Some people idolize rockstars…


Our posters designed by the lovely, handsome

But I idolize cookbook authors. Dorky, I know. This little event started with a geeky piece of fanmail.

An avid follower of Sarah Kramer’s blog,, I read a post over the summer that she’d be doing a West Coast book tour in support of the 10th Anniversary edition of her first cookbook, How It All Vegan! I figured she’d be hitting the cooler cities — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA. Not our lame little Eastern Washington town, right?

So I wrote her, said we’ve got a great little group of vegans here and would love to host her for a book event.

Well she did agreed. WHAT?! Crystal (the founder of the Spokane Vegans) and I were shocked!

So in two short weeks, we’re looking to throw the best little vegan soiree this town has ever seen. A four course dinner, made by us.

Please. Please. Help make us look good to our idol. Buy tickets. I mean, how often can you get GREAT food — four courses of it — for $20!! NEVER! Buy tickets here.





“Eggs,” “Cheese,” metal, etcetera.

I’m lucky. I have in-laws that I really, really like. And that’s not something many people I know can say. Joe’s folks are funny people — the type who live normal lives, but when you get down to their core you realize they are pretty weird. In good ways. They have funny sayings and quirks and habits. One of my favorite things about my in-laws are that there are lots of cute things that they do for each other. John likes to surprise Dee with little gift, which always make her cry. Dee lays out a cup of coffee for John in the mornings.

When I met Joe, I quickly fell in love with one of his family’s traditions: Monday nights were always, without fail “Egg & Potato Night.” For dinner, Dee whips up some kind of eggs (fried, scrambled, egg-sandwich) and roasted potatoes. She once told me that Mondays were hectic enough, and that was just an easy dinner to throw on the table at the end of the day. She’d call Joe at work, and he’d ask me “My mom wants to know if you want to come to egg and potato night.” I usually did.

Tonight I decided to resurrect this tradition, in our own style: “Tofu & Potato Night.” I made a simple tofu scramble with mushrooms and kale, and a side of roasted potatoes. And, because it is my new favorite thing, I made a thick “cheese” sauce to go over the scramble. Usually we just treat tofu scramble as a ketchup-delivery device, but lately I’m really into fake cheese sauce. Now, you know I’m a cheese fan. But this shit is the shit! Pretty much every vegan cookbook has a version of fake cheese sauce, usually consisting of nutritional yeast, veggie stock, turmeric, dijon mustard and flour. I’ve been eating it like crazy: on chips, on toast, on scrambles. It’s kind of fulfilling my cheese addiction — the methadone to my heroin habit, if you will.

So hopefully we can keep “Tofu & Potato Night” going for a little bit. I might forget by the time Wednesday rolls around…

Slayer says "Tofu & Potato Night ruuuuules!"

Slayer says "Tofu & Potato Night ruuuuules!"

Nom nom nom

Vegan Yum Yum is proving to be the best cookbook I could have bought for my can-I-be-vegan experiment. Tonight we (Joe helped) made an awesome Creamy Sweet Potato Bake. See? IMG_0012It was really tasty. I tried to go totally hog-wild with new stuff tonight and also made a Green Tomato Chutney. It was kind of terrible — even though Joe told me not to throw it to the wind just yet (which conjured up all kinds of images of me standing outside throwing ladle-fulls of chutney into the wind). I picked about three pounds of green tomatoes off my withering plants today — I just can’t bring myself to let them go. Anyone with a green tomato recipe? Most of mine are tiny green cherry tomatoes…

I’ve been eating as vegan as I can, but cracked the other day over a package of string cheese, of all things. They are a great pick-me-up at work, I’m finding. I gotta say, I’m the most vegan cheese-lover EVER!

A few shout-outs to some good recipes/blogs I’ve seen this week:

The SpoVegan Mushroom Dip!

The SpoVegan Mushroom Dip!

– The LOVELY Crystal posted a great recipe for Mushroom Dip Sandwiches last week, and I made them on Sunday night. And we actually opted out of any cheese or “cheez” at all — I was proud of us! Though my co-workers said my sandwich the next day (I brought it to work and assembled one with leftovers) made our office smell “funky,” they were excellent. We ate ours with Imagine Cream of Mushroom and a salad with toasted nuts and dried cranberries. Joe’s been making vinagrettes lately with white balsamic vinegar (note: we are still poor, we just have a lot of these types of things around the house) — and I highly recommend it on your salads!

