Monday, March 30, 2009

Loyola University Chicago's Vegetarian Week 2009

The week of Monday, March 16
th to Saturday, March 21st was Loyola University Chicago's first Vegetarian Week (2009). Our agenda consisted of:
  • Bake Sale: We had a bake sale to raise money for the group and we gave out free dorm-friendly recipe CDs!
  • Colleen Patrick Goudreau Event: Author, activist, and chef spoke on behalf of the vegan lifestyle
  • Ethnic Dinner: We had vegan food from 9 local ethnic restaurants around Roger's Park showcasing how vegetarianism fits into the culture
  • PAWS Volunteering: Kitty City!
To kick off the week, we had a bake sale in Damen Hall. We made about $76! Not bad at all. The recipe CDs were a hit and the free vegetarian literature was gone by the end of the event. I made some vegan stout cupcakes out of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, oatmeal raisin cookies out of The Joy of Vegan Baking, and Irish Whiskey Cake (the recipe link is in the St. Patrick's Day post) for the sale.
Photo of Alexis, Paula, and Colleen. Taken by Sam Chen.
Speech description:
From Excuse-itarian to Vegetarian: Addressing the Blocks that Keep People from Making Changes:
Combining humor and wisdom to tackle the most popular excuses for not eating a plant-based diet, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau leaves no rationalization unexposed and offers sound and practical tips for living a life that reflects the values of sustainability, compassion, and simplicity.

We had a great turn out, at least 75-80 people came! Also, free food thanks to VegFund (hummus, vegetables, and vegan cookies). If anyone would like a recording of the speech, I have a copy I can e-mail you. It lasted about 45 minutes, plus Q&A and some book signing. Check out her podcasts on her website and buy her book, The Joy of Vegan Baking. She'll be coming out with a new book soon, The Vegan Table. The morning after the speech, Colleen and I had breakfast at Blind Faith in Evanston. It was quite tasty! I had the tofu scramble made vegan and she had the breakfast burrito made vegan sans the tortilla.
Photo of Paula and Colleen. Taken by Sam Chen.

The Ethnic Dinner was really tasty, haha. We had dishes from 9 local Roger's Park restaurants. Cuisines included: Ethiopian, Thai, Mediterranean, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Latin American, and American (dessert = chocolate cake!). All dishes were vegan. We had laminated sheets on the tables explaining how the vegetarian diet fits into that culture's cuisine plus laminated sheets of the restaurant list and cuisine (with ingredients).
Scanned article from the Phoenix, Loyola's school paper.
Last event on the week's agenda was volunteering at PAWS Chicago. There are pictures of this from a previous post regarding that weekend (retro bar crawl!)

Thank you Colleen for being the star of Veg Week and helping make it a huge success! Here's to Vegetarian Week 2010! :]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Luck of the Irish &... Some Blueberry Cake!

For St. Patrick's Day this year, my friend and I made a vegan dinner before going to see The Tossers (I've seen them 3 times in the past year... I think I may like Chicago Irish punk too much). Before our cooking extravaganza, I had made Irish Soda Bread a couple days before and froze it. I used the recipe out of The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (check out her website and listen to the podcasts!: Compassionate Cooks).

Note: do not use a bread maker to make the soda bread! I found over breakfast with Colleen (this story is for entirely different blog post - I organized an event at Loyola last week where she came and spoke about veganism!) that it kneads the bread too much. Use a pan and stick it in the oven.

I made about 7 loaves or more of bread that week, mostly Irish Soda Bread, but also the Mediterranean Olive Bread and the Cornbread out of The Joy of Vegan Baking. The overall rating seemed to be that the soda bread and the cornbread were much better than the olive bread, according to my parents (who got one of each of these breads). Also - I do not recommend freezing the bread and then shipping it. Just ship, no freeze. I mail a lot of baked goods now-a-days, so I'm trying to learn about shipping goodies.

The St. Pat's Day meal consisted of Irish Stew and Cabbage and Potatoes gone vegan. I used this Irish Stew recipe, but added some oregano (2 teaspoons) and celery (2 stalks - chopped) to it too.

Cabbage & Potatoes

* Prep Time: 15 minutes
* Cook Time: 40 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons soy butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head of cabbage (shredded)
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes (diced and sliced)
  • 1 white onion (cut up - diced)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of lager and/or water
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

* Recipe:
  1. Add soy butter and olive oil to a medium sized pot and allow to melt.
  2. Next, dice and slice the potatoes and add to the pot.
  3. Allow the potatoes to become golden brown (10-15 min) and then add the cut up onion, salt, and pepper.
  4. After the onions have become translucent (5-8 minutes), add the shredded cabbage.
  5. The cabbage will begin to wilt. As it does this, add the red wine vinegar and the lager and/or water.
  6. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
* Notes: If you feel, add more soy butter or olive oil as the cabbage begins to wilt. Stir during this process and mix it with the onion and potato. For the lager, I use Harp's which is vegan.


So, we ate the stew and sopped it up with the soda bread and had the cabbage and potatoes on the side. Now, dessert was quite special. We made Vegan Irish Whiskey Cake using this recipe. It turned out very good! We used Bushmill's whiskey for it. It was quite soft and delicious. I sold the left over cake at a bake sale that Monday and people were a bit skeptical of the idea of whiskey cake. I had to keep telling them it was coffee whiskey cake. Those that did try it agreed that is was amazing! I also sold Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Surprisingly not a lot of people knew what stout was? Or they were not expecting it in a cupcake. Make sure your stout is vegan, though! Check out Barnivore!

The other night I made a blueberry cake loaf. I used The Joy of Vegan Baking yet again (I do love that book - it is so well organized!). I recommend using fresh blueberries to frozen ones. The juice liked to melt on me from the frozen ones. Or at least microwave them a bit and drain the juice if you go the frozen route. Check out the result:

Hopefully he keeps as he is currently in off in a box somewhere in route via USPS.

Lastly, I am very into creating care packages. Here is a gloriously themed St. Patrick's Day care box. There was a lot of different random things in the box for the boyfriend but to note there was a loaf of the Irish Soda Bread and some Sugar Cookies w/ Green Sprinkles (I used the Sugar Cookie recipe from Colleen's baking book - told you I love that book). I recommend not over baking them... as I did. I went a smidge too long and they got rather crispy, needless-to-say. My father who also got some said he dunked them in his coffee in the morning and sopped them up with his ice cream at night and they were tasty. Apologies to boyfriend, dad, and boyfriend's dad for hard cookies!!

If you have care box ideas, send them. I'm obsessed. My desire is to be a vegan punk rock Betty Crocker and I think I'm succeeding, haha. Just sent out the Easter one which I will show you pictures of later, I am sure (after he gets it).

Irish Soda Bread: 5/5
Mediterranean Olive Bread: 4/5?
Cornbread: 5/5
Irish Stew: 3.5/5 (I think it could have been better... I feel something needs to be added to the broth. I will probably mess around one day and figure out what!)
Irish Whiskey Cake: 5/5
Vegan Chocolate Stout Cupcakes: 5/5 (everyone loves these things... I have non-vegans asking me for the recipe all the time!)
Blueberry Cake: unknown (no one has had it yet!)
Sugar Cookies: 4/5 (because I fail, I need a rematch!)

Shamrock in the beer foam. <3

Vegan Paris

I must admit, I did not search for vegan or vegetarian specific places in Paris. My mother had her places and there we went. Trying to veganize things in France is difficult, needless to say. Unless you know French or you have English-speaking wait staff... good luck.

I hear good things about this place: La Victoire Suprême du Coeur. It is the picture in this blog post.

Here is a small list of research regarding Paris and vegetarianism and/or veganism:

Perhaps another time I will explore vegan Paris, c'est la vie!

And for good measure: the loveliest place on Earth... The Eiffel Tower at night!

Vegan Rome

Calling all you Audrey Hepburn fans out there: Il Margutta Ristorarte is located just next to the apartment of Gregory Peck in the film "Roman Holiday"-- the green charming little yard. When he carried the princess in a taxi, he said to the driver "Via Margutta 51"!

Happy Cow for Rome.

Rome... I ate at Il Margutta Ristorarte twice because it was just that good. It still is the best vegan restaurant I have ever been to. And classy! It is a high scale place as well as an art gallery. My mother was bitterly complaining about not having "real Italian" food while in Rome and she promised we would try at least one vegan/vegetarian restaurant and cafe while we were there. It was my quest to try one place in each city I went to in Europe that summer. After much protest (and several nights of me eating cheeseless salads and pasta with marinara), I convinced her to try this place. She liked it so much she wanted to go again the next night! Figures.

They have seasonal menu's. For the summer menu, I had the "vegan menu" sample. I also had the Chef's Salad & the warm bean and pasta potage with courgette flowers and
basil garnish. Seriously... Heaven in your mouth.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vegan Chicago: Jive!

This weekend was full of vegan goodness and retro fun! Quite themed. On Friday, we went to The Chicago Diner which is probably the best known veg restaurant in Chicago. Meat Free Since '83! Ellen and Portia tried out the food there for their wedding, :]

Above is a Chiken Filet Sandwich with a side salad (Lime Cilantro dressing). The options were vegan ranch or chiptole for the sandwich, I opted for chiptole. Definitely great! Enjoyed every last bite, highly recommend it.

Vegan Mac & Cheeze! Divine. Everyone should always order a side of this stuff when they go to Chi Diner!

Retro styling for the evening! Gotta love it.

On Saturday morning, I volunteered at PAWS Chicago. It is a no kill shelter, the largest in Chicago. I spent my time there in Kitty City. Quite a few people out... weather was nice, just the time to go out and adopt a lovely pet. Heh.

After volunteering. I went to Handlebar. It is a bicycle bar that is diner veg-friendly! It is a cool place, but the service was just awful. The food was decent, nothing spectacular. I would recommend it for a one time try, at least.

I got their Everything Green Salad made vegan and a side of fries.

More retro hair and vintage dresses on Saturday night! We went on a River North mini retro throw back bar crawl.

Our bar crawl started out at The Motel Bar. So cute! I highly recommend going out of your way to this place. Had a French Martini and a champagne cocktail in a flute. Next we went to The Pump Room inside the Ambassador East Hotel. Well, we might have been the youngest ones there, but who could resist free live jazz and cabaret? Had a Pump Room special called a Pomatini. After, we went to The Green Door Tavern. It was built back in 1872! Chill place and the walls were super cute, albiet a bit much. Made a decent Cuba Libre! Our last stop was The Clark Street Ale House. Didn't have a drink here, but it was open until 5 am, haha. Apparently their beer selection is quite large and impressive.

This is The Green Door Tavern. Oh, also, our "cab ride" to this place from The Pump Room was in a half limo... at the same price as a normal cab ride? It was bizarre! What a classy bar crawl. I'm not sure you can top this and it was all of our first time doing a bar crawl.

To end this impressive bar crawl, a friend and I had Sunday brunch at Kitsch'n River North. It is right next to The Motel Bar. Loved it! I forgot to take a picture of my brunch, but it was a tofu scramble made vegan (it had cheese on it). It was a decent scramble. Definitely had better, but it was worth it for the atmosphere.

Tonight, I made a very lovely blueberry cake which I'll post about tomorrow. Phew! What a weekend, heh.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Veg Valentine's Day!

I made this little guy from this recipe. Quite cute, huh? I did not use the baking trays as she suggests, but rather souffle bowls which worked just as well. They were sort of small because of that. Needless-to-say, tasty and cute! I made them for my dad and myself for Valentine's Day dinner along with ratatouille which was quite the hit, much more so than the heart-shaped lasagna, actually. As a starter, I made vegan cream of mushroom soup. I was a big fan of it, but my parents didn't like it too much. Who knew they were not cream of ______ soup fans? It was nothing personal against the soup, apparently.

Heart-Shaped Lasagna: 3.5/5
Ratatouille: 5/5
Cream of Mushroom Soup: 4/5

Vegan London: Part Two

By far my favorite restaurant in London was Eat and Two Veg. It has a modern throw back to a retro diner plus cocktails! What can get better? Also - it is not too far from Piccadilly Circus and all the hub bub. I went a couple times and I had a burger and the Thai Satay for an appetizer. While it is a bit pricey, most of London dining is.

The picture is of the Apple and Sultana Crumble made vegan. And me awkwardly eating it, haha.

A really interesting find is The Place Below. It is in the crypt of a church, St. Mary-le-Bow. Lucky me, I was taking an architecture class and my tutor took me right to the church! No searching for me. Anyways, it's a vegetarian cafe/restaurant in the crypt of this very old church. Creeppy! Guess we should not praise seitan then, huh?

Their menu changes daily, so get ready to be surprised!

For fast food, there is Wagamama. London LOVES Wagamama. They are in every direction. And delicious! I just browsed the website and found out they have them in the USA, two in Boston and one somewhere near Harvard. Interesting. Anywho, I recommend the miso soup, yasai itame, yasai yaki soba (without egg), and the yasai nasubi salad. I think I went there like a good half a dozen times when I lived there. One time was quite hectic, I thought I lost one of my diamond earrings! Thankfully, I did not and found it. Hoorah.

A great place to read a book and eat, by the way. :]

Okay, so this is not an original to London place, but it is worth note. When I was living there, the city had its first large Whole Foods put in. They had a smaller one already in Soho. Anyways, my 20th birthday was while I was in London, so I went out in search of a vegan birthday cake. I had one made at the Whole Foods in Kensington.
It was a pretty decent cake if memory serves right. It was also the only cake that I could get at Whole Foods that they could make vegan, just to note.

Two really great local natural grocery stores are Wholefoods Ltd and Chelsea Health Food Store. Wholefoods should not be confused with Whole Foods. I found that out the hard way. To my surprise, when I found Wholefoods, it was a quaint place. I ended up getting one of those recyclable grocery bages there so now I can proudly shop and let people know I appreciate this little place in London! Now, I'm not too sure about Chelsea Health Food Store. I lived on King's Road, so this was just up the road. It might have been a different establishment that I was going to, but this place was near it. I'd have to go look at my credit card statements, haha. Either way, go to the little place near Chelsea Heath Food Store!

