What a delight to get a snow day on what would be my second day back at school! While we were snowed in, I took care of business. Like making a hearty breakfast: vegan French toast! Nevermind running out to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs before the storm, this French toast requires neither. And what a way to use up the rest of the bread.
These are perfect little French toast bites. Add some Earth Balance and maple syrup and I can eat a dangerous length of bread. Save some for later and they taste like fast food french toast sticks out of the nuker. Secretly good.
With temperatures dropping to the single digits, we took in the outside cats, much to the upheavel of our 3 resident cats. The huge ginger cat, aka The Big Galoot and the sweet little fluffy girl who’s been tugging at my heartstrings, aka Hippie Frank.
Parking lot snow mountain.
My garden, winterized. Happy Snow Day!
And done! After a 2-week whirlwind of travel, I am now resting my behind on the couch, adjusting my clock back to the Eastern timezone. Here are the highlights of my last day in Germany.
I really wanted to see the Baltic Sea before heading back over the Atlantic. But time was an issue. Instead of heading to Rügen island, accessible through the Stralsund (a 6 hour roundtrip train ride from Hamburg), I headed to Lübeck, a short 1 hour train ride, one way.
I hit the Hanburg train station at 06:00, when drunken boisterous dopes still wandered about, to ensure I wouldn’t have to share Travemünde Strand with too many folks. My plan worked. It was me and the sea. Staring out towards Scandinavia, I had requisite profound thoughts/questions and then moved on, joining the early bird cyclists on the boardwalk.
The German coast along the Baltic and North Seas have a special claim to fame: the strandkorb, a straw beach seat that is characteristically German–the epitome of form meets function. With reclining high-back cushions and foot rests, as well as storage and an easy lock-up gate, these awesome chairs were designed in the 1800′s to block the coastal winds.
The lonely strandkorbs lined the beach
This was how far I stepped into the sea. It was a very chilly morning.
After returning to Hamburg, I made a b-line to Veganz, an all-vegan grocery chain with stores across Germany– including this one in Altona, a hip, multi-culti borough of Hamburg city. That’s right, a store where I can buy anything without scrutinizing the ingredients! Clearly this was a must-stop… but there was another all-vegan supermarket I could have visited: Bevegend.
Before perusing the aisles, I had breakfast at the in-store Fairy Food. I needed to try their vegan croissant and have my first-ever cappuccino.
Once again the vegan cheese spread in Germany impresses me. I wished I could have bought some to bring home but I knew it wouldn’t last.
I regret not buying a bag of these white chocolate buttons.
So much fun to check out these German vegan items.
They even had a cosmetic counter.
Their ice cream cooler was not “open” during my visit unfortunately.
I bought a few item, including this “nougat ring.” After trying that Charleston Chew-like candy bar, I was excited about vegan nougat. This confection from Vegan Bakery was a nice treat to devour on the train ride to Berlin. The nougat was more like a whipped buttercream piped on top of a flaky cookie, then chocolate-coated.
It was a packed ride to Berlin from Hamburg… and I was ready to get a good night’s sleep in my private room. I reserved a seat on the train for the first time and, in turn, avoiding having the stand the entire way. I checked into yet another spotless hostel that was easily accessible from the huge central station. I took a quick walk and had a hearty dinner before making it back for my early bead time. And thankfully, the first bit of rain I saw on my trip limited the noise of boisterous travelers milling about the courtyard.
I chose my dinner spot based solely on location. I wanted somewhere within walking distance. I thought the reviews of Seerose painted a scrumptious picture. It was just what I needed–veg-heavy, fresh and flavorful.
Here was my dish, front-view. The beautiful colors and different textures and tastes were divine. I heart fresh herbs.
And the other side of the plate. Look at those big chunks of squash.
And here it is… a Berlin Wall. Not thee Berlin Wall. But a wall in Berlin. I had nothing left to explore sites in the big Berlin. Another time, Germany. It was time to head home.
There are a small handful of these United States that I have not seen. I’ve never set foot in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama… and I am intrigued by what vegan options in these states look like. So given their proximity to each other and time on my side, it was time for a Vegan Victuals food roadtrip!
I flew into New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve been there before but not in the days when I blog reported. (Oh, I wish I had a Hot Tub Time Machine, like in the awful movie I watched in the hotel last night, so I can retroactively document all of those vegan meals. But anyway–I had breakfast in New Orleans but wanted to hit the road quick. I stopped at Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District for their Garden Slammer, a veganizable breakfast platter.
The dish had a bottom layer of fresh potato hash, topped with vegan chili, tempeh bacon, and a tofu scramble. It was a great start to my trip that kept me satiated until I reached Jackson, Mississippi for lunch.
