Not that I need another reason to eat an all-vegan apple-themed dinner by an aspiring chef, but my birthday is here again. And a Monday night dinner with some dear, old friends is just what I needed to start celebrating. But it was Da’Ves Lee Malone, the sweet and delightfully timid chef of Sprouting Dreams, who was special lady of the evening. We were lucky enough to be part of her very first Pop-up dinner, hosted at Brooklyn’s V-Spot.  The 4-course meal was all about apples.

DSC_0043Course 1: Mini sweet peppers stuffed with soy sausage and diced Apples along with a carrot bacon-wrapped apple bite. Tender, delicious bites. A dance of sweet and savory on a pepper dance floor. I wanted at least 5 more of these bites.

DSC_0046Course 2: Apple Forest Salad, radicchio salad with thinly sliced apples, shiitake bacon dressed in a walnut vinaigrette. A chef’s weight can be measured in how they craft a salad. Da’Ves made a mean one, each bite had something wonderful to offer.

DSC_0050Course 3: Seared Seitan Steak with bourbon-poached apples and caramelized onions over a bourbon apple cider reduction along with roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts. This was my favorite course. Seitan basked in this umptious reduction, moistened yet sturdy. Poached apples and caramelized onions balanced texture and sweetness. Then roasted veggies became sponges to clean surface area of plate.

DSC_0052Course 4: Apple Fritters with caramel cream cheese and candied pecans. Apple infused each bite of these fritters. It was like a battered a deep-fried apple cake, I think? Cashew-based caramel cream cheese was extraordinary. Bravo, Chef Da’Ves!

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Well, I made them. They took forever.

I went wrong somewhere as the texture of the light cookie was a little gummy.

But they were definitely macarons! I did it!


I used Hannah Kaminsky’s recipe.

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Sundays in Fall means back to lunch. As the school year continues to kick my butt, I adjust slowly–feeling my best at some point on Sunday morning. In the middle of my making lunch for the week.

Sweet potato mash, roasted red beets, and roasted tomatoes from my garden, to be smeared on bread. IMG_2196

Creamy polenta, roasted root (sans the hacky sack), and a bed of kale. Tofu was marinating. IMG_1850

Still using up my tomatoes roasted tomatoes and tofu spinach ricotta in a tofu omelet, roasted potatoes, and maple pan-fried Field Roast sausage. IMG_2321

And blondies. Some bourbon for the blondies, and some for the brunette. IMG_2303

Oh, vanilla.

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Tagged with:

Teacher shoes.IMG_1745

Ice cream treat on the Gowanus. [Ample Hills Creamery]IMG_1792

Pretzel cone. Dairy-free fudge & Brooklyn.IMG_1787

Fried pickles. Summer beer. [Pickle Shack]IMG_1796

Herbs and cashew cheese on rustic bread.

Avocado green.IMG_1800

Vanilla ice cream, macerated strawberry on cookie crumb and basil cream.IMG_1802

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Fields and fields of corn. This is what’s inside the heart of the heartland. After hours of fields of corn, I was back in the Motor City area to sample some vegan eats.IMG_2081

Lunch, finally was at Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak. They have a promising brunch menu they only serve on Sundays. (Darn!) And a regular menu with 90’s veggie fare. 90’s because things are served with a side of chips from a bag. The 90’s as in, a time when vegetarian food was rudimentary and unexciting. I opted for a sandwich special, the opened face tempeh. IMG_2083I had hoped that the Daiya was a sprinkling, and not the pile I was served, barely hot, on top of the barely cooked tempeh. I promptly moved the mound of processed cheese glob off the tempeh so I lost most of the pesto. What I was left with was not what I pictured in my mind as I traveled from Indianapolis. The slaw was a little bit of a redemption, but not enough.

