Monthly Archives: November 2011

All I want for Christmas is you….NOT

God I love a good “not” joke. In my mind I live in a world where Wayne’s World just came out a couple years ago and the year 2011 still seems like the future. But the future is now and Christmas is coming, so here is my annual gift guide. This really sprung from a “things I wish people would buy me” post but the people in my life do not tend to buy me presents from the internet. So maybe your family will. Or maybe you just want to buy yourself something from independent artists or for the vegans in your life. Either way, it is one of my most favorite posts to do.

For vegans especially it is really nice to get gifts that go to a good cause so may I first suggest the Sunny Days in Texas which helps a farm animal sanctuary and was put together by myself and a bunch of awesome folks here in Texas.Or the Hungry Monkey Vegan Cookzine which I just got the other day and benefits rescued lab monkeys!

I really really want the Beagle Freedom Project 2012 calendar, because they are doing amazing work freeing beagles from animal testing operations and they are doing such a great job raising awareness of the issue. And I love beagles like crazy.

Another great gift idea that supports trap and neuter programs for feral cats is the Teal Cat Project, which reclaims or I guess claims old cat tchotkes and makes them beautiful. They are out of cats this second but more are surely on the way and they have cute T-shirts and other items. 

If you’d like to support a wonderful vegan artisan and know someone who longs for the days of Mystery Science Theater 3000 check out this awesomest of awesome Tom Servo Apron. Panda With Cookiehas the cutest stuff on ety including moose onesieis, tofu pirate pillows, and even personalized cat ornaments made to order!

Panda With Cookie also teamed up this year with Food For Lovers, aka the makers of the most addictive and greatest queso in the world to make a little gift set that includes a little felt ornament or a queso cozy (soooo cute)Another one of my favorite crafty vegans, my zoetrope had the cutest paintings, pins, plushes, and even a 12 month wall calendar on sale it her shop. I ❤ the space dachshund!

If you know someone who is always cold Treewool could change their life for the better! Headbands, scarves, hats and even an ear warmer are all on sale inside her shop and it’s all vegan and handmade.

A lot of vegans are big Buffy nerds and most of them would be stoked to find these Yummy Sushi Pajamas so that they too can make rousing speeches while wearing them.

Or maybe the vegan in your life is a Star Wars nerd, if so they will probably love you for the rest of your life if you get them this R2-D2 planetarium. You can watch the stars while listening the John Williams soundtrack!

Or maybe your vegan is that other kind of nerd that has fantisized about wearing an original Star Trek uniform her whole life. Here is an etsy seller who will make them to order!

Or maybe you want to wear it for that special someone which could lead to needing these next Christmas.

Or if you know more of a general nerd baby, not necessarily star trek, then perhaps this narwhal plush is the way to go. 

Other gifts that your friend might like, or maybe your friendly neighborhood hippie is this amazing mushroom growing kit which has everything you need to get started.

This kitchen tape timer is another great idea for the person in your life who maybe would be classified as a kitchen nerd. Or a foodie or whatever. 

This robot tea infuser is the perfect gift for the tea drinker who is anti-lace and pretty flowers but pro robot and stainless steel.

Or maybe you know someone who loves mushrooms, woodland scenes or terrariums, or all of the above! You could buy this super cool one on etsy or you could probably make one yourself for a few dollars and googling “moss terrarium” 

It is a fact that most vegans love cookbooks and a lot of us have a TON so if you are buying one for Christmas, be on the safe side and get them one that came out in the last couple months like Vegan Pie in the Sky (maybe they will make you a pie)

Or the nice glossy Candle 79 (maybe they will make you seitan piccata)

Or if they want to learn to grow their own food or flowers I highly recommend Garden Anywhere

A fantastic idea for the child in your life it “A Christmas Horse Named Cairo”  It’s about Cairo, the Palomino who was rescued last December, and told thru the eyes and voice of Brooke’s youngest, Gracie, age 5. Sunny Day Farms receives all the profit.

If you still have no idea because the only thing you know about this person is that they are vegan it’s hard to go wrong with Rescue Chocolate, who donate money to animal rescue organizations

Or if the only thing you know about them is that they stink, a nice Lush gift box will make them very happy, make sure to get one with the V symbol.

Don’t forget to that your four legged friend needs to feel love this holiday season as well, check out these adorable pet bowls, that are nice and elevated so your friend won’t have to struggle to eat. 

Or if your cat is scratching up the place might I recommend this turntable for him to try. 

Finally, if you know a human out there who wants to ROCK check out the Monster Ballads Xmas. 

And if you really do want to get me something check out my pinterest board. You will learn that I really like blue and orange.

Our semi-homeade Thanksgiving

We had a surprisingly good Thanksgiving considering half the dishes were store-bought. Since we live in Austin and have so many wonderful vegan friendly companies it shouldn’t have been so shocking. I mean, is there anything the Wheatsville co-op can’t do? The only real disappointment I had was the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute which is made by Field Roast.

