Category Archives: Reviews

Circles

8 Powell Lane Collingswood, NJ 08108
812 N 2nd St Philadelphia, PA 19123
1514 Tasker St. Philadelphia, PA 19145
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

Vegan MOFO is done, but I thought this year I would try and do their minimofos. This month’s theme is lazy. I had this post sitting in my drafts for 8 months. Yup I started it in March and it is probably time I finish it up. XD Fits the lazy bill because I’ve been so lazy about making this post and I was lazy about cooking.

So here you go- a really old post….
It was a dark and stormy night…
Just kidding. Or maybe it was rainy? The details are a little hazy.

Let me paint the picture. Wolfie was only 3 months old. He is starting to sleep through the night, but still sleeping in his little crib. Jon and I wanted to have a baby free night and went on a date. This was the first time leaving the house late at night, and we had our friend Justine watch Wolfie. Sadly, he was starting to do the whole routine thing and falling asleep pretty easily.

It took us awhile to decide where to go, but we finally decided on Circles, a new to us restaurant that offers Thai food. The restaurant has various locations, currently two in Philadelphia and one in Collingswood. They aren’t a vegan restaurant, but offer many different options. We went to the Collingswood location since it was raining out.

Pad Thai with Tofu

The food isn’t just Thai- it is Thai fusion. But in many ways the food has some authenticity. The restaurants are owned by Alex Boonphaya who grew up in Bangkok. His family moved to the US and Alex spent his childhood cooking since his parents would work late. That is what makes Circles so great. There is a wonderful balance between authentic Thai cuisine and little American twists.

As mentioned the shop has vegan options, and if you are vegetarian you will have more options. Everything is well labeled about what is vegan. They serve seitan, so there are few appetizer items that have a meat and seitan alternative (such as vegetarian cheesesteak springrolls, not vegan sadly). There are also things like vegetable dumplings that can be ordered.

The main courses are almost all available as vegan. I would tell the staff up front that you are vegan, as they knew right away to use fish sauce substitutes, and you don’t have to ask about it for each individual meals. You can add seitan or tofu to the meal for an additional cost (they have meat options as well)

Pad Kee Mow with Seitan

Jon got the Pad Thai with tofu (top photo). He really liked it. The sauce had a nice kick to it. I personally found it a little too sweet. If you aren’t really familiar with Pad Thai you might be disappointed. Each family has their own Pad Thai recipe, and in the US many Pad Thai recipes are super peanut heavy. This was not, but I really enjoyed it. Very tangy and sweet.

I ordered the Pad Kee Mow with Seitan, and guys, I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about it. I remember liking it a lot. I remember that it was spicy. And now that I look at the photos, I remember the tomatoes being the best. If you never had the dish before the major flavor notes (that I remember) were fresh thai basil, tomato chunks, fat rice noodles, and spicy flavors.

We loved the place and if we were rolling around in cash money we would be going back more often. The place is BYOB so bring a bottle of wine, or stop by Devil’s Creek Brewery across the street to grab a growler. I recommend parking at the PATCO station and walking to the restaurant. The photo doesn’t give a great representation of where it is, as it is in a small street that doesn’t get much traffic, under the new(ish) Lumberyard Condos. Also, don’t bother with the coffee…. they just use a kurig. There are many coffee shop options in Collingswood.


My goodness it has been a really long time since I’ve done one of these! I always try and write a review with any recipe I try online, make a category and hope they build up enough to be it’s own post. But that doesn’t always happen. Luckily my CSA forces me to try and figure out what to do with all these tomatillos so this post has been in the works for TWO YEARS!

Why did this take so long? Well I wanted to feature recipes that weren’t just salsa verde. I mean I made my own salsa morado, but I mean- it is just a salsa verde XD So I give you quite a round up! I hope you enjoy it, and there is even a sweet treat as well!

Roasted Tomatillo Hummus

I am frequent reader of Fragrant Vanilla Cake and saw this recipe using tomatillos in hummus. I knew I had to give it a try since it is an interesting way to eat the fruit. The recipe is pretty easy, roast tomatillos, blend with the hummus ingredients, serve. I have to admit this is a delicious and tangy hummus. Very different than what most people are use to for their hummus. I could picture myself just eating it as a dip with chips.

But I used it mostly in wraps with breaded green tomatoes, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and avocados. But I could use it in sandwiches, and a bunch of other ways. What makes this hummus so nice is that it is sweet and tangy but has lots of protein, so you get food that is nutritionally sustainable and filling.

Bottom Line: Quick and Easy, great for lunches.

Black Bean, Tomatillo, and Corn Soup

This is pushing the definition soup. It is more like a stew since it is so thick. It is indeed tasty, but I think there should be a little more broth to make it by definition a soup. Overall the dish is super healthy and full of vegetables and fiber. I think the longest part is getting all the vegetables prepared, especially since it calls for fresh corn. Because of this I think I would double the recipe next time so I could have leftovers to eat.

I also would add more tomatillos. Yes, you can taste them in the dish, but I wish there would of been more. I mean if you have tomatillos in the title, I better be tasting them. I think I ended up using more tomatoes in the soup than tomatillos! Aside from that gripe- I would give the dish a thumbs up on making it again.

Bottom Line: Easy and healthy soup. Recommend doubling the recipe for leftovers and adding more tomatillos.

Vegan Enchilada Suizas

I think what I’ve learned about these recipes is that maybe my tomatillos from my CSA are smaller than fresh tomatillos from the supermarket. So I doubled the amount of tomatillos in the sauce.

Looking at the recipe I felt like I probably should have a little more veggies in there, so I took away some of the beans, and added some sauteed sweet peppers. Also I didn’t use the suggested hot peppers in the sauce or any added salt since I was going to feed it to a 10 month old. Even without the salt, the dish carried itself quite well, but something to keep in mind with the spice levels.

Overall I loved the dish. I will make it again since it is easy to make and easy to prep ahead of time. I blended the sauce in the morning while my blender was dirty from smoothies. I set aside the sauce, so when it came to dinner time I just cooked the sauce, and put together the enchiladas.

My biggest complaint is that she doesn’t specify which sized tortilla wraps. I have “taco” and “burrito” sizes wraps, and I didn’t know which size, so I just made four big enchiladas as appose to six. Not the end of the world, but I can’t be the only one out there that didn’t grow up on enchiladas.

Bottom Line: Baby Approved, Just would make more sauce

White Bean Tomatillo Soup

This soup is much more “tomatillo-y” compared to the black bean recipe. This one uses a lot of beans and a lot of tomatillos. This is a simple soup that lets you enjoy the taste of tomatillos. Aside from cooking dried beans, the recipe doesn’t take long to make. All I did was soak the beans overnight, cooked them in the morning, then made the short 30 minute recipe. Though you could soak the beans in the morning and cook the soup for longer if you have the time to wait.

My only complaint is that she calls for 4 cups broth, 2 cups water. I feel like just sticking with 6 cups broth/stock would give a fuller flavored soup. Maybe it is to save people money? Most stocks are sold in 4 cup containers. Who knows. I didn’t read the 2 cups water so at first I had a very thick soup. Oops. But I really liked the recipe. Full of flavor, simple, and easy peasy.

Bottom Line: Super healthy and yummy soup. Would use all 6 cups of stock instead of part water.

Tomatillo Green Apple Sorbet

Sometimes recipes are so simple I find a hard time with them! Enter this recipe for a Green Apple and Tomatillo Sorbet. First what I ended up with was delicious, but there was a lot of last minute changes that I had to make.

The first change I had to make was that the portions on the site didn’t add up for me. It should I should of had about 2 1/2 cups by the end of the cooking process, but I had more like 1 3/4 of a cup. Eek! I quickly doubled the apple and tomatillo, started to cook them again, and got about the right amount. Blended it up and popped it in the fridge. Then when I put the sorbet in the ice cream maker, there didn’t seem to be much. This is something that annoys me with ice cream recipes. It takes a lot of work to make ice cream, and making just enough for two servings is a pain. So I quickly dumped some extra coconut milk into the ice cream maker.

The end result? A SUPER delicious recipe. Since I probably cooked the apples too much, I got a tart but semi caramel-like sorbet. The best part is that the ice cream kept really soft in the freezer, one of my first times doing so! I think adding the coconut milk in the end helped with the tartness. If I make this again, I will totally make some changes to the recipe, and you might find a similar recipe on the blog next year.

Bottom Line: Great inspiration. Overall great results, not sure if I will make this recipe 100% exactly the same

Chunky Tomatillo Tostadas

I took some liberties to switch this recipe up a little. Yeah, I got a little lazy in the tostadas part and was starving. So these got transformed into tacos. Oh well. I tried to keep the toppings in the spirit of the original post and let’s face it, a corn shelled taco isn’t too different from a tostadas. Personally the dish probably would of worked best in tostadas form, so keep that in mind. 

Naturally my main complaint is that recipe calls for x amount of tomatillos, not going by poundage. I added more to the recipe since the tomatillos picked from my CSA were a little smaller than most commercial grocery stores. Aside from the resulting faster cooking time, everything worked out great! The whole recipe will probably take an hour from beginning to end but is very easy to get the prep work done, and has a lot of hands off time. 

I really love how there were bursts of tomatillo flavors hidden in the pinto beans. I think there should be a little bit more tomatillo to bean ratio, but aside from that it is a great mix. As mentioned I made tacos instead and paired them with lettuce, avocado and tomato (no sour cream mix.) I will be adding this to my rotation during the next tomatillo season at my CSA

Bottom Line: Takes some time, but overall very easy and hands off.


Vedge

1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia 19107
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

It’s finally happened- I’ve eaten at the legendary Vedge restaurant! The spot is known as a major restaurant to check out for any foodie when in Philadelphia – omni, vegetarian, or vegan. It has taken me so long to write this post- 2 months! There is just so much to talk about. The history of the restaurant, building, chefs, and naturally the food. When we went we pretty much ordered everything from the menu (No- really). The meals are sold as small plates, and are suggested you get three plates per person. Each section has 5 dishes to choose from, and we had 4 people altogether. It was easier to choose what we weren’t going to order, but before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the history.

Vedge opened up in 2011 with Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. The co-owner Rich Landau has reached a minor celebrity chef status, being featured in many interviews, owning several restaurants, and even being featured on Chopped (and won!) Landau and Jacoby have shaped Philadelphia’s vegan food scene, expanding it from it’s punk and religious background. They opened up V Street, a tapas bar, and Wiz Kid, a fast food cheesesteak shop. Nicole Marquis was an employee at Vedge, and has expanded the vegan high end dining experience by opening up Bar Bonbon, Charlie was a Sinner, and HipCityVeg. Just type in “best of philadelphia” and Vedge will appear in many different articles. There isn’t much debate- Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the entire city.

If you aren’t much for “fancy” food, then grab a drink or dessert at the bar to appreciate the architecture. The building was designed by the legendary Frank Furness. He designed over 600 buildings during the Victorian era. Most of his buildings are in the Philadelphia area, and many were destroyed. But this row home has managed to survive, and it really gives a fun layout for a restaurant. When you first walk up the steps it doesn’t feel like you are going into the right building. Surely you are walking into someone’s apartment? Once you open the doors you make it to the bar area and are quickly greeted by the hostess. There is a dining room in the front of the building and one in the back, we were seated in the front, giving lots of light at the beginning of the meal for photographs. Whoo!

Thinking about visiting? Here are some things to keep in mind. One is that everything I’ve written below is subject to change, in fact, their menu changes daily. Not joking. Part of this is because they try and truly stick with seasonal produce. The waiter said there are staples to the menu, or there are some things that simply get modified. For example the radishes seem to be available year round, but the choice of radishes change according to the season. So this menu is the 2017 spring/summer menu.

Also make a reservation — now! Yes I mean now! Open a new tab, google their number, and call! They book months ahead of time for weekend dinners. My sister tried to make reservations for my birthday, and they were booked. Last year my parents in law tried to take us out to dinner but they were booked. But if you are going to be able to dine during the week- you will probably have a much better chance of snagging a table. Even still, if you don’t mind sometimes they will let you eat at the bar without reservations, which isn’t bad. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a cocktail and dessert at the bar late at night- or right when they open XD!! 

On paper the prices don’t seem too expensive. But the menu is set up to order one plate from three categories. They aren’t particularly shareable- I mean try cutting those tiny radishes into four pieces! So this is what makes the price of your meal to shoot up. The review is divided up in the categories on the menu, cocktails, the vedge bar, the dirt list, the grill, and desserts.

So I will leave you to read my reviews on the dishes after saying this- Hey Vedge! Want to have me back and pay for my meal? I can totally do another review of your fall/winter menu. Hit me up. I can also try Wiz Kid or V Street! *winkie face emoji* Alright I’m done selling out- read and drool.

COCKTAILS

BLACK HOLE SUN
scotch, burnt miso, maria al monte, charcoal 14
Dummy’s Guide: scotch, burnt miso, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, hip stuff to make things black
Jon, his Dad, and myself all got this cocktail. It is a strong drink served in an old fashion. The combination is very odd, scotch plus an herbally liqueur? And what would burnt miso and charcoal even taste like? They all come together nicely, and the miso and charcoal take off some of that astringent alcohol taste. This was so good that my Father in Law got a second.

THE ELDER SAGE
gin, elderflower, lemon, smacked sage
This is a very tasty cocktail but nothing unique. Gin and elderflower are made for each other. But I can say that the flavors work very well. If you can’t stand neat hard liquor, this is probably the cocktail for you. Simple, light, and not too sweet.

LIFE OF PABLO
tequila, aperol, rhubarb, poblano
Dummy’s Guide: tequila, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, rhubarb, poblano peppers
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love of poblano peppers on the blog. They are my favorite pepper, and I get so excited when they start showing up at my CSA. So it was obviously in the cards for me to get this drink. They layer the drink, making a rhubarb layer and a poblano layer. The more you drink, the more they mix together. Truthfully it seems like a weird mix, but they worked so well with each other. I would never think to mix an amaro with a tequila, but they picked out what seemed like the least bitter of all the ones available.

