This blog typically focuses on my travels and while it may seem that I am constantly eating out, know that when I’m not traveling, I tend to cook most nights at home. Oh and I become the biggest homebody, like, ever. I may not leave my house other than to go to the gym and come home. Because I live in a rural area, about a half hour from civilization, I need to plan my meals well and hit up Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Costco to stock up for the week.
This is a vast departure from my past life of eating out almost nightly, especially when I lived in New York and didn’t have time to cook more than once or twice a week. The truth is, there’s not a lot that gets me excited to eat out here in New Orleans. Don’t get me wrong. I have my favorite places, but I can count them on one hand. There is one (1) total vegan restaurant in New Orleans and I don’t like it (there is also a vegan cafe in my yoga studio that is amazing and a lifesaver, but it’s not a full service restaurant and has limited hours… by that, I mean, it closes before my typical 9pm dinnertime). Let’s not dwell on the negative, though, because I love so many things about New Orleans. You don’t move here because you’re seeking a progressive city (we don’t even recycle glass, sadly). Besides, the few places that do have options are pretty phenomenal. Like, for my birthday, I got to eat Acarajé, Brazilian black bean fritters with cashew peanut coconut paste, at Carmo, a local vegan-friendly establishment.
For health and budget reasons, cooking at home is an optimal choice and it’s taken a while, but I’ve come up with a few things that I’m proud of serving to guests (and my non-vegan boyfriend). But… if other people aren’t involved in dinner plans, I’m like the laziest cook in the world and stick to steamed veggies in miso broth and jasmine rice plus tofu made magical and crispy in the air fryer I recently bought.
I’m on a mission now to branch out a bit and get creative with vegan cheese. For years, I’ve been making variations on a basic cashew cheese that’s more of a cheesy dip or sauce. People go crazy when I serve it (especially when I turn it into a spinach artichoke dip). Because I’m prone to eating a whole lot at once, I add stuff like potatoes and cauliflower to lower the fat content, and it’s no less delicious. Adding some tapioca makes it stretchy and dreamy. I poured it over nachos recently and my friend could not believe this was vegan.
At Christmastime, I made a vegan lasagna. Lasagna was a favorite dish growing up and my mom’s was the best. Last year we made it but the verdict was that it was too dry and it needed much more cashew cheese (it can take on a ricotta-like consistency if you add less liquid and some oil). This year, I decided to make it decadent AF, with both cashew ricotta and Daiya (we couldn’t find Miyoko’s VeganMozz at the local grocery store). And holy mother of lasagna, but this stuff was like manna from heaven. Even Mom agreed!
The holy grail of fresh, buffalo style mozzarella is Miyokos VeganMozz. I am addicted! It comes at a hefty price tag, but I’m buying at least two 8 oz packages a week. I’ve got it bad, friends. And that is so so good. Before the weather got chilly, I would have a daily appetizer of vegan Caprese salad with VeganMozz. I could weep it was so good, so close to the “real” deal.
Although Carnival is now just a bead and glitter-studded memory (it was so early this year), visions of king cakes sprinkled with gold still dance in my head (to the beat of the big band, of course).
I mean, who can feel deprived in a city where for 6-8 weeks, you have access to at least a dozen varieties of vegan king cake? My favorite this year was blueberry-filled and generously laced with purple, green and gold icing.
With that bit of gorgeousness, I finish this post. This has been a winter of minimal travels, other than Costa Rica in January, Dallas/San Antonio in late Feb and Phoenix a couple weeks ago. Here’s to a Springtime full of direct flights, warm, not blistering hot temps (sometimes it already feels like summer) and new culinary adventures!