Bow to the Devil Dog!

I'm about to show ya'll somethin' crazy awesome. And I have Jewbacca of Pain in the Ass Vegan to thank for it all. Behold, my new favorite food — the Diablo Dog:

This monstrosity of a veggie dog dish contains a not one, but two Yves veggie dogs, Amy's vegan chili from a can, nacho Teese sauce, my Granny's homemade dill relish, onions, jalepenos, Frank's red hot, horseradish sauce (made from mixing horseradish with a little vegan mayo), and fake bacon bits. And it's all nestled inside a homemade whole wheat hoagie bun, which I made using HappyVeganFace's Whole Wheat Bun recipe.

Jewbacca's sinfully delicious delicious dog was inspired by an episode of Strangers with Candy, and as a huge Amy Sedaris fan, I think that makes it taste even better. You must make this dog. You won't regret it. For instructions (and a little diablo dog preachin'), check out Jewbacca's step-by-step picture post.

On the side, I knew I'd need something a little more healthy to make up for all the processed, cheezy sin I'd be stuffing into my mouth. So I boiled a little local corn on the cob and covered it in the Garlic-Miso Dressing from Vegan Soul Kitchen:

Another winner from Bryant Terry! This dressing is so much better than butter. In fact, I doubt I'll ever slather Earth Balance on corn again. This recipe is healthier and tastier.

Now, go make yourself a Diablo Dog. You can atone for your transgressions later.

Veganstock, Part Two

Last night, I posted pictures of the delicious food we ate at the PPK Veganstock campsite in Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend. Tonight, I've got more Asheville shots from the times my boyfriend Paul and I ventured out on our own to explore this awesome vegan hippie mecca in the Smokey Mountains.

On Saturday, most of the PPK-ers went to a waterfall and natural waterslide, but Paul and I had plans to meet up with my vegan buddy Leslie in downtown Asheville. Leslie used to live in Memphis, but moved to Asheville last year to go to herb school and to study to be a doula. She's actually pregnant right now and getting a hands-on approach in her mid-wifery studies. Here's Leslie outside City Bakery:

Leslie, her man Arthur, Paul, and I stopped into Rosetta's Kitchen, the best little vegan soul food joint on the planet, for lunch. I had the Family Favorite Plate:

It's peanut butter tofu, steamed kale, and smashed potatoes with deserves-to-be-eaten-straight-off-a-spoon noochy gravy. I also ordered a cup of their Mac & Cheeze:

It was a little dry, but still tasty. I'd order it again.

After lunch, we shopped around at the Belle Chere Arts and Crafts Festival downtown. There were hundreds and hundreds of vendors selling art, jewelry, and crafts. Paul stopped into a Port-a-Potty and found this little guy trapped inside:

We found safe not-so-icky new home for the praying mantis on a plant outside an office building.

On Sunday, Paul and I decided to play catch-up and check out the Looking Glass Waterfall in Pisgah National Forest that everyone else had gone to on Saturday. Isn't it lovely?

The water was super-duper cold though and we didn't go in past our knees. We also checked out Sliding Rock, a natural waterslide that involves brave folks sliding down a slippery wet mountain into a lake of ice-cold water. Here's some lady plunging into icy misery:

There was a huge line for the slide, and the water was too cold for us, so we just watched other people slide down.

Sunday night, most of the PPK gang ate at Laughing Seed Cafe, a fancy vegan restaurant that I'd like to have tried ... but it was really too expensive. So we joined Mr. and Mrs. Poopie Bitch at Green Sage, an eco- and vegan-friendly coffeehouse. I had the Tempeh Reuben with Sweet Potato Fries:

Yum, yum! Now that I'm back in Memphis, I really miss the mountains and all those vegan dining options. Check out this mountain behind Paul:

We come from very, very flat land, so the mountains were crazy amazing to us! And I've never visited a city with so many restaurants that cater to vegans. Then again, I've never been to Portland. Hmmmm....maybe we should hold the next Veganstock there!

