Monthly Archives: April 2011

Lightlife – No animals were harmed in the making of this meat

A couple weeks ago Lightlife contacted me and asked if I would like to try some samples of their products. Since I buy their tempeh all the time and I love it I thought it would be fun to try their other products. I don’t usually buy meat, I like to make seitan sausages at home (the process is somewhat similar to this) and a few times a year I will have a vegan chicken nugget but after trying the lightlife products I think I might have to change my tune. It is all so easy which means I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time thinking about all the things I want to do.

The first item I tried was the fakin’ bacon smoky tempeh strips on the side of some pancakes. They were perfect, not overly smoky and without the bitter taste that tempeh can have if you don’t cook it up right. I will get these again for sure since it is very similar to making your own tempeh bacon but no long marinating time. I can’t marinate things in the morning because I usually wake up ravenous and it is important for me to sleep for as long as possible. I really like that they don’t taste or look like bacon made from pigs but are instead just a happy vegan substitution.

Next we tried the chick’n style strips in a roasted pepper cashew cheese quesadillas. This is a product I never would have bought but we both really liked it. The strips are the perfect taste and texture, I don’t know why people even bother with eating birds when the vegan alternative works so well. These would be perfect to toss into stir frys or pad thai or really anything.  

Next I made empanadas with the smart ground which are just veggie protein crumbles. By the way, everything I tried was really high in protein if you are someone who is constantly exercising (not me) then you might want to check out some of these. The crumbles cooked up super fast and texture was spot on but they wasn’t a lot of flavor. This, for me, is nice because I can flavor things how I want. But they have a range of flavors too, like Italian, TexMex etc. I think it would be pretty easy to trick someone with this stuff, if only there were people I knew that didn’t know I was vegan but, if you can imagine, most people who know me know that part too so I am probably not going to be foolin anyone.

I still had smart ground left so I cooked it up with some poblanos and some rotel and made it the base for my nachos supreme along with some refried beans, tofutti cream cheese, food for lover’s queso, tomatoes and green onions. They were pretty much the best vegan nachos ever.

So I am pretty sold on Lightlife, the only thing I don’t like is that not all of their products are organic which I do prefer, especially when it comes to soy products. The tempeh is organic so I will keep buying a ton of that. Hopefully they are working on it and in the future more of their line will follow in that direction because I really like their stuff and it is available everywhere.

GIVEAWAY

So I hope by now you are excited about some vegan meat and all the things you can do with it because Lightlife is offering a fantastic giveway to one of you!  It includes a bamboo chopping board, a bamboo serving set, several spices, Lightlife recipe cards, and Lightlife free coupons.

All you have to do is leave a comment  making up a name for a fake meat product that doesn’t exist yet. You can’t use fakin’ because the geniuses at Lightlife already came up with that one. Whichever I like the best will win the prize. You have to have a US address to win.

And don’t feel bad if you don’t win, they have coupons on their website and sometimes do giveaways on facebook and twitter so follow them if you want to win some free stuff.

Edit 5/3/2011 Contest is closed

Please read the comments because many of the ideas are fantastic! I really liked to-fuggets the nuggets based on chick-fil-a and Phillet of Phish but in the end Kate with Sham Ham has been declared the winner! Thanks for playing y’all!

Chocolate-Hazelnut-Strawberry-Cashew Cream Crêpe Cake

I don’t remember where I first saw a crêpe cake but I know it was on a vegan food blog and that I stared at it for a long time before filing it away in my brain only. The thing is, I love crêpes, I always have since I was a little kid. My mom would make them Serbian style (palačinke) and we would have them rolled up with my Baba’s homemade peach jam. It was the best thing in the world. The sad part was that my sister hated palačinke so my mom hardly ever made it. I guess that is why it has always been a favorite  forbidden fruit (forbidden crêpe). I love making them, I tried every recipe out there until Vegan Brunch came along and now I pretty much stick with that perfect recipe. Just a little tapioca starch makes all the difference.

