Category Archives: books

Vegan Slacker Report

I thought it might be helpful to put together a post for those of you in Austin that aren’t glued to the internet so you know what is going on.First, this weekend, in Dallas, is the Texas State Veggie Fair. There is going to be a vegan fried food cookoff with craziness like last year’s winner the fried Reuben sandwiches, and all sorts of other delicious treats. They will also have a ton of food, cooking demos, fire dancing, music, and games with prizes and it is free to enter!

On the home front back in Austin this Sunday there will be two vegan brunches, Sue will be cookin’ up some pumpkin french toast and banana split oatmeal at Counter Culture and there will be live music. Be sure to RSVP so they don’t run out by the time you get there. She also has my most favorite specials this week, the holiday sandwich and chocolate covered Twinkies!The Brixton is going to have their first every vegan brunch buffet with a serve yourself bar of biscuits and gravy, build your own tacos with tofu scramble and tempeh bacon, and vegan friendly cocktails!There are a couple new trailers on the scene as well, a vegan ice cream truck called Kats ice cream on South First and the return of the beloved World Beat Cafe, but now in trailer form Wasota African Cuisine which is right next door! Hooray for South Austin!

Team Sunny Day is still training for their marathon in a couple weeks, if you donate to the team you could win fabulous prizes and increase your good karma by at least 87 percent!Dogtober Fest is this weekend at the domain. It is going to be a great event with a silent auction, canine costume competition, and of course you can bring your dog. Especially if your dog is better trained then mine and doesn’t just steal food out of people’s bags. All the money raised goes to wonderful organizations including Hound Rescue who rescued one of my beagles!

I saw this pic when I searched "beagle Halloween" hilarious!

The Gypsy Picnic trailer food festival is also this weekend on auditorium shores, two of my favorite vegan friendly carts Conscious Cravings and Bananarchy will be out there representing along with 40 other trailers. Many of them look like they will have vegan options and of course there will be music there too.

This weekend the Austin Film Festival is also going on, if you always wanted to stalk James Franco, Johnny Depp, Jason Dohring, or David Boreanaz this is the weekend to do it! If you are wondering what that could possibly have to do with veganism, all I can say is that many of the vegans I know seem to crush on at least one (or all) of those guys.

If you would prefer to stalk people from the food network Alton Brown is going to be at the Texas Book Festival this weekend. Someone please make him go vegan, it would be a total game changer! Imagine the shit he would come up with. There will really be something for everyone there, Tom Perrotta is going to be talking and their will be workshops about books on Texas Heirloom gardening, fighting off zombies, boozing it up and kayaking the Texas coast.If you are stuck at home like me perhaps now is the time to learn to knit. Grist mentioned a Call To Action for penguins that were affected by the oil spill. They need people to make sweaters, the patterns and info are here.

And finally, last but not least, VeganMoFo continues for another week. Check out the Vegan Iron Chef competition if you want to have some fun in the kitchen or enter the Rescue Chocolate giveaway if you want to eat chocolate!

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The Veganomicon, a review

This post is part of the ppk’s 2011 cookbook challenge.

It seems silly to even review The Veganomicon because I feel like most people already have it. That probably tells you more about my circle than anything else. Or that I spend a lot of time in the vegan blogosphere. Or that everyone I know is awesome.

I have seen posts about this book where people try and cook from it for a week, or even a year. I have seen people debate if it is really the ultimate vegan cookbook. (My answer, yes) I think a big part of the reason for all the chatter is that it really did usher in the change. The Veganomicon took vegan food from a health food or animal rights niche to a full on cuisine which in turn helped both those causes. When the Veganomicon came out just a couple years ago it mingled with the vegetarian cookbooks on a shelf at Book People. Now vegans have a whole case in the store and there are so many titles coming out every month that us vegan food bloggers and food enthusiasts can’t keep up with them.

I have read that the Veganomicon is difficult for beginners and I have to disagree. I have personally recommended the book to so many folks who don’t know their soft tofu from their silken tofu and they have all seemed pretty happy with it. It is my boyfriend’s favorite cookbook and before he read the Veganomicon he only made pasta. He tells his friends & family about it and then they get it and wander off to whole foods looking for porcini mushrooms and unground nutmeg. It is true some of the recipes are involved but when you sink your teeth into the Moussaka or the Caluliflower and Mushroom Pot Pie with olive biscuit topping it will all be worth it I promise.

a piece of amazing pot pie

I recommend the book to beginners all the time because if you actually read it you will learn everything you need to know about vegan cooking and if you still can’t figure something out it is the only book in the world (well that I know of) that has a whole forum of friendly people who have tried every recipe and will tell you what to do and give you advice if you are confused.

There are a lot of simple recipes that have blown my mind like the olivey roasted red pepper and eggplant goodness of the Muffulatta Sandwich

or the SmokeyGrilled Tempeh that you can use the same marinade for your greens for easy cooking.

There are recipes for breakfast (or brunch or dinner) like the Asparagus Tarragon Quiche 

There are instructions for how to marinate and grill portobellos and any other vegetable you would ever want to grill and  recipes for simple summer eating like the best barbecued tofu ever 

There are holiday standards like cranberry sauce and new and amazing holiday recipes like carmelized onion & butternut roast chestnut casserole. 

There are dishes for things I never in my life would have thought of like Gazborsht (a cold soup that is a cross between gazpacho and borsht that is fabulous on a hot day with just picked tomatoes) or Lemongrass Asparagus risotto

and there are recipes for things that we make so regularly we hardly have to look at the recipe like Mac Daddy and Chickpea Cutlets (which you can make with lentils if you are short on time and money)

There are even recipes that you can serve people who really do not want anything to do with vegan food but end up enjoying anyway like fried eggplant rollatini

and recipes for things you can stack up like broccoli polenta and Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale and sun-dried tomatoes

There are side dishes, sauces, dips, appetizers, basic recipes like seitan, desserts, bread, muffins, breakfast and even ice cream. Almost any occasion you could ever  think of you can find a recipe in the Veganomicon which makes in invaluable for everyone having a party or a family.

Now I realize this review is starting to sound like a goddamn commercial so I will tell you what I don’t like too. For one, I wish the recipes were each on their own page, preferably with a picture like Vegan Brunch. I hate having to flip back and forth when my hands a million times to read the ingredients. I also think the estimated preparation times are completely inaccurate and vary so widely that I try to not even look at them. But maybe that is because sometimes I cook like lightning and sometimes I can’t find my food processor. My version has a couple of serious typos and things that we omitted but I bet later versions have corrected this. And there are some recipes I haven’t liked but I still always have complete faith in trying new ones because I am constantly amazed by the Veganomicon.

If you haven’t picked up a copy I recommend you check it out. If nothing else you’ll probably laugh a lot and be inspired to make some really good food even if you don’t  usually cook. If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian you can still get a lot out of this book, there are recipes in here for almost every vegetable and tons of easy soups and side dishes. If you like food and you are curious to see what vegan cuisine can be this is the one to read.

Appetite For Reduction, a review

This post is part of the ppk’s 2011 cookbook challenge.

I’ll admit it there are a few things I am a fangirl about.  I realized books by Isa Chandra Moskowitz got added to the list when I knew the date that her new book was coming out and ran over to Book People to buy it rather than getting it cheaper from Amazon. I am sorry to say that this time it wasn’t because I was trying to shop local or save money. I got the book at Book People because I knew I could get it there quicker than if I ordered it. And yes, I have a million cookbooks.


Honestly, besides my fandom I was especially excited for the this cookbook because I have had a lot of trouble losing weight, even as a vegan. For one thing I eat too many fillers (rice, pasta, beer, and bagels) which all have a lot of calories. This has been hard to accept because I feel like I eat really healthy. I mean I eat kale several times a week and I am not a big sweets person or a baker. And I make almost everything from scratch. But for some people I guess it just isn’t that easy. We feed our dogs the same amount and one is perfect size and the other is always putting on pounds. Sure, some of this is because he gets into the trash, but mostly it is that they are different dogs. 

Being vegan and loving to cook different things every day also makes calorie counting so much more difficult for me. It is really easy to look up the calorie info in ready made foods and chain restaurants and enter it. Easy enough, anyway, until you die of a heart attack. It is not so easy to enter in a vegan pot pie that has a crust, a sauce, 10 vegetables that you don’t know the weight of, and random ingredients that are never in the databases like nutritional yeast and soy cream. When everything in your meal is homeade, like seitan sausages, you have to add them all too, bit by bit. Someone needs to make a vegan calorie counting site. Someone a lot smarter than me. Anyway enough complaining, I can figure it out it just takes some motivation and now Appetite for Reduction has made things so much easier because all the nutritional info is right there. It inspired me to start keeping track again and I have been very successful, losing a pound a week since I got the book. Even during Christmas! I have been using this phone app called LoseIt that is super easy to use and log things,  it is the first thing that has worked well for me since going vegan .

The book starts with a nutritional primer that was co-written with a vegan nutritionist and athlete who not only knows his stuff, but also seems to have all the most up to date info and makes it really easy to understand. I think this would be a great book for anyone starting out on a vegan diet, even if they are doing it solely for animal rights reasons or because they want to eat healthier but not necessarily lose weight.

The book is divided into sections after the nutrition bit; salads, sides, veggies, beans, tofu & tempeh, pasta, soups, curries, chilies & stews and then guides for sandwiches and bowls.  So far I have tried many of the recipes and most of them have been very successful and very filling.  Usually when a recipe says 4-6 servings I hope that it will be enough to feed my partner and I but these have actually worked well for my appetite, partially because I make a side as well. Note that my partner eats a lot and he has been having two servings of everything and I take the 4th with me for lunch the next day so your results may vary.

One of my favorite really quick and easy meals has been the buffalo tempeh with mac & trees. Although it isn’t the most photogenic recipe it was so good that I have already made it twice. Mixing broccoli made the macaroni healthier and the tempeh was just fabulous, the creamy mac & trees went just perfect with the spicy tempeh. The whole meal took less than 20 minutes start to finish.

The Arabian Lentil Soup was also really easy and made out of pantry stapels. The comforting lemon and rice mix was perfect for the dreary winter days we have been having.

The Lentil and Eggplant Chile Mole made with fresh cornbread  was very hearty my partner is a big mole fan and he really liked it. I loved the cornbread which had scallions and fresh corn inside.

I also loved the mushroom sauce in the creamy mushroom pasta. I want to put it on everything. It would be really good on the caulipots (mashed potatoes with cauliflower) recipe.

We also tried the black-eyed peas with plantains where the plantains are steamed instead of fried. They were suprisingly good!

Overall I don’t think the recipes are as omg brilliant as the ones in the Veganomicon, BUT (and this is a huge but) they are healthier, use less fat, use more vegetables, don’t have as many ingredients, and can almost all be actually prepared in 30 minutes, although some need to cook after that none of them take longer than an hour from start to finish. It is healthy, easy, tasty weeknight food. If you have the Veganomicon it is kind of like the mix and match segment turned into a whole book.

I also really like that there is information on how to steam vegetables, how to make quick bowls with your leftover dressing, and make sandwiches.

Plus it is named after a guns and roses album.

Honestly, if you were going to get just one vegan cookbook, I would say this is the one to get.

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life

When I was a kid I sometimes wished I had a little sister. We would have watched Star Trek and the Smurfs together and she would have been really nice to me. If I had a kid sister I would buy her “The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life” for Christmas because it is the perfect book for someone newly interested in veganism and my kid sister would be so into it because she would also be vegan.

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life was written by Melisser Eliott, the blogger behind “The Urban Housewife” and world traveler.  It honestly answers every question that a person has about veganism in an informative and relatively upbeat way. Most books about animal rights are really depressing, as they can’t help but be, but Melisser keeps a positive attitude by showing you what you can do to make things better. She touches on everything from animal cruelty to why you should avoid wool, how you can find vegan make up, where to get vegan shoes, and what vegans eat for regular meals. She even talks about very common things that you might think are vegan at first (because they are called non-dairy creamer or soy cheese) that turn out not to be. The book is really well researched and since it just came out it is amazingly up to date. She has sections about how to answer questions that you will constantly get asked (whether you want to talk about it or not) like “where do you get your protein” and how to answer these questions with grace.

My favorite part about the book is that Melisser highlights different vegan women from all over the world and has recipes from many of them including some of her own. She also has a section on vegan gardening and different crafts. Basics, really,  that every vegan girl must know like how to ice a cupcake and beginner instructions on knitting.

There aren’t a ton of recipes but it seems that the ones included with the book were all chosen for a reason because they each sound amazing. I think keeping the number of recipes low is a great idea because new vegans can often get overwhelmed by a ton of recipes. That doesn’t mean that they are boring or standard. Most of the recipes have a delightful twist. When I saw “Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Tempeh over creamy Polenta” I knew we would be trying that first because it features our most favorite fall ingredients.

It was so good. There were a lot of little extras in the recipe, like adding almond butter to the polenta and maple syrup to the tempeh that really elevated the whole dish into something special. It would even be a good easy thanksgiving meal if you are keeping things simple but she has Thanksgiving covered too.

Also the book is all in color and has the most fabulous illustrations by Michelle Cavigliano. Truly it is a great guide and I am so happy to have it. I already found some new shoes!

Summer Reading; in case you feel like an epic

I haven’t been cooking or eating out lately so there has been a dearth of posts of LS’sG2L. What can I say, I have just been too lazy. In fact, the sleepy days of summer have kind of made it impossible to do anything besides read so I thought I would post about some of my favorite books in case you are looking for something curl up with.

