Saturday, September 29, 2007

When in Atlanta, go to SOUL VEGETARIAN!

We first went to Soul Vegetarian with our friends Katie and Russell back in August and absolutely fell in love. While it is called Soul Vegetarian, don't let the name full you, it is all vegan (although, I think a few items may have honey in them, which we don't eat). It is a traditional soul food restaurant and it rocks! They have a lot of homemade items like Kalebone (a wheat gluten item that kinda looks like a chicken fried steak), the most amazing garlicky salad dressing and last but not least, they make their own soy ice kream! Depending on the day, they may have vanilla pecan, chocolate, vanilla and our personal favorite, mint chocolate chip! They have a vegetable plate where you can choose from the traditional sides like collard greens, sweet potatoes and corn on the cob, just to name a few. Today though, we went exclusively for their tofu sandwich platter, which comes with a generous side salad (with that amazing dressing) and either french fries or onion rings. We opted for onion rings . . . I mean, when are you going to find vegan onion rings that you don't have to make yourself?! The tofu sandwich is a tofu steak battered and fried, served on a whole wheat bun with tomatoes, sprouts and a homemade tartar sauce.
The only down side is the serve is a bit slow, but if you bring your patience and your appetite, you won't be disappointed. Seriously, drop in for a great meal (and VERY reasonably priced) when you are in Atlanta. They have 2 locations, but we always go to Soul Vegetarian II at 652 Highland Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30306
Sorry the picture is so bad. We left the house so hungry, I forgot to grab the real camera and Jared had to take the picture with the cell phone camera.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

sweet potato onion tart, tomato salad

Tonight's meal was inspired by this beautiful bowl of little tomatoes . . . some of the best tomatoes I've ever had.
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I made a basic pie crust with whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose four, sea salt and Earth Balance buttery stick. While the dough chilled, I caramelized two onions in olive oil and sea salt. I also broke out my mandolin to thinly slice a sweet potato and baked the slices until tender. Once the onions were completely caramelized, I added a thinly sliced garlic clove and several stems of fresh thyme. Next, I rolled out the chilled dough and cut the dough into circles. I baked the circles for a few minutes. Once the dough was a little brown, I arranged the sweet potatoes and onions atop the circles and finished baking them off. I plated each tart with a spring mix salad and lots of the tomatoes in a homemade vinaigrette with fresh lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, sea salt, agave nectar and olive oil.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

nutty apricot bundles

A few weeks back I bought phyllo dough not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it. Jared was never a huge fan of baklava (although, I liked it) so I knew I wasn’t going to try to veganize a real baklava. Its hard for Jared to pin down what he didn't like about baklava, but I think it had something to so with the some times use of pistachios and rosewater. I still wanted a sweet treat and nuts and apricots came to mind with a buttery and crispy phyllo cover.
My concoction started with a simple syrup of water and turbinado sugar, a cinnamon stick and a couple of whole cloves. I added in a handful of dried apricots and rehydrated them in the spiced simple syrup. Once the syrup cooked down to about half and the apricots were soft, I removed the cinnamon sticks and cloves and added a bit of whipped Earth Balance. This created a sort of spicy, loose caramel sauce. Once the syrupy apricots cooled, I added the apricots and all the syrup to my food processor with a handful of walnuts, a handful of pecans and a pinch of salt. After grinding in the food processor, what resulted was an extremely thick paste. Next I melted a few tbsp of Earth Balance buttery stick and individually brushed each sheet of phyllo dough about four sheets high at a time. I cut the four stacked buttery sheets in strips and placed them in muffin tins to create a cup. I added the filling and folded over the laps of phyllo, brushed the tops with the left over melted Earth Balance and baked them (in a preheated oven) at 350 until brown and crispy. While these did kind of have a baklava taste and feel to them, Jared still gobbled them up, as did I.
Bundled and baked:
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Baked, cooled and cut open to see the filling:
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

