Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I just wanted to let you all know that we got in on Saturday and we are safe and sound. I will be posting a whole backlog of food posts next week, when our internet is up. Right now I'm just using a computer quick, but I'm taking pictures and will post a bunch when we're up and running again.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and everything is wonderful up here. Wow, is this vegan heaven! I've been able to go buy slices of vegan cakes at the grocery stores and eat at restaurants all over town. It's great!

I'll talk to you all soon!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vegan Travels: Take One

So... we left yesterday morning bright and early at Linus' urging. At about 4am he decided that after 3 nearly sleepless nights in my sister-in-laws unsleepable guest room (hardest bed ever, and I can sleep on anything) that he was done and began yelling his head off. So we got up and got our stuff together to head out. By 11 we were well into California and were cruising along. The kitties were doing remarkably well, with Linus and Ravi riding with Jim and Bindhi and Moussa the Hamster with me. And then... Jim's car overheated.... and we had to stop and find a dealer to take it to because AAA was being enormously unhelpful. Thankfully we were only 7 miles away from a Volvo dealer in Palm Springs. We found a hotel to drop everyone off at and made our way to dealer. They said they wouldn't be able to look at it until this morning so we resigned to the hotel, praying it was nothing big.

On our way to the dealer I noticed a restaurant directly across from our hotel called Veggie and Tea House. How convenient, I thought. After dropping off the car we headed there for dinner. All vegetarian with clearly marked vegan options. An absolute god-send after 3 nights of virtually no sleep, car troubles and 115 degree heat. We both ordered a thin rice noodle dish, served with mushrooms, ginger and some other assorted yummy veggies.

Last night Jim jokingly said to me "You should find us a place to eat tomorrow, so for the heck of it I logged on to Happy Cow on a whim. Well, this whole car breaking down thing turned out to be a mini vegan vacation in the making! Low and behold, the amazing and famed Native Foods has a location literally one mile from our hotel! For those not familiar with them, they are a chain of restaurants in California. They have 4 locations and the owner has a cookbook. Well, once I found out about that, we spent the evening oogling their menu.

When we woke up today we ate lightly from our stash and got there when they opened. We started by sharing the Casear salad, which is SO good. Their dressing is great and the recipe is in their cookbook!

While this looks like a pile of lettuce, it's actually 2 tempeh fish tacos. Incredible! They were very yummy, the sauce was savory and the black beans on the side were perfectly seasoned.

While Jim enjoyed his taco (which I stole bites of, naturally) I had a chicken sandwich with 1000 Island dressing on it. That dressing is also in the book (which we bought while we were there). Wow, it was good. I was a little skeptical of the Thai slaw on the side (I have issues with anything called "slaw") but it was very tasty and refreshing.

Wow, this has been nuts so far. We got Jim's car back this afternoon and now the sun is down, so we're going to head out while it's cool, for the kitties sake and the car's. We power napped this afternoons, so we're just going to hit the road and see how far we can go. More luck and well wishes, please!!! :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ode to Joe's

Well, we are loading our pods with our possessions (where did all this stuff come from?!) tomorrow then heading out early on Wednesday morning. Today, as we're doing the last of our packing and cleaning, I ran to the store to pick up food for the trip and some lunch.

I love Trader Joe's. For those of you who don't know how they work, TJ's finds prodcuts they like from all over the world. If they decide to carry them in their store they work an agreement with the company to put their own packaging on it. Almost all of the products in TJ's have TJ's own packaging. They don't hide the fact that most of the products aren't theirs, I think they just like to have it all uniform and not just look like another grocery store. Some people have issues with Trader Joe's because the prices are so cheap. They feel that because TJ's sells their products so inexpensively that the companies are being ripped off. I don't agree with that, as many of these products are carried by other health food stores and chains, so it's not as if they are at the mercy of TJ's alone to carry their products, they choose to make a deal with them. Anyhow, for the items I know the brands of, I will pick them up at the co-op or HFS, but for the many unique things they have, I just get them at Joe's. For someone who loves to cook, the prices can't be beat and I rely on their unique foods and ingredients to complete my kitchen.

While I was there today I saw these premade "Middle East Feasts". All our kitchen stuff is packed and I needed to pick up a bite to eat anyway, so this did the trick. Jim can never say no to anything involving hummus. Often times premade falafel has the dreaded egg-white in them, but after reading the ingredients, this whole container was animal-free! We had some pita, falafel, hummus (SO good!), tabbouli and tahini for $3 each! Not a bad deal at all and such a relief because I'm so tired of Taco del Mar.

Here's the rundown of our foods for the trip (everything except the jerky and fruit) was from Joe's): Zen Bakery cinnamon rolls, some Joe-Joe's sandwich cookies, fruit leather, Larabars (these are the best!), organic apples and bananas, some raw nuts, a small bag of trail mix (that is mostly fruit and will get mixed iwth the nuts), and some soy jerky.

Zen Bakery is a line of stuff that TJ's carries. All of their stuff is really good and healthy. They make muffins, cookies and these rolls. Everything is sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar and uses wheat flour. They are delicious with a little bit of Earth Balance or some slightly sweet Tofutti cream cheese frosting on them, the latter of which I will be making and bringing with us in the cooler.

