Pre-Hiatus (or some crafts, cooking and coffee before my time in Brooklyn)

Buffalo baked tofu, slow-cooked white beans and caulipots.

I’ve returned yet again from sneaking the heck out-of-town for the holiday mess. This time last year, I was sipping from young coconuts in Cambodia, while this time last week, J. Legume and I were singing carols to rats scurrying … Continue reading

Obsessing over cherries and making my own liqueurs…

Homemade Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Updated with prettier pictures of the finished projects & much blushing to see this included on the PPK 100 for 2012! If you’re looking to make your own syrups for drinks, per #52, check out my Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime … Continue reading

Beverage breaks

It’s damn near sleeting outside right now, Portland is freaking out, and I could go for a warm frothy mug of peppermint hot chocolate.

Or this, from Cacao.

Sipping chocolate with soymilk, Cacao, downtown

Or what the hey, a giant pumpkin pie cocktail is pretty much the same thing.

Pumpkin Pie Mason Jar, Swift Lounge. Pumpkin infused vodka, house spiced syrup; hold the amaretto whipped cream. I had the smaller happy happy jar version of this special a few weeks ago and was thrilled to see it again on my next visit.

Also warming, from Wafu..

Sriracha Sazerac, Wafu. Rye, Herbsaint & Sriracha bitters. Intriguing, but underwhelming amount of heat.

Even better when you pair it with this:

Vegan Miso Ramen, Wafu. Added the "make it hot" option.

Classic.

Soy Latte, Fresh Pot on Hawthorne. Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Classic, take 2.

Beer sampler, Bridgeport Brewing Pub. Tasting notes recorded in Gabrielle's notebook.

The type of thing that stays on your mind for far too long…

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Milkshake, Chicago Diner. Because really, this was my favorite from our VVC trip to Chicago.

Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime Syrup: Because Spring Said So

Click on this image for tickets.

First things first, I’m back from my B.C. adventures, so prepare for a month of Canadian love, including lots of beer, hockey (whoa), Chinese food, wonderful hippie markets, and fingers crossed, a guest post from my travelling partner and real-life-Canadian-bestie. Not to jinx myself, but expect those posts in a week or so, as I’m off to Seattle this weekend for a scintillating event – The Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off! It’s a fundraiser for their eventual Vegan Iron Chef competition, which opens the door to something that makes me kinda pee my pants – NorthWest Vegan Iron Chef Regionals!!!!! The Portland folks will be reppin’ a table at the Cook-Off, so keep an eye out.

For now, I’m spending the day counting down the minutes until I can visit the Shemanski Park Farmers Market on my lunch hour – my first visit of the season. I like to pretend it’s there for me, being mere blocks away from my office and all. At some point, my coworkers became used to me returning with armfuls of colorful produce and squash sticking out of my purse.  I have a farmar habit, it’s cool. It’s seasonal. It’s purposeful.

The weekend before I left, I was all about the tart, fascinating stalk that is rhubarb, as well as thrillingly bizarre local citrus finds, and made the following syrup. It’s made an appearance in tonic so far, and is counting the minutes itself (it’s that talented) until it can impress at a cocktail hour.

Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime Syrup, Pre-Strained

Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (no need to peel; think 2 medium sized stalks)
  • 5-6 rangpur limes, halved (leave skins on)
  • 1 lime, quartered (likewise)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • pinch salt
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook covered for 25 minutes, removing the lid to stir occasionally. Your mixture will look like the glorious pink soup pictured above. Remove from heat for a few minutes, and strain. Repeat straining if necessary. Carefully bottle and enjoy as desired with your cocktails & mocktails. And hey, consider slicing a strip of fresh rhubarb as garnish. It’ll be classy.

Strained & Bottled Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime Syrup

Holiday Projects: DIY Kahlua

Hello! I revamped this recipe for an even better version of homemade coffee liqueur last year. Check it out here!

Homemade Coffee Liqueur on Get Sconed!

