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Atlanta Vegetarians and Vegans
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SuperMonkey and the Spatula of Doom [userpic]

I got directed to this community from veganpeople. I'm going to be in Atlanta for 2 weeks starting August 4th for training for a new job. I will be provided with a rental car and $42 a day for food. I'm hoping my hotel room will have a fridge so I can go to a whole foods or locate that Cosmo's Vegan Shop to stock up. I'm also petrified of getting lost in Atlanta, as I've only been there once before, and it was only to see Wicked, so we only hit up the aquarium and the theater, and a hard rock cafe.

This is where I'm staying • Courtyard Marriott (Northlake) 4083 La Vista Rd . Is there anything vegan near there that isn't hard to find that I won't get totally lost trying to find?

drizzle [userpic]

It is the peak of the summer vegetable season, and we have been thrilled with the delicious and colorful produce that we have been getting in the past few months. Here is a photo from our latest trip to pick up our CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) and the supplemental produce that we get at the St. Phillip’s Cathedral Farmers’ Market. Our CSA pick-up is also at the farmers’ market, which is very nice because then we can spend time going to each stall and selecting other goods instead of making a separate trip. There are many different vendors here each week, some selling excellent baked goods (no vegan options, I am afraid), jam, honey, salsa, coffee, some crafts, as well as a wide array of vegetables. It really is quite special to have the opportunity to get to know the farmers that are bringing their wares to sell, as each takes great pride in their products and will talk with you about the best way to prepare foods and the history of their heirloom vegetables. Ripe and juicy tomatoes are bountiful until the end of the month and everyone is selling them, so I encourage everyone that is in town to try to make a trip before the end of the season!

produce

We have not been to the East Atlanta or Decatur farmers’ markets. Has anyone been? What was your experience like?

_9000 [userpic]

This is a quick and convenient (not to mention tasty) method of preparing tofu in a Southern comfort food style. This is great with coleslaw or collard or turnip greens.

Ingredients
Tofu:
1 block firm tofu
½ cup corn meal
1 tsp salt
¼ cup unsweetened soy, rice, or almond milk
1-2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning (or ½ tbsp paprika, ½ tbsp black pepper, ½ tbsp cayenne)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (canola or peanut)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tartar sauce:
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp deli or spicy mustard
2 tbsp dill pickles or relish
½ tbsp vegan sour cream
Hot sauce to taste

Instructions
Remove tofu from packaging, stand on its side and slice into two or three slabs. Wrap these slabs in a paper towel and then a clean kitchen towel. Press between two flat plates or cutting boards with a light weight on top for at least 15 minutes to extract any excess moisture. Combine the corn meal, salt, Old Bay seasoning, and black pepper in a bowl. Prepare another bowl with the soy milk. Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle with the oil over medium-high heat (just below it's smoke point). Slice the tofu into smaller fillet-sized pieces. One at a time, dip a piece of tofu in the soy milk, then toss in the corn meal to bread the outside and begin frying. Fry the tofu over medium-high heat on both sides until a nice golden-brown breading is evident. Add more oil to the skillet if need be or more soy milk and corn meal to the dipping bowls if you run low.

For the tartar sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until thoroughly combined. 

Tofu
 

drizzle [userpic]

I am interested in recommendations for great Indian restaurants in the Atlanta area. Are there any that are more vegan/vegetarian-friendly than others? Dishes that were absolutely brilliant? Nice atmosphere, etc?

Also in terms of Moroccan, has anyone been to Imperial Fez? What were your thoughts? Are there vegan options?
 
Thanks!

_9000 [userpic]

I was going to start off by making a comment about how this recipe uses vital wheat gluten and is thus a quick or non-traditional recipe, but starting with wheat gluten makes this so easy, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. I’d still call this a work in progress, but this recipe results in what I believe to be a pretty versatile end-product. Although, it is really easy to tweak to different specifications. Adjusting the levels of liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce, or adding tomato paste or seasonings like rubbed sage or poultry seasoning are easy ways to tailor this recipe to varying purposes. The broth can also be varied as needed. As for the wheat gluten, I use Bob’s Red Mill Brand (available at Whole Foods and some Kroger’s). I’ve seen Hodgson’s Mill brand at Kroger but haven’t yet tried it.


Ingredients

Seitan:

2 cups vital wheat gluten/gluten flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp vegan Worchestershire sauce

1 & ¼ cups water

3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Dash of Liquid Smoke 

Broth:

6 cups water

½ onion, sliced

1.5 tbsp miso paste or ¼ cup soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2-3 slices of peeled ginger root 

Instructions

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the liquids together in another bowl and add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form (add 1-2 more tbsp water if needed). Knead the dough about 15 times. One kneading technique that improves the final texture is to stretch the dough a bit, fold it back over on itself, knead, and repeat. Let this dough rest for 5 minutes and then knead again a few more times, ideally with the stretch and fold technique. Let the dough rest again for 15 minutes…this is very important. Once the dough has rested, cut it into ½” thick “cutlets.” Using a sharp knife with a sawing method seems to work best. Try to stretch the cutlets a bit or pound flatter with your fist. The seitan will want to pull back to its condensed size, so it’s a best effort approach.


Combine the broth ingredients in a large pot and add the seitan “cutlets” while the broth is still cold. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the seitan uncovered for about 40 minutes, it will expand significantly. Stir occasionally to prevent the pieces from sticking together.

At this point, the seitan is cooked, but you’ll want to cook it again before serving. It can be cooked in just about any way from this point forward: grilled, fried, baked, or broiled. As one idea, I like to slice the cutlets thinner and quickly fry on a cast iron griddle and make a seitan club sandwich with tomato, vegan mayo, and lettuce. Alternatively, employing some jerk seasoning/marinade and then grilling the seitan makes a great Jamaican entrée. However it’s cooked, care should be taken not to let the seitan burn or blacken. It will burn quickly and blackened seitan tastes pretty bad (although burnt spots can be cut off usually). I’m sure the seitan could be frozen, but I usually just keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, although it never seems to make it more than 3 days without being eaten.


Some pictures to illustrate the stages:

1) Uncooked seitan in the resting stage
Seitan

2) Slicing the seitan dough into "cutlets"
Seitan

3) Seitan after cooked in broth

Seitan 

_9000 [userpic]

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with cookbooks. On one hand, I’ve learned most of what (little) I know about cooking from cookbooks. On the other hand, I often find cookbooks, particularly vegetarian ones, to be over-simplified or full of recipes that somehow fall flat if followed to the letter. While the Internet is a great resource for recipes, it can be hard to filter the good from the bad and sometimes it’s just easier to flip through a book when trying to decide on something to cook. While I’m not prepared to do a comprehensive review of any one cookbook, the annotated list below represents the cookbooks I have in my bookcase at the moment, for better or for worse:

Flavors of India – Vegetarian Indian Cuisine
Shanta Rimbark Sacharoff

If the title isn’t obvious enough, this book covers the realm of vegetarian Indian cuisine. I was intimidated by the thought of learning to cook Indian food until I got this book. Overall, it’s a pretty good book, but a lot of the dishes I’ve prepared out of the book have been too bland for my taste. My concepts of Indian food have largely been shaped by experiences with local Indian restaurants…I’m not sure if this cookbook is thus too authentic or not authentic enough. But in it’s defense, it really does seem to make the highly complex Indian cuisine seem less daunting. 

The Grit Restaurant Cookbook
Jessica Greene and Ted Hafer
This book is produced by the famed Grit Restaurant in Athens. Prior to going vegan, this was hands-down my favorite cookbook. An absolutely incredible collection of comfort-food staples that were totally on-point. The lack of vegan-friendly recipes has now relegated this cookbook to a place in my past, but it’s a must for vegetarians. 

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
I can’t really review this book as I have yet to properly cook a recipe out of it yet, in spite of owning it for some time. I have referenced the book a few times to pick up on some general principles of vegan cake baking. This one does seem to have potential and hopefully I’ll get around to making some cupcakes one of these days.

Vegan with a Vengeance
Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This was my first truly vegan cookbook, and in that regard, I totally appreciate being able to look at a recipe and not have to worry about substituting ingredients to make the recipe vegan. Yet, in some ways this cookbook exemplifies the prime complaint that I have about vegan cookbooks…they tend to have too much of a focus on a “you can do it” attitude and less focus on the actual quality of the recipes. There are some real standout recipes in here, particularly in the breakfast area, but the ethnic recipes (such as Ethiopian, Indian, and Caribbean dishes) tend to be oversimplified and require some modifications in my opinion. 

