Tofurky Review & Giveaway

This giveaway has closed!

Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all vegan meat companies is Turtle Island Foods—the 34-year-old, family owned and independent, organic maker of Tofurky. Though maybe the butt of jokes from uncles teasing their vegan nieces and nephews at the Thanksgiving table, various Tofurky products have held their own as hearty, flavorful, and innovative animal-free meats for a good long while. Beyond the traditional holiday roasts that catapulted Tofurky to meatless fame, products that boast the Tofurky name include sandwich-style deli slices of every flavor imaginable, hot dogs and sausages, taco-style crumbles, pot pies and quiches, pizzas, marinated tempeh, and even hot pockets. This company most impressively gives truth to the claim that any food on the face of the planet can be veganized. Even better, the main ingredients found in Tofurky products include vital wheat gluten (the base of seitan), tofu (big surprise there), spices, and other minimally processed, nourishing ingredients.

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With all of this in mind, I was absolutely thrilled to receive a request from the lovely folks at Turtle Island Foods to review their Tofurky products. After our email correspondence, an absolutely ginormous package stuffed with various Tofurky products arrived at my doorstep. We’re talking multiple boxes of every type of deli slice, marinated tempeh, and gourmet-style sausages. Luckily—seeing as I would have had to eat Tofurky for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in order to finish off all of it—I live in a vegan co-op of 21 ravenous students, all more than happy to partake in the Tofurky goodness.

 And partake they did! On a cold winter evening, one of my housemates and I teamed up to cook for the whole house a huge dinner that featured the Tofurky I was sent to review. The menu included:

–A sandwich bar of deli slices in oven-roasted, peppered, hickory smokes, bologna, Italian, and roast beef styles; Vegenaise; mustard; lettuce; tomatoes, and Ezekiel bread.

 

–A spicy jambalaya inspired by this recipe, featuring the artisan Tofurky Andouille sausages and the smoky maple bacon marinated tempeh.

 

–A sweet sauté of bell peppers, caramelized onions, and artisan Tofurky chick’n and apple sausages.

 

–A tangy coleslaw of green cabbage, shredded carrots, and scallions with a dressing of olive oil, Dijon mustard, tahini, balsamic vinegar, and agave (one of my housemates professed that this coleslaw was the best he had ever tasted!).

 

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Mind you, even though the co-op in which I live purchases only vegan products as a house, only six of us in the house actually lead vegan lifestyles. Nonetheless, I received nothing but rave reviews of our Tofurky dinner from each and every one of my housemates. They scarfed down the jambalaya and sausage sauté, leaving absolutely none for leftovers and “mmm”-ing through every bit. Even meat-eaters remarked that the dishes proved immensely satisfying, pleasingly textural, and hugely flavorful. Though the dishes made with Tofurky sausages undoubtedly won the night, my housemates also expressed their enthusiasm toward the deli slices. Indeed, one of my most food-particular housemates noted that the bologna-style deli slices harbored exactly the same flavor and texture as animal-based bologna. The only qualm I received regarding the deli slices concerned their slight dryness—though the juicy tomatoes and spreadable condiments at the sandwich bar certainly mitigated that. If any of my housemates held views of Tofurky similar to those of the aforementioned dubious uncle before the dinner, they most definitely found such views shattered after tasting the fabulousness of the products.

 

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Surprisingly, our grand dinner didn’t use up all of the Tofurky that the generous folks at Turtle Island sent me. You can bet that much fine sandwich-making ensued in the week following our dinner, including my favorite: the tempeh reuben. A magnificent mess of toasted Ezekiel bread, vegan red Russian dressing (using the 2nd version on this page), tangy sauerkraut, crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, and of course smoky maple bacon marinated Tofurky tempeh, this sandwich provides a soul-satisfying way to highlight Tofurky’s fabulous tempeh products.

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And now, dear readers, I’m ecstatic to provide one of you with the chance to sample Tofurky’s impressive product line! One of you who enters the giveaway at the links at the top and bottom of this post will win a prize pack including the following: –Four coupons for one FREE Tofurky product. –Tons of Tofurky coupon booklets. –One vintage-style metal Tofurky lunchbox. –One Tofurky t-shirt.

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The giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 21, and I will announce the winner on Sunday, March 23. Apologies to my international readers, but you must reside within the U.S. in order to enter this giveaway.

Good luck to all!

This giveaway has closed!

Until next time, Ali.

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with free product samples. All opinions are completely my own.

Review & GIVEAWAY! of The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk & Cookbook

This giveaway has closed. Congratulations to Amanda Thomas!

I’m elated, dear readers, to host Farmers Market Vegan’s second giveaway—an exciting one, indeed. One lucky reader will receive a copy of The Vegg Cookbook: Egg-Free Cooking Uncaged, as well as two packets of The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk. Click the above link or the link at the bottom of the post to enter to win these top-notch prizes. The giveaway will close at 12:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 21, and I will announce the winners later than day.

Photo credit to Vegan Cuts.

Photo credit to Vegan Cuts.

I first encountered The Vegg this past summer while interning with the animal advocacy non-profit Compassion Over Killing, who provided much support and promotion for the 2012 launch of the vegan egg yolk. (The below opinions of The Vegg, however, are completely my own and not in any way influenced by my work with COK). While I sold many a packet of The Vegg to enthusiastic patrons of the events at which COK tabled this summer, I didn’t have the chance to experiment with it myself until Vegg developer Rocky Shepheard contacted me about reviewing his cookbook on the ol’ blog. Needless to say, I responded with an earnest “yes,” and here I am today, writing this post, regaling the wonders of The Vegg, right now at this very moment…you get the picture.

