Friday Snippets – St. Paddy’s Day edition

Hello and happy Friday, friends!

The Internet has been rife with Friday Snippets fodder this week, so I won’t hold back any longer. Here are some cool things I read/found online this week that you may have missed, many of which just happen to be related to a certain Irish holiday coming up tomorrow:

Me, Katie, Becca, Taylor, and Brit hanging out at the Gala during the inaugural Vida Vegan Con.

- After sitting on pins and needles for what seemed like eons this week, the three brainy vegan babes behind the Vida Vegan Conference (VVC) decided where the next conference will take place: VVC 2013 will be in Portland again (yay!) and VVC 2014 will be in Chicago, (woo!). I was honestly hoping for Chicago, but this is the best of both worlds, as now I can attend 2013 just by driving down I-5 and I can finally experience Chicago in all its glory for the first time with tons of other vegans. More details will be announced in the coming weeks, so be sure to “like” the Con on Facebook.

O’Hara’s Celtic stout. Photo by Helen of Vegtastic.

- St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow! Do you all celebrate? I was much more inclined to in college, (then again, who wasn’t?!) but this year has me waxing nostalgic on some fun times I had on the holiday in the past. Thankfully I’m getting together with family tomorrow eve for a big dinner and lots of Irish beer no doubt, and will be making some sort of vegan, gluten-free dessert to share. In case you’re looking for help on what to make for your own party, check out these great resources: Helen of Vegtastic put together a great list of vegan-friendly Irish beers; VegNews posted a whole menu of Irish delights to help you out; and the Family Kitchen on Babble posted a recipe for a vegan Shamrock Shake! I can’t remember the last time I had one, but they used to be a family tradition growing up. Maybe it’s high time I brought them back, cruelty-free style.

Gorgeous Black Bean Soup photo by Cat of The Verdant Life.

- As I recently purchased a new laptop, I’ve been doing some cleaning up of photos and organizing things related to the blog behind the scenes. One thing that I noticed immediately is how many soup-related posts I’ve written! I have no shame about this fact and honestly can’t help it – fall and winter and sometimes most of spring in the Pacific Northwest qualifies as soup weather, and thus I make and eat a lot of it. My friend Cat of The Verdant Life totally gets my soup appreciation and love, and shared some of her thoughts on just why it’s so amazing in a post this week. Go on, read it. I promise it’ll make you want to cook up a batch to eat for the next few days.

Silly fun times at Blubeard Coffee. Photo courtesy Tacoma Cash Mob Facebook page.

- There are so many great things about Tacoma, and one of them is the fact that its residents love to support each other and their businesses. A few days ago I saw chatter of a Tacoma Cash Mob on Twitter, and then it mysteriously jumped onto Facebook as well. Tacoma evangelist Katy Evans is one of the individuals started the project locally and it really seems to be taking off! According to a Tacoma KOMO story on the local movement, a cash mob is: “groups of strangers who descend on beloved independent retailers—bookstores, bakeries, wine shops—and spend at least $20 each.” The Tacoma Cash Mob Facebook page has created an impressive list of local businesses, and locals can “vote” for the next business that is to be descended upon by “liking” photos of their favorites. Many vegan-friendly spots are represented including Corina Bakery, Pho King and Bluebeard Coffee, as well as non-food businesses such as King’s Books and Orange on 6th Vintage. If you love supporting local Tacoma businesses too, check out the page and “like” your favorites, and keep up with happenings to see when the mobs will be scheduled.

I am going to go figure out what I’m going to bake for tomorrow now. Have a grand weekend, all!

Corina Bakery, all shiny and new

If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, I’m fairly confident that you’re aware of how fond my household is of neighborhood mainstay, (and uber vegan-friendly to boot) Corina Bakery & Bistro. If you follow local news and/or my Twitter and Facebook feeds, I think you are also aware that on Feb. 23, the bakery moved from its original location on 6th Ave., kitty corner from Infinite Soups to directly next to indie theater the Grand Cinema at the corner of S. Fawcett Ave. and S. 7th St. in the Merlino Arts Center.

The new spot boasts many great features including: much more space, brighter lighting, beautiful windows, and a long table in the back room for group meetings and gatherings. Additionally, later hours have been implemented to accommodate weekenders and filmgoers and the bakery’s made mention of an expanded menu and the addition of beer and wine in the near future. While there’s no official word on what the new food options will be, I’m holding out hope that they will continue their trend of offering up wonderful vegan options and that they will add some heartier, more meal-like options at the cafe.

We stopped by on opening day to snap some photos of the new space.

The new Corina includes a black-and-white tiled (sorry no photo, but check it out – it’s awesome) show room for consultations of cakes/baked goods, and the room includes a view into where the magic happens.

This is what things looked like after the crowds calmed a little closer to closing time. Each of these tables were filled when we first arrived! Outlets are perfect for working individuals/students.

New double front doors, crimson curtains and big screen TV. At first I was a little perplexed at the sight of it, but it is muted, (thankfully!).

Beautiful large new displays for maximum baked good viewing at all times.

Really loving the wrought iron details and bright clean decor and lighting.

View of 6th Ave. from the espresso station.

Eager customers awaiting their drinks and bakery items.

My spoils from a visit last week: the ever-present, always moist and tasty pumpkin loaf and soy latte.

Corina Bakery is now located at 602 S. Fawcett, right next to the Grand Cinema.

Their new hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, check out their website.

Local friends, have you been to Corina’s new space yet?

Friday Snippets

This week definitely got away from me, so sorry this is the only post for the week! I’ve got a handful of new posts in the works and should be back at it next week. Until then, here are a few things that caught my eye this week.

Beet-based Blended Soup. Photo by Carrie of Carrie On Vegan

- If you don’t already read California-based blog Carrie On Vegan I think you’re missing out, as she’s been on a roll with great posts as of late. She’s one of my inspirations when it comes to eating healthily on a vegan diet, and she’s been writing some thoughtful posts about sugar addiction, slow food vs. fast food and many other topics of interest to people who truly care about the food they consume. One such post that really resonated with me this week was about the excuses we make for not eating healthily. I feel that for the most part I’m great at setting aside time to cook, but sometimes life and responsibilities seem get in the way, (an excuse!). Carrie argues that it’s all about prioritizing, and I wholeheartedly agree. You should read it yourself, and check out the tasty looking veggie-filled soup recipe.

- It’s now March, and that means that Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale week is quickly approaching! This year it’ll take place April 21-29 all around the world, and Tacoma will be taking part for our second annual bake sale! The local event will take place Sunday, April 29 from 12-4 p.m. at King’s Books again. We’re still looking for volunteers, (before, during and after) and bakers, so please email Joy at  joy_clendening[at]yahoo[dot]com if interested. Here are my posts on last year’s sale, and for more info on other bake sales happening during the week, head to the WWVBS page (click on image above). I’ll be posting more info about the Tacoma sale as the event nears!

Photo by Continuum Designs, via Creative Commons

- Veganism is definitely getting its fair share of mainstream exposure these days, and the Food Network can be thanked for some of that, (though why they have yet to start an all-vegan cooking show, I have no idea!). Continuing with this trend, they will be airing an all-vegan episode of Cupcake Wars Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times. The bakers present their cupcakes as a part of Los Angeles’ Green Festival, which happened in November. I don’t have cable, so watch this for me and tell me how awesome (I hope) it is!

Lentils and brown rice, by Katie of Vegan Noms

- I met my lovely friend Katie at Vida Vegan Con, and as she lives a few states away, I keep tabs on her through her great blog, Vegan Noms. She wrote about her newfound success with meal planning this week, and it definitely got me thinking about it as well. I don’t have any kind of organized system for meal planning, and thus some weeks are pretty haphazard. Seeing Katie’s (and also JL’s of JL Goes Vegan) posts about putting a little extra effort into the weekly planning process helped me realize that this could be a good solution for me, so I can make less excuses about not eating healthily, (back to my first Snippet from Carrie!). Her post also includes two tasty looking recipes that you can make in bulk during the week. I want to try the Israeli Couscous soon!

- Along with WWVBS week, March also brings the promise of Vegfest here in Washington. I went for the first time last year and both volunteered as well as just attended to take in all the sights and taste as many things as I could! The event is taking place March 24-25 at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall this year, and will feature over 500 foods to sample, cooking demos, nutritional talks, a big book sale and much more. Vegfest is currently seeking volunteers, so if you’d like to get free admission to the event, a free event t-shirt, (my 2011 one is one of my favorite sleeping shirts!) and help out at an event for a great cause, check out their website.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Friday Snippets

Happy Friday! This was an unexpectedly crazy week, so I’m looking forward to some much deserved lounge-on-the-couch-with-books time. Here’s some Internet goodness you may have missed:

Photo by wonderyort, via Creative Commons

- According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Vegetarian Resource Group, 2.5 percent of the U.S. population is now vegan, woo! The last number that I remember reading was 1 percent, so that’s a pretty significant jump. Check out the Vegansaurus post for more info re: the stats.

The Farmers Market by Sean Alexander, image via South Sound Users Guide

- If you live in the South Sound and are on the Internet, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Kickstarter fundraising that’s currently going on for the South Sound Users Guide. Our region has over one million people, a rich history, breathtaking natural beauty, vibrant arts and culture and more, yet no definitive guide about it all. Sounds odd, right? We’re not the only ones who think so. Enter the brain child of Tacomites Ken Miller and artists Chris Sharp and Sean Alexander: a physical, art-filled guidebook to everything you should see, visit, eat, drink and do in the South Sound. Not only is it an idea thought up by locals, it’s also going to be created by people who live here, too. If you love the South Puget Sound, I suggest you consider kicking in as they’re halfway towards their funding goal.

Photo by tuscanycious via Creative Commons

- Want to get more greens in your diet but aren’t sure how to prepare them? Check out this video by Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets for tips on how to enjoy more green leafy veggies. I’ve been on a collards kick and have been putting them in everything lately.

- VegNews Magazine compiled their list of must-read vegan cookbooks of 2012, and man, is it filled with some delicious looking books! Want to learn how to create rich gelato, craft fancy artisan vegan cheese or grill like a pro? There are books coming out for that! Check ‘em out, and add them to your wish lists now.

