DC VegFest! | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Eleven

DC VegFest was one of the first major veg events Steven and I attended after moving to Maryland six (!!!) years ago. (In Steven’s case, moving back to Maryland; he grew up here.) In 2013, VegFest took place in late September and was held at Yard Park. I remember being absolutely shocked at how long the line for Vegan Treats was — we literally waited hours! Even six years ago, vegan goodies were still somewhat of a novelty, so waiting two hours for cheesecake and doughnuts and whoopie pies seemed, if not wise, at least understandable.

Fast forward to today, to DC VegFest 2019. This year, for the first time ever, DC VegFest was held in a literal baseball stadium: Nationals Park, where the Washington Nationals play. AND IT WAS PACKED.

That was only one small section (the entrance) of the stadium. Vendors were set up in a big circle around the actual baseball diamond and stands, where the concession stands are during ballgames, so you could walk around the whole thing in blessed shade and relative cool. I was blown away with how many people were there, checking out the vegan skincare products and the apparel and all the dang food. Plus, the vent was dog-friendly! Tons of people brought their pups, either leashed or in backpacks/front packs/carriers. So cute. More than once I felt something cold and wet touch the back of my leg only to realize it was a pupper giving me a little boop. Yes please!

After making one full circuit, I was feeling hungry and had to decide where to eat. (Side note: There were fewer samples than in years past! I tried a bite of Treeline Cheese and a slice of Beyond Meat’s new spicy sausage (YUM), but nothing else.) All the stalls and food trucks located in the sun were unappealing to me; it was 85˚F, and while that’s pretty tame for this summer, I was not in the mood to get sweaty and grumpy while waiting in line. (Because every single food stand had a line!) I eventually opted for Yeah Dawg, a hot dog stand that is always a huge hit at VegFest. I’d never tried it, though! After a semi-frustrating wait, during which a VegFest employee decided to change the location of the line and had to herd us all right in the middle of foot traffic, I finally reached the front and ordered the Cali Kush Dog, their classic dog topped with kale caesar salad, coconut bacon, and sriracha mayo.

Hot dog in hand, I high-tailed it upstairs to a much emptier part of the event. This was the place to be: There were big industrial fans spraying a fine cool mist, shaded areas with comfy chairs for lounging, and plenty of empty tables with great views over the empty ballpark. I snagged one of those and chowed down.

Yeah Dawg’s schtick is that their dog is soy- and gluten-free; instead, it’s made of veggies! That means it doesn’t have the snap or bite of a more traditional dog; instead it’s a bit squishier. But it’s seasoned well, so it’s entirely filling and satisfying. Plus, the toppings were killer, especially that coconut bacon! I suspect other folks like it too, because Yeah Dawg was selling bags of coconut bacon along with their dogs.

One down side to the new location? There was no beer garden! In the past, there’s been a separate area where you could get a bottle of beer and sit and drink it away from the crowds, but not this year. It was a shame, because a cold beer would’ve gone down a treat on this hot day. Plus, beer and hot dogs at a ballpark are just classic!

DC VegFest has grown so much in the past six years. It’s really amazing to see how popular the event is! I didn’t attend any of the talks, but the lecture tent was filled every time I walked past. There are so many more vendors now, especially for baked goods — there were at least five different stalls selling sweets! I should’ve picked something up for Steven, but I didn’t feel like standing in line again — I had an hourlong metro ride to get back home, and by mid-afternoon I was sleepy and ready to get going.

One thing that hasn’t changed? The Vegan Treats line. Although I no longer find it worth my time to stand for two hours, plenty of others clearly do! It was just as long as ever, and the Vegan Treats tent was just as huge and bustling as ever.

Scones and Sandwiches and Sweets | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Ten

It’s been a lovely Saturday so far, and it’s not even 4:00 p.m. — the day is young!
I made my weekly pilgrimage to the farmers market in (relatively) cool weather; it was just 71˚F when I headed out. Positively autumnal! I forgot to snap a photo of my haul, but here’s what I picked up:
  • Brussels sprouts
  • An heirloom tomato
  • Cilantro (a nice bunch for $1.50, score!)
  • A basil plant (I had bad luck with basil seeds this year, so I bit the bullet and bought a plant. Yeah, it’s a little late in the season, but I’ll get lots of use out of it!)
  • Two heads of broccoli
  • New potatoes
  • Sansa apples
  • White nectarines

