NYT Brings Us Vegan Stuffed Butternut Squash!  »

My brother invited me over for dinner the other night and he had this great recipe for stuffed butternut squash from The New York Times he wanted to make as it looked yum and was already vegan! Yay NYT!

The filling is seasoned with wine and mushrooms which was great but I think the favorite addition was the seeds. The recipe has you save the seeds from the squash, cook them a bit, and then add fresh lemon zest and sage. They were awesome! I think we needed to cook the seeds longer as they weren’t quite toasted but it was still really good.

Yes, the recipe has a lot of steps but it’s a really nice dish. So check it out and tell me what you think!


Which coffee shops don’t charge extra for soy milk? Let’s make a list!  »

Beautiful coconut milk latte made for me by my dear brother. He’s fancy, right? It’s beautiful.

Reader Toshio emailed me the other day:

I was wondering if you’d consider posting a list of the cafes in SF that don’t charge extra for soymilk. The only one I know of is Peace Cafe on Haight Street, but there must be more. I would walk extra blocks just to avoid the charge. Much appreciated!

Let’s ask the readers! Who knows of a coffee shop in S.F. (or beyond) that doesn’t charge extra for soy milk?

Is there a legitimate reason for charging more for soy milk? It’s generally $.50 extra to get soy milk at a coffee shop. I’ve looked at dairy milk and soy milk prices online and it does seem soy milk is a bit more expensive—not more expensive than organic dairy milk, but maybe they are all only getting non-organic. But even non-organic is only like $.40 per gallon more expensive. That’s not nothing, but the cafe isn’t using more than a gallon of soy milk in your latte. If they really want to charge more because the soy milk they buy is more expensive, then it shouldn’t be more than a few cents per coffee, if we’re actually trying to make up the price difference.

Moreover, dairy milk prices seem to fluctuate quite often and kind of drastically. If we are going by this system of milk that costs more for the cafe costs more for you, when dairy milk prices go up, there should be an extra charge, no? But they don’t do that—people wouldn’t put up with it. But we soy milk drinkers don’t have the same kind of options as dairy-drinkers so we’re pretty much stuck with whatever they want to charge us. Bastards! They are exploiting our dietary needs!

I say to you, no more! Screw these extra charges! Next time they charge you $.50, you give them two pennies and say that is all they’re getting! Better yet, we should all walk out of our way to support the non-exploitative establishments! It’s time to RISE UP! Rage against the soy milk surcharges!


Product Review: By Nieves, unisex vegan skincare from the Bay Area!   »

Straight out of Oakland, it’s By Nieves! A homemade, vegan, natural skincare line for both men and women! By Nieves sent me some free samples and now I’m going to tell you all about them!

The Balm: this product says you can use it everywhere, including hair! I tried it on my lips with some success and my elbows which was nice.

I decided to try it on my hair but I was scared to put it all over as my hair can be oily and I hate washing it. So I just tried it on the ends of my hair and guess what! It was really cool! It made the ends hold a slight flip at the bottom like I like and helped with frizz. Also, it smells nice! Well, all the products smell nice! Oh you know what? They smell like a spa! That’s the smell: Spa-scented.

Face Fix and "C" Perfect Skin: OK, I don’t want to oversell this because I don’t know if it’ll happen for you but I’m just going to tell you the events that transpired!

The Face Fix can be used as a face wash or a mask but I decided to try it just as a mask. First of all, it’s a nice mask; you wash it off before it’s fully dry so you don’t get that tight, irritating mask feeling like you do while waiting for other masks to dry. But the amazing thing was that at the time I put it on, I had a small pimple, OK? I had messed with it, so it was pretty red and inflamed. OK so I put the mask on…wait…wash it off…and the pimple was like seriously diminished! THEN I put the “C” Perfect Skin stuff on, it’s an oil you use like a moisturizer, and went to sleep. When I woke up, the pimple was completely gone. Like it had never been there! I was very, very impressed. 

One note about the “C” Perfect Skin, it says to apply to damp skin and I think that’s important because the first time I put it on, my skin was dry and it just didn’t absorb very well. The next time I used it my skin was damp and it absorbed much better. 

