Friday, May 30, 2008

Cleansing Week: Day Four

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: We're ending the week with the Master Cleanse lemonade, a sweet elixir made simply with Grade B maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, a kick of cayenne, and filtered water. The ready availability of these clean ingredients was what drew Colleen to this particular cleanse.

The Goods: Colleen's had the most experience with cleanses, having done many of them in the past with great success, but had somehow never gotten around to trying the Master Cleanse until this week. Even though she was stricken with an unforgiving headcold, she was able to stick to her lemonade-fueled guns and tough it out—though she suspects the mental clarity aspect of cleansing might have bypassed her this time thanks to her stuffy head!

And so, our cleanse-dabbling comes to a close. You know what that means, right? Food! We're gearing up for our September+October Food Issue over here, and can't wait to dig our forks into some amazing meals. To kick things off, next week we'll be testing the finalists' recipes from our first-ever Reader Recipe Showdown. You never know, you might just see your very own recipe right here on Café VegNews! It might be an understatement to say that we are excited. Jumping up and down while reading recipes is totally normal, as far as we're concerned.

Want more good news? Since today's the last workday of May—can anyone believe June starts next week?!—there's a lingering matter of business to attend. Yes, it's time for our Giveaway! Since all our cleansing commrades have been drinking tea as though it were the nectar of the gods this week, we thought that this adorable Steepware teapot would make a perfect prize.

The Question: If you were coming off of a week-long cleanse, what would be your first full meal? From soup to nuts, tell us every detail of every course by Friday, June 6, and we'll pick a winning comment. Best of luck, and bye bye bentonite!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cleansing Week: Day Three

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A delicious medley of PB—psyllium husk and bentonite clay—shakes (pictured on the left) and Master Cleanse lemonade (at right).

The Goods: Oh yes, Aurelia's doubling up on her cleansing methods. One of the most desireable benefits of cleansing—along with detoxing your system, increased vitality, and giving your body a break from digesting—is enhanced mental clarity. Considering that Tuesday was our editorial deadline for the September+October issue, we could all use as much mental clarity as we can get our hands on around here. Aurelia's supplementing her pb shakes with Master Cleanse lemonade as a way to stave off hunger, which usually strikes her roughly once every .000004 seconds. She's on day four, and so far the combination of methods has kept her from attacking any leftovers in the fridge. Bring on the editorial!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cleansing Week: Day Two

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: Yummy Yerba Prima psyllium husk powder and bentonite clay, and unfiltered apple juice!

The Goods: Ms. Lisa is enjoying a much more successful cleanse than Elizabeth did. Lisa's already on day four of her bentonite-clay-based cleanse, which is a plan that focuses on booting out any material that may be lingering in your colon—like undigested meat from years ago. We know, it isn't exactly polite dinner coversation, so it makes sense to not be eating dinner! Lisa took the basic plan for her cleanse from the Blessed Herbs website, though there are many other mixes on the market. Her combination of clay, psyllium husk, and juice, pictured above, proved more tasty than Lisa was expecting. She describes it as, "like drinking applesauce," and the plan also includes unlimited vegetable broth throughout the day. After four days without much of anything to munch (okay, she admits that she slipped up and absentmindedly ate an orange), she's still feeling energetic enough to take care of Cole, a lucky two-year-old pup whom she's fostering from Rocket Dog Rescue until a permanent home can be found for him. Here's to getting meat out of your system once and for all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cleansing Week: Day One

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Maybe the most delicious pb & j ever. Multigrain bread, crunchy all-natural peanut butter and sweet apple butter made for a lovely, yet lonely, lunch.

The Goods: So, the plan was for everyone in the office to do a cleanse this week and get our digestive systems working good as new. We'll be posting on
each of our experiences on our "cooking" day, and let you in on how these little food-free experiments are going. You may have noticed that it says, "the plan was for everyone" to cleanse this week. Well, here's what happened when Elizabeth gave The Master Cleanse a try.

