22, count 'em, 22

so i've embarked on the mission to eat out [in] san francisco. with so many vegan friendly joints in the city, i certainly haven't had any difficulty and am definitely not starving.

*vanilla soymilk shake and vegan chorizo hash with tofu and avocado - st. francis fountain
*vegetarian burrito mojado - mojado means "wet" which means a big fat rice and bean burrito covered in enchilada sauce and mild and hot salsa (one on each end!) - taqueria can-cun
*homemade baingan bharta (we say banging bartha) and chana masala courtesy of mary
*grilled avocado salad, mushroom + barley soup, tempeh brochettes, mushroom pot pie and english tea shortcake with earl grey sorbet - millenium (LONGER post to follow soon)
Add Image
the real highlight:

burma superstar - probably just made the list of one of my top five favorite restaurants. the highlight of the meal and the trip (and probably my life) was the rainbow salad made of 22 ingredients! ours was only 21 ingredients because we forewent the dried shrimp. here, i will try to remember all 21:
  1. crispy tofu
  2. crispy garlic
  3. saffron rice
  4. crispy wontons
  5. crispy onions
  6. raw onions
  7. peanuts
  8. scallions
  9. lettuce
  10. cabbage
  11. tomatoes
  12. papaya
  13. rice noodles
  14. rice noodles
  15. rice noodles
  16. rice noodles (4 different kinds)
  17. split pea powder
  18. rice
  19. cilantro
  20. red pepper flakes
  21. tamarind dressing
perfect score! some of those i may have made up, but i looked at a picture online and wrote down everything i could remember. i actually just called the restaurant to ask for all 22 and the person on the phone couldn't even remember them all. tamarind dressing is unlike anything i've ever tasted or experienced. the samosa soup - possibly my second new favorite thing to eat - was amazing as well. crispy pieces of samosa in a spicy lentil soup! why haven't i eaten this before?

pictures soon, i promise! i forgot my camera cable but they are patiently waiting to be uploaded and hopefully you can be patient too. and guess what? it's been sunny!!

after i post this i'm heading to the kitchen to make spanikopita with sofi, then it's off to maggie mudd for ice cream and a meet + greet/networky thing with La Cocina. Perhaps more burmese food for dinner, then dancing my last night away.

not wearing socks,

kitchen alchemy: trash into gold

i love making soup, be it a spoonful of red miso dissolved in hot water with a handful of spinach thrown in, or a complicated multi-step, multiple hour long recipe with a foot long ingredient list. soup is rad because you can eat tons of it and not get too full, and because it warms up your body and makes you feel safe. soup is rad because you can make a monster batch of it and eat it all week long, and unlike most leftovers, it actually gets better as it sits idly in your fridge. it's magic! no, actually it's science, and this is the dime store explanation: as soup gets older (not too old, mind you -if it smells funny, it might be time to toss it) the starches in it break down into sugars, so the flavor deepens and the texture gets richer.

dude, it's a huge cop out to use bouillon cubes or packaged vegetable broth when making soup. you can't really say a soup is made from scratch when the broth is a processed, sodium bloated dry cube. even using the fancy vegan kinds just always made me feel like sort of a faker. and please understand, i am not judging anyone who uses bouillon as a shortcut - in fact, and i'll admit it now to the world, that's all i have ever used. i don't feel particularly proud of that, but i can really be a sucker for convenience. no more! the time has come to evolve as a cook, and mainly inspired by my friend/co-worker/jam master janina, i recently embarked on the journey known as making your own broth.

there are a lot of cooking projects out there that seem really intimidating until you actually just do them. perhaps this struggle extends into life outside the kitchen as well...it is so easy to build things up in your mind until they are bigger than you, bigger than your will, until they mock you with cartoon monster laughter. and as i've so often realized (and yet, so often seem to forget), once you turn to face these things with some steely resolve, they aren't such a big deal after all. for instance, i used to wish desperately that i could make homemade seitan, assuming for some reason that i wouldn't be able to do it. and then one day, i just went for it, and it was super fun and easy and i never bought seitan from the store ever again. i used to proclaim that i "sucked" at baking, and hated how precise you had to be to make it work. then i started reading recipes more carefully and taking some chances, and started stocking the kitchen with higher quality baking ingredients. voila! muffins, scones, pies, cookies - now i make them all with little anxiety or self doubt.

