Vegan in Vietnam for Travel Indochina

Hi guys!

 

HAPPY DECEMBER!! I am having a hard time registering that 2013 is almost over. And as equally as hard of a time registering that 2013 only lasted a year–how is that possible?! I’ve been to Austin, twice (that alone feels like three years ago); I quit my job; helped put on international vegan conference Vida Vegan Con; sold or gave away most of my belongings; traveled through Western & Eastern Europe and SE Asia; and have been back in Oregon for two months.

Holy cow. Now I’m just lookin’ for one of those jobby-things and cat-sitting for friends while I work on Vida Vegan and get settled (though a small percentage of me is tempted to jet off to a small coastal town in Eastern Europe and drink all the white wine spritzers for the rest of my life).

Traveling was by the far the highlight of my year; I spent almost two years planning and saving for this big trip, and it has been a dream of mine for years. I got a lot of questions while traveling and since I’ve been back about traveling as a vegan.  Short answer: Yes, it was hard sometimes. It was also really easy sometimes, really delicious a lot of the time, and absolutely worth it all of the time.

While I was traveling, I was contacted by Travel Indochina about vegan choices in Vietnam. I contributed a piece to their site, and they incorporated it into a larger article on their blog.

The cruise in Halong Bay actually had some of the best vegan food I had in SE Asia.

The cruise I took in Halong Bay actually had some of the best vegan food I ate in SE Asia.

 

Vegan in Vietnam

A rare treat–labeling in English!

 

Traveling as a vegan in Vietnam led to a lot of spring rolls and spaghetti, but also some really unique tasty treats. This article marks the the first time I’ve been paid to write, and it’s all terribly exciting for me. Please head over to the Travel Indochina blog and check it out. And as more time goes on, I’ll finish going through my pictures and figure out how to summarize my trip in blog posts. It’s still a bit overwhelming for me, but I’m looking forward to sharing my favorite finds, gorgeous views and yummy food from my travels with you soon.

 

This lady's cart in Nha Trang had THE BEST vegan banh mi's for only 50 cents.

This lady’s cart in Nha Trang had THE BEST vegan banh mi’s for only 50 cents.

 

This is a huge tofu sandwich.

This is a huge tofu sandwich.

 

 

 

 

Pre-Thanksgiving (“Fakesgiving”) Meal with Mom

 

After my four month RTW adventure and house/catsitting 3 large loveable kitties for a month in Portland, I’m currently in Southern Oregon, visiting my mom and my little brother.

         I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to spend more than a few nights down here; with so many projects and a very full-time job, I could only eek away a little bit of time to visit for the last decade. But now, I’m back, and while I try to figure out what’s next, I decided to come home to visit for longer than I’ve been able to in years.

Epicurious Vegan

      While I’m here for the week, my mom and I decided to celebrate an early Thanksgiving, or ‘Fakesgiving’ as my little brother named it. She’s vegetarian and I’m vegan, so eating together is always a huge joy to us. She writes a blog called Greenbird, and in honor of her 50th post, she wanted to write a joint blog post with me. I gladly agreed, as I’ve been writing less for my blog than I anticipated since I’ve been back. Job hunting, working on Vida Vegan, and catching up with friends over champagne and tacos takes up a lot of time, OK?

   ***Side note: Speaking of Vida Vegan, now that Jess, Michele and I are all back from our respective travels, we’re hosting an intimate Holiday How-To Party this December. Ticket price is $20 before November 24th, and includes demos of cocktails, mocktails, crafts and savory bites. It’s an entertaining workshop, done in an entertaining way. Admission includes demos, samples, a special take-home gift and limited edible artisan door prizes. Tickets available here.***

 

     For our early Thanksgiving, mom and I just wanted a few dishes, since we both easily go so overboard in excitement. Our ambition dwarves our appetites, every time.

FAKESGIVING | Epicurious Vegan

    After Googling and going through her massive recipe index, we settled on this menu:

 

  • Thanksgiving Stuffing Casserole with Soy Curls, Kale, & Sage (recipe loosely inspired by Veg Web)

  • Mashed Potatoes topped with Crispy Parsnip Ribbons (recipe from Vegetarian Times)

  • Gravy

  • Homemade Bread (recipe inspired by Oregon Live)

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • Pumpkin Pudding with Salted Caramel Bourbon Sauce

 

I’m going to let mom take it away with her bread post, and then I’ll share my cheater salted caramel bourbon sauce recipe.

 Take it away, mom!

 Fakesgiving-- Epicurious Vegan

 

 

      I had a favorite bread recipe for many years, but it recently disappeared. My daughter remembered seeing a recipe for bread by Grant Butler and looked it up for me. I modified it somewhat. It came out pretty good. Here’s my modified recipe:

  • 2 packages baking yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cup lukewarm water (It is very important to get the temperature right.)
  • 3 cups flour. You can use a mix of flours.
  • ½ cup oats
Pour the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and the sugar and stir just enough to mix.  Dump in the flour and oats all at once and stir until just mixed. Cover with cloth and put in warm spot until doubled in size—about 2 hours. Place bread dough onto floured surface and flour your hands well. Knead lightly. The recipe say that you do not have to knead the dough, but I like to, so I do it anyway. Skip that step if you don’t.
 
