ten years

today i’m celebrating ten! fabulous! years! of veganism. i can’t believe it; it seems like not that long ago i was super-excited to be making it to the five-year mark… and yet, here we are. time is funny that way. i guess this also means i’m celebrating 21.5 years of being vegetarian… so now i also feel super old. huzzah!

on that note, the other day i had an oncology appointment (don’t fret! it’s preventative; i’m okay), and when i was checked in, the woman at the front desk nearly had a meltdown when she saw my age. she adorably exploded all over the place and basically made me feel like a pretty pretty princess. (or at least a young college graduate, which is what she actually said.) she just kept saying, you do NOT look 40! and i just kept laughing and blushing and saying thank you. and then i tweeted about it because i had to nerd out somewhere.

a little while later, the nurse who took me into the doctor’s office weighed me, asked my height, took my blood pressure, double-checked my allergies, and so on and so forth. we talked for at least ten straight minutes about health-related blah blah. and then all of a sudden she looked at her computer screen and said, wait, you’re 40?! and i just burst out laughing. i told her i needed to buy her and the woman out front a drink for making my day. then she kept asking me, what’s your secret? for real, what is it? and i had that dumb moment where i wanted to say, “veganism?” but i restrained myself.

i have no idea if veganism is actually helping me in any real way — other than, of course, feeling better about the choices i make on a near-constant basis. one of my facebook friends asked me today if i feel better physically; not just emotionally… and i wasn’t really sure what to say to that. i mean, i feel fine. but i always did, so…? i mean, i didn’t have any wildly transformative experiences after going vegan, like losing 35 pounds or having my skin magically clear up or suddenly reversing a lifelong health struggle, so i’m not really sure i have compelling personal evidence for the physical benefits of veganism. but that’s not why i did it anyway, so i guess that’s why i never really focus on that aspect.

for me it has always been about the animals, and not wanting to hurt them. i spent 11.5 (somewhat misguided) years as a vegetarian because of the animals, and then i leveled up to veganism when i learned about all of the cruelty involved in dairy and egg production. i have never, ever regretted my decision, and i am always proud and excited to say that i’m vegan. i wish i had realized sooner, so i could have just gone vegan from the get-go, but such is life.

every single year i think, “i should do something official for my vegan anniversary!” and every single year i wimp out on myself. this year i devoted even more thought to it, because ten years is kind of a big milestone, but i have still wimped out completely. boo. i entertained thoughts of hosting a party, or organizing a dinner out, but instead i am hanging out at home, in the rain, with maia and finley, working on a huge backlog of stuff. maybe if i get creative i can still turn this around, and plan a couple of little things for this week. meanwhile, i will settle for my usual custom of a long-distance dedication to ryan at vegblog, who is my vegan wonder twin. he also went vegan ten years ago today, which just proves that he is super awesome.

here’s to ten more! and then another ten after that! and then, and then, and then…

 

hometown tuesdays – bel air cantina

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it’s the last day of vegan mofo! this month went by really quickly, and i’m pretty proud of myself for posting so much — a total of 29 posts, on 27 days this month! BUT, i am hella behind on my blog-reading… i don’t know about you, but i plan to play catch-up over the next several days, which probably means i’ll be the creepy weirdo suddenly commenting on a bunch of your posts all at once. sorry dudes.

also, i feel like a total jerkface, because i was twice(!)-nominated for a liebster award (once by soy division and once by banana curl vegan girl), but i was kind of treading water just to make my usual “theme days” during mofo, and i didn’t get to do the liebster thing. should i still do it anyway, even though mofo is technically over? i really hope they don’t think i’m an a-hole. i promise i’m not.

anyhow, for my last hometown tuesdays post, i’m featuring an established restaurant in milwaukee that is about to open their third location. bel air cantina first opened on the lower east side a few years ago, and we were really excited to learn that they had several vegan-friendly options on their menu. their rice and their black beans are both vegan, and they also offer several different taco/burrito fillings that are vegan or easily-veganizable (i.e., by holding the queso fundido or something obvious). their menu is tweaked on a near-constant basis, which gives me a bit of an eye twitch, but so far they haven’t taken away anything that i dearly love, so i’m trying not to sweat it.

bel air tacos

yucatan tacos (marinated tofu, pineapple, corn & avocado salsa)

we frequent the lower east side location because: (a) it’s less than 3.5 miles from our house, (b) they have a super great patio during the warm weather months, and (c) their tacos are muy bueno. we have a friend who loves nachos as much as we love tacos, and the three of us have made somewhat of a habit of bel air lately. yum.

