My first post as the Austin Vegan Examiner

It was a bit rushed and not my best work, but I'll get better. I'll be covering various vegan topics, and plan to post several times a week.



Survival Tips for New Vegans | The Vital Voice

Nice article with some simple tips for anyone thinking about going vegan.

From: http://ping.fm/KNXEw


Meat: the slavery of our time


"So how will we become a vegetarian planet? The numbers suggest that we won't stop eating meat simply because it's "the right thing to do." People love it too much. Instead, we'll be forced to stop. By 2025, we simply won't have the resources to keep up the habit."


Faux butterfinger soft serve sundae at Toy Joy. ZOMG good!!

Faux butterfinger soft serve sunday at Toy Joy. ZOMG good!!

Now for the details: 

Start with a large helping of Toy Joy's own vanilla soft serve, which uses a combination of soy and coconut milks.  Drizzle with hot fudge sauce, and coat with crushed Chick-O-Stick candy.  Add two pieces of Chick-O-Stick and a cherry, and you're about as close to a Butterfinger sundae as you're going to get in vegan form.


Animals know right from wrong

It's unfortunate that animals had to be subjected to captivity and testing for scientists to finally come to the same conclusion that anyone with companion animals has known all along. Thanks to Todd for the link.



Vegan brownie sunday FTW!

Had this wonderful brownie sunday with chocolate mint ice "cream" and hot fudge sauce at Lula's Sweet Apothecary in New York City last weekend. It was incredible, and a real joy to go to an all vegan ice cream shop.

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Q & A

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Original Almond Breeze
2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Miso soup
Mac 'n Crack
Tofu Scramble and chipotle “sausage
3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Earth Balance, popcorn salt & nutritional yeast
4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Gluten-free brownies from a mix . Not pretty - or edible.
5. Favorite pickled item?
Sweet relish
6. How do you organize your recipes?
7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Compost everything possible, use disposal on rinsed bits that clog the drain, trash for the rest.
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)?
Avocado, brownies, edamame
9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Mom making me lasagna for my birthday.
10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Soy Dream Butter Pecan.
11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Toaster oven.
12. Spice/herb you would die without?
13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
A cookbook put out by my grandfather's church. Decidedly not vegan.
14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Red plum
15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Mac 'n Crack
16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tofu, definitely tofu.
17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Cookbooks, a pitcher, some stouts & I'm not sure what else... it's a jungle up there
19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Whole strawberries, vegan wontons, edamame
20. What's on your grocery list?
Vegetable stock, sweet relish, vegenaise, carrots
21. Favorite grocery store?
HEB, because it's close - but Whole Foods for vegan specialty items.
22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Banana pudding
23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
Lonestar Plate - The Vegan Blog of Texas
24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Dark chocolate with mint, or with almonds and cranberries
25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Chocolate - always with the chocolate
26. What foods are you embarrassed about liking?
I dunno... Sour Patch Kids?

Your Turn!


Animals just wanna have fun

"From tickling to playing catch, animals engage in certain behaviors just for fun..."

This article makes the point (in a round-about way) that animal activists should focus as much on the fact that animals feel and pursue pleasure, as that they experience fear and pain.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the fundamental argument for animal abolition and veganism being presented in a mainstream article - simply that "an animal's life has intrinsic value, that is, value to the individual independent of his or her value to anyone else, including humans..."  I am somewhat disappointed that they didn't mention veganism at all, but on the other hand, it's possible the article will plant some ideas in the minds of people who would otherwise dismiss any article with the words "vegan" or "animal abolition" as propoganda.  


Shoreline Grill

I had recently been bemoaning the lack of vegan-friendly upscale restaurants.  While looking for a place to take my grandmother for Mother's Day, my wonderful mother found the Shoreline Grill - a very nice restaurant with a vegetarian menu, that actually includes several options marked as vegan.

I started with a local microgreens salad with dried tart cherries, toasted hazelnuts, and a roasted poblano vinaigrette.  The flavors worked very well together, and I'd definitely order it again.  We decided to try both of the vegan small plates.  The first was a tofu tartare, with a "creamy" wasabi sauce, avocado, and house made taro chips.  The tofu was lightly marinated with just enough sesame oil to give it a hint of smokiness, without overpowering the other flavors.  The other small plate was a "vegetable twister" - basically a sushi roll with avocado, cucumber, asparagus, and sweet soy sauce - all wrapped in potato strings and then deep fried until the potato is browned and crispy.  The penne pasta entree was lovely, with a very light sauce enhancing the flavors of the vegetables, rather than it being the primary flavor.  For dessert the kitchen put together a dish for us that included a strawberry sorbet surrounded by a flash-frozen berry mix. 

Overall, the experience was quite good, and we had a lovely evening.  However, as I began writing this post, I realized that instead of the vegan pan roasted tofu that we thought we had ordered for our second entree, we were served the dish directly below it on the menu which included a ginger cream sauce.  I'm pretty upset about it, but I can't remember if I specifically said vegan when ordering the tofu.  It's such a habit for me that I think I did, but I'm not entirely sure.  Where the creamy sauce would normally have been a clue for me, the sauce with the tofu tartare was also quite creamy, and was vegan, so I didn't suspect.  I saw a tofu dish marked vegan and ordered it, without really looking closely at the rest of the description.  I didn't even look at any of the menu items not marked vegan, or I probably would have realized they'd served us something else entirely.  I'm pretty much kicking myself, and feeling a bit ill now at the thought of eating cow excretions.  Now I'm just hoping that the dairy doesn't trigger a migraine for me. 


Tofu Scramble - Why does everyone alway put turmeric in it?

I love tofu scramble, but if you look at a dozen recipes for it, ten of them will probably use turmeric. As far as I can tell, the turmeric is just to add a yellow color in order to make the tofu look more like scrambled eggs - it certainly doesn’t add anything to the flavor, and actually detracts from an otherwise yummy dish in my opinion. To be honest, the sight (much less smell) of scrambled eggs makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little, so I can’t understand why anyone would want to make yummy tofu look like something so disgusting. I’ve tried several of the better known recipes out there, but I find I do my best cooking on the fly (except for baking - I always stick fairly close to the base recipe when baking). So here’s my favorite way to make tofu scramble, with a decidedly tex-mex flavor:

- Saute onion, fresh garlic and diced new potatoes in olive oil (or vegetable stock, if trying to reduce fat) until the potatoes are about half done.
- Add sliced mushroom - I prefer baby portobellos - and saute until the mushrooms are almost done.

- Add two Field Roast Chipotle links (or a milder sausage if you’re not into the spice), sliced into small bite-size pieces, and saute until the sausage is warm through.

- Crumble one package of drained extra-firm tofu into the skillet.

- Add your favorite salsa, starting with about one third cup, and adding more if you like. At this point the mix will be fairly wet, but it will cook down fairly quickly.

- Next add your spices (see below) and about a half a cup of nutritional yeast.

- For spices, I like to add black pepper, garlic salt, cumin, and smoked paprika. I couldn’t tell you the exact amounts if I tried, but if you absolutely need quantities, try starting with 1/2 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp garlic salt, and 2 tsps each cumin and smoked paprika. I think those are probably a little less than I actually use, but it’s always easier to add spice than to remove it.

Simmer over the same heat level used to saute until enough liquid has evaporated to suit your preference. I like mine fairly moist - but that could be just because I’m ready to chow down already!

To complete the tex-mex flavor, serve with sliced avocado and corn tortillas. For another variation, try adding corn and black beans in the first couple of steps, and top with fried corn tortilla strips (the small bits at the bottom of the tortilla chip bag work pretty well too).


Buca di Beppo

We went to Buca di Beppo tonight for Jess's birthday dinner, and sat at the kitchen table - quite an experience.  It was interesting to be right in the heart of the kitchen, but noisy.

While the vegan options are limited, the items that were available were all pretty decent.  We started with the bruschetta, which was piled high with a nicely seasoned tomato blend, and quite tasty.  The waitress gained points by realizing and pointing out that the "vinaigrette" that normally comes with the salad would not be vegan since it has egg in it (okay, really? egg?  in a vinaigrette?  WTF?).  She brought out olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the salad, which while simple, did have sweet peppers, and kalamata and green olives. 

For entrees, we had gnocchi with a garlicky tomato basil sauce*, and spaghetti marinara.  Our waitress racked up some more points by offering to check the ingredients list of the gnocchi, but I have to say it was my least favorite of the dishes we had.  The sauce was good, but the gnocchi was bland and smooshy.  The spaghetti marinara was quite yummy though, and the spaghetti was perfectly cooked.  

The highlight of the evening for me though, was the Ultimate Raspberry Lemon Drop.  Bacardi Razz and Limon, sweet and sour, and a couple of frozen raspberries served in a martini glass dipped in sugar with lemon zest.  Yum!  

*Note:  My good friend Sarah of The Southern Fried Vegan pointed out that the gnocchi is normally served with a roasted garlic marinara sauce with "a touch of cream".  The server checked the ingredients list for us, and the gnocchi itself is vegan, so we had them sub a vegan sauce.  

Vegan Friendly Fine Dining in Austin?

I love Austin.  There are so many vegan-friendly restaurants here, and most are serving great food, but so far they're all very casual.  My mother (who is awesome) went to some trouble to find a really nice place called Shoreline Grill to go to for Mother's Day, that not only has a vegetarian menu, but half of the items on it are marked vegan.  To top it off...  they look delicious!

I'll be posting a review of the meal after Mother's Day, but I'd love to hear if anyone has any other vegan fine dining suggestions, or would like to share their experiences with Shoreline Grill.


Vegan "queso"

Had this the other night at Bouldin Creek Cafe.  OMFG it was awesome!  Warm cheezy sauce over a scoop of avocado, sprinkled with fresh onion and cilantro.  The flavor was wonderful, and it really evoked the qualities that I used to love about queso. Hope it becomes a regular on the menu.