Vegan Mofo: Mango Sticky Rice

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Last month my life changed by eating mango sticky rice in Cambodia.

 

I know that restaurants in the States offer mango sticky rice, but let’s be honest, dessert without chocolate is really just breakfast. It never appealed to me before.

 

But in Cambodia, on a rainy rainy night, after an exquisite visit to a temple and some real quality time with monkeys, I ended up at a little restaurant that inspired me to try mango sticky rice for the first time. Maybe it was the fact that the menu said it took 20 minutes to make (SO BE PATIENT) or maybe it was because it was raining so hard outside, or maybe it was because it was my travel companion Billy’s birthday and if he wasn’t going to order dessert, I sure wasn’t going to let us go dessert-less on his birthday. Whatever the reason, I ordered it and fell immediately in love. The rice was sticky sweet and slightly salty, and topped with crunchy coconut pieces, coconut milk, and fresh chunks of mango.

Mango Sticky Rice

The best.

 

I’ve ordered it a few times since throughout Cambodia and Thailand, and loved every incarnation of it, though none has been good as the first time in that nameless cafe in Phnom Penh. When I get back to Portland, I’m embarking on an epic mango sticky rice journey.

And with that, this Vegan Mofo series is over. Hope you guys enjoyed reading tidbits from my trip aboad, thank you for reading!

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UGH. FINE. I’ll write a blog post, whatever.

I’m not saying I’m OFF Blog Hiatus, I’m just saying that maybe I’m taking a hiatus from Blog Hiatus. For a minute.

I’m in Amsterdam right now. I sort of went on Blog Hiatus in February, shortly before my birthday (I’m 33 now guys, but you better believe I can still move like I’m like 32) and before things got crazy with planning Vida Vegan Con (#VVC2013 for those that were there), giving my notice at work, selling all my stuff, and making plans to travel around the world for four months.

So then all that happened. Vida Vegan Con went off without a hitch (more like 10 hitches, amiright Jess and Michele?! ha!); I sold a few of my items in a haphazard yard sale then frantically left most of everything I own in a free pile outside my house the day before I flew out; I bought airline tickets & organised & planned travel adventures; I got a baby storage unit to hold my pictures, papers and books, finished up working at the BrewPub I’ve been with since I was a wee thing in my 20’s; and had a major panic attack and drank a bottle of Dom Perignon in the PDX airport the day I left.

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fancy drinks with non-fancy friends at PDX

I almost got turned right back around at Heathrow Airport Customs (an exciting though harrowing beginning to my adventure); I bebopped around London for a few days with some friends (and even saw the future Queen of England, Kate Middleton, TWO FEET AWAY from me at the BBC) before heading up to Edinburgh on the train for the weekend, before heading back down to London Sunday, before heading up to Cambridge on Monday before getting wicked lost back in London on Tuesday before flying out to Amsterdam on Thursday.

It’s okay, I can’t really keep up either.

And now I’m here, in Amsterdam. I spent a few nights with my dear friend Alison from Northern England in the most horrid/hilarious hostel I’ve ever stayed in in the Red Light District (is it possible it feel dirtier AFTER taking a shower? Stay where I did and you can find out!) but we had a blast overall. Spent our time getting wet in the lovely Amsterdam summer weather and exploring museums (Rembrandt seems to have been a cool dude and I loved reading about his life and seeing his work with light) and drinking Heineken.

Now I’m on my first couchsurfing experience. Sorta odd, but pretty cool. My host Ernie is vegetarian, into the music scene and has a spare bike for me to ride. He lives in the most beautiful place, right by Oosterpark. I went on the most amazing bike ride of my life today. I felt like I was pedaling through a fairy tale. Gentle clouds floating through the sky, bunny rabbits hopping by while swans gave me a wary look, weird colorful little birds flying above, and tall green grass swaying in the light breeze.

I am fortunate that I’m getting to experience little slices of life all around the world. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about and scheming about for so long and I’m truly soaking up every minute.

