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Blackbird Pizza (6th and Lombard, former location of Gianna's in Philadelphia) is the best Italian-style vegan sandwich and pizza joint ever. Seriously, I can't recommend it enough.

This time we had the cubano (cuban-style sandwich), a slice of pizza and the chocolate chip cheesecake, along with cucumber soda (!) and lemongrass soda (!!). Everything was delicious. On a previous visit I tried the seitan "cheese steak," which was also nomtastic.

Our dessert did NOT suffer from the usual "pour on the sugar to compensate!" vegan dessert nastiness. It was very tasty and confidently so.

A satisfying lowbrow meal, prepared with suspiciously highbrow skill (the owner is rumored to be a former chef at Horizons), and I don't feel one bit nasty afterwards. This is a place my inner 10-year-old and my outer 40-year-old can agree on.

Grub, bub

Oct. 18th, 2010 12:09 pm
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We have two fast food Indian joints now in Center City Philadelphia: Minar Palace and Mumbai Bistro. Both come off as fancier restos from the outside, especially Minar. I didn't realize it was a fast-food establishment until I was inside.

Minar Palace is horrible, everything is made of pure grease. Definitely a no-fly zone.

Nevertheless we tried Mumbai Bistro last night. It is really good, almost Tiffin quality. They label what's vegan, gluten free, etc. They have a schedule of buffet items available on each day of the week. Buffet is $4.50 a pound. If you go nuts adding naan and pickle and a beverage you'll come in around $10 per person. Recommended.

Mumbai Bistro is located at 930 Locust Street. (Yes, I know their website is of the godawful "can't copy and paste" variety, whatever it's good food)
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Dry ingredients:

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (in whatever form is vegan enough for ya)
At least two tablespoons freshly grated ginger (the "small holes" of an everyday kitchen cheese grater work just fine, you don't need any microplane foofarah). The ginger is not overpowering, you can use a lot

Wet ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup soymilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a bowl or a 2-cup liquid measure, mix the wet ingredients. Combine and mix together until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed into the dough. Bake for just a little over ten minutes. You want them to bake through but not be overly dry.

These are extremely awesome fresh out of the oven, sliced in half and buttered with Earth Balance margarine.

Not health food, in case you didn't notice. But the white whole wheat flour is much easier on your system in multiple ways than refined white flour, and it even tastes better. Strongly recommended.

Inspired by tasty things baked by [ profile] solestria.
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I'm fairly cautious with the buxx0rs these days. I have a great job that suits my life but doesn't spew money out of the ground go-go-nineties style, not yet anyway.

This weekend, though, I splurged. Sometimes you gotta remind yourself why you live in the big city; sometimes you gotta enjoy it properly. Though in the end I wound up spending considerably less than I might have guessed.

Friday I hit La Luna Dance Studio for their fifth anniversary party. I got my ass properly danced off and competed in my first Jack & Jill competition, which was good fun and not at all the stressful experience I thought it might be. I got to bed around 2:30. Eep.

Saturday morning I ate a very tasty portobello hoagie at Cafe Ole, an excellent Israeli-owned coffee and sandwich shop in Old City. I had two hours to kill during my daughter's ceramics class, not enough time to get home and take a proper nap and get back again. They also serve an enjoyable "chocolate chai," which was not at all the cloying experience I feared it might be.

Saturday afternoon I shot pool and played foozball with [ profile] xtingu and [ profile] mrl24 and [ profile] ms_violet, [ profile] jeremym, [ profile] swingchickie and the LJ-less Vince and Jack. There was Jack-related cake involved.

Shortly thereafter I met mah pal [ profile] noisefootprint's Chinatown bus and we walked to the art museum, arriving just in time for the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

How is it? Well it's freaking incredible, yo; it's Frida Kahlo. In this woman's brilliantly creative life, an affair with Leon Trotsky was a mere footnote barely deserving mention.

Her marriage to Diego Rivera holds considerable fascination for me. So I think I'll have to see the movie or maybe even (gasp!) read a book.

Frida Kahlo was a lot of things but she was not an existentialist, that's for sure. The word "acceptance" doesn't appear to have been in her vocabulary. Heart on your sleeve? How about this:

Frida #2 is holding a photo of her husband as a small boy.

Then again, cathartic art is both therapeutic and... if you don't suck... beneficial to others. And acceptance can be a bullshit excuse for cowardice. Acceptance of death is one thing. Accepting your husband's charming decision to bang your sister is quite another.

Note to Diego Rivera: okay, so your wife was a maninizer and a womanizer in her own right, and she liked her drama served extra-large. But sleeping with her little sister? C'mon. That's just tacky.

Two gripes about the show, one serious, one casual:

1. The museum gives out timed tickets... and then lets you enter the exhibit as late as you want, as long as it's after your ticketed time. Which means that a 4pm ticket is a ticket for painful overcrowding. This is stupid and it should be fixed.

2. Y'know those cheesy polarized photos that show you a different image depending on the angle at which you view them? Whose bright idea was it to fill the gift shop with these?

Floor to ceiling polarized Frida paintings, and every size down to wallet size.


I confess, though, I was tempted to grab a wallet size and hide it someplace unexpected. "Your underwear drawer," [ profile] noisefootprint suggests. But now you all know, so even if you should someday scrutinize my underwear drawer, there won't be any sense of surprise. So it's just as well I left it on the shelf.

Honestly, these are pretty cool if you're 17, and I wouldn't smirk at a college student for having one of these in their dorm room. But for grownups... shudder.

Saturday evening we splurged on, surprisingly, our one and only cab ride and hit Horizons, Philly's only foodie-grade vegan restaurant. My appetizer and entree were inspired reinterpretations of picnic food. I had at least one "I'm sorry I can't talk right now" moment.

[ profile] noisefootprint's appetizer was on a similar plane of awesome, but her pan roasted tofu failed to meet the life-changing standard set by the first course. For dessert, the chocolate cake and peanut butter ice cream were tasty without the overwhelming sweetness common to bad vegan desserts.

Saturday night we hit Japas, currently Philly's only dedicated karaoke bar, offering both private lounges and an open bar with a dollar-a-song policy. Although our party was smaller than hoped, we had good times. [ profile] noisefootprint put me up to singing "Sunshine on my Shoulders," which was my favorite song in the world at age four. So that was awesome for the first two choruses. By the eighth chorus I was making fun of the lyrics as a quasi-apology to my very patient audience. Those Japanese karaoke tracks do run on the long side.

I had the pleasure of meeting some charming friends of hers before we realized that the enormous party taking up the majority of the bar seating contained virtually no one with any intention of singing karaoke. Which, well, meant it wasn't that much fun.

So we lit out for Moriarty's Pub (1128 Walnut Street), where good karaoke can reliably be found Saturday nights on the second floor with DJ Bob.

(Note to Moriarty's: you guys rule. Truly. But I'm not gonna link to a web site that still advertises the wrong DJ three years after Bob arrived. C'mon now.)

(A friend who appreciates the value of all of the aforementioned activities? Worth vastly more than her weight in gold.)

Sunday morning I showed up for salsa class with the proper amount of sleep under my belt and shot a halfway decent video of the routine to practice with. Apparently all that 48 hour movie making is good for something.

Sunday afternoon I watched Star Wars with Eleanor. Really a lot.

Sunday evening I blogged. Hi.
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3 cups soy milk
3/4 can coconut milk
One teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1/4 cup sugar
A shake of vanilla
A belt or two from that bottle of sake you've got lying around

Thoroughly mix the above. Pour into your ice cream maker. Really tasty.

It's conceivable that the sake prevents it from freezing as well as it might, but I doubt it as the overall alcohol level is quite low. It would certainly work just fine without the sake.


Aug. 14th, 2007 01:33 pm
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My favorite sentence from the entry on Wendy's:

"The pita bread contains L-cysteine (an amino acid) and enzymes from an unknown source."

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Five things I didn't know until ten minutes ago:

1. Honeybees have been all but extinct in the wild here for ten-plus years
2. They were never native to North America in the first place
3. Alternative insects have already been put to work, though they aren't up to the entire job yet
4. We already get most our honey from other countries
5. Long-distance hive haulage has made matters quite a bit worse.

Slate's Heather Smith is such a buzzkill. Recommended reading.

Ganked from [ profile] florafloraflora. Who managed to comment on this while I made the edit to give the credit.
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"Veggie Booty" has been recalled for possible salmonella poisoning. Yes, really. Pitch that stuff out. Thanks to [ profile] hughcasey.

You can find the press release on the company home page, it's on the up and up.
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Half-dozen peppercorns
Quarter-teaspoon cumin seed
Quarter-teaspoon coriander seed
Half-dozen dried Thai peppers
3 large tomatillos
1/4 cup pepitos (raw pumpkin seeds)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
3 asian eggplants
1 16.5-ounce box extra firm tofu
Red and yellow bell peppers
Hoisin sauce
1/8 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 tbsp fresh ginger
Lime (grated rind)


Chop 2 cloves garlic & 1/4 cup onion.

