Vegan Nosh Celebrating peace and non-violence with delicious vegan food. Sun, 02 Nov 2014 21:09:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vegan Adventures in London! Sat, 01 Nov 2014 22:55:05 +0000

We left Portland on October 19th with an assortment of vegan, gluten-free meals for the long flight to London. Vegan meals had been ordered for me, but there isn’t an option available for vegan AND gluten-free, so we had to plan for Christie. I made up some crustless quiches, we had some roasted potatoes, rice, grilled nootchy tofu, corn cakes, nuts, cookies, and hummus.

During the flight I was served a dinner with rice, spinach, a veggie/bean patty, crackers, a roll with margarine, a salad with balsamic dressing and some fruit. I totally forgot to take photos of the Delta airplane food for vegans. It was reasonably tasty. Later as a snack I was brought an apple and a roll with some lettuce, cucumber & tomato slices on it… which was rather uninspired. Breakfast was some sort of roll, again uninspired, and a banana.

We arrived in London on Monday around noonish and were so grateful for the car Christie had arranged to drive us to the flat we’d rented near Walworth Street, with good access to several buses and a reasonable walk to the Elephant & Castle Underground station. Before we let ourselves collapse, we set out to check out some of the neighborhood markets. We discovered a G. Baldwin & Co. shop just a block from the flat where we were able to pick up the bare necessities to get us to the next day: baked beans, brown rice, soy milk, tea, sugar, cookies, CoYo Yoghurt, gluten-free muesli, a loaf of seedy, brown bread (for me) and Booja Booja ice cream.

First London meal was baked beans over brown rice with cookies (GF quinoa & fig for me) and we were so grateful. Soon after we went to bed.

First breakfast for Christie, muesli and yogurt, was a little disappointing. We’d only been able to find a gluten-free muesli made with qunioa flakes as opposed to oats. They were crunchy in an unsatisfying way, probably would be alright simmered on the stove but not great cold in yogurt. I however totally indulged in two generous slices of bread with Earth Balance and some of the jam thoughtfully provided by our Air BnB host.

Our ability to be hugely adventurous about dining on trips has been curtailed by the need for gluten-free options. This means a couple of times we had a meal at a Chipotle because we knew we could get something and didn’t have energy to hunt down a place (one was pretty good, one was way over salted and we both ended up with indigestion). On the plus side of this, we cooked a lot more. Simple things like beans with rice or pasta and veggies, which helps keep costs down (which we then spent on books and other cool things). That said, there were some great meals to be had. I tried making my pumpkin curry while we were there, but didn’t find the best coconut milk and it also turned out pretty damn spicy!

For two of the days of our visit Christie was having meetings, so I set off to explore. One day I’d walked for quite a while along the south bank of the Thames from the London Eye, then onto Vauxhall Park. After all that walking out in a chilly breeze I was hungry and on the hunt for food. I happened upon the cosy Windmill Pub.

I went in hoping for no more than some chips (I was so hungry and cold I was considering not even asking about the oil used to fry the potatoes) and tea. However, when I checked out the menu I discovered I could order a jacket potato with baked beans! They also were offering mulled, hot cider by the half pint. The potato came with a salad, a nice surprise, with some suspiciously creamy topping (I later discovered while perusing a grocery store several bottles of “Salad Cream”. I didn’t know it would come with it and tried to eat around it. After a long, chilly walk in the wind, this we such a welcome find! I was delighted to find the a jacket potato is just a roasted potato and the option of having it served filled with baked beans, no butter, is an awesome gluten-free vegan option!

The next day found me enjoying seeing artifacts I’d studied in college at the British Museum.

After wandering around admiring and photographing Greek marbles, Egyptian artifacts and mummies, and much more, all amidst many school groups, of varying ages, I was worn out. I decided the quietest place would be the restaurant at the top of the rotunda, where I again hoped for at least something simple like olives and a glass of wine. What I was delighted to find on the menu was a vegan, gluten-free salad made with saffron roasted cauliflower, slivered almonds, sultanas, thinly sliced green onions, and marinated cipollini onions. I had a small glass of wine and totally enjoyed this light, tasty lunch.

