I believe Texas actually has five seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer, and TEXAS SUMMER. The latter is always in all caps because it’s so hot that you actually start to feel like you’re living in one of those dystopian future hellscapes where everyone is fighting over water and wearing pointy jewelry. Luckily we aren’t quite at that point yet and water is plentiful and delicious cherries from the Hood River Valley in Oregon are able to be shipped to Wheatsville Food Co-op and bought by me during these, as of this writing, pre-apocolyptic days. In these times of heat and uncertainty it can be hard to cook or even eat which is how I came up with the idea for these refreshing and mildly intoxicating cherries. They are the perfect thing to eat poolside, bring on your next river trip, or just to munch on while sitting in the A/C watching women’s gymnastics. They are also super easy to make and don’t require turning on any heat making appliances, a big no-no during TEXAS SUMMER. And I bet they are healthier than getting a Cherry Limeade from the Sonic drive through because there is no added sugar. Just added alcohol.
Boozy Cherry Limeade Bombs
2 lbs cherries, pitted
1/2 cup whiskey
1 tablespoon mint leaves, torn
1 lime, juiced
First pit the cherries, a reusable stiff straw makes the job super easy. Just pluck out the stem and pop the straw in through the cherry. Put in a glass or other bowl with a locking top and add the whiskey, mint, and lime juice. Chill for an hour or two flipping the bowl so the cherries get saturated. Serve as is, in cocktails, or on ice cubes. Enjoy.
If you would like to win a 30 dollar giftcard to Wheatsville and make your own boozy cherries just leave a comment below telling me what your favorite summer fruit, I will pick a winner in a couple days. Make sure you put in an email that works!
Giveaway closed, thanks for commenting!
Thanks to Wheatsville for sponsoring this recipe.
Check out my recipe for Mexican Smashed Potatoes on the Taco Cleanse Blog!
I’ve been so busy working on the Taco Cleanse lately that I’ve not blogged here as often. Don’t worry, I’m still keeping the Austin Vegan Guide as updated as I can! I’ve been busy testing recipes like this Tempeh Picadillo from the book and creating recipes for the Taco Cleanse blog like the Mexican Smashed potatoes underneath.
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Still reeling from the closure of Veggie Heaven I searched the internet looking for another place where I could find cheap noodles with tofu and vegetables for lunch. I don’t know why this is so hard to find in central Austin, really. I had heard a rumor that a new vegetarian place opened up in Veggie Heaven’s spot but instead it looks like it’s going to become a vintage t-shirt store. Because that’s what we need more of…T-shirts. Then I tried to go to the Eastside King at the Hole in the Wall but there was no way I was going to find parking around there in the middle of a Thursday, although the Arby’s next door had a billion spots open.
I did not consider making it an Arby’s night.
Instead I drove aimlessly until I remembered Zen Japanese, it had been long enough since I’d been there that I had forgotten how boring and overpriced their food is. For over twice as much as Veggie Heaven you get a bowl with tons of noodles, mushy tofu, a minuscule amount of vegetables, and a sauce so bland you have to make your own out of the condiments. I think this time I chose the spicy Szechuan. Maybe it would have been spicy to a five year old and perhaps that is who this plate was intended for. And why don’t people research how to cook tofu before putting it on a menu? You it’s just a google search away to learn that you have to freaking press it.
After I finished I immediately started craving what I really had wanted from Zen. A multitude of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, roasty toasty tofu with some actual flavor, some crunch, and a well balanced, comfortingly spicy peanut sauce and so I looked up some recipes. I was still in search of the perfect peanut sauce, I have tried many over the years and learned that I don’t like coconut in my peanut sauce or an excess of sriracha or sugar. There has to be fresh garlic and ginger or else it’s going to taste like something that you find at the airport and I was pleased to find a recipe that looked good from Oh My Veggies. I also learned that if you store natural peanut butter upside down you won’t end up with an oily mess. I felt a little dumb that that trick had never occurred to me because when I tried it I was thrilled by how easily I was able to stir the peanut butter after opening it. Score.
While perusing recipes I came across another tip, this one from With Food + Love for baking crispy tofu in the oven. The trick is to sprinkle on cornstarch after you marinate it before baking it in the oven and then spraying with a bit of oil. It makes so much sense to use cornstarch in baking because that’s how you get the great coating when you fry it. This is how I will bake my tofu from now on, I want to try the recipe that she posted with it Roasted Broccoli + Crispy Tofu Bowls with a Blood Orange Soy Glaze because I’ve been on the hunt for a good orange tofu recipe for forever.
So, while this isn’t a recipe here is how you can recreate this perfect little Roasted Tofu Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce for yourself. Make the tofu and then the peanut sauce following the directions. Cook some Udon noodles (or rice noodles or linguine or whatever) in boiling water and in the last few minutes of cooking add a bag of your favorite frozen mixed vegetables and cover with a lid. Cook until the vegetables are just done, don’t let them overcook! You can always steam them over the pasta water if you want to be sure. Then drain, mix in the sauce and tofu until everything is beautiful and then top with chopped peanuts and green onions. A perfect simple meal.
Last week was very stressful & so for the long weekend I had exactly one goal: to make a cherry pie. I couldn’t find sour cherries at the store so I decided to say fuck it and get sweet cherries instead. I found a recipe on the Smitten Kitchen for a pie using the sweet cherries and it came out heavenly. I used the crust recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky. Someone gave me the tip of using a Silpat to roll out dough and it made a huge difference.
