Friday, January 12, 2018

Vegan Richa's Everyday Cookbook: Review & Giveaway

I'm a bit delinquent in this long-overdue book review... but what it lacks in promptness, it will make up for in sheer enthusiasm!! By now, you've all probably hear about Vegan Richa's newest cookbook "Vegan Richa's Everyday Kitchen." What a fun and special book this is! 


There are so many great things about this book. First of all, and I think this is so cool, many chapters of the book are built around the idea of different sauces as a starting point: like Peanut Butter & Coconut, Sweet & Sour, Masala & Saag, Buffalo & Firecracker. Each time a sauce recipe is featured it has a cute little graphic up top that says "Awesome Sauce!" Ha ha, so cute. Then, for each sauce that's featured, several variations are suggested, and recipes to put your delicious sauce to use. This book is infinitely creative, and really encourages your own creativity - with variations, substitutions, gluten-free options, soy-free options, and on and on. It's really cool!

There are all sorts of diverse recipes, and not just the same recipes over and over that you've already made 100x. In addition to the chapters devoted to different "awesome sauces," there are also chapters devoted to burgers, deep dish pizzas and casseroles, breakfast ideas, and sweet desserts! Indian recipes, Chinese recipes, tacos, pizzas, so much to explore!!

Gobi Manchurian!!!

Crunchy Baked Cauliflower with Manchurian Sauce 
I think my blood stream is probably made up almost entirely of roasted cauliflower. I love it so much, and I eat it all. the. time. So, I'm kinda like a pro. And I have to say, I really loved this way of preparing cauliflower - as promised, it was seriously super crunchy!! The breading mixture was lightly seasoned, and honestly these little stinkers were so yummy all on their own that I had to stop myself from eating them all before I added the sauce.

There are so many great suggested sauces to go along with these crunchy cauliflowers: Kung Pao, Buffalo, Sweet and Sour sauce... but I had my eyes set firmly on Manchurian Sauce. For some reason, I'd been having fond Gobi Manchurian memories from my time in India and I was absolutely fixated on that plan of action. I made a beeline for this recipe as soon as I received my review copy in the mail. It was soooo good! In case you don't know, Manchurian sauce is an Indo-Chinese sauce (there is an excellent subset of Indo-Chinese cuisine in India - a playful and delicious mash up of flavors!) -- it's an incredibly flavor-packed sauce with a good kick to it as well. The relative neutrality of the breading and of the cauliflower itself was a great vehicle for this spicy, spiced power sauce! 

Tikka Masala Chickpeas with Tikka Masala Sauce

Variations variations every where! This is such a fun book for cooks who like recipes (like me!), and for cooks who like to tinker and change things around. I love to have a recipe, but I also love "permission" to switch, experiment, and swap. I think this book might even help me learn how to be more fluid and experimental in the kitchen!

This meal uses the Tikka Masala Sauce, which is a variation on the Makhani Sauce -- with a little extra touch of tomato sauce and unsweetened yogurt. The sauce is rich with a myriad of spices, fresh ginger and fresh garlic. Creamy and rich and SUPER good. I also used the suggested variation to add a couple cups of extra veggies, because I love veggies forever!

Smoky Crisped Lentils over Creamy Greens

Oh man, we loved this dinner so much!! This night we had a friend spontaneously drop in to stay the night, and he had been out kayaking all night, and he was hungry. I was a little nervous to have a brand new recipe on deck, rather than a tried and true favorite to offer him. I needn't had worried!! This was a hit with all three of us. The recipe gives you two sauce choices for the greens, and I chose the Creamy White Masala Sauce. This is a lovely creamy sauce, spiced with Indian spices, and it was a great compliment to the greens. 

Star of the Show Alert! Smoky Crisped Lentils are the best thing ever!!! Oh man, I just really want to eat these tasty little lentils all the time from now on. I've already made them a couple more times to nibble on and to sprinkle on my salad. 

I took a cue from the photo in the book, and served it all alongside some roasted cauliflower. A good choice!

Black Pepper Tofu

Every time I flipped through this book, the photo of the Black Pepper Tofu caught my eye, so I had to make it! Simple, spicy, and delicious!! Tofu, spices, celery & bell pepper, and lots of black pepper. This is such an easy and satisfying dish to make. I loved how it was spicy, but not too spicy, and the celery provides a good crunch as well as a good balance to the peppery heat.

Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna with Cauliflower Alfredo
(before going in the oven - and a big piece after being baked!)

I am a devout lasagna lover, and I have my own usual favorite recipe - but I am also always in the mood to try a new spin on vegan lasagna. I'm glad I expanded by lasagna horizons because this is a wonderful recipe, and I never would have thought of using artichoke hearts in my lasagna! Very good! Once the sauce was prepared - which was quite easy- the whole lasagna came together very easily. I love that, because I generally think of lasagna so labor-intensive. This was a lot faster than the recipe I usually use, and just as delicious and satisfying. It's also chock full of veggies, which is just how I like it! Why is lasagna so perfect??