Photo by Bianca of Vegan Crunk

- Happy Mardi Gras! All right, so it was officially on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean we can’t revel in all the beautiful photos of food that fellow vegans ate on Fat Tuesday, right? Right! Case in point, Bianca’s gorgeous King Cake. I’ve never had or made one before, but all the posts I saw for the celebration this year were inspiring and helped me make a mental note for next year.

All right, have a great weekend!

Friday Snippets

I’ve been planning to start integrating a few new features into the blog this year, but as new years always start out crazy, they haven’t taken root yet. Enter Friday Snippets, or info about other things I am up to but don’t fully blog about, and/or links to vegan news and sites I find interesting throughout the week. Not only will this give me a much needed kick in the pants to get writing, it will also allow me to share more info that’s relevant and happening in the vegan world. While I try to post a good amount via Twitter and Facebook on the daily, I don’t always post all the things that I want to. I think this will be a great way to share all these extra bits with you all. I can’t promise that I will keep it up every week, but damn if I won’t try! And I hope you guys will let me know what you think of it along the way.

I have no set guidelines for what these links will include or how many I’ll post, (and it’ll obviously change based on a busy week or a slow week), but here are the vegan-relevant topics that I intend to share about: food (duh), fashion, environment, events, health, etc. I’ll try to keep some things local, but some of these may stray to include info about vegan things going on around the world. As I do my best to keep my regular posts PNW-centric, I think having one day to stray a bit is good.

I have been a bad blog friend/commenter lately, so this will also be a good chance to give some lovely blog friends some much needed props. That gets me to some links I want to share today:

There are few things more beautiful than a perfectly ripe avocado. Photo by Helen of Vegtastic.

- Seattleite friend and fellow vegan blogger Helen has been on a roll this year with posting, I have to say. I catch up with her blog in spurts, but if you haven’t checked out her recipe for Seitan, yam and caramelized onion tacos, do yourself a favor and click that link. I could frame that avocado photo, I love it so much.

- Specialty online vegan product shop Cosmo’s announced that they are closing on March 31st this week. Such sad news, as they’re a wonderful company that has been around to help many vegans order the products they need from afar. If you’ve been holding off on buying some vegan items, now would be a great timeto do so as they will need help with closing costs.

Nachos of the future. Photo by Julia of the Snarky Vegan.

- So, the Snarky Vegan made some Tater Tot Nachos for Super Sow Sunday, her garden-themed alternative to that other big Sunday. I just can’t get over how genius this combination is. I think this proves that we’re best friends and we didn’t know it somehow.

Photo by blog.punkrawlabs.net.

- We just got our new copy of the April 2012 issue of VegNews this week, and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an issue dedicated to men leading plant-based lifestyles. This theme makes me so happy. The notion that it’s weak or not “manly” to be vegan is absurd, (please, everyone, have a look at Robert Cheeke already!) and I’m happy that the publication took it upon itself to dispel these myths. For more on the vegan lifestyle from the male perspective, check out Helen’s list of male vegetarian and vegan bloggers.

- This past weekend, I took part in baking some vegan goods, (carob chip scones, adapted from Isa’s recipe in Vegan Brunch) for a Valentine-themed bake sale held at the Tacoma Food Co-op for Precious Life Animal Sanctuary. A local vegan bud planned it, and I was way impressed with the array of goods I saw early on. I brought home brownies, lemon poppy seed cookies, (way to go Leah, they were awesome!) lemon chia bread, sugar cookies with pink icing among other things, and they were all delightful. I heard the bake sale raised nearly $300, too! For being a pretty last minute event, that’s way impressive. Hooray for the animals!

This weekend is a pretty special one for my dude and I as it’s our anniversary! We’ll be heading to Seattle for dinner here, after missing our seating time (everyone is seated at the same time, so no late arrivals!) last year. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it from friends so I cannot wait to finally experience it. Do not worry, I’ll have my camera in hand and will document every morsel for a future post.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Winter: the season of the sick

Since I’ve transitioned to veganism, I rarely get sick. I’m not trying to rub it in or be that stereotypical vegan, but it’s true. I get sick generally once a year, and if it lasts more than three days that is really rare. I went through 2011 without getting sick a single day.

Two weeks ago, my luck caught up with me and I came down with a sore throat. I thought it was a 24-hours max bug that I could kill with my arsenal of tricks, but alas, it hit me cold on a weekend, no less.

During the weeks/months when half of your co-workers are sniffling, your kids are around other kids with the flu/nasty bugs and all of the elements combine to weaken our systems, we have to prepare ourselves. I believe that eating a vegan diet filled with fruits, veggies and whole grains is a really solid way to boost your immune system year-round, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. We all eventually get sick, but over the years I’ve tried to green my ways and start taking more natural approaches to cold/flu treatments. Since this is that time of year, I thought I’d share my tips, tricks and products I use when I feel something coming on and when my seasonal illness is already full blown.

Note: I’m not a doctor, nutritionist or dietitian, but I have been vegan for some time and thus am familiar with vegan treatments for common illnesses. Please consult your doctor before starting a new diet, exercise or health regimen, etc.

