If I am going to pass through Spokane again, I’d have to make it worth my while. A visit to the zombie-themed donut shop with vegan options, Dawn of the Donut, was just the trick. The shop is in a stretch of storefronts outside of downtown. It’s innocuous location is part of the charm.

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Stating the obvious, the theme is a bit of a rip-off of trail blazers Voodoo Doughnut of Portland but what are you going to do? The decor inside is a mishmash of zombie-related tchotchkes. The ceiling is smeared with fake blood. I don’t know that zombies really wet the appetite but I give Dawn of the Donut an E for effort… and for their very enthusiastic counter guy. Did I mention that it’s a drive-through? PicMonkey Collage.jpg

So onward to the vegan options. Like Voodoo, Dawn of the Donut offers a host of tongue-in-cheek themed donuts…. Brain Fritter anyone? But their vegan options are not as interesting. They have simple glazes and no funny names. Why? I’m not sure. I got a salted caramel donut and a maple bar. The caramel-glazed donut was tasty and with an enhancing sprinkle of salt grains. DSC_0012Oh my gosh, I am never eating donuts again. I felt yucky afterwards. Hydrogenated guilt maybe? I’ll have to forgo my plans of visiting the Voodoo in Eugene.

Also in Spokane, the ABC Christian Bookstore and Vegetarian Food Outlet. I am always intrigued by Adventist vegan options. Mostly because the reporting on them is never very thorough. So I stopped in to the tucked away bookstore to see what kind of groceries they offered. It was a mock meat fest, as I expected. Early vegans rejoice!

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DSC_0021This was the TVP section. Just add water! I’m not a big fan of this stuff either.

PicMonkey Collage2.jpgI felt obligated to buy something because the employee was such a sweetheart. So I bought a jar of McKay’s chicken style broth and a bag of organic flax seeds for just a couple of bucks.

I can drive all day through Oregon! And I did. And it was glorious. It was the 97-South that I really enjoyed. Spicy mustard ground with bursts of pale green low lying shrub, then enter the Cascades… spectacular snow-capped beauties. DSC_0030

Though the drive was exhilarating, I arrived in Bend exhausted. And without a proper meal all day, I made a b-line to Broken Top Bottle Shop. I had their Vegan Club Sandwich: Tofurkey, smoked tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado-edamame spread and a smoked tomato aioli… with a side of Brussels. I even had a Coke. I have only a few of these in a year. IMG_7365

It was a whirlwind of a day in Montana. I am grateful to have tasted some really good vegan options… I ate well! And today that started at Bernice’s Bakery in Missoula, which has vegan bakery options. I was there bright and early with some other early birds. And I ate a cupcake for breakfast. It was just much more appealing than a muffin. DSC_0005

Their gorgeous vegan and wheat-free chocolate cupcake was a great beginning to a day of Montana love and appreciation. Staff always has a vegan option. I thank the college crowd for this trend. Youngin’s and their ideals.DSC_0002

Good Food Store is a must-stop for stocking up on road trip necessities: fluids, things with chia seeds, sweet snacks, salty snacks, and big organic apples. That covers all my bases really. DSC_0009

Never heard of this brand so I had to check ‘em out. Daniel’s Vegan Cookies had many varieties available but… it’s always chocolate chip for me. They were no Uncle Eddie’s, but that’s ok. They were different: soft, fruit-sweetened, more bar-like. Perfect for munching while driving.DSC_0010

I made it to National Bison Range, the main reason for my trip. I played amateur nature photographer and snapped shots of the local residents. Unfortunately all the bison were elsewhere. I imagined them smoking cigarettes on the other side of the mountain discussing existentialism. I did see one lone bull. I was pretty bummed about not seeing any but I guess that’s wildlife for you. The scenery and other inhabitants of the refuge made up for it some.DSC_0013

Collected from seasonal antler shedding…DSC_0017

Surrounded by vegetarians.DSC_0025

The lone bull I saw. The outcast.DSC_0041

My favorite photo of the refuge. DSC_0046

More veg-heads nibbling on the greens.DSC_0068

A herd of cattle.
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What are you looking at?DSC_0109

Rain clouds gathering.DSC_0119

Next, I headed east for a lunch option that looked very promising. I was thankful for a flat stretch of interstate driving through what seemed to resemble my father’s train set. Burnt siennas and umbers on rolling hills sprinkled with pine trees. It really did look like some model. I was on the way to Butte. I drove through Drummond, a creepy town known for its proud bull shippers. And meth addiction I suppose. DSC_0126

