Tag Archives: Food

Snapshots from Texas VegFest 2014

I got to attend another marvelous Texas Vegfest and I tried to take some pictures, I was so distracted by all the food and people it was hard to stay focused!

The line for BBQ revolution was so long I would have needed a wider lens to capture it. Or at least, you know, stood farther away.

I really wanted to try Red Rabbit’Yellowbird Sauce Donuts, but alas they were sold out before I got there. Red Rabbit is only for people that get their act together early and that means I never get to have it.

Follow Your Heart was sampling grilled cheese with their pesto mayo, and man oh man, I’m glad I waited for a batch to come up because it was one of my favorite things I tried. 

I was excited to see Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant there, and so was Dan, he couldn’t resist their combo plate.

Counter Culture had a bunch of salads for sale, and they looked super fresh and tasty. 

I learned that Vegan Toonah is going to be available nationwide soon, in a little can just like fishy tuna. I tried it and thought it was very interesting. It didn’t really remind me of tuna but it wasn’t bad, just like seitan in a can.

I thought Tecolote Farm deserved the cutest booth award. I love their owl! I should have bought a shirt. I did get a Herbivore shirt that I love.

I waited in line FOREVER for Capital City’s Ham & Cheese Kolaches and then they sold out when I  was just about to the front. It was torture. I love those kolaches so much. 

I was stoked to try Hearty Vegan‘s fajitas and tuna salad. Dang, it was the best vegan tuna salad I’ve ever had! I loved it. The fajitas were good too! They were so popular that it looks like Hearty Vegan might start selling meal kits.

I was excited to see all my friends in booths, like the VRA gang!

I think I should have a booth next year called “Kiss the Puppy” and for a donation to charity you can kiss a puppy. I wonder if they would let me since it’s no dogs allowed. That’s even more reason there needs to be puppy love, though. Mostly during veg fest I missed our foster puppy.

I waited in another long line for Good Karma Kitchen, they are a food truck from Dallas and I loved their tacos last year so I knew it would be worth it. At the last minute I decided to get a deconstructed tamale with black-eyed pea relish and bloody mary salsa instead. It’s really a great idea for a home-cooked meal, maybe I’ll make my own version since god knows, I’m not going to Dallas.

I saw Teese selling vegan nachos and had to wonder why this isn’t a thing everywhere. Especially at the movie theater.

After that I saw the Happy Vegan Baker and I wanted to try her mac & cheese which everyone raves about and then decided to try the lentil shepherd’s pie too.

I loved the mac & cheese but that was when I definitely hit the upper limit of my stomach’s capacity, no Sweet Ritual for me! There were a million other food vendors, activist groups, charities, and businesses that I’m not even mentioning. If you haven’t been, you should definitive make it out next year. The music was really good too! Texas VegFest is just incredible, hats off to the organizers for pulling together another amazing fest. 

Top 10 Austin Vegan Eats for 2013

Every New Year it is kind of fun for me to reassess my top ten favorites for vegan dishes in Austin. The list is usually split between my obsessions and my favorite places to take people to show them what Austin vegan food is all about.

My plan was to try a few more spots over the holiday break but laziness & cedar fever got in the way so The Dojo and a few others will have to wait for next year, hopefully they will just get better and better! I did make it to the new Eastside King on the South Side and I’m happy to report that I loved it as much as the original. The mochi tacos are delicious but the Brussels and Beet fries are still the best part. I spent a whole month eating tacos during the Taco Cleanse so tacos kind of dominate this list. I thought about even making a ten best tacos list but then I remembered I already made a taco guide. I’m stoked that this year I finally get to add barbecue to the list! After years of shameful waiting the entire Austin vegetarian community was SO HAPPY that BBQ revolution opened up with their delicious tempeh, soy curl, and seitan barbecue, I have a feeling they are just going to keep getting better. Vegan Beignets at Barton Creole, Croissants at Thrice, and Cinnamon Rolls from Capital City, Sugar Circus, and Happy Vegan baker were all super popular this year. It was the best year we’ve had for vegan sweets. It was tough to choose from so many great places but after much consideration, here is what I’ve got.

