Monthly Archives: September 2013

Taco Cleanse Day 30 – Taco Cleanse Closing Ceremony

This has been such a great month, eating tacos every day, doing experiments with the taco scientists, working on the Taco Cleanse Zine, and doing taco related events, I’m sad it’s almost over. Yesterday we had a closing party at the Vegan Nom. It was raining so I think the turnout suffered a bit since no one wanted to leave the house but we still had enough people that they sold out in less than an hour!

The Vegan Nom made a special taco, smoked seitan with jalapeno mac and cheese, bbq sauce, and chipotle sauce. It was my favorite taco of the cleanse. Maybe ever. After I ate mine I even got more money out of the atm so I could bring one home for Dan cause I didn’t want him to miss them! I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

Kristen of Capital City Bakery made little taco cleanse Mexican Chocolate cupcakes.

And we Jessica and Wes put the zines together and we had them for sale, they are so awesome!!! If you have had fun reading about the cleanse you should get one, it’s funny and there are tons of recipes and games and charts. If you would like a copy you can buy one and also Veganmofo will be giving one away today!

All the FUGEO cleansers got certificates and I don’t know where I’m going to put mine, in the kitchen? Or maybe I should bring it to the office. If only I hadn’t lost my college degree I could put in next to that.

I still have a lot of tacos backlogged so I think my veganmofo blogging is going to continue into the next month! That’s a first!

Happy Veganmofo!

Taco Cleanse Day 27 – Maria’s Taco Xpress

Yesterday I stopped in at one of my former constant hangout’s Maria’s Taco Xpress. I used to live down the block so we would go there all the time. It’s crazy how much it’s changed in the last few years. It used to be a little shack with some tables in the back on the dirt and a trailer park behind it. Then Walgreens bought the land and, I think because of the neighborhood outrage, they let the Taco Xpress rebuild and rebuild it they did. The new location is so much bigger, and then they expanded the patio! Then they expanded it more. Then they added a second story! The trailer park gave way to super modern condos and the whole area looks completely different. The tacos however remain exactly the same.

The thing I really love about Maria’s tacos is the range of salsas and topping that they carry. You can dress your taco with pico, red salsa, green salsa, cilantro, onions, and maybe some other things too. If you go, pay extra for the guacamole, it’s always perfect. The atmosphere is always fun but especially Sunday brunch when Hippie Church is going on and there is live gospel music and dancing. 100% south Austin charm, even if it is in the middle of what seems like thousands of condos being constructed on South Lamar.

Last night the Taco Scientists worked into the night putting together the zine. If you want a hard copy go pre-order on Rabbit Food, we are just going to do a limited run. You can also get them at the Taco Cleanse Closing Party this Sunday!

Taco Cleanse Day 26 – The Waffle Taco + pre-order information for our zine!

The first time I read the words “waffle taco” (I believe it was on twitter via @pandawithcookie) I knew I had to check it out. Since my first trip to the Flavor Spot in Portland I’ve gone back for more many times but it never even occurred to me to make my waffle taco. I figured it could never compete with the perfection that is Portland’s own dutch taco.

Fast forward a few years to the founding days of the taco cleanse. I was meeting with the taco scientists here in Austin and we were discussing all the different tacos we could do. Knowing that fellow scientist and Taco Liberation Front writer #westagram had made waffles in the past and is an amazing cook I asked him to make us waffle tacos later in the month. While I watched his experiments on instagram I was jealous but when I finally got to try it, the dutch taco was worth the wait. In fact, I think it was even better than the flavor spot. A dutch taco is a sausage with maple cream sauce encased in a folded waffle. You know that thinspo saying “being thin feels better than any food tastes” or something? Those people have never had one of these. My level of happiness was off the freaking charts after eating it along some with some mimosas. It’s all breakfast was ever supposed to be.

The good news is, if you don’t have a Wes in your life you will now be able to make his tacos at home because the recipe is going to be in our fabulous upcoming zine! The Taco Cleanse official zine is going to have a lot more than just recipes too, there are going to be quizzes if you are wondering if taco cleansing is right for you, taco crossword puzzles, and even a forward from Vegansaurus founder Laura Beck! Pre-orders are available at Rabbit Food and we are hoping to have a whole lot to sell at the taco cleanse closing ceremony this September 29th!

We are super excited! I can’t believe the taco cleanse is almost over. My sister asked me yesterday if I still know how to use a fork and you know what, I don’t want to!

 

Taco Cleanse Day 25 – Corn VS Flour Tortillas: The Great Debate

Taco Cleanse enthusiast Abbey Bean asked an important question on a previous post and I would like to address it here because this is a crucial topic that I feel remiss for not addressing as of yet. She said “do you prefer flour or corn tortillas?” and I will try to answer this as best I can.