When I got back home, Steven was baking scones! This is becoming a bit of a weekend tradition for him, and I’m not mad about it. This week, he made tomato-basil scones, which I enjoyed with a cup of coffee. I quit coffee a couple months ago after realizing I was getting caffeine withdrawal headaches when I didn’t drink it, so it’s a somewhat rare treat now. I enjoy the taste of coffee and I liked the morning ritual of drinking it, but I haaate the idea of having a caffeine addiction, so I quit cold turkey as soon as I realized what was going on. :( Now that I don’t drink it regularly, I’m extra sensitive to it — a glass of cold brew gets me wired! Anyway, this was just regular ol’ hot coffee with So Delicious caramel creamer. I usually drink hot coffee black, but I had some of this leftover from a family visit last month and didn’t want to waste it.

After the scones came out of the oven, a loaf of sourdough bread went in! I blogged about Mary Berry (my starter <3) last MoFo, and she’s still alive and kickin’. I don’t bake bread every week, but I’ve got some heirloom tomatoes that are just crying to be eaten atop fresh bread, so this loaf will serve us well.

Post-bread baking, we headed across the street to celebrate our friend Ron’s birthday! Sara had gotten a platter of vegan sandwiches from Firehouse Deli, a local deli that bizarrely offers a TON of vegan options, so I feasted on an Italian cold cut sandwich. She’d also picked up a really tasty sesame slaw, along with chips and dip — basically, the perfect summer party plate. Firehouse also makes vegan cupcakes; I chose lemon while Steven had birthday cake (!). I really appreciate that we can support a small local business when we need vegan catering rather than a massive company like Whole Foods. Firehouse is a funny little place located right along a busy main road, but you can spot it by the electronic marquee that flashes the word “VEGAN” along with “GYRO” and “REUBEN.” Ha.

Sara and Ron have a pack of four small and wonderful puppers, including their newest addition: Scooter! Look at this little doofus.

Now I’m off to do a bit of cleaning — we’ve got friends coming over tonight. Happy Saturday, all.

Garlic Naan Pizza Calzones! | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Nine

I had half a bag of Violife mozzarella left over from last week’s pizza night, but I didn’t really want pizza again. What to do?

Channel Ben Wyatt and make calzones, of course. But not just any calzones: GARLIC NAAN PIZZA CALZONES.

I asked Steven to prepare the dough for Vegan Richa’s naan recipe while I was at work so it’d be risen and ready to go when I got home. We had a ripe avocado, so we opted for the mashed avocado variation. (It replaces vegan yogurt and seemed to work well, although the dough didn’t get very soft or pillowy.) I stuffed my naanzones (!) with mozz, basil, spicy banana peppers, and halved cherry tomatoes from the garden, then brushed them with garlic butter. After about 10 minutes in the oven on a pizza stone and a quick broil, they came out piping hot, melty, and delicious (if not terribly pretty). We dipped ’em in pizza sauce and had pan-friend okra on the side, just because they’d spent a little too long in the crisper and needed to be eaten. Yum. We got six naanzones out of the recipe and each ate two, so we’ve got leftovers. Steven will probably eat his cold in the morning and I will probably make a face and tell him how much I dislike cold pizza, which apparently makes me a monster.

Naanzones, pre-cooked. Look at the garlic bowl — my Mom made it for me!

Fair warning: I’m about to switch topics to something a bit heavy for a Friday night. Feel free to just enjoy (?) this photo of my naanzones, pre-baking, instead.
So. The catbird fledgling didn’t make it. :( I heard back from the rehab center after checking in again, and  here’s what they said:

“Sadly, the catbird had to be put down. Despite several days of care and treatment, the catbird continued to struggle with balance and coordination, and soon began to get worse. With no signs of improvement, we felt it was best not to prolong the inevitable, and so we had the catbird euthanized. We do not know if the catbird simply failed to fend for itself or if it was suffering from some sort of infection, but in the end this was the most humane option. We did everything we could. Thank you for your kindness and concern.”
Sigh. I had a feeling this would be the end result, but I held out hope that he’d rally eventually. I’m glad he had attention and food and care and a peaceful end, and that he didn’t suffer in the wild, where he would’ve been unable to fly and probably would’ve made a meal for someone higher on the food chain. But I still feel so sad for his mama, who doesn’t know what happened.

Well. That’s nature, I guess.

