Notes on a dinner party


Orange lasagna and cocktail syrup. Continue reading

Farewell to Dovetail


A fond farewell to a Portland vegan bakery….To every vegan that’s frantically asked me where to eat on their Portland vacation these past few years, you probably heard me rave about those cinnamon rolls, and I hope you had the chance to make their acquaintance. Continue reading

vegan internetting: Scrambletown Cometh

Let me keep it simple because promotions tend to hurt my brain: Registration here. Scramblin’ sign up here. See you there!

I’m pretty damn stoked that on top of the whole unique and delicious culinary event aspects, my pdxbff Maeve is hosting and dropping some vegan comedy. Hot sauce jokes, y’all!

Image credit:

It’s coming.

You guys! Isa is coming back to Portland in just under 2 weeks to help out with a little something we like to call the Vegan Iron Chef Competition. This year, she’s co-hosting the 2nd annual competition with local zinester, Nicole J. Georges – and Ms. Moskowitz just so happened to pick out the top secret ingredient. Or, as we like to whisper around these parts, the ‘SI’.

All advanced tickets (psst, it’s three times the size as last year’s inaugural event) quickly sold out, but there will be a limited number available at the door, and you can always watch live, wherever you are, on Sunday, July 10th at 5pm PST.

We’ll absolutely be recording the competition this year, too. Promise. More event details here. Basically, we’ll be live-streaming directly through the VIC homepage and posting videos from our team on the YouTube channel in the future. As for me, I’ll be the one running around and hiding behind a clipboard (but frantically smiling, I’m sure) whenever the camera comes my way.

With that, here are the 2011 Portland Vegan Iron Chef competitors:

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Super credit to Stephanie for the chef photography & our Creative Director, Liz, for the grand design.

Click for larger sizes:

And hey, we’re always on the look out for Affiliate cities – join up, gather your volunteers and help show the world that vegan food is serious business.

The October Sunrise & Operation HotDish

Caribbean Vegan Ham Balls!!!!

See these balls to the left? They’re the delicious, steamed ham-style seitan recipe from Taymer Mason’s Caribbean Vegan cookbook. They’re smoky, they’re sweet, they’re spicy (how could I not add a big pinch of cayenne?) they’re chewy, and they were diced and pan-fried as part of an entirely inappropriately named October Sunrise casserole at Saturday’s Operation HotDish. I can justify the namesake because who doesn’t want to eat sun-colored macaroni and cheese on a gloomy fall day? Come on.

The main components of this crazy indulgent casserole at the crazy packed potluck and competition were wagon wheels smothered with 3 different cheesy sauces.  I based the primary cheesy element on this recipe for Who Cares Vegan Mac and Cheese (which has two separate sauces!!) from the 2009 SF Mac Battle Royal with Cheese, which seems to be based on the VegNews nooch-less creation. And because this layer sat in the fridge overnight and was looking a little dry, I spooned a batch of garlickly nutritional roux sauce on top of it before layering it up some more.

Here’s the breakdown of the October Sunrise Casserole:

  • Lightly oiled casserole pan
  • Layer of cooked hash browns
  • Diced vegan ham
  • Massive layer of wagon wheels & cheese > with chopped broccoli!
  • Layer of cooked hash browns
  • More and more diced vegan ham
  • Super sprinkling of breadcrumbs, nutritional  yeast and Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika

Pre-baked October Sunrise

  • Lightly sprayed with oil & baked at 350F for 35 minutes

Ready to go: October Sunrise Casserole

I’ll admit, I didn’t try any casseroles, but I did bring an empty casserole dish home, which was totally my goal.

Thank you to everyone who came out and ‘sold out’ this event within minutes!

Here’s a couple of pics my friend and fellow VIC volunteer, Stephanie, took at the event:

Live Casseroling!

The Winners & Judges!

P.S. If you’re constantly on the search for great vegan mac & cheese creations and recipes like me, you must check out The Noochy Noodle. Trust me.

P.P.S. My long-term favorite remains this lower-fat version of The New Farm recipe.

Operation Hotdish: The Vegan Casserole Cook-Off Approaches

Holla at the first Vegan Iron Chef fundraising event in Portland! We’re gearing up for our second annual competition this summer, and what better way to get into the spirit than a hot casserole potluck on a cold day?

