After dinner Wednesday I was sitting on the couch thinking to myself, "I want to make cupcakes
. But I also want to make bread
. And, hey, I have some super ripe bananas
, too. I should make banana bread as well." But that sounded like way too much work for a weeknight (I think you'll agree) and as I sat and pondered which of these things I would like more, Chris mentioned that the growler she had filled with beer
from the Drafthouse wasn't getting used enough and would soon go flat, something more awesome and even more wonderful sounding sprang into my mind.
I've never seen beer and bananas combined, but the idea sounded amazing to me that night. And I already had purchased vegan cream cheese to make frosting for cupcakes. So far, this all sounded intriguing, but there was another element I felt it needed. After a few moments, I sat upright on the sofa, turned to Chris and exclaimed, "beer banana sheet cake with whisky cream cheese frosting!"
And in a flash, I was kitchen bound. Not a minute too soon, either, as I didn't find myself enjoying a piece until 9:30 that night. Phew!
I based this recipe on the one for Best-Ever Banana Bread found in my cookbook, Vegan Glass Jar Goodies
, which includes nine other fantastic and tasty recipes for vegan baked goods and other delicacies which can be prepared by oneself or given to others as gifts, in jars of course. I decreased the liquid in my original recipe somewhat and added 1/2 cup of Chris's beer. The frosting made just enough, and I'm so pleased with it I might use the recipe for any and every other type of cake I make in the future. I love me some whisky. Neither flavor is overwhelming. I would say, it tastes very similar to their original versions- just BETTER. I think you should try it out and see what you think. So, here you go.
Beer Banana Sheet Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups turbinado sugar
2 very ripe mashed bananas
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup beer
Walnut or pecan pieces, optional
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the soymilk, vegetable oil, and beer and whisk together. Add the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 8x8 baking dish and place in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Don't frost the cake if warm!
Vegan Whisky Cream Cheese Frosting
3 tablespoons plain vegan cream cheese
1 tablespoon vegan butter
2 tablespoons whisky
1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
Add the cream cheese substitute and vegan butter to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30-45 seconds until they begin to soften, then whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the whisky and mix again. Slowly add your powdered sugar, sifting as you do, to ensure your frosting is not clumpy. Mix with a handheld mixer until sugar is incorporated. If desired, you can microwave the whisky with the cream cheese sub and butter, to bake off some of the alcoholic content. Pour the frosting onto the center of the cooled cake and then smooth over the top with a silicon or rubber spatula. Cut into pieces and enjoy!
Makes 12 square sized servings.
Other bits and pieces
Aside from cooking with booze more often, I've been spending a lot of free time researching new cuisines and techniques and formulating an attack plan for future posts. I intend to launch a YouTube channel at the end of the month
and will be broadening my blog's subject matter to include more than just original recipes. I'm really looking forward to it! As for personal stuff, Chris and I will be two of the thousands of people at the Paul McCartney
concert this Wednesday (so excited!) and will be visiting her family
next weekend over the Memorial Day weekend. We also had an adventure with a stray cat this month. If you follow me on Instagram
you'll have seen the photos of "Porchy" before. After befriending her at the beginning of May, we became pretty friendly and after petting her for a bit it occurred to us that she was pregnant. After a couple of weeks, we found her a foster family
and are hoping for all the best for her and her kittens. She was a very sweet girl and it was heartbreaking for me to give her to someone else
. I think about her often and truly wish she finds a better life than what she had before.
As usual, thanks for reading! <3
You may also like these recipes...
One of the things I am actively trying to work on is sharing more of myself with other people. Sometimes I feel like the only person who really gets to know me well is my partner. I mean, that makes sense, of course, since we spend nearly all of our free time together, but while some people enjoy sharing their lives with their coworkers and other acquaintances I've always found myself to be a fairly private person on the inside. For some reason, I'm just not very comfortable being myself around people I haven't known for a very long time! This is something I've been trying to change while at work (where I rarely talk about myself let alone anything that really exemplifies my personality) and
here on the lizz delicious
blog. I seem to be very "down to business" when it comes to sharing things with my readers, much like how I am when it comes to my job, but I fully intend to broaden my subject matter from here on out, and to give you a fuller, richer, more personal experience with my posts in the future. I feel like you all have opened up more to me, and I should be doing the same thing in return!
