brave vegans in the wild west - part 1

alright, folks, this one's gonna be a doozy. this is the re-cap - in food! - of the trip that lauren and i recently took to visit our dad. he lives in colorado, on the western slope in a town called montrose. we didn't spend much time in montrose this trip, though, cuz our whole reason for going was to take a road trip to moab, utah to traipse through the trippy landscapes of arches national park and the canyonlands. we did lots of hiking, quite a lot, in fact, for these city gals.
we started each morning with oatmeal, fruit and yogurt, and...

wait. i'm getting way ahead of myself. where we really need to start, is in the denver airport.

we flew out of philadelphia at 9:30 on a monday morning. we woke up too late to pack snacks, so before boarding we bought a gross green salad and half a dry bagel to share for breakfast. the philadelphia airport, or at least the terminal we were flying out of, is not kind to the vegans. i vaguely remember an au bon pain somewhere in the airport, with its promise of hummus and bagels, but it was too far away from us to visit. suffice to say, by the time we landed in denver for our layover, we were hunggggry. the denver airport is way smaller than philadelphia's, so we spent some time perusing our options. yes, you heard correctly: we had options! glorious options!! hummus platter at the greek cafe? vegetarian burrito at the tex-mex joint? big old salad at the fake bistro? what we decided on was none of these.

we spotted a bright little place in the corner, mysteriously called "itza wrap, itza bowl." their menu was simple but enticing, a selection of rice and noodle bowls and salad-y wraps. there were actually lots of vegan and vegetarian things to choose from. we shared the thai peanut noodle bowl with tofu, and the colorado sunshine wrap, which had some avocado and sprouts on it. both were surprisingly great:

nothing spectacular was going on, but it was fresh and good. that's far more than i usually ask from airport food.

i just googled itza wrap, itza bowl, and i think it only exists in the denver airport! weird. also, i just glanced at the yelp reviews of this place, which were mostly super negative. don't listen to the haters.

once we landed in grand junction, a town about an hour away from our dad's, he took us out for a beer at the rockslide brewery in the cute little downtown. the rockslide had nary a vegan option (except for good old french fries, of course) but our palates did lay elsewhere, and we ordered only a pre-dinner beer...or 6. i (lauren), after much deliberating, ordered the amber ale, while emma opted for the sampler, 6 little gibraltar glasses of their finest brews. it was a really nice tasting session and cute, to boot.

after our drinks, we headed over to a tiny, cozy japanese restaurant. ever the lovers of japanese food, we delightfully (and dutifully) ordered veggie tempura to start. emily had veggie sushi and i had a tofu stir fry with peanut sauce and we all 3 split a side of edamame. it doesn't get more japanese restaurant than this, and it doesn't matter. i revel in repetition.

for the next three days we stayed in a quaint condo in moab, utah, complete with a kitchen! partnered with the city market down the street, we had ourselves breakfast, lunch and dinner, homemade style. this translated to: oatmeal, fruit/yogurt/nut mix, and/or smoothies for breakfasts (don't forget the coffee!); hummus and sprout sammiches for lunch (plus some larabars and fig newman's, and lest we not forget the GORP!, on the trail) and burritos or pasta and veggies sauce for dinner. believe it or not the teensy town of moab even had a thai joint, which we promptly headed to for dinner on our last night. much like the japanese restaurant, you can't really go wrong at a thai place with steamed dumplings, vegetable curry or tofu with a spicy sauce.

on our last day in moab, we stopped at the hippie-tastic love muffin cafe.

everyone loves to hate on a hippie, but they do some decent, relaxed veg-friendly food at the love muffin, and i'll take that any day, as long as no one's playing with devil sticks out front (come on, surely you remember devil sticks?). vegan mocha chocolate chip muffin and a cup of coffee will do you no harm. and a curry tofu sandwich on homemade ciabatta with a dash of hot sauce is sure to wake you up!

after a few head-reeling days in moab, we headed back to montrose, co and that, friends, is where we'll leave you tonight.

check back soon for part 2 (and maybe 3!!?) of our adventure.

em + lauren


one sandwich to rule them all

i just wanted to share with you, gentle and hungry readers, the transcendental sammy that is known as "bbq seitan w/ slaw." there are variations of this savory and sweet banger all over vegan cookbooks and blogs, so i won't bore you with another variation of the recipe. however, i will say that this particular go-round was extra satisfying, because shortcuts were avoided and a collaboration was employed: i made the seitan from scratch, ryan made the bbq sauce (based on a non-veeg recipe for pulled pork), as well as the absolutely dreamy red cabbage slaw. stuffed into a fresh philly hoagie roll, the melding of flavors was nearly symphonic. plated without care next to a little side of red potato french fries right from the oven, a meal was made. on a sweet spring evening, sometimes even a sandwich can make you feel like the world is just full of wonder and possibility.