This is a perfect tortilla, it’s almost spongy like injera and delicate like a crepe but the flavor is pure corn

If you have ever wondered “how could eat tacos all day” my guess is that you have never had a deliciously fresh perfectly made tortilla. They are the most critical element of the taco both for enfolding the delicious components within and for creating a way to bring the taco from your plate to your mouth. They are also a vital element when it comes to the taste of the taco. You hear a lot that you can tell how good a taco stand is going to be by it’s salsa and I would have to disagree. Fresh homemade tortillas are the hallmark of any great taco stand. And they aren’t even hard to make.

I choose my taco’s tortilla based on what is going to be inside. Usually it works out that if it’s going to be more of a Tex-Mex taco like fajitas or a scramble-sausage-cheese breakfast taco I will use a flour tortilla. If my taco is more Mexican inspired like Al Pastor, Carnitas, or my standard breakfast taco of refried beans, nopales, and potatoes, then I will chose a corn tortilla. This is most of the time and I do really love a good corn tortilla. A bad one can ruin a taco however. I’ve never really been a fan of whole wheat tortillas because I’ve never had one that wasn’t tough but maybe I would enjoy a really fresh one. I do like Margarita’s spelt tortillas and get them occasionally for breakfast. On the taco cleanse it can be a little harder to figure out what tortilla goes with what filling. For the Pad Thai-co I was trying to think of some rice based or mung bean based tortilla, like a Vietnamese crepe, but in the end I just used flour because flour is kind of a neutral and it worked great. 

Choosing a flour vs a corn tortilla isn’t even the real issue. I used to be kind of a corn tortilla snob but I’ve gotten over it as I’ve gotten older and learned to try and embrace every kind of taco. Quality, I assure you, is what makes the real difference. I don’t think I can really explain it through pictures because you can’t always tell a good tortilla by looking at it. Just the other day, I was at the Mexican meat market looking for five inch flour tortillas and I tried the first brand I found that was vegan. I didn’t have very high hopes – I usually don’t go for flour tortillas unless they just came off the comal- but they ended up being fluffy and delicious. Generally you want to either make tortillas yourself or go somewhere where they are still warm when you purchase them. In Austin, Fiesta, HEB, Central Market, and many taquerias make their tortillas fresh all day so they are easy to find. Tortillas don’t last long, that’s why dishes like migas, chilaquiles, and nachos were invented, to use up the tortillas past their prime. If you aren’t making fresh tortillas you always want to heat them up, before you add the filling. I used to always wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven but ever since I got my tortilla warmer I have been using the microwave instead. Tortillas should always be small, six inches or less, you should be able to finish a taco in a few bites.

A festive woven tortilla warmer is a nice change from the beige standard ones.

If there aren’t Mexican grocery stores in your neighborhood and you do decide to make tortillas yourself, I recommend getting a tortilla press to make the job super easy. They aren’t expensive and you can use them to flatten gluten cutlets too if you make your own seitan.

I would also recommend watching a video, here is one from Hilah Cooking, to get the technique right and try corn first, I find them easier than flour. They are similar to making pancakes except there is no measuring, only a couple ingredients, and they are done in about a minute. If you can’t get masa in your area, there are even recipes for how to make them yourself, here is a great video.

Now there are, of course, a range of other vehicles for holding your taco but these are always secondary to the standard fresh tortilla. Crispy tacos, puffy tacos, pancake tacos, waffle tacos, romaine leaf tacos, and even raw corn tortilla tacos all have their place on the taco cleanse but they aren’t “standard” tacos, I would call them specialty tacos. I see a lot of folks calling their tacos “soft tacos” and I think that term is an invention from Taco Bell that is rather redundant. Any taco is a soft taco unless it’s otherwise stated.

A crispy taco is a “specialty” taco not typically served in Mexico or Texas.

I hope that clears things up. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Taco Cleanse Day 24 – Soy Curl Fajitas

I tried forever to figure out how to say Soy Curl fajitas in Spanish but it turns out I just don’t know how. Why are they even called soy curls? Are they like curls of smoke or curls of hair?  I blame this lack of knowledge on my shitty Spanish teacher “Señorita Williams” who was like Peggy Hill without the enthusiasm. She also exclusively wore jumpers like this. I don’t think Fajitas are Mexican anyway. I’m pretty sure they are a tex-mex dish that was made up by cowboys or ranchers. Those poor folks didn’t have ready access to soy curls as we do these days so they had to use pieces of dead cows! Thankfully times have changed and this vegan version is super. The recipes took me a while to perfect. I think the key was to use a lot of oil, because otherwise the soy curls would stick to the pan rather than getting browned. Maybe my cast iron just isn’t seasoned well enough. I also used aji amarillo Peruvian pepper paste because I absolutely love it and I feel like it perks up any peppery dish but I’m sure any pepper paste would do. I have been loving the  Yellowbird Sauce made with habañeros, too, but you could skip it or use whatever hot sauce you like. Finally, I had some fajita spice mix but if you don’t another seasoning mix would do, something that has onion and garlic powder along with salt and pepper.

