Monthly Archives: October 2012

Win a copy of “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day”

Vegan sandwiches from shitty restaurants can really make you kind of disappointed by sandwiches. If you are lucky, they will have the standard hummus sandwich or veggie burger, otherwise you can sometimes order a PB&J off the kids menu. If not that, you are stuck with the worst sandwich in the world; the condiment sandwich aka the “veggie sandwich”. Sorry but lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup, and mustard does not a sandwich make. If you grew up eating tons of sandwiches, like I did in the old USA this can be very disappointing. Don’t you wish someone would come and solve this nightmare problem? And that there was someone who could restore their former glory? This book is called “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day” but really I think Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes are the ones who deserve the superhero status. They sent me a copy of their new cookbook for their book tour and I am so happy they did! My boyfriend is even happier since he was begging me to get a copy of the book the week that it came out. And he couldn’t care less about cookbooks usually. (yeah I don’t get that either) He loves sandwiches so much that I recently smuggled him one from Illinois across four state lines so he was very excited about this one.

This book has all the old favorites like, the Dagwood, the BLT, and the Fishwich. It has veganized American classics like the Country Sausage & Biscuit or the a KFC knockoff. It has international sandwiches like a Shwarma, a Bahn Mi, the Welsh Rarebit, Bierocks, or From Russia with Love, They have breakfast sandwiches like Mexican Chick-Un and Waffles and Berry Stuffed French Toast Pockets. They even have dessert sandwiches like an open-face Bananas Foster cake sandwich or a chocolate panini. They have also come up with all sorts of combinations that only a couple of awesome vegans could create like, Tofu Pomegranate Pockets, Onion Ring Ranchocado, or the Mac-Shroom. And if you have no idea what any of these should actually look, never fear, like there are tons of glorious pictures throughout. Nearly every sandwich has a mouthwatering shot.

The last chapter contains everything you need to really get down with making homemade sandwiches with several different amazing sounding seitan recipes to make your own cold cuts from, recipes for rolls and even a brioche, and then tons of spreads and condiments that you could use to enhance any old sandwich. There is also a great index and little symbols telling you if a sandwich is potentially gluten free, if it’s quick to make, or keeps well to bring to work. And speaking of preparing ahead, there is a whole section on how to pack up sandwiches so that you won’t have soggy bread and tips on each sandwich throughout.

I have a sandwich that I brought to work today and I’m so excited to eat it. I had a really hard time deciding which one to make, but in the end I went for the one that sounded really easy, the Peanut Butter Bacon Banana Sandwich. Filling in for the pig so he could live another day is a really well put together recipe for broiled smoky chickpeas that I absolutely loved and feel I will be making all the time. 

When I was assembling the sandwich I thought those chickpeas would be flying everywhere but we just had a few men overboard, most of them clung to the chunky peanut butter and just ripened bananas. I did make one mistake since the recipe called for soft rolls. I didn’t want to make anything and thought that these dinner rolls I found at Whole Foods would work fine, but they didn’t squish down at all when I fried them up. They were, in fact, hard rolls. A better sub would have been hamburger rolls. They were delicious though, even though we had a hearty soup on the side Dan was already fixing his second sandwich before I had even sat down to eat mine. All the flavors came together beautifully.

This is the perfect book for vegans that like really exciting food and recreations of old favorites. It does call for some ingredients that you wouldn’t find at any old store but it definitely doesn’t rely on grocery store vegan meats and cheeses, there are recipes included for those to make your own. And although their are some great sounding healthy options, some recipes call for a good old fashioned deep fat fry. There is definitely something for everyone.

CONTEST CLOSED KZ Cakes is the winner! Her comment was “Okay this is really gross, and un-vegan but when I was little I used to make what was called “Special Sandwiches” which were white bread, both halves slathered in Miracle Whip and filled with cheeze puffs. Ew right? I don’t even remotely want to veganize it.” eww indeed. And hilarious.

Do you want to make glorious sandwiches too? Just comment below and let me know what your favorite sandwich was growing up. Bonus points if it is a concoction you came up with yourself or if it’s a regional favorite. And if you can’t think of one tell me the worst vegan sandwich you ever had at a restaurant. I know you can do that. You have until 11-2-12 to leave a comment.



