The PPK had a swap just for MoFo participants this year. Of course, I joined up since who doesn't love a box full of goodies?!?! I was paired up with Sara over at Happy Bellies . As you can see, she sent tons of goodies. Candy molds, notepads with photos from a trip to Farm Sanctuary, candy bars, hot sauce, stickers, Halloween baking cups, cookie cutters, chocolate beans, pomegranate candies, chocolate with pineapple, and an almond chocolate cup. A great collection of goods, if I don't say so myself. My daughter already ate some of the chocolate beans and I ate a chocolate bar. It was a vegan Musketeer. The muffin/cupcake cups and cookie cutters arrived at the perfect time since I'll be busy trying to make some treats with the kids this weekend. Thanks so much Sara, you rock!!!!
Pine needles and palm fronds are all over the roads of Los Angeles. Even though this windy season wrecks havoc on my skin (I have psoriasis) and my seasonal allergies, I love this time of year. There is a chill in the air. A chill that calls for warm, soothing dinners. Baked goods in the oven. Last night, I came home to a plate full of warm mac & cheeze and peas. Two servings filled me up and had me completely satisfied. Gave the kids a bath and heard about their day. Tucked them and decided to lay down with my toddler to help her get to sleep. The wind was really active outside. I could hear the screen door tapping every few seconds as it was pushed by the winds. Recycling cans left in the alley were rattling across the pavement. And the wind was whipping around the buildings. I love the way the wind howls around our apartment building as I fall asleep. Rain and wind help me fall into a deep sleep and I've really been needing that deep sleep. Life has been hectic at work and with my son's school, which I won't get into. So this wind couldn't have come at a better time. The wind helped me sleep ten hours last night. I woke up completely fresh! So even though I haven't been able to cook as much as I'd like to during Veganmofo with my current responsibilities, I'm okay with it today. The wind has blown my guilt away.
This weekend was all about Halloween. Making sure we had all of the needed pieces for our son's costume (jedi knight) and a basic outfit for our daughter (black shirt and pants) for her to be a cat or bat. We had a kid's halloween party to go to on Saturday night. That was a blast. And picking out pumpkins and carving them into jack o'lanterns on Sunday. Without speaking, the three of us who were carving instead of painting on our pumpkin, did bats. I'll have to get a photo up of that. My husband spent hours on his. My son and I didn't get as involved. I had more fun eating the pumpkin seeds that we baked. Good stuff. This was the first year that I just let myself get dirty with the pumpkin guts. Not worrying about if it was on my clothes, in my hair, etc. I must admit, I don't like the feeling of the stringy bits drying on my skin....but maybe I got squash issues.
This might seem like a lot of food when we were just going to the park to watch Henry's team play but it's never that simple. The game didn't start on time so the kids got a little hungry waiting. Then the snack provided by a team parent wasn't vegan, so we had to substitute our stuff for Henry to feel included. Once the game was over, Henry and Lily played in the park for an hour. We're not talking mellow playing like sandbox or swinging, we're talking tag, running, and loads of climbing. That builds up a strong appetite!! So the kids ate everything in the cooler except for the raisins. Poor lonely raisins. Won't somebody show them some love? Maybe I'll make some oatmeal raisin cookies....I'm sure they'll get some love then.
Over the weekend, we had lots of soccer stuff to do for my son's team. The best part about it, besides my kid having a good time, was that I had the perfect excuse to eat out...not enough time make a menu, get to the market, and make food. So I was able to drive the family to one of my favorite eating spots, Samosa House on Washington in Culver City. As I drove, I already knew what I was ordering, the masala dosa. I usually get the combo plate so that I can have a variety of vegan goodies, but today, I wanted simplicity. And let me tell you, I made the perfect choice! The masala dosa was perfect. Big enough to share with my kids (the dosa hangs off the plate when it arrives at your table) but filling, too. Plus you get sambar (the soup) and the two tasty dips. I know one is coconut but I forget the other. The coconut was great. I practically licked the plate clean. Even the kids had a good time with this meal. Which is another plus. If they're happy, then mom is happy.
