Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vegan Jumbo Lump Jack Fruit "Crab" Cakes with Spanish Garlic "Mayonnaise" and Warm Saffron Nage

My parents had high expectations for my collegiate educational path. When I was 15 years old, my Mom and Dad decided that instead of taking a summer vacation, the Shagrin clan should pile into our trusty green Toyota Previa and tour some of America's finest colleges. I, of course, saw this as a divine opportunity to tour the social life available to the lucky bastards that had finally escaped parental rule.

First, we hit the University of Wisconsin in Madison. My mother wanted me to find a solid back-up option to Brown University that would also provide a great 4 year experience. What I did find there was my very first fake ID (thanks Laura Norton of McLean, Virginia...whoever you are!) that also provided an equally as rewarding 4 year experience. It would have been a much longer one, but a policeman in South Carolina decided that 5'5" and 150 pounds didn't exactly fit my physical description.

Next, we headed towards Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. On the way, we detoured to Narraganset Beach for a weekend. My parents were hoping to spend some quality time together before getting back to business. Although the "family" part didn't exactly happen, I did spend some quality time with a nice young guitar player that I met on the beach. We made out in a lighthouse and slept in a car before I returned to my hotel, most likely reeking of smoke and salt water.

By the time we departed for Baltimore, Maryland, I was on a pretty tight leash. In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have been angry with my Mom for keeping my super-glued to her side. It gave me a chance to read the first two Harry Potter books in 3 days, and it was the first (and only) time I had real crab cakes. Sans punishment, there's a 90% chance I would have skipped out on dinner for some Happy Hour carousing with the local youth, courtesy of Laura Norton, of course. They were great, but consciously not a part of my dietary choices shortly thereafter. I felt like tasting a vegan version would be the gateway to a sweet form of freedom

The above photo was taken without the Nage because, while it is delicious, it made my photographs look a little messy. You'll just have to trust me ;)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Coconut Vinegar Cured Tofu Scallops with Lemongrass Basil "Creme" Sauce and Cilantro Garlic Coconut Rice

This week proved to be a much tamer one for the Veganize It...Don't Criticize It E-mail box. Will I watch my mouth so that no one has a whack attack when they decipher my sarcastic words as literal? Hecks nah. You should all know me better than that by now.

Issue 2: I know look like a 12-year-old.

Bouncers, 7-11 clerks and general public of Los Angeles: I'm well aware that, for whatever reason, puberty didn't grace my body with the blessings of height and curvaceousness that typically accompany entering womanhood. The most womanly quality I possess is my booming Little Old Lady Chain Smoker From Brooklyn Voice, and I've grown to like it that way. There has not been a single alcohol, tobacco or lotto ticket purchasing experience over the past few years that hasn't resulted in extreme identification scrutiny, or sometimes just flat out embarrassment. It's a scrutiny I've come to expect as a part of my routine. But there are some occasions that just ice the cake. Here are some of my favorites.

1) Election Day, November 2008
I walk into my designated polling place. I'm all hopped up and excited to voice my opinion on my right to wed, and of course to show some support for Big O. I get in line. I wait. I wait longer. FINALLY, I get up to the table. The lady checking in voters looks at me, a kind yet sympathetic smiles spreads across her face. She looks me in the eyes and says "Oh, honey, where's your mother? Are you lost?". "No, I'm here to vote. My mother lives in Northern California", I say, watching her jump back in awe of my deep vocal resonance. She looks at my ID. She looks at me. She looks back at my ID, consults the registry book, and hands me the forms. "Don't worry...I drink from the Fountain of Youth. It's off Sunset and Doheny."

2) Barney's Beanery, September 2007
My best friend Sita and both happened to be blessed with youthful good looks. One night, we wanted to go out and have a quick drink. Options are limited in Santa Monica, so we decided on Barney's. As we're walking up to the door, the bouncer stops us both. He actually LAUGHS at us and says, "Sorry, ladies, we don't allow anyone under 21 inside".
I had had enough. I felt my inner Jewish bitch dying to be unleashed. I took a deep, calming breath. "Don't you think that maybe you should at least look at out IDs before turning us away? Maybe I've had plastic surgery or something. I could actually be 40." I hand him my ID, which he checks once under a lamp, then a second time under the flashlight. "This isn't the real DMV background", he says. "WHAT?!", I retort, "Sita..show him your ID". He holds our IDs side by side, actually growls at us, then lets us in. The waitress then ID-ed me again at the table.

3) Fantastic Sams Hair, August 2007
I was asked if I'd like to sit in the rocket ship for my hair cut. I shit you not.

And now, my recipe.

Two weeks ago, I had a fantastic visit to the Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Market at Virginia Park. I don't go the markets as much this time of year because Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil aren't in season, and quite frankly it makes me one Sad Panda. There's an adorable older lady that runs an organic herbs and greens stand. She says "I haven't seen you in so long!". "I know...Basil's out of season. I miss it so much". She pulls a bag out from under the table. "I have something special for you! Here!" She hands me two gorgeous bunches of organic basil. I turned as red as a school girl in love. Check out the rest of my Farmer's Market bounty...

I wanted to put it all to some good use, and I hadn't made my tofu scallops in quite a while. This is actually a pretty easy recipe.