Monthly Archives: August 2009

Vegan Sushi Birthday Party!

Los Angeles is burning. I just thought I’d start with that. Ok, Los Angeles itself is not burning, but there happens to be a number of huge fires burning right next door, filling our city with a thick layer of smoke. Air quality has actually reached hazardous. Let’s not forget, the temperatures have repeatedly hit triple digits. Needless to say, this is not the part of summer that people relish in.

It also happens to be birthday season. You all know that everyone gets busy between Christmas and New Years so this happens to be a popular baby week. Guess what that means…birthday parties! My friend Jannatha’s birthday was this week and we had a sushi party (which is probably one of the best parties you could possibly have). I think it’s been about a year since I’ve made sushi myself, and though that was good, these veggie rolls were amazing.

Since there are tons of places to find instructions on how to make sushi yourself online, I’m going to just give a few hints to making your sushi even more awesome. First and foremost, I insist you try something new. Being that I’m an LA native, I’ve been eating sushi since I was two years old. Yet, somehow I’ve never had a sweet potato roll. How is it that I’ve missed out on such an awesome kind of sushi? It’s so freaking good. Sauteed and sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar and hot sauce, it rivals my sushi favorite (avocado, is still the best though I think). So on your next sushi excursion, throw in a vegetable you haven’t  yet tried wrapped in rice and seaweed.

My next suggestion perhaps goes a bit against conventional sushi wisdom. Put loads of veggies in your rolls. This can potentially make your rolls fall apart a bit easier, especially when dipping in soy sauce, but do it anyway. More veggies mean more great flavors. Try different combinations of crunchy and soft. Try different colors mixed together. Just make sure you press your rolls extra tight.

Don’t forget the extras. One of the things that makes going out to a sushi dinner so special is not just the sushi itself, but all that comes along with it. Get some Japanese beer, perhaps some sake too. Whip up a little bit of miso soup. Many Japanese snacks are vegan too. I’m personally totally addicted to some seaweed crumble things that are sweet and salty and to die for. Definitely don’t forget the wasabi. If you’re afraid of wasabi, get some anyway. Mix a little in with your soy sauce and try it out. Even if you have too much, it stops being spicy after a second. Honestly, just try it.

Last but certainly not least, stuff your face with sushi! I guess you should save some room for dessert though. We had red velvet cake, as every birthday needs a good cake (or cupcakes). Despite the summer heat and fires and ash falling on us, the evening was cool enough that we could eat outdoors. The best part about sushi is that besides the rice, you don’t have to cook anything if you don’t want to. You end up with a cool summer meal that is much more filling than a salad, and generally speaking, way tastier. Now get to it, go make some sushi!

p.s. Thanks to Jannatha and Kyle for not only being awesome sushi party hosts, but also for letting me steal photos from them. 🙂

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vegan bake sale at handmade nation craft fair

Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you all know Vegan Bake Sale will be selling cupcakes at the Handmade Nation premiere craft fair this Saturday. So come get a cupcake (or two) and check out the other crafts and demos. The craft fair is from 2 – 6 pm and is free to the public. Handmade Nation looks like a great documentary too, so I would recommend seeing one of the showings as well. Get advance tickets and info at the Cinefamily site. Hope to see you there!

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater

611 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, 90036

Saturday August 15th 2009

2 – 6pm

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the elusive vegan brown bread ice cream

When it comes to vegan ice cream, I’m a huge fan of Scoops. Many vegan ice creams fail in their attempts at creaminess and flavor but Scoops seems to get it just right. Yet, Scoops is by no means perfect. My biggest complaint about this great ice cream shop is that while they have four vegan flavors to choose from daily, they also have about 12 non-vegan flavors as well. Usually, this wouldn’t bother me (at least we get the vegan flavors!) but then my eyes glance over to the non-vegan offerings and I always get jealous. Lemon Hefeweizen ice cream. Thai Iced Tea ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great vegan flavors as well, but still…there are about 12 vegan combinations in rotation and sometimes I just wish there were more. And then there’s the brown bread. There is always a tub of brown bread ice cream on the non-vegan side. While all the flavors change daily, this flavor is so good that they have it every day. Not for us vegans though. Shawn claims that once upon a time, when the ice cream shop was still new and more experimental he tried the vegan brown bread ice cream, but those days seem to be long gone.

Today, ladies and gentleman, I bring you the answer to the elusive brown bread. There may be other versions of this treat, but this is what I imagine you’d get at Scoops if they did decide to make it. I overheard some of the secrets to what makes it so special and you may be surprised. You may be delighted.

Brown Bread Ice Cream

1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup soy milk, separated
2 cups soy creamer
2 Tbsp arrowroot

½ cup soy milk
1 cup grape nuts

Caramel Sauce

½ cup Earth Balance
2 cups brown sugar
¾ cup soy creamer, separated
2 Tbsp arrowroot

Take 1/4 cup of the soy milk and mix with 2 Tbsp Arrowroot. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, mix the sugar and vanilla extract. Cover the bottom of the pan with the sugar mixture and start to melt over medium heat. As the edges of the sugar turns brown, stir gently until all sugar is melted and turns to a dark caramel brown.

Carefully pour in the soy creamer and soy milk. Be aware that the caramel may sputter and pop. Continue to stir until the caramel disolves into the cream. Bring to a boil and mix in the arrowroot mixture. Stir until it noticably thickens. Pour into a seperate bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool.

To make the caramel sauce, again mix the arrowroot with 1/4 cup soy creamer and set aside. Melt the Earth Balance in a small sauce pan. Add the brown sugar and combine. Next add the remaining 1/2 cup soy creamer and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. At this point, add in the arrowroot mixture and stir until it thickens noticably. Put this in another container and refrigerate until cool.

Once the two mixtures have cooled, about 4 hours or so, mixt the grape nuts and the remaining soy milk together. Make sure they are fully coated and let sit.

Next, make your ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions starting with the cream/caramel mixture. As the ice cream begins to solidify, pour the grape nuts in. Once these are mixed in, drizzle in a bit of the caramel sauce to make swirls.

You can eat right away if you like your ice cream soft. I recommend putting into containers, drizzling a bit more caramel in, topping with any leftover grape nuts and freezing.

This is without a doubt the best ice cream I have ever made. Unbelievably delicious. Sweet and slightly savory. The caramel sauce adds a bit of buttery sweetness. You should go make some. It is so good I can’t even describe it to you.

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Vegan in Arizona:Green

Just two weeks ago, we went on a very quick road trip to Arizona. I’d never been before and was hoping to explore some of the vegan options. I wasn’t expecting much, and with the 115° heat, food wasn’t the first thing on my mind when we got there. Still we searched for something different than the usual vegan choices on regular restaurant menus. We were directed by friends to Green in Tempe as the place to check out. Finding some free time on our hands, we made the extra journey to scope it out.

As soon as I took a look at the menu and the various vegan items they had for sale in their mini-store I was ecstatic. Not to mention the extensive list of Tsoynami (think vegan blizzard) flavors listed on a chalkboard. The atmosphere of the place was charming and creative, with tons of space and very vegan vibe.

Shawn got the original “g” spicy poboy which was so amazing. Essentially it’s a vegan buffalo chicken sandwich. I want to eat one of these every day. It was spicy but not overwhelmingly so. The mock chicken was the perfect consistency, not overly fried or chewy. I got in big trouble for stealing the last bite of this sandwich. Oops!

I ordered the texas mooshroom poboy because I was so in love with the idea of espresso bbq sauce. Of course I was so distracted by the idea of mushrooms slathered in bbq that I kind of forgot that I don’t like peppers which this guy is full of. I ended up taking them out and the poboy was damn good anyway. If you like peppers it would probably be fantastic. The thyme fries that came with it were absolutely fantastic. I’m not really one to go nuts over fries, but these were so good, thin and crunchy and flavorful.

Let’s be serious here for a second though and talk about this ingenious treat at Green known as a Tsoynami. This is a vegan soft serve dream come true. Not only is the soft serve itself creamy and delicious, they have so many items you can mix in you would not believe it. They have a bunch of combinations for you to choose from but you can also choose your own mix ins. Shawn got one with coffee bits, chocolate puffs and chocolate syrup (that I unfortunately forget the name of, but that you can see above). I went for coffee bits and newman-o’s, which is my favorite soft serve combo. Despite the fact that I was stuffed after our lunch, I still gobbled down then entire tsoynami and loved every bite. This is the kind of dessert that doesn’t leave you feeling gross afterward. It’s also perfect for the Arizona heat. These things are 10 times better than a shake or an ice cream sundae.

Living in Los Angeles, we’re pretty spoiled with good vegan restaurants, but damn I wish I could go to Green all the time. This is the kind of place with a really nice relaxed atmosphere and artistic decor that we’re missing out on here. There are a ton of places to get great food in LA but not many of them have such a great vibe. Green not only had awesome food and really nice people working there, they also had a bunch of vegan items for sale to go, from Teese to bike tube wallets to recipe coloring books to copies of Earthlings. This is also the kind of restaurant you could take non-vegans to and they would still be thrilled; the food is just great. I can’t wait to go back and try more items off their menu! If you’re ever in the Tempe area you must go here, I insist.

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Cran-Raspberry Muffins

Ok, I think this can be the last muffin post for a little while. Maybe. Perhaps I’ll sneak in just one more though. These cran-raspberry muffins were so moist and fruity; the perfect combination of sweet cakey muffin and tart fruit chunks. They came with us to a lovely cemetary screening of The Muppet Movie and were unfortunately a little smooshed on the way (but still tasted just as lovely). These muffins have a dominant raspberry flavor but the cranberries add a bit of tartness and give the muffin a little more complex flavor. Mostly, they’re just sweet, chunky and delicious.

Cran-Raspberry Muffins

¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup cran-raspberry juice
2 cups flour
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ scant tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup frozen raspberries

In a medium bowl, mix sugar, dried cranberries and cran-raspberry juice together. Set aside to let the cranberries soften for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400° and grease muffin tin.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

Add the oil and vanilla extract to the cranberry mixture and whisk together. Gently pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until a few lumps remain. Add in the the raspberries into the batter fold in so they are fairly evenly dispersed. If you use frozen raspberries, there is no need to thaw them, just make sure there aren’t chunks of ice in the mix as they’ll creat gooey spots in your muffins.

Spoon into muffin tin and fill cups to the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly springy when touched. Let sit in muffin pans for about 5 minutes and remove to cool on a baking rack. Devour warm or cooled.

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