Meet My Zoo

I don't have any food pics to share tonight. I ate out for lunch with friends and out for dinner with my dad. So I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce ya'll to my fur babies. I have six cats and a dog. Yea, I know. I'm kind of a crazy cat lady. But I swear I scoop their litter boxes everyday.

First up is Datsun, my best friend in the whole world! He's a seven-year-old, 80-pound mutt and he's the smartest, most loyal, and most playful dog ever. His favorite pastime — playing fetch with sticks in the yard. He could literally fetch all day long if I let him. I always wear out first. He also barks at every doorbell and car honk on TV, as well as the Wheel of Fortune ding noise.

Akasha is my oldest cat. He has a girly name, but he's all boy. As you can see here, he has crazy eyes. They're always huge and he often stares into space for, like, 15 minutes straight without moving. He loves to cuddle at night and demands to be held like a teddy bear as I fall asleep.

Pandora is the only girl in the family, and she knows it. She's a princess. When she wants to sit in your lap, she will. But don't even think about trying to pick her up to place her in your lap. She's ain't havin' that. She also has crazy soft fur, and she loves belly rubs. Oh, and she's a fighter. She's always starting spats with the boy cats ... it's the Memphis gangsta in her.

Polaris is the devil kitty, hence the horns in this picture. He's always chewing on things and scratching up furniture. I can squirt him with a water bottle (my form of punishment), and he'll just look at me like, "Do it again. I dare you." But other times, he's really sweet. He's a talker, and he knows how to woo folks with his adorable meows. We actually have long conversations — he meows, I meow, he meows, I meow. I'm never sure what I'm saying in cat language, but he always responds.

Here's Gelfling. Even though he's the fourth oldest, he still thinks he's the baby. He was the youngest for quite awhile before I took in the other two (pictured below Gelf). Out of all the kitties, he has the sweetest meow. It's the kind that you just can't resist. If he meows, I have to pet him. I just can't help myself. He also loves to burrow his head into small spaces. My boyfriend rescued Gelfling from a busy street in Midtown Memphis when he was a teensy kitten. And for some reason, he's never really grown very big. Maybe he was the runt of his litter.

Ozzie is one of the newer additions. He was my boyfriend's ex-roommate's cat. When that roommate left (in an effort to get out of paying his half of the rent), he left his cat behind. What a jerk! Luckily, Oz found a great home with me! He's a cuddler and typically sleeps at my side every night (yes, there are several animals in bed with me every night). He obviously didn't want his picture taken here — he was hiding under a shelf and sticking out his tongue.

Seymour is the the scaredy cat. My boyfriend also took him off the streets as a kitten (he has a penchant for rescuing animals), but I think Seymour is a little feral. He's never gotten used to the idea of people. He only likes me and Paul, and he's scared of his own shadow. He spends most of his days in the safety of my bedroom, and even demands his dinner in there. He also loves to drink fresh water from the bathroom tap. He doesn't exercise much, and he's kind of a fattie.

So there ya have it. These creatures are my life. I don't know what I'd do without them. I'm never lonely or bored because there's always a fur baby to keep me entertained. And I sleep much better knowing that my bed is filled with cuddly critters.

Vegans Have More Options

Omnis are missing out. As vegans, we eat such a wide variety of foods that the average McDonald's-loving, Wal-Mart-shopping, meat & potatoes omni hasn't even heard of. Think about all the burger options we have — bean burgers, soy burgers, garden burgers, and endless protein and grain combinations for homemade patties. Despite popular omni belief, we also have more than one option for a tasty grilled cheeze sammich.

Take for example this out-of-this-world Grilled Cheeze Sandwich from Voracious Vegan:

The "cheeze" is a nooch-based sauce, thickened to a paste and spread on Earth Balanced whole grain bread. It's grilled to perfection and oh so delicious. I've had nutritional yeast-based grilled cheezes before, but it's been awhile. I typically go the easy route and melt some Follow Your Heart or Teese between my bread.

VV's recipe is here. It's really simple and worth trying out, especially if you've not tried a noochy grilled cheeze. There's something magical and comforting about nutritional yeast that I just can't put into words. Note: I substiututed the pickled jalepenos in the recipe with fresh, minced jalapeno since that's what I had on hand.

