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
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
Back in the mid-2000s, I was a brand new Portlander, fresh into my early twenties, with my first black raincoat and a real job, working downtown, to boot. I was vegan, but still learning to cook, so rarely packing lunch, … Continue reading
Ah, 100 Days. I miss you already, on this little Chicago VeganMania suspension & adventure. I miss my kitchen so much when I travel – especially when my luck seems to fail with menu ordering more often than not in the Windy … Continue reading
Oh my, I have entered into the big 3-0 birthday week, and what doesn’t that have one thinking about? I did get a stunning set of fancy French skillets from my younger sister as an early gift, which of course, … Continue reading
Now mere days away from my half-way point of 100 Days Homemade, some realizations have become glaringly obvious:
- Mixology matters.
- My girlfriend really likes soup.
- Life is possible without a microwave.
- One can incorporate a LOT of lentils into their life.
- There is a seemingly never-ending supply of rice in my apartment.
- With a bigger focus on budgeting, I’ve lost a lot of my normal excitement for dining out.
- Equally worth note: my apartment surprisingly has a cooling unit while many Portland restaurants do not.
- I’m having a grand old-time and looking forward to VeganMoFo with a renewed, thematically-inclined enthusiasm.
With that, a look back, and a new-found appreciation for lentil soup.
Life’s been about black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, more lentils, and berries.
Most summers, I try to make it berry picking on Sauvie Island at least once. Yes, it’s local, fresh and fun (and tasty), but most importantly, I’m telling you – it’s a therapeutic experience. This time, we were able to pick raspberries and blackberries, in addition to buying early blueberries from the farm, and I have three things in mind: 1) pie 2) pancakes and 3) liquor. That was possibly in order of importance.
Next up, a duo.
The Bún had pan-fried lemongrass tofu, carrots and broccolini with sliced cucumber, cold vermicelli noodles and Thai basil. The peanut sauce, an Isa Does It tester, has been making an appearance in many meals lately. For me, a bún is one of those dishes that you kick yourself for forgetting about making for months and months. This was also my very first time making hot & sour soup, and I never realized it was SO EASY and that I had access to non-canned bamboo shoots. Thank you, Fubonn.
J. Legume is trying to get her Veggie Grillhabit down to no more than once a week. I can’t say I’m helping. I can say that I’ve found that subbing tempeh for chickin’ in burgers is my new favorite order.
Speaking of my lovely girlfriend…
Finally, we return to the important business of homemade liquors.
In many traditional recipes, the sugar soaks through the fruit for 24 hours, the liquid is added, and you have two months to plan your cocktail party. All the fruit used above, with the exception of the lemongrass and cranberries (to add a tart element when not using sour cherries), is from my local farmers markets. Lemongrass can be found occasionally, but not any regular or reliable basis. Lemongrass in my fridge is another story.
I crave Chiang Mai’s famous dish on a regular basis. This was the first time I’d attempted to recreate it – barring some changes – since I’d spent some time in Thailand over the winter. This was also the first time I’ve made it with wheat noodles vs. the rice noodles that are subbed for vegans. I’ve decided that I do prefer the silky rice noodles – which Pok Pok also does in town, but it comes no where close to the memory of Aum’s mushroom broth version. Sigh.
The photo of the beet burger below makes me so damn relieved that I finally chose a new camera.
And then, this happened:
This pizza was possibly the best part of 100 Days so far.
51 days remain! A new camera has arrived! Pickles are trending!
Much to my delight, life has calmed and evolved in the past few weeks. These are some photos and dishes I created while life was not so calm. With this oh so welcome change, expect more updates in my internet-verse. Time is mine once more, and every damn day belongs to farmers markets and projects.
Yeah, I’m loving the charming new tablecloth J. Legume picked up.
It takes a lot for a cookbook to truly hold my attention, and the stories and recipes, in addition to the soundtrack, of Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen did just that. This past January, his latest, The Inspired Vegan was released, and I’ve been captivated. The words, the quotes, the instructions and meal components, were just that, inspired. I immediately placed a hold at my library upon its release, and after two weeks and multiple recipes on my table, I purchased my own copy.
Bryant Terry is simultaneously an activist for food justice within the culinary world – and beyond, as he is an author, chef, and parent, taking a lot of inspiration for his books from his daughter’s birth.