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Longtime vegan and animal rights activist Rocky Shepheard began tinkering with a recipe for a vegan egg yolk in 2010 after reading an April Fool’s Day article about a commercially available vegan fried egg. Two years later, Rocky had transformed a joke into a reality and introduced The Vegg onto the market, giving the over 280 million egg-laying hens in the U.S.—most of whom spend their lives intensively confined inside barren wire cages—something to cluck about. With the appearance, texture, taste, and even smell of a chicken’s egg, The Vegg provides a cruelty-free replacement in any traditionally egg-based recipe—French toast, omelets, hollandaise, crème brulee, breaded and fried foods, you name it. While The Vegg cannot provide the functional properties of eggs in baking, it can enhance any sweet (or savory!) treat with a rich, surprisingly accurate eggy flavor. Hesitant at first to try The Vegg based upon my assumption that it contained questionable ingredients, I happily discovered that The Vegg comprises of nothing more than fortified nutritional yeast (get yer B12 here, kids!), seaweed-derived sodium alginate, and black salt (which imbues The Vegg with its characteristic eggy aroma and flavor). An egg yolk free of cholesterol, gluten, soy, GMOs, and animal suffering? Yes, please.

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Released the year following the launch of The Vegg, The Vegg Cookbook features nearly 70 vegan recipes from Rocky, Sandy Defino, and food-blogging fans of The Vegg that highlight the versatility of the vegan egg yolk. Divided into three sections—Morning Medleys, The Main Dish, and Sweet Satisfaction—the cookbook features such tantalizing recipes as The World’s Best (and Most Realistic) Vegan Fried Egg, Tangerine French Toast, Vegg Tempura, Artichoke-Tomato Quiche, Mom’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Banana Cream Meringue Pie, and more. For my foray into the world of The Vegg Cookbook, I chose to sample one recipe from each section of the book.

One important requirement for successful use of The Vegg in all recipes, however, involves blending the powdered vegan egg yolk with either water or plant-based milk (depending on your recipe) in a mini blender or food processor, since blending by hand will yield less-than-smooth results. I own a mini food processor that works quite nicely for The Vegg, though I’m sure a spice grinder would also do the trick. During the blending, you’ll begin to freak out about the eggy aroma emanating from your blending apparatus. Upon my first blending endeavor, I sprinted into the living room to fetch my father, forcing him to stick his nose into my mini food processor. He agreed as to the accuracy of the smell…though perhaps without my same level of enthusiasm.

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Photo credit to Veganoo.

I first tried out the Crème Brulee, submitted by none other than Erin Wysocarski of the fabulous vegan blog Olives for Dinner. The recipe involves combining a blended Vegg-water mixture with coconut milk, sugar (I used maple sugar), and vanilla, then simmering the mixture with agar powder to impart a gel-like consistency. While my use of maple sugar didn’t produce the satisfying crackly crust akin to crème brulees, the finished dessert otherwise proved immensely successful. Creamy, eggy, and just sweet enough with an oh-so decadent mouthfeel, the crème brulees had my parents raving for days after licking their ramekins clean.

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Venturing into the cookbook’s savory territory, I whipped up the Vietnamese Pancakes with Veggies & Herbs, courtesy of Nancy Montuori Stein of Ordinary Vegan. The thin, crepe-like pancakes contain rice flour, a blended Vegg, turmeric, and coconut milk, providing a bright yellow, satisfyingly squishy wrapper for the brightly flavored shredded veggies and herbs inside. Topped with a spicy-sweet dipping sauce, this recipe yielded a gorgeously hued dinner with a flavor-packed punch, though the egginess of The Vegg didn’t come through in the pancakes as much as I would have liked.

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My Vegg Cookbook review endeavors ended with a version of the Scrambled Tofu from Helen Rossiter of Lots of Nice Things. The original recipe seemed to me as a template of sorts, containing only a blended Vegg, tofu, and scallions sautéed together. To spice up the dish, I borrowed the seasonings from Janet’s Dillicious Tofu Scramble and added shredded brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms to the mix, serving the scramble alongside a pile of roasted potatoes. I’m uncertain if I added a touch too much turmeric or if I failed to adequately cook the blended Vegg into the dish, but something seemed off both flavor- and texture-wise in the finished dish. Probably due to my mistake, the shortcomings of the tofu scramble should in no way dissuade you from the merits of this cookbook (but should perhaps dissuade you from using a heavy hand with turmeric…).

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With half of a packet of The Vegg still left after my experiments, I’m excited to try out some more recipes from the cookbook. However, I’m even more excited for you to familiarize yourself with The Vegg and its cookbook! For your chance to do so, be sure to click on the link either below or at the top of the post and enter the giveaway by 12:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 21. Happy Vegg-ing!

***NOTE: This giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.***

This post is submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Wellness Weekend.

This giveaway has closed. Congratulations to Amanda Thomas!

Vedge Cookbook Review + Spanish Roasted Brassicas Recipe

As I mentioned in my last blog post regarding development and consumerism, I find myself feeling quite uncomfortable during the holiday season—a time of family, love, generosity, and unity that our modern Western culture has overshadowed with greed, overconsumption, material accumulation, and Black Friday casualties. These disconcerting cultural tendencies, magnified during the holidays, bolster my urge to live simply, with minimal possessions and producing minimal waste. My view of living simply, though, does not necessarily mean living without gifts—indeed, they can provide a heartwarming medium through which to foster community and relationships—but rather prompts a rethinking of gifts and gift-giving.

My discomfort with our current mainstream notion of gifts stems from the attitude surrounding them. As a child, I judged the quality of my Christmas by the number of presents I received, even having the nerve to cheekily ask my mother, “That’s it?” if I felt dissatisfied. But would I ever feel satisfied if the importance of gift-giving lied in accumulating as much as possible? Could I ever escape the power that possessions wielded over me if the absence of the latest Apple product in my Christmas haul inspired in me resentment toward my mother?

Gifts with which I can feel comfortable stem not from the desire to own the latest technological gadgets, nor from a false need to surround oneself with “stuff,” but from a genuine feeling of love and gratitude between both of the gift-givers, and between them and the earth. In the dire state of our world, we must imbue all of our actions with a consciousness of alleviating our impact on the planet, and gift-giving proves no different. In my view, loving and earth-friendly gifts include those that the recipient can put to good use, and those that generate little to no waste. For example, the bulk of my Christmas list comprised of donations to various organizations such as Our Hen House, and Kindle cookbooks, which require minimal resources to produce as opposed to print books, and which I use every day.

But literally…every day. Not an exaggeration in the least. Because I view the act of providing non-vegans with flavorful, hearty, and unique food as integral to animal activism, I constantly look to my collection of virtual cookbooks for inspiration in such endeavors. I also view my cookbooks as helpful in honing the skills necessary for my ideal career path—one that creates a livelihood out of the aforementioned activism. Thanks to my dear mother, the latest additions to this Kindle cookbook collection include Vedge by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby; Vegan Secret Supper by Merida Anderson; Dirt Candy: A Cookbook by Amanda Cohen; Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry; Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon; and The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook by Jere and Emilee Gettle.

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So that the section of my brain devoted to culinary creativity would not explode from all of the tantalizing recipes within the pages of these six cookbooks, I decided to limit my kitchen experimentation first to recipes from Vedge, since it comes from the masterminds behind my favorite restaurant. Featuring 100 recipes from the Vedge menu tweaked minimally to suit the home kitchen, Vedge perfectly reflects the sophistication, beauty, and locally sourced/seasonal philosophy of the highly acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant. Organized in a manner similar to that of the restaurant menu, Vedge starts off with “Small Bites and Small Plates” such as olives, salads, and light vegetable dishes; moves on to “Soups and Stews” that span from brothy pho to creamy parsnip-chestnut bisque; includes a “Dirt List” with preparations that maximally highlight seasonal and specialty varieties of vegetables; offers heartier “Plates” that hire beans, lentils, and grains as backup singers to the superstar veggies; appeals to the baker in all of us with creative fruit-based desserts (can you say Strawberry Sorrel Bread Pudding?) and unpretentious breads; and finishes with unique cocktails.

Spiced Little Carrots with Chickpea-Sauerkraut Puree (photo from the Vedge website).

Spiced Little Carrots with Chickpea-Sauerkraut Puree (photo from the Vedge website).

Eggplant Braciole (photo from the Vedge website).

Eggplant Braciole (photo from the Vedge website).

Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion (photo from the Vedge website).

Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion (photo from the Vedge website).

Since Christmas, I’ve had the pleasure of making and eating four of the book’s recipes, two of which my mother and I first enjoyed at the Vedge restaurant itself. The Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce constituted the appetizer of my family’s two-course Christmas dinner, though I used a homemade silken tofu mayonnaise instead of the Vegenaise recommended for use in the recipe (many of the recipes in Vedge call for vegan mayo, and Rich and Kate recommend Vegenaise. However, I found that homemade mayo provides a quality substitute in the recipes for those of us who like to avoid prepackaged products). A dish just as tasty as that we remembered from our visit to the restaurant, the smoky, just-charred sprouts with the tangy mustard sauce created a winning combination. My mother also noted that the texture of the shaved sprouts harbored so much substance that she almost mistook them for pasta. I have a feeling that we will be making this dish often.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce

The night after Christmas, Vedge once again graced our plates with Celery Root Fritters and Remoulade (a pseudo-play on crab cakes and tartar sauce). Fostering an intense love of the knobbly, underused root, I found myself immediately taken by its double use in the recipe: once, roasted with onions, mashed, formed into patties, coated with chickpea flour and Old Bay seasoning, and pan-fried; twice, grated, blanched, and combined with vegan mayo, capers, dill, mustard, shallots and tarragon to create a tartar sauce-like spread, the taste of which you’ll never want to leave your tongue. I only wish that the recipe had specified to squeeze the excess moisture out of the grated celery root after blanching it, for the remoulade turned out a bit waterier than I would have preferred. All in all, though, a fabulous dish (the veggies you see in front of the fritters comprise a simple sauté of brussels sprouts and sunchokes, not featured in the cookbook).

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Celery Root Fritters & Remoulade; Brussels Sprout-Sunchoke Saute.

To please the ethnic food-loving palate of my best friend Maddie, whom I invited over for dinner one night, I played with Vedge’s Squash Empanadas with Green Romesco—homemade dough encasing a mash of squash roasted with coriander and cumin, accompanied by a bright yet deeply flavored sauce of roasted green peppers, garlic, cilantro, and toasted almonds. I substituted spelt flour and coconut oil for the all-purpose flour and vegan butter/shortening called for in the recipe, yielding flaky, toothsome results. However, the saltiness of the dough proved a bit much for my saltily sensitive palate, and I would probably omit the salt altogether as I usually do if I decide to recreate the dish. The other qualm I have with the recipe comes from the amount of roasting time specified. The recipe calls for roasting the squash at 400°F for 8-12 minutes and the peppers for 6-8 minutes, yet with small-diced veggies and an oven that errs on the side of too hot, the veggies required about double the time specified to adequately cook (I experienced the same problem with the celery root in the fritter recipe above). If you find yourself with the Vedge cookbook, I would recommend planning on roasting the veggies in any recipe for longer than specified, and to plan the cooking of your meals accordingly. Recipe technicalities aside, the dish proved crowd-pleasing and flavorfully stunning. I served it alongside a recipe of my own creation for Spanish Roasted Brassicas (recipe below).

