We venture into the Caribbean today to visit Trinidad and Tobago. I am lucky that I have been to so many beautiful places on this earth. And one of the most beautiful just may be Tobago! My friend Tanya’s family owns a gorgeous guest house in Tobago,...Read More
Today we head north to Central America on our VeganMoFo world tour to linger for a while in Guatemala. I’ve been to Guatemala twice and while I spent some time in Guatemala City, I spent most of my time in the small, but absolutely lovely Antigua. And both times I really...Read More
Wow. I can’t believe that VeganMoFo is more or less over. When I started, I set out to go around the world in 20 recipes. I’ve managed more than that! Over the course of the past four weeks, we’ve visited 24 countries, from China, to Indonesia, to South Africa, to Ghana, to Turkey, to Azerbaijan, to Brazil, to Mexico and many places in between! It’s been fun sharing my reflections about some of the countries I have visited and I’m fairly proud of the recipes I have created over the past month as well.
So without much further ado, here’s a quick recap of the last two weeks worth of recipes! (The recap of the first two weeks of travel through Asia and Africa is here).
In Turkey I shared a recipe for a lovely Mediterranean vegetable stew. This is a great way to use your leftover squash and eggplant, especially now the weather is getting cooler.
From there, we headed north to Poland, where I posted a recipe for delicious sweet rolls, with options for either jam or your own homemade cheese fillings! So good!
Then we went north again to Lithuania, the place where I truly learned the difference between dark and light! My recipe for that day was some yummy sweet and white potato pancakes with mushroom sauce.
Our next stop in Europe was Ukraine, the home of my paternal grandparents and a place that I absolutely love, for raw varenyky and vinegret.
Then we headed to the Caucusus! Georgia is a country known for its feasts and feast we did on vegan versions of Ajarian lobiani, boiled & fried khachapuri and Georgian salad.
Our last stop in Europe was in Azerbaijan, where we enjoyed a yummy rose ice cream.
Then we headed to Latin America and the Caribbean! Our first stop was Brazil for a delicious empadão sem frango, or chicken-free potpie, Brazilian style!
Our second stop was Chile, where I reflected on some of its paradoxes and shared a scrumptious recipe for panqueques con manjar (dulce de leche). Yes, delicious, vegan dulce de leche is possible!
Then we went to Argentina for a raw, vegan version of their national dessert: alfajores! These are pretty amazing, I have to admit.
Our first stop in Central America was in Guatemala, where we enjoyed rellenitos de platano, or plantains stuffed with black beans. This is a sweet and surprisingly delicious treat!
Then we made a quick stop in the Caribbean to visit the gorgeous islands of Trinidad and Tobago and enjoy a vegan “saltfish” and coconut bake, a delicious breakfast, or any time, sandwich.
Finally, we headed back to Central America to visit Mexico and I shared a recipe for a great, and very easy, Mexican pizza!
And that’s it. We’ve gone around the world in
20 24 (or more) recipes! To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would manage to finish it. It certainly has not been easy. But what a sense of accomplishment I feel now that it’s done. : )
I hope you enjoyed taking this VeganMoFo journey with me!
Now, the question is… how do I top this next year?Read More
Believe it or not, Mexico is the last stop on our VeganMoFo world tour! I wasn’t intending to make Mexico our last stop. That honor was going to go to Puerto Rico. But I had a bit of a recipe fail and so decided to switch gears. And I’m glad I did, because the recipe I’m sharing today is a pretty great way to end this crazy month.
I went to Mexico City in 2008 for the International AIDS Conference. I really didn’t get to spend a lot of time exploring the city, and even when I did manage to escape the conference center, I didn’t really take that many photos. So in many respects, even though I have been there, I kind of feel like I haven’t *really* been there. And for that reason I don’t really have a lot to say about Mexico!
The last day I was in Mexico, I did get the chance to visit a bustling market selling food, textiles and all sorts of great things, where I bought some beautiful silver earrings. And I visited el Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Anthropology Museum), which was fascinating.
