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With my birthday mere days away, I had to write one more recipe to cross #7 off my 31 before 32. This weekend’s trip to the VegFest inspired me to create a vegan dessert. I did some research, cobbled together bits and pieces of some things that I found interesting, and came up with this recipe.
- 2 cans of full fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 bananas
- 1 box vanilla wafers
- 1/3 cup melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
- Pre-heat over to 350 F and spray pie tin with nonstick spray.
- Crush all the cookies into crumbs and mix with the vegan butter.
- Pat the crumb mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 10 minutes.
- While your crust cools, pour the coconut milk into the pan and heat, ultimately to a boil.
- As your coconut milk heats, combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the heating milk.
- After the cornstarch has completely dissolved, add the sugar and stir.
- Right as your coconut milk beings to bubble, whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
- Once the mixture again reaches a boil, remove from heat and whisk for 2 minutes while it thickens. Set aside to cool slightly.
- While your “custard” cools, slice your bananas and layer them on your cooled crust.
- Pour the custard over your sliced bananas and place the entire pie in the fridge for at least an hour to set.
* To take your pie to the next level, sprinkle with toasted coconut when you serve it 😉
All in all, not bad for my first vegan custard.
As the Birthday Week Princess, I decreed that we would spend Saturday late morning/early afternoon at the 4th Annual North Florida VegFest. Vegan vendors and educators from all across Florida gathered to celebrate all things vegan at Cascades Park here in Tallahassee. Unfortunately I have some health issues and dietary restrictions that preclude me from a full on vegan lifestyle, but I’m of the opinion that every vegan choice we make is a step in the right direction.
I got distracted on our walk from the parking lot and spent about five minutes crouched down taking pictures of the daffodils. I didn’t see one IRL until I was in college, and they still fascinate me. We didn’t get there early enough to secure a free swag bag, but we did manage to catch the vendors pretty much as soon as they opened. The first (and best) purchase I made was from Simply Scented Candles. Homemade, hand poured and metal free, these little guys smell divine, and their creator couldn’t be a nicer guy. We chatted for a bit as my friend and I smelled every last candle. Finally, after much debate, I selected a mini “Grapefruit” and “Watermelon” candle in honor of the warmer weather. The two close seconds were the “Cup of Joe” and the ” Citrus Coconut”. A few corporate vendors had set up tents offering samples, and after trying Peanut Broccoli Salad and some sugar free strawberry jam, my grocery list for the week got a bit longer. Finally, after much browsing, we made it over to the food tents. One of the first places I visited was Sweet Pea Cafe – they’re a local place and anytime I get the chance I HAVE to get a couple of their Green Tea Sugar Cookies. They are my favorite cookie of all time. Next door to them was the place I’ll be having my birthday dinner, Nefetari’s. They make a vegan mac and cheese that’ll curl the toes of even the most devout meat eater. Seriously. The real star for us though was an Ethiopian restaurant from Jacksonville called Ibex. I’ve only had Ethiopian food twice before, but you better believe that any time I am going to be near Jacksonville from now on, I am hitting this place up. Everything, and I do mean everything, on their sampler plate was incredible. Things that I don’t normally care for, like beets or greens, I couldn’t get enough of. I actually regret not getting food to take home with us. After loading up on far more food and beverages than we needed, we found a patch of grass near the amphitheater to enjoy our lunch and listen to some of the people who were presenting and performing. Afterwards, we walked around so I could make new furry friends. This may have been my favorite part of the festival. This last little girl completely stole my heart. She is a deaf, a tripod, and the sweetest soul you could ever hope to meet. I may have gotten a little teary after scratching her ears; she has so many disadvantages, but her human clearly adores her and takes excellent care of her. As a parent of several special needs cats, it means a lot to me when I see other people who have animals who are “damaged”. Especially when they so clearly understand how wonderful they are and how lucky they are to have them. We had an absolute blast, and I can’t wait for next year. This was the perfect kick off for my Birthday Week, and I just hope the rest of the week will be able to live up to it.
Good morning readers! Do you like donuts? Do you like supporting local businesses? Do you live in/near Tallahassee? If so, I am about to make your day. Allow me to introduce you to Dandelion Donuts! They’re vegan, they’re organic, they’re delivered in a wonderful eco-friendly modified bicycle, and most importantly, they are INSANELY delicious. They had a launch party for their Indiegogo fundraiser this past Saturday at Sweet Pea Cafe, and Andy and I had to stop by and try things out.
