Tuesday, September 16, 2014

flashback to college with Afro-Vegan

I've always loved history and growing up in Hampton Roads, Virginia right in the middle of the Historic Triangle really helped me appreciate it. I definitely had Colonial Williamsburg passes in the summer while everyone else had Busch Gardens passes. In college, I majored in Anthropology (concentrating in socio-cultural anthro), which to me is like history, but way more fun. Even though I feel like I complained constantly about the work in college, I learned so much that I don't think I would have otherwise. My favorite anthropology classes were medicine and culture, people and cultures of Africa, and culture & cuisine.

So I was pretty excited when I heard about Bryant Terry's new book Afro-Vegan. I had won his book Inspired Vegan the year before and I became totally smitten with how his books aren't only cookbooks, but they're also very educational. Seriously, I don't know how many times I read about a culture or certain kind of food in his cookbooks that then showed up the next day in my class discussions. It was his books that made me realize how entrenched different cultures are in our everyday lives (and how my degree just might not be completely useless). I even referenced Inspired Vegan in a huge paper about farmer's markets for my anthropological theory class, no joke. Afro-Vegan is just as awesome. I really love the the book and music recommendations that go with the recipes! I even have a dedicated bookshelf on my Goodreads account just for these book recommendations. I have read The Cutting Season and I'm now working on both Americanah and The New Jim Crow. Reading these books makes it feel like I never left school (good or bad? IDK...haha). Here's a great article that tells more about Bryant Terry and the inspiration for Afro-Vegan.

Here's the Texas Caviar, which I made with from-scratch yellow-eyed peas (:( bought in VA) and a huge yellow and red heirloom tomato which was topped with fried garlic slices. While I liked this recipe, it lost a lot of its flavor the next day, so I wouldn't recommend having leftovers. This recipe is paired with The Cutting Season, which I kind of felt the same way about- it was really good...and then the ending was really anti-climatic. 

These are the Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil. I loved this recipe! I loved making my own seasoned oil and the way the potatoes were cooked (boiled, then smashed and roasted). I only used half of the red pepper flakes required for the oil and it was still super spicy. The inspirations for this recipe are a traditional Kenyan dish, irio, and tostones, a popular Latin American dish. Super cool.

Some of my favorite recipes from the book are the Tofu Po'boys with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and the Slow-Braised Mustard Greens. There's a lot of recipes in the book that look great for cooler months, like the Peanut Stew with Winter Vegetables and Cornmeal Dumplings, Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens and the Stewed Tomatoes and Black-Eyed Peas with Cornbread Croutons (omg!!).

Do you have any favorite recipes from Bryant Terry's books? Any other similar books I should look in to? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

summer food

I was trying to think of how to frame this post: here are some pictures of food from the summer that I forgot I ate and everything was really good....sorry my food pictures suck so bad, but you should make all this stuff yourself anyway.... Hmm, I don't know. I feel like the reason I blog so infrequently is because I don't know the main point of my blog....I don't know my "mission" or "message" or whatever. But once I put all the pictures into the post, I realized that this kind of a showcase of all the awesome stuff that vegans eat. I've been listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's podcasts a lot (plenty of time on the road) and she always emphasizes how veganism isn't about restriction and that you shouldn't just say "Oh, I can't eat that" about animal foods, but that "I don't want to eat that." I think it's also more about a non-vegan perspective; people act like I'm not allowed to eat animal foods, but really, because I've educated myself, I'd just prefer NOT to eat that stuff. But look at all the stuff I want to eat! Everything here is gluten free, too.

So, I made this strawberry, rhubarb, and peach crumble. I combined a couple recipes (one from The PPK and one from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone) and it tasted perfect, even though it looks kinda like barf...

I have so many favorite recipes from The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I got it at Costco the day after I graduated (I obviously partied hard....) and I haven't really stopped cooking from it since! This is the Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta, which has a creamy tomato cashew sauce. I could probably eat it everyday. Also, since my mom is gluten free and I reference that a lot, I thought I'd mention that our favorite gluten free pasta brand is Tinkyada brown rice pasta. I also don't mind quinoa pasta, but I think the Tinkyada tends to be cheaper and easier to find- it's even at Wal-Mart. 

This was my birthday pizza! I still want to experiment with amounts of sauce, cheese, and filling, but a delicious skillet pizza is hard to mess up completely, that's for sure. This was also gluten free and once again, I used the crust recipe from Minimalist Baker. I also used her guidelines for the skillet pizza itself, then obviously used Daiya mozzarella shreds. I actually made it again and tried using Daiya jack style wedge and the filling turned out way too liquidy/creamy with that kind. I really like the wedge style on quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches, but on pizza it just ends up too runny. I would like to try this again as a Philly steak style pie, with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and beyond beef....mmm...

