A Day in the Life of Mercutio

Since I’m busy elsewhere during MoFo month, I asked some special friends to help out over here. Next up, a glimpse into the life of a real party animal in SW Portland…

Guest Blogger: Mercutio
Special Friend: Stephanie, Thoughts of life and dark chocolate

4:30am – I discover my food bowl is half empty (I’m a realist) so I attempt to rectify the situation by pouncing on the humans while they sleep. Extra points if I hit belly or crotch. Mother groans and hides under the covers.
4:32am – Attempt #2 at food service. I start in with my cute little “mew!” and don’t stop until somebody gets up. Usually it’s Mother who stumbles to the kitchen and scoops kibble into my bowl, cursing.
8:00am – Humans exit the house for the day, leaving me alone with HER, my nemesis Delilah. I pretend to cuddle with her while the humans are around for the sake of peace but she’s so annoying.


12:00pm – Success! Mother has left my favorite food in the garbage, wilted kale stems and bits of leaves. She never lets me have it, she thinks I can’t control myself. In my excitement I eat too much and knock the garbage over.


12:15pm – Too many green goodness, I make a mess. How do vegans control themselves when it comes to kale? It tastes like liquid gold. Like I know what gold tastes like.
5:30pm – Humans have returned, interrupting my 8 hour nap with tickles and hugs. LEAVE ME ALONE. No, NO. I do NOT want to wear the Santa hat. It’s the middle of f@$king summer!


7:00pm – The small annoying one has knocked over ANOTHER water glass. What a slob.
11:00pm – Humans retire for the night. I go to bed with them as usual and wait until they’re just about asleep, then I attempt to leave the room by scratching at the door and making a racket. Ruin MY naps, will ya?!
11:45pm – Delilah and I are wide awake and partake in a race around the apartment and over the bed. Bonus points for belly and crotch hits.
1:00am – Finally, humans are asleep and Delilah has scurried herself to other mischief. Time to enjoy my favorite nightcap.

What a day!

Vegan Food Reviews by Agnes

Since I’m busy elsewhere during MoFo month, I asked some special friends to help out over here. First up, a contribution from my goddaughter, who’s on her way to becoming a wonderful little vegan food critic…

Sometimes I like to help in the kitchen.

Guest Blogger: Agnes
Special Friend: Alanna Maeve, Heartichoke Supper Club

I’m not vegan, but like many Portlanders, I do enjoy vegan foods. In
fact, I was born in the home of the proprietors of a vegan-friendly
taco truck. I’ve never actually eaten a taco, but I feel like I would
really like it.

I thought I would review a few vegan foods for you today. While I
mostly eat fish (that’s at least vegetarian, right?), these foods add
some fun to my diet. Sometimes eating them  also makes my roommate
yell at me which is fun too.

Nutritional yeast

I love this shit. I get all excited when my roommate gets it out to
make mac and cheese or whatever and try to act cute so she gives me
some. Then she curses my name when she realizes she doesn’t have
enough left over for her recipe. One thing I don’t like is how my
roommate tries to trick me with it sometimes. If food has been in my
dish for more than a few hours (which happens a lot, I really try to
eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full like I read in Eat to
Live), I’m obviously not going to eat it—it’s totally stale. I have
standards, after all. But sometimes my roommate puts nutritional yeast
on that totally stale food to get me to eat it. It worked the first
few times, but I’m smarter than that now. Now I just lick it off and
ask for new fresh food over and over and over again until she finally
relents.

Hummus

This is possibly my second favorite food. Apparently it has garlic in
it and cats aren’t supposed to eat garlic so my roommate really tries
to keep it away from me, but I really don’t care. That shit is
delicious.

Hanging out with my roommate.

Dave’s Killer Bread

Bread is the BEST FOOD. It is SO GOOD. Dave’s Killer Bread is the best
bread, but really I’ll eat anything. It’s ok if the bread is wrapped
in a plastic bag—I might not have thumbs to open the bag like a human,
but I have really sharp teeth so I can just chew right through and
help myself to a slice. My roommate yells at me and asks me, what’s
the point of buying hugely expensive grain-free food when I’m just
going to eat an entire slice of bread? But she’s a total hypocrite
because she eats carbs all the time. Like yesterday she had two pieces
of cake. SO STOP JUDGING ME!

Vegan cheese

Once I tried a bite of Follow Your Heart mozzarella. I thought it was
real cheese, because I used to have this roommate who wasn’t vegan and
gave me way better snacks then I get now. (Sometimes she gave me
chunks of fish, it was awesome! Sorry, I know this is a vegan blog.)
This stuff does not taste like real cheese. I ate it off the kitchen
table and then I threw it back up right there. Not recommended.

Sleeping off a hangover.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you find these reviews helpful! My
roommate wanted me to add that I also enjoy eating my own hair off the
carpet, old coffee grounds (apparently cats aren’t supposed to have
caffeine either, who knew?), cardboard and dirt, but I don’t know what
she’s trying to say.