a little over a year ago, bel air opened a second location across town (in my sister’s neighborhood, nice!), and it’s been doing a swift business. hooray for spreading the love! then, earlier this summer, news broke that a local pizza place was going to close, and bel air was planning to plunk down their third location in its place. i flipped out pretty much immediately, because said vacancy is a mere 1.5 miles from our house. as in, easily walkable on a lovely fall day. y’all, i am about to experience a serious influx of guacamole, chips, and tacos.

bel air tacos

 2 black bean & corn tacos; 1 soy chorizo & potato taco

there have been a few false starts as far as the opening date is concerned (translation: they have been toying with my emotions), but yesterday and today there have been some official-news-type reports, so i think it’s really real this time: they’re opening on monday! whee!!

thanks so much for reading my ramblings this month! i hope you had a lovely vegan mofo! <3

mac & cheese mondays – cheezish!

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all right, i’ve been foreshadowing for a month, and the big day is finally here: it’s time for cheezish macaroni, the best mac & cheese in the whole galaxy! i have blogged about cheezish before, both here and also here, so if you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you won’t be too surprised by this reveal. but if you’re new around here, welcome! let me tell you about the wonders of gladcow’s cheezish macaroni!

gladcow cheezish

i’ve been making this recipe for nigh on eleventy years now, and it’s just the greatest thing going. my dear friend summer (who wrote this book, and is the gladcow to my bluedawg) is a wizard in the kitchen, and the first time i tried her recipe, i knew i was in love. because of cheezish, i pretty much have roasted red peppers and quick oats in my house at all times. this is my go-to comfort food; my favorite thing to make on lazy teevy days, or when i need a little cheering up. my motto: cheezish makes everything better. here’s a shot of the sauce, as it’s doing its thickening thing:

cheezish stir

and here’s how it looks right as you’re stirring in the pasta (once again, cavatappi ftw!):

cheezish pan

it’s so great, you guys. if you don’t have the glad cow cookbook, you should! it’s full of delicious recipes! but meanwhile, summer has her current version of the recipe posted online, so you can check it out here if you’d like to try cheezish in your very own kitchen. i always use roasted red peppers; typically the 12oz jar so that i can make a triple batch. i usually make enough sauce for three batches; that way i can eat one, and then freeze the other two for later cheezish needs. this method has served me very well — i prepared one of my frozen batches for this very post!

cheezish

as per usual, i was unable to restrain myself, and i ate two pretty gigantic bowls for lunch. erik came home from his run just as i was about to pack it away for future lunches, so he snagged a bowl for himself (i was in a generous mood, har har), but i still have enough leftover for a couple of quick meals this week. yum! i also had enough to share with maia, who is a HUGE fan of cheezish. i think she looks forward to it as much as i do! she follows me around in the kitchen when i’m cooking it, and when i’m eating it she just stares at me from her bed with the cutest hopeful expression. of course, i had to reward her for being adorable:

maia cheezish

bon appétit, everyone! i hope you enjoyed mac & cheese mondays as much as my belly did!

sunday sharing – speculoos frosted cupcakes

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cupcakes! who doesn’t love ‘em? i know they got amazingly popular a few years back, so now they’re probably past their prime or something… but to be honest i still consider them a go-to dessert when i’m feeding other people. they’re delicious, they’re easier to serve than cake, and they’re so adorable! i came into my own as a cupcake-bringer when vegan cupcakes take over the world came out, and i never looked back… so, thanks isa and terry! <3

my most recent batch of cupcakes was a slight twist on a recipe in their book. i made the basic chocolate cupcake, and then used the peanut butter buttercream recipe to make speculoos (aka biscoff, aka cookie butter) buttercream frosting. (in case it’s not obvious: i just substituted speculoos for the peanut butter.) zomg, y’all.

speculoos frosted

i packed these into my double-decker cupcake carrier, took them to a family birthday party, and they went over really well. just looking at the pictures again makes me wish i had more. looking at the pictures also makes me realize that i’ve still never learned to make pretty cupcakes. must learn to use pastry bag and tips, for real.

speculoos frosted

in eight years (i can’t believe it’s been out that long!), i have never had a recipe from VCTOTW go wrong. my all-time personal favorite of theirs is the pumpkin chocolate chip recipe, and i’m extremely stoked that it’s finally pumpkin season again. they will be my next batch of cupcakes, for sure.

throwback thursdays – peppermint chocolate vitasoy

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i toyed with the idea of making the entirety of this post just a gigantic *sob* and just leaving it at that… but then i decided i’d whine a little bit, lucky you!

