Monday, June 30, 2008

Sweet & Sara Marshmallows

I have read a lot about Sweet & Sara marshmallows, but never got around to ordering any because (a) I don't really miss marshmallows and (b) I hate paying shipping & handling. So what a lovely surprise to run across them at Whole Foods! I bought a package of the plain marshmallows, original s'mores, and peanut butter s'mores. And wow. I can't stop eating these! They taste just like I remember marshmallows tasting and are just a little more dense. I prefer the plain marshmallows to the s'mores but that's because the s'mores gave me a sugary-tummyache (maybe I should not have eaten the whole thing at once, hmm).

There are also toasted coconut marshmallows, which I am eager to try. I also want to try toasting the marshmallows. My dad put one in the microwave and it did get all puffy, so I have high hopes for toastiness.

They are kind of pricey (a 7.5oz. package is about $6) but it is definitely worth it. I was going to say that they are not an everyday treat, but then I realized that I actually have had at least one a day since buying them. I can't help it!

Classic Broccoli Quiche

From Isa's blog. Admittedly, I had my doubts about this. Tofu Quiche? Hmm! But it was really tasty. Who knew that tofu can work just like eggs? Well, Isa did and she passed it on.

I could only find 8" pie crust (the recipe calls for 9") and thus I ended up with a lot of extra filling. Not enough to make a second quiche, but too much to just add to the rest. So I cooked up the extra in a pie tin and then used it with Amy's Chili to make some really tasty breakfast burritos.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Portland Hodgepodge

TLT Sandwich from Vita Café. Can you believe that I've never had tempeh before? I bought tempeh a few months ago to make bacon with, but I cut it too thinly, it fell apart, and I gave up. But after having the tempeh bacon at Vita, I am ready to try again. My only complaint is that it was $6 for only a sandwich. If you are going to charge me $6 for a sandwich, it needs to either be the best sandwich in the world or it needs to come with a dill pickle and some fries. Or I need to be really hungry after a 4.5 hour flight.

I don't have a picture of the Paradox Benedict that I had at the Paradox Organic Cafe because it was rather dim in there and it was a dish that was obviously going to look gross in a photograph. It wasn't gross though! At first I balked at the $8.50 price tag, but I ended up having enough left over for breakfast the next day so it wasn't that bad. The sauce did not taste anything like hollandaise sauce, but it was good in its own right (just not what I was expecting). The dish came with seasoned red potatoes (take a hint, Vita) that were just the right mix of crispy and greasy - exactly what I'm looking for when it comes to diner food.

At the Whole Foods in Portland, I found something that I have been searching for but unable to find in Chicago - a Field Roast smoked tomato loaf. I had high standards for this loaf, due to my previous fruitless searches, and it definitely lived up to them. Sliced up, it made a nice addition to an Amy's vegan pizza and I also made a "dreamwich" consisting of Dave's Killer Bread, smoked tomato loaf, Vegenaise, and Dijon mustard. I loved that sandwich. I'm not saying that it breaks my heart to remember it, but I am saying that I hate the Whole Foods that I go to for only carrying the Field Roast sausages and not the loaves. WHY, WHOLE FOODS, WHY?!

Sprinkled donut from Voodoo Doughnut. I wish that I had a Sweetpea donut to compare this to, but I don't so let's move on. This donut was cakey, which I like but other people might not (although I can't see why anyone wouldn't). I think there were 7 different kinds of vegan donuts when I went to Voodoo, which is a nice variety. I'm not sure if the kinds vary from day-to-day, though that would be a nice touch if they do. My only real issue with Voodoo is that they make lots of crazy donuts, but the vegan donuts are relatively standard fare (other than being vegan). Other than that, very yummy AND they are open 24 hours. Plus you can get Swahili lessons from their Fryer every Monday at 9pm.

Sweetpea Baking Company

I have read a lot about how amazing Sweetpea Baking Company is so it was on the top of my list of places to go while in Portland. My vacation fell on Father's Day and I thought it would be really awesome of me to get my dad a cake (I'm kind of the best daughter ever - Hi, Dad!) - not an easy task considering my veganism and his multiple allergies. So I called up Sweetpea and explained my dilemma to Lisa (the owner). They only make vegan goods so I didn't need to mention that, but I needed the cake to be gluten-free, soy-free, and banana-free as well. That seemed like a pretty tall order to me but Lisa was basically like, "Of course we can make that! *carefree laughter*" Excitement! Anticipation!

The cake was chocolate with coconut frosting. I knew it would be good because Sweetpea prides itself on how good their gluten-free goods (do you know how hard it is to find yummy vegan AND gluten-free goodies? VERY HARD.). I completely underestimated just how good this cake was going to be. My dad said that this was the best gluten-free cake he had ever had - a big compliment considering the many cake experiments that have gone on in our house after his allergies were diagnosed. He also liked the spiky icing. Seriously. Delicious. Cake.

