Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vegan Mofo Day 12: Curried Chick'in & Apple Walnut Salad

Sweet and tangy and savory salad perfect for lunch time fulfillment.
Time to break out Green Day's American Idiot and put "Wake Me Up When September Ends" on blast. It isn't just the end of the ninth month of 2014, so concludes Vegan Mofo. In a few weeks, I'll be recreating favorites and counting down top "new to me" blog picks! It's been sooooo exciting as always to be introduced to vegan bloggers. This community is only getting bigger. Animal free, cruelty free women and men are more kitchen savvy than ever before! Woo hoo!
In this incredibly yummy noontime meal perfectly packed for school, combines wide variety of delicious ingredients. Almost similar to a Waldorf Salad, I found it impossible to stop eating. Regular Earth Balance or Veganaise will probably be great substitutes, but I highly recommend Whole Food's No Oil Zesty Tahini Dressing. It's surprisingly light and tangy- not too thick and not too watery. Creamy goodness adds most amazing flavor to Beyond Meat's Southwest Style Chicken Free Strips and apple, marrying sweetness and savory together. Plump, chewy raisins provide extra texture to otherwise versatile crunchiness.
This salad makes for a one serving portion.

Curried Chick'in & Apple Walnut Salad Ingredients and Preparation

1 apple, chopped (used Braeburn)
6 Beyond Meat Southwest Style Chicken Free Strips, diced and pulled
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoon Whole Foods No Oil Zesty Tahini Dressing (or plain vegan mayo is fine)
handful raisins
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
pinch of garlic salt

In a small bowl, bowl ingredients together.
Close up.
Ready to serve and eat just like that!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vegan Mofo Day 11: Campus Philly, Discovering Stephen Hayes & Blackbird Pizzeria

College Fest!
So I didn't make my 30 post September Vegan Mofo goal. That was quite unfortunate. I barely had time to be around the apartment, let alone cook. For the most part, I've been eating frugal oatmeal bowls and bananas more than twice a day. One strenuous "elective" class takes up most hours. Seminar provides so much intellectual reading my brain is bound to explode from jargon filled information. All the while I am to be conducting studio work. That leaves little time for cooking creativity.  Much less breathing. I haven't breathed relief until well.... today.
Thanks to the big Campus Philly event, I feel at ease. At least for a few hours. Many Center City museums were free to students showing up with college ID or blue campus Philly wrist bands. In front of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps, where all the fun started, entertainment was in great abundance for the growing wild crowd. Open mic poetry, positive rap music, DJ spinning tunes from around the globe, and dance off competitions took the stage. Varied games like spin the wheel and sock game tosses provided happy students prizes. Freebies included lots of fresh drinks, snacks, and coupons.

Cherry Limeade Sparkling Water and a free large Ikea blue bag!
Played Septa bus toss and never made a single hole. I'm terrible at throwing. Just terrible!
Goodie bag haul-- Kind Bar wasn't vegan. Going to give it away to someone.
This Boom Chicka Boom Popcorn is amazing! Lightly salted inside bright poppy packaging, one cannot resist snacking away!
Hanging out with Rocky Balboa!
I took the purple Phlash bus (for the first time! It was free!!!!) to the African American Museum.
Here I was ready to face history-- African American history. Something of which wasn't taught quite well in school. It's a history only found far from extremely biased educational system.
I uncovered Stephen Hayes. Who is Stephen Hayes? Who is this artist that baffles spirit with amazingly riveting work that makes each room silent? Deep respect and undeniable mourning describes the tears burning to fall. Hayes creates haunting poetic narrative that speaks guttural truths to me, that speaks to everyone about the bloody realities on which our country stands. Cash Crop explores not just the past, but future as well. Above is Gluttony, a piece that has an intricately carved slave ship in each wooden rectangle. Remarkable symbolic creation of infinite lives stolen from Africa. It narrates ancestral days. Desires to keep having and having, consuming and consuming, using and using. Hayes asks, when will it be enough? When will we stop forcing people to do that of which we could for ourselves? Will slavery ever be truly abolished worldwide?
Slave ship hinged onto the wall. Mixed media.
Map of slave ship voyage from Africa to America.
Close up detail of frame. Fine detailed, sharp lines and bold contrasts.
Most harrowing, poignant portrait of all paints grisly reality, a brusquely undeniable honesty. Fifteen cement sculptures of men, women, and children- arrested hands and shackled legs all leading to one place. Dripping brown stains faces, bodies, and hands, dried bodily fluids staining gray expressionless, nameless captives. Tears want to fall hard at this sight. And even now, it stays present in mind, unforgotten, saying "remember your history. Your history."
Knowledgeable fruit gifted brain, a sweet abundant nourishment that stimulated ideas for tonight's studio practice. The effective way Hayes took subject matter and beautifully weaved conception delivered insight. Its in the same manner as of Wangechi Mutu's profound show seen last year at the Brooklyn Museum. This idea, this notion, that we as artists shouldn't define ourselves as one primary function. They're not just installation artists or sculptors or mixed media collage geniuses. I'm not just a painter that loves to draw. We're each creative inventors using narrative, with or without text language, to engage viewers into reading with their minds, with their souls.
Thus, I carried this inside my filled heart, walking towards next destination- a place to feed ravenous belly.

