A Tale of Two Free Meals


Today I was lucky enough to have two free meals.  One was from where I work.  That was lunch.  The other was at the member’s meeting for a local co-op.

Right now, I am temping at a for-profit university.  The administrative offices where I work is in a large building that has it’s own cafeteria.  There was a meeting today that employees were strongly encouraged to attend.   Since I’m not an employee, I didn’t need to go.  But afterwards, some people were all excited about the fact that there were extra meals and told me I should go check it out before it was too late.  I felt like saying that they probably wouldn’t have anything vegan and I brought my lunch anyway, but I like to be a sport and it’s pretty hard for me to pass up free food.  So I went to investigate and the first box I see says “Vegan Roasted Vegetable Wrap”.

I ended up not opening the box, and when I got home, I put it in the fridge and my sweetie and I were off to the members meeting of the co-op where we’re members.  We had RSVPed for dinner and the meal was served in fancy dancy lunch boxes which, we were told, were valued at $27.  We got to take those home.  Inside, they had a container of water, a salad, a container of dressing, a container of a rice salad with beans and squash, and a container of dessert.  The co-op makes pretty decent vegan deli stuff.  I’ve mentioned their house-made coconut soft serve before.  I’d say it was a dinner along the lines of what I might make at home.  Plus, it came in a really snazzy lunchbox set.  I didn’t think to take pictures of the food, but it was a respectable vegan option.

Back to the first free meal of the day.  Camera in hand, I opened it up.  I realize now how accurate the label was.  The roasted vegetable wrap was indeed (most likely) vegan.  The lunch also included chips that contained milk products and a packet of mayonnaise.  I’m going to guess the the cookie was a standard cookie with eggs and whatnot.  Well, they tried.

The wrap looks pretty good, once you get past its funny shade of green.   And there was a cup of fruit that you can see in the corner in the picture above.

Vegan Food Swap: September



Wow, every month I have a lot of fun with the vegan food swap.  This month, the first treasure I pulled out of the huge box that I got from Steffi D. of don’t fear the vegan was some VEGG.  I haven’t seen it around here and had almost forgotten about it, but now I will get to try it.  Next, I pulled out a Sin Dawg.  I had never heard of it before, but it was amazing.  Wow.  I highly recommend them.

The white chocolate chips would be very good in some cookies with macadamia nuts.  Not sure if they’ll make it though because I keep mixing a small handful of those with a handful of nuts for a little snack.  Also in the chocolate department is a Theo chocolate bar.  Definitely delicious.  If the Twin Cities has a local chocolatier that makes vegan chocolate, I don’t know about it.

I’m curious about the aardvark hot sauce and I know the primal strip is going to come in handy for an easy snack at some point.

If you’re interested in exchanging packages of delicious goodies with cool vegans from around the country every month, check out Vegan Food Swap. Click the link to find out more and sign up.  You could even try it for just one month if you’re not sure you want to commit to doing it every month.

Vegan Food Swap: August


Almost as soon as I had the package open, I was munching on some spicy maple pepitas.  As I write this, I’ve been snacking on some spicy roast chick peas (one of my favorites).  I got samples of both in my August swap box.  But by far my favorite treat was the Lake Champlain Chocolates Grace Under Fire chocolate bar with pistachios and red pepper.

I thought it was funny to see the lip balm because just the day before receiving the package I had been bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have any good lip balm.  Lemon Cardamom is a good combo.  I have big plans for the Benito’s hot sauce.  I just may have to try a recipe for cauliflower “hot wings.”  I also like the VerMints (way cute tin).  They might be good for post-hot wing hot mouth, but I’m not convinced they will last until I get around to making the wings.  Oh well.

I’m a little jealous of Rebecca T. of Deeply Rooted since she has access to locally produced awesome vegan chocolate.  She put together a thoughtful and tasty box of treats.

If you’re interested in exchanging care packages with cool vegans from around the country every month, check out Vegan Food Swap. Click the link to find out more and sign up.  You could even try it for just one month if you’re not sure you want to commit to doing it every month.


Vegan Food Swap: July


This month, I received an amazing box of goodies from first-time vegan food swapper Kim S, who doesn’t have a blog (yet!).  As I unpacked the box, the goodies just kept coming out.  Wow!  Thanks for a truly awesome box!

The plantain chips were a household favorite and there was a pretty yummy bar that I ate for pre-race fuel last Saturday.  It’s hard to stay out of the grape candies.  I think one of my favorite parts about having a box of vegan food arrive  every month is accumulating a stockpile of snacks that are highly portable and ready for all kinds of adventures.

Are you interested in exchanging care packages with cool vegans from around the country every month?  That’s what the Vegan Food Swap is all about. Click the link to find out more and sign up.


“Instant” Pho


I make “instant” pho somewhat regularly.  The secret is keeping a homemade pho seasoning mix on hand.  As long as you have that, noodles, some kind of greens, and some protein source that can be thinly sliced (I like tempeh) you’re well on your way to a fresh and delicious bowl of soup.  I make my own mix based on ingredients in pho cubes from an Asian grocery store.  I’ll post a recipe once I’m done experimenting with the ratios.  It’s tough work sampling so many bowls of pho!

Vegan Food Swap: June


It’s time for another box of tasty goodness.  Thanks to Kathy of Healthy Slow Cooking.

Everything looks pretty yummy and there was only one item that I had even seen before.  The vegan food swap sure is a fun way to try new things!

I’m looking forward to trying the macaroni and cheese-.  Funny thing is, I was just craving it the night before I got the package but then the craving passed.  I know some instant cheese gratification will come in handy though.

