Thursday, May 29, 2008

Portland, here I come & Gibelle the turkey!

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

I'm off to the vegan mecca, aka Portland! Look for many photos in the near future from mini mall trips to restaurant excursions. I'm still looking for activities to do from dancing to karaoke to art, so if you have suggestions, send them my way! Also, if you live in Portland & want to hang out, get in touch! I'll be around through Wednesday the 4th. melisser AT

In the meantime, enjoy this little video I took of Gibelle the turkey at the Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down. I was told if you say his name in a high pitched voice, he'll talk back to you. Watch what happens..

I assure you my voice is not that.. intense. Isn't he great though?!
Until next time! xo.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down, my 1st garden, & Jessie Steele aprons!

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

Beware the lack of food in this post! While there's a plethora of adorable animals ahead, there's no food, as we all know animals are not for eating. I hope you can overlook the lack of edibles in lieu of the cuteness that abounds.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to attend the annual Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down this year. It was an amazing day of speakers, food, fun & amazing animals! There's not much to say besides if you get a chance to check out the farm, DO IT! I'll let some the photos speak for themselves..
The cutest! Cupid, smiling. King of the mountain! I adopted Magnolia for Thanksgiving, she's a sweetie!
Go check out more photos from my day HERE!

On Mother's Day, my family & I attended a wonderful mother's day brunch at Millennium! We never once told our party of 8 that the food was all vegan & everyone enjoyed their food immensely! How great is that?! Once we returned to my home, I was lucky enough to have my mother, a woman with a very green thumb, help me plant my first garden on my patio. My grandfather built a planter & gave it so me & I couldn't wait to fill it up! Tomatoes, Cilantro, Basil, Yellow Wax Beans, Haricot Verts, Walla Walla Onions, & Kale, all organic, of course, were planted & I'm looking forward to their yield! We had our 1st visitor right after we finished planting, a lovely lady bug!

Finally, I have a gorgeous new apron by the producers of the hottest aprons, Jessie Steele! My fairy apron-mother Leigh Poindexter sent me this loveliness with matching mitts, when she heard it was a favorite design of mine due my engagement in Paris. As you can see, I salute Jessie Steele's adorable aprons & Beamish cat has an appreciation for them as well!

Life has been insanely busy around here & right now I have two house guests, Jess from The Domestic Vegan & her boyfriend Nick. Next week I'm headed to Portland for the 1st time & will be a house guest of Jess from Get Sconed! I'm excited to explore the foods there, as I know there's many wonderful vegan options, especially desserts! Let's hope life will slow down a bit for me soon & I can get back to the FOOD!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Teese, Teese, the magical.. product!

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The vegan blog world is quite the hype machine, it seems there's always a new recipe or product making the rounds & Teese has been exception! While my 1st taste of Teese was back when I returned from Europe, I was lucky enough to have a package arrive at my door with an amount sufficient for proper taste testing! (Yes, that label says "Bloggy McBloggerson"!)

I'll admit, I was quite the cheese lover in my vegetarian days, so I tend to approach vegan cheeses with caution. While there are some decent options on the market, most are rubbery nightmares that don't melt or taste anything like the original. For the most part, I am more than happy to do without these imposters, but watch out sub par vegan cheeses, Teese is here to blow you away!

Anxious to try the Teese right away, I opted first for a quick & easy meal; grilled sandwiches! Using my handy sandwich press, I spread Earth Balance lightly across slices of bread, filled them with slices of Teese, & pressed them in to the grill. What emerged was crunchy pockets filled with ooey-gooey melted Teese centers & I must say, they were wonderful! I was concerned the sandwich grill would not work to melt the Teese, but it actually worked so well, there was some spillage! C'est la Vie! By the way, next to the sandwich is one of our favorite things; Kale Chips!

Next stop, PIZZA! I mean, c'mon, Teese was made for this stuff. Teese comes in Mozzarella at the moment, with Cheddar in the works, so we should all be making pizzas while we wait for the new flavor to arrive. I made a sourdough crust & topped the pizza with tomato sauce, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato slices, & a few pieces of Julie's Spicy Italian Sausages. Once again, I went with large pieces of Teese, instead of shredded & it worked out well. This was one killer meal that satisfied even my pizza obsessed husband!

The pizza was such a success, we made Calzones next. I set up a little spread of toppings; more sausages, artichoke hearts, garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, tomato sauce, & we each made our own ideal combinations. That is Ryan's hand you see there, even he had fun coming up with flavor ideas. Doesn't a "Make Your Own Calzone" party sound fun? The calzones baked up nice & golden brown & although the Teese tried to escape from them, they were delicious! For an extra decadent treat, I could see Teese & tofu ricotta making an amazing combination!