RABBIT FIGHTER (Not Pictured)
rum, strega, pomelo, cardamom bitters
Dummy’s Guide: rum, green herbal liqueur, a citrus fruit, cardamom bitters
Hmm… I blame this cocktail- my third of the night- for my less than stellar memory. Okay- it is probably because we tried almost EVERYTHING off the menu but hey- I can still blame this right? I remember liking this cocktail a lot, but the specifics are a blur. #blogfail

THE VEDGE BAR

FANCY RADISHES
smoked tamari, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu, shishito
Let me first start by talking about how we all had to skillfully cut each and everyone of those radishes into four pieces. We divided ALL of the dishes- but this one was a particular challenge. This dish is a staple, according to our server, but the radishes change as they come into season. Some of the names I reconized from our CSA, but I was a dummy and didn’t take notes. I can hands down say that my favorites were the radish paired with the tofu and the radish paired with the shishito pepper. The tofu and pepper gave a wonderful contrast of texture to the radishes.


PORTOBELLO CARPACCIO
deviled turnip, caper puree, nigella grissini
Personal opinion here- not sure if I get the whole “deviled” veggies thing. But that is only a minor part of the dish. The grissini, or let’s be real- a breadstick, was super yummy and made daily. The portobello was amazing. They are thinly sliced and cooked or marinated to perfection.


SALT BAKED BEETS
crushed cucumber, dill, capers, cured olive, rye
This is one of Vedge’s signature dishes. They bake beets at low temperatures for 2+ hours over a bed of salt. The salt takes moisture away from the beets, concentrating the flavors. It also gives the beets a unique texture. I’m normally not a huge fan of rye or dill, but they worked wonderfully with the beets.


RUTABAGA FONDUE
today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickle, charred onion
Hands down- one of best dishes of the night, or even best in this category. The pretzel was fluffy and soft on the inside but just enough crust on the outside. It is pure magic how they get the rutabaga to be so fondue like. It is fluffy and creamy. I can honestly say that the pretzel worked perfectly with the fondue. Yeah, the pickles and onion were good too- but the pretzel and rutabaga?!

THE DIRT LIST

NEBRODINI MUSHROOMS (Not Pictured)
as “fazzoletti”, “pomodoro”
If you know Italian food you probably have an idea of what this dish looks like. If you are like me and am totally hopeless, you were completely surprised. Fazzoletti is a flat square noodle, which kind-of look like someone picked apart a ravioli. THe mushrooms were served in a similar fashion- flat and square. Pomodoro is a quick light pasta dish with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Although everything I ate at Vedge was amazing, this dish was less memorable.


POLE BEANS & ZUCCHINI
briam stew, hummus, smoked sourdough
The title is a little misleading, the pole beans and zucchini are not the highlight of the dish. I think the sub-description better explains what you are ordering. There is a big serving of hummus, topped with briam (a greek stew with pole beans and zucchini), and smoked sourdough chunks are placed on top. Even though we were expecting a larger portion of beans and zucchini, the dish was amazing. The hummus was perfectly smooth and not too thick or thin.


PEA LEAVES
flash seared, smoked onion dashi, pickled spring onions
Greens are always a little disappointing. I always want more than what they serve! These pea leaves were super amazing, tender, flavorful and not too bitter. The dashi and pickled spring onions added only a little bit of flavor, letting the pea leaves really carry the dish.


GRILLED GOLD POTATOES
black garlic tahini, za’atar, calabrian chile relish
I think these potatoes were the favorite in this category. I am not a HUGE potato person so that is saying something. It has everything you need- crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavor combinations were perfect. The tahini had a wonderful garlic-y salty flavor, and the chili relish gave it this dish a bright burst.

THE GRILL

ASPARAGUS “COLCANNON” (Not Pictured)
peas & green garbanzos, garbanzo crepe, smoked kohlrabi
It has been a long time since I’ve eaten asparagus. I don’t get any in my CSA and they tend to be pricey. The asparagus was nice and thin, making each bite tender. The garbanzo crepe wrapped around the asparagus, and sat on sauce (I think made from smoked kohlrabi?) with some peas and green garbanzo beans.


SSAMJANG GLAZED TOFU
edamame puree, burnt miso, cucumber, sea beans, toasted nori
I am a sucker for tofu, and this was a delicious small slab of tofu. It was well pressed, grilled, and marinated. I especially liked the accompanying flavors. The tofu itself wasn’t overly flavored, but the edamame, miso, cucumber, and sea greens added to it perfectly.


EGGPLANT BRACIOLE
smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive
My Mother in Law was excited to try this. She had made this recipe several times at home using the Vedge cookbook. She first pointed out how much tidier their eggplant dish looked compared to hers. But after doing some googling, I think she did a REALLY good job with her version. Naturally I can’t help but compare this dish to the one she made. I love the rice filling at Vedge, it is fluffy, light, and packed with flavor. But I think I prefer my Mother in Law’s eggplant. Hers is just a little bit thicker, which I prefer. Regardless, this is a great dish, and I am pretty sure sticks on the menu most of the year. Heck it was even on the menu when Gina from The Full Helping went 5 years ago.

SEARED MAITAKE MUSHROOM (Not Pictured)
celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade
This was another crowd favorite. We almost ordered a second plate of it. Maitake mushrooms (or hen of the woods) are amazing and hearty. The mushrooms are very “meaty,” perfectly cooked to be tender but not too dried out. The celery root fritter adds a nice contrasting texture.

DESSERT

So this is where I really dropped the ball. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert menu, thinking it would be fairly stable each night. Nope. I know they have rotating ice cream flavors each night, which my Father in Law picked since the featured flavor of the night was pistachio. It also appears that they have different variations of cheesecake that are always available. My husband went with the cheesecake, but I can’t remember what flavor he chose. Regardless, it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tasted in awhile.

CHOCOLATE UBER CHUNK (Not Pictured)
malt custard, pretzels & peanut butter, stout ice cream
Although the menu changes all the time, this seems to be the staple of the house. My Mother in Law jumped on this dish the second she saw it. I don’t blame her. I had a bite and it was amazing. Perfect for a chocolate lover.

GOLDEN PEACH ROBATAYAKI (Not Pictured)
yuzu-chile cornbread, miso ice cream, honeydew duck sauce
So after three cocktails and sharing two flights of Amari- my memory is a little hazy. Well, at least when it comes to reading. I couldn’t find the name of the dessert I had, until randomly this dessert appeared on the menu again. Oddly, I remember that night being surprised there was a peach in my meal…which seems unlikely since peach is in the title. Who knows, but I am 99% sure this what I had. Peach. Check. Miso Ice Cream. Check. Honeydew sauce. Check. So much to say about what the heck this even is. Well first robatayaki is a slow barbecue method from Japan. So this is what it looked like- the honeydew “duck sauce” is poured onto the plate creating a pool. The yuzu-chile cornbread sits on the honeydew puree, then the robatayaki-ed peach and ice cream sits on top of the cornbread. It is overall sort of like a fancy-pants sundae. All of this sounds very unlikely to be a good match, but it was actually perfection. So many textures and flavors. I love how salty the miso ice cream is, then is balanced by the sweetness of the honeydew sauce. The peach is also sweet, but adds a hint of tartness. The cornbread added only a little crumble to the dish overall.

Photo from my Mother in Law showing some of the Amari we sampled

AMARI FLIGHT
This deserves mostly an explanation, and less of a review of each individual drink. Maybe one day I will go back and give a more solid review, but this is something you will most likely want to do if you visit.

So what is Amari? It’s Italian for bitter, and you might of noticed me listing some amari in the cocktails above. They are herbal liqueurs that have roots back when hard alcohol was a way to administer medicine. Today they are usually served as an after-dinner digestive, which is why they appear on the dessert menu. If you are wondering what it tastes like- well that’s where things get complicated. Each one has their own blend of herbs and strength in alcohol. They can have anything between 16 to 40 percent alcohol. Wikipedia has a great little breakdown of different types, including ones made with artichokes, grapes, rhubarb, truffles, and bark.

Again, I would love to do a sampling with a notebook and all to really do some justice about these different drinks. But for now, I will leave you with a list of drinks offered, with some notes and links to learn more about them. 

*NOTE: Prices are just listed to give an idea of how expensive the bottle might be. All stores will price differently.
**VEGAN WARNING: If you decide to buy Amari/Amaro from a liquor store check this list or barnivore before buying! Traditionally the red color comes from bugs.

Amaro Don Ferne 25% ABV $50
Amaro d’Erbe ‘Nina’ 30% ABV $35
Amaro Meletti 32% ABV $20
Averna 29% ABV 40 proof $25-30 a bottle
Cynar Carciofo style (made with artichokes) 16.5% ABV (there is a special 70 proof) $35
Elisir Novasalus 16% ABV $25
Fernet Branca 39% ABV $35
Maria Al Monte Fernet style 40% ABV $30
Ramazzotti Amaro 33% ABV $20
Sibona Amaro 28% ABV $32

Congrats! You made it to the end!
Which dish are you most curious to try?
Have you ever been to Vedge in the past?


I am not much of the type of person to make a post of my latest hauls or cheap finds, but I was pretty excited about my recent trip to Home Goods. It is a pretty hit or miss sort of place. Some things are cheaper there, some are not. I mostly like to look at their kitchen and food items. They have some “health foods” for cheap. What I mostly like is that there are some brands that are endorsed by the Food Empowerment Project.

With that said let’s start with CHOCOLATE! I remembered that Navitas is listed under as recommended brands from Food Empowerment Project. I am always in need of bars so I can stash them in my backpack just in case. I noticed the box was in the clearance section, and listed as $11 a box of 12 bars. I figured that is less than $1 bar, which is about the price of clif bars. I later looked online- Amazon is selling them for $20 a box (cheaper for subscription)!

I’m glad I got them because they are really tasty. They remind me of kind bars only not as hard. I never liked how crunchy the nuts made the bars, but these have lots of soft crispiness from rice and quinoa puffs. Oh! I also love how they DON’T have chia seeds. Seems like all companies just toss them into foods and then you get the problem of getting chia seeds stuck in your teeth. I am guessing these were still on the shelf because people were afraid of the cranberry chocolate combo? It was yummy, but not much flavor from the cranberries.

I haven’t done anything yet with the almond meal, in fact I rarely use the stuff. I skip over recipes that use it because the price is too much. But this was $4 so I thought why not. It seemed cheap… and it is. I looked online amazon sells this brand for $12! And it looks like almond meal is around $8-12 for 12-16oz. Nice steal! I remember loving a recipe for raw cookies that use almond meal. Might mix some up this weekend.

I also found this protein powder for $7. It said that it had 14 servings, and each serving had 15 grams of protein. I normally don’t like things that say detox, and I didn’t find the brand listed of FEP’s list, but I thought why not? Got home and stuff sells for $24!? What?! I prepared the smoothie like they suggest on the box and it was pretty good. I will probably add some cocoa to the mix, but I wouldn’t recommend it on principle.

This I’m MOST excited about. I am sucker for packaging, and new products. People know how to market to me. So when I saw this macadamia nut milk I wanted to try it. But it is always priced around $4-5 in stores (and on Amazon) it was just too much for me. Heck- I have been thinking the store brand soy milk is too expensive ($2.80 for a half gallon). This was on sale for $2! Whoo! That’s cheap enough for me to try once. The package was pretty dinged up, and there was only one container so I am thinking hard about how I want to use it.

There were some other goodies there. Like nutripods (which I do use creamer so didn’t get them), beanitos, and orgain. 

Any good bargains lately?


Photo credit to Bar Bonbon website

Bar Bombón

133 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

May is a busy month for me – having a birthday in May pretty much means you are used to your birthday thunder being stolen. I remember once being invited to two different weddings on my birthday one year (one being my uncle, the other being my grade school teacher.), as well as there being school graduations, Mother’s Day, and copious other birthdays. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day, my birthday, and my 4th wedding anniversary all in the same week. So when Jon told me one Saturday that he was taking me out for a surprise I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we were going out for a big birthday dinner with my sister and friends (apparently I am turning 30 this year and that’s a big deal)!

Jon got his parents to watch Wolfie as we got dressed up and got into the car. At this point I didn’t know yet that what was going on. I tried not to speculate since Jon has a poor history of keeping surprises (I’d already found a wrapped gift in the closet). I noticed we were getting off at the exit for the train so I start pulling out my PATCO card… and then we drive right past the station….

“We need to stop by your sister’s house. We split a gift for your birthday and she forgot to bring it into work so we’ll need to pick it up!”

That sounded plausible, so I thought no big deal. She also lives next to a different station so it made sense. As we start pulling to my sister’s house I see a car, one I’ve never seen. So I asked who’s car was that- or rather “Who the fuck did that shitty park job?!” Jon said that it MUST have been a friend of my niece’s – and at this point if I wasn’t sleep deprived I would of gotten suspicious. When we got inside I was surprised by Alexa and both my sisters! That shitty park job was Alexa!!! In her defense there wasn’t much she could of done, it’s just the shape of my sister’s driveway.

So we all got on the train and met up with my friend Justine in the city to eat at Bar Bombon. It is a Puerto Rican/latin tapas restaurant owned by Nicole Marquis. She worked at Vedge, and opened up Charlie Was A Sinner and HipCityVeg. There was a lot of hype when the restaurant opened and much has already changed. The restaurant moved from having a mix of burritos, arepas, and tacos to having more seasonal plates.

If you are thinking about coming to this place YOU MUST make a reservation. My goodness the place was packed! When you come in it is a little awkward as you immediately walk into the bar area. There is barely enough room to walk past the bar to the seating. There is also a few tables outside but it is next to alley, which isn’t terribly charming. But the inside is awesome and very warm.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: At first glance I noticed that I really liked the decor of this place. I don’t go out into Philly that often unless I’m with Jen, so I just love taking in the scenery of new restaurants and such. It was very crowded, but it was also a Saturday night around peak “let’s go out” hour – I guess I was just surprised because it was also pouring rain (I’ve been out of the city for too long and apparently forget that rain stops almost no one from going out and being away from their apartments). 