Right outside of the museum, I got to see the “Danza de los Voladores,” or the Dance of the Flying Men. This is an ancient Mesoamerican ritual where five men climb to the top of a pole and then four of them launch off it head first with ropes wrapped around them. As the ropes unfurl they rotate around the pole, until they finally hit the ground. The fifth man stays on top of the pole all the while dancing and playing a flute and drum until the others make it to the ground. When the flying men hit the ground they flip themselves over as if they didn’t just descent head first thirty feet or more. The mythology surrounding the ritual is that it was created to appeal to Mayan gods to break a long-lasting drought. It was pretty amazing! It has been named “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO, which gives Mexico the responsibility of conserving the practice for future generations.
The museum was filled with art and sculptures from Mesoamerican civilizations. It was absolutely beautiful and a great way to spend a couple of hours.
So now let’s focus on food! There is actually a treat that many in Mexico enjoy called molletes, which are actually open-faced sandwiches on crusty bread with a thick layer of refried beans, topped with cheese and pico de gallo. And that is what inspired me to create this absolutely delicious pizza.
It has a nice thick pizza crust, covered in refried beans, topped with a little mozzarella, avocado and pico de gallo.
This makes a great meal for two. It’s the kind of thing that makes you sad once you’ve eaten it, because it seriously leaves you craving more…
I really hope you enjoyed taking this world tour with me! Tomorrow I’ll post a round up of the last two weeks. And then I might just take a break from blogging for a few days! : )
We venture into the Caribbean today to visit Trinidad and Tobago.
I am lucky that I have been to so many beautiful places on this earth. And one of the most beautiful just may be Tobago! My friend Tanya’s family owns a gorgeous guest house in Tobago, perched on rolling hills. I arrived in Port of Spain in Trinidad on a Friday evening, she met me at the airport and we took a $20 and 20 minute flight to Tobago to spend a little bit of time enjoying the pure and utter beauty of that island. It’s hard to describe the majesty of it. It is so incredibly lush and green, with tall mountains looming over the deep blue ocean.
It was in Tobago that I first saw a cacao tree replete with gorgeous pink pods on our walk to a lovely waterfall and swimming hole, where we spent a lazy afternoon.
After our far too short sojourn, we took an overnight ferry back to Port of Spain and arrived not so well-rested and a little bleary eyed, but with a lingering sense of contentment.
The week we spent in Port of Spain was pretty intense, but we made sure we carved out a little time for fun too. Let me just say, Trinis know how to party! One evening we went out dancing with some friends we had made during our meetings that week. Now, I am a punk rock girl. At that time, dancing to me involved jumping up and down, kicking my feet up, and a good deal of silliness. I have to admit that I was a touch shocked by the intimacy and sensuality of my friends’ dancing in Port of Spain; not what I was used to at all!
The food in Trinidad and Tobago was really great, with lots of vegan friendly curries, greens, eggplant dishes, and amazing breads. And perhaps the best thing ever is doubles: two pieces of flat, fried bread sandwiching curried chickpeas with pepper sauce and chutney! Oh my!
But I decided I’m not going to share a doubles recipe today (it’s already vegan, so no challenge there)! I’m going to share a recipe for another traditional Trini meal: “saltfish” and coconut bake.
Bakes in Trinidad refer to any bread that does not use yeast. And one thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to create a gluten-free recipe for coconut bake. This bread is delicious! It has a subtle, but distinct coconutty flavor and is best served fresh out of the oven.
The thing that is most commonly made with coconut bake is a sandwich piled high with flaked saltfish in a spicy tomato sauce. I decided I wasn’t going to even try to approximate that. And I actually started cooking up some garlicky, spicy eggplant to go with my bake. But then I spied a can of green jackfruit out of the corner of my eye and a flash of inspiration hit me!
I’m so glad I decided to try this! The jackfruit makes a sandwich that is just plain yummy. Really, really yummy! I added some dulse flakes to give it an umami oceany flavor, but you could just as well make it without and it would be great too.