– I recently discovered The Manifest Vegan and want to start making some of the food she posts there — especially her Spanakopita recipe. Mmmmm.

– Today I came across the Quarry Girl blog — a blog kept by a vegan gal living in Los Angeles. GAWD am I jealous of things like this. When the snow hits here soon, I’m going to be even more jealous of people who live in warm places with better food. Blast!


That’s my best teenager impression right there. Isn’t that how they talk these days?

Because I am too lazy for a real post today, here are my answers to the Vegan Mofo Survey for 2009! Geeky! Interesting? Maybe! Probably not!

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Soy but I’m starting to mess with almond milk and I like it.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?

Butternut squash lasagna, Creamy Sweet Potato Bake, Bagels

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Nothing, really. Salt?

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

Ahhh, yes. The disastrous avocado risotto. THAT was disgusting. And it looked like baby shit.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Duh – bread and butter pickles. I just realized a couple of months ago that there are bread and butter pickles made without high fructose corn syrup. This was a wonderful discovery.

6. How do you organize your recipes?

I have a binder with recipes that I’ve torn out from magazines, photocopies, etc. And I have all of my most-used cookbooks in a handy spot on the counter. Everything else is tucked away above the fridge (books like “Easy Sushi” — which is not easy to make at all).

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
Sourdough bread, cherry tomatoes, blueberries

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
My fondest memory is my earliest memory, too: eating pancakes with my Dad on a rainy morning, listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of “Proud Mary.” Food and music — they basically are my life.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?

Pure Decadence’s Cherry Nirvana. Nom nom nom.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Kitchen-Aid mixer. I find an excuse to use it almost every day. Which I shouldn’t. Because that means I’m eating a lot of bread-y products.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

Gosh, death seems strong for an herb or spice. Maybe … basil?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
I have a lot of cookbooks that were given to me at one time or another, but the one that I use the most often and have had the longest is Sarah Kramer’s “La Dolce Vegan.”

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?


15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Usually something with peanut sauce… or tofu scramble. Or orange seitan (think Panda Express, but vegan). I don’t serve food to many friends.😦

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Seitan. Mmmmm.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?

Potatoes. Sweet Potatoes. Chewable children’s vitamins.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Tofu. Frozen corn. Bread.

20. What’s on your grocery list?
Soy milk. Bananas. Dried fruit. Veggies. Tofu.

21. Favorite grocery store?
In Spokane: Rocket Market (yes, I support them even though they have fired half of my friends at one time or another and even though they poisoned me with their quiche years ago). Of all time: New Seasons in Portland.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?, Manifest Vegan,

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
I’m sure most of the candy I like is not vegan.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Apple butter. Needed it for a recipe and was SHOCKED that none of the apple butter I could find at the grocery store was made in Washington. It’s only the apple state. Dumb. It was $9.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Again, scared seems like a strong word… I’m reluctant to work with most white foods. Because it grosses me out when I watch people eating them.

Cooking Catch-Up

A meal, which I forgot to post on… Sunday? Shit. Long week. This five-day work week thing is harder than I remember.

Rainbow Rice & Fried Green Tomatoes

Rainbow Rice & Fried Green Tomatoes

The meal was simple and a great post-work romp in the kitchen if I do say so myself. I made Rainbow Rice from the VYY cookbook, and then followed her recipe from the VYY blog for Fried Green Tomatoes. EXCELLENT. I even got all fancy shmancy and made a balsamic reduction, which really – don’t tell – just consists of putting a 1/2 cup of vinegar on the stove. On heat. That’s it.

The rice was just a mish-mosh of brown rice, black beans, corn, carrots, green peas and then flavored with all kinds of savory stuff. It was really meaty and very, very satisfying. I was equally happy the next day when I ate the leftovers at work.

The fried green tomatoes were to save the last big fellas on my tomato plants from being pecked away by fall. They were incredible — too good, actually. I don’t want to like fried food too much because its (1) unhealthy (2) expensive (oil is so spendy!) and (3) messy (I hate using our iron skillets because I never want to clean them).

The rest of the week I have continued to cook out of the book, but have been too ravenous each night to photograph the food before I shove it down my gullet. The Soy-Mirin Tofu was really good, but I left the tofu on way, way, way too long (hoping to replicate the amazing Kung Pao Tofu at Hong Kong Chef in Missoula, Mont.) and it got really dry. And the Grilled Pear and Cabbage Salad was amazing. Neither of these mean anything to you without photos. I will move on.

This is kind of a boring catch-up post, but read the next one because that’s where things get really exciting!!!

Hello, Mofo!

3930562108_f07c8dec17It’s the first day of Vegan Mofo III, the annual daily blog-a-thon of bloggers around our little globe through the month of October. I signed up this year — well, if you could call it that. I just added this little fromage-free page to the list, it wasn’t like I got accepted or anything.

I’ll kick off our month of vegan blog-a-logging with a minor amount of bitching/prosthelytizing. If you don’t want to read it, you can look at this picture of my cat and then move along.

I'm a cat and I don't like cheese either!

I'm a cat and I don't like cheese either!

I must have had some kind of unconscious ESP when I started this blog — it really couldn’t have come at a better time. Joe had lost his job early in the summer, and we’ve been ducking in and out of a tailspin ever since. When things look up, they careen down again — and just when they get really bad, something good happens. It’s an exhausting cycle, but one that I feel like I’ve distracted myself pretty well from by cooking.

This isn’t the first time in our relationship that we’ve struggled to make ends meet. But it’s by far been the toughest, I think, because we truly are working the hardest we ever have. Each period when we’ve gone through rocky spots with cash, I turn to cooking. It distracts me from thinking too much. For a couple of hours, I forget about money and landlords and jobs and futures and collections agencies. I have a pretty good track record too. Some great vegetarian food has emerged from my misery. Since my tastes have long been more attracted to vegan ones than to the more lavish end of things, it’s become pretty easy for us to whip up really tasty food on the cheap.

Until recently. Our cash flow has been so minimal and so sparse, we’re having to get really creative. We’re stretching 50 cent cans of food and watering down soy milk. Hell, the other day I made an entire soup from a head of broccoli and that watered down milk. Our days of running to the store for a quick $30 bag of groceries are in hibernation. When we’re out of something, we’re just out.

Today I forgot my lunch. And that sucked. I had a little brown rice to eat, but no apple and no snack (which I rely on pretty heavily, and we don’t have the cash for easy grab-n-go snacks right now). A nonexistent cash flow made it so I couldn’t leave work for a quick snack. I bummed a rice cake off a co-worker. But I finished the day off frazzled and famished.

As we drove home, I realized something: Being hungry is exhausting. Having to constantly scrounge for food is tiring. Joe and I are lucky that we know how to cook — but as I was looking out the window of our car, my hunger made my mind turn to our problems. Where’s rent going to come from? Why can’t we get a break? How can we find more? How did this happen? When will it end? How much more can we take? I could feel tears welling up in my eyes, and I realized they were starting in my stomach. My hunger was making my mind spin out of control, leaving me feeling hopeless.

I’m lucky I have a rational husband that understand when I snap. I’m lucky I got a paycheck yesterday that will cover the rent. But for those people that don’t have those things, it made me realize how difficult it truly is to be hungry. It’s all consuming. Don’t get me wrong: I am fully aware that hunger is much, much, much more intense than what we are experiencing, but what I am gaining a glimpse of is this: when you’re hungry, it’s hard to think about anything else. You can’t think about changing the system that keeps you hungry. Or digging yourself out of a deep hole of debt. You just think about getting that next meal — and that’s it.

I’ve always scoffed at people who dog on panhandlers. Or those people who look down on the poor, homeless and hungry, dismissing them by saying “why don’t they get a JOB?” Or those people who look skeptically from their cars at the line of clients who come to the CK Community Dinner (a meal I try to help out at once a week). Because I think those people have never truly understood what hunger is. When you’ve got an empty pit eating away at your stomach, it’s hard to launch a revolution against the institutions that keeps you hungry.

Now how does this relate to being vegan? Lately, that’s the only way I’ve been eating — and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t because we’re poor. Cheese is a luxury — one that I sneak if I get the chance. But I’m learning that it’s not key to my survival. Now, I didn’t think I’d die without cheese — hellooo, not that dumb. But I didn’t realize that in this time of sparse-living, my diet would become focused on other things: where my protein was coming from, where I’d get some whole grains today or if I could score some free grub from work.

Being poor and exploring veganism has taught me a lot these days. About what I want. What I value. What kind of lifestyle I want to live. What’s necessary to my survival. And a lot of that is coming from how I’m eating. My mind centers itself at the table — and if I can’t sit at a table to consider my life’s options because of financial strain, then food becomes my new goal. Furthermore, I can pave out my goals by determining how I want to eat. Do I want to be able to afford fresh produce, or do I want to be able to eat on the fly for the rest of my life — a pizza here, a burger there. I’m realizing that my life is so much more fulfilled when it comes from my own kitchen. We may not have a pot to piss in, but I can look at the food I make each evening and say, “damn, this girl knows how to stretch a buck.”

Praise Seitan!

The aftermath.

The aftermath.

The blog has been a low priority over the last week since I started my new nine-to-fiver. I’m slowly adjusting back to the real world, and am realizing how hermit-y I was becoming working from home. One day towards the end there I was walking around the house and Joe asked “have you even showered yet today?” — I had, but it apparently wasn’t showing. Getting up and having to see other humans is probably a good thing for me.

We delved further into Vegan Yum Yum this week, making Lauren Ulm’s Broccoli Almost Sweet-and-Sour Tofu (not pictured) on Friday night and the Apple Cranberry Salad with Country-Fried Seitan last night. Friday night’s meal was supposed to be an easy one — but for some reason the sweet-and-sour saurce was kind of a bitch to make. I couldn’t get it to thicken, and kept adding more cornstarch — but it was still runny. I was pretty aggro anyway that day, so I handed the reigns over to Joe, which meant a whole bunch of other stuff was thrown in (I saw him squirting maple syrup into it at one point). Since I’m a recipe purist and bad at improv-ing like that, I didn’t take photos. It tasted pretty good, even with the maple syrup.

A no-kill chicken fried cutlet

A no-kill chicken fried cutlet

Last night I journeyed into the wild world of homemade seitan (sentences like that make me realize my life is not exciting). I tidied up the kitchen beforehand, anticipating frustration while making the stuff and knowing clutter would further rile me up. But it was actually quite easy to make. In the recipe, Ulm says to “squish, pound and pull” the gluten wedges until you have the proper thickness — and I did. I found that punching them at full force got them to do what I wanted, plus it kind of felt good and I’ve been feeling really effing angry lately. So that was fun.

The picture off to the left shows the final little fritters — don’t they look legit?! As a former fried chicken lover (there were a few incidents in college where my drunk ass mowed through many a late-night helping of Safeway fried chicken – ew) this hardly tastes like the real thing — but they were still really tasty! The texture is what got me here: it’s a little rubbery and kind of — and I know this is going to sound weird — wet. The dough felt a little sweaty… and I think that may be because I let the broth boil during the braising process when it was supposed to be simmering. But Joe ate it — which always means wasn’t offensively sweaty or bad.



We tossed slices of my gluten-fritters in a salad of cranberries, Granny Smith apples and a mustard-based dressing — and it reminded me of a Farmer’s Market Salad I’d had years ago. We have a couple of gluten cutlets left in the fridge, and the frying process was fairly easy so I think this could turn into a regular weekday meal for us. Usually a salad like this — apple, cranberry, greens — would get a handful of Oregon-zola crumbles before heading to the table, but I didn’t think the salad suffered without them. If cheese becomes a regular part of my diet again, I can guarantee I’ll still make this salad — but it’ll probably get some cheese-friends thrown in.

I’m still working on getting good lunch ideas to bring to work. Leftovers are usually what I rely on, but it would be nice to have some healthy ideas (please send if you have them — even meat-based meals that I could veganize). The other issue I’m having —and this isn’t necessarily a cheese-related issue — are snacks. Joe and I watch a movie almost every night, and we always have snacks. Lately it seems like we’ve fallen into a snack-black-hole. We’ll go in the kitchen and stare into the cupboards and fridge, waiting for some epiphany to rile us. But nothing. So now I need snack ideas, too. Crap!