Strawberry Basil! These were Andy’s favorites by far, and I have to admit that I love how they were delightfully pink without any artificial coloring. The Summer Herb was my runner up favorite. It was perfectly tart and a tiny bit herbaceous. I could eat these all summer long! Double Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs! Me with my favorite, the Maple Facon. I don’t know how I have lived this long and never tried coconut bacon. It’s perfectly crispy and exactly what this donut needs to contrast that rich maple glaze.
To find out more about Dandelion Donuts and to support this local venture, check out their fundraiser Indiegogo page, and to receive updates on progress and availability be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
One of the coolest things I got to do in Charleston was have Afternoon Tea. Not just any high tea, mind you; my traveling companion was vegan so we had vegan Afternoon Tea at Twenty Six Divine. For those of you who don’t know, afternoon tea is your tea blend of choice accompanied by small pastries and bite size sandwiches. It sounds pretty simple, but I’ve run into issues finding a place that can accommodate my vegetarian diet, let alone someone that calls for absolutely no dairy. When I was doing research for our trip, I noticed that Twenty Six Divine not only offered afternoon tea, they had a blurb at the bottom of the page saying that they could accommodate various allergies and dietary restrictions. A quick phone call later, we were booked and very excited to see how things would turn out.
We were the only people taking tea that afternoon, so we had the added luxury of having the place to ourselves. We felt pretty special, let me tell you, but the “special snowflake” special, not the “eat the paste” special. After learning that I was vegetarian not vegan like my dinning companion, our server brought me some of the fresh almond biscotti they had just made. Had I pockets, I would have filled them with smuggled biscotti. The food was incredible. There were so many different things that I can’t honestly remember them all. My savory favorites were the red pepper gazpacho and the eggplant and onion flat bread. As far as the sweets went, the house made cinnamon almonds and the raspberry and chocolate torte took the proverbial cake. It was a really great experience, even more so since Stefanie had figured her days of high tea had ended when she went fully vegan. I also came away with the conviction that I need to work even harder to incorporate recipes for people with restrictions into my repertoire. The crowning achievement would be throwing an afternoon tea for my friends that could accommodate vegan as well as gluten free. If I pulled it off, there might have to be a baking equivalent to a mike drop. Perhaps, a spatula drop, or better yet a whisk drop… I’ll figure it out and get back to you later.
Travel food can be a bit hit and miss, but sometimes the stars align and you find that gem of a place that not only provides an excellent meal but makes you lament that there isn’t a place like it in your town. Dell’z in Charleston was one of those places for me. We rolled into Charleston late Thursday afternoon, and after checking in with our host, food was very much a priority. After getting lost with our GPS and doing some serious navigating around detours and construction, we finally pulled into the small gravel lot behind the restaurant. Getting out of the car, we were immediately optimistic when we saw the colorful murals and the small garden at the back of the establishment. Our optimism continued to grow as we took in the colorful decor and chatted with the sweet and very informative cashier (Hello, Caroline!). She helped us navigate the menu and gave us lots of recommendations for our dietary restrictions and culinary preferences. The place was so laid back, and the decor was fun and eclectic. We both loved the found treasures displayed on the walls and the chairs that had been reupholstered with coffee and produce bags. The food…oh, my goodness, the food. I had their vegan chicken cordon bleu wrap, and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, vegan or other wise. There was crunch from the veggies and melty from the “cheese” and sauce! I let Stefanie try it since my food came out first, and there was a brief but very real moment where I was unsure if I’d be getting my food back or not. Of course, this only lasted until her thai bowl came out, and then she was very interested in her own meal (and rightly so, it was awesome!). The last thing I want to talk about is the green goddess dressing/dipping sauce that they make in house. Both our orders came with a side of it, and even though we were both stuffed, you can bet your ass we ate every last chip and piece of pita bread just to justify eating the dressing.I can honestly say if there was a Dell’z in Tallahassee I would be there at least once a week. Grab a wrap on the way home; go out for a low key dinner. I’d probably even have my very own table. Who knows, maybe the owners will someday feel the need to retire to the unrelenting heat of Florida.