There was a bit of a spicy theme, which I love.  Unfortunately, the plastic lid on the harrisa olive oil cracked and there was a minor oil spill in the box.  Didn’t loose too much of it though.  It has a nice little kick to it so I’m looking forward to cooking with it.  The gourmet salt makes me want to make some big fancy soft pretzels.  And I may have to have a Parmesan replacer taste test.  Expect to see some new recipes and reviews: this box was inspirational.

Are you interested in exchanging care packages with cool vegans from around the country every month?  That’s what the Vegan Food Swap is all about. Click the link to find out more and sign up.

Vegan Food Swap: May


I have to admit, the May vegan food swap didn’t go quite as smoothly as the original, but I was very happy with the end results.  Basically, the first person who was assigned to send a box to me didn’t wish to participate but forgot to let anyone know.  Luckily, her sender hadn’t sent anything yet, so she sent a very thoughtful box to me.  Thanks, Lindsay of Lindsay Loves Veggies.

After the kerfuffle of changing senders and some procrastination on getting it sent, I received my May Food Swap box in June.  It actually works out well because I plan to take all the portable food with me on my Megabus trip to Toledo.  It always helps to have some tasty munchies on a long day of travel.

I loved the raw caramel bites.  I’m especially looking forward to trying the coconut water.  It was cool to see some of my favorites which turned out to be  Seattle-made (and local to my sender).

Are you interested in exchanging care packages with cool vegans from around the country every month?  That’s what the Vegan Food Swap is all about. Click the link to find out more and sign up.

Vegan Food Swap: April


You can see some of the goodies from my April box.

Imagine exchanging care packages with cool vegans from around the country every month.  That’s what the Vegan Food Swap is all about.  I received a fun box from Karen of Seattle Veg Coach chock full of vegan treats.  Opening it up and seeing everything inside was great fun.  The box was stuffed full of goodies.  If you’d like to join in the fun, you can sign up for the Vegan Food Swap, too.

The first thing I tried was a Naked Dillo.  Holy cow!  That was good and I had never even heard of them.  My sweetie pie just asked me what I was typing and when I told him I was working on my Vegan Food Swap reveal entry, he said, “That Twinkie was frickin amazing”.  He was much more of a Twinkie connoisseur than I was, and when we tried the Naked Dillo, he said it was better than the non-vegan original.

The next thing I tried was some Jerquee—another product I had never heard of.  I took these with me when I was going to a dinner meeting at what I assumed to be a very vegan unfriendly restaurant judging from their online menu.  Anyway, I wanted my own source of protein and these fit the bill handily.  I wasn’t too impressed by the flavor, but they weren’t bad.  They were quite chewy and the chunks felt like they fizzed on my tongue.  I’m planning to try the fake bacon flavored ones on a pizza that I’ve got in the works.  Check back for photos of that.

I also shared the Jokerz bar with my sweetie, which, in my research for a project that I’ve had on the back burner for a while now, I came across online but had never seen in person.  It was very yummy.  Snickers bars were definitely my favorite grocery store checkout treat.  I would say that the Jokerz bar is more satisfying than Snickers.

Probably the most wholesome thing from the box was a bag of Soy Curls.  While they sound something like Cheetos, they are actually a meat substitute.  Karen even included a recipe sheet with them.  I’ve had something like these before from a health food store in Chicago.  My housemates affectionately called them soy pillows because they soak up so much flavor.

I also received a Chick-O-Stick, which I enjoyed and also had never really noticed before.  I guess it’s a conventional candy that happens to be vegan.  My sweetie pie likes them.  I have yet to try the Raspbery Jel Dessert, SoyGo singles, B Fresh gum, or Biscoff cookies or spread.  Of those, the only thing I had heard of before was the Biscoff.  I had read about the spread online and had tried a Biscoff biscuit on a plane last summer.  I’m looking forward to trying all these treats and really enjoyed getting a sampling of products that I’ve never heard of before.  Kudos to Karen for putting together a really fun and full box for me.

As I’ve participated in this project, I’ve realized how much I tend toward whole foods.  I want to be up on processed vegan products because those are fun and easy, but I want to continue to view “convenience foods” as a fun treat.  So far, so good.

The Quest for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie


I’ve made quite a few batches of chocolate chip cookies in my day.  When I was little, Santa told me that chocolate chip was his favorite kind of cookie.  After that, I always had to make sure we made some for Christmas.  I keep trying for that kind of chewy, moist bakery or college dining hall chocolate chip cookie but with a more complex flavor that isn’t sickeningly sweet.   I want to use minimally processed ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour and maple syrup crystals.  I’ve tried many tricks, including ground oatmeal, freezing the dough, rolling the dough into balls and tearing it apart so it has that “rustic” look.  But I haven’t landed on a recipe that turns out consistently good.  Here’s my latest attempt.  It is based on a recipe that substitutes sour cream for eggs.  I also cut up an 85% cacao chocolate bar and then topped off the cup of chopped chocolate with cacao nibs.  Since it’s not the recipe I’m looking for, I’ll just say that I substituted hemp ricotta for eggs and left it at that.  I also had to increase the flour.

They turned out too cakey and dry for my taste.  In all my experimenting with vegan chocolate chip cookies, I’ve found that sometimes they just taste best raw.  So I made two trays and rolled the rest of the dough into teaspoon-sized balls and froze them.

Kale Pasta Hot Dish


We have an indoor garden and the thyme has been ready for harvest.  I tried veganizing a casserole recipe with bow tie pasta, chickpeas and kale.  It’s seasoned with lemon juice and thyme.  I used the savory hotdish sprinkle, which really set it off.  I would like to try adding something to it all to make it more moist, perhaps tomato sauce.  The end result was tasty, but I’d like to go for something more like a baked pasta dish.  I steamed the kale briefly over the pasta while it was cooking and when it went under the broiler, the parts exposed at the top got delightfully crispy.