I love hazelnuts, cranberries, and filo dough but none of those tastes really came through for me in the roast. It just seemed like a giant seitan sausage which would have been fine except it was thanksgiving! Next time I will buy Mr. Natural’s roast or just get a tofurkey if I can’t make my own roast like I usually do. The star of our show is always the stuffing and this year was the best ever, I found this “Diner Dressing” recipe in Vegan Diner, I think on Thanksgiving day and it sounded a lot like my Mom’s so we tried it out (sans cranberries) it was absolute perfection and most of our dinner conversation was about why we only have stuffing once a year. The other big standout of the day was the cranberry orange dressing which I bought at Wheatsville. It had slices of almonds and was easily the best cranberry sauce I ever had. We both absolutely loved it. I’m glad I got the giant container!We also had the cauliflower mashed potatoes from “Appetite for Reduction” and though I usually adore these, for Thanksgiving I should have stuck with the traditional kind with a half cup of earth balance because they didn’t seem quite right. I can’t wait to make mashed potato pancakes with them though. We had gravy to go with them of course so I shouldn’t complain about the added health of the cauliflower! They were still really good!We also had miso glazed brussels sprouts, like we always do but with onions because I forgot shallots at the store. The were tasty as always. We are kind of Brussels sprouts fanatics in my house so I am glad there is some still leftover.Here is my plate in all it’s glory. I did not have any room left in my belly for pie, but I ate some anyway.We got out pie from Kristen of Sugar-Skull and it was so so good. I loved the crust, and the filling… and the whip cream. It went so well with coffee for breakfast the next day. It’s almost 24 hours later and I still don’t want to eat. Oh, Thanksgiving, how I love thee. This year I am especially thankful to Dan for putting everything together while I lounged in the hammock. Check out his plateHappy Thanksgiving!

Brixton Vegan Brunch

On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the vegan brunch that the Brixton was having catered by Green Island Catering. It was my first time at this bar, because who could possibly keep up with all the bars opening in Austin, really. I was happy to see half the vegans I know in town already there or filtering in soon after we got there at noon on a balmy Sunday afternoon. I was even more happy to see my brunch plate (no disrespect fellow vegans but I do love brunch)

The menu included pumpkin french toast with real maple syrup, tempeh bennedicts, organic fruit, sausages, and roasted potatoes. I really liked the french toast, which I am usually not a big fan of, it was really nice and crisp with good flavors and not super pumpkiny. The fruit was the biggest surprise, it tasted ripe and fresh which is so unusual, especially since it isn’t summer, though it sure feels like it. The sausage was the opposite of the Kerbey Lane “soysage” meaning it was fantastic and I got to cover mine in maple syrup. My non vegan dining companion was especially impressed, though she liked everything. The tofu bennies probably would have been better if they had been made to order rather than just kept warm on the buffet so, though I loved the taste of the tempeh and the noochy hollindaise, they were a little cold and the bread was tough. Overall it was a huge success.

I was also thrilled by the service at the Brixton. As soon as we sauntered up to the bar (or hobbled in my case) the bartender told us exactly what was vegan. All the brunch specials including the bloody mary were vegan, and the only items that weren’t was a couple of the obvious beers. A few people I spoke with got to have their first ever bloody mary! It was probably my nine hundred and thirty-fifth but I enjoyed it just the same. I loved that there was a pickled okra for garnish even though I usually order mine with all olives and it was nice and spicy, without being overly so, which was great cause there was no hot sauce for the brunch. All in all I’d say it was an outstanding vegan brunch, perhaps the first one I’ve had in Austin that has had every element of a good brunch and a nice addition to the Austin brunch scene. Sadly they aren’t doing it every Sunday so follow them on Facebook to see when the next one is happening. And be sure to bring your non vegan friends, they won’t be disappointed! Unless, of course, they are the type that is disappointed by everything so don’t bring those people. 

also Don’t Forget today is your last chance to order your holiday pies from Sugar-Skull and a lot of other places I mentioned in the Thanksgiving guide are already closed up so nail down those plans!

Vegan Thanksgiving Options in Austin

Usually I like to spend the entire month of November planning what I am going to make for Thanksgiving. The week before the feast I start preparing things then I do a cooking marathon the day of. I love when it is finally time to sit and eat and I bring dish after dish after dish to the table. It is my favorite holiday! This year I won’t be able to cook anything but luckily there are so many options in Austin for premade meals that I should be good to go!

Wednesday before Thanksgiving plate from Mr. Natural

I tried Mr. Natural’s meal last year and it was pretty good. For 11 dollars you can get a plate of their homemade turkey, dressing, potatoes, vegetables, and cranberry sauce the day before or you can order in larger quantities to put together your own feast at home or bring to an omni hosted gathering. They have a whole menu of things to choose from, including vegan pumpkin pie.

