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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.
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.
Another great place we discovered on our vegan friendly trip to Savannah was a charming coffee shop located right around the corner from where we were staying, The Sentient Bean.
Located right on the edge of the famous Forsyth Park. This place was clearly a popular spot with the locals; they had everything from college students curing their hangovers to informal business meetings going on. All at mid morning on a Friday. Obviously, we had checked out the website before walking over, so the menu wasn’t a huge surprise, but it had a number of great options for all sorts of dietary restrictions. Even better, they had lots of fresh baked goods that change from day to day. Since we were going to be doing a lot of walking in the sultry summer heat, we kept things pretty light: two large iced almond milk chais, a vegan burrito for her, and a egg & cheese croissant for me. Everything was incredible, and we were both a little disappointing that we were heading out of Savannah in a few hours since it meant we’d be gone before they started serving lunch. I’ve been going to Savannah for years, and I love that no matter how much time I spend there are always new things to see and try out. Equally cool is how different it seems depending on who I am traveling with. One of my all time favorite places.
One of the interesting things about the trip I recently took was that my traveling companion was vegan. Since it can be a bit difficult to find places that accommodate my vegetarian diet, I knew there was going to have to be some research to make sure we could find somewhere we could both eat. Fortunately, the vegan community is great about sharing travel tips and discoveries online, so with a few key strokes I had a list of restaurants that we both couldn’t wait to try.
First up on our list was Green Truck Pub in Savannah, GA. After being in the car all afternoon and checking in at our Air BnB, we were both more than ready for dinner. Green Truck was a 15 minute walk from where we were staying, and we knew we’d picked the right place when we saw that they had a decent wait on a Wednesday evening. We decided to forgo the 30 minute wait and instead haunted the bar until two seats opened up (maybe 10-15 minutes). The staff was great, getting us some teas to sip while we waited and coming back by a couple of times to make sure we had everything we needed even before we got to sit down.I loved that there was a nice mix of patrons. There was everything from the elderly couple who we replaced at the bar to college students to families. Clearly, a beloved neighborhood spot. I even noticed that the wait staff and bartenders seemed to be on first name basis with some of the people coming in. The food, oh my gosh, the food! HEAVEN!!! I went for their Veggie Rueben while Stefanie opted for the house made Veggie Burger. Both came with fries and the incredible spicy house made ketchup. Heck, even our pickles were house made and so good that we wedged them in on top of everything else. By the time we were done, we both completely stuffed and thinking longingly of stretchy pants. We also made the executive decision to Uber back to where we were staying instead of trying to awkwardly waddle there. I have had some incredible food in Savannah, but this place is right at the top of my “Places I’ll have to go to again.” I am hoping Andy will get to try it when we are back in November.