Here's a picture I snapped of the Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce that I snapped while preparing the lasagna. This is a thick and lovely sauce made with blanched cauliflower, and a perfect balance of spices. It's so smooth and delicious, and is a perfect component in the lasagna. It adds creaminess and body, without being super fatty or heavy. 

A few more thoughts about this great book:
~ I think this is a really fun book for people who are new to cooking and/or new to veganism, but it's also a really great and creative book for home cooks who aren't at all new to cooking or to veganism. That's pretty rare to find that in a cookbook! The recipes are very clear, the instructions are clear, no surprises!

~ The layout is lovely and easy to use. The recipes are presented one per page, with tons of beautiful pictures. Each recipe includes information about prep time, as well as nutritional breakdown information. Many of the recipes also include suggestions for variations. The font is clear and easy to read.

I still have so many recipes from this book that I want to try:
Massaman Curry Vegetables
Kung Pao Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry
Firecracker Chickpea Salad with Peanut Dressing
Buffalo Chickpea Tacos
Tinga Black Bean Soup
Tempeh Broccoli Wraps with Jalepeno Popper Sauce
Deep Dish Pizza
Samosa Stuffed French Toast
One-hour Cinnamon Rolls
and the list goes on and on!!!!

Great news for you! Two Giveaways! 
Richa and her publishers are letting me offer a copy of Vegan Richa's Everyday Cookbook to one lucky blog reader in the US. AND! for international readers, one lucky winner can win Richa's "Bonus Bundle" ~ featuring 3 recipes from the book, 2 new recipes, and 3 videos of 3 more recipes from the book! 

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment here on this post and tell me about one of your favorite sauces, or anything else nice you feeling like saying! And if you're a non-US reader, let me know, so I enter you in the right giveaway! 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

NYC Funapalooza (& Cookbooklette Winners!)

New York, New York! 

Last fall, one of my besties, Sophia - and her excellent partner Max - moved to NYC and she is so rad and I miss her a lot. So, I knew I was going to have to visit them as soon as possible - and made a rush for it in November. It was a quick visit - just about 4 days, but oh geez did we ever have fun together! We did so much, walked for miles and miles, rode bikes, lazed around, saw the sites, met up with a couple of my other special NYC friends, and ate some pretty special meals together too... Here are a few culinary highlights from our vegan escapades! 
I love New York! 

I went straight from the airport to Double Zero, to meet up with my pal Sophia and her partner Max! We were so happy to see each other. This is a new-ish all-vegan fancy pizzeria in East Village. I loved it! It was a bit pricey, but I thought it was worth it - especially for a fun occasion. We got 3 pizzas and an appetizer and two drinks and I think it was about $100... so by NY standards that's practically cheap. These pictures are terrible because we ate outside and they had these reddish heat lamps over our table (generally much appreciated, but not great for photography!). That said, the pizzas themselves were quite fantastic - creative flavors, high quality ingredients, and (most importantly) excellent crust!! 

Here are the dishes we ordered:
Basil Sunflower Pesto, Tomato Confit, Slow Cooked Onion, Herb Macadamia Ricotta
Farro Fennel Sausage, Tomato and Cashew Mozzerella 
White Pizza, Roasted Corn, Garlic Macadamia Ricotta, Maitake Mushroom, Baby Kale
Broccolini, Preserved Lemon, Toasted Garlic, Green Raisin (side dish)

It is so exciting to go out to a restaurant with a creative and inspiring take on vegan food - and I especially loved the opportunity to go to a pizzeria using in-house vegan cheeses. Getting 3 pizzas for three people was just about right - we split them and so we each got to try two pieces of each pizza. So fun! The trip was off to a good start! 

side note: I got Matthew Kenney's cookbook PlantLab as an xmas present from my friend Jane, and it has many of these recipes in it! I can't wait to recreate that Farro Fennel pizza! 

We set off from my friends' apartment (in Crown Heights) for a long and generally aimless stroll, with the idea of finding a vegan breakfast. Happily we made our way to Clementine Bakery - which completely won us both over pretty much immediately. First of all, it is SUPER CUTE inside. So cozy and bright and comfortable. And they have one big case of vegan and gluten-free baked goodies, another huge case of enticing vegan baked goodies, and several appealing savory options. It was so hard to choose! In the end, I went for sweet and savory - I got a tofu scramble, a cinnamon roll, and a cup of coffee. You can't tell from the picture, but that scramble was huge and delicious and came with two *perfect* pieces of sourdough toast. Pretty much heaven. And all that food was only $12! I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of Sophia's amazing slice of breakfast cake. Ha ha. It wasn't really "breakfast cake," per se, as much as it was a huge slice of carrot cake that she had for breakfast. It was huge, beautiful, and crazy delicious. We were so happy with this charming spot. Highly recommended! 
Breakfast Cake:
trend of the future

Oh my gosh. Coming here was a dream come true. It felt like some sort of religious pilgrimage. I have been a fan of Lagusta's Luscious Chocolates for so long and it was such an awesome treat to come see all their goodies In Real Life and get to pick out a bunch of chocolates for myself! Lagusta's is located upstate in New Paltz, but this awesome little shop in the East Village sells their chocolates, pastries, and macarons by Sweet Maresa's (more on that below). We spent quite a while here because it is awesome. I definitely 100% think every vegan who goes to NYC needs to go here and bask in the glory of creative, delicious, ethical, and innovative vegan sweets. 

