Monthly Archives: August 2010

Roasted Tomato Hatch Salsa

I made the best salsa in world. The thing is, when it is Hatch season everything is so much better than the rest of the year. It is the magic the season I guess. This summer I haven’t had any time to do much cooking so I have been just making a ton of refried beans and greens and then just eating simple tacos all week. For a meal like that to be exciting salsa is really the key but the other day I didn’t have any cilantro so I couldn’t make the standard pico. I did have a bunch of Hatch peppers and some local tomatoes so I roasted them both and threw them in the blender with some Cuban oregano. If you live in Austin and have trouble growing things I highly recomend Cuban oregano mine sits in full sun all year and grows like crazy. Even if I forget to water it when it is 110! Even if it stay out in hail storms! It is like the postman of the herb world. And it is really pretty. This salsa was such a hit I am going to make it every week until the peppers are gone again. 

Roasted Tomato & Hatch Salsa

~6 Hatch Peppers

4 big tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

juice from 3 key limes

1 Tablespoon of Cuban Oregano

1 teaspoon of Agave

1 teaspoon of salt

Turn on the broiler and roast the peppers on a baking sheet turning until they get all blistered. Put the peppers in a paper bag to loosen up. Put the tomatoes under the broiler unil the get charred. Slip all those babies out of their charred skins. Put the pepper and the tomatoe guts in a blender with the rest of the ingredients and pulse until you have salsa. Enjoy on everything.

If you are looking for other vegan Hatch recipes check out this Corn & Kale Chowder or the Hatch Green Chile Pot Pie. They were both fabulous!

One Love – Let’s get together and feel all right

I think it was about 3 hours between the time I heard from a friend about One Love, the new Caribbean Grille in east Austin, to the time I was there, 5 minutes after it opened for the evening, ready to sample to food. There have been so many new places that are on my list to try but once I saw Ital Tofu Platter and fried plantains One Love got immediately moved to the top of the list. I am a sucker for Caribbean food. One Love is right next to Planet K on Ceaser Chavez after Pleasent Valley and before the highway. I was so excited that I took a horrible photo.

But don’t worry if you can’t make anything out from that grainy photo when you get to Planet K, you can’t miss the giant rasta flag and you will hear the dubstep as you approach the extremely friendly people who work there. Their specials are updated on their facebook page but they have a vegan plate everyday and they are very vegan conscious with a dedicated grill. The drinks are limited to root beer and water but it is byob so next time I will pick something up before we go. And there will definitely be a next time. For just 5 dollars I got the jerk tofu with a ton of rice, a side salad and some fried plantains. The tofu was amazing. It was sliced thin but had a very thick fried crust with lots of savory spices. They know how to make some appetizing bean curd I’ll tell you what. The plantains were also fried with the jerk spices and were very tasty although a little similar to the tofu. I wish every place in the world sold plantains. The rice and the salad were both fairly plain but fresh and well done. I can’t wait to try the curry because it would bring the meal to the next level for sure.

They have a covered seating area right next to the trailer but you can also walk back to the garage area where you get a stunning view of town lake. I know stunning might seem like an exaggeration, especially since I tend to always exaggerate,  but this part of town seems so industrial and covered in pavement that I was truly surprised to walk ten feet and see this nature scene with dogs and chickens and things. It looks like maybe they set up extra seating out there because there are lights and platforms but when we went it was just a garage. The whole scene in the garage really reminded me of this place called “the magic buzz” in Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica except that there was food and it was really great and filling. In fact, my young man had too much too fast and overdid it. They also have domino nights! Going to One Love made me really want to travel to the Caribbean but at the same time I was really happy that I could get a taste of it right at home. If only I could get them to start serving gallo pinto for brunch it would be perfect but I guess I will have to wait for a Costa Rican place to open for that to happen.