Well, there’s always cupcakes! I drove a short couple of blocks to Main street where Cupcake Wars winner Taste Love Cupcakes offered a vegan option that would make it all better. PicMonkey Collage

I have to say: the best vegan cupcakes I have tried in my travels have been the vegan option at an omnivorous bakery. The fluffiest cake, the best frosting, the best pinpoint-perfect sweetness level… maybe these are more qualified bakers, as opposed to passionate vegan entrepreneurs who bake? But they are getting it right. This cupcake was sublime, an adjective I don’t use lightly, like say “yummy.” Spectacular in all the ways cupcakes can be.
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After some exploration of Detroit, both crumbled and wartorn and thriving, I head to the uppercrust city of Birmingham, very different than the dilapidating Detroit proper. I headed to the fancy pants The Stand, a gastropub with a vegan section on their menu, otherwise filled with things like duck fat fries. I asked my waiter if the chef could whip me up a vegan tasting plate with a combination of the menu items, sans the honey and hazelnut roasted carrots.  IMG_2170

It was a delight to be presented the dish by the chef! I felt like a V.I.P… although I have been wearing the same clothes for 3 days straight. (My rebellion of airlines’ atrocious policy on bags.) On my plate: the roasted mushrooms with crispy quinoa in a balsamic glaze, candies fennel with beets and walnuts, and the amazing roasted corn with lavender oil and candied almond. Every bit of this dish was scrumptious. It was a welcome veg-based meal done right.IMG_2171

I did some exploring of Detroit. Fancied myself an urban explorer.. from the car. After GPSing all about Gratiot, directed to make turns I would never make without prodding, I became fascinated with Detroit. Motown is a beam of light on the city. Standing in front of Hitsville U.S.A. feels different than standing elsewhere.

I found the juxtaposition of places like Birmingham and Detroit unsettling: how affluent some areas were while other parts were empty, destroyed, abandoned of hope–with wandering specters. But this is the lore of Detroit City. The city is now a museum of its former self, with its once-grand architecture crumbling away, scrapped, yet standing–like the thousands of empty, boarded homes. Visual reminders of the stark contrasts embedded in our society: race, class, money. Detroit’s Michigan Central Station is one large reminder. IMG_2103



Inside the residential streets, where there is a 1:1 ratio of abandoned homes to homes, the Heidelberg Project is thriving. I last saw it like 10 years ago. It has grown significantly since then, hosting other industrial and folk artists in the surrounding homes and yards. IMG_2127

I love this kind of crap.IMG_2135


I also had to visit the abandoned Packard Plant, the largest abandoned factory space in the world, apparently. Packards were luxury vehicles built here until 1958. Now the 3.5 million square feet plant remains abandoned, but still oozes life. Many are living inside the wreckage. Like the man I saw wander out from one of the ghostly buildings.IMG_2185



It was time to say goodbye to Detroit. The gorgeous sunset tucks me in for my early am flight. IMG_2184

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Some stops I just can’t resist. A mostly-vegan bakery inside an office building in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, a city with a dearth of vegan offerings, was one such stop: Pembroke Bakery & Cafe.PicMonkey Collage

Being this was my first bite of food today, I bought a bunch of goodies, including their mini cinnamon chocolate roll, a big cinnamon bun, a berry danish, and their award-winning cayenne chocolate cookie. Sure, it was a bit excessive. But I was just passing through, heading south for several more hours. What if something happened and I needed sustenance enough for two or three?  You can never be too careful.  The truth is that I’d find plenty of sweets to eat in Indiana, and half of these would remain in my car for the overnight. IMG_2023

I had lunch in downtown Indianapolis, which was far more bustling (and hot) than I expected. I headed to the City Market for a taste of Three Carrots, an all-vegan vendor inside this maze of  culinary delights. PicMonkey Collage2I had their Seitan Gyro, by recommendation, with their house-made seitan, cucumber dressing and fresh veggies on top a warm pita. And a side of their potato leek soup. The meal was gloriously messy and delicious though saltiness dominated. Perhaps my tastebuds are dumb right now with my cold?