Shape into loaf and put into oiled bread pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until browned on top, and it sounds hollow when you thump it. Remove from oven, and take out of pan and place on rack. Let cool. It’s hard to wait because it smells so good, but it will slice better.

   Thanks, mom! This bread came out just perfect. Golden brown on top, chewy and soft on the inside.

    Making pudding is very basic. You need milk, sugar, a thickener, and flavorings. With this pudding, I used vanilla almond milk, brown sugar, and corn starch.  I didn’t measure anything (SORRY!) but also added in cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, a titch of ginger, and some Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie vodka, just for fun. (Pumpkin Pie vodka tastes like PUMPKIN PIE. It’s the best.)

   Instead of a coconut whipped cream (my mom hates coconut. Sad but true.), my mom suggested a sauce (genius), so I threw this together.

   Note: this isn’t a real honest-to-goodness candy thermometer-type caramel, hence why I call it cheater caramel sauce. I don’t have the patience for that. It’s something I threw together that turned out really nice, so if you’re lazy or impatient like me, this sauce is for you.

PUMPKIN PUDDING | Epicurious Vegan

This tastes better than it looks, guys. DO YOU BELIEVE ME?

Cheater Salted Caramel Bourbon Sauce

serves 2-4

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance

  • ¼ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla almond)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I’m a vanilla enthusiast; you may want to stick with 1 tsp if you’re a normal person)

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey (I used Jameson’s, but Jim Beam Maple would be THE MOST IDEAL EVER)

  • pinch sea salt

 

Instructions:

Melt vegan butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Add salt and bourbon, stir. When the mixture starts bubbling, add the almond milk and keep stirring to prevent sticking. Let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding vanilla extract about half way through.  Remove from heat.

 

Drink immediately. Ahem. I mean, pour on top of pumpkin pudding or dessert of your choice.

Read my mom’s Fakesgiving Post (her 50th post!) here! If you leave a comment on her blog, you’ll probably make her day and she’ll do a little dance.

 

I’m not sure what I’m doing for actual Thanksgiving, but I have a feeling it will include the Tofurkey Trot 5K and an entire coconut cream pie.

Riding Bikes in Valkenburg, Holland

Valkenburg

Valkenburg is a Dutch village in the Limberg province of South Holland. It is absolutely stunning and easily one of my favorite places I visited in my four-month, fourteen-country trip. The people are friendly, the countryside is unforgettably gorgeous, and the beer is cold and served with salty peanuts. Who could ask for anything more?

My friend Mireilla, who lives in The Netherlands, took me down to South Holland (and Ghent, Belgium) for a weekend while I was staying with her in June.

 

Valkenburg

Mireilla (left) and I, trying to figure out where to look into my smartphone for our selfies

 

On the morning after we stumbled onto an exquisite André Rieu concert, Mireilla and I decided to rent bikes for the day. After briefly considering biking to Germany (a possibility, but we’d have to get an earlier start), we ended up just riding around the hilly countryside of Valkenburg.

Though The Netherlands is known for being remarkably flat and therefore bicycle-friendly, this part of Holland is actually incredibly hilly. In fact, the Tour de France had a stage finish in Valkenburg in 1992 and 2006.

We biked somewhere between 20-30 miles (I can’t for the life of me remember, because we measured in meters, and now it’s been months. Let’s go with 30, because that’d be cooler.) and got real good and sweaty. We stopped for lunch and shared satay fries (fries with peanut sauce, the best thing I ate in Holland) and the hugest burrito-shaped spring roll I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Valkenburg

Valkenburg

 

 

Valkenburg

 

Valkenburg

 

 

Valkenburg

 

 

 

 

 

Valkenburg

 

Valkenburg

 

We stayed at the Hotel Lahaye, which I LOVED. It’s a family-run hotel that has been in operation for generations, and has a wonderful rustic quality. There is WiFi, but it’s a bit spotty, and though we requested a non-smoking room, you could tell guests have been smoking in those rooms for decades. But the owner was so friendly, and there’s a little bar that serves beer (with bar snacks, of course). Mireilla and I each ordered a gin and tonic, and each ice cube was placed with care by a small pair of tongs into our glasses. The hotel was just a quaint and lovely little place, and more affordable than the hotels closer in town.

Valkenburg

 

 

The room also comes with a complimentary breakfast.

Valkenburg

 

Speculoos cookie butter and chocolate sprinkles on toast. My perfect breakfast. (Note: I provided the chocolate sprinkles.)

This bike ride in Valkenburg is one of the main reasons I can’t wait to go back to The Netherlands. It’s such a stunning country with friendly people. And of course my dear friend lives there, so I imagine I’ll be back before too long.

 

Valkenburg

 

 

 

Vegan Mofo: Mango Sticky Rice

vegan_mofo

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!

 vegan mofo banner