Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Coconut Bacon Love

You've heard of if, right? Coconut Bacon? It's been around for a while, but I'm usually late to the party, so it only just came into my awareness recently. I immediately went in search of a recipe, and there are many. I also found ready-made coconut bacons which of course are easier, but a lot more expensive than making your own. It's simple enough to make, but I wanted it even simpler than what I found out there, and I didn't want to buy liquid smoke, because I think the name is creepy. Sometimes that's how I decide.

This version is about as easy as it gets, it works in my little kitchen, and takes only four ingredients, all of which I already had - and none of which are liquid smoke. The finished "bacon" is ridiculously good. Use it on sandwiches, salads, cupcakes, whatever. We have a tendency to just sit with a bowl of the stuff and eat it all by itself.

Coconut Bacon
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 T tamari
1 T maple syrup
1 1/2 cups large unsweetened, untoasted coconut flakes

In a large bowl, mix together the paprika, tamari, and maple syrup.
Stir in the coconut flakes.
Let it all soak up the goodness for about an hour.
Preheat your oven to 250º, and line a baking pan with parchment.
Spread the coconut mixture on the pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like it, stirring every 10 minutes. It will get crispier as it cools, so no need to overcook it.

Mix it all up and let it soak for an hour.

Spread evenly on parchment lined baking pan.

I made my first batch in a 350º oven, and baked it for only 20 minutes, stirring once half way through. The edges burned but the un-charred bits were quite good. I think it's better to turn the heat down and be patient. It's worth it. I baked this batch in my small oven at 250º for 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. It. Is. Awesome.

No pigs were harmed in the making of this bacon. :o)
Like this recipe? Get over 100 more in the Recipe Box!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vegan Jewelry is Finally Here!

I wear my "vegan" necklace all the time. I always get compliments, and always get asked where such a thing can be found. I've been promising to offer them for sale, and now I finally have my silver and tools together in my tiny studio/kitchen, and I'm ready to go! Even though I don't make beads anymore, I still love hammering silver!

These are 3/4 inch sterling silver discs, hand stamped with the word VEGAN. (You can get other words too, like Love, Trust, Joy, Happy... there's a place for that on the order form.) Each disc has a glowing brushed finish, and swings from a fused fine silver ring on an 18 inch stainless steel chain. They're edgy and cool, like Portland... and me! Haha!

Order yours by following this link to my website. Thanks, and enjoy! I hope the neighbors don't complain about the hammering... :o)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vegan Reuben Bowl

Reuben sandwiches are popular these days, right? Or is it just a Portland thing? I wanted to make something that was sort of a reuben, with a twist, in a bowl. And, I wanted a thousand island dressing for it that didn't contain mayo, even the vegan kind. Here's what I came up with. There was a lot of "num-numming" at the table that night.

Because I have a small kitchen, and a silly little glass top stove that reminds me of a toy, I'm having to rethink the way I cook and the number of pots and pans I use. My recipes from here on will likely be done in a far simpler way than you're used to me cooking. I was the Queen of Using Practically Everything when we lived in Taos. Now I'm becoming the Princess of Simplicity. Maybe this is a good thing.

Reuben Bowl
serves 2

2-4 gold potatoes
2 cups kale or other greens, chopped
1 cup sauerkraut
2 vegan sausages
Cashew Thousand Island Dressing (below)

Wash and cut the potatoes into one inch cubes, cover with water, and put them on the stove to boil.
While the potatoes cook, chop the greens and place them in a large colander.
Add the whole sausages to the boiling potatoes about two minutes before they're done cooking.
When the potatoes are ready, pull out the sausages and cut them into bite sized pieces.
Using the lid to your pot to keep the potatoes in place, pour only the hot water over the greens in the colander to wilt them.
Leave the potatoes in the pot and coarsely mash them by hand, adding a little salt, pepper, and plant-milk if you like.
In wide bowls, arrange layers of potatoes, greens, and sausage bites. Top with sauerkraut and a generous dollop of Cashew Thousand Island. Serve with extra pepper and maybe a little Dijon mustard if you have it.

