Showing posts with label JP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JP. Show all posts

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vegan Independence Day!

So as fate would have it, on a great holiday opportunity for some delicious cookins, our beloved Meg was being hogged by Oregonians, so JP and I were left to fend for ourselves on the 4th of July. The verdict: Lasagna.

I used the Random Girl Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna Recipe that I like so much...

...Which yielded some delicious results and many scrumptious leftovers. We also tried Random Girl's Raspberry Cheesecake Bars (we used blackberries instead!) and wrestled with it a bit but it ultimately came out pretty tasty.

Yay, cooking. Hopefully Meg returns to blogging soon so you can get your hands on a real entry!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Being vegan in 'Schland

And we're back!

Hi folks! Real life (moving to another state, trying to find a job, continuing problems with internet) caught up with me, and hence my post about being vegan for 5 weeks in the big D (aka Deutschland, aka D-land, aka 'Schland, aka Germany) has been delayed until now. But, JP and I are almost completely settled into our new apartment in Berkeley and we're getting on our feet. I'm unfortunately jobless at the mo', but hopefully that will change soon!

Happy shite: I celebrated my 1-year Veganniversary on the 26th of July! Yaaaaay me! I celebrated by cooking a ton of food for my and JP's going away party, and unfortunately forgot to take any pictures. In my defense, I had been in the country less than 24 hours - I blame jetlag!.

So on to the 'Schland. I'll admit, I was apprehensive about traveling abroad as a vegan for the first time, especially in a meat-and-potatoes-centered food culture like Germany. There is a Metzgerei (butcher's shop) on every corner. The ubiquitous bakeries are full of beautiful but dairy-laden baked goods. Even the foreign food is meat-based: döner kebap, the most popular fast food in Germany, is basically a pita pocket full of dead sheep with veggies and a dairy-based sauce. I was optimistic but cautious.

My purpose in going to Germany was to work on an archaeological dig sponsored by the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. We were located about an hour south of Leipzig, which was cool for me because my year abroad in 2005-2006 was almost entirely spent in southwest 'Schland. I was excited to see what if any cultural differences existed and to hear other dialects (I'm used to Schwäbisch, which in my opinion is the best dialect EVAH: "'n bissle!").

The great thing about this is that I was staying with a bunch of people and we had a budget with which to buy groceries and make our own food, so there was no time when I was forced to go to a cafeteria or eat pre-prepared food or had to go hungry. Grocery lists were communally drawn up and everyone was responsible for his or her own breakfast and lunch. Dinners were eaten together every night, with two people responsible for cooking.

I was living with 15 people, and eating with 15-20 people depending on how many of the scientists were staying for dinner. Luckily, there was another vegan in addition to me (from Belgium), a vegetarian (from England), and a lactose intolerant pescatarian (from the Netherlands), so with 1/4-1/3 of us being veg, that was enough of a crowd to ensure one of the two entrees would be vegan. The downside to living and eating with 11-15 omnis is that we had two fridges basically STUFFED with lunchmeat and cheese. The amount of animals and animal products that people ate on a daily basis was fucking disgusting. It made me a bit ashamed to remember that I, too, had eaten that way (or worse) for the first 22 years of my life. However, it served as a good reminder of the many reasons why I'm vegan.

It was easy enough to find vegan food in normal German grocery stores. We went to Plus, Aldi, or Kaufland, and once or twice we went to Edeka or Lidl. When I visited the fabulous Mihl of Seitan Is My Motor, she also mentioned that DM has lots of vegan food AND household and bodycare products, too. I stuck to veggies (Gemüse), fruit (Obst), beans (Bohnen), bread (Brot), tofu (Tofu), grains (Getreidekorn), soymilk (Sojamilch), soy yogurt (Sojajoghurt), muesli (Muesli - make sure it doesn't have honey!), soy pudding (Sojapudding), chocolate (Schokolade), chips (Chips), soy-based margarine (pflanzliches Margarine), jam (Marmelade), and tea (Tee). I also went to a Reformhaus (health food store) in a nearby town and bought some 'specialty' items: vegan cookies (veganische Kekse), vegan hot dogs (Wurst), vegan Nutella (Soja Schokoladeaufstrich), and vegetable-based bread spread (Brotaufstrich).

Breakfast (except for those weekends when I made vegan pancakes for the lucky few who woke up early) was always soy yogurt and muesli and a piece of fruit, and sometimes a piece of bread with jam. On weekends when I was staying there I sometimes made tofu scramble with mushrooms, leeks, onions, and red pepper. Lunch had to be portable, as it was eaten out at the site. It usually consisted of some sort of sandwich or two (veggies, veg and tofu, PB&J, or PB & vegan nutella & banana), fruit, sometimes a carrot, chips (usually red bell pepper, or paprika, Pringles), and either vegan cookies or vegan chocolate. And either water or Vita Cola (also known in some circles as 'Commie Cola' or 'God'). I dressed the sandwiches up with paprika and cayenne and salt and pepper - spices take up little to no room in a bag and are superlight.

Unrelated to veganism: while on my trip, I acquired der Brothass (breadhate), which is a word I made up to describe the fiery rage that surged up from my tummy whenever I saw a piece of toast. I had bread at two meals a day if not three and sometimes as a snack, and by the last week I was fucking sick of it. And I was apparently eating the bare minimum; the Dutch and Belgian folks ate twice that!! I don't really eat that much bread at home unless I get a PB and banana craving. I felt STUFFED to the gills with breadiness. I developed an irrational hatred for it and would do anything to avoid eating bread. It got to the point where I was bringing leftovers from dinner in a plastic container and leaving it on the truck in the sun to warm up.


Dinner was an interesting affair, depending on who was cooking. There were some very excellent meals. I cooked three times while I was there, and made awesome chili twice, and teriaki tofu/veggie kabobs once. Siglinde made an amazing Moroccan tagine, Jess and Nick made lovely baked balsamic veggies with pasta, and tomato curry over spiced rice, Uli and Coen made tomato basil spaghetti, Freya and Sander made lasagna (the vegan version was AMAZING, and the white sauce was made with COCONUT MILK...sounds weird, but tasted SOOOO GOOD!), the Romanian girls made stew...there was never a night where I went hungry. Sander (the other vegan) and I were clear about what we could and could not eat. Most people were respectful of our wishes, even if they didn't completely 'get' veganism. Many of them began to come around after I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies on the last weekend. ;) I had some interesting discussions with folks, some of which I'll be touching on in a later entry.

I didn't get a chance to go to many vegan restaurants while there, sadly. I was lucky enough to dine twice at Zest, a vegan restaurant in Leipzig, which Mihl recommended. HO MEINE GUTE! I am so sad I do not live nearby, because the food there was amazing. The first time I had a BYOB burger with tempeh, the BEST potato salad I've ever had in my life, amazing red pepper hummus with pita, and a yummy lemon ginger drink. The second time I have a BYOB burger with grilled tofu, these amazing jalepeno and cream cheese tamales with roasted corn salad...


...and a strawberry basil smoothie.



The food was very fresh, very creative, very flavorful, amazing presentation. Sander, Jess (the vegetarian) and Nick (an omni) all raved about their food as well. Sander got this amazing chocolate cake that looked as if it was pure chocolatey goodness, and tasted that way too! (I got a teensy bite :3) Not eating out a lot definitely helped me save money though. For quick food at train stations and such, falafel (sans yogurt sauce, if applicable) was easy in a pinch.

I also had the pleasure of visiting Mihl in Dresden and eating her wonderful amazing food! You can read all about and see the enormous delicious spread she cooked herself (a friend and I helped chop veggies, and I frosted the cake, yay!) here at her blog. Everything was amazing but my favorite was the curry burry soup and the mocha devastation cake from My Sweet Vegan! She sent me home with leftovers, and I was the envy of the archaeological dig team the next day. I gave an omni friend a taste of the cake, and she liked it so much that she wants the recipe! Many MANY thanks to Mihl for inviting me and feeding me such lovely fare!

So I managed to stay vegan in Germany for five weeks, aside from a cookie mix-up that wasn't my fault. What worked best for me was buying most of my food from grocery stores and cooking myself. Even the hostel I stayed at in Berlin during my last week had a kitchen. Yeah, some of the meals I had (especially some of those lunches at the dig) were kind of boring, but it was just one meal out of my life. And some of the meals I had were amazing (I'm still dreaming about that lasagna...). If you don't have access to a kitchen while traveling, I found that buying bread, tofu salami (or not), veggies, margarine, and mustard and making myself sandwiches suited me just fine.

I'll be surprised if anyone is still reading after all that! Next entry will be about being vegan and visiting friends and how to cook together, as well as discussions about hunting, sheep, and European veganism. Also I promise more food porn and less musing (eventually).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We're not dead

Hey y'all. You're possibly wondering where in the hell we went. Kelly's been busy balancing a new job and school, and I've been in Germany working in an archaeological dig for the last four weeks (I'm in Berlin at the moment, typing this from the lobby of my hostel, I'm in the 'Schland for another week). Hopefully you enjoyed the guest entry from our wheat-intolerant comrade, and there will be more of those in the future from Mark, and also entries about vegan homebrewing from JP.

So don't fret! We'll be back soon. I'll have a mammoth entry about traveling and and being vegan in Germany, complete with a special appearance from the lovely and talented Mihl from Seitan is My Motor. There will be anecdotes about cooking for 15 omnis (plus one other vegan and a vegetarian and a lactose intolerant pescatarian), the wonders of Brotaufstrich, some vegan/omni discussion that I found interesting, and much raving about Cafe Zest in Leipzig.

After that will be some reviews of veg cafes in Berkeley, as JP and I are moving there at the beginning of August! We'll be completely skint afterwards, but that's what parents are for, right? (IE, treating their lovely and talented daughters to vegan food.)

And somewhere in there will be some recipes from My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky, which I got a chance to look through when I was visiting Mihl and have decided that I MUST purchase as soon as I set foot back in Portland. The Herbivore folks are going to be startled when I zoom in on the book, babble incoherently about the Mocha Devastation Cake, throw money on the counter, and leave with it clutched to my bossom. Yes, it is that amazing.

Can't wait to get back and get back to blogging and catch up on all your blogs! Hope everyone's having a lovely summer!

Monday, May 5, 2008

So many spicy things!

I never used to like spicy food. My mother loves to tell the story of how I dumped tons of red pepper flakes on my pizza at a restaurant when I was like four, took a bite, and then proceeded to scream bloody murder after realizing that my pizza was, indeed, made of searing hot flame.

But dating changes a person, for the better, in this case. JP is a spice fiend: the hotter the better! Oh and that goes for the food, too (wah wah wah...I'm so crevah). Anyway, since we started dating I've been trying spicier foods (such as kim chee, green curry, etc) and I've really been enjoying the culinary delight that is your mouth being on fire. In a good way. I think it is in part due to becoming vegan; when one's palatte is not constantly inundated with fatty cream and cheese sauces, it becomes exposed to all of those flavors that were overwhelmed before. I now enjoy so many foods that I didn't even consider trying before.

So bring on the spicy recipes!:

Quinoa, blackened tofu (ED&BV!), cheater baked beans & simple stir-fried greens (Vcon)
Fantastic taste explosion dinner

At the recommendation from Lelly on the VFF, I made the Blackened Tofu from Eat Drink & Be Vegan!. I was not expecting to like this (after all, black = burnt, right?), but I was puh-leasantly surprised. Black does not = burnt, black = yummy crispy blackened layer of cajun-style spices on both sides of my tofu! Very very pleased, not TOO spicy, and the flavors were balanced nicely by the Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon,which = mmm, molassesy goodness. I really liked how easy yet delicious the beans were. I like sweeter baked beans, and these were perfect for me. Plus it calls for canned beans so if you're lazy (or busy) they are great when you're pinched for time. I added sides of quinoa, and the Simple Stir-Fried Greens, also from Veganomicon. This was my first time using mustard greens. They're very peppery and tender, and I used the optional chili oil which made them even more spicy. Highly recommended meal!

Blackened tofu (ED&BV!) sammich
Leftovers taste even better at the beach

The tofu also makes awesome sammiches. This is the blackened tofu (cut in half lengthwise) on polenta bread, with field greens, avocado, and chipotle-cilantro crema. We took these delicious little darlings to Hobbit Beach up on the Oregon coast along with bananas, trail mix, Newman-O's, chips, and a couple of beers we hadn't tried from Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head (one of our favorite breweries, sucks that they're not local), and Bayern Brewing (the doppelbock is reeeeally well-rounded and tasty). It was a lovely frolicky afternoon.

And one last trip down Spicy Lane: today is Cinco de Mayo! Which as every college student knows is about the conquering of France by alcohol. Er, Mexico. Er, something. Whatever, it's an excuse to drink. The temperature in Eugene finally rose above 'cold and rainy as all get out' so JP and I sipped homemade mojitos on the front lawn, and then made these for dinner to eat in the backyard (aka the paved back parking area where there's a plastic picnic table and chairs):

Baja-style tempeh (Vcon) in tacos
Baja-style tempeh tacos

They're the Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos from Veganomicon, but without any of the fancy fixins'. I didn't feel like buying anything or making the lime crema (I had leftover chipotle-cilantro crema from the picnic sandwiches), so I just used the chili-beer marinade for the tempeh (nice and easy, just needs to sit in there for at least an hour, then grilled on my grillpan) and then we made refried black beans and piled the tempeh, beans, the crema, and lots of veggies and cilantro on locally-made corn tortillas. I think this recipe is my favorite way I've EVER had tempeh. The tacos were spicy, warm, and refreshing all at the same time, and the perfect cruelty-free end to the first warm day of the year.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Backlog of food & JP's birthweek festivities

Hey folks. Earth Week and our vegan challenge week was nuts (ended last night with Laura of Guilty Vegan Pleasures cooking us wonderful fried rice and blackberry pudding), Earth Day is sure to be crazy as well, and on top of it all I had a geology field trip (in which I ate healthier than all my omni campmates) last weekend. Cherry on the cake: it was JP's birthday (birthweek, rather, since the festivities lasted from giving him a 22oz. of the Full Sail Original Nut Brown Ale on Wednesday and went until our date on Friday night). So there's a massive backlog of foodpics here for y'all to oogle. I made a fantastic brunch today for us and some friends, and unfortunately forgot to take any pictures. HOWEVER! I made a fantastic chipotle-cilantro crema sauce all by my lonesome, and it will be the first recipe I post here, once I make some more of it tomorrow, as it all DISAPPEARED into hungry vegan tummies.

So enough rambling, on to the pics:

Balsamic vinegar/tamari/vegan worcestershire glazed tofu on quinoa and kale

Inspired by this post from Lelly's Vegan Kitchen on a night that I was VERY hungry and very stressed. Very easy: I just poured on splashes as I fried a slab of tofu on a pan.

Italian quinoa and tempeh

Leftover quinoa with parsley and whatever was lying around in the fridge, and sauteed tempeh. JP's creation!

Steamed veggies and tempeh over brown rice with sweet & sour sauce

This sweet and sour sauce recipe from VeganYumYum has become a staple in our house. I only add 2 Tbsp. sugar instead of 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. and it tastes just fine. It's quick and simple and tastes amazing. Plus it makes me DEVOUR any and all steamed vegetables in it. We do carrot, onion, any color bell pepper, snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli (and pineapple)...many possibilities. I usually scavenge the market's "50% off" produce shelf for ideas.

BBQ baked tofu, seared portobello mushrooms, asparagus w/Vegenaise, and brown rice

I finally made something else from Veganomicon...sorta. I used bottled BBQ sauce. We cleaned out the fridge and it needed to be used, so... :P Anyway it was dang good, especially along with those amazing mushrooms from Eat Drink & Be Vegan! and asparagus that my mommy sent home with me from California.

Apple pie-crumb cake muffins

Wow. These are one of my new favorite recipes from VwaV. Very coffee cake-y, but the apple juice, grated apple, and apple chunks make it a party in my tummy. These got rave reviews from the brunch folk this morning.

Vegan birthday dinnarz!

On to the birthday celebrations...JP's mom had us over for dinner on Thursday for JP's birthday, where she made us kickass vegan lasagna (from one of the Moosewood cookbooks) with zucchini and spinach and tofu ricotta and portobello mushrooms, and also amazing sweet potatoes and garlic bread. She sent us home with a huge pan of leftovers (lunch yesterday and no doubt dinner tonight). This is from lunch yesterday. It inspired me, as I had never made lasagna even as an omni and it intimidates me. So many NOODLES! The JP-mommy kindly invited me over to get a tutorial. I can't wait! We went to Sweet Life Patisserie (lovely bakery/cafe in Eugene that has gorgeous vegan desserts) afterwards and I of course forgot my camera. I got a piece of lemon poppyseed raspberry cake and JP got a slice of chocolate peanut butter silk pie.

Then on Friday I took JP out for a swanky date at Ratatouille in Eugene, a beautiful (though pricey) vegetarian/vegan restaurant that opened just last year. We've been there three times now and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves each time. Despite the price tag, the portions are actually pretty big - I leave full every time, and the time we got dessert there, I rolled out the door like what's-her-face in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Almost everything on the menu is vegan (there's like one or two things with cheese, that can be left off easily), and it focuses on local organic ingredients so the menu changes a lot.

Shepherd's pie with sauteed mustard greens

JP's Shepherd's pie was amazing, with parsnips, carrots, mushrooms, and some other veggies, and the potato crust on top was delectable: crunchy on the very top and creamy further down. We'd never tried mustard greens before and found them to be delightfully peppery. More investigation is required.

Blue corn empanadas

I ordered the blue corn empanadas, which ZOMG if I had to eat something every day for the rest of my life, it would be these. They were spicy and delicious, filled with corn and green olives and tomato and I think carrot and many yummy things, and came with black beans over salad greens, with this smooth beautiful vegan crema sauce, and dollops of this amazing spicy chipotle cream, which is where I got my inspiration for my chipotle-cilantro crema, the recipe for which you'll get later. Anyway the flavor and texture combinations in this dish blew my mind: spicy and smooth, warm and cold, the crunchy outsides of the empanada and the warm soft insides...I ate every last bit (and a few bites of JP's shepherd's pie, haha! Just ask Kelly, I'm like a food ninja.)

Triple chocolate layer cake with caramel coconut pecan frosting

And JP came home to a German chocolate birthday cake! The frosting was kind of hard to make, mostly while I accidentally put too much coconut milk in, but oh is it worth it. And it actually gets better a day or two later. I used the Triple Layer Chocolate Cake from Dreena Burton's recipe blog and the frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's hard to believe there was a whole cake sitting on the counter on Friday and now there's...much less than that. Oops.

I'll leave you with us looking studly for our datey-poo. :3

Date night