The Date: February 5, 2011 5pm-7:30pm

The Cost: $5

The Location: In the upstairs Community Room at Peoples Coop3029 SE 21st Ave., Portland, OR, 97202

Sign up: Here’s the Google Docs sign up sheet. It’s not required by any means, but it helps the organizers have an idea of what to expect – and you can check out the competition! I’m thinking of making a cheezy casserole fort, myself.

Judging: The judges have been announced! They’ll be awarding their favorites, along with an Audience pick.

What to do: (which I’m copy/pasting from the facebook event, which I deem acceptable since I wrote it, ba da bing)

1. Sign up online (you may do so until an hour before the event -
2. Prepare a casserole (or bring a big appetite). Please note that there is no cooking at the event itself. Please warm your casserole in advance, if desired.
2. Bring $5
3. Show up at 5pm with said casserole/admission donation and your own plate and cutlery. All dishes must arrive by 5:15pm to be considered for awards placement. Please see a VIC volunteer to make sure the judges get a piece of your casserole!
4. See who wins!
5. Eat and eat some more!

Bonus: Come meet The Vegan Caterer and try some free samples!

Final thoughts: So, start daydreaming about your favorite casseroles, break out the Pyrex & spread the word to your friends in the Portland area – or consider one in your city!

return from travels & vegfest photos

Alright! I’ve spent the past weekend resting, doing laundry, and catching up with my cats after two weeks traveling on the West Coast for my mysterious day job.  As much as I usually think Portland is the bees knees, and as much as I complain about having a day job, I’m grateful for my employment and the bonus opportunities to explore other cities (and play travel writer). Back to my point and purpose here – I was in town for just over 24 hours halfway between my journeys north and south, which fortunately, allowed me to attend Portland’s annual VegFest. I may not have had time to experience every single exhibitor booth or attend any glorious talks, but I did get to see countless smiling veg-faces and proudly table for Vegan Iron Chef’s big public, pin-dispensing debut.

Most of these photos were taken as Saturday was ending. Pretend people aren’t falling asleep at their booths and that there’s a never-ending stream of veg-happy and veg-curious folks, because there was!

Photo essay time:

My favorite on the show floor (you can’t deny it was mostly a trade show out there, and I say that fondly): So Delicious.

I can’t really think of any flashy new veg products I hadn’t seen before or that blew me away, so I’ll call my favorite as I see it – So Delicious Coconut Creamer. And well, they were one of a couple of vendors offering complimentary coffee, and as I was there all day with my own mug, I happily drank it. On top of that, I have a fond memory of my friend Melissa bringing me one of their coconut ice cream sandwiches…

Deanna works the NW Veg table. She does so much for the vegan community and it clearly loves her back.

Here’s dear, smiling Wendy: VegFest organizer and author of the Veg Food & Fit blog.  She’s tabling with a friend for her recent cookbook release, Scatter Vegan Sweets.

What to wear when you’re veg…besides Herbivore, of course.

The German Viana line. In the past, I found these very hit or miss for my taste buds – but after sampling most of them, I really dug the Doner Kebap and Veggie Cevapici.

Supreme Master:  Never disappointing. Just tired. We had the sweetest reporter from their channel, Youping, come with a small team to Vegan Iron Chef last year.

Lundberg: Where I learned that according to CNN’s Health reporters, Black Rice could be the new Brown Rice. Noted.

Chicago Soy Dairy bros. Mozzarella teese, I got your back.

Fair Trade Theo Chocolate Samples

Another favorite of the day – Soy Feta at Heidi Ho’s Organic Vegan Cheeses. Locally made & currently available at Jazzkats Coffee Bar.  They graciously donated a fruit & hazelnut cheese spread to a Portland talk my friend & fellow blogger Janessa (with a new domain!) and I did last month for Try Vegan Week.

VegFest super announcer and staple, bodybuilder and author, Robert Cheeke, signs those autographs

Hold onto your hearts, you crazy Daiya heads – Amy’s  Vegan Mac & Cheese.  I finally tried it and have to give a big ol’ Pass, but I get convenience. I get novelty.

Pull yourself together! One more Daiya shot to go… Now this pizza? I really get it.