I have been eye-baling Cool Al’s from afar for quite some time. I just knew it’d be an interesting place to report on. I was totally right.
This award-winning and accolade-hoarding hot spot of Jackson, MS has a full menu of imaginative and burger and fry items that I’d label Southern Fusion, with vegan options that aim to please.
I got their spicy West African Veggie Burger. This housemade burger is made with black-eyed peas and West African seasonings. They added vegan mayo, vegan cheese, and served it to me on a bun also noted as vegan. Hearing and seeing the “v-bombs,” especially in the staff’s thick, rich Southern accents, got me very excited to eat my meal!
Did I mention the fries?? I got Eggplant Fries, which were deep-fried, crispy strips of eggplant. With my fry order, the cashier rattled off a long list of seasoning options. I choose Cajun.
After a mel like I had, I was glad to have the chance to stop in Rainbow Co-op, a well-stocked natural foods grocer with strict rules about what makes it to the shelves. No GMO, HFCS or refined sugars, etc etc. The market was inside a building that housed other like-minded business. There is an attached vegetarian cafe, High Noon Cafe, that also does Rainbow’s packaged meals and desserts. (I regret not picking one up. They had Mississippi Mud Pie!) The complex also had a fair trade shop, massage therapy, and a community bulletin board with all other sorts of resources. It does my heart good to find a special place like this in Mississippi. I bought a kombucha for the road and was on my to Little Rock, Arkansas.
My GPS had me heading northwest through Mississippi’s desolate state roads and I saw one of the creepiest things I could have seen on the road: a Monsanto facility. All the neatly manicured farmland with its obedient corn crops I had been passing started to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Good thing I had a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar!
After a long day, I had finally found myself in Little Rock, Arkansas. With the early flight out of New York and the hours of eating and riving, I was beat. The first day of a roadtrip is always the hardest. I was ready just to check into the hotel and forego dinner, but that’d throw everything off!
I made it to The House Gastropub in Little Rock, a hip bar/eatery in Little Rock’s with a focus on quality ingredients. They are by no means a vegetarian eatery but they do boast a housemade vegan patty that veg-heads and omnivores alike give high marks.
And I agree with these veg-heads and omnivores! The vegan patty was delicious and the dreamy focaccia, confirmed vegan. The staff was accommodating and sweet. As I waited for my first meal in New Orleans, I tried to adjust to the southern speed (i.e. not New York speed) of things. I’m getting a little better but there is a striking difference.
Let’s look a little closer at this soft beauty. You can order the vegan patty with any of their dairy-laden burgers with a bit of the ol’ “no this, no that” vegan action. And they have super-salted sweet potato waffle fries that are dangerously delicious.
Ok, 3 meals in 3 different states! I may have another in Arkansas but then I’m heading to Memphis, Tennessee!
Nothing will settle me into a day of auto/train/plane travel than a hearty breakfast. And there was still time to squeeze in another stop in Atlanta. Breakfast would be served at Stone Soup Kitchen, yet another bustling breakfast spot in the hip Grant Park area.
Stone Soup Kitchen offeres patrons a menu with vegan dishes clearly marked. Thank you for this, Stone Kitchen! They also offered me vegan butter for my delicious Blueberry Corn Meal Flapjacks, made with soy yogurt and my friend Bob Mills’ gluten-free flour. Finally, a meal that isn’t predominantly constructed and bound by gluten! I am ashamed to say that I ate 4 out of 5 of these darlings… Ashamed, because trip s like this make me feel like Audrey in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. It’s ok. With my entire day tied up in some kind of transport machine, it was the last of my gluttonous mission.
It was time to say goodbye to the 7-lane north and south ping-pong of my Hotlanta excursion, time to say goodbye to Southern drawls, time to say goodbye to the obscenely ugly, bright purple-blue Hyundai Accent. And with easy-on/easy-off interstate access around the block from Stone Soup Kitchen, I managed to return my vehicle to the airport 3 days later on the exact minute of my pick-up. Stick a fork in me, I am done!
Here are some other non-food sights:
Cornelia, Georgia is home of the Big Red Apple, a bright, sweet fruit in a salad of the Gods. Why the apple? Pardon the Wiki paraphrase: The embrace of apple production in the 1920′s saved the area from the evil boll weevil who munched the heck out of the state’s cotton fields and pushed rural folk to the bigger cities.
The town was empty, save for an awesome old couple taking pictures of the apple.
