Sunday, November 19, 2017

Nashville's Butcher & Bee

Last week, I was invited to a special dinner with some Nashville foodies. I won't go into much detail about who was there, but I want to tell y'all about the food! We met at Butcher & Bee, a farm-to-table concept with locations in Nashville and Charleston, South Carolina. I'll admit that the name of the restaurant threw me off at first. It's not a vegan place, so I wasn't expecting that. But with both "butcher" and "bee" in the name, I assumed it wouldn't be very vegan-friendly.

But boy was I wrong! Yes, they do serve meat, but they also know how to properly treat a vegetable. Chef Bryan Weaver dined with us, and he talked about how, like so many of us, he grew up not liking vegetables. But he later learned that was simply because the veggies he was eating weren't well-prepared. Weaver treats vegetables like some chef treat cuts of meat. They're well-seasoned and prepared in thoughtful, innovative ways.

We started with mezze plates. The Zucchini was sliced into ribbons and paired with candied tomato and cherry pepper. The sauce was slightly spicy from the pepper, and it was hands-down the best zoodle dish I've had.


Next up was the Celery Salad with jalapeno pickled cherries and peanut vin. This was like a fancy version of Ants on a Log! The celery was shaved and paired with the peanut and these sweet cherries. I've never had celery prepared this way, and I've been dreaming about it ever since that meal.


The Fire-Roasted Carrots were my fave among the mezze plates. For one, I just love carrots, especially fresh-from-the-ground, roasted baby carrots. These were dressed up with peanuts, sambal onions, and a phenomenal coconut cream that blew the non-vegans at the table away (and me too!). When I first saw this dish, I just assumed it wasn't vegan. So stoked that the white stuff was coconut cream!


Butcher & Bee serves a number of dips and spreads, and we had the Baba Ganoush with chili salsa, an excellent baba. Served with pita bread.


For our salad, we were served the Autumn Greens — shaved collards, pecans, and pickled apricots. This salad typically comes with parm as well, but they made me a special one without cheese. I'm not typically a fan of raw collards, but these were amazing. Very tender and well-dressed. The pickled apricots were a lovely addition and didn't taste too pickle-y or tart.


The Abalone Mushroom was so much better than any portabella I've had. Like most vegans, I view portabellas as totally cliche. They're often just as an easy option thrown on a menu so the chef doesn't have to put any thought into a vegan dish. But this abalone mushroom had such a complex flavor, and it was served over a pickled green tomato jam. It typically also comes with a yogurt sauce, but they left that off to make this vegan. It reminded me of steak!


My very favorite dish of the night was the Avocado Crispy Rice! This was unlike anything I'd ever tried. The rice is deep-fried, so you get these awesome crispy bits. It's topped with greens, peanuts, serrano chiles, and avocado. It had an Asian flair. I'll definitely order this on my next visit.


I also LOVED the main dish of Grilled Eggplant with black garlic tahini, pickled cherries, and pine nuts. The tahini took the eggplant to the next level. I tend to find most eggplant dishes to be a little meh, but this was astounding.


I've never been to Vedge or Dirt Candy, but I imagine this thoughtful preparation of veggies is similar to what you'd find in those famous, veggie-forward vegan/vegetarian restaurants. It's so rare to find even a vegan restaurant that treats veggies with such admiration and respect as Butcher & Bee did!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gettin' (Vegan) Crunk in Nashville

Hey y'all! Sorry for the absence. I was visiting a friend in Nashville over the past couple days. But I'm back now, and I have fun food pics to share. My best friend Greg lives in Indiana, but he's in Nashville for a month dealing with some family stuff. Greg's Indiana apartment is about 6 hours from Memphis, but Nashville is only 3 hours away, so I knew I should get over there and see him while I could. And just so happened that I was also invited to a fun dinner with some foodie folks at Butcher & Bee on Tuesday night, so I cut two carrots with one knife and did it all!

I'll share a full post on Butcher & Bee next week! But tonight's post will feature everything else I ate and did while I was in Nashville. As soon as I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, I picked up Greg and we had lunch at Sunflower Cafe. We both opted for the daily special — Tempeh Chorizo Tacos with Avocado Crema, and I picked Sesame Kale as my side. Amazing tacos!! I wish I had these every Taco Tuesday.


Then we hit up Trader Joe's! I always stock up at TJ's when I'm visiting Nashville since we don't have one in Memphis. Greg doesn't have one in his small Indiana town either.


