Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cooking for a Family of Omnivores:

My last Vegan MoFo Post! Tomorrow I rest.

We went to Colorado to celebrate Thanksgiving with Marya's family. As mentioned in previous posts, they aren't vegan, but they're very considerate omnivores and are willing to try our food and often branch out in their own cooking.

Because they recently tried cooking tempeh at home and absolutely hated it, we volunteered to cook a tempeh dish for them they could...tolerate - to prove that they must have gotten a bad batch of the stuff from the local grocery. So after preparing several tempeh dishes at home to decide which they'd like best, we settled on this Maple Grilled Tempeh triangles recipe. We've been trying to cook with more tempeh these days, as it's among the best ways to eat soy. Do we love it? When Marya's mother asked if we like it, we looked at each other and said practically in unison, "It's alright."

So Marya prepared the marinade, boiled the tempeh, marinated it for 20-some hours, then grilled it. This was the best batch of this recipe ever, having thoroughly absorbed all the marinade.
Incidentally, I ate that crumb on the top of the tempeh in this picture, and think it might have been the match used to light the grill.

So, despite the expression on Marya's sister's face in this picture, the tempeh was received warmly.
I haven't met anyone who feels tempeh is the greatest food in the world, but prepared well, it can be delightful.

Next, I prepared the raw scramble from Ani Phyo's "Ani's Raw Kitchen". I had the recipe committed to memory. Of course, raw food is somewhat an oddity among many vegans. Was I insane to think omnivores would like it?
The 2 and 5 year old were too afraid of the stuff to get it anywhere near their mouths. Come to think of it, they cried when they saw it in on the table in front of them. Everyone else liked it. Made of mostly almonds and sunflower seeds, it is quite filling. We had plenty of leftovers, and they're looking forward to eating it for breakfast over the next few days. No guarantees, though, that they won't microwave it.

As we explore new food options, it's fun to share them with family, at least those willing to give it a shot. Even if we must endure the slings and arrows of outrageous facial gestures before they tell us, "It's pretty good!" And we surely wouldn't have made them these dishes if this were their first experience with vegan food.

And this is what happens when a 5 year old gets ahold of your camera:

Thanks to all the Vegan MoFo readers who've stopped by, and to those who have subscribed! Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food blogger extraveganza)is a great way to get all the bloggers around the world talking. Please check back for updates - next week we'll be in Miami, and next May we'll be in Southeast Asia.
'Til the whole world is vegan,
Your pal,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ft. Collins, Colorado: Tasty Harmony and New Belgium Brewing!

Note: Please click on the image to view full-size

Had a great day this past weekend with the...[I'll call them] in-laws in Ft. Collins, Colorado. First, we took a tour of New Belgium Brewing Company's plant, including very many samples of their beer. Then we had a lovely dinner at Tasty Harmony.

First, the vegan related stuff:

This isn't the first blog post I've written about Tasty Harmony, but since we tried all new dishes this trip, it's worth revisiting. I really like this place. I have my favorite places identified in New York City, DC, Munich, and Milwaukee, and Tasty Harmony is my favorite place in the Loveland/Ft. Collins area of Colorado.

They use all fair-trade coffees and teas, and chocolate, which scores big points with me. They have many raw dishes, and make just about everything they serve on premises. Plus the place has a really nice feel to it. Truth be told, our large group had to sit in a much less cozy side room where the kitchen was.

There were 8 of us. The two kids in the pack got peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (not pictured). The family shared a plate of Tasty Harmony's Nachos de Ynez, with black beans, cashew cheese, guacamole, vegan (of course) sour cream, and salsa. We paid the extra $2.50 for added Mexican jackfruit. On my last visit, I didn't get to taste their house made hot sauce, but got to try it this time.
Pic on the right is the soup of the day, Creamy Broccoli, which was just right.

A few of us tried the raw dishes. Marya tried the Roy G. Biv's Taco Extravaganza - the raw tacos wrapped in cabbage leaves with what they call "rawfried beans" on the side. I sampled both and they were delcious.
I had the raw cheesburger, made of seeds and nuts, almond/brazil nut cheese, and house made ketchup on raw bread. Came with their raw version of onion rings - dehydrated bread-like onion triangles. I'll be honest and say the burger itself did not floor me, but the cheese was tasty and I liked the onion triangles.

Another raw dish, the Living Falafel and Hummus Wrap. Falafal is made of sprouted almond and walnuts (guessing only the almonds were sprouted), sprouted hummus, loads of sprouts, served in a large collard leaf. Lots of sprouts all 'round, and though I didn't sample it, just bet it was delicious.
And on to the cooked food. Pictured above are the Seitan Kabobs, made with marinated seitan, served with Lebanese millet and quinoa. If I wasn't in such an adventurous mood to try something raw, I would have gone for this. Doesn't that look lovely?

Someone ordered the Bigboy Burger - charbroiled patty with Thousand Island and mustard. Honestly not sure what it's made of, and didn't taste it. Looked great, though. As with most of the dishes served this evening, I felt it rude to ask for a sample of everyone's dish. It was bad enough I had to ask that they pause long enough for me to photograph everything.
To the right is the Royal Hawaiian, a teriyaki stir fry mix of cabbage, carrots, zucchini, peppers, pineapple, and red onion, sauteed in coconut oil, topped with mung bean sprouts, and served on brown rice, plus the $2.00 extra for the tofu. Again, wanted to try some raw food this evening, but very nearly ordered this myself. The person who ordered this, a serious omnivore, loved it. "Very very good", he reported.

And for dessert, we shared the raw coconut cream pie (yes, a repeat from last time), oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and chocolate pie.

Next, a bit about our tour of New Belgium:

I've been on my share of brewery and winery tours, and have gotten to the point where I quietly say to myself "Just give me the hooch, already." But I found the New Belgium tour quite enlightening.

According to their website, they've got 30 beers they produce. Of course, much of it is seasonal, so they're not doing all of them year 'round. As you can see, they've got quite a huge production (a building at least 2 acres large dedicated just to bottling).
They are the 3rd largest craft beer manufacturer in the US, and they are an employee owned company. They've vowed to never sell out to a larger manufacturer as I've seen so many smaller craft breweries do.

I should point out that, according to Barnivore, New Belgium's beers are vegan.

As Chris O'Brien's book "Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World" points out, beer manufacturers, even the big ones, are great about energy and resource conservation. New Belgium seems to take it further. They power the plant by purchasing wind credits and they have arrays of solar panels on their roof. They have an interactive display in the works that will show how much energy they're consuming and how much they're putting back on the grid.
After a year of employment, employees are given a bicycle to encourage them to ride it to work, or just to ride around their house for simple chores, rather than hopping into the car. I didn't ask how this sign factors into this, but whatever this means looks quite encouraging:
From the moment you walk into the brewery 'til the time you leave the tour, you're drinking samples of the beer. They've got enough styles so there's bound to be something for everyone. My favorite was the Sahti - a rye ale brewed with juniper. Good thing I wasn't driving. I'm not accustomed to driving anymore, such as it is.
Now, if we could only get some of their products in DC.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 with Vegan Friendly Family

We're presently in Loveland, Colorado, where yesterday we had celebrated Marya's vegan-friendly family.

First, we participated in Loveland's famous Turkey Trot 5k Walk/Run, an annual event on Thanksgiving Day to benefit the Stepping Stones adult daycare program at Loveland's McKee Medical Center Foundation.
We were surprised at how many turned up for the event - hundreds, despite the unseasonably cold 18 degree temperature.

Marya came up with the great suggestion that we would run for Kima, the turkey we sponsored at Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Program.

For the record, I beat the 5 year old in this picture, but only by a few seconds.

