Photo Essay: Portland Farmers Market, Week #5

A morning well spent.

Apt title, swell visit.   A morning well spent.   Saturday’s visit to the Portland Farmers Market saw my basket full of early Albion strawberries, fresh kaffir lime leaves, purple kale, maitake mushrooms, heirloom carrots, and even more purple cauliflower during … Continue reading

Opening Day Visit: Portland Farmers Market

Fun fact: I have a purple carrot on my foot.

That may be the scene of late Saturday afternoon, but the morning offered a slightly damp yet rain-free and welcoming trip to the first Portland Farmers Market of the season. I usually have something of a dramatic countdown in place, … 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

Portlanding: Farmers Markets, Pizza & Sweet Lemon

Portlanding on Get Sconed!

Sitting at my colorful kitchen table and sorting through the past months on my flickr, it settles in that I’ve been both traveling a bunch and sticking to something of a budget while I’ve actually been home. I credit my … Continue reading

catch up: weekending with chloe’s kitchen, nacho scramble & thai

Farmers market haul: rangpurs, collard raab, kale raab, brussel raab, flat leaf parsley, red beets, baby bok choi and tulips from my girlfriend.

The weekends have been treating me well: the dawn of the Spring farmers markets and seemingly endless varieties of raab and rapini, the ever-more frequent dry days, a growing trend of old fashioned cocktail bars in Portland, new cookbooks and creative supper dates with a special someone.

I’ve been making relaxed, but focused meals from Chloe’s Kitchen, May Kaidee’s Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbook, The Sexy Vegan (more on this later), Isa’s current test kitchen, and whatever else calls out with ease.

Using a little flexibility, I give you, a sort of deconstructed nacho scramble lunch.  The spicy pickled jalapeño were picked up at the Gathering Together stand at the farmers market, and the beer is Emma Amber Ale by local brewer Captured by Porches.

Vegan Mom's scrambled tofu, Ctate's queso, chips, jalapeño & fixings.

Julia's amazing plate o'scrambled fu.

Zelda, my nacho guard cat, briefly ignoring her duties

A couple of weeks ago, giant chocolate chip cookies were featured on an episode of GRIMM, (more Silas, pls!) and I made my own bloodless versions the following day:

Chocolate chip cookies, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

On the final full day of my December travels, I attended a class at May Kaidee’s Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking School on Khao San Road.  I am so glad I did – it was a definitive, education and fulfilling way to wrap up my time in Thailand. Perhaps, one day, I’ll finish my post on the matter, but for now, I can share that  every time I open this book, I find a smile on my face and fresh curry or noodles on the table. Below, I paired a test recipe from Isa Does It with vegetable-loaded fried rice and a Thai beer from Fubonn.

Test Kitchen Pad Thai (withholding cilantro) with roasted peanuts and fresh lime, soy sauce, Srichacha and Yellow Curry Fried Rice

May Kaidee's Yellow Curry Fried Rice with red bell pepper, gai lan, green cabbage and creminis

Next up, one of the dishes I’ve been trying out from The Sexy Vegan

BBQ Tofu 'Ribs', Smokey Mac & Cheese from The Sexy Vegan. Paired with sauteed collard raab.

Slow, Sunday night dinner preparation has become a positive experience on a dwelling evening. The last meal was my first from Chloe’s Kitchen.

Local pink potatoes in an ice water bath

Julia and I have spent some time thumbing through this book, deciding what to make first. There’s a lot of cashew cream, which I must avoid these days [insert tears here], and a wonder of sweets and tempeh, seitan, vegetables and salads to start with. Last night, we went with something classic:

Drive Thru Burgers with special sauce and fixins, tasty sea salt and vinegar fries with organic ketchup, sparkling wine with sliced rangpur

I baked the wholesome burgers with coconut oil spray vs. pan-frying since I had the oven warm for the fries. They were served on bread from one of my favorite neighbors, Little T, and fixed with Chloe’s special sauce, green leaf lettuce, red onion (for her! not me!), more pickled jalapeño and sliced dill pickle.

Which brings me to the following important question: Why is it so hard to find local pickles that maintain their crunch in this city?!

Drive Thru Burger on sliced baguette

In conclusion, this has been a rare Get Sconed! update that includes actual scones.

Scones with wild blueberries (organic, frozen from Whole Foods) and chocolate chips, Vegan Brunch

Veggie Grill Weekend, Day Two: Avocados & New Menu Items

The following is a continuation of menu food porn from my recent Veggie Grill weekend. This post hereby includes upcoming Veggie Grill menu items of the ‘fork and knife’ variety (brief pondering: Do you call it ‘knife and fork?’ Or is that phrasing simply more carnivorous?), a morning visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market, strolling the Venice Beach pier, more silly photos, and further anticipation for the Beaverton opening, just over a week away. Never before have I muttered a similar sentiment for this suburb, but I like to think I returned from my December travels lighthearted, open-minded, prepared to take public transportation wherever it may go (and in any language), and certainly, craving American-style vegan cuisine.