We came here with my excellent Instagram pal @gravelgirty and she also took us to Orchard Grocer vegan market, which is right near by. I didn't get pictures there (I think I was too busy freaking out), but that is another highly recommended stop -- an excellent array of vegan food, as well as a deli that sounds incredible. I will definitely eat there next time I get to go to NYC. 

OH. EM. GEE. This place was so incredible! Sophia and I decided that we would have one big special splurge meal together during my visit - and we decided to make a reservation at Dirt Candy for us three. This was an absolutely memorable and remarkable meal. It was so good and so exciting to experience really creative, innovative and delicious vegetable-based culinary creations -- from our amazing vegetal cocktails all the way to our vegetable desserts (!!!).

To make an understatement, none of us have any experience with fine dining. So we were a little confused about what was going on! The way it works here is: you can select either 5 courses or 9 courses. Then you select vegetarian or vegan. Everyone at the table has to agree, because then the courses are presented in a family-style way. We chose 5 courses, vegan (duh!). 

For the first course, we had some amazing Gochujang Buffalo Cauliflower with bok choy and two special sauces. It was so good. Next, they brought out 3 small plates with very elegant (and small) salads. We were all so startled because we thought these were courses 2, 3, and 4. We were like "holy crap, is this all we get to eat???" Ha ha. NOOBS. It's so embarassing, but we had to call the waiter over to ask. To his immense credit, he was extremely gracious and without a hitch, explained that in fact, all three dishes comprised the 2nd course, and that more food would be coming. OMG. It was a bit embarrassing. After that, we were off and running. Because there were 3 of us, we received 3 different dishes for the second course. Get it? I am just telling you in case you don't know, so that you don't have to embarrass yourself like we did. Ha ha ha. 

3rd Course was an amazing hot dog and hamburger course: Carrot Sliders with a slice of crunchy taro and some marinated carrots that were incredible. And some Broccoli Hot Dogs, with salt and vinegar kale chips. Everything was so well-balanced with interesting and surprising flavors. 

4th course was a big spread of Brussels Sprouts Tacos with Butter Lettuce for taco shells, and a great selection of toppings/taco components. The Brussels were perfectly seared and served on a super hot stone. So neat. We ate pretty much every last drop of every little dish. 

Desserts - again, we got three different desserts, and the desserts all included vegetables. SO FUN. Our two favorites were the chocolate & caramelized onion cake, and the popcorn cake with corn ice cream and corn custard and powdered popcorn. Both of these desserts were super creative, but creativity isn't enough -- they were also legitimately delicious, with fantastic flavors, excellent and surprising textural elements. 

The food here was so unique and good and sophisticated, but also playful and fun. It surprised us, made us laugh, we didn't know what to expect, and we were delighted. What a super, super fun evening. 

Note: also cool that Dirt Candy's head chef is a woman, and their wine list features entirely female vintners! 

Cruising around Brooklyn, we were near Riverdel Cheese Shop, so off course we had to stop in. This adorable and elegant spot is tiny, but is also awesome - an all vegan cheese shop and deli. They have a refrigerated wall of vegan cheeses, a wide selection of artisanal seitan, another huge wall of condiments, cheese mixes, and other special products -- all that plus a deli. While we were here, we ran into one of my friends from the PPK!! How fun! She was in town visiting from Texas, and so we finally got to meet each other in Brooklyn. So excellent. I was extremely overwhelmed by all the options in here - especially as a traveler. I would have liked to try SO MANY things here. In the end I got one seitan salami, and we got a container of Kite Hill Jalepeno Cream Cheese, which I had been waiting to find in a shop! 

We didn't time it right to eat here, but my friend who we ran into later told me that the Croissant Sandwich she ordered here was one of the best things she ate in NYC. I will try their deli for sure on one of my next trips to see Sophia! 

Kite Hill Jalepeno Cream Cheese and Elmhurst Hazelnut Milk

Pretty much every vegan goodie I've ever heard of seems to be available in New York! These two are products I've heard of and seen people on Instagram raving about them, but I haven't ever seen them in little ol' Santa Cruz. Of course we had to have several lazy and quiet mornings to be cozy and relaxed together, and that definitely involves some good bagels and some hot coffee! A good NY bagel is really something special, and that Kite Hill Jalepeno cream cheese is SO GOOD. It's got a real kick to it! I hope it will show up in the stores here soon! 

And the Elmhurst milk, oh man, it's so thick and creamy and flavorful. We got hazelnut milk, and they also make milks out of peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and oats. So many options! I would really like to try more of their milks, I might even resort to ordering some off their site so that I can try them! 

Oh Glorious Bagel, I salute you and celebrate your majestic deliciousness!