Veganomicon
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

I had high hopes for this cookbook after flipping through it. On first glance, it seemed like a must-have in that it was by far the most comprehensive vegan cookbook that I have seen. However, I found myself making “corrections” to spices or seasonings on everything that I prepared out of the book and with closer inspection, it didn’t seem quite as comprehensive as I had hoped. However, if I had to recommend a vegan cookbook to someone, I’d recommend this one…perhaps by default. 

Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking
Christine Ingram

I confess that I haven’t actually cooked any of the recipes in this cookbook, but I frequently reference it for its encyclopedic sections on vegetables and fruits and recommendations for their preparation. It’s my first choice when trying to identify a novel bit of produce from our CSA or try to get an understanding on the best cooking approach for a vegetable I haven’t used before.

Vegetarian – Over 180 Tempting Recipes
Sue Ashworth (et al)

This cookbook was a gift and we’ve gotten a lot of use out of it. The real standout for this book is that the recipes tend to be really good and surprisingly simple to prepare. I haven’t used it much since going vegan as most of the recipes are non-vegan.

Non-Vegetarian Books
I went through a brief period where I felt disappointed by the recipe quality of the vegan/vegetarian cookbooks that I had been exposed to and thought that I would do better trying to learn cooking theory by reading more far-reaching non-vegetarian cookbooks and in turn apply the lessons learned to my vegan pursuits. I purchased two books in this period, read them, and re-thought my approach.

Culinary Artistry
Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

So, the premise of this book is that it consists of quotes and discussions from some of the best chefs in the world (e.g. Alice Waters, Rick Bayless) on various topics, such as menu design and seasonality. Interspersed with the discussions are recipes from the chefs. I had thought that reading this book would make me a better chef, but I think I was over-reaching. The book is industry-oriented, doesn’t translate that well for vegans (obviously) and reading it probably did little to improve my cooking.

Ethnic Cuisine
Elisabeth Rozin
My biggest disappointment with this cookbook (which is entirely not vegetarian) was that based on reviews that I had read, I had the misconception that this book was more about the theory of what makes ethnic cuisines identifiable and distinct. Yet, it turned out to be a relatively lackluster cookbook with little to no theory at all. I only still have it because I haven’t taken the time to sell it. 

Non-Cookbooks 

Knife Skills Illustrated – A User’s Manual
Peter Hertzmann

This is just a great book. As the title implies, the book is an illustrated guide to knife techniques, categorized by ingredient. While the book covers meat cutting techniques, vegetable techniques comprise 150 out of the 250 pages in the book. Illustrations are included for both left-handed and right-handed chefs and there is comprehensive instruction for knife care. When you find yourself spending $80+ on a knife, this book is a fantastic guide for proper knife care and safe handling techniques.

_9000 [userpic]

Thai Sei-tays

This is probably our favorite method of preparing seitan at the moment.  Serve these satays with thai sweet rice or your favorite sides.

Ingredients

4 – 6 bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water

8 oz seitan, cut into 1” pieces

1 large (or 2 small) zucchini or squash, cut into ½” x 1” slices

 

Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

½ cup Thai basil leaves

2 tsp chili paste

1.5 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

 

Dipping Sauce:

1.5 tbsp chili paste or Sriracha

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

¼ cup thai basil leaves

¼ cup water

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

 

Instructions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend thoroughly.  Transfer to a suitable dish and marinade the seitan and squash/zucchini for one hour.   Arrange the seitan and squash on the bamboo skewers in alternating order. 


Either grill the seitays or cook under a broiler (set to high with the satays about 5-6" away from flame).  If using a broiler, arrange the skewers over a glass baking dish to catch the marinade drippings.  While the seitays are cooking, occasionally spoon the left over marinade on the seitan to keep it from drying out.   Cook until the squash is cooked through and turn regularly to prevent the seitan from burning

 

Combine all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a food processor or blender and blend well.  

 

Thai Sei-tays

_9000 [userpic]

Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
While not exactly a vegan place, there is a Japanese restaurant in Seattle called Ume Sake House that has some fantastic vegan options (if you ask). It took a few attempts, but this sauce seems to be a pretty accurate representation of one served with tofu that we had at Ume Sake House that we talked about for days.   Make it as spicy as you like….Ume’s version had some serious heat. Combine this sauce with some fried ½” – 1” cubes of tofu (and optionally, steamed vegetables) to make a great Japanese entrée.
 
Ingredients
¼ cup onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5" piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
½ cup shoyu/soy sauce
½ cup water
1 tbsp
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 - 1 tbsp chili paste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 green onion, diced
1/2 tbsp corn starch

Instructions
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp rice wine, onion and carrot. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add 1 tbsp water to deglase the pan as needed. Add sesame oil and stir in for about 30 seconds. Add the shoyu, water, sugar, chili paste, grated ginger, mustard, and green onion and stir to combine. Bring to quick boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
 
Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. If you own a soup strainer or chinois, strain the sauce. Transfer the sauce back to a clean pan. Dissolve the corn starch in cold water and add to sauce. Bring to a quick boil then remove from heat for later use or reduce heat to low and add cooked tofu, seitan, or vegetables.

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drizzle [userpic]

After months of discussion, our household finally committed to a weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription.  We chose to go with the TaylOrganic CSA (http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M7359).  I wish we had gone this route years ago as it has brought about such a positive change in the quality of produce we have available to us.  Currently, we’re on the half-share plan, which isn’t enough for our weekly produce needs for a two-person household (some weeks are weaker than others).   However, the quality of the produce is just phenomenal.  Our weekly pickup is at the St Philip’s Cathedral farmers’ market (there are many other pick-up locations spaced throughout the week), and we now buy all the additional produce from the week at the farmers’ market.  This combination of the TaylOrganic CSA augmented by produce from the farmers’ market has worked really well for us.  As a side-bonus, Zocalo Creative Mexican sells their out-of-this-world salsas at the market too. There’s a real sense of satisfaction in buying produce exclusively from local and independent farms, and I can’t overstate how great the produce has been…especially in the summer tomato season.  We are planning on budgeting more carefully for next year so that we can afford the upfront costs for a full-share CSA. 

 

Is anyone else a member of the TaylOrganic CSA or alternatives?  What have your experiences been like?

 

_9000 [userpic]

This is the first of many recipes I have to post. I hope that some put it to good use.

Falafel
It seems that every cookbook I own has a falafel recipe, and yet, I was never happy with any of them. It took many attempts before finalizing this recipe and the result was worth the effort. The most important thing I learned from trying to work out a good falafel recipe is this: never attempt to use canned or pre-cooked chick peas when making falafel. The results will always be disappointing. To toast the cumin and coriander seeds, heat a dry skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat. Toast the seeds in the pan for a few minutes until aromatic. Grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Ingredients
Falafel:
1 cup dry chick peas
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp bulgar wheat (optional)
¼ cup red onion, diced
1-2 hot chilies (thai or Serrano)
2.5 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
3 garlic cloves
1.5 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Peanut or canola oil for frying

Vegan Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
2 tbsp tahini paste
¾ plain vegan yogurt
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

Instructions:
For the yogurt-tahini sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Fill a bowl with cold water and add the chickpeas and baking soda. Allow to soak overnight and then drain. Soak the 2 tbsp of bulgar wheat in just enough warm water to cover for 20 minutes, then drain excess water. Combine chickpeas, chilies, parsley, flour, baking powder, salt, garlic, seasoning and spices in a food processor. Pulse until uniformly combined, but do not over process. Attempt to form about 1 tbsp of the mixture into a walnut sized ball. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of water and process again. If the ball does not stick together or is too wet, add a spoonful of flour and process again. Form the mixture into walnut sized balls and slightly flattened. Allow the patties to sit for 10 minutes.

Fill a sauce pan with about ½ inch of oil and heat over high heat to deep fry temperature (350 degrees F). Cook the falafel patties for a few minutes on each side until a proper medium brown color. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate

A great addition to these falafels is deep-fried cauliflower or eggplant. Cut the cauliflower into florets or peel and slice eggplant into 1 cm slices. If using eggplant, salt the slices and arrange in a colander to draw out the bitter eggplant juices for 30 minutes before washing off any excess salt. Fry the eggplant or cauliflower until golden brown, drain on a paper towel-lined plate and serve with yogurt-tahini sauce. 

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