On the next day we set out to explore the Tate Modern, after which we were in need of lunch and were happy to find a Crussh nearby. They were out of the vegan noodle soup option, I was sorry to say, and they ended up having only one thing we could order, an aubergine ratatouille over brown rice, with the option of fresh herbs and seeds on top, with no cream drizzle. The fresh herbs turned out to be cilantro and the seeds sunflower, but it was surprisingly tasty despite my worry that the flavors would not compliment each other.

The two days were spent at Mozilla Festival 2014. A vegan lunch option was offered, which I had the first day. It was really a carb fest (filo dough based tart, quinoa/bulgar salad, orzo salad – all tasty, but all carby) that left me longing for something heartier. On Saturday we went to Wagamama for dinner, which is known to be very accommodating to special diets. There was a soup on the menu that was already vegan & gluten-free, which Christie had. I was in the mood for udon, but all the dishes on the menu involved meat, they offered to make a vegetarian dish with egg-containing soba noodles with the udon and the result was incredibly satisfying and delicious. We also had some edamame with a garlic chilie salt and I ordered dumplings, which were really just alright but it was nice to have dumplings.

Lunch options at MozFest were the same on Sunday, so at lunchtime I went back over to get take-away. Christie had the same coconut milk-based soup and I decided to try their warm tofu salad, which was topped with fresh red chilies, fried tofu, tempura eggplant, and cashews on a bed of romaine leaves (I wished they’d been chopped up a bit). The salad was very tasty.

On Monday our day included a walk along the north bank of the Thames. Our lunch was a picnic enjoyed on some stairs in the sun and wind. We picked up an assortment of food and a Little Wait Rose. We selected some roasted, marinated artichoke hearts, hummus, dolmas, crisps, sparkling water, and a wheat-berry & bean salad for me. I regret not getting a photo, we ate everything too quickly. I did snap a shot of an impulsively purchased cocktail in a can… it tasted about as good as you’d expect it to.

On Tuesday we packed up a picnic lunch of jacket potatoes, sautéed cabbage, hummus, and a can of baked beans and made our way by train out to see Bletchley Park and the National Museum of Computing (AMAZING). We had a break of CoYo yogurt with an oat-based, gluten-free meusli we’d found at Whole Foods and tea at mid-day followed by a “tea” of the potatoes, cabbage, hummus, and baked beans. We were grateful the catering staff at Bletchley didn’t mind our eating in their dining area. We’d likely would have been able to get the potato & beans option in the cafe found in Hut 4, but we’d missed their open time for serving hot food.

As the museum closed up a friendly volunteer suggested the Eight Belles Pub, which was a short walk from the park as a nice way to kill time until our train back to London. We were delighted to discover a tasty English cider, Thatcher’s, and were lucky enough to get the first batch of chips fried up in freshly changed oil. There is no picture of the chips, we ate them as quickly as we could given how hot they were!

We spent a damp day visiting VX near the King’s Cross tube station, I left them with stickers brought from Herbivore and Food Fight, and we picked up some badges, stickers and a patch. We also picked up something special, food related, but it is a gift so I’ll post about it after we’ve given it to the recipients.

From there we made our way to the markets in Camden Town (Locks and Stables  Markets). We were totally delighted to find Cookies & Scream, all vegan AND gluten-free, while exploring the endless maze of stalls that make up the markets. Christie had an espresso shake and I had a cup of tea. We also got an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (Christie) and a sticky plum & almond cake (me) to go. We had these the following day and we each found our respective treat to be awesome!

We eventually had lunch at InSpiral Cafe which was disappointingly uninspired, but we were happy to be served warm (mostly…) vegan food with a gluten-free option. Christie ordered the full breakfast fry up, however, making it gluten-free meant no toast, no sausage, and no house-made baked beans. I’d ordered rye toast with baked beans; they were just okay, not bad just, again, uninspired.

