Friday, September 22, 2017

Howl to Be Vegan Parts IV-VII

School is in full-force now so I unfortunately haven't had time to blog :( I was also working two jobs at one point, but thankfully I quit one of them (after much back & forth with myself). I'm also not sure if teaching is the career for me, but that's a different story. Even though I've been super busy, I've still maintained my vegan diet. I still eat healthy, which I can't say I did when I was an undergrad. The difference is I don't have a social life anymore so I use that time to cook. My sister has also been a big help.

I ended my last post with DC VegFest. It was okay. The variety of food at Richmond Veg Fest was better. I think you can really see a city's food culture through events like these. The DC food scene isn't great, so the vegan food scene is going to reflect that.  The DC vegan food scene consists of a lot of soul food and processed food/meat replacements, while the Richmond and Charlottesville vegan food scene consists more of ethnic whole foods. New York City also does a lot of American vegan food, but it is so much better than DC's, and I think this has a lot to do with the superiority of NYC's overall food scene.

I also don't find vegan festivals beneficial since I'm already vegan and I'm not a big socializer. My uncles love chatting people up, while my sister and I are just there for the food and free samples and. Speaking of free samples, there was a lot of vegan cheese samples, which was awesome but like I said very American and processed. I think I would get more from the experience if I was a volunteer. My sister and I also had some hot dogs and tacos, which were okay (and expensive-that's another thing to note about vegan food in DC)-should've gotten some soul food instead.

After Vegfest, we went to Loving Hut for dinner. I'm glad I ordered something instead of saving money (I would have starved later). I had the com tam bi chay (broken rice with shredded pork). I've had it before so I knew it would be good. We also tried the steak salad, which wasn't as good as the regular salad. It's funny because I really wanted to try it when I first came here with my uncle. My sister and uncles had noodle soups, which were apparently very clean and tasty. I'll have to come back to try them, especially the wonton soup my uncle got.

That same weekend, my mom visited, so she provided some much needed food. My dad's garden was thriving in bau or calabash, a gourd, so my mom brought canh bau with tofu (gourd soup) and bau kho or braised gourd with bitter melon and tofu. She also made banh hoi again because of the abundant herbs from my dad's garden. The last dish she made was stir-fry chives and bean sprouts.

After mom's food ran out, my sister made vegan clam chowder. It was pretty good. It obviously didn't taste like seafood, but it was creamy, which is something a lot of people don't think can be done with vegan food. She's been wanting to make this recipe for a while after finding it online, but we didn't have a blender.

With the leftover seaweed my sister bought to try to make the clam chowder taste more sea-like, she made sushi with cucumber, carrots, and leftover mushrooms. I'm not a huge fan of cucumber and carrot rolls, but this one wasn't bad. That same night, I made the Bow Tie dish again with tomatoes, limes, and herbs my mom left. This time, I halved the pasta knowing I didn't have enough tomatoes.

I also ate ramen with herbs-you can never go wrong with ramen when there's nothing to eat especially when you can add garnishes to it.

My sister used the rest of the herbs and bow tie to make pesto again. I think it was much better this time. We also had olive oil this time. I bought a cute little bottle from Kroger for like $3.

For snacks, I made buffalo cauliflower bites from my Thug Kitchen cookbook because cauliflower was on sale at Kroger and I was craving wings. I also made fries because I was craving them and didn't want to do my homework. They were good but too bland for me: I have a fear of over salting things.

I got finally got my salt fix from my sister's vegan Shepherd's Pie. She used leftover cauliflower stalks and celery, instead of the celery root called for in the recipe, to create the creamy mash and found the recipe online after trying to decide what to do with the beets my mom left her. It was so flavorful.

Speaking of flavor, I finally put the right amount of salt on something and flavored green beans successfully yesterday! They were on sale at Kroger so I bought them because I've always loved green beans and I rarely see them fresh in American grocery stores. I think I was helped in not having real soy sauce, which I usually use to flavor them, so I had to use a generous amount of salt, sugar, and vegetable seasoning (I also learned from past mistakes). My sister also made raspberry bars last night because the raspberries she bought weren't good so she decided to find a raspberry dessert to make with the oatmeal I had. THEY WERE SO GOOD.

As far as breakfast, I've resorted to carrying around a bag of bread and just eating it slice by slice because carbs give you energy! I've stopped eating peanut butter with the bread because it's fat, but I'll eat it on the weekends as a treat. For fruit, mom and grandma came through once again. I was disappointed in the unsweet plums my mom gave us though. Eating low quality fruit really is a bummer. My uncle spit out longan he bought from NOVA because it was not as sweet as he expected it to be. Thankfully, I have a lunch break every day so I don't starve.

Last but not least, here are the restaurant meals I ate: a Roots bowl with some new friends from a student CIO called Veggies of Virginia. I didn't expect them to be so cool, and I'm sad I haven't gotten to hang out with them more. My sister and I went to Cafe 88 last week for some fake chicken. I was hype for it, but it tasted like any old soy protein, but the vegetables on the side were on point. The curry was good too.

Here's a picture of the Roots bowl:

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I unfortunately forgot to save my Snaps of the cauliflower and fries, but here are the raspberry oatmeal squares my sister posted on her new food account! There are also pictures from the actual recipes I linked.

The moral for this week: my sister and I had no idea what we wanted to cook, but we went to the grocery store and picked out what we could buy and thought about it later using Google and the staples we had in our fridge/pantry to create some very delicious food. I also cooked on multiple week this what adulting is?