I bring this up because the following recipe is an example of my personality coming through on my blog. When the Avengers movie came out last year, I wrote a post with a recipe for Vegan Tofu Shawarma
inspired by a discussion some of the characters had during the movie. Had I heard of shawarma before? No. Did I have any other reason for making a vegan recipe for it than the fact that I'm a nerd? Absolutely not! I just couldn't resist. And I'm glad I shared it and a piece of myself with the world as it is a recipe that I receive a lot of search engine traffic from, believe it or not. And with the third Iron Man movie having just come out, visions of tofu shawarma have been flitting through my head. Of all things, right?
And while I liked the original recipe quite a bit, I felt like it had some definite room for improvement. For instance, frying tofu dipped in yogurt takes a considerable amount of time. So, Thursday night, I went back to the recipe and mixed it up a bit, and here is the final result. It is so good
, y'all, it's difficult to describe. The spices on the tofu give it a sweet and smoky flavor. Paired with some tabouleh, crunchy lettuce, and fresh cucumber, I was in heaven. The spices used in this recipe are still inspired by a website I found calledShawarma Recipe
, as are the recommended toppings. It is in no way "authentic" but it is still DARN
tasty. And this version is a lot easier to make than my previous attempt. I hope you like it!
Vegan Tofu Shawarma
1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Flatbread or pita pockets
Tabouleh or hummus
Diced cucumber DIRECTIONS
Drain the tofu and press out the water, using a tofu press (click here to purchase
) or by placing it on a place with a heavy baking dish on top. Press for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the salt, spices, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl.
When the water has been pressed from the tofu, cut the block into small cubes (as pictured). Add to the mixing bowl and toss to coat. Make sure each piece gets some of the spices on it!
In a large frying pan, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes. Turn the pieces over to the best of your ability and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. If desired, continue cooking the tofu on each side until perfectly crispy. I usually give it a crust on 3 sides. After that, it smells too enticing and I must consume it!
Warm the pita pockets for 10-30 seconds in your microwave to prevent them from breaking when you fold them up. Place your vegetables and condiments in the middle, top with some tofu, fold, and eat. With a giant smile on your face.
Makes 4 servings.
I just had the best homemade meal ever. Chris and I have been craving some grilled foods and I took it upon myself to make it happen today. We got ourselves some ears of corn, some fresh artichokes, and I even got myself some mushrooms (she hates those, by the way). To celebrate, I decided to make some sangria. And because I've been sharing my love of tea with everyone this month, I chose to use green tea as an ingredient in it.
This recipe was really fantabulous, I swear. It's perfect for those of you who want to like wine but are still on the fence about it. It's also just great, period. Very citrusy, with a hint of green tea and a gentle burst of fermented grape flavor.
Just don't forget, not all wine is actually vegan-friendly
. When shopping for wine, I log on to Barnivore
and search for the brands I encounter at whatever store I'm at. For locals, the wines made at Becker Vineyards
in Stonewall, Texas are all vegan-friendly. They're also extremely good. I typically use Chardonnay for white wine sangria and Merlot for reds. Regardless of your opinion on wine, I hope you like this recipe as much as I did. Let me know what you think! And if you like it, you can find two more recipes similar to it in my book of bodacious bevvies, Summertime Sippers.
Citrus Green Tea Sangria
1 cups water
4 green tea bags
3 honey tangerines
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 cups white wine (a 750 mL bottle)
1/4 cup triple sec
Bring the cup of water to a boil in a microwave safe liquid measuring cup. Add the tea bags and let steep for five minutes. Remove the tea and squeeze the excess water out. Be careful! The tea bags will be hot. Add the agave nectar and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour this tea concentrate into a 1 liter or larger container or pitcher.
Take one of the limes and cut it in half. Cut in half again and slice. Add these lime wedges to the pitcher with the tea concentrate. Take one of the tangerines and cut it widthwise into slices. If your tangerines have seeds, poke them out before cutting into smaller pieces. Reserve some of the rounds for garnish before cutting the tangerine slices into small bits. Add these bits to the tea concentrate as well.
