Friday, September 27, 2019

What I Ate This Week

Hello, blogosphere. Nice to see you again.

Aside from that superfast, super low quality post from yesterday, I have not had time for blogging lately. Lots and lots of stuff has been happening. I got a new job (it's boring). I got a new place to live (it's beautiful). I got new roomies (I love them). And I completely forgot how to feed myself, because sometimes my brain is stupid like that.

Luckily, I have lots of people who care about me, and they have kept me from keeling over while my brain has been on the fritz.

Most notably, one of my friends took me to The Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg, VA on Sunday and we shared a whole pile of delicious vegan food.



It looked prettier before we ate it, I promise.

Our meal included buckwheat pancakes, some kind of fried potato hash thing with mushroom gravy, a chunky tofu scramble (made from local tofu, no less), a soy sausage patty, and veggie chili. Everything was great; I would definitely go back again.

For me, the best part was actually getting to share food with someone. I love it when people eat vegan food with me, but this was the first time I'd ever sat down in a restaurant and been able to split dishes with someone. It was fun to taste different things and talk about them and pick favorites together.

I've also eaten things at home, a fair number of which I have managed to screw up in one way or another.

For example, I made zucchini carbonara from Hot for Food, because it's delicious and I love it.


Except I undercooked my pasta and didn't bother to measure half the ingredients, so it turned out a little less than ideal. It's still one of my favorite recipes, but...definitely follow the recipe.

In honor of the first day of fall, I ate all kinds of autumnal things the first half of the week. I veganized my pumpkin muffins and they were outstanding. I drank sparkling cider and munched on apples. I even attempted a pumpkin pie smoothie, but here's the thing about pumpkin pie smoothies: when you make them, you should definitely not accidentally add half the ingredients for a pumpkin pie smoothie and half the ingredients for a Chunky Monkey smoothie and then blend it all up like nothing's wrong and try to drink it. It won't be good. Take my word for it.

I also made curry, partly because I wanted curry and partly because I bought naan and let it expire and then had to scramble to find a way to feed a bunch of people a bunch of naan before it went moldy. If you want to try it for yourself (expired naan or no), I have the recipe posted here.

Aside from that, I've just been surviving on hummus. Like all the rest of the vegans.

Hope you're doing well, blogosphere. Catch you next time.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Curry ala Greg

Once upon a time, there was a guy who thought veganism was stupid, but he wanted to get into my pants, so he cooked me curry.

His name was Greg.

This is his recipe.


Full disclosure: This is not some kind of love potion curry. It's delicious. It's totally worth making for yourself or sharing with a date. And maybe you'll get lucky. But Greg didn't, and I make no promises for anyone else who makes it.


Here's what you'll need:

2 onions
Oil
3 carrots
Sweet potato (one big one or two little ones)
Seasonings: ginger, garlic, turmeric
1 head broccoli
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
4oz red curry paste
Peanut butter
Rice

Here's what you do:

1. Cook some rice. Whatever kind you like. I don't judge. If your auntie lets you use her rice cooker, do it that way.



2. Chop all the veggies.
 

3. Put the onions in the pot with the oil and let them do onion-y things until they are soft. Shake in some seasonings until you think it smells good. Then dump in all your cans of stuff and all your veggies and maybe some water if the cans of stuff don't cover the veggies, and cook it until the veggies are soft. This is a very specific recipe.



4. Stir in a big spoonful of peanut butter.

5. Serve over rice.


That's it. Best wishes for your curry-related conquests. You got this.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Southern Comfort Food Feast (feat. vegan Potato Salad)

This weekend, I did a miraculous thing and finished my homework early. That left me with a whole Sunday afternoon with nothing to do. This is an absurd freak of the universe, because the last time this happened...was probably like six years ago.

I decided to make the Country Fried Cauliflower from Hot for Food's "Vegan Comfort Classics" cookbook. Ambitious for a whim, I know, but that's not all.

I decided it would be the perfect time to create a southern comfort food feast.

So I made potato salad.

Guys, I have made potato salad exactly once ever before in my life. It wasn't good.

My grandmother used to make potato salad, and I always enjoyed that, but between moving out and going vegan, her potato salad became a distant memory. I asked for the recipe once, but to no avail. She did it all by taste, she said.

I thought that was bologna, but what are you going to say to your grandma?

But today, folks, I did it. I made potato salad from scratch with no recipe (okay, with kind of a recipe), and I even did the thing where you taste the food and decide it needs salt and then taste it again and it's perfect.

I'm officially a 5-star chef. You should kneel before my bowl of potato salad.

I served up my deep fried veggies with barbecue sauce, potato salad, a scoop of mac and cheese, and some green beans. I'm not even kidding, it was a feast fit for kings. Southern, KFC-lovin' kings.

Plate with mac and cheese, green beans, potato salad, and fried cauliflower


For anyone else looking to improv their own potato salad, here are the notes I jotted down while stirring stuff together:

4 russet potatoes
2 stalks celery
1/2 sweet onion
Vegan mayo
Sugar
Dijon mustard
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Paprika
Apple cider vinegar
Pepper
Salt

- Chop potatoes into bite-sized bits, but not too skinny.
- Cook potatoes until fork tender.
- Rinse in cold water.
- Add to bowl with other stuff, stir together, chill.
- Maybe add parsley or chives next time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Vegan Meatloaf Thing

If memory serves, I have hosted Christmas at my house for the past six years. There are several reasons for this, some happy (I love food and decorating and my baby brother), and some not so happy (avoiding my abusive father at all costs). I've never regretted the decision to open my doors on Christmas, as hectic and stressful as the day can be. But at the same time, the tradition feels oddly lonely. I don't know anyone else my age who hosts Christmas. It's one of those little niggling things in the back of my mind that makes me realize my life's experiences aren't quite in harmony with those of my peers. But that's all okay. I'm not complaining.

Except for this one thing.

I was chatting with one of my coworkers--who kind of has a stick up her butt, but that's beside the point--about our Christmas plans, and when I told her Christmas was at my house, she asked what I was going to serve. I told her I wasn't entirely sure yet, which was true. I told her that the only thing anyone requested was mashed potatoes, so I was trying to build a meal from there. I told her I would probably serve some kind of meatloaf thing and maybe some Brussels sprouts or something.

Dudes. She was super rude. About me and my damn meatloaf.

Now, I don't go around making a fuss about being vegan, because I know it makes people uncomfortable and is basically social suicide. So notice that I didn't tell her I was making vegan meatloaf. I told her I was making some kind of meatloaf thing.

The judgement--oh my god.

Somehow, this woman was deeply offended that I would serve meatloaf to my family on Christmas. I don't know which part of my plan bothered her, whether it was the meatloaf or the feeding people or the feeding people meatloaf, but my plans clearly did not meet her approval. So much so that when we were getting in our cars to leave, she told me she hoped I figured out something else to make.

Fuck you too, lady.

But you know what? I made my meatloaf thing, and it was damn delicious.

Some people just suck.

If you're surrounded by sucky people and you need to show them up with a top-notch meatloaf thing, then I've got the recipe for you. Alternatively, if you have a teenage brother or a houseful of relatives or, like, some friends who eat food, I've also got the recipe for you. Read on:

Vegan Meatloaf Thing

Ingredients:

Loaf:
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cup cooked red lentils (slightly overcooked--should be mushy but still defined)
15oz canned great northern beans
1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs (I used vegan panko)2 flax eggs (2 tbs flax meal + 5 tbs water)
2 tbs liquid smoke
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano

Glaze:
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add everything to a food processor and pulse until combined but still chunky. (I have a dinky "chopper" instead of a food processor, so do mine in batches. A potato masher or your hands would probably work too.)

3. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Leave some overhang for easy removal. Press the meatloaf-y glop into the pan, leveling out the top.

4. Stir together the ingredients for the glaze. Spoon it over the loaf and spread it out.

5. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean (it might have some glaze on it).

6. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before lifting out of the pan with the parchment paper. Slice and serve.

Adapted from https://jessicainthekitchen.com/vegan-meatloaf-gluten-free/

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Flashback Post: Epic Minecraft Surprise Party!

Guys, I need a new blog. This new blog shall be called "Things Katie Did That Required Her Whole Ass and Six Months to Plan." It shall be a blog all about this amazingly epic Minecraft Surprise Party that will go down in history as the most awesome party ever.

It all began back in February, right after my brother's ninth birthday. I asked him if I could throw him a tenth birthday party next year. He said no. I begged. He said no. I pleaded incessantly. He said no. So I resorted to Plan B: enlist my brother to help me throw a surprise birthday party for my roommate, and BOOM, the World's Most Epic Minecraft Party was born.

I spent a hell of a lot of time online searching for Minecraft party ideas, and despite the fact that everybody wants to throw a Minecraft party these days, not many people have many ideas on how exactly to execute such a party. (If you don't know what Minecraft is, you are a loser and you need to jump in your archaic time machine and bring yourself into 2014 where all us cool people hang out.) Robin and Ed did have a few pretty awesome Minecraft party ideas, though, so mega shoutout to them.

The first thing I started working on was the food. Because....I'm me. And I'm always hungry. And food is awesome. I ended up with a four page Google Doc on all my ideas for all the food that I could somehow twist into Minecraft food. One of my favorite ideas that I'm sure I stole from somebody (if I stole it from you, tell me and I'll give you props) was for Rice Krispy Treat sandstone and obsidian blocks. I made Rice Krispy treats a couple of months ago and wasn't ready to make them again, so I chose against serving obsidian.

I opted, instead, to serve all of this:


That glorious smorgasbord includes melon, "sticks" (pretzels), carrots, cookies, "golden apples" (sliced golden delicious apples), bread, "baked potatoes" (chips), and "slimeballs" (grapes).

Oh, yeah, and chicken.


 Plus, there was a whole table of desserts, including Cookies and Cream Hershey's Kiss "diamonds," Hershey's Special Dark Minis"gold ingots," Hershey's Milk Chocolate Minis "iron ingots," and Twizzler TNT.



And cake. Can't forget the cake.


The cake originally had more cacti on top, but I don't know what happened to them. Maybe the scary turkey in my neighbor's yard stole them....


The second thing I started planning was the decorations. I love, love, love these Minecraft windows, but alas, they would have made my already epic Minecraft party so supremely epic that the universe would have imploded at its sheer epicness, so I didn't do them. Instead, I made a ghast. The ghast was originally supposed to be a pinata, but since it took me three hours to make, I officially forbade everyone from whacking it with a stick.


My favorite part about the decorations was probably the brown tablecloths with fake grass on top. I scored the fake grass at Home Depot and had enough to cover all my tables and then some. (If anybody needs to borrow some fake grass, I have plenty.) Beyond that, it was mostly just balloons.

Next up on the list is the shirts. I completely, totally, 100% ripped these off from Jennifer. Aren't they awesome?


My brother and I made them almost two months before the party and then had to wait to wear them! Ack! But hey, it was worth it for how awesome we look. The guys wore some pixelated Minecraft sunglasses to complete their looks.


With everybody well-fed and decked out in their Minecraft best, we got to start the shenanigans. I set up a bow and arrow shooting range with pictures of mobs.



We played Pin the Tail on the Dog. I didn't win.


 We created crazy explosions with Coke-and-Mentos TNT.


Also! I totally rocked the invitation. I rocked the invitation so much that when my roommate showed up at the party, we met him at the curb and handed him the invitation so that he could see just how cool it was. Then we brought him around back and got the party started.


"What about mood music?" I hear you ask. No worries. I've got that covered too. Lots of very creative people with very much time on their hands have created Minecraft-themed parody songs based on popular music. I rounded up a whole bunch of those and burned CDs to play at the party and give out as favors. And, of course, because I am beyond extra, I designed totally rad CD covers.


I am deeply sorry that you weren't all able to attend the most radical block party of all time. (Block party...get it? Because Minecraft has blocks? I'm so clever). That being said, I hope you have the opportunity to steal my ideas and create an equally awesome party of your own. If you want any of the printables, let me know and I'll hook you up. The original files are in InDesign, but I can send you PDFs of the signs and whatnot.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This post was originally written in 2014, about a party that also occurred in 2014. I found it drifting through my drafts and decided to publish it anyway. I know it's out of date, and I know it's out of the blue, but I put a lot of work into this and thought some of you might still enjoy it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lazy Vegan Creamsicle Cupcakes

Today is my birthday! Last year, I had a Beaver Tail in place of birthday cake.


This year, that would be geographically challenging, so I'm made cupcakes instead.

Here's the thing about cake. It's really hard to make it without eggs. Also, when you make it from scratch, it takes like eighteen ingredients and all of the measuring cups and I am just not into that much effort. Also, I'm bad at cake.

So I life-hacked it.


Yep. You can totally make cake by mixing a box of cake mix with 12oz of soda. That's it.

You're welcome.


These are vegan creamsicle cupcakes, topped with 100% vegan (0% natural) canned frosting.

Am I classy or what?

If that doesn't convince you, I will have you know that I spent this birthday giving my baby brother a back-to-school haircut and then stopping by a bar with my coworkers where my boss (very generously)  procured for me a shot glass and a flower. Who says 26 can't be a badass birthday?

Yeah. No. It was definitely all about the cupcakes.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Vegan Favorites: Year One

You know how earlier this week I bummed everybody out with my musings on veganism? Today I'm going to make up for it with lots and lots of lists. Are you ready? Good.

I've spent the last year fumbling around trying to get my vegan feet under me. I think I'm finally hitting my stride, so I wanted to talk about the foods I love, the foods I miss, and the products I'm using. That way when you go vegan, maybe you'll be less hangry than I was. And also, you'll smell nice.

The Food!

My transition foods

When I went vegan, I had no idea what to eat. My first (intentionally) vegan meal was unseasoned vegetables and rice and some refried black beans out of a can. It was not a happy time. I have since learned my lesson and now eat food that tastes good (imagine that), but there were some foods that really helped me get through the first months of not knowing what to eat.
  • Refrigerator bagels
  • Tofutti cream cheese
  • Soy Sauce flavored Top Ramen (read your labels!)
  • Clif bars
  • PB&J with potato chips
  • Tater tots 
  • Chips and salsa and Thug Kitchen's bean dip
Seriously, for anybody out there who's thinking about going vegan, this is my one piece of advice: figure out your transition foods. Know what you're going to eat when you have nothing to eat. Know what to do when you've overslept and have eighteen minutes to get to work. Know your fallbacks for when you're PMSing and really really just want a peppermint patty. If you can find ways to eat vegan without thinking about it, you've won half the battle.

 

My favorite meals

Once I realized that I needed to eat something other than Top Ramen, I ventured into actual food. Albeit, still very pasta-based food, but you know what, I like pasta, so deal with it. All those people who tell you pasta is bad for you are just trying to bring you down. Pasta is yummy and it has protein and fiber and you can reheat it like a champ, so really, there's no down side. None. Shut up.

Here are my favorite meals at this exact moment in time:
  • Tempeh bacon BLTs (let it marinate, don't just dump it in a pan)
  • Veggie pasta with Prego's red pepper pasta sauce and Aldi vegan meatballs
  • Homemade pea pesto
  • Tacos, made with black beans, Gardein crumbles, lotsa sauce, and either guac or Tofutti sour cream
  • Red pepper pasta, made with soy milk for extra protein
Believe it or not, I actually eat more diverse foods now than I did when I was just vegetarian. Granted, I can't think of any of them in this particular moment, but I swear, I'm much more open to trying new things these days. For the most part, if it's vegan, I'll eat it. Unless it's mushrooms, and then it's straight back to the Top Ramen for me.