On the side, I made some Dillweed Potato Salad from my cookbook:

The potatoes are local and organic, and as you can see, I don't play when it comes to dill. I like a lot of dill, so my tater salad recipe calls for a ton.

I typically make this with Vegenaise, but this time I used the last of some Nasoya vegan mayo that I bought with a coupon at Whole Foods. I'm not crazy about that brand. It reminds me more of Miracle Whip than mayo. I doubt I'll ever buy it again. But on the bright side, Nasoya has way less fat than Vegenaise. That means I can eat more tater salad without the guilt.

Kayaks in the Mangroves

Phuket is bigger than most people realise. The island of Phuket covers well over 500 square kilometers, is nearly 50km from north to south and, as I hope this blog shows, there is so much more to Phuket than beaches, bars, shopping and the usual tourist activities. Fair enough, some people do come here just for beaches or naughty nightlife; some come here to eat and shop and "go home with a tan", which suits me fine, since it means that many of the parts of Phuket that I like stay nice and quiet! But there are plenty of independent tourists out there who like to explore, and if you explore you can find places like Bang Rong.

Bang Rong is a small Muslim community in the northeast of Phuket. We have been many times to eat at a small floating restaurant, and also to get the ferry to the island of Koh Yao Noi. Last year at the restaurant we noticed they had some kayaks, and small groups of tourists were being taken on short trips up the mangrove creek as part of a trip run by Bang Pae Safari which also includes elephant trekking near Bang Pae Waterfall which is just a few km from Bang Rong.

Last week, on a nice sunny day, we decided to do a little kayak adventure (the word adventure being based on having 2 young kids). When you drive down to Bang Rong, there is an entry gate. You do not need to pay any parking fee unless you are getting the ferry. You can park wherever you find space, and then look around for monkeys that come out of the mangroves...

Be careful a monkey, Phuket  Monkey at Bang Rong, Phuket

The restaurant is a short walk along a wooden walkway. We decided to kayak first and eat later. The use of the kayaks was very cheap. Just 150 Baht each, add 50 Baht if you want someone to paddle for you. I think that was an hourly rate - we had no plans for a long trip! My wife paddled one kayak, my daughter got a paddler in hers and I decided to get someone to paddle for me so I could take photos. Some friends were in another kayak, so we had 4 in all. The restaurant is already in the mangroves, with a view of open sea, but within 50 meters you are round a bend and in another world. Yes, this is still Phuket.

Kayaking in Phuket

Kayaks in Phuket

My kayak driver stayed with my daughters kayak. She enjoyed being a "big girl" (ie she did not have to sit with mum or dad) and our drivers kept close to the shore so we could see crabs and mudskippers. It was a very peaceful paddle upstream, not even any longtail boats up here. I think it was a National Geographic moment for my daughter.. and me too!

Kayaking in the mangroves, Phuket

Kayak on mangrove river, Phuket

And here's the guy paddling my kayak. My wife said I was lazy, but honestly I just wanted hands free to take pictures. Maybe next time we'll hire the kayaks for longer and I will paddle myself. We went less than 1km up the creek, but checking on Google Earth I can see that (at high tide) you can go well over 2km and there are little side streams to explore too. Sure we're going to do this again sometime.

Kayaking at Bang Rong, east coast of Phuket

High tide might be best to go a long way upstream, but low tide better if you want to get out onto a sandbank, which we did. We all then proceeded to dig for shellfish and dug up a healthy supply which we donated to the local guys doing the paddling. The Bang Rong community is based on fishing, is still very traditional and is trying to make a bit of extra money with this kind of activity. It's all very low key, and with kayak rental being so cheap they are not making a huge amount of money.. but I appreciate the fact that they are not being tempted to charge rip off prices.

Digging for shells

My daughter has been digging for shells

After messing around on the sandbank for a while, digging for shells, watching one of our kayaks floating off and waiting for one of the guys to retrieve it, we set off back to the restaurant (downstream with the tide) for some light lunch. They have lots of fresh seafood, but we often just have simple dishes. Fried rice might seem like a cliche, but the fried rice at this restaurant is very good!