so, vegetable stock was one of those intimidating things for me until janina broke it down: put a bunch of vegetable scraps in a pot with some water, spices and salt, and simmer the hell out of it. cool, strain, and that's it. that is it! for a week or two, every time you cook, save all the carrot and potato peels, onions and garlic paper, leek tops, squash guts and all the other veggie odds and ends that you normally trash or compost. i put mine in a big plastic container in the freezer, but you can use a plastic bag too. then, when you know you'll be home for a few hours, alchemize that shit into pure gold. i started my batch off with half an onion chopped sauteed for a few minutes with olive oil, mixed peppercorns, some bay leaves and a few pinches of dried rosemary. then i literally dumped my cache of veg scraps in (you have to use kind of a big pot), poured enough water in to cover the mess, and topped it off with some sea salt. i then brought it to a boil, turned it down to a simmer and let it do its thing for about 2.5 hours. what happens is the liquid vastly reduces, and the vegetables cook down into mush, imparting all their flavor crystals and vitamin power into the remaining water. i let it cool for awhile and then strained it into a container. i didn't mess with cheesecloth or any of that, just used a normal colander and that was that. now i have tons of vegetable stock (for the long term, i froze some in an ice cube tray), that will lend the delicious taste of victory to all the soups and sauces i'm going to make in the coming month. yes! yessssssss.

janina writes for a cool blog calls isgreaterthan, and back in november, did a super straightforward post about homemade vegetable stock. it really demystifies the process, and makes you feel like "yeah, i can do this." read it here! making stuff yourself instead of buying it from the store is maybe one of the greatest feelings there is, and kids, i'm riding high.



ruby tuesday

wednesday, whatever. the earth is thawing and i'm bringing juicing back! see, last summer and the summer before that, sissy lauren and i made fresh juice (almost) each and every morning. truly, there is no better breakfast, especially in the dank philadelphia july when you live in a house with no air conditioning and your appetite isn't fired up til somewhere around 2 p.m. on days like these, oatmeal and bagels just aren't options. but cool, creamy, sweet and spicy liquid meal - bring it on! anyway, this year i am determined to start this excellent morning tradition before the equinox. my goal is greatly aided by the newest acqusition to the VR kitchen: a champion juicer! get bent, jack lalanne, the champion is true to its name - the best there is. it's a totally no-frills, powerful, durable machine that cranks out life sustaining beverages. this particular juicer is a gently used purchase from our friend ciarra (thanks, girl!), and so far i've used it about 5 times. i've only made juice, but lauren made peanut butter and there are plans in the works for banana whips (a frozen treat made out of pulverized frozen bananas). i've got nothing against our old juicer (a modest hamilton beach model), it's just a little tired from the years of abuse it has already endured.

so if you see me bouncing off the walls, or catch me starting at you with wily vitamin eyes, blame it on the juice. today's brew: 3 large carrots, 1 celery stalk, half a small apple, 1 very small beet and a nub of ginger. what a crimson beauty:



california love

i'm on a plane to oakland/san francisco right now (oh the magic of scheduled blog posts). the 10 day forecast looks like one big "eff you" with rain every day except for a "partly cloudy" day sneaking in on tuesday. we'll see what happens. all i know is:

i got my eye on you. updates, pictures, hopefully some sun, to come.

traveling through time,

vegan drinks philly

let me just go ahead and start out with posting the link to vegan drinks philly, which was started by ed of eatingconsciously.com (which, on a side note, i just checked out for the first time, and dude is so awesome! i feel like i'm just hanging out with him when i watch the videos). check both of these things out, join, subscribe, tweet, whatever the kids are calling it these days. support this man! because me likey.

that being said, vegan drinks philly, as previously featured on vegan royale, was started just a few weeks ago as a venue to bring like minded people together in philadelphia for some food and drinks, chit chat and socializing. i went with three of my friends and, unfortunately, didn't really speak to anyone else except the waiters. BUT, that's another story. in all honesty, i was there for the discounted Horizon's appetizers, and while meeting people would've been awesome, it was not my main agenda.

elisha, demonstrating her dedication to the cause:

so let's talk about the food shall we? all the apps ranged from $4-$8 and while requesting a menu at the bar, i noticed that each portion was prettttty tiny. my suggestion to get SIX dishes and split them all was readily accepted, embraced and enacted.

HELLO! beer battered tempeh with horseradish remoulade, jamaican bbq seitan with jicama slaw and smoked chile dip, fried cauliflower with curry & sea salt and coriander chutney, smoked mushroom skewers with tomato garlic bruschetta, exotic mushroom sliders on rye, and tofu tacos with a zippy sauce i can't quite remember. the "tentative menu" posted on the vegan drinks website last week was indeed tentative, as i had my heart set on the jalapeƱo beer battered pickles and the grilled avocado guacamole, neither of which made the final cut. but i guess that's the whole point of labeling something tentative.

jamaican bbq seitan:

exotic mushroom sliders on rye:

the drinks ranged anywhere from $2.50 to $5 and included gin and tonic, classic cosmo, pomegranate sangria, obovoid imperial stout, two other beers and a few wines. i had a g+t and an obovoid. both were delicious!

the small downstairs bar was insanely packed and we were extremely fortunate and lucky to grab a table merely minutes after walking in the door. i was really happy the thing went off so swimmingly and gathered such a crowd but god damn if it wasn't super loud and a bit claustrophobic. i'm torn between hoping it's in a different location next month due to size issues, or strongly praying it stays at horizon's and those beer battered pickles are on the menu!



big jerk

vegan jerky: there is so much to say, and yet so little. some think it tastes like dog treats, some think it doesn't, and some secretly always wished they could try dog treats and are excited that there is a quasi-acceptable and meatless way to do so. there is a weirdly wide variety of vegan jerky on the market, and i've sampled a nice selection. the most commonly available kinds, it seems, are the tofurkey kind (bleck), the impressive number of flavors of primal strips (their slogan is "fun meaty satisfaction" - ewww!), and stonewall jerquee. there is also a veg jerky that comes in bulk that's occasionally sold at our local co-op. last summer, all members of our house, even the naysayers, became obsessed with the co-op mystery jerky. well, guess what? the mystery is solved! as a gift for our california friends, lauren ordered a 5 pound bulk bag of the jerky and it is stonewall's! i never would have guessed that, because it tastes so much different than the pre-packaged "snack paks" (their spelling, not mine) made by the very same brand. i wonder if it's a freshness issue? or perhaps solely psychological?

stonewall's jerquee (please, pronounce it as we do: "jer-kwee") is made by lumen soy foods. their website, soybean.com, is worth checking out. it looks like it was designed by a 9th grader in computer class in 1995. but that's okay! i'm pretty sure they mean well, and they offer a bizarre range of products that i've never heard of. according to them, the jerky leaves you feeling "full" and "warm" inside, which isn't totally accurate, but man they sure are fun to chew!

and, have you ever seen 5 pounds of jerky? it's kind of intense (see the apple for scale):

a note on nutrition: yeah, this stuff is kind of garbage. it probably has some protein, but also a crazy amount of sodium. a quick scan of the ingredients leads me to believe that it is no where near as processed, or as scary, as meat jerky. we try to only get it as a special treat, and we also try to accept that fact that as far as snacks go, carrot sticks ain't always gonna cut it. we will just leave it at that!



ultimate cuteness

if things that are seriously, gut wrenching-ly adorable annoy you, turn back now!! kittenchops is the graphic design/illustration brainchild of marta windeisen, a seattle based artist. i first came upon her ridiculously cute style when my work started selling a selection of theo chocolates (amazing stuff, also based in seattle). the illustrations on the packaging (little elf people wearing hazelnut hats! charming kitties feasting on hot chocolate and baguette!) filled my brain with marshmallow puffs of happiness. a bit of investigation led me to her website, which features a sampling of the design work she's done for various companies both big and small, as well as random other fun illustrations. her main subject matter seems to be kittens, birds, flowers, and smiley people. her style has a childlike, whimsical quality, but with a grown up attention to color, composition, texture, and occasionally, environmentally conscious messages. but the main point is AHHH! SO CUTE!! i mean come on:

she also maintains a blog, highlighting other cuteness happening in her world...some hyper girls i used to know in college made up the word "fluffin," meant to classify things that are just too sweet to describe otherwise. kitten chops is fluffin defined.