you gotta try this mac and cheeze

I was scanning through LiveJournal's VEGAN FOOD PICS and came across this beautiful looking mac and cheeze. It almost looked too good to be true so I had to test it out. Oh my god. This seriously was the best vegan mac and cheeze I have yet to try. It had just the right amount of nutritional yeast (meaning, it wasn't over powering) and was super creamy. The recipe can be found here. I used original/plain hemp milk instead of soy milk, shell pasta and added both black pepper and cayenne pepper. I used crushed crackers on top, although I'm sure toasted bread crumbs would be great too.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

fried green tomato sandwich

Pre-vegan days, I loved a good ol' BLT. One of my favorite BLTs was from The Flying Biscuit called the Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwich that had turkey bacon, fried green tomatoes, lettuce, cashew-jalapeno relish & goat cheese. We do still go do The Flying Biscuit with out of town guests since they do have some vegan options but I have now been forced, happily, to make my own fried green tomato BLT at home.
To make my version I heated up three slices of fakin' bacon. Once the fakin bacon was very crisp, I thinly sliced green tomatoes and coated them in flour, corn meal and a seasoning blend I made from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan! ('s Cajun Spice, pg 303). I shallow fried the tomatoes in canola oil. I also sliced up avocado and red onion and opted to skip the lettuce. Flying Biscuit's version has a jalapeno cashew relish that contains honey, ground cashews, cilantro and jalapeno. So, I made my own sweet spread that had Tofutti cream cheese, whipped Earth Balance and agave nectar (whipped together with my hand mixer). While my spread wasn't the same as their relish, it did give me a sweet contrast to the rest of the sandwich and a creamy texture that goat cheese or mayo would have given. The bread was just a toasted everything bagel from the farmers market. This was pretty awesome and filled me up after playing tennis (if you could call it playing) with Jared this morning.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

screaming for veggies

After weeks of testing various baked goods and dining out with company, my body finally had enough. I went a bit crazy at the farmers market today, restocking my fridge and counter tops with veggies and fruit. I came home with tomatoes, bok choy, sweet potatoes, zucchini, apples and bananas, to name a few.
Tonight started with a simple soup. I decided to try and duplicate a veggie soup I always get at one of my favorite chinese restaurants called Chinese Buddha. To start, I cooked garlic in sesame oil until the garlic was golden and crispy (careful not to burn it). I added water, yellow miso paste, ginger, onions, a touch of soy sauce (flavor and color), sea salt and black pepper to the crispy garlic. At the last minute, I added loads of bok choy and zucchini to complete my soup. It was pretty good but next time I will use less oil.
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Then I had what turned out to be a very red, orange and brown dinner. I baked a sweet potato until just tender. While the sweet potato baked, I grated up a zucchini and onion sprinkled with sea salt to suck out most of the moisture. The slightly dehydrated zucchini and onion were added to left over jasmine rice, black pepper, flour and a "eggy" slurry of 2 tbsp ground golden flax seed and 3 tbsp water. I formed these into patties and fried them in canola oil. I also sliced up a tomato for good measure. The sweet potato was split open and topped with whipped Earth Balance and cinnamon sugar mixture.
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Now I feel back to normal.

Friday, September 14, 2007

yes, meme!

Two of my very favorite bloggers, Walking the Vegan Line and Veganista, have tagged me to do a Meme. I think this is a very cool way to learn about one another and am VERY honored that I was asked.

#1 Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name.
#2 When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit.
#3 At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag. Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them, they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
#4 If I’ve tagged YOU (the bloggers that I've tagged are listed at the end), please join in on the fun!

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So, I am going to use my first name. I use to dislike the name Lori. Growing up I didn't know any other Lori's and thought I didn't "look" like a Lori, whatever that meant. I grew up in the 80's when girls were named Jennifer or Michelle and Lori just seemed odd to me. Now, I love it and I like that I rarely meet another Lori, especially spelled this way (vs. Laurie).

L- Leo. That is my sign. No, I don't seriously follow astrology but like a lot of people, I have looked up the traits of my sign and it is frighteningly accurate how much of a Leo I am. It's true that I am very loyal, hard working, do well under pressure (at least in a work environment), confident, honest, determined, obsessive, stubborn and full of pride. These traits are what make me likable and what also gets me into trouble.