Cloud of Protection: I love this stuff. You can use it as an air spritzer or a hand spray. I actually really like hand sprays but I am super scared of those chemically hand sanitizers because I’m afraid of superbugs taking over the world! But then I haven’t found a natural-y one that I like. They all smell icky. This one smells nice! Like I said, it smells like a spa. 

And the description says when you spray it around you, it doesn’t just shield you from airborne pathogens, it clears bad vibes! “Making room for good fortune and happiness,” huzzah!

Bath Salt: The final thing I tried I actually had my brother try. The Bath Salt has epsom salts in it which I know is good for muscles and my brother is the athletic type so I thought it’d be nice for him. Plus, he’s super into baths! He’s fancy. His official word after trying the Bath Salt: “good stuff!” There you have it!

Basically, By Nieves is the answer to your vegan, natural skincare needs. Also fun: they have a cool ingredient glossary! It tells you what each one does for your skin. Totes fun.


Cookbook Review: The Tipsy Vegan!  »

I got a gratis copy of John Schlimm’s The Tipsy Vegan to review for you guys! Rachel has been on a cookbook review roll, as I’m sure you’ve read, but when I saw “tipsy,” I knew this book was for yours truly. However, this is not a book of vegan cocktails like I thought! It’s all about cooking with wine and liquor. But there are a handful of cocktail recipes as well, they kick off each chapter. 

To sum up the book in three words: Fun, challenging, sassy! That’s right, sassy. The tone of the book is very jovial and lighthearted, which I appreciate. And you are encouraged to enjoy your booze! As god intended. One thing I will say is that I’m not sure it’s really a book for beginners. It’s for more of a mid-level to experienced cook. There are lots of ingredients, lots of different techniques involved, and lots of recipes requiring things like ice cream makers and food processors (which I do not have because I’ve slimmed down my kitchen accessories. Oh, life in the big city!). A bowl and spoon are not going to get you very far here. On the other end of the spectrum, this is just the thing for the uninspired cook! It’ll give your cooking a kick in the pants! The recipes and ingredients are inventive and interesting. And the book is entertaining. I’m a fan!

I tried two of the recipes: Bruschetta on a Bender and Rockin’ Roasted Potatoes With Racy Rosemary and Mustard. The potatoes, the recipe for which you can get over on NYT, had vodka in them, which I had because my first housewarming gift was a half-empty bottle of Ketel One (#classy). Both recipes called for vermouth, but the potatoes said you could use a dry white wine instead and the bruschetta said a fruity red would work too. As I don’t know what I’d do with a bottle of vermouth and you better believe I know what to do with two bottles of wine, I opted for the wine. But the book said I could!

I don’t know what you call the sauce I made for the potatoes but it was damn good! Like, I was about to lick the bowl, horseradish and all. I had a little sauce left over and I put it in a cup to save in the fridge. I’m thinking Brussels sprouts! 

The bruschetta was interesting because it called for thyme instead of your typical basil. My bro and sis-in-law were ‘bout it for the bruschetta! They both had like seven pieces. I liked it too but I did miss the basil. But there’s really no need to buy a cookbook with a basil bruschetta recipe, is there? And red wine on the tomatoes? Genius! Why don’t we do that all the time? We can from now on. Pish, I don’t even remember what life was like before red wine-soaked tomatoes!

Sweet Instagram pic of the bruschetta. Oh, Instagram, how I love you. Follow me: @MeganRascal!!!

Check it, I scored the Bruschetta on a Bender recipe for you! With permission from Da Capo Press, naturally:

Bruschetta on a Bender

Ingredients4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and very coarsely chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt
12 slices crusty French or Italian bread, about 3 inches in diameter
1 garlic clove, peeled and split
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry vermouth or a fruity red wine
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the tomatoes with the salt and drain for 30 minutes in a large colander set over a bowl.

Under a hot broiler, toast the bread slices on both sides.