This was the only thing I bought from Sweetpea while on my trip because I was totally overwhelmed by all their choices! And because I am a fool! However, I'll be moving to Portland in a couple months and then I can spend everyday with my face pressed against their window. And I'll just say that if they want to hire me to taste test their food... well... I certainly wouldn't refuse.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Portland Junk Food

I recently spent a week in what may or may not be the vegan capital of the world - Portland, Oregon. At the very least, it is the vegan capital of my heart. I ate quite a lot of delicious things, so I'm going to make a few separate posts. This entry is going to be devoted to the Wednesday that I ate tons of delicious junk food.

Oh, and all of my food choices in Portland were heavily influenced by Stumptown Vegans. Their reviews did not let me down!

Nachos are not a photogenic food. These were probably more attractive when the bowl was full, but I maybe got so distracted by the deliciousness of Food Fight's nachos that I totally forgot to take a picture until they were almost gone. I have been craving these nachos everyday! Nachos were not something I really enjoyed as an omnivore, but these were delicious. I don't know what they put in their vegan cheese - my guess is tears of happiness from a unicorn (freely given, not harvested). Even my cheese-loving brother thought that these were yummy.

Outside of the People's Food Co-op, there is a cute metal trailer with vintage wallpaper and vegan milkshakes/smoothies/juice inside. The guy ahead of us in line was a total jerk, which I didn't think was possible. I mean, who can be cranky when there are vegan milkshakes RIGHT THERE? Mr. Grumpypants did not dampen the mood of the guy making the drinks though. It seems like the people who work in the food carts in Portland are the happiest people on earth.

Anyway. I had the peanut butter & chocolate shake and, holy crap, it was amazing. And it didn't make me violently ill like the dairy-filled shakes of yesteryear! They were out of vegan whipped cream so my shake was a ridiculous dollar cheaper. I've never had vegan whipped cream, but I can't imagine anything that would significantly improve this shake - that's how perfect it was.

My brother had a smoothie that might have been called Sabana, I don't remember. I asked him to do a guest review so here it is: "So tasty!" Thanks, little brother!

These fries are from the Potato Champion cart. The guy working the cart further proved my point that Portland cart workers are filled with joy. He seemed to really love making fries! He was all out of pre-packaged Vegenaise, so he had to make a new cup for me and it was filled to the brim. I found that very endearing. I also had rosemary truffle ketchup, which was better than I expected but still not quite to my taste. I prefer to eat fries with a beautiful mix of Vegenaise, dijon mustard, and regular ketchup. But back to these fries! I used to say that cheese fries were my favorite food and while my tastes have become slightly more refined, I can easily say that these are my all-time favorite fries.

Herbed breadsticks and marinara sauce from Hammy's. These were good. It's really nice that they are vegan friendly. They make their own vegan parmesan, which I would have liked to try but I wasn't hungry enough for pizza. Maybe I should have asked them to sprinkle some into my hands, but I don't like to frighten the people who are making my food.

I can't think of anything else to say because I am still shocked that I ate fries and breadsticks for dinner. Because I was too full after having nachos for lunch and a milkshake in the afternoon. I think I had an Amy's burrito for breakfast. I don't eat like that! Whatever, I was on vacation, if I want to eat all of Portland's best junk food in one day then that is my prerogative!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots

I'm sure that I have had bok choy/baby bok choy at some point, but until now I couldn't pick it out of a line-up. In fact, I mistakenly picked up a head of romaine lettuce instead of baby bok choy (which I partly blame on Whole Foods' crappy produce labeling AND they didn't even HAVE any baby bok choy). Fortunately, I found some at a local grocery store.

This dish was super easy and probably took 5-10 minutes to make. Partially because I chopped off too much of the stems and then had to go through and re-cut them. It also helped that I already had some toasted sesame seeds on hand.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself: "The title of this entry includes crispy shallots and yet, there are no crispy shallots to be seen!" That's because I only had shallots that were crispy a few days ago and were slightly burned. I tried to crisp them up in a separate pan but it didn't work. However, they were still delicious - just not very photogenic.