if you want more info about how to make seitan from scratch, check out isa's infallible instructions. wheat meat is really easy to make, and having a big container of it waiting in your fridge widens the scope of the daily dinner options. and it's full of protein (sorry, gluten free kiddies). hot damn!



gardness progress

i'm not much of a green thumb, but i'm trying to learn. gardening, like sewing and baking, is a domestic skill somehow both incredibly practical and really cool. our old, and very much missed, housemate mary, has a natural ease in the garden, and taught me some basic and important things while she lived here and toiled to make our backyard a green, colorful oasis. she didn't always teach me things by talking them out, or showing me step-by-step instructions...it was more a process of osmosis. i watched, and occasionaly helped, her work out there and saw that you don't need fancy tools, gloves, or soil. she would sow seeds in all kinds of salvaged containers (think old sinks and tires), dig around with slotted spoons and water the seedlings with an iced tea pitcher. she wasn't scared to experiment, yet she worked with purpose. she didn't project the anxiety that i've felt forever about killing the plants or wasting her time. she just made it seem manageable and fun.

as a result of her labor, and the small tasks that lauren and i have been doing to maintain the garden, things are really growing this spring! all the herbs - chives, rosemary, mint and tarragon - re-seeded and promptly exploded into a tangled bouquet that we use in almost everything we cook. red and orange tulips line the front of the flower bed, and the day lillies are just getting ready to do their thing.

best of all is this bizarre beauty that i have no recollection of from last year. anyone know what this flower is called?

i am going to try to do my part to keep the house garden blooming. i planted some tomato seedlings, sowed some basil, carrot, and assorted flower seeds, bought an oregano plant yesterday from the fruit truck, and hope to get a hot pepper seedling, too. maybe nothing will grow, maybe my unskilled touch will be the touch of death. but you know what? i'm going to go for it anyway. if anyone has any tips or suggestions, i'm all ears.




I'm an avid, rabid fan of avocados. Yeah, they're full of fat, you say, but it's the good kind of fat people - monounsaturated! DUH! Not to mention they kick the banana's ass in potassium content and have the highest fiber content of any fruit, yes, I said fruit. They are technically a giant berry!

See how much I love avocados:


Working from home recently (i.e. right now), I stumbled upon the website for the Ark of Taste, a collaborative project between LocalHarvest and Slow Food. The concept is kind of cool albeit mostly ridiculous. The project "aims to rediscover and catalogue forgotten flavors by documenting excellent food products that are in danger of disappearing". Basically, foods that are 'endangered' are nominated and, once selected, join the ranks of hundreds of other foods that people are encouraged to purchase and consume in order to keep them from becoming extinct. Pretttttty outrageous, but most things Slow Food are.

I can't get wrapped up in all that, HOWEVER, thanks to the Ark of Taste website, I recently discovered three new kinds of avocados. Haas, more like HAHs (just kidding baby, I love you forever). Meet:

Fuerte Avocado - With the commercialization of avocado production, the Fuerte avocado was displaced by the thick-skinned Haas, which handles better in shipping to distant markets. Yet the Fuerte is a connoisseur's avocado and is considered to have richer, more complex flavor than the Hass with notes of hazelnut and a clean, lemony finish. It is a medium to large fruit with an elongated pyriform shape ranging from around five to sixteen ounces. Its skin is smooth, thin and conceals thick, yellow flesh that is eighteen percent oil.

Puebla Avocado - The Puebla avocado is a small, compact fruit resembling somewhat in appearance the better-known Hass. The Puebla, however, has beautiful onyx black skin, which is much thinner and smoother than other commercially grown varieties. It boasts a smooth, velvety flesh with a nutty aroma and a butter-rich taste. The hardy growing trees hit their peak season from December to February in southern California. According to Dennis Sharmahd, one of the few remaining Puebla producers, there are only 10 trees left in San Diego County. Dennis is hopeful that by next year, trees might be available for sale.

Popenoe Avocado - Unlike most oily commercial varieties, the Popenoe avocado is lighter, enormous (up to a pound each), has a shiny green skin and grows well in humid sub-tropical and tropical areas. The football-shaped Popenoe is described as firmer, creamier and juicier than the Haas avocado. There are currently no commercial operations to grow the Popenoe. Clonal reproduction of this cultivar has been very limited and distribution by seed has historically been more common for non-commercial avocados in Florida and Honduras. Sustainable production of the Popenoe avocado will require clonal reproduction of the few existing trees.