 

Somehow, I found a way to grumble a wee bit while making this. Office holiday gift exchange pressure!!! The rest of my mood was all smirky, caffeinated anticipation, with the buzz of Victrola beans from my Seattle adventure, clear grain alcohol, rich vanilla paste and a little fresh clementine zest, for good measure.  I had sampled my friend Millie the mixtress’ homemade kahlua at a holiday cocktail party a couple of weeks ago, and it was totally a I have-to-make-this moment.

The internet seemed abundant with two varieties of recipes. One involved patient infusing (which is fine, because please), and the other was a matter of warming & mixing. Millie’s successful concoction followed the second route, and so did I, using the recipe posted last year on the Cupcake Project as a basis.

Serving suggestions:

 

Mint Chocolate Season is here.

It's here. Find it.

I know there’s maybe two or three people out there who don’t enjoy this dynamic flavor duo, but I cherish it. They’re both quintessential holiday flavors of chocolate candies and candy canes and hot chocolate and all that literal sweetness. Now, around this time last year, I lamented my sadness over the sudden absence of my dear Chocolate Peppermint Vitasoy from the U.S. market (You lucky Canadians! ) Obviously, you can easily make chocolate peppermint milk at home with simple ingredients (hello, cocoa powder + nondairy milk + sweetener  + peppermint extract), but I’m holding onto this seasonal convenience item purcashing.  The Westsoy Chocolate Peppermint Soy beverage is certainly rich, creamy, and lovely, but I just don’t see it as often (though Food Fight! usually has it – so check there first if you’re on the lookout in PDX). Fortunately for my fellow chocolate peppermint nondairy milk enthusiasts, there’s a new indulgence on the market: Silk Mint Chocolate. I’ve been on the lookout since a friend mentioned it on twitter a few weeks ago, and I practically twirled when I saw it on sale (okay, 2 for $5) at Whole Foods a couple of days ago. Sidenote: I know, Silk and Whole Foods are both somewhat evil for various reasons, but they both offer and do some good, too – not to mention, offering affordable vegan items. I think the whole new Silk organic line separation is utterly ridiculous, but at least the rest is non-GMO. Alas, this is a whole other discussion.

Anyway, if you’re open to buying Silk, just once, I recommend trying this – it’s so smooth and the flavor is just right! Plus, Silk’s market domination hopefully makes this easier to find and enjoy.

If you’re open to mixing these with alcohol, the amateur mixologist in me would recommend bourbon with the creamy Westsoy and vodka with the silky…Silk. Holiday party time with mint chocolate cocktails, indeed. Don’t forget the candy cane stirrer for pure class.

Keeping with this theme, check out what Sweetpea had to offer on donut day:

Fresh Chocolate Candy Cane Donut = Yes, Please. If only I hadn't knocked that cup of coffee onto it 3 bites in...

P.S. The new Trader Joe’s Chocolate Peppermint mix is totally not vegan. Look away quickly or you’ll be just as depressed as I was. Like it’s so hard to make things creamy without dairy. Lame, TJ’s! At least we still have Candy Cane Jo Jo’s…

P.P.S. Now I want everything edible in my life today to bestow this flavor combination….

I dream of Vegan Hot Toddies

Vegan Hot Toddy with Jade Green Tea, Agave Nectar, Lemon Juice, Clove and Whiskey
new 009

You can order a vegan hot toddy anywhere, subbing sugar for honey, but we all know that raises the Is this sugar vegan?‘ question, and then you’re just drinking sugary-sweetened, hot booze with lemon, sometimes with tea, which IS nice, but it’s kinda my new Portland dream to see vegan hot toddies sweetened with agave or maple all over town. Portland Vegan Spirits, are you listening?  Sweet, double entendre.

As of this past fall, I started drinking hot toddies around town.  The slow pace and sensation from this body warming beverage is just super. I spend all day drinking tea at work, so I don’t really consider it relaxing after work, but this sure is. FYI, when I’m dining out, the sugar issue doesn’t stress me out that much, and that’s my personal stance.  Years ago, it really did, and I certainly only purchase vegan sugar at home, but there’s only so much you can avoid or take in good faith.

I know the Hungry Tiger Too’s new cocktail menu features a Hot & Spicy Toddy (a mere $4!) that is available with honey or agave, anyone know of any other special vegan toddies around town?  That is, besides the ones I’ve made at home.  For the record, the HT2’s is good, just keep stirring the spices!

As for my own, I’ve taken to making them with chamomile or green tea, freshly squeezed lemon or orange, whiskey and agave.  I had a brief stint where I thought brandy was the hot toddy booze for me, but then I started feeling 90.  There are countless hot toddy recipes online, but I will mention that the addition of cloves and/or ginger is lovely.  The hot toddy pictured is made with cherry flavored whiskey.

hot toddy

This entire post is dedicated to my friend Maeve, who inspired me to vary my home tea selection for toddies.

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3 vegans, 1 hotel room

Wanted: Vegan Entrepreneur

What: To Open Vegan Boutique Hotel

Portland has the vegan population. Portland has the flow of vegan tourists. Where’s the vegan boutique hotel? Where’s the quaint vegan bed and breakfast located on super vegan friendly Alberta Street or blocks away from the vegan mini mall district?

Why: …because I’m staring at the photo below of local Go Max Go vegan candy bars in a hotel ice bucket.

3 vegans, 1 hotel room

I recently got together with two friends in Seattle for a couple days of being awesome and vegan and exchanging awesome, vegan goodies.  My friend Katie Jayne made fantastic vegan Tagalongs! Girl Scout style, without the hypocrisy.  This girl needs to open up a vegan bakery!!!!! And my Canadian vegan savior, Vijjy, brought us cartons of  Peppermint Chocolate Vitasoy. AMAZING. We also had the pictured candy bars, scheese, fancy Canadian dark chocolate and yeasted Voodoo Doughnuts.

We had a mini wine & scheese party, naturally.

vegans in a hotel room.

We didn’t have a knife and utilized the plastic corkscrew, like all crafty vegans would.

The wine was vegan, organic wine from Sidecar for Pigs Peace.

vino

Photo essay galore of vegan Seattle eats & soy lattes coming soon!

My Grand, Tear-Filled Farewell to Vitasoy’s Chocolate Peppermint Soymilk.

There was a lot of talk over the summer about the discontinuation of Vitasoy soymilks, and I really took it to heart.

It was my first ‘favorite soy milk'; I remember buying 99 cent and 4 for $5 cartons of it by the basketfuls from the tiny Central Square Whole Foods during college.  There always seemed to be a Creamy Original in my fridge, no matter what. When I moved to Portland I realized it was no longer the cheapest soymilk around, and I was cheap, so I just moved on, until I fell for the Chocolate Peppermint.  It became a vegan holiday tradition, as did stocking up on the sales afterwards.  Seriously, stocking up.

So, when two of my friends recently alerted me to 99 cent sales on Vitasoy’s holiday flavors at Grocery Outlet, I immediately thought three things:

1) HOW SOON could I get there.

2) HOLY CRAP.

3) Hold me, it must be the final close out…

Shockingly, I haven’t yet run there, but a friend did gift me with a Holly Nog and dear Peppermint Chocolate soymilk.  Have you ever heard of anything nicer?!  A mug of warmed Holly Nog before bed is just…l;ksglfdklfgh…nice.

love.

Goodbye, my friends….

My google skills aren’t bringing any hard evidence aside from rumors on discussion boards, and the company website doesn’t mutter a word about the discontinuation of all or any lines.  The best, and by best, I mean most depressing, actual word was found on the My Vitasoy Facebook, commenting that:

“Unfortunately, due to heavy competition in the US soymilk market, we’ve discontinued our Vitasoy Soymilk in the US…but they’re still in Canada….We apologize for the inconvenience….”

Deep breath.

So will next year revolve around homemade coconut soy nog and Westsoy’s (arguably even better?) Chocolate Peppermint Stick Soy Beverage?

Or a trip to Canada?

Update: Vitasoy confirmed via comment below that their Facebook remark is true, and pretty much, they give their Canadian fans a big hug.