Rub the toasted top of each slice with the split garlic clove and lightly brush the top of each slice with the olive oil

Gently press down on the drained tomatoes to extract even more juices. Then transfer them to another bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar, dry vermouth, thyme, and oregano.

Season with the pepper to taste. Spoon the tomato mixture in small mounds on top of the toasts and serve at once.

Yield: 12 bruschettas

Yay! Now you can make the bruschetta just like your pal Megan.

There are a lot of other great-sounding recipes I still want to try, namely the Merlot ice. Basically a Merlot slushy, it requires a food processor. I’m about to get one just to make it. Can you imagine? A Merlot slushy? Be still my heart! 

Before I sign off, I’ll add another point: this book doesn’t really feel like a vegan cookbook, it feels like a “regular” cookbook. It’s not really about being vegan and you aren’t making approximations of omni recipes you’ve been missing; you’re making fun and exciting recipes that are also vegan. I think omnis would certainly enjoy this book too and if not for the title, I doubt they’d notice the absence of animals products. It’s definitely a good cookbook if you’re entertaining a mixed-diet crowd! So I say check it out and get a little crazy. A little crunked, even. Go for it. 


Don’t pork chop me, bro!  »

One thing I’ve learned from writing for Vegansaurus is that there are a lot of different ideas about what’s offensive and what’s not. I’ve had to alter my language a bit—I don’t write “lame” on here anymore! Not that you cared to notice. BUT my brother and I were talking about all the word-sensitivities and he said we should come up with our own vocab for these things! Problem solved! I like it. Among his suggestions were “Stop pork-chopping me” and “I’m not vealing that,” both very useful. You guys got any ideas? How about something like “cheddar-pusher?” Ooh, or “cow-nippler!” Bring the brisket, yo—I want to hear more!

This is not super related but this whole thing reminds me of the Mr. Show sketch:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

Don’t pork chop a pork-chopper!


How to be a fancy and demanding vegan, part two: know the owner!  »

Previously on How to Be a Fancy and Demanding Vegan, we discussed dropping a shit-ton of money and calling ahead. Today, we discuss the vegan power you yield when you know the owner! It’s a mighty, mighty force. I was with my ever-urbane brother and sister-in-law again, just as I was in our first installment. In truth, I didn’t know the owner at all, it was my bro. He’s the man. Got mad connects.

My parents were in town and wanted to get dinner together so my brother made plans for us at Locanda Vini & Olii in Brooklyn, where his homeboy is one of the owners. My mom was like, “Did you make sure Megan can eat there?” And my brother was like, “who do you think you are talking to?!” He had made sure it was all set and they knew a fancy and demanding vegan would be in the house.

We didn’t look at the menu because menus are totally out. Instead, his friend kept bringing us dish after dish—there were like five or six courses! I was ready to burst! With pleasure. While the rest of my family shared their omni dishes, I got my own, totally vegan dishes made special just for me. SO FUN!

The picture at the top is this strawberry and radicchio salad they made me. First, they brought out all this crazy meat for my fam and then they were like, “OK, now we’ll go get your salad!” And I was like, “A salad? Bleh.” And then that beautiful bowl of goodness comes out! I was in love.

Before that, I had this salad-ish dish:

It was called something like “the first day of spring,” but in Italian—so romantic! Sorry for the poor picture quality, the lighting was low. Which suits my features. I think I just called myself ugly. Moving along! With the first day of spring,With the first day of spring, they also brought out the most amazing thing ever: Bread soup! BREAD soup! Soup, made of BREAD! Have you ever heard of such a thing? It was bread soaked in goodness and tomatoes and all this other stuff. It wasn’t soupy, it was more like the consistency of polenta. But here’s my question: why don’t I eat bread soup for every meal?!

The bread soup was really good but it was actually just my second favorite thing; my REAL favorite thing was this funny pasta!:

It was basically like gnocchi but in the shape of gummy worms. And it was HELLA GOOD. This is what I’m talking about, people! From now on, it’s all about bread soup and skinny gnocchi. Seriously, let’s break away from veganism and form our own sect where we only eat stuff made out of bread and pasta in the shape of gummy worms. Who’s with me?!

They didn’t have a dessert for me and my dad was crushed, because he’s adorable, but I was like, “Dad, I assure you, I’ve had enough omni restaurant sorbet in my vegan lifetime.” Besides, I was seriously about to burst! I didn’t even tell you about the artichoke soup and this pesto made of some leafy green instead of basil. And the bread was damn good too. And the wine! The wine was perfect! Rosé is so hot right now. So hot.

That is today’s lesson, everybody: know the owner. Until next time, stay classy, vegans! And thanks, Locanda! Let’s get married!

UPDATE!: According to my brother, Locanda Vini & Olii would treat ANY vegan this way. So please see the previous How to Be a Fancy and Demanding Vegan because you should still prob call ahead. But you don’t have to know the owner! At least not here. Though I still recommend it! It’s totally baller.


Vegansaurus NYC: Dirt Candy!  »

Hey young world! My brother and I went to Manhattan’s Dirt Candy last week and it was pretty awesome. It’s called Dirt Candy because, like, vegetables are the candy of dirt. So all the dishes are like, “carrot” and then it has insane stuff made with carrots in the description (“steamed barbecue carrot buns, cucumber & sesame ginger salad”). The whole place is vegetarian but almost every dish can be made vegan; there was just one dessert that couldn’t be vegan when we were there. It would be a lot cooler if the whole place were vegan, but nobody besides me is perfect.

My omni brother was sweet enough to get vegan stuff too so that I could try more dishes. For our appetizers, we had squash: “butternut squash broth, squash dumplings, delicata coconut cream” and mushroom: “portobello mousse, truffled toast pear & fennel compote.” The mushroom dish (pictured above) is one of their most popular but we both actually preferred the squash dish. The mushroom plate was very good though and looked pretty with it’s crazy cube of portobello mousse.

For our entrees, we had zucchini: “mint & tarragon pasta, squash blossom relish, yogurt & saffron sauce” and cauliflower: “buttermilk battered cauliflower, waffles, horseradish, wild arugula.” The cauliflower was a truly great concept; it’s the veggie take on chicken and waffles. I applaud the idea, but the execution was not good. Though waffle was good of course, the battered cauliflower was pretty much gross. I assume it was supposed to taste smoked or something but it basically tasted like charcoal. We couldn’t finish it. The waitress was very nice and asked if anything was wrong (“usually the plates are licked clean!”) but I am such a nancy, I just couldn’t complain about it. I know, I’m not doing anybody any favors but I hate complaining about stuff while I’m actually in a restaurant. Outside of a restaurant, it seems I’m totally fine complaining! Oh well. The zucchini dish was really great though. We both enjoyed it. It had miniature falafel balls in it and now I wonder why ALL falafel balls aren’t mini; they are great and adorbs.

My favorite part was dessert! I got the chocolate beet cake! BEET cake! Can you imagine? It was actually like a chocolate lava cake which happens to be my favorite dessert ever. You couldn’t taste any sort of beet flavor, which was fine by me. Maybe it was just sweetened with beets. It wasn’t super-chocolaty but the gooey inside was great! I would definitely go there just for dessert sometime. And wine! You know I love dessert and wine—a little combo I like to call, “reason to live.”

[Photo by Scaredy_kat from flickr!]


Jerk soccer player kills owl  »

God, somebody hold me. This is THE WORST: Soccer player Luis Moreno KICKS the injured owl mascot of the opposing team in this Colombian league game. The owl ultimately died. Here’s the video:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on]

You can hear the crowd—they’re pissed. Dude, he kicks it like it’s a piece of trash on the field! WTF? It’s a living, breathing being! And the owl doesn’t just get kicked, it gets kicked by a professional soccer player. Like getting punched by a boxer! This makes me so mad. At least he’s getting in trouble: “Moreno could now be facing a spell of several months in jail and a fine.” Of course this is just a “could” but at least people are angry about it. I hope he gets benched—in hell!

