vegansaurus!

01/11/2012

Hodo Soy Beanery going into Costco!  »

Hodo just sent off their first shipment to S.F. Bay Area Costcos today and if they sell well, Costco will pick them up for regular procurement and possibly expand beyond the bay area! So yeah, if you’re already shopping at Costco, buy tons of it along with your 50 cases of toilet paper and your 10,000 cans of Hansen’s Natural (“Natural”?) Sodas! America, FUCK YEAH!

For a list of stores carrying it and more info on what exactly’s available, check out the (my!) story at SF Weekly

11/27/2011

Happy Thanksgiving from reader Jennifer! At her first gluten-free Thanksgiving, she and her dinner companions enjoyed “Tofu roast from Hodo Soy Beanery (love them!), orange cranberry sauce, sage mashed potatoes, winter squash, carrots, green beans, cornbread stuffing, and mushroom gravy. That Hodo Soy roast was delicious!”

Happy Thanksgiving from reader Jennifer! At her first gluten-free Thanksgiving, she and her dinner companions enjoyed “Tofu roast from Hodo Soy Beanery (love them!), orange cranberry sauce, sage mashed potatoes, winter squash, carrots, green beans, cornbread stuffing, and mushroom gravy. That Hodo Soy roast was delicious!”

05/27/2011

Holy Hodo Batman, free soy at the Ferry Building on Saturday!  »


Spicy Yuba Strips, fancy plate not included!

Guys, remember how I visited the new Hodo Soy Beanery kiosk at the Ferry Building and got free stuff and it was delicious? Now you can get free delicious stuff too, Saturday May 28 ONLY!

Here’s the exclusive early scoop:

"Celebrate the long weekend with a FREE 6 oz container of Hodo Soy Beanery Hijiki Salad or Spicy Yuba Strips ($5.99 value) when you visit the newly opened Hodo Soy Kiosk at the Ferry Building Marketplace.  10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until supply runs out!

I’d advise getting there early because I’m guess it will run out! Run like the wind to your tofus!

05/19/2011

Hodo Soy Beanery’s new kiosk makes the Ferry Building worth entering!  »


Norm and Joe want to sell you tofus!

You’ve seen them at farmers’ markets around the Bay Area, hocking their delicious soys. You’ve hidden incriminating toothpicks in your pocket and covered your face with a scarf so that you could go grab another sample of their spicy yuba strips. You’ve considered selling out to the man so you could afford to eat this magical stuff every day. And now, ladies and gentlemen, you will drag your asses to the Ferry Building, past the “Praise the Lard” t-shirts and the innumerable fancy cheese shops, in order to patronize the brand-spanking-new Hodo Soy Beanery kiosk that is open as of Tuesday.

The soy has arrived, and it is good.

Hodo, which is based in Emeryville West Oakland, sells its soy milk, tofu, yuba (a.k.a. tofu skins, a.k.a. chewy manna from heaven), and some prepared foods at area markets. But they’re kicking it up a notch with their kiosk, offering new grab-and-go foods that you can only get there. Foods like forbidden rice pudding ($4), Scharffen Berger chocolate mousse ($4), yuba Kung Pao salad ($7), the sky is falling sandwiches (vegan egg salad on Vital Vittles bread, $7), and soy custard fruit parfaits ($4).
Hodo gave me free cups of the rice pudding and chocolate mousse to try, and I can report that they are both worth eating. The pudding uses black rice and lots of cardamom, and includes coconut and golden raisins suspended in the impressively creamy tofu base. Except for the sugar blast, it’s almost healthy, but so clearly dessert. Win.

The mousse was less intensely chocolately than I had hoped, but again won big on texture. I do love me some creamy tofu.

The kiosk also has exclusive drinks, including chocolate soy milk ($3), Thai iced tea ($3), and a kale avocado smoothie ($4). They gave me a free bottle of that last crazy-sound one, because it’s Joe the tofu-seller’s favorite. I found its serious undertones of cucumber and very mild sweetness both refreshing and filling. But it involves chewing chunks of kale and thus is neither suitable for beginners nor for people on a first date. Luckily I’m a pro with no one to impress so I downed the whole bottle in one sitting.

Nearly everything the stand offers is vegan (some of the granola they sell contains honey), and most of it is gluten-free as well (not the sandwich bread). They’re open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. They take cash or credit cards with their cute little iPad register. And for the moment at least, Hodo will still be doing the farmer’s market thing outside on Saturdays, in addition to the permakiosk indoors.

Main bummer: Because of Ferry Building and health code rules, they’re not able to offer samples at the moment. Let us hope they overcome these limitations.

Coming soon: recipes cards for some of the new products so you can learn to make them at home. As the proverb says, “Give a man some tofu, he eats for a day. Teach a man to tofu, and he can throw stellar dinner parties and invite you.” Or something like that. Carry on.

Sorry, Pepples Donuts, your kiosk makes the Ferry Building worth entering too, but you were closed at 6 p.m. today and also didn’t bribe me with free food.

04/22/2011

Vegansaurus Diet: Tamara Palmer!  »

We welcome food writer extraordinaire Tamara Palmer who approached me about doing a Vegansaurus Diet (inspired by Grubstreet’s New York Diet, of course!) and I was beyond stoked. Not only is she one of my favorite food writers, she’s also just a totally rad lady. Oh, she also writes about Too $hort on the regular, so she’s basically living my dream life.

Anyway, I’m thrilled with her addition to our archives, and hope to fill it with more non-vegan food writers, or even writers and bloggers who don’t write about food! Interested? Let me know! Oh plus, if you’re a reader who wants to do one even if you’re already vegan (yay you!), email me with yours! It’s fun! And informative! Yay vegan eating! Now, please enjoy Teemoney’s Week of Living Veganly because this girl eats WELL; I just discovered about 15 new foods I MUST try! Enjoy!

As a freelancer who has written close to 2,000 stories about food just over the past three years, I have chosen to be an editorial omnivore, eating broadly with far more adventure and curiosity than I ever had up until that point. And while my eating habits at home still tend toward the vegetarian, the cumulative toll of many months of decidedly not-vegetarian dinners and food battles was getting increasingly harder to ignore.

It took me more than a month of longing to try the Vegansaurus Diet before I actually did it; one reasonable excuse I’d like to offer was that I had many assignments I did not want to forgo for the experiment. Truthfully, though, a smaller reason is that I also wanted to get my fill of some of my favorite foods first. I realized quickly that those all fell in the dairy category.

I’ve never been a vegan, but I have been a vegetarian, so I thought that would help make it a lot easier. I was wrong! I wouldn’t come to truly appreciate the vast difference between being vegan and being vegetarian until late in the week. My cravings for meat were minimal and pretty much limited to when a few particularly stellar temptations were directly under my nose. But I’d learn mid-week how much my brain thinks it desperately needs dairy; definitely something to address. [Ed.: Casein is no joke! That shit is addictive!]

As I shopped for rations at Rainbow Grocery and Other Avenues, it was nice to be reminded that many of my favorite snacks are vegan. I also had the good fortune to receive a few samples of new and locally made products being carried at Whole Foods’ new Haight Street location in San Francisco and noticed that some of the ones I was most excited about from Love & Hummus and Rocket Ship Ice Cream were vegan.

I decided early on that I would be extravagant about this “diet,” surrounded by amazing snacks at all times so I wouldn’t feel deprived or accidentally screw up. I also wasn’t going to try to reduce my typically mammoth sugar intake, wanting to avoid some sort of heroin-like physical withdrawal. I did want to do well and show how delicious it is for an omnivore to go vegan for a week. Being careful was clearly weighing heavily on my mind: I fell asleep on Saturday night and had a dream that I absentmindedly ate all the wrong things.

Sunday, Apr. 10
I woke up with the assistance of an Amazake Tiger Chai rice shake, an occasional purchase when I think I can handle the caffeine (I drink very little). Lunch was a salad of pea shoots and microgreens topped with Ginger People pickled ginger, carrots, pineapple mint from my back stairs, and crumbled five-spice tofu nuggets from Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery. I’m not into tofu at all in general, but after I visited Hodo Soy’s factory to shoot this tour, I learned that I really like the company’s artisan products. I think these nuggets would be good in a morning stir-fry with some peppers, onions, and potatoes. I got some needed crunch with my salad via a handful of Edward & Sons’ rice toasts, the Thai red rice and flax variety. For dessert, I broke off four squares of Mast Brothers 70 percent dark chocolate spiked with Serrano peppers, a treat I smuggled back from my last visit to Brooklyn. [Ed.: Megan Rascal loves their stuff, too!]

A few hours later, I snacked on a Pepple’s blueberry donut, a frequent purchase at Other Avenues. I’m still not buying the story that there wasn’t any drama behind the name change of People’s to Pepple’s, but I do love that blueberry glaze.