On our last day I went on a tea procurement trip and in the afternoon we finally explored a nearby street market that happened every day. I was glad we finally made it, but a little sad too, since there were several stalls with great fresh produce for incredibly cheap. I ended up buying all of this for 1 pound, 20 pence ($.192 USD) and made us dinner as well as food to take on our long journey home.

On the flight home I was served a meal with a salad (no dressing), roll with margarine, crackers, herbed tofu on a bed of sun-dried potatoes with a wild-rice blend and mushy, minted peas. There was also another roll with lettuce, tomato & celery slices, which was made tastier with one of the avocados from the market the day before. I was also served a snack of grapes and a “Tangy Tomato and Chickpea” Posh Wrap from Monty’s Bakehouse, which was pretty darn tasty.



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Want Fries with That? Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:36:28 +0000

I’m embarrassed to admit there are no photos with this post. Not even an attempt with a phone photo. We were just too hungry.

There’s a bit of a hiatus going on with the Great Gluten-Free Vegan Burger experiment. We’re getting ready to go on a big trip, so I may not be making burgers again until November. However, in keeping with the theme, I am going to be trying to hunt down vegan burgers on our trip and will be writing about them here.

That said, we did have burgers this week, just not homemade. Trader Joe’s have their own label version of the great Wildwood Veggie Burgers. These burgers are really tasty, satisfying, hold together well enough to be cooked on a BBQ, but taste just as good done in a cast iron skillet.

It used to be that we’d stopped having these burgers because we thought the higher fat content in them gave Christie heartburn. After finding out about Christie’s gluten-intolerance it turns out it wasn’t the burgers, but the buns that were causing the problem! Now we’re able to enjoy them again.

A word about buns and bread in general. If you can find it, we cannot recommend Happy Campers Gluten-Free Bakery highly enough. We’re partial to their Stompin’ Good Seedy Buckwheat Molasses bread and everyone of the burgers seen on the blog during the experiment has been served on one of their Wild Buns. This Thanksgiving I’m looking forward to using their Burly Bird Buckwheat Stuffing mix.

The real stand out to this week’s burger dinner were the fries. Usually we make frozen fries. Yep, that’s the truth. Usually the skin on ones from TJ’s.

This week I wanted to use some Yukon Gold potatoes I’d picked up when I made lentil soup since I’m trying to use up a lot of produce before we’re gone. I decided I was going to try my hand at making homemade, convection roasted fries. I feel I under utilize the convection settings on our oven and have had some good luck with roasting potatoes before, so I set out to make our fries.

I cut up all the potatoes into thin slices, tossed in a bowl with a few tablespoons of avocado oil and a couple of teaspoons of the salt blend I’d picked up at Bob’s Red Mill recently. They took a little longer to roast than expected, but were so delicious that I’m posting with out a picture because we ate them all.  In November you can expect a recipe coming soon for these delicious, healthier & budget-mindful fries.

The Whole Grains Store has a bulk spice & herb section where I find “Montreal Seasoning” which contained salt, garlic, black pepper, chili flakes, and dill seed. It was an intriguing combination and smelled awesome, so I had to get some. It seemed like the perfect thing to roast fries with… was I ever right!

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Black Bean BBQ Burgers Fri, 10 Oct 2014 18:33:38 +0000

The newest entry into the Great Gluten-Free Vegan Burger Experiment is an attempt to make the BBQ Black Bean Burger from Joni Marie Newman’s cookbook, The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet.

I say “attempt” because some things didn’t quite go right, but that’s the whole point in experimentation!

The recipe is gluten-free to begin with, calling for 1/2 cup of soy flour. I assumed we had soy flour and so progressed along with soaking the TVP and adding it with the black beans to a bowl. This would be when I remembered the soy flour.

Quinoa flour, fava flour, besan (chickpea flour), 3 kinds of gluten-free flour mixes, millet flour, almond flour… and…. soy milk powder.

At this point I decided my track record with using gluten-free instant oats had been pretty good and subbed them in for 1/2 cup soy flour I did not have.