After some inquiry to the fine folks at TJ's, their Joe-Joe's (which are like Oreo's but better) are vegan. They looked vegan, but have "natural flavors" in them. Alas, they were declared vegan and my husband is all the fatter for it. We usually buy Newman's cookies, but these were there and I didn't want to make a bunch of stops. They use real vanilla beans in the cream and they are oh-so-good.

The fruit leather, fruit and trail mix/nuts are self explanatory, but the Larabars, well they deserve a few words. I hate energy bars, so when our co-op was giving out samples of these bars months and months ago, I was highly skeptical. I mean, a raw foods bar? OMG, they are so delicious! My favorite is the cherry pie, which literally tastes like a slice of cherry pie. Team up one of these bars with some soy yogurt and you have a killer breakfast.

Lastly, soy jerky. We tried the Stonewall's brand when we first went veg. I bit into a chunk to be greeted by a squirt of oil down my throat. Not a good way to make an impression on someone. We were scared to try any others but then saw a big display of these at the co-op and we have been hooked ever since. I have given it to several omni's and everyone was shocked that it wasn't meat. The brand is called "Tasty Eats" and, well, it is.

That's about all for now. I'm hoping the hotel we stay at has wifi so I can update this with the food we pick up along the way, but if it doesn't I'll just find a place to connect once we get to Portland and I'll give you my roadside review. Until then send well wishes my way in hopes of a safe trip and happy, quiet kitties!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

India Gate

Tonight we went with a friend to India Gate in Chandler. I was craving my favorite, Aloo Mutter. It was my first (and last now) visit to this restaurant. Excellent! I got my beloved Aloo Mutter, which is potatoes and peas in a seasoning, along with saffron steamed rice and some garlic chapati on the side. I'm still full, but I have a Tofutti Cutie waiting for me! Yum! Off to eat sticky goodness and pack some more!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Drumroll, please....

The winner of this giveaway is: Carmen! Carmen, please email me with your address and I'll get the pin the mail straightaway!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Good-bye to Green

Tonight we went to say farewell to Green, our friendly neighborhood junk-food vegan restaurant. We started with my favorite, the artichoke dip. It's really creamy and a little spicy and a lot yummy. They've finally gotten a handle on making the tortilla chips, they aren't as greasy as they were before (thank goodness!).

I got the No-Harm Chicken Parm. It's served with thyme french fries, very thin cut and yummy.

Jim got the Thai Peanut with brown rice and "chicken", which is slightly coated seitan. As always our meals were good and greasy. I'm going to miss the food, but it's probably better for us since it really is junkie food and we tend to overindulge. Just furthur proof that vegan doesn't always equal healthy, but it does equal delicious!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Breakfast Redux

Mmmm, breakfast for dinner again! I had a hankering for maple syrup this evening so with Jim's okay (which is laughable, because the boy always wants "griddlecakes") I made a quick batch of apple cinnamon pancakes. On the side is my version of Waldorf salad. I chopped up a Gala apple, a Bosc pear, and some green grapes, added a healthy dose of raisins and walnuts and mixed it all up with a container of vanilla soy yogurt. No celery or Vegenaise for us. It was a light and refreshing fruit side dish on a hot Arizona day (it was 102 today!). On the side is a glass of orange tangerine juice and the ramkin contains organic Grade A maple syrup.

Another day of packing behind me a several left ahead of us. Not doing to shabby, though. The kitties are being helpful, as they always are. Here's a picture of Linus helping me today:

Such a pal!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Peanut Butter Cookies

My very last baking project in AZ, Jim's favorite peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips. This recipe is based off of my great-grandmother's recipe and it chewy and soft, not crumbly. I made them this morning while he was at work, as he has a tendency to gorge himself on them when they are warm from the oven, eating a dozen in one sitting. You'd never know it, with him being so skinny. I wish my metabolism worked like that! Even after coming home to cool cookies, though, I think he still put away a dozen over the course of the evening. Bad Jim! I swear, that boy is Type II diabetes in training... Anyway, these cookies will be getting sent to work with him tomorrow so he doesn't overdo it and so I'm not picking at them while I'm packing.

We're leaving next week so there's lots to do! I'm figuring that I'll do a little feature while we're on the road of being a vegan while bare-bones traveling and how to cope with eating roadside. I'm going to pack us up with some non-persishables and fruit, but we'll still be grabbing condiment sandwiches, I'm sure. Or who knows, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Okay, I've been bad. I've been slacking. I know, I know. But we're SO busy and I promise you that once the move is over there will be food coming out of our ears and onto your screen. We leave in a week and a half and we are frantically getting our stuff together. I'm looking forward to getting up there and having this whole transitionary period over. I don't like my life in limbo.

My last day of work was Saturday. Yay! It feels so good to be done there. My job didn't completely stink, but it really wasn't fulfilling. And I worked with a group of really intolerant people, sprinkled with a handful of out-right bigots, so I'm glad to be done with that. Jim still has this week to tough it out and then he's done as well. Horray!

