March 16, 2008

Oh. My. God.

Posted in non-food at 10:00 pm by veganalects

Something is going to happen. Something wonderful. Something delicious. Something sure to be amazing.

Something that can only be…A WHEELER’S TASTING IN DC. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you obviously haven’t been keeping up on your vegan blogs for the past few months. Wheeler’s Black Label Vegan Ice Cream is pretty much the talk of the town. It’s vegan ice cream that (word on the street has it) blows every other vegan ice cream on the market away. And it’s about time, isn’t it? I prefer Tofutti to the other brands available, but it’s not sensational. Still, I’m withholding judgment until I taste this upstart myself.

And it’s a big deal for DC that we’ll be able to. Toward the end of January, Wheeler’s had a big tasting weekend that included Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Snubbed for Philly? I was not pleased. I mean, we are the capital of the United States. But our day has come, so let me tell all you Washingtonians (and suburbonians) exactly what day it is. Here’s the information—hope I’ll see you there!

WHAT, PRECISELY: “A fun-filled COK (Compassion Over Killing) benefit bash! We’ll be serving free samples of premium vegan ice cream, courtesy of Wheeler’s Black Label Vegan Ice Cream, plus ten percent of sales from Asylum’s vegan menu will be donated to COK.”
WHEN: This Saturday, March 22, 2 – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Asylum Lounge at 2471 18th St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
METRO: Adams Morgan Metro station on the red line
RSVP: or 301-891-2458

December 13, 2007

Making Tea

Posted in non-food, tea at 8:29 pm by veganalects

Why on earth, I can hear you asking, would anyone need instructions for making tea? Hot water + tea bag = finished product, right? Well, yes, you can make tea that way—but I’m going to try to convince you not to. With a little extra time and effort, you can improve your Earl Grey or English Breakfast immensely.

The first thing you should know about me is that I love tea. I make it almost every day, sometimes twice or even thrice a day. (As long as “thrice” is a word, why not use it?) I’m talking about black tea, by the way. I do love other teas, both real and herbal, but they’re prepared a bit differently and black tea is my staple.

George Orwell had eleven rules for making tea, almost all of which I agree with, but I’ll keep it to four golden ones. Besides, he wrote those rules before the advent of tea bags, which brings us to the first point.

leaves.jpgRule #1: Always use loose tea. That Twinings tin is full of nice, big, dried leaves. Don’t they look luscious? Okay, maybe luscious isn’t the word, but they’re certainly pretty. Most tea bags are filled with “fannings,” the dusty byproduct of sorting loose leaf tea. Fannings make a second-rate cup of tea. It steeps faster and takes less coddling, but it’s often stale, yields a cloudy brew, and just doesn’t taste that great. Loose tea is available at a lot of natural food stores, some mainstream grocery stores, specialty tea shops, and online (like here and here).

Rule #2: Make it in a teapot. Seems a tad obvious, perhaps, but there are dozens of tea-making implements that don’t require a pot: mesh tea-balls, cotton brew bags, etc. I’ve tried a bunch of them and nothing steeps quite like a pot. The leaves need plenty of space to expand and swim around. Some teapots have strainers over the spout and some don’t, so you may need to use a strainer as well. (Ideally you’d warm the pot with hot water before you steep the tea, but now I’m getting nitpicky.)

Rule #3: Use really boiling water. Hot water isn’t hot enough. It’s hot enough for green or other kinds of tea, but not for black. That means water out of hot taps on sinks or water jugs won’t do the job. The water should have just come to a rolling boil so that it’s hot enough but still has plenty of oxygen (important for flavor).

table.jpgRule #4: At least try it with plain, unsweetened soymilk. Okay, this isn’t a rule so much as a plea. Every time someone adds vanilla soymilk or a few heaping spoons of sugar to her tea, a little part of me dies. Or maybe just cries. Either way, it’s in pain. I don’t know if I’m going to convert anyone, but I second George’s advice: “Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.” Call me crazy, but I also think sweetened soymilk in tea tastes more soymilky.

This might sound intimidating or labor-intensive, but it’s really not! It takes five minutes and makes my day so much better.

November 30, 2007

The Challenge

Posted in non-food, the Challenge at 7:45 am by veganalects

So here’s what actually sparked me to get off my ass (well, figuratively) and start this blog: a January Vegan Cooking Challenge! Yeah, yeah, I know the Vegan Month of Food (aka VeganMoFo) was November, but I had college to attend to then, so January it is. My school has a January Term for independent projects, so mine is this Mouthwatering Month, this Nourishing New Year, this—you get the picture. Without further ado, I present the self-imposed rules. I must make:

1. Lunch or dinner five times a week, dessert included at least once.

2. Breakfast or brunch at least once a week.

3. Baked goods at least once a week.

4. Something else—smoothies, soymilk, etc.—at least once a week.

5. A post here about each one, success or failure.

How is this a challenge, you ask? The real challenge will be pleasing my vegaquarian mother and my omnivorous father, not to mention myself and any guests we might have. The challenge will be converting skeptics and winning palates. (“How could the vegan version possibly be as good as the real thing?” my mother has asked, rhetorically, on several occasions.) The challenge will be proving that vegan food has something to offer beyond sprouts and tofu. Not that I don’t adore sprouts and tofu. But there’s a delicious vegan cornucopia out there, and I’d like to spread the word.

Suggestions, support, scoldings all welcome. Wish me luck!