So, I say I don't want to get all caught up in this Ark of Taste and then I think, "Wow, these varieties look really good!" But what if I never get to try them? How will I live the rest of my life knowing I never once sampled the notes of hazelnut that a Fuerte has to offer, or the butter-rich taste of the Puebla? Ok, so maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but I guess it tends to hit closer to home when we're talking about one of my favorite foods ever. Perhaps fate is calling? Do I move to San Diego to foster some new baby Puebla trees? Should I start a one-woman picket line at the farmer's markets of California, demanding they "Bring back the Puebla! Don't say no to Popenoe!"

Probably not. For now, I will dutifully eat my Hass in support of the avocado in general and in memory of avocados to pass.



dinner with ham

somehow, sometimes, it's sunday night and i've been lazing around most of the day and STILL i don't feel like cooking a damn thing. now, let's be real, this is only once in a while, because usually i'm all about the free time and utilize sunday nights for a multi-hour meal endeavor.

this past sunday, however, no one was home and i didn't feel like investing a lot of time into something i'd ultimately scarf down in front of seinfeld reruns or a new kind-of-funny simpsons episode. ham to the rescue! ham, the person (girl, you need to update), not the pork product. hammy, albeit nicknamed after a meat, is a tried and true 6 year vegan. let's just say she knows what's up. she invited me over for dinner on sunday and served up a lovely tasting and equally good looking meal, courtesy of her recent discovery of the vegan yum yum blog.

she made a delicately, purposefully plated dish of spinach topped with quinoa and crash hot potatoes, drizzled with a spicy aioli. we both remarked that it reminded us of something you would see at horizon's, if not a bit more basic than one might pay $12.99 for at a restaurant. the dish was simple and perfect. the potatoes were salty and crispy and made me want five more. the yuengling porter, which i'd never had before, was bold and complex and a perfect partner to a simple meal. and don't even get me started on quinoa because i could praise it for days.

for dessert we had candied clementines, also courtesy of vegan yum yum (i told you, she recently discovered the blog!). we both agreed they were interesting and a little weird, but ate them happily nonetheless. kind of squishy, but the taste was pretty good.

regardless of the review-y nature of this post, it's nice to know that if the vegan royalers need to take a break, we've got a strong vegan ally to turn to! and just an fyi, this is more of a shoutout than a review, so if anyone out there wants to invite us over for dinner, please note that we will only show love, pure unadulterated love, for your hospitality and for feeding us.




lady birds and gentle worms, meet my new baby, given to me by my very own mother for my 27th birthday:

we are in appliance love...maybe more like lust. the VR kitchen is now one, gigantic step closer to unstoppable. hands down, one of the top five present of my whole life!



cold gold

i am happy to say that lauren and i are back safely from our utah and colorado adventures! we had a pretty great time, and have lots of food tales to relay from our western wanderings. a long, comprehensive post is soon to come, but too daunting for this afternoon.

one thing i simply cannot wait one second longer to share is my new and unfettered love for the avery brewing company, a sparkling gem based in boulder, colorado. i discovered a row of their beers, in big, gorgeous, foil-topped bottles in a liquor store called "corks," next to a grocery store on the outskirts of my dad's town. i had stopped into corks to grab of a bottle of red wine for dinner, but was drawn to the fancy beer case as if pulled by an invisible string. on a whim, i grabbed a bottle of avery's salvation belgian golden ale.

crisp, light, and fruity, but not too sweet, and more importantly, not too wimpy, boasting a healthy 9% alcohol content - this might just be the perfect beer. the avery website calls it a "champagne-like elixir" and that hits it right on the nose. it tastes like something a belgian princess would sip on new years eve, at midnight, surrounded by sexy courtiers in their finest finery.

lauren and i split the 22 oz. bottle over a game of scrabble, and when it was gone i immediately lusted for more. a few nights later, on another run to corks, i picked up two more bottles of salvation to have with a pizza, and grabbed another avery brew: the reverend belgian quadruple ale. this one was super malty and sweet, and while delicious in its own right, did not compare to the sheer loveliness of the salvation.

if i could only drink one more beer in my life, i'm nearly sure salvation would be it.
apparently bella vista beer distributor carries avery's beers, as does the beer yard in wayne, pa. think it might be time to start saving my pennies for a case of this unrivaled ale...



utah, not just for mormons anymore

hi friends! you may have missed us recently and for that we apologize. lately we've been eating all sorts of vegan trail snacks: GORP, larabars, avocado+hummus sammiches, fig newman's and don't forget, fruit leather!

what's with the trail goodies? the queens of vegan royale-ty have actually been roughing it a bit in Moab, Utah with our king - our dad! we'll post some pics of meals we've enjoyed and made on our trip and also some pictures of the crazy otherworldly landscapes and vistas (i kind of hate that word though) we've been privy to out here. for now, imagine us here, eating an apple: