Let’s take a moment to think of all the great times we had this Veganmofo here at Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life. NOTE this post is meant to be read with this video playing in the background.
I think the most exciting posts were about my trip to Chicago & volunteering at an organic farm. I was really excited to make a Top Ten list of my favorite things to eat in Austin and review a few local places that I have been to: Tarka, and Koriente and I even left our little blue dot and went to Mango‘s in Houston where I found tater tots, sandwiches, and cupcakes.I shared some recipes that I am very excited about, Black Bean & Plantain Empanadas, Sanguine Moon Curry, Ugandan Tofu Scramble, Risotto with Amaranth Greens, Raisins, and Pine Nuts, Chez Rolez Gumbo, Spicy Sesame Potato Saladand Soupa Za Moju Babu and I also added a new section for all my recipes on the toolbar. You can pick by picture but I think I might also do a second one by title of the recipe. I also posted recipes from Raw Food Real World, Hot Sour Spicy Sweet, and even the St. Sava’s Serbian Sisters cookbook.
I even wrote a few letters (actually I write a lot of letter’s in a similar way to Grandpa Simpson) but two of them were love letters, one was a letter to my workplaces sustainability comittee and I even ranted about the TSA stealing my peanut butter.
The best part about veganmofo is reading everyone else’s blogs and though it got overwhelming and my google reader still says +1000 I had a fun time checking out the other top 10 lists on Scratch & Sniff, Pulling it Together, Vegan Mom in LA, and a Bear’s Fare in Missoula. I also learned about Dancing Through Life when Ashley won the giveaway and I fell in love with her attitude and her blog. I made plans with Krys from Two Vegan Boys to volunteer at the farm and I went out with a bunch of Austin bloggers for pizza at the Parlor. I even found a blog, Funky Sunflower Foods from my hometown of Springfield which was really exciting I am hoping to find out about more restaurant options for the next time I go! I tried to hint at Mo that she should move back to Texas so I could go to her awesome parties. And I decided that I was going to make the Tempeh Sausage from Jes at Cupcake Punk, the garlic stuffed jalapeno poppers from My Veggie Kitchen, and the vegan solyanka from Seitan is my Motor.
I think that VeganMoFo is so important because it really encourages people from all over the world to eat vegan and blog every day about it. I read so many different blogs this year from people who were trying to eat vegan for the first time for the 30 days of VeganMofo just because they wanted to be a part of it.
The internet is just amazing for connecting people together. It can be really difficult for a person in a small town or other country that doesn’t yet have a vegan culture to figure out how to be vegan. At first, there is so much confusion because you don’t know what to eat or where to eat out or how to do it while traveling and now we can just link to others and see how they are doing it. It is so much easier for a lot of people to ask questions on the internet when you don’t have to be afraid of being judged.
I also love that people are documenting the vegan options in their town because now before I go anywhere I can usually find a vegan who lives there and has a blog or at least someone that has traveled there and learned about a fantastic little Thai restaurant or a place that accidentally has vegan donuts. Mmm Donuts……
Your crunchy fritos, warming tempeh chili, piquant nutritional yeast, fiery jalapenos, and your fierce onions, I could never quit you
I have been really excited since I heard that the previous owners of the Clay Pit were opening a location, called Tarka in South Austin. The really great thing about Tarka is that they have all the vegan items denoted with a little V and you can easily tell what you want to eat. The first time I went a girl at the counter told me that the rice wasn’t vegan but then I spoke later with the owner he assured me that they use oil instead of butter. He was really nice and very gracious through the whole exchange and I really appreciated that. In fact, it is that conversation that sent me to try it a second time. The vegan items are Vegetable Samosas, Vegetable Pakoras, Coconut Curry, Minced Vegetable Kabob, Vegetable Biryanis, Channa Masala, Tarka Aloo, & they also have perfect roti and a mango lemonade that was completely fabulous.
The samosas are the highlight. They kind of remind me of the samosas from the Cosmic Cafe that I miss with all my heart. Of all the places in town to close why did it have to be the Cosmic Cafe! The samosas are plump and fried just perfectly so that they don’t feel at all oily, just tender and crispy and wonderful. The chutney that comes with them is also divine.
I was so excited that they had vegan roti and it did not disappoint, it was perfect and there was plenty to share. Sadly, both of the entrees that I had haven’t been as fantastic. I first had an eggplant dish that isn’t on the menu anymore and then the second time had the channa masala. It was good enough but didn’t seem particularly exciting and I couldn’t help but think it didn’t justify 7.25 for the very small dish. It is chickpeas, and spices, and rice. And a small portion. Both times that I went I know that if I hadn’t also gotten the samosas I would have still been hungry when I left and that never happens to me at restaurants. I go to the Clay Pit quite often and for about the same price you get 3 times as much food. I usually have leftovers even. I think I would recommend that they put several of the dishes together with roti and a samosa and have a vegan plate for 7 to 9 dollars. As it is, the two samosas were $3.50 and the roti was a couple of dollars more so I ended up spending about 20 dollars. In actual food costs this dish was probably worth about 25 cents and to me it would have been worth it had I paid like 3 or 4 dollars or had the sides included.
In the end, the price point just does not match its location. I really hope that after they are open for a few more weeks they work out the kinks and maybe start a delivery service because I love samosas like I love this life but otherwise I don’t think I can afford to come back to Tarka any time soon.
So many things about cooking seem so obvious once you learn them. I think my grandparents knew that food that ripens together usually has complimentary flavors but I didn’t know that tidbit of knowledge until recently and it has made cooking so easy. I went to the store and I found persimmons which I have never cooked with before but they were on sale and they were ripe so I picked a couple up. I also had some local oyster mushrooms and the sweet potatoes and arugula that I picked at the farm. By the time I got home it was pretty late and I didn’t really feel look cooking so I did what I often do when I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I made Thai food.
