Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegan Travel: Easier than you think


With all the drama involved in traveling today: long lines, pat downs, dwindling leg room, worrying about food is the last thing any vegan wants to deal with when on vacation.

Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, the key to successful vegan travel is planning ahead. Recently I spoke with two travel agents who shared helpful suggestions for how vegans can prepare for a trip and manage hurdles along the way.

Lisa Foster, owner of Boring, OR-based LT Travel, and Donna Zeigfinger, owner of Green Earth Travel, based in Cabin John, MD, recently shared helpful suggestions for vegans planning a domestic or international trip.

The two travel experts say that putting in the time to research your destination before you leave will make all the difference.

Snacks are essential: Zeigfinger says to bring a sandwich, nuts, dried berries, and yes, even chips. It is better to purchase these items ahead of time when you have control of the selection. But she warns to be careful with fresh fruits and vegetables that may go bad or not be allowed depending on where you are traveling.

If you are flying to your destination, “contact your travel agent or the airline to establish if a meal will be served,” Foster says. Most flights under four hours don’t include a meal but allow you to bring certain food items on board. But keep in mind that airlines are becoming more strict regarding the weight of bags, both checked and carry on.

Most overseas flights do serve meals and the airport code VGML (strict vegetarian) is appropriate for vegans. Zeigfinger also says to reconfirm your meal status 24 hours before the flight to ensure that your meal will be on board.

Foster recommends bringing an icepack and lunch sack if you do have perishable items. No liquids over 3 oz are allowed through airport security. However, you can bring an empty water bottle – 12 oz or better – and fill it up once you clear the check point.

Zeigfinger says, “Recommendations are the best.” Contact local vegetarian societies, buy travel guides, go to websites to learn about the country, see what their cultures are and how they eat.

You can get a free vegan language guide here.

After you make your hotel reservations, contact the chef or concierge and tell them what you can and cannot eat. Ask if they know of a vegan restaurant near the hotel, or a health food store that offers vegan options.

Foster says, “Make a list of where you can shop and eat at your destination.” Do your research before you leave to save yourself time and discomfort when you arrive. “Not everyone knows what it means to be a vegan,” she adds. Communicating your dietary needs can be tough, so she suggests buying a Vegan Passport. It identifies in 73 different languages what a vegan can and cannot eat. This makes ordering food at a restaurant very easy because the Vegan Passport also asks politely if the restaurant can accommodate a vegan diner.

Both experts say that in big cities, vegans will not have as many issues. But, in smaller cities, Zeigfinger suggest sticking with side dishes, salads, and fruits.

“It should really not be a problem,” Zeigfinger says. She also recommends two websites that will help you locate restaurants in cities where you are staying: http://www.happycow.org/ and http://www.vegdining.com/.

“Food should never keep someone from traveling,” Zeigfinger says. “It is only fuel to get us there and to keep us going. In the techno days we have now it is so much easier to eat and travel as a vegan.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Z is for Zucchini in London

At last, my final post for Vegan MoFo! I had a fanastic time finding new recipes for each letter of the alphabet, but it really did wear me down. So, I am excited for December because I will be traveling the entire month and plan to post about all the interesting vegan restaurants I find along my way...while also enjoying a break from cooking!

Currently, we are in London on vacation and we ate dinner at a really good Chinese/Thai Vegetarian buffet and they had roasted zucchini as an option.

    

Here is another picture of a successful trip to the buffet.


And, here is a picture of the restaurant. It is called Cai Cafe. We found it on the Happy Cow website.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Y is for Yogurt Cake


I have to be honest...I had zero energy to cook and/or bake tonight! But, with 2 letters and 2 days remaining in November, I decided not to push it. So, I found this recipe but did not have the lemon zest. Instead, I had fresh oranges that supplied orange zest and juice. I thought the addition of semolina was interesting. And it is no lie that this cake smells terrific while baking!

The texture of the cake was really nice. There was a thin, crisp layer to the top and edges, while the inside was extremely moist, fluffy and a bit grainy but in a very appealing way! I enjoyed the orange flavor (I also used walnuts instead of almonds) but I will also try it again with lemon someday.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan MoFo: X is for Xoriatiki (Greek Village Salad)




X is a tricky one! But, this salad was fantastic. I made another batch of vegan feta and topped the salad with zucchini and orange pepper instead of cucumber and tomatoes.

Vegan MoFo: W is for Walnut and Mushroom Pâté



I have never eaten non-vegan pâté and am not a huge fan of the vegan versions I have had in restaurants. But, this sounded really good and I knew that even if I didn't like it, John would. As it turns out, we both loved it and ate the entire bowl with a loaf of bread!
 Here is the recipe.

Vegan MoFo: V is for Vietnamese Seitan Baguette with Savory Broth Dip


The recipe is from Veganomicon and made an excellent lunch. I followed this seitan recipe. Instead of cucumbers, we added zucchini slices.




I also substituted mayo with leftover sauce from the Kibbeh we had on Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

 We had a fantastic Thanksgiving with delicious food, fun friends, and lots of wine.



