Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Masaman Curry

Admittedly, I am not a great thai chef. I usually am unimpressed with the curries I’ve prepared at home; which is why I go out to eat thai quite often. Although this is not a homemade blend of spices, it tastes comparable to restaurant quality. YAY

You have no idea how excited I was to taste this and think “hmmm NOT BAD”. Then I proceeded to dance around the house a bit giving myself high-fives for my accomplishment haha.

I used a canned Masaman curry paste that contained no shrimp paste or fish sauce and I decided to mix it up with squash instead of potatoes. Squash is sweeter and better for me so it seemed like a win-win addition to the dish.

I roasted it in the oven for about 30 mins.

Then I added it to my onions, carrots, curry paste and coconut milk to simmer and soak up all the flavors. What made this dish better than the normal curries I make? I think I was the fact that I grated one clove of garlic and a teaspoon of fresh galanga into the sauce. Those two ingredients revitalized the canned paste. To add more spice I shook a dash of red pepper flakes in as well.

The result was AMAZING. I repeat- YAY. It’s good to know I can make ONE type of curry at home now and enjoy it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

MT Supermarket

I’ve officially found a Thai place! Thank goodness, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could stand life without thai haha. Unfortunately, I was so excited about eating the Thai that I completely forgot to take pictures. It looks like I’ll be doing an official review later.

Other happenings this weekend included:

Going to MT Market! Back home in OC, CA I was about 5 miles away from Little Saigon and I very much took advantage of that fact. Foods like coconut milk are always cheaper there and I would go about 1-3 times a month to stock my pantry and get new ideas for meals. MT Market reminds me so much of home. It is a bit further than I’m used to traveling 15 miles as opposed to my normal 5miles but definitely worth the trek.

I bought an array of fake meats, snacks and veggies. Although I was out of the house for a large portion of the day I felt as if I had been inside far too much and I needed some outside time. Cara, Mike, and I packed up the pups and went to the Greenbelt for a hike. It was beautiful and exactly want I needed.

Food was the thing I could think of the last ¼ of the hike though. I planned a meal out in my head using some of the goodies from my supermarket trip.

Thai polenta with vegan shrimp.

I really wanted to try my vegan shrimp. Basically, I made polenta in veggie broth with some galanga root, cilantro and a handful of my new vegan shrimp. I enjoyed it however, I always feel like I can improve on my first attempt at a dish.

Improvements: citrus or some other acidic ingredient would give more depth to this dish.

Has anyone ever cooked with vegan seafood? It’s new to me and I think it will be something I’ll eat on those rare occasions I still crave fish.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Madam Mam's

Thai and Teddy go together like beans and rice, almond butter b and jelly… Quite some time ago I started my quest for Thai in Austin by trying out the place closet to me- Madam Mam’s. I haven’t heard fantastic reviews to start with but it’s close and I’m lazy.

Most importantly, if you’re vegan or vegetarian you need to talk to them about what has fish sauce and what doesn’t. As with most Thai places, fish sauce is in everything. This isn’t a negative in my book simply because authentic Thai requires those ingredients. It only becomes a problem when you can’t get them removed from your meal.

Moving on, I ordered Panag curry. I don’t want to stay that it was the worst I’ve had but panag curry isn’t usually this soup-like and it lacked the veggies and mounds of basil that I love. The fried tofu was exactly like the pre-fried tofu I could buy in little Saigon back home and I mean exactly. It made me wonder if they get it shipped to the restaurant because they probably don’t make it there. The soup-like curry also tasted too close too the canned version of panag curry I would buy at little Saigon. It was vegan canned curry but it was less than stellar.

Overall, I left feeling like, quite literally, I could have made this myself, which is never how I want to feel leaving a Thai place because I do not consider myself a great Thai chef at all. I’m hoping to try another Thai place soon; one that is rated much better than Madam Mam’s and has been recommended by at least 2 Austinites that I’ve met.

Austin City Limits (ACL) is taking over downtown this weekend. 100’s of fantastic artists will be a stones throw away from my door and I can’t see any of them. Wah wah wah. Haha. Hopefully I can stand in the park and hear some of my favorite bands since I could not afford the tickets this year.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Clay Pit

Nope I didn’t make this. It’s actually leftovers from the Clay Pit. Last Sunday there was a Vegan Rock Austin! meet up there and I decided to join in on the delicious fun. I have to say both the food and the company were great.
Since I’m still getting accustomed to Austin life I’ve been trying to go out more in hopes of meeting more people. It seems like these guys get together pretty often and it’s always food centric- YAY.