i found the blog post i wrote when i first discovered that peppermint chocolate vitasoy had been invented, and i also found the blog post i wrote after i first tasted it… ah, 2006. it was a simpler time. i am a huge sucker for chocolate and mint together, and this seasonal soymilk was so, so, so delicious. i looked forward to it all year long, and i hoarded boxes so i could keep drinking it all winter.

then, a few years later, everything changed. rumors swirled about vitasoy no longer carrying the peppermint chocolate in the US, and unfortunately they were true. our canadian besties were still able to indulge, but we were out of luck. cue rending of garments.

at one point i visited some dear friends in the PNW, and they had an extra hoarded box that they were saving Just! For! Me! and i was pretty much beside myself. we had a lovely vacation, we gave the peppermint chocolate vitasoy a place of honor on the mantle, and… then i accidentally left it there. nooooooo!

there have been a couple alternatives (westsoy, silk) on the market since the great crisis, but to be honest i’m not super crazy about either of them. westsoy’s version isn’t bad, but it’s just not the same. i drink it sometimes, and then get sad because it’s not the vitasoy. womp womp.

wanderlust wednesdays – chicago diner flautas

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i liked last week’s exercise for wanderlust wednesdays (if i could be magicked somewhere right now, where would i go and what would i eat?), so i’m doing it again. today i’m picking a closer city — chicago — and a perhaps unconventional dish. i know chicago diner is known for their vegan wings and their vegan reuben and all of that is well and good, but… i am a sucker for their flautas. i’ve had them at least twice, because i’ve photographed them twice… but there might have been a third indulgence somewhere in there. anyhow, i first tried them on an evening trip after spending the day at chicago vegan mania:

chicago diner flautas

and they were insanely good. when i eat flautas, i tend to cut them up and then swirl everything together in a delicious-yet-gross-looking mess, and just go to town. beans and guac and cheesy sauce and crispy flauta shells and a little bit of sour cream? heaven. i was pretty sure they were a “sometimes thing” on the menu, so i kept thinking about how i was going to get back and eat them again, and eventually i got my chance:

chicago diner flautas

and they were as insanely good as i’d remembered! i just looked at their menu, and i’m not seeing flautas anymore, which is pretty sad… and it’s making me want them even more. boo! they do have vegan baja fish tacos on the menu right now, though, so those would probably be a good consolation prize. we definitely need to get back down there; it’s been too long.

hometown tuesdays – ian’s pizza

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okay, so i’ve blogged about ian’s once before, last year during mofo, in an epic post about us eating pizza constantly. but today they’re getting their very own post, so they can shine like the pizza-flavored diamond they are.

ian’s is relatively new in milwaukee (just a few years old), and they have been SO awesome for our vegan pizza scene. they offer “weird” slices (i say that with love) like mac & cheese, lasagna, guacamole burrito… you get the idea. very early on, we learned that they were holding a “vegan night” on tuesdays, and we wandered over to check them out. they have tons of pizzas out, and you just choose the slice(s) you want and they pop it in the oven to finish cooking it… presto! vegan pizza in a snap! here’s their vegan lasagna pizza, from back in the day:

vegan slices at ian's

i was beside myself with excitement upon discovering vegan mac & cheese pizza, and on my one million trips to ian’s, i’ve purchased a slice of mac & cheese about 99% of the time. i can’t help myself; it’s just too good to pass up. my other faaaavorite of theirs is the vegan guacamole burrito slice, which: black beans, guacamole, rice, vegan cheese, red onions, vegan sour cream drizzle. THE BOMB. they don’t offer it all the time, so i have to wait until it’s the slice of the month, and then pounce as many times as possible in that month.

ian's guacamole burrito

anyhow, over time they’ve continued to expand their vegan offerings, and they never disappoint. they have a vegan bbq chik’n slice, a cheesy potato slice, a chorizo sweet potato slice… seriously, so many options! “vegan tuesday nights” have expanded to “vegan all-day tuesdays” at our east side location, plus they added vegan sundays (woo!), and the other location downtown has vegan thursdays. on those days you can wander in and choose from vegan slices at-the-ready, but you can also order a whole vegan pizza any day of the week. and they deliver!

tonight we decided to hit up vegan tuesdays and we swung through for a pile of slices. i got mac & cheese (obvs) and the hurley (so named for andy hurley, of fall out boy, who is vegan and frequents our ian’s location whenever he’s home), which has upton’s sausage and yves pepperoni:

ian's mac + hurley

…and erik got two slices of the hurley, plus one slice of the vegan smokey the bandit (chik’n, bbq sauce, vegan ranch):

ian's smokey + hurley

then we came home and, as is our custom, ate our pizza while watching new girl and the mindy project. so, so good! thanks for being awesome to vegans, ian’s!