Using the same liquid measuring cup, juice the remaining limes and tangerines. Don't worry about getting the seeds into the cup; you'll be straining it in a bit. Make sure to squeeze the crap out of the fruit! When finished, pour the juice into the pitcher through a mesh strainer. Add the 1/4 cup of triple sec and then the wine. If using a larger pitcher, you can certainly add the whole 750mL bottle. This recipe is sweet enough for it to have more. My pitcher is just 1 liter, and I didn't have enough room for all of it due to my very juicy fruit!
Stir gently and refrigerate for an hour before serving. Garnish your glasses with the reserved slices of tangerine (and lime, if desired). Limes are a bit tart, so I would only use them as garnishes if you like them (like me)!
Be sure to check out the rest of my tea-exploration: Thanks for reading!
Try these recipes, too
You may recall that I have devoted the month of April to writing about tea. This includes my recipes. So far, I've shared with you a recipe for a tea based latte
. I'll be whipping up some tea based sangria soon. Today, though, I'm happy to bring you a recipe for oatmeal cookies that have a secret ingredient in them- black tea steeped in plain soymilk
I had never found a recipe for baked goods that uses black tea. I've used powdered green tea (also called matcha) in baking before, but never liquid black tea. I do, however, love to experiment, and it sounded like a great idea for an experiment.
This recipe was partly based on one I got from my mother. She used to own a old-fashioned cookie mix manufacturing business, don't you know, and I've been comparing other recipes to hers ever since. But these cookies are a lot more wholesome than their traditional counterparts. No butter or margarine, no refined sugars, no guilt.
They're sweet but not overpowering, chewy, and have a unique flavor. In fact, I would call the tea in them a "secret ingredient" because the flavor is so subtle that you wouldn't likely be able to identify it if you didn't put it in there yourself. Taking all of this into consideration, these cookies are a great option for breakfast in addition to typical between-your-meals snacking
. I hope you like them!
Vegan Oatmeal Tea-sies
Vegan Oatmeal Tea-sies
1 family sized tea bag
1/2 cup plain soymilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar (I used this kind)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon olive oil DIRECTIONS
Warm the soymilk in a microwave safe container until it begins to bubble actively. Add the tea bag and let steep for 5 minutes. Squeeze the excess milk from the tea bag before discarding.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Coconut sugar can sometimes clump, so be sure to mix the dry ingredients well before adding your liquids.
Add the vanilla and olive oil to the tea mixture, then combine it with your dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto your cookie sheets. If you want many, smaller cookies, use a little less dough. With heaping tablespoons, you can expect between 9-12 cookies. My batch yielded 10. Which is a perfect amount for my two person household! Flatten and shape the dollops into pretty cookie shapeS. The batter is a bit sticky, but do your best.
Bake your cookies one sheet at a time for 10 minutes. And, of course, enjoy!
Makes 9-12 medium sized cookies.
For the other posts in this series, please consult the following:
Or try these other recipes
Events may have already taken place in your area, but the Austin portion of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is happening this weekend, Sunday the 28th at the vegan restaurant Counter Culture on Cesar Chavez as well as at Monkey Wrench Books on East North Loop. Many local vegan food establishments are donating baked good for the volunteers to sell. That list includes:
Proceeds will go to two area animal sanctuaries, SARA Sanctuary
and Sunny Day Farms
. Our city's goal is to raise $2,000 for these groups.
You can participate in the bake sale in two ways; you can show up and invest your money in some awesome vegan sweets and you can also bake and donate
some of your own.
For more information, head on over to the Austin area WWVBS page
. For those of you not in Austin, visit the official website for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale
. I hope you haven't missed your event!
And, just a reminder, this is just one of the many vegan-friendly events Texas has to offer. For a list of many more, head on over to my Texas Vegetarian Festivals and Events
See you at the bake sale!
