worldwide vegan bake sale 2014: pdx edition

portland bake sale michele truty

Spring: cherry blossoms, kittens being crazy-pants way too early in the morning, and taxes…oh, and planning for The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

Since 2009, groups all over the globe have come together during this very special week to raise funds for nonprofits by hawking donated vegan treats. Bonus, we show the world how great vegan treats can be. This year, that week falls April 26-May 4. Find out if there’s a sale in your area, or start scheming with your vegan community to start a new annual tradition. (The WVBS site has lots of advice for groups wanting to get started.)

The Portland crew/gaggle/super squad is back, and we’re aiming high. For the past couple of years, we’ve pulled in around $2,400 each time, for a nice little handful of nonprofits, but we always sell out early! We know we can do better. Come on, Vegan Mecca, get to baking!

Our sale is Sunday, May 4, 10-3, at Mississippi Marketplace, which is kind enough to host us for the third year in a row. (Pick up your treats then grab some lunch at Homegrown Smoker or Native Bowl!) All funds raised at our sale will go to Chimp Sanctuary NW (to help the chimps) and Russia Freedom Fund (to help the LGBTQ folk in Russia).

We set up this schmancy website here for more information. If you already know the deal, you can sign up to donate here. And here’s the Facebook event, should you want to sync up your calendar or invite your friends. (Psssst, invite your friends!)

We need lots of bakers (sweets, savories, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, palm-free, raw—we need it all—and don’t forget to bring an ingredient list!) and lots of buyers. We’ll have some take-home containers, but be a champ and save the earth a little by bringing your own reusable one.

So mark your calendars, hope for sun, spread the word, and let’s bake the world a better place.

holiday hosting: a vida vegan event

holiday party revisedBefore I shoot off for London (I still hope to post a Body Image entry later this week), I wanted to tell you guys about this event I’m organizing with the rest of Team Vida Vegan.

It’s Holiday Hors D’oeuvres & How-Tos, a DIY Celebration. We’ll have demos on cocktails (and mocktails) for a crowd, small bites (both sweet and savory), and crafty décor things you can absolutely handle. We’ll focus on stuff you can do ahead of time and bring together easily so you don’t have to stress out about clearing the smoke out of your kitchen and getting the frosting out of your hair before your guests arrive.

I’ve already started pulling together all the bits and pieces for the papercraft table, where everyone can hang out and make their own gift tags and cards. My favorite part of the holiday season is wrapping presents and making my own tags—I can’t imagine buying them now.

We found this neato space in Northeast, Milagros Family Room, attached to a children’s boutique. It’ll be a pretty small group, say 20 or so, so we can keep the demos manageable and it’ll have a nice little party feel, much like yours might be. And there’ll be plenty of our demo’d items and other nibbles, so everyone can try everything! Plus, you’ll leave with recipes and instructions, and a little take-home gift we’re putting together.

So if you’ll be in Portland December 7 (and are at least 21 years old!), get your ticket now—to both save your space and to avoid the price going up after Thanksgiving. Hope to see you there. You never know, we’ve been joking about wearing matching dresses, which equally horrifies and delights me.

finalemofo: cocktails and the quest for the tater tot taco shell

bnb_victrolaHappy last day of VeganMoFo!

It’s been, as is the case with VeganMoFo, a month of successes, failures, and inspiration. One accomplishment I’m very proud of is finally making my own giardiniera…and using said giardiniera on Italian seitan “beef” sandwiches. One failure I did not share with you was the vegan s’mores waffle, a waffle topped with way too much chocolate and marshmallow. I ate it, but the sugar made me so crazy that my cats hid from me—I just didn’t think it was right to put that sort of destruction on the Internet.

And one task I have set up for myself, which I really wanted to perfect and share with you by the end of MoFo, is the Tater Tot taco shell, or the totilla. My Vida Vegan partner Janessa mentioned it and I figured it couldn’t be too tough, so I accepted the challenge. And I’m getting closer. Experimenting with different binding recipes and cooking methods, I expect to figure it out before too long—and believe you me, you’ll know when I do! It’ll be the breakfast tacos to end all breakfast tacos.

But when my latest attempt failed this evening, after a very long day, I told Tom that I could really go for a cocktail, so it was off to the Bye & Bye. Pictured up top is the Victrola, tart and smart.

bye_and_bye_cocktailThe rest of these photos are going to be a bit grainy, and I apologize. We were in the very dim back patio, and all I had was my phone.

Here’s the signature Bye & Bye, which Tom started off with and I chose as my second cocktail. Anyone who has never ordered one of these, it is deceptively sweet and delicious. It will knock you on your butt if you are not careful.

bnb_meatball_sandwichWhile I almost always get the grilled cheese (rarely straying), Tom has 100% always ordered the Weeping Tiger tofu sandwich. Until tonight. He went with the “meat”ball sub and was not displeased. It normally comes topped with almond parm, but that could potentially kill him (nut allergy!), so they swapped in some Daiya.

empty_bye_and_bye_cocktailAnd, finally, empty glasses on a rainy night, bringing a delightful end to a very long, very stressful day. Good company and good food—I just couldn’t be happier with where I am. (Thank you, Tom and Portland and the Bye & Bye.) A pretty nice end to the Vegan Month of Food.

trustymofo: thanking the stars for pad thai kitchen

house_curry

Tom’s house special curry with tofu, basically a red curry with peanut sauce.

Some days you don’t want to cook. Some days you barely have the energy to pick up food. (Insert sigh here over Portland’s lack of food delivery.) Some days you just have a hankerin’ for Thai.

I’m so lucky to have a nearby Thai restaurant that I can rely on, Pad Thai Kitchen. I first went there for a lady-lunch meetup—maybe it was someone’s birthday, I can’t remember—but it was a bunch of local-for-longer-than-I vegans, so I felt reassured. The one older woman in charge shouting, “Vegan! No egg! No fish sauce!” at the younger staff further reassured me. Someone was on top of things.

This chant would grow more familiar, as she repeated it during each phone order. Me: “I’d like vegan basil fried rice with tofu, medium spicy.” Her: “So vegan, no egg, no fish sauce.” Exactly. I’ve heard too many horror stories about other Thai places around town, friends finding shreds of something or other or tasting that taste and not wanting to eat it because they were pretty sure that was shrimp paste or oyster sauce or maybe it was made in a not-very-well-washed pan.

Reliable vegan food wouldn’t be worth much if it didn’t taste good too (to me—obviously even the blandest vegan food makes a huge difference for animals). No issue here. Everything tastes fresh and made to order. And they know heat: Medium spicy has that slowly building tingle, perfect for me, while Tom goes for very spicy—which is actually very spicy. Huzzah! True, the menu is your standard Thai menu. They’re not breaking new ground, not seeing where they can take Thai, but they do what they know and they do it consistently. And when you get take-out, it’s at least two meals’ worth. At least.

So thank you, Pad Thai Kitchen.

(Don’t get me wrong. I will forever hold a place in my heart for Vegan Glory, my L.A. go-to vegan Thai place…which delivered.)

supersushimofo: bamboo sushi, it’s worth it

bamboo_sign

A few days ago, I posted about Mio Sushi, a big chain here in Portland we visited because the place we really wanted to go was closed. That place was Bamboo.

It’s way pricier, and you’ll likely have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. I’ve eaten a bunch of vegan sushi in a bunch of cities, and this is the best I’ve had so far. (And the omnivores were equally pleased, so if you need a place for mixed company…)

bamboo_drinksWhile we waited for our table, we ordered some cocktails. Sitting outside in Southeast Portland, sipping on these darlings, the wait wasn’t so bad. Clockwise, starting with the little pink guy with the lemon, we’ve got a South of Hokaido: shochu, run, lemon-lime, bitters, and ginger; Paprika Cup: vodka, whisky, Pimms, passionfruit, and a paprika-sugared rim; Lychee Martini: red grapes muddled with vodka, lemon-lime, and lychee puree; and two Purple Hazes: blackberry puree with vodka and lemon-lime juice.

bamboo_edamameThey brought us a little dish of edamame for the table. Nothing to write home about but always a nice touch.

bamboo_vegetable_rollI ordered a Vegetable Roll: roasted peppers, cucumber, sprouts, avocado, and gobo (burdock root).

What made Bamboo’s sushi so special? First of all, everything was fresh and gorgeous. Even in a roll as simple as this, each vegetable’s flavor was clear and crisp. Also, the rice was almost creamy. Not mushy, but so tender. I wish I could afford to be a regular here so I could ask them what the secret is. Is it the brand of rice? Is it in the method? WHAT IS IT? I HAVE TO KNOW!

bamboo_310_closeupThis is Tom’s 310 Roll: marinated fried tofu, roasted peppers, cucumber, asparagus, and yamagobo (pickled burdock), wrapped in avocado and topped with a sweet shiitake glaze. Yeah, I stole a piece, and yeah, it was just crazy good. This was the roll that had me wanting more later that night and even the next day.

bamboo_avocado_rollsAnd here’s an army of Avocado Rolls and Kanpyo Rolls (pickled gourd). When the specialty rolls cost as much as they do, you order up some filler rolls. But honestly, the simple Avocados were so good that they hardly took a backseat to the fancier ones.

bamboo_vegetable_tempuraI wanted to try something besides sushi, and most of the rest of their menu is not vegan (not the yakisoba nor the yam press box), so I went with the vegetable tempura. At first glance I was let down, as I saw only yam and onion, but there’s squash, and I believe carrot in there too. And it was light yet flavorful. The tempura batter had enough of a flavor (as did the vegetables themselves) that I didn’t use any sauces with this.

So if you’re in Portland and you want to drop some coin on really fantastic sushi, do it here. Our whole experience was lovely, not just the food. I  can’t wait to go back—anybody wanna be my sushi sponsor?