Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Vegan BBQ

Before I start, everyone thank a veteran today. Even if they haven't passed away, every veteran sacrifices a lot for his or her country. Regardless of your feelings about Iraq and Afghanistan, our veterans deserve our support.
On to my BBQ.
I bought the stuffing portobellos from Trader Joe's instead of the large ones for my BBQ. I figured I got more mushroom for my dollar that way. In the morning, I basted each mushroom with a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and then I poured a little in the dish to marinate the bottoms of the mushrooms. I let that sit for about six hours.

When they were done, they looked something like this:

Mike grilled them for about five or so minutes on each side, gill side first. He noticed that when the gills were up, they began to get juicy in the middle, which is normal. When they were done, they looked like so:

I also made a potato salad. I don't really measure when I make potato salad, but it went something like this:
I took a bag of potatoes from Trader Joe's, washed each potato and cut them into cubes. I boiled the cubes in a pot on the stove for about ten minutes, drained them and let them cool for about twenty minutes. When they were cooler, I put them in a big bowl and mixed in about three big spoonfuls of Vegenaise. I chopped half a red onion and threw those in, as well as three celery stalks. Instead of using premade relish, I diced up a bunch of pickle slices (about 20)and added those as well. I then seasoned it with a bunch of salt and pepper to my own tastes and I got this:

The picture keeps flipping itself, sorry. But it was yum.
We also grilled some Smart Dogs, Tofurky Italian brats and veggie burgers:

The spread:

And my dinner plate:

We also had vegetarian baked beans, chips and grilled corn, of which I got none because it wasn't ready when I took the picture and when it was finally ready, I was too stuffed to move.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

World Fest

This past Sunday was World Fest. I am untimely with this post because I worked two 12 hour days of teaching right after World Fest and I didn't get a chance to update. So here is my belated World Fest report.
Having never been to World Fest before, I was pretty impressed. I hadn't been to a festival before where I could pretty much eat anything, so that was a major plus. It also gave me an opportunity to talk to vendors about my wedding cake.
I talked to the Luscious Organic Desserts people, who have very reasonable prices and I may be having a cake consultation with them in the near future, which will be shared on this blog...I also shared a bag of two cookie dough bonbons with Mike. Alas, I forgot to take a picture. Let me assure you, they were everything you could want in a bonbon and more. That it is why there is no picture; they just sort of fell into my mouth.
There were a lot of food booths that looked really delicious. Lots of Indian food, The Vegan Joint, my dear friends at One World Veggie, two Italian places (one was called Vegan Heights. They had samples of lasagna that were amazing), and a couple supplements. One was Hail Merry Raw Foods and I sample two macaroon cookies, chocolate and coconut. Both were pretty good, but a little dry.
There were also lots of booths there. Some were what you'd expect: a lot of nice PETA people, Arm the Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Herbivore (!), various rescue association (I felt bad I have no room for more kitties) etc. There were also ones I didn't expect, like the Christian Vegetarian Association, of which I am now a member. There were also a lot of clothing booths, and people selling, for lack of a better word, hippie stuff. I sat through seven minutes of "healing light" as part of a demonstration of how light can heal. I felt lightheaded afterwards but I'm not sure if it healed me. They were very nice, however, and gave us free canteloupe and cucumber seeds.
Back to food. Mikey waited in the longest line there for the Vegan Barbecue. Specifically, he wanted the fried shrimp. While he did this, I wandered over to Rawsheed's. The Pasadena locale is closed, but Rawsheed said he's opening a new one in Sherman Oaks. I had the chicken salad, made from jackfruit:

It was decent. A little bland. There was a lot of vegenaise or something like it involved, but it was good. I'm still getting used to jackfruit. Since it mimics the texture and look of shredded meat so well, it sets off the warning system in my head for meat, which has developed over many years of restaurants "accidentally" getting a piece of meat in there.
Mike was still in line, so I went to Follow Your Heart's booth and got tempeh tacos:

