Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan S'more Cookie Sandwich - Grateful Grahams REVIEW

Since I'm on a quest to find the perfect vegan graham crackers for s'mores, I decided to give Grateful Grahams a try. I bought the original (cinnamon) flavor.

Grateful Grahams

First things first - they are *definitely* more of a cookie than a cracker; they're a bit soft (more so when microwaved) and not even remotely crunchy. That said, they have a pretty decent flavor that went well with my Sweet & Sara vanilla marshmallows and dark chocolate bar.

Vegan S'more Cookie Sandwich

They're also kind of huge - about twice the size of a standard non-vegan graham cracker and at least 4 times larger than the vegan Health Valley grahams. Two of these make a s'more cookie sandwich that's good for sharing.

Vegan S'more Cookie Sandwich

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan Bagel Pizza

I'll get back to posting restaurant reviews and posts of...well, generally more substance tomorrow, but I'm going to take a moment to brag about my boyfriend. Even though I haven't convinced him to go vegan, he occasionally makes me awesome vegan food, like this vegan bagel pizza -

Vegan Bagel Pizza

We didn't have any vegan cheese at the time, but the combination of marinara sauce, black olives, tomatoes, and mushrooms was incredibly tasty!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Idli & Sambhar

I'd be posting a recipe if there was one, but this food was (I'll admit) made from boxes. I happen to live close to several nice Indian groceries, and I got two different box mixes for idli (a south Indian savory cake made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils and rice) and sambhar (a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and toor dal). The sambhar is really easy to make by following the directions on the box (you just add a few ingredients, like water and tomatoes), but the idli takes a bit more effort. An Indian friend of mine bought me some idli steaming trays a while back, and I finally got around to using them for this batch of idlis. You take a large pot, fill just the bottom with water, fill each well in the trays with idli batter, stack the trays together, put them in the pot, cover, and steam the idlis until they're finished. The result (if done right) is a slightly spongy cake that tastes great either dipped in the sambhar or crumbled up into it.



Idli & Sambhar

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World!

I've got to admit - even though they're trendy, I'm still professing my love for cupcakes. They're pretty easy to bake, easy to eat, and they travel well. My all-time favorite cupcake cookbook is Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World! by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Here are some fabulous cupcakes I've made from their book -

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegan Mocha Cupcakes
Unfrosted Mocha Cupcakes
Frosted Mocha Cupcake

Man - now I want to make more cupcakes!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Carrot Orange Smoothie

Normally, I make green smoothies, but here's an orange one! I used two large-ish organic carrots, about 10 oz of organic orange juice, an once or two of Silk Pumpkin Spice soy milk, one packet of Immune Defense EmergenC, two tablespoons of ground flax seed, a tablespoon of acacia fiber, and a splash of blackstrap molasses. Yum!

Orange Carrot Smoothie 1

Orange Carrot Smoothie 2

Orange Carrot Smoothie 3

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Vegan Thanksgiving (and an update on the Dressing)

I had a great time with my family today at our Thanksgiving lunch (and dinner, which was leftovers from lunch). My mother made fruit salad, green beans, beets, cranberry sauce (well, the sauce came from a can), roasted sweet potatoes, and finally found the Vegan Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute by Field Roast at the San Antonio Whole Foods (yay!) For desert, I had a vegan chocolate pudding pie as well as a vegan chocolate brownie with pumpkin topping for which she'd found a recipe online at Isa Chandra Moskowitz's and Terry Hope Romero's blog.

Fruit Salad


Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Vegan Green Beans

Vegan Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute by Field Roast

Vegan Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute by Field Roast

My Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner!

Vegan Chocolate Brownie Torte With Pumpkin Topping

Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pie

Vegan Pies!

It was all delicious, and I've got some leftovers for the week - yay!

Also, I checked with my mother about the dressing I mentioned in my last post, and she said that the "4 or 5 eggs" were to just go in with the broth, not to be pre-cooked or anything. So, I'm thinking I'd just need to thicken the broth up a smidge, perhaps with a bit of silken tofu blended with some of the broth, as some have suggested. I'm going to try and start veganizing the dressing soon, so that I can hopefully have it done by Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Great-Grandmother's Recipe For Dressing (And A Call For Help)

Growing up, my absolute favorite thing about both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with my family was always the dressing, made from my great-grandmother's recipe. Now, there have been a ton of debates all over the internet as to whether this particular dish ought to be called "dressing", "stuffing", or be name-dependent on how and where it's cooked, but my Texas family always called it "dressing" and never cooked it inside of anything other than a baking dish.