The birthday cake. This was my attempt at a Babycakes brownie cupcake with mocha frosting (BTW, I am SO DEVASTATED that the Babycakes storefront closed in Orlando, especially because I'm running the Princess Half in February- I'm going to have to ORDER my donuts....the horror....#firstworldproblems) Anyway, the brownie cupcake with mocha frosting from Babycakes is the best vegan CUPCAKE I've ever had- notice that I said cupcake and not baked good in general- and I really wanted to try to recreate it. So, since I have both Babycakes books, I found that the recipe for the brownie cupcakes was similar to the recipe for the triple chocolate fatpants cake, so I used that recipe and then added extra chocolate chips to the batter.  For my mom and me, Babycakes recipes are always a hit or miss- We've had the first book for a while now, and we've pretty much figured out that bake times/temps are always too short/not hot enough. People want to act like vegan baking would be SO difficult....then they hear gluten free AND vegan and their minds are blown..... The mocha frosting was another adventure. Since I couldn't get the ingredients Babycakes uses in their frosting (soy milk powder and coconut flour), I found a recipe for vegan mocha frosting on Martha Stewart's website- who knew? I probably cut the sugar a little bit as I didn't really want just spreadable sugar for my frosting, but it turned out fine. It wasn't quite as thick and flavorful as what I've eaten at Babycakes, but it was....acceptable! Not bad, not amazing. 

This is just a really perfect Greek salad at Razzi's Pizzeria in Seattle. I like this place because they have an entire gluten free + vegan menu with pizza (duh), calzones, salads and mozzarella sticks. Yeah, those were so good that I didn't get a picture, the only thing lacking was the saltiness of the non-vegan kind, but, uh, that's what salt shakers are for. 

Quesaritos, round two. These are so good. And I know that the "real" quesarito has rice and not many vegetables, but I really don't want rice on my brown rice tortillas....I'd rather have beyond beef, guacamole, salsa, onions, olives, and cilantro. nom nom

Do you have a new favorite cookbook? Is there a vegan dish or baked good that you just can't seem to get perfect?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

moving cross country, vegan style

So, my family has been planning to move to Washington for a while now. We waited until I graduated and we're finally here. We decided to drive cross country because of all the horror stories we've heard about flying with dogs. Driving turned out to be pretty fun, even though it was super hot for most of the drive. I kept thinking that the next city would be cooler, but it was like the heat just followed us all the way from VA. To find good hotels for dogs, I referred to Luminous Vegan's post about her drive cross country. I would use the Bring Fido app and then cross search on Trip Advisor for reviews of the best ones. We ended up staying mostly at La Quinta's, a Best Western in Billings, Montana, and a Comfort Inn in Wenatchee, Washington. My favorite place we stayed was actually a motel in Rapid City, SD, Big Sky Lodge. My mom really liked the motel setup because it was easier to take Coco out; we just had to go out the door and we were outside, versus at a hotel Coco had to get used to elevators and stairs to get outside. At first she would shake on elevators and stairs were scary, too, but now after all the practice she had she seems fine!

We stayed two nights at Big Sky so we were able to see the Badlands at night and then Mount Rushmore the next day. It was difficult to sightsee as much as we wanted to, since most hotels did not allow dogs to stay in the room alone and it was also super hot most of the time. We were able to walk around the Badlands a bit in the evening and then we drove through them, which was both amazing and scary- there was a lightning and hail storm when we got to the end and the roads were not illuminated at all.....

somewhere in South Dakota

Montana? probably

Lot of Tasty Bite on the road. Easy to make, simple ingredients, and duh, they're tasty. I easily found them at Whole Foods or local co-ops. After Whole Foods visits in both St. Louis and Omaha, I was able to find co-ops like Breadroot Natural Foods in Rapid City, SD and Good Earth Market in Billings, Montana. At places like these, I could easily find Tasty Bite, hummus, Beyond Meat, and other staples. I even bought a bunch of Just Mayo at the Dollar Tree in Omaha, so I made sandwiches with Beyond Meat, lettuce, tomato, mayo and Frank's for a couple dinners. Since my mom is gluten free and vegan, we didn't really bother trying to find restaurants who MIGHT be able to accommodate her, plus we also couldn't leave Coco in the car or hotels at all, so it was just easier to grocery shop and make food in the room.

I just want the world to know that Montana is really amazing. I had never seen the country past Illinois before this trip, and I just couldn't believe some of the scenery. Missoula, Montana was definitely one of the places that got me thinking "good riddance, east coast! i hatechu!" The Good Food Store was the. best. period. So much better than any Whole Foods I have ever been to. They had vegan risotto and curry roasted cauliflower on the hot bar (which was $1 cheaper per pound than Whole Foods, BTW). They also had a vegan and gluten free berry crumble that I ate before I got a picture, so good. They also had really good prices on stuff like Tasty Bite (the cheapest of the whole trip), go veggie! cream cheese, and house made vegan cookies (fifty cents!). 

Impossibly good maple chai latte with almond milk from a great place in Bozeman, Montana. 

One of our last stops on the trip in Tacoma at Quickie Too- this is Ayinde's Chili Mac! nom nom nom. I can't wait to go back. 

Lots of west coast adventures to come!