A couple of weeks ago, a new market came into Burbank,CA (the city I work in). The market is called Henry's Farmers Market . I was curious to see what kind of selection they had for vegans, so I headed over. I was surprised to find a really nice bulk section. Nothing that I wanted to have for lunch, but their stock of beans, grains, and nutritional yeast impressed me. The organic selection in the produce was slim pickings. They probably had a 4 x 4 foot area. Two types of apples, some potatoes, garlic, one type of bell pepper, etc. Not a lot. I grabbed an apple and an avocado. Not sure what else I would find, but I figured this was a good place to start. I cruised the deli section and didn't find anything that caught my eye. Lots of meat and cheese. So that was a bust. Then I headed over to the cold section. Low and behold, I found Follow Your Heart cheeze on sale for $ 2.29, I grabbed a block of monterey jack. Then I noticed the fake sandwich slices. I decided to go for the "salami". My lunch was almost complete. I cruised a few more aisles and found the crackers. After reading some labels and comparing prices, I settled on a box of wheat crackers that were under three dollars. My final cost was under ten dollars and fed me for three days at work. A price I can live with.
Monday morning I woke up at my usual 6:30am. I start making breakfast and my son's school lunch. I soon realized that I didn't have any bread to make a PB&J or tortillas for a soy quesadilla. So I made a quick decision to make muffins for my kid's lunch. Luckily I had a huge zucchini from that weekend's farmer's market. Grabbed my copy of Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and got cracking. By the time my son got up, the smell of the zucchini spelt muffins was filling the house. In may just be my opinion, but I think it's a great way to wake up.
The rain has started in Los Angeles. I'm a big fan of the rain. Many years ago, I lived in San Francisco and dreamed of going further north to live in places that had rain nearly year round. But life took a turn and I ended back in L.A., the city I was raised in. So every year, I dream of the rain. I look forward to the day it comes and dread the day it stops. Even though I love a good vegan stew or homemade soup on a rainy day, I also love ice cream on the cold days. Always have. When I was a kid, I would ask to hit up Baskin Robbins on the rainy days. Peanut butter chocolate was the flavor of choice. So here it is, a beautifully wet and grey day and all I can think about is what ice cream I'd like to dig into. My mind goes to Maggie Mudd's ...only 400 miles north of here. I've only been to Maggie Mudd's once but I could go for a simple single scoop of Memphis Mudd Pie or Peanut Butter Palooka or even Twisted. They have quite an impressive lists of flavors..check it out and dream a little with me.
Over the weekend, we found ourselves up in Hollywood for my son's doctor appointment. I realized that if we spent an hour at a local park, the new West Hollywood Veggie Grill (there are two other locations: El Segundo and Irvine) would be open. Veggie Grill is one of my son's favorite places to eat, so we left it as a surprise. After an hour of playing tag, swinging, and sliding, we headed over to the Sunset and Crescent Heights shopping mall. On the first floor, you will find Veggie Grill and Trader Joe's!!! Two gems in one location, I like that. The new Veggie Grill is not as large as the El Segundo location, but has a lot of sunlight coming thru the glass windows. Plus you can sit outside and do some great people watching (an LA favorite).
(double click on menu to enlarge)
I went for the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin' sandwich with the sweet potato fries. My husband tried out the All Ameircan (which isn't listed here) which is the V-burger chopped up, with two onion rings and all the other fixings. Our son got the V-burger plain, pickles on the side. Our toddler got the kid's meal. Funny to say her least favorite part of it is the pudding. So the rest of us share it and everyone's happy!!
I work on a computer all day in a dark room. Packed into a small room with three other people. Conversation only goes so far when you want a break, to be in your own little bubble. My bubble is achieved by putting on headphones and disappearing into my iTunes podcast folder. My favorite podcast is Good Food from KCRW. The show is hosted by Evan Kleiman. She is the owner and executive chef of Angeli Cafe in Los Angeles. (A place I've never eaten before.) The best part of the podcast is done at the Wednesday farmer's market in Santa Monica,CA. They call it the "market report". If I hear about something new, I'll make a note and have my husband pick it up the following Wednesday. Even though I don't get the pleasure of cruising over the fresh produce, at least I get to enjoy the goods. I think my favorite new find was a chocolate persimmon. I have a thing for persimmons and when I heard the farmer talking about his special variety, I knew I had to give it a try.
