Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sunshine's Thanksgiving Special

Before Thanksgiving, Sunshine's Vegetarian Deli was offering a vegan holiday plate. I went there on Wednesday for an early dinner. There was pineapple not-ham, candied yams with agave, cornbread dressing, broccoli and rice casserole with vegan cheese, cooked kale greens, and a wheat roll. Yum! It was good, but I inhaled it! I thought the greens and the not-ham were the best parts. I love the nachos here, so I need to head back over there sometime for those.
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For future reference, Quan Yin in Chinatown offered a vegan holiday plate on Thanksgiving day. By the time I saw that on VSOP's facebook page, it was too late to leave my kitchen to go all the way out there for a meal. It would have been a great lunch choice though!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I had two vegan friends over for Thanksgiving. I don't go home for Thanksgiving usually, so I emailed a bunch of folks to see if anyone wanted to come over. I made a Field Roast Celebration Roast, mashed potatoes with chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction, green bean casserole from Fat Free Vegan (recipe here), and cranberry sauce from Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. One guest brought another roast to cook and cranberry sauce, so we used his sauce for dinner. The second guest brought TWO desserts! Clearly a gal after my own heart! She brought Crave's red velvet vegan cupcakes and a vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods. Yum! It was a simple menu so I wouldn't be a big ball of anxiety before they arrived, but it was satisfying. It was great to have someone to share the holiday with and we talked for hours. :)
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hanukkah Party

I was recently invited to a Hanukkah party hosted by some of the dude's friends. We brought quinoa-stuffed mushrooms from Party Vegan, a vegan white wine by Sterling Vineyard (that I found on Barnivore to use in the mushroom dish), a peach crisp from Whole Foods, a whole grain bread from WF, and roasted veggies. I made the mushroom dish and he made the roasted veggies. He actually had the day off, but I worked until the early afternoon. I could have made much more food from scratch, but I wasn't sure if I would get out of work early enough to make more than the mushrooms. They were OK, but I probably won't make them again. The host made us vegan latkes! Yum! The dude tried the matzo ball soup because he doesn't worry about meat broth and eggs (yet). He's a new vegetarian, so I was glad that he didn't eat the brisket with bacon!
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vegan Thanks-living 2013

I went to VSOP's Thanks-living event last weekend. It was packed! 115 people showed up, even though they had planned for 100 people. Last year we got second servings, but this year there was barely enough for everyone. The entree was made by Vegan Comfort, exact same menu as last year but the roast was drier this year. The pumpkin cheesecake pie was from Sinfull Bakery and we got donated coconut ice cream from So Delicious to go with it this year! In the door prizes, I won a shaker of pesto seasoning and a bag of raw granola from Pat Greer's Kitchen. I gave my friend the bag of raw granola because I knew she'd like it. It had buckwheat, pecans, dates, and something else. Granola's not really my thing. The dude enjoyed the food but said he wanted more gravy. He's home for the holiday and said he'd make a game day decision about eating turkey. He's only been meat-free for a few months and I can understand that he's not super comfortable being the odd one out at a family gathering. I just said it'll probably put him to sleep, but I wonder if he'll get upset stomach from it. I'm proud of the progress he's making, so I won't be judgmental if he has a holiday slip-up. I never ate meat after going vegetarian, but I did eat cheese a couple months after I decided to go vegan (and it made me feel like crap).
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Bread Baking

The dude likes fresh baked bread. It was a comment he made once and I thought, "Challenge accepted." I tried twice in the used bread machine I got from a friend, but neither attempt was successful. I think the temperature wasn't warm enough to encourage the dough to rise. Recently, I decided to try using my Kitchenaid to knead the dough and let it rise on the counter. I had the oven earlier so I think that made the kitchen warm enough for the dough to rise. You can see it rising above the bread pan edge in this photo. I followed a King Arthur recipe just replacing milk with non-dairy milk. He really appreciated the bread. I made Italian tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance and sun-dried tomato pesto to serve with the bread and some spinach. The sandwiches were delicious. I used the leftover marinade to make more tofu and created a bowl with the other ingredients. :)
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Farewell, Miss Adie Mae

Since I introduced the new feral kitty in my life, I guess it's time to write about the saddest day of my life. On September 17th, Adie unexpectedly collapsed and died. I had fed her breakfast, then she went off to play. I heard her nails on the floor, like she was running, but it was way too fast. I came out of the kitchen to see her lying on the floor. I tried to lift her, but she was limp. I set her down, with the hope that I didn't injure her more. I petted her and tried to talk to her, then she took her last breath and wet the floor. I panicked and called the vet, rushing up the stairs to get her crate. She was so limp and light when I put her in the crate, I was crying hysterically the entire way to the vet. I knew it was incredibly unlikely that the vet would be able to save her, but I had to try. Or force them to take x-rays and tell me if she fell down the stairs. The vet helped me schedule a necropsy with the Texas A&M vet school. Turns out she had an enlarged heart that finally gave out. She did not have a heart murmur, so we had no idea that she had an enlarged heart. I knew from her ultrasounds that her liver was slightly too large, but the necropsy showed that one of her kidneys was 1/3 smaller than the other and that many of her organs had microscopic lesions. She had an adenoma on one of her thyroid glands too. Poor girl. All the result of bad breeding. She was a purebred Ocicat. I got her when her old owner dumped her at my house in Baton Rouge. She had misshapen toes, but was otherwise an absolutely stunning and intelligent cat. I miss her. Mischa has also been grieving. I posted many photos of her in the living room and made a little area for her urn in my room. I love you, Miss Adie Mae. You will forever be my little diva.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet Onyx

I have recently started feeding a feral cat by my house. I started putting the food inside a trap I borrowed from a neighbor so he'd get used to eating in the trap. Once I saw him go in the trap several times, I set it to actually trap him. Before you freak out and think I have awful intentions, I was doing trap and release. This program allows feral cats to be sterilized, vaccinated for rabies, and released back into their territory. Their ears are marked to show animal control that they are fixed and vaccinated, therefore they should be left alone. After having my hard drive crash and losing my fellowship application, I was very happy to have the kitty go in the trap last week on the first night of an extreme cold snap. It was down into the 30's!! After the vet visit, I kept him inside in a crate another night because of the weather. I hope he continues to come by for food. I've decided to name him Onyx since he's all black. :)
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beaucoup Bar & Grill - Houston, TX

I recently met the owner of Beaucoup Bar & Grill through my kickball league. We had our mid-season party there. I had inquired about the menu beforehand. There is a vegetarian section, so I knew I could modify that to make a vegan meal. After many questions, the owner said the beans and rice are vegan and the grilled veggies for the po'boy are cooked with oil, but the bread was probably not vegan. I ordered a bowl of red beans and rice with just the grilled veggies (no questionable bread for me!). Turns out the sandwiches come with fries, so I got a surprise side of fries. It was quite good! Plus, they hired a DJ for the party and had the LSU v. Alabama game on TV. LSU was doing so well during the first half, but we lost.
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tofu Quiche

Since we had to depart rather early for the chili cook-off and weren't going to have time to stop for brunch in Austin, I made a tofu quiche for breakfast. I actually cooked it the night before, so I'd just have to reheat it in the morning. It's a rare occasion that I make a savory breakfast, but this was quite good. The crust fell apart, not surprising since it's gluten-free. I used portabello mushrooms. It had great flavor, but I'd add a bit more nooch next time. I love nutritional yeast!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Bouldin Creek & Sweet Ritual - Austin, TX

After the eating tour of Austin, I knew I wanted to stop for dinner at Bouldin Creek Cafe and for ice cream at Sweet Ritual. I ordered the tofu migas for dinner. I skipped the beans, since I had a million beans at the chili cook-off. Bouldin Creek isn't stingy with the nooch on their tofu scramble. Nom. Other people ordered tacos and chips with salsa. After dinner, we headed over to Sweet Ritual for dessert. I tried the prickly pear ice cream, but went with the salted caramel sundae. I got one scoop of salted caramel ice cream covered in chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, mini Dandies, and graham cracker crumbs. So good! I'm glad I saved room for dessert. The dude regretted eating chips and salsa when he saw my sundae, but I had told everyone in advance that I wanted to stop for ice cream before driving us back to Houston.
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Texas Veggie Chili Cook-off

A group of us went to Austin last Sunday for the annual veggie chili cook-off. They had two separate categories for traditional chilis that had vegan meats and veggie only chilis. I liked many of them, but ultimately voted for The Hearty Vegan tempeh chili. They're a new business and they've come to several VSOP events. Their chili also didn't have a bitter tempeh taste, which was impressive to me. I only got a photo of their booth, but trust me that the chili was tasty. At the cook-off, I bought a pumpkin carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting from Celeste's Best. That cupcake was incredible!!
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The dude cooks!