Overall I really enjoyed the food and drinks, they had an extensive list of cocktails that I did not partake in…unlike Jen I’m wary of liquor as opposed to beer because if I don’t like it, it’s not a pretty sight. This is a place that I would love to come back to and try more off of the menu.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER
Avocado, green goddess, black bean puree, mirepoix
Alexa: One of the things I miss most as a vegetarian is good barbecue and food slathered in buffalo sauce. I love buffalo cauliflower for this very reason! Let me tell you – this taco DELIVERS. The cauliflower is slightly crisp and not soggy and the buffalo sauce isn’t overpowering. While I would say that everything we ate that night certainly tasted fresh I especially felt that way about everything in this dish. 

CUBANO CLUB
Blackend chick’n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli
Jen: This was my favorite of the dinner and it was FILLING. This is one of those confusing tapas how big/small are the plates moments as this sandwich I think was a lot more food than the tacos. The club comes with a side of fries, which makes it pretty much a stand alone meal. The club was amazing! Definetly the chick’n and tempeh make it stand out as a unique sandwich from the original cubano sandwich. The smoked tempeh was tasty, and the pickles and aioli give just enough tang. If I were to go back with hubby, I might get this again with a vegetable plate and probably would have enough to eat (with cocktails too duh)

GUACAMOLE FRESCO & PICANTE
I know it is possible to mess up guacamole, but it happens to rarely. I liked the guac here. They let the avocados speak for themselves. You can pick it “fresco” or “picante.” The picante wasn’t insanely hot, but if you want a more traditional route, get fresco. They give a good amount of guac to chips. I was able to use some of the guac with my yuca fries. The chips were pretty nice too, and clearly fried on location.

MUSHROOM EMPANADAS
Leeks, currants, pickled plantains
I had really high expectations for these empanadas and was a little disappointed. Not to say they tasted bad, I just envisioned something different. The flavor was soft, and the plantains were served on the side. The empanadas were fried to perfection though.

REPOLLITOS FRITOS
Brussels sprouts, peanut, mango, lemon
Jen: My rushed meals at home mean I don’t eat enough veggies. So this night I was craving vegetables so Jon and I split the brussel sprouts. They were roasted to perfection with crispy leaves. There was a tasty peanut dipping sauce which was amazing. The annoying thing is that I tasted zero mango. I am guessing it was mainly in there as a sweetening agent?

Alexa: I love Brussels sprouts. Jen isn’t exaggerating when she said these were cooked to perfection, I probably could have had that whole plate as a meal for myself! To be fair, I didn’t know there was supposed to be any mango involved in the dish so I wasn’t as let down, but the oil used to cook the sprouts did have a sweetness to it. So maybe she’s not off on the “sweetening agent” idea!

SEITAN “AL PASTEUR”
Guacamole, onion, cilantro, pineapple
Alexa: I enjoyed this taco as well, but it wasn’t my favorite of the two that I tried. I enjoy spicier foods, so the buffalo cauliflower was a huge hit. The seitan was cooked well and had a lot of flavor that was brought out more by the onion and pineapple. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a “meatier” dish. 

SPANISH FRIES
Roasted peppers and onions, cheese sauce
Jen: My sister seemed to be very concerned about what was in the cheese sauce. The wait staff was very hesitant to give any clue about what it was made of, but if I were to take a guess it was maybe a veggie based sauce? Whatever was in it ended up tasting great. The fries were thin and extra crispy. My only complaint is that it could of had more toppings.

Alexa: My only complaint was that these weren’t bottomless because…
a) potatoes are a gift on this green Earth
b) potatoes cut into thin pieces covered in sauce and veggies are also a gift.

YUCA FRITA
Maduro sauce
I strongly recommend getting these yuca fries. They are light and fluffy but crispy on the outside. If you like handcut french fries, you will love these. They come with a sauce that made me think of the “special sauce” that my parents would get in Southern Utah. It was just ketchup and mayo, but this sauce tasted like it had a paprika kick.

BETTER & BETTER
aged rum, mezcal blanco, falernum
DUMMY GUIDE: rum, tequila (or something like it), spiced syrup
Hubby got this drink first. I am guessing the mezcal blanco means it is similar to tequila. Mezcal is pretty much an open ended category for drinks made from any type of agave plant. So this ended up being a strong “manly” drink served in a low-ball/old fashioned glass. The drink was very robust and nicely spiced. I question the purpose of the mezcal? I couldn’t particularly pick up on any of it.

LA CLASICA
tequila blanco, orange liqueur, lime
This is a classic magarita- like a REAL one. No neon colors, no slushie ice, and all fresh ingredients. It was really refreshing and tasty. Personally I like less ice, but is perfect for people who don’t like strong drinks.

LA PREFERIDA
tequila blanco, beet, habanero, lime
This is a twist to a margarita. Alexa got this drink and it comes out looking pretty pink-red because of the beet juice in it. It had just enough habanero to give a wee little kick.

NO LOVE LOST
london dry gin, lavender, cucumber, thyme, lime
This was my sister’s favorite drink, so much so she got it twice! I can see why. I found it super refreshing and you could taste all the different components. They worked all so well with each other. I strongly suggest this to anyone, but particularly to people who don’t like strong drinks.

SMOKING DARTS
mezcal blanco, white rum, creme de violette, rose water
DUMMY GUIDE: a tequila like liquor, un-aged rum, sweet violet flavor liquor, rose water.
This was my drink of choice! I’ve been wanting to try creme de violette for some time but not many liquor stores sell the stuff. FYI it is creme because the sugar gives a creamy texture. It was really nice. It had nice floral notes but wasn’t over powering. You don’t taste much of the rum and mezcal but I think they helped prevent the drink from tasting too much like perfume.


Naked Lunch at MOM’s Organics

1631 Kings Highway North Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
more locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., & Virginia
website | facebook | menu

When Alexa came to visit the Little Wolfie I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house. We went to try out Naked Lunch- a small cafe attached to the food market chain MOM’s Organics. I am here to gush about both places. I know I don’t talk about markets that often, but I am totally digging this one!

I was pretty skeptical at first, MOM’s opened up across from the Whole Foods in town. I thought “who the heck would shop at MOM’s over Whole Foods?” There are definetly pros and cons between the two. The biggest (only?) con about MOM’s is that they don’t have a barista bar. Womp womp! And clearly there are some brands that aren’t available at MOM’s that are at Whole Foods. But on the flip side there are MORE smaller brands and products at MOM’s organics (and actual sales!).

They sell local ice cream brand Little Baby’s. They always have one vegan flavor for sale.

I remember coming into Whole Foods years ago and finding everything so new and amazing. There were so many eco-friendly and exciting new vegan products. But as time went on, it seemed to be not-so-special. I don’t know if it is because I am older, or if they got rid of the more unique items, but coming to MOM’s reminded me of the early days of Whole Foods and being excited about grocery shopping. There is a huge section of bulk foods including pastas, grains, beans, and soaps. They sell tofu by the pound and roast their own coffee beans. They are really interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Don’t want to waste a bag each time you buy beans? They sell glass jars to fill up, and I am sure you can bring your own containers.

There are also lots of products for sale that aren’t food. I almost flipped that they sold cloth diapers- the first store I saw them being sold in! I even bought a reusable coffee filter from there and they do seasonal collections for recycling items. Recently there was a jeans drive. At the exit there is a recycling bin for many different types of non-traditional items – snack bags/plastic bags, brita filters, corks, and shoes.