For at least a year now, I've been following @veganshopup on Instagram - which has been fantastic but also sort of painful, because every month they have these amazing vegan pop-up markets at a vegan bar in Brooklyn and they have all these great vendors... and I'm on the other side of the country. I was so stoked that the one weekend I would be in the city they were going to have a pop up! I got there a little late, and I only had a little while to soak it in - but I still LOVED it! It was crazy jam-packed with vegans, and there were so many vendors: beauty supplies, chocolates, pizza, sweets, and lots of booths selling hot prepared foods. So much innovation and vegan entrepreneurialism!! I was kind of overwhelmed, but I did have time to buy some vegan macarons, specialty chocolate nut butter cups, a fancy artisanal cardamom extract, and I think that's it! It was so fun! 

These are the amazing macarons that I got at the ShopUp. Neither Sophia nor I had ever had a macaron before!! So, I decided to pick out a few fun flavors for us to share together with Max. Sophia and Max are into crazy and creative flavors - so I picked out fun ones:
Apple Fennel, Pistachio Cardamom, Bay Leaf Plum, and Corn
So fun to finally have a macaron at last! 

Brooklyn Eat-a-Thon!

One night we bussed up to Williamsburg and had a very excellent eating-based walkabout... Our primary destination was Xi'an Famous Foods. Some of my Instagram pals had mentioned this place and it was SO GOOD. It was exactly what we were in the mood for - hot and warming and spicy and delicious. Friends, I'm pretty sure that these are the best noodles I've ever had in my life. We had noodles, dumplings, salad, soup... all so good and I wish I was eating it again right now!! 

Right down the street was a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream shop - and so how could we resist?? Answer: we couldn't. Ha ha ha. This isn't an all-vegan establishment, but they've got lots of fun vegan options! Sophia got a super cool ice cream sandwich concoction: a scoop between two glorious and giant chocolate chip cookies. She is very smart! I got a big scoop of mint chip ice cream because I am into the classics. 

And then two doors down from Van Leeuwen was Screamer's Pizza - an all-vegan pizzeria! I couldn't stand to pass by this opportunity, even though I was stuffed full with noodles and dumplings and ice cream. Ha ha. What a glutton. So I got a piece with peppers and sausage and brought it home. It made an excellent midnight snack!

Omg! Every self-respecting vegan dreams of going to Modern Love, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's restaurant in Brooklyn... what a dream come true! The PPK (Isa's online vegan forum) has been a huge support for me in my own vegan journey and the source of many enduring and meaningful friendships for me. In fact, Sophia and I first met on the PPK! It was so fun to eat here together! 

The menu was quite enticing, but I didn't have any trouble choosing, I knew just what I wanted to order: Veggie Pot Pie. I had been thinking about pot pie for weeks, and as soon as I saw it on the menu, my mind was made up. And, it did not disappoint!! What an incredibly perfect and delicious pot pie: perfect flaky pie crust, excellently cooked veggie and seitan chunks, delicious gravy. So lovely! For an appetizer, I ordered a bowl of roasted Brussels Sprouts with aioli, for us all to share. It was SO GOOD. I didn't have any room left for dessert (tragedy!), but I was very eager to take bites of Sophia and Max's dessert! ha ha. Lucky me, they were willing to spare a nibble or two. I especially loved the ice cream sundae on a brownie! 

It was cold when I was there, so we had to bundle up!
Of course, now it's REALLY cold there! 

A few more NY eats! 

One day when we were walking around Manhattan, we *just happened* to pass by legendary all-vegan Dunwell Donuts. So, you know, I had to have one! I got chocolate with peanuts. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I am not actually the biggest fan of donuts. Nonetheless, this was a fine donut indeed! I had no problem putting it away! 

On my last day in town, I had dropped Sophia off at work, and had a little time left to explore Manhattan. I made my way down to Blossom Du Jour to meet a friend. I got this huge bowl of kale, roasted veggies, tofu scram, and corn & beans. It was such a perfect hearty and healthy meal to have before my flight. This wasn't the most glamorous or exotic meal, but it seriously did the trick in a more-than-utilitarian way. I'd definitely eat here again when I find myself hungry in Manhattan.

Lastly, this Spicy Salami made by The Tiny Vegan deserves mention. I got this at Riverdel and carried it around all day and flew home with it! ha ha. I liked this spicy little number! I came home from this trip excited about all the amazing goodies I found, and also kinda bummed out that it's so hard to find all these vegan products and this quality of vegan dining where I live. 

Last time I was in NYC, everyone on Instagram was talking about The Cinnamon Snail, The Cinnamon Snail... but back then, it was just a food truck and we were never able to be in the same part of time at the right time. I was bummed! SO, this time around I was determined to give it a go! Right before I caught a train to the airport, I made one final stop at their new-since-I-was-here-last location at Penn Station. WHOA. I got two pastries (an apple turnover and a cinnamon roll) and a sandwich to eat on the plane later. I ordered a Smoked Sage Seitan Burger - which is described on their website as: topped with sage seitan sausage baked ziti, with marinated kale, smoked chili coconut bacon, and roasted garlic aioli on a grilled pretzel bun. This was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my whole life. I felt so sorry for everyone else on the plane who didn't get to eat this. I seriously wish I could be eating this again and again and again and again. It was packed with rich and robust flavors, perfect textures, the bread was amazing... just thinking about it is making me crazy!!