For dinner, I heated up two slices of wild mushroom Field Roast, tentatively drizzling some Daiya “mozzarella cheese” on one of them, and fried up some slices of sweet potato for a side dish. I had a bad Tofu-Rella trauma back in the day and have turned a blind eye to fake cheeses ever since, but I’ve read on Vegansaurus and elsewhere how much Daiya is beloved, so I gave it a shot. Not bad. The Field Roast on the other hand—not so good.

Melodi Donahue from OCD Sweets in Napa kindly sent me a big box of her vegan agave nectar caramels to sample after I had fallen in love with her “Vegan Rosalia” tangerine rose caramel a couple months ago. Despite its large size, I polished off an Irish ale caramel stuffed with a big sourdough pretzel in just a few minutes.

The Field Roast wasn’t very satisfying, so I ate a Lundberg rice and popcorn cake and drank a mug of So Delicious coconut milk a bit later.

Monday, Apr. 11
Started the morning with a shot of Tonix coconut water kefir, which is like downing kombucha concentrate. It’ll make you shudder and might put hair on your chest, but it also can add pep to the step. I got in the bad Monday habit of blogging and skipping breakfast, but I felt good after the Tonix.

I escaped for a few minutes to run down to Shangri-La Chinese Vegetarian, which is not only vegetarian and largely vegan, but is also Buddhist and Kosher. I knew that their mu shu vegetables and pancakes were vegan, but I asked just to be sure.

“Vegan? Yes. You want egg or no egg?”
“Um, no egg, please.”

These were just as satisfying as I remembered them to be. Shangri-La’s got very convincing styles of mock meat, if you’re into that sort of thing (I’m not, but I do like the vinegar-y, cabbage-y flavor of the “vegetal goose”).

An afternoon snack blended the savory and the sweet: A handful of wild rosemary almonds from Oren’s Kitchen of El Cerrito and half of a tiny bar of Sweetriot 65 percent dark chocolate with cacao nibs.

I made a hearty dinner with Canaan Organic Fair Trade Maftoul, a Palestinian couscous made with sun-dried wheat, roasted Purple Haze carrots and onions, cilantro, and purple kale and chives from the back stairs, with a squeeze of Meyer lemon and a side of one of my favorite snacks, Kettle Chips in Spicy Thai flavor. Canaan donates a portion of proceeds to a San Mateo-based non-profit for Palestinian women called Rebuilding Alliance.

I got some Vegan Booty for dessert. Not the super-fun and sexy kind, but some lovely coconut toffee with dark chocolate and orange peel from OCD Sweets.

Tuesday, Apr. 12
I remembered to eat breakfast, a hunk of carrot spice teacake from Aunt Nettie’s Bakery of Santa Cruz, and even had a midmorning snack: An Oskri sesame bar with date syrup. I met my friend Jeannie Choe, organizer of the SF Food Wars competitions that I judge, for lunch at Gracias Madre. It was our first time there so we were unaware that the portions (like the prices) are large. A tiny glass of horchata was $5, which I thought was crazy until I tasted and loved it. Still expensive. We made up for it by splitting two appetizers (guacamole con tortillas and gorditas, the latter a fried masa and potato cake) and an entrée (enchiladas con mole with mushrooms and cashew “cheese”). Jeannie was suspicious about the “cheese” until remembering that we awarded second place to a vegan macaroni and cheese entry in the first SF Food Wars, the “Battle Royale With Cheese.” [Ed.: Here’s the recipe for the award-winning Fat Bottom Bakery’s vegan mac & cheese!] We both ate until we were full and I took home a huge box of leftovers.

That epic lunch didn’t stop me from having a decently-sized afternoon snack a couple hours later: A Fuji apple, the last two squares of the Sweetriot chocolate bar, and half of a large peanut butter “creamie” sandwich cookie from Sugar Plum Vegan of Sacramento. The filling was almost too rich, and I had to scrape some of it out, but it was a good treat. Dinner: more Madre.

Wednesday, Apr. 13
Today, I felt cranky for the first time. Not for meat but for cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. I skipped breakfast accidentally and later tried to bat down the cravings with leftover mu shu, a rice cake with crunchy peanut butter, and some handfuls of cardamom-infused granola from Nana’s Natural of Sonoma. Didn’t help much. My afternoon snack was a bowl of pita chips with some spicy harissa-flavored hummus from Love & Hummus and some spicy red velvet chocolate almonds from Lillie Belle Farms.

