Sunday, April 26, 2009

Los Angeles Veggie Pride Parade

Today was the first Veggie Pride Parade ever held in Los Angeles. The event was coordinated by the animal sanctuary Animal Acres and included a 5k walk through Culver City/Venice, vendors, music, keynote speakers, and a ton of enthusiastic people.

I arrived on the scene to find a slew of people dressed as different animals (the gamut ran from a giraffe to a penguin to Disney characters), fruits and veggies, and even a block of tofu. That's not how I roll, but I was clad for the cause in a rockin' Secret Society of Vegans t-shirt.

The walk got on its way with chants of "What do we want? A vegan world! When do we want it? Now!" and "Go green! Be vegan! Save the world!" Creative and bold posters peppered crowd, as well. The number of cars that drove by honking in support was astounding. There was even a little "keeping the peace" police presence.

I talked to a number of people I'd not normally encounter face-to-face; people like the associate editor of Vegetarian Times, who patiently listened as I voiced my desire for the magazine to have more vegan representation, the couple behind Vegetarians in Paradise, the manager of the restaurant Seed, and Rory Freedman of the Skinny Bitch series (she was also a keynote speaker at the event).

Of course, I was also able to spend time with fantastic people I already knew, including the amazing Melisser and Strummer of The Urban Housewife and Strummer Calling, Kim from C'est la V, the couple behind Happy Cow, many of my true life friends who are immensely important to me (you know who you are), and some people who I hope will become new friends.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and nothing short of a perfect celebration of veganism.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wild Rice Penne

Saturday evening, a fellow vegan and I whipped up this fantastic pasta dish using just what was on hand in my kitchen. It was immensely fun cooking with and for someone else. Here's what we did:

Wild Rice Penne

16 oz. Organic Wild Rice Pasta (or pasta of your choice)
12 oz. Morningstar Farms Grillers Crumbles
2 ripe tomatoes
14.6 oz. jar water-packed artichoke hearts
7 oz. green pimento-stuffed olives
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Heat a skillet and add the Grillers Crumbles. Cook over a medium-high flame until completely heated through and browned.

Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes, quarter the artichoke hearts, and cut the olives in half width-wise.

Once the pasta is cooked to your preference, drain it completely and return it to the pot in which it cooked. Add the Grillers Crumbles, then add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and stir again to distribute. Serve and devour!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Samosa House

I was fortunate to be invited to the Health Freedom Expo in Long Beach two Saturdays ago, where I checked out products both bizarre and interesting, and chatted with volunteers from Animal Acres. John Robbins was supposed to speak, but had to bow out due to a death in the family, so the two of us vegans were pretty bummed to have missed him.

In another stroke of luck, though, Samosa House had a booth set up with delicious vegan options for our lunch. We shared the jackfruit, dal, rice, and samosa pictured above. Regardless of how un-photogenic our meal was, each dish had the perfect texture and amount of spice. I'm so happy I was finally able to try their food, since I'd heard so much about it from other L.A. vegans. I just might have to check out their storefront next time I'm in the area.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine

About 10 and a half years ago, when I was a new vegetarian and in my first year of law school, one of my classmates introduced me to Ethiopian cuisine. Luckily, we have a small block of restaurants in L.A. that's known as Little Ethiopia, so there are many different restaurants from which to choose.

This post is about my very favorite, Nyala, so I'll get on with singing its praises. Back in my law school days, we would always go for the all-you-can-eat vegetarian lunch buffet (all of their vegetarian food is vegan). I'd fill my plate with legume and vegetable goodness, with a nice little mound of perfectly rolled injera (teff-based flat bread) to use as utensils. This was my first realization that my new vegetarian lifestyle was going to open my palate to many, many new cultures and flavors.

It's been a long time since I've had the luxury of eating lunch out on a weekday, so now I usually go for dinner, as was the case on a mid-March Saturday. I invited Happy Herbivore and her husband to join me for dinner at Nyala (our second time doing so; I forgot to take photos last time) and we each quickly ordered the Vegetarian Combination, which includes one portion of each of their vegetarian dishes plus a lightly-dressed salad.

For dinner service, Nyala also offers complimentary hummus and pita wedges. We vegans usually consume quite a bit of hummus in our lifetimes, but this is hands-down the best hummus I've ever eaten. It's obviously made from fresh, as opposed to canned, chickpeas, which you can imagine imparts a much different flavor and slightly different texture. I'd rather they didn't pool oil on top of this delicacy, but there's absolutely no reason to nitpick over that in the case of such overall goodness.

The Vegetarian Combination usually arrives with each portion neatly separated by about an inch of space atop a piece of unfolded injera (plus, a basket of extra injera). I like to eat my most favorite part last, so I started in the bottom left corner with the salad and moved my way around the plate counter-clockwise:

Yabesha Gommen (From the menu: Collard greens seasoned with fresh garlic and ginger)

Yatakilt Wot (Mixed vegetables: fresh carrots, potatoes, and cabbage cooked with garlic and ginger)

Defen Yemiser Wot (Bean stew cooked in fresh garlic and ginger)

Yemiser Wot (Red lentil stew simmered in seasoned red pepper sauce, fresh garlic and ginger)

Kik Alecha (Mild yellow split peas cooked with onion, fresh garlic and ginger)

Honestly, I have a hard time deciding which of the three legume dishes is my favorite; I love them all. So, I usually just eat them in the order presented. The Defen Yemiser Wot is really well spiced, but not spicy, while the Yemiser Wot is a bit spicy from the red pepper sauce. Kik Alecha is a lovely mild, creamy dish (I know you did a bit of a double-take upon seeing the word "onion" in the menu description of the Kik Alecha. Let me assure you that I can neither see nor taste the offensive onion in this dish, which is why I'm able to happily consume it.). Also, don't get me wrong, the vegetable dishes are truly delectable. I think I just have a preference for the lovely warming spices with which the legume dishes are infused.

If you have a chance to try Nyala, please do. You'll be giving a family-owned-and-operated restaurant your business and you'll get a wonderful meal, too. Oh, and you might even spot actor Mario Van Peebles and his family there, like we did.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Vegan Cadbury Creme Eggs, Part Deux

Many of you have requested photos of the center of the vegan Cadbury Creme Eggs I featured in this post. Just for you, here are a few photos of the preparation: