Monthly Archives: June 2010

Barbecued Arepas

If you live in Texas for a while it starts to make sense that you would barbecue everything. 

Beans are often the easiest choice because although I love barbecued tofu, seitan, and tempeh as much as the next girl beans are the cheapest food to make a lot of and we haven’t been rolling in dough lately. Rolling in masa maybe but that’s another story. Wait, that is this story! I fixed up a huge pot of black-eyed peas with spinach and barbecue sauce and a little coffee for smokieness but I couldn’t decide how to serve the black-eyed peas. I thought of making cornbread but I was all out of cornmeal. I thought of tacos but wasn’t feeling it and didn’t have any shortening to make empanadas. Than it occurred to me that I could just make arepas!

Since I got Viva Vegan I have been kind of obsessed with these easy to make fat cousins or tortillas.  The Venezualan ones I made first were probably the best because of the fantastic filling.  I made the smaller Colombian ones as a side dish and they were delectable as well. I think that is when I realized how easy they come together.

All you do is mix salt, 2 & 1/2 cups of water with 2 cups of masarepa more or less until it resembles mashed potatoes then form into plump discs, fry or a griddle for 5 minutes on each side and then either stick in the oven for a while or eat hot off the griddle.  The secret is to get the right masa, here are some more detailed instructions or a “recipe” as they say. Making arepas is even easier than making tortillas because you don’t have to get the press out and make them one at a time. After making a batch or two I don’t even have to measure anymore. I am so glad they have entered my repertoire.

It has been a depressing week. Dinger hurt his back really bad (he has a long body so it happens easily) and he might have to get surgery if it doesn’t get better. It is pretty terrible because he is usually the happiest dog in the world and instead he is just laying around in a lot of pain. His sister, Miss Willow, is depressed too because she has nobody to get super crazy with. So I have just been at home hanging out with the pups. Sorry for the downer post! He is going to get better! And it is almost July, I can’t wait for June to be over!

I went to Vegan Drinks and that was fun, I met a wonderful new friend who was kind enough to come over and give Dinger a massage. I was thinking maybe a chiropractor would help too so if you know one send me an email. Also at vegan drinks I almost won this robot, it was really embarrassingly funny because I thought I won it and I made a really big deal screaming but my friend got instead. He is so cute though! I wish it would have been me!


The Vegan Yacht

I finally checked out the Vegan Yacht at Cheer Up Charlies on East 6th street today and I’ve got to say that I am so impressed! I really didn’t understand until recently that the yacht is a veritable eating establishment and I have been missing out! Cheer Up Charlies used to be a trailer that served mostly beverages but then a couple of months ago the opened up a brick and mortar bar that serves beer, kombucha, and delicious vegan chocolates. They have a lot of events and outdoor movies there. The Vegan Yacht is on the back patio surrounded by little tables and succulents.Although I have heard the menu changes quite a bit, I thought is was pretty great. This Wednesday it included several sandwiches, a TLT, a mock chick’n, and one with sprouts, tomato and avocados along with the latter in lettuce wrap form for the raw/healthy/carbaphobic types out there. They also have a quesadilla made with seitan, daiya cheese, avocado, and bell peppers. We had a hard time deciding! For drinks they have iced coffee & chai, and smoothies or you can go to the bar inside. They also had beet brownies and coconut bliss for dessert. As usual when confronted with an all vegan menu I panicked. There were so many options! I was at Counter Culture over the weekend and someone was raving about the frito pie, that they serve either in a bowl or in burrito form and I thought it was just crazy enough to work and ordered the frito burrito. He gave me the option of adding avocado or daiya and I went with the former. It was fabulous!They perfectly grilled the tortilla which made it have a really nice texture and made it easier to eat. The chili was great and had corn and big pieces of onion in it and it wasn’t spicy at all if that is a concern. I would definitely get it with avocado again. Mmm. My friend tried the TLT which was also on grilled bread and surprisingly tasty.The tempeh was especially reminiscent of bacon which I have never really picked up on before from other tempeh bacon. Or maybe it was just the familiarity because of the vegan mayo and tomato that made it so evocative of the BLTS of yesteryear. Whatever the reason it was a perfect sandwich. I don’t know why they don’t have sides though? Some fries or chips or brussels sprouts or broccoli rice casserole or something would have been a nice side dish. At night it would be perfect to grab a sandwich and then go to the Eastside King for Beet fries.