In case you thought you might try meth, read this poem.DSC_0130

Butte has a great eatery with some tasty vegan options: Hummingbird Cafe. Butte is another of Montana’s college cities, home to Montana Tech of the University of Montana. Though I didn’t explore the place past my food destination, the town seemed run down and sad. DSC_0139

I had their t.l.t.: tempeh bacon, lettuce and tomato. And a side of potatoes.
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And a big side of their Avocado and Tofu No-queso-dillas. Served with a glorious almond cream sauce. This was heavenly.DSC_0135

After the fantastic lunch, it was time to make an appointment I had set back near Missoula. Though I despise obligation to anything other than my whims on a trip like this, it was an appointment I wanted to keep, especially since I had no quality time with the bison. And so, after some back and forth emailing through the day, I found myself tucked away on state land opening the gate on the state’s only farm animal sanctuary, New Dawn MT Farm Animal Sanctuary. I got an intimate tour of the grounds and met all the rescues… and got a lick down from a frisky bull. Here are my favorite shots of my visit.DSC_0191

This pig had wiry boar hair. What’s in your brush? Hope it’s not this guys hair.DSC_0145

Ol’ blue eyes. Goats always seem to have such inquisitive personalities, kind of say, “Hey-a, how’s it going? So-a what’s going on here?” DSC_0146

A curious and expressive llama was confused by my presence. Such a unique animal. Their gait, their reaching necks and small heads and piercing stares… then a abrupt gallop away. DSC_0151

A beautiful black-faced sheep. “Do I have to get up for you?”
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Rasta sheep. DSC_0159

With their winter coats on. This was one of my favorite shots from the sanctuary. DSC_0156

Pot-bellied little guysDSC_0174

The rescue roosters DSC_0177

A friendly dog resident. He brought me over that circular thing wanting to play. But there were dairy cows about moo-ing something fierce. DSC_0183

And they wanted to lick me. And they did. I left the sanctuary covered in their saliva. IMG_7333

That’s all I got, Montana. I left with the sun, heading west. Running away from sundown. DSC_0196

Thanks for the Big Sky, vegan eats, and animal friends.DSC_0200

ORLike I mentioned in my previous post, Portland is Vegan Heaven. The level of vegan eats available, both from all-vegan establishments and omni eateries, is truly daunting. Hours of operations helped me decided on Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store, a outlet of sorts for Grain God Bob that serves up vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Having to make it to Montana by the evening, I needed an early breakfast if I was going to fit in lunch and dinner and a cupcake stop! An early riser still on New York time, I was at Bob’s before 7 am, basking in the glutinous  offerings.

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DSC_0025The stock was impressive but I was disappointed flours were not at all discounted.

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DSC_0030You don’t bring me flours anymore.

DSC_0035Breakfast: Vegan French Toast, thickly cut 10-grain bread with maple syrup. So fresh and delicious.. but I needed some Earth Balance. Thanks, Bob.

DSC_0039Across the street is Dave’s Killer Bread company store. Dave makes chemical-free bread that locals love. Which is great because his backstory is inspirational, his high quality breads are a labor of pure love and he’s got an adorable logo. You need more than that?

DSC_0044Okay, how about this?

WA

So unlike Oregon, I feel like I have better represented vegan offerings in Washington state, though more specifically Seattle. But not Eastern Washington, which just so happens to be in the way of my reaching Montana. After a gorgeous ride through Mt. Hood territory, I followed the Columbia River east to Oregon’s border, all green and lush and coniferous… to the very boring and brown 395 to Spokane. But first, Richland and their vegan cupcake option at Frost Me Sweet Bakery and Bistro.

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It was a Strawberry Shortcake that was vegan today. And it was a yummy couple of bites, however… with Voodoo doughnut, maple syrup and now a cupcake, I was nauseous from all the sugar. DSC_0047

So I couldn’t even look at the bakery case at Boots Bakery & Lounge, an all-vegan spot in an adorable area of Spokane, Washington. The Spokane I knew 15 years ago looked nothing like this. DSC_0058

I could, however, load up on a medley of saltiness and veggie-based delight. I chose three spoon drops from their deli case, including a lemon rice pilaf (I need some acidity!), mac & cheese, and a tofu scramble. The nuked up plate helped balance out my poor tongue. But I secretly wanted 3 spoonfuls of mac & cheese. It was that earthy kind of mac that tastes kind of nostalgic. In fact, the scramble tasted kind of 90′s vegan too. Food flavors are similar to songs in a way, they hold constellations of memories packed up and folded and stored inside them… and the associated love gets credited to the flavor, and not all the stuff we connected to it. Just like songs. This I was thinking of in my many hours of driving–that songs are dresser drawers that hold memories. That you tuck it all in there and say, “That’s a good song.” But it’s really a million other things. DSC_0054