First, some of my favorites from

Epic Fiction

The Brother’s K by David James Duncan

In some ways this book does remind me of Russian Literature but it couldn’t be more of an American story with baseball, the 60s, and 7th day Adventists all featured quite prominently. I can’t think of anyone that I have given a copy to that didn’t love it, unless they didn’t read it because it is really long. It is just a beautiful book about a family in Washington that struggles through life. I even enjoyed the parts about baseball which I couldn’t possibly be less interested in which is a testament to the fabulous writing.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

If you ever read the Mahabharata or are interested in ancient India or epics retold from the woman’s point of view than check out this novel, plus the cover is sparkley because that is what women really want. It is a story about a woman who ends up marrying five brothers that eventually are part of the most important war myth in ancient India.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A beautifully written account of the Biafran War for Independence told through the eyes of a family and multiple points of view. The characters are all substantive and how they relate to the whole political situation was enthralling.

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

This is the first of the Mars Trilogy. The US and Russia decide that they should use all of their space technology for something and send a hundred scientists to live on Mars. Over the course of the book the planet is colonized and there is increasing trouble between Mars and Earth. Like the best sci-fi he takes all of our current problems like the destruction of the environment, unrestrained capitalism, and overpopulation and extrapolates. If you don’t like reading about science or politics skip this one for sure.


Veggie Heaven – Austin Vegetarian Restaurant

One of the cookbooks I got for Christmas is Brian Yarvin’s A World of Dumplings. So far it seems like a great book although I have only made one recipe so I can’t say for sure. It is broken into sections by region and every area of the world is covered. Best of all, it is really vegan friendly for a non-veg cookbook. Although a lot of the wrappers have eggs in them Yarvin usually points out what vegan wrappers would work instead and offers many vegetable fillings.  The downside to the book is that I have been reading it a lot and I get so hungry for dumplings that it is hard to be pleased by non-stuffed-in-dough food. It is time consuming to make dumplings every day so sometimes you have to go to Veggie Heaven where they will make one for you. We had a steamed bun and pot stickers!

Veggie Heaven is a restaurant that has reached near mythical status with some of its devotees. It is a tiny place by UT campus with maybe 15 tables all scrunched together and a menu that has probably a hundred options on its numerous pages. Although the service isn’t their strong suit if you are looking for numerous options from Protein 2000 to Hawaii taro to the lucky seven Veggie Heaven is the way to go. You can even get a T-shirt. It could take years to try everything. They even have vegan Bubble Tea and Thai Iced Tea!

This time I tried the “Beef” bowl and it was really good. I have never had noodles from there before but I will seek them out from now on. The bowl included udon noodles in a brothy sauce with many different kinds of vegetables and a very unusual but really tasty beef substitute in addition to some fried tofu. It was so good and dare I say; somewhat healthy for restaurant food. 

Christmas Presents!

So I thought I would share some things on my wish list so that people searching around the internet with the question of what to get the vegan foodie in their life. My wish list is an ongoing list that I use whenever I have the urge to buy something, I put it on the list and then hope I get it from someone for Christmas. I go through it every so often and weed out the stuff that I don’t want any more. It is like clearing out the clutter without actually having anything. Virtual Clutter. Hopefully, none of these items will become clutter.

First, lets admire this shiny red lunch pail

I like it because it is not plastic, has a spot for silverware and has multiple containers while being the perfect container for soup. I have a bento box most of the time but it doesn’t work for soup.

Another Japanese item that I looked through at Book People was this book

called Japanese Foods That Heal, I have been having some imbalances in my system and learning all about miso and other Japanese fermented foods seems like a good idea since they are some of the healthiest people on the planet.

I wouldn’t mind a cool Japanese style teapot or plates either, I love that style

I love reading cookbooks and making new recipes and these are some that have been on my list, used books are always appreciated!

Get It Ripe

Get It Ripe

I love cute kitchen toys like this spoon

or different fun timers. You can never have too many timers, they are really a life saver when you have 10 things going on at once

But the kitchen toy I have coveted the longest is the R2-D2 Peppermill

A new stock pot would be really nice since someone burned the beans in my old one, we are lucky everyone made it out alive.

I would also love one of these butcher’s blocks even though all I really butcher is coconuts and squash. I would love a good one preferably made from something like bamboo.

Finally, I am interested in this hand blender from  Bruan. I really like it because it is 400 watts and it has an attachment for whipping things. Since I don’t have any beaters I thought this attachement might be pretty hand and it got good reviews.