Thai and True’s distributor’s stand tied with Chicago Soy Dairy for the stand I supported the most, financially. I picked up 4 small tubes of teese (on sale 2 for $5 – it really bothers me that I can only get teese at one store in town, albeit the great Food Fight!) and restocked on Yellow and Massaman curry paste. Locally made & VEGAN.

Don’t buy curry paste from a can. This is so much better (or make it!)

Another popular neighbor, naturally:

Portland <3 Kombucha

I overheard such interesting, varying comments from the folks stopping by the Gardein table. What do y’all think?

Out to Pasture Sanctuary.

I  know these are *just beans* , but they really are good beans! The Better Bean Company.

A big bowl of spices at the CuisineMentor table.

Photo evidence of the crowds, and that guy on the left eating.

Food vendors. Who’s been to Yummy Tummy? I keep hearing such positive things!

Red & Black, my favorite anarchist cafe-runners, tabled on Saturday.

Sengetera, selling Ethiopian veggie combos.

My girls at the Vegan Iron Chef table:

Day Over! Back to the real job.

Off to work, work, beaches, work, Costa Mesa, and a few days vacation for my first time in Los Angeles after this.

I have a geeky Stumptown Vegans review of this cafe below coming soon….

Portland VegFest Anticipation, 2010 edition

There is no doubt that Northwest Veg’s VegFest gets better every single year.  I remember the first one I volunteered at, which I think was either the 1st or 2nd annual event, at the Friends Meeting House in 2005. The smell of fakin’ bacon filled the air, and the guests kept flowing in, way over the anticipated number of attendees, from what I was told. Last year, VegFest moved its happenings  into the much-much-larger Oregon Convention Center. I helped sell books with Isa at The Post Punk Kitchen table and didn’t get to do much wandering, but the place was positively veg-chaos with an astounding flow of attendees. Tomorrow, I’ll be tabling with friends for Vegan Iron Chef, which I’m proud to say is now its own non-profit corporation and has grand plans for the future that are underway. Now, 2010 is the first year the convention is open for 2 complete days of tabling – it’s harder to think of veg-companies that *won’t* be there vs. who will. There is so much to look forward to (in addition to seeing every single vegan and vegetarian you know, free samples, new products, and Vegan Iron Chef’s free pins and 2011 Chef Nomination box!!) – here are some official things that caught my eye:

  • Chef Tal Ronnen and “Who knew Vegetarian/Vegan Cuisine could taste this good?” Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 4:30pm. The renowned author of the conscious cook and the chef who became a household name after working with Oprah during her 21-day vegan cleanse in 2008.
  • Pulin Modi’s “Snappy Comebacks to Animal Rights Questions”  Saturday at 12pm. I attended his talk with Glenn Gaetz on activism & social media a couple years ago at Let Live, and it really stuck with me.
  • Hope Bohanec’s “Eco-Eating, A Cool Diet for a Hot Planet” Saturday at 3pm. Facts about the undeniably negative impact of animal agriculture.
  • Sarah Taylor’s “Vegan in 30 Days“. Sunday at 12pm. VegFest always packs in a lot of veg-curious folks, and this looks like a wise place to start a new path.
  • Christopher Weber, Ph.D.: “Climate Change and Food Choice“.  Sharing research we should all be aware of.
  • Pete Prasarttongosoth’s “Delicious Thai Cuisine“. Sunday at 3pm. I was under the impression that Vege Thai changed management a few years ago, but according to the info, the proprietor of the short-lived but fantastic Vege Thai cart downtown is giving a cooking demo, making me extra sad I won’t be in town.

And more, and more, and more fantastic pro-veg folks from the Pacific Northwest and beyond, with something to say – including the amazing Robert Cheeke, Chef Al and Donna B, Rae Sakora, David and Wendy Gabbe, Christopher Weber, Ph.D., Dr. Milton Mills, Dr. Gordon Saxe, and exhibitors galore, vegcetera.

Not to mention culinary offerings from Vege Thai, Green Wok, Red & Black Cafe, Papa G’s, Blossoming Lotus, Porto-freaking-bella, and more.

And hey! Don’t forget your official coupon for $1 off the $5 admission.

Portland’s Vegan Iron Chef 2010: The Photos!

