Monthly Archives: July 2009

a review of Somnio’s Cafe

In October a new cafe purporting to have fair trade, organic, local, veg friendly cuisine in the heart of South Austin opened up and I can’t believe that I didn’t try it until the last day of July! It just shows how many wonderful options that we have now for vegan eating overall that I hadn’t yet made it too a place I could walk to. Somnio’s cafe is a really adorable place with a very nice backyard for hanging out and a little herb garden right by the door.

The cafe is in an old bungalow on south first and had a really cozy modern interior with fresh flowers and lots of sunlight. It almost feels like going over to your friends house for dinner since you walk in through the backyard and sit wherever you like. Our server was super friendly and attentive and immediately brought me a lavender earl gray iced tea which I really enjoyed.They have quite a few vegetarian options on the menu that sounded so good and easily veganizable like panko crusted eggplant over buckwheat noodles, a crusted and fried avocado stuffed with mushrooms, and shitake and cabbage filled dumplings.   My guess is they use egg in their batter and hopefully they will see that there are some brilliant other ways to make something crusty! They do have several vegan options to choose from with a rotating seasonally based menu. The Bud salad sounded really good: roasted marinated golden beets with chickpeas, fresh organic greens, cilantro, pecans, and a chipotle vinegratte but I really wanted to try Railey’s Tacos (all their tacos are named after their dogs!) which is simply described as seasonal vegetables sauteed in salsa with avocado and your choice of tortialla. My friend opted for the Watermelon Gazpacho which I tried and found perfect for a hot Texas day. The tacos were a lot like the tacos I make at home, probably because we both get our vegetables from local farms. They were very lightly spiced.  The corn tortillas were fresh and avocado was perfectly ripe. But the real winner was the salsa, oh you sweet beautiful summer tomatoes I love you more than anything in this world.I think the best part of the whole meal was dessert which is something I almost never say since I never get to order it! Both options are vegan, a chocolate ice or the vegan brownie. I was hesitant to get the baked good because I have never had a good vegan brownie in Austin that I didn’t make myself but this was just perfect. It even had a spicy kick which was totally unexpected and very much appreciated.So I will be a stranger no more to Somnio’s cafe, I can’t wait to try their brunch where you can get a make your own breakfast bowl amongst other things. Oh man, maybe I will go tomorrow…

The Top Bachelors in Austin?

Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life gets invited to a lot of local events in Austin. When this first started to happen it was exciting, I thought people were reading my blog and maybe they wanted to be more vegan friendly by inviting me to try their food. After several very disappointing events I have learned that they don’t read my blog, they just know I am an Austin blogger so they invite me to events that promise food and often don’t have one item on the menu I want to eat. It is one thing to go to an event and hope that there is something you can eat, it is quite another to get invited solely because you talk about Austin vegan food and then not have one thing you can try. So now I get invites practically every day and sometimes I respond to ask if they will have vegan food but more often than that I just ignore the invites figuring they don’t really want me there. Last week I got an invitation to Austin Monthly magazine’s “Bachelor Issue Launch Party” where I was promised I would get to CELEBRATE WITH AUSTIN’S 10 MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELORS. My first reaction was indifference which was quickly followed by disgust. Why in 2009 is our culture still pushing the notions of heteronormative relationships that must end in marriage especially when so many of these unions are destructive and shouldn’t be entered into lightly? The magazine writes “Turn off those reruns of The Bachelor. For the seventh year in a row, we bring you our picks of the 10 most interesting exciting and- the best part- eligible bachelors this city has to offer. Don’t be Shy. Take a peek. Mr. Right could be right in front of you.”

Bachelor bach⋅e⋅lor –noun
1. an unmarried man
2. a person who has been awarded a bachelor’s degree.
3. a fur seal, esp. a young male, kept from the breeding grounds by the older males.

I can’t even believe that the show “The Bachelor” is still on the air much less imagine that people unironically use terms like “Mr. Right” while squeeing with delight about wanting to spend the rest of their life bound to dudes that they don’t even know. Grown adults are still that desperate to believe in the fairy tale of marriage?  I wondered what kind of criteria Austin Monthly used to pick their bachelors. What made them eligible? Just the fact that they were unmarried? What if they wanted to be single? What if they were gay and were unable to legally get married? These are the questions that you dear readers need to know and so I sent a couple of Smurfettes to enjoy free drinks on our behalf and get to the bottom of the whole thing at the Rio Grande.

First, as I imagined, there were not many vegan options. Our reporters met a couple of other vegans who were pretty disappointed by the scene and they tried the “Guacamole how you like” bar that apparently tried to please all people by letting them decide what should be in their guac rather than having, say, a chef decide.

