Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vegan Eating at the North Cascades Institute

 

Today's post is more of a photo essay of sorts. I recently had the tremendous pleasure of attending the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) writing retreat up at the North Cascades Institute (NCI), and not only was it an incredible experience and an awesome opportunity, the food was absolutely fabulous.


If you have never stayed at NCI before, you should definitely look into it. They are always offering cool programs and the setting could not be more beautiful. And, as I have written about before, the food is AMAZING.


During the three days I was there, they always had a vegan option and an awesome salad bar, and occasionally they even had a vegan dessert! Entrees included veggie-stuffed cabbage rolls, teriyaki stir fry, and spaghetti marinara. They source locally-grown, fresh, and organic ingredients and you can totally tell since every bite tastes garden-fresh and flavorful.


A special thank-you goes out from me to Western Libraries Administration, NCI, TLA, Carmen Werder & Shevell Thibou, and everyone who attended the retreat whom I had the pleasure of interacting with (including my fantastic roommate Roz!!!). Thanks so much for giving me the chance to have such a meaningful, productive, and inspiring experience that included such fabulous & memorable vegan food. I am very very grateful!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Aslan Brewing Company: 1330 N Forest St


I was recently invited by Paul Arsenault, the head chef over at Aslan Brewing Company, to come and check out the expanded menu that now includes more vegan options on a clearly-labeled menu that makes it easy to see what dish can be made vegan upon request. I was of course super-excited to take Paul up on his invitation, and a couple of weeks ago I had the extreme good fortune of trying out the vegan curry, of which I have been dreaming about ever since.

First off, I have to begin by saying how awesome Paul is. Not only was he pleased to share with me news of this very vegan-friendly menu, but when I thanked him for including so many items for vegans, he explained how it was fun for him to come up with tasty new dishes, and that he enjoys it! How is that for a sign of a true chef? Someone who gets excited about food and wants to create something delicious for everyone, no matter their dietary needs.
 



The dish I ended up trying was the "Fire-Roasted Curry" (with added tofu) served over coconut-ginger jasmine rice with roasted veggies, covered in an amazing curry sauce, and sprinkled with cashews. This was honestly one of the very best curries I have ever eaten, (including that one in Maui from like 5 years ago that I still haven't forgotten). There was so much flavor and richness in every bite, and the veggies were cooked perfectly. The broccoli soaked up the curry sauce (as broccoli in a curry sauce should), as did the grilled tofu.

The tofu, by the way, is cooked on a clean grill away from any animal products, and Paul assured me they avoid cross-contamination by making sure the tofu is cooked in its own vegan area. He offered this information without me even asking, something I found to be very reassuring and took as a further indication of how conscientious a chef he is.


In his original email to me, Paul listed a number of items off the menu that could be made vegan, including: the kale salad; the summer salad with greens, almonds, strawberries and onion; the vegan yam tacos with cashew cream; the hypocrite burger (minus the bacon jam);  the bean dip and fresh pico de gallo, and the stuffed portabello burger.

You may remember my original entry about Aslan Brewing Company from back in June when I tried the terrific kale salad. Since then, I have been back a few times with friends and workmates, and I find it to be a great place for large groups of people who want to socialize and have fun over food and drinks. Which leads me to my next idea.... Is there any interest in having a vegan meet-up at Aslan? It's been awhile since we have had any potlucks or meet-ups, and this would be a fun and easy way for some of us to get together and eat delicious food and have some fun conversations. If you think this sounds like something you might want to do, email me or leave a comment, and we can pick a date and make it happen!

And in the meantime, if you haven't already checked out the vegan options over at Aslan, I encourage you to do so. And special thanks from me to Aslan Brewing Company and Super-Chef Paul Arsenault for including so many delicious vegan options on your menu, and especially for the invitation you extended to me personally. I am more appreciative than I can say, and I can't wait to come back and eat that amazing curry again!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guest Post: Vegan Options at Thai House, 187 Telegraph Road

This week's post is brought to you by a guest writer, The Curious Queer, who contacted me and offered to share a review of vegan options at a restaurant I have not yet featured.  If you would like to submit a post about something vegan that you have written about, email me at veganinbellingham@gmail.com




Delightful Vegan at Thai House
by the Curious Queer

The fact that Thai House is a strip-mall restaurant doesn’t bother me in the slightest; I know what amazing tastes can be hidden in the midst of love shacks and nail joints.  As we entered, I was pleased to see an ornate, Thai loveseat at the front and, even more reassuring, an  alter featuring a photo of the King of Thailand at the back. But the reassurance of authenticity was a distant second to the clean, complex, spicy odors and the plates of guests around me. The food looked and smelled delectable.

As we sat down and were greeted by our gracious host and I politely inquired about vegan options. Sometimes, the happiest moments can come from an enthusiastic response to the “v word” in a local food joint. The host beamed, her eyes crinkling in joyful excitement as she enthusiastically talked about the food. “Everything here can be made vegan! Lots of options!”


