Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm exhausted today, so here is a filler post for you: the Vegan 100! I stole this from Where's the Revolution?

The rules:
1) Copy this list into your blog or social networking site profile, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out or italicize any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment on this post linking to your results.

The Vegan Hundred:

1. Molasses
2. Cactus/Nopales

3. Scrambled Tofu

4. Grilled Portobella Caps

5. Fresh Ground Horseradish

6. Sweet Potato Biscuits

7. Arepa

8. Vegan Coleslaw

9. Ginger Carrot Soup

10. Fiddlehead Ferns

11. Roasted Elephant Garlic

12. Umeboshi

13. Almond Butter Toast

14. Aloe Vera

15. H and H Bagel NYC

16. Slow Roasted Butternut Squash

17. White truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Freshly ground wasabi

20. Coconut Milk Ice Cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Orchard-fresh pressed apple cider

23. Organic California Mango (in season Sept-Oct only)

24. Quinoa

25. Papaya Smoothie

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet or Habañero pepper

27. Goji Berry Tea

28. Fennel

29. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

30. Radishes and Vegan Buttery Spread

31. Starfruit

32. Oven fresh Sourdough bread

33. Sangria made with premium fruit and juices (Since when am I classy with my booze?)

34. Sauerkraut (LOVE)

35. Acai Smoothie

36. Blue Foot Mushrooms

37. Vegan Cupcake from Babycakes nyc

38. Sweet Potatoes and Tempeh combo

39. Falafel

40. Spelt Crust Pizza

41. Salt and Pepper Oyster Mushrooms

42. Jicama Slaw

43. Pumpkin Edamame Ginger Dumplings

44. Hemp Milk

45. Rose Champagne

46. Fuyu

47. Raw Avocado-Coconut Soup

48. Tofu Pesto Sandwich

49. Apple-Lemon-Ginger-Cayenne fresh-pressed juice...with Extra Ginger

50. Grilled Seitan

51. Prickly pear

52. Fresh Pressed Almond Milk

53. Concord Grapes off the vine

54. Ramps

55. Coconut Water fresh from a young coconut

56. Organic Arugula

57. Vidalia Onion

58. Sampler of organic produce from Diamond Organics

59. Honeycrisp Apple

60. Poi

61. Vegan Campfire-toasted Smores

62. Grape seed Oil

63. Farm fresh-picked Peach

64. Freshly-made pita bread with freshly-made hummus

65. Chestnut Snack Packs

66. Fresh Guava

67. Mint Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

68. Raw Mallomar from One Lucky Duck, NYC

69. Fried plantains

70. Mache

71. Golden Beets

72. Barrel-Fresh Pickles

73. Liquid Smoke

74. Meyer Lemon

75. Veggie Paella

76. Vegan Lasagna

77. Kombucha

78. Homemade Soy Milk

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Lychee Bellini

81. Tempeh Bacon

82. Sprouted Grain Bread

83. Lemon Pepper Tempeh

84. Vanilla Bean

85. Watercress

86. Carrot you pulled out of the ground yourself

87. Vegan In-Season Fruit Pie

88. Flowers

89. Corn Chowder

90. High Quality Vegan Raw Chocolate

91. Yellow fuzz-free Kiwi

92. White Flesh Grapefruit

93. Harissa

94. Coconut Oil

95. Jackfruit

96. Homemade Risotto

97. Spirulina

98. Seedless 'Pixie' Tangerine

99. Gourmet Sorbet, not store bought

100. Fresh Plucked English Peas

Apparently I need to eat more. Totally okay with that. Who's with me?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Herby Fully Loaded

I've sung the praises of Night Flight Pizza before, but after my most recent order, I have to do it again. I usually go with the Woodstock pizza, Teese-y bread or the TLT (not currently listed on the menu, but they usually have it). However, I was browsing the menu online and noticed the pizza called 'Herby'. I immediately called to verify that it could be made vegan and then (spoiler alert!) ordered myself a pie.

Herby comes with Teese cheese, artichokes, fresh tomatoes, and pesto. The best part of this pizza is how the Teese melts and mixes with the pesto, creating a creamy, cheesy sauce with a hefty amount of basil in every bite.

I love you, Night Flight Pizza. Forever. Thank you for delivering me pizza at three in the morning, seven at night and any time at all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What was on my Clean Plate this week: Burrito Brunch

There are few things I enjoy more in this life than burritos. Consistently delicious, easily eaten with a single hand and customization options are limitless. I normally hit up Chipotle for my burrito fix, so I was amped to hear that Clean Plate would be doing a burrito brunch.

That Sunday morning of the burrito brunch, I showed up about 26 minutes after opening, so naturally most of the food was taken by those ambitious enough to set their alarm clocks earlier than mine. Though I was slightly bummed to be lacking in burrito-related options, I was much more excited to see that Omaha has consistently welcomed an entirely vegan meal with such enthusiasm. And besides, there was Mexican Hot Chocolate left, so I couldn't be too upset, right?

What I did manage to get my hands on was grilled tortillas, beans, rice and grilled sweet potatoes in cilantro lime vinaigrette. There were also several kinds of salsas available, all of which I would buy if they were for sale. Everything was perfectly seasoned and cooked, and each flavor flowed together as if they were meant to be. Meant to be in my mouth.

Though I loved my burritos and sweet potatoes, I have to say that the highlight of the meal for me was the Mexican Hot Chocolate. Hot chocolate is something that I don't indulge in that often, so every time I have it, it is definitely a treat. This stuff was something special. It was more like a delicately spiced chocolate soup than a drink, and though I wound up sharing a good portion of it with Alaina, it was still the perfect start to my slightly chilly Sunday morning.

What I love about Clean Plate is that I know it will not only be delicious, but that I always know that it was prepared with care and passion. Chipotle is always good, but I rarely get the sense that these people live to prepare burritos. Clean Plate is not only about fantastic food, it is also about Elle being able to showcase her abilities and her genuine love for her craft. That being said, she is looking to get a more permanent spot going (other than her home) and is asking...

"If you know ANYONE that would be interested in helping me get it done, please put them in touch. I need plumbing and electrical advice, hand me down commercial kitchen equipment, moral support, hungry people, INVESTORS and everything in between."
So, far off vegan investor/plumber/electrical technician/purveyor of used kitchen equipment, if you want to make a huge difference in Omaha's vegan scene, please, please, please contact Clean Plate.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nebraska Vegan May be Spoiled: Jane's Health Market

Sometimes I wish there was a magical place in Omaha where I could get caramel booty, tings, Go Max Go candy bars, Primal Strips, Stonewall Jerky,tofu salad and fresh vegan chocolate chip cookies.

Oh wait, there is.

Jane's Health Market is a combination grocery store, deli and supplement store. You can meet all of your vegan needs (tofu, tempeh, nooch) and wants (Temptation Cookie Dough Ice Cream) here. The store has an excellent selection of vegan wants including the sought after Go Max Go bars in all four flavors, Zen Soy pudding, kombucha, coconut milk, coconut milk ice cream bars and veggie booty, among other previously mentioned (and unmentioned surprise) items.

In addition to this wide selection, Jane's deli also has a wide range of vegan selections. From house-made hummus to tofu salad to manna tofu-all fresh, all delicious. The bakery at Jane's provides vegans with chocolate chip cookies to round the meal out. Jane's has also been exploring the raw side of life and has been offering raw lasagna, raw tacos, raw nachos and raw truffles. It is surprisingly easy to spend an afternoon nibbling at the deli and chatting with Jane and Jim, the owners of Jane's Health Market, as well as their lovely employees.

Jane's also offers freshly juiced wheatgrass, something that can be tough to find in Omaha. If you prefer your health boost in pill form, Jane's offers a huge range of vitamins and supplements, as well as a staff who can help you out while you wander through the aisles.

In addition to all of this, Jane's also offers a massive selection of beauty products, from No Miss Nail Polish to Preserve Toothbrushes. If you need a vegan lotion, shampoo, conditioner, etc., Jane's can hook you up.

There's also an aisle of eco-friendly cleaning supplies such as Seventh Generation and Method products.

I could go on, but what's the point? You should be convinced by now. Jane's is located at 61st and Maple in the historic Benson district of Omaha, Nebraska, near The Waiting Room. Go pick some stuff up.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nebraska Vegans May be Spoiled: Omaha Ethiopian Restaurant

When you think of Omaha, Nebraska, the first thing that pops into your mind is authentic, delicious, affordable Ethiopian food, right?


I'm wrong?

Get prepared to change your mind because I am going to introduce you Omaha Ethiopian Restaurant.

Omaha Ethiopian Restaurant (yes, that is the name) is located at 25th and Leavenworth. If you aren't looking for it, you will drive straight past it. This place looks like a hole in the wall because, well, it is a hole in the wall. However, it is a delicious, clean, incredibly affordable hole in the wall. The menu is limited, with only eight items and one vegan selection: the veggie platter. Funny enough, I have never found myself wishing that there was another vegan option on the menu as I am consistently satisfied with the veggie platter. The platter is made up of a spicy lentil dish, a potato and carrot dish, a yellow lentil dish, greens and a curry that I like to dip the other dishes in. The dishes are slightly different every time the plate is ordered, but they are always good.