Throat Coat Tea with Lemon, echinacea and agave

Once I started feeling sick, I went to Twitter for some advice on what I could do/take to help my sore throat. Fellow Tacoma food blogger Adrienne suggested tea with lemon, and this is one thing I’ve been doing for years, and is also a suggestion we all hear constantly while sick. I’ve recently come around to Throat Coat tea (which is wonderful because it actually does what it says) and the kind that I use actually has lemon and echinacea in it, so there’s no need to add them. I do add agave to mine as it sweetens the tea and soothes the throat more. I got this tea at Marlene’s, but I’m pretty sure you could find it at the co-op, Metro Market and Safeway, too.

Fresh juices

Anytime I start to feel the slightest sign of a bug, I run to a juice bar and grab some liquid immune boost in the form of fresh fruit and veggie juice. If you have a juicer, you’re lucky and this is super convenient! Make sure that the juice you make or buy has lots of greens in it, vitamin C-packed fruits and veggies and some herbs as well. My favorite combination from local Marlene’s includes kale, broccoli, parsley, apple, carrot, lemon and ginger, and it always makes me feel amazing. I’m sure there’s some placebo effect at play, but I know that drinking one of these at the first onset of iffy symptoms has saved me from becoming ill before. Don’t underestimate the powers of fresh juice! In Tacoma, you can also check out Smooth & Juicey for your fix.

Natural Emergen-C

Though it’s probably not necessary as take a multi-vitamin daily and try and take in more Vitamin C if ill, I like to err on the safe side and take a much higher dose of C while sick, (don’t worry, I don’t OD – you can have 8,000 mg while sick and be fine). I used to use Emergen-C but I thought it might be good to seek out a natural alternative. While combing through Marlene’s (clearly it’s my sick time safe haven), I found Trace Minerals Research Electrolye Stamina Power Paks. They come in a few flavors, and I think that taking one of these a day while sick helps me get back on track sooner.

Fire Cider

We Tacomites are lucky for many reasons, and one of which is the craft cocktail lounge nestled in the Hilltop neighborhood, 1022 South, (check out Northwest Herbivore’s great review of it here). Not only do they make fine alcoholic beverages, they’re also well known for their mocktails and house-made infusions, too. A menu staple of theirs that I was initially afraid to try due to the name is the Fire Cider, which is made of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, cayenne, garlic, onion and ginger that has all been left to meld for six weeks. Served straight up and hot, the flavors may be much for some, but I actually love it and it truly works wonders for the ill. Over time, it’s become a staple of mine while sick. Next time you’re feeling under the weather and are in the neighborhood, you should give it a try.

Pho, Chickpea Noodle Soup, or any veggie-filled soup

You knew this one was coming, right?  Pho is definitely my favorite go-to warm, brothy soup that I crave when I’m feeling sick, but damn if a big bowl of Chickpea Noodle (recipe is from Veganomicon, but you can find it here) won’t make me feel awesome too. Liquids in any form are great while sick, so even sipping on plain veggie broth – something I’ve been known to do – is excellent when you aren’t feeling up to “regular” foods but still aim to consume some much needed nutrients.

Exercise

Many people believe the stigma that exercise is bad for them when they’re sick or think that it’ll make them feel worse, but I’ve generally found the opposite to be true. I don’t go running to the gym and hit the elliptical while ill, but I usually do try and go out for a walk once a day while sick to get up off my couch/sickbed and get some fresh air and feel human again. If you’re feeling weak this isn’t advisable, but otherwise I think getting your blood moving while fighting the illness is definitely a good thing.

And that’s what I generally do, in addition to drink lots and lots and lots of water. For some more info/suggestions about boosting your winter immune system before getting sick, check out fellow vegan blogger Molly’s tips.

Have you come down with a cold or flu yet this year? What are your tried and true ways of combating seasonal illness?

Get your vegan pho on in Tacoma

Growing up in warm, season-less Southern California, I was never introduced to Vietnamese food – particularly the popular meal soup, pho. It wasn’t until I moved to the Pacific Northwest and saw a pho joint on practically every corner that I learned what it was. When I realized that many places in Seattle created totally vegan options for the traditionally meat-laden dish, I knew I had to try it. Soon after, my pho love was born. When you’re sick, it’s rainy and cold out, or you’re feeling too lazy to cook, a steaming bowl of take-out pho is truly a wondrous sight.

When I moved to Tacoma, I didn’t know any other vegans, and thus avoided Vietnamese restaurants. I presumed that there wouldn’t be any phoptions (get it?) for me, and quick Yelp searches didn’t yield anything to prove me wrong. Eventually, I got the courage to start asking at restaurants that I knew served pho. I think my requests were lost in translation, and on a few occasions I realized that I’d received pho that was in meaty broth, an awful feeling for any vegan.

Disappointed and honestly grossed out, I quit my search again. That was, until I discovered a few places a year or so later.

People on Yelp finally started dishing out the good news that yes, animal-free pho does exist in the city, and I went to all the places I could find that cooked 100% vegan pho. I know I’ve heard from a few others that there are other places that serve veg-friendly pho, but I’m so smitten with my staples that I have yet to try them. With all that said, here are my top four recommendations (in order) on where to grab you vegan pho in Tacoma.

- – - -

Photo borrowed from Anika at Seattle Vegan Score: tofu pho at Than Bros. in Seattle.

4) Pho Than Bros. – Full disclosure: I’ve yet to eat at either the Than. Bros. location on Pacific Ave. in Tacoma or on S. Tacoma Way in Lakewood. Despite that, I’ve eaten at four Seattle-based locations of the family-owned chain, and thus feel qualified to comment on their South Sound locations. Pho Than Bros. keeps things simple: they just serve tasty pho (and their free cream puffs – but pass these to a friend, they’re not vegan), minimal ambiance and they only accept cash. The pho broth is salty sweet and filled with veggies, but there’s a trick to ordering your pho vegan here: even if you ask for the vegetarian tofu pho, make sure to specify vegetarian broth. It doesn’t always come with the order. They definitely use MSG here, but it’s tasty enough if you need a quick, cheap dinner with leftovers to spare.

Tacoma
10435 Pacific Ave. S.
Tacoma, WA 98444
P: (253) 548-8886

Lakewood
8515 S. Tacoma Way
Lakewood, WA 98499
P: (253) 582-5120
http://www.thanbrothers.com/

Other resources: Seattle Vegan Score’s review of Than Bros. in her “Vegan Pho Tour of Seattle” post: http://www.veganscore.com/2010/12/vegan-pho-tour-of-seattle.html

 

Tofu vegetable pho at Pho 701.

3) Pho 701: Located on busy Pacific Ave. in downtown, Pho 701 has a lot going for it. Other pho places are a bit away and many downtown employees are constantly searching for a new place to run to on their lunch hour, (myself included!). I’ve been to the restaurant a few times now, and I’ve noticed a trend: dependably delicious food every time, sometimes spotty service. I’d say that I’m more patient than the average person when it comes to food service, but I’ve gotten back to work late a few times while eating at 701 for lunch. Maybe it’s just due to the time I go, but regardless, I will keep going back. All right, let’s focus on the good: employees are super sweet, and a regular-sized bowl of their tofu vegetable pho will run you $6.95. The broth is a little less flavorful than some other local places, but the abundance of fresh veggies used in the soup more than makes up for it. Their vegetable spring rolls are wonderful, and I’ve heard they have vegan bahn mi, but have yet to try it. Pho 701 was formerly a quaint bistro/bar called Seven-Oh-One, and thankfully, the new Vietnamese restaurant has kept up the inviting and modern decor that was left from the prior tenants. It’s a great spot to people watch and sit outside during the summer. Whether you dine in alone, with friends or on a date, you can’t go wrong. Added bonus: full bar (!), and a great happy hour: 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

701 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98402
(253) 627-9225
http://pho701.com/

Taken on a phate (pho date) with my lovely and talented friend Alicia at Pho King.

2) Pho King: Pho King caught my attention before their doors opened for two reasons: 1) the name, (yes, I am a 12-year-old) and 2) the fact that they placed a typed notice to their door that said: “we have 100% vegetarian pho!” Sign me up, pals.

Pho King’s vegan pho contains vegetables, but they’re minimal: just carrots and broccoli. Some are happy with the lesser veggie-filled bowls, but I prefer my pho teeming with ‘em. One thing Pho King’s soup really has going for it: an insanely flavorful broth. I think about their broth days after eating there. Gingery, spicy and perfectly rich, it has to be one of the best I’ve ever had. They also do not skimp on the tofu in their veggie pho! You can’t tell from the picture above, but every bowl I’ve had has been generously filled with their flavorful, tender tofu, and I love it. I sometimes get their spring rolls which are decent, but I have yet to try their tofu bahm mi, which I’ve heard friends rave about. Beware of the non-vegan cream puffs here as well. Pho King is really lacking in the atmosphere department, but that doesn’t sway me at all. My food has always been quick to arrive, they stay open later than most nearby Vietnamese restaurants, service is friendly and prices are just right. Eat in or to-go, Pho King is always an excellent choice.

1020 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Tacoma, WA 98405
(253) 272-6287
 

Other resources: Pho King’s Yelp page. Check out reviews by my friends Roxanne, Leah C. and Susan, (S.N.) for deets on their vegan experiences there: http://www.yelp.com/biz/pho-king-tacoma

Pho V&V leftovers, doctored up the next day.

1) Pho V&V: The #1 winner for the best vegan pho in Tacoma for me will always be Pho V&V. Always. I can’t even recall how I first heard of them, but ever since that first visit, I’ve been one of their biggest supporters and tell everyone I know to go there – vegan or not. All of Pho V&Vs phos are MSG-free, the owner loves jazz music so there’s always some playing, their spring rolls (and peanut sauce) are my favorite around, and the proprietors are really nice, albeit quiet people. I had the pleasure of interviewing the owner for an article, (see below), and he has an interesting story. He used to teach music in Vietnam, and jazz has always been his favorite. Cooking was more of a hobby, but when he moved to the US, it became his livelihood. I’m so glad he did move here, because he and his wife understand that vegetarians and vegans need delicious Vietnamese food, too. As I mention in my Yelp review, the trick to optimizing your tofu pho experience at V&V is to order it with extra veggies. If you don’t say “extra veggies,” there won’t be any, so if you’re a purist go that route. I’ve ordered it with extra tofu, too, but found it to be a bit much and thus am fine with the traditional serving. I always have leftovers the next day, and dress it up with the leftover Thai basil, jalapeno, rice noodles, lime and of course, ample Sriracha. The decor is minimal, but the service has always been friendly, quick and the food is downright delicious.

5434 S Tacoma Way
Tacoma, WA 98409
(253) 475-6165

Other resources: Pho V&V Yelp reviews, (including mine): http://www.yelp.com/biz/pho-v-and-v-vietnamese-restaurant-tacoma

My review of Pho V&V in the Tacoma Weekly, (printed March 31, 2010): http://www.tacomaweekly.com/news/view/get_your_pho_with_a_side_of_jazz/

Tacoma vegans: where are your favorite places in town to get pho? Have I been missing out on a spot that I should check out soon?

Anatomy of a Tacoma snow day

If any of you aren’t in the Pacific Northwest, you’ve probably heard or read the news that we’re currently experiencing an unusually heavy winter snowstorm.

What was predicted to be a not so extreme event has gone on longer and is pretty much rendering many of us useless – in the usual working, going to school, meeting up for drinks with friends, etc. sense. I’m from So Cal, and never drove in the snow until the first winter I was here, and after I nearly spun out going downhill north of Seattle I’ve been scarred. If you’re from the Midwest or the East Coast and have never been here for a snowstorm, you’re probably laughing at us, but you know what? We’ve got hills, and they’re steep! So it’s been better to avoid driving/walking in slush if you can.

This trash can in our back alley functioned as my snow fall marker.

On Wednesday our office was closed, so I did as much work as I could at home. But, due to the fact that it was a snow day, I obviously did some other things too. Here’s my account of what this Tacoma vegan did on a snow day.

7:00 a.m.: Get up, check work emails, and tackle a few work projects off and on throughout the day.

9:45 a.m.: Make breakfast. As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, the cold green smoothies have not been sounding nice lately, so I made some Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oats and served ‘em with blueberries, walnuts, agave and almond milk. Yum.

10:30 a.m.: Reading and cuddling with the cats on our couch. Book of choice: Me Talk Pretty One Day by the hilarious David Sedaris.

12:15 p.m.: Lunch was leftovers: Basic Baked tofu from Appetite For Reduction, roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed green beans. No photos because I devoured the plate at lightning speed.

12:45 p.m.: Put on all the layers. Not included: gloves, hat, scarf and puffy coat.

Compared to the day before, each step was a ton deeper on Wednesday, so we made fun tracks like these.

1:05 p.m.: Head out into the snow! We’re lucky that we live fairly close to a few parks, so we walked through the beautiful and deeper white snow to Wright Park, and were greeted by the sights of families, dogs, snowmen, snow angels and lots of sledding. I’ve never wanted a sled so much in my life.

Gorgeous Wright Park, covered in snowfall.

These snow people seemed to be having an argument.

SO FUN.

1:45 p.m.: Head to nearby Corina Bakery as we knew they’d be open, and that it’d be a perfect opportunity for some warm treats. Americano and cake for him, soy hot chocolate and quinoa cookies for me, (as you can see, I took the snow day as the opportunity to indulge. As I said in the last post, I’m not militantly strict about my healthier eating this month and am allowing myself to live once in a while).

The prettiest soy hot chocolate I've ever had.

2:05 p.m.: Trudge back home. Warm up again.

Between 2:20 p.m. and 6-ish p.m.: Work, read, tweet, hang with cats, enjoy the snowflakes.

What more could you ask for at the end of a snowy day?

6:30 p.m.: Begin and then consume our winter and friend-inspired dinner: Tempeh Chili and cornbread. The cornbread was the recipe out of The Joy of Vegan Baking, which I made for the Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off last year. Both recipes were even better and more satisfying this second time around.

Later: More reading, episodes of “30 Rock” and lots of blankets.

Overall it was a lovely day, and the longer I live here in Washington, the more I’m realizing that I actually love snow, so long as you don’t make me drive in it.

For my fellow Northwesterners, how has this snow week been treating you? Are you loving it, over it, ready for more? Also, what are you cooking to stay warm?

Tacoma/South Sound Vegan Holiday Gift Guide – 2011

If you’re like me, you probably feel as though December came up way too fast this year. If you’re also like me, you’re attempting to make your holiday shopping more focused on locally-created and sold products and goods. If you’re still on the hunt for gift ideas for your favorite vegan that can be found in the South Sound, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve created the Tacoma/South Sound Vegan Holiday Gift Guide in order to help out those of you who on the hunt for cool, unique and interesting gifts that can be found in town and that do not harm animals. I hope some of these ideas help you find gifts for the people you hold dear, vegan or not.

Price key: up to $25 = $, $50 and below = $$, $75 and below = $$$, $100 or more = $$$$

A few notes: All photos are mine, unless otherwise noted, (in that case, they’re from the companies/creators). These items are not all from vegan stores and are not all made in Tacoma, but rather all ARE vegan and are all sold locally. I personally own many of these items and support these companies, but I was not given any of the items, and was also not compensated by companies or asked to put any items on this list. I’m also a member, volunteer and newly elected board member of the Tacoma Food Co-op. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here you go!

My summer toes, thanks to Girl Talk.