You may remember me mentioning in my book Summertime Sippers
that not all wines are vegan friendly. This is actually not very common knowledge. And it makes sense that it wouldn't be, after all, considering how a beverage should just be a liquid. Right? Well, sometimes the making of alcohol supposedly requires the use of animal based ingredients in order to process or bottle the final product. These ingredients are not often listed on ingredients labels because they don't emerge significantly in the final product, hence a bottle of wine not being labeled as such.
I've also mentioned several times one of my favorite resources for discerning whether or not your wine, beer, or liquor is actually vegan. Barnivore
is one of my favorite resources and, though not 100% thorough, I use it whenever I buy a bottle of wine from the grocery or liquor store. Barnivore is run by volunteers and had a huge challenge in keeping things up to date. Often times, wines change their ingredients or processes from year to year. It's difficult to be absolutely sure that you're buying a vegan safe wine! That is, unless you buy one that is made specifically for vegans.
The Vegan Vine is one such brand. I was given the opportunity to ask associate winemaker Jason Robideaux some questions about their history, purpose, and wines. Here's what he had to say about the vegan wine conundrum.
How did the Vegan Vine come to be? What's the story behind your business?
Clos LaChance Winery [who makes the Vegan Vine] in San Martin on the Northern Central California Coast is a family-owned winery. Being family-oriented types, they have an annual family reunion. One relative had recently made the move from long time vegetarian to vegan. Around the campfire at the reunion, this particular relative was very surprised to learn that many
wines and beers are not vegan because of the production process. One thing led to another and the idea of The Vegan Vine as a wine brand came to fruition. The brand has been available online and in a few select markets for about 18 months. We are now starting the process of expanding distribution across the country. I am the winemaker for Clos LaChance, and have been with the company for 7 vintages now—it’s a great family to work for.
A lot of vegans and even vegetarians don't realize that many winemakers use animal based ingredients in their manufacturing process. What are some of the common ingredients these companies use and why do they use them?
The four most common animal products used are albumin (from egg whites), casein (the main protein in milk), isinglass (fish bladders) and gelatin (from animal hooves and sinews). All of these products are used in wine to help fine and soften some of the larger particles naturally occurring in wine. These are products that are known to carry the necessary charge to bind with certain molecules in wine to soften or balance the mouth feel.
Have you experienced any resistance from people on plant-based diets in response to them being told that they probably aren't consuming vegan-safe wines? If so, how do you usually respond?
I have never personally experienced any brushback regarding this topic. It’s more likely to hear the “I had no idea” response. It’s a good opportunity to educate people about vegan-friendly wines and the animal ingredients used in the production process. Instead of these ingredients, we use Bentonite, a naturally occurring clay produced by the weathering of volcanic ash. In our vineyard, the climate and geographic setting, or “terroir,” lends itself to producing naturally softer, less tannic wines. Time, patience, and old-world techniques have created some of the best wines in the world, without using one single animal product.
Do you think there is anything that the vegan community can do to encourage the wine industry to make their practices more compassionate?
In this case, I feel like knowledge is king. As the public becomes more and more aware that there are animal products used in wine, a demand for wine without animal products will grow. The more wine and food writers talk about and write about it, the better chance we have of increasing the consumer’s knowledge.
A bottle of the Vegan Vine's Cabernet Sauvignon.
And what is the best way for vegans to get their hands on your wines? What should they do if they can't find your products in stores?
If you cannot find our wines in stores, visit www.theveganvine.com. We have an online shopping site where the wines can be purchased and shipped to most of the country. In those states we cannot ship to, contact us directly at email@example.com and we can usually direct you to a store in your state or close by to visit and purchase. Cheers and thanks for your support of the wines! And finally, do you know if the products are available in Austin or elsewhere in Texas?
Yes! The wines are recently available in Texas via our new distributor MexCor
. So Texas readers can visit their favorite local wine shop and ask for Vegan Vine by name. Tell the buyer that we are distributed by MexCor and they can get the wines in to that shop. Sometimes it takes a consumer asking a store for something in particular to get them to pay attention. So the more people we can call to action, the better!!
If you'd like to try a Vegan Vine wine and don't have access to the product line through local means, try ordering from the company through their website
. In fact, they're offering a great deal right now, a variety pack, one of each of their wines, for just $31.50 (plus S&H)! I've been working on trying to find a local store carrying the Vegan Vine, but have yet to find one. As soon as I do, however, I will be sure to share it with my readers!
If you try a bottle of one of these wines yourself, feel free to share your experience with us here! And as always, thanks for reading!
Some of the Vegan Vine team, owner and proprietor Bill Murphy, co-founder Cheryl Durzy, part owner and former NBA champion John Salley, and winemaker Jason Robideaux.
How about something to eat?
I've had a pretty pleasant weekend and I truly hope you're doing similarly. Yesterday, Chris and I took a trip out to Burnet and Marble Falls. Why? Well, we were looking for bluebonnets, a wildflower that grows here in Central Texas. A popular thing to do is take photos in them. We have done this a few times before and I wanted to do it again. This past weekend was the Burnet Bluebonnet Festival, and this was our first stop in our hunt.
My hopes were a tad squashed after driving the 45 minutes to the festival without seeing a large patch of bluebonnets. Never fret, I thought, as there were bound to be a field of them someplace. So Chris, Rusty, and I stopped at the festival before venturing onward in our search.
An aerial show took place in the sky over the crowds of people listening to live music and shopping through stalls of handmade items, carnival foods, amusement rides, and crafts. I had also wanted to pick up a few items with bluebonnets adorning them, but failed to find something I felt I needed. What can I say? I'm trying to live a more simplified (junk free) life. We spent approximately an hour there before getting back in the car and moving on. Here are a few pictures from the festival.
I was a little disheartened getting back in the car, but Chris and I looked on the Internet for a wildflower route and drove to Marble Falls in search of more flowers. We found tiny patches along the way, but nowhere to pull off and frolic and take pictures. Dejected, we set a course for home, which actually sent us on a very windy back road, through lots of patches of bluebonnets. So we posed. And here we are.
Posing with a big patch of bluebonnets! Me and my family :-)
We had a nice, relaxing evening, and ended up going to a movie this afternoon. After grocery shopping and having a late lunch, I decided to go into the kitchen and whip up something refreshing with another one of my springtime favorites; lavender.
I decided earlier this month to devote the majority of my blog posts for April to the subject of tea. I do, after all, just love the stuff, and I would very much like to encourage others to be tea-drinkers. Iced tea is one of my go-to summertime drinks so I figured it would be a great place to start. This recipe combines an old standard, Earl Grey tea, with floral lavender and mellow cream for a really refreshing combination. Let me know what you think.
Lavender Earl Grey Iced Latte
2 cups water
3 Earl Grey tea bags
1 teaspoon cullinary lavender
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 cup ice
1/2 cup soy based cream DIRECTIONS
In a medium sized saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat, then add the lavender and tea bags. Let steep for five minutes.
In a decanter or pitcher, add the 1 cup of ice and soy cream. Set aside until steeping has finished (you can certainly do this in the refrigerator).
After steeping is finished, remove the tea bags. Give 'em a good squeeze to ensure a stronger flavor. Discard. Then, strain the tea base into a liquid measuring cup with a nice spout on it. This will help you pour the mixture into your decanter more easily. Add the agave nectar and stir until dissolved.
Pour the tea mix into your decanter with the iced soy based cream. Swish to mix. Serve immediately over ice or allow to thoroughly cool before serving.
Makes 2-4 servings. Note: If entertaining, this recipe can easily be doubled! Also, if you'd like to know more about tea, feel free to consult myIntroduction to Tea Drinking. You can also check out my new recipe for Oatmeal Tea-sies, cookies infused with traditional black tea. More tea based recipes are to come!
Perhaps you'll like these recipes, too...
One of my favorite vegetarian events took place today! The Texas VegFest
is Austin's premiere vegetarian festival, complete with food vendors, merchants, live music, speakers, and demonstrations. Here's a recap of our day spent there...
Some of the thousands of VegFest attendees.