Although I decided to start with 2/3 of the BBQ Sauce called for in the recipe, it still seemed very wet. 1/4 of potato flakes was added and I didn’t add in the final 1/3 of the BBQ Sauce called for.

Since I’d gone with oats + potatoes, I wasn’t sure if the fridge might inhibit the water those would soak up, so I let it sit at room temperature in the microwave (a.k.a., “cat safe”).

I’ll admit that I wanted to try baking in the drop-biscuit cast iron since it has been working so well to make very nicely shaped, cooked burgers. That perhaps isn’t a big deal, but I did try to get tricky and cook them at the same time as the french fries. So shorter time, higher temp.

At the halfway point I realized I couldn’t really flip them easily. Nor at the end point. Since the fries too seemed a little off, I switched the oven onto the convection setting and stuck everything back in for 5 minutes. Fries out, burgers another 10 minutes at 325F convection setting. They set up some in the pan, but we finally ate them. Still a little mushy, but way tasty.

The burgers sat in the cast iron for a bit, until they cooled and I put all the leftovers away. By that time they were very nicely set. This morning I had one along with a hashbrown patty from TJ’s, slices of the volunteer tomato that showed up in my zinnias, and a little avocado.

This experiment will be attempted again, this time using soy flour and really watching the liquid added to the TVP. I did sauté the onions, since they were very strong, which may have made for more moisture too. I do really like using the oats, but will see how the soy flour and refrigeration works before changing anything.

Something just seemed too wet with this version using oats, even through they ended up as well shaped burgers that reheated nicely and hold together well. I will add one to the freezer collection as well to see how it does with thawing. It may be these are a “make ahead” burger (the variation with oats), so they bake, set, and are lightly cooked again to heat through.

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Denver Omelet Burger Redux Mon, 29 Sep 2014 03:38:19 +0000

A while back, when we first got our copy of The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet the first recipe we tried was for the Denver Omelet Burger. While we really the idea, the resulting texture was described as pasty and it felt like the peppers and onions overwhelmed the vegan bac’n bits. I’ve always wanted to return to this and try changing a couple of things to create something very inspired by Joni Marie’s original recipe, but with a bit more texture and less oil. The Great Vegan Gluten-Free Burger Experiment is the perfect time to revisit the recipe!

I actually removed all the oil called for in the recipe save some spray oil for sautéing the pepper, onion, and garlic as well as some for the cast-iron drop biscuit pan. Once again this pan is the perfect thing for baking vegan burgers!

Other changes: I used a single, large orange bell pepper and only half a medium onion, both diced quite small. I used a couple of cloves of chopped garlic too. This I sautéed in a cast iron skillet until the onions started to caramelize.

I pressed the heck out of the tofu, thinking this was part of the texture problem the first time we tried. Next, rather than blend the tofu with oil and spiced, I just crumbled it up fine in a bowl, added all the spices in with the tofu and mixed it up by hand.

To bind this all I stuck with the chickpea flour (besan), but reduced to 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cup of gluten-free, instant oats as well. I also decided to throw 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast in there for stickiness and saltiness. I left out the salt the original recipe called for, but I think it should stay in with the next try with this revamped recipe.

One little change I make with all recipes calling for liquid smoke; I use smoked paprika instead. Since the original recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, I just increased to 1/2 teaspoon of sweet, smoked paprika.

The results, all squished together by hand, were promising and held together well, especially after letting the mixture stand for five minutes to let the oats hydrate.

The drop-biscuit pan came out of the oven, heated to 350. I made 6 good-sized breakfast burgers and put them into the oiled cups.

These baked for 10 minutes. I turned them and then baked for 10 additional minutes. They came out nicely browned. Next attempt I’ll use red bell pepper for a more striking look. The oat/besan mixture gets a nice color and these held together beautifully in a nice patty.

I served them alongside hashbrown squares from Trader Joe’s, a pile of steamed broccoli, and a little avocado on top.