After many years of being single, I've been dating someone for a few months now. We go out to eat quite a bit, but I've also cooked several things for us. I do most of the cooking for the monthly VSOP potlucks and I've cooked a few meals for us. This past Friday, the dude invited me over to his place and said he would do all the cooking. He had made a red wine and mushroom pasta during his 30 day vegan challenge that he really enjoyed. It's a fancy enough meal for date night. The Youtube video was playing on his ipad when I showed up. I tried not to get in the way, but it was interesting watching someone else do all the work. I did volunteer to make the garlic toast, since that was easy and could be done away from the stovetop. I was very impressed! It also made me really appreciate dating a vegetarian dude. He went vegetarian after his 30 day vegan challenge and he eats only vegan food when we're together. I posted this photo on fb and many of my female friends commented that he's a keeper. I think so too. ;)
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

5k as Super Vegan

I totally forgot to post this here, but I ran a 5k with a friend recently. We signed up because it was a superhero themed race to benefit Child Advocate Services. I went as Super Vegan in a cape that I made from gold sequined fabric and he went as Thor. I ordered the vegan socks on Amazon here. I didn't ask his permission to post his photo here, so I'll just share my photo from after the race. We finished in 29.5 minutes! We signed up to have a reason to run and train, but neither of us actually trained. We ran less than 6 times to prepare between the two of us. Whoops! We were both pleasantly surprised by our time! Yay!
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Frozen Tamales

Found frozen vegan tamales at Fiesta recently. I stuffed them into the freezer for a busy day. October was full of those, so I finally tried them. They are made by a company called White Mountain. I tried the chipotle-mushroom tamales one night and the sweet potato-pecan tamales another night. The chipotle one did not seem to include any mushrooms, just chipotle peppers and corn. They were very hot, but I really wanted mushrooms in them. The sweet potato-pecan one tasted sweet instead of savory. Overall, I'd rank these a meh and I likely won't buy them again. Bummer. I served these with some blue corn chips and Nacho Mom's vegan queso. I've had this queso before, but snagged a jar in Austin. It has a weird texture when cold, but is tasty when warm.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quick Coconut Curry

Another clean out the fridge post! Baby carrots, onion, part of a bell pepper, coconut milk, frozen broccoli, sriracha, red curry paste, and some pumpkin or squash puree lurking in the freezer for months. Also cooked some tofu to add for protein. Served over basmati rice. Quick and easy! Look at the colors in that mis en place - gorgeous! I need to get some pumpkin or squash puree for this year.
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lunch at Whole Foods

After college football the other day, the dude and I were indecisive about what to have for lunch. His team had lost and I was patiently waiting for the evening for the FSU v. Miami game. I suggested Whole Foods because the hot bar allows you to pick and choose, or stand around and consider your choices for an excessive amount of time haha. I went for the channa masala, one of my favorites from the WF hot bar in Florida, and the samosas! I've never seen a samosa on the hot bar before, but they were very good. I was bummed that the naan bread was not vegan, but I haven't seen a commercially made naan bread that's vegan ever. I also picked the saffron rice since there was no white rice on the hot bar. The dude went for the eclectic take-out box. He picked a samosa, a scoop of channa masala, Cajun corn and stewed tomatoes, roasted carrots, and a green falafel patty. I bought an Eli's Earth Bar for dessert and he picked out dark chocolate covered pretzel. Nom nom nom.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Date Night

The dude mentioned wanting to see the new movie Ender's Game. It's based on a book, but I have not read the book. This meant the twist at the end was a surprise to me and it left me thinking. Overall, I'd recommend the movie. I decided to order tickets for opening night as a surprise date night idea. I offered to take him to dinner too, because I had a gift certificate for Pepper Tree, which is next to the theater. He ordered the General Tso's chick'n and I ordered the Cashew Chick'n. The Tso chick'n is more flaky and the Cashew chick'n is more dense. If you are particular about textures, ask which chick'n is used in the dish you'd like to order. Perfect date night, just the two of us and a mellow evening. We've both been so busy in October that it was nice to just have a low-key evening together. He seemed to really enjoy himself. I snapped this photo of our food when he went to the bathroom.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veggie Crockpot Chili

