Vegan Filipino cooking adventure

Last weekend, I got together with two friends, Helen and Madeline – both Seattleites, food bloggers (Helen is vegan, and Madeline is a vegan sympathizer), and alumni of the graduate school program that I’ll be starting next month – the Master of Communication in Digital Media program at the University of Washington.

One day, Madeline and Helen were chatting up the possibility of having a dinner party where they made vegan-friendly Filipino food so that Helen could experience it (and Madeline could veganize some of her traditional dishes) on Twitter. Madeline messaged and thought I might be interested in joining. Of course I was interested!

Growing up, one of my best friends in my hometown was Filipino. Her mom would make big batches of food for parties and just weeknight dinners and would always invite me over. She loved me, because I ate everything on my plate and always exclaimed how wonderful it was. It was definitely not vegan, but the impact of those very distinct flavor combinations and textures never left my memory. Thus, I was excited to take up the challenge of making some of these (veganized) dishes myself for the first time with great company.

We all gathered at Madeline’s lovely home with fresh ingredients, cutting boards, knives and Helen’s addition of authentic San Miguel beer in tow. Madeline was amazing and prepped separate “stations” (so very Rachael Ray of her!) so that we could each prep different dishes at the same time.

I was in charge of making the adobo – veganized by the usage of Portabello mushrooms. It called for whole peppercorns, which excited this diehard spice lover.

Here was the entire menu, written in order that it was prepared:

Sounds amazing, right?

Madeline was in charge of the afritada, Helen the filling for the lumpia, and Helen and I worked together to prep veggies for an Asian cucumber salad. While we each choppped and prepped, we all chatted about the nerdy things that we’re all passionate about: food/eating, Seattle and social media. The more that we hung out, the more I realized how much we all have in common.

Action shot of Helen prepping lumpia filling.

After most of our dishes were done or prepped, Madeline gave us a lumpia-rolling lesson. Having no prior lumpia prep experience, I was intrigued and also a little nervous that I was gonna mess it up. Thankfully, Madeline was an ace teacher, and after a couple lumpia, Helen and I were rollin’ em up like pros. See here:

Madeline was a great and patient as we learned the subtle art behind lumpia-rolling.

And she showed us the proper placement of the filling on the lumpia wrapper. This resonated with me, as it seemed similar to where you place filling on a tortilla when making burritos. Then came the rolling part, which seemed like it could be dicey, but we got the hang of it quickly.

Lumpia pile success.

I fried ‘em up, and I fried ‘em up good.

Madeline shared that the secret to perfecting fried food: adding kosher salt immediately after it comes out of the frier. Brilliant, and from what I could tell, it worked like a charm.

Big ol’ pot of adobo.

 

Our mighty, vegan Filipino spread.

Madeline had prepared a vegan coconut sorbet as our dessert, but it didn’t firm up as expected. With a slight of hand and amazing improv skills, Madeline and her husband whipped up this amazing dessert for us:

Banana and Jackfruit Turon, with coconut sauce as the topping.

Holy moly. I don’t really have many words for this dish, just delicious “mmms,” “ahhs,” and an assortment of other guttural noises of delicious contentment. It was truly that good.

A few days after we left, Madeline realized that a certain traditional flavor was missing from her afritada: fish sauce. Did she see this as an obstacle? No way! Instead she took it as an opportunity to make Helen and I bottles of vegan fish sauce, and brought some to me at work!

I have yet to use it, but I’ve been plotting all the ways I can integrate it into my cooking in my head since I received it. It was such a thoughtful gift and I’m so excited to use it and see the difference it makes in certain dishes.

I bet you’d like links to the recipes we used for prepping this vegan Filipino meal, huh? Head over to Helen’s post where she has all the tasty links.

It was an awesomely fun and delicious evening with some amazingly inspiring ladies. I can’t wait for our next veganized dinner party/cooking evening, where I’ll be showing the ladies how to cook a specialty from my Mexican heritage that I haven’t prepped in some time: veganized tamales. I’m already pumped.

 

 

 

 

 

Vida Vegan Tech Seminar & Vida Vegan Con 2013

To put my life in terms that others from my generation will understand, things have been coming up Milhouse in a big way for me lately.

More personally (and reflective of real life Dawn), I’ve started a new job that is creative and fun and allows me to write all day.

More professionally but not job-related, I’ve been invited to speak at not one, but two vegan blogging events coming up in the next year that you’ve possibly heard of:

The Vida Vegan Con Fall Tech Seminar in Seattle,

and Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland.

How does all of this amazing news makes me feel, you may wonder? Kind of like these super pumped, ridiculously adorable otters.

But really, I’m mostly just honored and so, so grateful.

At both events I’ll be speaking (it’ll be a different talk at each for those attending both!) about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, so much so that I’ll be studying it this fall, and that I sit on a board discussing it with other nerds: social media.

And I’ll be presenting at both with a fellow Seattle-ite, Vida Vegan Con 2011 alumni and Field Roast hot dog-eating friend, Helen of Vegtastic. She’s one of the savviest social media mavens I know, and I’m confident that when we combine our powers, we shall compose two awesome sessions filled with strategic digital media and marketing tips, tricks, and much more.

The Tech Seminar is a one-day event that will focus on all things tech/nitty gritty about blogging: it’ll go more in depth about starting a blog from scratch, which forms of social media to use and how to integrate them, as well as more advanced blog options such as audio/video integration.

The Vida Vegan Con 2013 event will expand upon what the first was: a combination of workshops, panels and social events all celebrating and focusing on vegan blogging and spreading the word about the vegan lifestyle in new/emerging mediums.

VVC friends at the Bye & Bye, looking awesome.