Everything on Blackbird Pizzeria's menu is vegan!
Blackbird Pizzeria is one of my absolute favorite Philadelphia vegan eateries. With menu item side salads, sandwiches, Make-Your-Own calzones, pizzas like Balboa (pumpkin pesto pizza topped with Daiya mozzarella, seitan bacon, and tomatoes) or (breakfast pizza with tofu scramble and Daiya), I decided to try something new: the wings! Yes, I have heard through the grapevine all about Blackbird's infamous sauce dripping wings! I wasn't the biggest wing pre-vegetarian hence why it took so long to trying them out.

This yummy slice of thin crust pizza served as an appetizer (yes, weird I know). Nothing wrong with a plain slice of "cheese" and tomato sauce!
Here comes the main event! The reason I came. These Root Beer BBQ wings were a knockout for a small $5 order! Sweet, tangy Root Beer BBQ sauce was finger suckling good. Omg! Definitely the bees knees. The wings were crisp, tender, and juicy, retaining irresistible crunch underneath thickly applied sauce.
And the mystery green cream (which must have a bit of avocado in there) had a smooth, creamy consistency that married well to the sweet BBQ sauce. It was like a heaven I never tasted before. 
At Philly Aids Thrift 9th Birthday Block Party, I met a girl selling vegan cupcakes for $2 each!
I selected apple cider. Pretty. A burnt edge didn't stop me from consuming the fluffy, sweet dessert cake!
And this tree of stuffed animals in front of Philly's best thrift store perfected the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014 Day 10: One Minute Flourless Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Brownie

Oh my heaven.....
Hello Vegan Mofos! Day 10 and still three days behind, but don't worry there will be 30 Taste The Nom Nom posts! 30!
Today is my younger brother's birthday. All the more reason to make a sweet escape! It's also simultaneously International Chocolate Day and National Peanut Day. Plus just received fantastic email that I won the Vegan Mofo Wednesday prize of Art By Susimtha vegan jewelry.

Pendant is a "1.25 inch copper disc with a hammered texture and stamped with the word vegan. A smaller brass star is attached with a stamped letter v. It’s been fired to give a patina that shows off the hammer marks and makes the letters pop..."
1.25 inch copper disc with a hammered texture and stamped with the word vegan. A smaller brass star is attached with a stamped letter v. It’s been fired to give a patina that shows off the hammer marks and makes the letters pop - See more at: http://www.veganmofo.com/#sthash.4F2n8C9D.dpuf
1.25 inch copper disc with a hammered texture and stamped with the word vegan. A smaller brass star is attached with a stamped letter v. It’s been fired to give a patina that shows off the hammer marks and makes the letters pop - See more at: http://www.veganmofo.com/#sthash.4F2n8C9D.dpuf
1.25 inch copper disc with a hammered texture and stamped with the word vegan. A smaller brass star is attached with a stamped letter v. It’s been fired to give a patina that shows off the hammer marks and makes the letters pop - See more at: http://www.veganmofo.com/#sthash.4F2n8C9D.dpuf
1.25 inch copper disc with a hammered texture and stamped with the word vegan. A smaller brass star is attached with a stamped letter v. It’s been fired to give a patina that shows off the hammer marks and makes the letters pop - See more at: http://www.veganmofo.com/#sthash.4F2n8C9D.dpuf
Stars and moon aligned for the perfect dessert that celebrates joyous occasions this very unique Saturday the Thirteenth brought me. I was a little bummed that I didn't go to the class New York City trip and needed some satisfaction. So I researched around mug cake phenomenons. It would be simple just to make a "celebration" cake on school grounds whilst working on romantic watercolor fixations. And yes, I'm still on the David Lynch high. That eccentric man excites imagination. And so does chocolate. Oh wicked wicked chocolate how I wish we could marry. Sorry sidetracking....
Most mug cakes wanted flour, baking powder, and all that stuff. I just wanted to use what I had.
End result makes tingly parts quiver from first enticing bite to last. Rich, warm, gooey melted chocolate, peanut butter, and banana (yes! banana all up in this brownie!) decadence is a turtle without the sickly sticky caramel sauce. Okay. It's uber sinful and fattening due to the peanut butter, the chocolate chips, and the walnut factors. But hey, I'm not saying make yourself a guilty pleasure hot one minute flourless chocolate chip peanut butter brownie every night. Just on the days when the stars align. With banana in there, you won't be distressed losing tears and much sleep over the high potassium content that's for sure, chocoholic friends.