Kayaking at Bang Rong, Phuket

Fried rice

Muslim girl at Bang Rong

The restaurant is family run and friendly. They remember us and remember the kids names even if we've not been for months. The friendliness and the peacefulness of the area appeals to us.. just do note that the restaurant does not serve alcohol as this is a Muslim area. A nice spot for lunch before or after a bit of kayaking. Just a few km away, as well as Bang Pae waterfall, is the gibbon rehabilitation center. Plenty to see in this part of Phuket.

Getting there - Bang Rong is along the road that heads east from the Heroine's Monument (road number 4027 on the maps). The side road to Bang Rong is on the right about 2km after the turn off to Bang Pae Waterfall. Look for the large Bang Rong mosque. Best to have your own vehicle if you are exploring around the area, though I guess you could make a deal with a driver too. Phuket is out there waiting to be explored. Sure the beaches are nice, but there are many sides to Phuket. It may take some effort to get out and find these places, but (for me) it's worth the effort.

Bang Rong - Location Map

View Bang Rong, Phuket in a larger map

Taco Tuesday!

Actually, it was Taco Monday with leftover tacos for lunch on Tuesday. But Taco Monday doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Either way, I had these delicious Baja Lime Tempeh Tacos with Fresh Steamed Squash and Zucchini:

This quick weeknight meal that came together so quickly, I almost felt guilty about it. You see, the Baja lime flavor was courtesy of a bottle of Amy's Organic Baja Lime Marinade. I picked the stuff up at this crazy-awesome discount health food store in Asheville, North Carolina called Amazing Savings. It was only 99 cents!

Amazing Savings is a cheap health foodie's dream come true. While in Asheville for Veganstock, I bought Oat Dream oat milk and Hemp Dream hempmilk for $1.50, vegan gravy mix for 69 cents, Organicsville pomegranate salad dressing for 99 cents. Some of it was past the date a bit (like this marinade ... it expired in July), but none was old enough to actually have gone bad yet. For the record, the milks were all within their expiration safety dates. But I digress.

Anyway, I marinated some steamed tempeh in the lime marinade overnight. Then on Monday after work and the gym, I sauteed it with green bell pepper and garlic. I tucked the tempeh into corn tortillas with Nacho Follow Your Heart vegan cheeze, tomatoes, lettuce, black olives, and tequila lime salsa. So, so good.

Ode to PB&J

There are few things I love more than peanut butter and jelly. I love them more than rainbows. I love them more than unicorns. I may even love them more than my cats ... well, maybe not. But I certainly wouldn't eat my cats. I will eat peanut butter and jelly, for any meal of the day.

This morning, I had the most amazing PB&J treat for breakfast — Peanut Butter and Jelly Quick Bread from Have Cake, Will Travel:

Celine, the lovely author behind the Have Cake, Will Travel blog, is my new hero for developing this delicious recipe. It's so simple and so, so tasty. The bread is made with ground oats and spelt flour in place of regular flour, so it's kinda healthy and whole grain-ish. And it contains a half-cup of peanut butter (I used chunky) and a little over a fourth cup of strawberry jam (I used my homemade, organic strawberry jam).

As you can see, I spread mine with even more jam because that's just how I roll. I'd also planned on drenching it with more PB, but the nut butter taste is so strong in the bread, it didn't need extra. Here's the whole loaf, waiting to cool on my bakin' rack:

The recipe is here. Go make it. Don't eat your cats.

Hey Testers: I FINALLY posted more recipes on the tester site ...

Happy Birthday Sheridan!

Saturday was my best-friend-in the-whole-world Sheridan's 29th birthday! We've been BFF's since 8th grade! But now Sheridan lives in Little Rock, a two-hour drive from my home in Memphis. Not bad, but we don't get to see each other nearly enough. I drove down to celebrate with her this weekend. Here's Sheridan and her boyfriend Drew (wearing his fake mustache):

Yes, Drew wore a faux 'stache to Sheridan's birthday celebrations. We went to a tapas bar and a dance club with an awesome group of Sheridan's friends. But first, we noshed on Butterscotch Vanilla Cupcakes:

When I asked Sheridan what kind of cuppies she'd like, she requested butterscotch. I didn't have a recipe, so I just made the Sexy Low-fat Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and added chopped butterscotch chips (the Food Lion brand is vegan). Then I topped them with a basic buttercream, a butterscotch ganache (made just like the chocolate ganache in VCTOTW but with melted b-scotch chips), and toasted pecans.