For anyone unfamiliar, the Master Cleanse involves drinking a mixture of filtered water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for 10 days. It's a widely used cleanse, and seemed fairly innocuous. Elizabeth started on Monday, thinking that having the first day done with when she got back to the office today after the long weekend would be a boon. The cleanse proved to be a touch too intense, and by 9:30 pm Ms. Elizabeth was cranky, dizzy, had an absolutely splitting headache, and was ready to shiv someone for something solid to chew. Thankfully, a well-stocked pantry kept her from committing any crimes, and she thoroughly enjoyed a simple bowl of noodle soup. As the only one in the office who's eating, pb & j seemed the obvious choice for lunch since it didn't make the kitchen smell like food and was portable for a sunny, early afternoon stroll. Make sure to check back all this week and see how the other VN staffers are doing on their fasts, and kudos to them for sticking with it!

Also, we've just received word that VegNews is nominated for "Best Vegan Publication" in the 2008 Vegan Environmental Awards, which is quite an honor considering that the awards are given in Britain and we, as you may have noticed, are based in the US. Click here to vote for us!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Burritos Sin Carne

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu:
After stuffing our faces at Millennium's Southern Comfort extravaganza last night, we surprisingly wolfed down Colleen's warm tortillas packed with a melange of rice, carrots, and beans for a south-of-the-border inspired lunch. Fresh sprouts, cherry tomatoes, olives, and a dab of guac topped off the veggie-licious entree. A lightly dressed, green salad doused in Eat In The Raw's Parma accompanied the dish.

The Goods:
Graduated VegNews intern extraordinaire Christine "Tine" Petrozzo graced the VN headquarters with her presence today after a long-waited return. Heading back to her old stomping grounds, Tine happily eased back into the VN lunch routine. She's overjoyed to be back for a vacation, and her tummy couldn't agree more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Simple Miso Soup

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A light, lovely miso soup, complete with seaweed, tofu, and thinly sliced carrots. Following the heavy-food-free theme, Ms. Aurelia also prepared a raw salad of broccoli and bell peppers in a soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar, and miso marinade. The meal was very fresh and left plenty of room in our bellies. While that might not sound like a good attribute for lunch, we have a little something up our sleeves...

The Goods: So, we were intentionally not overdoing it on lunch today so that we'd be good and ready to gorge ourselves at Millennium's Southern Comfort Dinner. Around these parts we are all huge fans of anything deep fried, and the added bonus of getting Millennium's quality in some serious comfort food is maybe just too exciting to handle. In the spirit, tell us what your favorite deep-fried, artery-clogging, bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good indulgence is! We'll be letting you know all about how the night goes over on Press Pass, so make sure to check it out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nummy (No-)Quesadillas

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: Some of the best darned cheese-free quesadillas we've ever had. The tortillas were perfectly pan-fried to delicious crispiness, and inside was a very lime-y mixture of black beans, tomatoes, and corn. Lisa even whipped up her own guacamole, replete with more fresh lime juice, cilantro, and punches of jalapeño. A salad of mixed greens and cherry tomatoes provided some relief from the spicier dishes on the menu.

The Goods: Um, yum. Let's just get it out of the way that this was one of the more impressive meals that's been created in our VNHQ kitchens. You already know how we like to share our lunchtime goodness with guests, and today we were delighted to have Kit and Melissa of Good Asian Drivers join us. They've been on a nationwide music and performance-art tour for six weeks and had just enough time to stop in for lunch before heading down to LA later tonight. Here is the highly entertaining pair with the VN team:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Lotta Latkes

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A load of latkes, which were flavored simply with fresh oregano, salt, and pepper. Alongside a fresh salad of romaine, avocado, red bell pepper, tomato, and tofu-feta, the heavily potato-y latkes made for a balanced plate. Up there at the top of the photo you'll also notice some chopped-up Foot-long Veggie Dogs, for color. Okay, hot dogs may not be the most traditional garnish, but when you don't have any faux breakfast links on hand, they make a great sub.