So, since I have been living on a steady diet of Tofutti cream cheese and bagels and Amy's frozen burritos, I thought we should have another giveaway!

Another great button from Northern Sun. I will take care of the shipping. If you want in on this fine piece of metal/paper/plastic craftsmanship please email me at squirrelsvegankitchen@gmail.com with your favorite veg product. The product is simply for my own entertainment and will not affect the drawing, which will be done at random. Entries close on Wednesday night.

Okay, now I'm off to pack some more things. My god, what stuff we have!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A little teaser before I head to bed: devil's food cake donuts with vanilla glaze and apple cinnamon cake donuts with maple glaze. Jim's been a beggin' and while this is a tried and true recipe and I need to be working on others right now, who can say no to the world's cutest man? Certainly not me... :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Potatoes AuGratin

I've been dreaming of potatoes au gratin lately, so tonight I said "Kris, you're making potatoes". And gosh darn it, I did. I made a really simple "cheese" sauce by sauteing a medium onion, diced, with a tablespoon of crushed garlic in about 2 tablespoons of my recent oil of choice, grapeseed oil. When the onions looked clear I added about 2 tbsp of flour and mixed it to a paste. Then I added 2 cups of unsweetened soy milk and cooked it on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, until it thickened. Then I whisked in half a cup of nutritional yeast and a teaspoon of sea salt, mixed it well and removed it from the heat. I made 4 layers out of the potatoes, with a layer of sauce between each layer, in a 9x13 pan, greased. Baked it at 400 for about 30 minutes and mmm, it smelled great. On top, to counteract the starchiness, I steamed a bag of frozen veggies. A simple mix, some cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and carrots and then added a blob of spinach on top of that, for good measure. It made a great, comfort-foody dinner. And there are leftovers!

For dessert I had to indulge in my new vice, mango vanilla soy ice cream. SO GOOD. I made a little puree of some softened frozen papaya, mango and pineapple with the ice cream on top. Very yummy. Next time I think I'll add a little agave nectar drizzle on top of it all. Ooh and a sprig of mint, wouldn't that look pretty...

Okay, I'm off to daydream of food, but I'll leave you all with a picture of Bindhi and Linus watching Moussa the hamster this afternoon. Silly kitties...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pizza and Uncheesecake

Tonight I threw together a quick pizza, thanks to a stop at Trader Joe's. They sell premade pizza dough. All you need to do is let it warm up to room temperature, stretch it, dress it, and pop it in the oven. It doesn't quite bake up like homemade, but when we don't plan ahead it's a nice safety net to have for those pizza binges. I picked up the Italian Spices one this time. We used tomato sauce, some pesto, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. On Jim's side there's a healthy sprinkling of black olives as well.

For dessert we had an uncheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust. The cake was topped off with some canned Morello cherries that I also picked up at TJ's today. This is an early incarnation of a vegan cheesecake that I'm working on. It's still missing something, good but not great. Poor me, I'll just have to keep making more cheesecakes until I perfect it!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Yay Brunch!

Sorry it's been awhile, the past 2 nights I've tried to use Blogger the picture upload hasn't been working.

This morning we had Peaches n' Cream French Toast Bake. I used some homemade cinammon bread that I made last night. We also needed to use up the last of the huge bag of tangelos I got at the farmer's market last weekend, so we had some fresh juice that I made with our Champion Juicer . I love our juicer, it is very useful, easy to clean and we can make all sorts of things in it, nut butters, ice cream, I even saw a tutorial on making chocolate liquor from cocoa beans and they used this juicer! It's the best.

Last night, dinner was sprouted wheat pasta from Trader Joe's with marinara, zucchini, mushrooms and black olives. Mmmm. A fairly basic meal, but always good. I held back from getting some ciabatta and having bruschetta too (can you have too many tomatoes in a meal?) because I picked up my new vice, vanilla mango soy ice cream, for dessert. An odd pairing, but it's so great. I could eat it every day. I got a bag of frozen mango and papaya chunks to serve it over, but for last night we just had regular ice cream.

Today we're eating Chinese at my favorite local Asian food spot, Tott's Asian Diner in Tempe. If you're local and you want some very friendly, delicious veggie food that is cheap and has huge portions check this place out. A Pei Wei (boo! hiss!) just opened kiddy corner from them and they are stuggling. Mmm, Tott's. This will be a delicious afternoon.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Great Grey Wizard

We've been eating boring quick meals the past two days, take out Chinese and Caesar wraps again, nothing too interesting to report, so I thought I'd post a pic of the only cat not yet represented, Linus, the drag king kitty himself. Linus is a grey Maine Coon that we got from a shelter in Minneapolis. He's been with us for 4 years, almost, and is known as the cat ambassador. If someone thinks that they don't like cats all they need is one afternoon with Grey and they'll be singing a different tune.

On that note, I'll leave you with a pic of another creation from my upcoming vegan baking book: brownie cheesecake muffins. Mmm... warmed with a spoonful of Tofutti ice cream on top.... drool....

Also, long overdue, I just updated the recipes section with recipes for the chocolate pudding and shepherd's pie! Yay!