Sweet & Sour and Delicious

December 8, 2010

It’s finals time. You know what that means. The next few weeks usually involve many late night cram sessions, 23 quiet-hours, and lots and lots of stress. The truly devout college kids lock themselves away in the study rooms of the library tower, a cup of coffee in one hand and a ridiculously thick textbook and highlighter in the other. But what happens at 1:30 AM when you’ve finished studying? You’re hungry and there are no options on campus. But don’t you dare pick up that phone and order crappy takeout.

MSG, anyone?

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my undergraduate career (so far) without having to pull a single all-nighter and I haven’t succumbed to a Chinese takeaway dinner. I’ve found that planning ahead really helps, whether it’s getting by from week to week during the regular semester with two classes, jobs, clubs, etc or whether it’s during crunch time at the end of a semester.

One thing I like to buy that’s super cheap? Brown rice!

I bought this bag for $1.39 and there’s quite a few servings in there. What more could a cheapass broke college student want? Brown rice is one of those things I’ll make a big batch of on Sunday night and eat with steamed veggies and such during the week.

Obviously it’s not quite instant rice (brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook), but this recipe here really is all about planning ahead. In addition to letting the rice simmer for a good hunk of time, you’re also going to need to press some tofu. More on that in a minute.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves 3-4 hungry, studious people

This ultra simple recipe is something you can make any night of the week. It keeps in the fridge wonderfully, and the leftovers only get better because the flavors have time to hang out. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to buy quality sweet and sour sauce. It costs a little bit extra, but it tastes amazing.

What you’ll need:

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

1 cup of brown rice, uncooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced peppers

1-2 cups broccoli

a jar of good sweet and sour sauce

~1/3 cup of flour (optional)

The first step to this recipe is to make sure you’re done studying for the day. Why? Because you need to press your tofu.

What’s under there, hmm?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have put this on my printer.

That’s how I press my tofu because I’m too cheap to buy an actually Tofu Xpress or whatever they’re calling it these days. Who knew there was an actual use for textbooks?! 😉 Just kidding! I read them!

Let your tofu chill underneath your pile’o textbooks for as little as 15 minutes. I let mine sit for a few hours, only because I’d never pressed tofu before and wondered how firm that sucker really could be. Oh boy. Let me show you…

That hunk that’s missing was a “test slice” to make sure it was firm enough. 😉

How did I wait this long to press tofu? The texture was delicious. It made me fall in love with tofu all over again. I’ll eat the stuff straight up, and in its pressed form, it’s even better.

Once you emerge from your pressed-tofu-loving coma, let it marinade in about 3 tablespoons of your sweet and sour sauce for as long as you have time.

Heat up a pan and oil. If you have it, use sesame oil. If not, olive is fine.

Saute up your veggies and then add in your tofu and as much or as little sauce as you’d like.

Saucy.

Here’s where that flour comes in to play. I didn’t cook my tofu before my veggies because I didn’t want it extra crispy. You can if you want to – instead, I scattered in handfuls of flour until the sauce got thick and the raw flour taste had cooked out. I know it sounds odd, but it really worked.

Now you’re ready to devour!

And maybe study some more?

When you were in college, did you make late night runs to a local restaurant or fast food joint a lot?


And Many Mooooore

August 1, 2010

Birthdays are fun. Especially when they involve raw vegan restaurants, chocolate, and cupcakes.

This will be a post of few words but of many pictures..mostly because I’m exhausted as I type this…and I know y’all just want the food porn.

Did not disappoint!

Luna’s Living Kitchen was previously a pure vegetarian restaurant. I was devastated when they shut down a few months ago – so when I found out that they re-opened you KNOW I had to pay them a visit. Very much improved – everything on the menu was vegan and raw!

Raw zucchini spaghetti with mushrooms and pesto.

Sissy and Mum got the sprouted quinoa and kamut burger.

At one point, my carnivorous counterpart said “OHEMGEE this is SO good. It’s amazing!” Yep. Future vegan.

Go ahead and drool.

Or do what I did, and try to lick up all the drippy parts. So worth it.

El Luchador: banana, peanut, hemp milk, hemp protein, raw cacao, agave. Oh yeah, and bliss.

Next up: vegan cupcakes.

After reading about these babies on Caitlin’s blog, I knew I just had to find ’em.

This display was beautiful!

Vanilla cupcakes with raspberry and chocolate frosting.

