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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Vegan Cinco de Mayo Queso

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I just discovered a new startup company called Aloha. They really strive for health and happiness in all aspects of life! If you like the following recipe, you are going to love some of the other healthy recipes they're posting! Bueno!

I'm not clear on the significance of the holiday, or if it means anything to folks in Mexico, but I do know that it's a great excuse for a party here. If you're like me, and tend to be more of an impromptu planner than plan-ahead planner, this recipe is a good one to keep around. I've posted it before, but it will be especially good this evening, served to some of your favorite friends alongside your good homemade guacamole (how easy is mashed avocado with a little store bought salsa stirred in?), organic tortilla chips, bean dip (warm a can of refried beans and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast). and, of course, margaritas and cervesas. Almost instant party!



Queso
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 1 hour or more
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chipotle peppers in adobo
2 T arrowroot (or tapioca flour)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp miso paste
1 T Dijon mustard
1 cup water
1 small can diced green chiles - optional

Place all ingredients except green chiles in a blender or food processor, and blend about one minute or until smooth. Pour the queso into a saucepan, stir in the green chiles, and warm over low heat, stirring often. Add a little more water if it gets too thick. Serve in a small bowl. This is best warm, so it's better to refill a small bowl than to let a large bowlful get cold.

Never heard of chipotle peppers in adobo? Look for something like this in the Mexican food aisle. A quarter cup is roughly 2 peppers and a bit of the surrounding sauce. So tasty!



Monday, April 27, 2015

Crossing the Bridge to Harlow

Rick and I were looking for a new place to have breakfast, and stumbled across Harlow in the latest issue of Portland Monthly Magazine. Most of the time we stay in our own walkable neighborhood, but the trek to Harlow would require us to cross the bridge to the east side of town. Oh dear... We rarely cross the bridge because it means taking the car out, but we were hungry for something new, so away we went, and it was so worth it.

Photo borrowed from Harlow's Facebook page.
Harlow is a pretty, open, airy, slightly funky spot on the very hip Hawthorne Blvd. To give you an idea (since I had a cold and spaced out taking interior photos), it would actually look very nice with some of my crocheted garden jars here and there, to go with the rustic furnishings and sparkling chandeliers. Maybe I'll bring them a little gift next time I go.

Garden Jars available on kimmiles.com
Also borrowed from Facebook...
There are many things to love about Harlow, including the relaxed and friendly feel of the place, the very helpful staff, and of course the food, once you decide what you want to eat. But one thing that made me positively giddy was the fact that while Harlow does offer eggs, honey, and some dairy, the only way to get something non-vegan is to specifically order it that way. What a nice change of pace for those of us who are used to deconstructing menus everywhere we go. Sigh... so happy.

We started with a couple of Wellness Shots, made with fresh ginger juice, lemon, cayenne, and echinacea, and served up with a slice of apple. That was some powerful stuff! My cold-fogged head cleared considerably, which was just what I was hoping for.

A few minutes later our meals arrived, beautifully prepared and served, and every bit as delicious as they looked. Rick had the Huevos Rancheros, made with smoky tempeh. It was the best I've tried anywhere, even in New Mexico, because it had such a nice blending and layering of flavors and textures. I kept stealing bites from Rick's plate.

Vegan Huevos Rancheros
I went with the special, who's name I've forgotten, but the dish itself was quite delightfully memorable. It was a hash, but not all hashed together, with potatoes, tempeh, asparagus, kale, and a creamy, wonderful sauce. Rick stole bites of mine too, although I was stingy with the potatoes. I'd ordered it specifically for the potatoes, and only really wanted to share the other parts. Next time I might ask them to sort of combine these two dishes. Something along the lines of the Huevos Rancheros with potatoes too. My Irish ancestry often shows up at breakfast.

Special Hash - Heavenly

Harlow is the sister restaurant to Prasad, which I've written about over at Eating Vegan in Portland. While the food is fresh and creative and lively and excellent at both places, and while Prasad is in walking distance from our apartment, I'm more smitten with Harlow's vibe. In fact, not only is it worth crossing the bridge for - often, I hope - we found ourselves toying with the idea of not just driving, but moving across the river, to the Hawthorne neighborhood, just to be closer to our new favorite restaurant.

Find Harlow at:
harlowpdx.com
3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
971-255-0138
info@harlowpdx.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ethos Planetware - Tableware Made From Plants


The nice folks at Ethos Planetware sent me some samples of their new plant-based tableware to try. That's right, dishes made out of plants! It makes great sense that we would want to eat our plants off of plates made from plants! Here's a bit of explanation from their blog:

"Ethos Planetware is a brand focused on promoting a sustainable lifestyle. We design and develop a line of tableware products that are made from 100% recycled plants! Our products consist of bamboo, rice, and cornstarch and all of the dyes used are derived from natural plant sources. Ethos is also dishwasher and microwave safe, shatter proof, and commercially compostable."