Saltfish and coconut bake is served traditionally for breakfast in Trinidad, but this also makes a fine lunch or dinner!Read More
Today we head north to Central America on our VeganMoFo world tour to linger for a while in Guatemala. I’ve been to Guatemala twice and while I spent some time in Guatemala City, I spent most of my time in the small, but absolutely lovely Antigua. And both times I really loved it. I think I’ve walked down every single street in Antigua at least twice and possibly thrice. I adored browsing its art galleries, scouring its stores for little treasures, bargaining with Mayan women for trinkets, and exploring its bustling fruit and vegetable markets.
The first time I visited, I hiked Pacaya Volcano about an hour outside Antigua. The ride was gorgeous, through winding mountains and beautiful countryside. The hike was pretty incredible, and very hard. I remember at one point standing in volcanic ash knee deep, my thighs shaking, trying to convince myself to just keep going (I really had no choice!). Streams of lava were slowly flowing down the sides of the volcano and I remember standing on volcanic rocks that were still quite hot. It was beautiful and energizing being so close to something so potentially powerful. We hiked up in the afternoon and down after dusk in the dark, all the better to see the glow of the lava, with torches lighting our path. The little store at the endpoint did brisk that business that evening as we all tried to replenish our depleted energy before the long bus ride back to Antigua.
The second time I visited with my friends Paul and Marina and the highlight was the day we spent on Lake Atitlan, a stunning lake surrounded by volcanoes. We got up early and took a car ride to Panajachel and then a boat to the stunning Casa del Mundo, a gorgeous hotel perched on a cliff over the lake. It’s accessible only by boat or by foot and that day there were only a few other guests. We swam in the crystal clear waters, lazed in the sun, and ate a delicious meal before we took the boat, and then car, back to our hotel. After that day of lazy, heavenly bliss, we were kicking ourselves that we didn’t stay there for longer. No question that I would do that again in an instant.
The great thing about Guatemala is that it is one of those places you can travel to on a shoestring budget and still feel like you’re travelling in luxury. I stayed in lovely little guesthouses both times, with beautiful furniture, lovely courtyards, and scrupulously clean and comfortable rooms. And although it is definitely a tourist magnet, it’s also has its charms and is so beautiful that it really is worth a visit. Plus, it’s fun. It’s the kind of place you can go and just disconnect for a while.
I don’t really remember what I ate in Guatemala, apart from lots of yummy seasoned black beans and rice and salads. But I do know I didn’t go hungry, at all!
Today I’m bringing a recipe for an easy, already vegan, sweet treat that I tried in Antigua called rellenitos de platano. Essentially, that translates to little plantain fatties!
They are essentially sweet plantains stuffed with black beans. The beans are prepared “volteados,” which means flipped. Essentially, you cook puréed black beans in a pan until they flip, or really, fold themselves into a cylinder. It looks funny, but they are really tasty.
And they are really easy to make, especially if you are lazy like me and use canned black beans.
And even though they are sweet, they are pretty much health food!
They are best served piping hot, fresh from the pan. But they refrigerate well and can be easily heated up, and I enjoyed more than one cold! Yum!
Argentina is the next and last stop in South America for our VeganMoFo world tour!
It was eight long years ago that I visited Buenos Aires and I’m sure that in the intervening period much has changed, but much has probably remained the same.
I remember that I really enjoyed walking the streets of the city and exploring its neighborhoods. I loved the Recoleta Cemetery, with its rows and rows of elaborately decorated crypts and mausoleums, including that of Eva Peròn.
I loved shopping in Palermo for edgy designs and jewelry. I adored the sites and sounds of el Caminito, the tango, the colors!
I remember feeling a bit of reverence walking through la Plaza de Mayo and seeing the memorials to Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, who bravely walked through that square in silent protest wearing white headscarves and with pictures of their children, who were disappeared by the Argentine Military during the country’s Dirty War in the 70s. As many as 30,000 political dissidents, activists, and sympathizers by the thousands were subject to forced disappearance, many of them killed.
I remember the beautiful Casa Rosada and thinking about that infamous (though historically unlikely) scene in Evita where Eva Peròn steps onto the balcony with her husband Juan after his release from prison.
I remember being fascinated by Argentinians’ tradition of eating late at night (as in, restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 9) and my hungry tummy rumbling with anticipation. I tried a vegan soy milanesa (essentially soy flour mixed with wheat flour, breaded and fried) and was not impressed, but loved the delicious pasta dishes and gnocchi and fresh salads. It’s probably a good thing Argentinians have made Italian cuisine part of their own, because otherwise they really love their meat and dairy.
I remember some great moments with friends; the wonderful meal my dear friends Javier and Arturo cooked for a few of us in their home, and I can’t believe that time has passed so quickly.
And I remember seeing beautiful displays of freshly made alfajores in bakery after bakery, looking at them longingly and wishing that they were vegan. They weren’t of course and I went without.
But today, nobody needs to go without, because these raw, vegan, and gluten-free alfajores are good for just about everybody! And the great thing about raw vegan desserts is that they take so little time to make.
With whole foods ingredients and no refined sugars, these alfajores are almost good for you! But they taste decadently rich, with a creamy caramel filling sandwiched between two delicious, buttery cookies. Now before people say anything about my use of maple syrup, I follow the lead of other raw vegans who use it even though it’s not technically raw because it’s a better and healthier liquid sweetener than agave (which is also not technically raw).
These are so yummy, you won’t be able to eat just one!Read More
Today we travel to the west coast of South America and visit Chile on our VeganMoFo world tour.
Okay, so I have been to Santiago twice, and neither of them recently. The first time was a just over ten years ago and I remember it distinctly because I was there when Chile adopted a law allowing divorce. Yes, you read that right. Until 2003, divorce was illegal in Chile. I was attending a regional meeting on sexual and reproductive health and rights and remember the absolute elation of Chilean feminists when they learned the news that they finally had attained that most basic of rights.
The last time I was there was in 2006. My favorite memory of that trip was deciding with friends at the last minute that we absolutely must see Manu Chao, who was touring the region at the time, and running to the record store to buy tickets the afternoon of the concert. I had no idea who Manu Chao was, but I was game, and I didn’t regret it for a second. It was one of the best shows I have ever been to! The venue was packed to overflowing with what must have been thousands of Chilean kids, who were so damned full of life. Manu Chao was on fire and played a solid two-hour set, while all the kids danced and sang along. I came home and promptly bought every Manu Chao album that ever existed and played Radio Bemba Sound System (my favorite) on repeat for probably a month or so afterward.
And those two anecdotes essentially describe how I experienced this country, its people, and its politics. On the one hand, it is deeply, deeply conservative. The Catholic Church is still pretty powerful and has a stranglehold on its politicians. It is one of the few countries where abortion is still illegal without any exception (although there is some movement that may lead to change). A couple of hours ago I just watched its President, Michele Bachelet, speak at a meeting at the UN that is primarily focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality and manage to not utter any of those words even once.
On the other hand, when I was there I loved the energy and the passion and the potential that exuded from the young people I met and hung out with (and let’s not forget, I was pretty young then myself). Just over a decade after the fall of Pinochet, the terror and repression of those dark days were still fresh in people’s minds. One of my own dear friends was exiled with her family in Canada as a child, before her family returned to Santiago after his fall. It felt as though its young people were embracing the freedom denied their parents with two arms.
So today I am bringing you a recipe that is quintessentially Chilean (okay, it’s pretty common across the region…): Panqueques con Manjar!
Manjar is the Chilean word for dulce de leche. I never actually tried it until I picked up a can of vegan dulce de leche in Brazil. But I’ve been intrigued by it ever since and until last weekend had never tried making my own. It took me four attempts to get this right, but on the fourth attempt I finally nailed it.
It is really easy to do, and if you prepare it the way I recommend, it takes less than an hour from start to finish. It takes just two ingredients: full fat, creamy canned coconut milk and coconut palm sugar.
The trick with this vegan version is two things: getting the right coconut milk and knowing when to stop. First, look for a canned coconut milk with as few ingredients as possible: ideally just coconut and water, and perhaps guar gum. The best dulce de leche I made started from a can of Native Forest unsweetened organic coconut milk.
Second, unlike traditional dulce de leche you don’t let it simmer until it becomes so thick you can turn a spoonful upside down and it will hold. No, you only simmer it until it becomes thick enough to leave a good (not too thin) coating on the back of a spoon (it took me about 45 minutes).
Then you turn it off, pour into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature and then put it in the fridge for an hour or so to thicken up.
The coconut oil will help to set the dulce de leche and make it nice, thick, lighter in color, and oh so creamy. And if you’re like me and can’t wait, it’s still thick enough and yummy enough, to eat right away!
If you cook it for too much longer, the dulce de leche will continue to thicken, but will break and the coconut oil will separate. If that happens you can salvage it by letting it cool a little and blending it up until smooth. But the texture is not nearly as nice and I found that if you put it in the fridge then instead of a thick but gooey delight, it becomes rock hard.
So without further ado, here are two of the simplest recipes I have ever posted!
I can’t think of a sweeter way to start your day! Thank you Chile for bestowing us with this deliciousness!
Good morning! Today on VeganMoFo we head to Latin America, the Caribbean and maybe North America. We start in the largest and most populous country of the region: Brazil.
I’ve only been to Brazil once, but it was enough to whet my appetite. I spent some time in Sao Paulo, where they have an amazing vegan scene, and then I headed north to the quieter coastal city of Recife and stunning Olinda, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Sao Paulo is a thriving city with an incredible energy and creativity. I was lucky to be there for Sao Paulo Pride, reputed to be among the world’s largest pride parade. Despite the fact that it was rainy and a little cool, thousands of people thronged the streets, celebrating diversity and love. That day I was invited to a private party on a balcony overlooking the parade, which was organized by a local group working to address HIV. The price of entry was a bag of rice. It felt like we were on a secret mission of sorts. I remember searching for a grocery store in the middle of downtown Sao Paulo with a friend, buying my bag of rice, and lugging it with me through the streets of the city to the party. It took us a while to find the right door to the closed mall above which the party was taking place, and then we had to show our wares to get in. The party was fun, but it felt a bit removed from the energy below, and so we lingered a while and then went downstairs to explore.
There are a good number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Sao Paulo, which probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but it was to me. There was one place I ate at twice that served a completely vegan buffet packed with Brazilian cuisine, like feijoada. Oh my! It was pretty amazing. It also had a neat store attached, which sold cans of vegan dulce de leche, among other goods. But some of its vegetarian restaurants weren’t so vegan friendly. One night I went to a restaurant called Banana Verde, which had only a few vegan options at the time. When I asked for recommendations, the waitress suggested pupunha. So I ordered it. It was actually a complete piece of a palm: I had to cut through the tough outer edge to get to the soft heart! I love hearts of palm, but this was the strangest, albeit most natural presentation I could imagine.
Recife is a much quieter city, and although I was there for almost as long as I was in Sao Paulo, I can’t really say I got much of a feel for it. The beaches were gorgeous, pristine. But it was rainy and cold much of my visit there and everything is pretty spread out.
Olinda, on the other hand, was gorgeously stunning. I spent a day there walking through its curvy, narrow, hilly streets.
I adored its colorful buildings, old churches and the art that is absolutely everywhere you turn. It’s definitely a wonderful place to spend a day, or two, or more.
I wasn’t sure what to make for Brazil, but when I started researching the cuisine, this Brazilian style “chicken” pie kept popping out at me again and again.
It’s like a potpie, but with just a little gravy. Some make it with a crumb topping (I have); others top it with additional pastry.
I knew that with the fabulous Beyond Meat, which shreds nicely when warm, I could get a texture and taste that would be scarily close to the original, and so I had to try my hand at making one.
From start to finish, this is the quickest savory pie I have ever made. And it is delicious!
This is pretty much the definition of comfort food!