One Minute Flourless Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Brownie Ingredients

coconut oil spray
1 banana
3 tablespoon unsalted creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoon chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon sugar (or date syrup yum!)
pinch of salt
handful of walnuts
extra peanut butter and chocolate chips for garnish

Spray square microwave dish with coconut spray.
In a small bowl, mash banana and mix in peanut butter.
Stir in chocolate chips, sugar, and salt evenly.
Pour "batter" into dish and microwave for a minute.
Plate. (mine didn't come out super perfect shape, but that really didn't matter!)

Layer top of hot brownie with peanut butter, walnuts, and extra chocolate chips.
Devour! Oh and happy birthday bro! Stay tall.... :)

1.25 inch copper disc with a hammered texture and stamped with the word vegan. A smaller brass star is attached with a stamped letter v. It’s been fired to give a patina that shows off the hammer marks and makes the letters pop - See more at: http://www.veganmofo.com/#sthash.4F2n8C9D.dpuf

Friday, September 12, 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014 Day 9: Quick Savory Seitan Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steel cut oatmeal gets a "meaty" treatment.
It was a nearly perfect day.
Went to see David Lynch's first ever retrospective here at school and it was amazing!!! He primarily uses printmaking, painting,  mixed media, and of course film. Plus the conversation with Robert Cozzolino and the students was a real eye opening treat.  As soon as the link is posted, I'll add it to a future blog post for your big Lynch fanatics. He said a lot of intriguing quotes alongside his traditional enigmatic responses. I especially loved what he said about ideas. Artists generate a score of ideas and explore methods trying to get that idea out in the "right" way. But what he said about the idea itself was direct and beautiful: "As idea is like falling in love, once you fall in love-- that's it. You're married to the idea." I was also pleasantly surprised that the idea of cinema came from a painting which he thought appeared to be moving! Interesting!
That's easily renders itself into cooking-- Taste The Nom Nom that is and bringing breakfast to Virtual Vegan Linky Party. Cooking vegan will always be so fascinating, so expansive. When I think about oatmeal and its million possibilities, prospects house endless excitement. I love both the sweet oatmeal and the savory oatmeal. Oats are like the grainy, versatile version of tofu, plain "clay" allowing creativeness to mold fantastically mouth watering art for the food palette sculptor.

Look at what's brand new. The recyclable packaging is organically composed, minimalist color palette, and art noveau designed. Speaks to versatile flavors founded in each 4 person serving of epic yumminess.
I always seem to purchase "new" items when they're on sale! For instance, I've been dying to try Upton's Naturals forever! Everyone is singing praises. They're 2 for $6 (plus a 50 cent coupon is on internet rotation) at Whole Foods Market. We don't have the popular bacon flavor unfortunately (well not at the two convenient locations downtown). I picked Italian Seitan-- Italian seasonings junkie right here! The hesitancy struggle was real. It's been in the fridge for two weeks. I don't always like the consistency of seitan itself. In several restaurants, I've had awful "chewy" fake chicken feeling like rubber between teeth. Downright awful to digest! Yet Upton's Naturals managed to make seitan not only palatable but flavorful and unique. Seasoned crumbly texture mimics sausage perfectly and depths are three dimensionally satisfying to nose and taste buds. That's why it was a great pairing to steel cut oats, the chewier heartier oatmeal. Almond milk provides creaminess and nooch is the "cheesy" counterpart. Deliciously savory part of a great breakfast or brunch add a pinch of maple syrup to bring extra sweetness.

