Tag Archives: review

less space, more stuff!

22 Nov

I like to think that I have a very well-equipped kitchen. From utensils and gadgets to pans and hardware, I have a lot of really solid tools for my trade. Some might say I have too many kitchen toys… The things is, as you all know, finding places to put all this stuff. Storage! That is the one thing you can never have too much of.*

Thankfully, technology is my friend and helps me find more ways to save time and space in the kitchen!

Okay, but seriously. I used to own this:

a 4-quart crock pot, without that nasty stock photo meat in it

and this:

an 8-cup rice cooker

and this:

a 6-quart stove top pressure cooker

Whew! Large and in charge, all three of these items took up a ton of space. A few months ago, Jim and I were looking at getting a newer, nicer rice cooker and stumbled across this beast:

Fagor 3-in-1 6 quart multi-cooker

I immediate busted out my phone and did what I always do when I’m considering an unknown purchase- look at reviews on Amazon. It was looking pretty promising and the price was totally right, so we decided to take the plunge and get it. It has since taken the place of all three of the above, which I was liberating by releasing into the wild (of other people’s kitchens).

After several months of using it, here is my assessment:

Pros:
-Replaces 3 large kitchen appliances.
-Pressure cooking done on the counter top now, rather than taking up the stove!
-Rice/quinoa is cooked under pressure and cooks in just 6 minutes once the unit reaches pressure (so total time is about 10 minutes). I only need to run it for 2 cycles for wild rice! Nice.
-Rice texture is fluffy and great plus no more browning on the bottom of the pot when left on “warm”.
-Much quieter when pressure cooking than the stove top model.
-Beans are tender.
-Slow cooks perfectly.

Cons:

-Because there is only one way to release the pressure (valve), can’t employ the “quick release” method we were used to on the stove top. It’s not really a con, but has taken some getting used to in our bean preparation times based on our old habits. We haven’t ruined a batch yet, though, and we’re getting a better feel for it each time.
-The only option for slow cooking is the low setting, no high setting. This works fine for us because I never use the high setting, but could be a drawback for someone else.

So, you can see the pros outweigh the cons significantly. I’ve been incredibly happy with this purchase and keep recommending it to people, so I figured I should blog about it! The cost of a really good rice cooker alone is usually close to double the cost of the this unit. And, for the record, I am writing this review on my own accord. Cool companies never offer me swag. Alas, I buy my own gadgets. πŸ™‚

What kitchen appliance or tool do you most love?

*This is a totally unrelated side note but whatever, I love tangents. I know there are a lot of grammarians and English majors who read this blog. As I was proofreading this entry, I noticed the above sentence, which I ended with a preposition. “Eeek!” I could collectively hear you saying. “You should never end a sentence with a preposition!” Little known fact, I used to be a Linguistics major in college, so here’s a story about the history of English and that silly rule.

Centuries ago, when more and more books and pamphlets were being put to print, grammarians were concerned about the degradation of the English language (when aren’t they concerned?). They decided it was time to put more rules and parameters around English. Latin was revered as the true, “educated” language to which we should aspire to emulate. It was natural to them that they decided in order to speak proper English, they would apply rules of Latin to it. In Latin, there is a rule which says you cannot end a sentence with a preposition because you literally cannot. Your sentence would not make sense because within the structure of Latin because it would not be reflecting back onto a noun, it would just hang there and be nonsense.

Now, being that we aren’t speaking Latin and that you can understand most English sentences with the preposition falling at the end of the sentence, it’s not actually necessary. Sure, sometimes a restructure of a sentence makes it sound better, but sometimes it sounds worse. As I always say, do what feels right to your ear. And if you’re interested in reading more about this misguided rule, click here or here.

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food cart friday- and a giveaway!

12 Nov

Portland is known as the land of food carts. You literally can’t pass an unused parking lot or street corner without tripping over one. You think it would get old- I think it’s heaven.

For most people from other parts of the country, the idea of eating out of an old airstream, a renovated Roach Coach or a bus sounds unappealing. That is, until you eat food made by amazing chefs with good sense- the overhead is low, they are still held to the same health code standards as standard restaurants and they are much easier to start up, and from there decide if they really want to have a restaurant. The food carts in Portland are so amazing, I literally would be content if I never stepped foot in a regular restaurant again (with the exception of my beloved BL, of course).

