Friday, March 16, 2018

Vegan Options at Arooga's

Arooga's in opening up in a town close to me, and they have the Impossible Burger!  Exciting, right?  I know some people don't consider it vegan because the company that took part in animal testing.  You can find a pdf of their statement, The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing" here.  But I shop at stores that sell animal products and animal-tested products, and most of my favorite vegan products are being bought out by non-vegan companies.  If I villanize them for what they did, wouldn't I be a hypocrite?

Back to why you're here.  When I checked out Arooga's menu, I noticed their Impossible Burger comes on a brioche bun, with (what I'm going to assume is) a non-vegan-friendly special sauce and American or Cheddar cheese.  The rest of the menu seemed pretty non-vegan-friendly too.  I couldn't find contact information on their site, so I tweeted them asking for one.  Radio silence.  Then I messaged my local chain on Facebook and they did respond with the following:

"The Impossible burger is vegan but the process in which we cook and prepare it makes it vegetarian only.  Our brioche bun has egg as well as our faux wings.  Our vegan options are limited to our salads with a few replacements."

Well, that's disappointing.  I'm uncertain who they think they're marketing this burger too.  Vegetarians don't normally eat eggs and if you're cutting back on red meat as per doctor's orders, then why is there not-so-heart-healthy items like cheese, mayo, and eggs?  Even getting back to the vegetarian aspect, there are eight items listed on their menu as "vegetarian", most of which contain eggs.  So unless you're an Ovo-Vegetarian (Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian if you're eating eggs and dairy, FYI)...yeah, that stuff is a no-go too.

I'm always baffled why these chains understand there is a demand for vegan items, but half-ass add them.  How hard would it be to make actual vegetarian or vegan food?  I'll steer clear of Arooga's until they can, at the very least, learn the definition of a vegetarian...

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sweet Potato Soul, Bringing Vegan Soul Food Recipes to the Masses

Yes.  I know.  I already reviewed Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul book for Blogging for Books.  But I had to post a follow-up review because I'm obsessed with this cookbook.  

I have only a small smattering of soul food prior to going vegan.  Maybe.  Honestly, I'm not even sure.  I watch Sweet Potato Soul's youtube channel, which is fine, but too much music and stuff for me.  I'm old and ornery and I like things simple.  When I got this book, I was feeling kind of "eh" about it.  I'm used to Asian cooking, which involves 500 million ingredients.  Short ingredient lists always underwhelm me when I see them.  Which is stupid, since I love Chloe Coscarelli recipes and they have short ingredient lists and easy directions.  Who knows.  I'm clearly just insane.

I decided to try out some recipes in here.  I needed a change of pace from rice and pasta bowls, Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Thai, Sri Lankan and "American" style food like burgers and pizza.  A while back, I bought a ton of vital wheat gluten believing I'd make a ton of seitan, and then never did.  When I saw her two sausage recipes, I thought this was a good opportunity to use some of it up. 

Holy crap.  Both of these recipes were banging!  It was like Tofurky sausage but better (sorry Tofurky, I still love you).  Want the secret for really firm seitan sausages?  Buy pre-cut foil like this one Pop-Up Aluminum Foil Sheets and use a sushi mat to roll it tightly.  The box of pre-cut foil is the way to go because you don't have to struggle with trying to tear foil the right size, you can just whip out a sheet, and they're the perfect size for sausages.

I haven't had Red Beans and Rice in a million years. These were great.  There was a little pre-prep with the sausage and making the creole seasoning (which I still have plenty of even after making a lot of recipes from her book).  My beans were old and refused to cook completely.  I gave up and ate them anyway.  I might use the pressure cooker next time, these do take a while to cook.  Old, under cooked beans aside, this was an easy to make meal with deep, rich flavor.  Definitely worth the wait.

Jambalaya.  OMG.  What an easy weeknight one pot meal! And I love that she used jackfruit for something other than bbq "pulled pork" which is literally everywhere now.  You were supposed to use fresh parsley, but I used dried since fresh herbs die in my house in five minutes no matter what I do.

Low Country Grits was listed in the breakfast section.  While I have had grits with my breakfast at random diners over the years, to me this is a lunch/dinner meal. Never had grits?  You're missing out. They're so smooth and creamy. You'll want to lick your bowl at the end.  I really appreciate her random mix of veggies.  Chickpea and jackfruit in the jambalaya and zucchini, artichokes, and corn in the low country grits.  She uses things you think don't make sense, and wind up being perfect.

Her recipe for Oyster Mushroom Etouffee tastes like you're eating seafood.  I don't know how, but it tastes so much like seafood that you could fool a non-vegan.  No joke. Vegan magic, baby! I've only used oyster mushrooms as a faux fried chicken (which is awesome btw) but now I understand how they got their name.  It really is like biting into a cooked oyster or clam.  

Lentil Loaf with Oooh Mama Mushroom Gravy was something in between a meatloaf and a vegan holiday roast.  When she says to chop the nuts finely, she means finely...I wrote myself a note for next time.  And don't forget to add the breadcrumbs like I did, or you too will have to dump the whole thing out halfway through its cook time, mix them in, squish it back into the loaf pan again. Yeesh. If you're not a gravy making master like me, this is a great one to add to your repertoire.

Sorghum Cornmeal Waffles, or in my case Maple Syrup Cornmeal Waffles.  I was going to grow sorghum once upon a time.  Then I realized the enormity of work that goes into harvesting it and turning it into a syrup...and so here I am still buying maple syrup.  Anywho, they were crisp with a little crunch from the cornmeal.  They were just as good the next morning heated up in the toaster.

And there you have it.  Literally, every recipe in Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul has been a winner.  Clearly, delicious food can be made with simple ingredient lists and easy instructions, who knew?  If you love soul food or have never had it, this is a book you need to get.  If you don't care about soul food or vegan food, and you just like really good food, get this book.  If you want to stop spending a million dollars of plant-based sausages, go buy this book, and try out her seitan sausage recipes.  This book will remain in heavy rotation at my house from now on.  If you do pick it up, let me know what you think in the comments.