I was angry when I made an accidental slip-up, taking a swig of Prince Neville’s ginger beer without looking at the ingredients. Once I figured out that it has honey, I put it back in the fridge.

I met Vegansaurus’ HBiC Laura Beck for a dinner at Encuentro in Oakland. We had to push two tables together to fit our chickpea socca, red quinoa salad, “cheese” plate, taquitos (pictured), and Reuben sandwich, which is my kind of dinner. I hate raisins but somehow loved the taquitos, which were stuffed with some form of them. I later learned that this meal is her sort of sexy initiation ritual for omnivores, and I really dug it. We didn’t get to the Reuben so we took it home, and I had a late-night date with it.

Thursday, Apr. 14
Double shot of Tonix coconut kefir water for breakfast. Believe it or not, I still had a little bit of Gracias Madre leftovers so I polished them off along a bottle of Bruce Cost pomegranate hibiscus ginger ale. There wasn’t quite enough for a proper meal, so I kept snacking, first on a rice cake with Justin’s chocolate almond butter on top [Ed.: Try it on matzo!], and then by popping some popcorn and dumping a whole container of Suzanne’s Ricemellow Crème on top like a crack addict. I way overdid the proportions and even encased the kernels in ‘mellow in the race to put this in my face, but it’s a good combo that should be experimented with by people more patient than myself.

I drove back to Oakland to photograph the pre-opening party for Berlyn’s Eatery, where there will often be salads and other vegan options on the small menu. That night featured some rich-looking tofu and black bean soup, but the wait was long and I felt cranky again after taking pictures of some of the omnivorous options. I sped back across the bridge and back to Rainbow Grocery to re-up on the vegan snack rations, grabbing a container of Mari’s veggie gyoza and a package of Just Apples dehydrated apples. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just have a live apple. Still craving cheese, I made a late-night snack of tortilla chips, Daiya, and chopped up a quick pico de gallo.

Friday, Apr. 15
I had a video shoot at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland for The Feast so I got there a little bit early and sat in my car feeling sorry for myself while I ate a few Shakti cashew diamonds with saffron and popped a couple of Yummy Earth hard candies (why on Earth is alfalfa one of the ingredients?).

Chef/proprietor Tanya Holland made us an omnivorous Creole special, the details of which I’ll politely skip, but I will admit that the smells had me wanting to dive into the bowl and swim around. It didn’t help that her busy cooking line meant that my nose would be no more than a foot away from the dish at all times.

Afterwards, I told my video producer Mike Anderson about my diet and how, despite those moments of crankiness and deep cravings, I think I was experiencing a little bit more energy in general. He suggested I continue for longer than seven days, that perhaps this was just a hint of the stellar energy in store. A great idea, but I could already feel myself looking forward to lifting the restrictions, even if it would mean sacrificing some of this energy.

Mike shot a gorgeous video of the vegan “charcuterie” platter at Berkeley’s Gather restaurant for us last month, and I had fantasies about going there for lunch after our shoot for a leisurely meal, but was overcome by guilt and had to get back to the day’s bloggery.

Back in front of the computer, I settled for a pair of Shi Gourmet’s fresh rice paper Vietnamese spring rolls (a frequent Rainbow purchase), a banana (Fair Trade, Peruvian, to be exact), and a Nature’s Path “peanut buddy” granola bar (dry but satisfactory), followed by a hefty snack a few hours later: A “mini” loaf of Sugar Plum Vegan’s pumpkin pecan quickbread, which is packed with a ton of pureed pumpkin. Like SPV’s peanut butter creamie, it was tasty and almost too indulgent.

After finishing enough work for no one to be mad at me for the weekend, I picked up some friends and rushed down to “Street Food Fridays” at Fabric8. The hope was for some tofu and veggie curry from the Magic Curry Kart, but it had sold out in less than an hour. I hung out for a while and then dropped my friends off so they could go eat whatever they wanted. Bitches.

Back at home and too tired to make a proper meal, I settled on a slightly more elaborate version of the previous night’s nachos, adding some fresh diced pineapple to the pico de gallo.

Saturday, Apr. 16
Began the day with an Amazake Vanilla Pecan Pie rice shake, which is a better choice for me than the Tiger Chai because it doesn’t have any caffeine. I perused my inbox and was lured in by an invitation to check out the private warehouse sale of a gourmet food distributor in San Leandro; soon, my friend Missy Buchanan and I were headed to the East Bay, with plans to hit up the Japanese vegetarian restaurant Cha-Ya back in San Francisco afterward.

Here’s where I admit the big transgression of my heart that happened while on the Vegansaurus Diet: This sale touted a wide variety of French cheeses, offered at wholesale prices, and I hovered around the table for a long time before snapping up two specimens. I also bought two kinds of truffle butter. I don’t know when I became such a cheese or butter enthusiast, but the fact that I couldn’t eat them then sparked a powerful longing.

We arrived at Cha-Ya to the disappointing sight of a “closed for renovations” sign. Although I loved my lunch at Gracias Madre, I had hoped not to return this week just for the sake of variety, but it was just a block away and seemed like the best option for that meat-saturated corridor. It turned out to be a great choice. This time I forked over the unreasonable $8 for the large version of that delicious horchata, and saved by ordering the “ensalada de mango” (pictured) with some side orders of black beans and mushrooms. The “queso fresco” slathered on the Acme baguette that accompanied the salad didn’t taste cheesy, but still helped to carve away at my gnawing craving.

Later that evening, I sliced up a zucchini and a white potato, filled a wok with a generous amount of French black truffle oil I had purchased at the warehouse sale (which made me realize I didn’t need to buy that stupid butter), and fried them up until they were no longer nutritious (perfect). I washed it down with a bottle of pomegranate kombucha from Kombucha Botanica of Santa Cruz.

Inspired by this recipe from Peaceful Table, I had wanted to try to make a vegan tapioca pudding all week and finally made the time to do it on Saturday evening. I followed the measurements of the recipe but used coconut milk instead of soy milk, added some chopped Fuji apple, and the last four squares of my spicy Mast Brothers dark chocolate. This dessert was the revelation of my week, hands down. Not only is it ready slightly quicker than the conventional method, it is vastly easier with, to me, negligibly similar results since you can skip all the steps of separating the egg whites from the yolks and adding different amounts of each at different times. I’m thrilled to know I can avoid that tedium and have delicious, healthy results.

I almost forgot that I had been saving my Rocket Ship chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that I had gotten at Whole Foods for last, so I sampled some even after I downed a big bowl of tapioca. Supplier of ice cream to San Francisco’s fine vegan restaurant Millennium, I was instantly hooked on the flavor and consistency of the ice crystals. I buy a lot of non-dairy frozen desserts and will be adding this to the rotation.

I deliberately did not set my Vegansaurus Diet up like a “cleanse,” but I did emerge from it all with a noticeably lighter feeling. The lack of dairy was what my brain told me was the biggest deprivation, even as I realized I don’t need it for actual survival. Yesterday, I told my father (who I actually love a whole lot) that I would throw him under the bus for an early shot at a double-cheese pizza; later, the thought of having a midnight pizza party got me through the rest of today. My cravings for/loyalties to dairy are alarming me, so I am going to go drown them in more coconut milk tapioca pudding now.

Tamara Palmer is the food editor for The Feast SF Bay Area and a contributor to SFoodie and Bay Area Bites. We dig her a lot. All photos from Tamara, except the Rocket Ship ice cream and Pepple’s Donut from Yelp!

02/23/2011

Guest review: Sacred Wheel in Oakland! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE, Y’ALL  »

Even though I’d heard that Sacred Wheel offered vegan grilled cheese on Sundays, I was a little nervous about seeking out vegan food in a gourmet cheese shop. I had already imagined the eye-rolling response when I sheepishly asked about a vegan option and the ultimate disappointment it was sure to be.

Holy Sheese on a cracker, being wrong never tasted so good.

Not only did the friendly employees at Sacred Wheel not bat an eye when I asked about vegan options, they proceeded to make me the yummiest panini-style grilled Sheese sandwich ever! The shop’s grilled cheese of the day was a mozzarella-style dairy-free cheese with sundried tomato pesto. My beau and I arrived near closing and even though they’d long since sold out of the daily special, they offered us a regular cheddar-style grilled cheese. They had two vegan soups of the day to go along with their “Sunday Vegan Sunday” theme, a tofu tabouli that was amazingly filling and a TBR (tomato soup with PBR!) that was peppery and perfect for sandwich-dipping. We got a cup of soup and a giant sandwich each, which came out to about $20 all together. I happily ate the whole thing while dancing in my chair and humming “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”


The shop is adorable, very well laid-out, and seemingly able to accommodate a lunch rush with a giant picnic table, window/counter seating, and some little tables out front. We were lucky enough to get to chat with the owner, Jena, who was awesome. For being a store that specializes in gourmet cheese, Sacred Wheel has an impressive vegan selection. In addition to a few different kinds of Sheese, Sacred Wheel carries local tofu products made by Oakland’s Hodo Soy. There’s also a whole case of imported oils and a huge assortment of jams, jellies, and mustards.

Jena said she’d ultimately like to offer a vegan option every day, which means we should probably go in every Sunday to remind her that vegans in Oakland are desperate for more lunch options in Temescal. Because if I have to eat another slice of Lanesplitter pizza before it’s too early in the day to justifiably have a beer, I’m going to scream. (And then order a beer.)

Sacred Wheel is located at 4935 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland, Sunday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck. This is her second review for us. Thanks, Courtney!

08/31/2010

Guest post: the Hodo Soy Beanery tour!  »


There are three main reasons I was pumped when I found out that Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland offers tours of their factory: 1. I eat a lot of tofu, and I like to know how stuff I eat is made; 2. I’ve been playing with the idea of making my own tofu and goma dofu (sesame seed tofu) at home and wanted to see a larger version of the process in action; and 3. My favorite part of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was when he’d go to some factory to see how backpacks or pencils are made—and this was my chance to experience that thrill live! So last Wednesday, my childhood friend from Boston, Ivy, and I headed out to Oakland to see how beans become that curd we all love.

A little background: Hodo was co-founded by a former investment banker, Minh Tsai, and his brother-in-law Dean Ku back in 2004. They noticed a gaping hole in the tofu market: freshness. In Asia, tofu is meant to be eaten the day it’s made—not packaged in shrink wrap and refrigerated for weeks. They sold their homemade soy products at farmers’ markets, became very popular, and decided to open a factory in October 2009. They don’t ship very far to maintain freshness; you can buy it at Whole Foods and Rainbow, and they sell to super-fancy restaurants—like Coi and the Slanted Door—in the Bay Area. Also, John Scharffenberger is the CEO. Um, random.

Our tour started in an adorable little room with one wall covered in curtains, where our group of 10 visitors were greeted by two staff members and tiny espresso cups of warm soy milk. The milk tasted more like liquid tofu and not very much like the Silk or Edensoy we all know. My friend and I weren’t fans (although she did down hers ‘cause she felt bad), but I can see how some may find it soothing and very clean-tasting. We then watched a video narrated by Mr. Tsai explaining the history of the factory and the details of the tofu-making process. Then they opened the curtain to reveal the extremely clean—and surprisingly small—factory floor.


[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]


I was a little sad that we didn’t get to actually go on the factory floor, but you really could see everything from the windows and I totally get that they don’t want us nasty outsiders sneezing in their tofu. Our very friendly guide, Rachel (who knew all about Vegansaurus!), explained what every part of the factory did, including the “soy milk cow” (gross?) and the yuba station. Apparently, all their machinery was made by one of the oldest tofu equipment manufacturers in China.

Yuba is the skin that forms on top of the milk—and no, it’s not gross like the shit on old pudding or gravy. Hodo meticulously lifts each sheet of yuba and hangs it to dry on a rack (the ones that day were being lifted by a cheerful fellow named Binky, or something equally awesome, who wore giant headphones and jammed to his tunes as he worked). I’d never had yuba before, but my Chinese/Japanese friend remembered her childhood experience of it as “soapy/watered-down tofu” that she would only force down if her parents doused it in soy sauce and chili oil. But she agreed with me that Hodo’s yuba was frickin’ goooood. Delicate but kinda chewy, and very tasty! We got a whole table’s worth of samples to try, and I had to stop myself from being THAT GUEST and snarfing down the whole plate myself.

We also learned about nama yuba, which is apparently like the vegan version of Burrata cheese, and is a fresh, non-dried version of yuba. It’s not able to be mass-produced, so that shit’s only available to fancy people in fancy restaurants.

Our table o’ soy was adorned with everything from curry-marinated fried tofu chunks to braised firm tofu, spicy yuba strips (holy moly SO GOOD), and hijiki tofu salad, among others. Everything was great and totally made up for not being allowed to get all Mister Rogers on them. There were products that we could purchase, both food and clothing (like t-shirts that said “Who’s your Tofu Master?” and fab hats my friend described as “totally commie Mao with railroad engineer stripes”). We opted for just food and brought home several containers to continue our soy journey later.