Aaand on that mildly depressing note, I’ll leave you. Happy weekend, all.

Lemon Drizzle Cake for my Mom’s Birthday | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Eight

In a lovely moment of serendipity, I’m accidentally coordinating with today’s official VeganMoFo prompt: afternoon tea!

My family never enjoyed the marvelous tradition that is afternoon tea when I was a child, but we did enjoy some treats that would’ve been quite at home alongside a teapot and a platter of scones. One of my favorite sweets — and one that my mom made not infrequently — was a luscious lemon tea bread. “Bread” in the quick bread sense, of course, a cake-like delight that was bursting with fresh lemon flavor. I’ve always been partial to lemon, and this particular dessert was one of my favorites.

Today is my mom’s birthday, and to celebrate from afar, I made a vegan lemon tea loaf last night. I used this recipe from Walks, Talks, & Eats, which I found earlier this year and absolutely love. I spent many years craving a vegan version of the lemon loaf of my youth, and this one absolutely fills that void. Thanks to an exciting technique where you pour lemon syrup over the freshly baked bread, the final product is soaked in lemony goodness and then drizzled with a simple icing. It’s a denser, more pound cake-like loaf than I remember, but it might be even better. (You could certainly skip the syrup soaking and go right to the icing instead, but I adore that extra hit of lemon.) Mine always sinks down a bit more than the one in Emma’s photo, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

I enjoyed a slice alongside a cup of tea as a mid-afternoon snack at work, and it went down a treat. I highly recommend this recipe.

Happy birthday, Mom! I will eat another slice in your honor tonight. ;) Love you!

Garden-Fresh Green Beans and Garlicky Tofu | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Seven

After work today, I opened the front door to head into the garden and found myself face to face with a hummingbird. Well — practically face to face. We were maybe four feet apart, and it was magical. There were two of them at first, flitting around one another, but one flew off as soon as I stepped out. The other remained for a good five seconds, seeming to stare right at me, before taking off for the safety of a nearby branch.

I love that we’ve creating a safe environment for wildlife by filling our yard with native plants. We do supplement with a hummingbird feeder, but our fast-moving friends also love to sip from bee balm and swamp milkweed, too. Steven has a little “office” in the corner of the living room right by two windows, and he’s constantly sending me photos and videos of the critters he spots throughout the day. We see both ruby-throated and rufous hummingbirds (the only two found here in Maryland!), and I’ve identified a particular branch where one of them likes to perch between feeding sessions. More often than not, if I look out the window and toward that branch, I’ll see a little one resting there. So sweet.

We had another heavy rainstorm this afternoon, and apparently it was strong enough to knock over my tomato cages — I had to fix up two of them. Yikes! I harvested a nice haul of green beans and a handful of cherry tomatoes while managing to avoid being absolutely savaged by the mosquitoes. (I think I only got bitten once.) It’s funny; I have terrible luck with full-size tomatoes, even though I plant plenty of them every year. There are a few growing now, but they’re still green and it’ll be a meager harvest. But my cherry tomatoes (of various types!) go bananas every year, and I had tons of volunteers this spring. I won’t complain; fresh tomatoes of any size are orders of magnitude tastier than any you can get at the grocery store. Eating them warm from the vine is one of summer’s greatest pleasures.

Those green beans went right into the dinner pot, metaphorically speaking. Well, I guess literally speaking, too — I cooked them in the same pot as the rice noodles I was making, for efficiency’s sake. I also lightly pan-fried a block of tofu and served it all with this fantastic garlicky black pepper sauce. I’ve been digging sweet and spicy sauces this summer, and this one’s a winner. I used Earth Balance rather than olive oil, reduced the soy sauce a bit, and substituted a large shallot for the red onion. I also used a bulb of fresh garlic (harvested from my garden last week!) rather than the 10 cloves called for because fresh, uncured garlic tends to have more of a kick than what you can buy at the grocery store. Delicious and surprisingly filling.

I’d love to hear your go-to sauce for simple meals; please share if you’ve got one! I like this one, too.

Baked Potatoes and a Cheesy Sauce Query | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Six

After weeks of intense heat and very little rain, I’m sitting here watching it pour absolute buckets. It’s a gorgeous summer sort of rainstorm, with lots of hazy golden evening light and just the mildest rumbles of thunder off in the distance. My plants need this. Maybe I need this, a restorative cleansing of sorts.