A few non-culinary adventures! 

We had so many fun adventures together during my short visit - but two really stand out:
We went to see The Dinner Table, by Judy Chicago, at the Brooklyn Art Museum.  I had no idea this wonderful piece was in Brooklyn, and Sophia was a great person to see it with! She is a super smartie and a feminist whiz. The museum also had up a special exhibit about the making of The Dinner Table, which added so much to the piece itself. We both really loved this piece, and the exhibit about its creation. So exciting and moving to see a monumental piece of work by women and about women. Such a rare experience as an art lover.

On my last day in town, I had ONE priority: see the Balto statue in Central Park! I've wanted to see this statue for so long and every time I've tried to get there, something has come up or I've been waylayed. Not this time! This sculpture is so beautiful and it actually brought tears to my eyes. I first learned about this sculpture, and of the story of Balto when I was a little girl. It was a rainy and cold morning, and the park was pretty empty, which was perfect. I got to have lots of quality time with Balto! 

Cookbooklette Winners!

I was so touched by all the lovely comments on my annual holiday Cookbookette Giveaway that I decided to pick 10 winners instead of 5! More fun! As always, I used the random number generator to pick the winners. Congratulations to Elizabeth, Hannah, Mariela, Beth, Melissa Diane, Things2Eat, Patsy, GirlRunner, Jenny, and Jennifer! I'll try to email each of you, but just in case, you can also send me your mailing address to ameyfm (at) gmail (dot) com. 

woo hoo! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Xmas Eats & Annual Cookbooklette Giveaway!

Happy Holidays! I hope you've had a nice Hannukah / Solstice / Christmas / last few weeks. Whatever floats your boat! We've had a very full December in my family... We started off the month with my brother's wedding and my dad's unexpected quadruple bypass heart surgery -- all on the same week! In fact, my dad wasn't allowed to leave the hospital for the wedding (bummer!), but my cousin helped us beam him in on an iPad (awesome!) so he could see and hear the whole ceremony. The wedding was super lovely, and my dad is recovering well... and so we collectively turned our attention toward Christmas. Better late than never! 

In our family, we do our big festive gathering on Christmas Eve. It's always been this way for as long as I remember! This year, we decided again to have an Italian Christmas Feast - for the third year in a row. It's a fun new tradition! 

My mom was in charge of the first course: antipasti! As always, she did an amazing job. Of course she got some delicious bread (absolute necessity!), and she made her fantastic white beans - maybe she will leave a comment and tell us just what she did?? They had a light marinade, red onion, and fresh herbs... and they were so good. I had two big scoops! 

My mom also made two generous platters of roasted veggies. Oh man... SO GOOD. Marinated mushrooms, bell peppers, summer squash, eggplants, fennel, artichoke hearts... so much delicious glory. I make marinated veggies pretty often, but they don't ever turn out this well. My mom knows what she's doing! I think the eggplant might have been my favorite???


I made two vegan lasagnas! The big one was my usual "birthday lasagna" (recipe here) - I added a couple special touches: some pesto stripes on top, and a generous layer of Somer's Fresh Vegan Moxarella. Both fine additions! The smaller lasagna is also vegan and is free of any oil or salt - it came out so well! I made this for my aunt and her partner, who follow a salt-free, oil-free vegan diet. There were just a couple of us who partook of the vegan lasagnas, because my sister-in-law made a big ol' non-vegan lasagna that was the focus of most people's attention. No problemo - this way my aunt and I both got to take home ample lasagna leftovers. Just the way I like it!! 

leftovers for dayssssss
livin' the good life.

Dessert Platter!

For dessert this year, I made a big abundant platter of biscotti, fruits, nuts, and chocolate. Looking at this picture makes me want to dive in again! I made three different kind of biscotti : Almond & Anise Seed, Pine Nut with Orange Zest & Anise Seed, and Almond with Rosemary and Fennel Seeds and Lemon Zest. Whoa! So many amazing flavors! My goodness they were all so delicious. Every year I make biscotti for my parents for a Christmas present, so this year, I brought over and left all the extras behind for them to savor and enjoy! 

I also included mandarin oranges, sliced fuyu persimmons, red grapes, pomegranate arils, and sliced Warren pears. Plus pecans, red walnuts, roasted hazelnuts, and a dark chocolate bar broken into squares. So festive and delicious. What fun! 

* Christmas Morning *

On Christmas morning, Mr VE&T and I always head back over to my parents' house for a waffle breakfast. Sometimes my nephews come too, sometimes my brother shows up, usually my aunt comes over too. It's all very casual and warm and low-key. I always make a big batch of the yeasted Raised Waffles from Vegan Brunch. This recipe is a big hit with everyone, most especially my dad!  