I past this impressive auto salvage castle on Interstate 365 on the way to Cornelia. I thought I’d stop in and take some pictures on the way back. The friendly white-bearded proprietor let me know this was a very common occurrence. The elaborate auto salvage “theme park,” lined by a stacked-car fence, is visited often. An area college’s photography class does field trips there.
I had free roam to the expansive property, but I wasn’t going to stay long. For a million reasons. The eerie feel of the place began to make me feel claustrophobic. All of these vehicles were destroyed and they still seemed angry about it.
But I had to take a closer look at these buses. These were like the ones that got thrown at Superman.
School buses in fetal position.
If cars had a hell, this would be it.
I saw a billboard for Cinderella’s Closet, a pageant shop, and knew I had to capture some of the color. I was disappointed that the gaudiest dresses were bagged up. The place had two mini-stages with cat walks.
Bad taste for every age!
Back at the hotel I spied these two little kitties on top of the dumpster. I watched them intently for a few minutes, missing my little buddies back in New York.
Clearly I am on a quest to find more vegan options around my great city. A satisfying spot for each of the varied tastebuds of my tongue. Some refined and steeped in foodie sensibility, others nostalgic and in need of comforting. Carb-heavy comfort. B.A.D., an all-night eatery with a slew of vegan options, most certainly appeased is the latter.
I first visited B.A.D. last year at their Williamsburg, Brooklyn location. The menu has since grown substantially. I stopped in bright and early one more to start the day right with one of their breakfast options. But first I was taken by selection of v-bombs strewn about the space on Avenue A in the East Village. I had to capture them while I waited for my breakfast. Thankfully the sweet waitress let me wander and shoot pictures.
The bad girl behind Bad Girl Bakery is a vegan herself so they do their own in-house baked goods which are mostly vegan, some of which are gluten-free. Let’s take a looksy:
My greasy, carb-y wonder of a breakfast: the Monte Cristo. This delicious way to start the day is like a grilled cheese made with French toast stuffed with veggie ham. Sweet, salty, savory, and satisfying. The homefries were both white and sweet potato. And boy do I appreciate that.
As my heart can handle quite a bit, I chose a dessert from the menu… the Chocolate Banana Chimichanga. This scrumptious end to breakfast had banana and chocolate wrapped in a tortilla and deep-fried. It would probably feed two but hey, that’s how I roll. So darn good.
Next time you are crawling home on Avenue A.. or up at the crack of dawn because your cat was demanding treats, eat the majority of of your daily intake of calories for breakfast at B.A.D. You’ll have the whole day to utilize it!
yells Farmer Ted while dancing.
The key to surviving a heat wave is to get everything you need to do done… fast! Before peak sun. So The Electrician and I hit the Rockville Centre Farmers Market bright and early. It was my first visit to a farmers market on Long Island, not counting farm stands on the East End. It was a small market with not too many vendors. But then again I am used to New York City’s greenmarkets, specifically the pinnacle: The Union Square Greenmarket. The Rockville Centre market had a great tent for local veggies and a nice spot for fruit. Isn’t that all you need? Kinda.
When temperatures are up, the stove needs to stay off. But the stovetop, that’s another story… Breakfast for dinner is a summer staple. I also needed to use a loaf of huge Farmers Rye. I chose to make a batch of French Toast with blueberry syrup, cooking up the first of my berry stock.
Now that I am working again I need to get myself back into the kitchen. I need to start making lunch again. It has been a long time since I cooked anything, sadly, and I’ll have to start again slow. Slow like with one of my easy favorites: pancakes.
Before it got too hot out, I got a little playful on the stovetop: chocolate swirl pancakes. Mixing two teaspoons of cocoa with a half cup of pancake batter, I marbled up my breakfast to make a slow morning of naming genres on my iTunes a bit more productive. Plus, I was heading back to Brooklyn, which meant a kitchen constantly coated in industrial film.
I had hoped for a darker contrast of colors, but the chocolate mixed up quickly. Next time I’ll pour separate bowls of batter straight on the pan. Beware: it’s difficult to see those cooking bubbles with these flapjacks.
Huge, cake-like pancakes fluffed up real high! The baking powder might have been responsible. So excited in this heat wave, it had the batter’s soymilk in huge fabric-y bubbles as soon as it was added.
Can you figure out what these are?
They’re kind of the coolest thing ever to happen to pancakes. Star Wars pancake molds from Williams Sonoma. Yes, that’s an Imperial stormtrooper, Darth Vader and Yoda, a great birthday gift The Electrician received. Of course I just had to break them in with a batch of vegan pancakes.
