Half the feed, 65% of the meat, 100% of the suffering

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Careful — this video of the latest in “environmentally-friendly beef” might cause you to injure yourself from constant eye rolling.

The inane, low-IQ banter is too much to take. I’m not even going to provide any commentary because, really, it’s Fox News… you know what you’re going to get.

NY trip notes (and some music)

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A couple of weeks ago, my wife, daughter, and I headed up to New York City. It was the first time in nearly four years that my wife and I had been there and Rasine’s first time ever. We were only in town for one day and one night, but we had an excellent time and can’t wait to go back. A few, quick impressions of our culinary experiences this time around:

Two Boots Pizzeria

Though not a vegan pizza place, the Two Boots listing on Supervegan indicated that they had a number of vegan choices, so we stopped by for a few slices.

When I stepped to the counter and asked if they had any vegan pizzas made, the guy indicated that they didn’t and gave off the vibe that he didn’t want to bother making one, either. I gave him a disappointed look and said, “Oh, you don’t?” followed by a pregnant pause. He then said, tersely, “OK, I’ll make one.” He didn’t ask what we wanted on it or anything, so we crossed our fingers and waited.

What we got was one of the best vegan pizzas we’ve ever had. It was cheeseless, but they seemed to have taken every possible vegetable from their kitchen (and maybe a few from next door) and threw it on a pizza. The result was a slice piled ridiculously high that seriously hit the spot.

Pizza

Lan Cafe

We knew for sure that we were going to Lula’s Sweet Apothecary for dessert, so the next trick was finding a nearby restaurant for dinner. There were a few options, but we settled on Lan Cafe, a vegetarian (and very nearly vegan) Vietnamese restaurant that serves up veggie pho, half a dozen varities of banh mi sandwiches, vegetarian banh xeo pancakes, and every other traditional Vietnamese favorite you can imagine. The food was excellent, as was the company (we met up with a childhood friend of my wife’s that she hadn’t seen in 20 years). My banh mi with grilled seitan was perfect and my wife thoroughly enjoyed her banh xeo with mock pork. Rasine, as you can see below, dug the summer roll appetizer:

Summer roll

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary

If there’s any spot in New York that’s worth the hype, it’s Lula’s. The Supervegan page is one glowing review after another stating that the homemade ice cream is equalled only by the friendly service of the two proprietors. For those that haven’t heard, Lula’s is an all-vegan ice cream parlor (one of two in the city!) that looks like an authentic, old school ice cream parlor (and not in the kitchy way, at all). To get a good feel for the vibe, check out this excellent photoset.

As soon as we entered, the owners told us, “Let us know if there’s anything you want to sample.” And sample we did. I eventually settled on a malt (a MALT! REALLY!) made with cake batter ice cream. Huyen and Rasine split a simple, but tasty, mint chocolate chip cone. I’m pretty sure that on our next trip to the city, we’ll be coming here each night.

Yay for Lula’s!

Lula's Sweet Apothecary 1

As an added bonus, I was lucky enough to catch up with the world famous Brownbird Rudy Relic. It was great to finally meet him in person.

With the Brownbird

And while we’re at it, I thought I’d throw in a video of an amazing performance of his in Australia last December. Be sure to check out his entire set, available for streaming online.

(special thanks to Rich, Jason, and Deb for the help and suggestions with regards to restaurants and parking!)

A Double Dose of Dreena

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eat_drink_and_be_vegan Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
Dreena Burton
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007
http://vivelevegan.blogspot.com/

What I like most about Dreena’s books, in addition to the great food photography, is that she doesn’t rehash the same familiar recipes you find in a lot of other cookbooks.  Plus, while her recipes sometimes call for ingredients you may not have used before, they remain simple to prepare and even unfamiliar ingredients can be found in your local grocery store or co-op.  As with Dreena’s previous books, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan is a wonderful collection of unique recipes that home cooks of all skill levels will enjoy.

We’ve had a lot of success with ED&BV around our house.  Dreena’s always been known for her inventive hummus and this time around, she devoted an entire chapter to the creamy, beany vegan staple.  I loved the Black Bean & Orange Hummus — the orange adds a whole new dimension and combined with the black beans (rather than chickpeas), this one is sure to turn some heads at potlucks.  The Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Hummus is a little more familiar but is the tastiest red pepper hummus I’ve had.  Fresh parsley used for garnish tops it off perfectly.  Other hummuses include a white bean hummus, a peanut-sesame hummus (!), and one geared specifically for kids.

From her soups and stews section, the Mellow Lentil "Sniffle" Soup has already become a go-to dish for us and my wife and I agree that the Sweet Potato Lentil Chili may be the best homemade chili we’ve ever had.

The main dishes we’ve enjoyed include the Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto on Pasta (we substituted cilantro with good results since basil was far out of season), the slightly lemony Quinoa Chickpea Confetti Casserole (which went over well over the Christmas holiday and is simply delicious when drizzled with the Balsamic Maple Sauce), and Sweet & Sour Chipotle Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes.  The Cran-Apple Quinoa recipe was another dish shared over the holiday ("Quinoa?  Is that how you say it?  This is good!").

This may be a first, but I haven’t made any of the desserts.  I am looking forward to trying the Pumpkin Cheese Pie and the Lime Sucker Coconut Pie.

So far, there have only been a couple of recipes that haven’t gone well for us, which isn’t bad considering how many we’ve made.  The Goddess Garbanzos didn’t sit well with me, but I’m also not a big fan of Annie’s Goddess Dressing, which probably explains it.  The Cinnamon-Lime Quinoa with Apricots & Almonds was alright tasting, but consistency was a bit squishy for my liking.

Dreena Burton’s third book, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, solidifies her as one of my favorite cookbook authors.  Her inventive recipes manage to balance innovation, accessibility, and health in a way few others can.  There’s no doubt you’ll want this one on your shelf if it’s not there already.

ED-DVD-cover175 Everyday Dish (DVD)
featuring Dreena Burton, Bryanna Clarke Grogan, and Julie Hasson
YaYa Productions
http://www.everydaydish.tv/Shopping%20Cart/vegan_vegetarian_dvd.html

When you flip through the channels while Wife Swap is on commercial, you won’t have a tough time finding cooking shows.  Unfortunately, they usually feature Rachael Ray and her damn yummers EVOO (wow, two sentences in and I’m already insulting Rachael Ray).  In fact, when it comes to vegan cooking shows, you’ll come up empty (regional shows excepted, of course).  There have been a few decent vegetarian-themed cooking shows through the years (Regina’s Vegetarian Table and Delicious TV come to mind), but vegans often have to suffer through visits to cheese stores and recipes topped off with feta.

Everyday Dish features three vegan cookbook authors sharing a handful of their favorite recipes in a cooking show format.  First up is Bryanna Clarke Grogan, author of Nonna’s Italian Kitchen and many other classic vegan collections.  I’ve always been a fan of Bryanna’s very open sharing of her creations.  Some cookbook authors are notoriously stingy with their recipes, hunting down anyone that posts one online.  But if you search for vegan recipes online, it’s a sure bet that one of Bryanna’s will show up in the top 10.  She’s the master of the homemade mock meat and that shows with her selections for the DVD.  She serves up gravy, neatballs, chicken cutlets, and an ambitious pork tenderloin.

Dreena Burton, who you may remember from a few paragraphs ago, shows us how to make Chickpea Sensation Patties, assorted hummuses, Lemon Herb Tofu, Sundried Tomato Pesto, and Chocolate Mint Melties.  I’m pretty sure that in a future life, I want to be reincarnated as a Chocolate Mint Meltie.  Dreena has a great blog that gives some real insight into what it’s like trying to put together a cookbook while managing a family.  I’m pretty sure she only sleeps three hours a week.

Julie Hasson, who I had the pleasure of meeting last year at the DVD’s release party in Portland, serves up a simple and tasty-looking Deli Noodle Soup, Diner Loaf, Tacos and Salsa, Chocolate Cake, and Triple Chocolate Pudding (triple!).

All three of the chefs have personalities that lend themselves well to this type of endeavor.  Bryanna has a quiet, understated way of demonstration that makes even complex recipes seem accessible.  Dreena is the person you hope you’d bump into at the grocery store, because she’s so open and willing to share what she knows.  And Julie seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm, but it’s genuine enthusiasm, not forced Rachael Ray enthusiasm.

In addition to the nearly two hours of cooking footage, the DVD also includes bonus recipes, printable recipes from the demos, and some other extras.

It may seem a little strange to buy a DVD of a cooking show in this age of "hey, it’s on YouTube" and with food blogs-a-plenty everywhere you look, but there is something nice about having a DVD you can lend to friends or show family, particularly those that enjoy watching cooking shows on TV.  And this is a good one to use – the production values are quite good.  About the only constructive criticism that I’d offer for a second edition would be to try and incorporate the use of an overhead camera to provide a bird’s eye view of the food and give some variety to the camera angles.

Be sure to check out all the videos at everydaydish.tv to get a good idea of what you’ll get on the DVD (and then some).  Julie also has a blog for the site with some great food photos and commentary.

Everyday Dish joins Post-Punk Kitchen and Regina’s Vegetarian Table as my one of my favorite veg cooking shows and is definitely worth checking out on DVD.  I hope there’s a second volume in our future.

Poplar Spring Video

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Thanks to Deb for mentioning this great video shot at Poplar Spring last year. It definitely catches the essence of what I love about the farm: