Saturday, May 28, 2011

A series of bad weeks.

It's been a rough stretch here for us lately. Overworked, overscheduled, and underslept, but somehow we keep on truckin'. The blog, however, has clearly taken the hit. Something had to give, and it was the cooking and posting. Honestly, I haven't had time to dick around with food in ages. Don't think I'm pleased about the slow decay of the blog. Blogging has become a very important part of my life and it hurts terribly to have little time for it now.

As I type this on my phone I'm sitting on the kitchen floor waiting for the marble cake I just baked to cool so I can frost it. We have two weddings this weekend and I should be out dress shopping, but after this past week the only thing I can muster up the energy for is my favorite cake in the universe. Hopefully the promise of vegan epic bakeness waiting for me when I get home will help me get through these events without ripping someone's head off.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's been a long week.

The dog isn't entirely as housebroken as he should be, I've been transferred to an insanely busy department at work (it's a move up but it means early mornings, short lunches, and late nights), and Hubster is about at the end of his rope with his own job stress levels.

I feel a "Dogtown and cake" bender coming on.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Lento Situation, aka, I am disappointed in myself and other vegans

I've noticed lately that Lento hasn't had any vegan menu options available and that they've stopped labeling certain dishes as vegetarian. Concerned, I sent them an email asking about the change, and this is the response I received later that afternoon:

We are no longer offering vegan entrees on our menu, but if you call ahead and let us know we will be happy to put something together for you.  I hope this is helpful.  We still offer two vegetarian options nightly.

I was crazy disappointed. Lento, the Rochester home of the slow food/locavore movement, was ditching vegan grub. What with all the articles in the local paper lately about veganism and even Wegmans jumping on the vegan bandwagon, I wondered how Lento could possibly be taking steps that seem, well, rather backward. So I asked, not really expecting a reply, but lo and behold, here is the incredibly deep, responsive, and authentic email response:

I am glad you asked.  The reasons were many so here is a synopsis of why we made this difficult decision.  The first reason was that vegan entrees were not our original focus and I felt that we were putting things together hastily and not to the best of our ability.  

Another reason was all of the negative feedback we were getting online and most of it was from people complaining about the vegan food.  I honestly do not think it was vegans complaining, but people who ordered vegan food because it was the most inexpensive thing and not tasting "normal" to them.  In that vein we were not receiving any positive feedback about our vegan food which did not encourage us to keep it up.  The blogs or internet sites we check are rocwiki, urbanpoon, yelp and opentable so feel free to read these.  

Finally it was an image thing as you mentioned.  We are a slow food restaurant which is a very unique concept for the Rochester area and one many do not understand.  When I explain my concept nine out of ten people will respond "so you guys are a vegetarian restaurant."  Slow food is about farm to table and this included meat, which I get from local sustainable farms.  I think many people are so far removed from their food that they do not equate meat with coming from farms anymore.  I want to create a restaurant after Alice Waters or Melissa Kelly who are chefs I learned from and cook with sustainable seasonal ingredients and do not focus on vegan or vegetarian foods.  

I will continue to keep creative vegetarian options on the menu and again we will absolutely accommodate vegans especially if they give us advance notice.  I have nothing but respect for vegans and honestly believe it is a smart way to eat, but my restaurant and focus includes animal based products.  Thank you for your inquiry and I hope to hear from soon.

Wow. This is clearly an individual who cares about what he's doing and who he's doing it for, and frankly, we vegans as a community dropped the ball. It's partly our fault that one of the best restaurants in the region has stopped regularly including vegan dishes on the menu, for all to see, and it's because we didn't take the time to say thank you. I'm guilty of this myself. I spend time emailing restaurants when they fail, but I forget to praise the restaurants that continue to plug away and provide great vegan service. We're fighting an uphill battle as it is, particularly in this region where the signature dish, The Garbage Plate, is a giant heart-attack-inducing pile of fried meat and cheese slop. This is often a willfully ignorant area of the country, clinging to its God and its guns and its deep fried flesh just as much as areas below the Bible Belt. 

We, as a community, have got to work harder. We've got to flood the internet with praise for our favorite veggie places, or else who knows if they'll keep being our favorites for long.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cupcakes really are taking over the world

Last weekend I whipped up a quick batch of (vegan) cupcakes for my friend's birthday, and I used my stand-by recipe from Isa Chandra. I wanted to experiment a little so I whipped up some strawberry filling to squirt inside before I covered them with chocolate frosting. They looked so cute with the filling popping out the top that I almost just left them that way. The filling was all right but not amazing, so I won't bother posting the recipe.

But here's the big news, folks. There is now cupcake-flavored vodka. I have an email in to the maker asking if it's vegan, and I'll let you know as soon as I hear back. If I find out it's vegan, I sense a drinking problem coming on...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Soy Trouble

I had a pretty bad weekend when it came to avoiding soy products. I'd let myself have some wiggle room when it came to soy lecithin in some bread, Newman-O's and in a candy bar or two (or three, but who's counting?), but by the time Monday rolled around I'd had two veggie dogs, plus the tofu and soy sauce that was in the noodle dish, and I want to say that there was also something else that I'm just now forgetting. But ohhhhh, those veggie dogs were so worth it.... *plays the Matlock theme in her head* (Hey, that folksy country lawyer loved himself some hot dogs [and made grey suits look goooood (okay, so I'm secretly a horny eighty-year-old woman, so what of it? Wanna fight?!)]).

I think I might have taken a wrong left turn at that tangent. 

Anyway, avoiding soy has been harder than I thought it would be. The first few days were a piece of cake, but it's the long haul that I'm not so sure about. I think for my sanity (doubtful state that it's in) I'll just do my best to minimize soy instead of eliminating it entirely. Since it's not a morality issue, just a health issue, making decisions about whether or not to indulge in some soy as I go along will be perfectly fine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Faux Pho

I was inspired lately into making an Asian-style noodle dish and set aside Sunday night to make it happen (I know, I know, I'm just getting around to posting about it now. Having a giant dragon of a dog is exhausting).

We started with onions, garlic, carrots, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, peppers, cilantro, and basil all simmering in a wok. Then we added water, vegetable stock, soy sauce, chopped nori, seaweed, hot sauce, and lime juice, then let it all simmer. After a while we added some tofu and some kelp noodles that I'd snagged off the shelf the week before on a whim. Note: Kelp noodles may sound scary but they are THE EPIC SHIT. Yes, I combined "epic" and "the shit." Your heads all just exploded.

Anyway, food. Pictures. Win.

Kelp noodles are amazing! Also, having a dog is time consuming. More on these two stories later.

Friday, April 15, 2011

This is a quadruple-stuffed chocolate-filled Newman-O. This is pretty much how my day went yesterday.

(Yes, it has some soy lecithin in it. I don't care. Shhh.)

Monday, April 11, 2011


I made crazy parfaits! And I made cashew cheese! And we got a dog! These things are all awesome and listed in no particular order!

So I saw these beautiful vegan parfaits posted up on Vegansaurus and I knew I had to give them a try, so Saturday night I did the prep work and Sunday I put them together for brunch.  They were AMAZING OMG, but I'd been hoping for more of an ice cream thing and less of a sherbet thing, so I think I'm going to have to experiment with adding almond milk and sweetener. Then it would be the most awesome thing in the universe. Here's how mine looked:

Just to the left of the photo, out of frame, is my brand new food processor we picked up at Target. My old one broke just before we moved, but it was kind of small and weak anyway, so I didn't mind all that much when it broke. Hey, an excuse to buy more kitchen tech, rock on. This new food processor is freaking epic. It blends the everloving shit out of just about anything, and it has suction cups on the bottom to help keep it in place. Total design win!

I used said blender to make the cashew cheese, using this recipe. On its own it tastes sort of like a nutty, cheesy hummus, but when heated up and mixed with spaghetti sauce on top of an eggplant sandwich it tastes exactly like riccotta! SCORE! ZOMG I need to come up with more excuses to eat hot spaghetti sauce and cashew cheese. Pizza every night? Quite possible.

But! The big furry news! We've been wanting a dog for a while, so on Sunday morning we went over to Lollypop Farm and got ourselves a beautiful Rottweiler/Mastiff mix named Panzer (because he's a freaking tank!). 

This chill dude is the sweetest guy ever, with the biggest damn head I've ever seen. He's got a few health problems at the moment but nothing some antibiotics can't fix, so he'll be good as new very soon. The cats aren't pleased, but they'll adjust. Shelter dogs are the best! And it felt oddly amazing and super comfortable and protective with Dogness laying at my feet while I ate my cereal this morning. Things are good.