Friday, April 25, 2014

Vegan in Flagstaff - Red Curry Vegan Kitchen

It's our first day out, traveling from Taos, NM to Portland, OR. When Rick and I do road trips, we bring a lot of food for snacks and meals. More on that in another post. But when we roll into whatever town we're calling Home for the night, we like to see what's happening in the local vegan restaurant scene. Tonight in Flagstaff, AZ, we got really lucky. We've been here many times before, and always enjoy the energy of the town itself. College towns tend to be more awake and alive than some places, and Flagstaff really has it going on with Northern Arizona University at the center, plus excellent skiing, hiking, and all things outdoorsy, and it's proximity to the Grand Canyon.

Flagstaff was already a terrific small town in my book, but it just jumped a couple of levels tonight after a meal at the recently opened Red Curry Vegan Kitchen. This cheerful little place was jumping, and so were the two servers, who kept up cheerfully with the steady flow of customers streaming in. And the food was some of the best Thai-style vegan I've ever had. Maybe the best. I'm pretty sure it was, with flavors rich and concentrated, spices just right, and perfectly cooked vegetables that beamed happiness from the plates.

We ordered too much, but polished it off after a long day on the road. We started with the Sampler Plate from the appetizer section, which was veggie rolls, samosa wontons, kale chips, and crispy tofu for two.

Then we had the Massamun Curry and the Pad Se Lew. We planned on sharing, so didn't care which plate went where. After a few bites though, we each claimed our favorites and swapped dishes. I took the curry, which was so luxuriously coconut-creamy I kind of wanted to bathe in it. Rick was glad to have the noodles mostly to himself, and we traded bites now and then for variety. The conversations was mostly "Yums" and Mmmmmms."

We figured we "deserved" dessert, so ordered the Raw Chocolate Bites and a Dark Chocolate Almond Buttercup, which we devoured and savored at the same time. I think that's possible.

There is no liquor on the menu, but it's perfectly ok to BYOB, which we learned when we asked the folks at the table next to us about their bottle of wine. What a perfect world! Bring what you like to drink, don't overpay, and no corkage fee. We were happy with water (served in a large carafe with no ice, which is my preference) and hot green-ginger tea. And the grand total for this feast? A dinky $35 plus tip!

If we were considering a move to Flagstaff,  Red Curry Vegan Kitchen could certainly help sway us in the Yes direction. But since we're still intent on making it all the way to the west coast,  I'll hope this wonderful place thrives so we can come back on our next trip through the area, which might now be sooner than later.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Veggie Benny Scramble with Herbed Hollandaise

I made this special-but-easy scramble for our Easter breakfast (and for Christmas before that). It's beautiful and festive, but don't limit it to holidays! It's great for a friendly brunch any time. When feeding a crown, add a side of fruit, toasted English muffins, and mimosas of course!

Veggie Benny Scramble with Herbed Hollandaise
Serves 2-4, depending on appetites and side dishes

The Scramble
water or oil for sautéing
1/2 onion, chopped
2 large red potatoes, chopped in 1/2 inch bites
1/2 block (8 oz) extra firm tofu, cubed or crumbled
1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water, cut down to eighths
12 sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water till soft, then sliced
2 T tamari
2 T nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh baby spinach

Sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Add a little water if they start to stick, and check them with a fork every few minutes.
Add the tofu, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and cook for a minute or two.
Stir in the tamari, nutritional yeast, paprika, and salt and pepper.
Gradually add the spinach, wilting it in a handful at a time. Cook for another minute or two, adjust seasonings, and serve with Herbed Hollandaise (below).

The Sauce
8 oz. (1/2 block) silken tofu
1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 1 hour or more
1/4 cup pine nuts, raw or toasted
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 T herbs de Provence
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Warm over low heat in a saucepan.

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lemon Basil Hummus

This is kind of a cross between hummus, pesto, and tapenade. It's wonderful as a dip, in wraps and sandwiches, or as a stir-in with pasta. Buzz it up at a moment's notice, and get snackin'.

Lemon Basil Hummus
makes about 2 cups

1 can chickpeas (1 1/2 cups), drained and rinsed
2-3 cloves garlic
4 ounces fresh basil
1 can black olives, drained
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T miso
water to thin

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Positive Change is in the Air!

I have good news! Lots of it, as a matter of fact. Spring is definitely in the air, energies are shifting, and my whole world is about to change - for the better!

We've been trying to sell our house for quite a while now, so we can move back to the west coast to be closer to our families. It's finally happened, and we're set to close the deal and be on our way on April 25th. We've been in Taos, NM for 13 years, and have loved it dearly. But now having the freedom to move about the country is exactly what we want because it opens up so many doors. We plan to go to San Jose for a while, to hang out with my dad. And then... well, it's wide open, but we're strongly considering Portland, OR. It would be a good "hub" for us, in easy reach of all the people we have in the Bay Area, Oregon, Seattle, and Nevada, either by car, or short plane rides. By comparison, it takes almost 3 hours to get to the Albuquerque airport from Taos. Our world is getting bigger and simpler, and we intend to flap our wings. A lot.

What we think we want to do is buy a small motor home, to call "home" while we wander around and decide where to land. We've done this before, and I blogged about it on my other blog, Taking the Long Way Home. Another piece of my news is that I've revived that blog after a 2 year break from it. I know a lot of people followed me over here, but have been missing the more personal nature of LWH. There will be some crossover between the two blogs, but PV will remain mostly about food and vegan stuff, while LWH will be more about our travels, life, and personal stuff. I hope you'll subscribe to both!

And there's more! One of my favorite bits of this puzzle has just fallen into place. I've been accepted to the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) Food For Life training in Washington DC in June. I'm so excited about this I can barely sit still! It means I'll be certified and licensed to teach the Food For Life classes, which focus on prevention and reversal of disease through plant-based diet. I am for sure an animal-and-planet-loving vegan, but the core of my dedication to this lifestyle is in human health and healing. I'm thinking it might work out to travel in our little RV and teach classes wherever someone wants us. Mobile Vegan Ambassadors! It would be so much fun for me to be able to get out there and meet more of you face to face. Let me know if you'd consider helping me put together a class, or if you have a driveway we could camp in for a couple of nights!

I'm coming down off a long weekend of moving sales, and heading into the remainder of our packing. There's not a lot of cooking going on in my colorful Taos kitchen, but I have a few recipe posts ready to pop into place for you while I get myself on the road. Soon you can expect food posts from wherever I find myself, in whatever kitchens I can use. Please don't wander off!

If you haven't done so already, now would be a great time to pick up my Recipe Box. It will give you over 100 of my best recipes, plus cool printable recipe cards, so you can find lots of good PV food to make while I'm distracted by the move. Taos has been kind of rough on us financially. We will walk away from here out of debt (yay!), but semi-homeless and without much cash. Eek! Scary! If you find what I do here (and what I'm about to do) useful, I'd sure appreciate your support! Either way, I'm glad you're along to share this adventure with me. It's going to be a life-changing doozy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherry Cobbler

My mom used to make the best peach cobbler. The best. I've tried and tried to veganize it in a way that still came out with that fluffy, cakey crust that crisped on top and soaked up juices from the fruit underneath. I never quite nailed it until I got a sample of the new Vegg Baking Mix to test drive. This is different from the original Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk, which I sampled a while back. (see post)

I am pleased as punch to report that the new Vegg Baking Mix was exactly what I needed to recreate Mom's cobbler crust. I had some cherries from a friend's tree in the freezer, so used those rather than the traditional canned peaches. The result was a big hit at the little dinner party we brought it too. Many thanks and big kisses to the genius egg impersonators at Now here's my updated recipe!

Fruit Cobbler - Vegg Style
serves 4-6
About 2 cups fruit, canned or fresh, with juice
1 tsp Vegg Baking Mix, mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 cup brown rice flour (or any flour you like)
1 cup organic sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 T melted Earth Balance "butter"

Preheat oven to 375º.
Place fruit in an 8x8 or 10x10 baking dish.
Mix all topping ingredients, except butter, together.
Spoon the topping batter over the fruit, and drizzle with melted Earth Balance.
Bake at 375º for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
(Note - foil under the baking pan is a good idea in case of a bubble-over.)

Serve with your favorite vegan ice cream and prepare to swoon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

These amazing little treats are vegan, gluten free, and totally scrumptious. They disappear around here as fast as I can make them, which is pretty fast. Read the recipe through and follow the steps as I've laid them out, and you'll have no problem making these perfectly every time. I recommend a very slick non-stick cupcake pan here. Might be time to buy a new one and delegate the old one to something sturdier, like Tempeh Meatloaves.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes
makes 12

1 can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained and juice reserved
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, cut in half
1/2 cup agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 - 1 cup unsweetened, dried cherries

Measure 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, plus the 1/2 cup almond milk into a medium sized bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. It will curdle. This is good!
Measure the rice flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.
Melt 1/2 of the stick of Earth Balance in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk the melted "butter" into the flour mixture. It will be coarse and crumbly. 
Now add the agave and vanilla to the pineapple/milk and stir them together. 
Gradually whisk the liquid mixture into the flour mixture until you have a fairly smooth batter.
Let the batter sit a few minute while you prepare the cupcake pan.
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Generously spray a non-stick cupcake pan with coconut oil.
Over low heat, in the same small saucepan you used earlier, melt the other half of the "butter" along with the brown sugar. Blend them with a small whisk and cook for a minute or so.
Spoon the brown sugar mixture equally into each of the 12 cake cups.

Arrange the pineapple tidbits in a little flower pattern in the bottom of each cup.
Place dried cherries in the center of each flower, and between each pineapple petal.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide the cake batter equally between cake cups.

Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes, or until they're golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

As soon as the cupcakes are out of the oven, flip them over onto a large board (I use two placed next to each other). Do this in one swift and fearless motion, slamming the pan down to loosed the cupcakes. 
Leave the pan sitting on the cakes for 5 minutes, so the glaze can seep into them, then gently lift it off, revealing the finished cupcakes. If a few pineapple pieces stay in the pan, simply place them back on top of the cupcakes.

These are best eaten warm or at room temperature, and should be stored in the refrigerator. They can be rewarmed in a toaster oven for a few minutes before serving... if you have any left the next day!

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