I can hear a bird peeping through the heavy rainfall and my guilt-ridden conscience swears it’s the catbird mama, still trying to find her missing baby so she can feed him dinner. I keep second-guessing our decision to bring him to the rehab center. We showed the rehab folks a video before bringing him in and they agreed, yes, something was wrong and he needed help, but still. Would it have been better to leave him, even if he might not have survived? Then his mom would’ve known where he was, at least. After we brought him to the rehab center, I saw the mama bird hopping around, beak stuffed with a juicy pokeweed berry, looking for her hungry baby. I could’ve sworn her little peeps were plaintive.

The rehab folks emailed back today and said he’s doing better — much more alert and active than he was on intake. But he’s still having trouble staying upright; he could’ve injured his spine when he first fledged. I’m holding out hope he recovers but I’m worried he won’t.

(For the curious, we brought him to Second Chance Wildlife Center and made a donation when we dropped him off. A sign in their office said it costs $75 to treat each patient, on average. If you feel moved to do any charitable giving this time of year, might I suggest Second Chance? Or a wildlife rehabber in your area?)

Anyway, on to the food. Tonight we had another simple dinner: baked potatoes, featuring jacket potatoes from the farmers market. I topped them with black beans cooked from scratch and this spicy nacho cheese sauce. They would’ve been excellent with roasted broccoli for something green, but alas, I didn’t have any. Steven prepped the potatoes while I was at work (he works from home) using my new favorite method: coating them with olive oil and kosher salt, then putting them directly onto the oven rack. No need to waste a piece of aluminum foil, and the skins turn out nice and crispy.

Question: What’s your favorite nacho cheese sauce recipe? This one was pretty good, but I’m always on the hunt for more. I do like the carrot- and potato-based ones, too!

Peanut Chews and Cruciferous Veggies | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Five

Well. Happy Monday. :) I’m feeling a bit more collected after yesterday’s rage-fueled rant, thanks to the curative powers of The Office and someone cooking dinner for me and Brooklyn 99 and puppy snuggles and a bite of chocolate ice cream.

And mid-day peanut chews.

I’d never had these little nuggets of chewy, chocolatey, peanutty goodness until I moved to Maryland six years ago (!!!) and started my current job. A former coworker (since retired) was known around the office for passing out peanut chews as little edible kudos, producing a handful from a pocket and sharing them with all and sundry. Not only are they accidentally vegan, but they’re also made locally(ish). The flavor is probably not to everyone’s tastes; rather than relying on a traditional caramel for chewiness, they use molasses — an ingredient well documented on this blog as it’s one of my favorites. I dig it, and I dig them.

Anyway, I grabbed a packet of peanut chews from the vending machine today because sometimes you just need a little chocolate to soothe your soul.

(Side note: Although I generally favor chocolate recommended by the FEP list, I just wanted something fast and easily available today. Looks like Goldenberg’s is on the “Cannot recommend but are working on the issues in various ways” list. I’m not perfect.)

An equally delicious thing I ate today was dinner, even though it was ridiculously simple: a huge skillet of cabbage, sautéed with Earth Balance and topped with salt, pepper, and some generous gratings of my precious Violife parm. I also made some spicy pan-sautéed kale with black-eyed peas for protein. I attempted to cook ye olde failed chickwheat by dicing it and lightly frying it, but… instead of getting crispy and edible, it became soft and mushy. Vom-o-rama. Steven kindly took some of the pieces I fished out of my bowl, but even he gave up after a while. I’m really trying not to let my failed chickwheat go to waste, but dang. It’s nasty.

Anyway, the rest of dinner was a delight. All crucifers benefit from high heat and a decent amount of cooking time, in my opinion, and sautéed cabbage is one of my favorites. It’s also a great foil to the salty parmesan. A perfect combination.

We’ve just gotten back from the gym, so hopefully those exercise endorphins will further buoy my mood. :)

(P.S. No update on my catbird friend. I emailed the rehab to check in but haven’t heard back yet. (They specifically requested emails rather than phone calls.) Sigh. Keep those fingers and toes crossed.)

Scones, and Also, Two Mass Shootings in Two Days | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Four

Hi, hello, it’s me, just checking in from the United States, where we have a mass shooting every day and it’s A-OK because ~*~ the second amendment ~*~ and ~*~ the founding fathers wanted us to be able to defend ourselves~*~ and other excuses that should’ve been rendered meaningless seven years ago (but really many years before that) when a white man murdered 20-plus CHILDREN AT THEIR SCHOOL yet have remained valid because our spineless politicians are deep, deep, deep in the pockets of the gun lobby.

Sorry (not sorry), I know I’m supposed to talk about food but I’m just emptied of all emotions except indignant, incandescent, impotent rage right now.

I am bone-tired of pointless patriotism to a country that refuses to protect its people and instead props up white supremacist ideologies and lax gun laws that lead to dozens/hundreds/thousands of people losing their lives. (“Losing.” What a bloodless euphemism.) I am sick of being told I should pledge allegiance to a flag that does not protect people (literally punishes people) who don’t share my skin color yet offers protection and succor to white people like me who commit heinous, murderous, treacherous crimes. (He was troubled. He needed mental health treatment; it has nothing to do with guns. He was a good kid. We took him in alive. He’ll get his due process.)

But, y’know, life goes on (for me at least, until I’m the next victim of gun violence) so hey, I had some scones today. Steven made them this morning while I enjoyed some blessed hours of laziness, reading in bed with my pups.

They were cornmeal and blueberry. They were a little flat because Steven didn’t chill the coconut oil ahead of time, but if less-than-perfect scones are the worst part of my day, I have zero right to complain. (“My child was killed in Parkland and I should’ve done more to stop this most recent mass shooting. I failed my daughter.”)

I completed a hospice volunteer assignment, sitting quietly with a patient who is dying. I went to a brewery. I had beers with a friend who is dealing with his own heartbreak. I came home. (How many didn’t, today?)

All my thoughts are laced with expletives. I am out of words.

The catbird fledgling we found yesterday is at a local wildlife rehab center. He might have spinal trauma, or he might have West Nile virus, or he might just be too weak for this unforgiving world. I held him in a small box yesterday while we drove him the five and a half miles to the center. I listened to his mother cry, squawking indignantly as we picked her precious, weak, dying baby up off the ground and took him away. I don’t speak catbird but I heard her distress. I wanted to tell her, “I’m giving him the best chance I can. I’m trying to save him. I’m not stealing your baby. I want what’s best for him, just like you do.” He let out a few sad little peeps during the drive and I wanted to hold him close and tell him it would be okay; he would be okay.

I couldn’t tell him that.

He might die.

I might die.

I might die tomorrow, next week, next year, from a misogynist/white supremacist/guy with a grudge.

But that’s OK, because my neighbors ~*~have a right~*~ to own assault-style weapons. Because the men in this country ~*~have a right~*~ to attention from women. Because the white people in this country ~*~have a right~*~ to it (never mind that we stole it from the brown people who lived here before).

If I die from gun violence, please politicize my death.

It will not be too soon. It will not be unseemly. I will not want your ~*~thoughts and prayers.~*~

I want action. I want change.


I know a lot of people who read my blog don’t live in the United States. If that’s you — what do you think and feel about the gun violence here?

Farmers Market Haul (and Bonus Baby Bird Content!) | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Three

Ah, summer Saturdays. My weekly ritual is to have a quick breakfast, pop in my earbuds, fire up an audiobook, and walk to my local farmers market. It’s about a mile away, and although I’m usually pretty sweaty by the time I return, I enjoy the walk.

This week, though, I left a little later than usual because I was distracted by a very important duty: monitoring a fledgling! An adorable catbird baby was just hanging out by our laundry room downspout, a puffy grey ball peeping away while Mom watched nearby and frequently flew over to drop insects into the baby’s beak. I was a little concerned because although the baby looked nicely feathered and mature, she didn’t have tail feathers and was only hopping around, peeping piteously. And when I looked a little more closely, I saw a few ants crawling on her. :( This behavior is appropriate for fledglings; they often leave the nest before they can fully fly, so Mom monitors and feeds them while they finish learning. But this little one was worrying me a bit. I tried calling our local wildlife rehab center to get their input, but nobody picked up. Generally, it’s best to leave babies in the wild with Mom — they have a much better chance at survival, and rehabbers are so busy this time of year that you never want to take up their scant resources with cases they really shouldn’t have to deal with.