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Finally, I tried my hand at another recipe with which my mother and I fell in love while dining at Vedge: Saffron Cauliflower Soup with Persillade. Between bites of the soup, my mother and I could not help but exclaim, “This tastes exactly like bouillabaisse. But there can’t be fish in it…dear goodness, I hope there’s not fish in it…”. Rest assured, the folks at Vedge had not decided to renounce their morals in a single dish, but they sure created a memorable gastronomic experience for my mother and I. The soup features simmered cauliflower crushed to a rice-like consistency surrounded by a tomatoey broth spiked with white wine and Old Bay seasoning, complimented by a gremolata-like topping of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. My version of the recipe increased the amount of rice called for and added chickpeas for substance, substituted brown jasmine rice for white, and (sadly) omitted the veryveryveryveryvvery pricey saffron. While I quite enjoyed the texture of the soup, I found its flavor a bit lacking, and I doubt that this unfortunate occurrence owes itself completely to the omission of the saffron. Unfortunately, this particular dish might be best left in the hands of the Vedge team (or in the hands of someone with some damn saffron…).

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Saffron Cauliflower Soup with Persillade

Tomorrow, I plan to experiment with Vedge’s Soba Bowl with Shiitake Dashi and Market Greens (a dish that authors Rich and Kate purport to enjoy every morning for breakfast with their son, Rio), adding a bit of pan-fried tempeh for some good old-fashioned protein. Beyond this surely warming and grounding soup, recipes I’d still like to try from the Vedge cookbook include a dish of peeled-open, marinated, and grilled portobello stems known as anticuchos; the Napa Cabbage Funky Kimchi Stew; the Warm Ramp Hummus; and the Whole Roasted Carrots with Black Lentils and Green Harissa.

If you enjoying playing around in the kitchen with involved recipes that feature the best produce the earth has to offer, then I would highly recommend picking up a (digital!) copy of the Vedge cookbook. With that, I shall leave you, dear readers, with the simple, Spanish-inspired dish I created to accompany the empanadas featured above. Enjoy.

Spanish Roasted Brassicas—Soy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat.

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

1 small/medium head cauliflower, chopped into smallish florets
2 small/1 medium head broccoli, chopped into smallish florets
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower and broccoli florets with the oil, paprika, and sherry vinegar to coat.

Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the brassicas are tender and golden-brown. Serve.

Until next time, Ali.

I’M BACK!…With Za’atar Eggplant Rounds on Chickpea-Cauliflower Puree

Nearly three weeks ago, I alerted you, dear readers, to my hiatus from the blogosphere (as well as to my Thanksgiving shenanigans in NYC), necessary to turn in quality final semester assignments on time. I’m thrilled to say that four essays, a group project, a book review, and a flight from New York to Wisconsin later, and I’m back to blogging business! Since experimenting in the kitchen comprises one of my favorite activities to which to devote time while home in Madison, and since I published my last official recipe—yikes!—over a month ago as part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck, what better way to rekindle my relationship with the ol’ blog than with a new recipe?

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This Middle Eastern-inspired recipe grew out of two dishes that have long lived on my 41-page “Recipes to Try” Word document: this Cauliflower Puree with Roasted Chickpeas from Love and Lemons, and this Grilled Eggplant with Herbed Quinoa from The Sprouted Kitchen. Taking the puree from the former dish, I increased the chickpea-to-cauliflower ratio while substituting the rosemary for za’atar so as to match the flavoring of the eggplant in the latter dish, which I broiled instead of grilled (curse my lack of a grill pan). To the hybridized version of the two dishes I added a fresh, simple salad to brighten the dish. Colorful, succulent, smooth, crisp, and oh-so well seasoned, this dish harbors enough textural contrast and complementing flavors to inspire tingling on anyone’s palate.

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One last note before I relieve you of recipe suspense: I have failed to find za’atar seasoning in any of my local grocery stores, including Whole Foods and my beloved Willy Street Co-op. Thus, I finally took matter into my own hands and mixed together my own. It took up all of three minutes of my time and probably saved me about $5.00. You can find the recipe I used at the bottom of this post.

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Za’atar Eggplant Rounds on Chickpea-Cauliflower PureeSoy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium

Serves 1-2.

Ingredients:

1/2 small head of cauliflower (about 1 1/2 cups), broken into small florets
2 tbsp melted coconut oil, divided
1/2 small clove garlic, smashed
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 tbsp za’tar (see end of post for homemade za’atar spice mix)
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 medium eggplant, sliced into rounds
Sea salt for sprinkling
Melted coconut oil for brushing

Large handful of arugula
1/4-1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

Za’atar for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place the eggplant rounds into a colander, sprinkle liberally with sea salt, and toss to coat. Allow the salt to wick away the eggplant’s bitterness while you prepare the rest of the recipe. (Don’t worry; you’re going to wash the salt off later so all of that sodium won’t make its way into the final product).

Place the cauliflower florets in a medium bowl and toss them with 1 tbsp of the melted coconut oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until soft and browned in a couple of places. Once the cauliflower has finished roasting, set the oven to broil and place one oven rack on the top rung.

Let the cauliflower cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor along with the remaining 1 tbsp of coconut oil, garlic, chickpeas, za’atar, and lemon juice. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Set aside.