Here is our Smurfette’s report:

The Party:

My overall impression of the party, itself, was that it was pretentious. It
felt like everyone was just there to be seen. The bachelors did not seem all
too sure how or why they got there and the whole event was very shallow.
The food:http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3529/3772525386_4e66365b39.jpg
As far as the food goes, it wasn’t much to speak of, especially from a
vegetarians stand point. They had three appetizers, shrimp, ceviche, and some
kind of meat roll. The only thing that was veggie friendly was the guacamole
bar, which had its own pretentiousness to it, given the fact that it was like
the Marble Slab for guacamole. Everyone got to choose what kind of fixings
they wanted in their own personal guacamole, and then it was mixed up, right
in front of you.

The drinks:
The new drink that was “announced” for Grey Goose Vodka was the Iguana.
This drink was an overly complicated mixture of lemon, vodka, cucumber juice,
spices, and god knows what else. All this drinker knows is that that drink
was personally responsible for the 6 deep line at the bar. And to tell you
the truth, it wasn’t even that good.

The good points, were the music, the free Dos XX, and chatting with my co-worker.

First bachelor to be interviewed: James Moody owner of Mohawks
We asked, “Do you feel more able to identify with women now that you are being
judged solely on your gender?” He answered “No.” He feels like he has always
been able to identify with women because he loves his mom. (Awww) He says
that he has no idea how the selection process went, but that he was nominated
by friends. He also said that he wasn’t looking to get married or even for a
relationship, but that he’s more of a person to hide in his work.
My impression: He’s a nice guy, but kind of shy and didn’t really want to be
there.

Second bachelor to be interviewed: Marc English

We asked him the same question as Mohawks guy; does he feel like he can
identify with women now. He said “Yes. You mean do I feel like a piece of
meat? Yes, I do feel like a piece of meat.” He also said that he is a
carnivore because he likes his food to be able to think and that his favorite
place to get a good spinach salad is the Woodland. He was
nominated by friends and that he got into the top 10 because his friend’s wife
works for the magazine.
My impression: He’s a nice guy who likes to be the cut-up and the life of the
party. He’s funny.

Third bachelor to be interviewed: Steven…
We asked him if he was looking to get married. He said, “of course,” that it
was the “American Dream.” He also said that he was nominated by friends, but
that he paid a bunch of people off to the on the top 10.
My impression: He’s a cocky bastard.

So there you have it, Austin most eligible bachelors are the same kind of guys you would meet at any singles bar and the party was, in a word pretentious. If you guys like this report let me know and I will send my team of crack reporters to other exciting Austin events.

A South Austin Omelette

I finally made the omelettes from Vegan Brunch and though they look great I was a little disappointed with the taste. I have never had a recipe turn out badly before from Isa Moskowitz so I am going to assume that one of my ingredients was off. I suspect my black salt is more potent because there was a strong sulfur taste and I have only used a little at a time before. I stuffed the omelette with swiss chard, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes which was the perfect combination for me.

Earlier this week I was at Wheatsville Co-op and saw that they now carry numerous flavors of Teese. I wasn’t very excited to try it again since I last had the nacho teese which I didn’t like at all, couldn’t eat, and threw away. But, I really did like the mozzarella when I tried it so I implusivly decided to give one more flavor a try and I am so glad I did! I got the creamy cheddar and then later read on the internet that it tasted kind of like velveeta. The only way I ever knew to make velveeta palatable is to make it into queso and I decided to do the same thing with the creamy cheddar teese. My expectations were so low that I didn’t even make my own salsa, I bought some from the Austin Spice Company, warmed up the teese until it was no longer lumpy and then mixed in salsa until the consistancy was right. It was perfect! Exactly like half the restaurants in town so I am so happy to finally have a queso recipe that I wouldn’t feel weird to serve to friends. The strange part was when I was making brunch I assumed that the omelette would be great and the queso would be questionable at best but the opposite happened. Yay Teese!

And I almost forgot to post this picture of Dinger, first hoping that the omelette would fall on the ground and then falling asleep in that position.

Vegan Paht Si-Yu

When I don’t feel like cooking but know it is hopeless to think  someone somewhere will cook for me I usually turn to noodles. To me,  a truly lazy meal does not involve chopping an onion, that is where I draw the unindustrious line, and so Thai-style noodles come in really handy. In this version of paht si-yu I used bok choi and oyster (mushroom) sauce, the latter is non traditional but I find that it subs for fish sauce, it is a totally different flavor but still tastes Thai and adds a little more depth than soy sauce. This meal really takes less then ten minutes.