Eh. I wasn’t crazy about this cupcake. For $2.75, it wasn’t super expensive but it wasn’t a fantastic deal either. The Boston cupcake (AKA best in da world) was $3.50 but double the size and less oily.

This vanilla cupcake sure was moist, but that was because I’m betting there was a ton’o vegetable oil in there. I know cuppycakes aren’t supposed to be healthy and all, but I don’t like when they’re just plain old greasy. The frosting was a bit of a disappointed, too. Upon first tasting it, I didn’t think it tasted like much at all. It was kind of bland. And then I noticed the texture. It was chewy, mushy, almost like eating jam? I can’t really describe it – it made me wonder if there was gelatin in it, though.

I’ll give it a C+ but an A for effort. After all, being able to get vegan cupcakes in the dirty dirty is pretty freakin awesome.

All in all, today was purdy darn good. Food, gifties, and family time.

Oh yeah… and chocolate.

What’s the best birthday you’ve ever had?

There’s a giveaway in this post! 🙂

On our second (and last) day in NYC, I was persuasive lucky enough to get to visit One Lucky Duck, the takeaway shop attached to Pure Food & Wine.. Do a Google search for “vegan food in NYC” and I can guarantee you One Lucky Duck will be on the top five places listed, along with Babycakes vegan bakery. Admittedly, One Lucky Duck wasn’t first on my list. Babycakes NYC was…because let’s face it, I hadn’t had a legit cupcake in the longest time and I was jonesing for a refined sugar free high. It’s hard to make good vegan cupcakes.

When we realized that Babycakes was 3.66 miles away from the hotel we were staying at (and I couldn’t make Roomie and her mum walk over 7 miles for vegan food), I looked up where One Lucky Duck was. 1.2 miles? Right on. 1.2 miles in the heat? Major suckage. By the end of our trip there, my jeans were stuck to my legs like jeggings (what the heck are those things all about?!?) and I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. My feet were aching (by this time, we had walked over a marathon distance as well as running at ze gym) and I knew blisters were well on their way.

But it was worth it. Soooo worth it.

Super cute!

The menu was so intense. I wanted it all.

The first thing I noticed when I walked inside was the super chill atmosphere. There was some music playing in the background – perhaps The Decemberists – and the decor was abso-freaking-lutely adorable. One wall, painted red, had pictures of ducks and stringed lights hanging from the ceiling. I took a picture, but it ended up blurry. 😦 Sad times.

The other wall, however, was full of DELICIOUSness.

O hai, Roomie!

These little pouches of goodness are worth the ridiculously expensive prices. Seriously… despite the fact that I spent $25 on an epic smoothie, cookies, and crispies. But you’re paying for amazing quality. Everything in the shop is raw, vegan, gluten and refined sugar free, and it’s also organic. And orgasmic.

On to the eats!

Banana-nut-crackcocaine smoothie.

This little treat was so tasty, I couldn’t stop sipping it. I was surprised I made it out the door with a fifth left in the cup. The first thing that hit me when I took that glorious first sip was bananas and then a hit of cinnamon. I think they put a loaf of banana bread into the vitamix. It was frothy, rich, creamy, and just how a milkshake should be. On such a hot day, it didn’t leave me with an overly sweet mouth and desperate for a sip of water.

I was also surprised that the chocolate crispies that I bought lasted the train ride to Boston. They made the four hours of reading about Hitler and the Cold war soooo much better. These crispies are intended to go in cereal, kind of like raw cocoa pops, but there was no way these babies were going to make it another week – I had a long arse train ride as well as a trip on a plane to make it through. I needed these.

Organic buckwheat, organic maple syrup, organic maple powder, organic cocoa powder, organic vanilla extract, Himalayan crystal salt.

What?! Where’d they put the crack? Cause these things are good eats… even if they weren’t cereal-ized.

Which is why this demolition happened approximately two hours later in the hotel room…They lasted a whole 8 hours!

One Lucky Duck luckily, I still had something chocolate-y and fantastic up my sleeve.

Chocolate chip heroin cookies.

(seriously, why do I keep adding addictive substances to these cookies?! They must have put ’em in there, how can something raw taste so great?)

These adorable heart-shaped cookies were fantastic. Phenomenal. “Fantasmagasmic,” as Roomie says.

I wish I could tell you guys how much I loved this place. But I just can’t put it into words. I now understand why One Lucky Duck is a must. Why it’s on so many vegan websites, featured in magazines, and why it’s so well known. I understand why people can “do” raw food without missing things like cookies, chocolate cereal, and ice cream.

Sarma, you are a goddess.

So do you want to be a lucky duck too?! Well read on, my friends! That’s right, I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY!

One Lucky Duck Gift Card

One lucky duck reader is going to receive a $10 gift card to One Lucky Duck’s online store, sent straight to their e-mail address. With those ten buckaroos, they can get some [help in buying] fantabulous snacks, great books, or wonderful body products. We’re talking macaroons, chocolate bars, cookies, chocolate truffle butter (!!!!), and *Atisana* products. You do not want to miss out on this, take it from me. The best part is that the heroes at One Lucky Duck will ship their store products worldwide, so this contest is open to everyone and anyone!

How to enter:

1.) Leave a comment on here telling me  your best restaurant experience and why. Or bribe me with chocolate. 😉

2.) Tweet about this and let me know. (You can follow me on twitter @southernbritish)

3.) For an extra entry, link to this on your blog and post that in your comment, too!

You will automatically win if you buy me chocolate.*

I will randomly pick a winner one week from today.

Good luck, ducklings!

*not really…sorry.

…is I’m not the only one!

(:

Last night, I met up with Jen, Kelly, Katie, Jessie, Tiffany, and Brittney. This was actually my first eva blog meetup (!), so I was kind of nervous.  Confession: I arrived mega early and sat in my car, kind of lurking and being an all around creeper, waiting to get out of the car until five before 7, our designated meeting time. I didn’t want to have to sit outside awkwardly for fifteen minutes. I’m always super early for stuff.

We decided to meet up at a legit new burger bar called Big Daddy’s.

This place is very new (they have 2 locations) and very popular. The menu was pretty darn awesome. From regular burgers to turkey burgers to a phenomenal black bean burger (more on that in a minute!), there were so many options. You could really choose anything you want, because you have the option to build your own burger or salad from scratch and customize everything from the bread to the toppings.

Half of me wanted to have a black bean burger and the other half of me realllly wanted a salad. So I compromised and ordered this:

Sorry for the poor quality shot. Dim lighting/high ISO setting. :c

It was epic to, for once, not be the only person taking pictures of their food. Love.

I had strawberries, cucumbers, avocado, and chickpeas on a bed of spinach, topped with a black bean burger. This salad was so delish and so gigantic I couldn’t even finish it. Don’t be fooled by my picture, this was the large sized salad – and when Big Daddy says large, he means large. And he wasn’t stingy with the toppings either! The star of the meal was easily the black bean burger. Everyone at the table who ordered it was raving about the epic deliciousness going on. Crunchy and crisp on the outside, yet soft and warm on the inside, with visible black beans and corn in the burger.  This was without a doubt the best black bean burger I’ve ever had! It was probably fried or cooked in some manner that I would disapprove of to get that crunch, but I’m a-ok with that. The salad part cancels out the fried bits, right? 😉

We stayed and chatted for a while after we’d eaten, and I really had a lot of fun getting to know these beautiful ladies!

I’m really good at hiding behind people and looking like a mega creeper in pictures.

Kelly, Tiffany, Brittney, Jen, Jessie, yours truly, and Katie!

All in all, I had a fantabulous night and I can’t wait to see everyone again! 🙂

And now I am off to do what I do best…… read in bed.

But if I do what I’m even better at, I’ll fall asleep in the above position.

And dream about black bean burgers.

I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Shmew Shork Shmity.

And it looks a little something like this:

Yep. NYC, baby.

My fabulous roommate offered to take me to Boston and New York with her in July. Of course I obliged. NYC is on my bucket list, dudes. We’ll fly into the city, then take the train to Boston a few days later. Her momma has a convention in Massachusetts, and so while she’s gettin’ her conference on, the roomie and I will be taking Boston by storm!

So here’s my question to you… what’s a vegan to do in Boston and NYC (but especially Boston, seeing as I’ll be spending more time there)? I’ve googled stuff to do, but I’m definitely interested in what you guys have to say! I’m interested in anything vegan or anything funky. Seriously, try me. Shops, parks, restaurants, anything! I’m hoping we will be in the area near One Lucky Duck at some point in NYC, but that’s all I have on my list so far. I know I’m not going to be able to do absolutely everything I want (because it’s their trip, I’m just lucky enough to be tagging along), but I need more things to do so that I can avoid doing work for my online summer course. 😉

Thanks in advance, lovelies!