Soy Curl Fajitas

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion cut in half moons
1 red pepper and 1 orange pepper cut in strips
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups of soy curls (re-hydrate in vegetable broth and then squeeze dry)
2 Tablespoons of aji amarillo pepper sauce
1 Tablespoons of yellowbird hot sauce
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tea spoons of fajita spice mix

Heat up a cast iron skillet over a medium hot flame and then add the oil. When shimmering toss in the peppers and onions. Once they are getting browned add the garlic, after it sizzles for 30 seconds add the soy curls and toss in the other ingredients. Cook until the soy curls are browned and serve on a tortilla with homemade guacamole or sour cream and scallions or sliced almonds for some crunch.

Enjoy!

This recipe is going to be in the upcoming taco cleanse zine which we are feverishly working on! Luckily we are #TacoPowered and should get it done before veganmofo is over!

New Wheatsville South Finally Opens, South Austin can now Secede!

For almost ten years I have lived in South Austin, certain that there is nowhere else I’d rather live in the continental US. We have the friendliest people, the most beautiful greenbelts, the best restaurants, the biggest dog park, so many great taco stands, and the most amazing swimming pool I’ve ever been too, Barton Springs. My friends and I often laugh about how we rarely go north of 12th street but there has always been one holdout in North Austin.

One reason to cross the river.

One place I could never avoid.

One place that has everything from local organic produce to buffalo popcorn tofu pizzas to-go and products like vegan chicharróns and vegan condoms.

Today the magic finally happened and after months of planning Wheatsville South finally opened! The new store is gorgeous! It’s so big and beautiful and shiny and I am just so excited that I won’t have to go to 6 stores anymore to get what I want. The new Wheatsville is right on my path on South Lamar and they open early enough for breakfast tacos and close late enough for to meet my ice cream cravings. I am just freaking stoked.

breakfast tacos

You should have seen me there this morning, beaming at everyone while I picked up my tacos and free coffee.

Meanwhile, Austin’s First Trader Joe’s also opened this morning too and Whole Foods is trying to hang on to customers with a buy one get one free local products sale.

Say what you want about Austin but we are lucky to have some awesome grocery stores. And I am so happy to never have to drive all the way across town just to get an awesome sandwich. Hallelujah.

The Top 5 Cities in the US to go on a Taco Cleanse

1) Austin Texas

Smoked Brisket taco with Cabbage Slaw from Rockin Vegan Tacos

I’m sure this will come as a surprise to no one but Austin Texas is both the place where the taco cleanse was founded and the city that has more delicious tacos than anywhere in the country. With restaurants trying everything from brisket tacos, to jackfruit bbq, terrayaki soy curls, Vietnamese tofu tacos, puffy tacos and of course hundreds of breakfast taco spots, Austin Texas is the place to be if you are going full on FUEGO.

2) Los Angeles California

corn battered zucchini ranch tacos from seed kitchen

Even though the taco cleanse was invented in Austin Texas if there is any town that knows how to cleanse it’s LA home of celebrities and some of the best tacos around. Like Austin they also have tons of taco trailers so you don’t have to look far to find Baja Avocado tacos, portebello tacos, and even raw corn tortilla tacos.

3) Chicago Illinois

El Nuevo Mexicano

If you haven’t been to Chicago lately book a trip soon, they have some of the most wonderful decadent food around so it’s the perfect place to go on a taco cleanse. Places like Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur have traditional carnitas and asada de soya tacos and old favorites like the Chicago Diner keep it real with pulled pork tacos and Handlebar’s Fried avocado tacos. I loved El Nuevo Mexicao which has amazing Tacos de Proteina Estilo San Pancho and it’s the perfect spot to get your margaritas in as well.

4) San Francisco and the Bay Area

flacos

flaco’s tacos by Erika Larson

Gracias Madre has the best California style Mexican food I’ve ever had but the tacos don’t stop there. Erika Larson tell me that there is also “Flaco’s is an all-vegan Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, CA. They make their own corn tortillas (which you can also buy) and the taco topping is seasoned soy protein ‘carnitas.’ Not pictured are their world-famous and habit-developing taquitos.” Although you can’t enjoy taquitos on a cleanse you can certainly get them any other time.

5) Pa’ia on the island of Maui

Even though Maui is pretty far from Mexico tacos have made their presence known. Maui Tacos is a chain that is throughout the islands and California that has plenty of cleansing options. Pa’ia is also home to a tex-mex restaurant,  cafe Mambo  with many tofu options and one of the greatest grocery stores in the world Mana Foods. It’s a short drive anywhere else on the island where you can find plenty of raw food restaurants and health food stores as well. Plus tacos on Maui are better than tacos in the other 49 states because it’s Hawaii.