Quick Savory Seitan Steel Cut Oatmeal Ingredients and Preparation

1/2 cup Trader Joe's Quick Steel Cut Oatmeal
1 1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup Upton's Naturals Italian Seitan
red onion
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash of curry

Bring almond milk to a boil.
Stir in steel cut oatmeal, lower heat, and cover. Takes only 7-8 minutes to cook.
In separate skillet (yes you'll have two stove eyes on deck!), heat coconut oil and toss in garlic.
Add seitan and mix cordially. It smells quite delicious already.
Once steel cut oatmeal is finished, turn off stove and pour in prepared seitan. Mix in red onion, nutritional yeast, garlic salt, and black pepper.

Sprinkle top with a pinch of curry powder and completely optional spinach leaves.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014 Day 8: Easy Apple Nachos

Apple slices smothered in hot peanut butter sauce and topped with walnuts and chocolate chips!
My three critics were interesting today. They all seemed to have a wide variety of ideas as to work direction and content. Plus many influences to look up tonight. One critic in particular revealed that his grandmother was a translator for Frida Kahlo! Get out of town! Frida Kahlo?? I was so uber thrilled. Even more excited by the fact that quiet, shy Frida barely spoke, but made his grandmother a little flip book. Now I will make it my semester to see this personalized Frida Kahlo handmade flip book.
Hello Vegan Mofo 2014 visitors and Virtual Vegan Linky Party Number 11 guests! Wow. 11. 
Since I've been pretty much stuck inside studio space making beautiful and ugly things, there's been less home advantage. Yet nothing stops Taste The Nom Nom from springing into action. I had seen a picture last year of apple slices topped with all kinds of ingredients being nicknamed "nachos." Now talk about the perfect treat after such a tough strenuous day. This easy peasy dessert hit all the right notes!
I gathered up apple slices, warmed up peanut butter and topped off the treat with walnuts and chocolate chips. Peanut butter, all ooey gooey like the hottest cheese fondue for tortilla chips, is amazing component to apple slices. Always has been and always will be. Pretty much two dynamics together- apples and peanut butter- peanut butter and chocolate. Walnuts add crunchy, delicious texture bridging these two tantalizing couples together. So so good!

Easy Apple Nachos

1 apple (I used Fiji here)
1/4 cup unsalted peanut butter (or any nut butter will do!)
1/8 cup walnuts
handful chocolate chips

Sliced apples in thick chunks.
Melt peanut butter and pour over apple slices.
Top with walnuts and chocolate chips!

Easily one of nature's better snack combinations- apples, peanut butter, walnuts, and chocolate! All we needed was some cinnamon to jazz it up further.
Plate licking heaven nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014 Day 7: Earth Balance's Blue Box Vegan White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Look what I found!!!!
I've got a story. A lovely story.
Some days Whole Food has got it all like the most popular kid in school. Other days it doesn't. Like now the location I most frequent no longer sells Earth Balance Aged Vegan White Cheddar Puffs or the Buttery Flavored Popcorn. Maybe they're on back stock. Maybe the popularity was too much to handle. Either way,  I mourned for a while. That was until I spied the Earth Balance Mac & Cheese. The one in the blue box. They were all out of the orange- the Kraft like cheddar version. Oh how my sadness magically turned into quick infectious joy at finally getting to try the new infamous treasure that has vegans all over going hog wild.

I have a fondness for reading boxes. Especially cereal and mac boxes.
I only added spinach. No butter, no milk. Just spinach.
Once again, Popeye would be quite proud and ask for a fork.
Closer upper.
I really enjoyed this! Seriously, it has the flavor of their irresistible cheese puffs in a hot lickety split meal ticket to gold medal victory. Creamy, rich, and oh so familiar from the noodle shape down to the white packet, this is the perfect cheat sheet mac for those in a rush. Plus it's an easy fix for a busy college student looking for a little gourmet action without the time fuss. At $3, so much cheaper than buying Daiya, raw cashews (and waiting for babies to soak), tahini, and all those other fantastic ingredients we vegans buy to craft our beloved unique macaroni and cheese creations. I know that adding "butter" and milk would have added extra flare and mimic real mac to a t, I must say that just leaving a little bit of water and stirring in the fine powder made it good enough.
I wasn't the only one who enjoyed this semi-naked (she added Upton's Seitan Bacon*c'mon Whole Foods cough* to hers!), check out Kohlrabi And Quince's review of Earth Balance's awesome mac & cheese. Then go buy yourself a box or two or three.
I'll just be looking out for the orange box whilst buying up all the blue...

