Monday, September 30, 2013

A very special Vegan MoFo dedication: To my hero, Weird Al

This has been an amazing month.  I have had so much fun blogging here about vegan food.  It has really inspired me to be more involved in the vegan community and to share my love of vegan food. And, I hope to continue posting regularly on this blog about my own personal adventures in veganism.  It's also made me feel more secure about being more out-there in real life with my friends and family about the joy of living a vegan lifestyle.  So, three cheers for Vegan MoFo!

Before I had even heard of veganism, I was a fan of Weird Al Yankovic.  He's also a fave-rave with my whole family.  Here's a crappy phone picture of my birthday present from a few years back:
Al, my pal! 

Not only is he a hero for nerds and geeks around the world, but he's vegan!  What's not to love?  So, in honor of Weird Al and the way he also inspires me to let my freak flag fly, I bring you.....

Look Bob!  It's your favorite!

I don't think any recipes or much explanation are needed.  Simply make some aluminum foil twinkie molds, fill 'em with your favorite vanilla cake recipe, pump 'em full of vegan vanilla buttercream, and let the fun begin.

Make some twinkie molds using foil and a spice bottle.
I put my molds in a brownie pan and added some pie beans for stability.

Beautiful synchronized twinkies a la Esther Williams.
Ready to add some vegan junk food!
In case you didn't get a good enough look the first time
What did I think of it?  Well, let's just say one bite was enough to last me a lifetime. 


 Happy Vegan MoFo 2013 to everyone!!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Penultimate Polish Potato Bread, or A Lot of Alliteration from Hungry Herbivores Busily Baking Bread after Terrible Tofu Tragedy

So, I went to this new-to-me restaurant last night with some friends and was really excited about it because I had read online that it was "vegan friendly!" and they even had a Vegan Crispy Tofu Burger and Tofu Po' Boy listed in the on-line menu. All right!  Let's get this party started!

I assume the reference is to Topher Grace?  Is he even a vegetarian?  Well, I don't know, but it doesn't matter because this sandwich isn't either.

When I got to the restaurant, there was no Crispy Tofu Burger in sight on the menu any longer.  Okay, no prob.  I was really interested in the Tofu Po' Boy anyways.

"Is the Tofu Boy vegan?"

"Uh, let me think.  Well, if we left off the special sauce it might be, because that has mayonnaise in it."

"Okay, that sounds good.  I'd like to order that."

"Wait, let me ask the kitchen."


"Um, well, the slaw isn't vegan either so we'd have to leave that off.  And the barbecue sauce has Worcestershire sauce with anchovies in it.  And the bread has eggs."


I ended up with a tofu wrap with no dressing, and it was actually pretty tasty.  But it came with a side of fries that had obviously been sitting under a heat lamp for quite a while.  So, yeah.  NOT going there again.  Oh well.

So let's talk about something that is vegan and super delicious instead!  My husband, James, is of Polish descent.  His grandparents emigrated from Poland and somehow ended up in Kentucky.  James had a Polish college professor tell him once that our last name, Kolasa, means "maker of two-wheeled carts."  A noble profession!  In any case, every once in a while he gets on an "explore-my-Polish-heritage" kick, and we get to eat some tasty new foods.

One of our absolute favorites is Polish Potato Bread:

I stayed up until midnight cooking these bad boys for you people!
This bread is tender and moist from the potatoes, and it makes your whole house smell awesome as it bakes.  You can slice it up for sandwiches, or toast it, or just rip off fresh-out-of-the-oven warm chunks of bread and cram them into your gaping maw.  We love to take this on picnics and do just that!  If you make it with Yukon golds, it also will have a beautiful golden color.  So get busy baking!

Polish Potato Bread

½ cup vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 ½ cups mashed potatoes
2 T. sugar
1 cup vegan milk, warmed slightly in microwave
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp instant yeast
5 ½ cups all purpose flour
Olive oil for brushing
Sesame seeds

Mix vegan butter and mashed potatoes in large bowl.  Add sugar, salt, and warmed milk.  Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water and then add to milk/potato mixture.  Gradually add flour, stirring with wooden spoon.  Knead and let rise until doubled in bulk.  Punch down and let rise again.  Split into two balls.  Form each ball into a braided loaf and set in greased French-bread loaf pan or cookie sheet to rise again.  Brush loaves with olive oil.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake in preheated 400° oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350° and bake for another 25-30 minutes.  Cool before slicing.

Notes:  The olive oil will give it a nice brown color, but unfortunately it won't make the seeds stick.  (Obviously this is my veganized version of the original recipe.)  In any case, you might try boiling 1/2 cup water with a couple tablespoons of cornstarch, and then letting that mixture cool and using it to brush on top of the loaves prior to baking.  I think that'll hold the seeds on better. 

Bread rising, waiting to be brushed with olive oil.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sweet dreams are made of this

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Chocolate and peanut butter.  Oh yes.

Favorite Cookie:
Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut-Butter Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan With a Vengeance
Today's lunch dessert!
Add a bag of your favorite vegan chocolate chips, and use your small disher to scoop these out.  Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.  These are my go-to dessert recipe!  No Earth Balance required!

Favorite Candy:
Homemade Halloween Treats: Chocolate Candy Bar from Healthy. Happy. Life.

Image from Healthy.Happy.Life by Kathy Patalsky

These things are SO GOOD and easy to make.  I made them for our Halloween party last year and they were absolutely devoured.  Kathy has totally convinced me to use more coconut oil in my baking with her awesome recipes.

Favorite Bar:
Kittee's O' Henry! Bars from Papa Tofu

Image totally stolen from Instructables.
I have modified this recipe and made it my own with the following changes:  Use 1/3 cup peanut butter and 1/3 cup Earth Balance (instead of 2/3 cups E.B.) in the base, and use 3 cups quick oats and 1 cup crispy rice cereal (instead of 4 cups of quick oats).  It pumps up the peanut-buttery goodness and adds a little something-something to the bar.  I could mainline these, seriously.

This message is officially approved by Taffy, the Sassy Cat.
Stop writing down recipes and feed me already!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That's no moon, it's a space station

We're building up to the end of Vegan MoFo... can you feel the excitement?  I've got plans for a grand finale on Monday next week (September 30th!), but in the meantime I'd like to share this little masterpiece with you:

Yes friends, that IS a Vegan Barbecue Sundae.  My husband (NOT vegan) dragged me to the Kentucky Barbecue Festival a few weeks ago, and one of the participating teams was selling BBQ Sundaes, and they were going like hotcakes.  Sad, but true.  These concoctions were served in clear Solo cups with a big dill pickle wedge stuffed in the side.  I thought to myself, "Wow. That's disgusting."  And then I thought, "This needs to be veganized!"  (You'll note there is no dill pickle in the picture above.  I don't like them myself, but they do kinda add a nice finishing touch to the presentation, especially for a party!)

Now, everybody knows that soy curls are the ideal product for some good vegan BBQ, so that's what I used.  I re-hydrate my soy curls in a broth with the same seasonings Isa Chandra Moskowitz uses for her Tempeh Bacon in Vegan With a Vengeance.  Then I saute them until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the curls are starting to brown, and then add bbq sauce.  I'm partial to Kansas City sweet sauce myself, but you can use whatever.

The bottom layer is composed of the Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon.  Yum yum yum.

The recipe I'm going to share today is for the slaw, which I sorta made up based on the description of the BBQ Sundae at the Festival:  Key Lime Coleslaw.  It sounded interesting, so I definitely wanted to give it a go. It turned out really tangy and creamy, just perfect to cut the sweetness of the BBQ soy curls and the mustardy-molasses-y goodness of the beans.  I definitely see this slaw becoming a fave for future vegan BBQ events!

I perused some Lime Slaw recipes on the web for a while, and here's the result:


1 bag of shredded cabbage (I used Trader Joe's.  I'd estimate there were approximately 4 cups of cabbage in that bag. Pick out the big stemmy pieces that didn't shred right.)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 small onion, minced
2 green onions, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup vegan mayo (I used E.B. Mindful Mayo)
1/4 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti)
the juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the mayo, sour cream, lime juice and zest, and sugar in a large bowl.  Add all the veggies and toss well to get everything coated.  Add a little salt and pepper and taste.  Add more seasonings as needed/desired.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

And the leftovers are awesome for lunch the next day!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Find a Happy Place

Today I want to talk about some of the vegan options in Kentucky.  Believe it or not, there are some! 

I live in a small town, but the Kroger in nearby Harrodsburg (five miles away) has a decent selection of faux meats, Earth Balance, soy/almond milk, vital wheat gluten, tofu and the like.  So shopping to cook at home is not hard.  If I want an even bigger selection that is still relatively close to home, I can go a little farther away (ten miles) to Danville and hit the Kroger there.  Eating out in Harrodsburg or Danville is mostly a wash – you can hit up the usual suspects like Taco Bell or Subway, or there’s a Chinese place in Danville called Wok-n-Go that has a yummy version of Sesame Tofu.