I loved that they were open for lunch because I thought it was just a late night spot, but they actually have really perfect hours; closing after lunch and reopening at 7 until the party is over so it can be one of the best spots to check out for late night vegan eating.  And they have parking!They also have a Sunday Brunch that I can’t wait to try, especially since they are open until 4 pm for Brunch which, to my mind, is the only civilized thing to do.

I hope the Vegan Yacht sails for a long time. We both really liked it and they seem like really good people! 

Whole Foods Breakfast Tacos have Daiya Cheese Now!

I think I have probably written about whole foods breakfast tacos more than anything else on this blog. To me, tacos are the perfect food and sometimes the only food! The breakfast taco is the most important taco of the day and when it comes to vegan breakfast taco options whole foods just has more than anybody else, and they are a great deal, and I can stop right on my way to work. Sure, they are kind of evil, but I have friends that work there that love it and they really do promote vegan food more and more. The key factor to their taco brilliance is that they are so freaking good. The spelt tortillas are warm and comforting, on a good day the roasted potatoes are salty and soft and crunchy all at once, the pico de gallo is always fresh and delightful.  So at least one morning a week I go, get my coffee, and stand in an oftentimes epic line behind people in teeny tiny little jogging outfits to wait for my taco.I spend the time thinking if I will get my regular -tofu potato pico on spelt- or branch out and get vegan chorizo, roasted vegetables, cilantro lime rice, black beans, re-fried beans or spring for avocado instead. Over the weekend  (they serve breakfast until 1, it is 11am the other days) I was looking at the new signage and noticed another free topping- Daiya Vegan Cheese. So, if you are a fan of Daiya you are in luck! The new vegan cheese has really taken over the lamar store. They even have premade take and bake vegan pizzas. I had one with seven different kinds of olives for my birthday a few weeks ago.

mmm olives.

ALSO don’t forget that Vegan Drinks is this Wednesday at Snack Bar. You don’t have to be a vegan to come!

Don’t Tempt Me!

Last night there was a total panic at Newflower. The freezer was broken and so ice cream was going for a dollar a pint. Mr. Smurf fought his way through and scored a bunch of Tempt ice cream and some tofutti cuties. I am so in love with tempt, since it is made with hemp it is really rich and creamy and even has some health benefits. The benefits are surely outweighed by the massive calorie count if you consume an entire pint so keep that in mind.

Lazy Jamaican peas

This last week I have really benefited gastronomically from having great friends. I asked one of my Jamaican coworkers where she sources scotch bonnet peppers and she said that you can’t find them in Austin but her sister can get them in Florida. Well lucky for me she went to visit her sister last weekend and I got a bag of scotch bonnets, the hottest pepper there is. I read somewhere that if you don’t cut them up but just throw ‘um whole in the pot you get the flavor without all the heat so that is what I did. This recipe is basically from Delicious Jamaica but I thought I would blog it because I made it even lazier (canned beans) and it still turned out fantastic. It has a laziness factor of 3, you do have to do some cooking but it takes less than 5 minutes of total work.

Lazy Jamaican Peas

1 can red kidney beans
1 can coconut milk
1 can of water
1 scotch bonnet or other hot pepper
2 scallions
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp allspice
2 whole cloves garlic
Throw everything in a pot and let it simmer away for about a half hour or whenever it is starting to look more like stew. Then start the rice or the quinoa and add
1/2 cup of onions chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
when the grain is done remove the pepper, scallions, garlic cloves and bay leaves and top the peas with chives if you like!
The chives came from my friend Krys who also brought me a boatload of tomatoes, including this monster:I am excited to spend the weekend eating tomatoes!
I was feeling really down yesterday so I stopped by a gardening store called The Great Outdoors on South Congress, these smurf gnomes really cheered me up.but not nearly as much as this cactus did!
Enjoy the longest days of the year!!!!

