Vegan BBQ, it’s true, it’s true!

Tonight was the grand opening of an all-vegan BBQ in Portland called Homegrown Smoker. I know!!! Tim and I tossed aside our previous dinner menu and rode our bikes up to Last Thursday, which is a chaotic mess of arts, crafts, food, music, costumes, and hoards of people roaming the street having fun and being silly. Usually a crowded environment makes me a bit unpleasant to be around, but come on, vegan BBQ!!! 

Homegrown Smoker turned out to be quite delicious. They have a decent-sized menu with sandwiches, specialties, side options, beverages, and local vegan desserts (check out the menu on their blog!). Making a decision wasn’t easy and the smoky BBQ smells emanating from their stand were numbing my mind. I finally decided upon the Smoked Soy Curls (served on a pita) with a side of Mac No Cheese. Tim opted for Chronic Tempeh Ribs & Vegan Sausage (I believe they use Field Roast sausages) with Cole Slaw and Baked Beans. The wait was incredibly short since we arrived before the crowds. With food in hand, we found a cozy spot on the curb to dine, people watch, and listen to music. Here, take a look:

Smoked BBQ Soy Curls

BBQ Tempeh

The smoky flavor was perfectly subtle, and the BBQ sauce was sweet, tangy, and a little spicy (there are two sauce options). My pita bread was chewy, soft, and gently grilled. I was a bit disappointed with the side portion of my meal, there was maybe a 1/4 cup of macaroni, which isn’t very much, especially for a hungry BBQ-crazed vegan food snarfer (such as myself). But, the Mac No Cheese was yummy, and I happily shared bites with Tim. We both agreed that the ribs would have benefitted from simmering in BBQ sauce rather that having a squeezy bottle for customers to dispense onto their food. Overall, we enjoyed our food and look forward to visiting again (we live only a few miles away!!!). The ever-growing number of all-vegan businesses in Portland makes me overflow with glee. Taco trucks, milkshakes, Italian food, bakeries, groceries, tattoos, bars… I love it here.

The street fair also had a sweet little baked goods vendor called Petunia’s. We purchased two cupcakes for dessert and probably should have purchased a dozen. We chose a Chocolate Hazelnut and a Lemon Coconut, but there was Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars too, I think. We also purchased a Strawberry Vanilla cupcake from a vegan bake sale that was happening during the festivities (Portland’s 3rd and final in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale). Mmmmmmm, cupcakes!!!!

2 Cupcakes

Pardon the smooshed top, Tim was handling the box.

Lemon Coconut Cupcake

Lemon Coconut cupcake

Tim Snarfs Cupcake

You would think he’d share…

Petunias

Pretty, pretty baked treats!!

This weekend Tim and I will be attending the second annual Let Live Animal Rights Conference!! We learned so much last year, and the speakers lined up for this year are equally amazing. You can see the schedule here, and look forward to photos from the conference in my next post. It’s always nice to be immersed in a room full of like-minded compassionate people working together to benefit the animals. Veganism has made a huge difference in my life, and I wish I’d made the choice years ago. Go eat a cupcake and get happy!

Portland’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

My tummy has finally settled after the sweet indulgences from Saturday’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in Portland. The sale went incredibly well and I had a lot of fun spending the day with Kris from the Nom! Nom! Nom! blog and her husband. Not only is she an amazingly talented baker and organizer of events, but she is also super sweet and kind. We ended up with a small stash of baked treats that didn’t sell, which we happily divided up amongst the three of us to snarf down later (and of course, I had to save some for Tim… Right?). It was very gratifying to see so many folks stop by the sale with generous spirits and walk away with bags of goodies – so much compassion for animals!!! The money earned from the Portland bake sale will benefit House of Dreams, which is a no-kill kitty shelter in Portland. Hooray!!! Even though Tim and I don’t have any pets (allergies), we do love to visit the super cool kitty who lives down the street. He drools puddles every time Tim approaches and purrs like crazy. Fluffy, kinda fat, and a bit wobbly in the walk – he is usually found lounging in the sun.

Anyways, what yummy loveliness helped earn money for House of Dreams? Lots and lots of stuff! I spent nearly eight hours straight baking for the sale, and I know Kris spent around eleven hours baking as well. We also had some other people drop off stuff for the sale! So nice! Here, take a peek:

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies (recipe at the end of this post!)

Goodie Bars

Goodie Bars

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Mocha Stripe Cookies

Oh Joe's Brownies

Oh Joe’s Brownies

Sprouted Cinnamon Rolls

Sprouted Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Muffins

Apple Muffins

Ginger Cookies

Ginger Cookies

Banana Split Cupcakes

Banana Split Cupcakes and Strawberry Muffins

Hand Pies

Hand Pies

Strawberry Muffins

More Strawberry Muffins

Butterscotch Pecan Bars

Butterscotch Pecan Bars

The Table(s)

All together now! There were also Peanut Butter Brownies, a Marble Bundt Cake, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls, Jelly Donut Cupcakes, Blueberry and Green Tea Cupcakes, Lemon Drop Cookies, Almond Spelt Sweet Buns, and Peanut Butter Cookies! So much good stuff!!!! I can’t wait for next year… Although I may need to hire a baking helper/dishwasher because I made a huge mess of my kitchen and upped my anxiety levels a bit with all the baking!

