! It was quite a crowd, a good thing to see. We voted for the same chili! It was different, but still everything you wanted from a chili.
Too bad we had to dirve home to Houston, otherwise that potluck sounds like it was a great time! Your handpies are so cute.
Hmmm, school food. I pretty much hated all school food. When I was in high school my lunch usually consisted of a half pint of milk and a chocolate chip cookie. not exactly sure how I stayed healthy enough to run track, but I guess when you're young....

Vegan*asm said...

It was so much more crowded this year. It is good to see, though. Nice to know vegetarian chili is so popular! I even heard a few people wondering if it would be any good, then saw them gobbling it up a few minutes later. Ha.
I wish you could have come to the potluck. If you're ever in town on a Sunday night, maybe you can come by.
I wasn't exaclty the picture of health in school either. I usually lived off of waffle fries and coke.