Healthy Eats

After gorging on sweets and snacks at Veganstock and downing many a Diablo Dog for dinner last week, I needed a little healthy food to balance my diet. So I started most mornings last week with a comforting bowl of Carrot Cake Oats:

I got the idea from Shelby at La Belle Vegan, but my recipe varied a bit from hers since I didn't have all the same ingredients on hand that her version called for. Here' s what I did:
1/4 cup steel cut oats
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup water
splash of Oat Dream maple brown sugar milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves

1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 Tbsp. Mighty Maple peanut butter (by PB & Co.)

I always soak my dried steel cut oats the night before, so they're practically instant the next morning. I place 1/4 cup oats and the cup of water in a pot (and in this recipe, I also put my shredded carrot in the night before), bring it to a boil, and then remove from heat and cover overnight. The next day, all you have to do is add a splash of soymilk (or in this case, oat milk) and re-heat for a few minutes.

While at Veganstock, I'd planned to make this Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango from the Veganomicon:

I brought my dad's little campstove and I thought it could be my contribution to group dinner on Sunday night. But everyone ended up going into town for dinner that night, rather than cook at camp. So I brought the ingredients back home to Memphis with me and ate the salad for dinner several nights.

It was the first time I'd tried this recipe, and though I'd read mixed reviews on various blogs, I really, really liked this! The mango really adds something special to a plain ole' black bean quionoa salad.

A Late Start ...

Often I leave it a little late in the day to hit the rode.  With insufficient time to extend my domain, I linger closer to home.  Fortunately there are several alternatives for a late day ride, on either the mountain-bike or motorbike.  A favorite is the nearby mountaintop, replete with hill-tribes, expansive vistas, steep winding roads, cooler temperatures and the unexpected aroma of pine.  The strain of the truck or motorbike engine is nothing compared to the strain on heart and legs.  My only attempt to peddle up, was short-lived as I soon realized it was far beyond my abilities.  I would not have even considered an assault if not for a chance encounter with a mere child, gallantly nearing the top on his own power. 

No direct comparison can be made to Mae Salong but there is some of the familiar patchwork hillside farming, steep roads and vistas provided by high, ridge-line viewing points.

Phuket Flower Fair

Today is the last day of the Phuket Flower Fair which has been running since 24th July at Sapan Hin, a recreational area in the south of Phuket Town. There have been many events there recently such as the Halal Festival and the OTOP Fair. It's a popular place for locals to go running or for a picnic by the sea. The area has recently been tarted up to make some nice paths, lots of new trees planted, a raised walkway through the mangroves etc..

Phuket Flower Fair

The Flower Fair includes many stalls selling orchids and other flowers, trees, garden ornaments and of course some local food stalls. This kind of local event is always interesting to me, great for people watching, great for getting a bit of local culture. A flower fair is a world away from the tourist beaches of Phuket! I did drive down to Sapan Hin after work on Sunday 26th July, but being that this was the opening weekend of the fair, and Sunday afternoons are the busiest time for people to visit Sapan Hin anyway, I found the place packed, nowhere to park the car and in any case it was getting a bit late for photos, so I went back again on Wednesday afternoon when it was less busy, although even on Wednesday it seemed like half of Phuket town were out buying flowers!

I am an orchid lover. My wife too. We have a fair selection in our garden. Orchids are amazing plants. The variety of colours and shapes is beyond belief. And at a flower fair, you can still find orchids that make your jaw drop, just when you think you've seen them all.

Prize winning orchid

Some of the orchids had been entered into competitions - the one above had a 1st prize rosette beneath it, reminding me of the old flower show my grandfather used to organise back home when I was a kid. Prize winners were always very proud to have beaten all the local competition and very proud of their winning entries.

Some more orchids...

Orchid at Phuket Flower Fair

Orchid at Phuket Flower Fair

Orchid at Phuket Flower Fair

Even if you are not bovvered by flowers normally, you have to admit that orchids are bling, orchids are well cool, orchids are the kings of flowers.

Everyone was enjoying a sunny evening walking around the fair, I think many people were just out for a walk, but there was certainly plenty of business being done. I read that the fair was likely to generate 50 million Baht in income. If you are driving around Phuket, you'll find garden shops everywhere. I pass about half a dozen between home and work. Gardens are big business here! The report in a local news site noted that the fair this year is much bigger than last year, with 70 flower stalls compared to just 20 in 2008. Economic downturn? Not for orchid sellers!

Phuket Flower Fair

There are many small local events in Phuket, and it can be hard to find out when they are on, I miss some myself sometimes. The small events are not well advertised, though sometimes mentioned in local websites. Otherwise, I keep my eyes open for roadside signs. Next week there is something happening near my house called "Kathu Street Culture". Not sure exactly what it means, but it's on from 5th - 7th August. Or you can just lie on the beach and enjoy the beautiful summer weather we're having in Phuket at the moment.

One last orchid. This was also a 1st prize winner.

Orchid at Phuket Flower Fair

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