Thankfully Marya's family is exceptionally vegan friendly. Everything was vegan or had a vegan option. There was butter and vegan butter and stuffing that was and was not stuffed in the turkey.

Despite all this, Marya didn't know how she was going to deal with having a turkey on the table for dinner. The thought of it had been bothering her since we booked our airline tickets. As a coping mechanism, I suggested that she think about all of the other Thanksgivings where she had no problem with the turkey at the table, but she said that it made her more sad for all the turkeys who had to die the previous years.
On Thanksgiving Day, she was practically inconsolable.
We were given positions at the table that would be furthest from where the turkey was carved, and the turkey was removed from the dining room once the carving was done.

Here's a gratuitous picture of our Tofurky, post-carving:

And here's my plate:
Generous portion of Tofurky, stuffing, smashed potatoes, Tofurky gravy, green beans and pearled onions, pureed butternut squash, and fresh cranberry sauce.

I don't care what the Tofurky haters have to say, I love Tofurky and don't know why everyone can't transition to it. But then again, I'm biased. Next holiday, though, we hope to make our own holiday roast.

For dessert was this lovely pumpkin pie:
It was topped with Marya's homemade cashew whipped cream.

We are surely thankful that she has such an accommodating family - we know that so many omnivorous families are not so nice to their vegan relatives. As gracious as Marya's family was in making us feel at home for Thanksgiving, Marya doesn't kn ow if she'd be able to spend another Thanksgiving with a dead turkey at the table. I'm willing to support that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still More Fun Home Stuff: Pumpkin Dishes - Mostly Raw

Happy Thanksgiving, all!
Just in time for Thanksgiving, some more pumpkin dishes! Two of these are raw.
After Halloween, we had loads of pumpkin from our Jack-O-Lanterns. We chopped up the pumpkin and boiled most of it down to store in the freezer, but kept a few lbs. to make some raw dishes.

This raw pumpkin pie came from Ani Phyo's "Ani's Raw Kitchen" book:
It tasted as good as any pumpkin pie I've had, though must healthier. I'll say, the pumpkin seed crust was the tastiest I've ever had.

Marya used the same pumpkin pie filling recipe as a starting point to create this pumpkin custard:
She added cashews and more spices. Very tasty!

Sadly now all our raw pumpkin is gone, but we've got a year's supply of the boiled down/frozen stuff to go through.

And she made dozens of these egg-free wonton wrap pumpkin/shiitake mushroom ravioli:

Then boiled some and topped them with a lovely cauliflower alfredo sauce, topped with shiitake mushrooms and parsley.
The recipe is loosely based on this recipe from VegWeb, and was very delicious. Who knew cauliflower would make such a lovely alfredo sauce? The recipe made lots, so we've got some leftover that we put in the freezer, and I look forward finishing up the rest.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fun Home Stuff: Yet More Raw Stuff

Note: please click on the image to see the larger version)

More raw food! I must say, we have discovered that often raw dishes taste every bit as good or better than the cooked versions. See tomorrow's entry featuring pumpkin that, though it will have one cooked dish, will have two raw pumpkin desserts. Though I feel I'm a long way off from going raw (I've said the same thing about going vegan), I'm happy we've started preparing more raw dishes.

Here's Marya's preparation of the Portabello Mushroom Steak with Mushroom Gravy, as provided by the Raw Freedom Community:
The mushrooms were marinated a good long time, and could have passed for grilled. Nice touch with the fresh rosemary.

I've been making this raw marinated kale salad for a few months, now. Combine kale with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, and massage the kale 'til it wilts. It's very quick to make - only washing and chopping the kale takes longer.
Sometimes I'll use flax seed oil in place of the olive oil, and occasionally I'll mix the two. Quick as the recipe is, it's a bit messy on the hands.

