Thursday, April 3, 2008

The return of the Urban Housewife, vegan airline food, & the Vegan Brunch Cartel.

Please head over to my new blog at, where you'll find this post & more!

I'm back! Has it really been almost a month since my last post?! It's been just over a week since I returned from my holiday & I'm still swamped with a million things to do, but I can't help but get the ball rolling on the details of my adventure. I have so much to share; the good, the bad, & the inedible! Of course I have to start with the inedible; AIRLINE FOOD!

Our trip began with a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt on United on which two meals were served, dinner & breakfast. The dinner consisted of some sort of grain with vegetables & an oily sauce, a salad, random bread in a bag, & a chocolate chip cookie. I tossed the bread, as it had no ingredients listed & when I moved on to the salad I found that the dressing had MILK SOLIDS in it! I quickly asked the flight attendant, if this was in fact the vegetarian non-dairy meal, but she could only confirm it was vegetarian. The code on the meal was correct, VGML, so I suspiciously continued to pick at my meal. I felt a bit better to see the cookie emblazoned with VEGAN on the packaging, but sadly, it the cookie downright inedible!

Breakfast fared a bit better & while corn syrup filled applesauce is not to my liking & I could take or leave raisins, I was happy to see the other option on my tray, A DONUT! A Nutrilicious Cinnamon Glazed Donut, no less. I've not had one of these before & I am a huge fan of Mighty O & making my own donuts, so I was excited to have a shot at trying one. I found the cake donut to be a bit dense, but it had a nice flavor & was topped with a delicious cinnamon glaze. Not bad!

The trip from Frankfurt to San Francisco consisted of lunch & a snack being provided & turned out to be yet another meal of mystery foods. Suspicious from my earlier discovery of milk solids, I asked questions, read labels, sniffed & poked at everything, & was downright frustrated! The lunch provided condiments of "non dairy" creamer with milk solids & margarine of undetermined origin, so those were out right away. The salad dressing was actually suitable for vegans this time, but not anyone with actual tastebuds! The roll was once again tossed as it was a brick & had no information with it. The entree was a sort of saffron rice with mushrooms, a raw tomato wedge, romanesco broccoli, & a suspicious sort of creamy sauce. The vegetables were surprisingly decent & the little tray of fruit also included was very much appreciated.

Snack time came around & what a disaster! A Muesly bar with multiple milk varieties in it, as well as honey, wasn't even a option. The baguette contained limp lettuce, cucumber slices, & tomato with a suspicious spread that seemed to be an herbed cream cheese. Additionally, a mostly green banana was included. Needless to say, it all went untouched, which is sad when there's plenty of people out there who could use a meal.

All in all United's vegan options are sad & they don't seem to grasp that many "non dairy" products have milk solids in them. It is unfortunate that waste is created due to their choice to not accommodate people with dietary needs or choices & I made sure to write them a letter to express this. I shudder to think how many people with allergies or religious food practices have consumed products unfit for them as well. I highly advise you pack options for yourself when taking a long flight or trip. Not to worry, I had a gallon sized bag with bars, jerky, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, crackers, & other treats in it in case we were stuck at any point on the trip!

I was lucky enough to come home to the March installation of the Vegan Brunch Cartel. Not quite ready to take on any major dishes, I made Maple Ginger Tempeh Strips, a tester recipe for the next cookbook by Joanna of Yellow Rose Recipes. These strips were easy to make & very flavorful; perfect as a side for our many brunch dishes some which included a frittata, potato & white bean casserole, fried plantains, french toast, a south Indian vermicelli dish, & a beautiful pear clafoutis, inspired by Hezbollah Tofu!

While I miss exploring Europe, I'm happy to be home in my own surroundings & already have new projects brewing! I've been doing some baking in the past week & plan to be doing much more in the future; more on that later. In the meantime, I'll be here enjoying the Alpro soya dessert I brought home for myself.

In the coming weeks I'll be posting dessert reviews & restaurant round ups from London, Berlin, & Prague. Additionally there will be a special review of Rebecca's Cakes in the UK, complete with a recipe from Rebecca herself! The recipe she's provided is for a fabulous cake I think you'll all enjoy. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Airlines make me so mad. We pay so much to fly, and in return ask for a little bit of service. People seem to think that it's okay if there's a bit of milk solids if you don't believe in eating dairy. People only seem to respond to your dietary needs if it's medical such as diabetes or lactose intolerance. I wish there was more respect for our food choices, especially when they offer the choice and when we specifically request it.

Billy said...

Thanks for sharing about Cheezly. I love the stuff!

I can't wait to get my Teese vegan cheese in the mail and try that.

Ether said...

Don't feel bad- it's equally as hard for those of us keeping kosher. Last time I flew the only snacks were ham and cheese sandwiches, which you had to pay extra for!

julie hasson said...

Hi Melisser! So good to have you back, and fun to read about your trip (and airline food). My eyes immediately shot to that picture of the donut, although your tempeh looks yummy!

Vegan_Noodle said...

So so glad you're back!! I can't wait to see the roundup from your travels.
Yeah, airline food definitely sucks. I've had better luck with continental, but it's still pretty crappy. At least you were prepared!
Mmmm, and that tempeh! I've seen it posted several times and I'm desperate even to try and invent my own version so I don't have to keep waiting for the book!

mel said...

Welcome home!

Celine said...

welcome back, Melisser. we missed you. :D

Mihl said...

Welcome back!

I am sorry about the airplane food. It's a real shame that they don't pay any attention.

I am really looking forward for your dessert reviews, especially from Berlin! How did you like being vegan in Germany?

Liz² said...

this is so silly, but I love reading about vegan airplane food! I know it's invariably awful, but it's interesting anyway. I'm so glad you wrote a letter - if I had gotten those meals I'd be sure somebody knew about it. :/

welcome back and I can't wait to see your restaurant reviews!

meghan: said...

that's sad about the airline food melisser!
i hope the food you ate whilst traveling made up for it...and i can't wait to read the restaurant reviews from your trip.

rad. (welcome home)

Early Bird Special said...

Well, I'm glad you're back! Sorry the airline food sucked, but thank goodness you wrote them a letter. Major companies are oblivious and careless about dietary needs too often. Glad you were smart enough to arm yourself with proper vegan vittles. <3

Bianca said...

Wow! That makes me so sad! I conquered my fear of flying last year on a very short flight from Memphis to Chicago (about an hour and a half). So I didn't get meals. But I've thinking of planning a European I know not to expect real vegan food. I wouldn't have even cared if it was processed crap, as long as it was vegan. But damn...oh well.

Can't wait to see pics of the good food!

Kittee said...

Welcome home Melisser! Dazee and I also experienced some frustration with our vegan meals flying overseas to India. So frustrating on such a long trip...


bazu said...

It's good to see you back! I had to laugh because we also flew United and we also had crazy meals! I remember the limp lettuce and tomato sandwich too well- ha! Daiku's meal was supposed to be "Asian" but he got orzo and lots of other things that leave you scratching your head at their "Asian-ness"... anyway, you must be happy to be back home and I can't wait to see more of your adventures!

Abigail said...

I agree with evryone. Airline food is so ridiculously disgusting that the only way to get decent food is to fly first class. What's wrong with providing a little bit of good comfort food to the battered victims of jet lag and air sickness? Usually, the last thing that I actually want to eat on airplanes is the food served. What a pity!

Virgo Girl said...

yay! Welcome back, look forward to reading about your European adventures.

textual bulldog said...

welcome back!!! i can't wait to hear all about everything!

skurinka said...

I'm hungry!!

Rebecca said...

wow, I can't believe I'm going to be featured on your blog! I'm such a huge fan!

pleasantly plump vegan said...

welcome back! that airline food sounds like a nightmare. hope you packed some snacks.

shannie cakes said...

welcome back! yeah i feel you on the airline food. why even GIVE US AN OPTION if they aren't going to hold to it? i always, always, always pack food... even if it's a quick direct flight (just in case i get stuck in some unknown airport or something).

thanks for the information on the "spy milk"... i'll keep it on the down low, haha.

DJ said...

Glad you're back - airline food is pretty rank whether vegan or not, so I always take my own with me - and that tempeh looks yum!

Anonymous said...

I totally got that exact same meal on my flight to London a few months ago. The cookie was awful, but I appreciated the effort! Hope you had fun on your trip- I got back from my three weeks in Europe yesterday.


sarchan said...

Ah! I miss Alpro products! Alpro soy yogurt was the first kind I ever tasted. Fond memories... Glad to hear you had a good trip, despite horrendous airline food :)

vegetalion said...

I've had he same sort of luck with airline food. Once or twice I've had good meals, but the majority of my experience with airline food has been to give or throw away things that are suspiciously unlabeled or labeled with animal ingredients : (

vegan addict said...

airline food isn't really food...i guess it makes us all appreciate the love of cooking for ourselves! yeah! and i am psyched that you liked the marshmallow kit from new zealand. mine is on its way to me right now! hooray for tasty vegan marshmallows. i have a graham cracker recipe i am going to veganize, if it works, there might be a recipe posted soon on my page...

VeganFabulous said...

Wow! My international flight food choices weren't even as good as yours! Score on the donut!!!

tracy said...

welcome back sweetie! you were missed! United SUCKS. Thank god you are such a good little planner and had snackage! xoxox

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

Hi Melisser - Welcome home! Sorry to hear about the airplane woes. I'm glad to hear you had a nice time in Europe!

VeggieGirl said...

hmm... interesting airline food. now I know why my family and I ALWAYS pack our own food for plane/car trips! haha.

so glad you're back, Melisser!! I've missed your posts!! :0)

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

Vegan Brunch Cartel sounds fabulous, as do your Maple Ginger Tempeh Strips! Yum!

And yuck to [most of] that airline food. That is so frustrating! I haven't even been on a flight where I needed to eat since going vegan, but I can't imagine it would be easy OR anywhere near tasty. Even their omni food is siiiiick. (But that donut DOES look--and sound--pretty delish.)

I am sitting at my desk, just about to fill out my vacation form to take off time from work in May for when I head to SF! [Yeah, I read blogs at work...] I can't wait. And luckily--that one's a short-ish flight, so no mystery food for us!

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up about the airline meals. They usually suck! I flew from Washington, DC to Paris last year, and I was served 2 meals during the flight, but the two meals consisted of 75% cheese products. I was so tired of eating cheese when I got back to the States.

springsandwells said...

Oh Melisser! Welcome back! I'm behind on my blog reading. It's great to see some new posts from you.

I love the airplane review. Airline food is an odd source of fascination for me. This seems to be an oddity that Bazu and I share. I've gotta say, the donut is crazy cool. Almost makes up for all the other slop. I've found that vegan meals always come with margarine and dairy-non-dairy creamers. Sigh!

The Vegan Brunch Cartel looks fab, as always!

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