On top of being filling and delicious, the veggie platter is also cheap. One platter easily feeds two for only $6. Yes, $6. I stop here at least once a week for dinner and then proceed to eat the leftovers for both breakfast and lunch. When I'm tired, there's nothing that makes me happier than knowing I can get three filling, incredible meals for as cheap as if I made it.

PS- I'm sorry for the picture. It's hard to take pretty pictures of Ethiopian food, especially after they've been put in a take out box and transported back to my apartment.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Whoa Wren on the Road: Kansas City

As Kansas City is only a few short hours away, it is the perfect place to go for a weekend trip and this is a trip I take on a semi-regular basis. Due to this, I've mentioned my love of Kansas City before, so this will mostly be a repeat of places I've mentioned previously, but with new pictures.

The day following me and Alaina's exploration of Lawrence, we headed over to Kansas City, which is about a 45 minute drive. The first thing we did was get lost, which included me silently freaking out and Alaina calming me down and directing me via iPhone. Thankfully, we eventually arrived at our intended destination of Eden Alley, located next to the Country Club Plaza. I've had my issues with Eden Alley, mainly having to do with small portions, but it cannot be denied that I always look forward to stepping through their doors into their warm cocoon of reds, oranges and chocolate chip lavender cookies.

On this particular trip, Alaina and I were apparently both craving something 'cheesy' because Alaina got the Ultimate Garlic Grilled Cheese and I got the Smoky Tomato Bruschetta. These can both be made vegan through the removal of lactose cheese, and the addition of a delicious, creamy cashew cheese. They turned out to be essentially the same dish, with mine having smoky tomato aioli and Alaina's having chili cumin aioli. The good news is that both of these dishes were fantastic and filling. It's hard to go wrong with thick slices of bread smothered in warm cashew based cheese.

We followed the meal up with a dessert, and I have unfortunately forgotten the name of it. I do remember it contained fruits and was delightful. I can tell you with utmost confidence that it is nearly impossible to get a bad dessert at Eden Alley. Each and every confection I've eaten there has been mind-boggling in how good it is, with my favorite being their Pollock.

In an attempt to drum up some hunger before supper, Alaina and I took some time to wander around the Plaza and enjoy some shopping. Rechargeable penguin shaped flashlights were purchased, among other things, and Alaina and I eventually felt like we could once again imagine eating. To celebrate this, we made a beeline for Blue Nile Cafe. I love Blue Nile not only because of the succulent food, but also because they sell their spices in small to-go containers, even the ones needed to make their iced tea. I think this is absolutely wonderful. The one thing that stops me from buying spices and such at my local Ethiopian restaurant is that they all come in bags the size of my head. Blue Nile has solved this conundrum. Good for them. Now to the food.

Blue Nile Cafe has a clearly labeled vegan section but I would suggest splitting the veggie platter with a friend. A chance to try everything and a chance to split the bill, what could be better? The flavors are pungent, savory and each dish holds the ability to truly differentiate themselves- an impressive feat for stews poured next to each other on injera.

Reviewing both this blog post and my previous post on Kansas city has led me to realize that I truly need to expand my vegan exploration of this wonderful city. While I love my tried and true combo of Eden Alley, Blue Nile Cafe and Waldo Pizza, the city has much more to offer. For you, my dear Vegan Mofo readership, I shall venture down there with the intent of trying new places and reporting back to you. I look forward to both the journey, the challenge and the inevitable stomachache after I've eaten far too much delicious vegan food.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Whoa Wren on the Road: Lawrence, Kansas

One of the greatest parts of being vegan is that traveling suddenly has more purpose. Trips are taken not only to explore new parts of the world, but also to expand one's dining repertoire. For vegans, Chicago means the Chicago Diner, Los Angeles means Real Food Daily and New York City means Candle 79. While these trips are a culinary delight, it is even more rewarding when travels to cities that aren't known for their vegan options result in culinary delights- trips such as the one I recently took to Lawrence, KS and Kansas City (coming soon).

After loving the Omaha Nightmare of You and Plushgun show so much that I had to see it again, I convinced my wonderful, patient friend Alaina to drive down to Lawrence with me so I could do just that. Fortunately, we were also able to experience a treasure trove of vegan food. Our first stop was actually unplanned. Alaina wanted coffee and I wanted food, so we popped into La Prima Tazza. Not only was Alaina able to get coffee with soy milk, I was able to get the best vegan zucchini muffin I've ever had in my life. The crumbly, sugary topping was a treat in itself.
Unfortunately for you, I neglected to take a picture until it was mostly demolished.