vegan drinks + vegan food = vegan heaven

who wants to join me for delicious vegan food, drinks and supporting veganism in general? this thursday, feb 19th at the food womb:


morning glory hole

you know what? i'll never learn. i'll never learn that restaurants in philadelphia (and other places, too, for sure) don't offer tofu scrambles on their menus because they want to make tofu scrambles. they don't offer it because anyone in their kitchen is particularly excited about making a kick ass vegan breakfast dish. they do it because there are enough vegans and non-egg-eating folks now that they simply have to.

and while this should feel like some sort of cultural victory, it's actually a backwards defeat. since becoming obligitory, most ominvorous restaurant kitchens crank out tastless piles of limp tofu with bacon-fueled scorn. DOES ANYONE EVEN TASTE IT FOR SEASONING? at least once every few weeks, i forget past lessons learned, and find myself cursing the $9 i just spent on brunch/lunch instead of $2.50 for a bagel with hummus and tomato from the green line (coffee included if steve is working!). of course, there are exceptions to this rule (here's looking at you, royal tavern), but morning glory diner, located on the corner of 10th and fitzwater, ain't one of them.

the story: early friday afternoon, ryan texted me to come into town and meet him for lunch, because he'd been cut from his day time shift. we almost never get to see one another on fridays, and it was exciting to have a little mid-afternoon date. we decided on morning glory, because ryan had never been there and it was equidistant from both of our places of work. we got a cozy table in the back of the dining room, but then waited for what felt like forever for our server to come over. when he finally did, without hardly saying hello, he took our orders and spilled coffee all over my place setting. it's hard to put these esoteric things into words but just trust me - he was kind of a dick. he just seemed annoyed that we were dining at his establishment and offered nothing in the way of good cheer. i ordered the tofu scramble because, besides oatmeal which i cannot justify paying $7 for, it was the only vegan thing on the breakfast menu. well, the coffee was good and all, but when the food did arrive, my heart sank. if the best thing on your plate is the toast, you know you're in trouble:

maybe it looks okay, but the potatoes were lukewarm, the ketchup tasted like marinara sauce, and the tofu was barely cooked through and totally bland. surely by now people know that curry powder alone does not a seasoning make. i could make a better tofu scramble than this with one hand tied behind my back (even if the other hand was fighting off a rabid raccoon or something). there is a word for food like this and it is "meh." one bit of good news is that ryan said his seitan cheesesteak was fantastic, and i'm glad for that. and we still had a nice time together; i don't want to give the impression that the crap food or rushed, weird service ruined our special, spontaneous date.

but to (most of the) kitchens of philadelphia - i challenge you! send out a tofu scramble that knocks my socks off, one with flavor and guts and crispy, hearty tofu and vegetables! one with some zazz, some personality, one with an intention! don't let my bitter tears be the only flavor on the damn plate.

love (to all VR readers but not to morning glory),


and they called it choco-looooove

what is it about the stereotype that all women love chocolate - and eat it in times of need - that so often rings true? or am i confusing it with the stereotype that i, more specifically, love chocolate and eat it any time i can? i will honestly say that this is not due to the upcoming 'holiday', but i've really been on a chocolate kick lately (as proof that it's not because of v-day, i will have you know that i started this post eight days ago and just now am finishing it! laziness, thanks for coming to my rescue on this one).

after i became vegan a few years ago (it'll be my 3 year anniversary in march!), chocolate seemed like it was just one of those things i couldn't have. oh sure, peanut chews are delightful and you might find one or two bars in a gourmet or health food shop if you read every single ingredient label, but i pretty much stuck with baking homemade desserts for myself. a few months ago, i started noticing random bars of chocolate in the kitchen, tucked into this nook or that cranny, nestled between the raisins and the cashews or hidden behind the panko bread crumbs. what is this, dark chocolate with crystallized ginger? ahoy there, 43% soy milk ecuadorian vintage plantations bar. then my mom gave us trader joe's organic dark chocolate truffle bars for christmas and things just skyrocketed from there.