Luckily, I commute to Lexington for work, and there are plenty of options there!  We just got a Trader Joe’s last year, and we’ve got Whole Foods and the local Good Foods Co-op.  The Good Foods Co-op has a restaurant as well, with an awesome hot bar, salad bar, and some vegan selections in the bakery section.

There are plenty of Asian restaurants in Lexington that can accommodate your vegan needs:  my personal favorite is Asian Wind, which has the most awesome soy/gluten product called kwachik on the menu.  The Kung Pao Kwachik and Sesame Kwachik are delish!  Planet Thai is also a fave:  great Pad Thai, Planet Thai Noodles, curries, and more.  Try the spring rolls!  Omigod!  (You know the drill:  ask for no egg or fish sauce ...Side note:  I also once saw Steve Zahn eating dinner there. Woot!)

The local Mexican restaurants also have some pretty good vegetarian selections that can easily be made vegan.  Jalapeno’s and El Toro are two of my favorites.  Potato burrito!  Yee-ha!

We’ve also got some Cajun joints that are worth checking out:  head to Bourbon n’ Toulouse for the vegan black beans and rice!

The old vegetarian hippie standby and local favorite is Alfalfa’s.  I find them to be hit or miss sometimes (and a little pricey), but they’ve usually got at least one vegan dish on the nightly specials, and options on the regular menu as well.  Hit them up for weekend brunch and you won’t be disappointed.  Get the cinnamon coffee!  Another local restaurant with good veggie options is Ramsey’s.  They tend to be heavy on the cheesy-side of things, but you can get vegan if you try!

We’ve also got lots of newcomers on the scene – Limestone Blue is a cute little sandwich place downtown (I think they lean more vegetarian than vegan, but I’m sure they will accommodate!)

And there’s always Mellow Mushroom for pizza!

I don’t get to Louisville much, but I did want to throw in a mention for Heart & Soy on Bardstown Road.  This place is really cool.  You can watch them making homemade tofu through a big glass wall.  It doesn’t get any more vegan than that, does it?  We hit them up last year when we saw the Mythbusters on tour.   Here's what we ate:

Pad Thai

Rice Cake with Veggies

BBQ Tofu over brown rice

And thanks to Kittee’s epic month of Ethiopian food, we’ll be hitting up Addis Grill or Queen of Sheba next time we go.  

So, next time you're heading to Kentucky, or just passing through, do not despair!  We've got you covered!

Finally, here's that whoopie pie I owe you all from yesterday:

See you tomorrow, MoFoers!

Monday, September 23, 2013

And then a miracle occurred...

Guys, I was at a work conference on Friday and take a look at the lunch menu:

Apparently the only dessert vegetarians and vegans need are either granola bars or fruit cups.  These people need a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, stat! 

This is the first time in 10 years of attendance at this conference that they have offered more than one vegetarian option.  Not only that, but there’s a VEGAN CHICKEN option!  Holy cow!  I was so excited!  Then I got waylaid by my boss on the way to the box lunched area, and by the time I got there all of the vegan chicken salads were gone.  I nearly wept.  Thankfully, there were some hummus boxes left, so I did at least get something to eat.  But hooray anyways!

What else happened this weekend:

My husband came home last week raving about some new faculty member in his department who had brought in homemade doughnuts.  Yeah, challenge accepted, buddy!

Three and half mile hike and geo-caching at Shakertown

One of the stone walls at Shakertown.  It's just gorgeous out there.

James photobombs his son, who is proudly displaying the contents of the cache we found.

Asian rice paper rolls with VWAV peanut sauce and homemade sweet chili sauce:

Fall Festival at my son’s school.  I painted faces for 2 and ½ hours, while sitting in one of the toddler-size chairs.  By the time I was done, I had to seriously un-kink myself in order to stand up. I wore my PPK t-shirt for the fun!
Someone ran off with our mirror, so I had to take pics of the kids so they could see what horrors I had inflicted upon their cute little faces

I also made Whoopie Pies (which I sadly did not get a picture of; I still have some at home so may try to add one tomorrow) for the Cake Walk, recipe courtesy of the fabulous Kittee Berns from her zine Papa Tofu.  If you don’t have this zine yet, you are missing out!  These cookies are my son’s absolute favorite, so the first thing he did was jump into the Cake Walk so he could win them back.  No one else was going to get their stinky paws on his vegan Whoopie Pies!

It's the last week full week of Vegan MoFo, and I'm still here!  I may be talking to myself, but I'm having fun, and that's all that counts, right?  See you tomorrow!