After, undeterred by my tastebuds, I headed to The Flying Cupcake Bakery, for a taste of their vegan option. I opted for the Vegan Chai, which was yummy with that delightful frosting sugar grit I love in a cupcake. The cake was hearty, almost muffin-like. Delicious! The sweet countergirl let me know that another of their locations in the area had a larger selection of vegan options. Next time.PicMonkey Collage3


After some time had past, I ate again. This time, in Bloomington at an adorable space that was made for food blogging. I do appreciate a cute and careful aesthetic alongside my vegan eats. The Owlery, whose link lived in my bookmarks for many moons, was the dinner destination. PicMonkey Collage4

I got the beer-battered fish n’ chips. Gosh, I don’t know why. Maybe I wanted a side of fried with my fried main. It was the texture, in the end, that reigned supreme. Such a golden delicious breading! PicMonkey Collage5

I skipped having yet another sweet treat at The Owlery, but only because…IMG_2051

I wanted to hit the all-vegan Rainbow Bakery!!PicMonkey Collage6

It was almost closing time so their case had been emptied quite a bit. But I bought three goodies for motel nibbling. Not that I ending up eating anything at the motel. I just had a photoshoot then packed them up for tomorrow. This is not, after all, an after-school special. (Pictured a Hibiscus donut, Green tea cupcake, and a coconut bacon maple-glazed donut.)IMG_2072Tomorrow I head back to Detroit with a list of things to eat.

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Sometime in August, lazily lounging on a couch, I thought it’d be a good idea to move my blog forward to “all states reporting” status. This thought during this determined August, the tail-end of a summer spent stacking my professional credentials, could not have known I’d be inundated with the perpetual mountain of tasks from a chaotic back to school. Nor could it have known I’d be sick and just wanting time to relax… on that same couch.  But I’m here: In Michigan, to report on vegan eats. And tomorrow, in Indiana. States #37 and 38 in my quest country-wide reporting.IMG_1990

First eats of the day, a terrible bagel with some smuggled-in Earth BalanceIMG_1975

After some wrong turns in Detroit, I made it to Seva Restaurant in Ann Arbor for lunch eventually, a landmark vegetarian restaurant serving since 1973.IMG_1999

What’s tough is deciding what to eat when you’re really hungry and know that you will likely never return to the eatery you’re sitting in. I experience this pressure often. But as a general rule, I always get a dish with a house-made cheese option if available. So though it isn’t the most photographic selection, it had chargrilled mushrooms, red & yellow peppers, red onions and zucchini with basil-cashew pesto, house-made almond cheese and vegan aioli on a delicious roll. A great sammy!IMG_1991

Next I headed to Cupcake Station, thee first cupcake shop in Michigan, for one of their vegan option: a Samoa cupcake! You know, Samoa, that fantasticly nostalgic Girl Scouts cookie. So this baby was vanilla cake topped and filled with their yummy chocolate buttercream, rolled in toasted coconut and drizzled with chocolate and caramel. This was a heavenly cupcake! My only criticism is that between being filled and topped with buttercream, it was a bit too much frosting.  Did I just criticize a vegan Samoa cupcake? What?!
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Next, I had to eat something else sweet. Just because… a vegan Ding Dong! I stopped in at Big City Small World Bakery for this second nostalgic vegan options. It was just like a Ding Dong… even left my fingers coated in waxy chocolate. It was a bit small for the price, which you can’t really tell from the pic. PicMonkey Collage3

Then I eventually had dinner at The Lunch Room, an all-vegan eatery with some great standards in their menu. Though I never opt for an Asian dish, especially one that’s on a menu of lesser available vegan eats, my achey limbs wanted this dish–their Pad Thai. That and an Arnold Palmer. I wanted more textures and flavors in this. It was disproportionately noodle, which were creamy and delicious. But it needed those heat-inducing favorites: green onion, garlic, ginger. IMG_2015

Oh I forgot, I went to Schakolad in downtown Ann Arbor, a franchised chocolate shop with a limited selection of dairy-free dark chocolates. As if I needed more sweetness today. PicMonkey Collage

Goodnight, Ann Arbor!

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