All posts by Nick

90’s Hardcore Vegan French Toast

Last weekend I spent roughly an hour rummaging around looking for one of my old mainstay recipes. I couldn’t find it because it was written either on a scrap of paper or on the inside cover of a lyric book I used for my band that sadly hasn’t been touched in close to 2 years. This recipe originally appeared in the Bark & Grass Vegan Cookbook (cook zine really…) by Kim Nolan, that was printed in the early 90’s. For some reason, I think I bought it at the 1992 More Than Music Festival in Dayton, OH. I carried this zine with me from Buffalo to Baltimore to D.C., back to Buffalo and finally to Chicago.  Over time it became increasingly tattered and it finally met the trash can when a very young, Ian Mackaynine, ravaged all of the books on the lower shelves of my bookshelf the first time he was ever left alone overnight…needless to say, Bark and Grass was among them.  The zine was reprinted here and there, but hasn’t been in print for years, so I only have 2 of the recipes still within my possession: French Toast and Pancakes. Okay, story time is over so let’s make some French Toast!

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Ingredients:
3 Tbs Flour
2 Tsp Sweetener
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Cup Soy or Almond Milk
1/4 Cup Water

Vegan Margarine

Vegan Bread

Grab a shallow bowl wide enough to accept a piece of bread horizontally. Mix up the dry ingredients. I’ve used a variety of dry sweeteners over the years – cheapo sugar, sucanat, and Vegan Cane Sugar from Whole Foods. It all works the same but we prefer the Vegan Cane Sugar from Whole Foods because its clearly marked.

Then add your wet ingredients. I can’t remember if the original recipe from Bark and Grass used the mix of water and soy milk that I listed, as my only existing version of the recipe is hand written and I know that using all “milk” makes the batter a bit thicker and thus, doesn’t cover as many pieces of bread. The days of clinging to soy milk for every recipe have also passed (which is what the original recipe used), so the French Toast pictured used plain almond milk because that’s what we prefer.

Mix up the batter and heat up the pan on low-medium heat and melt some margarine on the pan.

Let’s take a moment to talk about vegan bread. Most cities have some local bakery that provides fresh Italian and/or sour dough bread to local businesses. This isn’t usually “top of the line” bakery bread, but its fresh and not full of all sorts of crappy processed food ingredients. Instead its your typical: flour, water, salt, yeast sort of bread. This stuff is ideal for French Toast. Since you’re essentially burying most of the original bread’s flavor in sugar and cinnamon, there is no reason to use the best vegan organic bread that money can buy. So feel free to use the slightly cheaper vegan bread or even stale bread for this dish.

Bread tirades aside, dip your bread in the batter coating both sides. Don’t soak it all the way through or you’ll end up with soggy French Toast. Just make sure the entire surface of both sides is coated. Toss each piece in the pan and cook until browned and dry on each side.

Finally, when you get down to the bottom of the batter, you’ll find that all of the liquid is gone, but there is still a bunch of the flour/sugar/cinnamon. Don’t let that go to waste. Pour another tablespoon or two of almond milk into it and you can squeeze out another 1 or 2 pieces from it.

All told, you should expect to make 6-10 pieces of French Toast with this recipe depending on the size of the bread.

Veggie Fest 2012 – Vegetarian Food Festival (Naperville, IL)

This weekend is the annual Veggie Fest in Naperville/Wheaton, IL. We’ve attended the last 3 years in a row to eat some delicious vegan food and check out the vendor tents. They also have speakers and live music.

Since we’ve attended multiple times now we have a routine and know the layout. The tents are roughly laid out in avenues every year with an avenue of basic vegetarian info/organizations, another with health and beauty vendors, one with spiritual information and several with food and other product vendors. We save the vendor avenues for the end after we push all the way to the back and go straight for the food court.

Every year we’ve been there the highlight is Caribbean Kitchen. Its a tent exclusive to Veggie Fest that features two types of faux fried chicken and rice. One is spicy Cajun style and the other is a more traditional breading. Both are delicious. The food vendors are constrained to a ticket system and most of the entrees are 5 tickets (each ticket is $1.00).

Caribbean Kitchen

My selections this year were a plate from Caribbean Kitchen, a falafel (which I DO NOT recommend), and Lemonade (which was just okay). Total expense: $11.00. Not bad for being filled completely. Lisa and her friends all partook in Dosas from The Art of Dosa, and from what I gather they made the right choice. Their plate included a large dosa, a cup of sambar, a couple of chutneys and some curried potatoes, all for $5 . Lisa also partook in the Caribbean chicken and got vegan ice cream from Nada Moo for dessert. As you navigate your way through the food tents make sure you look for Vegan markings on the signage that lists the ticket amounts.

The Art of Dosa

After we chowed down on (mostly) delicious food we walked around and looked at all of the vendors. This years vendors included Gardein, Earth Balance, Chicago Vegan Foods, Vega, NadaMoo, Manna Organics (which we’ve reviewed before), V-Dog, and many others. Some of the vendors were giving out samples and coupons and some had actual product to sell. Lisa stocked up on Vega powder and so did some of her friends because they jumped online with their phones to price compare and discovered they’d be saving some cash by buying at their tent. Not only did she get a discount from the retail price but they threw in a free shirt, tote bag, samples and coupons as well – not a bad deal.

Of course, this report is late in the game since day 2 has already started but it runs until 8PM, so you have 6 more hours to run over there. Admittance and parking are both free! So load your car up with some friends and go check it out.

Veggie Fest
4S 175 Naperville-Wheaton Rd, Naperville, IL