since then, i've been buying, trying, exploring, testing and tasting all different kinds of special, fancy, interesting and/or gourmet vegan chocolate and chocolate products. does someone up there like me? or is the lack of milkfat, whey, buttermilk, milk solids or butter a sign of quality? i'm not one to judge, but i will say that these chocolates are BANGING. wait, i am one to judge.

behold, my newest favorite:

chocolove, i love you. and each chocolate bar has a little love poem printed on the inside. so what if they are mostly cheesy, or boring, or don't really make sense, it's the thought that counts. and did i mention the combination of chocolate and raspberries does things to me that nothing else really can?

yesterday i had a chocolate craving at work and what do ya know, hershey's chocolate syrup is vegan! i wouldn't normally buy or ingest this corn syrup laden product, but in times of desperation, a vegan hot chocolate will surely do!

last night's vegan balsamic fudge drops made by our trusty vegan sidekick, tony, only furthered my cravings for chocolate + a fudgey texture. enter: awesome foods raw chocolate coconut goji berry fudge. i was introduced to the awesome foods brand when i first started working at willow creek, and i do like most of their stuff. i had never bought the chocolate goji fudge because it's rather pricey, but after trying it at work last weekend, i'm hooked. it has a super fudgey texture and coconutty flavor, and a little textural crunch from the goji berries and i guess it's good for me so i don't mind popping one at, oh, 9 am, before breakfast.

lastly, but not leastly, ho ho no, not least, tonight, i will be embarking upon a chocolate journey thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Mac & Cheese. i'm going to make her recently posted Coconut Truffles, as well as last year's Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes. i don't know if she knows it, but i have a food crush on that girl. maybe i'll send her a valentine this year. or maybe a special cookie will suffice. nothing says i love you quite like chocolate. oh wait, there's that holiday talk again. maybe this year, chocolate can just be my lover?


heads up! multi-course vegan (and beer!!) dinner at SPTR, feb. 15th

last sunday, to culminate a very exciting weekend, a gaggle of friends and i brunched at the south philly tap room. it was one of the more delightful brunches i've had in a long, long time and fully deserves its own recap and review. unfortuantely, i have to be at work in half an hour and there is simply no time at this exact moment to do it justice.

however! at that brunch, while sitting at our sun drenched table waiting for drinks to arrive, i noticed a few little fliers floating around. much to my delight, they were advertising a 4 course vegan food and beer tasting. hell yeah! we asked the server if she could give us any more info on the event, and she brought over the menu which flooded my heart with pure, unadulterated joy. listed below, keep in mind that the food is bound to be tops, the beer is from dogfish head brewery (yeah delaware!) and proceeds go to benefit the rat chick rat rescue. the dinner is $45 and will be hosted this sunday, february 15th. the south philadelphia tap room is at 15th & mifflin streets.

first course
food: baby spinach, double walnut vinaigrette, mint and black pepper
beer: festina peche

second course
food: white bean and leek bruschetta with ursini extra virgin olive oil
beer: indian brown

third course
food: mushroom and huitlacoche enchiladas, salsa baracho, charred cactus escabeche
beer: 60 minute ipa

fourth course
food: pear cobbler with oatmeal and brown sugar crumb
beer: raison d'etre


femme du fondant

is it wrong to want to ask someone on a date just from reading an article about them? this new york times profile about pastry chef christina tosi, makes her seem like the funnest girl ever. some of her likes are puppies, bike rides, neil young, gin & tonics and cute old ladies! and she makes lovely, inventive confections for nyc superstar outfit, momofuku milk bar. look at her go:




whomp, there it is

i know, i know, you miss us. it's been a few days - perhaps our longest streak of blogitude lackage - since we started this baby. well, I have an excuse, albeit a very poor one. no, i haven't been baking up a storm, i definitely wasn't gallivanting about town, nor was i exploring all the old back issues of Gourmet on the shelf. i was playing an online game.