Rinse the eggplant slices well to remove the salt. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each eggplant slice with melted coconut oil, and place the slices on the same baking pan you used to roast the cauliflower. Broil the eggplant for 7-10 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and very soft.

While you wait for the eggplant to broil, make the salad. Toss the arugula, cilantro, olive oil, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.

To plate, smear a layer of the puree on the bottom of a plate. Place the salad on top, then arrange the eggplant on top of the salad. Finish with a generous sprinkling of za’atar. Serve.

Homemade Za’atar Spice Mix

Makes about 1/3 cup.

Ingredients:

2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp marjoram
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sumac or lemon zest

Directions:

In a small pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat until golden-brown and fragrant. Careful—they burn very easily if you don’t watch them closely.

Combine the toasted sesame seeds with the rest of the spices in a small bowl and use as desired.

Leftover za’atar can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.

Until next time, Ali.

Virtual Vegan Potluck 2013: Mixed Root Vegetable Gnocchi in Sage-Pistachio Pesto

That’s right, dear readers—the time has come once again for the fourth biannual congregation of members of the plant-based blogosphere, known as Virtual Vegan Potluck. Organized by four talented vegan bloggers, Virtual Vegan Potluck connects vegan bloggers worldwide in an online extravaganza of animal-free recipe-sharing and food-gawking. Each participating blogger signs up to post a recipe for an appetizer, a beverage, a bread, a salad, a side dish, a soup, a main dish, or a dessert at exactly the same time on exactly the same day, simulating a real-life potluck for our beloved online vegan community. With 146 bloggers participating, this round of VVP will surely produce some impressive noms.

My first foray into the Potluck took place last May with the creation of a stunning (if I do say so myself) salad of pomegranate-infused brown rice, roasted butternut squash and cauliflower, toasted hazelnuts, and arugula. This time around, I’ve ventured into the realm of Main Dishes, drawing upon an abundant arsenal of autumnal edibles for inspiration. Indeed, why wait to enjoy root vegetables, sage, and maple syrup at three separate meals when you can combine them all into one?

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I first conceptualized this dish after learning of the “featured ingredient” of this month’s Virtual Vegan Potluck: beets. Immediately recalling the hugely successful beet gnocchi with meyer lemon pesto with which I experimented this summer, I sought to again imbue the soft, pillowy pasta with the sweet, earthy flavor of beets. “But wait!” I thought. “How can I possibly call myself a seasonal cook if I don’t highlight butternut squash…or parsnips…or celeriac in this dish?” Thus, due to my undiscriminating love toward all of my cold-weather vegetable children, I envisioned a vibrant dish of magenta, creamy white, and deep orange gnocchi.

Also wanting to incorporate a sauce, I opted to create a pesto-fied version of my all-time favorite hummus: the deeply flavored, warming, grounding, and quite timely Rosemary Pistachio Hummus. Unfortunately, on the night that I actually cooked this dish, one of my Ferry housemates had commandeered all of the rosemary off of the potted rosemary bush in our dining room, relegating me to using the sage from the farmers market (woe is me). Needless to say, the sage provided a gorgeous substitute for the rosemary, maintaining the pesto’s presentation of a savory autumnal herb.

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Imbued with the subtly sweet flavors of six different root vegetables and coated in a rich, maple-y pesto, this gnocchi is sophisticated comfort food at its finest.

A note on the flour: I’ve made gnocchi with brown rice flour, chickpea flour, and spelt flour in the past. All have produced pretty darn tasty results, though the brown rice performed the best with its light texture and neutral flavor. The chickpea flour yielded light gnocchi but maintained its strong, beany flavor; the spelt flour let the veggie’s flavor shine but created a rather dense gnocchi. Feel free to experiment with your flours, though!

Onto the yumminess…

Mixed Root Vegetable Gnocchi in Sage-Pistachio Pesto—Soy Free, Low Sodium.

Makes a whole lotta gnocchi.

For the pesto:
2 shallots, minced
10 leaves of fresh sage, minced
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp tahini
1 cup shelled pistachios
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Olive oil to thin, as needed

For the gnocchi:
1/2 of a butternut squash, seeded
2 large beets, peeled
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 medium celeriac, peeled
1 large parsnip, peeled
1 medium turnip, peeled
4-6 cups brown rice flour, divided, plus more for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wrap the beets, sweet potato, celeriac, parsnip, and turnip each individually in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Place the butternut squash, face-down, on the baking sheet, as well. Roast all of the veggies for 45-60 minutes until you can pierce through them with a fork. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallots and sage. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the sauté to a food processor along with the rest of the pesto ingredients, except for the olive oil. Pulse until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary. As the motor is running, drizzle in olive oil to achieve the desired consistency.

Set a large pot of salted water to boil.

Once the veggies have cooled, puree each of them separately in a food processor (or mash them separately with a potato masher) and place the purees into separate bowls. Make sure that you process the beets last so as not to stain the other veggie purees with a magenta hue. Combine the purees of celeriac, turnip, and parsnip. You’ll have four bowls of puree in front of you: one deep orange (butternut squash), one light orange (sweet potato), one magenta (beet), and one white (celeriac, turnip, and parsnip). Combine each of the purees with 1 cup of brown rice flour, adding more to each bowl to achieve an ever-so-slightly sticky consistency (the butternut squash and sweet potato purees will require less than the others).

Dust a work surface with additional flour. Divide each dough into two portions and roll them into snakes about 1/2-inch in width. Cut each snake into 10-20 gnocchi and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Once the pot of water is boiling, drop the gnocchi—ten at a time and only with gnocchi of like color—into the pot. Cook until the gnocchi floats to the top, about 30 seconds. Remove the gnocchi from the water and place in a colander sitting over a bowl to allow the water to drain.