Another great spot to get in the mood for Thanksgiving is of course Counter Culture because this week they will be bringing back the holiday sandwich, which I adore and will be eating every day…or at least once.

the holiday sandwich will fill your belly

Then, the  Wednesday before T-Day Counter Culture will be selling to-go boxes of their own Thanksgiving Feasts. Salisbury Seitan, Golden Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Veggies & Wild Rice & Cranberry Sauce are all included for 10 bucks and then Pumpkin or Pecan Pie for an additional $3. Just make sure you RSVP!

Wheatsville always has a ton of good thanksgiving food on their hot bar with plenty more to-go options that are all delicious. The menu has all sorts of stuff, for main dishes they have a tofurkey roast of course but then they also have mushroom farro bundles wrapped in collards, and Leek Roasted Carrots with Tempeh. Then they have a millions sides too including their fab mac and cheese with broccoli and creamy coconut mashed sweet potatoes. They also have a vegan pie selection, appetizers, and frozen field roast items if you prefer.

Happy Vegan Baker will have full meals, including Pumpkin Cheesecake or Maple Pecan Pie and soup that you can order for pickup at the triangle market or the commissary. The main dishes are a choice between Cranberry Wild rice stuffed Acorn squash
or Autumn root veggie Pot Pie but the whole menu looks super. Place  your order by 11/21.

Green Island Catering is probably the best way to go if you are gluten free or doing an engine 2 style diet, even if you aren’t their menu looks really good and they deliver and are the best option, I think, if you are throwing your own feast! You can order by the half pan which serves 8-10 or a full pan of each dish which can serve up to 20. The main entree is a lentil loaf with gravy but they also have roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, chipotle mac and cheese and green bean casserole. The appetizers all look so good and the apple cobbler sounds like a perfect non pumpkin finish!

Veggytopia is another delivery option packed with old fashioned favorites like Veggie Turkey, Cashew Mushroom Pasta, and Country Kitchen Stuffing. I love stuffing more than anything! I would love to try the Cream Cheese Swirl Pumpkin Pie.

Speaking of dessert, there are two fabulous options by Sugar Tooth Bakery, vegan (and gluten-free) pumpkin pie and Apple Pie Cupcakes! Better order them ahead of time though!

Finally, and most excitingly for anyone that like chocolate, Kristen of Sugar-Skull will be making two types of pie: Pumpkin, and Chocolate Cream. I am sure they are both psychotically good because pretty much everything Kristen makes is the bomb. You can order your own here.

I’m sure Whole Foods has a bunch of stuff too, but this year I am thankful we have so many small and local vegan friendly options that I will be able to avoid the mayhem of Whole Foods!

If you know of anything else I’m missing leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list. If you want to see what I made in years past check out these posts from the years I made the seitan dumplings, the roast, and the roulade.

Coat and Thai on the South Side

It seems like suddenly there are a lot of Thai trailers around. Maybe I just finally noticed them? Over the last few weeks I have tried a couple in South Austin and I have to say Coat and Thai on South Congress is my favorite.

The first thing to like about them is that they have a flashing “vegan friendly” gif on the very front page of their site, also they have a site with such wonderful features as showing when they are open, what the menu is, and even has their phone number, which seems increasingly rare for trailers. So far they have even been open when they said they’d be open so I am pretty excited about that. The menu has all the regular Thai dishes like pad see-ew and green curry but I am excited that they also have some dishes that are a little more rare like Pad Ka-Pao (below) and even Pad Peanut sauce. So far they have been able to veganize everything I have asked for too.The tofu is seasoned nicely, toothsome, and delicious and the vegetables were fresh and crisp which is pretty important in my opinion. I enjoyed the peanut sauce dish a lot, I was so hungry that I even neglected to take a photo, it was very curry tasting and not too fatty and probably the dish I will get most often. I also tried a couple of the noodle dishes that seemed standard but certainly good enough. I really want to get the pineapple fried rice or the green curry fried rice next. My only complaint is the Styrofoam containers, I don’t know why that is the standard for Asian takeout in Austin but it drives me nuts. They should be banned. It seems strange that Coat and Thai has a big “we recycle” button on their site but still uses these containers. Next time, I will try and remember to bring my own. But, there will be a next time.

Hooray for Everyone!

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of dinner at the Hyden Park Supper Club and a fantastic omelet brunch at Counter Culture.While I was enjoying delicious food and lazy days my friend Wes was running a marathon to support Sunny Day Farms where he and his team raised over twenty five hundred dollars. I can’t believe it, congratulations Wes!

Amazingly, the last two people to enter for the Team Sunny Day giveaway were the people the random number generator decided should win the prize package so congratulations Rebecca and Katie! Thanks to all who entered and feel free to still donate.