A few of Sheridan's friends read my blog (hey, Joel, Kayce, Ashley, Lauren, and James!), and when they heard I was coming, it was requested that I make a post-birthday vegan brunch for the whole gang on Sunday morning. Of course I was stoked (yes, I'm bringing that word back) to cook up brunchy yummies for everyone.

I spent the night at Sheridan's apartment on Saturday night and Sunday morning (well, more like afternoon), I whipped up Tofu Scramble, Steamed Sausages, Hash Browns, Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy:

The scramble was my own recipe for cheeze "eggs," and everyone seemed to really like it. That's a good thing because I'm including it in my cookbook. Personally, I like my scramble better than most others I've tried. I think every vegan likes their scramble recipe the best though. Here's my recipe.

The sausages were the Cherry Sage Sausages from Vegan Brunch minus the cherries. I've made them with cherries before, but this time, I opted to leave them out since dried cherries are like $5 a bag. I don't think I even missed them. They were still as tasty as ever.

The hash browns were the Individually Baked Hash Browns from Vegan Brunch, and honestly they weren't my fave. The texture just wasn't right. Even though we squeezed all the water out, as the recipe instructed, the potatoes were still too starchy. They weren't bad, just not my fave.

And the biscuits and chocolate gravy are also from my own recipes, and they're going in the cookbook. This is one of my favorite breakfast treats, so I'll leave ya'll with a close-up:

Pacific Club Resort, Karon Beach

So, it's low season in Phuket right now, aka summer season or green season. Over the years I have been busy reporting on the weather, trying to prove that Phuket is pretty darn nice year round. Yep, you are going to get some rain sometimes, more likely in low season than high season, BUT there's a big advantage. You can book the best hotels such as the Pacific Club Resort at much lower prices than high season. You can stay here for just over 1,000 Baht per night at this time of year. And the weather is still nicer than "back home"!

The Pacific Club Resort is one I have meant to write about for some time and was just reminded of it by customers who came in yesterday who were staying at Pacific Club. This resort has something special about it. Must do, since it's rated as the best hotel in Karon Beach by TripAdvisor users, and is listed in the top 10 list for Phuket.

Top 10 Hotels in Phuket

For me, it has several plus points. Firstly - location. It's on the hillside overlooking the north end of Karon, with the jungly hill behind and the Andaman sea in front. Some might say that's a poor location. Some people want to be right by the beach, but it's only 10 minutes walk to the beach, and the hillside location is quiet and gets plenty of fresh sea breezes. Second - it's not a huge resort. There are only 40 rooms, so it's not crowded at the pool, or the gym, or the sauna.. a lot of facilities for a resort of this size. Wifi connection in all rooms too (not free, but not a big charge).

And then there's the food. The Pacific Club owner, Eric, is also a chef and ran the Karon Cafe and Restaurant for many years before opening this new resort. They specialise in steaks and lamb, fresh pasts dishes, seafood, texmex food. And it's not expensive either. In fact I think I will go eat lunch there next week one day and do a restaurant review here. Just been checking the menu online and can see that my diet is ruined!

Pacific Club Resort - Booking & Reviews

Pacific Club Resort - Rates and Reservations
Pacific Club Resort - Hotels Reviews
More Suggested Karon Beach Hotels

Pacific Club Resort - Photos

2 Bedroom Suite Deluxe Room

Restaurant Pool and Seaview

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at

A Day In the Crunk Life

I always love reading what other people do and eat for a full day's time. Maybe that makes me creepy and stalker-ish (I also love to slyly check out what the folks in front of me at the grocery store have in their carts). But for the other weirdos like me, I thought it'd be fun to share a typical day in the life of Bianca (with food photos, of course!).

On work days, I wake up around 7 a.m., typically surrounded by six kitties who've likely been attempting to will me awake for hours. My 80-pound mutt Datsun, who gets the other half of the bed, sleeps way past the alarm though. I shower, wash my face, and settle into a tasty breakfast.