First up, I appreciate a hotel with a chilled pitcher of soymilk, ready to go.

You know, I should have gotten my hopes up (and denied my bladder) when I passed by this publicity poster in an upstairs room. I missed out on a Dolly Parton lobby-walk-by, by mere moments.

My time visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market.

Oh, California.

I picked up two new-to-me varieties of avocado: Bacon and Zutano.

We were serenaded by a Michelle Williams look-a-like in between produce stops.

Branded iced tea shots from a Ghostbusters-style backpack. So LA?

Moving on, we made it to the West  Hollywood Veggie Grill, which I had lunched at last fall on my first visit to LA, for our second lunch tasting.

The full menu is here.

Here’s what we all came  here for, the food.

Most importantly, we started again with nachos. Most definitely, I did not complain. I may have applauded. I’m not normally one for the D-cheese, but Veggie Grill uses it as a base in their nacho sauce, and it really works.

Uptown Nachos [Daiya-based sauce]

Sweetheart Chili Cheese Fries [Daiya-based sauce]

NEW: Bayou Chickin’ Caesar Wrap

Chillin’ Chickin’ Strips, Sweetheart Fries, Ranch and Sweet & Sour for dipping

Wait a minute!

Chickin’ nuggets, Chipotle Ranch (how I dig thee) and BBQ sauce

NEW: Buffalo Chickin’ Sandwich

Fun tidbit: all sandwiches are available wrap-style or served on a bed of kale

NEW: Chicken Fried Steak Plate [Gardein] with Mashed Potato & Cauliflower (aka Caulipots! Name credit: Isa Chandra Moskowitz), Steamed Kale and Porcini Caper Gravy

NEW: The Gluten-free Urban Plate with Grilled Portobello, Grilled Tempeh, Caramelized Onions, Steamed Kale (aw, yeah!), Chipotle Ranch (yeahyeahyeah!), Tomatoes with Basil and Guacamole

NEW: Chocolate Pudding Parfait with Crushed Oreos and Sour Cream Frosting

Our Sunday tasting club: Terese from Veggie Grill, Janessa, Webly, myself and Veggie Grill ‘s “Food Man” himself, Ray.

One last look – surely, that’s a celebrity power couple clandestinely dining on the patio. It would be almost exciting as realizing Daryl Hannah was sitting behind  us the day before in a series of ridiculous pudding photos.

Farewell, Hollywood!

Hello, Venice Beach…

After a week back in rainy Portland, I admit, I missed reading on the beach.

If only there was a rum-based cocktail in a coconut available in place of $3 PBRs. Isn’t this the land of $2 buck Chuck?! The red is vegan-friendly, btw.

With that, we were on our way back to Portland -

Avocados & lemons in tow

I also had some Nicobella chocolates in my bag to sample back home.

On the downside, the mysterious Michele’s take out did not make it home with her.

More discussion coming soon to Stumptown Vegans, in addition to photos and menu tales from next week’s pre-opening event in Beaverton. Check  out their website and facebook for Portland AREA opening information. I’m out.

As for me, I’ll be in Chicago for the first time with the VVC gals this weekend (please share any tips!), and I’m focused on hushing my inner New Yorker about the idea of an authentic, deep dish pizza.

Tempeh & Strawberries

Not together. Not this time. One day, I’ll make the strawberry jalapeño sauce I’ve been simmering in my head for the past few years. Let’s call it July and grill some tempeh.

Rewind to my Portland farmers market stroll this past Saturday morning, and I was getting my farmar on.

Strawberry season beckons. BECKONS.

It took a lot of reserve to not buy a flat, as I'm leaving the country today on vacation! A pint, for sure.

I'll suffer through this sunlight business for asparagus season.

Farmers Markets haul, 4/30/2011, including locally produced, organic tempeh from Cascade Naturals.

This new stand, Cascade Naturals, will be at the Portland State farmers market the last Saturday of the month. If you dig tempeh, you need to check this out. It’s the freshest, creamiest tempeh I’ve ever tried. If you’re one of those people that prefer to boil or steam your tempeh before using – throw that out the window!

Recent creations follow.

Mini Strawberry Pancakes. Maple Syrup. Pancake recipe from Vegan Brunch. This is almost what normall people do on relaxing Sunday mornings? Tempeh scramble using you know what, bringing up the rear.

