Friday, July 30, 2010

Pantry tacos

Sorry it's been a minute since I last blogged. However, the other night I got home starving and completely unprepared for dinner.  However, upon a glance at my pantry and 'fridge, I quickly concocted cheap, pantry tacos.  First I threw a couple of Gardenburgers into the skillet.  Once they thawed a bit, I smashed them up a bit to resemble meat crumbles.  Then I opened a can of kidney beans and let them heat up. I tossed a couple of tortillas into the oven, opened a can of sliced olives and opened a fresh bag of Daiya cheese. Within about 15 minutes, I had this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Last night, I got home late only to remember that I was supposed to cook dinner for a friend. My little brother and girlfriend were also hungry. I've been wanting to try some squash recipes to get through the CSA squash in my crisper along with some swiss chard on the verge of going bad. I also had some potatoes and decided to attempt mashed potatoes. I've only made them once pre-vegan and I let the potatoes sit too long in water and they came out a pudding-like consistency that was no bueno.  And finally, yes I cooked some wild Alaskan cod. I know, I know...I'm still getting used to the vegan thing and wanted to get them out of my freezer. Here's the thing: Becca isn't totally sold on the vegan diet yet and I want to make the transition easy for her. I also knew that my friend eats meat as does my brother.  So yes, I cooked and ate fish, but only a little...excuses excuses I know.

I boiled the potatoes. Then I cut up the yellow squash and onions. I placed them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 400 degrees. Then I cut up more onion (tears streaming down my face at this point) and some garlic. I sauteed them in a little oil before tossing in some chard stems. I cooked those for a few minutes while I cut up the chard.  I then took the fish and added a little garlic salt before sliding them into the oven alongside the squash.  Then when the potatoes were done, I added some (ok lots) of Earth Balance soy butter and soy milk until it looked about the right consistency. I added salt and pepper.  I was surprised to how perfect they tasted. Now my mother doesn't really cook, as I've mentioned before, but one thing she could make was you guessed it: mashed potatoes. My little brother can seriously eat through pounds of mashed potatoes without breaking stride so I was under a little pressure here. Our beaters are from like the '80's and really don't beat anything that well. I made the best of it.  There were still some lumps but truth be told, I kinda like them that way.  Finally, with the potatoes done and the squash about finished, I added the chard leaves to the simmering stems.  I cooked that for a few minutes before pulling the fish out and calling everyone to dinner.

Everyone loved pretty much everything! I wasn't crazy about the squash. I think I waited too long to flip them over on to one side. Becca actually shied away from the chard, which is funny because I thought it was great. It really absorbed the garlic and onion flavors.  But what I loved about dinner was that my little brother complimented the mashed potatoes.  My brother's compliments do not come easily or in abundance so I take them where I can get them.  I wish I had a picture of the meal but we ate it too quickly.

After dinner, my brother read his screenplay treatment aloud. He and one of his friends at USC are working on a script together that is hilarious. It's so lovely seeing him actually writing and passionate about it.  Adorable. So there it is.  A night of good food and a little inspiration.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

High School Reunion aka Vegan No Man's Land

So I come from a very small town in the Pacific Northwest.  It's been 10 years since I graduated from high school and as much as I said that I would never go back, I couldn't really help myself. I missed the official reunion, which is actually too bad because there were apparently 100+ people there (my class only had about 200 students).  Nevertheless, I made it out on Saturday to the family picnic and then out to a round at the bars. Good times had at both events in spite of myself.

However, what this all meant was that I spent two days back in my hometown where vegetarianism is unheard of, let alone veganism.  For the first time, I had blank stares and questions like, "Vegan? You mean, no cheese? What do you eat then?" or "How do you get protein and calcium?" or "Why would you do something so harmful to yourself?"  I guess I should have been more prepared for these questions but it surprised me how little people knew about meat production. Of course, this probably shouldn't surprise me at all since it's a tiny town but still...