A mani/pedi (or both!) from Girl Talk
I have a feeling that many local vegans don’t know about the wonder that is Girl Talk Salon. No, not the band, (though they’re awesome, too), Girl Talk is a one-woman nail show located on 6th Ave., in the salon located directly next to Valhalla Coffee Co. Owner Stephanie is vegan herself, and makes the scrubs, lotions and bath fizzies that she uses for nail treatments. She also uses cruelty-free polishes, will give you a tarot reading for fun if you like, and is one of the sweetest women in the city. I won’t let anyone else touch my toes. Info. $$-$$$ (if both)

Slice of pumpkin cake from Corina.

Sweets and coffee

I think you guys should all know by now how wonderful I think Corina Bakery is by now. They make vegan pumpkin loaves, chocolate chip, peanut butter and quinoa cookies, NRG bars, cupcakes, cakes, pies and specialty items by request. Down south, if you’ve ever had a vegan cupcake, muffin or cookie in an Olympia cafe, chances are it was from The Bearded Lady Food Co.  In addition to traditional treats, they sell full-sized tarts, tortes and cheesecakes, which are rare, decadent treats for us ’round these parts. Why not grab a nice selection of baked goods and a promise to come over and catch up and share the bounty? Add in a pound or two of beans from Bluebeard or Valhalla in Tacoma, or Olympia Coffee Co. or Batdorf and Bronson in Oly,  and you’ll have one happy friend. Corina, Valhalla, Bluebeard, Bearded Lady, Oly Coffee, Batdorf. $

Nurture Botanicals personal care products from Oly Vegan

I stopped into Olympia’s new all-vegan lifestyle shop this weekend in anticipation of creating this guide. The shop has tons of great gift items, and I’ll highlight a few. One was the array of herb and essential oil-infused personal care items from Nurture Botanicals. A few great gift items that stood out from this line: Skin Detox Soaking Salts, (above),  natural laundry soap, and peppermint lip butter. Perfect for the aromatherapy obsessed individual in your life.  Info. $-$$

A rockin' raw salad (and juice) from Amerawcan Bistro.

Gift cards to Tacoma’s and Olympia’s vegan and vegetarian eateries

The way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach, (you can quote me on that). While some may be cutting back on their dining out budgets these days, a gift certificate to a local restaurant will allow your friends or family the chance to get out on the town, have a date night, enjoy time on their own or gather with other friends and enjoy delicious food or drink. Tacoma’s only all-vegan cafe Quickie Too, vegetarian and vegan-friendly Caffe Dei and the nearly all raw/vegan Amerawcan Bistro are all excellent choices. For those in further South Sound, the greasy diner with a heart for vegans, Darby’s, vegan-friendly with excellent cocktails to boot, Quality Burrito, and Lacey’s nearly all-vegan Asian fusion spot Tofu Hut are all great bets. Quickie, Caffe Dei, Amerawcan Bistro, Darby’s, QB, Tofu Hut. $-$$

Courtesy of A Scent of Scandal Candles.

A Scent of Scandal Candles from Oly Vegan

Who doesn’t need another great smelling candle in their home or office? A Scent of Scandal 100% soy wax candles come in a variety of scents, burn for 30-35 hours and Oly Vegan had some great seasonal offerings available in the shop, including: Ho Ho Homo, (fruitcake scented, hehe), Santa’s Pole (candy cane) and Challahback Girl, (challah bread). I grabbed an earthy Morning Wood (sandalwood) scented one for myself. Info. $

This was shot during the Vegan Bake Sale we held for Precious Life Animal Sanctuary back in May. Photo by Lisa Patton.

Vegan Cookbooks from King’s Books

Have a friend or family member who’s considering transitioning to veganism, or has been vegan for sometime but could always use a new cookbook or few? Head on over to King’s Books and pick up a copy of “Veganomicon” by vegan cookbook queen Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the ultimate guide to starting out as a vegan, “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina or  Jonathan Safran-Foer’s “Eating Animals.” You can never go wrong with vegan books/cookbooks. Info. $

Photo courtesy of Libertine Tacoma

Libertine Tacoma salts

What gift do you get for the vegan who has everything? Culinary, one-of-a-kind salt blends, of course! Libertine Tacoma creates gourmet, handcrafted salt blends packaged in re-purposed scientific flasks and beakers, (love), in a variety of flavors such as Chipotle, Balinese Blend, Alderwood Smoked, and Trifecta, a naturally purple tinted salt. Don’t be fooled by some of the titles or suggestions for these salts: just because they’re recommended to be used with fish or meats does not mean they’re not vegan. I recently picked up a blend at the Tacoma Artist Craft Fair, and I’m finding the uses for it are seemingly endless. Grab a few as a main gift or grab a couple as stocking stuffers. Info. $-$$

Alchemy Goods Laptop sleeve from Marlene’s Market

For the person who’s uber plugged in and constantly click-clacking away at their laptop, why not grab them a cool, recycled from old bike tubes sleeve for their most prized possession? You know their old one is beat up anyway. For the non-label donning or not into designer goods set, these minimalistic bags will fulfill their intended purpose and be nice to the environment, all without being loud about it. Info. $$

 

