Festive Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

These shortbread-y almond thumbprint cookies are flecked with tiny almond pieces and have ruby-like raspberry jam centers. Not overly sweet and with hints of almond flavor in each bite, these crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies are perfect with a glass of almond milk.

I brought these festive cookies to a Vegan Cookie Swap over at Keepin’ It Kind with Kristy! Click here for the easy recipe!

Thumbprint Cookies- Luminous Vegans

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

PS I am currently taking an epic road trip from Atlanta to Oregon. Me + live blogging on the road = fail, but if you’re interested you can check out my twitter and/or instagram feed.

Cornbread Cafe: Vegan Comfort Food in Eugene, Oregon

Eugene Oregon- Luminous Vegans

Back in early November we took a mini-trip to Eugene, Oregon (to find out why, keep reading). Cornbread Cafe was the first place we ate while there. This cozy, diner-like restaurant serves 100% vegan comfort food made in-house. Not only was the food and friendly staff amazing here, but Cornbread Cafe really makes an effort to keep things local and sustainable. You can read all about their mission here.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

Their menu is an indecisive person’s worst nightmare because there are so many tantalizing things to decide between from eggfu benedict to nachos and phish & chips.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

Since we went early on a Sunday morning, we selected dishes from the breakfast menu. Neal went with their Chik’n & Waffle – breaded and deep-fried seitan atop a large Belgian waffle served with country cashew gravy and maple/agave syrup.

Neal says it was THE best vegan chick’n and waffles he has ever had. The gravy was rich and savory and was perfectly complemented by the sweet syrup. And the seitan was the right kind of fried- moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

I went with the build-your-own-omelette served with home fries and a fluffy white biscuit. The omelette comes with Daiya cheese and a choice of 3 items to stuff it with. I chose to get mine stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and salsa.

I don’t know how they did it, but they have created the most eggy vegan omelette that I’ve ever tasted. Every bite was full of flavor. And most importantly, it was nice and moist. Nobody wants a dry omelette. I don’t think I could make an omelette at home that even comes close to how lovely this was.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

I so wish that I could have tried more dishes but we were only there for a short time. Luckily I’ll be able to eat there as much as I want in several weeks because we’re moving to Eugene!

We’ve been dreaming and scheming about moving to the Pacific Northwest for a looong time. So when we saw our friends Kenn and Jeanette pull it off, we were inspired to finally go for it ourselves. The trip in November was our scopin’-out-places-let’s-make-this-happen trip.

We were able to secure a place to live and come the end of this week, we’ll be loading up the car and driving from Atlanta to Eugene. If it sounds cray-cray, I assure you it is. But I’m excited (and nervous, scared, anxious, etc.) about our new adventure! And I can’t wait to have another one of those omelettes…

What is your favorite vegan comfort food?

Parsnip Fries: Not French, Not Fried and Not Potatoes

Poor potatoes. Getting replaced by other vegetables. First there was cauliflower going all mashed tater-like. And now parsnips are acting all like french fries!  At least we’re set if we ever find out potatoes are sentient. Always look on the bright side of life, right Mrs. Spud?

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

I’ve never had parsnips. Ever. Until now. Anxious to try them, I excitedly took a bite of one right when these made it to my kitchen counter. I read that you could eat them raw. Um, anticlimactic much? They didn’t really taste like much. There was a hint of carrot-like sweetness and the teensiest hint of something else bite-y. Almost like a radish. But mostly it was just kinda bland. Almost like biting into a raw potato but a little better. Based on that bite, eating them raw was not gonna be a thing I did.

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

So I poked around on the internet to find out what else I could do with them and found that they could be made to resemble the classic French fry. Perfect! Roasting veggies is my favorite lazy-girl method!

All I did was cut the parsnips into strips that resembled “fry shapes”. I left the cleaned skins on because ain’t nobody got time for dat! Then I lightly coated them in olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I roasted them at 450F for about 20 minutes, tossing them halfway. When they were done, I sprinkled a little more salt and pepper all over and topped it with some freshly chopped parsley.

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

Roasted parsnips are much better than raw parsnips. I think the roasting helps bring out the sweetness some and makes it more of a delightful texture. The texture and taste are very similar to, well, a tender french fry but with a tad more sweetness and that very subtle hint of something mildly bite-y that I just can’t put my finger on. Some describe it as a “woody” or “earthy” taste. I’ll just call it that parsnip swag. Because it’s that swag that makes these parsnip fries stand out from regular old French fries.