Also over the weekend I saw Scott Pilgrim. Check out the Vanity Fair article about why you should go see it and then go see it! It was a lot of fun, the perfect summer movie plus the Vegan Police show up!!! And you can Scott Pilgrimize youself on their site. By the way, if you live or visit Austin and haven’t been to the Alamo Drafthouse in a while they have a lot more vegan stuff on the menu now as in 2 entrées where there once were none!

Internet Activism Vegan Bloggers Take Over the World

*VOTING IS CLOSED*

thanks so much to all who voted/tweeted/facebooked/upvoted/blogged/etc

Please take a minute and vote for my panel idea at SXSW if you haven’t had a chance yet! I want to bring some of the best vegan bloggers to Austin!

Here is the description: A surge of vegan bloggers has been using the internet to make change in the way people think about animals through new forms of activism. VeganMoFo (the vegan month of food) and worldwide Vegan Bakesales to raise money for causes and promote veganism are just some of the ways that we are breaking out of the stereotypes of the past and creating a revolution. Learn creative ways to promote your message and engage your community on & off the web and more about food activism and using your culinary skills to promote compassion.

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/5548

Milwaukee -it’s pronounced “mill-e-wah-que” which is Algonquin for “the good land.”

I am just back from a whirlwind trip through the midwest where the weather was in the cool 80s and I got to see some of my most favorite people, band, and restaurants. I was in Chicago very breifly on the way to Alpine Valley but had enough time to stop for some Costa Rican breakfast at Irazu. I had to go with the gallo pinto and fried plantains because it is a meal you just cannot get in Austin Texas unless you make it yourself. The guacamole was a huge portion and almost luxurious with its creaminess and the chips were homeade. The gallo pinto was a little dry but still filled me with happiness and fiber. The best thing about Irazu on a sunny day is that it almost feels like you are in Costa Rica   After my tasty food I parted ways with my special lady in the purple skirt.and was reunited with the mustache baby
and my sister and friends and we headed for the borderwhere we were quickly inundated with Cheese shops. We soon stopped at the Brat Stop. I bought olives (not pictured) for the road. At the counter the guy said “are you sure you don’t want a brat” I think he was worried.We headed to the show This guy pictured above is my good friend Ryan who I found on Craigslist years ago and I luckily end up on a lot of trips with. Just a few weeks ago I turned him onto the tofu scramble at Bouldin Creek; always and egg hater he was so stoked to learn about this vegan alternative that he is now willing to go to any vegetarian place I can look up! Hooray! There is nothing better than having support for these kinds of missions since usually people just want to eat at whatever is the most convenient, especially when you have a big crew. I talked the group into the Comet Cafe which almost everyone really liked. My sister was sold IMMEDIATLY by the fact that they had awesome bloody mary’s which is the only thing she really cares about when it comes to breakfast. And they come with the cutest Milwaukee High Life chasers in the world. And pickled brussels sprouts!I loved the Comet Cafe, they have a vegan scramble topped with gravy with a side of hashbrowns.I think hashbrowns must be a northern thing because here in Austin homefries are more ubiquitos but god I love hashbrowns. And gravy on a scramble was such a great idea even though mine sat a little to long. I loved the whole thing and could eat it every day. In fact, I loved Milwaukee over all! It is like a Chicago junior or maybe even an alternative Chicago.  I wish I had time to try more places. We went to the little convenience store across the street and they had an old Atari all set upWe didn’t have time for Atari because Team Mustache Baby 2.0 is faster and more streamlined than ever before and we had another show to get to.Good times were had!

A quick trip back to Chicago where I convinced my sister to stop at the Chicago Diner even though it meant that we had to leave the city during rush hour was made and totally worth it. I had my first beer floatI kind wish I never had one though because now it is all I can think about and believe you me beer floats are the LAST thing that I need added to my diet- creamy and delicious plus fattening and alcoholic. I had a Avocadonnaise Cheezeburger with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy because gravy is key and I was on vacation… it was fabulous. Best veggie burger that I can remember having! I loved the luscious avocado mayonnaise and the burger with visible and tasteable vegetables. Sure tastable isn’t really a word but it should be! God I wish we had a Chicago Diner here in Austin!