1) The Vegan Nom barbecued brisket tacos with jalapeño mac and cheese

The Vegan Nom really stepped up their game this year adding the del ray to the menu, a second trailer on East Riverside and claiming the top spot on my list with their amazing/phenomenal/ZOMG barbecued brisket tacos with jalapeño mac and cheese. Right now this taco is only an occasional special and it sells out within an hour of opening, but seriously, this is probably the only dish in Austin where I had one…. and then bought three more to take home. This taco is probably my favorite thing I ate this year. It’s kind of crazy since it’s made from two things that should not be so freaking great vegan (smoked brisket and jalapeno mac & cheese) but it somehow manages to transcend their animal based counterparts.

2) Via 313 Pizza

It’s hard to call this pizza number two on my list because it’s probably been my biggest craving all year. I grew up eating a lot of Chicago-style pizza – I absolutely loved the kind of pizza you just couldn’t get in my hometown- and it was always my first stop in the city. Then I moved away from the midwest and pizza kind of lost all of it’s luster for me. The rest of the country kind of does takes on New York-style which will always be variations on Pizza Hut to me. Once I went vegan, the jig was up completely. I’m not a big fan of the two major vegan commercial cheeses. So, when I first started hearing a lot about Via 313 I wasn’t very excited, I did like that they used Follow Your Heart cheese, but it didn’t seem worth passing up Arlo’s for anytime I was in that area. Then finally I tried it. I think my pizza was, like 14 dollars, and TINY. I was mad.

And then I took one bite and knew I’d be back the next day. Detroit-style isn’t exactly like the pizza I grew up with but it’s got a big fucking delicious crust and sweet non paste-y tomato sauce *on the top* as it should be. It’s a freaking revelation. Everyone I’ve taken there, from the midwest, from my mom to my best friend, has loved it.

3) Sweet Ritual Chaco Taco.

Our wonderful little vegan ice cream shop has also upped their game this year because, in addition to their soft serve, they now make ever changing magical hard pack flavors like Thin Mint (with real girl scout cookies!) and Sweet Potato with candied pecans and even COFFEE WITH RED RABBIT DOUGHNUTS CHUNKS and oh yeah, they even make their own Magic Shell. This year they also started selling pints at the Flag Store and the Oak Hill Juiceland. During the month of the taco cleanse, though, they started whipping up Chocolate Tacos and I was totally obsessed. The flavors of ice cream would change up but there would always be a delicious chocolate toppings and sometimes toasted coconut on their amazing waffle cones. They were kind of like a drumstick but, GOD, so much better.

4) Bouldin Creek Tofu Scramble.

I’ve realized that when vegans visit Austin the second time Bouldin Creek is usually their first stop, and with good reason. Bouldin is one of the few places I can think of in town that has had consistently delicious food for a thousand years. Everyone loves Bouldin and the key to it all, I think, is their tofu scramble. Whether you get it in a breakfast taco, amidst the gloriously decadent Rennedict, or in the Garden Scramble it always hits that perfect spot. Plus they open super early, stay open late, have a lovely patio, a warm inside and a friendly atmosphere. I’m so glad they survived their move across the street and I am hoping the manager Leslie bring her same magic to Flipnotics, which she also recently was put in charge of.

5) Puffy Tacos at El Chile y Cantina.

A taco doesn’t have to have any special “vegan” ingredients to make me happy. I am just fine with refried beans, potatoes, nopales, avocado, rice, or whole beans most of the time. For me, the best tacos are all about the quality of the tortilla and the toppings and that is why I love the puffy tacos at El Chile. First, their fried tortillas have the perfect consistency, they are never a bit greasy or mushy. Then they also seem to actually care about the vegetables they are putting on the tacos which is surprisingly rare! You would think restaurants wouldn’t serve overcooked roots and oily greens but alas, they are nearly always an afterthought. At El Chile the veggies are cooked correctly and then PILED on with tons of guacamole, fresh lettuce, and creamy beans. They also make a damn good margarita.

6) The Muffalata Sandwich at Unity Vegan Kitchen.

One of my favorite new trailers to open this last year has been the amazing Unity Vegan Kitchen. I first got to discovered it at the amazing 2013 Texas Veg Fest where everyone was raving about the cashew cheese lasagna. I am in love with the Muffalata sandwich, and not just because olives are my most favorite food forever and ever. I love this sandwich because it is perfectly executed on delicious homemade bread and thinly sliced marinated tofu. This is a woman who isn’t afraid of using a little oil and salt in her food either, which can be tough to find at all vegan places. They are going to be moving to North Loop House and Yard at 701 E 53rd St by BBQ Revolution and Red Rabbit on Jan 22.

7) Wasota Vegan Platter.

This is another perennial favorite of mine, that I’ve gone on and on about at length. Everything on the platter defines deliciousness and goes together so well that I can never stop eating it even after I’ve had my fill. That amazing flavorful rice, the perfectly fried plantains, the creamy spinach, the salty akara dumplings, the luscious beans, it’s just too good to even deal with sometimes, like last meal on earth good. This year the trailer moved to a lot on South Lamar across the street from Mr. Natural.

8) Cherrywood Coffeehouse Breakfast Tacos

One of my out-of-town friends had heard me talk about breakfast tacos A LOT. Actually, along with Star Trek and my dogs, tacos are topic I can go on about indefinitely. She’s heard me go on and on about breakfast tacos but didn’t have one until this year. I had a hard time trying to decide where to take her, I think we’d just come off the taco cleanse so my head and belly were full of ideas about the perfect taco. Eventually I decided it had to be the always consistent Cherrywood because their tacos are what a vegan breakfast taco should be (IMO), they have endless options like the standard veggie chorizo, guacamole, and refried beans but they also have deep fried tofu and shoestring potatoes (aka french fries). Breakfast isn’t breakfast without potatoes and veganism would be NOTHING without the french fry so they are, kind of, the perfect thing to have on a vegan breakfast taco. My friend took one bite and said “I get it now” and ordered more to smuggle to California.

9) Pie from Capital City Bakery

It’s tough to pick a favorite at Cap City, the brownies are so rich and delicious and probably weigh a half pound. The cupcakes are light and beautiful. The cookies are perfect, especially when filled with ice cream. But, I think the pies are my favorite part. We got to try a sampler of all the thanksgiving pies this year, from Pecan to Sweet Potato and each one was amazing. The tomato pie during pizza day (pictured above) was incredible. I am just so excited that the brick and mortar finally opened up so we can have perfect pies from Kristen @inmypies whenever we want. We really are living in a Golden Age.

10) Green Curry at Sway

I was so impressed with the Green Curry the first time I tried it at Sway on South First street that I tried to grow those little eggplants over the summer. I ended up with two which wasn’t really even a big enough yield for one curry. Luckily, you can always get them in the Green Curry at Sway along with a really tangy Pad Thai and a tapioca pudding with avocado sorbet and you pretty much have a perfect meal. One of my friends said he didn’t even really like Green Curry but that this one was a game changer. I think it’s all about the veggies. And the coconut cream on top. It’s super spicy though so be warned if you don’t like the heat.

Favorite Local Product: Kosmic Kombucha

I tend to go through periods where I suddenly drink Kombucha all the time and my favorite is Austin’s own Kosmic Kombucha. Over the last year I have tried just about every flavor going through weeks where I would only drink “Clockwork Orange” (Organic Kombucha, Orange Juice, Vanilla Rice Milk, & Vanilla) or the “Mint Julep” (Organic Kombucha, Organic White Grape Juice, fresh squeezed Orange and Lemon Juices, Fresh Mint). I think the “Pear of the Dog” (Organic Kombucha, Prickly Pear, Lime, Orange, Olive Juice, Sea Salt, & Agave) might be the most interesting Kombucha I’ve ever had. I love them all.

Most Missed- I thought about this category so many times over 2013. When I went to La Condesa on my birthday and found out they no longer offered the amazing vegan board I might have shed a tear. Oh, and when they told me it was because they were so busy now that they won a James Beard award it made me hate the culinary world as a whole.  And then when my favorite trailer park with Cap City, Conscious Cravings, and Moses Falafel closed down I thought that I might have to give away the category to the Longhorn Trailerpark. But then, in the waning days of 2013, one of the worst closings ever hit the vegan community like a knife to the gut; Cheer Up Charlies the vegan friendly, queer friendly, center for happy people had to close down (new development of course) and rumor’s started that our beloved Arlo’s would not re-open. I’m still hoping that these rumors aren’t true, this is a trailer that had over an hour wait at Texas Vegfest will somehow persevere, but it really doesn’t look good. They haven’t responded to any requests for info and aren’t saying anything on social media but have told others they aren’t interested in running a trailer anymore. I don’t know how we will go on without the wonderfulness that is the Bac’n Cheezeburger aka the best vegan burger I ever had. I wish I could at least have one more to say good-bye.

Please feel free to leave any favorites in the comments or make your own top ten, we all have such different ideas of what is the best! Any time I see people recommending places that aren’t my favorites I’m utterly shocked but, really it just gives us all more to love. The Vegans Rock Austin Poll has barely anything in common with mine. Red Hot Vegan did a bunch of favorites during veganmofo too and I think we have one dish in common. If you are interested in what’s in and what’s out for me here is my 2012, 2011, and 2010 lists, most of the places I mentioned before but didn’t list this time have either closed down or are still a favorite though. Hopefully 2014 will be the best yet.

 

 

 

Dumpling Happiness – vegan friendly love for your tummy

If “wrapped in dough” is a food group, it’s probably my favorite one; empanadas, ravioli, zelijanitza, shoot, even the sandwich and the almighty taco fits the definition. Wrapping some tasty morsels in a blanket of carby goodness is the gastronomic version of cuddling with your favorite beagle on a rainy day. When I heard Dumpling Happiness was opening in Austin and that they would have some vegan options it was pushed pretty far into my “must try” queue.

At sxsw so far I haven’t been too impressed with any food, lines for free food aren’t usually worth it for me and the hardcore buzzed Paul Qui trailer park was pretty limp in the vegan department. I decided to venture all the way down to south IH-35 & almost the river to a trailer park I had never even been too on a beautiful spring day. It seemed so far I almost gave up but actually if you were on Rainey street or traveling by motor car, or even on the hike and bike trail in that area, it would be quite convenient. I ordered the scallion pancake and the kale & sweet potato dumplings and waited for my dumplings to be made to order. The pancakes came out first. They were perfectly crispy and delicious without being greasy and they had a few condiments to top them with. I kind of loved the peanut chili oil and sriracha and put a lot more on after this photo.
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When my dumplings came out I was very excited, they were served on a bed of stir fried vegetables and came with a cup of coconut curry sauce for dipping. The combination of sweet potato and coconut is always a winner and in this case seemed to explode with flavor but the real highlight was the dumpling wrapper. It was so silky and beautiful. I’ve never had such a well made dumpling in my life and I’ve certainly not come close to that level in my own attempts! The only minor criticism is that I would have liked a little more kale, I am a vegan after all.

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All in all a wonderful experience, go now before it gets super popular.

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.

Sunny Days in Texas: Recipe Roundup

I didn’t get to every recipe I wanted to try in the Sunny Days zine this month because my leg is in a cast and I still can’t walk so I have to scoot around on a walkin scooter. I am still looking forward to trying Vegan Hope‘s Stuffed Peppers and Peach Cobbler, Counter Culture‘s Fried Green Tomatoes with roasted red pepper aioli and her Daikon salad, Sugar-Skull‘s, Chickpea Tuna salad and Cowboy cookies, The Spiral Diner‘s Ranch and Wheatsville‘s Cashew Tamari Dressing, Wes‘ Boudin sausage, hummingbird cupcakes, and pralines, the Blissful Chef’s Magical Raw Tacos (I even bought all the stuff!) and nectarine cobbler smoothie, Ariane‘s Chicken Fried Tofu, any of the drinks, or Two Vegan Boys‘ Yummeos (homeade oreos)

It sure sounds like I missed a lot! Everything I did try was fantastic though! It was an intense month of Texas Eating for sure. Notice that I hardly went for any of the healthy recipes or desserts, it was almost all crazy queso filled delicious main dishes at my house this veganmofo.

Jalapeño Popper DipOatmeal Cream Pies

Nice Ass Greens

Blackened Tempeh Caesar WrapBreakfast Tacos

King Ranch CasseroleJackfruit Brisket Taco

Popcorn Tofu Po’Boy Texas Chili in Frito Pie Mexican Hot DogZucchini MigasI don’t think I could even pick a favorite. We did make the chili twice but that might be because KellyCVegan merely mentioned frito pie on twitter. I do love how easy that recipe is. I kind of want to make the Mexican Hot Dog again just so I can take a better picture, oh and because I loved it and still have some chipotle mayo.

All this deliciousness can be yours too! If you already bought a copy of the zine, thank you so much! I hope you love it and if you blog about it let me know! I would love to hear what other people think. I am still working on getting it for sale in DFW and book people but it is taking a little while. If you want to get it, the black and white versions are going to sell out very soon and after this month I’m not going to make any more. The color versions and the PDF version are welcome to you.

I would love for you to Donate to Team Sunny Day! You could win a copy of the zine, Blissful Bites, everything you need to make some Texas Chili, homemade oatmeal cream pies and pralines, and some Food For Lover’s queso. It’s the best prize package ever and not a lot of people have entered so chances are really good that you could win it all.It has been a good month! I feel so lucky to have such a fantastic vegan community here in Austin and all over the world united by a love of vegan food and animals!
Every post this month for Veganmofo will be celebrating the recipes in the zine Sunny Days in Texas, a fundraiser cookzine to help Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary.

Sunny Days in Texas, the vegan cookzine for charity, is now available!

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"Please buy this zine, it's for the animals"

This past summer in Texas has been brutal. We had the most 100 degree days in a row ever, the worst drought ever, and a few weeks ago much of our beautiful central Texas Hill Country was engulfed in flames. The community here in Austin has done truly amazing work. Following  Austin Pets Alive’s attempts to save all pets from Bastrop filled my heart with love for people again and on Saturday October 1st, we held a mega city wide bakesale that raised almost 13,000 dollars for relief efforts. The people, for the most part, will survive and hopefully rebuild but for the animals the fires and the drought have been completely devastating. The strangest part for me as a city dweller is that all the bugs are dead and critters have eaten my remaing cacti and succulents which are certainly not their typical food. I learned that in Texas you have to water your trees…. and your house or the foundation will crack.

At Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary in La Coste the cost of taking care of all the animals, without access to grazing grass and water, has risen dramatically. Poor Brooke, who runs the farm, told me that her days are spent at the river collecting water with 5 gallon water totes. As you can imagine, watering three hundred animals everyday has definitely proved to be a challenge. The vegan community in Austin has been doing what we can to help and I have been working on putting together an awesome recipe zine to raise money. Many of Texas’ best writers and restaurants have donated Texas themed recipes to the effort and I have put together three different versions online for sale, though if you live in Austin you can pick a copy up at MonkeyWrench books and in Portland at Herbivore and Food Fight!

The zine has been a labor of love for sure, it is packed with fabulous recipes for everything from Ranch Dressing to Mexican Hot Dogs to Cowboy Cookies to Raw Tacos to Jackfruit Brisket. There are healthy recipes like Tex Mex stuffed peppers and Blackened Ceaser Tempeh wraps and then there are recipes for 40 pounds of battered and deep fried popcorn tofu, Oatmeal cream pies and homeade Oreos. It is also illustrated with pictures of Sunny Day Farm’s most adorable residents and available in several different ways.

My favorite is the full color print on demand version that also comes with a free digital download. For real, check out the preview on Mag Cloud.The sections are all color coded by type which makes it really fun to flip through and easy to find stuff and the animals are so cute you will be smooching the pages. Through the preview you can also see every recipe.

you know you want to kiss that pig

A black and white version is available on Etsy, these might take a little bit longer to ship but they are pretty much the exact same thing but in black and white on regular paper and with a different cover and I have to put each one together so really buy the color one!

Finally, if you don’t want to waste any trees feel free to email me at veganlazysmurf at gmail.com and for a 10 dollar paypal donation I will email you just the color PDF of the Mag Cloud version so you can look at it on your zune or whatever. Actually, please don’t ask me if it will work on your crazy device, it is a standard PDF file and I have an iphone so everything works like magic for me.

100 percent of the profits are going directly to the farm. If you would like to just help out without purchasing the zine please make a donation to Sunny Day on paypal to the email info@sunnydayfarms.com or sponsor an animal for a few dollars each month. Also check out the indomitable Molly’s Lonestar Plate post that includes other ways to help as well. And thanks Molly for all of your help (and the garlic stuffed olives).

For veganmofoI am planning to cook recipes from the zine all month long so stay tuned to see what all is cookin’ !

Help Sunny Day Farms!

Earlier this year I was able to volunteer at Sunny Day farms and meet some of their wonderful rescued animals, like Betty Lou the horse that was a pet until she went blind and the owners dumped her at an auction. If it wasn’t for an act of compassion she would have been shipped to Mexico where the animal slaughtering regulations aren’t has tight. I also pet Barnaby the goat who had been first rescued by animal control when they found he him chained to a tree starving, where he’d been his entire life. There were so many wonderful sweet animals and each one had a sad story with a happy end: being rescued to live in a farm animal paradise.  That is why it was even more distressing to learn that Sunny Day, which saves so many lives, is in big trouble because of the drought and onslaught of 100 degree days.

Since all the grass has dried up at Sunny Day, they are buying more hay than ever–and it was already their biggest expense. And due to the drought, the cost of hay has doubled, making an already bad situation almost impossible. The vet has already had to put one very sick horse down, and we are so worried that there will be even more casualties.

The Good News!

Texas vegans and animal-lovers have banded together with bake sales, hay bale challenges, and even a marathon fundraiser to raise whatever money we can to help these animals and there are lots of ways you can participate.

Several of Texas’ most amazing bloggers, restaurants, animal lovers, companies, and even a cookbook author donated recipes to the Sunny Days in Texas cook zine which has 30 recipes (including a world famous popcorn tofu recipe) to the zine which is going to be available at the Vida Vegan Convention, and online soon. The Black and White Version will be available soon on Etsy but an adorable color version- that includes a digital download- is on sale now. It is a little more expensive because of the cost of prinying and shipping, but I got one and I love it!.

The zine is chock-full of more than 30 recipes from ever aspect of Texas vegan cuisine, from ranch dressing to raw tacos. I am so excited to try every one of the recipes like the Blackened Ceaser Tempeh wrap, Jackfruit Brisket, King Ranch Casserole (with food for lovers queso baking in the flavor), and homemade Oreos!

It will also be sold at the vegan bakesale this Saturday at Monkeywrench books which is also benefiting Sunny Day. During the bakesale the Sue will also be donating a portion of her sales at Counter Culture so eat please join us in eating a lot of tasty vegan food to save animals!

 If you can’t make it to any of the events or want to help more check out Sunny Day’s hay bale donation program.

And thanks to everyone that donated recipes  Wes AllisonKristen Blackmore, Natala ConstantineKristen DavenportMolly FrisingerKrys KaganAriane LeverettAnjanette MartinChristy MorganSue Purr, Margot Rochon, Chris & Chrystal TateThe Spiral Diner, and Wheatsville co-op.

Springfield Springfield, it’s a hell of a town!

After an intense trip to Chicago I was excited for the short cruise down I-55 to get to my hometown Springfield Illinois where my Mom currently resides. Since my sister, my Dad, and my extended family all live in Chicagoland I rarely get to go all the way down to Springfield so I was really excited to spend the better part of the week at my Mom’s for a couple reasons.

Number 1), Mom’s glorious pool.I spent all day, every day laying in the pool soaking up the non-threatening midwest sun  and watching big fluffy clouds move across the sky. It was ideal. Since my foot is still non-functioning my Mom and my friend Keil made me delicious lunches like this barbecued eggplant sandwich with amaranth greens and sweet onions (inspired by a post on i eat trees).  Homemade pizza with garden picked tomatoes & basil

I also had my Chicago Whole Foods haul that kept me happy throughout the week, especially the green olive bread.

Number 2) Favorite restaurants

Besides getting to hang out at my Mom’s house there is another huge benefit to trips to Springfield, I also get to go to my all time favorite the restaurant, the Magic Kitchen.The magic kitchen is out on the North end of Springfield in a shack and it is a place that nearly all of my friends and family hold dear to our hearts. I checked on facebook and I got comments from friends that live in New York, Utah, Chicago, and Texas all jealous that I was at our beloved restaurant. I thought maybe I had built up the food in my head a little bit, after all, it is the first place I ever tried tofu. It is probably the first place I ever even heard of Thailand for that matter. 20 years later, nothing compares to the spicy, salty, tangy, sweet food at the Magic Kitchen. One bite made me start loving humanity all over again and I had just about given up. I love the Sweet and Sour Tofu the best, pineapples, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and mushrooms all fried to perfection in their non-sticky sauce. It is what Sweet and Sour should be.If you are ever driving through central Illinois or stopping in Springfield to check out the Abe Lincoln museum, stop in (they are closed Mondays) and let me know if you think I am being overly nostalgic or if you think it is the best Thai in the US.