Random Information: most convenience stores have vegan grub to go and it has labels stating it is vegan, there is a lot of Indian and Pakistani food in London (most can be made vegan or already is vegan), Cheezly Vegan Cheese is the best faux cheese ever created, and ANYTHING from Alpro Soya is absolutely grand and you should eat it all. Oh my goodness, Alpro... I miss you! Most chain grocery stores (Tesco, Mark & Spencer, Sainbury's) have vegan products, so it isn't too hard to keep up your lifestyle.

Caffe Nero is an excellent place to get coffee in London. Starbucks is not very good in the U.K. in my opinion, plus this is real Italian coffee! Who can resist? I have my punch card still in case I go back. :]

They are everywhere too. Think about how Starbucks are on every corner of America. Well, that's Caffe Nero in London.

Point taken! Those punch card's are awesome!

Basically, you will have no problem at all being a vegan in London. Go visit the Brits! God save the Queen!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vegan London: Part One

During the summer of 2007, I lived in London, U.K. I was ultimately spoiled by this abroad experience because London is possibly one of the most veg and vegan friendly cities of the world. As such, this is going to be broken into parts. First, if you are going to London towne, I highly recommend this little book. While it is outdated (as I found out when I went exploring for several restaurants only to find out they no longer exist), it still is a must have to help you find some yummy veg food and natural grocery markets.

Of course, there is always Happy Cow but I have found that website does not always list the current or all the possible veg or organic places in town. Still, it is free and accessible to everyone on the internet. Anywho, here is Happy Cow's London list.

Let's explore Soho first, shall we? To start, there is a lovely little cafe called Beatroot. Small, quick, carry-out friendly, or just wanting a snack, this is the place to go. I picked up some food here several times to bring back to the dorms for dinner. Their menu may have changed a little in the past 1.5 years, but if memory serves me right, I had the tofu stir-fry and the curry of the day. I know I also got some form of cake there, but none of their cake's are listed as vegan on the website. I believe they rotate their food during the week too to different dishes. So, I do not think that menu is constant.

Mildred's is a somewhat pricey restaurant, at least compared to Beatroot. It was not as good as another veg place I went to (which I will talk about later), Eat and Two Veg. Their menu looks unfamiliar to me now, though I did go there on more than one occasion. From recollection, I had a salad one time and some sort of pasta the next time. I went with a friend the second time and he agreed with me Eat and Two Veg is certainly better.

The inside of Mildred's - this is the first time I went, for lunch. For dinner, we sat up front and it is much more chic looking. It's candle lit and the lights are dim, haha.

Soho is just full of veg places! Another restaurant to note is Govinda's Pure Vegetarian Restaurant. Never went, just walked by a couple times. This goes to show London's love for Indian cuisine!

Covent Garden is next on the agenda. Neal's Yard is definitely the highlight here. While I never ate there, it was still quite cool to walk through. You have to take this little tunnel side street, too darling. Also - it is home to Neal's Yard Remedies which I use daily and highly recommend their products. I'm a fan of the Chammomile Cleanser, the Palmarosa Facial Wash, and White Tea Enriching Facial Mask.

Another veg place in Covent Garden is Food For Thought. Again, I did not go but only because I could not find it!

Okay, that is all for part one. In part two, I will talk about the random other veg restaurants I found in London as well as the several natural, organic grocery stores.

Vegan Chicago: Greenheart & Peaceful Mingling

Greenheart is a Chicago non-profit, eco-friendly, fair trade boutique. It has household items, food, jewelry and clothing from all over the world.

Tonight they had a wine and chocolate tasting featuring fair trade wine from South Africa, Stellar Organics, and fair trade chocolate from Ghana, Divine Chocolate. While not all Divine Chocolate is vegan, the 70% Dark Chocolate and the Mint Dark Chocolate bars are. The woman at the table explained how chocolate was produced and the lives of the farmers. It was quite informative. The website tells the story of the company.

It seems that Stellar Organics has a number of vegan wines, if not all of them. I was unaware of this when I went tonight, so I refrained from trying any. Here is a list of their wines that are in fact vegan.

To note: Another helpful website when trying to drink alcohol and keep vegan is Barnivore. Most helpful when you can upload it from your phone at a bar or the market.

This website tells one the basic reasons as to why many wines and beers are not vegan. Good news for you cheap wino's out there, most Yellowtail is vegan (at least the red is). Sadly, Franzia is not. No boxed wine for us vegans. :[


The inside of Greenheart:

In memory of the cyclist on LaSalle St.
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