O- Off-Course. We moved from our home town of Tampa, Florida a few months back. We both left stable jobs with excellent benefits and decent pay so Jared could gain residency in GA and eventually go to law school. This is all exciting, but I have not had a lot of luck finding a job, despite a fantastic resume . . . which makes me feel, well, Lost and Off-Course. Fortunately, Jared has a job that supports us, but I actually like working and it is unsettling to be a unemployed. At least it gives me lots of time to make awesome food and play housewife (which is a very respectable job!) for a bit.

R- Recording/Records. For many, many years I have played music. I started playing violin at age 10 and soon after my dad bought me my first acoustic guitar, and then soon after that I switched to electric guitar and bass. I have had the privilege of playing music with loads of people, including my husband in his last band called Darlings. A few years back I played guitar in a band called Mess of Wires, with my very good friends Katie (played bass), Russell (played drums) and a woman I lost track of named Selina (singer). We had the opportunity to record during an over night session on a very cold December night by a great talent in an impressive recording studio. That night taught me more about professional and personal relationships, even though at the time it seemed like torture.
Here is a picture of our old house where we actually had a music room.
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Also, I (we) collect records. And, yes, they still print music on vinyl. This picture only shows about a third of our collection.
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I- Imaginative. I love people watching and I love studying facial expressions, body language, reactions, moods. I take lots in about people and become a story teller. Mainly to myself, but Jared also gets to hear lots of stories I make up about strangers. I am the kind of person that looks at an elderly person and try to imagine what kind of adventures they had when they were my age, if I would have been friends with them if we grew up together.

So, that's it. Some fellow bloggers I would love to tag to also do this would be:

Leigh from Raspberry Swirl (who is also co-owner of Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe in Atlanta, GA.)

Pink Theory from Luminous Vegans

The Urban Housewife

Allie from Feeding the Masses although she hasn't posted in a while : (

Cookie Cutter Craziness

After a full week of visitors and very little cooking/baking, I went a little crazy in the kitchen today. Our friend Star was busy with the bike race and didn't make it over to our place last weekend, so I never got a hold of her vegan sugar cookie recipe. It all worked out because it forced me to come up with my own. I still need to play around with the recipe a bit more but, all and all, I am pleased with the taste and texture. My sugar cookie recipe had turbinado sugar, Earth Balance buttery stick, Tofutti cream cheese, vanilla extract, golden flax seed slurry (which served as the egg replacer, add 2 tbsp ground golden flax seed to 3 tbsp water, to equal 1 egg), all purpose flour, baking powder and sea salt, plus more sugar for the top. I only let the dough chill for a hour which made it hard to cut the tender dough with the cookie cutters. Luckily with the help of additional flour and a spatula, it all worked out. Next time I think I will chill the dough over night to make sure it is super hard. If I get the recipe just right, I'll be sure to post about it.
This picture showcases 3 of my favorite things:
cookies, guitars and Hello Kitty.
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I also did butterfly sugar cookies.
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My dad and step mom were two of our visitors this week and while out kitchen gadget shopping, they bought me these adorable cookie cutters. Despite not being religious, I couldn't resist these mini Noah's arc inspired shapes. When I made these before, I didn't have small cookie cutters so I had to try Celine's Cheezy Quakers with my new cookie (or cracker) cutters. Like last time, I made a few modifications. Instead of sea salt, I again used garlic salt and instead of paprika I used a spice blend Jared made from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan! cookbook (from what I can tell, it was the "Needs a Little Extra" spice blend). I also sprinkled the tops with turbinado sugar. These were awesome, in part because of a great recipe (with or without my modifications) and because of the cute shapes. Thanks again Dad and Delia!
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Monday, September 10, 2007

granola power!

I haven't made granola in a really long time and so I made a batch tonight. Mine almost always has nuts, seeds and cinnamon. Here is my basic recipe for granola but the cool thing about granola is you can pretty much add any dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate/carob chips and spices/extracts. Of course, you can put only nuts or only seeds or only dried fruits but you may need to add additional oats. This isn't an exact science so play around with it until you find a technique/recipe you like!

2 tbsp Earth Balance (buttery stick)
4 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
2 tbsp Agave Nectar
1 1/4 cup Oats
1/4 cup chopped nuts (whatever you like/have on hand)
1-2 tbsp seeds (whatever you like/have on hand)
cinnamon to taste (or whatever spice/extract floats your boat)
pinch of sea salt

* Preheat oven to 300 degrees
* In a small pan, melt on low heat the Earth Balance, Pure Maple Syrup and Agave Nectar.
* In a medium glass bowl combine the oats, nuts, seeds, spice(s) and the sea salt.
* Pour melted mixture on top of oat mixture and mix until everything is wet.
* Pour sticky mixture on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
* Bake for about 30-45 minutes (really depends on yr oven) until most of the wetness is gone. STIR MIXTURE SEVERAL TIMES DURING BAKING!!!
* Remove parchment paper with granola on it from the baking sheet onto counter top or cutting board and if using, stir in any dried fruits at this point. Let the granola dry completely. This cooling will actually be what makes the hot still moist granola turn magically into the crunchy stuff you are use to.
* If it lasts long (which it won't) store the completely cooled granola in a tight fitting Tupperware container.

~Nut Ideas- pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias, peanuts, peanut or other nut butter (please note, if you are going to use a nut butter, melt it in with the margarine/syrup/agave).
~Seed Ideas- sesame, sunflower, ground flax.
~Dried Fruit Ideas- cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raisins, apples, apricots, banana chips, coconut flakes, dates.
~Miscellaneous Ideas- chocolate chips or carob chips (I would wait for the mixture to be 100% cooled down before adding these though)
~Spice Ideas- cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, cardamon.
~Extract Ideas- vanilla, almond, coconut.

Combo Ideas-
- walnuts, dried apples, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg.
- almonds, dried cranberries, vanilla extract.
- peanuts, peanut butter, chocolate chips.
- cashews, macadamias, dried banana chips, coconut flakes, cardamon.

My batch tonight had pecans, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg.
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Friday, September 7, 2007

the ultimate comfort food: biscuits and gravy

Wednesday, at 2 am (so, Thursday morning) Jared's shoulder popped out of socket in his sleep. This is a recurring thing from a football injury in high school, that happens about every year and a half to two years . . . so, we are not strangers to ER trips at all times of the day or night. As you can imagine, this is a very painful thing for Jared and we try to talk about all sorts of things (food and music are the usual suspects) to keep his mind off of the pain and to make time go by for both of us. So, we talked about what he would like to eat when we got out of there and of course after we got to go to bed. As his personal short order cook, biscuits and gravy was requested. We finally got home about 7, fell asleep about 8 and slept til 2 in the afternoon. So, we had breakfast for lunch and biscuits and gravy is what Jared and I had.
I got the biscuit recipe from Love Like A Vegan's blog and they turned out great, not as pretty though. I'm not sure why but I didn't end up having to use as much soy milk as the recipe called for. The gravy was my version of years and years of me paying attention to how my Grammie made her breakfast gravy (hers either had bacon or sausage bits & grease). I first browned 4 heaping tbsp of unbleached all purpose flour in a frying pan under medium heat for only a few minutes (watch closely!). I took the browned (not scorched/burnt) flour out and added a touch of canola oil to fry up 3 frozen veggie sausage links, along with a glug of maple syrup. After those browned, I mashed them in the pan until they were very crumbly. I took out the sausage crumbles and added 4 tbsp of Earth Balance (buttery sticks) to the pan. I made a roux with the Earth Balance and browned flour, added sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Once the roux cooked for a few minutes, I slowly added soy milk until the gravy came together at a thickness we liked . . . we like our gravy on the thick side. If you like a thinner gravy, add more soy milk. I then stirred in the sausage crumbles. I can't even tell you how much this was right on to how my Grammie's gravy taste. We were kind of amazed actually.
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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Molasses Cinnamon Rolls