I’ve described Vida Vegan Con to those who couldn’t attend the first as “vegan sleepaway camp,” and I’ve reminisced about it longingly since last August. Sitting at dinners and in talks and social gatherings with hundreds of other people who immediately *get* a big part of your life is an amazing thing to experience, and having the opportunity to learn from these people who all have something to share is even more wonderful. I met so many bloggers I’ve come to admire and came out of the event with a crazy long lists of blogs to read, and many of them are favorites now. More so than that, I’ve got memories and friendships that will last a lifetime, (cheesy, but true).

If you missed the inaugural event and have been kicking yourself since, I suggest you start planning for 2013 now. Whether you’ve been blogging for a while, you’d like to start a blog or you actually don’t have an interest in blogging but would like to meet and collaborate with those who do, I highly recommend the experience. It’s an event that you will gain an inconceivable amount from in just a few precious days. And I’m not just talking pounds from all the amazing PDX food that’s to be consumed.

100 early bird tickets for VVC 2013 go on sale over on the Vida Vegan Con site Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 12 p.m. PST for $200.  After they sell out, the remaining tickets will become available at regular price.

Here are some more pertinent deets:

When: Friday-Sunday, May 24-26, 2013

Where: Portland Art Museum, 1219 Southwest Park Avenue,  Portland, OR 97205

I can’t wait to see everyone who attended the 2011 event again, to meet a whole bunch of new folks next May, and to continue eating my way through one of my favorite vegan-loving cities in the country.

So, will I see you at the next Vegan Lovefest?

 

 

Wherein social media + vegetables + cocktails lead to educational dinner parties

If you asked me to compile the number of things that have come about in my life that began on the Internet, you’d get an exhaustive list. And I know I’m not the only one. This is a story of how awesome things can grow out of seemingly aimless discussions on the Internet.

Three Internet-turned-real life Tacoma friends and I were chatting on Twitter over a month ago regarding one’s week-long experiment with a juice fast. This friend isn’t extreme diet or liquid fast-prone, so I was genuinely curious when he brought it up. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Were you juice fasting?”

Brian: “Yeah, trying it out. I just need a better way to eat fruits and veggies.”

M: “I suggest cooking them (well).”

Etc. Soon, the two other friends that I’ve mentioned on here a few times before, Roxanne and Adrienne, chimed in with other tips on good, easy ways to integrate veggies into your diet. I think Adrienne mentioned throwing them in soup, Roxanne said steam them, and I said throw them in pretty much anything you’re cooking or making, (smoothies, pasta dishes, stir fries, etc.) and roasted Brussels sprouts, (because well, if you read this blog, you KNOW!).

Brian is a busy guy. He’s married, has a baby, works, partakes in the fine art of cocktail making and runs a cocktail blog that you should really check out. I totally understand how some may not know how (or just flat out don’t want) to cook with the little time we have left for the things we care about at the end of the day. That being said, sometimes you need something to go with your cocktails! I love cooking, and I didn’t learn how to until I became a vegetarian in college. I also love sharing, so as the conversation between the four of us progressed, I suggested this:

“How about we exchange some very basic cooking lessons for cocktail making lessons?”

And the rest is history.

Just kidding. Then Brian suggested we start a dinner club, (which I’ve fondly started calling our Underground Supper Club) started our Facebook group (*pushes back glasses*), and that’s when things really became history.

Last Sunday, we had the first of hopefully many of our underground supper club parties with partners (and baby) included, and it was lovely, delicious and educational. We decided to make the whole dinner vegan because apparently veggies outnumbered the carnivore (5 to 3, but who’s counting!), which was super rad of the group and convenient for us veg types. I sadly don’t have any pictures of people, (of course), but Roxanne snapped one and next time I’ll be sure to remember. Here are some snaps of all the food and beverages we enjoyed (and a recipe!):

This was how our evening started, which is to say it was a great foreshadowing. This is Brian's take on a Denny Triangle, originally created by Seattle mixer Jamie Boudreau of Canon bar. It contains gin and grapefruit juice among other ingredients, and was perfectly refreshing on a warm spring night.

Roxanne's photo of Adrienne (left) and I cooking on Brian and Brooke's amazing Viking Range, which I'm now coveting. Adrienne was at work on a soup, and I was making pasta sauce. I feel like we were both "in our elements" here.

Dinner is served! Adrienne's Root Vegetable Soup with Greens on the right, and my contribution: the Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach from "Appetite For Reduction." Both were delicious!

Adrienne created the soup recipe, and was kind enough to let me share it with you all. It’s posted up on her blog, A Big Mouthful, here. Go make it, soon! The original recipe contains beans, but she didn’t use them this time as we had a bean-based appetizer and my pasta sauce used navy beans. I suggest adding some vegan sausage to make it even more hearty for a main meal.

Roxanne's contributions were two wonderful iced teas and dessert (this is also her photo): these beautiful and amazingly rich Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies. You can find the recipe in "Veganomicon."

As we prepped the main parts of the meal, Adrienne and I coerced Brian into chopping and chatted with him about our processes/usual cooking steps. When it came to cocktails, it was his turn to teach. Here he poured Jamaican rum for our second cocktail: the Bywater, originally created by Chris Hannah.

Sadly, I didn't get a shot of the Bywater when finished, but here is a drink mixing action shot instead. This cocktail was just as excellent. It used green Chartreuse, which I'm a fan of due to local craft cocktail lounge, 1022 South.

Not pictured: Adrienne’s incredibly smooth, garlic-infused Rosemary White Bean dip. I kept running to grab some while cooking, it was so addictive and savory.

We haven’t planned any specifics for our next supper club gathering yet, but I am already looking forward to it!

Have any awesome food or drink-related events, gatherings or things come out of your online relationships and communities? If so, please share them!

“Internet” photo by Keith Ramsey, via Creative Commons