Finally, I had to try something outside the Italian inspired genre. Previous to going vegan, "pregan" if you will, I used to make Enchilada casseroles often. While I still make them these days, I typically skip the cheese subs & focus on spices & extra vegetables. This time, I piled layers of black beans, corn, shredded carrots, zucchini, onions & garlic between strips of corn tortillas soaked in enchilada sauce & topped it with shredded Teese. Thank you, Chicago Soy Dairy, the Enchilada Bake is back! Once again, it melted easily & brought the dish a new & improved taste!

So, you're probably wondering, how does it taste? What's the texture like? Can you eat it plain? Teese is a soft, fresh mozzarella-style cheese, it's quite moist, but not slimy & doesn't smell bad like Follow Your Heart. It has a creamier, more complex taste than FYH, it's almost buttery. While I noshed on a few plain pieces, my guess is most people wouldn't like it this way, it really is at its best when melted!

Want to get your hands on some Teese? Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, Vegan Essentials, & Pangea have it available via mail order. Also, Chicago Soy Dairy has a listing of places stocking it or using it HERE. Finally, if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, I've convinced Rainbow Grocery to carry it, so look out for it starting as soon as June!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Souley Vegan, Peanut Butter Cups, & Ronald's Donuts!

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When I'd heard a new all vegan restaurant opened in nearby Oakland, my interest was piqued. Previously only available at a Farmers' Market stall, Souley Vegan, specializing in soul food opened up a store front recently. The Bay Area PPKers rule at having meet-ups, so I was lucky enough to try it with a group of friends. A large group of us, around 15 people or so, rolled in on a Sunday afternoon & despite only having 4 tables & 3 people on staff, they graciously accommodated us! In fact, the owner Tamera came out herself to chat with us & thank us for dining there & let us know they're currently working to upgrade the interior & add seating.

The number of menu items may be small, but the options seem plentiful whether you order a plate with pre-selected items or assemble your own for $10. There's also the option of ala carte for those not interested in 3 menu items piled high on their plate in large portions. Collard Greens, Potato salad, Mac & Cheese, Yams, Cornbread, Beans & Rice, Peach Cobbler & other standard soul food fare are the name of the game here as well as BBQ Tofu or Crispy Tofu. I was able to try a large selection of items by sharing with Ryan & the others; while it's a bit heavier than my typical lunch, I throughly enjoyed stuffing myself! I can still taste the yams melting in my mouth, the spice of the Mac & Cheese, & the Potato salad leaves just about anyone craving more. Overall, Souley Vegan is a place worth checking out when in the Oakland & is a welcome addition to vegan dining in the Bay Area!

Souley Vegan: 431 13th Street, Oakland.

As you know, I love making treats for others, so I brought along a little something for all the PPKers partaking in the meet-up at Souley Vegan; Peanut Butter Cups! Ryan, the peanut butter fiend had mentioned he was craving them, so I figured I'd make a larger batch & churned out 20 or so using a recipe from Kelly & Garrick's upcoming cookie book. Unlike another batch I made, these were full sized, as I just happened to have the wrappers from a previous project & put them to use. It's pretty rare I get an inside shot, but I managed to snap one before I completely demolished this little morsel. These aren't just smooth peanut butter inside, but have the same texture as that not-so-vegan brand you find in the grocery store. Mmm mmm!

I was recently blessed with a treat that has been on my "to try" list for quite some time, but seemed unaccessible unless I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas; Ronald's Donuts! My fairy vegmother & favorite vegansaurus Laura, gave me yet another reason to love the hell out of her when she arrived from the airport on my doorstep to deliver the goods. Let's just say I was freaking out & far too excited for a pastry. You see, these aren't dense, cake donuts like you find in other parts of the country, but they're raised donuts. They aren't organic, healthy, or gourmet in any way, shape, or form, these are pure, unadulterated junk food! I talked Laura's ear off about flavors I was interested in trying, but was happy to take anything she had to offer, which happened to be a Bear Claw & a soy Custard filled, topped in chocolate!

Straight up, these are the bready, chewy, delicious donuts you used to eat on Sundays or grab from the break room at work. The Bear Claw was covered with glaze & a cinnamon-sugar topping, plus had an apple & cinnamon filling in a gel that tasted a bit strange on its own, but as a combination with the donut was perfectly tasty! I never fancied myself a filled donut person (& Ryan downright hates them), but we were both in love with the sweet, thick vanilla custard filling of our donut & the chocolate topping made me melt, as it had always been a favorite of mine as a child. I'm tempted to wait for a cheap flight & have all the local vegans chip in to have dozens & dozens brought back to them! If you're a donut fan, you need to figure out a way to get to Las Vegas for Ronald's Donuts at 4600 Spring Mountain Road!

On a final vegan-food-is-awesome note, have you checked out the Top 10 recipes of 2008 on While I think the blog world has produced some fabulous recipes, has compiled a list of the top cookbook picks; it's always great to have more recipes to try!