From a recipe in Ani Phyo's book "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen", I prepared this raw scramble:
There were 3 serving recommendations in the book, so I combined all of them. Amazing how good the base scramble is with only ingredients combined can taste: almonds, sunflower seeds, turmeric, salt, and water. I added bell pepper, onion, cilantro, tomato, served on a base of spinach and bok choy leaves.
In the background is, from a recipe in the same Ani Phyo book, is Cauliflower Miso Mash (because a traditional American breakfast calls for some form of spuds), and my eggplant bacon.

Two of the serving recommendations called for diced tomatoes. Anyone know how to dice a farm fresh tomato without it looking like a murder scene?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Local to Me: Red Rocks Fire Brick Pizzeria

  • Red Rocks Fire Brick Pizzeria (official site)
  • 1036 Park Rd., NW
    Washington, DC 20010

  • Phone: (202) 506-1402

  • Pizza! Nothing better to chase a glass of Chianti down with than pizza. And where better to do it in DC than Red Rocks Pizzeria.

    I remember the first time I went in to Red Rocks Pizzeria and asked for a vegan pizza. The bartender who took my order told me she was the one who suggested they offer a cheese alternative for us vegan folk, for which I was very thankful. I love Red Rocks, for their wide variety of available cheese pizzas, their excellent house red which is quite cheap during happy hour, and the great folks who work there.

    Note: They use Teese for their mozzarella. Others around town use either Teese or Daiya. To add Teese on any pizza it's an additional $2.50.

    For an appetizer on most of our trips to Red Rocks, we'll get the Italian olive plate:
    They're a great mix of marinated olives served warm and with bread splattered with olive oil. With their generous portion for $5.50, it's practically a meal in itself.

    Here's their Funghi pizza:
    A white pizza with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Among my go-to pizzas there.

    And this is a Margherita, with tomato sauce, Teese, basil, olive oil, and my fun little addition of pineapple.
    I love Hawaiian pizza, and look forward to the day they start offering vegan ham.

    And recently it occurred to me that, because the Teese is an additional $2.50, why the hell pay for cheese you're not getting, plus the cheese you want? So I ordered this cheese-less Marinara za at a buck less than their cheese, plus the addition of pesto:

    So, although it's not the closest vegan friendly pizza place from my house, it's my go-to place to sit and have a pizza. They also have a great patio for the warmer months.

    Here's Veg DC's list of vegan friendly pizza places in Washington DC: Click!

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Fun Home Stuff: Playing with our Nused Dehydrator!

    (Note: please click on the image to view it full-size)

    So a month ago we got a used dehydrator via eBay. We had to make room for it in our kitchen by moving the microwave down to basement. We hardly use the microwave anymore, so this worked out fine. Except the other day when I needed heat a cup of water and I was puzzled at first that it didn't quite fit in the dehydrator.

    Marya started right away with experimenting with the thing. We got these wheat berries delivered to us from our farm club Arganica:
    The berries came from Wade's Mill in Raphine, Virginia. The mill is 128 years old and stone grinds everything with a water powered mill. Of course, the wheat berries weren't ground. It looks like a great operation.

    Marya had been sprouting the wheat berries and taking them to work for lunch. Then she came across this recipe for raw sprouted bagels at
    The Happy Raw Kitchen, and loosely based her preparation on it:
    I've noticed that the vegan blogger community rather incestuous, in a good way - we link to each others' great work. I'm happy to give credit where it's due.

    Here's the finished product:
    No, they did not balloon to an enormous size, it's just a closeup.

    And she made this lovely flax seed flatbread with a recipe from the Gluten Free Vegan site:
    Since flax seed is best milled and raw, this stuff has gotta be healthy.

    Next came these Banana Bread Bites from Veganlicious:
    Marya's version did not have the cocao nibs in it.

    And I made this eggplant bacon from a recipe that (again) came from The Happy Raw Kitchen:
    Who doesn't like fakin'? Despite the ingredients, such as vinegar, I really liked it. I left the skin of the eggplant on to make it a bit like the fat-back I used to get at Eastern Market back in the day.