This morning, that brekkie was two slices of Whole Grain Toast with Marmite and Tofu "Cottage Cheeze":

I love this breakfast!!! I make my tofu cottage cheeze by mixing plain firm tofu with a few tablespoons of vegan mayo, a splash of soymilk, and a pinch of evap. cane juice. I washed this down with iced green tea. And I typically read magazines — Rolling Stone, VegNews, Vegetarian Times — while I eat breakfast.

After breakfast, I clean up the dishes, get dressed, put my face on, and straighten my hair. Then I head to the Memphis Flyer office, the alt-weekly newspaper I write for. This morning, I arrived around 9 a.m. and immediately made several phone calls to gather information for my stories that are due on Monday. Then I checked my e-mail, which always takes FOREVER. I typically get over 100 messages everyday, many of them are folks asking me to list their art show or gala in our paper's calendar of events, which I'm also responsible for.

At noon, I left the office to drive back home for lunch. I usually go home to eat lunch since I live about 10 minutes from work. And I typically eat leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Today that was a tasty Green Bean & Tofu Sesame Stir-fry:

I'd marinated some tofu in the basic Asian marinade from Veganomicon on Tuesday night. And for dinner on Wednesday, I tossed that tofu with some cornstarch, fried it in a little sesame oil, and added fresh, local green beans and bella mushrooms. I served it with some delicious smoked spelt that Mihl of Seitan Is My Motor sent me from Germany in a care package. The leftovers were just as tasty as the night before.

After lunch, I drove back to the office — worked on entering calendar listings, conducted several long phone interviews for stories, and blogged about this delicious vegan pizza I ate for the Flyer's Hungry Memphis food blog. I ate a piece of dark chocolate with almonds around 3:30 p.m.

Around 4:30 p.m., I snacked at my desk on some assorted veggies — cherry tomatoes, celery, radishes, and cucumbers — with black-eyed pea hummus. And then at 5 p.m., I left work for the gym. On Thursdays, I typically go to a Fight Club boxing class! It always kicks my ass. Tonight, we did over 100 lunges before hitting the boxing bags with gloves. I'm like Mike Tyson.

After boxing, I drove home, walked my doggy, and heated up this delicious Big Ass Veggie Burrito from Skinny Bitch In the Kitch:

This is obviously a pre-rolled picture. I made these for dinner on Sunday night, and I've been re-heating the fillings for fresh burritos all week. The fillings were made up of black beans, brown rice, nacho Teese sauce, and a veggie mix of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and more. Tonight, I ate my burrito with a few Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos (a guilty vegan pleasure!). Oh, and I watched L.A. Ink on TLC while I ate my burrito.

After dinner, I always clean up and sweep my concrete floors. With seven fuzzy animals, daily sweeping is a must! When that was over, I whipped up this amazing Strawberry Watermelon Slushee from Vegan Soul Kitchen for dessert:

Wow, people! If you have VSK, please make this (if you don't, the recipe is here)! It's simply frozen watermelon juice ice cubes, frozen strawberries, agave, and lime. And it's so perfect! I've been having such a good time with Bryant Terry's watermelon chapter.

I enjoyed my slushee while driving to East Memphis to hit up Target and Whole Foods, about 20 minutes from my crib. I shopped around and headed back home. Here I am at 11:25 p.m. making this entry. Blogging is typically my last task of the night.

So there you have it....not all that exciting. And not really very crunk. But hey, it's a Thursday. I'm sure Saturday and Sunday will be way more exciting, but you'll have to wait 'til my next post on Sunday night to find out!

Lots of Salad, No Lettuce

Today was my monthly raw food cleanse, and I ate a ton of salads without crunching down on a single piece of lettuce! Nothing against lettuce, but sometimes it gets boring. I get stuck in salad ruts with the same old veggies on the same old romaine.

My morning didn't start with a salad though. I woke up to this delicious glass of Made In Mexico Mylk from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen:

This was amazingly tasty — almonds, dates, carob, cinnamon, and vanilla bean — and surprisingly creamy. I'll certainly be making this again!

Of course, I knew a little ol' glass of nut milk wouldn't satisfy me for long. So I brought this Tomato & Watermelon Salad to work as a pre-lunch snack:

The recipe comes from Mark Bittman's "101 Simple Salads for the Season," a New York Times article with plenty of vegan salad ideas. This one contains fresh watermelon, tomato, basil, and a basalmic vinger/olive oil dressing.