I always thought soccer was the sport for the anti-jock. I asked my soccer-enthusiast brother, WTF? Here’s what he had to say: “In the rest of the world, soccer players are the meatheads. Sorry to break it to you. In the U.S., it’s more the alternative sport but in Europe and stuff it’s like all the football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, hockey dudes in one!” GROSS!

Silver lining: Moreno’s team LOST. Ha. I like what this player on the other team had to say: “‘It made me very angry that he kicked the little animal,’ said Atletico Junior player Luia Paez, who scored one of the goals in Atletico’s 2-1 victory. “It was already injured by being struck by the ball. I said a bunch of awful things to him (Moreno). I was really angry.’” That makes me feel slightly better just because I hate when something like this happens and everyone is apathetic. The fact that people are upset gives me a tiny bit of hope that people aren’t all awful. Moreno es un coño! Lo odio!


Product Review: Faux Gras from the Regal Vegan!  »

A new friend told me about chef Ella Nemcova and her vegan catering company, the Regal Vegan. Turns out she not only prepares food for events, she has her own product out: Faux Gras. They sell this at the hippy grocery around the corner from me! In true Megan Rascal fashion, I immediately ran out and bought a tub! Just kidding, I immediately took a nap. After several hours, I ran out and bought a tub! I brought it and a baguette to my brother’s for a snack before dinner.

At first bite, it’s very mild. Then, all of a sudden, you’re hooked! We ate the entire baguette with the Faux Gras in one sitting. I’ve never had foie gras so I can’t compare but I can say it was delicious! We did save a bit for my sis-in-law (I’m so nice to her) and she said it didn’t taste like foie gras—a positive, in my opinion—but it was similar to pâté. She really liked it, my brother really liked it, and I was in love. It’s a bit sweet with a slight bite, though generally mild.

Bonus: It’s pretty healthy, high in fiber and protein. And I like what Nemcova says about vegans and non-vegans in her FAQ:

Q: But I’m not vegan, can I still eat it?
A: Vegan is like the universal donor of blood (Type O) in the sense that EVERYONE can eat vegan, but vegans can only eat vegan. Because Faux Gras is so rich in fiber, protein, and Omega-3′s, it’s considered a health food. But it tastes like a naughty, sinful, [somewhat] addictive food. So, please non-vegans, eat up! See what it feels like to eat something tasty that won’t destroy your diet.

That’s what I’m always saying! If there’s an event, I’m like, “Why isn’t there any vegan food?” And once my friend was like, “But you’re the only vegan, you want a whole dish just for you?” and I was like, “But EVERYONE can eat the vegan dish!” Winners all around!

Conclusion: Faux Gras rules! It’s available in stores throughout New York City. And don’t worry if you live elsewhere, they deliver! It’s a four-tub minimum for delivery but that’s like nothing. It would be great to bring to a party or have as an appetizer. If you’re like me, grab a baguette and you’ve got dinner!


Save the songbirds: reuse your wrapping paper!  »

I ran across this post on about songbirds and the paper industry. Apparently, “logging of the boreal forest in Canada and Siberia is happening at a lightning-quick pace that is proving too speedy for many that live there.” What can you do? Buy recycled paper! has a similar story and tells us this issue is especially relevant during the holiday season: “Americans throw away up to 25 percent more garbage (5 million tons more than the average daily amount of 3.5 pounds of garbage we usually throw away) between Thanksgiving and the New Year.” Yowza! That’s a lot of wrapping paper! And most of it isn’t even recyclable so it has to end up in the trash (unless you recycle it yourselfget crafty!).

There are many companies that sell recycled wrapping paper but the easiest way to save trees (and birds in those trees) is not to buy wrapping paper at all. I generally wrap presents in old newspapers during the year but my mom keeps us rich in Christmas wrapping paper so I usually wrap all my presents with that. Not next year! Actually, my brother and his wife did the whole newspaper-wrapping this year. They decorated the paper with cut outs from magazines (mine had puppies and female action heros, my dad’s had naked chicks)—they were fun! And more importantly, recycled. 

[image from]

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