Tuesday, September 29, 2015

First Glimpse at Portland Fashion Week's Vegan Side

I'm starting to get trickles of information regarding the designers and food vendors for Portland Fashion Week. I'll only mention the ones I know to be vegan, or animal-and-planet-friendly, whether by design (teehee), or inadvertently. When we dig, there's usually more than we imagine we'll find.

As far as clothing goes, I've already told you about Jules of Morocco (in a previous post), which I will be (very happily) wearing on opening night. Her organic cotton/ramie fabrics are pure elegance, and the designs are so flattering. I'm going to look good. Just sayin'.

Sweet Skins is a women owned eco-clothing company that uses fabrics like eco-fleece (made from plastic bottles), hemp, cotton, and lycra jersey. The designs are intended to flatter women of all shapes and sizes, and like Jules of Morocco, these look like my kind of clothes. I am a dress girl, but they also have pants, skirts, tops, and outerwear, as well as underwear, maternity, and accessories. I can't wait to see them in person!

Food at the event remains more of a mystery. The only vendor I'm sure about is Ramy's Lamb Shack, which I've been assured will be serving some form of falafel that will definitely be vegan. Go figure. I know... some hard-core vegans won't support a business that also serves meat. Personally, I think it's better to encourage them to do more vegan, by ordering the vegan options they already offer. I've read good things about Ramy's falafel, which is green in color, and made from fava beans. Can't wait to try it!

And that, my friends, is all I have for you today. With four days of fashion fun ahead of us, you know there are bunches of surprises in store. Will you be there to see for yourself? You can still get tickets! I suggest you do so. xoxo

Monday, September 28, 2015

Portland Fashion Week (from a vegan perspective!) Is Here!!!

The shows start this Thursday! Do you have your tickets? No, I can't get you in for free. Spend a little money, have a great time, and support the "first fashion show in history to present 100% sustainable fashion designs." (Vogue Magazine)

Here's a little more from the Portland Fashion Week website:

Portland Fashion Week® first emerged in 2003 to become the third longest consecutive running Fashion Week in the U.S. and is one of the Most Sustainably Produced Fashion Weeks in the world according to Book Moda the Runway Bible of the World. PFW was also the first fashion show in history to present 100% sustainable fashion designs, as hailed by VOGUE Magazine, and is “The Best Indie Fashion Week in the U.S.” as written about in TIME Magazine. With Portland being home to more winners in Project Runway history than any city, tying the combined total of both LA and NYC with 5, coupled with our DIY can-do ethos and standards of living, we have now become the most respected fashion Hub in America!

My reason for covering PFW is to find out where Vegan and Fashion merge in all this. I'm anxiously awaiting a list of all the designers and food vendors, so I can spread some advance love for all those who have at least some focus on sustainable animal-friendliness. When I know, you'll know! And of course, I plan to be there every night, from Thursday to Sunday snapping pictures, talking to people, and seeing if there's maybe a little room in fashion weeks everywhere for a vegan spotlight. After all, vegans like to dress well too!

Meet me at Portland Fashion Week! Get your tickets. You know you want to go.

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes
from MinimalistBaker.com

Here's what's in it:

sweet potatoes
canned chickpeas
olive oil
cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked (or regular) paprika
lemon juice
hummus (or tahini)
dried dill
garlic, minced
water or unsweetened almond milk
cherry tomatoes, diced
chopped parsley
lemon juice
chili garlic sauce
sea salt to taste

Look good? Get the whole recipe at MinimalistBaker.com!

My notes...

Yes, I made it! Baking time was 30 minutes as expected. Great! I made two sweet potatoes, doubled the amount of sauce (we like sauce), and added a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt to the parsley/tomato topping. To minimize cleanup, I rinsed and re-used the same mixing bowl, first to coat the chickpeas in oil and spices, then for the sauce (I replaced the dill with fresh basil, and skipped the chili garlic sauce), and finally for the parsley/tomato mixture. It was delicious and filling. We both saved half a potato for lunch the next day. This one's a keeper!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vegan Beer and Food Festival Wrap-Up

If you thought about attending the L.A. based Vegan Beer and Food Festival's first visit to Portland, Oregon, and didn't, kick yourself squarely in the behind right now, and promise yourself you'll go next year. It was so much fun, and there was so much amazing food, drink, shopping, and music, it really needs to be at the top of every vegan's must-go list. If you're merely veg-curious, this is the festival for you too, because it's all about fun and ridiculously good food that also happens to be vegan. Nothing preachy about it. It's a party, and a darn good one, set in a perfect spot on the Willamette River, next to the new bridge, at Zidell Yards.

Rick and I went early, and if you're crowd sensitive, it would be worth springing for the VIP tickets just so you can cruise in an hour ahead of the rest of the world, and leisurely sample the most popular foods, beers, and ciders without waiting in line. It got crowded later in the day, but the lines were still tolerable for the most part... unless you wanted a Vegan Big Mac from Doomie's Home Cookin'. Then you had to wait.

We didn't try one, but asked several people what they thought of the giant vegan sammy. Responses ranged from, Amazing, to, Not like the "real" one, but really good and I didn't feel like crap after eating it." I know we missed out, but it was just too huge. Maybe if we'd had five other people to share one with... we'll bring a bigger entourage next time!

Also much buzzed-about were the Macaroni and Cheese from Of Roots and Blooms, and the Vegan Chickun and Waffle from Southern Fried Vegan. We did try both of those. I believe in always starting with the Mac and Cheese, because life is short, and if the Big One hits, I want a good vegan cheese sauce in my belly. I was wowed by Of Roots and Blooms version, which was served on a bed of fresh spinach, and topped with crispy kale and coconut bacon. The sauce was rich and creamy and wonderful (and I'm picky because I make a really good one) and the pasta was perfectly cooked and curly, to hold onto generous amounts of cheese in each bite. I loved everything about it.

I have to say, I was skeptical about the Chickun and Waffle, served with maple syrup, and another version of mac and cheese. But you know, there's something sort of magical about the collision of crispy fried-ness, delicate baked-ness, and salty-sweet-ness that happened on this plate. I kind of loved it, kind of feared it. Then I remembered, it was a party. We were not there to eat healthy food. We were there to eat creative, soul satisfying, decadent vegan food. Thankfully, I didn't see a single salad all day. We eat enough lettuce, thank you. Please pass the syrup.

Also of very honorable mention in our day of grazing were the Mother of Dragons Roll from Sushi Love, the exotic Indian spiced popcorn from Masala Pop, and the seriously good, sliceable, meltable, real (vegan) cheeses from Follow Your Heart (oh, that provolone...).

Everywhere I turned, I saw happy people eating great food. I knew I couldn't sample all of it myself, even with Rick's help, so I took pictures of strangers and their food. Next time I think I'll carry around a fork and ask for bites. It was a congenial crowd. I bet a lot of people would let me have a tiny taste.

Cheesecake from It's a Rawsome Life
Portland's own Sizzle Pie, where we actually ended up when we were downtown later that evening, somehow hungry again. It's embarrassing.

The Crab Cake from Victoria Bar looked amazing.

More cheesecake. I think he did not want to share. I don't blame him.
And then, sigh... there was the beer. And the cider. And the kombucha. All available for unlimited tasting in those cute little 4 ounce glasses they gave us. We attempted to divide and conquer, Rick going for the beers while I checked out the ciders. We tried many, we shared sips, we took notes and tried really hard to keep track... We got lost. By the time we were finished, I decided the very first cider I'd tried was my favorite of the day. So my big winner is Reverend Nat's Cider, and Rick split his favorite beer award between Wild Ride Brewing, Base Camp, and Ninkasi. Apparently, beer often has a lower alcohol content than cider, and therefore causes less immediate memory loss. Either that, or it's stronger and eliminates the ability to make decisions. No matter! It's a good thing those glasses were small!

Stuffed and just a wee bit loopy, we decided to get a coffee from the cute VW Coffee Bus, and head to the stage for some LoveBomb Go-Go, a crazy-fun marching band. I know. What?? But more like an intergalactic, burlesque, Rocky Horror sort of marching band than what you might normally think of. Take a group of talented, playful, theatrical musicians, sprinkle some Portland Weirdness on them, and you have the magic of LoveBomb Go-Go.

Information, sponsors, and shopping booths rounded out the entertainment, providing a break in the eating/drinking action, and a chance to get a little education or pick up a cool souvenir. Rick got a great t-shirt from Herbivore Clothing that says, Eat Like You Give a Damn. There was also jewelry, soap, art, and other fun things, and I was happy to see Jeanette Zeis with her adorable vegan-stamped pottery. The brand new Driftwood Magazine was there too, running an event special and a fresh travel and culture perspective on vegan life. (I thought they were giving away copies, so technically I stole one. Yikes!) It's a beautiful publication and I can't wait to dig in! Everybody subscribe please, to support them, and to help me redeem myself!

Photo by Driftwood Magazine
Exhausted and happy, we stopped for dessert-to-go on our way out. Amazingly, Charlie's Brownies had no line at the moment we walked by, so we took it as a sign and swooped in. Charlie and his adorable crew came all the way from Los Angeles (as did several other vendors), and were happy to chat with us about their product. We couldn't decide which flavor to try, so we chose all five. It was the only sensible thing to do. Delicious is not a sufficient word for these rich, moist, inventively flavored brownies. I think the Coconut Bacon is my favorite. Or maybe the Caramel Pecan...

Where's the bacon? On the brownie. Duh.
Our last stop, with an inside tip from a Seattle friend to "try the loaf," was Violet Sweet Shoppe. Resisting the seduction of the cupcakes (my usual weakness), we went for the cute little pumpkin loaf and then waddled off into the sunset with our loot.

Breakfast for the morning after... The pumpkin loaf was moist and wonderful and I wished I'd bought two.
I can't think of a more perfect way for a bunch of vegans and their friends to get together, enjoy the glorious fall weather, and share some spectacular foodie love. Dear Vegan Beer and Food Festival, please come to Portland again next year! I hope we treated you as well as you treated us.

Thanks! xoxoxo

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jules of Morocco at Portland Fashion Week

All photos courtesy of Jules of Morocco.
I'm in the fortunate position to be invited to blog all about Portland Fashion Week, from the inside, and from a vegan perspective. As one of the most sustainably produced fashion weeks in the world, it follows that there should be a certain level of vegan presence and awareness too. My goal over the next couple of weeks is to find out what's already there, and see how I might help advance the vegan aspects of Portland Fashion Week in the future.

When one of the designers offered to lend me clothes to wear to opening night, I jumped at the chance. Jules of Morocco is a hidden gem in the heart of Multnomah Village, just a short drive from downtown Portland. I fell in love the instant I stepped inside. The exotic decor sets the perfect stage for the racks of soft, luxuriously simple clothing. I walked through, touching everything, gathering as I went, and made my way directly to a large, curtained dressing room and a glass of champagne. This is my kind of place.

Jules of Morocco's founder and owner, Julie Olson, started the company in the early 80's, when she moved to Morocco and discovered the beautiful handwoven fabric that is only made in Morocco. The supple organic cotton/ramie fabric drapes beautifully and feels elegant and wonderful. Julie's designs are sophisticated and versatile. They're meant to compliment all figure types, and can easily be worn by women of all ages.

I came home with a simple black tank dress with some flirty hem detail, and a gorgeous long jacket that buttons to one side. I also had free run of all the wonderful, handmade jewelry, which Julie hand picks during her travels all over the world. It was hard to choose, but I found the perfect necklace. No pictures of me yet. I'll wait until opening night, October 1st, when I'm all "styled" and pulled together for the big event. Jules of Morocco will be on the runway that night, and I'll be behind the scenes, feeling like a model myself, and enjoying every minute of the show. And when the party's over, and it's time to return the clothes, I'm really going to want to keep them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

the Ever-Fashionable Voodoo Doughnut

At the top of most Portland visitors' must-do list is a trip to Voodoo Doughnut. For some it's more like a pilgrimage. And I have to say, it's worth the effort to experience the place at least once. More often than not, folks develop something of a Voodoo habit, and it's common to see those big pink boxes being toted all over town, to the airport, the train station, and all parts beyond.

These crazy little blobs of sugary fried dough are famous all over the world, and for good reason. The flavors and colors are far from the usual (check the menu on their website), and the place itself is like something from a semi-creepy Disneyland. There's always a line out the door, and the people watching potential makes the wait more than tolerable.

Voodoo Doughnut is one of the sponsors of this year's Portland Fashion Week. Of course! Also of course, someone decided it would be a lot of fun to do a photo shoot with some of us involved with Fashion Week... and doughnuts. I was invited because I'm a food blogger, so I showed up last Monday, along with the adorably fashionable Sydney Jaffe, of CivilMaverick, and Alyssa Bleakley, who works with PFW and masterminded the whole idea of the doughnut shoot.

We all decked out in little black dresses and heels, and sugar-frosting shades of lipstick. Two huge boxes of doughnuts were delivered, while professional lights, backdrop, and camera were expertly managed by Nina Sage, of Studio 20.

While Voodoo is not an all-vegan doughnuttery, they do make some especially fine vegan doughnuts, which I've sampled more (much more) than once. This made it totally in my area of interest to have my picture taken with them. Alas, there were no actual vegan doughnuts in our pink boxes the day of the shoot, so I borrowed the other girls' "used" doughnuts and pretended I was eating them. Pretty funny! It's how the magic happens in front of the camera!

Which one shall I choose?
Some silly Charlie's Angels fun.

We learned mid-shoot that Nina specializes in boudoir photography. Teehee.

When we were finished, we took the doughnuts across the street to a small homeless camp and left them as a gift. I went home feeling pretty happy, and kind of glad the vegan doughnuts didn't show up. With all those in front of me, there's no telling how many I might have eaten...

V for Vegan, for Voodoo, for Victory, and of course for peace-out with your doughnuts, man.

Monday, September 21, 2015

the Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival is Next Saturday, September 26th!!!

Here it comes! Are you ready? Do you have your tickets? How about a strategy to dig in and sample every amazing morsel of this all Vegan Beer and Food Festival? I'm working on my plan, and to be honest, I'm failing miserably at strategizing. I mean, look at this lineup! How in the world will I ever make my way through all of this in one little day? I'll do my best, and I do hope to see you there.

Fortunately, I'll have Rick along to help me. And maybe if you win the two free tickets I have to give away on Facebook, you'll assist me with some insights of your own. I guess what I'll do is sample as many of the places I haven't tried yet as I can. I'll tell Rick what to eat too. I'm the boss, and I'm bossy that way.

None of the beer and cider companies are super familiar to me, so I guess I just have to sample all of them... (hiccup! polite burp...) Then once I'm stuffed and semi-loopy, I'll go back through and visit some of my already-favorites. Of course it will be a good idea to toss in some kombucha here and there, to be sure I'm digesting all that fabulous food properly. I do try to be a healthy vegan.

I'll pace myself.
I'll eat. I'll drink. I'll shop. I'll dance.
And I'll report back.
But really, you need to be there to experience all this vegan wonderfulness for yourself.
Buy tickets (or win them from me), come to Portland, and spend one heavenly day surrounded by and filled with all things vegan and happy and fun.

See you there!

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Spicy Coconut Noodles

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Spicy Coconut Noodles
from RealSimple.com

Here's what you'll need to have on hand:

    rice noodles or fettuccine
    unsweetened coconut milk
    tomato paste
    chili powder
    kosher salt
    chili paste or sauce (optional)
    scallions, thinly sliced
    bean sprouts
    basil leaves, whole or torn
    shredded coconut, toasted (optional)

Look good? I think so too!
Find the complete recipe at RealSimple.com.

I made it, and yes, it's good! To keep it simple, I first cooked a whole package (14 oz) of Thai Kitchen rice noodles in my large pot, according to package directions. While they cooked, I did the little bit of chopping required - scallions and basil - and assembled the other ingredients for the sauce. I had toasted some coconut earlier in the day, and it was a nice addition!

Once the noodles were done, I left them to drain in a colander and made the sauce in the same pot. I added a little tamari to the recipe, and next time I'll substitute peanut butter for some or all of the tomato paste. I stirred some of the bean sprouts, scallions, and basil into the sauce, then added the noodles. There was plenty of sauce for all those noodles.

It was delicious and quick to make. Yes, I'll make it again!

Monday, September 14, 2015

PDX Red Chile Sauce

Remember my recipe for red chile, Taos style? It's a sauce, not a bean-pot, for those of you who are not southwest savvy. I learned some tricks from some great Taos cooks in my years there, and the original recipe (Red Chile) is a forever favorite in my house. Moving to a new part of the country always inspires changes in old favorites, and the most recent is the Portland rendition of New Mexican red chile.

This is basically the same recipe, with just three little additions that make it, in my opinion, better than ever, and the official New Favorite.

PDX Red Chile

2 T coconut oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 T mild chile powder
1 tsp hot chile powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 T garlic, chopped
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
1 - 32 ounce carton vegetable broth
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 T maple syrup
1 cup frozen corn
2 T flax seed meal or chia seeds 
2 T arrowroot

Saute the onion in the oil until soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Cooking the spices is important!

Add the broth, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, and corn, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the flax meal and arrowroot, but don't worry about blending them in. Pour the whole thing into a blender or food processor that is made for hot liquids (like a Vitamix), and blend until smooth.

Pour the blended sauce back into the pan and let it cook over medium-low heat for a few more minutes. Use as an enchilada sauce, ladle it over "smothered" burritos and tofu scrambles, or use it as a base for a big ol' pot of chili beans.

This was a weirdly easy dinner... I had leftover hummus-and-veggie wraps, which I put in a baking pan, poured on Red Chile, and baked until they were hot. Instant enchiladas! They were surprisingly wonderful thanks to the PDX Red!
Note: If you don't have a Vitamix or other heat-compatible blender (NutriBullet is not good for this!!!), an immersion blender is a good substitute, plus you don't have to transfer hot liquid back and forth. Get one from Amazon for about $30.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Vegan Beer and Food Festival

I'm sure keeping busy with fun events these days! Find me at the Vegan Beer and Food Festival on September 26th. Seriously, what could be better? I'll be the one with food smudges all over her iPhone! Get your TICKETS HERE!

Portland Fashion Week Tickets

Portland Fashion Week TICKETS are on sale NOW! I'll be there for the duration, covering all things vegan. I have no idea how much that will be, but if it's there, I'll find it. And next year... maybe I can make even more happen!
Tickets are at Ticket Tomato