(Pre-strained) Rhubard & Rangpur Lime Syrup. Tart. Love.

You saw the glee over the strawberries above. You may know it's PPK pie testing season. This makes total sense. Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb. Vegan Pie in the Sky Test Kitchen.

recent farmar-y lunch: cornmeal, nooch, flour & herb coated smoked tempeh (from a new tempeh stand at the farmar the last weekend of the month), smoked asparagus, baby lettuce and wild rice cooked in v. chix broth. I <3 my lil stovetop smoker.

Someone picked up 2 bags of Teese sticks at Food Fight! on their inaugural day of sale. Someone is full of anticipation.

With that, I’m off duty from work and projects for a week and an hour away from my flight to British Columbia for my first Canadian vacation with some dear friends for a few days. Bon Voyage! More pies & hidden gems & seasonal produce & Vegan Iron Chef chatter (PDX tickets are on sale and flying, zomg!) when I return.

The Return of the FarMar: Rapini for All

For the love of raab! and rapini!

Does this make you want a bowl of fresh chard, or what?

Come springtime, I embrace my inner bunny rabbit and count the days till early spring raab & rapini at the Portland Farmers Market. The return of the market this past Saturday featured row after row of vendors, both returning & new, selling kimchi, the debut of Heidi Ho Organics’ vegan cheeses, Divine’s gluten and dairy free raw pies, a couple of more cutesy pie stands, local nuts, rangpur limes (whoa!), lots of greens, bright carrots, mushrooms, coffee, herbs, nettles and vegan treats galore by mainstay Blacksheep and the adorable, gluten-free friendly Petunia’s.

The earlier-the-better is my motto with market visits, but even sleeping in past 9 didn’t ruin my opening market wanderings. For all I know, I stepped in dog crap on my way out, but who cares? My fridge is full of raab!

Photos follow, starting with breakfast from Cucina Verde….

Tofu Mole Breakfast Plate from Cucina Verde – homemade tortillas, fresh veggies & mole sauce. They’re quite vegan friendly!

Cucina Verde

Heidi Ho! Sad fact: my hazelnut allergy keeps me away from their vegan cheeses, but everyone else loves ‘em, so check it out! Plus, Heidi is a super nice gal.

This stand with exotic citrus and lemons kinda blew my mind.

Like this needs an explanation.

Be still, my heart.

Where do you stand on nettles?

Raw. Vegan. Pies.

Looking for caffeine at the market? Wait in this line. Trust me.

Why yes, I did take home a peanut butter rice krispie square from Petunia’s, and it was delicious!

Grains! I usually pick up a bag here when I visit the Peoples market.

It’s becoming apparent that I wish someone would give me a bouquet of local greens…

One of seemingly 45 new pie vendors. It’s the year of the pie, people. Accept it and we can move onto donuts.

Till next week!

Corn Chowder & The Epic Vegan MoFo Survey, with photos

First up, I would say that 75% of what I’ve eaten in the past two days has been this Corn Chowder from Vegan with a Vengeance. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s a pleasant color, offers the surprise bite of rosemary (and bonus roasted garlic from my fridge), and was made with local ingredients. Sorta funny story, while at the market last weekend, I learned that I must look like a tough sell for corn, or it’s simply become passé – because the farmer selling it told me, assuredly, “This is really good corn. You’ll like it.” That may have been a bit odd, and I almost wanted to consider it a threat because that’s more exciting of a story and I had no doubt about my purchase – but he was right. It was really good corn.

And now, The Epic Vegan MoFo Survey from The Post Punk Kitchen forums:

The original is here.

What’s your favorite spice or spice blend? Saigon Cinnamon. When I first visited Penzey’s a few years ago and learned that there were different varieties, my mind was blown.

You have $20 to spend on fresh groceries and produce for the whole week (with a fairly well stocked pantry of dry goods, legumes, grains, and spices). What do you buy? I hit the farmers market with $10, Foxfire or Limbo with $6 for loose leaf tea, bake some seitan, a block of bulk tofu from the coop or Ota, and make a huge pot of soup with beans.

What’s your favorite way to make tofu? As for cooking, tofu ricotta and straight up baked with BBQ sauce have been high on my list for years.

Vegan guilty pleasure? Tator tots with Vegenaise and Sriracha.

If you could make anyone vegan, who would it be? I would say Ronald McDonald, but I really don’t want to see the insane effect of that – so I’ll go with the Obama Family and hope they’re not criticized too much for this decision.

If you could only read one other vegan blog, what would it be? http://www.theppk.com/blog/ PPK cult, represent.

Were you always interested in cooking, or did veganism change the way you saw and interacted with food? I had a light interest growing up and remember entering kids’ bake offs at the local library with sloppy layer cakes. I never won, but I liked combing my mom’s baking books and making whipped cream and chocolate chip cookies . Years later, I worked at a bakery/café in high school where I didn’t do much more in the kitchen than fill cannolis and butter rolls, but I picked up names and flavor combinations. Fortunately, though it was a rocky road, I started living on my own at the same time I was going vegan, so I had to learn how to cook.

Excluding analogues, what new things have you tried that you probably wouldn’t have as an omni? A wide assortment of vegetables – especially since moving to Portland with the year round markets. I was very much a grilled cheese-and-little-else eating vegetarian for years.

What is the one vegan staple that everyone seems to love, but you can’t get behind? I appreciate it, scientifically, and have warmed to its impressive goo – but, Daiya. I’m not on the love train.

My biggest Daiya success: Mac & Cheese

What was your first “wow, I’m such a stereotypical vegan” moment? I don’t know what the very first was – maybe living on 123s & Chreese for a year during college?, but [insert creaking voice] back in my day, we’d smuggle Follow Your Heart in insulated bags from Lifethyme in NYC via  Fung Wah bus rides back to Boston.

First recipe you veganized? Lasagna or stuffed mushrooms.

What would you like to veganize, but haven’t yet? What wouldn’t I? I’ve yet to pull together a traditional, kickass white pizza. It’ll happen.

Favorite kitchen utensil/appliance? I really like my Vita-Mix and Magic Bullet blenders.

Most disastrous kitchen failure? Sometimes I really suck at crepes and pancakes. I’m about to place an order for a new pancake pan, so hopefully, that will help. I’m great one day, and then it’s awful, and I take a year off and forget these things exist.

First vegan cookbook? My best friend from high school gave me How it All Vegan as a gift when I first went vegan. I still have it.

What question about being vegan do you HATE answering? Anything that makes me roll my eyes. For example. I went vegetarian at a young age and grew up with family members teasing me about not eating turkey. It came as a shock when an omnivore asked me what I eat for Thanksgiving a few months ago. Like, what year is this? What bizarre world do you live in? Tofu turkey jokes are so last decade (in my life). However, I answered nicely, fully knowing that I live in the Portland bubble and hang out on the vegan internet. A lot.

If you could tell the world one thing about vegans, what would it be? That maybe we’re weird to you, but we’re really just making smart, ethical, healthy, compassionate decisions (and still weird)! To quote the Food Fight! button, “Being Vegan Means I’m trying to Suck Less”.

Funniest vegetable? When eggplants grow dongs.

What is a family recipe you have veganized? My mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Casserole (warning: old blog link) and my grandma’s Italian Struffoli. Unfortunately, the veganization of the second is MIA. I don’t recall what the egg replacer was, but I recall using light agave with orange zest in place of honey.

Vegan Struffoli for a Grandma's Recipe piece in Herbivore Magazine online, 2007

Weirdest food combination? I don’t think I pair anything too crazy, but I do have a soft spot for toasted tempeh bacon, peanut butter & tart apple sandwiches.

Is there something you wish you could veganize, but can’t/couldn’t? I have a strong Italian background, and I’ve never had vegan cheesecake or sweet ricotta-filled cannoli with quite the consistency I would have enjoyed in my earlier years. I’ve had excellent vegan versions of both, but nothing that’s quite what I want, and I feel like something the creators try too hard and shouldn’t go in that direction. Those, and the simple, meringe-coated wonder that is Baked Alaska. I do feel confident that I will try an amazing vegan version of that one day. There’s been a lot of progress in the field of vegan meringue.

Favorite ways to prepare tofu, seitan, tempeh, any other vegan proteins? I like breading seitan cutlets in even more savoury bread(crumbs) and baking. My go-to way for tempeh is either tempeh bacon, or marinated, baked, and served in a bowl with grains/sauce/greens or over pasta.

This was awesome: Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh

Are your pets vegan? if so, what do you feed them? My two cats are not vegan, but one does have an obsession with leafy greens and microbrews.

case in point: I lock up all my greens now

Favorite non-dairy milk? It was almond until an allergy arose recently – therefore, I’ll go with coconut. Besides packaged and fresh coconut milk, So Delicious Coconut Beverages & Creamers are so fantastic!!

What’s one “vegan myth” you’d like to squash? That vegan food is boring. Creative vegan dishes can be so impressive and artistic! And I don’t just mean plating style – I love that exploration that can happen in a kitchen – with new flavors, fresh ingredients, etc. It’s a big reason why I’m involved with with putting on Vegan Iron Chef events and wanting to show off Portland’s local chefs!