Any my favorite is that near the registers there are free cups of water- right next to the bottled water. How nice!

As mentioned they have a little cafe named Naked Lunch. Alexa and I ate here. They offer on tap kombucha, which isn’t as tasty as the ones at Whole Foods or Heart Beet Kitchen. It is a smidge too sweet for me, so depending on your preference, you might like it more. But the price is MUCH cheaper than the other two locations, so it is totally worth it. They also have fresh juices, though we didn’t try any of them.

The area for eating is very small, but there appears to be a wifi area on the second floor of the store. I haven’t checked that out yet, so I can’t make any comments on how nice it is. But I would ask the staff about it if you want to take your time eating your lunch.

All food is organic and vegetarian and the options that are vegan are clearly marked. The portions are huge! Alexa and I both had food to bring home, and used it in meals for several more lunches. I can easily say it is worth the $10 (roughly) that we paid for our meals.

I got the Lin Bowl which had tofu, brown rice, carrots, seaweed, zucchini, and kimchi. It was super tasty and reminded me of fried rice. I ate maybe a quarter of it while there, and proceeded to use the rice in wraps for 4 different lunches. I wish it had just a little bit more tofu to rice. But that is my only complaint.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I ordered the Jammed Yam: Sweet Potato topped with pineapple-quinoa stuffing, avocado, and garnished with cilantro and jalapeño-lime dressing…

I loved how refreshing this tasted. I don’t think I would ever think to put all of these items together in one dish but it definitely worked.

The only thing that’s tough with vegan dishes for me is that a lot of times the dishes can lean towards being mostly carbs depending on the grains and veggies. I track my food on an almost daily basis (it’s not as grueling as it sounds – I promise!) so this really helped me meet my carb intake with the quinoa and sweet potato. The jalapeño-lime dressing wasn’t too spicy but definitely added a good flavor to the dish that was nice.

Like Jen said, we had plenty to take home, so I used it as a side for almost three meals after we went here! 


If you read my earlier post, you know I am baking my way through the American Cake cookbook. If I can make a good vegan version, I’ll post it on the blog. If I fail, well, I will still talk about the history and how badly I failed. XD But I have good news- this cake was successful!

First lets talk about the history of this cake. Before getting the American Cake book I never knew how American molasses is. Sure it is used in European recipes, but it is used more often in the American colonies since it was so cheap. White sugar was reserved for the upper classes and special occasions. So most Americans bought molasses to sweeten their baked goods.

But there is another aspect of Americaness to molasses. Many Quaker residences boycotted sugar. The sugar industry relied on slave labor, and conditions were considerably worse than slaves in the thirteen colonies. Most slaves were literally worked to death (while in the United States we cruelly let our slaves live long enough to have children and enslave them.) This sugar boycott makes me think about how vegans boycott animal products, and sometimes products that have unethical standards, like chocolate and palm oil. I love learning about historical activism!

In that spirit I TRIED to make the cake palm oil free, but the a lot of the flavor depended on butter. So if you want to be like the colonial quakers, you can try out some palm oil free margarine (which in the states mean Miyoko’s Cultured Butter.) If anyone tries using their own homemade vegan butter, please tell me how the recipe turned out!

Now as usually I can never just make a recipe. No, I had to make this recipes “healthier.” How? Simply using blackstrap molasses instead of regular molasses. You may have heard that blackstrap molasses is much more pungent and it has more vitamins in it. In fact, there is a good amount of calcium in blackstrap. How does this happen? Pretty much molasses is the by product of refined sugar after being boiled a second time. Blackstrap molasses is the result from the third boiling. That means less sugar, and more nutritional goodies.

Although I wouldn’t say this is the most healthy snack, it definitely is helping you out nutritionally. One slice (an eighth of a cake) has almost half of calcium in your daily requirements and almost all of the copper you need! If you want to make it even MORE healthful you could use part whole wheat flour or sub with whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour. I used all purpose unbleached flour.

Continue reading


I love cake! It was always my favorite dessert as a kid- next to ice cream (for obvious reasons?). I never quite could relate to friends who thought cake was lame. I always had homemade cakes for my birthday. My favorite part was the actual cake part, not the frosting. Having a good frosting is especially important, and something I always remember is my friends having really gross cakes and frosting (probably because they would get cheap sheet cakes with Crisco frosting. Yuck.). 

I also remember admiring The Cake Bible. Baking seemed fun and exciting. But as I got older, it seemed that the American baked goods scene was boring. It is dominated with desserts that are made to taste like other things (like french toast covered in crushed sugary cereals, PB&J flavored everything, birthday cake flavored cookies, etc) or cakes that look like other objects. Nothing compared to the creativity with edible ingredients found in The Cake Bible (hello meringue swans on a blueberry jam pond)

Then Jon and I started to watch The Great British Bake Off. I fell back in love. I loved learning about all the different cakes, pastries, and desserts. Even the savory dishes were fun, mostly when they didn’t involve meat. It got me wondering, what about America? Do we have distinctive desserts?

I heard about American Cake from the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. I knew I needed that book. It combined so many things I loved, history and cakes. I also knew these cakes wouldn’t be vegan, so I would have to alter the recipes.

I originally was going to make this into a project for Vegan MOFO, but decided to post as I go along in the book. I won’t be making every single cake in the book. Some I am honestly not sure how to make vegan, or rather not sure how similar it would end up being to the original. For example there is an early colonial cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese. Do I bother trying to recreate that? Also there are three or four different pound cakes. Should I even bother? And don’t even get me started with angel food cake.

So follow me in my journey. I will either post about my adventures trying to make the cakes, and if possible, I will share my recipe. I naturally started with the first cake recipe, and one of my favorite types of cake- Gingerbread Cake. Hopefully, I will post it soon.

Recipes:

Applesauce Cake
Blackstrap Spiced Cake
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
Cowboy Cake
Election Cake
The Wacky Cake


This year we haven’t watched as many horror films as hubs and I had hoped. I think this happens every year though. This year seems to be a little more realistic as to why we haven’t watched many films. Lots of driving, and lots of learning about baby stuff. So I will end the month of October with the last of the films we watched.

file_744272_girl_walks_home_alone_at_night_xlg

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Year: 2014
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Vampire
Watch: Netflix + YouTube

Plot: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. –IMDB

Review: This is a hard movie to describe. It fits the horror genre since a vampire is in the plot, and there are some serious spooky vibes going on with this film. But in many ways this seemed more like a new wave feminist batman. The pacing is slow, erie, but never employs any shock or gore like most horror films. This sits between genres in a similar way Let the Right One In does. To say it isn’t a horror would be wrong… but to say it is would feel a little like a lie. 

The story follows a young man Arash who is struggling to support his drug addicted Father. Work is hard to come by in his town, as it is a run down ghost town. He comes into a large amount of drugs after his Father’s dealer is killed. After dealing some drugs at a party, Arash runs into a strange girl on the street, starting a romance. Little does he know, this girl is going around town ridding it of men who take advantage of women.

