Year in Review: Twentysomething Really, Really Great Vegan Eats of 2014

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So, I ate a hot dog last year. Continue reading

Hump Day: Weekend Birthday Cake, Drinks & Dinner at Departure

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VeganMoFo Day Eleven > Looking back on Days Six & Seven with a coconut layer cake, dinner at Departure and my 31st birthday celebration stuff. Continue reading

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day: Book Giveaway & Blog Tour of Wonder!

Oh, hello.

THE GRAND ENTRANCE… BLOG TOUR!  This post is a whole trio of firsts: my first time breading with cornflakes, my first blog tour, and shockingly, my first cookbook giveaway. Who saw that happening?!  Well, it’s all in honor of an enthusiastic, satisfying and beautifully photographed … Continue reading

Keep It Going: 100 Days Homemade Part VII, Days 66-79

Day Seventy-Nine: chocolate chip cookie pretzel bars

Today’s update into the 100 Days Homemade project includes plunging into the Vegan Sandwiches cookbook, a presentation at a senior center on incorporating vegan proteins with NW-style and flavor, cooking with my BFF in Victoria, stepping into the Artisan Vegan … Continue reading

Baja Tempeh Tacos WITHOUT CILANTRO

Baja Tempeh from Veganomicon, romaine, mango & avocado tossed with fresh lime juice, refried black beans with jalapeño, vegan queso & handmade flour tortillas from La Palapa. Propped up by mini avocados and paired with a guava & fresh mango mimosa.

This requires a deep breath to mutter, but sometimes I wish I was a fan of cilantro. I wish I didn’t have to dramatically avoid it. Why wouldn’t I want to a) stop the name-calling and pitying eye rolling from its devotees and b) live as a fan of this vibrant green herb that’s essential to Mexican, Indian, Korean, Thai cuisine and more? Alas, I’m a hater. Yeah, yeah, I can handle it meddled into jarred salsas and curries, I guess, but sprinkle on the fresh stuff and I can’t eat my food. My mouth will not open and I will start gagging if it unknowingly comes remotely close to my nose or mouth.

To clarify: it doesn’t taste like soap, it tastes like shit. I’ll pick it off my food if I must, but I would prefer to pass, or run, in the opposite direction. I can quickly think of two recent  “no cilantro, please” examples where, sure enough, my order came with cilantro and I was physically unable to continue with my meal. There’s a certain food cart I’ve taken a leave of absence from. Very recently, I picked sporadic crisps of cilantro off a slice of pizza and it was a tough go.  Generous doses of sriracha and hunger helped.  My cilantro-loving dinner companions luck out. I clearly didn’t eat much Mexican food (with the non-exception of boring bean, cheese and lettuce tacos from the bell) growing up, because I wasn’t fully aware of this hatred until my move to Portland in 2004 and introduction to West Coast burritos. What’s this new herb I’m trying? – Oh wait, I DESPISE IT.

In my own cooking, I substitute a whole lot of fresh basil – especially Thai basil in Southeast Asian dishes, shiso, mint and oregano leaves. And if I must (more freely in recent years of culinary sanity), dried coriander. I’m not going to put some crazy hope into the growth of my taste buds or building up a tolerance when I’m Thailand later this year or going to make up stories about my evolution as a so-called super-taster – who knows! What I do know is that it is possible to enjoy fresh tacos without the dreaded c herb – you simply need fresh ingredients and a little something special, like mango. Which yeah, would probably be even ‘better’ with cilantro, but that’s (perhaps) you, and not me. Even when, ironically, there is a leftover bundle of said herb in my fridge, courtesy of my dear house guests. Little did my friend know that this plant was my enemy and by bringing it forth into my house, a look of fear would take over my normally smiling face. The things we learned at our reunion!

What I’m saying is, it’s such an ON/OFF switch ingredient, and I wish it was labelled more often. I’m looking at you, cilantro pesto.