I challenged her assertion immediately with a glass of Thai iced tea. The smooth, creamy, but not too sweet refreshment arrived and it was delightful. The tea and coconut milk feels almost too decadent to drink before dinner. Sometimes, decadence is called for.

I ordered vegetable fried rice and kee mao noodle jay with tofu. Both dishes were flavorful, the tofu perfectly fried and the vegetable fried rice a lovely array of colors and flavors that melded together for a tasty dish.


My one complaint, that neither dish was nearly as hot as I’d ordered it, was remedied by a little tray of hot spices, sauces and chili flakes. One of the extra sauces does contain fish, and my server quickly pointed it out to me.

We were too full to order dessert, but our waitress told us that both the mango delight and black sticky rice are vegan. I’d love to try them another time!

As we took care of the bill, I chatted with the waitress who said her name was “Jenny.” I asked her what her name was in Thai, and she beamed and said, “Lassami – it means ray of sun!”
Lassami was herself a ray of sun, as was this little gem tucked away off of busy Meridian. I strongly urge fellow vegans to try it!

Thai House address: 187 Telegraph Road Bellingham, across Meridian from Bellis Fair Mall Hours: 11-9 p.m. Mon-Sat and noon – 9 p.m. on Sunday. http://www.bellinghamthaihouse.com/

The Curious Queer investigates people and issues of interest as she Adventures in Whatcomland. She writes for the Betty Pages, Northwest Washington’s LGBTQ newspaper. In her spare time, she looks for yummy vegan recipes and menu items about town.  Read more on her blog: thecuriousqueer.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Gardein Vegan Fish is FINALLY in Bellingham!


Not only is the Gardein Fishless Fillet now available in Bellingham, it's completely awesome!!! It surpassed my expectations in terms of both flavor and texture. It is The Best vegan fish I have ever tasted. It is so so good, that I am completely addicted already. I have been hoping there would be a place to buy this locally since I first heard about it coming out, and then lo and behold, this past Saturday I was at the Fred Meyer on the north side of town and came across it in the freezer section.


My original intention was to do something fancier to prepare it rather than just eat it as it was, but then I didn't really feel like cooking and I didn't want to wait to try it until I did, so I just baked it as the package instructions suggested. And let me tell you, it was amazing, as it was. And I look forward to eating it again. And again and again. And maybe make some fish tacos, fish sandwiches, or just eat it plain. Or with a little vinegar. Who knows?

 This is my new favorite vegan product. Words cannot convey how excited I am about this, and that we can finally buy it in Bellingham! I want to write Fred Meyer a thank-you letter, that's how stoked I am. If you end up trying it yourself, let me know what you think. I hope I haven't built it up too much, but I can't help it. I like what I like. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vegan Mayonnaise: Shout-out to Another Blog

For today's post, I want to draw attention to another local blog that I really love that has a great recipe on it from a recent post about making vegan mayonnaise out of cashews. The blog is called "Nourishing Meals: Healthy Recipes from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen," and there are LOTS of great tasty vegan recipes on this site. (Also, the writers of the blog also happen to be the authors of a couple of cookbooks that I really like a lot.) Always a fan of Vegenaise, I am excited to now have a recipe to make my own vegan mayonnaise that will be rich and tasty. Check it out for yourself and see what I mean!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Our Shared Responsibility: Important Event Tomorrow


Just a heads up about a really important event happening tomorrow that may be of interest to you. In case you haven't already heard about the Totem Pole Journey, you can read a bit more about it here. It's a really inspiring journey led by members of Lummi Nation who are building community and bringing people together all across the country.

In case you missed it, last week the Herald also ran a really great piece written by Lummi Nation member and head carver of the House of Tears Carvers Jewell James, in which he talks about the importance of this journey. To quote from his writing:


“In August we make our journey from South Dakota to the Salish Sea and north to Alberta, Canada, stopping with many of the tribal and local communities whose lives unwillingly intersect with the paths of coal exports and tar sands. We will carry with us a 19-foot-tall totem that brings to mind our shared responsibility for the lands, the waters and the peoples who face environmental and cultural devastation from fossil fuel megaprojects. We travel in honor of late elder, and leader, and guiding light Billy Frank, Jr., who would remind us that we are stewards placed here to live with respect for our shared, sacred obligation to the creation, the plants and animals, the peoples and all our relations. He guides us, still. Our commitment to place, to each other, unites us as one people, one voice to call out to others who understand that our shared responsibility is to leave a better, more bountiful world for those who follow.”


The blessing of the journey is at 9:30 a.m., tomorrow, Sunday, Aug. 17th at the Lummi Tribal Administration Center, 2665 Kwina Road. You can RSVP here if you think you can make it.  I hope to see you there!