The Goods: Elizabeth often wishes that we could eat brunch for every meal, and just can't help herself from making something that would be more appropriate served at 11am than during the lunch-hour proper. But really, who doesn't like brunch? For all those of you who long for recipes on this blog, make sure and check the last link for an amazing Tofu Florentine—something perfect for your next brunch, regardless of the time of day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Super Soba Noodles

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: A delicious soba noodle stir-fry punctuated with fresh, chopped swiss chard and artichoke hearts, and accompanied by a nice salty, curry-flavored tvp. For anyone who isn't necessarily "hip" to the vegan-101 "jive," tvp stands for "textured vegetable protein," and is often the first meat replacement that new vegetarians try out.

The Goods: After this weekend's hot, hot heat, we are blanketed in a thick fog today. Is there anything more warm and comforting than a hot plate full of noodles? We think not.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Teaing Off

The "Chef": Lisa

The Menu:
A big, steamy cup of Earl Grey tea, salted pretzels, and chunky peanut butter, all courtesty of a Mr. Trader Joe.

The Goods:
With Joe and Colleen at the New York Farm Sanctuary Gala, Elizabeth at the Chicago Green Fest, Aurelia working from home across town, and Lisa hosting Canadian visitors, all of the VN editors will be out of the office this afternoon, and so will not be here for lunch. We promise we'll have our fabulous, regularly-scheduled lunch-programming back in full effect next week, but, for now, we hope you are somewhat sated with our mid-morning snack. Bon weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cold Noodle Salad

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: An absolutely amazing Vietnamese cold-noodle salad with grated carrot, chopped romaine, fresh basil, cilantro, jalapeño, and a refreshing soy-sauce and fresh lime juice dressing. Dotted with Spicy Veggie Tempeh and garnished with tart lemon wedges, this meal was the perfect cool treat for our unusually hot day.

The Goods: It's 87 degrees in San Francisco today, and we are freaking out, as is totally appropriate. The mercury almost never climbs this high here, and to celebrate the heat we took a super-hot brisk walk on the beach. With Aurelia's spot-on Southeast-Asian meal and the cooling sea breeze, we were able to mentally transport ourselves to Vietnam's sandy shores.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spicy Stir-Fry

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: Some lovely, saucy, stir-fried veggies (broccoli, grape tomatoes, and collard greens) tossed over rice noodles made up our delicious main. Sides of spinach salad with fresh chunks of avocado and our favorite Chinese-style mushroom buns made this quite the full meal.

The Goods: Considering our propensity for travel in Southeast Asia, it should come as no surprise that we'd want to recreate the flavors found in the cuisine there. Since we don't actually have all day to simmer spicy sauces to perfection, Lisa decided to take a little help from World Foods' line of ready-made stir-fry sauces. Today we tried the Thai Basil Chilli and Vietnamese Five Spice varities. While we would have rather actually been in Thailand or Vietnam, these flavors definitely added some kick to our stateside lunch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chicken-free Cannelloni

The Chef: Elizabeth and her dad

The Menu: Faux-chicken and spinach-stuffed cannelloni in a rich, slightly sweet tomato-cream sauce topped with melted Teese. To balance out the heartiness of the main course, Elizabeth made a fresh salad of raw collard greens, romaine, chopped mushrooms, avocado, and sunflower seeds, all tossed in a light vinaigrette.

The Goods: The reason her dad gets credit for today's meal is because, frankly, he did the hard part—aka he veganized traditional cannelloni. If there's anything we love more than eating around here, it's eating something that we don't necessarily have the time to whip up during the workday, and this tasty Italian treat totally fit the bill. Thanks Louie! Now, is there something that your parents make that you just can't live without? What's your favorite home-cooked meal when you're visiting the folks?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tofu Scramble Burritos

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Burritos bursting with savory scrambled tofu, arroz con Moros—traditional Cuban rice and black beans cooked together with red bell pepper and spices—lettuce and fresh avocado. With so many veggies packed into the perfectly soft tortillas, there was no room for salad on our plates or in our stomachs. The arroz con Moros is as filling as it is easy to make, and, of course, we always love a tofu scramble.