MT

Okay finally, Missoula, Montana. I made it into this small college town with the plan of getting a good night’s sleep after dinner. But here I sit rambling on about songs and flavors still. So let’s talk about Montana. For dinner, Iron Horse Brew Pub. Why? Because they offer housemade tempeh substitution on any of their sandwiches. Yeah.
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The tremendously tall Tempeh Sandwich was stacked with greens, sprouts, and cucumber. The thin strips of tempeh, whose texture was spot-on, needed a bit of a stronger marinade… and needed to make up a larger percentage of the sandwich innards. But this was a very welcome dinner after a day of sweet gluttony.  DSC_0059

Here is a close-up of the delicious imbalanced ratio. IMG_7314

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon was the first vegan doughnut option I ever heard of. Like real doughnuts. Not circular cakes with holes in them. And I’ve never had them. It didn’t sit right with me. In fact, having only a handful of blog posts on Portland–thee vegan capitol of the world, I’ll boldy say–did not sit right with me either. Well, I’m here now. And I’ve come for my doughnuts.DSC_0010

I went to Voodoo at the crack of dawn: partly to avoid the lines the place draws and partly because I had too much eating to do today. This 2nd Portland location (on NE Davis) was deserted when I arrived. Perfect. DSC_0015

Even with no one behind me, I rushed myself into a decision. DSC_0004

I chose, paid, and sat down with them in an attempt to prolong the encounter.
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The Loop & a jam-filled Voodoo Doll DSC_0005

Doughnut deliciousness. What a way to start the day! DSC_0008

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I always giggle at myself for enjoying my weekend bagel the way I do. I really feel a sense of loss at its last bite. It’s simple perfection. An everything bagel, of course. Then toasted to activate all those seeds’ flavors. A layer of Earth Balance. And a layer of Bonne Maman preserves (today, Cherry). Every side of my tongue is happy. Especially when it finds the lone caraway seed, aaaah. The bagel, best done on Long Island, is to be savored. More so because I am heading west tomorrow. Where bagels suck.
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Spring is finally in the backyard–in the form of noisy, enthusiastic birds and a clan of happy-faced daffodils.IMG_7267

The gang’s all here. What’d we miss?DSC_0054

For lunch on this glorious spring day, we headed to Seasons 52 in Garden City, a higher end restaurant chain dedicated to seasonal cuisine. It has a weekly changing specials menu, hence the 52, and it has a separate vegan menu. IMG_7273

I had the Vegetarian Tasting: a quinoa-citrus salad with greens and cranberry bits, a soft taco piled with a variety of seasonal vegetables, two chunks of cedar-roasted tofu [cedar serving tray included], and another pile of blanched veggies. It was fresh and flavorful but lacked a bit of cohesion. I guess it was a tasting plate after all. DSC_0069

We also got sides of potato wedges and a Fiji apple slaw (below).
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Then we headed to the local TCBY chain to try their Silk chocolate almond soft serve! I was very psyched about this vegan option which, the friendly employee informed me, rotates. Vanilla had just been replaced with this chocolate almond… and coconut was up next. Kinda excited about that! IMG_7277

I soft served it up and added some of their fruit and nut toppings. They have a whole lot of toppings that are mostly un-vegan.
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It was real yummy. Creamy, not ice-y-ish, so you know there are some good and weird stabilizers. I was proud of my creation. Then I ate it all. And loosened my SwatchDSC_0073

Sometimes–in the world of restaurants–a lone “vegan option” beats an “all-vegan” menu. But would this be true of bakeries too? On a bright Saturday afternoon, a friend and I accumulated research on this query, visiting 6 omnivorous bakeries in the isle of Manhattan in the name of deliciousness and gluttony. IMG_7194

Our first stop was thee best stop: Sprinkles. Sprinkles’ claim to fame is being the first cupcake bakery ever. Now they are a franchise with 15 shops in 7 states (and 1 District o’ Columbia), including seven in their native California. The founder is also the judge on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, or was at least. So Manhattan has a Sprinkles on Lexington ave with a well-publicized Cupcake ATM that’s open 24 hours. And on a spring Saturday, the shop and ATM was swarmed with tourists. Maybe when they open their ice cream and cookie shop, crowds can divvy up to less annoying levels. PicMonkey Collage1.jpg

What’s fantastic about Sprinkles is that they offer a lone vegan option that is up to their high standard, and adorned with an adorable scarlet letter: V. V for, well, you know. The vegan option is a moist and balanced red velvet that is… ahem… likely the best vegan cupcake I’ve ever eaten. (And I’ve eaten a ton..) A well-deserved and bold statement… a challenge almost. The cake was perfect. The frosting was perfect. Not cheap-tasting, not overly sweet. Just go and try it in a city near you.PicMonkey Collage2.jpg

Stop 2 was a little bit of a stray on the cupcake theme: Baked by Butterfield. Baked is an off-shoot of high-end specialty food institution Butterfield Market, a New York City grocer since 1915. Baked’s specialty is doughnuts and they make a regular vegan option–the apple cider doughnut. But coming from Sprinkles, I couldn’t bring myself to buy the bare bones doughnut. I opted instead for another vegan offering–a banana chocolate chip muffin, by-passing their Brooklyn-born delivered treats from Clementine Bakery. This is, after-all, a Manhattan vegan option crawl. It was dense, like the muffin it was, and needed a bit more banana.PicMonkey Collage3.jpg

Option 3 brought us to the East Village. Tu-Lu’s Gluten-free Bakery has a daily vegan option. Today it was blonde on blonde, a light gluten-free golden cake with great flavor topped with a whipped vanilla cream. Tu-Lu’s cupcakes are always so delicate and beautiful. It is a great vegan option that allows you to daintily demonstrate restraint. Which I wasn’t exhibiting this particular day since it was a part of a procession of cupcakes.PicMonkey Collage4.jpg

Option 4 was Jennifer’s Way, another safe haven in the East Village for food allergy sufferers. Jennifer’s vegan and non-vegan offerings are made from quality ingredients, as evident by the darling vanilla beans on top their devil’s food cake. The cake was yummy and moist, but that frosting is the real star. Jennifer’s treats are the basics done right. I’d love to see more decadent offerings at Jennifer’s Way. (And a lower minimum on credit cards [$25?!] and a less snarly counter person…)PicMonkey Collage5.jpg

Option 5 was another tourist spot: Molly’s Cupcakes. Sure they have swings at the counters for lucky patrons who manage to nab them… and a ton of creative, decadent and deliciously decorated cupcake options… as well as basic vegan options–chocolate or vanilla cake with chocolate or vanilla frosting. I opted for my favorite combo: vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. I was delighted that the frosting was thick and fudgey, like the nostalgic kind, and not a light chocolate buttercream. The cake was really good, too. Just a bit soft. But I surely appreciate the option! PicMonkey Collage6.jpg

Option 6, Georgetown Cupcake, was a bust as no vegan options remained after a busy day of foot traffic in SoHo. But my friend got herself a Key Lime cupcake. And I went to try their vegan option a few weeks ago, which is pictured again below. The cake, an apple cinnamon, was very impressive and worth another mention. I guess the bakeries with multiple locations are doing something right, even in their vegan options.  Maybe they’re increase their daily vegan options if vegan cupcakers like me continue to ask for them. PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Thanks, NYC!

Options I missed:

Think Coffee‘s delivered goods from Sans Bakery

Sustainable NYC‘s delivered goods from Cake Thieves

When life gives you lemons in the form of missing your coveted appointment at Materials for the Arts because you were making soap with a bunch of ten-year-olds who were half-batty after 3 days of state tests, you get a good dinner, preferably from your long waiting list of bookmarks. Surely you’ve heard this before, eh?IMG_7075We sat outside at Selamat Pagi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn because it is finally getting less cold.

IMG_7076I ordered one of the few vegan options on the menu: Locally-raised tamarind-glazed tempeh (heh), roasted veggies, crispy kale and fresh cilantro. So delicious, but lacking a starch to sop up all that yummy sauce.

IMG_7080I snuck some of Teacher T’s white rice to more effectively transfer the sauce in my mouth. This was a fresh and flavorful dish that tasted like summer. Waiting for June…

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DSC_0005When I get a pancake craving, it’s hard to disseminate. Do I want the ultimate vehicle for sweet and savory? Do I want several airy, thin cakes with crispy browned corners? It depends. Whichever the case, I can certainly half my pancake recipe so as to not be left with a ton of batter… but that wouldn’t be fun. Not when I can always make breakfast for lunch again.

DSC_0011And I’ll need some tempeh. But mostly because I want to experiment with marinades.

DSC_0016Add some fresh kale, and lunch is complete!

DSC_0021Oh, and a yam and potato hash with sweet peppers and roasted tomatoes.