These tacos were amazing. Whatever they use in their tempeh is really good and flavorful. I usually don't care for FYH cheese either, but it went really well with this taco. Maybe it's fresher than in the stores and that had something to do with it. The beans and rice were also good. The blac beans weren't bland they way other restaurants (nameless) cook them.
Next to them is Cas Cal fermented juice. We got two bottles free at the door. It tasted like beer, and I think beer is gross, so Mikey had both. If you like beer, this is the apple juice for you.
Meanwhile, Mike was still in line. Eventually, he got to order. The Vegan Barbecue is based in San Diego, with no restaurant location. Mike got the fried shrimp. They were out of fries, so he got macaroni instead:

I found both items to be disgusting. The shrimp was the VEGE shrimp brand, covered in tapioca based batter. It was really gross. The consistency was weird and it had a horrible aftertaste. The macaroni was noodles with some shredded Daiya thrown over them. It was really lazy macaroni. Totally not worth the wait. I thought maybe I didn't like the shrimp because I've never had shrimp, but Mike, who used to love shrimp, assured me that it was gross. I have since promised to come up with my own fried shrimp for him.
Next was dessert. I got two scoop of So Delicious mint chocolate chip, with chocolate sauce:

Delicious, as always.
Mike got a Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcake from JAM Vegan Bakery, who we are also in talks with for wedding treats:

It was just like eating a PB&J but more yummy. I have no idea how they got the jelly on the inside, but it was there! Very good. I'm going to track them down again and try more.
And that was World Fest. I can't wait until next year!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vegan Las Vegas!

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas. The Sahara, Mikey's favorite casino, closed Monday and he wanted to see it one last time before it did. I think perhaps one of the reasons it closed was the lack of vegan food. There was a NASCAR cafe, a bar and a steakhouse. Think about it.
Anyway, before we got to Las Vegas, we stopped at the Mad Greek Cafe in Baker, California. I love Greek food and I had always wanted to try this place. Unfortunately, they did not have a huge selection of vegan food. This might be due to the fact the restaurant caters to truckers. They did have hummus and pita, so we got the and hit the road.

This was the saltiest hummus I have ever had in my life. I tried eating it with the chips I had in the car and it was an overload of salt. Even with the pita, it was pretty salty. As hummus goes, it was so-so. There could have been more of a garlicky or lemony flavor to it.
By the time we got to Vegas and got dressed in non-traveling clothes, it was time for dinner, so I immediately headed to the Wynn (after a stop at the Sahara, the first of four). The first restaurant I saw when I walked in was Pizza Place. I wanted to eat there immediately, but Mike insisted we look around. I'm really happy Steve Wynn is vegan and makes a separate vegan menu for everything, but man that place is expensive. Forty bucks for the buffet! And that's on the cheaper end of most restaurants. Steve, buddy, a lot of us vegans are poor, could you please cut us a break?
So we went back to Pizza Place, hoping it would be slightly cheaper. I ordered a vegan cheese pizza with olives, mushrooms, and pepperoncinis on top. We also got a side of vegan bread knots (not garlic knots because that involves butter).

They use Teese on their pizza. I had never had teese before, but I loved it. I like it way better than Daiya. Mikey said he liked Daiya better, however. The olives were sliced Greek olives and the mushrooms had been sauteed and seasoned. I also loved whatever tomato sauce they used on it. It was truly one of the best pizzas I've ever had.

Later, we got off the monorail at Harrah's and walked past a place called Ice Pan that caught my eye because they advertised that any ice cream flavor could be made vegan with soymilk. The deal with Ice Pan is that have mix different flavor bases with your choice of milk and then pour the liquid onto a coldstone and mix it around with metal spatulas until it turns into ice cream right there! Then they add in your choice of topping. I was beyond thrilled this place existed. I got peanut butter flavored ice cream with banana mixed in.

It was so good. Ice Pan advertises that they don't use processed sugar, everything is fruit-sweetened. They also use seaweed inn their bases. Their little brochure warns that some people have stomach discomfort after eating it because it naturally helps your bowels work, but I had no problems afterward and neither did Mike. Mike got banana flavored with Oreo mixed in. It was good, but not as good as mine. They offer twenty flavors, of which peanut butter and mint chocolate chip are the best sellers.
The next morning, I had breakfast at--where else?--Ronald's donuts. This place is awesome. It's ridiculously cheap, which I found out is rare in Vegas, and all the donuts are amazing and delicious. I had the cream filled chocolate donut.

The donut itself is exactly how I remember donuts tasting. Fluffy, bready, sugary and yum. The cream reminded me a little of vanilla yogurt. It was thicker than most cream-filled donuts I remember having all those years ago. I actually preferred this consistency.
Mike had a glazed raspberry jelly donut.

Despite the fact it looks like it's sticking out its tongue at you, it was a good donut. Again, exactly how I remember donuts tasting.
That filled us up for awhile, but not for long. I was in Mandalay Bay when the hunger pains struck. In the Mandalay Bay mall, there is a place called Burger Bar. I had a vague recollection of reading on Quarrygirl that they had vegan burgers and I was right! We decided to try it out.
I got the Vegas Vegan. It's a burger with no bun. In lieu of a bun are two grilled portobello mushrooms. Inside are grilled zucchini, tomato, pepper and eggplant (the eggplant was promptly discarded). It came with a choice of side, so I subbed skinny fries for sweet potato fries.

For some odd reason, it came with a tomato, lettuce, onion and pickle side as though it were an actual burger. I ate them anyway. They burger itself obviously was eaten with a fork. It was pretty decent. The mushroom was grilled perfectly, as were the veggies inside, with the exceptions of the tomato, which was burnt. The sweet potato fries were also good. My biggest complaint is that they mixed up our sides and mine initially came with Mike's onion rings on the side...which are NOT vegan. think, people.
Although Mike's side wasn't vegan, his veggie burger was. It had a patty made of various grains, brown rice and veggies. It was so-so. I'm not big on those kinds of patties. It came with the same standard sides as mine did. He said it was good, but he likes vegan boca patties better.

Like everything else in Vegas, this place is really expensive. Altogether, it costs forty bucks (although Mikey had a Guinness, and yes, I know, they aren't vegan).
By the time dinner rolled around, I had spent the entire day on the strip and I was tired of it, so I looked up nearby Mexican restaurants and found one called Macayo's that was on Sahara, but a few miles from the strip (as was our hotel).
They had a build your own nachos there. As I have mentioned before I love nachos. I asked the waitress nicely if I could get nachos with toppings but no cheese and she said yes. I ordered nachos with refried beans (made with oil), guacamole, olives, tomatoes, onions and green chiles.

Sorry about the picture quality. Mine doesn't have a flash and this is the best Mikey got. I assure you, the nachos were far superior to the quality of this picture. And the price was decent and not thirty bucks for one plate of nachos.
The next morning, we stopped at Ronald's again and got a dozen donuts to take back to my sister and dad (and eat along the way).

The most interesting thing we got was this thing, which we called weird burrito thingy:

It appeared to be a rolled apple fritter. It was really good. Nice and cinnamony.
The glazed donuts kept well so that when I got home from work later on that day at 7, they were still nice and fresh.
That was my vegan Las Vegas trip! i hope to be able to try out more vegan stuff the next time I go, which might be in July.

Friday, May 13, 2011

17 Bean Soup

In an effort to eat healthier and lose ten pounds before I get married in January, I have been eating more soup and salad. While soup and salad can be secretly loaded with calories, many are healthy and filling. Case in point: 17 bean soup, from Trader Joe's. Found in the dry goods section (the rice and such), it a bag of dry beans, 17 to be exact :)
The package recommends soaking the beans in water overnight in a large pot. This estimate is slightly off, thinks I. I soaked the beans the night before. They absorbed quite a bit of the water by morning and still felt hard, so I resoaked them until I got home from work at 7 p.m. Then I drained the beans and added an entire carton of low-sodium vegetable broth, also from Trader Joe's. I chopped up three zucchinis and threw those in, along with half a chopped white onion, and three diced carrots. I then decided it needed a kick, so I threw in Rotel tomatoes and chilis (there was so much broth and beans, the spice wasn't all that noticeable). Finally, I added minced garlic, salt, pepper, a bit of chili powder, paprika, oregano and crushed bay leaves, all to taste.