The Goods: It's sunny, it's Monday, and we got burritos. Life is good. For the first day back in the kitchen after all of our non-cooking last week, today's lunch started our week off right. We were busy little explorers this weekend, so make sure to visit Press Pass and check out all the fun we've been having.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Return of the Lasagna

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Yes, it's lasagna. The sauce got a little extra pep from the addition of more tomato sauce and a huge handful of fresh oregano. Our starchy side dish was a warm potato salad with thinly sliced carrots and celery, Italian country vinegar, and more of the oregano. Is there anything fresh herbs can't do? Well, sure there's plenty they can't do, but they are extraordinarily good at making food taste better.

The Goods: "This is not the same lasagna as we had on Tuesday," says Elizabeth as she waves her hand in a subtle, Jedi manner. Okay, you caught us, it is the same lasagna, but we're not about to let lasagna go to waste! Sadly, we've now officially finished off the pan, so we're going to have to start cooking for ourselves again. Le sigh...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Taste Test Thursday: Curry Compilation

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Myriad ready-made meals! Continuing with the taste test theme for today, Aurelia whipped up a variety of Asian-inspired packaged meals, and complemented them with perfectly fluffy rice and curried sweet potatoes with tomato. We sampled Kerala Vegetables from Tasty Bite and the Bangkok Beauty and Sherpa's Delight curry-flavors from Going Native. Oh, and you may notice a little extra curry (because there's no such thing as too much curry!) from Jenny's awesome lunch on Monday.

The Goods: When the taste-test fever hits the VNHQ, there's no stopping it! We love trying out all kinds of great, new, vegan products and getting to tell you all about them. In case you were wondering, the theme carried over into our dessert selection as well: We tried French Meadow Bakery's Peanut Butter Bliss Cookie Bites. These all-natural, slightly salty treats were a nice balance to the spiciness of the curries. We may get crazy and actually cook something tomorrow, but no promises!

VN Tea Party!

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A tea tasting! Today we enjoyed a variety of teas from Pixie Maté and Zhena's Gypsy Tea. Some of the yummy flavors we sampled were Dark Roast and Lemon Maté from Pixie Maté, and Coconut Chai, Pomegranate Rose, Red Lavender, and Gypsy Love from Zhena's Gypsy Tea.

The Goods: We are all tea fiends here at the VNHQ, though some of us moonlight as coffee drinkers, too. Since we had all these lovely teas in the office it seemed that the only thing to do was have ourselves a tea-party taste test! Favorites from among the flavors we sampled were the Coconut Chai and Gypsy Love, and with the stimulating effects of the maté, we should all be extra productive today!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Picnic Pintos and Potatoes

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A lovely corn and pinto-bean salad with fresh lime juice, grape tomatoes, cumin, and garlic served with tarragon-roasted fingerling potatoes and leeks. Though you can clearly see Lisa's flair for garnish, it was hardly necessary to dress up such scrumptious dishes. Given today's sunshine and (relatively) warm temperature, this lunch would have been the perfect meal for a picnic in the park.

The Goods: As it happened, we didn't lunch in the park, but we did get to enjoy the special treat of having a couple friendly guests over. The lovely Kristin LaJeunesse, who is an organizer of the New York Capital Region Vegetarian Expo, and her main squeeze Michael came all the way from Boston just to have lunch with us. Okay, of course they were really here on vacation to visit San Francisco, but we were happy to get the chance to meet them! Here they are with the VN team:

There is one more matter of business to attend: the winner of April's Café VegNews giveaway! This month's goodie bag—which will arrived stuffed with excellent VN swag, including a signed copy of columnist Rory Freedman's bestselling cookbook Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, cookies, and some great new vegan products—goes to Amey of springsandwells for her lime-liking. Lime-coconut cookies? Yes please. Ditto cashew-lime-jalapeño cream! Amey, send us over an email with your mailing address so we can ship out your winnings. Congrats to Amey and thanks to all who commented!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lasagna-Palooza Lunch

