Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vegan MoFo

Just wanted to mention that Kelly and I will be partaking in 2008's Vegan Month of Food, or Vegan MoFo as it is lovingly known.

Isa Chandra-Moskowitz of the PPK says:

"Join us for VeganMofo - the Vegan Month Of Food. The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related - your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu - you get the idea.

Last year we didn’t come up with strict guidelines for how often we wrote, but I think the idea is to shoot for every weekday, or about 20 times in the month.

As the world catches on that vegan food really is the best choice for animals (suck it, humane meat!), the planet (bite me, melting ice caps!) and people (piss off, heart disease!) let’s show them what vegan eating is all about."

So look forward this month to lots of posts from us both, including an account of VegNew's Sarah Kramer Vegan-a-Go-Go! Book Bash and the San Francisco World Veg Fest this weekend (anyone else going? Come and say hi to the two awkward ninnies in the corner horfing down hors d'oeuvre, aka us).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vegan food photography resources

I'll be the first to admit that my photography skills are less than stellar (you all come here for our biting wit and scintillating discussion, right?), a big part of which is due to the fading daylight hours and late dinners, but it's been improved vastly by a couple of the food photography tutorials by vegan bloggers. If you're a food blogger (vegan or not), it's worth checking them out for some handy tips & tricks (and it's nice because they have pretty food pictures that don't have animal bits in them):

The evolution of food porn from Katie at Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk!

One Perfectly Lit Salad from Hannah at BitterSweet (who has THE COOLEST vegan tattoo ever, I might add)

Food Photography for Bloggers from Lolo at VeganYumYum

Odds and Ends from Susan at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen (Susan took the photos for Nava Atlas's Vegan Express cookbook)

I use these blogs (and others, and Flickr) as the standard against which to compare my photos. I've got a looooong way to go, but it's a fun learning process!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Passionfruit & Sugar Beat Sweets

Passionfruit 3

I had a fun experience yesterday: I tried a passionfruit for the first time! My boss at my new job is nice enough to order us all a box of fruit from The Fruit Guys every other week, which is a nice change from the candy and crap (most of it not vegan) sitting in the kitchen. This week I was amazing to pick up this light, yet hard-shelled fruit, wondering what in the name of Buddha it could be. I picked up the enclosed newsletter to find out it's a passionfruit, which is native to South America, is ripe when the skin is slightly shriveled, and is a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. It's eaten best when cut in half and scooped out with a spoon.

Passionfruit 2

WOW, they are so amazingly delicious. There's these little tendrils inside, and each tendril has a seed (I think) and a little yellow pocket of juiciness and a little fruit (click photo for closer view). They taste sour but also sweet, and are really weird to look at but fun to eat. The juice stains really easily (which is why you should always bring a cloth napkin with you to work - not paper, silly!), and they require a little work, but they are so good. I ate both of the passionfruit in the box (shh, tell no one), I liked them that much. And they're so pretty!

Passionfruit 1

One of the things I've missed most about Oregon (other than friends and Cafe Yumm, of course) is the vegan mini-mall in P-town which houses the wonderful and delightful Sweetpea Bakery. Just the thought of their bagels and the blueberry muffins and those chocolate muffins with the cream "cheesy" tops are making me hangry (hangry = when you're so hungry, you're angry...thank my BFF Morgan for that one). I've been lamenting the fact that there seems to be no vegan bakery in the bay area. I've found one place nearby that does one vegan cake, which will come in handy when I have to order a cake for my birthday at work in January, but still...I miss supporting a vegan business.

My Wednesday started off amazingly, however, when I read that Melisser of The Urban Housewife started up a vegan bakery in San Francisco! Ladies and gentlemen, Sugar Beat Sweets, now providing local SF businesses with delicious vegan confections! Can't wait!

For wholesale inquiries, please contact: wholesale@sugarbeatsweets.com

Where to find Sugar Beat Sweets in San Francisco:
Rainbow Grocery- 1745 Folsom @ 14th Street
Other Avenues- 3930 Judah Street @ 44th Avenue
Real Food Co.- 2140 Polk @ Broadway
Urban Bread- 3901 18th St @ Sanchez
Mojo Bicycle Cafe- 639-A Divisadero St @ Hayes
Harvest Urban Market- 191 8th St @ Howard

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beuna Balsamic Roasted Veggies

It's amazing to me that omnis think we're somehow dissatisfied and hungry all the time. They couldn't be more wrong. How could one be dissatisfied when all of this...

Beuna Balsamic Roasted Veggies
Beets, onion, red & yellow cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, string beans, eggplant, zucchini, & garlic

...turns into this...

Beuna Balsamic Roasted Veggies

...with just some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and the help of the oven? This is a relatively cheap meal as well, especially if you can shop at a farmer's market and get veggies at a fair price! You could really add almost any vegetable that could withstand roasting to this, we've also added golden beats and yellow squash. One could add any variety of potatoes, squash, portabello mushrooms, parsnips, carrots, herbs..the possibilities are endless.