Combine all of the gnocchi in a large bowl (at this point, the boiling will have sealed their color, so it’s safe to combine them). Add the pesto and stir well to coat. Serve warm.

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Check out Deerly Beloved Bakery’s recipe for Beet Pasta!

Don’t miss Veggie Girl’s recipe for Stuffed Squash!

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Wellness Weekend, and Recipe Wednesdays.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Delish Giveaway & Recipe for No-Bake Apple Pie

Vegan Delish sized for blog use

Get excited, folks, for I’m about to announce Farmers Market Vegan’s first ever giveaway! That’s right, dear readers, three of you lucky ducks have the chance to win a quite fabulous prize: a free download code for the iPhone/iPod recipe app Vegan Delish. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.

easy recipes Vegan Delish screenshot

Launched by the talented blogger, recipe developer, and graduate in public health nutrition Carrie Forest of Carrie on Vegan, Vegan Delish offers over 140 nourishing, mouthwatering recipes—all of which are vegan, gluten-free, made with minimal oil, salt, and added sugars, and accompanied by high-definition photos. New and veteran vegans, vegetarians, and those seeking to explore a plant-based diet will enjoy Vegan Delish not only for healthy and easy recipes, but also for a digital shopping list; social media sharing, recipe scaling, and kitchen timer functions; and recipe ratings and reviews—all without any ads. From Vegan Delish’s multiplicity of well-tested recipes and features, it comes as no surprise that the App Store lists it as one of the top 25 Paid Food & Drink Apps.

ipad-banner shopping list ipad-banner sharing

ipad-banner photos ipad-banner new recipes

To further enthuse you about this fabulous app and giveaway, check out a sampling of recipes featured on Vegan Delish:

–Mock Tuna Salad
–Buckwheat Pancakes with Maple Cashew Cream
–Cauliflower Pizza Crust
–Vegetable Quinoa Salad
–Avocado Chocolate Pudding
–Brown Rice & Lentil Salad
–Veggie Sushi Rolls
–Red Lentil Dal
–Almond Date Balls

As if Carrie had not already adequately showcased her generosity by offering up three free download codes for Vegan Delish, she also offered for me to share a recipe from the app—one for No-Bake Apple Pie—right here, right now.

No-Bake Apple Pie

Published with permission from Vegan Delish.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (divided)
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup orange juice
6 Fuji apples
1 1/2 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons cinnamon (divided)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats

Instructions:

1. Core the apples and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

2. Combine the apples, orange juice, raisins, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla extract into a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until apples are softened. Stir in nutritional yeast and set aside to cool.

3. Place almonds, walnuts, and oats in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the remaining cinnamon and vanilla extract. Turn the food processor on and add the dates through the feeding tube one at a time. Process until mixture is well combined.

4. Pour the contents of the food processor into the pie dish and use your hands to spread evenly into the dish. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

5. When you are ready to assemble the pie, pour the apple mixture into the pie crust and serve cold or at room temperature.

Bakeless Apple Pie 2 Bakeless Apple Pie 1

Let’s face it: how could you not enter this giveaway? Simply click on the link below and you could be one of three winners, whom I will announce on Monday, November 11.

***NOTE: This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. The codes will only work on iPhones and iPads.***

This giveaway has closed. Congrats to Eric, Anna, and Erika!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown “Butter”

Between midterms, hosting Carol Adams’ Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show, and getting my recovery piece published on Our Hen House, I’ve simply not found the time nor energy to devote to recipe experimentation for the ol’ blog. Hopefully, my 20-some days of Ferry House dinners for Vegan MoFo 2013 kept you inspired throughout my two-week absence; if not, I dare guarantee that the recipe that I’d like to share with you today will inspire your forgiveness.

As October continues and we delve further into autumn, I’ve predictably found my gastronomic energies gravitating toward the warming, grounding foods that grace the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, from which Ferry House procures a double farm share each week. Last Saturday, I had the immense honor of biking to pick up the House farm share on a bright, crisp morning, stuffing my canvas tote bags chock full of kale, swiss chard, spinach, celeriac, beets, rutabagas, butternut squash, broccoli, and carrots. Since the majority of my housemates have departed from campus to enjoy our week-long October Break elsewhere, I’ve had the luck of basking in this wealth of fall produce with only a handful of other people, able to concoct maple-glazed, pumpkin-spiced, caramelized, autumnal goodness at my leisure. Photos of two such concoctions follow:

Creamy cauliflower soup with celeriac and roasted garlic topped with umami-style sautéed kale.

Creamy cauliflower soup with celeriac and roasted garlic topped with umami-style sautéed kale.

Nori rolls with turmeric brown rice and quinoa, gingery black bean spread, maple-sautéed swiss chard, and julienned beets and carrots.

Nori rolls with turmeric brown rice and quinoa, gingery black bean spread, maple-sautéed swiss chard, and julienned beets and carrots.

While both of the above dinners certainly fulfilled my longing for warming and grounding eats, one could easily find today’s recipe featured next to the phrase “quintessential fall foods” in the Farmers Market Vegan Dictionary (release date TBA). Combing caramelized butternut squash, savory sage, and the epitome of autumn comfort otherwise known as maple syrup into fluffy pasta pillows, this dish will nourish the soul just as exquisitely as it will the body. Served atop a bed of garlicky kale and pinto beans, this succulent gnocchi provided the hearty, soulful meal that I deeply desired after a 26-mile bike ride to and from New Paltz (yes, I will bike the equivalent of a marathon for vegan, ethically sourced chocolate from Lagusta’s Luscious).

While I used chickpea flour for the gnocchi, you can really use any lightly colored flour that suits your fancy—I’ve successfully produced gnocchi before with brown rice flour, but I suspect that millet and quinoa flours would also work well. However, you can definitely discern the flavor of the flour in the gnocchi, so choose a flour that agrees with your taste buds. I personally enjoy the bean sprouty flavor of chickpea flour, but know that I could not stomach the bitter undertone of quinoa flour in a delicate dish like gnocchi. Whichever flour you choose, prepare yourself for a piping hot bowl of autumnal snugness.

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown “Butter”Soy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium

Serves 2-4

For the gnocchi:
1 medium butternut squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
1 1/4-1/2 cups chickpea flour, plus more for dusting

For the brown “butter”:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the butternut squash halves facedown on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour enough water on the sheet to come about a quarter of the way up the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.

Set a medium-sized pot of water to boil.

When the squash has adequately cooled, scoop out the flesh. Measure out about 2 cups of the flesh, and mix it with 1 1/4 cups of the chickpea flour. If the mixture seems to sticky, add another 1/4 cup.

Dust the countertop (or another flat work surface) with chickpea flour. Divide the gnocchi dough into quarters and roll each one out into a thickish snake, dusting your work surface with additional flour as needed to ensure that the gnocchi doesn’t stick. Cut each snake into 1-inch pieces.

When the water has begun to boil, place the gnocchi 10 at a time in the pot. Allow to cook until they float to the surface of the water, about 30 seconds. Scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander set atop a bowl. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.

When all of the gnocchi has finished cooking, combine all of the brown “butter” ingredients in a sauté pan and set over medium-high heat until the mixture just starts to bubble. Add the gnocchi to the pan and sauté for about 1-2 minutes, taking care to coat the gnocchi well in the “butter.” Remove from the heat and serve, perhaps over a bed of garlicky kale (mmm…).

Recipe submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Wellness Weekend.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #27: A Day with Carol Adams & Catering Her Vegan Reception

vegan mofo 2013

Well, folks—the time has come to conclude the festival of Ferry dinners, Vassar Animal Rights Coalition shenanigans, and vegan-related musings that constituted Vegan MoFo 2013 here on Farmers Market Vegan. After one month and 27 posts, I’m thrilled to have set a personal Vegan MoFo record, failing to post on only three days out of the whole of September. While most of my posts proved quite short (though not lacking tantalizing photos and much culinary creativity), I feel that this final post of Vegan MoFo will adequately conclude the month with an exciting, action-packed summary of Carol Adams’ visit to the Vassar campus to present her acclaimed Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show.

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Taking place yesterday evening, the event attracted 80 students, faculty, and members of the Poughkeepsie community (thus garnering a larger turnout than any VARC event in the past four years), and analyzed images in popular culture that animalize women and sexualize animals. During the Q&A session after the lecture, the audience asked curious, genuine, and non-antagonistic questions, such as “Is it hard to go vegan?” The smiling audience then migrated to an adjoining classroom to chat with Carol, have her sign their newly bought copies of The Sexual Politics of Meat, and nosh on a smorgasbord of vegan hors d’oeuvres, all prepared by yours truly with the help of a couple wondrous VARC members. A handful of event attendees approached me during the reception to offer their high praises of the food and the lecture, and to inform me that they were planning on transitioning to veg*nism. On the reception menu

–Homemade seitan (based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe) marinated in a chimichurri sauce, skewered, and broiled.
–Mini sundried tomato, spinach, and mushroom tofu quiches (inspired by this recipe from Oh She Glows).
Crostini with cashew cheese, pesto, and tomatoes.
–Peanut butter-coconut cream tarts in a raw date-nut crust.

Preparing the lecture food.

Preparing the lecture food.

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Attendees of the lecture gobbled up nearly all of the 500-some bites that we prepared, and my Ferry housemates happily devoured the rest.

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VARC’s Carol Adams experience did not begin with her lecture, however. The same morning, a handful of VARC’s most devoted members plus my fabulous Gender and Nature professor met Carol in front of Main building to drive up to New Paltz and visit Lagusta’s Luscious, the vegan/fair trade/ethically sourced/power feminist/activist oriented chocolate haven of my life (Lagusta makes the only chocolate that I feel 100% confident about eating in terms of ethical considerations). Lagusta contributed a beautiful piece to the Defiant Daughters anthology inspired by The Sexual Politics of Meat, and has a long-cultivated relationship with Carol. As such, Lagusta volunteered to lead VARC and Carol on a tour of her small (yet hugely inspiring) shop in celebration of Carol’s visit to Vassar.

Lagusta's also sells Treeline cashew cheese!

Lagusta’s also sells Treeline cashew cheese!

Tiny, rich hot chocolates courtesy of Lagusta.

Tiny, rich hot chocolates courtesy of Lagusta.

A vintage, yet still functioning, (vegan) milkshake machine.

A vintage, yet still functioning, (vegan) milkshake machine.

Lagusta's makeshift tempeh incubator.

Lagusta’s makeshift tempeh incubator.

Gifting our group with chocolate vulvas and rich, whipped cream-topped hot chocolates, Lagusta welcomed VARC and Carol into her eclectic shop, chatting about how she cultivated a responsible, non-hierarchical business model that subtly promotes the importance of veganism, feminism, and social justice to an ever growing demographic. After touring the shop—which boasted a 25-pound bucket of coconut oil, caramel simmering on an induction stovetop, a homemade tempeh incubator, and a pastry dough sheeter used for creating vegan croissants—I and the rest of VARC eagerly purchased a hefty amount of the darn best chocolate in existence.