No need for an intervention, I swear I have a legitimate reason for making all these sinfully delicious yeast based baked goods lately. The next 2 weeks we will be having visitors. Last I heard, this coming weekend, our friends Star and Lepley are coming up for a bike race and also to help our friend Hank move up here. Star is also a vegan. Her and I have already been discussing what goodies we want to make. I'm hoping to nab her sugar cookie recipe.
THEN, the weekend after this, my dad and step mom, Delia, are coming up. WOO WHOOO!
SO, you see, I had to test out these cinnamon rolls. Right? Yep.
For these treats, I made my crazy bread dough except I put in approximately 2 tbsp of molasses with the slurry and palm oil instead of olive oil. Once the dough had risen once, I rolled out the dough to probably around a half inch thickness, brushed a little bit of melted Earth Balance and sprinkled a sugar/cinnamon mixture on the rolled out dough. I then rolled the dough up into a log and cut the log into 12 spirals. I placed the spirals in a pan (with cooking spray) and let them rise again. They were baked at 350 degrees for what seemed like forever (it was probably around 20-30 minutes) and then poured an icing I made with a couple of tbsp powdered sugar, a splash of soy milk and more cinnamon.
Right out of the oven without icing:
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Plated with icing (notice it isn't drenched in icing):
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Monday, September 3, 2007

a weekend tribute to summer time

As summer is slowly coming to an end, this weekend's meals were comprised of summery goodness. Jared and I went to Marietta, GA to explore the town and visit Harry's Farmers Market. Despite being vegan, I still watch a few shows on Food Network, including Good Eats. I bring this up only because when Alton Brown (host of Good Eats) goes to a grocery store, it usually is this place. So while it is nerdy, I wanted to go check it out. It is actually a really great store. They had organic heirloom tomatoes on sale so we picked up a red one with green and black highlights and a yellow one. Last night, Jared's brilliant idea was to make spaghetti with some of my homemade tomato sauce (which I usually always have in the freezer) with the raw heirloom tomatoes on top. This was so good. I have never had better tomatoes in my whole life and with the spaghetti, homemade sauce and vegan Parmesan sprinkles it was heavenly. I also made some of my crazy bread to help mop up the sauce.
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Tonight I made a meal my Grammie would be proud of. I roasted red, yukon and purple potatoes with olive oil, several cloves of garlic, sea salt and fresh thyme. The green beans were boiled to death (the southern way!) with sea salt and black pepper. I also sliced some plain ol' red tomatoes with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I originally was going to have corn on the cob but the corn wasn't good enough on it's own, so I cut the corn off the cob and put into corn bread. The corn bread recipe I made was from The Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide. This was an amazing corn bread recipe, especially if you like a sweeter cornbread like we do. The good thing was the corn bread doubled as our dessert. You must get this book . . . it's awesome!
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Sunday, September 2, 2007


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Jared and I were going to try this all vegetarian but VERY vegan friendly place on my birthday but it was closed on Sundays, so yesterday we finally made it out to Veggieland. Like a lot of restaurants around here, Veggieland is in a strip mall. The menu was vast, ranging from veggie burgers with loads of toppings, salads and hot dishes. PLUS, at least 5 vegan desserts! Despite being in the richy rich part of Atlanta (Buckhead area) the prices were incredibly reasonable.
Jared decided upon the daily special of Potatoes and Veggie Curry with Brown Rice. It was very tasty and was only $5.95.
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For me, there were too many choices and I panicked. I got the chili hot dog that came with sweet potato fries and coleslaw. It was good but not great. This is something I could have made at home. I will say the coleslaw was awesome and made with vegan mayo! The sweet potato fries were a bit under cooked. Luckily, this whole plate of food was only $4.95, so at least I didn't feel ripped off.
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What we will go back for was the vegan desserts! Jared and I shared the strawberry cake. It was a two layer yellow cake with vanilla icing and strawberries in the middle and a strawberry glaze on top. It was so good that I talked two other customers into getting a slice. The cake was the priciest menu item coming in at $3.95 but I love that a restaurant has vegan desserts and well worth the price to encourage them to continue making lovely vegan treats.
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All and all, we will go back to Veggieland. I will take my time with my menu choice and pick something I couldn't make at home way better. Jared was very pleased with his dish and we both are in love with the dessert!
211 Pharr Rd Ne # B
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 231-3111