I call this "Beuna Balsamic Roasted Veggies" because the first time I had this was at the dig house in Beuna, Germany, where we would tromp back after a long day digging in the sun (or thunderstorm, as the case may be), starving and cranky, and two very hardworking folk would cook up dinner for 15-20 people and make us all very very happy. My friends Jess and Nick from Britain were the ones that concocted this, and served it with pasta and an amazing homemade red sauce. I decided to serve it with whole wheat couscous (from Trader Joe's) with sweet plump raisins, as a contrast to the acidic, earthy flavors of the veggies.

Beuna Balsamic Roasted Veggies
Another meal enjoyed on our balcony

I am a lucky lucky girl: the zucchini, beets, onion, and string beans all came from my mother's and grandmother's gardens. :) I <3 being back in California!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Great Seitan

Kelly and I popped our collective seitan-making cherries, finally, a few weekends ago. We started with a small batch, using the simple recipe from Veganomicon, and all I can say is, I don't know why I was so afraid to make this shit myself. The best part is, after you boil it, not only do you end up with a pound of great tasting seitan, you get a bunch of leftover veggie broth too! Usually I can't be arsed to fuck around with vegetable broth so I almost always end up subbing water. The efficiency of making two things at once really appeals to me.

It's also MUCH MUCH cheaper. We figured, a package of White Wave seitan is $3.99 at most places we've seen. In contrast, all this recipe used was veggie broth, garlic, gluten flour, water, and some spices, i.e., cheap stuff. It also doesn't come wrapped in plastic and cardboard, which is just going to get chucked on top of a landfill somewhere.

Kelly kneading 1
Kelly kneading

First seitan! (Vcon)
The finished product

Kelly took home a third and JP and I used the rest. We chopped ours up and put it into chimichangas (ED&BV!)...

Gimme Chimis (ED&BV!)

...and chili (VwaV), both of which were amazing (sorry no picture of the chili, it got gobbled up too fast!). We served it with delicious dark rye bread from Octoberfeast, which has lots of German-inspired (and completely vegan) breads.

Sorry about the crappy photo quality, it's getting harder and harder to make dinner with any amount of daylight left (the chili was part of a romantic candlelit dinner on our balcony, so, yeah...). I don't get home until about 5:30pm JP usually doesn't get home from law school until 7pm. So, there may be some less than gorgeous photos. We've been experimenting with lamps and such though; it'll be an adventure.

And here is my lovely take on seitan. I call it steaktan. When I stopped eating steak, there was a void in my life. No, not because I crave meat. It's because I crave Stuff to Put A1 Steak Sauce On. Now I am complete.

Pretty much just breaded seitan fried in a tablespoon of oil for 20 minutes with some garlic tossed in. Yay for seitan!

The moral of the story is: homemade seitan is cheaper, tastier, and comes without useless packaging! There are so many recipes out there, one would be hard-pressed to find one they didn't like. Try it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Vegan Nomables (or, How I Learned to Make the Pot Pie)

Just a quick lil' update! Fall term has started and my schedule is more swamped than ever, and it's definitely taking a toll on my blogging. But I wanted to share with you guys my FAVORITE new lunch item - summer rolls!

Mark demands that they are pretty

Rice paper wrappers + carrots + cucumber + tofu + sauce (veganaise + chili sauce + peanut sauce) = YUM. Mark showed me how to make these, and they're awesome and pretty healthy. I'm thinking about trying to make the sauce without the veganaise.

Also, pot pies! They're from Rabbit Food by Beth A. Barnett, and they turned out great.

Little baby pies in the new ramekins I bought on sale at Sur La Table for super cheap!

The vegetable filling is especially good (and tastes great by itself in a bowl, lol) although I'm looking for a way to cut down on the amount of oil in the crust.

You may be wondering why I'm eager to modify these recipes. I'm actually using a thing right now called the BodyBugg - it's this little device I got at my gym that records how many calories you burn during the day, so you can see if you're burning more than you're eating. You input all the foods you eat into this web app and it'll tell you how you're doing calorie-wise, and if you've exceeded your calorie targets, and how close you are to your weight loss goals. It's not a fad diet, it's just a way for me to learn to make healthier food choices. In fact, it's pretty neat; the program offers a weekly meal plan option, where it'll tell you what to eat, and you can choose an option to make it a vegan meal plan. Pretty cool, right? Anyway, you'll be seeing some lower-cal and some fat-free foods from me a lot in the future - but that doesn't mean it'll be any less delicious!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I don't know about you, but I simply cannot wait for Isa's upcoming brunch cookbook, The Crack of Noon. I don't know if my greedy brunch-loving tummy can wait until Spring of oh-nine, but I can appease its grumblings by trolling the Vegan with a Vengeance (and friends) Flickr photo pool for tantalizing peeks at testers' results.