Hoorah! Behold the glory of TWO thrift shop waffle makers! 

This year I got an extra super fun surprise! I always bring over my waffle maker (the white one) and usually my mom has hers out too. This year she didn't have hers out, and I didn't know why! WELL. To make a long story short - she surprised me with a new Belgian waffle maker, something I have wanted for a long time! The best thing is that she got it on sale at the thrift store - for 50% off of $3.99. Score! My mom is a master thrifter, and in fact, my larger white waffle maker is a thrift store find from many years ago - and is still going strong. Such a great Christmas present! 

Maple syrup, tangerine juice, Field Roast breakfast sausages, pure maple syrup, and waffles - Merry Christmas! This is a waffle from my old faithful white waffle maker - it makes four large square waffles.

Belgian Waffles!

These are the waffles from my *new-to-me* Belgian waffle maker - they are round and thick and more moist inside and have big huge holes for catching earth balance and syrup. Yay! We all enjoyed both kinds of waffles! 

We used the timer on my phone to take a waffle selfie! A waffie? A welfie? 

What a fun morning! After waffles, my aunt came over, and we had a mellow and fun exchange of gifties by the Christmas tree. It was very low-key, filled with love, and peaceful and happy. Pretty perfect.


Speaking of gifites! Every year I make a small hand-drawn cookbooklette / zine featuring a few of my favorite recipes of them year - and this year I am going to do a giveaway for 5 lucky blog readers! This is open to anyone in the world! To enter, just leave a comment here and tell me about a cool gift that you gave to someone, or a special gift that someone gave to you... or tell me a waffle story, or whatever! Also, please leave your email address, or a way for me to track you down, or else I will give up and select a different winner! 

I'll be back in a week with a tale of my trip to NYC and to announce the winners! 

Happy New Year to You! 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Travels and Vegan Eats in Stockholm, Sweden

Hallå! This post is a bit overdue, but I am forging ahead confidently! One of my favorite resources when I'm planning a trip is to search out blog posts from other vegan travelers. Of course travel sites are useful, but the actual experiences of a fellow vegan are extra meaningful. Plus, I also really love reading about other people's travels and adventures. So, all of that is to say, even though our time in Stockholm was a few months ago, I really want to share it, in case you also love reading about vegan travels, or maybe you are planning a trip yourself!

We spent one week in Stockholm, after spending a week in Estonia, and then a week in Denmark. The first two weeks of our trip, we traveled with my parents, and it was Mr. VE&T's idea to add on a little time at the end just for the two of us. We loved our time with my parents, and it was also super fun to have a little time with just us chickens.
I love how they say "hey hey!" for a casual "hello" in Sweden.
It's just so darned cute! 

Haymarket by Scandic
Hotorget 13-15, Stockholm

We stayed at a pretty fancy hotel (by our standards!) called the Haymarket by Scandic. Our accommodations in Estonia were inexpensive and split 4-ways, and in Denmark, we stayed with friends. So, we gave ourselves permission to splurge in Stockholm! The Haymarket was pretty great for us -- it's located right on a square that has a big produce and flower market every day, and directly across from the hall where the Nobel Prizes are awarded.

The Haymarket has an excellently chic bar downstairs with very good live music and packed full with urban fancy-pants people. Ha ha. It was fun to see their Euro selves being so ooh-la-la. 

The thing that really made us select this hotel over other choices though was the Scandic breakfast buffet. Scandic is a large chain of hotels and  proudly mention on their website that they provide vegan and gluten free options. You guys. I LOVED IT. Many different kinds of vegan yogurts (soy-based, oat-based, almond based), different vegan milks (oat, almond, soy, plain, sweetened), Oatly cream cheese, vegan cheese slices, vegan butter...) and it was all arranged in a special section so other people wouldn't eat it by accident. I just loved it so much. Every morning was a big thrill extravaganza for me -- bread, fruit, granola, cereal, yogurt, cream cheese, coffee... and on and on. I just feel like hotel breakfast is always a giant array of glorious things I can't eat. It was such a treat to be able to indulge and have a sense of choices and bounty! 

Of special note: Oatly Cream Cheese is so incredibly fantastic and special and I loved it!!! 

Like I said, the hotel isn't cheap, but it definitely saves a little money to get a big huge breakfast included... then you can skimp on lunch in Stockholm, which is a pricey city in general. 

There are lots of Scandic hotels in Stockholm by the way, so if you'd rather stay in a different part of the city, you could still have a great vegan breakfast. In fact, the most vegan friendly part of Stockholm is definitely Sodermalm... so we usually had a little walk or a subway ride to get to the vegan spots on my list. 

(@falloumi on Instagram)
Ringvägen 127, 116 61

Oh my goodness, this place was fun and delicious and open late -- perfectly meeting our needs for our first night in Stockholm. It's a falafel place, but so much more than that. Excellent sauces made in house, very cute interior, lovely service, and totally delicious culinary creations... including several vegan options. We both loved this spot! 