Cashew Thousand Island Dressing

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 20 minutes or more
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T water
2 T rice, white, or apple cider vinegar
1 T + 3 T sweet pickle relish

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Place all ingredients, except the 3 T relish, in a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until smooth. Stir in the remaining relish by hand.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Exploring the Alberta Arts District

This is a special edition post, requested by RelayRides, as part of their Hidden Gems page on Pinterest. I have to admit that I'd not heard of RelayRides until they contacted me. I'm so glad they did, because I think it's something Rick and I might be able to make use of! It's a peer-to-peer way of sharing cars, and it makes a lot of sense. Whether you own a car and want to rent it to others when you might otherwise just leave it parked, or if you don't own a vehicle, but want to rent one affordably from time to time, this could be a good way to go. We've actually considered selling our car since we moved to Portland, since public transit is so easy and efficient. But now we have another option! With RelayRides we could have our car when we want it, and let it earn its keep when we don't need it. Pretty brilliant plan.

While we're happily going about our urban downtown life in SW Portland, a whole other world is turning on the other side of town, and the other side of the Willamette River, in the NE Alberta Arts District. The fun and funky neighborhood revival that's taken place there over the years has created several blocks of homegrown, shops, and galleries, and of course restaurants - many of them vegan or very vegan-friendly. While Alberta St. is well known by Portlanders, visitors might easily overlook it if they're staying in a different part of town. We're still new in town, but we've made the drive up there several times now, specifically for the food! We'll be going back often to explore the other businesses, and to graze our way from one end of the street to the other.

Every restaurant we've visited in the Alberta neighborhood has been one we want to go back to. The Tin Shed Garden Cafe is a dog and human friendly eatery with a big, covered outdoor patio, complete with a livingroom-style fireplace, lots of water bowls for the pups, an inventive varied menu with lots of vegan options, and even a special dog menu. We loved it, and even though we didn't have our dogs with us, there were at least seven others dining near us, which just seemed like the way it should be.

We really enjoyed the Fungus Among Us - a rich, gooey, toasty portobello sandwich, and the Baby Beluga - a rich bowl of tiny black "beluga" lentils, sweet potato, jasmine rice, fresh spinach, and yellow curry sauce. There were other dishes we will go back for soon, maybe next time with the dogs.

Vita Cafe is destined to become one of our favorites, with many vegan options, and most menu items easily customized. The welcoming atmosphere is enhanced on warm days by large open windows across the front, the service is efficient and friendly, and the food is really good. We popped in for a late breakfast, and sampled the Faux Turkey Florentine and the Country Comfort. Both meals were like a party on a plate. What's not to love about vegan hollandaise or gravy? I mean, really.

The Bye and Bye is a popular vegan bar. Yes, a vegan bar. Who would ever guess? They don't make a big thing of the vegan-ness, but rather let the coolness of the place, along with the goodness of the food and tasty bevs speak for themselves. Going with friends is a good idea, so you can all order something different and share bites. We did just that, and everybody loved everything. It's regular old good food like you might cook at home, only better, and way more fun. Our group had the Chili Pie, Spaghetti, Samurai Bowl, and Grilled Cheese with tomato, avocado, and fresh, hot jalapeños. While the rest of them sipped sodas and beer, I indulged in a great big pink drink, aptly called the Bye and Bye, and served up in a mason jar big enough to swim in. Woo! That was fun!

If you can even think about food at this point, be sure to visit the wonderful Back To Eden Bakery. Everything they offer is vegan, and gluten free, which will make a lot of gluten sensitive non-vegans happy too. They offer lots of delightful looking pastries, as well as lunch, smoothies, and un-dairy ice cream. We only had a couple of cupcakes on our first visit, but we'll absolutely be going back to explore the menu further.