There’s a couple of small changes I’m going to make, and I want to see how these pass the “freeze test”, but these may become a great breakfast to-go, particularly for long travel days.

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Kidney-Qunioa Burgers Mon, 22 Sep 2014 04:37:51 +0000

This week’s Burger Experiment comes to us from Lindsay S. Nixon‘s cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook. I have decided that in the Great Gluten-Free Burger Experiment I’m going to try substituting instant oats (GF, of course) any time I see Vital Wheat Gluten called for in a recipe. I also sub Tamari for anytime soy sauce is called for.

We’d already tried the recipe for the Pinto Burgers (same cookbook, page 86), which is already gluten-free, and loved them. In fact, they inspired my Summer Cilantro Slaw recipe! However, I wanted to try a new recipe and since this book has several bean-burger recipes to try I went for the Kidney-Qunioa Burgers (page 85) merely because I like kidney beans a lot.

First of all, this recipe comes together so quickly it is great. These could be whipped up from scratch on a weeknight. They were very flavorful, even though I totally forgot the tablespoon of Italian Seasoning it called for. The instant, GF oats worked perfectly, especially since I gave the “dough” about 10-15 minutes to rest and let the oats get sticky.

Last week, after the Scarborough Fair Burger Experiment, Christie had the idea of trying out our English muffin cast-iron pan for cooking the burgers. It would heat them more evenly and it would keep them in a nice, uniform burger shape (one which perfectly squishes out to fill an average bun). I heated the pan up in the oven while it preheated and sprayed lightly with oil before putting burger patties into each mini-pan. I must say, this idea is a winner and I will be using it for all burgers despite what cooking directions suggest.

Also known as a Drop Biscuit Pan, this works perfectly for English Muffins and scones too. Oh, and clearly vegan burgers as well!

Once again, the Wild Buns from Happy Campers Gluten-Free were the bun of choice. I loaded mine up with grainy mustard, vegan mayo, avocado, red pepper relish, a little ketchup, and some salad greens. It was pretty awesome (blurry, impatient photo indicates my rush to eat this all up).

On the reheat in the morning these, similarly to the Pinto Burgers, were a little dry. One patty is frozen to see how it does with the thaw/reheat test. One possible idea for these might be to par-bake them to help to retain the shape, freeze, and then reheat in a cast iron skillet.

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Scarborough Fair Burger Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:16:39 +0000

For over five years Christie has suffered from a severe, life-affecting cough. She’s seen several doctors, had all kinds of tests, and taken several different medications, but nothing really has solved the cough. This year we changed physicians and our new one immediately started doing several tests for food allergies and sensitivities that could be causing systemic inflammation, affecting her lungs.

We were pretty worried it would turn out to be something we really loved, like soy (miso, tofu, tempeh, Soy Curls…) or tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, etc. When the results came back the culprit was gluten. Another round of tests was ordered to rule out Celiac, which thankfully came back clear, leaving only the signs of systemic inflammation severely affecting the lungs. We were hugely relieved and felt like removing gluten was something we could do. Honestly, after so many years it feels good to have anything we can do.

I set about to rid our house of gluten-y goods, giving everything away to friends so that at home Christie would know she could eat most things (I am still getting one of my favorite cold cereal indulgences, Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins, which Christie hates and therefore won’t mistakenly eat). What it quickly brought to our attention was how often our “easy dinners” were centered around several products that contained gluten. Tasty things and easy on a busy night, but honestly not so great for either of us.

While I’ve been doing some creative things with tofu (two new recipes coming soon!), and we have several go-to legume recipes, I wanted to start experimenting with veggie burgers and cutlets. Hearty, healthy legume & grain dishes that I  can make up in large batches, cook, and freeze servings of for quick dinners.

One of the first things I’m trying out is my now, newly made gluten-free, Marvelous Quinoa Nut Loaf. A generous slice is in the freezer to see how well it does reheated.

Next up was the lovely looking Scarborough Fair Burger from Joni Marie Newman’s cookbook, The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet. We’d been meaning to try making it for ages, but now we’re extra motivated since the recipe is already gluten-free.