there i said it. i'll admit it. the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, so here we are. i'm revisiting an addiction to an old beloved online game. look, at least it's not the sims, ok? the game i find so fun, so stimulating and so mentally challenging (it keeps me in peak mental shape, you see) is none other than word whomp. this game features fairly simple letter rearranging in an adorable screen setting:

six little gophers hold six letters and your objective is to form as many words as possible out of those six letters (the mega word in the picture above is "harken" and also "hanker", get it?). when you've reached a certain number of words, the gopher at the bottom of the screen munches a carrot. if you get every word possible, the gopher munches a turnip. super cute, vegan friendly AND promotes healthy eating. unfortunately, it's hella addicting and very counterproductive to my spend-less-time-on-the-computer resolution.

i warn you, word whomp is not for those who lack free time. it is not for those easily succumbing to all things addictive in nature. and it's definitely not for those lacking good spelling skills. but damn if it isn't nice, after a long day of work, to just plop down and bang out some three letter words. happy whomping!

p.s. i did make some cookies today, chocolate chocolate chip walnut cookies, so there!


Peanut Butter Cookie Time

i've been shacked up in bed with a little bit of a fever and a little bit of an infection for two straight days and you can only watch so many episodes of 30 Rock before you feel the need to do something even slightly productive. so i cleaned my room, changed my bed sheets, applied for a few jobs and to top it all off i thought, well why don't i go ahead and bake something.

it's no longer a secret to everyone that i love sweets. tonight, after a hearty meal of leftover pasta with lentils courtesy of sister emma, i had a little craving for something warm and dessert-like. i immediately remembered the new addition of some oats to our kitchen and furiously rustled through the pages of a September '08 copy of vegetarian times that touted "homemade vegan cookies & brownies" on the cover. ahhh yes, peanut butter-oatmeal cookies, i've been waiting to make you. here they are on the cooling rack, note the big old pieces of oats, that makes them "healthy", people.

i guess these being healthy and all, i can eat 3 right off the cooling rack. the hard thing about doing a food photo shoot, besides my lack of photography skills, is that when a hot meal is in front of you, you just want to dig in! but when a whole 2 dozen cookies are in front of you, it's hard to stop digging in. did i mention i love peanut butter?

if you missed the recipe link above, here it is again. they were pretty easy to make, with tony as my co-baker, we banged these out in about 10 minutes. the problem is they are SO good, SO bite sized and SO adorable that this triple threat makes it really difficult to stop yourself from eating 5.

snow day (night)!!!

today, around 2 p.m., it started snowing like hell. shows were half canceled, and beautifully half assed new plans were made. clark park - epicenter of our neighborhood, whether we like it or not - was blown up with sled-loving kids from 9 p.m. til at least now, when i dragged my soggy ass home (1:40 a.m.). i exposed my digital camera to the elements for only a few precious seconds, but it gives you idea enough...right? for the full effect, imagine snow down your pants, whiskey in your flask, cute dogs barking, everyone cheering, barely a "real" sled in sight (most were facing the hill on slicked up pieces of cardboard, broken drum cymbals, trash can lids and cafeteria lunch trays), and you get the idea...

i love living here.



the tof hoag

every city seems to have a little deli, market or restaurant that makes "the best" vietnamese style tofu hoagie. tofu hoagie = marinated tofu, shredded carrots and daikon, sprigs of cilantro, thin slices of jalapeno peppers and a hefty dash of sriracha. i've only sampled the wares in chicago (too greasy) and seattle (the insides were great but the bread was so crusty it hurt my mouth), but i still feel confident in naming west philadelphia's fu wah mini market (47th & baltimore ave.) the victor.

fu wah's hoagie rolls are always soft and fresh, the tofu is juicy, the vegetables are crunchy and everything is proportioned just right. each bite is a salty, spicy, zippy flavor explosion! and at $3.75 (remember when they used to be a flat 3 bucks? those were different times), you can throw in a bag of dirty chips and have yourself a wholly satisfying lunch for 5 dollars.

the outside lunch time world can be a cruel place for a cash strapped vegan. chinese food is usually gross, soups are made with chicken stock or cream, sushi is way expensive, and veggie sandwiches and salads are infuriatingly overpriced. tofu hoagie (or tof hoag, as we sometimes abbreviate) and the fine people at fu wah: i salute thee, for standing as a vegan beacon of light in the dark, meaty streets of philadelphia.



let them eat pancakes

Oh pancakes, is there nothing you can't do? Why, just the other day, a batch of leftover pancakes thoroughly cleaned the bathroom! And last week, when I wasn't feeling well, pancakes went in to work for me so I could stay home and rest. Normally though, pancakes fill my belly with simple, easy, delicious sustenance.

Once in a great while (ok, more like a few times a month) it seems as though our kitchen has been ransacked. Wha happen to all the tofu, tempeh, beans, vegetables, snausages, fruit, bread and yogurt (and everything else there is to eat)!??

That's when I refer to a tried and true 5 ingredient pancake recipe. FIVE INGREDIENTS! It doesn't get much easier (that is, unless you use a boxed mix, but let's not even go there, shall we?). This recipe is super simple and adaptable. I like to make little individually flavored pancakes - chocolate chip, apple cinnamon (see lower right hand corner of picture below), banana walnut, coconut almond, whatever! Top with bananas, maple syrup, jam, peanut butter or raw honey and revel in the wonders of easiness, cheapness and yum. Yeah, it might not be the most nutritious thing out there, but there's worse, oh god there's so much worse.

Classic Pancakes (from How It All Vegan)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups soy milk
2 tbsp oil

The best way to make pancakes is with a hot non-stick pan, a plastic spatula, and a lid to cover them while they cook, which hastens the cooking process and ensures that the middle won't end up gooey! Heat your oven to about 200F and place a heat-resistant plate inside. As you finish making your pancakes, transfer them to the oven so that they'll stay warm until you are ready to serve them.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Add the milk and oil and mix together carefully until "just mixed" (if you mix too vigorously the pancakes won't get fluffy!). Portion out about 3/4 to 1 cup of batter onto a hot non-stick pan or lightly oiled frying pan and cover with a lid. Let sit on medium heat until the center starts to bubble and becomes sturdy. Flip pancake over and cook other side until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Makes 2 or more servings. Enjoy!

it was...a big day

it was, indeed, a big day. i cooked, i baked, i dined, i drank. it was the first saturday i've had off (from work) in so long! and so, while trying to make the best of it, lots of food things happened.

first: the afternoon of cooking. i made a fannnnntastic batch of granola. 1 cup steel cut irish oats + 1/2 cup rolled oats (NOT instant oats) + 1 cup chopped cashews & walnuts + 1/4 cup vegetable oil + 1/3 cup maple syrup + 1 tbsp. homemade vanilla extract + 1/4 tsp. sea salt (baked at 350 F, for 20 minutes and stirred often), with some roasted sunflower seeds, raisins, and hemp seads added after the fact. crunchy, sweet and salty are the reasons the whole world loves granola (even ryan, who deemed it "too healthy," then ate about 4 big handfulls of it). despite the informal recipe i just laid out, there is no secret to granola! just mix up some stuff you like with a bit of sweetener and a touch of oil and salt, then bake it til it smells good. seriously, that's it. if you buy granola pre-made from the store, YOU ARE BEING RIPPED OFF.

this beautiful mix and some soy yogurt is my breakfast for the next few days. protein for breakfast! whoever says it isn't possible for a vegan to start the day off right, well, consider yourself served.

then (simultaneously, actually), i tried my hand at a seitan loaf meant to become "deli slices." the recipe was adapted from vegan dad (brilliance! my new mantra: "the man knows his seitan!"). it was actually pretty easy - vital wheat gluten kneaded into a spicy broth - but the outcome is still uncertain. we're pretty sure that to feel the full effect, one of us needs to take the loaf to work and, under the scrutiny and potential vegan-hatred of our co-workers, slice it up on a genuine deli meat slicer. otherwise, we might end up with this weird baby:

that is not a hoagie roll; it's a big old roll of wheat meat. yeesh. but it tastes good! i swear.

then, after a wee foodie break, i met our dear friend adam/VR south philly correspondent at a center city vegan chinese spot. maybe it's best to write about that venture tomorrow. until then, here is a photo of adam in all of our entree glory:

he actually said to me "make sure the photo looks good." ha! there ya go, champ. more to come tomorrow.