They’re trickier than they seem. Using a pancake pen, I filled them with my unsteady hands and struggled to flip them as they had cooked onto the molds. I managed only to make one of each head for the birthday boy before creating several fully operational Death Star pancakes (uh, round ones) for myself. Next time I will add a bit of oil to the molds.
What can I say? I am all about a morning batch of pancakes. As long as I can remember I have had it bad for flapjacks. From when my mom used to mix up the boxed kind when I was a peon, to my taking over duties for the household years later, to my early years on my own in Seattle, Washington where they were often dinner, to perfecting a fluffy and nutritious version of my own and sharing it with loved ones… pancakes are best enjoyed at my own table. Switching it up a bit, I opted to whip up the Vegan Brunch pancake recipe, having never tried it. They were light, fluffy and very different than my hearty usual, which was cut with wheat flour and some Millers bran. But they were oh-so good, kinda too perfect looking. But with a drizzle of agave, for lack of maple syrup, I could barely eat 1/3 of my plate. Could it be I like making pancakes more than I have the capacity to eat them?
Bliss‘s Vegan Breakfast Burrito
I don’t know about you but the morning after a night of drinking, I am nutrient-starved. I crave a variety of tastes and textures, and their accompanying nourishment. Hangover remedies are much like old wives tales. But through the years of trial and error after a night of drinking errors, I have learned a thing or two about how to snap back into some semblance of shape. Here, in no particular order, are what help me eat away my hangover.
Everything bagels do wonders. The salt replenishes electrolytes, the garlic helps the liver with cysteine, sesame seeds have sesame oil which has wonder-antioxidant vitamin e, poppy seeds are a “folk” hangover remedy, as are caraway seeds. Plus the 3-5 servings of carbohydrates stabilize the blood and are utilized immediately as energy. I prefer my bagel toasted with Earth Balance and jam alongside a small cup of black coffee.
Fresh-squeezed juice is necessity. Make sure you are chugging water as well because it is a bit of a bummer to down a $6.00 fresh-squeezed juice in 30 seconds. I always spring for a combo packed with ginger to soothe the belly. Ginger root is your gastric juices’ friend. And fructose, the naturally-occurring sugar in fruit, helps the body burn up lingering alcohol poisoning your morning. If fresh juice is not readily accessible, I spring for Mango Tango from Odwalla. There is something so nourishing about this drink.
Brunch. The bagel got you primed and ready for a bit more variety, a more nutrient-dense meal. Brunch always hits the spot. The range of temperature and texture in a brunch menu is broader then lunch and it seems more time-appropriate since your brain is still in sluggish morning mode. A perfect hangover brunch contains a salty starch (potato, any style), a zing (like in above’s pico de gallo), a bit of coldness (like in above’s tofu sour cream) and something hot to sink your teeth into and chew (like above’s breakfast burrito: tofu scramble vegan cheese, assorted veggies). Fresh fruit, like banana and berries, up the nutrient ante.
Sunlight, light strolling and someone to be silly with in your witless state also help the cause followed by more restful sleep. A personal hangover savior, in my case The Electrician, can make transitioning back to normal part of the fun of a drunken night-before. Now… time for a night cap.
This is Thai money. Color and size differentiating the denominations.
“Well known”? That must mean something more derogatory in Thai?
The drunkard at Western Bar in Ubon Ratchathani who was asked by the owner to stop talking to me.
Black sticky rice, mango and banana in sweet coconut milk from May Kaidee’s in Bangkok. The only dish I ordered that they got right. I am surprised they offer cooking classes.
My blank iPod.
Reflection self portrait that captured the elusive mirror face. We all have our own.
Thee grossest thing I ever tasted… in all my life. Durian fruit gummed in a thick gelatinous cyclinder. An impulse/when in Rome purchase.
Thailand had the prettiest blooming puddles.
The charming mahout (elephant trainer) at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai holding a large piece of elephant dung.
Whole pig head, a staple at local markets.
Proud of my own curry.
More fun with reflections.
The overprice tofu and avocado salad at Samurai Japanese restaurant in Silom, Bangkok.
Breakfast of champions and me: coconut milk porridge with dried and fresh fruit from Ethos Vegetarian & Vegan restaurant.
This thing was in my room in Kanchanaburi.
Freckled and unkempt Barbie Karen.
The sweets table at the market.
Interior shot of strange fruit.
Thai lcandidate poster. “Yeah, I guess I’ll run.”
In Thailand men are double the size of women.
Typical Thai city street.
Will the real “Thai crepe” please stand up. I am only saying that because last night I had a dream about Eminem.
The bilingual keyboard.
This man insisted, through a serious of hand motions, that I take a picture of his family. So I figured I’d publish here for the world to see.
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