The Casbah Market was the first place we hit up that was actually on our food itinerary. The Casbah is a vegetarian grocery store that not only sells local produce and tofu, but also houses Nice Cafe. The Casbah also sold cookies from a local vegan, gluten-free bakery called Ancient Grains. We bought the double chocolate chip cookie and the oatmeal raisin. While the oatmeal raisin was tasty, the double chocolate chip made me want to go back and get more. Very chocolatey, with a hint of coconut.

After we made our grocery selections, we wandered to the back of the store and treated ourselves to kombucha and jerk tofu patties. Nice Cafe's patties are closer to empanadas or hand pies than the patties you are most likely imagining. This means they are easy to eat and ready to be smothered in the sauces provided. Patrick of Fourth of July was kind enough to guide us through making sure the patties were vegan and provided us with excellent service and a lead on a great band to check out. Alaina and I had a long debate about whether or not it would be feasible to take some frozen patties home to share with others, but we eventually decided with heavy hearts that the patties would most likely not survive and that we would have to return with full wallets and empty stomachs.

One place that I normally stop at but chose not to (due to being full of patties) is Local Burger. Local Burger is dedicated to serving local foods and happens to be the home of my all time favorite veggie burger. It's delicately fried and made with quinoa-a combination that makes it both light and hearty. Another thing I like about Local Burger is that it can satisfy the omnis in my life, namely my wonderful father. He's come a long, long way since the days he subsisted almost entirely on meatloaf.

Another jaw-droppingly wonderful aspect of the vegan scene in Lawrence is the hot dog cart on Mass (Massachusetts Street, for Lawrence noobs). Yes, there are lips and tails hot dogs available here but there are also vegan hot dogs! I haven't had the chance or appropriate feeling of hunger to try this place yet, so I've you've been here, let me know how it is!

As far as drinks go, I must highly recommend the Replay Lounge on 1oth and Mass. Alaina and I found this spot by deciding to go in and out of bars until we found what would be "our" bar in Lawrence. Luckily, this was the first bar we stumbled into. Cheap drinks, bright colors, a black light and a tree made of fans and heaters to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winters. Also: PBR Mobile. Consider me sold. Go there.

All in all, I have never been disappointed in any of my trips to Lawrence, aside from disappointment in myself for not having gone to college there. Thankfully, I can console myself by gorging on delightful vegan foods, indulging in cheap drinks and taking in the ever lovely culture of Lawrence.

Coming next: The Kansas City portion post from this trip! Whee!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan Mofo Survey!

Today kicks off the Third Annual Vegan Mofo, otherwise known as the Vegan Month of Food. I've always wanted to participate, and took the chance this year to kick my blogging booty back into gear. Being part of Mofo means I will be blogging (almost) every day about something vegan. Note: I'm bending the rules for myself to talk about things other than food, since I believe that veganism is more than just what you eat.

Anyway, sit back, chillax and prepare yourself for a month of blathering from me! I'll start things off gently with a survey...

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
The only things I really drink with any consistency would be Diet Coke and rum (not always together), but I do put Unsweetened Original Almond Breeze on my cereal every morning.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
That onion quiche from Vegan Brunch, Penne Vodka from Veganomicon, A bowl of cereal

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Salt. Lots of salt.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
The first time I made soup was a pretty epic failure. Let's just say I was inspired by an episode of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals.

5. Favorite pickled item?

6. How do you organize your recipes?
Cookbooks are in with my normal books and recipes from the internet are either bookmarked or part of a very large word document

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
pasta, avocado sushi, grapes

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
My family used to get McDonald's on Christmas Eve and drive around to look at lights while we ate it. Delightfully trashy.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Temptation Peach Cobbler or Scoops in LA

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My hands

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Personally? My Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It inspired me to actually learn how to cook instead of just putting frozen dinners in the microwave and I am endlessly grateful for that.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Blueberry or Denver Vegfest Love Jam

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Sushi! There's so many ways to make it!

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tofu in most cases, Seitan when there is buffalo wing sauce involved

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I always cook at night, so dinner is my top choice

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
A bag of cat food

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Corn, Tater Tots, Lisa Frank Ice Pack

20. What's on your grocery list?
My constants: Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, Original Unsweetend Almond Breeze, Bananas

From there, I let my menu for the week guide me through all shopping decisions.

21. Favorite grocery store?
In Omaha, I have to go with Whole Foods. It's been years since I could do all of my grocery shopping in one place and I really appreciate it. Jane's Health Market has a special place in my heart for stocking Go Max Go bars and having the best Manna Tofu ever.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
The cheese lasagna from Valentino's. That stuff is freaking amazing.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Does Cake Wrecks count?

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Buccaneers Go Max Go bar!

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I bought some of that pre-made sushi at Whole Foods today. That's about as extravagant as I get.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
The scoby that you need to make kombucha. It looks like a kind version of placenta.