The Will of the MoFo Monster

The official sign up for the fifth annual Vegan Month of Food writing began last week, and it nearly pains me to admit that I will not be updating daily, nor attempting to, on this here blog. With the break of tradition comes something new (and a tad bit easier), I’ll be one of at least three bloggers, if not more (hint, hint) updating on the Vida Vegan blog. Janessa, Michele and myself will be blogging daily about whatever crosses our vegan paths or pops into our minds. Whatever.
I definitely enjoy that this collective loophole beckons creativity and randomness, and this Vida plan is giving me the warm and fuzzies, as usual. Thematically, I was torn between the loose idea of simply trying or creating new dishes, restaurant recreations, cooking lessons from my cats, imaginary dinner dates with fictional characters, and happy hour pairings, both from my kitchen and beyond, so now I can attempt everything, in addition to what I’m deeming our un-official theme, the VVC Cocktail Lounge.
I’m currently de-stressing after some business travel and the glorious weekend that was Vegfest, but I will have something sporadic and special in store for Get Sconed! next month, in addition to obsessively reading the RSS feed and rounding up over here. Oh, yes. Oh, meow. And more on VegFest, for sure.

Our VegFest guard at the Vegan Iron Chef table knows the secret plan. Oh, grrwooreowruffooooo.

Tis the Tofurkey Day MoFo: Kabocha Squash Pot Pie, Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie & Dinner with Friends

I may not really celebrate the holidays, but I do celebrate proudly made from scratch dishes, friends, wine, and the warm wonder that is a multi-course, cruelty-free thanksgiving dinner with said friends in a city we’ve made our home. Aww.

Commence warm and fuzzies and vegan food with part of the spread:

My contributions to the dinner were pies of both sweet and savoury varieties. This marked the production of my first-ever pot pie, so it’s time for a photo pictorial to capture my stirring hand’s excitement.

Sautéing the diced green beans, carrots, mushrooms, potato, baked tofu, and spices.

The savoury was a Smokey Kabocha Squash & Baked Tofu Pot Pie inspired by Karen from the Vegan Conversion Challenge’s recent Kabocha Pot Pie. She’s doing a month of chili-dominated dishes for VeganMoFo, and as soon as I saw her adorable baked-in-the-squash, smokey pot pies, I wanted to try them. Fatefully tying this plan together, I had roasted freaking kabocha squash the night before, so the question became – do I buy more squash (on the day before thanksgiving) or do I reach for a little more adventure? I chose the latter, following Karen’s recipe as closely as possible. There was no time for finding Soy Curls or big tvp chunks,  so I decided to bake tofu cubes in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic, and herbs. As for squash, it seems to get saucey in Karen’s, so I figured simply adding chunks of roasted squash into the mix with the broth would work for my take. A squashy gravy, if you will. I went light on the chili peppers, and ended up adding quite a bit more of smoked paprika and hot cayenne before baking.

Things take a turn for the saucey and squashy:

Dished into a pie plate and ready for some puff pastry action.

The finished dish, with its learning-as-we-go puff pastry weave, from my camera phone:

Enough of my silly tales of pot pie production – Chelsea’s famous Gluten Roast, stuffing & itty bitty, adorable potatoes follows:

Knowing this would be there just may have pushed me out of the house.

Damn good pumpkin pie and damn fine pecan pie:

My friend veganized John Edwards’ secret family recipe for us and I’m still thinking about it:

Sweet, sweet pumpkin cheesecake!!

My second contribution – half of a vision come to life – Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie.

Take Bryanna’s classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, sub coconut milk for the soy, and add a ton of powdered cardamom and star anise along with the usual suspects. If there was Thai tea in my cabinets, it would have been involved.  And one excuse short of my vision, I had just missed the stores closing on my way to dinner, or there would have been coconut flakes (or, in retrospect, dollops of coconut whipped cream) with the straws.

Note: I did not make people drink out of them.

mini pizzas & teese & holiday confessions

I was recently afflicted with the pizza bug. It’s been the coldest and driest November I’ve ever witnessed in Portland, and it usually seems much more rational to use the oven over the heater. You get a warm dinner and a warmer abode. Win Win.

Whole wheat crust (Trader Joe’s), homemade marinara, mozzarella teese, sun-dried tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, jalapeño peppers.

I’m always impressed at how well teese holds up upon re-heating.

Variety time!

Whole wheat crust, roasted orange pepper and white bean spread, steamed greens, strips of more roasted orange pepper, and halved  kalamata olives.

As for my holiday time, pizza making confession, it’s totally not the store-bought dough – it’s the music. The first evening of pizza baking marked the first day of the season I welcomed the easy listening christmas music station back into my life. Every night. I can’t help it. I can be pretty damn humbug, but hear Linda Ronstadt wishing me a Merry Little Christmas and go weak with nostalgia. I start cutting out snowflakes and wishing for the marshmallow winter song and Band Aid to come on next and then start picturing my grandfather singing along with Bing Crosby. I may have even put up a fucking holiday tree under the guise that it’s for a shindig. And quite frankly, if I had wine, and mulled wine went with pizza, it would have been on my stove.