I wish I could make pies every day. I think I’m getting better.
I tried forever to figure out how to say Soy Curl fajitas in Spanish but it turns out I just don’t know how. Why are they even called soy curls? Are they like curls of smoke or curls of hair? I blame this lack of knowledge on my shitty Spanish teacher “Señorita Williams” who was like Peggy Hill without the enthusiasm. She also exclusively wore jumpers like this. I don’t think Fajitas are Mexican anyway. I’m pretty sure they are a tex-mex dish that was made up by cowboys or ranchers. Those poor folks didn’t have ready access to soy curls as we do these days so they had to use pieces of dead cows! Thankfully times have changed and this vegan version is super. The recipes took me a while to perfect. I think the key was to use a lot of oil, because otherwise the soy curls would stick to the pan rather than getting browned. Maybe my cast iron just isn’t seasoned well enough. I also used aji amarillo Peruvian pepper paste because I absolutely love it and I feel like it perks up any peppery dish but I’m sure any pepper paste would do. I have been loving the Yellowbird Sauce made with habañeros, too, but you could skip it or use whatever hot sauce you like. Finally, I had some fajita spice mix but if you don’t another seasoning mix would do, something that has onion and garlic powder along with salt and pepper.
Soy Curl Fajitas
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion cut in half moons
1 red pepper and 1 orange pepper cut in strips
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups of soy curls (re-hydrate in vegetable broth and then squeeze dry)
2 Tablespoons of aji amarillo pepper sauce
1 Tablespoons of yellowbird hot sauce
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tea spoons of fajita spice mix
Heat up a cast iron skillet over a medium hot flame and then add the oil. When shimmering toss in the peppers and onions. Once they are getting browned add the garlic, after it sizzles for 30 seconds add the soy curls and toss in the other ingredients. Cook until the soy curls are browned and serve on a tortilla with homemade guacamole or sour cream and scallions or sliced almonds for some crunch.
This recipe is going to be in the upcoming taco cleanse zine which we are feverishly working on! Luckily we are #TacoPowered and should get it done before veganmofo is over!
I am deep in the throws of taco cleanse detox symptoms. I’ve got the cumin sweats and everything. Luckily my fridge is well stocked so I decided to rerun one of my all time favorite recipes for refried beans. Earlier this year I went to a SXSW panel about Taco Journalism and Mando Rayo explained that refried beans are integral to a traditional taco and that they are the equivalent of mayonnaise on an American sandwich. I thought it was an interesting way to think about refried beans. My college roommate used to add refried beans to our crunchy tacos and they made such a difference that it makes sense. These beans take a while but they are really easy, the recipe is totally flexible to what you have on hand, and it’s so worth it, I promise. I made them last week with black beans and they were fantastic but here is the original.
2 cups of dried pinto (or black) beans
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil (not olive oil)
1 whole roasted garlic bulb
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1 Tsp Epazote or Mexican Oregano or even bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
unsweetened almond or hemp milk
Sort the beans and pick out any rocks and give them a rinse with cold water. Put them in a pot with 8 cups of water, the bay leaf, and the epazote and bring to a simmer. Simmer for the next two hours stirring and adding more hot water as needed so that the water level stays above the beans. Make sure the beans don’t get stuck on the bottom by keeping the temp really low and stirring.
Meanwhile roast the garlic
Once the beans are soft add the oil, salt, rotel, and garlic. Simmer as before for another hour at least. The longer they cook the better they will taste and you can’t over cook them because they are just going to get mashed up anyway.
Here we left the beans in the fridge over night because something came up but you could proceed with cooking them now or wait until the next day to finish for a quick dinner.
Strain out any excess water from the beans. Some water is fine but if you still have a couple inches over the beans you might want to pour it out or else it will take longer to cook off. Brown an onion in a large cast iron skillet and then add the bean mixture. After some of the water has evaporated mash the beans with a potato masher. Add some almond milk and stir adding more until you reach your desired consistency. Cook over low heat, stirring, for at least 5 minutes adding more milk if necessary and then enjoy with every Mexican dish you make!
In the last week we moved from “summer” to “Texas Summer” and this drink is helping me get through it. I saw blueberries on sale and had visions of pies dancing in my head but once the thermometer hit 106 I knew my oven wasn’t going to be turned on any time soon. I saw a pin for a “strawberry fields cocktail” which inspired this blueberry version.
The key, as always, is in the muddling.
The drink can easily be adapted to accommodate different people you might have over, for your diabetic friends replace the agave with stevia, for your straight edge friends replace the vodka with with lemonade, and for your for your Texas friends just add a couple pickled jalapenos and lime. It’s that easy. Enjoy it while lounging on a hammock, eating tacos, soaking in your inflatable pool, or re-watching Friday Night Lights in the cold AC.
Blueberry Smash Williams
1 dash of vodka
a toddler sized handful of blueberries
a squirt of agave nectar
an adult sized handful of ice
enough topo chico or other mineral water to fill the glass
Muddle the blueberries with the agave nectar and vodka, add ice and topo chico and stir. Garnish with lime or jalapenos if desired.
Hmm. I think I might always do quantities like this from now on.
If you are too lazy to make your own drink Vegan Drinks is this Friday.