While our experience at Hodo was yummy and informative, an aspect of their practices did bug me. The factory produces a massive amount of okara-–bean pulp that’s left over when the soy puree is filtered during the tofu-making process. While some people do eat it in stews or in veggie burgers, the demand is not high enough for Hodo to actually package it for distribution. So they donate it to Magruder Ranch in Mendocino to use as feed. Magruder raises “sustainable” meat in the form of lambs, cows, and heirloom pigs (cause, you know, the fourth most intelligent species on the planet is the same thing as a tomato). They even offer “bucolic weekend getaways” on their death farm, bitchin’ butchering workshops, and “happy” little videos on their Facebook fan page of piglets with their mom-–before they become the subjects of those workshops! SCORE!

I know that Hodo is not a vegan company-–they are just accidentally vegetarian. But I still needed to ask them about their choice of okara beneficiary, since I assume the majority of their customer base is vegetarian, vegan, or at least appreciative of that lifestyle. I asked them why they didn’t donate their feed to a local produce farm for compost instead. They said that they’re in discussion with some farms right now to do that, and that they have so much okara that there is plenty to go around. Perhaps I wimped out, but I didn’t feel that the environment was appropriate to start a heated debate, but I do intend to write to them to encourage them to reconsider their practice, and I think it’d be great if fellow vegans joined me. I understand that to Hodo it’s just waste that they are finding a practical way to dispose of, but it’s also indirectly supporting a meat ranch by helping it spend less money on feed. It would behoove them to consider the demographic that is purchasing their product, and, if nothing else-–even if they don’t care about the ethical implications of their actions—at least see the gesture of giving to a produce farm as a great marketing opportunity. Wouldn’t a vegan or vegetarian feel better about purchasing something without any connection to the meat industry?

I definitely do recommend the tour. I think it’s super-important to know where your food comes from, and having the opportunity to actually see it is pretty rare. Plus, the more vegans that show up and voice their opinion on Hodo’s okara donation practices, the more likely it is they will change them. I don’t believe Hodo is some evil meat-industry supporter—I think that they haven’t looked at what they are doing from a different angle. And what are we vegans good at if not changing someone’s perspective?

Vi Zahajszky left her motherland of Hungary as a child and has spent most of her life in Boston and New York. Two years ago she drove across the country to San Francisco with husband Chris Carlozzi and a rescue pup named The Bandit. Here, among other things, she’s studying fashion design and pattern-making, and has plans to develop a vegan clothing line. Also, she’s enjoying no blizzards. Photo enhancing and video editing by Chris Carlozzi.

08/13/2010

Scandals, stupidity, and some really clever sheep in this week’s link-o-rama!  »


Pilot whales in the Straits of Gibraltar! This was the only calf in the small pod, don’t you want to give it a hug? YES OF COURSE YOU CAN’T HUG A WHALE. But in my Lisa-Frank-colored childhood dreams, this whale and I would be pals and it would love hugs, so there. [picture by Rory Moore via the Telegraph]

Things for a vegan to do!
Tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 14, Harvest Home Sanctuary is having a work party! Go put together “Harvest Home Hay Boxes” and “Barndog Beds” from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., eat veggie dogs, and feel virtuous. Email to RSVP and get directions.

On Thursday, Aug. 19 the Asian Art Museum is celebrating the drunken dishes of Shanghai cuisine with chefs Nei Chia Ji and Martin Yan. They will be making vegetarian goose with been curd and rice wine; pickled cucumber in Huang Chiew wine; and some chicken thing no one cares about because duh. It’s the AAM’s bimonthly MATCHA event, so there’ll be a cash bar, music, and you can make your own art, too—but your Vegansaurus is mainly excited about the food, obviously. It costs $10 and runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. in San Francisco.

Things for a vegan to read!
Let’s look at horrible food news! Valley Meat Co. of Modesto, Calif. (our neighbor to the east!) recalled 1 million pounds of frozen ground beef this week! It had been produced in late 2009 and early 2010 and has already made seven people sick with E.coli poisoning! NPR did some math and figures about 2,300 cows/steers were killed to make 1 million pounds of ground beef—wonder where they all came from? We’ll probably never know! Still, according to a CDC report, 17 percent of “food-borne illness outbreaks reported to the government” are caused by dead birds in your kitchen, compared to the 16 percent caused by dead cow and 14 percent by “leafy vegetables.” Although of course leafy vegetables carry no deadly bacteria or viruses inside of themselves, unlike say chickens or cows. Your tiny baby children are sick because they’ve been eating salmonella-ful dry pet food! Maybe these statistics will decrease a bit, as Ohio farmers have agreed to give some of their food-animals (“livestock,” if you will) a little breathing room.

