3.31.2013

Happy National Clams in their Shells Day!

...and Happy Easter!

OK y'all.  Let's get real.  This is Louisiana - we do not eat clams.  Why?  Because clams don't live here.  They stick to colder waters.  And, or course, some of us don't eat them because they're alive and would like to stay that way!  Thus we give you National Clams in their Shells Day... rather than the actual day, which is clams on the half-shell.

So.  Let's spend today celebrating springtime and bunnies instead!  Because if there's anything that transcends religious divides, it's bunnies.  Happy spring y'all!  And remember...


If you *are* ready to invite a bunny into your life as a furry companion and friend, check out Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue in Baton Rouge to adopt!  Also, feel free to comment if you have questions about house rabbits or bunny husbandry - I am of course a proud mama of four adorable rabbits!

3.30.2013

Happy Save the Turkeys' Necks Soup Day!

OK, well you may have guessed that the actual name of this National holiday is Turkey Neck Soup Day.  But really, who among us vegans has turkey necks laying around?  I kid.  Because the thought is atrocious.  I like my turkey necks connected to happy, living Turkeys.  Thus, Save the Turkeys' Necks Soup Day is born!

ANYway.  To celebrate this day, I decided to actually cook.  (I know, I know!!)  It's my understanding that the hoopla over turkey necks is that they add so much flavor.  So I thought, what could I use that adds a ton of flavor to a soup?  And I arrived at this answer: sausages.

Vegan sausages, of course!  While "sausages" were historically made with the parts of animals found even by meat-eaters to be unmentionable and barely edible, the modern vegan has easy access to plant-based sausages that are far more delicious than their meaty counterparts.  And of course far less mysterious / scary / disturbing.  Personally, I am a fan of both Tofurky and Field Roast sausage brands (available locally at the Nola Food Co-Op and Whole Foods).

For this recipe I decided to go with Field Roast (Italian flavor) because of its tendency to fall apart.  While sometimes quite annoying, it struck me as just the thing here.  After reviewing a few "real" turkey neck soup recipes on yon Internets, I devised the following simple yet delicious alternative:

MEL'S SAVE THE TURKEYS' NECKS SOUP

Ingredients:
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 vegan bullion cube (I like Rapunzel)
  • 4 vegan sausages of your choice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half 
  • 3 large red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 medium parsnip, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 tsp of Tony Chachere's (seasoning salt for you non-locals)
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces

Method:
  1. Gently boil bullion, sausage, onion, and garlic for about one hour in a large covered pot.
  2. Add potatoes, parsnip, celery, and Tony's; return pot to a gentle boil and let cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add carrots; let gently boil for another 15 minutes or until all vegetables reach desired tenderness.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Optionals:
Caramelize onions in the bottom of your pot before adding water.
Add one to two bay leaves in the first step; just don't eat them!
Braise or sear your sausage of choice before boiling.
Serve over rice.

And enjoy!  {This step is not optional.}

3.29.2013

Happy National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day!

Oh, Lemon Chiffon Cake.  What is it?  I don't really know.  What I can tell is that "traditional" recipes for it seem to involve a whole lot of eggs.  But this vegan lemon cake recipe could be a good starting place.  Ideas? Thoughts?  What's say we crack this nut!  Then there will be vegan lemon chiffon cake for all... whatever that is.  ;)




3.28.2013

Happy National Black Forest Cake Day!

Oooh, black forest cake!  In case you don't know, that's chocolate and cherry.  YUMMERS.  So let's make one at home!  Vegan Miss will help us get it done.  Enjoy!

If that one doesn't float your boat, try this one, this one, or cupcakes!

Also, somebody has GOT to make a vegan version of this:


3.27.2013

Happy National Spanish Paella Day!


Debatably remarkable: New Orleans has a restaurant that specializes in paella.  Undebatably amazing: that restaurant, called Lola's, offers a "vegetarian" paella that is totally vegan!  Served in cast iron skillets chosen in one of four sizes (personal through feed-a-small-army), you can order a small to eat by yourself or a large to share with your crew.  Or a large to eat by yourself - we're not judging.

Upon ordering, you will be served bread with a spread that looks suspiciously like butter, but rest assured, it's actually an olive oil blend that I have been assured is totally vegan.  Other vegan items on the menu include the garlic mushrooms and the gazpacho (it's bread that makes it opaque like that).

Lola's is an Esplanade Ridge favorite, a mere stone's throw from both City Park and the Race Track, and in a car not far from the French Quarter.  Locals have long enjoyed its BYO policy, and while it does now serve wine and beer you're still invited to bring whatever tickles your fancy.

So stop by and celebrate - just make sure that it's not Jazz Fest time!

3.26.2013

Happy National Waffle and Nougat Days!!

Yes, happy National Waffle Day, and Happy National Nougat Day!  Now tell me if I'm wrong, but I believe that we had a waffle day just a few weeks ago.  So let's talk about nougat shall we?

While French-style nougat tends to contain egg whites - blegh - German-style nougat is made of chocolate and nuts.  This makes it just a tiny jump to a praline.

Enter Lake Champlain chocolates, a company I discovered while doing a small fundraiser for Vermont after that unpleasant flooding incident (thanks to Cassandra of Vegan New Orleans).  Their Hazelnut Praline bar is one of the most delectable treats I have ever tasted - and is available at the uptown Whole Foods!  So enjoy some nougat-come-praline today.  ;)

3.25.2013

Happy National Lobster Newburg Day!

Today we have a serious veganizing challenge: Lobster Newburg.  This is a nut that I must admit I cannot crack.  It seems plausible to find some vegan "lobster," probably frozen, though at the moment I can't find any.  But then there's the heavy cream.  And if you can get past that, there's the eggs.

I have some vague ideas about a cashew creme base...

I am 100% positive that it can be done, and that it probably has been done to great effect.  But today, let's see how beautiful live lobsters are:


3.24.2013

Happy National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day!

Try though I might, I cannot find vegan chocolate covered raisins.  But no worries - we can just make some.  Thanks, Oh She Glows!




3.23.2013

Happy National Melba Toast Day!

I feel that this holiday was designed specifically for me.  On account of because of two friends who referred to me as "Melba Toast" or "Melba" in the mid to late nineties.  Yep, this holiday is clearly just for me!  Never mind that I've only actually eaten melba toast like twice ever.  I WILL IT EAT TODAY!

Happy National Chip and Dip Day!

Chip and dip day?  Really, that's just weak.  What shall we celebrate instead?  How about... National Hot Dog Day!

While July is National Hot Dog month, I can't find a hot dog day.  So today seems as good as any! And these days, New Orleans vegans have plenty to celebrate in the genre of hot dogs.  One need only stop by Dreamy Weenies at 740 N. Rampart to take part in hot-dog-ey fun.

While we know that your average hot dog is a thing of horror, the two varieties of Tofurky dog carried there (Italian and Kielbasa) in addition to the falafel-dog are happy vegan options.  And feel free to get some vegan chili on top!  Also, don't forget your seasoned waffle fries, as they are DELISH.


If you are inspired to have a cookout at home, try picking up some Field Roast Frankfurters at Whole Foods or the New Orleans Food Co-Op!  Happy (vegan) hot-dogging!

3.21.2013

Happy National French Bread Day!

In New Orleans, French bread really just means one thing: po boys!  (For you yankees, think a "grinder", a "hoagie", or a "sub sandwich," but way way better.  And on crunchy-yet-soft French bread.)  Each restaurant that serves po boys - and they are legion - has its one special bakery from which it will get its po boy bread.  These things are sacred in this town.

Old Schoolers like my Aunt Jo Ann (daw'lin!) will always go for Leidenheimer's, which has been a Nola favorite for over 100 years.  Its Zip bread, found in grocery stores throughout town, is great for making sandwiches at home.  But relative newcomer Dong Phuong is growing popular, both for the ever more widely available Vietnamese-style po boy known as the banh mi, and for traditional Nola joints.

Any way about it, any New Orleanian can tell you that it's the bread that makes the po boy.

So, where can you get a vegan po boy around town?  Well you could always make your own.  No matter what you're using as your "meat" - be it tofu, Tofurky slices, fried "shrimp," or whatever else floats your boat - don't forget to serve it dressed!  That means with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and plenty of vegenaise.  Feel like going out?  Try 13 Monaghan for a bbq tofu po boy.  Because there's nothing more New Orleans than eating delicious food in the back of a bar!  Get yourself an Abita Amber and you'll be good to go.



3.20.2013

Happy Spring! Also, Happy National Ravioli Day!

Ooooohheeee vegan ravioli!  My very favorite ravioli is that found at Caravan of Dreams in New York City.  I don't know of a restaurant in New Orleans serving vegan ravioli... yet.  (I have faith.  It is coming.  Feelings Cafe, are you listening?)

So what's a vegan New Orleanian to do when the ravioli craving strikes?  Well, if you're a total crazy person you can make your own.  If, instead, you'd like to take the easy way out, just pick up a package of one of the four vegan Rising Moon Organics ravioli flavors available at the uptown Whole Foods.

Impressive work, Urban Vegan!


Happy ravioli-ing y'all.

3.19.2013

Also, Happy St. Joesph's Day!!

Yes, March 19th is St. Joseph's Day.  Never heard of it?  Well, if you're from Nola, shame on you!  If you're from anywhere else though, I'm not surprised.  While St. Joseph is a pretty well known saint (being Jesus' earthly dad and all), his feast day is only recognized as a major holiday in a few spots in western Europe... and, you guessed it, here in New Orleans!