We also tried a new Japanese – Thai restaurant called Osaka. It was a cute place and the Japanese menu and sushi menu both had vegetarian options but I really wanted Thai food again and was happy that they use the big fat rice noodles. Love!

I also saw that they had a martini called the “Lake Springfield” which I couldn’t resist. The lake is a hot button issue in town. We used to all swim in it as kids but it was always really polluted. At some point when I was in school there was a leptospirosis outbreak from people who were swimming in a triathlon and many people stopped swimming in it and eventually even the public beach closed. I remember even as a kid you wouldn’t dare wear a white bathing suit because it would end up green after swimming in the lake. Yuk! Even though it is all really depressing I thought it was hilarious that Osaka named their cocktail after the lake, it is good to know that someone in town has a sense of humor. It was surprisingly delicious….and definitely resembled the lake.

Number 3) Driving around

Growing up in Springfield our top activity was always driving around so I was really happy that my Mom indulged me in this activity. We went to a lot of farmstands and picked up different kinds of sweetcorn, tomatoes, peaches and anything else that looked good.

We even went to one farmstand where you can just pick out whatever you want and leave the money in a dropbox. My Mom wanted me to go though all these boxes of things from my childhood and decide if there was anything I wanted to keep. My favorite was this poem I wrote in kindergarten.I still wish all the hamsters in the world loved me and that I could talk to them.

There was a lot of stuff I just couldn’t get rid of that made it back to Austin. 

It was a good trip.

SXSW is over

I had the best time at the fest this year. Our official talk went great and I got to take Laura from Vegansaurus to all my favorite spots in town. I bet we turned hundreds of people vegan…. maybe not all that day but perhaps it planted a seed for some.

I ate and drank like I was on vacation. Which I guess I kind of was since I had the week off from work.

peanut curry buns & veggie meshi from Eastside King

the rennedict from Bouldin Creek with tofu bacon

 

Pad Lao with Chinese style BBQ tofu

I got to go to a vegan barbecue party put on by Moby at Cheer Up Charlies

 

And finally try the Red Rabbit Donut Cooperative‘s donuts at the Compassion Over Killing Bakesale at the Brooklyn Vegan Day party, which was really fun.

vegan donuts FTW

I made peanut butter cocopuff treats, well I guess technically they were coco “blast” treats. The recipe was from Kittie and I will make them again for sure.

also people watching, of course, was really fun

I also saw a lady walking her pig outside of the Alamo Drafthouse and yelled at her until she stopped so I could pet it and take a picture.  Please note, if you are going to walk by me with a little piglet you better not be in a hurry.

I got to pet him!

Now I am so tired from 10 days of music, films, parties, free drinks, and comedy that it is a real struggle to be back at work. I am so jealous of McPuppenstein who is probably doing this as I type this.

look at his cute legs!

I love Austin Texas, I feel so lucky I get to live here.

Valentine’s Day

My man and I have been together for many years now but we have never been really into Valentine’s Day. Actually, on the first one we shared he went all out decorating and buying me The Bodyguard on DVD (some say it is the greatest love story of our time) but since then it has all been kind of meh. This year for whatever reason it hit me that I celebrate all sorts of holidays that I don’t care about like St. Patrick’s Day and Independence Day so why not Valentine’s day. Lucky for me my partner played along and got me flowers and fabulous cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s and I made the best meal ever and we watched a movie that was significantly worse than the Bodyguard.

Unfortunately with all the revelry I took really horrible pictures on my phone but I am going to post them anyway because it was so good. We started with the baked brie from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions which was may be my favorite part of the whole meal. Going to four stores to find roasted macadamia nuts for the recipe was totally worth it (whole foods got rid of their nut roasting counter! Central Market had them). Next time I will back off on the agave though because it was really sweet. After that we had a spinach salad with niçoise olives and blood oranges. Then the main course was gnocchi with a creamy mushroom sage sauce, topped with frizzled leeks and roasted asparagus. 

The only problem was this portion was way too filling. See all those gnocchi on my plate? I tried to eat them all. I made the sauce by caramelizing some onions, adding garlic, sage, white beans, earth balance, and a little bit of creamy mushroom soup. The leeks were roasted in the oven with lemon,a little bit of clove and ginger and the asparagus were roasted with salt and lemon because why mess with perfection.

Definitely better than typical Monday night fare.