It's a cool concept, and a dandy product. I love the look and feel of my pretty plate, bowl, and cup, and I love that they're sustainably made by a Portland based company. As much as I'm enjoying using these at home, I can see even greater possibilities for them in restaurants and other areas of food service. And if we still had an RV, these would be the absolute perfect dishes to travel with because they're light weight, tough as can be, and still pretty, unlike most "camping" dishes.

The next step for Planetware is a Kickstarter campaign, which you'll fine HERE. You can keep in touch with the Ethos people on their Facebook page. And below is a short Vimeo for you with more information. 


Let's all support this project and help Planetware find its way into the world!

My very own blue plate special.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Faux Meat Can Be Perfect for Meat Eaters

Fake meat gets a lot of criticism from meat eaters and vegans alike. I hear it all the time - "If you're going to eat meat, eat meat" - or - "If you don't eat meat, why eat fake meat?" Aside from the animal and environmental issues, (which I'm not going to go into, because they aren't in any way positive), I've discovered a whole other reason for cooking with faux meat. It makes my dad happy.

Every so often I spend a block of time with my dad at his house in San Jose, the house I grew up in, where he still lives, by himself, at the tender age of eighty-five. When I'm there, I cook for him, which is a pretty daunting task. Not only am I in Mom's kitchen, where a pretty high culinary standard was set many years ago - I'm cooking for Dad, who was a very enthusiastic hunter when my sisters and I were growing up. I remember a lot of family weekends with all of us sitting in freezing, muddy rice fields waiting for ducks to fly over. The man likes his meat, and even though I'm thoroughly opposed to cooking it for him, I'm also opposed to denying him anything I can possibly do for him at this point in his life. After all, he's been there for me for over 57 years.

On my most recent visit, I decided to take a chance and fix up some really simple, familiar dishes for him, but using fake meat. I wasn't really trying to trick him, but I'll admit I didn't say anything until he asked about it. Surely he must have guessed that since I was eating the same thing he was eating, something was up, but he played along. Dad is a good sport, and he likes good food, which is what I gave him.

I started out by making a simple pasta dish with mushrooms, spinach, and Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles stirred into the sauce. He ate, he enjoyed, he didn't ask. When I heated up some of the leftovers for lunch the next day, he finally commented, "There sure is a lot of meat in here. Is it real?"  I told him the truth. He nodded, scooped up another bite, and said, "This is really good." Score one for Team Kim!



Next I made a veggie stir fry with brown rice, orange sauce, and Gardein Beefless Tips. They looked like real chunks of meat to me, so I knew I was on the right track. This dinner was a huge hit,  and when Dad speared a bite of "beef" and held it up to me, again asking, "Is it real?," I didn't hesitate to tell him what he was eating. His comment was, "It tastes really good... and it's so tender..."


That's where it all fell into place for me. Not only did he like it, it's healthy for his heart, and he can chew it. Tough, gnarly food no longer works for him, and the good quality fake meat I served made him happy because he could actually have his meat and chew it too. This makes me so, so happy.

From here on, when someone wants to engage in the faux meat debate, I'll have my response ready. It's good for the animals, good for the environment, good for our health, and, most importantly, it makes my dad happy. Any argument that needs to go on beyond that can just go on without me.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Vegan Breakfast Anywhere

Going out for breakfast with non-vegans at mainstream restaurants can be a challenge. You peruse an enormous menu, only to realize that nothing listed can be veganized because everything contains eggs or cheese, even if you find something you can leave the meat out of. My most recent solution to the dilemma is to flip straight to the side dishes. Most often I'll find a perfect little "shopping list" of items to mix and match for a satisfying breakfast I can enjoy with my friends without being a big weirdo and picking apart one go the chef's specials. Sometimes it's easier for all concerned to just start from scratch and ask for what we want.

My go-to side dish right now is potatoes. I love potatoes, and many restaurants make wonderful homestyle spuds fried up with onions and seasonings. There's usually a lot of oil too, but I don't go out for breakfast that often, so when I do, I just enjoy my fried taters and don't worry about it. 

My favorite combination is potatoes with salsa and avocado. On a recent visit to the San Jose Cafe, where I met up with a childhood friend for a bit of catching up, I was able to get just what I wanted, and even had them throw in some fresh spinach. The result was a comforting plateful of potato love. 

I liked it so much, I told the waitress to give the cook a kiss for me. She reported back that he was all grins, and that really made his day. It's good to show appreciation, and good to find easy ways of eating out with friends. I love getting together with my old pals when I visit San Jose. And now I have a new breakfast pal, the humble potato, with all the veggie fixings.