Vegan Mofo 2014 Day 6: Miniature Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

Little pretzels makes us feel less guilty about making larger ones.
After three weeks of an otherwise super busy fall season, with school officially going David Lynch crazy, tomorrow three critics ae heading into my studio to see what I'm up to. Some of which, I've never met before. So I'm a little over excited and nervous at the same time. It's like opening a Christmas gift and no sure if liking what's underneath crisp holiday wrapper. Critics are a gift anyway. There are pros and cons to every artist's studio practice. I'm anxious to learn what can be added and subtracted from mine. Hopefully the millions of books (art books, novels, journals, and what not) and snacks (Kettle Maple Bacon Chips, bananas, Clif bars, chocolate memorabilia) will not be an absolute problem. We just had a talk last week where studios should be treatd primarily as work space. Yet all my books and snacks make working easier. 
Enough school chirping. that is until tomorrow. Taste the Nom Nom rolls onward with delicious baked good heaven. Something that I could bring into the studio, but won't because they're way better at home with a mug of steamed tea and corny romance novels.
I love fresh, hot, and straight out of the oven pretzels! They're the best! Here I use my traditional pretzel recipe, but minimized the size. I'm not thinking in waste line terms. I'm thinking in the selfish, gluttonous mathematical equation. Why have one large pretzel when you can have two small ones?  I like imagining that having two pretzels is better. That way when you polish off one and lick fingers clean of false buttery Italian seasoned bliss, the other is waiting still warm and utterly patient.

Miniature Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels Ingredients and Preparation

3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup water

Mix sugar, yeast, and water together. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
Add salt.
Pour in flour in at 1 cup at a time. 
Massage and knead Italian seasoning and olive oil onto dough, doing this for a good 10 minutes.
Place into oiled bowl and cover for an hour.
An hour later, beat down risen dough and cut into eight equal parts.
Prepare baking soda bath and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Out of the eight parts, individually make skinny spaghetti like strips and fold into desired pretzel shape.
Drop pretzel into bath for 30 seconds.
Dry onto cloth and then place onto baking sheet.

Brush extra olive oil atop pretzels and extra Italian seasoning.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Fully baked.
The pretzel party.
Plate and serve.
Try really really hard to eat just one. Please try.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014 Day 5: Treeline's Treenut Cheese Herb Garlic Flavored French Style Cashew Cream Cheese Review

Check out what's new to South Street Whole Foods Market.
As mentioned in two previous Vegan Mofo posts, I just tried Treeline's Treenut Cheese for the first time!
At $6.99, I was hesitant over a 6 oz tub that costs the same as a 16 oz bag of Trader Joe's raw cashews. After all, struggling art students are excruciatingly budget oriented. We like to get more bang for our buck. Plus I'm sitting on Daiya coupons. Well, I caved and gave into temptation. Once is all it takes to see if something is worth the extra dollars.

Hmmmm.... is it a good sign that the product is almost all gone prior to review?
Perhaps it's a good sign.
Complementing curried tempeh, red onions, and spinach.
Perfect for spreading atop bagels, crackers, carrots (hey the confused carrots thought it was hummus and loved it anyway!), sandwich bread, and adding tangy zip to salads and fancify up hot macaroni & cheese dishes, Treeline's unique French-styled nut cheese is quite brilliant. Taste is super light and airy, sophisticated renderings that really have an authentic artisan quality. Herb garlic provided distinctive notes-- it wasn't overpowering nor a minor background chord. Just letting the tongue know that it is indeed flavored. Creamy texture melts into pasta in loving manner. Every time I was eating it, I felt like wearing pearls and sparkle dresses. It even tastes divinely rich and expensive. I must also confess that the packaging is beautiful, all Art Noveau and oh so French. The purple accents touch my violet colored heart. Good job design department!
Yes, the price is a doozy. It'll be worth buying when the mood for fancy strikes. And FYI: I'm always fancy.  Plus Whole Foods always has great holiday sales catering to the growing vegan population. With delicious brands like Gardein, Beyond Meat, Daiya, Tofurkey, and etc. on the Thanksgiving and Christmas feast lists, who's to say that Treeline's unique line of fantastic treenut goodness won't be added to the hosting party?
I'm all for it!