The Chef: Colleen + the Castorias

The Menu: Oozy, melty, dense lasagna with perfectly crisp edges and smothered with a potently savory Italian "meat-ball" sauce. Balancing out this right-side-heavy plate sits a piece of hearty Italian bread and a heap of fresh romaine, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

The Goods:
While we'd like to take full-credit for this outstanding meal, we cannot possibly pass this off as entirely in-house when 1. lasagna takes the better part of a weeknight to make properly and 2. the talented chefs who did make this meal poured their heart (and secret family sauce!) into this oustanding main. One of our resident editors is lucky enough to a have a family so generous and suppportive that they slaved over 12 pans of vegan lasagna and "meatballs" and hosted a community event this past weekend to honor those who choose an animal-friendly lifestyle. As if that weren't enough, they were kind enough to donate some of the leftovers for our VN lunches. Needless to say, we are as touched as we are stuffed!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Guess Who Came to Lunch?

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: A robust and rich tomato-spinach, coconut-curry soup served with toasted mustard- and sesame-seed infused rice, and then a new-agey twist on an old-world favorite: lemon-soaked channa masala stir fried with sprouted granola and goji berries.

The Goods: While we didn’t enjoy this beautiful spread with Sidney Poitier himself, our lovely Ms. Elizabeth brought in her equally dashing man-friend—visiting from Connecticut—to meet the VegNews family. Armed with a pretty box of organic artisan chocolates from Manchester’s Divine Treasures, one of our favorite vegan and gluten-free chocolatiers, we all wished guests like him visited more often. Don’t these morsels look delicious?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Leftovers Shmeftovers

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Roasted red-pepper and broccolini rotini borrowed from yesterday’s leftover bounty, fresh oregano and olive oil crostini, and a light, slightly sweet salad of romaine hearts, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, celery, cashews, almonds, and goji-berries.

The Goods: Here at the VNHQ, especially when Colleen’s at the kitchen’s helm, we don’t do leftovers. (Okay, truth be told, we don’t exactly exhibit restraint when it comes to cleaning our lunch plates —let's just say our Tupperware is on the bottom shelf of our pantry collecting dust). But we had such a delicious mountain of pasta left over from yesterday’s VegNews Wedding Celebration, and Colleen knew just how to turn it into something new and fresh. Delish!

Note #1: The opinions expressed by the preceding may or many not have been influenced by Colleen’s homemade cupcakes which we enjoyed for dessert and that you’d swear came from a professional, butter-happy bakery.

Note #2: Don't forget to get your submission in for this month's blog (cough *goodie-bag* cough) giveaway!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

VegNews Wedding Celebration 2008

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: We should really say "menus," as the dishes of today's lunch were inspired by two of the wedding menus from our 2008 wedding feature in the May+June issue, which hits newsstands today! Our culinary compilation was comprised of southern-inspired fried "chicken" with barbecue sauce from Amanda Moeckel and JC Callender's menu, and from the wedding of Sharon Troy and Tim Moore we enjoyed pasta primavera with sage oil and a salad of baby greens with candied pecans, pears, and Balsamic vinegar. Most of us here at VN are unwed, but if it meant we got to eat like this, we might consider matrimony!

The Goods: We had a slew of special guests who were able to come together and celebrate vegan weddings with us today at the VNHQ. The two couples whose menus we recreated live in the area and joined us for an extremely sunny afternoon. Here they are, in all their happily married glory:
Of course, no wedding-themed celebration would be complete without a cake, right? (Well, no wedding celebration that we'd want to go to, anyway.) Thanks to the generous nature of super-star vegan baker Hannah Tai, we had an amazingly beautiful chai- and almond-flavored wedding cake. There's no way to properly describe just how lovely this creation was, so instead here's a picture, complete with the benevolent baker:
Today may go down in history as the fanciest VegNews lunch of all time. Thanks so much to our beautiful guests for coming and congratulations again to all our couples!