When I got all the ingredients together I felt the mix was a little wet and added an extra 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast to help bind it and also because I’d forgot to make the TVP with broth!

After baking for the full time the burgers still hadn’t formed up fully. So I set our oven on convection and cooked them an additional 5 minutes, which helped a lot. They came out looking very tasty.

We served them on Happy Campers Gluten-Free Wild Buns and they dressed up beautifully!

Next week there will be another Burger Experiment to report on! Please post your suggestions for great gluten-free burgers and cutlets in the comments.

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Regarding the Hot Wok Changes Sun, 14 Sep 2014 20:45:24 +0000

Being an Open Letter to New Seasons Market:

Dear New Seasons Market,

I’ve decided to make this letter to you public as it is too long to put on a comment card. I’ve already filled out one comment card and have not yet heard back, I’ve seen minimal response to my complaints on social media either, so I decided to write it all out. While this might be a fairly specific complaint to the Portland Metro area, posting this publicly may provide ideas for others to use when reaching out to local businesses when they make changes that impact food safety and increase prices for vegans to match animal flesh costs.

I want you to know that we’re fans, really. We get good produce, friendly service, and a nice selection of vegan products. You’re even a favorite, inexpensive date night; we come, get a Hot Wok, bring a small game, grab a drink and have dinner while playing a game in you common dining area.

We’re big fans of your Hot Woks. Over the years we’ve literally eaten hundreds of Hot Wok meals from various of your markets. We loved that we could pick out our veggies, add tofu, self-select noodles, add hot sauce, ginger, and garlic. We’d tell you the sauce and generally it meant a generous dinner (great for days when I’m famished from teaching yoga or gardening) of healthy veggies that were nicely cooked.

Once or twice we got an overcook wok, or one with too much sauce, but on the whole they were all great.

Now you’ve changed it all and I really think it is not for the better from a customer’s perspective.

First complaint: Subsidizing Cruelty

In the past:  Cubed tofu used to be available with all the other veggies. A Basic Bowl, with tofu I’d selected, was one cost and if you wanted animal flesh it could be added while cooking for an additional cost.

Now:  You have to pay the same amount for tofu as animal flesh and it is added at the cooking line, by the cooks, not the customer.

Issue:  There is no way cubed tofu brings up the cost as much as animal flesh does. By now asking for us to pay the same for adding “protein”, it means that those customers ordering only plant-based foods are now helping subsidize your cost for people who have requested animal flesh in their dishes.

Second Complaint: Food Safety

In the past:  The customer picked everything out that went into the bowl: veggies, garlic, ginger, onions, tofu, and noodles. Only sauce was added by the cook.

Now:  The customer points at things and goes back and forth about how much they want of each thing, which takes a lot longer. The “protein”, noodles, or rice are added by the cooks.

Issue: In the past couple of weeks we’ve decided to get Hot Woks twice, this is actually pretty normal for us. In one incident, because I didn’t put the noodles on and the line cook at Mountain Park didn’t pay attention, my wok was served to me with non-vegan noodles (yakisoba) instead of the buckwheat soba I’d requested (and was marked on the ticket correctly). So we had to start all over with the conversation about what veggies to get, etc. The order was comped since I now extended the wait for taking home our dinner the addition 15-20 minutes it took to make a new one.

I have a larger concern related to the noodles now being added by the cooks: my wife is gluten-free and if she was in a hurry, getting a take-out order (so not as easy to see as on a plate) and didn’t happen to catch a mistake where wheat noodles had gone in instead of rice, she’d be sick for days.

Which brings me to the chicken I found while eating out at your Cedar Mills store last night. I was well into eating my wok meal when I started to pop a “broken” cube of tofu into my mouth. Luckily I stopped suddenly because it didn’t look quite the right color. That’s when I realized there was chicken in my meal. Which made me feel pretty queasy in general and unable to eat anything else.

I took it back to the Hot Wok station, the folks on duty were very sympathetic and understanding. In addition to being comped the cost of a meal I couldn’t eat anymore of, I was also give $20 in gift cards. Seriously, your staff are always awesome.

However, that does not alleviate my serious concerns about your cooking area. What is going wrong that chicken ends up with tofu? Are different tongs ALWAYS being used so cross-contamination isn’t happening for either animal flesh/tofu as well as noodles where some contain wheat and/or animal products and one is gluten free. Really, you should have policy in place when you’re cooks are suddenly taking over what goes into an order.

Please be aware that before you changed to the process of New Seasons staff entirely controlling what goes into my order I’ve ended up with animal products in my order twice in as many weeks, in two different stores! This NEVER happened when I made up my wok bowl and presented it to be cooked & sauced. That’s literally hundreds of correct orders with no random animal products.

As a long time customer I’m very unhappy at your changes to the Hot Wok bar. You’ve taken away my control over what goes into our meals and immediately I started seeing serious issues of health and safety. I question cross-contamination even more than I did when customers self-selected bowl contents. I also strenuously object to helping you offset the cost of consumers of animal flesh by making a customer like me pay the same amount for tofu.

I really would like to see you make some changes:

  1. Put the tofu back on the bar with the veggies and stop charging extra for it. This will also prevent cross-contamination with animal flesh behind the line either from flesh falling in with tofu or the same tongs being used indiscriminately for all “protein”.
  2. More clearly label the different noodles. Your menu has “Yakisoba” and “Soba”, I actually get that a busy cook might get those confused thus giving a vegan noodles with animal products in them. Similarly, a strong policy of providing single tongs for each type of noodles thus preventing both cross-contamination of animal products and gluten, in the case of rice noodles.

Better yet, go back to the way you had it as it worked best for the customer.

Sherri Koehler

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Seared Lemon Tofu Experiment Thu, 11 Sep 2014 03:49:04 +0000

I’ve been experimenting with refrigerator lemon pickles for a couple of years now. Tonight I wanted to work with lemon and other Japanese flavors, but didn’t have any preserved lemons in the fridge. Rather than put off using up some fresh shiso I had on hand, I decided to experiment with using other methods to infuse lemon flavors, plus make a garnish of the fresh lemon as well.

First I sliced up a large lemon in very thin slices. You might want a mandoline to get very thin slices, but it can be done with a very sharp knife (I used my nakiri). I layered the slices onto a plate then layered thick slices of extra-firm, water-packed tofu I’d pressed for 40 minutes, on top of the lemons. I sprinkled on a little Alaea salt and black sesame seeds. I let this sit for 15 minutes.

I heated up a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat and added a few tablespoons of avocado oil and let it heat up. I put the tofu sesame-side down into the hot oil and then layered the sliced lemons over the top of the tofu. It seared in a covered pan for 12 minutes before removing the lemon slices (reserve), spraying the tofu with oil, and flipping the slices over. Lemon slices where placed back onto the tofu slices and pan covered to let tofu sear for another 12 minutes.

I removed the lemon slices and set aside. Into the pan I poured half of a mix of rice wine vinegar, tamari, red miso, and mirin over the tofu and let the liquid reduce in the pan. Once all liquid had reduced I removed tofu from the pan and added back in the lemon slices. These were spread out in the bottom of the pan to sear lightly for a couple of minutes before turning to sear on the other side. Once both sides had seared I added the rest of the sauce I’d mixed and let it reduce with the lemons.

The whole thing was presented with the hot lemon relish topping the seared sesame tofu and a chiffonade of fresh shiso.

There was also some summer squash chips made with thin slices of patty-pan squash tossed with dried cilantro, avocado oil, and Alaea salt. These roasted on a pan in the oven on convection setting, 235 degrees.

All this was accompanied with brown rice tossed with lemon zest and shiso.

We ate all of it. It was amazing. There will be recipes.

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Farmstand Birthday Dinner Sat, 30 Aug 2014 16:03:48 +0000

40 days without a post! Yikes! Let me remedy that by sharing my birthday dinner.