The downside is that the soup cooked for over an hour and the beans were still not as soft as I'd have liked them, so they had to cook another hour. These were some really firm beans. I had already eaten dinner by this point so I let the soup cool and served it into various tupperware bowls for my lunch the next day and Mikey's lunch and dinner at work.

The finished product.

Although it was time consuming, the soup was delicious. The best thing about it is that the supplemental ingredients can be changed every time to suit your mood.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One World Veggie

I live in the San Gabriel Valley. We do not have a great vegan/vegetarian scene here, unless you count Pasadena, which I don't. Our one bright spot is One World Vegetarian is West Covina. It opened about eight years ago, and I was one of the first customers! The menu and the restaurant have changed and expanded over the years. I know that they deliver pre-packaged food to Viva Vegan! Grocery in Rancho Cucamonga. They also sponsor a number of events in the store, such as special dinners/lunches for just about every holiday and weekly specials. Their menu runs the gamut of cuisine. There is spicy Indian curry, veggie burgers, pho, pasta, burritos and fajitas, philly "cheese" steaks, chili fries (a personal favorite), stuffed tomatoes (another personal favorite), chow mein, and so on. The restuarant used to serve cheese, but it now completely vegan. They cheese they use is Daiya. I think they only use the cheddar flavor. I have never had anything that uses mozzarella and few places have the new pepperjack. They also have cakes, chocolate and sandwiches to go in their deli case.
I get their weekly updates in my email and I found out this week they are offering my all time favorite weekly special!!!!! Can you gues what it is?!
I love their nachos so much. Yes, I could probably make them on my own but the point is, I don't have to.
Here is the tasty goodness:

Mmmm. The chips are Mission tortilla chips in the bag, but you, that's okay. The toppings are lettuce, guacamole, vegan sour cream, tomatoes, beans, olives and white onions.
I may have to go back for dinner!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chili Addiction Review

Sunday, after attending the LA Times Festival of Books at USC, Mikey and I went over to Chili Addiction, since we were already in LA. I have been wanting to try it for a long time since it keeps getting rave reviews and it's vegan AND omni-friendly.

I must confess something: I am addicted to nachos. I could eat nachos morning (chilaquiles!), noon and night. They are delicious, they are utensil free and they can be made in a million different ways and still be tasty. So despite the fact Chili Addiction has many different types of vegan sausages and burgers, I went straight for the vegan nachos, with the Santa Fe chili:

They were so good!! The Santa Fe chili consisted of black beans, veggies crumbles and garbazos in a tomato-based chili sauce. They were topped with raw white onion, Daiya cheese, a tomato salsa and fresh jalapeño peppers. The chips were homestyle and amazing. The salsa was almost exactly like my favorite salsa ever from La Tolteca, here in Azusa (although they have nothing else vegan). I must make my own version of these nachos soon. The spice level was perfect. Not too high, not too low (although I confess some of my jalapeños made their way over to Mikey's chili mac).

Speaking of which, Mikey got chili mac with the other vegan chili, the Durango. It was veggie crumbles in a chili sauce. No beans. It was topped with Daiya, and on top of elbow macaroni. I had a bite and it was pretty good, although I would have preferred it with a cheesy Daiya sauce, a la Amy's macaroni. Still delicious.
If I lived closer to this part of LA, Chili Addiction would probably become an addiction for me. Go try it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Taco Tuesday

And then I had tacos for easy to make...
First I fried my tortillas. I made four, two for me, two for my sister. Next, I warmed up my veggie crumbles in the same pan, and added garlic and chili powders.
Then I simply filled the tacos with the crumbles, added shredded cabbage, chopped green onion, and tomato. I normally add Daiya but I forgot this time and it was tasty anyway. I also made fresh guacamole with tomato, white onion, avocado (duh), cilantro, lime and garlic (I was out of jalapeños).

Again, easy, better for you and delicious. Eat it now!