Tag Archives: friends

All-You-Can-Eathiopian

Truth: I kind of hate living in this part of California–in the endless sea of suburbia stretching out from the center of Los Angeles. Granted, the weather generally rocks, but I won’t be crushed in three months when it’s time to leave Claremont and start my life somewhere else. Nonetheless, as long as I am here, I sure as hell am going to hit up as many vegan restaurants in the city as I can.

This quest continued two weekends ago when my friends Stephanie and Tori and I almost effortlessly (Hey–have YOU tried driving on LA freeways?!) made our way into Little Ethiopia.

We were headed to Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine at the glowing recommendation of Quarry Girl. And we were happy we did!

Ethiopian. Good. Vegan Ethiopian. Very good. All-You Can-Eat Vegan Ethiopian for under seven dollars. Um, hello?!

For any of you who don’t know, Ethiopian food is by far the most fun cuisine to eat! It consists of various stews, a.k.a. wots, that you scoop up with pieces of injera, a spongy sourdough pancake-like bread made of fermented teff flour. No utensils are necessary. Isn’t that how we all really want to eat anyways?

My favorite wots are always the lentil ones. Rahel’s lentils weren’t as amazing as those at my local Tempe Ethiopian joint, Café Lalibela, but they did the trick. As you can see in the above photo, there were both red and yellow lentils, as well as cabbage and string beans dishes. Also, below: a carrot/potato stew, collards, and–my unexpected favorite–eggplant!

That green sauce was wayyy too spicy! But it sure was pretty.

Since the injera under our food got a bit soggy, we used additional rolls of it to scoop up the food as we ate, leaving a colorful collage at the end of our meal. I think it looks like a snowflake. An insanely delicious, savory snowflake.

I say no trip to LA is complete without a stop at Rahel. The service, atmosphere, prices, and food were all out of this world. Or at least this country. ;)

First Thanksgiving, 2009

First of all, I have to apologize for my extended absence. I’ve had so many things worthy of posting, but so little time! The rough draft of my thesis was due today, and I just emailed all 93 pages of it to my two readers! It’s currently conclusionless, so I’m guessing it will clock in at around 100, but the worst is over! Plus, 100 pages on veganism is 100 pages well spent, I say.

I lurveee me some Thanksgiving, so I can’t complain that I got two this year!

The first–and more unique–one was at Animal Acres Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA. The first time I went to AA (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous) this year was for my friend Stephanie’s birthday, and it was just our group, but this time, it was a full-fledged event of a couple hundred people: the Thankful Turkeys Celebration!

For the first hour or two, we just got to walk around, and hang out with the animals. This is Regina (or Regina’s cute little butt), the baby of the sanctuary.

Pretty pink piggies:

And we got to feed the horses. This is my friend, Dawn, with her lovely hair the same gorgeous auburn color as the fella she’s feeding. :)

Then it was time for the main event, the “Feed the Turkeys Ceremony!” All the kids lined up at the end of the yard, ready with the turkeys’ (and the other birds’) Thanksgiving feast.

They smell something:

First course, salad.

Also, plenty of “stuffed squash,” a.k.a. pumpkins filled with seeds. Oh, and cranberries!

Also, pumpkin pie. But–and I know this is a shocker, folks–turkeys apparently don’t like pie, and prefer salad and seeds. After being completely and utterly neglected, this pie’s smile turned upside down.

The funniest part was that some of the kids who got tricked into holding pies got really frustrated that their goods were undesirable (squash envy?). Hence:

Having fed the turkeys, it was time for our feast, catered by LA’s One World Vegetarian Cuisine.

Some sort of savory roast with stuffing and a frighteningly skin-like skin, mashed potatoes with (excessively oily) gravy, and roasted vegetables. The roast was One World’s own recipe, and it was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t believe how soft and chewy the “meat” was, and the stuffing was carby comfort food at its finest. And the potatoes and vegetables were, well, potatoes and vegetables. Simple, but good.

Stephanie and Dawn at dinner (or whatever the 3 ‘o clock meal is called):

And then…a chicken tried to eat someone’s leftovers.