Really, it was the day after my birthday, because we were both too tired to make food after a picnic at the beach and a stop at a farmstand, two of my favorite things to do.

I love finding good farmstands. Usually they involve getting out of the city, although in Portland there’s a growing number of family farms setting up small stands in the city, the trip to them is usually lovely, and sometimes there’s great photography options too. Best of all, there’s the chance to possibly talk to the family and workers who actually grew the food I’m buying.

Last night, a slightly belated dinner, I made an all-grill dinner to celebrate the bounty of summer and farmstands. Mobile phone photos because we were too impatient to just eat all the yummy food! Although there isn’t an exact recipe, I’ve included notes on how each dish was made.

Here’s one of the dishes, Marinated Tofu, Cauliflower, and 3 kinds of Summer Squash (yellow & green zucchini and pale green patty-pan). Everything was chopped into largsih, but still bite-sized pieces and put into a bowl. 1/4 cup of olive oil was drizzled over along with 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, fine Alaea salt, freshly ground pepper, 4 mashed & torn up garlic cloves, and dried herbs were added. About 1/2 teaspoon of both dry basil and oregano were added along with a slightly smaller amount of dry rosemary that was lightly crushed and broken up into smaller bits. All of it was tossed together so everything was equally coated and let sit for 30 minutes.

Two kinds of roasted chilies; Sweet Banana Peppers (from the farmstand) and Padron Peppers. Christie had recently been introduced to Padron peppers roasted in some oil at a local Peruvian restaurant, Andina, during a team dinner. We found some at the market and tossed them, along with two kinds of chilies from the farmstand, in avocado oil before roasting on the grill. Once nicely grilled they went back into the bowl with the remaining oil and were lightly sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

Here’s everything going at once! I so love this new grill and this is a perfect example of why, look at all this smoky, grilled goodness!

Finally, here’s dinner all plated up. Note the pretty, orangeish pepper on the left. By time decided to cook these I’d rather forgot what kind of chilie it was. So this lovely photo is mere minutes away from my being reminded it was a Hungarian Wax Pepper after biting off about 1/3 of it at once. While a lovely, spicy taste at first, the heat rapidly progressed to burning in the ears, sinuses, and of course my tongue.

I eventually was able to cool things down enough to eat again after trying some Yumm Sauce on corn cakes. The remainder of these I plan to remove seeds, stem, and skin before blending into a paste I’ll divide up in 3s to add a little heat while cooking things like chili and dahl.

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All Fired Up! Mon, 21 Jul 2014 04:29:31 +0000

I love to grill. Becoming vegan actually made me love grilling things even more. I’ve grilled all kinds of veggies, fruit, pizza, and even have made tea & wood smoked noodles with Kefir lime leaves. Yes, noodles, on a grill.

What is shocking is that for the past several years I’ve been doing all this grilling on a piece of equipment never intended for the kind of heavy use I gave it. Don’t get me wrong, the Coleman Road Trip Grill LX is an awesome grill. Perfect for taking car-camping, tail-gating, and for picnics at the park. The last time I cleaned it a bit rusted right off, so it has kind of been time to move on.

An unexpected windfall last month made up my mind to upgrade the grill just as summer really gets going in Portland. Given the amount of the windfall I couldn’t go crazy and get The Grill (something in the Weber line), but I could get a good, sturdy, serious upgrade that would let me grill All The Food at once, rather in waves as I’d been doing on the Coleman.

I choose a Char-Broil Classic 4-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner, which is a huge improvement, as you can see.

On Monday a good friend met up with me, we went and picked up the “kit” and a blessedly short while later we were grilling up goodness!

I’m inspired to invite more people over for summer entertaining and I’m already working on a new recipe for Zaatar Grilled Tofu Cutlets with Grilled Lemon!

The grill also has a side burner, which makes it even more flexible on those rare, hot summer days. Plus in the event of a major event with the Cascadia subduction zone, we’ve got a good-sized tank of propane and a way to cook! In the meantime, potstickers on a very hot day, no heating up the kitchen.

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