These are a few of my pics from Instagram:

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Cambridge Couple Walking at Dusk

 

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Crossing the Abby Road Crosswalk

 

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Vegan Fish & Chips in London

Wanna see all my Instagram photos? They’re right here.

Win a Ticket to Vida Vegan Con 2013!

 

Well, hello there! You’re looking mighty fine and chipper today.

The second annual Vida Vegan Con is quickly approaching. We have just a few months to go before the end of May, when over 300 vegan bloggers, readers, authors, professionals and all-around awesome peeps descend upon Portland for a weekend of classes, panels, exhibits, off-site pop-ups, Silent Auction + Galarama, and of course, for food and for socializing.

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Janessa, Michele and Jess at Vida Vegan Con 2011’s Vegnews Reception

2011’s event brought so many people together, and forged so many new connections and ventures. It’s actually sort of insane for us to think about. 2011 also introduced the greater vegan world to Homegrown Smokers’ Macnocheeto and Sizzle Pie’s dazzling vegan pizza options.

 

Art Museum Outside

View from the steps of the Portland Art Museum, where Vida Vegan 2013 will be held.

This year, as tickets are rapidly selling out, I’m here to offer you, adorable readers, ONE golden ticket*. This ticket will gain you admittance to the entire weekend of classes and meals, in addition to all official off-site events. This does not include transportation or lodging.

*Valued at $330.00

Golden ticket

source

 

Here’s the deal: Vida Vegan Con 2013 is going to be sweet. Hella sweet. If you want to come but don’t want to shell out the moolah, here’s what you do:

It’s simple.

Fill in the blank: I want to attend Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland, Or because ______________________.

 

In that blank, insert whatever you think truly captures why you want to come. Write a poem, draw a picture, take a picture, submit a video, bake a pie and then blog it, do whatever YOU think best represents you and why you want to come to Vida Vegan Con 2013. This is so open because I know all y’all are incredibly talented and I want to see your mad skillz.

Submissions will be judged by me and based on the awesome/ adorable/ heartfelt/ funniness of the entries.

If you have a blog submission, link to it in the comments. If you have tumblr/ instagram/ YouTube, or if you’re blog-less cuz you’re so off the grid baby but you still want to come to Portland to eat food and meet people (good on you), submit your entry to me via email (theveganword at gmail.com). I will be posting all entries on the blog, so no naked photos, sorry.

–> Deadline to enter: Monday February 18 <–

Get creative, ladies and gents! I can’t wait to see what you submit, and I can’t wait to see you at Vida Vegan Con 2013!!

Vegan Dance Magic Bars

 

When I think of Magic Bars, or let’s get real–anything magic, I think of this song:

 

Dance, Magic, Dance.

 

Amiright?!

 

And so I present: Dance Magic Bars! (like magic bars, but with a little David Bowie song thrown in for pizazz!)

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I didn’t realize there was another name for these bars until I read Jenna’s blog yesterday with the recipe for her grandma’s “Hello Dolly’” bars. Turns out Magic Bars and Hello Dolly bars are THE SAME THING. That didn’t really blow my mind because I had never heard of Hello Dolly bars, but it might blow yours if you have. The more you know and all, right?

Reading her blog inspired me to make a vegan version. With relatively few ingredients, I thought it should be easy. They turned out surprisingly well and very good for my first time.

Traditionally, the ingredients are graham crackers and butter for the crust, and sweetened condensed milk, coconut, walnuts and chocolate chips for the magic top part.

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(Mmmmmmm Coconut, get into my mouth!)

 

I knew I had to veganize a sweetened condensed milk, and I had to find a replacement for the graham crackers (vegan graham crackers, WHERE ARE YOU???).

Coconut Milk is so friggin’ versatile—and DELICIOUS—I started with that as my base. I knew what a great thickener it is based on my vegan bailey’s recipe. For the sweetener, I wanted to stay away from basic white sugar and agave, and I thought maple syrup would be too rich (and I haven’t jumped on the Stevia bandwagon yet), so I used coconut sugar that my roommate and I discovered at a local co-op.