Chop the cilantro.

Chop the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Toss with hoisin sauce. Coarsely chop eggplants and bell peppers.

Toast the pepitos. Separately, toast the peppercorns, cumin and coriander. Stop when they brown just a bit. Grind to meal in food processor.

Simmer the tomatillos in a covered pot for 10 minutes with 1 cup water. Drain. Pop into a blender with the garlic, onion, and cilantro. Add the vegetable stock. Blend thoroughly.

Adding a teaspoon of powdered lemongrass is good here, if you have it. If you have fresh lemongrass and a food processor that can cope with it, that's even better.

Open the coconut milk. Pour a small amount into a large stockpot. Add the toasted spices. Simmer to release the fragrance of the spices. Add the rest of the coconut milk, then pour in the contents of the blender. Add the tofu and vegetables and stir gently, so as not to break up the tofu. Grate in lime rind and ginger. Add toasted pepito meal and mix well. Bring just to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro.
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Greyhound to NYC. $12! Fine until I approach the Lincoln Tunnel. Then, cellular haiku:

We proffer our coins
Charon poles us one by one
Two lanes from Jersey

Once you get past Scylla and Charybdis, though, it's surprising how quickly you're born.
Kissing Gertrude Stein. New York City parks and other reasons for living. Blogging at the mouth with the Hoff: The WYSIWYG Talent Show. Screenless karaoke: Tom momentarily humble, film at 11. Tofu lox redux. And the vantage point of Billy Penn. )


Apr. 16th, 2007 10:06 pm
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Okay, so I did leave the house. For half an hour. To eat cake.

I hit the Royal Tavern and, in lieu of booze, consumed a slice of their cookies 'n' cream cake. With just a few spoonfuls of obscenely delicious chocolate sauce which very probably contained coffee which is my kryptonite but I don't care because it was so very good.

The whole thing was so very good. And, evidently, vegan. But without that "OMG we're insecure about the tastiness of our vegan dessert so we will SMOTHER IT IN SO MUCH SUGAR THAT YOU WISH YOU WERE DEAD" problem so common in vegan baking. I very much doubt that any non-vegan customer would complain after being served this cake. But if they did, well, that would be more for me.

The Royal Tavern is located at 937 East Passyunk. That's near Seventh and Carpenter streets. Open seven days, serving food till late and, duh, booze till late too. Living three blocks away = awesome.
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I attempted gnocchi. With brown rice flour.

I could tell right away there were serious crumblage problems.

I added an egg (so much, again, for the vegan thing).

Still no dice.

The end result was... mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes and...

Mashed potatoes and gravy! South Philly irony! Yes!

Irony or not, though, it was pretty gross.

W-Day is Thursday. I have my bagel booked in advance.
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1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup sesame tahini
Soy milk
Chocolate chips (to taste)


One dozen choco-chip cookies


Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add the tahini and enough soy milk to achieve a sticky but not runny consistency. Mix well. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Mix in.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a nonstick cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


These are quite good, but probably best fresh from the oven.
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Gluten-free vegan pancakes in the house. Yes, you need a Whole Foods Market or similar store to get these ingredients, but nobody said gluten-free was easy.

1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A dash of cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg and cloves (*)
Soy milk

Mix dry ingredients. Add soy milk and mix until you have a nicely pourable but not hopelessly runny consistency. Griddle as you normally would.

They look quite good. They taste pretty good too, though a bit... munchy compared to the real thing. Judging from the results I would expect this recipe to work for waffles also, but I haven't tested that assumption.

(*) That's what gave me this jolly red nose
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Homemade corn tortillas with beans, tomatoes, cilantro, guacamole, quinoa and salsa verde.

I ate like a grizzly bear. Hoo rah, this meal did not contain rice... which I am trying not to get so sick of that I no longer enjoy Thai food. That would be a terrible thing.

Today I also enjoyed a two-egg omelet. So much for that "trying harder to be vegan while at home" thing. As long as I'm trying to be gluten-free I'm not gonna kick myself too hard.

Alert the Glutenous Maximus, I accidentally licked a fingerful of wheat flour today. I was trying to figure out whether it was corn masa or wheat. Eventually I got smart and added water and forked it up a bit... oops, now it's obvious.

Six more days.
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2 cups soymilk
1/4 cup brown sugar, maybe a little more
1/4 cup peanut butter (the real stuff, not the hydrogenated oil crap)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix well. Fire up the ice cream maker. Pour it in. Wait. Yum.

