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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Final Thoughts

Here we are, the last night of Vegan MoFo. What a month it has been.

I started out in Missouri, shared my Vegan Story, and just a week into this blogathon, I moved 1,400 miles away.
I blogged along the way, sharing notes from the road and my stops in Saint Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, and Gainesville. When I made it to Florida, safe and sound, I kept on blogging, despite being in a time warp since leaving the Show Me State and living in limbo since I arrived in the alternate universe that is southwest Florida. Still, I hit the ground running and have been very optimistic about everything since I returned. I've even been able to share some glimpses of my Florida life with you, through potlucks and nature and, of course, food. (Including a Thanksgiving flashback.) There were some fun reviews and some fun giveaways. I shared with you a vegan rap song and a vegan poem (neither performed or written by yours truly - sorry, folks! Maybe next year!).

I had every intention of blogging for every single day of November, but I missed three days, due to internet complications on the road once, and heavy distraction upon arrival twice. I think you understand. Because of all that I had going on, I fell behind with reviews and giveaways, but that just means you can look forward to them in December, just in time for Festivus.

I had so much fun reading all the fantastic vegan blogs that participated in Vegan MoFo. It felt like we were all running a marathon together. A marathon of delicious food, ran from our seats and desks. Though I can't promise daily blogging post-MoFo, I will be blogging regularly, so I hope everyone will continue to stop by. I'll still be eating and I'll still be traveling, thus I will still have something to share.

I dedicate this song to my fellow MoFo-ers. Job well done, comrades.

(I will also take any opportunity to post early 90s music videos.)

Just Wheat Me Alone

Over the holiday weekend, I kind of felt like Michael Jackson in his video for "Leave Me Alone."

But instead of being hounded by the paparazzi, I was bombarded with wheat products. Seriously, here's the breakdown:
Tofurkey and other wheaty trimmings on Thursday
Pizza on Friday
Some pita bread Friday night (and normally, a few little pita triangles wouldn't hurt me, but this time, it was on top of the rest of the wheat extravaganza, so it was just more wheat fuel to the wheat fire).

Needless to say, I'M DONE!

I've blogged about my relationship with wheat in the past, but I feel I should address it again, since it's been awhile. I'm not 100% wheat-free. I don't believe I have Crohn's or Celiac's or even an actual wheat allergy, but I've never been tested by a doctor or dietitian. It's through intuitive eating, through listening to my body, that I realized that I am what I call wheat sensitive. I can handle eating a couple crackers or a cookie every now and then, but my pasta and sammich days are over (unless it's with gluten-free pasta or bread, which doesn't seem to bother me). It was through the elimination of wheat products from my regular diet that made me realize why I constantly had stomach and digestive issues, ever since I was a tween (which is also when I first went vegetarian and started to eat a very pasta-heavy diet because I was clueless about nutrition, didn't know how to cook, and was the only vegetarian in the family). This was not a huge sacrifice to make, though, because once I learned how to cook, I lost interest in pasta.

After my Two Day Wheat Extravaganza, I was pretty stoked to go to Sweet Tomatoes with a friend on Sunday and load up on some necessary veggies.

Hoofin' it around Fort Myers was also lovely (and pretty darn hot).

Watch out for that gator!

If I had to choose a palm tree to represent myself, I think it would be this one.

I'm back aboard the veggie train, having left Wheat Station, and not looking back. (Until the next major holiday.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Best Tofu Scramble Yet

I've always loved the idea of tofu scramble. I've always thought they sounded really good, too. However, I wasn't always the best at making them myself. Over the years, I would occasionally experiment with tofu scrambles, always adding or tweaking or taking away. Then my stop in Saint Louis just three weeks ago, where my darling host whipped up a fantastic batch of tofu scramble, gave me some ideas to perfect my own tofu scramble concoction. Last week I had a serious craving for some yellow crumbly tofu, and I was very pleased with the results.

I used almost half a block of extra firm tofu (drained and squeezed, of course) and crumbled the pieces by hand. I tossed it around in the pan with a little bit of olive oil and the oh-so-necessary turmeric, as well as some garlic, curry, cumin, coriander, and freshly cracked black pepper. Next came the veggies, my favorite part: diced bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach, as well as a couple Tablespoons of salsa (this is KEY!). I also threw in some leftover kidney beans and brown rice because, as we all know, anything goes in a tofu scramble.

And then I just cooked and flipped, tossed and cooked some more. I seem to like my tofu scrambles "well done." If the end product seems a little dry, I found that a little barbecue sauce perks things up quite nicely (as seen above). If you're a ketchup kind of person, I'm sure that could work, too.

The "anything goes" vibe of tofu scramble really appeals to me, especially when it's time to use up things in the fridge. Experimentation keeps things interesting in the kitchen. Instead of kidney beans, black beans or chickpeas would be a great option. If you have leftover quinoa instead of brown rice, toss it in! Any kind of pepper would work well, too. Go spicy if you aren't a wimp, like me. Since it's post-Thanksgiving, you could throw in some diced Tofurkey, if you're buried in leftovers. If I had had any avocado on hand, I would have chopped some up and added that after removing the scramble from heat. I highly recommend the salsa, though: it made such a phenomenal difference. Dare I say, it was what was missing all along.

In conclusion, tofu scramble is art.

What's in your tofu scramble?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Whole Lotta Pizza

After a little bit of activism on Black Friday, a group of lovely vegans and I worked up an appetite for some pizza. We set our sights on Gourmet Pizza in Tampa and our appetites on STUN.

Vegan breadsticks were a-flowin', both with and without Daiya.

I went thirdsies on a cheeseless "pesto vegan" pizza.

I used to somewhat dislike green olives, but since returning to Florida, I have found myself face to face with green olives several times, and I'm starting to like it.

Here's the pesto vegan pizza with melted Daiya shreds.

A veganized Mediterranean pizza (not actually on the vegan menu, but was made upon request)

A 10" mushroomy pizza

Psst... they also offer vegan & gluten-free cookies from a local bakery! I didn't try any of them, but I certainly appreciate them being available.

I'm not the biggest fan of vegan pizza, purely because it's too much bread and NEVER enough veggies. Still, Gourmet Pizza is a nice, vegan-friendly pizza place in Tampa with some interesting flavor combinations. I appreciate that they also offer 10" gluten-free crusts, as well as vegan & gluten-free cookies. (That's something I always loved about Waldo Pizza: the vegan cupcakes!) And still, my most memorable vegan pizza experience remains Galactic Pizza in Minneapolis. Their pizza is great, but it's those delivery men in superhero costumes that really do it for me...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

What an awesome Thanksgiving I had! I attended the Tampa ThanksVegan Feast and met some really wonderful people. Honestly, this event was, for me, more about the people than the food. Above, you can see my plate, which held some pretty yummy foods, but I can barely remember it. I was just having so much fun chatting with so many new people.

(But I know you want to know what's what on that plate, so starting at 12:00, you're looking at: mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, a dollop of shepherd's pie, broccoli "quiche," baked mac & "cheese," roasted veggies (mostly beets), wheat berry "Waldorf" salad, tabouleh salad, curry tempeh salad, a little chunk of Tofurky, a little chunk of Celebration Roast, and a little dollop of cinnamon-cranberry sauce.)

In fact, let's just do a quick roll call on some of the potluck dishes.

To start, there was a Sheese and crackers spread.

It was very popular.

Now on to the dishes.

Lots of chatting and picture taking caused me to miss out on most of the dessert table. I was able to nab two little pieces of "cheese"cake, one NY style and the other gingerbread, and I added a little strip of Rice Whip, just for funsies. (NY style was my favorite of the two.)

There were a lot of other interesting desserts included in the spread.

What's a vegan potluck without a chocolate tofu pie, amirite?!

There were also piles of So Delicious Neopolitan ice cream sandwiches, chocolate-almond ice cream bars, and cotton candy!
Though this ThanksVegan feast was much larger than last week's potluck, I paced myself very well and didn't overindulge. (However, between this event and the next day's event, I definitely ate more wheat than I ever normally would, so I'm feeling a little out of whack and am ready to get back on my mostly-wheat-free diet.) Since I became the designated picture taker for the day, I was kept busy, trying to make sure I took pictures of as many people as possible (and usually, my focus is on the food, so this was a fun little challenge). I believe the grand total of attendees was 206.

Even a news camera man showed up!

So many great people came together and volunteered their time and talents and made this a really fun event. I can see why it's so popular - this was their 5th annual ThanksVegan!