Veganstock, Part One

After spending what feels like a million hours in my car yesterday, I finally made it back home from Veganstock 2009, a PPK camping trip in Asheville, North Carolina. I had a great time, and I have tons of pics, so I'm splitting the Veganstock post into two days.

Check out the official Veganstock banner, created by the awesome Pandacookie (check out the tofu pirate in the corner!):

Paul (my boyfriend) and I arrived at the campsite at Lake Powhatan in Asheville around 8 p.m. on Friday night, just in time for dinner! Poopie Bitch made some delicious Italian and Chipotle Sausages from Vegan Brunch, which we ate with corn on the cob and zucchini kabobs:

The theme of the weekend was "summer of smlove," so I brought the official Smlove Pie from the Veganomicon:

That's a chocolate tofu pie in a graham cracker crust topped with peanut butter caramel, candied pecans, and chocolate ganache. Decadent!

Don't Have a Cow brought this adorable (and delicious) Gay Cake:

She'd originally promised vegan donuts, but didn't place the order at the bakery in time for the trip. Since DHAC's avatar on the PPK forum is a rainbow peace sign cake, everyone requested a similar "gay cake" as a substitute for donuts.

Saturday morning came really early! We spent the night in tents, and the sun woke us by 8 a.m., which was totally okay because we woke up to these amazing Cinnamon Rolls, also created by DHAC:

And sugar-queen Poopie Bitch made the world's biggest Apricot Cardamom East Coast Coffee Cake from Vegan Brunch:

It was much larger, but this is after lots of it had already been inhaled by hungry Veganstockers.

After breakfast, we got ready for the day. Here's Poopie and I all fresh-faced and ready for fun:

Note that this picture was taken after only one day with no shower. By day four, we weren't so fresh-faced anymore.

Paul and I spent Saturday exploring downtown Asheville with my buddy Leslie and her man Arthur. Leslie moved to Asheville from Memphis last year. The rest of the Veganstock gang hit up a waterfall and natural waterslide (which is what Paul and I did on Sunday ... we were a day behind everyone else). I'll share pictures of our downtown experience tomorrow.

Unfortunately, it started raining all crazy-like on Saturday afternoon, and the campsite was flooded. Bryophyte's tent collapsed! So everyone regrouped to dry blankets and eat Tater Pigs (which I do not have photos of ... but they're veggie dogs stuffed into baked potatoes and topped with chili!) at JohnP's house in Asheville.

Here's the whole gang in JohnP's dining room:

Tomorrow, I'll post pictures of the food I ate in Asheville restaurants, as well as pics of our waterfall and downtown experiences.

Wat Sam Kong Temple

It seems to have been a long time since I blogged a temple. I have a vague plan to blog all the Temples in Phuket, though it could take for ever. A lot of temples in a small area! Some are important, some serve small local communities, some are easy to find, some are hidden away. A couple of weeks ago I visited Sam Kong Temple (Wat Sam Kong) which is only a few km from my house and we've driven past the entrance hundreds of times.

Sam Kong (meaning 3 hills) is in the North East of Phuket Town. The area is an older part of town, and like Kathu just down the road was an important part of the tin mining industry in times past. Like Kathu, many of the locals in this area are Chinese Thais who came to Phuket during the tin mining boom in the 19th century. There is a Chinese Shrine close by too. The Sam Kong temple entrance is about 200m along the bypass road from the Tesco Lotus junction (officially called the Sam Kong junction) towards the main airport road.

Sam Kong Temple Entrance

As usual for a small local temple, not much going on, just a few monks sweeping up leaves. The main building was locked up. A few dogs lazed around the grounds and then all dashed off at once to picked a fight with a visiting stray.

Sam Kong Temple - Monk sweeping leaves

Statues of

Not a big temple at all, but as always I felt that temple calm despite the 4 lane road a hundred meters away! Flowers had been placed around a tree. The monks had certainly kept the place leaf free. There was a nice lawn in front of the bell tower ("hor rakang" in Thai).

Flowers at Sam Kong Temple, Phuket

Sam Kong Temple - Bell Tower (Hor Rakang)

The day before I visited had been Asarnha Bucha Day, one of the most important Buddhist days remembering the first sermon of the Lord Buddha. A few people were still coming to receive blessings.

Blessings from the head abbot at Sam Kong Temple

One of the older monks decided to stop sweeping and have a chat. I think he wanted to practice his English. I asked if he'd been a monk all his life. No! He had never even served as a monk when he was younger. Been too busy getting an education. As far as I could make out he'd worked in the local government in a town in the north of Thailand and now was retired. After working all his life he said he needed some peace and so had come to Wat Sam Kong for 3 months.

Monk at Wat Sam Kong, Phuket

After a chat it was time to buy some new brooms from the broom man. Only 20 Baht each.. or maybe that was a temple discount? The temple at Sam Kong is near a busy road, a couple of hundred meters from a shopping mall, only a few miles down the road to Patong Beach. The quiet side of Phuket is never far away.

Buying new straw brooms at the temple

Odds and Ends...Noticing the Unnoticed

We Have a Winner! And Some Hot Wangz ...

Let's cut to the chase and announce the granola contest winner before I start showing ya'll everything I ate today. Last week, I hosted a MixMyGranola $20 gift certificate giveaway, in which the lucky random winner gets a chance to personalize his or her own granola from You guys posted great comments about what you'd include in your mix if you won.

This morning, I used a random number generator to choose a number from the comments of participants. And that lucky ducky winner is ..... (drumroll, please) ...Melisser of The Urban Housewife (#5)! Congrats Melisser! I'll shoot you an email with further instructions!

Now, on to the foodiness. Last night's dinner (and today's lunch) featured these Seitan Hot Wangz, a recipe I'm working on for my cookbook:

I've made these before, but they were much better this time. I've tweaked my seitan recipe to make it more tender and less chewy. Also, I used smaller seitan chunks than usual because this was some leftover seitan that I'd originally made for a seitan beef stew.

On the side were the Green Beans with Shallots and Walnuts from Vegan Soul Kitchen:

I got these beans in a CSA share that I'm sharin' with my friend who is currently in Germany. I knew I didn't want plain old green beans, so I found this tasty recipe. The beans are lightly boiled and then tossed with roasted shallots, a tangy mustard vinegarette, and garnished with walnuts. I think this is my new favorite way to eat fresh green beans.

I also had some Jalepeno-Basil Watermelon Salad:

This recipe is also going in my cookbook. It's super simple though — 2 cups chopped watermelon, juice of one lime, 1 Tbsp. finely minced jalepeno, and six leaves of chopped fresh basil. Oh, and salt to taste. Yummy-nummy!

This will be my last post until at least Tuesday night. I'm headed to Asheville, North Carolina for Veganstock, a big ole' PPK camping trip that involves lots of communal cookin' and something called tater pigs. I'll share plenty of pictures when I return, of course!

The Phuket Photo Walk - World Photo Walk 2009

Saturday July 18th was the day of the "Phuket Photo Walk", part of the World Photo Walk, with groups of photographers getting together all on the same day to take photos of their town or city. According to the Worldwide Photo Walk website, there were 900 walks with over 30,000 participants. I had seen the walk advertised in the Phuket Gazette the week before, so logged in to the website to sign up for the Phuket walk. I am a total photo amateur, but I like taking photos and this blog is always quite image oriented as I am a firm believer that a picture is worth a thousand words. Although that might depend on who is writing. Maybe Wordsworth could compete with a photo, but my prose tends to be less poetic, so I rely on photos.