Another episode the food trucks of Los Angeles were the hot topic. I follow this site just to see if the trucks are anywhere near my work or my family, so they can go grab a bite. The truck I'm really interested in finding is the dosa truck ! Upon request, you can get a vegan dosa. Yeah baby!!! Or the shaved ice truck or the green truck that uses it's cooking oil to fuel the truck. All have vegan offerings. So what is my point...my point is, that it's good to branch out. Most of the time, KCRW's Good Food podcast talks mainly of omnivore treats. But once in awhile there is a gem with a vegan treasure. Or a recipe given that I can easily change around to suit my animal friendly tastes.
When we are up in Hollywood on any day but Sunday, we try to swing by Scoops to get a scoop of vegan ice cream. They sell ice cream made from cow's milk, soy milk, gelato, and sorbet. Usually, if you are lucky, you arrive before any of the four vegan flavors run out. Over the weekend, we had one of those lucky moments. We arrived to find: vegan cream cheese oreo, brown bread, almond coconut, and a banana flavor. I immediately wanted to try the brown bread. Scoops is known for their non vegan brown bread ice cream, so when I saw the veganized version, I knew that was where I was headed. My husband ended up getting half brown bread and half almond coconut. And our 8 year old son needed to have the vegan cream cheese oreo.
All flavors were pretty rich and super sweet. Not so sweet that my teeth hurt, but sweet enough that a kids sized scoop was enough for me. We guessed that the crunchy ingredient in the brown bread ice cream was grape nuts. Not sure, but it worked. Our daughter took over on my scoop and polished it off. So I guess she approved of my choice of flavors.
When you go to Scoops make sure to leave room for Pure Luck Restaurant which is right across the street. All vegan grub. This time, we just stopped off for ice cream, but next time I'm sure we'll make the time for Pure Luck too. P.S. This is hanging in Scoops...I wanted to share it with you. Oh, make sure you have cash on hand. Cash only here at Scoops.
Quarrygirl gave a great announcement via Twitter on Friday. Flore Cafe in Silverlake was doing all you can eat buffets over the weekend. Saturday was vegan soul food, Sunday was breakfast themed, and tonight is an Italian food fest!!!!!! Saturday was the only day that worked with my "mom duties" weekend. So after my son's soccer game on Saturday, we jumped in the car and drove like madmen to Silverlake. We got stuck in a lot of "lovely" (hear the sarcasm?) L.A. traffic, but still made it time to enjoy the grub. For ten dollars, we were presented with a really simple but good buffet. Black eyed peas, an awesome cole slaw with nice chunks of sweet apple, greens with veggie bacon and onions, mac and cashew cheese, and cornbread muffins.
For drinks, there was iced tea, lemondade, and coffee. The friendly staff at Flore Cafe was so great to us. Since we arrived with two kids and we knew they wouldn't eat a lot, the staff said they could eat for free. SCORE! I made sure to tip big. And they give us any evil eye when our 22 month old spilled her cup of water on her chair and the floor. And as you can see, from the photo, there was way too much water in her cup. Ooops!
If you are in the Silverlake area, and have a ten spot in your pocket, head on over tonight. They'll take care of you right. The menu is:
A blogger on the PPK suggested that folks talk about their ten favorite vegan things in their town.
1. Madeline's Bistro in the Valley. My favorite time to go there is brunch. The doughnuts, tempeh bacon, biscuits, gravy all good stuff to me. The place is a bit on the pricey stuff, but brunch doesn't seem to hurt my wallet as much as dinner does. Madeline's is 100% vegan. It's great to go to a restaurant and be able to order anything on the menu.
Banana Leaf is a Malaysian food stand in the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax. It isn't all vegan, but there is a rojak salad that gets me happy everytime. Apple, spinach, jicama, tofu, and a sweet chili dressing topped with chopped peanuts. Fresh and light. A perfect meal for a hot summer day. Afterwards make sure to hit up the sticker stand that is across the aisle from Banana Leaf.