The human connection and understanding of what we put into our mouths, and how, and with whom, is fascinating. I may not have a space to garden of my own, but I’m anxiously awaiting my first Portland farmers market visit of the season this weekend, and returning home with a notion of that evening’s dinner unfolding in my head.
Sunday night’s dinner from The Inspired Vegan brought the following to the table:
- Meyer Sipping Gingerly cocktails with local New Deal Vodka
- Cayenne simple syrup
- Roasted chili oil – simple, yet sensational flavor
- Tofu in roasted chili oil with peanuts
- Garlic braised gai lan
- Red* beans with thick gravy and roasted garlic
A couple of weeks ago, I took my first leap into the book for a dinner party. My guests, some dear friends, have a variety of dining habits, and every dish included was eaten by all.
On the table for this dinner:
- Wet jollof rice with garlic parsley paste – a vibrant, perfect accompaniment
- Funmilayo fritters [baked with coconut oil spray] with harissa – I find myself starting to praise another accompaniment, so, you get my drift. It wouldn’t stop.
- Bright-black fingerling* potatoes
- Chipotle & blood orange ketchup [adapted from the plum ketchup]
- Gingered sesame brittle [I couldn’t find my candy thermometer and over-caramelized, but the final product remained intriguing]
- fresh thyme
- Moskarella #1 & rice crackers, a bonus from Isa’s test kitchen
- in addition: cherry vanilla sodas with fresh blood orange and local Burnside Bourbon
*I subbed Yukon Gold potatoes
In short, if you’re appreciate of creative, plant-based cuisine, pick this up.
Last night, I realized something. If I’m going to be making ramen stock from scartch, I need to get some sweet ramen bowls. These simply will not do.
I went on a grocery field trip with some friends to H Mart in Tigard yesterday, and for the sake of bowls, spoons, and even more ingredients, a follow up to dear Fubonn, for convenience’s sake, is already in order. It was my first time visiting H Mart, a Korean supermarket that spells it out with a banner for the clueless stating “ASIAN SUPERMARKET” underneath its logo, and I stocked up on the following:
Once the fresh* (and vegan, for once!) noodles were in my hand, I decided on ramen for dinner. My girlfriend and I have been digging the ramen in vegan miso broth at Wafu, and I felt like I could tackle something similar at home, using this recipe as a base.The final result was appropriately cloudy with a hint of spice, plenty of flavour and there’s a generous portion of broth remaining for mid-week noodles. Bring it on.
Mushroom Miso Ramen…
For the mushroom miso broth, I sautéed one chopped stalk of lemongrass, 5 cloves of roughly minced garlic, half of a diced Korean chili pepper and sliced, fresh galangal (thank you, month in Thailand) in a mixture of peanut and black sesame oils about 3-5 minutes. Next up, I added freshly ground black pepper, a handful of wild dried mushrooms – a mix of 7 or 8 local varieties I picked up from the Peoples Coop farmers market – quickly sautéed until aromatic, added a splash of dry sherry, whisked in 3 tablespoons of Korean soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of miso (half yellow, half white), 1 tablespoon of vegetarian fish sauce, a bit of vegetable bullion paste, 6 cups of water, and brought to a boil. I then lowered the heat, covered, let simmer for 30 minutes, and finally, after straining, it was ready for noodlin’.
Along with the briefly cooked fresh wheat noodles, we had fresh (and I mean glorifyingly fresh) cubes of firm tofu, seared on two sides with a splash of soy sauce, just-as-seared cremini mushrooms, even-more-seared choy, and the other half of the long Korean chili pepper for extra heat. I did not anticipate the heat this green pepper would deliver, and I’m glad I licked my finger before adding it to the stock!
*granted, they were fresh in a package, so, fresh-ish.
We all learned that it’s the perfect fare for that slightly belated day you watch Groundhog Day on repeat. The trio of greens, cheesy sauce and diced tomato truly bring that element of class to the presentation. The bacon seitan was a combination of these two recipes. I’ve got the slightly spicy and smokey flavor where I want it, but I’m not quite there with the red layer yet. Crispy bits, however, did their job above.
Brunchos…another tator tot revolution.
In other awesome developments, last night’s post we-didn’t-watch-the-superbowl-celebration included Stellas with Julia and a baked version of Joni’s Tofallo wings, served with baby carrots, celery sticks and Spiral Diner Ranch for dipping. I added fine breadcrumbs, cayenne and garlic powder into the breading, baked at 400F for 20 minutes, flipped, and baked another 18 minutes at 425F, with decent spray oil canola action.