vegan month of food, 2015

so, i screwed up again and missed the cutoff for signing up for vegan mofo. i’m an idiot. i think i’ve done this at least once before — i always forget that the cutoff is several days before the start. whoops.

anyhow, i think i’ll play along regardless. this year you can do it on your blog, instagram, twitter, youtube, or wherever… so i think i’ll take advantage of that flexibility, and split my time between the blog (here) and instagram (@veganchai). you may have noticed that i’m also about a zillion years behind on my blogging (i never finished my VVC posts! i’m a double-idiot!), so maybe mofo will, once again, kickstart my blogging habit. one can only hope.

see you in a couple days, mofos! <3

vida vegan con, atx edition – friday

mishka’s flight was indeed delayed and she got stuck in san francisco for the night, so i had to go ahead to the vegan bazaar without her. it was an easy walk from my hotel, and colleen and i were pretty excited to partake in the exclusive eat-all-the-miyoko-cheese-you-can-eat hour that was only open to VVC attendees. i had never tried any of miyoko’s cheeses, but i am here to tell you: they live up to the hype. there were several tables of cheese wheels and cracker options, and we were allowed to just circulate and grab at will. i tasted at least 7 varieties (from what i can remember: double cream garlic herb, double cream sun-dried tomato garlic, country style herbs de provence, mt. vesuvius black ash, aged english sharp farmhouse, limited edition strawberry cream something something, and i’m certain i’m forgetting at least one more), and there were a few others i didn’t get to, but every single one i tried was delicious. DELICIOUS I SAY! after we pried ourselves away from the cheese tables, we realized that red rabbit bakery was also set up in the room, and we also learned that we were allowed to roam around in the vendor area before everything opened to the public. so, roam we did.

the vendor area was… bananas. chock full of fantastic vegan businesses and oh, the samples. so many samples. i’m not kidding when i tell you that i ate samples for three hours straight, and then realized that i had doomed myself to Not Being Hungry For Lunch, even though there were four kick-ass food trucks parked outside, just for us. whoops! from what i can remember off the top of my head, i sampled: a capital city bakery brownie *and* a chocolate chip cookie), nada moo vanilla chai ice cream, a taquito, a chili lime carnitas jackfruit taco from upton’s, heidi ho nachos, a tamale, and this was all AFTER the miyoko cheese extravaganza. eep.

(please note: flickr and wordpress appear to be going through some issues in their relationship, and i am having a really hard time linking images with my usual method. bear with me!)

capital city bakery + nada moo samples

upton's jackfruit taco

eventually colleen and ricky got hungry enough to eat lunch, so i watched them eat. there were four food trucks parked at the venue for us: the vegan nom, arlo’s, cool beans, and sadie b foods. everything looked delicious, but i just didn’t have it in me, so i waited it out and hoped to get hungry before they all left.

somewhere in here, i decided i’d better go buy a bunch of stuff: i grabbed a new elephant tank and ‘be kind’ wallet from herbivore (always such a pleasure to see michelle!), a snazzy VVC armadillo tee from the official merch table, and a vegan is tee from the adorable and wonderful sweethearts at meaningful paws.

we attended one of the talks at the bazaar: how we made austin awesome, featuring a bunch of certified-awesome peeps who were there to share their wisdom. jessica from rabbit food grocery, kristen from capital city bakery, molly from texas vegfest, and chris from the vegan nom told us all about their austin vegan exploits, led by the always delightful stephanie (lazy smurf).

making austin awesome

while this talk was unfolding, mishka finally made it to austin from her unexpected overnight stay in san francisco, and by the time we finished at the panel, she had made it to the bazaar. hooray! she grabbed a taco (as one does) and made her rounds in the vendor area so she could try to catch up on all the samples she’d missed out on, and eventually i finally decided i could be hungry enough to try eating a taco. i headed out to the vegan nom:

vegan nom trailer

vegan nom trailer art

…where i was confronted with a menu chock-full of amazing-sounding options, and i really didn’t know what to do with myself. i decided to keep it simple, and ordered a breakfast taco with tofu scramble, potatoes, and avocado.

vegan nom breakfast taco

it was really great, and i wish i had been hungry enough to order tacos from them all day. on our next trip back to austin (see you in february, y’all!), this will be a high priority destination.

after finishing stuffing my face, we wandered around a little more, chatting and mingling, until michelle and i decided we should probably go to the conference hotel and get checked in. we were both too full to worry about going out for dinner, so we just made our way south to the UT campus, checked into our sweet little room, and hunkered down for the night. we both pretended we were going to go to bed early and catch up on our sleep, but instead we stayed up for hours talking about kitties who won’t eat and how stressful that is and how very much we love them. it’s so good to be with friends who get it. <3

end-of-day cumulative austin taco count: 3

vida vegan con, atx edition – thursday

all righty, well that attempt at blogging all weekend was certainly a bust. i feel like i hit the ground running as soon as i landed in austin, and i didn’t really have any true down time until i was on the plane back home. whew! if you follow me on instagram, you’ve at least seen a glimpse of the delicious food i was stuffing in my face on the regular.

to try to make up for lack of posting, i’m going to do a series of posts with a quick run-down of how each day went. let’s start with:

thursday!

i landed in austin about an hour late, nabbed my rental car, and made my way to the meet & greet. i arrived just as it was technically ending, but there were still several enthusiastic VVC attendees buzzing around, and i got to reconnect with old friends, plus meet a few people i’ve known online for years, which is always one of my very favorite things. right around this same time, my milwaukee friends arrived in town (by car), so we made plans to meet up for dinner. i braved rush hour on I-35 (so heroic!) to get to my hotel, checked in, and then turned around and left almost immediately to meet colleen & ricky at bouldin creek cafe. if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you already know it’s my absolute favorite place, and i wanted to make sure i’d end up there at least once this weekend. (and i’m really glad i did that, because it was the only trip i was able to squeeze in.) i had what i always have, the el tipico with tofu scramble.

el tipico

colleen ordered the vegan oven cake breakfast (that blueberry cornbread!), and ricky chose a couple of tacos from bouldin’s vegan selection. everything was super-delicious, as per usual.

we briefly entertained the idea of walking to bananarchy for dessert, but in the end we decided we were full and tired, and we headed back to our hotels. meanwhile, i learned that mishka’s flight had been delayed, and she might not make it into town on friday morning as planned. boo!

end-of-day cumulative austin taco count: 2

get ready for some vida vegan con excitement

hello blog! it’s been a long time!

i’m dusting off the ol’ wordpress in honor of vida vegan con, which kicks off in austin tonight with an unofficial (totally official) meet & greet. as soon as i learned that VVC was going to be in austin, i started hatching plans to attend. as you may already well know, austin is my second/adopted hometown (i did my phd at the university of texas, as did my husband, and he lived there an extra three years before i arrived), and i jump at the chance to go back whenever possible. so, i’m typing this from the airplane, high above texas or somewhere, getting ready to indulge in a weekend of food, friends, and fun. yippee!

my flight was slightly delayed (twice) in my connecting city, so i might be cutting it close on getting to the meet & greet, but regardless i’m so excited to get things going. i’m trying to plan out all of my favorite eating spots so nothing gets overlooked in the hectic long weekend to follow. wish me luck! i’ll be checking in throughout the weekend, so get ready to see vegan chai in your blog reader all of a sudden after a long absence. i missed you!

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!