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

Although these parsnip fries are perfectly pleasant on their own, I couldn’t help but recreate the whole French fry experience by dipping it into ketchup. I demolished the whole plate all by myself.

Have you eaten parsnips before? Can you recommend other ways to cook and eat it?

Spaghetti alla Carbonara: A Very Non-Vegan Dish Goes Vegan

According to Wikipedia, spaghetti alla carbonara is an Italian dish based on eggs, cheese and bacon (usually cooked in lard). Ha! That just describes everything I won’t eat. And therefore, it must be made. Vegan style. Because—“anything you can eat, I can eat vegan!”.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

Perhaps it was the very non-vegan-ness of this dish that I was drawn to. That and I was also looking for a way to use up my Vegg sample. I’d already used it for a fried egg and for french toast and I was looking for something non-breakfasty.

Having never made this before, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a wonderfully savory spaghetti with a lush and slightly creamy “eggy” sauce that clung to every pasta strand. Sweet and spicy, slightly crunchy coconut bacon took it to that eat-it-in-sweatpants-and-slippers cozy level. While fresh parsley adds a touch of brightness and freshness to it.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

If I didn’t have the Vegg, I think subbing in a mix of vegan parmesan and plain nutritional yeast would work nicely too. And if was really craving a little of that “eggy” aroma, I would even throw in a little black salt (kala namak).

Vegan Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Adapted from Bitter Sweet Blog and Windy City Vegan.

serves 2, print recipe here

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup vegan stock
  • 2 tsp of powdered Vegg
  • 1/2 cup of soy milk (or any nondairy milk)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup of coconut bacon pieces (or vegan bacon of choice)
  • salt and pepper

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

 Directions

Cook and drain the pasta according to the package and set aside. In a small blender or food processor, blend the vegan stock, Vegg powder and soy milk together. Salt and pepper to taste and blend again. Set aside.

Now in a large pan heat the garlic in olive oil on medium heat until the garlic starts releasing a little aroma. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the blended sauce to the pan. Heat the sauce for about 4 minutes. It will get a little bubbly. Then add the pasta to the pan. Add the vegan butter and parsley and mix well making sure each noodle is coated with sauce and the butter is completely melted. Salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

You can either mix in the vegan bacon or top each serving with some. I like doing it both ways. Mixing it in infuses that smoky bacon taste into every bite. And topping it with some vegan bacon gives a nice subtle crunch to some bites.

What’s your favorite vegan “eggy” dish?

What I Learned on Thanksgiving Vacation

Thanksgiving vacation was a whirlwind. Everything went by so fast, but I did learn some valuable lessons…

1. Never travel on the day before Thanksgiving. It can turn what is supposed to be a 4.5 hour car ride into an 8 hour ride from hell complete with hallucinations and plenty of cursing.

2. Always take immune boosters before a trip like Vitamin C and elderberry. Because getting sick on vacation stinks.

3. Even though the stuffed seitan roast is a thing of beauty, use a higher aperture for the “vegan Thanksgiving plate shot” so all the food is in focus. Not just the roast. (Not shown is the gravy. For a description of what is on the plate, click here and scroll down).

Vegan Thanksgiving - Luminous Vegans

4. Going shopping on Black Friday will result in getting “shot and stabbed”. My mother’s words, not mine, when my niece mentioned a sale. (For more of my mom’s words of wisdom, go here or here).

5. Leave the work at home because chances are it won’t get done and it will be there when you get back.

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6. Kids (and a blonde wig) keep you young.

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7. Family is everything.

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8. Cleaning up can be fun. Just depends on how you look at it.

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Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving!

A Non-Food Kitchen Tip: DIY iPad Speaker Amplifier

Oh hey kitchen! Let’s hang out.

With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s only natural that I’m gonna spend a little more time in the kitchen than normal. Because in addition to putting the “regular” food on my family, I’m preppin’ for Thanksgiving at my sister’s place. (Side note: If you’re curious about our tentative vegan menu, keep reading.)

Whenever I spend time in the kitchen I like to listen to music, podcasts, TED talks, etc on my iPad. But when things get really goin’ — like the chopping, the sizzling and when at my sister’s place, the 4 kids…it can be hard to hear my itty bitty iPad even with the volume all the way up. Or maybe I’m just deaf.

No matter. Here’s a video showing how a DIY iPad speaker amplifier helps my aging ears. There’s also bonus footage of a DIY iPhone speaker amplifier! Keep reading after the video to see how to make it.

It’s subtle in the video but this really does help me hear over cooking noises. The iPad speaker amplifier idea is based on this product (and physics, good ol’ physics!) which basically bounces the sound waves in a specific direction. But this doesn’t cost $25. It costs…I dunno. How much do index cards cost?

All you do is cut an index card in the middle about 2/3 deep (as shown). Then you’ll end up with flaps. Take one flap and pull it over the other to make a sorta half funnel thing. Tape it down on both sides.

DIY iPad Speaker Amplifier- Luminous Vegans

Affix this behind the speaker of the iPad with some tape so that the pointy funnel end is aligned with the edge of the iPad. Make sure the iPad is facing in your general direction because that is where the sound will “funnel” to and hence sound louder.

DIY iPad Speaker Amplifier - Luminous Vegans

You can fiddle with the sound amplification by adjusting how funnel-y your index card is by pulling the one index card flap over the other even more or even less. This whole thing works even better if you don’t have a cover on the iPad like me and it’s just on a stand.

For the iPhone speaker amplifier…well, you just stick your phone in a cup speaker side down. A trick I learned from a friend.

So now you can get your cook on and get your learnings on simultaneously!

Our Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

Stuffed Seitan from PPK

Mashed sweet potatoes topped with coconut bacon

Brussel sprouts salad with dried cranberries and candied pecans

Mushroom gravy

Stuffing (updated: first time making homemade!)

Cranberry sauce

Fruit cobbler (Haven’t decided on the fruit yet because that’s how I roll)

Though my sis veganizes as many of her side dishes as possible, I like to bring and create a whole meal to share. Plus leftovers. I’m making the seitan, candied pecans, coconut bacon and cranberry sauce ahead of time because they can be stored up to 3 days (maybe even more for the pecans and coconut bacon). The rest we’ll be free-stylin’ at my sister’s place!

Do you listen to music (podcasts, etc) when you’re in the kitchen? What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Tales from the Vegan Army: Thanksgiving Plans

This installment of Tales from the Vegan Army is not as “combat-y” as the words “vegan army” imply*. Because it involves my dear ma.  Okay, here’s the deal. I never explicitly told my mom I was “vegan”.  Since English is her second language, I felt explaining to her that I didn’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, etc was just easier.

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She’s been supportive about it since then. If I ever came home from college and she made me Thai food she’d know — no eggs, no fish sauce and add tofu and veggies. We’ve been doing this for more than a decade.

Which is why the following bit from a phone conversation that took place A WEEK AGO befuddled (and tickled) me. And I assure you that all conversations with my ma are this wonderfully strange. Love ya ma!

…..

Mom: Are you coming home for Thanksgiving?

Me: Yup. Are you going to go to *insert my sister’s name here* place?

Mom: Ok. What you want me to make for you? I can bring something.

Me: I dunno. I’m sure whatever you make will be good. You don’t have to make anything if you don’t have time.

Mom: Do you eat eggs?

Me: No ma, I thought you knew that.

Mom: [very seriously] Why not? What happens to you if you eat eggs?

Me: Ma, nothing happens to me, I jus…

Mom: [interrupting] What will happen? If you eat eggs?

Me: Ma! Listen to me. Nothing happens. I just choose not to eat eggs.

Mom: Why not? What will happen to you?

Me: [contemplates going into long ethical explanation but opts for…] I don’t want to eat something that comes from a chicken…or any animal.

Mom: [pauses] Ketty. It’s okay to not eat meat and be a vegetarian….[does not finish sentence].

Me:  Ma, I coulda swore you knew this. Remember? I would go to the restaurant (my ma had a Thai Restaurant for a while) and you would always tell the cooks to make my food — no eggs, no fish sauce? Remember?? [wonders if last 10 years were all a dream]

Mom: [pauses]…………Well, what about if I make something and you can’t taste the egg in it?

Me: [sighs] No ma. I don’t eat eggs even if I can’t taste it.

Mom: What about if I make sticky rice dessert with custard?

Me: What’s in the custard?

[silence]

Mom: [says quietly but very matter of factly]….Eggs.

…..

😐

I love ya ma! Talking to my mom is always a rockin’ fun time. She has that dead-pan-can’t-tell-if-it’s-a-joke-or-not comedic act down. But she totes isn’t joking!  I probably could fill a tome with all the funny things she has said. Like that time she told me that tasting food should be done with none other than……my mouth. Genious!

*Tales from the Vegan Army are not meant to be combative or promote ill will. They’re just a fun way for me to find humor in a non-vegan world.