I got lots of fun stuff — more bagel seasoning and onion salt, the Turkey & Stuffing kettle chips (VegNews says they're vegan!), salsa-style refried beans, Charles Shaw shiraz, and more. But the coolest thing I found was Bamba Peanut Snacks! I saw these on Sarah's blog, Long Island Vegan, and knew I had to get some. These are like salty peanut butter Cheetos. OMG.


After our TJ's trip, we went to my AirB&B so I could check in. It was a super-cute 1920s apartment with three beds! And cable! And wifi! And it was just across the street from several cool bars and a vegan-friendly pizza joint (more on that in a few).



Greg and I parted ways for a few hours while I dined at Butcher & Bee, and then I picked him back up at his hotel. We had a glass of wine at my AirB&B, and then we walked to Canvas, a cute gay bar just a few minutes away. Look at this Warhol-inspired Divine art!



After a drink at Canvas, we grabbed a late-night pizza snack at Two Boots Pizza. I've blogged about this vegan-friendly pizza place before, and I just LOVE it. They sell vegan pizza by the slice, which is such a rare thing. The V is for Vegan Slice has artichokes and pesto. I fully intended to eat a few bites of this and save the rest for breakfast since I had a big dinner a couple hours earlier. But it was so hot and delicious that I just devoured the whole thing right there.


Finally, we hit up Kung Fu Saloon, an arcade bar across from the B&B. We played skee ball and Street Fighter.



And then we called it a night! The next day, we had one final meal together at Wild Cow in East Nashville. The daily special was a Thanksgiving plate with Tofu Dressing, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Mac & Cheeze, Smoky Collards, and Cranberry Relish. SO GOOD. It made me really excited about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Also, I loved the bits of tofu in my dressing. I'd never thought to add tofu to dressing, but it makes sense. It was like the vegan version of turkey bits in dressing.


I had to head back to Memphis after lunch, but we made a quick stop at the International Grocery first. I found Vegemite, y'all! And a Bhel Puri kit! And pre-made Dosa Batter! So expect to see those finds worked into posts soon. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Vegan Richa's Everyday Kitchen

Vegan blogger and cookbook author Richa Hingle has a new cookbook out, and it's all about the power of sauces! Vegan Richa's Everyday Kitchen features globally inspired recipes that utilize flavorful sauces as a base.

I have Richa's first book — Vegan Richa's Indian Cooking — which is, hands down, my favorite resource for cooking Indian food at home. This new book still has plenty of Indian dishes but you'll also find Jamaican, Ethiopian, Asian, and even a few nods to the American South (I'm looking at you Chickpea Barbecue Loaf!).

The key to these recipes is crafting a sauce first, and if you're short on time, you can always make the sauces a few days in advance. For each sauce in the book, Richa offers several different recipes using it as a base. For example, you can use the Spinach Curry Sauce to make Chickpeas & Potatoes in Spinach Curry Sauce, Curried Vermicelli with Spinach, and Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry.

I first made the Sweet & Sour Sauce, and then I used it to make Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu. The tofu is coated in cornstarch and rice flour and then it's pan-fried in a little oil. Then it's mixed with steamed veggies and the sauce and served over rice. The sauce had just the right balance of tart vinegar and sweetness (from sugar and ketchup), and the tofu was perfectly crisp.


Next up, I made Richa's Manchurian Sauce, a rich, soy sauce-based mixture of sauteed bell pepper, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, and a hint of sweetness. That's mixed with rice noodles, tofu, and veggies for her Manchurian Sauce Noodles. Paul and I both LOVED this sauce. He was craving soup, so he added his finished dish to a little vegetable broth and made a very flavorful noodle bowl.


It's so cool to see how you can use the same sauces to create very different dishes! I also love how Richa has the book organized by flavor. For example, there's a chapter on Peanuts & Coconuts, one on spicy notes of Firecracker & Buffalo, and another on Indian flavors of Masala & Saag. There's also a chapter on homemade burgers and a pizza chapter with some really inventive recipes (think Makhani Vegetable Pizza, BBQ Pizza with Jerk Beans & Veggies, and Mushroom-Jalapeno White Pizza).

There's also a dessert chapter, which is less about sauces and more about a diverse mix of sweets (pumpkin bread, nut butter blondies, salted date caramel chocolate pie, lemon chia pudding).

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Goddess Provisions: Aura Cleanse Box!

Every month, I do a post unpacking my Goddess Provisions box — a monthly subscription box with crystals, teas, oils, vegan beauty products, and more. November's theme was Aura Cleanse, so the box was stuffed with things to help you get clean from the inside out.


There's a purification mist, detox herbal tea, a detox facial bar, a selenite heart crystal, a jade facial roller, and an essential oil blend.