The weather has been cooling down here in Houston and that's the perfect signal to break out the Crockpot. There is nothing better than coming home to a hot, already prepared, comfort food meal after a long day of work. (Did I mention I work way more at my new job? 9 or 10 hour days with a 15 minute lunch are common.) I knew this week would be busy, so Monday night I set up a chili recipe that only needed to cook for 3.5 hours. I soaked my beans and cooked those in the small crockpot during the day, but I could have made canned beans and used one less appliance. This two bean chili recipe is from The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Interestingly, the second bean is green beans! Pinto beans, green beans, corn, zucchini, and sauteed onions are cooked in the crockpot and a sauce made from soaked ancho peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro is added near the end. The zucchini is sauteed, chilled, and then added with the sauce actually. It is tasty and I like the crunch of the green beans. I tried to make some bread in my bread machine to go with this, but it didn't rise very well and was too dense. I ended up eating the leftovers with crackers during the week.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dosa Factory - Houston, TX

VSOP had dinner at Dosa Factory recently. I'd been there once before, so I was glad to return. I ordered a chettinad spicy dosa and the dude ordered the masala dosa. The masala dosa is the only one that comes in a traditional presentation, which was a bit of a surprise to us. Since the restaurant is currently offering free appetizers with each dosa purchase, we picked the Manchurian idli and onion vada. We were even given a free dessert, that soy rice pudding again. Nom nom nom.
Onion Vada

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Manchurian Idli

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Masala Dosa

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Chettinad Spicy Dosa

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Rice Pudding

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Junk Food

For Halloween, I made pizza using a pre-cooked crust and sauce from Whole Foods, Daiya mozzarella, and Tofurky pepperoni. A friend and I had plans to watch a scary movie and hand out candy to kids in his neighborhood. I was a little late because the road I wanted to take was flooded. I also made Isa's chocolate and vanilla cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, adding orange food coloring to the vanilla cupcakes and half of the frosting. I forgot to take a picture, but I put little jelly pumpkins from Whole Foods on the cupcakes. The chocolate cupcakes got orange frosting and a black pumpkin, whereas the vanilla cupcakes were dyed orange but had white frosting and an orange pumpkin. Cute. I grabbed a container of sour bats from Whole Foods too. I made homemade candy corn again, I think that will be a yearly tradition. Clearly, I like sugar. :)
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween 2013

Had to share a picture of my Leeloo (from the Fifth Element) costume! It's my most revealing costume ever and I got a lot of compliments on it. It feels sooo good to be back in my normal body. After the anxiety-induced weight loss of 2010 and the depression-induced weight gain of 2011, I spent part of 2012 losing most of the weight and the first part of 2013 to lose the last few pesky pounds. I'm glad to feel normal again, mentally and physically. :) The dude also got a lot of compliments for his costume.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vegan Cheese Party/Girls' Night

I met a bunch of new vegan ladies at Texas Go Vegan Week events this year. I decided to organize a girls' night for my friends and these new ladies. I went with a vegan cheese party. I had ordered a couple cheeses from Door 86 Vegan Cheese, but decided to order one 3 oz block of each flavor after inviting so many people. I invited 8 ladies and 7 were able to attend. The last person didn't feel well that night unfortunately. I bought a bunch of crackers (including gluten-free varieties for some of the guests), baguette, and grapes. Other people brought fruit, homemade Artisan Vegan Cheeses, Heidi Ho Veganics cheeses, vegan wines, and Newman's Own PB cookies. Nom nom nom. Everyone had a great time and I was glad that it went so well. I had to borrow a table and some folding chairs from friends, but we managed to fit into my tiny place. :)
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Texas Veggie Fair - More Shopping & CAROL ADAMS

This will be my final post on the Texas Veggie Fair! To round out my daily shopping, I picked up another shirt and some books. I really wanted to see Carol Adams speak. I saw her name on the speaker list and knew that she wrote The Sexual Politics of Meat (on Amazon here. It's supposed to a fundamental piece of literature in the movement, so I really wanted to see her. About half-way through her talk, I realized I read one of her books in her college called Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethics for the Treatment of Animals (on Amazon here). I hope to read some more of her work over the holiday season this year.

Action for Animals booth - awesome shirt!

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Books - Vegan for Life (on Amazon here) and Vegan Freak (on Amazon here)

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CAROL ADAMS!!!!!!!!!!

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Texas Veggie Fair - Herbivore Clothing

I was super excited to see that Herbivore Clothing was coming to the Texas Veggie Fair. They use different t-shirt companies so each company's sizing is slightly different. I like trying on my clothes before buying them. I also called Herbivore in advance and requested a hoodie and a sign. They were planning to bring long-sleeved shirts and tees, but a vegan hoodie would be lovely. That's the best part about interacting with a small company, they really care! After shopping and eating all day, I swung back by the booth for the big tote bag. I was on the fence at the start of the day, but had enough cash left at the end of the day to afford it. :)

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