Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Moping Over a Hot Stove

This past weekend I broke my commitment to participate in the 2008 ColdNFuzzy Studded Glove Dance-Off. I was well aware that passing up this opportunity was the act of a lunatic, but I had some serious moping to do after the lamest two weeks of my adult life.

And what better way to mope during the Vegan Month of Food than shut myself in my apartment and prepare things to gorge on while watching Rock of Love Charm School?

Saturday's brunch-for-lunch was a tofu scramble with green bell pepper and onion, grape tomatoes with rice vinegar and dried basil, and wheat toast with apricot preserves. I had worked up an intense hunger during the big summer-to-fall wardrobe switch. Sometimes I don't know how I freakin survive these high-velocity weekends.

It's October, and we all know what that means - pumpkincentric everything. I face this yearly pumpkin obsession with zero cynicism. I love pumpkins. I also love cookies, so it made perfect sense for me to grab a can of puree and make these pumpkin clumps. The recipe called for an alarming amount of dry oatmeal, producing a cookie of power bar consistency and slight blandness. Not bad, but next time I'll make sweet rolls.

Monday was less moping, more brown rice. This was a recipe-free attempt at Mexican cuisine - black beans and leftover green pepper and onion were thrown into the rice with some cayenne pepper, cumin, and chili powder. I was impressed, and emailed Chili's this photo with the suggestion that they expand their menu. Chili's was game until they realized the dark things were beans and not chunks of cow heart.

The crowning achievement of the week was tonight's Creamy Pumpkin Soup, which I made with the leftover puree. The original recipe uses chicken broth, evaporated cow's milk, and Parmesan cheese, so I substituted with low-salt vegan broth, reduced some soy milk on the stove, and omitted the cheese garnish. Cumin, chopped jalapeno, black pepper, salt, and a bay leaf wonderfully compliment the mellow flavor of the pumpkin. And how could I resist a dish that calls for sauteed celery??

So thus far, autumn has been alive with oats and gourds - and it's only going to get awesomer. I will now depart to gather more recipes for the mope session I have planned for a random weekend in January 2012. It will most likely feature lattes, butternut squash pancakes, and me entering a depression-induced coma while watching The Fly II.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Girl Drinks and Stray Cats

I'm back from Aruba with some sweet delicious Veganmofo action for everyone who accidentally stumbles onto this blog searching for a Michael Phelps puff piece. That's right! It's the Vegan Month of Food and blog 'scuse me? has plenty of treats planned this month in the way of vegan food and our feverish attempts to destroy pop culture.

My trip started out with a hunt for some soy milk for my morning coffee. I was tempted to use coconut milk, but I found soy milk at a local convenient store. The restaurants in Aruba are generally vegetarian friendly and most places are willing to alter menu items to veganize them. La Trattoria El Faro Blanco and Sawasdee Thai Restaurant both had vegan friendly items on their menus. The Thai place also had an excellent mock duck that you could add to any dish. At Papiamento Restaurant, they had a separate vegetarian specials menu. Texas de Brazil, a churrascaria where guys walk around with huge sword-like skewers of meat, oddly enough had a good vegan selection at their salad bar. The guy that kept the salad bar stocked gladly followed me around telling what was in everything. I had an insanely good tabbouleh here and this superb penne pasta with grilled portobello mushrooms and tomatoes.

I went to this juice bar on the beach where I got a watermelon, mango, and orange juice that was super delicious. Perusing their menu, they also had this drink there called a banana nog with milk, banana, and peanut butter. They unfortunately used cow's milk, but I plan to make my own as soon as I get some ripe bananas.

Curry and Coco - Papiamento Restaurant

This dish was curried vegetables with coconut milk. If you look at the upper right corner of the plate you will see these orange-yellow fruits with tomatillo-like husks. They are my new favorite food and I'm not 100% sure what they are exactly. The waiter at Papiamento told us they were tomatillos. The waiter at Wacky Wahoo's told us they were physalis, which happens to be the same genus of the tomatillo plant. All I know for sure is that it's a delicious fruit they import from Brazil. Wikipedia cleared it up a little. We all know that Wikipedia never lies.

Veggies on the Stone - Papiamento Restaurant

Assorted vegetables served on a sizzling hot stone with an herb-infused olive oil for dipping.

Mixed Vegetables in Peanut Sauce - Sawasdee Thai Restaurant

I also got a vegetarian satay here made with their mock duck. However I scarfed it down before I could take a picture.

Broccoli with Tofu and Cashew Nuts - Sawasdee Thai Restaurant

Seasonal House Salad - Wacky Wahoo's

They made a special pasta with veggies for me here since there was nothing vegan on the menu.

Insalata Ortolana - La Trattoria El Faro Blanco

Linguini Primavera - La Trattoria El Faro Blanco

The pasta was cooked to perfection and had eggplant, zucchini, squash, and red peppers.

Cat watching me eat my pasta - La Trattoria El Faro Blanco

In addition to the adorable cats wondering the outdoor terrace, there was an amazing view of the island from this restaurant.

Random Note: I saw quite a few stray cats and dogs on the island from time to time. I was told they currently have a neuter and spaying program in place for strays. (Information about animal protection in Aruba.)

French Fries - A Taste of Belgium

Not much for vegans on their menu, but they had good fries.

Espresso - A Taste of Belgium

Bruschetta - Salt and Pepper

Mostly tapas here. They had a veggie burger made with eggs and pasta that was also made with eggs.