And now, a recipe! The Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies seen above were one of my contributions to the sale. I adapted the recipe from a cookbook I have owned for a long time: The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook. While most of the recipes are not vegan, they are easy to meddle with. These cookies turned out very well and are not too difficult if you have some time to assemble them.

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies (adapted from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw almonds

3/4 cup, plus 3 T unrefined sugar

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose (or white whole wheat) flour

1 t baking powder

1/8 t fine sea salt

1/2 cup vegan margarine

1 1/2 t Ener’G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 T warm water, and whisked vigorously

1/4 t pure almond extract

1/4 t pure vanilla extract

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Process the almonds and 3 T of sugar in your food processor until finely ground. Set aside.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar with the margarine in a stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer) for about 3 minutes. Add in the Ener’G mixture and the extracts. Add in the almond mixture, blending well. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until smooth (don’t over-mix).

4. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

6. Using one teaspoon of dough for each cookie, portion into around 80 (I ended up with about 70 – but I ate some dough in the process…) balls (roll each portion between your palms to make them nice and round). Place the balls on cookie sheets lined with parchment or Silpats spacing them 1.5″ apart (they will spread while they bake).

7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Keep a close watch on them as a few of mine were a bit overdone.

8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

9. Melt your chocolate in a double boiler (or however you prefer to melt chocolate). Make sure your cookies have cooled completely before spreading about a 1/2 t of melted chocolate on a cookie and sandwiching it with a naked cookie. Continue until all cookies are mated with chocolate. Place them in the fridge to firm up the chocolate. These will keep in an airtight container for about 5 days, maybe less if it’s hot in your home.

I can’t stop eating these. They are pretty and fancy and will impress people’s pants off.

Backpacking Wacky

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This past weekend Tim and I headed down to the southern Oregon coast to go backpacking. Despite crazy heat and mosquito posses, it was an absolutely gorgeous area. We saw tiny frogs, snails, birds, lizards, snakes, leopard slugs and so many (think dozens of varieties) colorful wildflowers blooming on hillsides. We even got to jump and swim around in two cold rivers as a reward for enduring the toasty sunshine each day. And, we had complete solitude the entire time – we didn’t see any other people until we were about a mile from the end of the trail. A perfect escape from the city.

Oftentimes, people think of dehydrated packaged meals as the staples for backpacking fare. Tim and I discovered years ago that a little creativity and fresh veggies and ingredients make for much more exciting meals on the trail. While this option might make our packs a bit heavier, we eat tastier, healthier meals! I was too lazy to photograph our lunches but we snacked on homemade bagels (recipe from the kickin’ sweet Vegan Brunch) smeared with peanut butter and bananas we dehydrated a few days earlier. We also had homemade cajun tofu jerky, carrot sticks, pumpkin seeds, and a medley of other dried fruits we made. Here are some photos from our trip, starting with meals.

Soba Noodle Curry

A simple soba noodle curry – We brought along small plastic bottles of coconut milk and a spicy peanut curry sauce to pour over soba noodles (broken in half) and sauteed mushrooms, red bell pepper and broccoli. The meal was then topped with sesame seeds and some toasted coconut. It was delicious.

Of course you can’t have dinner without dessert, right? Right. When Tim and I backpacked around New Zealand in 2000, we brought along an Outback Oven. It’s basically a convection-style oven that you can use with a backpacking stove. It is small, fairly lightweight, and portable. We don’t always use the outback oven, but some of our favorite foods have been enjoyed on the trail when we do bring it along (think cinnamon rolls, pizza, scones…). For this trip, we made a chocolate wacky cake. My favorite recipe is from a Mollie Katzen children’s cookbook. We simply quartered the recipe, packed the dry ingredients in a ziplock, and the wet ingredients in a small bottle. Everything mixed up nicely in the pan and baked in about 15 minutes. We used some addictively yummy chocolate agave packets as a frosting (see photo of packets below).

Wacky Cake!

Wacky cake with about 5 minutes of baking time left.

Chocolate Agave 2

This stuff is so incredibly yummy. I admit to eating a packet straight up by itself. That’s right, you would too.

Next up:

Brekkie Couscous

Breakfast Couscous – Whole wheat couscous, powdered soy milk mixed with water, our own dried strawberries, pecans, agave, and cinnamon. Super quick and simple!

And now some photos from our mini vacation:

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Cape Blanco 1.3

I am pretty sure I could do this every weekend…