DSC_0028And dessert. Finally using up the apple compote I made for Christmas, here is a cinnamon cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

IMG_7047Check out the real vanilla bean speckle. Sunday lunch-making is one of my favorite parts of the week!

 

Spring Break!! (fo’evaaaa)

Ok, more like:
MT

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With several cans of coconut milk to use up, I packed this week’s lunch with rich, creamy coconut milk. Starting with coconut quinoa! A huge fan of coconut sticky rice, it was an opportunity to transform dare-I-say boring quinoa. I was going to to this right. Starting with a real soak. DSC_0002To add even more coconut flavor, I used coconut oil to toast the quinoa.
DSC_0003 Did you ever toast quinoa before making it? I’ve never done it before… which I am slightly embarassed about. DSC_0005 Here, the coconut milk bath for the quinoa. I wanted to join the qunioa for a swim. DSC_0006 Finally, creamy coconut quinoa. All done. And delicious. I shall make it again but make it sweet and salty, like my favorite Thai streetfood. DSC_0007 I guess something has got to be served with the quinoa. Here, blanched broccoli waits to return to the stir fry pot. DSC_0012 Cubes of tofu and a ton of garlic and scallion. DSC_0013 And finally, chipotle citrus sauce covers all components. I went a bit overboard with the heat. Oh well, it’ll wake me up at work.DSC_0018Sometimes bananas go uneaten and I get happy. I love banana in baking. I made a heavily spiced banana cake from pretty, vegan chef Chloe.
IMG_6977 This recipe called for more coconut milk! Banana and coconut–yes!  DSC_0021 And I still had a ton of vanilla buttercream in the fridge from a previous baking project. So I piped these delicious cupcakes with cream. Lunch: done. Two cans of coconut milk: done. IMG_6983

IMG_6801With winter’s long awaited goodbye, I am psyching myself up for tasty Spring. A gluttonous long-overdue feast of eats. What’s Spring have to do with eating a lot of food? Nothing really–but I plan partake in feasting anyway, loosely connecting it to some seasonal ritual I’ve yet to conjure up. Maybe it is the passing of this harsh winter that has me ready to celebrate in my favorite form–bites. To start, here’s a bunch of vegan cupcakes from Whole Foods my student brought in for a birthday celebration.

IMG_6876A tofu scramble biscuit? Yes, only the makers of the vegan “cronut” can create another such hybrid eat, capturing the essence of this brunch staple in handheld form. Peacefood Cafe. I enjoyed the maiden bites of this biscuit outside on a bench. There! A Spring connection.

IMG_6877I’ve got Hungry Eyes… one look at you and I can’t disguise. So I often tack on point-of-sale purchases on impulse. Like this blonnde-on-blonde cupcake, also from Peacefood Cafe.

DSC_0001Ms. CP and I had a lunch date in Harlem to try the brand-spanking-new Seasoned Vegan during their soft opening. They’re a serving a soul-satisfying limited menu as they near their grand opening in May. We couldn’t wait. I had the large plate with two proteins and 2 sides. For protein: a yummy baked lemon-crusted “fish” fillet and a sizable mound of sweet, sticky riblets. My veggies–a flavorful jasmine rice and vegetable medley. The excited energy in the new Kickstarter-ed restaurant was a great accompaniment to my scrumptious dish.

DSC_0004So of course I had to get a cupcake, too. I mean, a house-made Peaches n’ Cream vegan cupcake. Heck yes. I wish Seasoned Vegan great success!

IMG_6970When hungry, sometimes I get irrational. This is when Daiya is eaten, against my better judgment. I am longing for the day when I can devour Jay Astafa‘s scratch-made cashew cheese, among other fantastic creations I’ve spied on Instagram. But for now, it’s packaged vegan cheese at Three Brothers.  Above, their Bianca pie. That means white.

IMG_6898Spring also brings school year milestones, like the state exam. Silly wardrobe choices inspire them to do their best. That’s how I justifying buying kooky stuff like No. 2 pencil knee highs and looseleaf t-shirts.

DSC_0011Breakfast is my favorite meal. It probably has to do with years of eating cereal for breakfast… and dinner. So I’m going to make it for lunch for this upcoming week. But in honor of my Irish heritage, I’ll add coloring to my French toast batter.

IMG_6844Add flax to everything. Even green French toast.

DSC_0024I guess it’s not the most appetizing-looking green French toast but it tastes delicious.

DSC_0005And potatoes!

IMG_6851And not very Irish-inspired chocolate chip cookies.