So not only did people eye me like I may have an infectious disease, but I also realized that there are literally no plausible food choices. Nevermind that I couldn't remember where the hell anything was since I haven't been back to my hometown in about 6 years, and forget that plenty of businesses have changed, but there literally isn't one single restaurant that I could find that even catered to the vegetarian. Even the salads themselves were covered in meat and diary-based dressings. Even the local Safeway (Ralphs to you Southern Californians) didn't even carry half the products that regular grocery store does. No salad with the convenient tuna cup, which can be discarded or given away, no vegetable based entrees in their hot bar.  I spent the entire weekend eating fruit platters, veggie trays (no dressing) and french fries.  All I could think was Really??!!  No one in all of the county is familiar with the idea of refraining from meat if only for one meal???  Crazy.  So I just kept drinking $1.75 drinks to make up for the lack of nutritional calories.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anniversary and more

So I've really been slacking in my blog. The mothers survived their weekend together as did we. Dare I say it, everyone had a pretty good time. On Monday, Becca and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary together. We went to Cowboys and Turbans in Silverlake.  The vegetarian samosa was by far the hit of the night with a side of spicy masala sauce. We also ordered the Indian Dali, Tofu Masala, and Channa Saag.  All three were good but way too much food so we ended up taking most of it home. Sadly, none of these dishes heated up particularly well so my advice to anyone is to eat all they can while still at the restaurant. We also brought our own beer because the restaurant is still working on getting a liquor license.

Mostly all week I have stuck with my usual haunts, Native Foods and Whole Foods. I am currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, or rather listening to the book on tape for my long commute to work (about an hour each way).  While the narrator sounds pompous, there's a lot of interesting information in this book. Since I'm allergic to corn, it's amazing to learn all the other things derived from corn. No wonder I can never quite get rid of all my skin rashes! I am armed with more information to combat the factory farm/business as usual mentality.

This weekend I am heading back to my hometown for my 10 year high school reunion. I still can't believe it has been 10 years. I remember when that seemed old. I thought by 27 I would be an established screenwriter with perhaps a boyfriend. I was actually hoping to be dating Conor Oberst so that I could take him to my hometown and drive all the girls crazy that I dated such a sensitive musician. Alas, I return with my girlfriend, who actually does resemble Conor in that picture, and a job as an assistant albeit at a major production company. Here's the thing about my hometown, most of them don't even know what a prodco is or what we do. All they care about is if you work for Microsoft so this will be interesting. I look forward to seeing those that I haven't seen in awhile and maybe forgiving a few people that were awful to me.  Who knows? I'll prolly stay so drunk that I don't even notice half my class. All I know is that it will be nice to get out of LA for a bit and spend some time in a state full of green.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My two Moms

So Becca and I have gotten our mothers together.  This is their first meeting and they are both here all weekend long (Lord have mercy).  This is two very different bags of crazy, though I must say I love both women that gave us life. It's just that they are both very different personalities.  I would like to say at dinner they high-fived not once but twice.

So I took them to Cliff's Edge in Silverlake. This place looks so incredibly beautiful. The outdoor seating area was lovely with a huge tree in the center of the restaurant. I chose this place because there was a variety of different things on the menu from fish to steak to vegan stew and couscous.  My mother got fish, my brother the steak, Becca got pumpkin ravioli, Becca's mom got french fries with gorgonzola dipping sauce, and you guessed it I got the vegan stew and couscous.

I enjoyed my meal thoroughly. The veggies were stewed just right and although I usually don't love garbonzo beans, this time they were perfect. Maybe it's just that I prefer them warm rather than in salads.

This was the first time I'd gone out to eat with either of them since I committed to veganism. Becca's mom was good about it, although she did try to get me to eat the cheese sauce.  It's funny how difficult the idea of veganism is for many people. For whatever reason, they just don't think of cheese or butter as an animal product. My mother, on the other hand, worried that I don't get enough nutrients.  (I had mentioned that my skin is a little bad right now due to the toxins filtering out of my body.)  Now my mother is an RN.  She's in the medical profession and yet she still asked if I get enough calcium and protein, two things that I guarantee I am in no way deficient. When I told her that kale has more calcium than milk, she responded, "Well if you're eating 16 cups of it maybe." Oy vey.

Then at dinner the politics of food somehow got brought up.  The moms talked about genetically modified foods. See in my family, my sister and I are allergic to corn.  Both my brothers (and actually my sister as well) are allergic to gluten.  So basically the worst family ever to eat with.  However, this prompted the moms to talk about how genetically modified foods are altering the health of young people. The more they talked, the more I realized that neither one of them had a clue what they were actually talking about. Rather they were merely reiterating talking points that they had overheard somewhere.  Becca's mother mentioned that pesticides and genetically modified foods were to blame for the overdevelopment of youngsters (she works in a school) but then said, "I mean, it's just sad for them. It won't do anything to me because I'm old."  I had to bite my tongue super hard to keep from blurting out, "You've been eating this shit for over a decade too. It's equally as harmful no matter the age."  This is a woman that has suffered colon cancer that truly believes that buying Target brand organic milk somehow exempts her from any food-related issues.  Just like my mother truly believes that meat is a necessary part of a balanced diet.

As much as I wanted to fight and speak up, I realize that no one wants to be preached to or made to feel badly about their food choices. I also feel like although I've read a lot of books, I'm not so knowledgeable that I could really educate them. After all, I don't want to spout off factoids that I've read like they did with talking points. Becca has already gotten on my case a bit for sounding self-righteous and I don't want to be one of those bitchy vegans that feel superior to everyone. I want to educate myself further so that when this subject comes up again I can feel more prepared to explain my position.

How do other people deal with this?  Do you have family members who do not understand the basic principals of veganism?  If so, leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Last night I met up with an old co-worker of mine that just returned from a three month journey in India (cue jealousy).  This is a guy that made over $50,000/year working at a major studio for a boss that never showed up to work. Literally he didn't have to go to work unless he felt like it. He gave it all up to do some traveling and now couch surfaces while he looks for a temporary job until he goes back to school. Obviously I'm more than jealous now.  One of the cool things about this transition however is that he is now a vegetarian and agreed to meet me at an East Side vegan restaurant called Flore.

I ordered The Wrap, which is brown basmati rice, roasted veggies, kale, baked tofu and dill dressing all wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla.  Honestly I'm not usually a wrap kind of girl. While I like tortillas, I don't LOVE them. Wraps are usually more Becca's style. I suppose part of me knew I would never finish it all and could give the left-overs to her (for which she was totally grateful at 10 pm when she finally stopped working and burst into tears over the stress of starting her new job while still working at the old). The Wrap was delicious but what made this all the more amazing was the POTATO SALAD. Omg this was amazing, tasted perfect despite all animal products. I practically gulped it all down in one swallow while trying to politely maintain a conversation with my dinner companion. I didn't get to take a picture of it because I always feel a bit awkward when in the company of work-related friends.  Suffice to say that Flore will be on my list of second go around restaurants.

Then today I had the best beet salad from Whole Foods.  I love that they are embracing the whole vegan lifestyle in their display cases, although I did notice that one item said Vegan on the label but a closer look at ingredients clearly mentioned eggs and egg whites...hmmmm.  However, the golden beet salad was amazing.  The picture does not do it justice. Granted a medium sized container was $7 but I couldn't even finish it all at lunch.  The funny thing is I've always loved pickled beets and canned beets. However, I never realized there was such a thing as golden beets until I joined a CSA and started to embrace a vegan lifestyle. Now I realize there are a myriad of colors, shades and textures. My favorite is still the blood red beets that stain everything with their color but golden come in a close second. They're sweeter and soak in everything when cooked; in this case onion, parsley, oil and celery. Man I might actually head up to the fridge momentarily and finish them up!

Tonight Becca and I have dinner with one of my best friends. She is moving back to the Bay Area (again cue jealousy) and this is one of her last nights in town. I am so proud of her and we're heading to Toi so I'm excited to see what vegan cuisine options I have!  Cheers.

3818 W Sunset Blvd.
(at Hyperion)
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Long weekend

So this weekend Becca and I headed to Palm Springs to celebrate our independence. We stopped at the Dinosaur museum on the way because she's been pestering me for months to go. It turned out to be a really good time. We broke the law and hopped the fences so we could pose with a baby brontosaurus (pics coming soon) and sit on a turtle's back. We climbed into the T-Rex's mouth just like in the movie and were told that evolution isn't real...wait what? Yes it seems the Dino Museum has been turned into a creationist museum instead. It provided lots of giggles for us as we looked at fully armor-clad knights battling dinosaurs and lions all at once. 

We stayed at the Travlodge.  It was cool enough as we spent most of our time in the pool. (Pics will not be coming soon lol)  Sadly we left with a slight layer of color but only distinguishable by the stark white bathing suit lines. I believe most people would still call us very pale.

What I was most excited about was eating at the Palm Springs Native Foods, which I heard was slightly different. It was fabulous as always.  We ended up eating there three times in three days (this was Becca's first try so she was excited to try some tasty vegan food.)  The desserts were what really made this trip memorable. We had the chocolate love pie. This pudding-like chocolaty goodness was spectacular but the almond spiced crust was clearly the winner as we battled forks to get each bite. The chocolate chips felt a little excessive but we were happy to eat around them.

The next dessert was the strawberry shortcake parfait. This was the perfect combination of sweet and sour. I have no idea what Chef Tanya made that silky parfait from but if it's in her cookbook, then I need to own a copy as soon as possible. The other very cool thing about our multiple Native Foods visits was that Chef Tanya herself made an appearance on the 5th. She chatted up an elderly man at the table beside us. Because we were busy stuffing our faces we didn't get a chance to say hello but she seemed very nice and approachable.

Next on our vegan Palm Springs tour was Nature's Cafe.  This is a tiny cafe situated in a corner of a health food store.  The wait was long because each meal is made completely from scratch. Becca got the burrito while I chose the garlic ginger stirfry. Mmmm, they were both great. Becca can be a bit snobby about the simplicity of lots of vegan food but she enjoyed this wrap very much (though she isn't a huge fan of alfalfa sprouts, I thought they were great).  I loved my stirfy especially with a few sprays of Bragg Amino Acids. We finished our meal out with a couple of Rice Dream ice cream sandwiches.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that our Independence Day was free of fireworks and slaughter, both of which I'm good without! :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Whole Foods Brentwood

So I didn't really feel like eating the vegan potpie that I have resting in the freezer. Instead I wanted to check out the vegan bbq that Whole Foods is putting on. My almighty blogger Quarry Girl mentioned that the WeHo WF definitely had it. I was excited because Brentwood WF goes out of their way to include vegan options as well. Unfortunately they must not have gotten the memo about vegan barbeque. There were some items but not the bounty that Quarry Girl spoke about.

I made the best of things and ordered a vegan burger. My major issue with this is that they do not warm up or grill the buns. This drives me crazy. What's the point of heating up the vegan patty only to put cold toppings on it and include a cold bun. I had to scarf this in my car just to have it sorta warm...ok ok I ate the entire thing in my car because I was starving. Anyway next they don't have pickles. I asked for some and they just sorta stared blankly at me before saying, "Uh no." I paid an extra dollar for avocado, which feels a bit pricy when someone can get a meat sandwich for $6.99 but I have to pay almost $8 for a vegan burger...I'm just sayin'.  I don't have a picture because there was nothing too special about this burger. If you've seen one veggie burger, you've seen them all.

Next I got the vegan antipasta. It had thick pieces of well-cooked tofu with bell peppers, eggplant and asparagus. Sadly the whole thing was very bland. I was hoping for a little spicy kick or maybe a balsamic sourness. However, this was basically just grilled veggies tossed in some olive oil. Not to sound ungrateful because I'm excited to see Whole Foods take it one step further and really embrace veganism, but come on add some flava to it!