 Favorite food brands/products

  • Tofutti's cream cheese and sour cream
  • Chao's Tomato Cayenne cheese slices
  • Lightlife hot dogs and tempeh
  • Aldi's classic vegan meatballs
  • Trader Joe's Thai Sweet Chili burgers
  • Gardein beefless ground 
In your searches for vegan cheese, please, for the love of cows, skip the Daiya. It's awful. Really. I just found a bag of unopened Daiya cheddar shreds in my fridge that expired in December. That's how much I didn't want to eat it. And that's really saying something, seeing as how vegan cheese costs about $89/pound.

The Face! (and hands and hair and body)

After transition foods, one of the biggest challenges for me going vegan was changing all of my personal care items. This has also been my biggest expense, because I used to buy products based on the cheapest version of what worked, but now, every product has to check the cruelty free/vegan box, and sometimes that means compromising features or cheapness. Right now, this is what I'm using, but I'm open to suggestions:
  • Lush shampoo bars. Jumping Juniper is my favorite, but they have lots of different options for different hair needs.
  • Not Your Mother's Beach Babe conditioner
  • Not Your Mother's In a Heartbeat blowdry spray
  • Kiss My Face Cool Mint shave cream
  • Kiss My Face olive oil soap (I don't love this. I'm going to try something else next time.)
  • Alba Botanica sea mineral face cleansing gel
  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient sunscreen
  • ELF mascara (it's $3, people!)
  • Everyone hand soap (also looking for an alternative to this one)
  • Hurraw lip balm
Full disclosure: I haven't officially switched out my deodorant, toothpaste, or laundry detergent yet. I tried the Kiss My Face Active Life deodorant, but it only worked if I was cold and not moving. As for toothpaste, I was too broke to buy vegan toothpaste, so I tried making my own coconut oil/baking soda stuff and that was absolutely disgusting, so I'm back to Colgate. With laundry detergent...I'm just holding out. I finally found an affordable, unscented liquid detergent that I love, and I don't want to ditch that to spend another three years looking for something else. Don't hate me too much.

The People!

In case you hadn't caught on from my previous post, I'm not exactly rich in vegan friends. To put it in perspective for you, my most supportive friends invited me to a Facebook event today and made sure to indicate that there would be "vegan crap for Katie" on the menu. Sweet and all, but not exactly Team Nooch, if you know what I mean. Given my lack of neighborhood vegans, I have turned to the Internet, as one does when one needs a thing.

My favorite vegan YouTubers are:
  • The Viet Vegan. She's awesome. Hands down. I want her to be my best friend. Also, she has a blog. Because she's that rad.
  • More Salt Please. If you love eyebrows, you'll love her. But seriously. She's a lot of fun, and a great cook. From what I can tell. She hasn't invited me over yet.
  • Cheap Lazy Vegan. I may or may not have been watching her videos the night I went vegan. I thought she was adorable. She still is. She runs her own vegan cafe!
  • No Egg Craig. Craig is fine. Craig's mom is hilarious. Mostly, I enjoy watching these videos because they're kind of like having a virtual vegan family to hang out with for twenty minutes. It's pretty cool. Also, they love hummus, so obviously they know what's up.
Finally, it wouldn't be right to talk about vegan favorites without mentioning Minimalist Baker. She is the queen of all vegans who cook. And bake. And eat. I don't know what the vegans of the world did to deserve her, but she's the best thing ever. Eat all her food.


Now that I've shared my favorites, I want to see your favorites below! Did any of you have a transition food that helped you get through your early veganhood? Am I missing an awesome recipe I should know about? Fill me in!