Portland has crowned its first VEGAN IRON CHEF: Qausu AsaaseYaa!

Qausu AsaaseYaa plates for the win! Photo by Lucas DeShazer

The Competitors:

I’ll repeat for a 104th time, this was a miniature, super dedicated volunteer organized, low budget version of the event we’d like to put together next year. Try Vegan PDX is so proud of everyone’s hard work and was thrilled to see this happen!! We had last minute emergencies, we had a small space, we had an overheated projector, we had electric burners set up on tables, and yet, the awesome of Vegan Iron Chef prevailed!!!

Thanks to all who came to the sold out event, participated, cheered, volunteered, hosted, ran around, designed, sponsored, took photos, recorded – Tim Kahn!!!!, donated, gave sporadic hugs, competed & live-streamed, bought raffle tickets & everything else! We had almost 1,000 folks around the world tune in, on top of our sold out audience!

Subscribe to our new Youtube channel and stay tuned to our Facebook for updates! We’re hoping to have video up soon, for now, you can watch Qausu’s crowning moment by our phenomenal host, Michelle Schwegmann, our enchanting Alton Brown/Vegan Food Guru Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and our adorable trophy girl, Alicia Cruz of Taqueria Los Gorditos. This finale video is courtesy of  one of our Executive Sponsors, Lightlife.

The inspiring dishes:

Asaase Ital Palace:

  • Caramelized Plantains And Chocolate Coconut Sauce With Microgreens
  • Chocolate Groundnut Stew With Onion Rice
  • Gari Peanut Candy Hearts With Cashew Chocolate Cream And Berries

Asaase Ital's Appetizer: Caramelized Plantains And Chocolate Coconut Sauce With Microgreens Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Blossoming Lotus:

  • Chocolate  Sweet Potato Red Lentil Dahl with Strawberry Chutney and Mole
  • Tofu Tempeh Chorizo Lettuce Wraps
  • Raw Avocado Cacao Pudding Over Orange Slices

Blossoming Lotus' Appetizer: Chocolate Sweet Potato Red Lentil Dahl Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Portobello Vegan Trattoria:

  • Tempeh Date Skewers In Citrus Marinade with Chocolate Merlot Sauce
  • Chocolate Gnocchi With Collards and Shiitakes
  • Caramelized Banana Tart with Chocolate Ganache And Fleur Del Sel

Portobello's Dessert: Caramelized Banana Tart with Chocolate Ganache And Fleur Del Sel Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Our fantastic Vegan Celebrity Judges, along with super Judge Liaison Karla aka VeganShizz, Chad Miller of Food Fight! & Try Vegan PDX founder, David Agranoff:

Serious Judging at Vegan Iron Chef 2010: Joanna Vaught, Audience Winner Rusty, Jesse Ives, Brian Heck & Emiko Badillo, Photos by Lucas DeShazer

Music by DJ Surival Skilz & The Jet Boat Adventurer. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Onto more photos:

Wes Hannah gets serious about slicing, at Vegan Iron Chef 2010. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Operation gnocchi. Aaron Adams and his assistant, John McPhillips of Portobello Vegan Trattoria, at Vegan Iron Chef 2010. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Hands Up, Knives Down! Vegan Iron Chef 2010 Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Talha Abubakr of Blossoming Lotus Simmers, at Vegan Iron Chef 2010. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

The Secret Ingredient: Chocolate! Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Isa Chandra Moskowitz as our Alton Brown Vegan Food Guru

Isa Chandra Moskowitz being amazing as our Alton Brown Vegan Food Guru. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Michelle C delivers Blossoming Lotus' Chocolate Dahl. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

Asaase Ital's Entree: Chocolate Groundnut Stew With Onion Rice

Swanky Plating of Tempeh Date Skewers In Citrus Marinade with Chocolate Merlot Sauce by Portobello at Vegan Iron Chef 2010. Photo by Lucas DeShazer

BloLo Tofu Tempeh Chorizo Lettuce Wraps Photo by Lucas DeShazer

More and more and more on the slideshow!

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Special Thanks to our Top Sponsors:

If you’re interested in getting involved next year in any way, please follow our facebook & twitter, or email me!

We’re already discussing who we’d love to see compete next year, when Qausu defends her title!