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.

A Few Days in the Life; Last Month: The Vegan Vacation in LA

First time. Los Angeles. Vacation. Tourist Sights. Vegan Foodz.

Every time I start to tell the stories of my short vacation in Los Angeles, I start squealing about catching up with an old friend, or dramatically demonstrating how I threw out my back on the morning of the last day – so, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

The Top 5 Highlights:

1) The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

I find myself telling my friend and co-organizer on a couple different projects, Michele, “Thank You!” on an average of 3 times a week, it not daily, and this recommendation deserved a big one.  Casual vegan sushi at Taiyo and big laughs at UCB made for a fun evening.

2) Flore Cafe. A small part of me wanted to wake up and brunch outside this  cafe every day.  If only I were that cool…  Photos below. More coming.

3) Intelligentsia Cofffeebar. Located at the Silver Lake junction, the Chicago-based roaster clearly boasts great coffee (vacation = lattes), endless hipster eye candy and a shaded patio to enjoy both with their wireless, where I often planned my next stop.

4) Sunglasses and simultaneous young coconut consumption. If I had glimpsed cool kids sipping other tropical fruits walking down the street, I’m sure I would have tried that, too. I know, it happens elsewhere, but this was like 3 girls, 3 blocks.

5) Late night vegan pizza delivery. What do you do when you’ve already deemed the vegan restaurant attached to your hotel inedible and you’re beat? Thank you, Cruzer Pizza delivery!

Runner Up: Seeing people reading scripts in public. I only saw this twice, once on the subway (which was handy!) and once on the bus (again, handy and easy?!?), but it cracked me up, both times. No offense. I love television.

The Photos & Foodz

Obligatory Sight-seeing.

Necessary star power. Not the one I posed with.

Graffiti-orientated sight-seeing.

There’s always been something eerie about Mickey Mouse.

Schoolyard Graffiti!

Is this a real landmark? I don’t know. Palm trees and a dinosaur were enough for me.

Vegan-friendly Silverlake: where I didn’t go…

As much as it pains me not to visit a cafe that shares a name with one of my favorite friends, there just wasn’t enough time…

Options, options, options.

Yup.

Aforementioned pizza delivery:

Ordering was a bit odd, but quick. I’m glad I went for the “extra crispy” (Italians use quotes) crust. Not sure why that meant overcooked seitan sausage bits, but the rest was tasty — and delivered to my door! in 20-something minutes!!

Again, this one can be filed under the worst vegan food in LA &  a dumb reason to book an adjoined (but quite cheap & decent) hotel: Vegan House.

My first meal..or should I say..bites of a meal, really blew, even for $4.99 “Happy Hour” fair. The order was bland, messed up, most of the vegetables were worrisome, the ‘chicken’ was mushy, and there were multiple pieces of hair. Negativity over.

In Silverlake, but sadly, encountered closed up:

Down West Sunset Blvd:

That whole Flore brunch thing I was talking about: buckwheat pancakes, blueberry sauce, tempeh bacon.

Inside Flore:

I was terrified of how under-toasted this bread appeared – and somehow, some noochy tofu, tempeh and avocado combining way, this was a kick ass BLT – with a side of fresh fruit, to boot. Kudos, Flore.

And kudos, sprouts.

Flore Deli Case:

I had just visited a Veggie Grill days before in Irvine, and was happy to come across one again. If this is the future of mainstream veganism, we’re gonna be all right*.

*Which is, admittedly, a much longer conversation about mainstream veganism and society.

It’s so…normal. And refreshing. And fast. Throw some of these into America, STAT.

Cajun Tempeh Burger. I don’t normally find myself saying such things, but I even really liked the citrusy slaw!

Inside the V to the G

I almost bought half price tickets to see Tim Allen and grunt the night away, but somehow, I resisted…

Instead, UCB! And here’s their neighbor – a freaking conscious convenience store.

Locali

Back to Silverlake – pictured because I really liked that they advertise their guacamole like so. How inviting.

Oh look, another vegetarian restaurant. This is getting exhausting.

And another that I actually visited: Pure Luck. Sweet service and pickle chips. Boring wrap. Why talk about anything else?

Half pickles/Half fries plate

Spring Rolls. Served fresh.

Scoops = mini vegan ice cream mecca = vacant shoppe = who cares, I was coaxed into sampling every flavor (okay, 4? 5?).

Vegan selections of the day included Salted Chocolate, Pomegranate Blueberry, Coconut Mocha and Banana Oreo.

Light & Creamy Banana Oreo with some fixin’s

I clearly caught this employee shirtless ?!? and dancing in the back…Sorry!

Fairly befuddling.

If I hadn’t come across Bar Keeper on my last day of vacation, lamenting that I’d already spent too much, I would have spent even more at this kitschy cocktail supplies store.

Be still, my heart. Be still, my nose. New spices and Coconut Bali Smoked salt  won out over vintage cocktail stirrers and exotic bitters.  Not that shocking.

Inside Spice Station:

Now, this is vacationing.

And back to reality…