Cook

1/2 rice stick noodles (here is some direction)

Mix

2 Tablespoons of light soy sauce or Bragg’s
2 Tablespoons of Oyster sauce
1 T Molasses
1 T Brown Sugar
1/2 each of salt and pepper

Chop

4 cloves of garlic
1 mess of greens

Sauté the garlic in cooking oil in a hot wok or skillet until it changes color, maybe 30 seconds. Add the greens and some broth if you need to. Spinach will cook fast, a minute or but Kale would take longer, like 5 minutes. When the greens are almost done add the noodles and stir fry for a minute and then add the sauce and mix well. Take off the heat and enjoy!

Counter Culture- Vegan Trailer

Yesterday while perusing the vegan internets I gleaned some information that changed the course of my day- there is a new all vegan trailer in town! I checked out the menu online, it included a barbecued jackfruit, Garbanzo “tuna” and a Seitan Philly amongst other sandwiches, salads and  raw foods and I got very excited. My kitchen was a mess, Mr. Smurf had to work late, and the moon was dictating my need to drive up to North Loop and eat at the new trailer instead of cooking at home. I got there and had hard time choosing what to order because everything sounded really good. I settled on the Seitan Philly because people were raving about it already online. The only side option at counter culture is a salad and I wasn’t feeling that so I got a drink and some chips next door at the gas station. I hope in the future they add other sides to their menu like tater tots or even jalapeno poppers which would be fabulous with their cashew cheeze. Their Philly Seitan is a sandwich I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a non vegan even though it is a sandwich that is usually made of meat and cheese! The seitan in this case was perfectly done, there was no spongieness or weird tastes that often accompany seitan at restaurants. It was the perfect consistency and the taste was really lovely, I could have eaten it on its own. The peppers and onion mixed with already peppery cashew cheeze caused a flavor so delightful that I really couldn’t believe it. The ingredients all seemed very simple and came together in a way that was wholly different from a non vegan Philly but completely reminiscent of it in a really positive way. The only disappointment was the bread, for some reason they have  encased their glorious ingredients in really boring bread. Even if they had kept that bread it would have been so much better if they had toasted it do give it some crunchiness and texture. This Philly needs a tough crusty bread to stand up to it, in my opinion. The sandwich was nevertheless something I will be excited to order again, after I have tried the rest of menu! It was so big that I couldn’t eat dessert even though I really wanted to since they had ice cream sandwiches and doughnut holes. The North Loop neighborhood is so lucky that Counter Culture has parked in their district! Austin just got a little more vegan.

 

UPDATE: I have since gone back to Counter Culture & the bread is 100% better. The sandwich is totally awesome and she runs weekely specials that are terrific!

 

Pad Kee Mao – Drunken Vegan Noodles

Drunken noodles has always been one of my favorite things to order at Thai restaurants. I have always loved stir fried tomatoes in Asian food, in fact, I wish that they were an option more often. I recently went to Titaya‘s which was purported to have great food and the whole menu could easily be made vegan. I am happy to report that the rumors are true and the food was great but as soon as I tried my food I realized that I could easily recreate it now that I am growing Holy Basil.My tomatoes in the backyard couldn’t take the heat but the Holy Basil that I got just a couple of months ago is growing fantastically. It is a beautiful plant too with its purple tinted leaves. If you like Thai food I highly recommend growing it and a Kaffir Lime plant because it makes cooking Thai food so easy. I am not going to claim any authenticity in this recipe, however, it isn’t based on any of my cookbooks because they didn’t have it but I assure it was really great! Maybe the best Thai Dish I have ever made. The wonderful thing about cooking Southeast Asian food is that the methods are designed to have the heat going for a short amount of time since it is hot there too. Make sure you have all your ingredients preped and the noodles ready and the whole thing will come together super quickly.

Pad Kee Mao

soak

1 lbs of dried rice noodles

chop

4 cloves of garlic
1 small red onion
2 bell peppers
3 tomatoes (in wedges)
1 jalapeno
1/2 cup of basil

mix

2 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark (sweet) soy sauce
1 teaspoon Oyster (mushroom) sauce
1 Tablespoon Sugar

garnish

1 lime (juice)
2 green onions, chopped

Rice noodles are all a little different so they should be prepared according to package directions. If they are the tiny ones it is usually better to soak them in cold water for 30 minutes and the drain before adding to the stir fry. If they are big ones you can cook them more like Italian pasta, over boiling water. If you are unsure, bring the water to a boil, add the noodles and turn off the heat. Check every couple minutes until they are nearly al dente.