This is only the second Iranian film I have seen. Awhile ago I watched the film The White Balloon, and loved it. This movie is directed by a female, which is rare for the horror genre, film in general, and I am sure for Iranian film as well. The movie relies heavily on it spectacular visuals, otherwise the story would be too slow moving. What I find interesting about the film is it’s borderline love affair with Western media, but it still feels very fantastical and foreign. Even though it feels like it could be an Iranian town, the whole film is shot in California. The main character listens to largely Western music, but Iranian pop is sprinkled throughout the film. This could be because the director Ana Lily Amirpour was born in England, but grew up in the United States.

And some people point out that maybe that is what the film is about. An Iranian women struggling to live in a world that isn’t part of her upbringing. The Girl is surrounded by drugs, sex, and female abuse, and she fights against it. The Girl wears a veil while out, but is it because it helps her stay hidden? Or is because she is a practicing Muslim?

Overall: Great for art house film lovers

01cover1

House

Also Known As: Hausu
Year: 1977
Directed by: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Haunted House
Watch: Hulu + YouTube Trailer

Plot: Oshare (Gorgeous) is excited about spending summer vacation with her father, until she finds out that his beautiful, freakishly serene girlfriend Ryouko would be going as well. Oshare decides she will be going to her aunt’s house in the country instead. She brings with her her friends from school – Fanta (who likes to take pictures, and daydreams a lot), KunFuu (who has very good reflexes), Gari/Prof (who is a major nerd), Sweet (who likes to clean), Mac (who eats a lot), and Melody (a musician). However, the girls are unaware that Oshare’s aunt is actually dead and the house is actually haunted. When they arrive at the house, crazy events take place and the girls disappear one by one while slowly discovering the secret behind all the madness –IMDB

tumblr_lm17s1gany1qg39ewo1_500

Review: Confession time- I didn’t actually watch this movie, at least this year. Alexa did. She texted me as she started to watch it, because it is something else. I could talk about the metaphors. I could talk about how “Japanese” it is to give people some context. But what really makes this movie shine is just how out there and unique it is. I can think of other films to recommend for any of the movies I reviewed on the blog, but not this one. House stands alone. Heck, I don’t think there is anything else directed by Obayashi that is anywhere as crazy as House.

tumblr_lm1fqsykni1qg39ewo1_500

So what makes this movie so unique? Well, filming techniques are all over the place. Ranging from weird cuts, songs, melodramatic sets, green screened effect, stop motion animation, I mean everything. If it is a special effect at the time, Obayashi used it. And he used it to make some humorous ways to die. Death by piano? Check. Disembodies head biting your butt? Check. Clearly Obayashi had a sense a humor about the whole horror genre, and let’s be honest, maybe some drugs were involved.

1e7

The end result is the most “gif-able” movie ever made. What I love about this film is that it is funny, it is suppose to be funny. And even though it is so light hearted and doesn’t take the spooky aspects seriously it still packs as much gore as any other horror film. There is no shortage of blood, missing girls, skeletons, and gore. You’ll probably still have no problem sleeping at night, but you have that safe “danger” that you get from say a Goosebumps episode.

tumblr_moqgshhjdd1qzqnxxo2_500

The movie falls between two camps. It is kitchy and gaudy, and really attracts the type of people who like movies like Troll 2. But unlike Troll 2, a floating head that bites your butt is suppose to be laughed at, so it isn’t really the type of film that is so awful that it is good. It is probably better to be describe it like a tragedy or melodrama. There is just so much drama going on that you accept this alternative universe for what it is. Any holes in the plot line, or flaws in the characters are easily dismissed. Possibly the closest thing to be out there is maybe The Rocky Horror Picture Show, only with crack.

tumblr_nv98u5hhlo1sln1d3o1_500

You might be questioning if this film is for you. I mean there is a painting of a cat spewing out blood. I remember being very unsure when I first started to watch it. I couldn’t quite make up my mind about what to think. I remember sensing my husband’s uncertainty when we saw it at The International House. But the further along you watch, it all begins to click as the girls move away from their everyday life to the haunted house. The surreal hell house becomes a character of it’s own, and you surrender all logic of film to Obayashi. Give it a chance. You’ll be happy you did.

Overall: Everyone needs to see this film

8099556095_77cda9954e_b

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Year: 1962
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Psycho-biddy
Watch: Amazon Rental + YouTube

Plot: In a tale that almost redefines sibling rivalry, faded actresses Blanche and ‘Baby’ Jane Hudson live together. Jane was by far the most famous when she performed with their father in vaudeville but as they got older, it was Blanche who became the finer actress, which Jane still resents. Blanche is now confined to a wheelchair and Jane is firmly in control. As time goes by, Jane exercises greater and greater control over her sister, intercepting her letters and ensuring that few if anyone from the outside has any contact with her. As Jane slowly loses her mind, she torments her sister going to ever greater extremes. –IMDB

Review: I remember watching this film when I was younger. I knew what the story was about, and I remember thinking the story seemed so obvious. But watching it again with my husband I thought it was much more chilling than I remembered. The movie floats right on that blurry line of psychological thriller and horror. So heads up, no spooky ghosts or supernatural things in this film.

The movie was based on the novel with the same title. The movie was so unique at the time, that it received an initial X rating in the UK. The movie was such a success that it created a new genre- Psycho-biddy. Stories that base their real life horror on mental instability of aging women. The genre has slowly faded away, mostly because society has been more forgiving on older women. But let’s face it, in the age of plastic surgery, women are constantly being told to never age.

I am hesitant to speak too much of the film since it is such a classic. And unlike newer horror films, you can still be spooked if you know the ending. If I accidentally give up the ending, it probably wouldn’t be so spooky. I do note, since this is a vegan blog, there is some animal deaths in the film. Nothing too graphic, especially when compared with the next film I am reviewing (The Witch) This is another great film for anyone who is a little bit of a scaredy cat. 

Overall: Classic film.

thewitch_teaser_03_halfsize

The Witch

Year: 2015
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Witches
Watch: Amazon Prime + YouTube

Plot: New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. ‘The Witch’ is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil. –IMDB

Review: I’ve been obsessed lately with Stuff You Missed in History Class. Every year they try and do a bunch of Halloween themed episodes, usually revolving around witch hunts, ghost hauntings, or general mysteries. I guess because of this I was in the perfect mood to watch this film. That and I wanted to watch it last year in theaters but ran out of time. 

Just like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, this film isn’t your typical horror film. This movie has a very slow pace, which is fitting for the story. The story takes place in 1630, with an exiled family. Life moves slowly. What I think Eggers does well is captures the mania that happened with settlers in the past. We constantly hear about how people in the past would blame ailments on witches, and it makes them seem dumb and irrational. But in reality is a great way to live in denial, or to have a scapegoat. Even today many people say their house is haunted and are convinced the thumping in the attic is a ghost, not a raccoon.

I pretty much loved everything about this film. The acting, direction, photography, editing sound, like I said everything. It is a refreshing breath of air for the horror genre since it has all the same editing, sound, color, and lighting techniques. There is much less of a big loud startling thump that makes you jump. But as mentioning since it doesn’t have these elements, I think many people might be dissapointed. If you approach the film as just another movie, you can fully apprieciate it.

And since this is a vegan blog, and this movie is about early settlers you can guess there will be some graphic imagery with animals. Let’s just put it this way- no major pain inflicted to animals but you will see blood.

Overall: Excellent ode to New England superstitions

young-frankenstein_poster

Young Frankenstein

Year: 1974
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Comedy
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that he is not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body. –IMDB

Review: Ever watched a trailer for a comedy, and thought “this trailer is pretty funny, I should see this movie!” Buuuut…. when you watched the movie you find out that all the really funny jokes were in the trailer, and therefore the movie was just boring? That’s what I felt with Young Frankenstein. I’ve seen it talked about on that “I Love the 70’s” mini series, and had clips played often from friends.

My husband has been DYING to get me to watch it. “You gotta watch Young Frankenstein,” and I have found that if you tell me something is the best or that I HAVE to watch it, I tend to think it is overrated (like oh The Matrix.) But I felt bad for all the movies I was picking out, so I thought now would be the time to watch it. Sadly, I heard most of the great one liners already.

I should of liked the film. It was funny, and filmed perfectly in the style of the old horror films. But again, I heard so many of the jokes before. Plus I had the same issue as An American Warewolf in London with Young Frankenstein. The women were meh. I get the jokes and where they were coming from culturally. Older horror films always had that sexual tension between the leading male and some random woman. But it would of been nice to have a female character that went outside of stereotypes and been stronger.

Overall: Funny and great if you haven’t heard any of the jokes before


Unless you are just checking out my blog for the first time ever, you probably already know that I am pregnant. Actually, 8 months along at this point. And some people already know that most pregnant women aren’t suppose to have coffee- or rather they are only suppose to have so much caffeine. I am pretty sporadic about my coffee intake, but because I don’t have it all the time, I can accidentally guzzled too much in one day. And top it off, pregnant women have a harder time getting caffeine out of their system. I had a day or two where I accidentally drink too much caffeine and was rather jittery.

But I know many people like to drink less coffee, or can’t have any caffeine in their diet for medical reason. Because of these reasons, I was really happy to try out some coffee like products on the market. I tried to have the products in various styles to try and fill everyone’s coffee desires.

Two Quick Notes! I bought all these products on my own. So these are all my own opinions, though I never give my input about if the cost is worth it. Truthfully I like buying expensive coffee so I say all are worth the price. But if you are looking for cheap- go for the teeccino. My second note is that I don’t think caffeine is evil. I think out of most plant based stimulants caffeine is pretty awesome and safe (when in a natural state of coarse, you can overdose on the purified powdered stuff.) I am reviewing low caffeine or caffeine free products so no tea and yerba mate reviews. I also wanted the flavor to be in the same ball park but still be fairly easy to find in stores.

crubru

Crio Bru

Website: Crio Bru.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Online Shop, & Store Locator
Style: Ghana Light Roast

What is it?: I’ve heard about this drink for awhile and have wanted to try it ever since I’ve heard of it. Pretty much the cacao bean is roasted in the same style as the coffee bean

Positives: It isn’t 100% caffeine free, which to me is a good thing. I like having a little bit of a caffeine kick, and it also provides a little bit of bitterness. It also never claims to taste like coffee so you can drink it with an open mind. But the cacao is easy to mix with coffee beans if you are trying to help wean yourself off of coffee grounds. Mixing the two also give a really awesome and unique flavor (think mocha)

Negatives: It is a little watery and pre-ground. The drink is thinner than normal brewed coffee, and I think it would help if the grinds were a little smaller. But you can’t do that since they are pre-ground.

How to Brew: I’ve tried this in many ways, pulled an espresso shot, french press, and drip. I have found the only way to drink this is by using a french press. The espresso was a watery mess, and the drip was alright but tended to have trouble filtering. The French Press will give the best full body flavor.

What it tastes like?: It tastes like a watered down mocha latte- kind-of. There is a distinct chocolate/cacao flavor going on, but you have some rich notes that give a subtle notes similar to coffee. This clearly doesn’t taste like coffee, it has a totally different flavor profile, but can fill the void of full body, bitter, hot beverages.

teeccino

Teeccino

Website: Teeccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locator
Style: French Roast, Mocha, Maya Chai

What is it?: A blend of various plants and herbs. The main ingredients being used are carob, chicory root, nuts, barley, dandelion root, and some nuts and dried fruit. There are many blends available in different packaging. There are some that are gluten free (without the barley), tea bags, loose for drip, and lots of accessories.

Positives: This is 100% caffeine free for anyone who wants it. The drink also comes in various different methods so you can either brew it at home, or have tea bags for on the go. There also many flavors which works well for anyone who might be a picky eater. This brand is also probably the most widely available coffee substitute as I found it at Whole Foods, Wegmans, and small mom-and-pop health food stores. 

Negatives: It is easy to mess up the brewing process. There have been times where I over brewed and had horrible tasting teeccino. Because of this, it isn’t so easy to mix the teeccino with coffee grounds if you are trying to get rid of caffein from your diet. The brew time is less than regular coffee, and you need much less grinds as well. I am also not a huge fan of their push for a caffeine lifestyle as they use very questionable spokes people sometimes.

How to Brew: I’ve tried many methods, and found my favorite is the tea bags and pulling espresso shots. The tea bags make it so you don’t add too much tea to the brew, and you want to use less than the average cup of coffee. Because of this strong flavor, it works perfectly for an espresso machine. I pulled a shot, added it to iced soy milk, and had a yummy latte, though it highlighted the flavors that aren’t as coffee-like.

What it tastes like?: This tastes the most like a cup of coffee. It doesn’t quite taste the same, but if you ever had a coffee-chicory root drink than you have a better idea what this stuff tastes like. It uses various grains and such that give a similar bitter flavor, but they use coffee flavorings which really give it that authentic flavor. Overall if I am craving coffee but don’t want the caffeine, this stuff is pretty satisfying. It is full bodied, full of flavor, and in some ways better than just drinking decaf coffee. Crazy? Maybe.

macaccino3

Macaccino

Website: Macaccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locations
Style: Original Roasted Maca Blend

What is it?: These are blends of maca root that have been roasted to give a more coffee like flavor. Their original blend uses maca, cocoa, nutmeg, mesquite, and cinnamon, but they have two other blends. Their black reserve uses black, red, and yellow maca root along with beet powder. Their mint has a little dried peppermint leaf.

Positives: Super portable and quick to make. If you like instant coffee (ugh, so bad tasting) this is the coffee replacement for you. Just add hot water, stir, and add any creamers and sugar. Because of the powder form, it makes it easy to make other coffee flavored snacks like lattes, smoothies, and desserts. I also like how this brand promotes the use of other vegan products when making.

Negatives: It is a little gritty overall. I find that towards the end of the cup it gets a little too thick, which could be remedied by adding more hot water. Even when I make my macaccino latte, it still gets a little thick at the bottom.

How to Brew: There is pretty much only one way to “brew” and that is to dissolve the powder. You can use hot water or add mostly soy milk like I do. You can sub any recipe that uses espresso powder with this.

What it tastes like?: Just like the Crio Bru there is something very coffee like that comes from roasting the maca. But you most definitely can taste the maca flavor coming through. There is no way you could just sub the macaccino powder with just maca. As mentioned before, since it is a powder that is mixed with hot water, it does have some off the pitfalls as instant coffee does. But I would think more on par with Starbucks super finely ground instant coffee.