Eat this if you need more leafy greens in your diet!
Note: You need more leafy greens in your diet.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spicy Peanut Eggplant Soup

From Veganomicon. Now that it is 90-degrees outside, I have been badly craving soup. I'm sure that's normal and there is no cause for concern. I wasn't sure what to expect taste-wise, because I only eat eggplant once a year or so, but I was not disappointed! This is a very hearty soup, although it's harder to tell after it has been pureed. It's very thick as there is a whole eggplant in here, a yellow onion, and half a bag of frozen green beans! I couldn't really taste the green beans and I don't know if leaving the soup as-is (instead of blending it) would have left more of the flavor. I wouldn't really consider it a significant loss though, considering how full of flavor the soup is. My only complaint about this dish is that there is a lot of waiting between steps. And I think I will add a bit more peanut butter the next time I make it because it was rather subtle.

Oh, and don't put the spatula/spoon that you use to make this soup on the counter because the turmeric will stain it. Oops!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Farmers Market

Today my local Farmers Market opened. And... I didn't go because I was sleepy. But my mom went and she is the reason that this post is coming to you.

There is a new booth there this year called Smith Natural Creations. I don't know anything about them (YET.) but their flier says that they are exclusively at the Homewood Farmers Market so tough luck if you don't live in the south suburbs of Chicago.

I had a piece of German Chocolate Cake (no picture because there is only a tiny piece of it left). It was $3.50 and well worth the price. It was a similar size and equal quality as the vegan cake slices that I buy from Whole Foods but $2 cheaper.
These cinnamon rolls are amazing. I ate one right after I took the picture! They don't say vegan on the box, but the vendor assured my mom that they are. And they are maple-frosted! I am not a big fan of syrup on pancakes or waffles, but I love it IN food.

They also had Thai Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce but there are no pictures because my mom and I ate them immediately.

I was going to say that I am very much looking forward to going to the Farmers Market next Saturday but I realized that I will be on a plane to Portland! And then I will be stuffing my face with so much yummy vegan food that I will explode.

Also. I am still working on my taking-photos-of-food skills. I do most of my cooking at night (so no natural light) and there isn't really anywhere in the house bright enough to take pictures without using the flash. In the cinnamon rolls photo I put it under one of the counterlights and put on my LED headlamp but it's still not great.

Old Pictures

I'm not really in the habit of taking pictures of my food, so these are the handful that I already had on my computer. I'm hoping that having a food blog will prompt me to photograph my food and review it (as opposed to shoving it in my mouth as fast as possible).

Sugar Cookie! I have a huge bag of cookie-cutters that I bought off of ebay and this is the only one I can't identify. Well, I think it's a two-headed (and no-bottom) cat but that seems unlikely. I never iced these cookies because the original icing I made was too runny and I'm a quitter. They were perfect plain though, which is the sign of a truly amazing sugar cookie.

Seitan Portobello Stroganoff from Vegan with a Vengeance. There's not really a way to get stroganoff to not look gross. But don't be put off by its resemblance to cat vomit! This strogie is delicious! I love stroganoff when I was an omni and this recipe is pretty similar except for the genius addition of mushrooms and peas.
S'mores cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. These were good even though I managed to grate more chocolate onto the floor and table than onto the actual cupcakes. Also, don't stick the graham cracker in until right before eating - it becomes soft.

The first seitan I ever made! Look at it, wearing its little tinfoil coat. I'm pretty sure that I used the recipe for baked chicken seitan from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk II. I had never had seitan before and I was really apprehensive and nervous about eating it. After eating a slice, I might have done a victory lap around the kitchen.
I used to eat an insane amount of portobello mushrooms because it was the only thing that I knew how to cook really quickly and with little other ingredients. And I could just throw other things in with it (like green beans!). These are probably the portobellos from Vegan with a Vengeance and are cooked with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Anyway, you can't go wrong with portobellos. Even if they have unidentifiable green slime on the bottom of the cap. Wash it off and fry it and you will live! [Try at your own risk.]

Pizza and sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance. Topped with portobellos, onions, garlic, and some sort of small mushroom (either cremini or baby portobello, probably). And my dad's fingers. I think he is just rearranging things because he doesn't eat wheat/gluten. Or mushrooms. Or broccoli. I think I still have some of this dough in my freezer and I keep meaning to look for it but then get distracted by the other food.

Jelly Donut Cupcakes from Veganomicon. The jelly is supposed to sink all the way inside but there is something charming about cupcakes that seemed to have gaping wounds. I think next time I will add some cinnamon and cinnamon sugar to them, to punch them up a bit.

Falafel from Vegan with a Vengeance in my tiny Kitchenaid mixer. I really wanted to buy a Kitchenaid appliance and this one was the only one that fit into my price range. Of course, I can only make half a batch of falafel at a time. I'm sure this is the first of many times that I will mention falafel. Mmm... falafel.

Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream frosting from Vegan with a Vengeance. These were the first vegan thing I baked! And they were yummy. It's a volcano! The sprinkles that aren't lava-colored are dinosaurs. I only make apocalyptic cupcakes.

That's it for now!