117 34, Hornsgatan 149, 117 34 Stockholm

One of the first places I found online when researching #veganstockholm on Instagram was Femtopia... a queer-friendly, feminist, vegan cafe/gallery/performance space. ZOMG. On our very first day in town, we were out for a long walk and just came upon it! I was so excited!! The gal working there was just absolutely awesome and I felt so at home in their space. I loved the art, we each had a delicious cappuccino, and I had a chocolate ice cream too. I also bought some totally rad feminist post cards to send home, and I bought my friend Hannae a cotton shopping bag that said (in Swedish) "Patriarchy is harmful to you and those around you." SO RAD. 

I 100% recommend this sweet spot, especially if you enjoy coziness, queer-friendly spaces, feminist spaces, rad handmade aesthetics, and good food & coffee. 

Femtopia totally embodies the intersectional roots of veganism at it's finest.
Such a great spot.

a few locations

Directly across the street from Femtopia is an excellent all-vegan super market, called Goodstore. It's not a huge store, but it is packed full with so much vegan glory that I became completely overwhelmed. It was especially tortuous to see the huge section of refrigerated things like seitans, vegan meats, vegan cheeses, vegan yogurts, and on and on and on -- but not have a good kitchen or enough time to try them all. Ack! However, I did my best, and got a bunch of goodies: two ice creams (which we enjoyed immediately!), treats for myself and to bring home from friends, gummy candies, and some violife cheese to enjoy with my breakfast buffet. Seriously though, I practice great restraint. Now that I am back home and all my treats are but a distant memory, I'm really wishing I could jump through the internet and go for another shopping spree! 

Naturbageriet Sattva
Stora Nygatan 6, Gamla Stan, Stockholm

OMG! This cute tiny little cafe offers 100% vegan pastries, and many gluten free options too.  Pluse excellent coffee and a small selection of vegan items for sale too. I didn't discover this place soon enough, so I only got here twice, which is a crying shame. Sweden has a very special afternoon phenomena called "fika" -- this involves a cozy afternoon date with a cup of hot coffee, a treat, and hopefully the company of someone you like.  How rad is that?? We had two excellent fika-dates here at Sattva Naturbageriet... both on chilly, rainy spring afternoons when we were cold and travel-weary and in need of respite. A little restful downtime in this sweet spot, with a great hot coffee, and super delicious pastries ... just what the doctor ordered! 

Herman's Vegetarian Restaurant and Garden Cafe
FJÄLLGATAN 23B 116 28, Stockholm

OMG. This place is just incredible. It's a huge all-you-can-eat vegan buffet spot. You pay once and then you can go back over and over if you want to. Coffee and tea are included with the price of the buffet. Desserts and special drinks are available for extra charge. Over the years of traveling together, I have dragged Mr. VE&T to many vegan buffet spots, most of which haven't exactly been homeruns. ha ha. So often, the food is mediocre and bland and positively-non-memorable. So, we put off going to Herman's because I thought it might be another buffet dud. I'm so glad we gave it a go! 

As you can see, I went completely nuts and piled 100,000 different items onto my plate. I did pretty well, but I didn't actually finish all of it. ha ha. I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach. The desserts we got were also amazing - one was a strawberry rhubarb tart, and one was a chocolate cake. All the food was just so delicious. The buffet is full of wholesome but appealing choices, hearty and light, raw and cooked, veggies, carbies, salads, breads, and on and on. I wish I was eating there right this minute. 

Plus, we just happened to eat at Herman's right around sunset on a truly beautiful day. Wow. Herman's is located up high on a rocky cliff with a totally spectacular view of Stockholm. There are many different tiers and areas of outdoor seating, so there is actually quite a bit of outdoor seating but each little space feels intimate. There are also trees and plants and greenery all around, so it feels very gardeny. 

Lakrits Roten
- several locations, see website -

One thing Scandinavians are super serious about is: LICORICE. I am also a big fan of licorice... or at least I thought I was. No one can compete with the Scandinavians! One of my besties at home had requested some good quality licorice and I kept wondering where I would find what I was looking for... and then one day on our wanderings we came across this gem: Lakrits Roten. It is an entire store of nothing but licorice! Sweet licorice, salt licorice, sweet + salty licorice, licorice powders & granules, and on and on... licorice from all over the world. I had SO much fun shopping in here. The gal working there was super helpful and gave me endless consultation on which treats to select. I really, really wish I could find a shop like this in the US! Such an incredible array of flavors, textures, and experiences, and yet all super licorice-y. 

We ate SO much licorice. Ha ha. 
Just last week, before Halloween, Mr VE&T found this shocking article warning about the real dangers of eating too much black licorice. It says not to eat more than 3 pieces a day. Uh... all I can say is OOPS. Apparently it blocks potassium absorption. And actually, thinking back to our trip, we remembered that one night in Stockholm, Mr. VE&T woke up in the middle of the night howling in agony because his leg muscles were charlie-horsing and cramping worse than ever before. This happens sometimes if he is really dehydrated, but he *wasn't* dehydrated that night and we were so confused. Until now. Looks like our genius plan to eat bags of licorice while lounging in our hotel room was not so genius after all. Ha ha. Consider yourselves warned! 

