Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving Report: 2013

Why aren’t there more songs about Thanksgiving? Probably cause we were all too full to write them. I wish I could sing about it. Yesterday was a marathon of cooking, eating, and then watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 with my best beagles and my young man. I made the Unturkey Roast from Vegan Appetite and it was both easy & fabulous.

unturkey

I realized at the last minute I didn’t have any miso so I made the garlic roasted Brussels from Vegan Diner, along with the Diner Dressing and Sage & White Pepper gravy from the same book. Julie Hasson’s recipes are a lot like my family recipes so it’s a great resource. I love that gravy. We doubled the recipe and hardly had any leftovers, we’re such gluttons! I felt like we didn’t have enough vegetables either so I made the Maple Citrus Glazed roasted carrots from Healthy Happy Life. This year I also used cashew cream with the mashed potatoes instead of almond milk and I thought it was perfect for thanksgiving. Finally, I picked up the almond cranberry sauce from Wheatsville because I love it and it did not disappoint. Usually I write this post about what I should remember to do differently next year but I can’t think of anything! It was kind of perfect. Maybe it was particularly great cause I was also drinking spiced hot apple cider with bourbon all day? It’s hard to say. Oh! I know, check your spices that you never use like parsley before you go shopping. That’s all I’ve got.plate

Now I have to spend another day in the kitchen baking for our mega bake sale tomorrow. Please come out and support our effort to help our neighbors who lost everything in the recent floods. I think I’m going to make Spinach Pies and Banana Bread and I’ll be at the Sugar Circus location all morning. Hope y’all had a fantastic Thanksgiving.

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Austin Bakes for Austin this Saturday November 30th


Our bake sales for Natural Disaster relief started with Austin Bakes for Japan where we couldn’t believe it when we raised $11,540. Next, after the wildfires in Bastrop we got together and raised $12,500. Then after the plant explosion in West Texas, and incredibly, we raised $18,251.92. The team behind the bake sales is really amazing at organizing and having simultaneous events all over town and having sponsors do donation matching and really just having an entire community come out to support humanitarian aid. It’s really sad that this time it’s for people in our own backyard who have been devastated by the October floods. I know I’ll never forget that picture of the horses being led through the water or the raging waters at Barton Springs. Overnight I got 12 inches in my backyard and all of the creeks around me were sweeping over the roads. Over four hundred of my neighbors lost their houses completely. 

Is it weird that now whenever there is a disaster I start planning on what I can bake? Maybe it is, but I hope that you think this way too because we need lots of vegan bakers to participate. Actually, we always need vegans, sugar free people, gluten free, and nut free people to bring in their best treats because it is terrible turning people away. Think of the children! Plus, the next time someone tells you it’s wrong that you only care about animals you can say, “actually I recently donated to this huge effort for humanitarian aid right here in town”. The team always picks excellent charities and all the money for our Austin sale will go to Austin Disaster Relief Network a super local organization.  This time I’ll be heading up the table at Sugar Circus with my bake sale buddy Nelly but there will be locations all over town where you can drop off baked goods or buy and donate.

If you’d like to lend a hand, please sign up here!

 

We would also love your help spreading the word, here are some ways to help from the Austin Bakes site 

Visit our fundraising page on FirstGiving to make a donation to Austin Disaster Relief Network.

If you are thinking about what to bake check out some of my other posts here and here remember to list your ingredients and wrap things up. Here are some more tips on the Austin Bakes site.  People love savory things! For the worldwide vegan bakesale I made these pretzel dogs and they were the first thing to sell out. And remember to come out and support the sale & tell all your friends and co-workers.

Thanksgiving for the Turkeys

For years I have had my office rally around the cause of adopting turkeys and the adoption certificates are now hanging up all over the place. It leads to a lot of interesting discussion. Most of the time people crack a joke about how the turkeys deserve to be eaten or something but, as time has gone on, I’ve learned to always say “well these turkeys were abused” and it changes the conversation. When people first hear about food animals being saved they picture a healthy robust animal on it’s way to get processed for the super market getting stolen off the assembly line by some rouge vegans who want to rob people of their holiday bird.

I think this is the story folks really want to believe. They choose the Utopian farmer story so they don’t have to think about factory farms and monstrous slaughterhouses. When you tell them the reality of these turkey’s lives, well people don’t joke about it again after that. Maybe these turkeys were abused or fell off the truck. Maybe it was too sick to be taken into the slaughterhouse so it was abandoned in a dumpster outside to die slowly. I usually mention how all turkeys are confined to tiny spaces and their beaks are cut off.  It really makes people think and sometimes they throw in a couple dollars to our adopt a turkey fund or at least they think it’s a pretty great thing to do. It can be tough to have these conversations though. It took me a long time to be able to realize that arguing the “meat is murder” point will never get you anywhere but nobody wants to see animals tortured and abused. It’s a much easier starting point.

I do love telling people, after that, about how Farm Sanctuary has a Thanksgiving party *for* the turkeys. Once people feel bad for a turkey’s tough life they love hearing about little kids feeding turkeys sweet potatoes and apples to celebrate the holiday. It’s a great program.

I encourage you to adopt a turkey too, and to tell all of your friends about it. It’s a great way to honor the holiday in my experience. If you live in Austin Capital City bakery is going to be having our own little party for the turkeys. Kristen is cooking up tons of stuff, both sweet and savory and she is going to be sampling all of her Thanksgiving pies. 10% of all sales are going to Farm Sanctuary and if you pledge TODAY to sponsor a turkey you will get a totally free 4″ turkey cake. You have to order today though at orders@capitalcitybakery.com or 512.666.7437.

You also have to get your orders in today for Thanksgiving pies from Capital City Bakery and also Thanksgiving Dinners from Happy Vegan Bakery or Counter Culture. Check out the Thanksgiving roundup for more info.

You say you want a revolution, a BBQ Revolution

It’s kind of been an embarrassment that we don’t have vegan barbecue in Austin. I think it’s the most common question I get asked and I’ve got nothing to recommend. There were a couple places using barbecue sauce but as we Texans know, it’s not about the sauce so much as the smoking. If there is one thing the newest vegan trailer, BBQ Revolution, is all about it’s smoking! They even put together a giant smoker to make up there savory vegan goodness on site. I’ve been watching the whole project unfold on instagram and dying to try it and last night I finally got to brave the traffic and the cold to order my first plate of authentic Texas vegan barbecue.

Oh, and did I mention this new barbecue trailer is next door to the Rabbit Food Bakery trailer, aka everyone’e favorite anarchist doughnut making collective? It almost makes me want to sell our house in south Austin and move back to our little apartment on North Loop….almost.

BBQ revolution has just a couple of options right now, as they have just barely opened, but they do plan on expanding the menu and have specials like fried green tomatoes . I tried both the soy curls and the wheat roast which were both smothered in the Texas-style barbecue sauce. They will also soon be offering local Hearty Vegan Tempeh which I’m excited to try. I don’t have a lot of other vegan barbecue to compare this too but I can tell you that it’s legit.  It was intensely smokey so I really enjoyed mixing it with the more neutral sides. I tried the macaroni & cheese which was old school nooch-based but super creamy and the potato salad which reminded me of my grandma’s; mellow and delicious. They also serve it as a traditional sandwich with white bread, pickles, and onions.

If you want to try it, and you should, tonight is the night because they are throwing a huge grand opening party. They are going to have fire dancer’s and music, beer, Red Rabbit is going to stay open late and sell doughnuts, Rabbit Food is going to have a pop-up shop with all of their awesome products, and they are even selling local soap. It should be a total throwdown. It is going to be cash only and they are going to have a limited menu “$9 plates $5 sandwiches 3 protein choices and 3 sides to choose from with a plate. Sandwiches come with potato salad, coleslaw and of course pickles and onions!” The weather should be a lot nicer than it has been and hey, if they run out of food, note that the Vegan Nom is closed for the weekend but Sweet Ritual is a few blocks away and I heard they have an amazing sweet potato ice cream.

Where to eat vegan Thankgiving in Austin

It happens every year, as we get closer and closer to the big tofurkey day I want to eat everything smothered in gravy. I get disappointed when I don’t see cranberry sauce, and visions of stuffing start to dance in my head. I’ve adored thanksgiving food since I was teeny tiny and I love how in Austin we are lucky enough to have vegan thanksgiving food again and again in November. The night before the big day, Thanksgiving Eve, Mr. Natural always does an amazing Thanksgiving plate. Throughout the whole month both Wheatsville’s will also have Thanksgiving food on the hot bar.

Wheatsville Hot Bar

Meanwhile on another end of town, Counter Culture has had their fabulous Thanksgiving sandwich on the specials menu and will continue to have it until the 28th. They will also have other holiday specials throughout the month so stay tuned to their facebook.

the first time I had the Counter Culture Thanksgiving Sandwich was back in the trailer days of yore

If you are looking to purchase meals for Thanksgiving Day, Sue will also be preparing Thanksgiving to-go boxes that include a tempeh loaf & green bean casserole. More info and sign ups here. Orders must be placed by 5pm, Monday, 11/25.

Inge, the Happy Vegan Baker also will also put together a meal for you and they have a whole array of items to choose from to create a 100% hassle free feast. She does pot pies or stuffed acorn squash for the main course  and Inge’s whole menu can be made with accommodations for dietary restrictions. She also has Pumpkin Cheesecake and Maple Pecan Pie!  Sign up by 11/25.

Mr. Natural and Wheatsville will also sell you whatever you need, they both have extensive vegan menus to choose from.  On November 23 both Wheatsville locations will be holding “A Taste of Thanksgiving” where you can sample everything they will be selling. Lately I have been buying their orange cranberry sauce and maybe a couple of other items if I don’t want to cook for days.

Even though I think all those places are serving awesome pumpkin pie I’ll be ordering mine  from Capital City Bakery. This year they are selling pumpkin, pecan, apple, chocolate cream, and sweet potato pies. On November 23rd at 12pm they will be doing FREE Thanksgiving pie samples so you can see which one you like. That day a portion of their earning will be going to Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey program. Their brick & mortar bakery is about to open and I am so excited!

If pie isn’t your thing Sweet Ritual has some ice cream specials including sweet potato ice cream and pumpkin! I love that now you can buy pints.

If you don’t even want to be at your house or you want to make new friends on Thanksgiving Casa de Luz will put together a harvest themed macrobiotic buffet.

I, on the other hand, will be at my house enjoying my pajamas, beagles in sweaters, and Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving song as we do every year. I haven’t decided what to make yet but I did put together a pinterest board of all my favorite recipes. Be warned that clicking that link on an empty stomach may cause hunger pangs. If I am feeling adventurous I am either going to do Meet the Shannon’s Beer Can Tofurkey or What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway’s Stuffed Deep Fried Tofu. Otherwise I might play it safe and make the unturkey roast from Vegan Appetite. Then we will also have mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy from Vegan Diner recipes, and my favorite miso glazed brussels. I can’t wait!

See you at the Crossroads – my latest California Trip

I decided after this last trip to California in August that I needed to stay home for a little while and I’m starting to go a little stir crazy! I miss the coast! I want the tropics! I went to visit my mom in Sacramento August, after a couple of days we trucked down to Monterrey & Carmel to see the sights. We took a whale watching tour and my life was complete when at one point there 12 humpbacks jumping for joy all around us.

I also saw jellyfish and sea lions and all kinds of birds. The Monterrey Bay is pretty magical. I was ready to move and work on conservation but, dang, it was too cold for me. Even Miss Sasha had her little jacket on. She wasn’t that excited by the whale watching even though she’s originally from Illinois. 

We found a place called Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room which was perfect for us because they have tons of vegan options and seafoody type stuff for my mom.  They would substitute tofu in any fish dish! Why can’t every place do that? It was perfect I had Jerk rubbed tofu one night with plantains and then a jungle tofu dish another night. 

We also went to an amazing spa called Refuge in the mountains, they didn’t allow pictures but this golf course was next door. It was one of those places that had different hot tubs, cold dips, dry saunas, and eucalyptus steam rooms that you rotate between. I also had the best massage of my life and I almost proposed marriage to my therapist. It was amazing and not expensive so if you are ever out that way check it out, it was what I always thought spas would be until I sadly found that they are mostly about trying to make women remove skin and flesh. The whole area was so gorgeous.

And I loved that there were sea lions everywhere.

After a few days in Sacramento I flew down to LA to visit my friend Laura where the mission was to eat all of my favorite things and see as many sights as possible. I sent Laura a list of my favorite foods and we basically hit them all in an eating out odyssey. The first stop was Seed in Venice, for tacos (of course). 

I loved these tacos, I think they had fried zucchini and all sorts of vegetables under that creamy sauce. California Mexican food is so different from our Mexican food. It’s so fun to try other styles. I have a feeling that everything at this little macrobiotic cafe would be super tasty even though it caters to the healthy crowd. We didn’t stick with healthy for long though, after a walk on the beach, I think we headed directly to ice cream.

Maddy’s in a tiny little cafe and vegan ice cream parlor which is packed with gourmet flavors. I think we tried just about every flavor between us but I went with peanut butter crunch.

Growing up with bi-monthly trips to Chicagoland it is always sad when I return and can’t get deep dish stuffed pizza. Laura promised to take me to a Chicago-style place Masa and, wow, it was really good pizza. The crust was perfect and sauce was really good.  I was so happy that they didn’t use daiya cheese because I’m not a  fan but I still would have preferred Follow Your Heart over the Teese. We still ate enough that we had to lie down and watch Veronica Mars for a while when we got home.

Although everyone knows I’m quite the breakfast taco aficionado I love a good breakfast sandwich too! The Badassarie had, maybe, the best I’ve ever had? It didn’t even sound good since there was maple syrup and cheese with the sausage patty but I will remember it fondly whenever the wind whispers breakfast sandwich.

After the sandwiches we barely made it down to Hollywood Boulevard for the TMZ tour, I really wanted to do the cheesiest tour out there because, that’s what your supposed to do in LA, right? What a scene it was in front of the theater with all the superhero impersonators and gaggles of tourists. It’s maybe the most American spot I’ve ever been. On our tour I got to learn all sorts of things like where Brad Pitt used be a bouncer. We didn’t see one celebrity but Laura did win a T-shirt.

I think, maybe more than any other restaurant on the trip, I was excited to go to Doomie’s Home Cookin’. I love Southern Comfort food and we just don’t have anything like that here, well besides the Wheatsville hot bar, so it’s always a highlight. We ordered everything but don’t worry, this time we didn’t come close to eating it all. I was so jealous knowing that they would have all the leftovers for a week. I adored the jalapeno poppers

The amazingly creamy mac and cheese

buffalo wings

And the best vegan fried chicken, probably in the world.

There is a layer of “skin” and then a layer of gravy, and then the “chicken” so it completely replicates the juicy crispy aspect. I haven’t had anything like it. well except for real fried chicken in my pregan days but I would much rather enjoy a version where no one gets hurt.

We also went to the Griffen Observatory for what was probably my greatest planetarium experience ever. The performer who lead us through the cosmos was so into it and I was so excited to be where I’d once seen Kelly & Dylan make-out. And the Leonard Nimoy theater is there too! I love Hollywood!

Another favorite food of mine is Vietnamese and Vin Loi Tofu did not disappoint, in fact we were all kind of overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the menu that we just asked the owner to bring out whatever. I was ready to move in next door. They even had doughnuts!

My last stop before the airport was for fine dining at the famous Crossroads, Chef Tal Ronnen’s restaurant. We tried so much of the seasonal menu and I can’t even remember it all because, like at most fine dining places, the light was not very conducive to photography. I love the cheese they put in everything, it tasted exactly like dairy cheese to me. This watermelon salad was vibrant and salty and perfect.

The tiny paella appetizer was another favorite.

But, for me, my the best was definitely the meaty cheesy lasagna. No wonder why this place is so popular. The food is all perfectly prepared, with a nice casual but classy atmosphere and the chef really knows how to put a menu together with seasonal vegetables and even plate everything beautifully.

Now I’ve been to most of the fine dining vegan restaurants in the US and Crossroads is towards the top for me, although I haven’t tried Vedge yet, I have to go to Philly next! I didn’t even mention the spanikopita egg rolls, the crab cakes, the cocktails, and the amazing flatbread. It was all so good. I’m ready to go back. This break from vacations is never going to work.