My favorite item this month is the jade facial roller. These supposedly date back to ancient China, when jade was used on the face for its healing and protective properties. But the roller has a practical, non-mystical use too — it's an excellent massager, and it increases circulation and helps de-puff the skin. You just roll it gently over your face in an upward motion. 


I also love this Fractalista selenite heart. Selenite is used to stabilize and balance emotions, and you can hold this etched heart over your chakras to release energetic blockages and clear away stress.


I've been using the Seaweed Bath Co. Detox Facial Bar every morning to wash my face. It has a nice clean scent, and it contains charcoal, volcanic ash, green tea, and seaweed.


The Essential Rose Life Detox Tea is an herbal tea made with organic ginger, dandelion root, tulsi, and lemongrass. It has a sweet, earthy flavor and is said to help clear your energy field. I don't drink enough herbal tea, but it's habit I'm always trying to adopt as the air gets cooler outside.


The Kate's Magick Purification and Protection Aura Mist smells amazing! It's a light mist made with sandalwood (my fave!) and lavender. I've been spraying this over my crown chakra every morning before I head out the door for work.


And finally, the Pax Apothecary Munde Vibrational Fragrance smells pretty great too! It's a combination of essential oils of bergamot (my other fave!), carrot seed, cedarwood, lavender, lemongrass, and saro. It's designed to help you look forward and encourages success and achievement. As a Type A person, I'm always going after some achievement, and I love having a scent to give me the boost of confidence I need to reach my goals.


By the way, I'm a Goddess Provisions ambassador, which means I make a couple bucks if anyone signs up using this link. I don't get my boxes free though, just to be clear. I subscribe and pay the $33 a month, and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lulu's Baked

My friend Don is a skilled vegan cheesemaker and bread baker, and he and his partner Kenzie have started selling their vegan goods at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market every Saturday morning. Last weekend was their first market, but they'll be back this Saturday (and many Saturdays to come!).

Lulu's Baked will always feature cruelty-free baked goods (think buns, pies, tarts, cookies), as well as Don's artisan, aged vegan cheeses and cultured vegan butter. Kenzie took this photo of Don and their fully stocked bakery case.


I stayed up way too late on Friday night and slept in awhile on Saturday, so when I arrived, the bakery case looked like this.



But thankfully, they still had cookies! And vegan cheese and butter!


I went with a Pumpkin Spice Cookie (made with Tennessee-grown butternut squash!) because pumpkin spice season is short, and I like to get in as much of that stuff as I can before Thanksgiving. I sampled the Chocolate Chunk Cookie, and it was probably the most perfect chocolate chip cookie I've ever tried. Don says he'll have those weekly, and I'll certainly be getting one this weekend. This Pumpkin Spice Cookie was a soft, cakey cookie with just the right level of pumpkin spice. 


I also got some Cashew Mozzarella and Unsalted Vegan Butter.


The Cashew Mozzarella was just like I remember of buffalo mozzarella! And I do believe it was better than the storebought Miyoko's VeganMozz. Don's was closer in texture to the dairy version. I tried making my own cashew buffalo mozz once, and it was a disaster. My cheese balls dissolved in the water, wasting all those precious, expensive cashews! From now on, I'll just buy Don's.


The Unsalted Vegan Butter is awesome too! Not sure what is in it, but I believe it has a coconut oil base and cashews. It's got that cultured flavor, similar to Miyoko's Cultured Butter (which I love but can't buy in Memphis). The fact that it's unsalted means it's ideal for using in any recipe, savory or sweet. 


I've been eating the butter and cheese on Whole Wheat Rustic Bread (from the Whole Foods bakery) with assorted olives, pickled veggies, fresh berries, and wine. My favorite kind of meal!


Don says he'll have the same selection this coming Saturday — cheeses and butter, cinnamon/sugar morning buns, chocolate croissants, apple/cinnamon tarts, chocolate chunk cookies, molasses & rye cookies, and pumpkin spice cookies. Plus some new special surprise treats! Stop by and see him this weekend. The Cooper-Young Farmer's Market runs from 8 am to 1 pm every Saturday (but the earlier the better if you want a wide selection!).

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Chickpea Noodle Soup (for When You're Sick!)

On Sunday, it was 75 degrees here. I wore shorts while I cleaned my car and did yard work. And then on Monday, it was in the 50s. It's been rainy and cold. We haven't seen the sun in Memphis in DAYS. And so my body responded to the drastic weather change with a case of the sniffles. I felt a little weird Tuesday morning, but I loaded up on raw garlic, apple cider vinegar, elderberry, and Airborne tablets. Plus lots of greens and oats and other immune-boosting foods.