Aren’t you that smurf that likes Star Trek?

star trek pumpkinsI had to stop veganmofo because of a recent tragedy  It’s been really tough, sad time, and I certainly haven’t been feeling like blogging. Everyone has different coping methods for the hard times in life and they will offer you up helpful suggestions like drinking or the bible. For me, when things are just too dark to deal with I always turn to Star Trek. If you’re not a trekkie it probably sounds totally ridiculous. But honestly it really helps to immerse myself in a world where there isn’t hunger or poverty and everyone works to better themselves and do the right thing. I have been a fan for a long time. In middle school I went to a couple of conventions, I even met Wil Wheaton and Majel Barrett Roddenberry. My bff Amanda and I both had a gigantic stack of Star Trek trading cards…. that we traded with each other. We also once recreated an episode in my Mom’s basement. I’ve gotta get that on youtube, I was Worf and she was Data. The rest of the cast was played by 11 year old girls too, except I made my Dad come to town to act as an admiral. Last year at Vida Vegan con someone came up to me and said “aren’t you that smurf that likes Star Trek?” and it was pretty much the best thing ever.

When I heard they were going to have a convention in Austin with the entire Next Generation cast a few months ago I was so stoked. And then after everything that’s happened the timing became fortuitus. Like the universe was looking out for us. On Thursday I really didn’t even know if I felt up to having fun but we already had our tickets and Amanda was driving into town from Houston so of course I was going to go. It ended up being the perfect thing.

So excuse me for a minute while I geek out.

The first night after looking for shit to buy we got to see the Women of Star Trek Panel with Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden. When we were kids these ladies were heroes to us. It was so amazing to hear them, and learn that they are hilarious, kind, liberal, artists and feminists. Just exactly what I would want my childhood heroes to be. They did tell some sad stories, like McFadden getting fired by the producers in the first season for wanting her character to have a deeper relationship with her son than just mothering him. Those producers eventually got fired themselves and she made it back in the third season. I also learned that Marina Sirtis, who at the time looked like this, was told she was getting fat by the producers and she had to spit out all that chocolate she eats. Sad sad sad.

The next day we got to see Patrick Stewart, talk about whatever he wanted and then answer some questions. He is so adorable and so funny. He talked about how he is really excited about comedy these days after doing extras and the daily show.

Then later, the highlight of the whole weekend’s programming, the entire cast came together to talk about their experience.  I knew Michael Dorn was vegan, my friend Daniel even asked him about it, but I learned during that panel he’s single because no lady can get through the Marina Sirtis’ screening process. There was also one part where a fan said that really the only reason she wanted to ask a question was so she could stare at Patrick Stewart, he got up and did a little model style posing and then Marina ran up to him and said he had amazing abs too and tried to lift up his shirt. She really reminds me of me and I think I would totally pass her screening process so now I want to marry Michael Dorn. I did shake his hand later and I don’t think that’s going anywhere. We told his assistant he should go to Counter Culture. It was so cool to see how much the cast loved each other. And singing Reading Rainbow with LeVar and the whole audience! And learning that 80,00 dollars worth of costumes were stolen from the set of their first movie by a guy that was trying to trade them for KITT, the car from nightrider. The police and the costume director busted them when they were making the trade in the desert! 

The last panel was the Men of Star Trek and it was here that I decided to ask a question. While I stood in line waiting for it to be my turn I got so nervous that I really thought I was going to puke. That has never happened to me before. I almost changed my question to “Has anyone ever vomited on you before” but I kept it together and I told them about the Kirk VS Riker: Ultimate Ladies Man in the Galaxy debate at the Alamo and then I asked them who was their most memorable love interest. Jonathan Frakes talked about his Imzadi (aw) and then Michael Dorn talked about Jadzia and it was so sweet I started to swoon. Poor LeVar only ever got with holograms and Data picked Ishara Yar, sister of Tasha. I thought he would say the Borg queen. There were a lot of jokes about him being fully functional.

Seeing everyone walking around the Comic Con in their costumes was a lot of fun. At one point I told Daniel to meet us by the escalator and as I approached I heard the Imperial Death March and looked up to see a bunch of stormtroopers descending down the escalator. Then when they got to the bottom they did a choreographed dance. Check out the little Boba Fett in the back row! And that R2 unit totally talked shit to me.

The other thing that happened is almost too exciting still to even talk about.  We stood in line for about an hour and then we turned a corner and suddenly there he was, Patrick Stewart standing just a couple of feet away from us. This was not like meeting any other celebrity for me.  We couldn’t even talk. He put his arms out and we got on either side of him. Then after the photo he started to say something, looked at my dumbstruck face, and just laughed. Then Amanda and I both cried. You will never see a picture where I look happier than this. I mean, I look high. It was amazing.


And stay safe East Coasters!

Bakesale at Counter Culture this Sunday from 2-5

from Capital City Bakery

This is it you guys. The last post before the bakesale for SARA animal sanctuary this Sunday. We are going to have so many items from Austin’s vegan friendly bakeries including Capital City, Happy Vegan Baker, Sugar Circus, Mr. Natural, Sugar Mama’s, and Celeste’s Best. There are going to be Pumpkin Spice Cookies, Goji Bites, Peanut Butter Cups, Pumpkin Loaves, Mini Mud Pies, and tons of Gluten Free items too! There is going to be live music from Ken Atkins and the Honky Tonk Kind and dogs to pet from the animal sanctuary! So please come, invite your friends and buy everything. If it was me, I would get something sweet from the bakesale, then have breakfast and coffee at Counter Culture, and then buy a whole bunch of stuff for my friends, family, and random people on the street. Because that’s how friendly I am. You’d be amazed.

Special thanks as well to Brittany and Carrie from Red Hot Vegans for working so hard on this. You ladies are the best!

Wheatsville has Thanksgiving on the hot bar every Wednesday

And I can’t not go.

Earlier today I got invited to the staff Thanksgiving meal they do every year. Your choice of turkey or ham. I was so annoyed until I remembered that it was Wednesday and all through October Wheatsville is doing thanksgiving on the hot bar and they are donating a portion of the sales to the capital area food bank. So if you don’t go you are missing out and you are kind of a jerk. All the sides are vegan and they always have roasted tofurkey too. I promised myself I wouldn’t eat too much before I went. I stood at the hot bar and looked at the food and said “self, don’t eat too much.

But there was dressing, and mashed potatoes, tofurkey with stuffing, their amazing cranberry almond dressing, mushroom gravy, spicy greens, and mac and cheese. I couldn’t say no to any of it.

Now I need a nap.

Austin’s Happy Vegan Baker

A couple weeks ago when I found out about SARA animal sanctuary’s serious need and started soliciting baked goods for the bakesale Oct 21, I think the Happy Vegan Baker, Inge Bothma, was the first to respond with donations. How lucky is that for everyone that is going to come? Listen, lazy vegans everywhere, you won’t have to get up early and fight the crowds of the farmer’s market to get these wonderful pastries so you should really come on down Sunday afternoon from 2-5 at Counter Culture. I have a hard time getting to the farmer’s market myself, as I’m sure some of you can imagine, I’m not much of a morning person. Or a leaving my house kind of person. When I do make it early enough with my reusable bags to get my freshly picked swiss chard I feel like a superhero with amazing motivational powers (note my Kryptonite is beagles snuggling with me under blankets). My reward for making it is that I get to try some baked goods and pastries from the Happy Vegan baker and she usually has a ton. Danishes, biscotti, bread, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, it’s a serious product line. They even have tacos because it really wouldn’t be Austin otherwise. And she specializes in Gluten Free stuff and does special orders. She even will make your Thanksgiving Feast!

So, I know if you are a daily reader I sound like a broken record but since most people aren’t I will say it again, come to the bakesale this Sunday! There is going to be live music, volunteers from SARA in case you want to pet a dog and learn more about them, and all of the best baked goods in town! It’s all happening.

Magic Coconut Cilantro Sauce

The best part about Vegan MoFo is reading the hundreds of other blogs participating and getting ideas for meals to eat, places to go, things to covet, cookbooks to buy, and dogs to maybe someday pet.  It can actually get kind of overwhelming as the month goes on and the unread posts in your reader start to pile up. Mine is starting to get pretty bad even though I’m reading tons every day. On one of the first days I pinned this post by Tahini Too about a bowl she had ’cause it sounded so good, “quinoa, black beans, steamed kale, carrots, maple tempeh, local hazelnuts, and a magical sauce”. It sounded perfect I love hazelnuts and a magical sauce that maybe contained cilantro and coconut sounded like the perfect sauce to add to my bowl repertoire. Somehow between reading it and recreating it I forgot about the maple tempeh (which was arguably the most exciting part) and decided to go a little Indian with the sauce. Over the weekend we had a cilantro chutney from a recipe from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine and the magic sauce was a riff on that. It was very different than the chutney in the end, really simple to make but was kind of a unique flavor and pretty delicious. All that cilantro made it taste really vibrant and the siracha added just a little pep. I even wrote down the recipe.