Ben and Jerry’s, so full of lies. You really can’t trust anyone who uses that font. Shockingly, their “all-natural” label includes ingredients like dextrose, corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, none of which are officially “natural.” The New York Times, another bastion of truth, notes a trend in farmers seeking organic certification, motivated primarily by the money. Motivated by being awesome, a former Mad Man is working to make Meatless Mondays a national habit. Even this crazy “barbecue whisperer” who calls himself Meathead Goldwyn has decided to eat vegetarian for a month, and Mario Batali plans to write a vegetarian cookbook, inspired by the “beautiful people!” [sic] of Italy. Maybe they’d enjoy this easy-peasy recipe for carrot bacon!


New Zealand really is as full of sheep as you’ve heard. Sheep, however, are much smarter than is generally assumed. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that sheep living in Matamata, NZ, have moved into the Lord of the Rings hobbit homes set. [image by Tara Hunt, via Laughing Squid]

We’re eating very well in the Bay Area these days. There’s the fancy-pants, super-delicious tofu of Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery (take a tour!); the second Garden Fresh—vegan Chinese!—in Palo Alto got a good review in the Chronicle; and Sutton Cellars in San Francisco makes only vegan wines and vermouth that SFoodie really enjoyed.

The SF SPCA won its lawsuit to claim $500,000 for its hearing dog program, despite its sort of not having one—it’s all very strange, as SF Weekly explains. The Humane Society’s lawsuit against Olivera Egg Ranch, originally filed in 2008, will go ahead! Olivera Egg Ranch is a massive polluter (not to mention chicken-torturer on a grand scale) and was fined $143,057 in 2009 for “destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property.” On Thursday, defendants in the Bushway Packing trial entered not-guilty pleas to misdemeanor and felony counts of animal cruelty. Even Canada’s not perfect: No Country For Animals is a new documentary about the country’s “deplorable record on animal welfare,” and you can watch it online.

Despite its best intentions, the Times hosted a decent discussion of the ethics of catch-and-release fly-fishing, including a biologist who said, straight-up, that it’s shitty because fish feel pain. Some other biologist contradicted that “theory,” but Wikipedia contradicts him, and Vegansaurus says, just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it, cowboy. Discover magazine wonders how many orangutan there would be in the world if the Victorians hadn’t been so keen on shooting everything with a heartbeat. To wit: the Galapagos giant tortoises didn’t get a Latin name until 300 years after their “discovery” by Charles Darwin because they were so delicious and easy to kill. Hey Michigan! Your private stock of non-native, feral shootin’ hogs—upward of 5,000!—have broken free from your game ranches and are rampaging wild across the lands, eating fawns and carrying pseudorabies. Michiganders with hunting licenses are encouraged to shoot them. Way to go, guys!

06/21/2010

Guest review: Hodo Soy Beanery tofu!  »


If ingesting copious amounts of soy is bad for me, someone call 911 because I am likely to need an ambulance tonight. Milling around the produce section of the Whole Foods in Noe Valley, a tiny juicy bin tucked in between some lettuce and melons caught my eye. A tag sat modestly on top of the bin filled with the best tofu ever made: Hodo Soy Beanery tofu!

Yes, we are lucky enough to have this firm, white block of heaven at our fingertips hidden away for all vegan and vegetarian hogs alike. Hodo Soy Beanery uses 100 percent organic, non-GMO, hand-selected soybeans and painstakingly prepares them early in the a.m. so we can have the finished product within 12 hours of preparation! More than most of us can say, damn!

Many blocks of tofu came home with me destined to be made into crispy golden nuggets. A recipe for Spicy Banh Mi from Vegetarian Times BLEW me away last week. Imagine a crusty sweet roll, slathered with Vegenaise, sweet-and-sour marinated daikon shreds with a hint of cilantro. Then add the best part: fried tofu!

I tried making the sandwich with two different brands of tofu, and I must say the Hodo comes out WAY ahead because it is firm and filling. I challenge you to attempt to leave the fried tofu untouched before assembling the sandwich…good luck!

[Thanks to Keri Siry for this guest post and photo! Would you like to contribute to Vegansaurus? Let us know!]

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