Lunch was this crisp Raw Corn Salad with Zesty Lime Dressing:

The recipe is here. I found it on a quick internet search for raw corn recipes. I had some delicious local Silver Queen corn that needed usin', and it was perfect paired with crunchy radishes and tangy lime.

I also slurped some Harvest Soup:

This creamy raw soup recipe came from Kristin Suzanne, but I found it on Gena's post about blended salads on her blog, Choosing Raw. Ever since Gena waxed poetic on the wonder of blended salads (basically just veggies whirled in a blender until creamy), I'd been wanting to try some. This one contained zucchini, tomato, carrot, celery, and flax oil.

I was starving by 3:30 p.m., so I snacked on a fresh plum and these local veggies — heirloom cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper strips, and cucumber slices:

After work, I scarfed down this Raw Revolution Cashew & Agave Nectar bar before hitting the gym:

These huge bars contain 280 calories and 16 grams of fat, so I certainly wouldn't eat the entire thing on a regular day. But on raw day, I figure I need the fat and calories. This is one of my all-time fave bars!

After my workout (45 minutes on the treadill while reading Twlight), I rushed home to cool off with this Fresh Watermelon Popsicle:

My mom recently bought me popsicle molds, and I filled them with fresh watermelon juice from a local melon I picked up at the farmer's market last Saturday.

For dinner, I had Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms:

I was inspired by Voracious Vegan's Summer Stuffed Mushroom post a few weeks ago. But hers were cooked, so I googled "raw stuffed mushrooms" and found this recipe. It calls for dehydration, but I don't own a dehydrator (sometimes I borrow my parent's though). Instead, I placed the stuffed baby bella caps in the oven on its lowest setting for an hour. They didn't cook, but they did get dehydrated-ish. I'm sure they're not techinically raw now, but whatever.

Alongside the mushrooms, I ate this Carrot Avocado Bisque from Choosing Raw:

Yes, I know it looks quite similar to the Harvest Soup (and both recipes came from Gena's blog), but the taste was totally different. This soup is made from carrot juice, avocado, ginger, and flax oil. The avocado gave it a crazy creamy texture that was almost like pudding!

Finally, for dessert, I had the best raw treat ever — Raw Banana Soft Serve with Carob Syrup:

Also from Gena at Choosing Raw, this dessert blew my mind! It's simply frozen bananas whirled in the food processor until creamy. That's it. And it may be the creamiest thing I've ever eaten, far smoother than any ice cream I've had. I think I may start making this every raw day and even some non-raw days in between.

The syrup is simply a pinch of carob powder mixed with a little agave and water. It's tasty, but not totally necessary. The banana cream is pretty sweet on its own.

By the way, my kitty Polaris had fun trying to chase the banana chunks as they spun around in the food processor!

Harvest Time

On Sunday night, a few of my friends and I held a little gathering/potluck to celebrate Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh or loaf-mass). It's an ancient Gaelic holiday honoring the first harvest, and folks traditionally dined on feasts of fresh bread and seasonal fruits and veggies. I contributed this Mediterranean Olive Bread from The Joy of Vegan Baking:

I'd been eyeing this recipe since I bought the book last year, and now I'm not sure what took me so long to bake it. This delicious quick bread is flecked with some of my favorite things — black olives, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, and walnuts. I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for all the all-purpose called for in the recipe though.

I almost brought some of my Black-Eyed Pea Hummus for spreadin'. It's one of the recipes I'll be featuring in my cookbook. This is an old picture because I forgot to take another yesterday.

And for dessert, I brought another cookbook recipe, Old-Fashioned Coconut Pie:

The pie is actually my Granny's recipe. She veganized her old recipe for coconut pie and it is amazing! My version didn't turn out quite as delicious as hers, but I think I know why. She calls for sweetened coconut, and since I only had unsweetened in the house, I subbed that instead. Apparently, it makes a big difference because the pie didn't seem sweet enough to me. It wasn't bad, but I'm used to Granny's perfect version. Next time, I'll know better than to make substitutions.

Our gathering wasn't strictly vegan, but some friends brought vegan bread. So I ate loads of bread, and my friends Monica and Kelly contributed tasty cherry tomatoes, cantalope, and fresh okra (which we fried) from their garden.