If you’re a fan of Indian food and are vegan I recommend the Clay Pit because it’s vegan items are clearly marked on the menu. I’m not a connoisseur of Indian cuisine by any means but the Clay Pits menu was impressive and there were so many items to choose from it was hard for me to decide. It’s probably a give-in that I found the food to be amazing but I must warn if you are adverse to spicy, order MILD every time.
The price isn’t outrageous (about 10 bucks a plate) and the curries are served in little individual pots which I find adorable.
I hope to go back and get pictures of the little adorable pots!

This weekend is the Austin City Limits festival which I am sad to report I will not be able to attend (200 bucks for tix and I just cannot afford that right now). I’m hoping I may be able to see some nice super secret shows though. Not sure how likely that is. Wish me luck in finding them!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Last week I mentioned that I wanted to try new cooking grains and I bought some corn grits (aka polenta). Don’t get me wrong I’ve cooked and eaten polenta quite a few times before but that was usually with prepackaged/flavored ready-to-eat polentas, never made from scratch. To add flavor the to the polenta, I boiled it in veggie broth and dried shitake mushrooms. A meal without a little green in it seems wrong to me so I sautéed some onion and zucchini and added it at the end.

The dish turned out appetizing and I think it would be even better with some fresh herbs. Considering a bought a mini tub of corn grits, I’ll have some time to experience. Lentils were filled me up better though; I wasn’t hungry for hours, which is odd for me.

Last night was the LAST of my desserts class. I’m pretty sad that it’s over and I didn’t realize it was the last class until walking to my car. We made healing desserts and the entire room smelled of autumn. I think I’ll make some poached pears this week. I’ve made them before and they are just naturally decadent.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Ab & J Bars

What a fantastic weekend!
Friday night was very low profile, just watching movies and hanging out with. Saturday I was able to go to my first ever longhorns game (and for FREE no less)! After the game we hit the streets in our burnt orange attire. Quite a few people honked upon seeing us or asked up how the game went. With a score of 52 UT -10 Rice there was plenty to celebrate; although I will admit that my favorite 2 parts of the game were 1) the Led Zeppelin half time show 2) finally getting the guy in front of us turn around and have high 5 fest 2008. Perhaps you had to be there to understand how great those were. :)

Oh yea FOOD. I’ll admit I had some game day food and my stomach did NOT appreciate it but when in Rome…

In our last desserts class week we made some almond butter and fruit preserve bars (an delish homage to the pb&j). Upon seeing the recipe I knew I had to give them a go asap. Knowing me, I can’t follow the recipe to the T and I am of the firm belief that everything is made better when it is mini. Thus these muffin-sized AB&J bars are born.

The only notes I have for improvement on these is to reduce the cooking time a little because they came out a little firmer than I wanted, though no one else seemed to mind that. I am my worst critic but in the best way possible. haha

Oh if anyone ever wants recipes feel free to email me!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Vegan Cranberry Scones

It’s occurred to me that I never posted about desserts and it’s now Friday. Unacceptable.
We must have made a million and 3 desserts that night too. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to upload all the pictures. There’s obviously one photo to wet your food porn whistle ;)

Cranberry Scones

It’s what I’m eating for breakfast right now actually. I’ve already started to experiment with the recipes that we were given. However it’s become painfully clear that perhaps baking is not my forte.
Not that what I’ve made hasn’t turned out well. Simply put, I cannot strictly follow a recipe. Even my own recipes are not strictly measured but just eye balled until it “looks right”. Either this makes me a fantastically insightful baker or I just get really lucky haha. I’m 99% I’ve been pretty lucky in the baking arena but I think I have some inherent cooking ability (and where that comes from I’m not sure. Sorry mom, you know you never considered yourself a cook! Haha)

I don’t have much planned for the weekend. There is a vegan meet up on Sunday that I’m hoping to go to, there are a bunch of movies dying to be watched and I’ll be cooking it up as well. Perhaps I’ll make some new “game day” snacks- UT is playing at home Saturday which means the whole city stops and watches. I’ll be watching as well. Sport watching and deliciously terrible food goes hand in hand right??


