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How to make brown sugar

One of the cool things about Vegan Mofo is that while you’re cruising around checking out other people’s posts, you get ideas for new posts of your own.

This happened to me yesterday as I read Bianca’s post about vegan sugars. It’s true, it can be hard to find vegan brown sugar and powdered sugar in certain places. And sometimes even when you find it, it’s really expensive.

A while back, our supplier for the bakery was out of vegan brown sugar. For a few weeks. Our supply was completely cached and we had to figure something out. Buying retail bags would be way too expensive. Since brown sugar is just sugar and molasses, you can just add sugar to molasses! Der. I just googled how to make brown sugar to get the ingredient ratio. After this, we just kept making it instead of buying it. It’s cheaper and easy to do.

At home this is especially handy when you don’t bake often and would rather not have an extra bag of stuff you rarely use taking up space in your cabinet. So here’s how to make brown sugar:

vegan brown sugar

Brown Sugar Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup vegan sugar
1 tablespoon molasses for light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar

Mix together with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Use immediately or store in an air tight container.

Eating vegan at non-vegan restaurants in Atlanta

While Atlanta does have a few all-vegan restaurants, we don’t have enough to keep me from getting bored. It’s a good thing we have lots of non-vegan restaurants with vegan options. Here are just a few examples:

So Kong Dong Tofu House

so kong dong tofu house

First, the Kimchi at So Kong Dong Tofu House isn’t vegan. So don’t eat that. But, there are a few vegan options on the menu. Get the Vegetable Tofu Dumpling Soup. If you ask for spicy, you will get spicy. They don’t mess around. You can get vegan Bibimbap. And this is the Bibim Gook Soo, a cold noodle dish that is amazing. Also, DONG.

bibim gook soo

Lee’s Bakery

At Lee’s Bakery, you can get vegan banh mi (ask them to leave off the mayo), tofu spring rolls and pho. Can’t decide? They have a half sandwich/pho combo so you don’t have to. Also, it’s super cheap!

vegan banh mi

vegan spring rolls

vegan pho

Chai Pani

Chai Pani serves Indian food snacks in Decatur. This is either the Bhel Puri or Green Mango Chaat. I’ve had and enjoyed both and both are filled with crunchy things so it’s hard to tell.

chai pani

This, this is a samosa. It’s fairly large and filling. The best thing to do here is go with some people, get a few things and then everybody eat all the things. Must haves: the Kale Pakoras and the Matchstick Okra Fries. If you don’t like okra because of the slime, try these. Slime free!

samosa at chai pani

Fuego Mundo

Fuego Mundo is a South American wood-fire grill in Sandy Springs. It’s kosher and they have vegan and gluten free options. Seriously, if you have a diverse group, this is a great place. I typically go with the tofu steak, grilled and seasoned. They have a bunch of vegan side options. Sometimes I’m good and I do quinoa. And then sometimes what you see below happens. Hey, at least I got a salad.

tofu steak at fuego mundo

Ammazza

Ammazza makes a vegan pizza with a house made cashew cheese sauce. We’ve actually only been once to have it and found it meh. But since everyone else raves about it, I figure we could be the problem here. I’m willing to give it another shot some time.

ammazza vegan pizza

El Myriachi

El Myriachi is kind of like El Myr except it’s filled with families instead of smoke. If you aren’t into screeching children, avoid during peak hours.

The food is similar to El Myr but not the same. They have a taco salad in a fried tortilla bowl, so that’s pretty awesome. The first time we went, the guacamole was diluted with stuff. It was just wrong. El Myr has the best guacamole ever, avocado lightly seasoned. That’s all you need. But El Myriachi’s guac has moved towards El Myr’s style in subsequent visits so I think it’s all good now.

el myriachi guacamole

My standard at El Myr is the tofu taco. It’s pretty much the same here except they don’t do the BBQ tofu.

el myriachi tofu taco

Kevin got a chimichanga because of the frying. It came with proper unadulterated guacamole on the side. Looked pretty good.

el myriachi chimichanga

Queen of Sheba

I’ve actually been going to Queen of Sheba since 1998, my very first night in Georgia. The food has been consistently delicious all these years. The veggie combo is where it’s at. Tofu tibs are great. And a few years ago they added a larger veggie combo with even more delicious things on it for when you have the monster munchies. This is the bigger veggie combo plus an order of tofu tibs. The far plate is the regular veggie combo.

veggie combo and tofu tibs at queen of sheba

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more options, but these happen to be the pics I had on hand. Do you have any favorite vegan eats at unexpected places?

How to peel peaches

When you find yourself in the possession of three five-gallon containers of peaches, you need to figure out how to get them prepped to use in baked goods in the quickest, easiest way possible. It’s probably too late for this season, but now you’ll know what to do next Summer.

bucket of peaches

First, cut an “X” in the bottom of the peaches.

peach with x in bottom

Then blanch the peaches in boiling water for a minute or two.

blanching peaches

Then plunge the peaches into an ice water bath.

peaches in ice water bath

Now the peels should slip right off. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the kind of peaches that release from the pit easily too. If not, you’ll have to slice them off the pit. But hey, at least the peeling was easy, right?

Vegan Spiced Peach Carrot Bread

Just because you’re vegan, that doesn’t mean you have to throw out all of your non-vegan cookbooks. Making a recipe vegan is oftentimes really simple. If the recipe is good in the first place, making it vegan won’t change that fact.

This June, the peach tree we had at the bakery produced a bumper crop. So many peaches. So I needed to come up with some more ways to use them. I did the expected peach cobbler, peach pie, and even some peach crumb muffins. So I turned to the internet like we modern folks do. And this Spiced Peach Carrot Bread caught my eye.

When trying to find an easy baking recipe to veganize, look for one that has two or fewer eggs. It’s not that you can’t veganize one with more eggs, fewer is just easier. Milk and butter are easy to replace your non-dairy milk of choice and Earth Balance.  My egg replacer of choice in most baked goods is flax. I use one tablespoon of ground flax plus two tablespoons of warm water to replace each egg. So here’s this recipe above as made and served at the bakery:

Vegan Spiced Peach Carrot Bread

vegan spiced peach carrot bread

Ingredients

¾ cup chopped pecans
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups peeled and chopped fresh, ripe peaches
¾ cup freshly grated carrots
⅔ cup vegetable oil
½ cup non-dairy milk
2 flax eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pecans in pan on stove top until fragrant. Cool 15 minutes.

Stir together flour and the rest of the dry ingredients in a large bowl; add peaches, remaining ingredients, and toasted pecans, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into a lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Cookbook recommendations for new vegans

Whoops, fell off the VeganMofo wagon there for a while. Was a little bit preoccupied with closing down a business. Now on to other things one of which is catching up here.

For new vegans, one of the challenges is figuring out what to eat. Really, this happens any time you drastically change your diet. These days, there are tons of awesome vegan cookbooks out there. But a lot of them either rely on ingredients that can be hard for new vegans to find or they’re more complicated than the skills of some novice cooks can handle. So here are a couple of cookbooks I like to recommend to new vegans with simple recipes made of mostly easy to find ingredients.

Vegan On the Cheap

vegan on the cheap by robin robertson

I actually got Vegan On The Cheap by Robin Robertson after the bakery opened. Two things I had little of were time and money. After long hours of baking, I didn’t want to spend much time cooking at home. And I certainly didn’t want to go to four different stores to get all the ingredients I needed. Normally I would rather cook with fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market, but frozen and canned ingredients are much easier to keep on hand without going bad when your schedule is volatile.

Most of the recipes in Vegan On The Cheap are composed of ingredients easily found in a regular grocery store. One of the recipes I make over and over is the Barbecued Black Bean and Tofu Burritos. I make double and triple batches of the black beans, make tofu separately, and then eat it in tacos, burritos, over rice, as nachos, etc. We never get tired of these beans. Other favorites: Cincinnati Suburb Chili, Korean Cabbage Salad with Tofu, Penne-wise Peanutty Pasta, Dan Dan-style Linguine, Coconut Curry Rice, Tofu Fried Rice, Tropic of Tempeh, and Rice Island Casserole. Right now as I’m writing this, I’ve got the Slow-Cooker Seitan Pot Roast going in the kitchen. It’ll be the first time I’ve tried that one.

Vegan On The Cheap’s first chapter covers basics. You’ll save money by making your own vegan parmesan, sour cream, mayo, vegetable stock, and beans from bulk dried beans. If you find a book like Veganomicon overwhelming, Vegan On The Cheap will cover the basics.

Vegan Italiano

Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein

 

Who doesn’t like Italian food, right? Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein is a whole book full of vegan Italian recipes! Bonus: no meat substitutes required. So if you don’t like fake meats, tempeh or tofu, this is the cookbook for you.

One nice feature in this book is that in some of the recipe sections, lighter fare is separated from hearty fare. For example, in the soups, you have light soups and then meal-in-a-bowl soups. I tend to go for the meal-in-a-bowl soups. Some of my favorites are Lentils and Pastina Soup and Chickpea and Pasta Soup. For an extra nutritional boost, I’ll add half a bag of frozen spinach to each.

The Potato and Green Bean Salad is a big hit at potlucks. Make it with purple potatoes and it’s extra pretty. Naturally there are plenty of interesting pasta recipes. And if you want to jazz up your vegetable sides, you’ve got plenty of options here. For a lazy, impressive dessert, try the Chocolate Strudel. Accidentally vegan Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry makes it extra easy.

What is your favorite cookbook to recommend to a new vegan?

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