August 30, 2011

Vida Vegan Con, day 1



Where do I begin? Intense, delicious, exciting, invigorating, wonderful — Vida Vegan Con was all of this and more; so many kind vegans, so much great food, no explaining why I choose to eat only plants, no asking what was in the food, wonderful attendees, interesting food demos and panel discussions. And the swag! Did I mention the mountain of swag we received? Holy queso — everything from the aforementioned Queso, to pepper grinders. I arrived with a manageable half-empty suitcase, and left with an overstuffed one — and the suitcase wasn't the only thing that was overstuffed. At Sweetpea Bakery on Monday morning, I couldn't even bring myself to consume more than a cup of tea, though I did buy a gf chocolate chip cookie for later — you know, just in case.

Each day felt more like a week, but I'll attempt to summarize the activities/festivities, with a possibly slanted emphasis towards food. We were, after all, in Portlandia, vegan food capital of the world.



We took the train from Seattle, and arrived at our lovely hotel in Portland about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. The first VVC event was an early evening champagne and cupcake reception in the convention center ballroom.



I didn't really want to fill up on cupcakes before dinner, but I couldn't exactly sip champagne on an empty stomach, especially since I get lightheaded just looking at champagne. So I enjoyed a 'small' chocolate cupcake with my flute of champagne.



Along with the cupcakes, there were platters of very delicious nut cheese cubes from Heidi Ho Organics. I ate quite a few of those.



One of the most amazing parts of the conference (if not the most amazing) was recognizing bloggers whom I had only met on the Internet. I spotted Mo from Mo Betta Vegan, and immediately went in for a hug. Cool. I'll never be able to remember everyone I met the first night, but it was so much fun. I got to meet Dynise from Urban Vegan, for whose upcoming book I tested recipes, and lots of wonderful local, Seattle bloggers, like Samantha from Novel Eats, and Helen from vegtastic.net. I was also excited to meet Julia, the snarky vegan, Marika from madcap cupcake, and P and T from vegangelical.



After the reception, at 8 p.m., we went to dinner at Portobello, a well-loved Portland vegan institution. Bethany, organizer extraordinaire and writer of spotted devil cat and his vegan assistant, made (and constantly updated) reservations, and served as transportation navigator. In the photo, from left to right are: snarky vegan, the vegangelicals, madcap cupcake, spotted devil cat and his vegan assistant, moi, and Mr. easy vegan.



I think this is a photo of my Ginger Rawgers, a non-alcoholic (unless you are a government agent and count kombucha as alcohol) cocktail, which was sublime.



After cocktails, ahem, we had a little tatt show where P and T showed off the gorgeous new tattoos they'd gotten at the vegan mini mall.



The left arm belongs to P and the right arm belongs to T. Pretty spectacular, right?



The food was quite wonderful, as you'll see, but unfortunately won't be able to taste. Above you see Bethany's tomato soup.



A beetburger.

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Several diners ordered the gnocchi, and all were swooning.



Last but not least, my stuffed portobello on top of polenta, entrée, which was delicious.




There were also desserts consumed, salted caramel ice cream and tiramisu are pictured above. I've never had the non-vegan versions of either of these two delicacies, as I may have become vegan before they became so popular. And I've never been big on desserts anyway. However, my forkful taste of the tiramisu was amazing. I don't think I could have eaten the whole thing, but I sure enjoyed my taste to the max. As for the salted caramel, it wasn't a favorite of the people who tried it. It was too coconut-y and not very caramel-y, and I didn't detect the salty accent I was expecting. But it was still good, just not what we expected. Overall, our experience at Portobello was elegant and amazing.

All this was just one evening's worth of VVC. More to come.

I'd like to thank Wellsphere.com for sponsoring my ticket.

August 24, 2011

Summer 2011 and onward


Mr. EV and Buffy taking a driving break at the Columbia River Basin.

I've been distracted. From weeks of thinking my elderly dog was dying to multiple house problems in Madison, to SUN and extremely warm weather, to moving, I've been distracted, and just couldn't seem to focus the time and energy needed to write this blog. I'm still distracted, but missing the vegan blog community and my blog, so I'm giving the blog another shot.


Are we there yet? This trip is making me tired.

My dog survived the summer and the road trip to and from Madison, Wis., to Seattle, and though she's 19, she's doing well.


This is what a hail-damaged roof with defective shingles looks like.

The Madison house got a new roof, and eight feet of new pipe under the concrete basement floor (plus a new floor over the pipe). I never thought we'd see the end of the dirt and mud tracking up the basement steps, and I couldn't believe the mountain of rubble piled on the basement floor. We were pretty stressed out during the period while all this was occurring (no water in the kitchen, no clear end in sight, scheduling headaches, etc.) but no point in complaining now. At least the new tenants won't have to worry about the drain baking up and flooding the basement. Been there done that.





That's a pretty short description of three months worth of time, and it doesn't mention all the good times of enjoying summer in the Midwest — seeing friends being the most important — great meals, shopping at the Pink Poodle with my next door neighbor, etc. etc. Even though I wasn't blogging, I was still taking lots of pictures, and I'll share them from time to time in future posts.


Laloofa is in the middle.

I would like to mention one special event on our way back to Seattle. I had a blogger meetup with Laloofa (Mehitable Days) in Sheridan Wyo.



She's just as delightful in person as she is on her blog, and I wish we lived closer to each other so we could get together often. We shared a breakfast in the park with Mr. EasyVegan, Laloofa's friend Robin, and Buffy.





This pic of me and Mr. EV was taken by Laloofa. He's wearing his "stand with Wisconsin" t-shirt, because heaven knows, we do!





Here are two more images from our return trip to Seattle. They are from the Columbia River Basin in Eastern Washington.

We're in our new house in Seattle now (built in 1912, so not exactly new), and we're on our way to getting it furnished. The house is small — only two bedrooms and one bath plus an attic room, and we're doing a lot of craigslist and consignment shop shopping. (We rent out our Madison house to visiting academics, furnished, so we're pretty much starting from scratch here as far as furniture goes.) The mattress came from a store, the rugs are new, and the sofa has been ordered, but nearly everything else is recycled, 'cause that's the way we like it.


A slightly demented Miss E finds a new use for the built-in bookcase that will eventually house some playthings for her to use when she visits.

We're looking at a craigslist bookcase this evening, and I hope we like it — and, more importantly, can carry it! — because it would really be great to be able to unpack the cookbooks. :) Mostly we like the house, but although I consider myself pretty observant, I'm amazed on a daily basis to discover things I hadn't noticed when we were looking at the house to buy. And I'm not talking about good things. Sigh.

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Recipe testing, again
This is a food blog so I should post something food-related, and as I'm testing recipes for a new slow-cooker cookbook by Robin Robertson, I'll share a few photos of some of the recipes I've tried so far:


Potatoes with tomatoes and butter beans


Creamy polenta with mushroom ragú


Braised Manchurian-style cauliflower


Yosenabe

I recommend keeping this cookbook on your radar because based on what I've tasted, it's going to be a good one.

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Tidbits

If I'd posted this back in July when I'd first read about it, it would be news. Now it's old news. Any Lost fans out there? Jorge Garcia ("Hugo") is now a vegan. Here's a link to his blog.

Meatless vs. local (from the Vegetarians of Washington newsletter)
It turns out that what's in your grocery bag may matter even more than how far it traveled to get there when it comes to climate change.

A new study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University has just concluded that going meatless has a much bigger impact on global warming than going local with your food choices. 83% of the average U.S. household's carbon footprint for food comes from growing and producing it, and this is where meat is particularly harmful. Transporting the food to the point of purchase only accounts for 11%. In fact, the researchers found that going meatless for just one day had a greater impact than going entirely local for a whole week. This is in line with the UN report that said that raising livestock caused more global warming than all the cars, buses, trucks, trains, planes, boats and ships in the world put together.

Spam I am
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Vida Vegan Con

In just two days I'm headed to Portland for Vida Vegan Con, and am pretty excited. Mr. EV is going too, and we're taking the train, so even getting there and back should be fun. Is anyone reading this going? I want to meet you!

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