Makes 1 pint. (I halved the recipe tonight, because I knew I was gonna eat it all. Mmmf.)

Peanut butter stands in for dairy fat much better than most things do. Everybody's afraid of peanuts now which is a shame because most of us aren't allergic and they are yummy.

Unlike my tahini version (which makes a good base for a chocolate "ice cream") this recipe stands well on its own. You don't have to smother it in chocolate or extra sugar. You do have to like peanuts.


Jan. 20th, 2007 05:40 pm
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Last night: dinner party. With [ profile] kemidra, [ profile] fullmotor, [ profile] jeremym, [ profile] glttrgirl, her fiance JP, Bobbi the improv goddess, Alisa the goddess of restaurant selection and my daughter.

The first in much too long. Back in the spring people stopped responding to invitations, so I gave it a rest for a while. But winter is here, finally, and everybody's in hungry-bear mode. I gots the honey yo.

[ profile] pinkhairedcyn's food blog (which is syndicated on LJ as [ profile] pinkhair_eats) has reminded me that vegan grub is awesome. So I'm back on the vegan wagon at home, and I'm reserving dairy for truly worthy experiences.

Dinner dates, Capogiro trips, anything involving Nancy Trachtenberg - these are worthy experiences.

Every time Eleanor doesn't finish her mac and cheese.... not so much.

So. The all-vegan menu:

Thai green curry. Pretty much straight out of Real Vegetarian Thai, including the from-scratch curry paste, which is obscenely good. I can't take credit for anything here, apart from successful execution on a massive scale. Just reserve a few tablespoons of coconut milk for the frosting (See below).

Chinese asparagus. This I can take credit for. In a wok, mix up a little water, a little vinegar, a little olive oil, a dash of soy sauce and several generous shakes of Chinese five-spice. This isn't a large volume of liquid - we're talking just enough to steam the asparagus above it once it begins to boil.

Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, but make sure it keeps simmering. Add a metric ton (okay, maybe 30 spears) of asparagus. Steam for five minutes, or to preferred crispness. Serve ASAP.

Spinach salad with nutty viniagrette. This is an easy one:

Wash the spinach thoroughly (nothing nastier than dirt salad). Put a half-cup of mixed nuts into a freezer bag. Crush 'em in the bag with a rolling pin. In a small bowl, mix the nuts with two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons vinegar, and one tablespoon of maple syrup. Add a dash of salt. Combine with the spinach and serve.

The vegan-ness of the following dessert items is debatable as they contain refined sugar. Yes, know. Trust me, I know:

"Thai" chocolate-lemongrass cake. Follow this recipe. But first, boil the water with a lid on for ten minutes, with two stalks of coarsely chopped lemongrass. Pour back into your pyrex liquid measure (you do have one, right?) and top it off to two cups again (some boils off y'know). Now follow the recipe as normal.

"Thai" chocolate-coconut milk frosting. Follow this recipe. However, add a few tablespoons of coconut milk kept back from the curry.

Eleanor was reserved at first, but more than one visitor stopped upstairs to help her organize her Calico Critters. And then my guests discovered the floam. Dear God, the floam. (Shudders)

Now I'm killing a little time before catching the 6:40pm R3 West Trenton train to Trevose Station. Which should get me there at 7:16pm. Which should get me on one of the every-fifteen-minutes shuttles to the roller derby bout and put my butt in the bleachers while before 8pm. As opposed to showing up at 6:16pm and freezing my butt off unnecessarily. Or anyway that's the theory. Remember, shuttles are 98% reliable...
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Eleanor and I made donuts tonight. Okay, donut holes. Technicality.

We followed this recipe, because it didn't call for hours of rising and so forth. I used arrowroot as the egg substitute.

And as for the end product... I experimented, frying them for different periods of time. I was dissatisfied with the munchy-almost-crunchy-outside, fair-foodish results, even with borderline undercooking. I mean, fair food is yummy when you want fair food, but I think of donuts as not quite so heavy as that.

Am I dreaming? And has it been so long since I ate a donut, that I should be capable of asking this question? Surely not, I gave up the vegan thing a while ago.

I should try 'em with eggs and see if that's a major factor in the texture. The texture of the inside is niceish.

Oh, but as for the target audience - I gave her the most professional-looking donut hole, rolled in powdered sugar which had dissolved (in the grease, natch) to a halfway-dunkin-lookin coat. Eleanor took a bite and looked right at me and said "there's nothing like a fresh donut!"


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