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Red Lentils

I can’t say I’ve had many lentils in my life, which is odd because I know they’re great for you and I’m vegetarian. I decided that needed to change. I bought a mess of red lentils last time I was at the store. Seeing as I’ve never really cooked with lentils before, I kind of just winged it. There are base flavors that you can’t go wrong with for me.

Curry, coconut milk, cilantro=something edible.

Red lentil curry made with coconut milk and Punjab curry.

Although they tasted alright I may need some help on this one.
What the best way to cook lentils?

I have plenty of time to experiment with this one and I’m pretty excited. Oh, and I have a new motivation to get my own place. It's odd, I woke up at 3am last night and had a strong urge to start cooking. That would be rude seeing as I live with 2 other people. They would definitely both be awakened by my cooking but, once I have my own place random 3am cook-fests may ensue!! haha

The next culinary adventure will be more new grains.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Natural Epicurean Tea Party

Ok. I am tired. Wait no, I’m not tired I’m T- I- R- E- D.

Healthier desserts went a little late last night, then I came home and shared my goodies from class, then I got to watching some tv to turn off my brain/relax and before I know it, it’s 2am. Now it feels like the wee hours of the morning and I am actually drinking coffee today.

Normally coffee is a no-go for me because I hate the crash later in the day but today a cafinated beverage is required to get me even half way through the day! Good thing there’s no class tonight.

Moving on, last Saturday the Natural Epicurean had a potluck/tea party. I was in a tizzy trying to figure out what to bring. Thank god for google eh? ;)

These sweet treats consist of toasted brown rice, sesame seeds, sun flower seeds, oats and brown rice syrup. At first I was sure they turned out terribly. While making the recipe I thought there was entirely too much brown rice syrup and I cut the amount by half a cup. There was still WAY too much syrup in my opinion but I kind of salvaged them by rolling them in coarsely chopped almonds.

Everyone seemed to like them- YAY! People were asking what was in them and for the recipe- which I was hesitant to give because it definitely needs to be reworked. :)

I forgot to take pictures until practically everyone left. All the food had been devoured at this point but that just means it was a very successful potluck.

Towards the end of the party Christina came and brought 2 delicious desserts.

Her love bites- aka raspberry chocolate heaven

Coconut cream mini cakes(I don’t know the name)

Did I mention this was my first fully vegan potluck? I know that they have them in the community here too. I’ll probably be attending one of those. I’d love to make some new acquaintances that way ;)

Alright, what I really need to be focusing on right now is my half caf coffee (does anyone else think of Will Ferrell in Kicking and Screaming when they hear “half caf”? I’ve never even seen the movie but I remember that scene from the commercials. Odd how I remember the most random things)

See you all soon!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brown Rice and Tofu

Since we keep talking about brown rice in school I’ve been craving it like crazy. My new favorite flavor combination is brown rice and some sort of toasted nut topped with green onion and nori. The saltiness that nori provides is amazing.

Also, I’ve been soaking my brown rice too and it’s made a huge difference. The rice is much more soft and fluffy. I always wash my grains but soaking is them overnight is a new thing for me.

What’s your favorite way to eat brown rice?


P.S. This weekend the Natural Epicurean had a tea party/potluck. It was a great time complete with even better food. I had brown rice in a new way! ;) I’ll be posting pictures from that tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You've Eaten What? Top 100

I had to do one of these lists. They're just too much fun for me. Thanks Veggie Girl!
I'm pretty impressed with myself, I've tried over 70 of these things. If this were a test, I passed.

Here's how it works:
Copy and paste the list. Bold the items you've tried and feel free to comment throughout the list.

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee: 1st time I had this was in Paris. haha, I'm a show off ;)
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries- upstate NY and upstate CA blackberries/raspberries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans - best combo ever
25. Knish - I worked at a kosher deli for about 5 minutes in college
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper- I’ve had some habinero, pretty close.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava - food of the gods
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl - the red or the white? :)
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo - I had this a lot growing up
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl - the next step is to make it myself now
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle - it is bad to admit I don't even know what this is? haha
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey - not a fan at all... bleh
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian - definitely an experience
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes- again in paris
83. Tings- I really want to try these
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta- I had some yesterday
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whole Grains

This week we started our fundamentals course, the class designed to lay our base knowledge of Macrobiotics. The first class was on different types of grains.

Millet with organic frozen corn.
I think I may make this one this week. Cara bought some millet and we always have frozen organic corn in the house.