Last year was the inaugural event (click here to read my 2012 Texas VegFest recap
!). I had only been blogging for a few months at that point, and I was eager to get down there and check out all of the local food establishments I hadn't gotten to yet as well as see what kinds of nifty products existed that I hadn't encountered before. In fact, the first Texas VegFest was when I was introduced to Sweet Ritual
for the first time, Austin's local vegan ice cream parlor (and my favorite indulgence!). This year was no different for my partner and I- we tried new foods, collected samples, and bought all the vegan merch we could afford.
Our first stop was the booth belonging to Capital City Bakery
, another one of our favorite sweet shops. I had been seeing a lot of vegan cheesecake on the company's Instagram and absolutely needed to try a slice for myself. To be completely honest, this was my breakfast. Chris had a peanut butter whoopie pie with marshmallow filling. Yes, we're totally responsible 30-somethings and always eat a healthy, nutritious meal first thing. Moving on...
The cheesecake was amazing, of course. The texture was just like "conventional" cheesecake. I've found that a lot of vegan pies and wannabee cheesecakes are way too sweet and are more soft and custardy. The kind I had from Capital City Bakery wasn't like this. It was pretty much perfect, honestly, and my mind was so consumed by devouring it that I didn't take a picture. You should stop by, though, and order a slice for yourself.
Another destination we knew we needed to get to sooner rather than later was the Herbivore Clothing Company
. Last year, Chris really wanted to get a "Bacon Had A Mom"
t-shirt but they sold out before she decided she needed one. We each bought a new shirt today and she added another belt to her collection. The Herbivore folks have a storefront in Oregon but they also travel to festivals throughout the country. Their fashion line is humorous, stylish, and extremely popular with vegans nationwide. Definitely be sure to check them out.
The Better Bean Co. table.
Like I stated previously, we encountered a number of new manufacturers we hadn't heard of before. One such company was called Better Bean
. The Portland based group boasts the first line of refrigerated beans. I tried three of their varieties, all of which were truly flavorful and unique. I was a bit concerned as I have a thing
about texture and they were sampling their items cold instead of warm. I used to be so picky about cold food that I wouldn't eat cherry tomatoes! Thankfully, I've gotten bolder; I tried the beans regardless of their temperature and was very impressed.
The "Uncanny Refried Beans" were probably my favorite- a bit smoky with a lot of spiciness in the aftertaste. They use serano and habanero peppers to make it, which offer a vastly different flavor than the more common jalapeno and cayenne peppers. The "Cuban Black Beans" were great, too, with a pronounced lime flavor that went fantastically with the poblano peppers and apple cider vinegar they also use in the recipe. You can only get Better Bean products in Austin at Central Market right now, but they told me they're trying to get add more local retailers soon.
The Atkinson Candy table.
Next up on the list of vendors we were excited to meet were the team from Atkinson Candies
! They manufacture Chick-o-Sticks, which are a Butterfinger-like candy popular with vegans because well, they're vegan
! They were super excited to be there themselves and were giving away candy left and right. Visitors could spin a wheel and win a Chick-o-Stick or Crunchy Peanut Butter Bar (which is like a Chick-o-Stick but without coconut). Chris won one while I got the other. They were also handing out samples of their new hard candies, which they told us are flavored with fruit juices and have fruit pieces added to them as well. I don't typically like hard candy, but these babies taste wonderful. They're light, fruity, and easy to just suck on for awhile. Yum!
Other vendors I was happy to discover for the first time were:
- Sophie's Kitchen: Vegan seafood! They were sampling vegan scallops, which were actually really freakin' good.
- V-Dog: For your canine companion. They don't sell locally but do have free shipping on any order. Picked up a sample for my little buddy Rust. He'll probably love it as he eats anything.
- Yay! Benches: Adorable name, beautiful outdoor furniture.
- Curry in Hurry: Which took me to India in one very spicy bite!
- Wholesome Sweeteners: Who offer non-GMO and organic erythritol sweetener, which I hadn't seen before.
Our swag bags also a ton of pamphlets from local places and companies including White Cloud World Teas
, Austin Bhakti Yoga
, and Emancipet
. Compassion Over Killing
also provided the bags with a book of easy vegan recipes. Swag bags are also great for samples; this years included a ton of samples from Wholesome Sweeteners, mini Lara
bars, Go Raw
spirulina bars, and more. I imagine the bags differed a tiny bit, because Chris and I got different things in each of our bags. Regardless, they were still fabulous. And the bags themselves were reusable!
Me and my vegan "Corn Dawg."
Additionally, the bags included coupons by brands including Tofutti
, and Sophie's Kitchen. These and the ones we picked up from booths totaled over $10 plus promo coupons for 20% off at Le Creuset and half off coupons to Austin Java.
And just like last year, Chris and I bought tamales from Vegeria
to go (click here for my restaurant feature
on them). I also had a very butter vegan corn dog before we left. It wasn't much like a traditional corn dog, but it was really super tasty. And buttery. In fact, the guy at the fryer was pretty much holding a tub of Earth Balance the whole time I was waiting in line. Yep.
Oh, and Chris finally got me a Sweet Ritual shirt while we were there. She admitted earlier this year that she had meant to get me one for Christmas, but had run out of time before we left for the holiday weekend. But I have one, and I will be wearing it a lot this summer.
We stayed for a few hours before coming home. Chris is on the ill side and needed to get home to recuperate. We had a great time, though, and are already looking forward to next year. In the meantime, how about a slideshow? Enjoy!
Hey all! This post is to announce the winners of my Jade Monk
matcha tea giveaway. So, without further ado, the winners are...
Thank you so much, everyone, for entering. I was so pleased to read about your experiences with tea. In fact, I enjoyed the feedback so much, I thought I would share some of it with everyone.Audrey
, one of our winners, let us know that she's never tried matcha before. Audrey, please let me know what you think of Jade Monk! Aaron
mentioned a type of green tea that has lemongrass added to it. That sounded really fabulous! I'm not sure if it's the same brand, but here's one I located on Amazon
that might be similar. Rachel
let me know that she likes matcha flavored things, like ice cream and smoothies. She also stated that she wants to make her own almond milk matcha latte, and if she'd like to try it, I found a recipe that sounds really good
I thought I should share!Jamie P
mentioned that she usually sweetens up her tea a lot because she hasn't found a type she really likes. This can happen pretty easily. Jamie, if you really would like to drink more tea, I would recommend steeping your tea for a shorter amount of time as well as trying different brands until you find one you enjoy. A green tea blend could also improve things, like green tea with raspberry or mint. The one I mentioned earlier, the green tea with lemongrass, also has other herbs in it, which would lighten up the bitter flavor. It does sound very good!Sara
told me that she likes to make iced green tea, which is great, but that she's never tried matcha before. Jade Monk
is an excellent type to buy for that purpose. Other matchas also make wonderful iced tea, especially if you're making individual servings. I've purchased the kind made by Republic of Tea
, but it does need to be sweetened. If you'd like to make iced tea with it without having to brew anything or dissolve your sweetener, mix your iced matcha with some agave nectar, which doesn't need warmer temperatures to dissolve (just a bit of stirring is required!)
And finally, the other winner, Judy W
, shared with me that she struggles to like tea and typically just enjoys herbal teas "disguising" them with honey, agave, or almond milk. Well, I hope you enjoy your Jade Monk, Judy! It really is the sweetest, most palatable matcha I've encountered.
I've also chosen to make my April posts devoted to tea. Check out An Introduction to Tea Drinking
, which is full of flavor recommendations and preparation advice. Recipes for things like tea based cocktails and DIY chai lattes are on my agenda!Again, thank you everyone who entered. And thank you Jade Monk for providing the variety packs to Judy and Audrey. Happy steeping!
One of the many things I enjoy about food blogging is interacting with my readers. When I published my Jade Monk matcha tea giveaway last week I was a bit surprised by the comments I was receiving on the post. Apparently there are many of you who aren't very familiar with tea, it's uses, and it's various forms. So I decided to go a bit deeper into the subject for you- because tea is something I enjoy an incredible amount and would like to encourage you to experience for yourself!
Would you like a cup of tea?
Most forms of both black and green tea come from the same tea leaf, from the "tea plant," Camellia sinensis. Black tea is simply more processed than green. But truth be told, "tea" can be comprised of anything that's been dried and then steeped in boiling water for an aromatic and flavorful tisane.
And there are many types of tea available! The most common are often called black, green, red (or rooibis), white, and herbal. If you're looking for a pick me up, black tea is what you're looking for. Meanwhile, green tea is your choice for high levels of antioxidants, mild flavor, and versatility. White and herbal teas are often fruit flavored and sweet. Leaves from other plants and herbs are made into tea as well, like peppermint and hibiscus. Yerba Mate and Guayusa are a couple of my new favorites; they are naturally caffeinated and offer extended energy as opposed to a hyperactive rush followed by a crash (like what you often get from coffee).
With all of these options to choose from, a beginning tea drinker can easily feel overwhelmed, even so much as to not explore the colorful realm that is tea-drinking! Gasp! If you've thought about becoming a tea drinker but are still on the fence, there are a number of reasons you should consider joining the rest of us, your tea-loving friends and family.
Stop drinking your calories
With a myriad of flavors and combinations available, tea offers a great alternative to soda and other sweet and junky beverages. Swapping soda for tea is an excellent way to increase your metabolism without sacrificing your refreshment. The only calories in tea are the ones you add to it (sugar and possibly milk). And, if you're like me, it stays calorie free by using Stevita
for sweetness instead of sugar. I feel like Stevita was practically made for tea, I love having it around that much. The brand makes a number of different stevia based sweeteners that are all-natural and perfect for your sweet tooth. Switch to stevia and you'll be saving your calories and your sweet tooth without sacrificing a flavorful way to refresh yourself! You can even steep a tea bag in a small amount of hot water in a 12-16 ounce glass, sweeten it with 1-3 teaspoons of sugar, and ice and carbonated water to make tea soda! All right!
Quit spending money on coffee and soda
If you're like me, you just like drinking something with flavor. Water is simply not interesting. If I didn't start drinking tea, I would probably be living off of root beer and decaf lattes or juice. I'm glad I decided to save my teeth. And that I chose to spend who knows how much less on drinks in the process. Tea is an affordable option for people who just don't like drinking water. A box of 50 tea bags can cost anywhere between $5-10. That's about $.10-.20 per serving! Much better than $3.99 for a latte each day. Or spending $5.00 each week on soda from the vending machine at work. You can even find tea with awesome flavors like vanilla chai and raspberry.
Keep your body healthy
So, with all of that in mind, here are a few places to start. Have iced green tea in the fridge
: buy a box of family sized tea bags and make a 2-quart container's worth of tea according to the box directions. Sweeten it by adding a tablespoon of agave nectar after you've steeped it and added the rest of the water. Add more, if necessary, one tablespoon at a time. Drink some energizing blends
: If you're a coffee drinker, I don't recommend replacing coffee with tea right off the bat, but you can always benefit from adding a few types of caffeinated teas to your diet. Assam black tea is my favorite kind of that type. I also enjoy Yerba Mate and a tea called Guayusa, which comes in different flavors. They're great for sustained energy and are flavorful without being bitter. Try a few fun flavors
: Two of my favorite brands are the Republic of Tea and Gypsy Teas. Blends with cinnamon and cacao are some of the ones I buy frequently. Be experimental! For further reading
: You can also pick up some books on tea, such as the Tea Companion
and Culinary Tea
. Yes, you can cook with tea, both sweet and savory dishes. Who knew? And get local about it
: Austin has three local grand purveyors of tea. Your city might, too! Search for a tea house in your area and stop in for locally blended and custom blended varieties you can't find anywhere else. They'll offer you the ability to taste, too, and will help you find the best tea to match your tastes.
And if you'd like, here are a few flavor recommendations and supplies to get you started. Remember, flavored teas are great both hot or ice cold!
I'll be having more tea-related posts to share with you during the month of April. I'm very excited for it, too! In the meantime, I'd love to hear your personal experiences with tea, or if you have any questions you can put those forward as well. Oh, and don't forget to enter to win a Variety Pack of Jade Monk matcha teas before 5PM tomorrow! Click here to enter, and to check out my Matcha Milkshake recipe, too!
Thanks for reading!
Here are some other posts you might enjoy...