The Tofurkey Day Countdown

Being a vegan in Portland, Tofurkey day is approaching and I’m naturally weighing the options of at least 12 vegan potlucks or take out from Bay Leaf or Sweetpea (omg, the dinner rolls!!). I went to 2 potlucks over the weekend as it is, and that’s normal! Now, being a creepy cat lady hermit without family in the state, I’m also highly considering taking the day off from sage and pumpkin, making Ethiopian style greens, and watching Charlie Brown on repeat. Maybe. I may make an exception for pumpkin hot toddies. Perhaps.

All this potential busy-ness or personal time over the holiday weekend doesn’t mean that I’m not totally entranced by all the seasonal menu planning around me, via blog posts and holiday specials at the grocery store and farmers markets, etc.

With that, here are some things that have caught my eye recently.

Thanksgiving Day Ideas I’d like you to make for me:

Ye Olde Get Sconed! Thanksgiving-related porn follows, featuring quite a sweet potato pie casseroles, more pies, mac & cheeze, rolls, and an apple cider, garlic & herb marinated tofurkey, among other classics:

And if you’re dishes rule, don’t forget to take a picture and send your photos to Vegansaurus!

And please, share!

Anatomy of a Grocery Trip: The New Kruger’s Farm Market

I was mortified a couple weeks ago when it appeared that Uncle Paul’s produce market on SE Hawthorne had suddenly closed up shop. I quickly learned that it was true, they’re sticking to wholesale, but that Kruger’s Farm of Sauvie Island would be opening up a market. Sure enough, they opened last weekend, and being a curious enthusiast of produce within walking distance of my abode, I went to check it out. It’s pretty similar to Uncle Paul’s – it’s the same open building with a good deal of local produce, some organic, hella (wicked? mad? way?) cheap citrus, tomatoes (see you next summer!) and mounds of local squash, with two big differences: Ryan’s apple cider and a lot more walking room.

And now, a throw back to long ago days with an Anatomy of a Grocery Trip:

  • Honeycrisp apples – I never buy these trendy “perfect” apples because they kinda freak me out, but they were under $1/lb!
  • Lemons – 5 for $1. One can never have too much fresh citrus around.
  • Lime – ditto
  • Avocado – Their baby avocados were rock hard, but 4 for $1, so…let’s be patient.
  • Orange bell peppers – I know, I know. It’s not local, but I’d rather buy bell peppers now and then to roast instead of crying all the time. It’s not like I bought flavorless tomatoes!
  • Satsumas – Like you need an explanation.
  • Ryan’s Apple Cider – straight outta Hood River, super fresh – and $3.50 for a half gallon.

DIY Apple Liquor: The Halfway Point

It’s been over a month and it’s nearly noon, so here’s the mid-process photo report on my homemade McIntosh apple liquor:

It smells amazing and I already wish I was making more! The method is based off of this recipe from The Savvy Homemaker (but really, most recipes are online are the same), which involves a whole lot of vodka, brandy, waiting and aging.

See you on the flip-side.

The Start: Apple Fest and Apple-tastic Inspiration 10/18/2010

Keeping up with the VeganMoFo: A Return to Homegrown Smoker

You’ve gotta hand it to Homegrown Smoker. They’ve come a long way since opening on NE Alberta in the summer of 2009. They’ve built a snazzy enclosed cart, have moved SW near PSU, and hearing their daily specials announced on the internet, or even pictured, has become….. epic.

Recently, there’s been the Portoritto with smoked soy curls and sliced portobellos, the ChiliCheeseFryrrito - just imagine what’s in there, the FU Jerk with jerked tofu, the Filet O’Fu with breaded oceanic tofu and remoulade sauce, the freakin’ Clamwich – and on, and on – and then there’s the regular menu, with their famous MacNoCheese, Tempeh Melts, vegetable sides, Coconut Battered Oreos and various smokey proteins smothered in smokey Maple Bourbon BBQ sauce.

That being said, is there anything Homegrown Smoker would smoke and sauce that you wouldn’t want to try? And do they offer adult bibs (or fancy handkerchiefs) with their logo yet?!?

Alright, sometimes things overwhelm even me – I wasn’t quite badass enough for yesterday’s special – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support my crazier friends with their intense, nearly unbelievable burritos, my camera, and a stack of recycled napkins.

The SW 4th & College cart pod: home of Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ (mere blocks from the home of Vida Vegan Con in August!)


I swear Jared was also smiling the moment before this happened.

Holy, shit. Screw being caught in a downpour on my way here – because, I swear, this was the best version of their MacNoCheese yet – and the Smoked Shroom burger was sheer awesome.

Some of my favorite vegan food continues to be downtown lunch options in Portland. So, have you got your HoGroSmo on yet?

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!