Legumes Mat

Hornsgatan 80, Stockholm 

Soon after my licorice shopping spree, we came across Legumes vegetarian buffet bar. Some food at Legumes is vegetarian, but they always have a lot of vegan choices. For a fixed price (95 kr.), you can select 5 different dishes -- and they have a pretty wide selection to choose from. Honestly, we weren't totally wowed by this place. There are more spectacular places in Stockholm for sure. And yet, the food was healthy, full of veggies, protein options, and not too expensive. The meal also came with coffee and/or tea. This wasn't a particularly memorable meal, but as you can see, it was bountiful and it got the job done. Worth knowing about, if nothing else! 

Oatly brand

Maybe you already know about Oatly brand... but I didn't. Discovering the glory of this brand was a real joy of this trip. Oatly makes so many products, and as far as I could tell, they are all absolutely wonderful: ice cream, oat milk, cream cheese, oat-based coffee creamer, yogurts, and so much more. Oatly is the default non-dairy options in most cafes, and you won't be disappointed. It's so good. At our hotel, I got to try their yogurts and their cream cheese (which I mentioned above). I loved that cream cheese a lot... maybe I need an Oatly cream cheese tattoo! ha ha. 

We were in Stockholm right before the summer solstice and the days were sooooo long. It was such a special time to be there. Still on the chilly side, and we had a lot of rain during our trip (in all 3 countries that we visited!)... but we also enjoyed endless hours of daylight, which is just totally rad when you are a tourist. One night, when we were out wandering around a particularly hip area of Sodermalm, I think it was about 11:30 at night, and we came across a chic eatery that also had an excellent specialty grocery store. Of course I had to carefully inspect their offerings because I can never resist an international grocery store! That's where I snapped this picture on the right, and also where I succumbed to this lovely little carton of B. We got two spoons, and shared our ice cream as we continued our stroll around Sodermalm. What a fun night. 

19 TimmermansgatanStockholm 118 55, Sweden

We almost didn't go to this sweet little spot, because the reviews just made it sound like it might not be up our alley. 
But I'm so glad we did go! First of all, it is just so pretty and peaceful inside. 
The owner was there and didn't speak very much English, but he was so sweet and very helpful and we figured it out! 
We absolutely loved our food -- the servings were generous and the food was perfectly delicious and healthy.
They also had great coffee, and lots of tea selections, and several interesting vegan goodies for sale in the shop. 
What a lovely spot, it felt so good to eat here! 

Fika Forever! 

Max Burgers
lots of locations!

A hot tip from one of my Instagram pals let me know that Max Burger, a big ol burger chain in Stockholm, even has a vegan BBQ Burger made with Jackfruit... and that there is a branch at the airport. So, instead of suffering away without great vegan options, I dove in and loved it! So fun to eat something like this from a mainstream joint and get to join in the fun. And also nice to have a vegan choice at the airport before jetting off back home.

A few of our favorite sights in Stockholm

We had a really great time in Stockholm. The weather was absolutely all over the place -- sunny and hot one minute and cold and mega-rainy the next moment. So nutty!! But all the rainy moments just gave us more opportunities to jump into a cafe, have a hot coffee and a treat, enjoy our fika together, and rest our weary legs. We did SO much walking, took a few boat rides, rode the subway, and had an easy time getting around. 

A few of our favorite tourist stops:
* Millesgarden -- this place is so beautiful and special: Millesgarden is the former home of the sculptor Carl Milles and his painter wife Olga Milles. Their house and his sculpture studio are lovingly restored and today they host a gallery, an open air sculpture garden, a restaurant (we didn't eat there), the historic houses, and just a stunning place. The sculptures in the garden are so particularly beautiful and the space itself is particularly lovely, and has majestic views across the water. I wished we had packed a picnic and could have spent several hours here. I loved it so much. It's well outside the center of town and we had an excellent adventure walking there, with a quick jaunt on the metro. 

* Monteliusvagen -- this is a very lovely path along the northern side of Sodermalm, with beautiful views of Gamla Stan and beyond. It's full of young Swedes enjoying the view and hanging out. It's such a fun spot. 

* Stockholm City Hall - We weren't in the mood for too many touristy things when we were in Stockholm, but we did decide to cough up the money for a tour of the Stockholm City Hall after reading many good reviews for it online. It is still the actual city hall, where the government is running, so you can only visit as part of a tour. I'm not generally a tour fan, but this was such a special place to see! This is where they have the grand dinner and gala after the Nobel Prizes are awarded. It is so beautiful inside, and actually the grounds are very pretty as well. 

* Gamla Stan and Sodermalm - Stockholm is essentially a huge network of islands and it's just amazing! We bought metro cards that let us use busses and the subway and the commuter boats. It was so fun to walk around and explore. So many amazing parks, great streets full of action and activity, very old buildings and lively hip areas too. What a fun city to explore!

And, that's a wrap! 
Until next time, Stockholm!