Phuket Photo Walk group photo taken by Pongsak Sai-ngam

I had no idea what to expect on Saturday. All the photographers were to meet at Cafe 154, Royal Phuket City Hotel in Phuket Town at 9am. I was expecting a whole bunch of pros with huge lenses. I was worried I'd be feeling a bit inadequate, but was happy to see that most looked like normal folks who just like taking photos and I saw several familiar faces. Phuket is not so big, so if you've been here a few years you tend to know quite a few other residents. There were only a few really fancy cameras around. I have a Canon EOS 20D, which is now a few years out of date. I saw an assortment of Canons and Nikons and even a Hasselblad. I think most of us attending were hoping to learn a few things from this walk. This was the first time I tried using the RAW format for taking pictures rather than just recording jpg images. RAW images do not convert the data received by the sensor, so can be manipulated to create just the right photo. They also take up acres of memory!

Alasdair was editor of the Phuket Gazette Adriano normally takes underwater photos

The walk leader was Kim Khamzin, a proper pro photographer with a huge lens. He lives in Phuket and takes a lot of photos with models. You can check out his photos on Flickr: Phuket Photo Project. It took a while for everyone to gather and then we took the group photo, had a little chat and set off towards old Phuket Town which is always good for photography. It's a couple of blocks from the Royal Phuket City Hotel to the old town. Phuket town is not huge, easy to walk around, I never seem to get bored with camera in hand.

Photographers walking into town

Once we reached the clock tower at the corner of Phuket Road and Phang Nga Road, we all went off our separate ways, although over the course of the next couple of hours we bumped into each other around the old town. It was a sunny morning, we were lucky with the weather as it had been rather wet during the week. Everyone took different routes around town. I think most headed directly to the old town, whereas I detoured a couple of blocks south to a street called Soi Taling Chan where you can find a Chinese Shrine, a Mosque and a Catholic Church within a couple of minutes walk.

Hock Guan Kong Shrine Catholic Church in Phuket Town

If you have a camera and want to see something of the real Phuket, not the tourist beaches.. get to Phuket Town, take a walk. I had an enjoyable couple of hours wandering, crossing paths with other photographers, stopping for drinks in cafes (it was a hot morning), sampling temples, old Chinese shops and getting plenty of smiles...

Motorbike Taxi Driver

Peanuts and Eggs Somtam Stall

Street Vendor in Phuket Town

A few of my favourite pictures from the walk... These doors are on Soi Romanee, a little street in the heart of old town.

Door in old town Doorways

Kim under the arches

Hotel lobby

(Update) The photo above has been reprinted in the Phuket Gazette hardcopy edition this week - see a photo on my Twitpic page.

Noodle shop

Many more photos on my Flickr page. I signed up for Flickr a few years ago and had not uploaded anything for over 2 years until this week! Click on the second link for the group page on Flickr for the Phuket photo group, most of the recent photos are from Saturdays walk. There were about 40 people in all, some locals and some resident foreigners. There's a good mix of photos on the Flickr group - it's always interesting to see how different people view the same subject, the photos show what different photographers find interesting.

My Phuket Photo Walk Photos on Flickr
Phuket Photo Flickr Group
Phuket Photo Walk Video on Youtube

After about 2 hours, a bit before midday, I was getting hot and headed back to Cafe 154. On a hot day in Phuket, I do like to see signs saying "Special: Draft Heineken 99 Baht". Yes, please!

Draft Heineken - just perfect on a hot day!

As everyone drifted back to the cafe, there was a general passing around of cameras to compare photos and ideas, and it was decided to have another meet up on the 30th July at Cafe 154, Royal Phuket City Hotel starting at 7 - 7:30pm. If you are in Phuket and interested in photography or just want to chat with people who live here, do come along. Kim has asked people to bring CDs or USB sticks with their "best" photos to the meeting. It should be a good chance to learn something, or at the very least a good chance to drink draft Heineken :)

A few more pictures from Saturday...

Hardware store in old Phuket Town

There's a Honda moped dealer around the old town area

Clock tower in Phuket Town The old herb shop on Thalang Road

And finally, I saw this little fortune sticker on a small shrine outside a house in the old town. I'll settle for happy.