The end.

Be back soon with my second, real Thanksgiving!

Package Swap

I was lucky enough not only to get in on a vegan care package swap this year, but to be paired up with the orchestrator herself, the wonderful Lindsay from Cooking for a Vegan Lover!

For a look at the package I sent Lindsay, click here!
Here’s what I received:

I know, I know, Lindsay’s awesome! In the back we have some Road’s End Organics Golden Gravy Mix–I can already see a nice dorm room dinner with that in my near future–and (also organic!) Pacific Natural Foods Simply Tea in Green Tea Tangerine flavor!

Lindsay’s from Vermont, so she also sent me some VT specialties:

Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies (Did you know Liz Lovely was Vermont-based?), and of course, real Vermont Pure Maple Syrup from Kingdom Mountain family farm!

The package also included a mother load of PranaBars, which I’ve never had before, but am really excited about because the flavors are so exotic and healthy! These superfood bars are all organic, gluten-free, vegan, and mostly raw.

Yeha, that’s apricot pumpkin. Can you believe it? There’s also coconut acaí, pear ginseng, cashew almond, apricot goji, and apple pie. These will be perfect pre-run snacks when, come winter break, I start training for the January half marathon I’m doing!

The package also included two packs of Heart Thrive bars, cranberry and chocolate, which I’ve seen before, but never tried (and isn’t that the point of these exchanges? to try things that you might not normally buy because they’re a luxury or you don’t know what they’re like?). I really, really like that they’re heart-shaped. I think eating them will be that much more fun.

Also, as you can see, Trader Joe’s Instant Vanilla Pudding! I’ve seen it in stores, but never realized it was vegan–all you have to do is add non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk. Sweet. :)

The remainder of the package was lots of fun little trinkets, like milled flaxseed, green tea mints, gummy bears, a JamFrakas bar, and hot sauce.

Thanks so much, Lindsay. This was a great first swap experience, and I’ll definitely be doing more in the future because I had so much fun. Opening the package was like vegan Christmas.

Also–ugh–this is one of those posts where almost every single paragraph ends with an extra word that wouldn’t fit on the line above it. I could try to fix it, but it’s kind of funny. I’m sure all bloggers get annoyed about little things like that, so I’ll leave it as a tribute!

Finally, Maggie at My Breakfast Blog tagged me for “Truth Week,” so here’s my little piece of kind of embarrassing truth: Sometimes when I’m snacking on a jar of peanut butter straight with a spoon (not a plain jar, but fancy, semi-expensive ones like PB & Co. flavors), I’ll make myself put it in the freezer to make sure I save it for more exciting uses than eating it plain, like oatmeal, baking, and fun sandwiches. I’m all for eating PB plain–God knows I do it enough–but when you pay so much for nice nut butters that aren’t always easy to find in the first place, it can kind of suck to go through it so quickly. It’s sad that I have to freeze it, but I just love PB that much. Truth!

Edited to add: HAHA, even my note about my paragraphs ended up with an extra word on another line! FML. I bet it will happen to this one too.

An Afternoon at Animal Acres

Excuse the excessive alliteration!

This is an insanely belated post, but there was no way I could let it go unshared! Last month, my vegan friend Stephanie took a group of us to Animal Acres Farm Sanctuary, just an hour and a half away, to celebrate her birthday. It was a lovely visit, full of every farm animal imaginable, all of whom were as amiable as can be! (I’m sorry! I can’t stop with the “A” words!)

We were greeted by curious goats of all shapes and sizes.

I know this is how I look when I’m eating. What about you guys?

And then came the ducks. Oh ducks, how I love you. One of my favorite childhood storybooks was Make Way for Ducklings. :)

Stephanie AND the duck cooperated for this photo…

And I thought this was hilarious (though most likely, no one else did…): all of a sudden, all the ducks just walked away in a line. I bet they had some official business to attend to.

Next up, piggies! Some piggies at Animal Acres take naps.

And some take baths.

Seeing the cows may have been my favorite part of the day though. They’re so gentle and loving. Um, you got a little something hanging from your mouth there, buddy. :)

Me and a happy cow.

You didn’t think we could celebrate a birthday without cake though, did you? Even if you did, I knew I couldn’t disappoint my readers by omitting the obligatory food porn. ;)

Animal Acres ordered this cake from a nearby bakery called The Whole Wheatery, I believe. Wasn’t it gorgeous?

Chocolate with super thick coconut frosting.

It was only fair that after enjoying our own food, we feed the animals! Except they prefer popcorn.

Turkeys may like me, but I could not find a chicken that would let me hold it for the life of me! (Okay, so one eventually let me pick it up, but I had to earn it!)

Going to a sanctuary like this is a definite must for vegans! It reminds you of who you’re fighting for. It’s a great place to take your non-vegan friends as well because who knows? Cuddling with a friendly chicken could be what it takes to forge that connection between the chicken on their plate and the chicken in their lap.

How We Love Zee Pizza!

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of my caring readers for being so supportive of me in my half marathon! Your words meant a lot to me, and for those readers who said that my race had inspired them to consider training for one, I’m so glad that I was able to inspire you to inspire yourself! In other running news, I’ll most likely be doing the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon at home in January! I guess once you start, you can’t stop! I wanna get under 2 hours!

Now to the main point of business. So, um, Zpizza is the bomb.

Recently having discovered that there’s a Zpizza in Upland, just 20 minutes away from Pomona, my vegan friend Stephanie and my gluten- and dairy-free friend James decided to have a study party with pizza pizza party (to be fair, we maybe did homework for 15 minutes…)

The only pizza I’ve had since being vegan, not counting ones I’ve made myself at home, was at Viva Herbal in NYC and at Green in Tempe (will be posting about that soon!), but NEVER before have I had delivery pizza. Classic, greasy, delivery pizza with a real crust and melty “cheese.”

I’m pretty sure Stephanie and James were in a similar boat, because we were all really freaking excited when these boxes finally arrived (we were also excited that delivery was free…)

Zpizza is unique in that, not only do they have vegan cheese (they used to have a non-vegan soy one with casein, but now they use Daiya, which is soy-free – and free of most allergens, at that – and made of cassava root! They haven’t updated the site yet, so just call your local Zpizza to make sure they now use Daiya), but they also offer whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, and organic tomato sauce. And that’s not to mention their more than extensive range of fresh and healthful toppings! Some of which toppings you’re about to get a nice little preview…

Steph and I split a large pizza (we ordered whole-wheat, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what we got…oh well). My half was roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese (duh), spinach, caramelized onions, roasted yams, pineapple, and fresh basil:

Steph’s was the same, but with eggplant instead of the pineapple, and with tomato sauce as well:

And Jamesie got a nice little gluten-free personal pizza. He wanted his to be a traditional cheese pizza, so he stuck with tomato sauce, Daiya, and basil. Can’t blame him, though. Look at it!

Yeah, I know you’re waiting for the delightfully greasy, mid-bite money shot…

Daiya tastes best hot, so be sure to reheat your slices if they cool down – it really makes a difference in your Zpizza experience, I promise.

Next time, I think I’m getting tomato sauce, Daiya, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and cilantro. Oh, and actually on whole wheat this time.

Back to the pizza party. You didn’t think we could end it without dessert, didya?

What flavor? Why, only the best ice cream known to vegankind – and mankind! Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Cookie Dough!

It’s gluten-free, which I had forgotten until I saw the labeling at the store, and then I just knew I had to get it to round out our night. See picture below for humongous chunk of said gluten-free cookie dough.

Happy kids, finally feeling like typical, unhealthy college students.

Vegan Camping: Chili Bake and S’mores!

Sorry for the long absence. Sometimes I just get really overwhelmed by photo editing and uploading and I retreat into my virtual cave where no social media can ever find me or make me feel guilty for avoiding it. I’m sure you all know the feeling. :)

Anyhow, my best friend Jo and I drove up to Flagstaff on Saturday with my dog Rupert (THAT was a fun car ride…), and then Jo, my dad, and I camped for a night near Lake Mary, just outside Flag. For most people, I’m guessing camping means Mac ‘n Cheese, hot dogs, and maybe some oatmeal. But in our household–especially when I’m along for the ride – we’re a bit more gourmet. It didn’t hurt that my mom, sister and I had just bought my dad a Dutch oven for his birthday, either! Knowing we’d have the oven, I decided on the Cornmeal Chili Bake from The Everyday Vegan. That just screams “camping,” doesn’t it? I opted to use canned chili instead of making my own because there’s no need to make things too complicated, is there? Plus, TJ’s vegetarian chili is yummy and full of tofu crumbles (that look alarmingly like ground beef, actually)!

I also may or may not have gone to my favorite vegan restaurant Green beforehand specifically to purchase some Cheddar Teese (and ricemilk chocolate for s’mores), and what goes better together than chili and cheddar “cheese?”

So, we just poured the chili in the Dutch oven…

Spread on the cornmeal topping, which was made by whisking cornmeal and seasoning in boiling water on our cooking stove…

Me and my dad! I handled the cooking and he handled equipment logistics…

Put the top on and piled on the coals…

Sprinkled some Teese on a few minutes before it was done, and voilà! Melty comfort food goodness.

The only unfortunate thing was that our cornmeal topping sunk into the chili (I think it boiled because we couldn’t control the oven temperature like you can in a real oven…), but it didn’t matter because it was still delicious and there were still thick chunks of cooked polenta throughout the stew. We ate it with TJ’s Hemp Tortilla Chips for a nice crunch and dipping assistance! I want to make this every time I go camping…

What self-respecting vegans could go camping without at least attempting to reach that pinnacle of camping activities that is the s’more? S’mores are an entirely possible treat to veganize, but they definitely take some work and planning. In the traditional s’more, you have honey-laced graham crackers sandwiching milk-laden chocolate and gelatin-composed marshmallows. Ew, ew, and ew. So what’s a vegan to do? Well, use Sweet & Sara Vanilla Marshmallows (you could use Dandies too!), track down a Terra Nostra Ricemilk Choco Bar, and make your own graham crackers! Here’s Jo and I having some serious vegan best friend time around the campfire, roasting marshmallows:

And the completed s’more:

Sorry the photos are bad, but they were taken without a flash when it was completely dark except for one measly little gas light!

We also made “banana s’mores.” Should I coin that invention? The marshmallows were fine, but they were pretty stale (I have no idea how long ago I bought them…), so after one classic s’more each, we opted for these–banana’s stuffed with peanut butter and ricemilk chocolate, wrapped in tin foil, and nestled into the coals to melt and caramelize!

These were so good. Bananas are better – and healthier – than marshmallows, so what’s not to love? We squashed them between graham crackers once they were done too! Speaking of the graham crackers, I bet you’re curious how I made them! Graham crackers are traditionally made with graham flour – surprise! – which has a specifically altered proportion of bran to germ to endosperm to make them crunchier, but I made Isa’s recipe for Gwam Crackers, which solely uses whole wheat flour.

They turned out great – just sweet enough and lightly kissed with cinnamon.

Schmeared with PB:

Drenched in PB and melted chocolate chips:

Okay, so back to camping food! Breakfast next morning was, you guessed it, Scrambled Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance. What a classic. And it comes together like this! *Snaps fingers.* I always use a ton more vegetables than the 2 cups of mushrooms called for. This one included zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper as well!

We jazzed it up with s’more (and you thought I was done with s’mores…) Teese, and served it with TJ’s Chunky Salsa. I will never ever ever get sick of this meal. Ever.

More photos from camping and hiking!

I think Jo had a better time with my dad than with me…

Rupert has to wear hiking booties because the pads on his paws are sensitive. Poor baby.

And here’s his aggressive side; though I bet you’d chomp like that too if there was a piece of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread schmeared with Maranatha peanut butter in front of you…