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I myself partook in four truffles—a cantaloupe pâté de fruit, a plum anise pâté de fruit, a thyme lemon sea salt caramel, and a strawberry cream bon bon—as well as a “grown up tootsie roll” spiked with whiskey and chiles, and a vegan, authentically French, pillowy soft, absolutely magical macaron in apple-cinnamon flavor. Though I’ve visited Lagusta’s shop once before, I had never fully appreciated her business model or integrity-ridden success story—I can only hope that my own vegan entrepreneurial endeavors will provide me with just as much fulfillment.

Chatting with Lagusta and Kate.

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After congregating for a group photo and bidding goodbye to Lagusta, VARC and Carol took a short walk to Karma Road, New Paltz’s vegan café. Over a kale salad massaged with avocado and sprinkled with cashews and raisins with a side of homemade hummus, I enjoyed a thought-provoking conversation about the history of ecofeminism and how its tenets still hugely resonate in today’s society.

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I’m honored and humbled to have the support of two monumentally influential figures (Carol and Lagusta) in my own vegan/activist evolution. Yesterday proved truly unforgettable and will undoubtedly shape my advocacy for years to come.

VARC Exec Board with Carol Adams.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #26: Mini Tofu Quiches & Chimichurri Seitan for Carol Adams’ Campus Lecture

vegan mofo 2013

Over the last two days, I’ve found myself in an extravaganza of vegan hors d’oeuvres, preparing gourmet plant-based finger foods for the approximately 100 people that I expect to attend Carol Adams’ campus lecture tonight. This whirlwind of cooking should adequately account for my absence from Vegan MoFo yesterday—after spending a good couple of hours in the kitchen, I felt the need to take a quick mental hiatus from thinking about food (otherwise I probably would have dreamt of dancing seitan skewers and crostini). The culinary efforts of myself and my fellow VARC members paid off hugely, though, as all of the food turned out beautifully. Today requires only a bit more prep—including assembling the crostini, broiling the seitan, and cutting the coconut-peanut butter tarts—to ensure the immense success of Carol’s talk and subsequent reception/book signing. I’ll leave you with a couple tantalizing photos of tonight’s almost-ready hors d’oeuvres. Stay tuned tomorrow for a full summary of Carol’s talk as well as VARC’s trip with Carol to New Paltz.

Mini sundried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiches--adapted from Oh She Glows.

Mini sundried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiches–adapted from Oh She Glows.

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Homemade seitan marinated in chimichurri sauce--adapted from the Candle Café Cookbook.

Homemade seitan marinated in chimichurri sauce–adapted from the Candle Café Cookbook.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #7: Tabling at the Freshman Activities Fair and a Pinic in the Vassar Experimental Garden (VEG)

vegan mofo 2013

Yesterday, myself and my fabulous co-president of the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) tabled at the annual Freshman Activities Fair in order to attract to members to participate in Vassar’s long history of animal activism (VARC has functioned since the early 70′s, after all, and powerful activists like Sarah E. Brown and Paul Shapiro have studied on campus). Our table boasted a large display board advertising VARC’s various events, social media outlets, and views on the chocolate and palm oil industries; a laptop on which students could sign up for VARC’s mailing list; multiple stacks of pro-veg literature; and three plates piled high with vegan treats, including chewy apricot almond oatmeal cookies, date-nut truffles, and banana bread bites. 3  The fair proved wildly successful: VARC collected over 100 names to add to our mailing list, handed out nearly all of our baked goods, and distributed about 200 leaflets. We’ll hold our first general body meeting tonight in Ferry House, and I’m super excited to meet all of the prospective new members.

Handing out leaflets!

Handing out leaflets!

Even though Katie and I had sufficiently tired ourselves from three hours of tabling, after the Activities Fair we teamed up with Slow Food Vassar to host a group of freshmen for a wild edibles walk led by vegan forager extraordinaire Zaac Chaves. A self-proclaimed “freegan,” Zaac impressively has paid for about $100 worth of food in the past seven years, foraging and dumpster-diving for the vast majority of his sustenance. He’s visited Vassar on multiple previous occasions, and I’m thrilled that he continues to support VARC by leading intriguing tours of the edible flora growing on campus while weaving vegan ethics into his narration.

Sampling seeds with Zaac.

A mushroom extravaganza.

We met Zaac on the lawn of the Noyes dorm and began our tour by examining a number of wild mushrooms that he had collected earlier in the day, some of which featured burnt sugar-like aromas and shimmering purple hues. Continuing around campus, Zaac discovered and relayed to us such wild edible as a tree with fuchsia-colored berries that tasted reminiscent of mangoes; a bush that functions as an antidote to poison ivy; a tree growing tart wild cherries; smooth, dark-brown mushrooms known commonly as “winesaps”; and a cluster of squishy beige mushrooms that emit an offending odor when they sprout. After a mere 90 minutes with Zaac, I’m confident that I’ll never look upon a bush without wondering of its potential medicinal/edible properties.

Our crazy squishy mushroom.

Our tour culminated in the Vassar Experimental Garden (VEG), where the leaders of Slow Food as well as the VEG interns greeted us with a picnic of watermelon-tomato salad and vegan zucchini bread, all of which featured produce from the Arlington Farmers Market. Providing a relaxing finale to my rather exhausting day of outreach, the picnic served as an ideal venue to chat with the first-year students about their preliminary impressions of Vassar and how they hope to grow during their four years here.

picnic (3)

picnic (2)

You, dear readers, can expect the return of Ferry Dinners in tomorrow’s post.

Until next time, Ali.