Boiled brown rice with pecans.
Funny thing about this recipe is that every year at thanksgiving I make something extremely similar as my main dish. Who knew I was a macrobiotic friendly eater before I ever took a course?

Q&A time (you provide the A. Haha)

I have a couple of new grains I want to try. Can anyone let me know where I can get them or if you've tried/liked them?

Teff (best source of Calcium in a grain)

Any advice/recipes would be great!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Rice Vermicelli Soup

If you’ve flicked through the channels lately you may have noticed that there is a hurricane heading straight for Texas this weekend. Hurricane Ike, if you’d like to give it a name.
Thankfully, Austin is not in the path of hurricane Ike so no need to fret about any of your Austinite friends. However, we will be getting one stormy weekend and tons of evacuees from the more coastal areas of Texas.

How will I be spending this stormy weekend?
Tonight I’m going to see Burn After Reading. Tomorrow I’m going to the Natural Epicurean’s tea party (my school’s first potluck this fall). Sunday I plan to take full advantage of the weather with plenty of blankets, movies and soup.

Below is one of my favorite quick and easy soups (and it's not TOO bad for you)

This soup has a secret. I love rice vermicelli noodles but buying the vermicelli alone is usually a little costly and I end up getting much more than I need. The secret, Thai Kitchen Noodles. They are the thai version of ramen and at only 89 cents a package they’re dirt cheap. I only use the noodles, not the sodium filled “broth” packet that comes with them. Throw in some veggie broth or miso, tofu and fresh veggies and presto, meal done. (note: after the picture I added some shredded nori as well)

Class was great last night as well, very informative this time. I’ll post about that soon ;)


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Desserts Class 2

Taking dessert pictures proved harder than I had anticipated in class on Tuesday for some reason. They all came out terrible. This is what I could salvage from the goods I brought home for Mike and Cara.

Caramel popcorn. This was the most entertaining recipe because it's just fun to make popcorn on a stove. If you haven't you should try sometime but be careful. It's fun because popcorn has a tendency to fly everywhere : )

Chocolate topped krispy bars= gooey goodness (as you might be able to tell from the picture)

I didn't even get pictures of my favorite item of the night- the maple macadamia nuts. I made some yesterday so no worries I'll be posting a picture soon and a recipe for that one- haha it's just maple syrup and your favorite type of nut, no secrets really. Can you believe they sell these maple nuts for like 18 dollars a pound at whole foods? They're only TWO ingredients. Insanity.

Okay I'm late for class folks.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Mr. Natural

I've driven by Mr. Naturals practically every day since I've moved to Austin. Each time I make a mental note to stop by there sometime. A full month of noting ended this weekend when on a whim, while out grocery shopping with cara, I suggested stopping right then and checking it out. Traffic was backed up because of construction and it was a great way to pass some time.

Mr. Natural is a buffet style vegetarian/vegan eatery. It reminds me of an Indian place back home where you just walk up and point to the items you want and they place them either in a togo container or a plate. I suggest getting the lunch special if your timing is right. It’s probably the most bang for your buck at $6.99 for a whole mess of food; salad, entrée, and 2 sides.

Mexican food and I get along very well and I chose the black bean and tofu burrito, two mini gorditas, and nopalitos (cactus in an amazing red sauce). The burrito itself wasn’t fantastic but the salsa that you can request on the side was killer. I’ve never had nopalitos before and I have to say if I hadn’t been told this was cactus, I would have thought it was potato goodness.

Overall, a good lunch with leftovers but other things seemed a little pricey and I’m not an advocate of buffet style food. I noticed that Mr. Naturals had a large desserts section and asked if the good were vegan or not; they are. I’ll have to go back there and see if the vegan treats are any good.

Tonight is my second Healthier Desserts Class!!


Saturday, September 06, 2008

My Samurai Sword

Class number 2 for me this week was Basic Knife Skills and I got my new knife!
Reason why this knife is amazing:
See picture below.... Made in the tradition of the Samurai Sword.

Because of this, from now on, I will refer to my knife as my sword.

Isn't it beautiful? I think so.

Well knife skills taught me some valuable things like, don't chop off your fingers : ). Actually we learned julienne, diagonal, the "owl", the "flower", diced, chiffonade and some other types of cuts.

My favorite part of the class was taste testing the raw, freshly chopped, organic veggies (eating is always the best part) and learning how to sharpen the knife with a wet stone. I must admit I'm intimidated by sharpening my own knife but it won't be necessary for a couple of months.

Do you sharpen your own knives?


Thursday, September 04, 2008

1st day of school!

Tuesday I officially started my Healthier Desserts class at school and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it went. I am partial to baking and sweets myself so it was as if the gods aligned the planets and moons in my favor and send unto me “You will go to school and you will love it”.
Well thank you, Jesus.
I’ve never used agar agar though it is common in many vegan desserts. What if I got it, used it wrong and then came up with a horrible clumpy mess? I am sure not only would I be failing a dessert but giving vegans everywhere a bad name.
Okay maybe that was a bit much but, hey, who likes to fail? Honestly, I’m more than confident now; I’m excited. Probably overly confident considering we just discussed how to make the below:

Vegan Flan- I must make for Cara asap. Flan is her favorite and the maple topping on this is literally to die for.

Lemon bars with cashew cream topping and amasake berry "tart" (that's what I call it).

Lemon bars, meringue, or anything generally lemon doesn’t score well with me but the combination of these bars and the cashew cream was out of this world. I mean I actually liked it, which I wasn’t expecting. Don’t you love it when you think you know something but then you’re completely proven wrong? I do. It just opens up a bunch of new lemony doors : )

Amasake (which I had never even dreamed of before this class) is a fermented rice drink that is very sweet. It paired well with the tart raspberries but the flan and lemon bars were easily my favorite dishes of the class.

Of course we made/ate more than recipes than this but I can’t give away all the goods; actually I couldn’t get pictures of them all haha. Believe it or not those pictures are from my lap and I just happened to have black pants on. Note to self: always wear black pants to class, it makes for good pictures.

Tonight is my knife skills class then I’m heading out for a free showing of Heavy Metal in Baghdad.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Grilling the summer away

Last night was my first class for school! I absolutely loved it although I am extremely tired today. More on that later because I never posted about the wonderful meals I had all weekend.

A week ago I saw an article on vegetarian summer grilling on MSN. They mentioned sweet potatoes and I've been on a mission to make them since. Everyone needs to try these because they are just too easy to make. If you can peel, boil water and turn on a grill you will master this dish (just be sure not to boil them too long or the potatoes will get mushy!)

Cut up the sweet potatoes, boil them for about 10 mins, drain and drizzle in maple syrup (optional) and place on your grill (about 3-5 mins on each side). I like to sprinkle with salt and pepper to give the dish more a little more depth.

Desperate hunger and a small budget always result in a hodgepodge of creativity for me. What resulted this time was oven baked potatoes drenched in olive oil and garlic with some kidney beans and green onion thrown in for the last few minutes. A true garlic masterpiece.

Chop new potatoes, coat them in olive oil and place on baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, kidney beans and green onion and cook for an additional 5-10 mins.

Finally the best part- dessert. Grilled peaches soaked in vanilla and maple syrup on top of some vanilla ice cream. Just heavenly.

Coming Tomorrow:

Pictures from my first day of class! Don't miss out :)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Holiday Weekend

I start school tomorrow!
It's pretty exciting and a little nerve racking since I'm not sure what to expect. Getting this next week under my belt will be fantastic. I'll have a vague idea of how the next 2 years of my life will be going. Also, I may have found a permanent job but nothing's signed and done so I'll say no more to be sure not to jinx it.

Hatch chilies

Hatch chilies are EVERYWHERE here (apparently they just had a festival). I nabbed a few and found they were not too spicy but they had enough kick to make them worth the buy. If you'd like hatch salsa, hatch butter, hatch cheese, hatch ANYTHING it shouldn't be too hard to find right now in Austin.

The best part about hatch chili fever are the roasters outside the grocery store that leave the entire city block smelling of smokey goodness.

Cara and I show our spirit

If you have a heartbeat and live in Austin you know that Saturday was the first UT football home game. Of course ticket prices are sold out before I think of whether or not I can afford to buy them (I can't afford them at all). Cara, Mike and I decided to go to a local bar to enjoy drinks and the game. When in Rome right??

UT dominated the game and easily steamrolled FL. While UT was kicking some booty we enjoyed some Mexican martinis and Shiner. Mexican martini's are officially my new favorite drink of Texas. Who doesn't like a drink that comes with a sword?!

Today officially marks 1 month since I left CA and it seems like it's going to take another full month to get settled in 100%. I'll be apt hunting soon and starting school and a new job- busy times for me, eh?

Hope all is well and see you soon!