I made crêpes for a friend last weekend with some rawtella and we were pretty excited with how it tasted so when I was charged with making a birthday cake I thought it would be fun to attempt the crêpe cake. I had some cashew cream in the fridge, cooked some fresh strawberries, and bought some Jason’s chocolate hazelnut spread to complete the layers. It was really fun to make but when I got to the top it was soooo ugly. My crêpes were all different sizes so they were really irregular and it looked like just a big pile of crêpes. I asked what to do on twitter and Kirsten told me to make nutella buttercream which was pretty much the best idea ever but would have required another trip to the store so I decided to just pour ganache over it.

Once the ganache was covering the cake I saw things had just came out looking even worse! Then by the morning it was all lumpy and textured and looked like an otherworldly landscape. I thought of covering it with more strawberries, which would have been the perfect solution, but instead I took the lazy way out and decided to just put an alien with a banjo on top and call it an alien cake.

I come from the planet Fuckyeah

It was really hard to take pictures of because everybody really wanted to try the cake but I snagged a few! It was maybe the greatest cake I have ever eaten. The dreamy hazelnut chocolate mixed with the creamy cashews and strawberries all sandwiched between layers and layers of crêpes was kind of indescribable. It tasted like something you would get at a fancy french bakery although it sure didn’t look like it came from one! The good thing about that was that everyone knew I didn’t buy it and when I later had to explain that it didn’t contain eggs, milk, or butter what was left of peoples minds was completely blown away… figuratively. It was a huge hit with everyone. 

I can’t wait to make the next one now that I know what I am doing. I really like that I didn’t have to turn the oven on because it is already pretty hot and I loved how it tasted, it was a lot better than regular cake especially if you aren’t a huge sweets person or way into frosting. Also, chocolate and hazelnut is pretty much the best the best thing to put on crêpes in the world. Next time nutella buttercream.

Technically Still Spring Weekend

The calendar says April but I can tell you that the dog days of summer are already starting. To find out the seasons I use actual dog science. In the spring the dogs enjoy sitting outside enjoying their lives, they have energy, some would even say a zest for life. Here they are happily hanging out in the garden a couple weeks ago:

Once summer starts though those dogs don’t like to do much of anything. Frankly neither do I but they usually give up first and that is how I can tell that summer has started. 

In my house you can tell that winter has started because you can’t find the dogs anymore because they are under blankets. It really works well.

Anyway, I still managed to get out a little this weekend. On Friday I tried to go to Sunflower but I guess it burned down so instead I went next door to another Vietnamese restaurant Pho Van. Although they had a lot of pho and tofu dishes the ridiculously nice lady who took our order told me that the tofu vermicelli was the only item that was vegan. She also gave me a hug so I definitely put the experiance in the win category. Even though they didn’t have vegan crepes, I was pretty happy with the noodle bowl. Although I would have liked more herbs the tofu was really good and unique with a great texture. 

On Sunday I went to vegan brunch at counter culture and I am glad I got there early because I heard they sold out in record time. Here is a shock: everyone wants vegan brunch on Sunday! I know can you believe it? I can’t believe a vegan restaurant hasn’t opened yet that does it right like Vita in Portland or the Chicago Diner in Chicago. Really, I just wish the Chicago Diner would open here. Or better yet, I hope that Counter Culture becomes a full fledged restaurant that is open all the time because sometimes you just want tempeh bacon and french toast for breakfast.  

After brunch  I did a lot of the Austin Art Yard tour which was really fun. Basically, you drive around to the places selected by the tour and just let yourself in to people’s backyards. It feels really awkward but I met a lot of nice folks. Now I want to build a tepee in the backyard for me and the dogs to get out of the sun. Here are some pictures.

This one house had the entire lawn edged with bowling balls, it was really impressive.

There are a couple more on flickr if you are interested, it is a really fun event.

And if you don’t live in Austin it is a really fun thing to check out when you come to visit, especially the Cathedral of Junk.  The Art Yard Tour site even gives a list of places you can drive by with a (non google) map.

Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll, vote vegan!

Every year I read the results of the restaurant poll and every year I get so annoyed when the same people win. I know everyone really loves Mother’s and Casa de Luz but there are so many other vegan friendly restaurants and it makes me sad that they don’t ever get any Chronicle love. So here is how I voted, I could think of a vegan friendly establishment in almost every category, even seafood! Kelp totally counts!

And I think there should be more categories like best smoothie, best potato, best healthy, best raw, best farmer’s market, best CSA and best latte but it seems like they seldom change the categories.

The only things that we don’t have is a vegan chicken fried steak or any vegan cajun food or vegan crepes. So please people, let’s get this together for next year! If you are thinking about moving to Austin and opening a vegan trailer, this is what we need! I also answered trailers for a lot of categories because on the whole they are more vegan friendly and that is where I eat most of the time. If you need help thinking of places check out my Austin Vegan Guide, it has almost everything I know of, in fact I am going to update it today. Be sure to vote!


FAVORITE RESTAURANT

One: Counter Culture
Two: Conscious Cravings
Three: Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse

BEST DISHES

Appetizers: Wingz at Iggie’s Texitarian
Barbecue: Barbecued Seitan Wrap from Consious Cravings
Hamburger: Bouldin Creek Veggie Burger
Steak: Milanesa  from Mr. Natural
Comfort Food: vegan mac & cheese, greens, and fried tofu at Wheatsville
Chicken-Fried Steak: southern fried tofu from Wheatsville
Chile-Pepper Dish: chips & vegan queso at Gueros
French Fries: rosemary baked fries at Conscious Cravings
Hot Dog: BROKEN SPOKE DOG at Dog Almighty
Chips and Salsa: Polvos
Taco: Whole Foods breakfast taco
Soup: mulligatawny from the soup peddler
Salad/Dressing: cashew tamari dressing from wheatsville
Seafood Dish: ASIAN STYLE NOODLE SALAD from Beets
Pub Grub: cowgirl nachos at Iggie’s Texitarian
Bagels: Central Market
Sushi: Sushi a-go-go
Tofu Dish: Tofu Vermicelli bowl from Lulu B’s
Dim Sum: Salt and Pepper Tofu Get Sum Dim Sum
Pho: veggie pho at Sunflower
American Breakfast: the rennedict from Bouldin Creek
Mexican Breakfast: tofu migas at Mr. Natural
Sandwich: chimichurri seitan Conscious Cravings
Bread: Moonlight Bakery
Dessert:raw cheesecake from Counter Culture
Ice Cream: Thai Fresh
Frozen Yogurt:
Gelato: whole foods
Local Chocolate: raw chocolate from the daily juice
Coffee: the fair bean
Pizza: The Parlour
Enchiladas:vegetarian enchilidas at Curras
Vegetables:Veggie Meshi – at the Eastside King
Chicken Dish: #51 Veggie Chicken at Mr. Natural
Wild-Game Dish: vegan duck in a can at MT Supermarket
Veggie Burger: Bouldin
Vegetarian Dish: Popcorn Tofu Po’boy
Bargain
Dish: frito pie at wheatsville
Restaurant: consious cravings

BEST ETHNIC OR SPECIALTY RESTAURANT

Mexican (non-Tex-Mex): Mr. Natural
Tex-Mex: Iggie’s Texitarian
Taquería: Chi’Lantro
Central/South American: Habana
Italian: Asti Trattoria
Cajun/Creole: I am always stuck dinking beer in that situation!
Middle Eastern: The Flying Carpet
Indian: G’raj Mahal
Chinese: Get Sum Dim Sum
Japanese: Uchi
Korean: Koriente
Thai: Titaya’s Thai Cuisine
Vietnamese: Sunflower Restaurant
Other Asian: Java Noodles
American: The Vegan Yacht
Vegetarian/Natural Food: Counter Culture
French: Blue Dahlia Bistro
Other Ethnic
Type: Ethiopian
Restaurant: Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant

OTHER STUFF

New Restaurant (Opened in 2010-2011): conscious cravings
Chef
Chef Name: Sue Purr
Restaurant Name: Counter Culture
Service/Waitstaff: Counter Culture
Full-Service Bakery/Pastry Shop: Sugar Mama’s
Grocery Store: Wheatsville
Ethnic Market: Fiesta
Patio/Beergarten: Vivo
Street Food
Street Food Dish: The Freeto Burrito
Street Food Vendor: the Vegan Yacht
Decor: Snackbar
Romantic Dinner Spot: the Clay Pit (the basement)
Sunday Brunch: Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse
Fast Food: Dog Almighty
Takeout: Whip In
Delivery: Hao Hao
Wine List: Uchi
Mixologist:
Beer Selection: Black Sheep Lodge
Buffet: Aster’s Ethiopian
Happy Hour/Deal
Happy Hour Deal:   beer &liquor $0.50 off. As well as $0.25 bean tamales. Other discounts on assorted appetizers as well. Vegan Queso
Restaurant: Gueros
Late Night/All Night: One Love Kitchen
Place to Take Kids: Whole Foods
Place to Take Parents: Vivo
Restaurant Within 60 Miles of Austin: Promise Pizza
Place We Wish Were Still Open: fete accompli
Any Other Restaurant Worth Noting: Somnios, local food with vegan options and a fried stuffed avocado
Food Event: Vegan Bakesales!


Austin Bakes for Japan: A Huge Success

photo by @jote

It is so cool when after weeks of planning meetings, phone calls and emails to find locations and sponsors, flyering and talking about an event when it just seems to manifest out of thin air and go perfectly well. Since March I have been meeting with Shelly , Carly, Lisa, Rachelle, and Kathryn (one of the most organized people I have ever met) to plan the Austin Bakes Sale for Japan. I was a little worried on the actual day because all the people I had been planning with were running different locations and I didn’t even know any of the people (in real life) signed up at my location! It turned out there was no reason at all to be worried. I first stopped at Sugar Mama’s to pick up some vegan cupcakes from Kristen, and she completely loaded me up with trays and trays of Japan flag cupcakes and cowboy cookies. They proved to be the biggest selling item of the day even after the little flags started to melt.

photo by @jote

I got to Jo’s Coffee and the San Jose hotel a little early and was really worried because the area whole area was packed with classic cars revving their engines for the Hot Rod show. With the air thick with exhaust I was in a full blown panic; who the hell was going to want to buy baked goods in these circumstances??? At nine am all sorts of supplies and baked goods started pouring in and the cars started to leave and I realized everything was going to be just fine.

Michelle was the first to come in and brought so many beautiful treats she had made that we probably could have stopped right there and sold them the rest of the day. Nelly showed up a minute later and was a ton of help too. She and I had this really crazy incident a while later, we decided to walk around with a tray of cupcakes and go to all the businesses and see if we could drop of flyers. When we got to a thrift shop a girl asked me if the red velvet cupcakes had chocolate in them because she was deathly allergic. I called Kristen to check, and I couldn’t get her on her cell so I called Sugar Mama’s and I was on hold for a second. In the meantime, the girl went from looking at the cupcake to touching it to lovingly caressing it. When I got off the phone and gave her the bad news, that there was indeed chocolate in the cupcake, she shocked me by taking a bite.  I said “wait, maybe you misunderstood! It does have chocolate!” she said it was so good and totally worth an allergic reaction and finished the whole thing! We couldn’t believe it.

Throughout the morning and the rest of the day more and more volunteers showed up with beautiful baked goods, I was overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity, another wonderful Michelle brought in another table that she practically filled with her beautiful displays and baked goods. Stephanie came in to represent Sugar Plump’s awesome contribution and Tara brought us even more vegan cupcakes! I think we had about 30 volunteers over the course of the day come by to donate things. It was really amazing! I met so many lovely people! In the end we decided to go long and try and make it to 3 pm because we still had too many baked goods left to fit in my car.