To start, I made Pumpkin Hummus and toasted pita bread. The hummus was my attempt to make the version I had in Thailand earlier this year. It included: chickpeas, pumpkin, tahini, salt, garlic, toasted sesame seeds, and green onions.  I chopped up pita bread that I made earlier this week and toasted it in the oven for a few minutes. The hummus has potential but I think I will experiment a bit more before I call it a success.


Next, I made Onion Soup Gratinéed with Cream-Truffle Mashed Potatoes.


I also made a Kibbeh with Apples, Walnuts, and Fake Feta cheese. The recipe is in a magazine from a grocery store I used to shop at in Eugene, Oregon. It is vegetarian but easily made vegan. For the feta, I followed this recipe.



Joy made two salads that were fantastic. One consisted of couscous, apples, raisins, and almonds. The other was kale and shredded beets. If we are lucky, maybe she will post the recipes in the comments section for all of us to enjoy :-)



And finally, for dessert! Hannes made a yummie Apple Crisp and I made Sweet Potato Blondies.


And, here are the place mats and napkins that I made to decorate the table. I found nice quality fabric remnants at IKEA and put them to use.

Vegan MoFo: U is for Udon Noodle Stir Fry

John made dinner tonight because I was busy making placemats for the Thanksgiving table.



My original plan was to make homemade Udon noodles but I bought a pre-cooked package over the weekend as backup. They were a lifesaver!


John mixed the leftover Thai Peanut-Burgers, crumbled, and peanut sauce from last night's dinner,  into the pasta along with zucchini, carrot, onion, and orange pepper.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo: T is for Thai Peanut-Burger Wraps


Here is a link to the recipe posted by another blogger. I forgot to put the cilantro in the burgers so we just stuffed it in the pita with the lettuce.


The burgers were so good. Lots of flavor, good texture, and the recipe says that it makes 4 large burgers but I ended up with a dozen! 


I did not follow the recipe for the spicy peanut sauce. Instead, I mixed equal parts of soy, agave, and peanut butter.


I made a batch of pitas. I am telling you! Homemade pita bread is mouthwatering!

Vegan MoFo: S is for Soup

I can't recall ever having tasted Split Pea soup, so I figured it would be a nice effort for S.

I made the vital error of waiting until the night I was going to make my soup to send John to the grocery store to get split peas. First of all, the store didn't have them. Second, they would have taken hours to cook and this was all going on around 6pm. So, the soup took a dramatic turn and changed from Split Pea and Tomato Soup with Spinach (from the Vegan Italiano cookbook) to Frozen Pea and Tomato Soup without Spinach (John made the soup and forgot to put the spinach in!!!) 


At any rate, the soup was so delicious. It is a winter wonderland here in Denmark right now, so hot soup is very comforting. The soup consisted of a basic broth, the usual veggies (celery, carrot, onion, tomatoes), garlic and spices, and tiny elbow macaroni pasta. One cup of chopped spinach is supposed to go in shortly before it is served, but if you forget, the soup is still wonderful!

Vegan MoFo: R is for Raspberry Sorbetto


Another hit from Vegan Italiano! The recipe is actually for Cherry Sorbetto, but I had frozen raspberries and a desire to fulfil my R duty.

Very simple ingredients: water, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and almond extract, and frozen raspberries.


No icecream maker required. I froze the blended mixture and poured it into ice cube trays to freeze. Then, into the blender and voila! Tangy, sweety, fruity sorbetto.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Q is for Quiche

I have made quiches before, but this quiche is the king of quiches. It took me an hour and 45 minutes to prepare, contains pricey and unique ingredients, and packed so many flavors in that I figured today was the perfect day to spend making it.

                           

While I was preparing the crust I was thinking, there are easier crust recipes out there. But, it really was worth the effort. I love the addition of flax seeds and chickpea flour. I used dried herbs instead of fresh.


For the sauteed filling, I used half a red and half a yellow pepper. And for the blended part, I used cornstartch instead of arrowroot, sesame parm, and one slice of Tofutti Mozzerella style cheese.


The crust got a bit too dark while baking but the center took longer to get firm than the 40 minute recommended bake time. It didn't taste burned though!


All in all, I would make this again for a brunch or other special occasion but probably not just for John and myself. Also, the 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes is too much for our liking; next time I will use a teaspoon. And finally, John tried to eat one of the baked lemons. This is not recommended!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo: P is for Pomegranate Pancakes


I had pomegranate seeds leftover from the Kiwi Salsa that I made earlier this week. The recipe for the syrup calls for juice, so I put them in the blender and strained the inner seeds from the juice.



The pancake recipe is from Vegan Brunch. It is very cinnamon-y! John made the pancakes silver dollar style.


I made the Pomegranate Syrup from this recipe.


It was good but not great. And, after sitting for a while, it got thick and sticky. It reminded me of jam and I thought of making it again and spreading it on bread.

Vegan MoFo: O is for Onion Soup Gratinéed with Cream-Truffle Mashed Potatoes


My new favorite soup...in my new heart-shaped ramekins. Here is the recipe.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan MoFo: N is for Not-tella

The Danes love chocolate and bread. Although Nutella is popular here, more traditionally they have thin sheets of chocolate that they lay on slices of bread and eat for breakfast.



Unfortunately, Nutella contains milk. But, this easy recipe solves that!