The food carts I’m featuring here aren’t neccesarily new to the Portland scene, quite the contrary in most cases, but they are some of my favorites and I had pictures of their food on my phone. So there. πŸ™‚

Best “Dutch burrito”- Flavour Spot

Flavour Spot not only wins for having an awesome vegan waffle sandwich (a crisp waffle stuffed with vegan sausage and schmeared with maple cream), they get extra points for spelling “flavour” with a “u”. They have three locations in Portland, with their Old Town location having night time hours. Excellent.

Best tofu from a truck- Los Gorditos

Los Gorditos, the famed Portland Mexican food truck (and now a brick and mortar restaurant as well), with an exhaustive vegan menu, has the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. My favorite item is the Tofu Bowl, which is actually a large plate (go figure), full of seasoned tofu chunks, creamy refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, soy sour cream and avocado. It’s served with piping hot corn tortillas to use to scoop up the magic mix. They also do things with soy curls that make your eyes roll in the back of your head with pleasure.

Most mouth-gasm inducing meal- Wolf & Bear’s

If you think you like falafel, you don’t know anything until you’ve had Wolf & Bear’s. This cart is run by two folks of Israeli descent. I’ve never been to the Middle East, but I have heard from many a credible source that this falafel is the best they’ve ever had in the US. Everything about it is mind-blowing- from the flavorful falafel patty (which is flat rather than in round balls, making it much easier to eat and allowing for falafel-maximizing bites), the fresh pita, the hummus, the tahini, the caramelized onions and grilled pepper and eggplant to the little mix of olives and Israeli pickles (cured in salt brine, not vinegar) on the side. When eating at Wolf & Bear’s, Jim and I can’t even speak, we are so intoxicated with our food. Sadly, the cart owners close down for the soggy winter months, alas, there will be no falafel until next spring. Bummer, but worth the wait.

Best health-infused meal from a cheekily-named cart- Lucille’s Balls

Lucille’s is a newer cart in Portland, in the Good Food Here pod (a pod is a congregation of carts, like an outdoor food court but much more delicious). While the vegan options are limited, they are awesome. This is food cart food you can feel good about eating. The idea is this: pick your balls, pick your sauce, with your base and chow down. I like the sweet potato/spinach balls with coconut curry sauce over polenta. SO GOOD. It’s also served up with a little side salad, which has a tasty viniagrette with a little kick to it. Also in the Good Food Here pod is Kitchen Dances, which is run by Piper, formerly of Proper Eats. They also have great food (including raw options!), but alas I have no pictures.

What are other people’s favorite food carts? I realize I didn’t add Whiffies or Potato Champion, which are good and enormously popular, but I’m just not much of a fried food person.

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And now, for this week’s MoFo winner- the post I picked from was my post on healthy baking and winner was lucky commentor #5, Lizzie! Lizzie, in honor of my fun interview with the fabulous Celine, you win a copy of 500 Vegan Recipes!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

restaurant fΓΌd and the giveaway!

5 Nov

Wow, so the first week of Vegan MoFo is rolling to a close. So far, so good! There has been lots of amazing food to look at and I’m discovering so many new-to-me blogs! That’s what it’s all about, right?

So, restaurant posts seem like a bit of a cop-out. Which they are. But, if you want someone’s opinion on a restaurant, it’s really nice to read blog reviews, right? Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures, as my camera on my phone is less-than-spectacular.

First stop is Dick’s Kitchen, in SE Portland. This is a newer restaurant that has cropped up in the space next to Laughing Planet, a space that is owned and operated by Laughing Planet, but has cycled through four different eating establishments in the past 4 years. It’s got a mod-retro diner feel and specializes in burgers. I’m usually pretty “meh” about that sort of thing, but a friend mentioned that they serve vegan milkshakes. Veggie burgers, fries AND vegan milkshakes? Okay, I had to go.

the aforementioned crappy cell phone pic.

I had a tempeh burger with BBQ sauce, some fries and a chocolate milkshake, which was made with Coconut Bliss, an extra special treat. I wasn’t entirely won over, but I will go back and try something else on their menu. My particular meal was good, but not overwhelmingly so, although I love the fact that they make everything from scratch. Any by everything, I mean everything. Ketchup, pickles, BBQ sauce, etc. Very cool.

Although this makes me come back to a point that I’ve often wondered: is it possible to get a vegan milkshake that’s actually thick? Like straining-to-suck-through-the-straw thick? They are always so runny and smoothie-like. Sip does a pretty good job, but when I see vegan milkshakes on the menu, I am often let down.

Moving on to other noms: Back to Eden. If you’re a Portlander, BtE is now a Portland staple, fa ormer wholesale bakery turned NE Portland bakeshop/cafe. We stopped in for a bite on Halloween night and ended up with these beauties.