Photo courtesy of the Tacoma Food Co-op

Tacoma Food Co-op membership

For the ultimate in green, local and vegan-friendly gift giving this holiday season, consider giving a Tacoma Food Co-op membership to the foodie and/or diehard Tacoma lover in your life. Lifetime membership at the co-op is a flat $100, and for that members get special discounts, become part of their greater cooperative community, and leave the store with a fuzzy feeling, knowing full well that their dollars stay in Tacoma and support local farmers and businesses. How wonderful is that? If you’re not able to gift a membership but still want to support the co-op in your giving this year, consider giving a gift card in any amount, a co-op t-shirt, bumper sticker or grocery bag, (pictured above). If your loved ones are supporters, these are great ways for them to show their co-op love. Info. $-$$$$

Jenny Macc purse from Oly Vegan

Sassy and handmade with lovely attention to detail, a new bag from Jenny Macc via Oly Vegan is the perfect gift for your mom, aunt, grandma, sister, cousin…you get the idea. Cruelty-free and fashionable purses and bags can sometimes be hard to find if not searching online, but thankfully Oly Vegan has started working with this fabulous creator and will continue offering them up to South Sound residents at competitive prices. There are a ton of styles and sizes in the store, so go check them out, before they’re gone! Info. $-$$

I will be visiting family and friends, (and eating at tons of my favorite vegan restaurants) soon, so I’d like to wish you all Happy Holidays before then! Thank you all for your support of Vegan Moxie since it launched earlier this year in March, and I’m looking forward to more posts and South Sound vegan love in 2012, (if we’re all still alive)!

Thanksgiving 2011

This Thanksgiving, (or Thanksliving, Tofurky Day, or any other name you prefer!) was my 6th vegan celebration, and I believe it was the best one yet. The boy and I decided to be adult-like and do our own celebration sans family/friends, and it was a really nice feeling to not have to worry about messing up the gravy or pleasing the omnivores.

The main Thanksgiving dish is always the one that I dread and contemplate much longer than any part of the meal. My first year as a vegan, I went the stereotypical route with my first Tofurky Roast that I took to my grandma’s for our annual dinner at her house. I made the roast, vegan mashed potatoes and brought a vegan pie, and the family thankfully veganized some of the vegetable sides. My grandma surprisingly LOVED the Tofurky, which only reaffirmed how much she rules.

When in doubt, Tofurky it up. (Courtesy Tofurky.com).

The next year I made a lentil loaf (it was just fine), and the year after it was a chickpea and vegetable filling stuffed puffed pastry dish (total disaster – and was the catalyst of my current puff pastry fears). The next holiday it was a tofu and veggie quiche type dish made by the bf’s mom (delicious!) and last year’s plans were totally derailed due to Mother Nature killing electricity in a county nearby, so we ran out day of for a, (wait for it…) Tofurky roast again. And it was delicious again! But this year, I knew I wanted to try something else, but also didn’t want to worry too much about the main as I knew I was going to go all out in prepping the dessert.

Over in the Twitterverse, I saw @Tofu_Mom – aka Marti or the author or Vegan Food; More Than Tofu and Sprouts discussing a new product I’d never heard of: the Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute. It just sounds so fancy, right?

Courtesy: FieldRoast.com

It’s essentially a Field Roast sausage, hazelnut, cranberry and ginger stuffing filled loaf wrapped in flaky, (impeccably executed) puff pastry. Once she described it, I knew I had to try it. And the next day, my wish was granted: Henri, the General Manager of the Tacoma Food Co-op sent me an email that consisted of a picture of the box and said, “we have these in the store now! And they’re yummy!” So I naturally ran over and picked one up.

Apologies for the lighting making it appear not cooked, but it was indeed. We served ours with roasted carrots, onions and butternut squash, along with ample gravy for smothering.

Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes in my book. Here they are, being lovingly mashed and seasoned with Earth Balance and fresh rosemary and thyme.

The ubiquitous (at least on this blog), roasted Brussels. In recent years I’ve decided that Thanksgiving can’t happen without them, too.

As I mentioned before, this year I knew I was going to get my hands dirty with dessert, and dirty them up I did. I busted out my brand new copy of Vegan Pie In The Sky and when I saw the Sweet Potato Brazil Nut Crunch Pie recipe, I knew it’d be perfect for our T-day dinner. We love sweet potatoes and Brazil nuts, so clearly this was a win-win. I was a little worried as I hadn’t made a pie crust from scratch in years, but despite not being perfect looking, it still tasted phenomenal. Here it is after the first round in the over, pre-topping:

And here’s the after. The flavor of this pie is sublime, as it combines creamy cool sweet potatoes with island-inspired lime, coconut milk, rum and brown sugar with warm and rich Brazil nuts. You can’t taste it, but this recipe was a huge hit. If you have the book, I highly suggest making it soon.

And here’s the whole gang, in all their Instagrammed glory. From top going clockwise: The White Bean and Kale recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes, (a tradition of ours since last year – I could fill a plate with it), mashed potatoes and gravy, Field Roast slice, roasted veggies, Brussels and lazy woman’s stuffing.

And last but not least, the pie money shot. When paired with Rushmore on Blu-ray (pushes glasses back) , it was the perfect ending to a lovely Thanksgiving. And pie was enjoyed for many, many days to follow.

 Hope all of you had wonderful Thanksgivings! Did you try a new vegan recipe this year that was a standout on your holiday table?