I think you have the idea. Alberta Street is a happening place for anybody interested in good food and a good time. I have a long list of places we need to try, and will want to spend days there just strolling the sidewalks and poking into shops and galleries. The area may not be exactly hidden, but you're sure to find a few gems of your own when you take the time to visit on your next trip to Portland.

Discover more hidden gems from other bloggers around the world on the RelayRides Pinterest page!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Eating Vegan In Portland

I have news! I've been asked to write a new blog called Eating Vegan In Portland, and of course I'm going to do it. My friend, Paul Graham, who writes the popular Eating Vegan In Vegas blog asked me to take his concept to the next level by expanding to Portland. I think soon there will be "Eating Vegan In" blogs from cities all over the world. What an awesome network that will be!

Paul's blog was made into an e-book a while back, and recently came out in print. (Get them at Kobo and Amazon.) With luck, mine will do the same. For now though, it's all about sharing Portland's vegan love. I hope you'll follow along, even if you don't live in Portland, and even if you're not vegan. My goal is to inspire you to dig deep into your own town's garden of plant-based delights. Everybody needs to eat more vegetables, right?

I've added a link to Eating Vegan In Portland (EVIP) in the sidebar to the right, and will update it weekly when I post on Mondays. My regular day to post here at PV will be Tuesday, and you can always easily get from one blog to the other through the links. Better yet, bookmark them! And even better than that, follow them so they're come right to you each week. I'd like that a lot.

My birthday is tomorrow. I will be 57. I can freak out over a number, or I can look at my life and be grateful for all the positive changes that have happened over the past few years. I'm not sure how, but going vegan changed my entire world, starting with my body and health, and branching out to every part of my life. If I hadn't made the plant-based switch, I'm very sure I would not be living in Portland, and I wouldn't be writing Eating Vegan In Portland. Change one thing, change everything... Funny what can come from eating your greens!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lemon-Blueberry Babycakes

Blueberries are all over the farmers markets right now, so I have to share this recipe with you. If you can't get fresh berries, frozen ones work just as well. These little bites of sweet-tart delight are a dense, moist cross between lemon bars and cupcakes. They're vegan of course, and gluten free too. Skip the frosting for less of a sugar jolt. They're terrific either way. The original recipe calls for a new product called the Vegg. I really like the way it works in this recipe, but if you can't find it you can substitute flax meal, as I've done here. The result will not be as yellow in color, but the taste is almost exactly the same. I've made a few changes to suit our personal tastes, but the original recipe for Lemon Bars comes from Lindsay Ray in the Vegg Cookbook. The Vegg/Cookbook Combo Pack is available on VeganCuts.com.

Lemon-Blueberry Babycakes
makes 2 dozen
2 T flax meal
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (usually about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 cup blueberries
TIP! If making the frosting below, zest one lemon into the cake batter, and the other into a second bowl to save for the frosting.

Preheat oven to 350º
Lightly spray a mini muffin tin with coconut oil.
TIP! Bake the cakes in an oiled tin rather than in little paper cups, and then place the cakes into the cups after they've cooled. That way they still look cute, but half the cake won't stick to the paper when you unwrap them.

Place all ingredients, except blueberries, in a large mixing bowl, and mix with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until well blended. Spoon the batter into the oiled mini muffin tin, dividing it evenly between the 24 cups. Scatter a few blueberries on top of each cake. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the pan after 5 minutes, so they don't get soggy. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
As a side note, I made this for some non-veg friends recently. When they tasted it, they could only look at me in wonder and say, "This is real frosting!" Well, yes, of course it is!

1 stick Earth Balance
zest of 1 lemon
1 pound powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
almond milk for blending

Place the Earth Balance "butter" unwrapped in a mixing bowl with the lemon zest you made earlier, and let it warm to room temperature. Add salt and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth, adding almond milk just a few drops at a time until you have the right consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes and top with a single blueberry.

Like this recipe? There are over 100 more in the Recipe Box!