That stuff usually works for me. But not this time. By Tuesday night, I was a snotty, sneezy mess. It's terrible timing since I have a 20-mile training run planned on Saturday. Fortunately, my marathon training plan gives me a generous 3-week taper, so if need be, I can push that last long run back a week. Anyway, I need to get well soon. I have zero time for sickness. As soon as I felt this cold coming on, I whipped up a batch of Chickpea Noodle Soup.


This is a super-simple recipe that I created on the fly, but it's packed with good stuff like chickpeas, garlic, and protein-heavy soybean noodles by Explore Asian. Here's my recipe!

Chickpea Noodle Soup
Yields 4 servings

1 white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 cubes Edward & Sons Not Chick'n Bouillon
8 cups water
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package Explore Asian Soybean Spaghetti (or 8 oz of any desired noodles)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried chives
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. flaxseed oil, for garnish (optional)

Simmer the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until tender in a small amount of water in a large stock pot. Add the bouillon and the rest of the water. Bring to a boil.

Add the chickpeas and pasta, as well as the garlic powder and chives. Boil for 6-8 minutes or until noodles are tender. Season to taste. Divide among four bowls and drizzle a half-tablespoon of flaxseed oil over each bowl.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

More random meals, starting with this amazing Carrot Dog with Lentil Chili by my friend Justin Fox Burks of The Chubby Vegetarian blog (and cookbook!). Justin did a pop-up cafe last Friday night at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, and I opted for his carrot version of a hot dog, topped with a homemade lentil chili and guac. The carrots are grilled and have a smoky flavor, like a hot dog!


I've been working on getting my daily turmeric in, so Sunday morning, I added turmeric to my Garlic Pepper Ramen Bowl (with tofu, broccoli, carrots, peas, garlic, and green beans).


Easy weekday morning breakfast of Buckwheat Pancakes (from an Arrowhead Mills mix) with Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon.


This morning, I had a hearty bowl of Sunbutter Oats with sunflower seed butter, sunflower seeds, Bee-Free Honee, and blackberries. I'm all about blackberries lately (probably because Kroger always has them on sale).


Here's a savory breakfast of Toasted Quinoa Hot Cereal, Vegan Egg, Spinach, & Vegan Cheddar. Love a savory bowl in the morning!


I've been eating lots of leftovers lately! Here's the last of my Spaghetti & Eyeballs (aka tofu meatballs) with Almond Ricotta from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. I added sauteed spinach, carrots, and peas for good measure.


I had some leftover Easy Vegetable Fried Rice from Vegan for One, but it wasn't enough for a full meal, so I stir-fried some veggies and tofu to go with it.


One day for lunch this week, I pulled out a slice of Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook out of the freezer. I froze a few slices a couple months ago because it made SO MUCH. These make great quick lunches. I topped this with some leftover almond ricotta.



Monday, November 6, 2017

Stuff I Ate

My birthday was October 16, but my office at Crosstown Arts celebrates all the birthdays for the month in a staff lunch at the end of said month. I was the only October birthday, so in the last week of October, we gathered for a staff lunch at Mama Gaia (an all-vegetarian, all-organic restaurant in Crosstown Concourse). I ordered the Copia Bowl (vegan-style) with quinoa, grilled veggies (eggplant, peppers, onion, leek), olive-basil sauce, and vegan cheese.


And there were birthday cupcakes! They got an assortment of vegan cupcakes from Muddy's Bake Shop. There were Almond-Cherry, Vanilla, and Chocolate Prozac. I went with Almond-Cherry because I can't resist that pink frosting. And the cherry on top!


Our October Vegan Drinks meetup was at RP Tracks, home of the world's best BBQ Tofu Nachos! I always order mine with the chips on the side instead of underneath. That way, you can preserve the leftovers better. I wish you could see all the awesome fried tofu and black beans under that lettuce and tomato.


Paul and I split our nachos, but we still had a little toppings left. I had the leftover toppings over some quinoa at home a couple days later. I sprinkled a few Que Pasa Red Corn Tortilla Chips over the top to make this Nacho Quinoa Bowl more nacho-like.


And here are a few breakfasts — Dave's Bagels Italian Herb Bagel with Tofutti Cream Cheese, & Everything But the Bagel seasoning.


Here's a bowl of post-workout Almond Butter Oats with Yum Butter protein almond butter, blueberries, and maple syrup.


And a Breakfast Sandwich! Vegan Egg and Daiya Cheese on a Dave's Italian Herb Bagel.