After simmering on very low heat for a very long time, it had thickened up enough for me to be happy with it, and it was a pretty golden color.

I then went to work on the crust. I used walnuts and cashews for the base, and added a little coconut oil for moisture and a touch of maple syrup for sweetener. The crust turned out great—way better than I thought it might from my random measurements.

I patted the crust into a 9×9 baking pan, and it made it to about an inch from the edge. I’m sure it could even cover the whole bottom in the future, but I wasn’t sure how liquidy and goopy the ‘condensed milk’ would make the whole thing. (Spoiler Alert: it worked out perfectly and didn’t get soggy or goopy at all.)

Onto the nut mixture went dark chocolate chips, big pieces of coconut flakes, shredded coconut, chia seeds (I wanted to add as much a health aspect as possible to this decadent little thing) and walnuts. Then I realized what a dummy I was. I didn’t see peanut butter ANYWHERE. Who makes something chocolatey and coconuty without adding peanut butter?? Not this girl. I added 2 heaping tablespoons to the ‘condensed milk’ mixture, stirring in to the slightly still-warm pot. Then that got poured over the whole hot mess. I added a sprinkle of sea salt and a topping of coconut sugar for good measure.

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Then I baked.

While cooling, which I knew from reading Jenna’s recipe was very important to the integrity of the bar, I took a walk to the local Goodwill to look for cute summer dresses or skirts. I did find a few cute things, thankyouverymuch.

When I got back to the house, the Dance Magic Bars had cooled, so I cut them and stuck ’em in the freezer.

Then I ate one.

Oh Lord.

For a hodgepodge gluten-free vegan treat I made up spur of the moment, I am extremely pleased with these.

Heck, I’d be pleased with these even if I actually planned them to be this good.

If I were to make them again, I’d possibly add a little less coconut oil to the nut mixture, but they’re glorious the way they are. I might also add dried cranberries if I had them on hand and was feelin’ sassy.

 

Vegan Dance Magic Bars

(Note: You better like coconut.)

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-free

Crust

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • sprinkle sea salt

In your food processor, process the nuts, oil, maple syrup and sea salt until well blended. It should form into a ball easily.

 

Vegan Peanut Butter Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4-1/2 cup coconut sugar, depending on how sweet your sweet tooth is
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of creamy organic peanut butter (without palm oil, if you’re feelin’ hip to the orangutans’ plight)

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the coconut milk and coconut sugar for 90 minutes, until a thicker consistency and a caramel color. If you don’t have that long to wait, or if you’re an impatient person, I probably could have taken it off heat at 60 minutes and it would have done the job just as well. But that’s just speculation; I can’t guarantee this recipe will work as well with a shorter simmer time.

Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter.

Magic Bars

  • 1 recipe nut crust
  • 1 recipe peanut butter sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional; they don’t serve a benefit I noticed, I just like them for their nutritional value)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes and/or shreds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • sea salt and coconut sugar to sprinkle on top

 

Bar Assembly:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a 9×9 pan, use your fingertips to spread the nut crust to cover the bottom. No need to oil the pan; the coconut oil in the nut mixture prevents it from sticking.

Sprinkle chia seeds over the mixture, followed by chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts. Pour the PBSCM over the entire mixture. It’s okay at this point to pick a covered chocolate chip out of this mess to ‘test’.

Sprinkle sea salt and coconut sugar over the entire mixture and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes minute. Let cool for an hour.

Cut into pieces and stick in the freezer until ready to eat, ie immediately.

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Notes:

The bars hold up really well, especially if you cut them into smaller pieces.

If you don’t have coconut sugar, DON’T PANIC. I’m sure you can use vegan white sugar, brown sugar or maple sugar (Hello, Trader Joe’s!) instead. I’m not sure how agave or maple syrup would change the texture, but if you try it leave a note in the comments and let me know.

Of course, peanut butter is optional, but only if you’re extremely allergic to peanuts.