The St. Joseph's Altar at St. Joseph's Church on Tulane, 2012
All over the city on St. Joseph's Day, Catholic churches and other community centers build altars to St. Joseph.  Some oldschoolers even build altars in their homes.  And it's a different kind of altar than you've ever seen before - it is covered in food as a tribute to the saint, who is credited with bringing Sicily through famine.  Breads and cookies feature prominently, and visitors are encouraged both to make a donation and to take a lucky fava bean.  After a long day of people visiting altars, making donations, and picking up lucky beans, a celebratory mass is held and the food from the altars is shared and/or donated.

You don't have to be Catholic to enjoy this very New Orleanian celebration - everyone is invited and welcome to join in the experience.  Maybe next year you'll build your own (vegan) altar?

Happy National Poultry Day!

 Poultry.  It's one of those euphemistic words like "pork" or "lamb" or "beef."  When I was a kid, I remember it striking me as strange that Chicken was just "chicken," when all of the other food animals had more polite names.

At the end of the day, "poultry" is just a weird word to use for "birds."  So I declare today National Bird Day!  Here are some beautiful birds for you to celebrate with.








If you love birds like I do, you should check out Kasia's Ark Bird Rescue.

3.18.2013

Happy National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day.  Sure, why not?  I haven't baked much lately, but the pics of these vegan lacy oatmeals on Vegan in the Freezer are so beautiful, I might need to do just that.  Enjoy!


3.17.2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day - and Happy National Cabbage Day!!

Happy St. Pat's y'all!  You'd think that New Orleans would get enough of parades and partying during Mardi Gras, but no.  We go all out for St. Patrick's Day as well!  We have parades, and among the throws coming from the floats are - maybe you guessed it - whole cabbages!  (This year's Irish Channel parade happened yesterday.  Did you catch one?)

And so, I hereby declare today to also be National Cabbage Day.  Cabbage is an underrated vegetable.  It is delicious with even the most simple preparation:
  • Slice half a head of red cabbage into the thinnest wedges you can manage
  • Slice a shallot thinly as well
  • Drizzle lightly with sesame oil and olive oil
  • Add an eighth to a quarter cup of Mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • Saute until it reaches the softness you desire - and enjoy!
You can also try the longer cooking but also fairly simple smothered cabbage by Kittee Berns - so utterly delicious!

Also, don't worry - you haven't missed all of the St. Pat's shenanigans.  If you're looking to party after all that cabbage cooking, stop by Parasol's and/or check out the less organized parade that will be winding its way through the Marigny and Bywater.

Have fun y'all!

3.16.2013

Happy National Artichoke Heart Day!

Childhood me: "...So, if this part of it is the choke, is the bottom part the arti?"

Family: hysterical and unsupportive laughter.

Childhood me: "...well I though it was logical..."  Runs to bedroom to cry. 

 * * * * * *

Despite my traumatic beginnings with this absolutely bizarre edible thistle, I am and have always been very fond of artichokes.  And I'm also fond of pickled things.  Artichoke hearts?  Basically, it's a total score.

When I was a kid, my mom steamed fresh artichokes pretty regularly.  (See above traumatic childhood story.)  She also made her own version of "pasta prima vera" that featured canned artichoke hearts prominently.

These days, I most frequently get my artichoke hearts in my Reginelli's orders.  They come on the side of the hummus pitaco, the salad number three, and the avocado and asparagus salad (all of which are vegan when you order without cheese!).  Yes indeed-i-o, I loves me some artichoke hearts.  And so should you!

3.14.2013

Happy National Potato Chip Day!!

When it comes to potato chips, there are plenty of options.  But for New Orleanians, there is really just one choice: Zapp's!

Based in Gramercy, Louisiana since 1985, Zapp's are available all over the New Orleans area.  Admittedly, the company was bought a few years back.  But it doesn't seem to have tarnished Zapp's ways or deliciousness.  Pick them up absolutely anywhere.


3.13.2013

Happy National Coconut Torte Day!

Hmm.  Well, it seems that traditionally a coconut torte is made with an enormous quantity of egg whites - one of the most challenging veganizing conversions known to vegandom.  Of course, that doesn't me that we can't do it.  On the contrary, it's done been done.

Check out this project from a few years back by So Familiar a Gleam.  Are YOU brave enough to try it?

3.11.2013

Happy Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day! Yes, really.

There really is a day for everything I guess.  Now, I eat oatmeal with (wal)nuts pretty much every morning for breakfast.  But I must admit that until I saw this, I did not think of incorporating either ingredient into waffles.  Especially oatmeal.  I mean really?  Oatmeal?

According to The Internets, this is the best vegan oatmeal nut waffle recipe out there.  My darling husband, pictured right, is a talented waffle maker... so I probably need to make him make them for us.

What do you think?  Is yours even better?  Let us know!

3.10.2013

Happy Blueberry Popover Day!

Blueberries are my favorite berry.  They're just so... bizarre!  I mean think about it.  What else do you eat that even approaches this color?  The flavor is subtle, yet pungent and distinct.  And apparently they are superfood-level healthy.  You just cannot lose when it comes to this fruit.

During the summer you can stop by one of the Crescent City Farmer's Markets and get beautiful local blueberries like those pictured here.  But to make today's popovers, frozen berries should work just fine.

This recipe should be easy to veganize - just use soy milk and earth balance!  Bananas should work well as the "egg substitute."  Enjoy!

3.09.2013

Happy National Crabmeat Day!

Happy National Crabmeat Day!  That is to say, happy jackfruit crabfakes day!

All the veg*ns in town know that O'Shea of Dream a Little Green makes the very best vegan crabcakes there are.

But while she pursues the academic life, go ahead and try it for yourself.  Hell Yeah it's Vegan shows us how.  Happy eating!


3.08.2013

Happy National Peanut Cluster Day!

Oh man.  Here we go with the peanuts.  AGAIN.  I'm beginning to think that there is some sort of Peanut Council conspiracy controlling the designation of National Days.

Anyway.  Peanut clusters.  Just substitute some vegan, fair trade chocolate in this recipe and you'll be good to go.  Enjoy.


3.06.2013

Happy National Frozen Food Day!

Frozen food day... mmm... I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is a food industry gimmick.  What do you think?

Well at any rate, there is plenty of lovely frozen vegan food.  Freezing is even a great way to preserve the nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables.  It's also a great way to keep a pizza around for nights when you don't feel like cooking.  Whatever your pleasure, enjoy some frozen food today!


3.05.2013

Happy National Cheese Doodle Day!!

When it comes to cheese doodles, neon glow orange seems to be the norm.  But when it comes to *vegan* crunchy salty puffy snacks, everyone knows that Pirate's Booty is where it's at - specifically Veggie Booty or Barrrrbeque flavors.  You could of course also try Tings, if you can get past the fake Jamaican accent.

CRUNCH AWAY.


3.04.2013

Happy National Poundcake Day!!

Mmmm, poundcake - moist and delicate yet heavy simultaneously.  For me this is a treat from childhood, in which I have not indulged for twenty years.

And yet, I could: for starters, I could order a beautiful vegan vanilla poundcake from Etsy.  I could also bake one... in my slow cooker!  Yeah, I said it.  I'd also bet that The PeaceBaker could make a pretty wicked gluten-free poundcake, if you ask real nice.


3.03.2013

Happy National... Cold Cuts Day?


Hmm.  Cold cuts.  For me, this day evokes visions of sliced salami, bologna, and ham.  Particularly after they get a little slimy.  Oh, and the smell...  :{

Behold!  The miracle of modern food science!  In today's world, it's easy (if not healthy) to enjoy "cold cuts" while remaining vegan and cruelty-free.  There is of course the widely available SmartDeli line from Lightlife, but I don't suggest supporting it since it's made by ConAgra - denizen of processed meat products.

Instead, I suggest trying out one of the many varieties of Tofurky Slices available at Whole Foods or the New Orleans Food Co-Op.  Tofurky is owned by Turtle Island Foods, and per their website: "All of our products are kosher, vegan, and made with organic soybeans and/or organic tofu. We are a family owned and operated company."  So there ya go!

Pictured: Tofurky sandwich with hickory smoked slices, Zataran's creole mustard, and plenty of greens!

3.02.2013

Happy National Banana Cream Pie Day!

Hooray for Banana Cream Pie, that most hilarious and delicious of desserts.  And double plus hooray for *vegan* banana cream pie!  If you can get your hands on some mimicreme, try out this recipe from Happy Healthy Life.  Elsewise, try this one from Mercy for Animals' Choose Veg site.  And if you want to go so simple it's almost meta, give this one a shot.  You could even make it mini! And in case you just want to smell a banana cream pie, here's a candle for you.

Enjoy your banana goodness!


3.01.2013

Happy March! And Happy Caffeine!!

Happy March y'all!  This month we celebrate this fascinating list of disparate things:
  • Caffeine!  (OK so technically it's Caffeine Awareness Month, but that's no fun at all.  So let's go with my way.)
  • Celery
  • Flour
  • Frozen Food
  • Noodles (!!!)
  • Sauce
  • Nutrition... sure
  • and... wait for it... PEANUT.
Yes.  That's right.  And just in case you haven't had quite enough peanuts: today, March 1, is National Peanut Butter Lover's Day!  Yep, ya heard me.  Love you some peanut butter.

I like my peanut butter enrobed in chocolate, like so:


Ah.  So January 24th was also National Peanut Butter Lover's Day.  Incidentally, today is also National Fruit Compote Day.  Think there's any way we can put them together??