Magic Coconut Cilantro Sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
3 teaspoons gomasio (sesame seeds with sea salt)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
2/3 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon of Siracha

Toast the cumin and sesame seeds for a minute or two in a dry skillet, blend with other ingredients.

I poured it on top of quinoa, chickpeas, steamed red chard, grated carrots, and toasted hazelnuts.

Celeste’s Best Treats at the Bakesale October 21


Are you coming to the Bakesale to support SARA Animal Sanctuary at Counter Culture October 21st? No? If it’s because you live in England or something get your act together! We have planes, now, that can fly places and you aren’t going to want to miss this. Almost every vegan friendly baker in town is donating their confections to help raise money. I’m not sure what Celeste’s Best is going to make but I can promise it’s going to be awesome. This is her “Candy Bar Cupcake” you can normally get at the Hey Cupcake trailer, she actually does their whole vegan line. I also love to buy her cookies from the Fair Bean but she also sells the cookie dough at places all over town, even Rabbit Food Grocery carries it. The best way to try the cookie dough is totally at Sweet Ritual in a sundae with salted caramel sauce and toasted marshmallows in a chocolate dipped waffle cones. Remember yesterday when I was ranting about how Austin is all about healthy food? Well I guess I kinda forgot a whole bunch of stuff. But you know what? Vegan raw cookie dough IS good for you, in the sense that you can eat it without possibly dying of salmonella poisoning like you can from the animal version. Celeste is so awesome she even has a chalupa named after her on the vegan menu at Gueros.

You *could* go to this trailer for the cupcakes but you *should* come to the bakesale. It’s the right thing to do.

Austin VS Portland and Mister Fruit Cup

keepin’ it weird

Earlier this year on a hot (ha!) day in Portland OR I was eating ice cream with my friend Jason on Alberta and he mentioned that people are always comparing Portland to Austin. This comes up for me all the time, maybe just because I spend time in both places. Of course there are the obvious similarities; lots of food trucks, the keep ____ weird slogan, and the bearded young gentlemen milling about. In a lot of ways, though, I really don’t see it. Austin is really liberal…for Texas but Portland is one of the most liberal places I have ever been to. They have a citywide composting program and they pay people to recycle. I swear you won’t find a styrofoam cup in the city. We have the whole live music thing and our awesome movie theaters and the world’s best spring-filled swimming pools. But really I feel like the biggest difference is that Austin is swarming with people who are trying to live the healthy lifestyle. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so hot that you have to take your clothes off a lot or it it’s Lance Armstrong or the fact that Whole Foods comes from here but people are really, really in to wearing the tiniest, tightest, most florescently garish outfits and riding their bike around. I told this to Jason and he proposed that it was just my friends that were lazy. I don’t buy a word of it because although my friends are indeed lazy (that’s how we became so close) that whole time we were sitting on the curb having our little convo I didn’t see one jogger sweat on by. I didn’t see one stroller that looked like it was made for babies to be pushed in a marathon. I did see people loitering about and slowly riding bikes in regular earth-toned clothes.

I think that has really made a difference for the vegan food cultures in both cities. In Portland it seems like wherever you go you can always easily find buffalo tofu, chicken fried tempeh, corndogs, chocolate covered doughnuts, or waffles with vegan breakfast sausage. In Austin you are often stumbling past lots of oil-free organic local kale, raw food, juice stands, and freaking sprouts on your vegan tacos. Not that there isn’t tons of crossover, of course there is, we all love kombucha, but Austinites are obsessed with being healthy even though we are all going to die soon enough. 

A long intro to get to a little food cart on Barton Springs called Mister Fruit Cup. While fruit stands are common in Mexico and other Latin American countries, you don’t see them very much in the US, especially ones with vegan whipped cream and waffle cone crumbles. Mister Fruit cup even has a separate vegan menu even though it’s a fruit cup stand. It’s right by the hike and bike trail on Jesse with a few other vegan friendly food trucks. I tried some of my friend’s “traditional” cup and it was fantastic.pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, orange, cucumber, chili lime seasoning, lime juice, and coconut flakes. All the fruit was perfectly fresh and made me feel healthier just looking at it.

Even though it was really good, really perfect fruit, I still got the ice cream next door. Maybe I don’t belong here at all.