New Amy’s Mac & Cheese, 520 Calories? What the What????

I have been seeking the new Amy’s Mac and Cheese that is made with Daiya Cheese for a few weeks. Then I finally saw it at whole foods and was so excited. I love mac & vegan cheese more than I ever liked the dairy version so I was just stoked that maybe there would be a good frozen option to have for work lunches.  I couldn’t believe when I looked at the nutritional information and saw that it was 520 calories, for a teeny tiny side of mac & cheese!  I felt gross eating it. I didn’t think it was good either, kind of gluey, oily, and bland. I know a lot of you vegans love the daiya cheese but give me a good nooch sauce any day over that! I will stick with mac daddy and the Vegan Mac & Cheese at Wheatsville. I wish toy joy still carried their fabulous version. The strange thing is, I really like most of the other Amy’s frozen entrées.

If you are looking for a fantastic frozen meal I recommend the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake, I tried it last week. It has plantains, sweet potatoes, black beans, and kale and was surprisingly good! And since it is only 340 calories for the whole meal you can still have some ice cream when you are done! Or an entire jar of olives. Or a delicious summer brew. Or a chocolate bar with almonds. Mmm chocolate.

The Fair Bean – Breakfast Empanadas and damn fine coffee

So for the last 3 years or so I haven’t had a working left turn signal. I know, I know, I am a horrible person. When the signal got busted I didn’t have the money to fix it and then I just got so used to foregoing electronic signaling and instead using my arm that I never made it a  priority. For years, I haven’t made tough left turns. That is the reason, the only reason, that I don’t go to the Fair Bean on South 1st every morning. It is on the wrong side of the street! But it is so worth the effort to stop in, even if you do have to turn the car around. Now my signal is fixed so I am going to share four reasons why I think you should check it out. Reason 1, they really do have fantastic coffee here. The coffee in Austin, most of the country really, isn’t that good. When I was a kid my Dad loved his coffee. He would stop at McDonald’s or whatever, take a sip, and then toss all the liquid out of the window. I don’t know why or how he kept the faith that he was going to get a good cup at a drive through because he never liked it. Now that I am older I get it, although I drink nasty coffee all the time. I am used to it and don’t complain until I go to Portland or have a delicious cup somewhere and think, oh yes this is what coffee is all about. It can really be a delicious drink. The people at the Fair Bean understand this concept of good coffee in a way that other Austin coffee shops don’t seem to get. They always have several different kinds going, today I had a super dark roast from Honduras that is fabulous! If you don’t want whatever they have already brewed you can get your own french press. They also have amazing specialty drinks like horchata lattes. They cold brew the iced coffee and have soy, rice, and almond milk to make lattes with. You can also get their fair trade coffee in bulk.

Reason 2, the service is always really good. The people who work there are really friendly and so helpful. It breaks my heart that I always see the Fair Bean open on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holidays because that staff really should get paid time off just for being so wonderful. I don’t know them or anything and they aren’t quite at the level of pep as the Emerald City Pres, my other favorite coffeehouse, but they are super nice about everything and will always track down vegan items for me or honor whatever other ridiculous request I have.

Reason 3, the food is fantastic. If you are tired of breakfast tacos you can change things up and  go to Fair Bean and get yourself a breakfast empanada. They are the best empanadas in town, I promise. The first time I tried one I was really hesitant to eat it because it really didn’t taste vegan but I promise they are, they used to have a vegan chef. The crust is so buttery, light, and flaky and the empanada is just chock full of vegan sausage and potatoes. It is so flavorful.  They are really a deal too, I only need one for a perfect breakfast on the go. The only problem is that sometimes they are out, but I swear they are worth making multiple trips or calling ahead for, and lately they have had them every time I go.They also have really good chocolate chip cookies and banana bread made my Celeste’s Best. I think they are my favorite cookies in town.

Reason 4, the atmosphere. The Fair Bean is really a lovely clean place to while away the hours. Once they played Dave Matthews while I was sitting there but I won’t hold that against them forever because usually the music is pretty good and at least not too loud. They have humongous windows that let in a lot of natural light and national geographics scattered around. There is a comfy couch and lots of tables to do homework at. If I was a student, it is the definitely the spot I would go to get stuff done.

So check it out next time you are on South 1st. I read Bouldin is going to close for while they move to a different corner but I am trying to have no fear, there are so many place to eat on South 1st.

Costa Rican Brunch

I had this great idea that I would invite a few of my vegan girlfriends over for brunch. I just invited a couple of people because I am not very good at cooking for many. The menu was perfect, all stuff that I make regularly

Gallo Pinto

Tofu Scramble, shake and bake style

Cilantro Lime Creme Sauce

Fried Plantains

Pineapple Batidos

Lizano Salsa

I had everything prepped and ready to go; the rice and beans for the gallo pinto was made, coffee was in the machine waiting to be brewed, everything was cut up, a giant bottle of Lizano was procured, the plantains were ripe and the tofu was in the oven when my friends started to arrive. Then the universe conspired against me. First, the internet was down because my modem isn’t working at the house so I couldn’t access my glorious recipe for gallo pinto. I can wing it for sure but I spent so long perfecting the recipe that is was such a disappointment that I couldn’t use it. Then right as the plantains were frying the coffeemaker overflowed and while hot coffee was flowing everywhere but the pot the plantains were burning away in the cast iron skillet! Que lástima!

Luckily my friends brought plenty of alcohol to dull my feelings of cooking inadequacy and the meal was still good but I want to do the exact same thing and make it right next time! We have plenty of Lizano now so I can do multiple attempts!I had such a fun time hanging out with you guys! Thanks for coming over!


We have been continuing to cook from Viva Vegan! Two nights ago Mr. Smurf made the red seitan but something went wrong (I think I am going to blame the vital wheat gluten because I got it from bulk rather than Bob’s Red Mill) it didn’t really solidify and we had planned to use it for the Peruvian Skewers. Since it was more like stuffing than seitan we instead made a stir fry that was just ok. Then last night we rolled up the leftovers in tortillas to make toquitos (since everything is better in a fried tortilla) and topped with the red chile sauce (not pictured) the mix was fantastic! Much better than the sum of its parts. We were very happy to salvage the leftovers into something tasty!

I am so excited for this weekend!

The Succulent Days of Summer

I don’t know when it started but I love succulents.  They are the one thing in the world I see for sale and I just can’t resist. I wish I was better at keeping them alive though! I have such a hard time researching them because I never know the names of the plants. So if you know the names of any of them help me out! The pink almond ones are dying and it makes me so sad so if you have any tips…

This first little cactus is one I got from a really neat store called “Happiness” but it closed down. Isn’t that depressing? Happiness is no longer… The lady at the store told me that she once saw a whole hillside covered in these plants and they were all 3 feet tall. It is called Cephalocereus senilis (Old Man Cactus).

My mom bought this one for me from the Natural Gardner. I think it was called a chocolate soldier and I know it is from Madagascar but I haven’t been able to find it online. Luckily, it seems to be thriving!

This grouping was a house-warming gift from my consigliere and bff Amanda. The big fan one didn’t look like it was going to make it for a while but it is going strong now. The little green ones are from either home depot or lowes and they are just sprouting flowers like crazy. But the cutest ones, the little pink almonds are not doing well at all. I got them on 1st Thursday a couple of months ago and then completely forgot everything they told me about them. Do they need less sun? Less water? They have only had rain to drink but maybe that is too much….

I got this one at 1st Thursday too, it is living inside though and doing a lot better. Maybe I should move the pink ones inside.

This little guy was just so cute that I couldn’t say no when I passed him at home depot the other day. I think lithops were the first succulent I was aware of that wasn’t a cactus or an agave. I wish I had 20 of them all lined up in a row.

I thought I would blog every day this week about something fabulous I have made from Viva Vegan, but yesterday I was just too exhausted to cook anything and forced Mr. Smurf to heat up frozen tots and nuggets. He also made guacamole because the avocados were in a state of immaculate perfection. It seems silly to blog about it BUT that guacamole recipe was really good; different than I usually make it and so flavorful. I loved it.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the long days of summer!