Actually, I don’t even know if you can really call it Thai food since it is so inauthentic hence the name Sanguine Moon Curry. The Sanguine Moon is also known as the Hunter’s Moon which is what follows the autumnal equinox. With the fall colors and the autumn vegetables I thought it made perfect sense. This was a very lazy dish where the sum of the whole was definitely more than the parts. The persimmon added tannins and a certain astringent quality that worked so well with the sweetness of the lemongrass and the sweet potatoes. The quinoa also added an interesting nutty note to the dish that made it seem perfect for this time of year.
For the Quinoa
1 Cup of Quinoa in
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
2 Cups of broth or water,
Cover and steam for about 25 minutes
For the Curry
Saute until aromatic
1 Tablespoon of Massaman Curry Paste
1/2 can of coconut milk
After a couple minutes Add
1/2 can of coconut milk
1 cup of broth
1 peeled & chopped persimmon
2 cups of chopped sweet potatoes
2 cups of chopped arugula
Cook until potatoes are soft about 20 minutes & Add
1 bunch of Oyster mushrooms
1/2 lime juice
1 tsp of sugar
Once the mushrooms are softened. Serve with a mound of Quinoa in the center and the curry around it topped with scallions. Enjoy!
If you try this recipe I swear you will start waking up in the morning craving something Ugandan. This is another dish that is inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. In the recipe she makes a kind of dry stew with okra, tomatoes, and spices but she said that in Uganda they often topped it with eggs and so I thought it would work well as a tofu scramble. I am pleased to say that it turned out fantastic! I think it was the best scramble we have ever had so if you like okra try it out.
in a bowl Crumble & combine
1 lbs of tofu
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp black salt
1/2 tsp salt
In a mortar & pestle make a paste of
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 lbs okra, sliced into rounds
after 5 minutes reduce heat & add tofu mix
When Tofu is browned add
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used one big fat yellow heirloom)
Cook until the scramble has reached the desired consistency and serve with mashed yuca, fried plantains, or roasted potatoes and toast or tortillas. Top with chives or scallions.
One thing that can make eating out at Southeast Asian restaurants challenging for vegans is that they use fish sauce in almost everything. Luckily, the Vietnamese often do Buddhist fasts and so they have come up with some great ways to get around the prevalent use of fish sauce. In some specialty markets you can find veg fish sauce which I often call for in recipes that I post. But you can always use more soy sauce too and sometimes I use Oyster (mushroom) sauce as well. If you want to make your own fish sauce, here is a recipe from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia which is one of my favorite cookbooks. It isn’t at all fishy but it adds some complexity to Thai recipes and a little bit of that Southeast Asian flair.
3 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine (or rice vinegar)
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon lemongrass, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bird chili (or other hot little pepper or Sriracha)
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
The key, of course, is to have really good soy sauce. Usually I have several different kinds that I get when I go to the giant Asian Super Market a couple times a year. I like to have both light and dark and I often use both in the same recipe. It doesn’t hurt to try different kinds!
In truly lazy style I recently boiled some soba noodles, added some bok choi, drained and poured the whole recipe of fish sauce into a pot and mixed it with the noodles and greens and a little bit of oil. It was good enough to eat, cheaper than take out, and even healthier. Looking at those noodles is making me so hungry
Amaranth is a really interesting plant. It is native to the Americas and was a staple of the Aztecs. When the Spanish came to conquer they wouldn’t let people eat their pagan grain. They did the same thing to the Incas with quinoa. So many atrocities were committed against the people here but not letting them eat the food that grows all around them in favor of the more godly plants seems particularly sadistic. Especially when you consider that amaranth grain, like quinoa, has large amounts of protein and essential amino acids and can grow easily in all sorts of difficult environments. You can also eat the mild leaves which are similar to spinach. It was a vital plant to the region that kept people from starving. They had to grow it in secret. The Aztecs celebrated Amaranth on the feast of Huauquiltamalcualitztli which I think we should revive as soon as possible. I am always excited for a new celebratory feast.
I got the greens when I worked in at the farm over the weekend. I really wanted to make something Jamaican since that is where this particular strain came from but I couldn’t find half the stuff that I needed to make Callaloo and so I started thumbing through World Vegetarian and I found this risotto recipe that used spinach and sounded very easy.
I am so glad I tried it! We both really liked it and the recipe was very simple and used ingredients that I normally have on hand. The last step was to add Parmesan cheese and butter which I switched to nutritional yeast and earth balance. I was a little worried it would have that noochy taste which wasn’t what I was looking for but it actually came out perfect. It made the risotto really creamy and rich tasting so if you try the recipe be sure to add it in at the end. The raisins got so big while cooking in this dish and I thought they really added a lot of flavor and I upped the cinnamon a little bit too from the original and I thought that was better as well but you might want to start with 1/4 teaspoon. The key to risotto is never stop stirring so make sure you have something to read or entertain you or it can get ruined.
4 cups stock
separately Fry in Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
Remove when golden and add
2 large shallots, chopped fine
Once golden add
1 Tablespoon raisins
after 1 minute add
10oz Amaranth, cut into ribbons or other mild green (like Spinach or Chard)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
after a couple minutes add
1 Cup Arborio Rice
fry for another minute and then add a ladle full of stock. Stir until the liquid is mostly gone and then add another ladle full. Keep repeating this process until the rice is cooked, the stock is gone, and the liquid has been soaked into the rice.
1/4 cup Nooch
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
Season with salt and Enjoy!