A gluten-free chocolate cupcake with orange cream frosting. One of the things I love about their buttercream (a thing I am notoriously picky about) is that it’s just right. Not crunchy with an overkill of sugary sweetness, but not bland, leaving an oil slick in your mouth (I’m talking to you, Saint Cupcake). Smooth and sweet, the way buttercream should be.

A butterscotch pudding tart. Don’t you love the little chocolate spider’s web? This was phenomenal and had Jim and I fork sparring for the last bite. Yum.

And now, for the Vegan MoFo week 1 giveaway winner! Each week I’m picking a random post and giving away a random prize to a random commentor. This week I happened to pick the post that has the prize in it: the garlic post! The winner is, none other than our lovely, preggers Leigh! Leigh, you pick whether you want the rubber peeler or the Zoom and it’s yours, baby mama.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you here next week for more MoFo!

garlic rehab

4 Nov

I have a dirty little secret. One of those things that foodie people mock loudly and then all their groupies join in, laughing, while some of us awkwardly chuckle as our eyes dart around, nervously, to see if we’ve been found.

For years, I primarily used jarred garlic. And you know what? I still have a jar in my fridge.

Sure, fresh garlic is cheap and tastes better. But getting those pesky skins off each clove was making me nuts! Then my fingers would stink for days, no matter how many times I ran cold water over my fingers while rubbing them over the back of a spoon or using lemon juice. Real garlic only got pulled out for company and jarred was good enough for us.

And then, last year, this little friend arrived in my stocking:

Sure, I’d seen these at the store before, but always thought, “Seriously? What a gimmick!” I mean, come on, a rubber tube? What good would that going to do? I thought it was sweet that Jim tried to get me a new gadget, even thought it wasn’t going to work. Right?

Oh boy, little rubber tube + fresh garlic = WIN! All it takes is a couple of seconds of rocking and rolling on the counter and the skins just shed off. Perfecto!

But now, to mince. Again, I don’t want stinky hands. Enter:

The GarlicZoom. It looks stupid, but works really, really well. Between the tube and the Zoom, I have freshly minced garlic in under 1 minute, no joke.

Now, you may have noticed that I said that I still have a jar of garlic. Sometimes I’m out of fresh or I’m really just that lazy. But I have to give it to these little, vampire-repellent tools of the trade. They rock.

*I just want to note that I was not paid or asked by either company to promote these products. I just has a luv.

cleanin’ up my act… for now

28 Sep

*The winners are: Abby, Tracy, Hope, Aimee and Amanda! I discovered I had 5 coupons, all good for 1 free Nasoya item so yay for you guys! Email me your addresses and I’ll pop them in the mail!*

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. That good thing right now is cake.

Oy.

With cooler weather on its way and the desire eat heartier foods pulling at me, I’m also feeling the need to take a step back and freshen up my palette. My recipe for recalibration = fruits and veggies, and lots of ’em!

Breakfasts have consisted of monster green smoothies which easily stick to my ribs and tide me over until lunch with a little scoop of hemp seeds. Lunch varies between salads, soups, stews and veggie chili. Dinner, we’ve been keeping light with yummies such as this:

Mexican spiced beans with sauteed bell pepper and onion and a healthy blob of guac in a crisp leaf of lettuce. Oh, guacamole-topped-anything, how I love thee.

When we don’t feel like cooking, one of my favorite places to eat (besides Blossoming Lotus, for whom my heart burns bright), Jim and I journey across the river to Prasad, which shares the Yoga in the Pearl space which BL once held. “Prasad” is a Sanskrit word meaning “holy food” and this place pretty much nails it on the head. They have that whole natural-meets-gourmet thing well worked out and some of our favorite dishes to turn to are of the raw pasta variety. If you’ve never had raw pasta before, behold:

Above is my favorite, the Love Pasta. Zucchini noodles, adorned with hemp pesto, some greens, tomatoes, carrots and a cashew cream sauce that is mouthwateringly fabulous. They even cap it off with a darling carrot heart. Aw…

Above is the Sea Ceasar Pasta, zucchini noodles coated in a seaweed spiked Ceasar dressing, with some cucumbers, raw kale and carrots tie it all together. Creamy and delicious, Prasad knows their raw pastas. Sorry that the pictures don’t do more justice to the food, as they were from my phone.

I HAVE to get one of those spiral cutters for zucchini, it’s just amazing the kind of noodles it makes! I am experiencing some serious raw food envy, between the amazing food that I get here and my raw foodie co-worker, who is always telling me about her latest adventures with her dehydrator. Ah, vegan eating… And people think we’re deprived… πŸ™‚

What kinds of things do you like to eat when you’re trying to clean up your act? Or if you’re just a raw/whole foods lover (as I suspect most of you are), what are your favorite treats or meals? The fine folks at Nasoya have gifted me with some coupons for 1 free item and they have some yummy products to tickle your tastebuds. On Friday I’ll randomly pick 3 lucky people to get these coupons (US only again, sorry), so leave a note with your healthy eating suggestions!

chocolate nut milk showdown

8 Aug

Chocolate almond milk has always been staple in our house. It’s just SO good! When stocking up last week, I noticed something new- chocolate hazelnut milk! Pacific has also started carrying their own hemp milk, so we decided to have a nut milk showdown. The judges were: myself, Jim and my little brother Alec.

The votes:

Kris:
Almond milk- still the reigning champ at #1.
Hazelnut milk- a very close second. More cocoay than chocolatey, but with a nice hint of hazelnuts. Reminded me of Nutella.
Hemp milk- okay in a pinch, but Living Harvest’s hemp milk is much better.

Jim:
Almond milk- again, still #1
Hazelnut milk- very creamy, the cocoay-ness was also noted.
Hemp milk- while being chocolatey, had other flavors present that distracted from “the experience”.

Alec:
Hazelnut milk- dissenting from the majority, Alec felt that the presence of the hazelnut flavor took this chocolate milk up a notch. The mouth feel was better than the almond milk.
Almond milk- it was sweet and chocolatey, but “full of almondness”- I don’t know what that means. πŸ™‚
Hemp milk- Meh. Not as good as Living Harvest.

So, it appears that almond milk is still the champion, but hazelnut will become a frequent visitor. Drank in our Welch’s jelly jars, of course.

What’s your favorite chocolate milk?

a review and vegan baking on the tv…

30 Dec

I’m in love.

I adore Portland. I love it so much that even thought Seattle has superior Asian cuisine and Mighty O Donuts, I am still always happy to see the Portland skyline when we arrive back in town, home of my beloved Blossoming Lotus, Proper Eats, Black Sheep and many, many others.

Enter Thrive, a newish (1 year old, maybe?) vegan restaurant in Seattle, conveniently located in our family’s neighborhood. It’s primarily a raw restaurant, with it’s only cooked food being some grains included in some recipes. The decor is warm and inviting. You can purchase some of the ingredients in bulk while you’re there. The service is incredible, so friendly and warm you’d think the workers were on something.

And they are! They are on their incredible, crave-inducing food that almost created an embarrassing When Harry Met Sally scene, as I had to keep shushing Jim as he exclaimed and made yummy noises with concerning gusto. It’s that simple kind of food, healthy and whole foods based, that explodes in your mouth upon contact. Lots of places can make food healthy, but to make a nutritious meal borderline (food)pornographic takes talent and they’ve got it at Thrive.

The pictures aren’t so hot, as I was more concerned with stuffing my face than photographing the food, but you’ll get the drift.

Boutenko’s Best smoothie- not quite as green as it normally is (I’ve had it twice now) as they were out of kale, but SO delicious and refreshing. Made, of course, in a Vita-Mix. Vita-Mix represent!

This is the Awaken Bowl, a base of Bhutanese red rice and quinoa with raw zucchini, carrots, scallions, veggies, marinated spinach, avocado and nori with a side of sesame-ginger sauce. This meal is so amazingly satisfying and complex, it blows my mind.

Okay, I know this picture is terrible, but we got dessert to-go and it was taken under the dome light of a 24-year-old car. So all things considered, it’s a great photo. πŸ˜‰

This dessert… there are no words. Jim likes really traditional desserts, a piece of cake or a cookie. He’s not much a “fancy” dessert person. This is a slice of chocolate strawberry swirl mousse pie. All raw. MIND-BLOWING. I don’t normally like to share desserts, but the slice was generous and very rich, so I was happy to split it with Jim, who was eagerly spoon-fed as he tried to keep it cool while consuming said mousse pie while driving and keep us on the road. This was literally one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Period.

So while Portland is where my heart is, Thrive has lodged itself firmly in there and I’m gladly making space.

And in other news… I’m going to be on TV next week! A local morning show, AM Northwest on KATU news, will be featuring little ol’ me on a morning segment next Tuesday on vegan baking as a New Year’s resolution to a healthier and friendlier lifestyle. I will post the link to the show once it’s up. Horray for vegan baking!