Friday, July 31, 2009

We've returned!!!

We made it! Everything we own is wet and my husband says he is never, ever camping again..... but he survived and I had a blast. We camped on the island of Chincoteague, Virginia and while there I learned a few things about mosquitoes.
1) They can grow to be the size of small house flies
2) they can be black and white striped
3) Apparently they think vegans are the gourmet versions of humans

For every one bite the omni's got, I received between 7-10 bites. My husband says I look like I am recovering from "the pox".

From the food end, the potato salad and slaw were very well received. There were also alot of farm stands selling sweet corn, watermelon and peaches. I also got to make my vegan version of buckwheat pancakes from the hillbilly housewife blog. They are such a time saver and the recipe was simple to veganize. Overall, cooking at the campsite was a breeze.

What was a very pleasant surprise were the vegan offerings at a few local restaurants! Most of the restaurants on the island were of two varieties: fish-houses (my husband was told by several that the only vegan thing they could offer me was the "house salad") and ice cream parlors. So it was with great joy that we discovered:

Sea Star Cafe- The sign out front says "gourmet carryout". However, after seeing the big pink arrow underneath that said "vegetarian food" and the outdoor tables I nearly dragged my husband down the block and across the gravel parking lot. This restaurant had a substantial vegetarian section with all of the vegan choices clearly marked. They also had vegan desserts and unsweetened iced tea. How could we NOT have lunch here?

Now... I have eaten at many restaurants where the others at the table sit looking at my sad wilted veggies and say with sympathy "I could never be a vegan". This is not that kind of place! My husband had some sort of chicken sandwich and chip combo. I had a pile of fresh chopped raw veggies (not just lettuce!!!), hummus, tabbouleh and whole wheat pita, a glass of UNSWEETENED iced tea and a vegan chocolate-espresso cupcake for dessert. I only mention my husband's dinner to illustrate my point. After about five bites, he said to me, can I try some hummus? Seconds later when I slipped him a few pieces of red bell pepper and snap peas, he got up, threw his lunch away and helped me finish mine (well except for my cupcake.... I kind of have a thing about sweets!) The food is that good.

Saigon Village- This Vietnamese restaurant is one of the first ones you will see when you get on the island. Do not pass it by. There are many vegetarian/vegan options on the menu. (I would suggest asking for advice from your server so that you can be sure to pick something without fish sauce. ) The day I went, a nice young woman sat with me and completely marked up a menu for me, so that I would be certain of what was vegan. I was stunned by all of the choices. They serve a great deal of tofu dishes that were already vegan and were willing to leave the eggs etc... out of anything upon request. The food was really tasty and flavorful too! Way better than a "house salad". (not that I have any problems with salads mind you...)

Mainstreet Shop and Coffeehouse- Finally
if you are a coffee-nut like we are, it is always great to find a coffee shop that not only has soy milk, but also has excellent coffee. The coffee and espresso was so good that we went here six times in three days!

Oh and on a different note, on the way home we stopped at an Amish farmer's market. It was too hot for produce (no AC in the car....) but I was able to get some pumpkin butter, blackstrap molasses and blueberry preserves. I just spent the last twenty minutes flipping through cookbooks trying to decide if I wanted to make cornbread, muffins, biscuits or scones to use as a vehicle for my Amish goodness.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vegan camping here we come....

In preparation for our upcoming camping trip, I spent the day preparing two good outdoor foods: Cole slaw and potato salad. Both of these are recipes that I tend to pull out when I have a lot of skeptical non-vegans to feed. They hardly even know these are vegan until they see me eating them. The potato salad, is somewhat traditional while the slaw is Asian inspired.

(In looking over my last few posts, I seem to be eating an abundance of siracha, curries, peanuts, sesame and ginger!!! I will endeavor to post a wider variety of recipes when I get back.)

Savory Vegan potato salad
(This is inspired by potato salad made by Mr. Williams, a co-worker of mine. I could never hope to recreate his version which is so good that in his words "it will make you slap someone")

5 lbs Russet potatoes (red potatoes work as well)
1/3 block tofu
2 stalks celery
1 small Vidalia onion
3 scallions, greens only
1 sweet red bell pepper
3/4 cup frozen petite peas, defrosted on counter
1 large carrot
1/4 cup parsley
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper (optional-to taste)

the following to taste:

whole grain mustard
vegan mayonnaise
sweet relish
rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper


- Wash potatoes and boil with their skin on until tender then remove from hot water.

- While potatoes are boiling: wash and chop celery, onion, scallions, red pepper, carrot, parsley
and jalapeno (if using). Place in a large bowl.

-Prepare tofu by pressing the water out and cutting into 1/8 inch cubes. Set aside.

-When potatoes are done,rinse with cold water. Peel and chop them before adding to the other vegetables.

-Using your taste buds as a guide mix vegetables with mustard, mayonnaise, relish and vinegar. Everyone is different but we prefer a ratio of 2:1 for the mustard to mayo, about 4 tablespoons of relish and around 1/4 cup of vinegar. When it is the way you like it, gently stir in the tofu and peas.

-Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Asian Style Spicy Slaw

Salad ingredients:
4 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
3 scallions
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 sweet red bell pepper, minced
1/8 cup sesame seeds (optional)

For the dressing:
/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Lo-Sodium Soy sauce
2 TBS dark sesame oil
1/2 Siracha hot sauce (more if you like...)
2-3 TBS natural peanut butter


-Mix the vegetables and sesame seeds in a large bowl.
-Place all dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake or stir until well mixed.
-Pour dressing over salad and stir to combine.
-Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to serving.

Hopefully everything will go smoothly on this camping trip... my husband is not a camper and my parents tell me it has been raining for days. At least I am bringing good food!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weddings.... and a thai-inspired noodle dish

My husband and I went to a wedding today. The wedding was beautiful: the bride wore white,the groom wore a tux and converse, the bride cried, the groom cried, the bride's mother cried, the bride's father cried, I cried and the non-vegan reception lasted hours. Like I said it was a lovely wedding and when it ended I was starving!

Enter my newest, quick creation: Thai-Inspired Quick Noodles. I realize nearly every vegan has some sort of peanut noodle thing that they eat, so I thought I'd add mine to the fray. Here is what I came up with:

Thai-Inspired Quick Noodles
(Makes two side servings or one main dish serving.)

I threw these together on the fly, so my measurements are approximations.

1/8 lb whole wheat noodles

3 scallions, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, jullienned

1 clove garlic minced

1/2 cup snow peas, chopped

3-4 tablespoons peanut butter

juice of one lime

1/4 cup rice vinegar

soy sauce, to taste

siracha hot sauce, to taste

1 tablespoons sesame oil (I prefer the dark oil)

Crushed peanuts to garnish


Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, combine peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and siracha sauce. Mix to a smooth, thin, paste. Once pasta is nearly finished add snow peas to pot, allow to blanch and then drain the combined pasta and snow peas. Set aside.

In the same pot heat the sesame oil and saute the remaining vegetables (including the garlic). Turn the heat to low and add the peanut paste. Stir constantly until heated through. Toss the noodles into the peanut mixture (depending on the consistency of your peanut butter, you may need to add additional rice vinegar to thin the sauce). Top with crushed peanuts and serve.

This winds up our week with our inlaws. Tomorrow we will be returning home and then we leave to go CAMPING with my folks. Hmm... vegan camp food.. I won't be able to write about it until I return but right now I am envisioning asian cole slaw, vegan potato salad, veggie burgers and lots of grilled vegetables.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lunch in New London

One of the hardest things about visiting this part of Connecticut is finding restaurants to eat in that are vegan friendly, close to my in laws and still serve food that everyone will eat. Today I found a wonderful cafe in New London, CT called Mangetout Organic Cafe . Although it is not 100% veggie, this is the most vegan-friendly restaurant I have found near their house. Sadly by the time I found it I had already eaten lunch, but we still had room for coffee and cake!

The menu changes daily but if today's menu was any indication they regularly have 2-3 vegan choices.

Today's Menu:

Lunch Items
(11:00am to 4:00 pm)
(to go prices: bowl: $7.00; cup:$3.50)
Roasted Vegetable Soup (vegan, gluten free)

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla
New York Goodwich (vegan)
Quinoa & Mango Salad Wrap (vegan)

($4.50 per serving)
Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcake with Vanilla-Bean Coconut Buttercream
Hummingbird Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Ginger Shortcakes with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce & Sweet Greek Yogurt
Italian Ricotta Cake with Raspberry Sauce
Rhubarb Pie
Red Plum Tarte Tatin
Monkey Love Chocolate Tofu Pudding (vegan; gluten free)
Chocolate Cupcake with Peppermint Frosting (vegan)

($2.00 each)
Alpha-Omega Oatmeal (wheat free) ; Chocolate Caramel Chews;
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bars (gluten-free, vegan); Kudos

My husband had one of the regular non-vegan cookies and loved it. I had the Vegan Choc Peanut Butter Crisp Bar and it was everything that is good and perfect. It was sweet, gooey, creamy and rich with little crunchy bits of goodness worked in between. I nearly fell over in pure chocolate induced ecstasy. The coffee was equally excellent and the server even made a new pot just for us. It was all I could do to keep from buying one of the Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with peppermint frosting on the spot! Since we were only having desserts, I can only tell you that the other food around me looked incredibly delicious as well.

The atmosphere was bright and sunny. The menu was written on chalk boards hanging around the restaurant. Each table had a white cloth and and there was brightly colored mismatched napkins on each table. I really look forward to eating here again soon.

After lunch we stopped by a small health food co-op called Fiddleheads. This growing co-op had a wide range of foods, including tons of organic veggies, dry goods and soy products. I even found vegan fluff!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a week at my in laws

I'm visiting with my in laws this week. They love having us visit because my husband and I cook dinner every night. I'm the only vegan as usual, but no one is complaining about the food. So far the big hits have been vegetable curry, Vietnamese summer rolls with a spicy mango-ginger sauce and this broccoli side dish:

Italian Broccoli with Sundried Tomatoes


5-6 crowns broccoli chopped into florets

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

4 shallots, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic minced

Olive Oil

Dry White Wine

Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste


-Blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes and then drain. Set aside.
-In a separate pot heat a small amount of olive oil and saute the tomatoes, until very soft.
-Add the Basil, Shallots and red pepper flakes. Continue to saute until the shallots are soft and then add the garlic.
-After the garlic is slightly colored, add 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of the white wine and cook until it is reduced. Season with the salt and pepper and then stir in the broccoli and heat through.

Note: This is excellent over pasta as a main dish. To serve over pasta, chop the broccoli into smaller pieces.