Just sayin’

A Brunch in the Life: Tempeh Benedict with Butternut Hollandaise

It’s not very often that I find myself making brunch anymore. It’s a little sad, but I’m usually heading here or there and grabbing coffee on the way, or meeting friends for brunch at Tube or Hungry Tiger Too, knowing my routine. This weekend, however, was practically a countdown to when I could break out the butternut hollandaise again.  I had made it earlier in the week to pair with pecan breaded tofu, and yesterday became the official day to re-acquaint myself with a vegan Benedict. It was everything I was aiming for, which incorporated Diner Tempeh Patties from American Vegan Kitchen into the rest of the elements of a Tofu Benedict ala Vegan Brunch.

As for the Butternut Hollandaise, 1/2 cup of roasted butternut squash and 1/2 head of roasted garlic were added into the saucepan before it was pureed and warmed once more. The complete Benedict plate has a toasted multi-grain English muffin, diner-style homefries, sliced tomato sprinkled with Alder smoked salt, a baked tempeh patty, hollandaise, and a side of straight up roasted broccoli.

Late in the season tomatoes and peppers from the Saturday farmers market:

I’ll miss them so. Onto a winter of roasted red peppers, which brings us back to the Saturday farmers market in Portland on a very nice day come fall & winter…

A Lunch in the life: Cafe Yumm & Library Books

On my walk back from Cafe Yumm yesterday, I had the grand realization that it was the best thing to happen to my lunch hour in quite some time.

That’s an ambitious statement, and it’s taken a few visits to get into the swing of things, so insert the following qualifying factors:

  • Easily transportable – particularly, the self-contained bowls
  • Super duper quick, for there or to go – VEGAN FAST FOOD.
  • Specifically handy when the farmers markets are closed in the colder months
  • Location: it’s in walking distance to my office and alongside PSU
  • Right on the MAX Green Line
  • Rather nutritious offerings
  • There’s sometimes extra avocado offered for vegans – Yay! (often the same at The Whole Bowl – Is it standard? Random? Often forgotten? I don’t know).

Three silly things I don’t like:

  • The diced tomatoes are consistently bland and blah.
  • Chewy tofu: stick to the tempeh! I don’t think I’ve ever specifically avoided tofu somewhere before.
  • All the college students: totally silly, selfish annoyance.  I left Boston for a reason.

Tempeh Skewer Bento with Ginger Asian Slaw, Jasmine Rice and Yumm Sauce (and Tapatio, of course)

I’m also become a fan of the Yumm! N Greens, Jazzy Bowl and Edamame Bowl.

After lunch, I stopped by the Central Library to pick up my hold (full disclosure: I’m giving the first season of Fringe another shot) and browse the cookbook section. I was there for French cuisine, but the vegetarian/vegan section never fails to catch my interest:

The full section:

Not sure if you want to buy a book? Check it out! Check. It. Out.

And if you want more vegan food by PSU, check out Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ!!!

A Day in the Life: Paradox Memories

Last night, I met my friends for a productive dinner at Paradox Cafe. A few years ago, Paradox seemed to be hands down, the restaurant I visited the most in Portland. I lived in the Sunnyside neighborhood and was there regularly, often deciding between corn and 4-grain pancakes or rice and roasted potatoes on the old early bird list.

It’s amusing to look back on, and to have ever complained about, but it was one of the few places an old boyfriend of mine would ever dine at.  I ordered a whole lot of those pancakes and would anticipating the changing of the seasonal decor and menu. On the bright side, dining at Paradox so often let me actually make my way through the menu. There are so many memories of brunches with old friends in the blue booths, casual dinners, and for some reason – I’m blaming a self-imposed fad in my early 20s?!? – drinking cups and cups of decaf coffee with a little pitcher of soymilk.

Our charming waitress sorta poses for a photo

These days, I don’t go as often as I’d like, maybe a few times a year – it’s Portland and I live in a different neighborhood –  yet, I’ve gladly dined there twice in the past week. First, it was to reacquaint myself with a classic Portland breakfast (for dinner, even better) for Breakfast in Bridgetown, and the other was last night.

 

One of my favorite friends was working (who should comment if they want to be outed!) and I have to say, it seems like new management has brought changes for the even-better in the past year or so.  For starters, “nooch” was on the specials board last week, and the menu looks more versatile – both in selections and pricing.  They’ve added Field Roast sausages, more tempeh, and still have those great pancakes. I should really visit more often…

Paradox Tempeh Scramble - my tastebuds are still sick with the rest of me, so I figured lots of straight-up vegetables was a good move.