My sister had the ReubenShe liked it but said it didn’t compare to Le Voyer in Olympia, I thought it looked great (marble rye!) but I am not a sauerkraut fan so Reubens are not for me.

After that I went down to Central Illinois and ate a lot of sweet corn and tomatoes but didn’t take any pictures because Springfield turns me into the world’s laziest person sitting at my mom’s house watching Star Trek and drinking wine. It was the much needed relaxation portion of the trip, I headed to Indiana to see my family and on the way back to the airport I passed Jedi’s GardenI must go there next trip! I miss the midwest already! I won’t be missing it in the winter though.

Vegan Drinks is tonight at Counter Culture, it is going to be a wine and cheeze party BYOW! Also there is the full moon tonight so full moon yoga and full moon party at Barton Springs are all happening at once! Too bad it is five thousand degrees!

Santa Cruz- It would be a great place to live it wasn’t for all the vampires

When I was a kid in Springfield Illinois one of my mom’s friends told me about the university at Santa Cruz and it seemed like the greatest place on earth. I totally dreamed about moving there for school throughout my childhood but then I became obsessed with the Northwest and then I learned about Evergreen and ended up going there. The idea of Santa Cruz and living on the beach stuck with me for a long time. Maybe also because I loved the Coreys too when I was a kid and Lost Boys was totally filmed there.I was really excited when I found out the wedding was going to be there, since Mr. Smurf was in the wedding I got to ride along with the guys which was new experience!Guys, by the way have it so much easier when it comes to formal wear. They all get to basically wear the same thing and the only decision that have to make is tie or not. I am so jealous! We skipped out on the fast food with the rest of the groomsmen and went to Pearl of the Ocean, a Sri Lanken place in Santa CruzIt was fabulous! First of all the menu is all vegan except for one chicken entrée, I thought that was pretty awesome because you could take someone there who wouldn’t normally go with you to a vegan place and say “don’t worry they have an omni dish for you” I also liked that you could get 2, 3 or 4 entrées. I think we tried most of the menu, the mango curry was super spicy and I think the cauliflower cashew curry was my favorite. Everything was delicious.Later that night we went to the rehearsal dinner which was at a little Thai restaurant. They had fantastic spring rolls and papaya salad.  Ian and Janine who were getting are maybe the cutest couple ever. I am so happy for them!The next day I discovered the Bagelry and that certainly influenced all of my eating for the rest of trip. It was like a vegan bagel wonderland with tons of different toffutti toppings.The lady working there let me try a bunch of different spreads, the awesome part for people that want to try everything is that you can get half your bagel one way and the other half totally different. They wrap them up so don’t touch each other. The first day I tried the red pepper spread and the tofu tom.The tofu tom was my dream topping it had sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and olives, it was like eating the essence of olive! The bagels weren’t as dense as I like but it was more than made up for with the delicious toppings. Later I tried the Tofu Del Fuego which was spicy with jalapeños and also had olives, sunflower seeds, carrots and celery. I asked for this one with olives on top and I wish I had a picture of that, they chop up olives and put, I’d say, a half a cup on each slice. My god, it was a dream come true!

The wedding was beautiful, it was on a golf course and you could see the ocean and deer and everything. Mr. Smurf was the super fly usher.The next day, after bagels, we went hiking at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I got to see lots of trees which filled me with glee.we hiked down a mountain and got to a beautiful spotThen we wandered around Santa Cruz and went shopping in their cute downtown that had an outdoor market.and then went to the pier and rode roller coasters.

I think Santa Cruz is probably the only place in the world you can do all of that on like 20 dollars! The next day I got some bagels for the road and headed back to the airport. All and all a fantastic trip. Congratulations Ian & Janine!

California, I’ll be knocking on the golden door

When we landed in San Fransico last week the first thing that we did was ride the train to the Mission to go to Gracias Madre.We were starving from the long trip and indecisive so I was able to convince my young man that we should get several items and share. He agreed and we awaited our food with anticipation. The first item we tried was an eggplant gratin which was described as “Roasted eggplant, tomato, rajas and cashew cheese gratin topped with garlic breadcrumbs”California Mexican food is sure different than what I am used to if this dish is an example, I have never had anything like it at a Mexican place. The eggplant was cooked really well and the cashew cheese sauce was perfect. I think this was our favorite dish of the entire trip!

Next we had the Quesadillas de Calabaza described as “Butternut squash and caramelized onion folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese a pumpkin seed salsa” I thought these we fantastic as well. I loved the nacho flavoring in the sauce mixed with the squash. That isn’t how I made them at home but I will from now on because it makes a lot of sense. I was also in love with the pepitas on top because all the sauce made everything kind of… shall we say… pliable so it was nice to have a bit of crunch. Which reminds me of my only problem with Gracias Madre, they don’t have chips and salsa! Even for sale! They sell guacamole but with a toasted tortilla instead. I like chips whenever I have Mexican food to scoop things up with but in reality I guess I was better off without since I would have had such and easy time walking out of there!

Finally we got the mole enchiladas, which we were both the most excited about and described as “Mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cashew cheese, served with sauteed greens and beans”The mole sauce was not my favorite, but everyone is different when it comes to mole so I can’t fault them there. It was weird to me that the enchilads weren’t rolled up. The highlight on this plate was the refried beans. I don’t know how they make them so good, I really should have asked because they were just fantastic! I could eat nothing but beans from there and be a happy camper.

After that we wandered around the mission which was a very interesting place. I saw a happy babya really angry young manand enjoyed all the muralsWe spent time with family in San Jose and then went to Berkley where I got to try Cinnaholic the all vegan cinnamon roll bakery. This was one of those places that I was totally and completely overwhelmed by. First everything is vegan and they have like a million toppings and frostings that you can try, (if you click the picture you can read it)I totally panicked and stood indecisively for a long time. The special was some crazy monstrosity involving cookies and though I was tempted (I haven’t had a cinnamon roll in as long as I can remember probably at Chicago O’hare airport years ago because I am still tempted by the smell of those godforsaken cinnabons every time I step off a plane there because it is the first thing you smell) I decided to keep it simple and go for the old fashioned with apples on top because then it would be healthy!This is where cinnamon rolls go when they die. I have never been so in love with a baked good, except maybe at Voodoo donuts last year. I immediately wanted ten more but having eaten the cinnamon roll on top of a Vietnamese lunch it just wasn’t to be. Next time Berkley, I’ll be back!

Then we got to see and awesome show at the Greek! Tomorrow I will write about Santa Cruz, I am so behind on blogging and I am headed to Wisconsin & Illinois this weekend!

Delicious Houston

August is a month of travel for me, luckily I have the best house sitters in the world but I am still going to miss those dogs. Things I will not miss include 100+ weather, work, driving, and going to meetings! Hooray for me!

Travel stated by going to Houston this weekend where I finally tried salt toasted tofu in China TownIt was salty spicy and delicious and I want to eat it right now. We also ordered “hollow green vegetables with garlic sauce” and spent the entire time leading up to getting the food discussing what hollow green vegetables they would be. It turned out they were water spinach, something I had never had but was hollow, green, and delicious! Too bad I don’t remember the name of the restaurant. That is some shoddy blogging my friends!

Later we went to the Hobbit Cafe which is all Lord of the Rings themed.

Our waiter looked like he must be a hobbit but I didn’t take his picture to show ya’ll because it just seemed like it would be taking weird to a whole new level. I mean, who takes pictures of their waiter? The hobbit cafe is very veg friendly but I decided I wanted a burger because they were hobbit made. The thing is, I find it more than a little hard to believe that a hobbit would make a burger so large, I know they have huge appetites, but they are just so little and this monster was way too big for me, a fully grown human.The sweet potato fries were dope though