Working weekdays again has made me re-appreciate weekend breakfasts, which usually end up being brunch, because by the time we roll out of bed, it's 10am or 11am. I love the incredibly versatility in food types and flavors that one gets to play with at brunch: sweet, savory, chewy, crunchy, fruity, herby, spicy (my new obsession), creamy, fluffy, and always always nommable.

Here's some of our latest brunchy-type meals:

Tempeh Bacon (VwaV)
Marinating tempeh bacon

Jalepeno corn cakes (YRR)
Jalepeno Corn Cakes from Yellow Rose Recipes

Dressed up with black beans, avo, salsa, and a little Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. Delicious and oh-so-difficult to not eat the lot of them in one sitting.

Tofu scramble (VwaV) and fresh pears
Tofu scramble (VwaV) and fresh pears

We have a lovely little balcony in our new place, to our great satisfaction (which is about the ONLY nice thing about our new place...rarr...), complete with a cute little tile-topped table left by the previous tenant. You would think from these photos that I put avocado slices on everything...and you'd be right.

Breakfast of champions
Apple-cinnamon swirl pancakes, fried potatoes, fresh fruit, and braised figs off the the side there

Breakfast of champions! My pancakes didn't come out as beautifully as Susan's did, but they tasted EXCELLENT, and have achieved 'favorite pancake EVER' status in the Meg-JP household. This lovely meal was created for us and Kelly who came across the bay to visit last weekend. :3

Happy brunching, everyone!

Also, just to clarify my last post a little: I'm not trying to imply there's a vegan and non-vegan way to vote. I'm saying that veganism is about reducing suffering, and if you're all about reducing suffering, well...voting for some who thinks that war with Russia 'may be necessary' and uses racist slurs might not be the way to go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear voting American vegans...

We have a vegan blog. We talk about food most of the time, mostly because Kelly and I love food and want to nom delicious vegan yummies all the time.

So why am I talking about politics? Mostly, because I’m angry. Very angry. Angry that there are people ignorant enough in the glorious United States of America to think that the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, is a good idea.

What does this have to do with veganism? A lot, actually. If you’re vegan, or interested in being vegan, you probably already know, from reading our blog, or other blogs, or listening to various podcasts, etc etc, you know that the point of veganism is to do no harm to animals, nonhuman AND human. Seriously, that's pretty much what it comes down to in the simplest terms. Don't fuck with other creatures, because it's stupid and cruel and pointless and unethical.

Voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin is about THE MOST ANTI-vegan decision someone could make. McCain is bad enough, but Palin sends shivers down my fucking spine. This person endorses aerial hunting of wolves and bears (i.e., shooting animals from a helicopter...super fun), hunts and fishes salmon, moose, and caribou, and her favorite meal is a moose stew. She frequently poses for photos with her dead bear in the shot. She supports drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, which has been the apple of oil companies' eyes for years now, and you can bet George W. Bush's oil buddies (as well as her oilman husband) will throw tons of money at her to let them in - who cares about animals as long as the top 1% of America is making money, right? She also opposes the status of many species as being endangered, including the polar bear and the beluga whale (someone obviously hasn't watched An Inconvenient Truth, like, EVER).

Well. She certainly sounds like a lovely person.

On the human end of the nonveganness, Palin shops at and supports Wal-Mart, one of the most notorious exploiters of workers, communities, the environment, and taxpayers' dollars. While she was serving as mayor of Wasilla, AK, the town police chief publicy stated that he did not support a bill preventing law enforcement agencies from charging rape victims for rape kits, ie, the exam done after a victim is raped. Palin is rabidly pro-life (odd, considering how many animals she happily murders) and would pass laws to make abortion illegal, even in the case of rape or incest. She supports the war, she's incredibly racist, she is anti-gay, she'd send women's rights back to the fucking dark ages, and she's one of the worst possible people to be considered to run this country. And if you think she'd have no pull as VP (that's if she ever figures out what a VP does all day - I can't make this shit up, folks), look at the evilness that is Dick Cheney, and think again. And McCain (that fucking traitor) will let her do whatever she wants, because people, somehow, for some reason, think she's their conservative Christian princess who is going to rapture us all up to Jesus.

Look at the state our country's in. Are you happy? Are you financially secure? How's the housing market in your area? How's the price of rice and beer and wheat and veggies? What's your gas bill like? How bike-friendly are your streets? How much has your or your kids' college tuition risen? How safe is your food? What do your foreign friends think about our country? How do YOU feel about it? The Republican party and their president got us into this mess - they aren't going to fix shit.

If you are an American vegan, or are leaning towards veganism, or hell, if you're ANYBODY, and you vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin, don't bother coming back to our blog, because honestly, I have nothing to say to you (nothing that won't make you cry, anyway). Being vegan means thinking about your choices - the Republican party does everything in their power to keep people from thinking at all.