Heat your wok or skillet up to very hot and add cooking oil. You want a piece of onion to sizzle on contact. First add the onion and cook until it just starts to change color. Next, add the peppers and the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato and stir fry for 1 minutes. Run cold water through the noodles and add them in bunches to the pan. Keep flipping in between every bunch to get everything well distributed. Once all the noodles are in add the sauce mix. After the noodles add the basil. Remove from heat and serve with a wedge of lime and green onions.

Enjoy!

How to make an Environmentally Conscious Vegan Michelada

Let’s imagine for a minute that you live in Texas. Just picture it, the heat hits you like a suffocating wave of vaporous molten lava. You crave a savory bloody mary because you want something spicy and substantive but it is Sunday and you live in Texas so you can’t buy liquor (buying alchohol on Sunday makes baby Jesus cry) plus a Bloody Mary isn’t exactly refreshing. No, when its this hot and you want a savory drink there is really only one option: the Michelada. Now, the non vegan version often involves a substance called clamato which sounds like a lot of fun but in fact muders defenseless clams. You could buy vegan micheladas but if you make it at home it can be so green that you can feel good about it.

Step One: Fill your glass with ice (preferably made from filtered rainwater)

Step Two: Pour organic tomato juice into the glass until you hit the halfway point. (If you are using a lazy smurf glass that is about to the third z)

Step Three: Add Bragg’s liquid aminos or any other non GMO organic soy product to taste

Step Four: Add Happy Dogs Hot Sauce to taste. There are other vegan hot sauces out there but are they really going to make dogs happy? I personally prefer a happy dog.

Step Five: Add “the Wizard’s Original Organic Vegan Worcestershire sauce. If you want the ultimate vegan drink you gotta go with the wiz, man, NO SUBSTITUTIONS!

Step Six: Squeeze in some lime. I think key limes are more authentic and usually regular grocery store limes are hybridized with lemons, picked before they are ready (probably by underpaid illegal workers), chemically “ripened” through some sort of a crazy formaldehyde process and then shipped all over the world.

Step Seven: Add olive juice optionally and only if you like olives.

Step Eight: Slowly pour in your Pasbst Blue Ribbon Beer or other locally brewed Mexican style pilsner. The choice here is a little more complicated, on the one had the “Schwag Beer” is brewed through an evil multi-national company that supports all sorts of republican-style malarkey but the locally brewed choice will probably be filter through a fish bladder so here you are going to have to pick your battle.

Enjoy with a clear consious.

The Trifecta- a sandwich from Cupcake Punk

One of my favorite bloggers is Jes from Cupcake Punk. We have a lot of things in common including our love of beer and tasty vegan food. The other day she created a recipe and I just had to try it because it involved tomatoes which are pretty much my favorite thing about summer and it looked so yummy. The sandwich is called the Trifecta which is a word that originates from the very non-vegan activity of horseracing. A trifecta is when you guess the three winners in the order that they win. It is hard to decide what order the winners come in here, there is a cornmeal crusted fried green tomato, sundried tomatoes , and a plump juicy red tomato. You may think that the tomato might be overwhelming but that was not the case at all, the flavors were all so different and worked magically together. It makes me feel like singing.I also made the avocado potato salad from Vegan Brunch. It was suprisingly more like a potato salad and less like guacamole than I thought it would be even though it had 2 avocados, lime, red onion, and cayenne. With the leftover potato salad, bread, and sundried tomatoes I made another sandwich for today and I can’t wait to eat it!

Madam Mams’s

Wake up wake up wake up, It’s the 1st of the month

Get up get up get up, So cash your checks and come up

That’s right, it is truly the first of the month and I can’t tell you how long I have waited for this day. Wait, actually I can, it has been thirty days since I had a bunch of unexpected expenses that devastated my need for fresh vegetables. So last night, being too exhausted from work and school to go shopping we celebrated!Madam Mam’s on Westgate is always a treat. We never have to wait for a table and they always have plenty of good food to choose from in their relaxing and calm dining room.One problem with having such and extensive menu is that the person I go with can never make up his mind, even though he always orders the same thing. He adores their soup, NS14, but sadly imitation crab does not equal vegan so I can’t partake in his eye-watering soup madness. Last night I was craving vegetables so I tried the very simple sounding “Stir Fried Vegetables”. It had chinease broccoli, baby bok choy, mushrooms, and fried tofu with garlic broth so it was relativly healthy for eating out.  It was exactly what I wanted too, the vegables were perfectly cooked and the tofu sopped up all the flavors from the broth. Now I am so hungry!