When I became vegan 6 years ago, my mother (bless her heart) tried her best to accommodate my "weird new dietary choices". I recall one of her first attempts - she made a vegan apple pie which looked great (my family does pie for holiday deserts. Pie, period, and lots of it.) When I asked her about the crust, she told me it was a Pillsbury roll-out ready pie crust. When I checked, yup, there was lard. Ew. Thus began the first of a long list of definitions and explanations I provided for my mother. Since then, she's become amazingly adept at making vegan food for me - no more pig in the green beans, vegan salad and side dish options, and pretty much everything except the main dish was completely vegan (my family still eats turkey and ham, but my mother gets Tofurkey or another faux meat for me).

The one problem with all of the changes and conversions is that my mother hasn't *quite* got a good vegan version of my great-grandmother's dressing. She tried one year, but it didn't turn out the way it should, and didn't taste like what I remembered from my childhood. A few days ago, I asked her to send me the recipe so I could possibly have a go at veganizing it. I'm going to post it here, and if any of you wonderful readers have ideas for vegan alternatives to the non-vegan ingredients, I'd love to hear them!

Here's the original "recipe" my mother sent to me (she said that there wasn't a recipe, per se, but just what my aunt had written down while watching my great-grandmother make it) -


Cornbread - double batch
white Pioneer
no sugar
1 extra egg
1 can biscuits (4 or 5)
TOAST WHITE BREAD IN OVEN until crisp (6 to 8 slices)

Crumble all bread into bowl

Add: broth
1 stick melted butter
4 to 5 eggs
long onions (shallots)

Make real soupy

Bake 350 degrees


When I asked my mother to clarify a few of the details, she sent me this update -

Pioneer corn meal recipe - corn bread

1 cup corn meal
1/3 c flour [April's note - Apparently, this is supposed to be white flour, which I'd rather not use. Thoughts on the best healthy replacement?]
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk [April's note - I'd probably use my regular So Delicious Coconut Milk, unless some other non-dairy milk would taste better]
1 egg (beaten) [April's note - I'd use EnerG Egg Replacer here, most likely]
3 tbls cooking oil
1 T. sugar (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add milk and egg, stir together. Add cooking oil and thoroughly mix. Pour into an 8 inch round cake pan and bake at 450 degrees F for 20 to 25 min. Mom [my grandmother] makes a double batch and uses a long cake pan. Put some oil in the bottom of pan and put in oven to get oil and pan hot before putting in cornbread mix.

Biscuits: Cheapest ones I can find. Cook first and then tear into very small pieces. [April's note - I either have to find some heathy (no bleached flour, etc.) vegan biscuits, or else find an easy recipe for vegan biscuits.]

Toast: I try to get very crisp and then put in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin.

Broth: At least 5 cans; You need it to be very soupy. If you run out of broth, you can add hot water. I do not how how much. We start mixing and keep adding until it is juicy.

Sage: to taste
Onion: 1 large finely chopped
Shallots: I buy one bunch.


So that's the recipe (or the beginnings of one, in any case). Ideas, anyone?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

RECIPES - April's Marinated Tofu & April's Apple Sage Curry

Yet again, no pictures...so I'm giving you TWO recipes to make up for it! My loss is your gain!

*turns off cheesy announcer voice*

April's Marinated Tofu

1/2 cup Braggs liquid aminos
1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 slightly rounded tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cumin

Start by pressing 1 block of regular tofu (not silken) until as much liquid as possible has come out of it.

After it has been pressed, slice it into cubes (or leave it in slabs, depending on how you want to use the tofu afterwards), and soak it in the marinade (all ingredients above, mixed well) for at least 2 hours (I usually try to plan ahead and soak it overnight).

When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 400F.

Put the tofu on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a single layer and roast in the top part of the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Serve over rice (or pasta, or in a wrap, or serve slabs on a sandwich). Very versatile!


April's Apple Sage Curry

3 small potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 Field Roast brand Apple Sage Vegan Sausages, cut into bite-sized slices
1/2 cup green peas
1 13.5 oz can of chopped black olives
3 Tablespoons of peanut satay sauce
1 12 oz jar of Thai Coconut Galangal Stir Fry Sauce (I used World Foods brand)
5-6 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Stir the potatoes in the oil until well-coated. Cover skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add the Thai Coconut Galangal Stir Fry Sauce and peanut satay sauce and stir. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add sausage, peas, and olives, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool a bit and enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

RECIPE - April's Spicy Sauced Squash

April's Spicy Sauced Squash

Yet again, a recipe with no pictures. Bad blogger, no biscuit. *hangs head* Since this is certainly squash season, I'll be making this again soon and add pictures when I do!

1 butternut squash, chopped into cubes or sliced into rounds

3 heaping Tbsp of peanut butter
1 Tbsp ginger paste
1 Tbsp Earth Balance
1 1/2 cups So Delicious coconut milk
several good shakes of rosemary, thyme, and garam masala

1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
1 serrano pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped (or minced)

2/3 cup - 1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix the peanut butter, ginger paste, Earth Balance, coconut milk, and spices together and pour into a baking dish (I used an 8X6X2 Pyrex dish - you could use a bigger dish, but the sauce might not cover the squash as well).

Sauté the onion, serrano pepper, and garlic in just enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and add this mix to the sauce.

Add the squash and raisins and mix well. Bake for 45-60 minutes.

Serve with brown rice.

(Note - forgetting the raisins and then tossing them into the hot oven and hoping to get them all into the baking dish is not a good idea. Raisins, left in a hot oven, turn back into grapes. They then turn into charcoal. On the one hand, ew. On the other hand....dude, cool!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

RESTAURANT REVIEW - Sodade Coffee, Austin, TX

Sodade Coffee
12001 Burnet Rd. Austin, TX 78758
Mon - Fri 6:30am - 9:00pm
Sat & Sun  8:00am - 8:00pm

This little shop has a light and airy feel, with a concrete floor, two white walls and one olive green wall. The furnishings are very Ikea-inspired: 5 small 2-3 person tables with white chairs, one dark brown leather couch, and a white coffee table surrounded by two nifty-looking molded white and red plastic chairs and two red cubist chairs. Several photos adorn the wall above the red chairs, and there are two sets of shelves with bagged coffee, tea, cups, and syrups on them. This is not really a place to bring a large group.

I was delighted that Sodade serves yerba maté, and I ordered a soy maté latté with vanilla syrup. Mmmmm! They also have fruit smoothies which are vegan, and two brands of chai, one of which is vegan. They also sell bottled Naked and Good Flow juices (Good Flow is local and independently owned). Since I visited, they've added bubble tea, though I don't know if it's vegan or not. As to vegan food, they have fresh fruit cups.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Mama Fu's
11301 Lakeline Boulevard #300, Austin, TX - (512) 637-6771
Suite C-100, 9600 South I-35, Austin, TX - (512) 637-6772
4615 North Lamar Boulevard #307, Austin, TX - (512) 637-6773
100 Colorado Street, Austin, TX - (512) 637-6774
512 E Riverside Dr # 250, Austin, TX - (512) 949-3220
(Check website for hours.)

I got the Tofu Teriyaki ($7.99), which they promised me was vegan. It was quite tasty, with large thinly-sliced strips of firm tofu, brown rice, carrots, green cabbage, sweet onions, mushrooms, and spinach in a teriyaki sauce. Overall, a decent amount of food for the money. For a chain restaurant, their food is surprisingly good, but make sure you ask the person behind the counter to verify any specific dish's vegan status.

Tofu available on pretty much every main dish
Brown rice available

Label for spicy, but not for vegetarian; will have to ask about each dish to make sure it doesn't contain any egg, fish, etc.

Friday, November 19, 2010

RESTAURANT REVIEW - Kick Butt Coffee, Austin, TX

Kick Butt Coffee
*5775 Airport Blvd. Suite 725, Austin, TX 78752 / (512) 454-5425
Open Mon-Fri 7am-10pm or Later - Sat/Sun 8am-10pm or Later
*4600 Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78751 / (512) 467-4365
Open Mon-Fri 7am-10pm or Later - Sat/Sun 8am-Midnight or Later

I visited the Kick Butt Coffee location on Airport. The inside is done all in dark and light wood with red and galvanized steel accents. The decor consists of large round mirrors (somewhat reminiscent of feng shui mirrors), swords and other bladed items on the wall, and a black and gold leaf picture of horses. There's also a clock on the wall made to look like a large throwing star and a poster of "Chuck Norris Facts". Seating consists of small two person tables, bar stools at the bar, and three booths. Besides beverages and food, they also sell foam nunchucks and foam throwing stars. The coffee shop seems to be owned by the same people who own a Tai Chi and Kung Fu studio, so there are ads in the bathrooms and on the website for the studio. Kick Butt offers free password-protected wi-fi.

I ordered a soy mint mocha, and it was good. My companion ordered an antioxidant smoothie, which the barrista told me was vegan as well. The chai is made with honey. Besides the smoothies, several mochas and lattes are available with soymilk. They offer Ronnie’s Real Food Vegan Cookies, and a "Green Dragon Samich" (Provolone, Tomatoes, Romaine on Focaccia with a secret blend of basil infused extra virgin olive oil) that looks like it might be vegan without the provolone, but at that point, it's just a BLT without the B. They also have a full bar, for those who are into that sort of thing.

Kick Butt Coffee has regular nightly events, such as bellydance shows and blues dancing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


When I was a kid, one of my favorite all-time foods was fried okra. When I became an adult and moved out to live on my own, I asked my mother to give me a recipe for fried okra, figuring I could veganize it. "Well," she said, "you go to the store and buy a bag of fried okra from the freezer section..." *facepalm* Oh, Mother. Since then, I've been on a quest for the perfect fried okra recipe. Most recipes I've found/been given simply call for rolling the okra in something approximating crumbly bits and frying, and you don't really end up with that solidly-coated fried yumminess that I recall so fondly from my childhood.

Fast forward to three days ago. I'm surfing the net, reading various other peoples' Vegan MoFo posts, and I find a wonderful recipe for fried okra from I Eat Trees. Oh, yeah, baby - this looks like it'll produce something good!

So, without further ado (and with a full onslaught of pictures to make up for my severe lack in my last post), here's my fried okra!

I have been looking for okra since I found the recipe. Every store I visit had it "last week" or "yesterday", but never the day I went. Today, I found it at Wheatsville!

Here's the ingredients I used. Instead of soy milk, I used coconut milk, and instead of garlic powder, I used hing (they're what I had).
Fried Okra Ingredients

Here's the flour/cornmeal mixture, vegan "buttermilk", and sliced okra -
Fried Okra Setup

I found the easiest way to coat the soaked okra in the flour mixture was to put it in the bowl with a tight-fitting lid and shake!
Do The Okra Shake!

Fry, baby, fry!
Okra Frying

The finished product!
Fried Okra!

Overall, it tasted great, though I think I'll let it fry longer next time (most of the pieces were not quite as soft as I would have liked). Also, it didn't stay warm as long as I would have liked, so I'll probably use a small deep bowl next time. But, hey - fried okra! My inner child is thanking me and doing a happy dance!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RECIPE - April's Caramel Apple Pie

April's Caramel Apple Pie
(With acknowledgment to "Katia and Granny's Perfect Apple Pie", "Brandi's Famous Caramel Apple Pie!", and all of the VegWeb recipes for vegan pie crusts.)

Ingredients for pie crust
* 2 3/4 cups whole grain pastry flour
* 3/4 cup Earth Balance or oil (or a combination of the two?) (one small stick of Earth Balance plus 4 tablespoons)
* 1 teaspoon sucanat
* 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 8-9 tablespoons cold soy milk

Ingredients for pie filling
* 3-4 apples, unpeeled and cored, then sliced or chopped
* 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon cardamom

Ingredients for caramel sauce
* 1 cup of brown sugar
* 1/2 cup Earth Balance
* 1/3 cup MimiCreme
* 2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons flour


Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

***Preparing Pie Crusts

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Combine Earth Balance/oil and soy milk with flour (food processor, hand mixer, or fork) until crumbly. Add vanilla extract. Divide dough in half. Place one half in between two sheets of waxed paper or aluminum foil and roll with a rolling pin until it fits the pie pan.

Bake bottom pie crust halfway (10 minutes or so). While it is baking, roll out the other half of the dough and slice into strips for a lattice top. Set aside.

*** Preparing the Filling

Chop or slice the apples. Saute the apples in Earth Balance for about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

***Preparing Caramel Sauce

Put Earth Balance into a saucepan on medium high heat until melted, add sugar and flour, stir to mix, and bring to a boil. Wisk constantly to incorporate. Once the Earth Balance has melted and mixture is smooth, take the pan off the heat. Slowly add the MimiCreme to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes.

***Putting It All Together

Remove pie crust from oven. Fill with apple mixture and pour caramel sauce over the top.

Make a lattice from the top crust strips on pie.

Bake for 15 minutes uncovered, then cover with foil and continue to cook at 350 degrees F for another 35-45 minutes.

Here's the bottom crust rolled out -
My Vegan Caramel Apple Pie, Take 3

Here's the caramel and apple mixture poured into the crust -
My Vegan Caramel Apple Pie, Take 3

Here's the lattice-work top crust in place, before the pie went into the oven -
My Vegan Caramel Apple Pie, Take 3

Here's the finished pie (the caramel exploded just a bit!) -
My Vegan Caramel Apple Pie, Take 3

If you have leftover filling and crust (or perhaps an extra apple), you can make the leftovers into a pielette (or just halve or third the recipe and use a smaller dish for baking) -
My Vegan Caramel Apple Pielette, Take 1

My Vegan Caramel Apple Pielette, Take 2

My Vegan Caramel Apple Pielette, Take 2

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Clay Pit
1601 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX 78701
(512) 322-5131
Mon-Thu 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm
Fri 11am-2pm, 5pm-11pm
Sat 12pm-3pm, 5pm-11pm
Sun 12pm-3pm

Vegan offerings on the menu include Veggie Samosas, Veggie Pakoras, Batata Cham (potato patty), Taj Mahal Soup, Tandori Roti (the only vegan bread), Channa Masala, Aloo Gobi, Veggie Ayam, Kadhu Curry, Bombay Aloo, and Veggie Biryani. My dining companion and I went on a Monday evening with no reservation, and had a 20-25 minute wait for a table.

I ordered my dish medium spicy, and as glad that I had not ordered it hot. I've got a decent spice tolerance, though not nearly as great as some of my friends. The dish had a kick to it, but it was very flavorful, and the spiciness was balanced out nicely by the roti.

Overall, Clay Pit is a bit on the pricey side, but has a good selection, helpful waitstaff, and a nice atmosphere. It's a good choice for special occasions.

Monday, November 15, 2010

RESTAURANT REVIEW - Alborz Persian Cuisine, Austin, TX

Alborz Persian Cuisine
3300 W Anderson Lane #303
Austin, Texas 78757
(512) 420-2222
Sun-Thurs 11:30AM - 9:30PM
Fri-Sat 11:30AM - 10:30PM
Belly dancing Fridays and Saturdays 8PM-10PM

The vegan options on the menu are similar to any Greek place in town - pretty much all of the vegan appetizers are available as the "Vegetarian Delights" plate - hummus, tabouli, baba ghannooj, and dolmeh. There's also a "Combination Plate" - skewers of mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes served on a bed of basmati rice. Other than that, I was intrigued that the "Alborz House Stews" (all of which contain either chicken or beef) were starred to indicate "also available as vegetarian entrees". Just going off the menu, once you take the animal out of these dishes there ought not to be much left (herbs, kidney beans, and dried lemon on the "Khoresh Gormeh Sabzi", onions and yellow split peas in a saffron-tomato sauce on the "Khoresh Gheymeh", eggplant and tomato sauce on the "Khoresh Bademjan", and puree of walnuts and pomegranate sauce on the "Khoresh Fesenjan" - all served over basmati rice), but I figured I'd ask. Well, the waiter informed me that there was no substitution process; they simply left off the meat. I figured it wouldn't be so bad if one could combine some ingredients (split peas and eggplant, for example), but the non-meat items are all already combined and baked (they constitute the "stew"). Personally, I think that $11.95 is too much to pay for walnuts and pomegranate sauce over rice.

I ended up going with the "Vegetarian Delights" plate. It was good, and a decent amount of food, but nothing out of the ordinary for your basic Mediterranean/Greek standards.

Overall, unless you're really craving veggie skewers or baba ghannooj, I'd suggest going across the parking lot to Satay, which has a much greater variety of choices.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

RESTAURANT REVIEW - Mellow Mushroom, Austin, TX

Mellow Mushroom
2426 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78705
(512) 472-6356
Mon-Thurs 11AM-Midnight
Fri-Sat 11AM-1AM
Sun 12PM-Midnight

Upon entering Mellow Mushroom, I am struck by the mixture of old and new, and also by the feeling that I've just accidentally stepped into someone's rather groovy trip. My mother would really dig the brick-colored tin ceiling tiles, my dad would love the wooden plank tables sparingly decorated with vintage coins, and my inner hippie is impressed by the murals, bright colors, and three-deminsional Willie Nelson in a canoe.
Mellow Mushroom - Austin, TX

Mellow Mushroom's menu boasts healthy ingredients, including "tofu, tempeh, artichoke hearts, broccoli, spinach, and fresh basil, just to name a few." They have lots of hoagies and salads. According to the menu, the "pizza crust is basted with garlic butter and sprinkled with parmesan", but they'll do a vegan crust upon request. The "Munchies" section includes hummus dip and pita bread as well as salted soft pretzels which are vegan. Unfortunately, the garlic bread is not vegan.

This visit was the first time I'd been here since they started carrying vegan cheese, so I decided to get the "Mega Veggie" pizza (sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, roma tomatoes, broccoli, feta, banana peppers, artichoke hearts, and tofu) with no feta and tempeh instead of tofu. It arrived with a ton of toppings piled on it (yay!) and they were all fresh and flavorful. The tempeh was really outstanding on the pizza, with a superb texture and lovely savory flavor. The crust was soft and slightly chewy, and tasted good dispite the slight structural problems of not *quite* being able to support the toppings. (This was a multi-napkin pizza!) I'm not positive, but I think they use Teese cheese on their pizza, which melts pretty well and has a very gooey texture. My omni dining companion mentioned that he would have enjoyed the pizza just as well without the cheese, since it didn't have a lot of flavor, just texture. I think I could go either way; I love the fact that Mellow Mushroom is one of a handful of Austin-area pizza joints that offer vegan cheese, but I agree that this particular pizza would have held its own just as well without the cheese.
Mellow Mushroom - Austin, TX
Mellow Mushroom - Austin, TX
Mellow Mushroom - Austin, TX
(Additional pictures are in my Flickr stream, including art featuring aliens destroying New York.)

Mellow Mushroom also has free internet (yay!) The music is constantly rather loud, and if it's crowded (even partially so), the overall noise level can be quite high. Conversation with one's dining companion(s) can be a bit difficult. Of course, on this visit they played several songs from Weird Al, so I give them bonus points for that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

RESTAURANT REVIEW - The Steeping Room, Austin, TX

The Steeping Room
The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758
(512) 977-8337
Mon - Thurs: 8am - 9 pm
Fri & Sat: 8 am - 10 pm
Sun: 10 am - 7 pm

The Steeping Room is one of the shops in the rather massive Domain shopping center. It has very high ceilings and lots of booth seating. They have a 7-page menu of various loose leaf teas which is very impressive, as well as a 4 page menu of various tea and coffee drinks and food. I ordered my favorite drink off the menu, a chocolate chipotle chai, and the Mediterranean platter with no feta. The tofu spring rolls are also quite yummy, and they have a couple of vegetable sandwiches that can be made vegan with the omission of cheese. In fact, anything on the menu that's marked with a "V" means that the dish can be prepared vegan. While I feel that the "Classic Sandwiches" are a bit overpriced for what you get, the Ginger Tofu sandwich ($8.75) is pretty tasty. Several of the times I've been there, the very friendly waitresses have told me about a vegan cookie that was available. (I think their desert options depend on what they feel like making that morning, to some extent.) For their drinks, they've got soy milk and agave nectar.

In 2008, one of their vegan employees posted on the Vegans Rock Austin group - "We do indeed have a growing number of vegan options, including cookies, cupcakes, one scone (currant), all of our salads (and dressings) , a new bowl consisting of a rotating grain, bean, and green with tofu, and three of our sandwiches. Some items require substitution but they are labeled as such on the menus. We always have at least one vegan soup and often times two. We were recognized in the Austin Chronicle this year for best "indoor" cupcakes, including our vegan double chocolate ones, and we received a mention under best tofu dish (probably our ginger tofu sandwich, but possibly the napa rolls). We are also independent, locally owned, and all natural!"

Overall, this place has an amazing selection of drinks and some tasty food, but prices are a bit steep. If you go during "Happy Hour" (5-7 pm M-F), lots of tea drinks and the Mediterranean plate, napa rolls, and edamame are all half price.

Soup & a vegan scone (so yummy!) -
The Steeping Room, Austin, TX - Soup & Scone

Chocolate chipotle chai -
The Steeping Room, Austin, TX - Chocolate Chipotle Chai

Friday, November 12, 2010


801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704-1509
(512) 916-4808
Sun-Thurs: 5pm-10pm
Fri-Sat: 5pm-11pm

The place was very full when we went on Tuesday night, and we waited about 45 minutes for our table. The interior is dark with a lot of red, cream, and dark wood, and there are regular tables as well as extended bar seating so one might talk to the sushi chefs directly. Being full, the restaurant was also fairly loud, and we had to raise our voices slightly to be heard.

When I ran the fact that I was vegan in front of our server, she confirmed that the Bond and Kappa sushi rolls were vegan, and said that the kitchen could make other vegan rolls for me. She also said she'd check on what other offerings I might be able to eat.

Uchi - Austin, TX

I started out with the Tomato Katsu (panko-fried green tomatoes), and the waitress said that she would also bring out a vegan sauce for me, since the regular sauce contains roe. She was really polite and helpful, and suggested that I go ahead and get the Bond roll (avocado, sundried tomato, and white soybean paper), and that the kitchen would send out a couple of surprise dishes. I told her that as long as it was vegan and not ridiculously spicy that I was game for anything. The tomatoes were really tasty, and the vegan sauce was thick and reminded me a bit of barbeque sauce. My dining companions and I also shared Japanese eggplant tempura, which was fresh and savory. The Bond roll was 8 small pieces and had a mild, smooth flavor. I didn't notice the sundried tomato until the very last piece, but it provided a lovely contrast to the creamy avocado.

Uchi - Austin, TX

The "vegan surprise" was three artfully-stacked small piles of vegetable matter drizzled with a bicolor sauce. The waitress told me what was in the dish, but I didn't catch it. There were definitely potatoes, and they were topped with some green leafy things that reminded me a bit of green onions. The whole dish was a wonderful fusion of savory and light flavors, and the sauce complimented it perfectly. The waitress brought out another roll with grilled asparagus, avocado, cucumber, and black and white sesame seeds. The combination of crispy, creamy, and chewy was really outstanding.

I finished up with Ocha Zuke soup (white rice, roasted seaweed and sesame, immersed in hot green tea). It was flavorful and very mild. In honor of it being the birthday of one of my dining companions, we were served cracked black pepper sorbet with fresh strawberries (which was vegan as well). The spicy pepper was complimented and balanced by the fresh strawberries.

Overall, I was very impressed by the flexibility of the kitchen staff and the helpful friendliness of the waitress. The food was delicious and inventive.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


3202 W Anderson Ln #205, Austin, TX 78757
(512) 467-6731
Sun-Thurs: 11am-10pm / Fri & Sat: 11am to 11pm

I was very impressed to see quite a few dishes on the menu with a symbol meaning "Can Be Prepared Vegetarian", but some of the symbols seemed to be next to dishes that couldn't possibly be veg, and there were no symbols next to seemingly naturally veg dishes. I ended up ordering the Laksa Noodle Soup which the American waiter told me confidently was vegan. Veggie dumplings were lovely and the Asian hostess explained that the lack of "Can Be Prepared Vegetarian" labels by some of the dishes was due to lots of menu reprints instead of actual presence of meat. The soup, which came in a *huge* bowl, was very flavorful and had a spiciness that built up. I had the chocolate pie with fruits for desert. It was clearly marked vegan, as was the dark chocolate pudding. However, the pie came out topped with something that looked suspiciously like whipped cream. My omnivorous dining partner scraped it off, remarking that it might be something else, since it tasted a bit odd for whipped cream. The pie and fruit were very tasty, though.

Satay Austin, TX - Vegan Chocolate Pie

Satay Austin, TX - Vegan Pudding

Overall, a really tasty meal, and I'll definitely be back to try the vegan corn cakes and vegan yam cakes. I just wish they would fix their menu. Vegans will need to check with the wait person to ascertain the exact ingredients in any given dish.

Many vegan options, including items not normally available vegan
Delicious food

Symbols designating vegetarian menu options not all by correct dishes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan Food Pictures!

I just posted a ton of pictures from various restaurants of completely delicious vegan food over at my Flickr photo stream. Before I had even finished adding the maps to the pictures, Erik Marcus had already blogged about my picture of the Veggie Royale burger from Bouldin Creek Coffee House. Woo hoo! I feel so honored!
Bouldin Creek Coffee House - Austin, TX

I'll be inserting pictures into my existing restaurant reviews and posting pictures with my yet-to-come reviews, but I wanted everyone to have a sneak peek!