3. Real Food Daily is an all vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. There is one located in Santa Monica and another one in West Hollywood. I must say that the one in West Hollywood seems to offer fresher food. My comfort meal is always salisbury seitan. A few pieces of seitan that has been cooked in gravy, mashed potatoes with golden gravy, and a caeser salad. I clear the plate everytime.
4. This list would not be complete if I didn't put Rahel Ethiopian Restaurant on here. This place is AMAZING!!! All vegan and delicious. If you go during the week, between the 11am-3pm it is an all you can eat buffet. I know it's under 8 dollars and it's well worth it.
5. I live close to Native Foods in Westwood,CA. The menu is full of seitan and tempeh. I love me a tempeh sandwich! But a close second is the sausage and portobello sandwich with fries on the side.
This is a meal that I'm licking my fingers trying to get every last bit of yumminess. And it doesn't cost too much either. If I don't get a drink, I can spend around 12 dollars. That gets you a big sandwich and a nice size of fries. If you have time, get the sandwich to go and go eat on the UCLA campus or at Westwood Park behind the Federal Building. Always nice to eat outside in the fresh air with some sun.
6. Veggie Grill is a new favorite in our household. Everyone is happy there. The kids love the V-Burger or the fake chicken strips. The sweet potato fries are really good. Make sure to get those when you get there. I like to get a tempeh sandwich with a side of kale. Then I steal a few sweet potato fries from the kid's plates. We go to the one located in El Segundo so that we can hit up Whole Foods afterwards and get some vegan ice cream. Which leads me right into number 7.
7. Vegan cookie dough ice cream at Whole Foods in El Segundo,CA. You can buy this by the scoop at the ice cream counter. They have a kiddie scoop, small, and a large size available. The ice cream is so rich that a kiddie scoop is all I need to meet the needs of my sweet tooth. If they are out of cookie dough, there are usually 5-6 sorbet flavors that are vegan. And if those don't meet to your liking, you can always go cruise the aisles to find something that works for you.
8. Samosa House in Culver City is my newest favorite place to go eat. The place is clean, the staff is friendly, and the food is FANTASTIC!!! And if that isn't enough, they have soy mango lassi for you to dive into. There is also a market attached to the restaurant, so make sure to look around for some gems. I bought some black salt so that I could use it for the omelette recipe in Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The cauliflower pakora is tasty and they have jackfruit too.
9. When I get up early enough, I go to Hollywood Farmer's Market for fresh produce, vegan baked treats and vegan soul food. The soul food is a Taste of Life . Greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, mac and cheese, seitan, and bbq tofu are some of my favorites. It's hard to go wrong with these guys. Just make sure to get there before they sell out of anything.
10. Took me awhile to decide what vegan treat got the final spot on this list. I think it's going to have to be Sunnin Lebanese Cuisine located at Westwood Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. This place has really good hummus and babaganouj. Hits the spot!!!! The falafels are always fresh, they cook them up while you wait. And don't forget to get extra pickles. I need my pickles with my falafel and hummus. Right now they are in the process of moving to a bigger space across the street from their current location. I'm happy to know that they aren't going anywhere.
I work in Burbank, CA. It's about a forty minute commute from my place on the Westside of Los Angeles. During the week, I get up at 6:30 and get breakfast ready for my 8 year old son. Then I make his lunch. You would think this would be the perfect time for me to make my own lunch. But it seems like half the time, I don't get it together. But at least my kid has lunch, so I'm okay with that.
So on those days, where I don't get it together, I have a few options: a sushi place around the corner, Thai food that has tofu, a falafel joint, and Trader Joe's. Today, it was Trader Joe's that got my vote.
Stopped in after dropping off the kid at school. I was a bit late for work, so I did a quick jog down the aisles. Veggie burrito, bagels, Tofutti cream cheeze, chocolate almond milk, vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and two bananas. Had to throw in some fruit. Made me feel better about the bag of cookies. But you and I both know what I tore into first once I got back into the car, that's right, the cookies. I didn't polish off the bag, just two. I do have some self control you know.
One of my brothers works for Trader Joe's and I think of him everytime I walk into one of the stores. He is nice enough to give me a sample bag or box of whatever new vegan item has hit the shelves. And even though it's a really nice thought on his part, he has to be my big brother and say "Damn vegans. You guys are taking over!" Let's hope, right?