Fancy Feast: Lenoir

A while back my friend Kristen told me about an idea she had where a group of vegans would storm Austin’s more elegant restaurants and see who could treat vegans the best. I thought it was a really great idea so as time went by I began to think about it as my idea and then I stole it. Whatever, she totally stole my idea that she would open an all vegan bakery walking distance from my office.

The premise is that once a month a small group calls ahead and lets them know we are coming and then sees what the chef could come up. Lenoir, like several other places we plan to go, is kind of a cheat because they already have a menu that can be vegan friendly unlike, say, Eddie V’s Edgewater Grill. A week before I wrote to Lenoir and I got a very kind response from Jessica telling me that Chef Todd would be happy to prepare us something. Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher are actually married and opened the restaurant together earlier this year. Todd used to be the chef de cuisine at Trio, the fancy downtown restaurant at the Four Seasons downtown and Jessica is a pastry chef. I had been to the restaurant a couple of times before in its previous incarnation of Somnio’s and I couldn’t believe how much they have done with the tiny cottage house. It was really dark when we were there so all my pictures are pretty terrible so I recommend you check out this review from the Austin Chronicle or the South Austin Foodie to see what it really looks like. The interior is beautiful and unique with white curtains everywhere, lots of soft lighting, and even a big communal wooden table in the middle.

Then menu is very simple, it is divided into four categories: field, sea, land, and dream (aka dessert). You can order three entrees from any category for the 35 dollar prix-fix meal though Nanette, who is a big fan of the restaurant, let us all know that usually all the vegan options are typically under “field” and not all of them are vegan. Since we’d called ahead of time Chef Todd put different components from different dishes together for us, and then came out and explained each one. We started with a beautiful radish cucumber salad with a black garlic dressing served on a coconut flat bread with chow chow hot sauce on the side.

I’m a big fan of black garlic and I really enjoyed the dressing, which was made with poached meyer lemons, over the thinly sliced vegetables. It was creamy and delicious and had that quality that I can’t really describe, where it hits every part of your palate at once. I didn’t care for the parsley on top because all the flavors went together really well and the parsley tended to overpower the vegetables but otherwise I enjoyed it. The coconut flatbread at the bottom really added a unique flavor and texture. Chef Todd told us that he doesn’t taste any of the entrées put together, he leaves that to his wife.

Next we were served a sweet potato dish with granola and an arugula sauce topped with kale chips and chilies. I really enjoyed the autumn flavors and I thought the kale chips were the perfect bit of crunch with the soft vegetables. I’m kind of surprised they aren’t more common and I am going to have to remember using them for garnish in my own cooking. The whole dish sounds kind of like hippie vegan food now that I think about it, granola, root vegetables, arugula, and kale chips all scream “I love the farmer’s market” but it was well composed. I learned that they do pick up most of their produce from the farmer’s market, Johnson’s backyard garden and the other local farms.

The next dish was what seemed like the tables favorite and definitely the most hearty course. Summer squash was wrapped around quinoa, and eggplant on a curry sauce with corn and pomegranate seeds and then topped with fried okra.

I couldn’t stop talking about the pomegranate seeds and the bit of pop they added to this dish. The fried okra was wonderful, as it always is, but especially in this non-breaded, non-greasy capacity. I loved that Chef Todd made sure we had a protein rich element in the meal because too often when you go to nice restaurants you just get pure vegetables and that is not filling enough for your average person. There is nothing worse than spending a hundred dollars on a meal and then having to grab a veggie burger or something on the way home because you are unsatisfied. I loved this dish, the curry was brilliant and the whole thing came together really well.

The whole meal we were kind of in suspense about whether our fourth entree would be dessert or not and we were pretty thrilled when they brought out and apple pie in filo dough with coconut sorbet. Yes please. Gracias a dios. Hvala bogu. Dessert is critical to a fancy feast and this one did not disappoint thanks to the pastry and ice cream. I was very happy with how the whole thing turned out. I want to thank Lenoir for taking such good care of us. I still haven’t decided where to go next month but if you want to read more about this trip please check out the other participants (aka my friends) and see what they thought. The Lonestar Plate, Rock ‘n’ Realty, and Muy Vegan.

Veganmofo: Sunday Brunch

“Vegan Diner” biscuits & gravy, Good Seed Organic Italian sausage, garlicky greens, & blackberries.

I think that’s the best biscuits & gravy recipe I have tried. Totally worth the last minute trip to the store cause the dogs ate all the nooch.