By the time I made it to the Bee Caves location, where the bakesale was going on until 5, I was teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown because I was way too hopped up on sugar and caffeine. Thank God Shelly was there and parked a shopping cart full of beer  right next to me, and even gave me two for the road so that I didn’t have to leave my house again for the night! She is my hero!

When I got to bee caves I got to try some of the vegan baked goods from the other sales that were still left. Whoever made those oatmeal, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies needs to send me the recipe! Everything I tried was so great. The best part was that everyone thought the vegan food was terrific. I talked to so many people about it all day and when they weren’t raving about Kristen’s cupcakes it was the Red Rabbit Donuts.

photo by @jote

But I take it back, the absolute best part was that we made over $11,500 dollars for Japan! I am so proud to live in such a wonderful community!!! Wake me up the next time we have to help 🙂

Bakesale Recipe Roundup

Mmmm doughnuts.....

I am totally stoked for the bakesales this Saturday, I think we are going to raise a lot of money for Japan. It seems like news just gets worse and worse so it is nice to be able to do something to help. There are going to be some fantastic vegan baker’s donating goods to, the Red Rabbit Donut Cooperative is going to drop off several dozen vegan donuts to the Bee Caves location and I know there is going to be lots of vegan goodness at the South Congress & North Loop locations as well, every location will have some vegan items.

Sometimes people are a little mystified about what to make so I thought I would share some recipes that I have had success with. I am more of a savory cook but I enjoy baking too…. well more of eating baked goods anyway. Unlike my regular cooking I try to follow a recipe as close as possible so I use some of my favorite blogs and cookbooks. Veganizing a recipe can be really easy, depending on the recipe! If you get more than 3 eggs it can get a little bit tricky but common subs are trading out honey for agave nectar, using Earth Balance non hydrogenated margarine in place of butter, soy milk, mimic creame or coconut creamer in place of their dairy equivalents, and dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate are really easy to do. For eggs I usually use one tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with three tablespoons of water for each egg. I like it because flax seeds are really good for you and I always have them around but there are a lot of other ways to go about it.

Mimicreame worked beautifully in these chocolate peanut butter pretzel tarts

Kittie from Cakemaker to the stars has veganized a bunch of Martha Stewart recipes with a lot of success. I made her Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peanut Butter Insides that were veganized from Martha and OMG they were amazing. For the last bakesale I made her Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Squares but with cocopuffs and I think I will do that again because they were really fun. I have made the buckeyes and the peanut butter filled whoopie pies which would be a GREAT recipe to try because my friends will pay serious money to eat those whoopie pies!

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is a terrific little book with tons of ideas and recipes with lots of baking advice if you are interested in a book you can pick it up at almost any bookseller in town. I have made the Mexican Hot Chocolate, Mucho Margareta, Chai Tea, Chocolate, Apple Spice, Jelly Donut, Green Tea and who knows how many other cupcakes. The Earl Grey variation that we made for the Star Trek feast has been my favorite so far!

Terry and Isa wrote a second dessert book “Vegan Cookies invade your cookie jar” and many of those recipes are online, I love the Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles, and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows, and the recipe for Pignoli Almond Cookies sounds really good too.

Over the holidays I became obsessed with these mint chocolate chip cookies from Readymade magazine. The recipe yielded a ton and at least one person said they were the best cookies that he ever had!

Another fantastic recipe that I just adore is the Triple Chocolate Chip Brownie. This recipe has some pricey ingredients but a spicy, gooey, chocolate brownie is really something to sing about.

Another great source of recipes are , I ended up making her Giant Bakery Style Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. Finally, a great online resource is the Bittersweet Blog. The author Hannah Kaminsky has a book as well called My Sweet Vegan. Her blog has tons of great look recipes like Cinnamon Buns, Zucchini Babka, and even dog biscuits, you don’t want to leave the pups out! Mmm bake sale….