Steven was helping our neighbors/friends with a desk-building project, so I went over there to report on the bird’s status and express my concern. When I got back home just a few minutes later, my little friend was gone! So was Mom, who’d been staying nearby and monitoring (including angrily squawking at a female cardinal who crossed her path!). The funny thing was that I could still hear the baby’s peeping, and it seemed to be coming from the eaves, where I know a few birds have nests. So I figured all was well and headed off to the farmers market.

The market is small, but it gets the job done (I ignore the gross butcher stall). I frequent one particular produce stand and one fruit stand, although there’s also an Ethiopian stall with veg options and even a cookie stall with a vegan choice or two. I hit up my two regular stalls this week and came home with a respectable haul.

 

Although some of the veggies are packaged in plastic pint containers, I always switch to my reusable produce bags at the market. The vendors seem to appreciate it; they get to reuse the containers. (Though I did keep the mixed salad greens in their plastic bag; I don’t think they’d reuse a bag like that, so it’d go to waste anyway.) I’m particularly pleased with that bag of peaches and nectarines — I asked the fruit vendor whether they ever sell seconds, since those bruised, bumped, and otherwise visually imperfect fruits make just as good pies, crumbles, and jams. They sold me three pounds for $3, a respectable deal. I’m going to do the same in apple season so I can make applesauce. :)

I took advantage of the slightly cloudy weather when I got home from the market and did some weeding in my garden. Things are looking good out there! I pick a handful of various cherry tomatoes every other day, and the green beans are just as plentiful. The squashes and melons are flowering and some are fruiting, while my carrots are finally taking off. I have terrible luck with peppers every year, so this year my dad brought some seedlings when my parents visited in July. I transplanted them about three weeks ago, and they’re finally beginning to flower. Crossing my fingers they fruit, too!

After a good 45 minutes of weeding, pruning, and becoming a buffet for the mosquitoes that are going nuts this year, I realized I was in dire need of lunch and headed into make that most perfect of summer meals: a big ol’ salad with fresh veggies. I used mixed greens, a cucumber, a pepper, and a gorgeous heirloom tomato from the farmers market, then topped it with a super-simple dressing: lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a clove of garlic to infuse a little flavor. I also piled on some chickpeas and nutritional yeast. It was sublime. The tomato was just… *kisses fingers* (I also chopped up some radishes from my garden, but they were bitter and tough so I didn’t end up eating them.) Ugh, I love meals like this.

After lunch, Steven came back from his desk-building with an update on the fledgling: Our next-door neighbors’ kids had found the baby bird in their yard, and went to our desk-building-help friends (also vegans!) for advice. The kids left the baby near where they think the nest is located and have reported that Mom is still feeding the baby, so I’m crossing my fingers she just needs time and strength to start flying.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a shot of a female Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly who was enjoying the Joe Pye weed this afternoon. We have a big pollinator garden filled with native plants, so I’ve been trying to overcome my fear of bees by photographing the literally dozens of pollinators who feast on the mountain mint and Joe Pye this time of year. The butterflies are much easier to capture without giving me a panic attack, though! ;)

Friday-Night Pizza | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Two

After a day of lackluster food (not to mention yesterday’s total and utter failure) I needed a foolproof dinner for this, the first Friday of August. The obvious choice: pizza! We picked up ingredients on the way back from the gym yesterday, so all I had to do was make the dough and assemble our pie tonight.

I used this recipe for the dough; it’s an old standby and pretty reliable, producing a nice, soft puffy dough. I always add herbs as recommended. For the sauce, Steven and I love Don Pepino, which comes in a can and is available at our local Wegmans. We first bought it because that old-school design was just irresistible, and it turns out that it’s super tasty, too! Although I often make cashew cheese for my pizza, I decided to try Violife’s mozzarella shreds this time. I’m a bit of a Violife fangirl these days; the products are great, and I appreciate that everything is nut-free. Their parmesan wedge is easily one of the best vegan cheeses I’ve ever tried, so I was eager to give the mozz a whirl. We topped our pie with halved cherry tomatoes from the garden and some pickled banana pepper rings. Not terribly exciting, but sometimes you just want a simple cheesy pizza.

And that’s exactly what we got. As usual, I baked it on a pizza stone covered in cornmeal to prevent sticking… truthfully, I’m not sure how much crispier this makes the crust, but I’d like to think there’s a difference! We also cracked open a tasty Beaujolais — a friend once said that pizza and wine should be the go-to pairing, not pizza and beer, and that makes sense to me.

And about that Violife mozz — I tried a few cold shreds and was shocked that they were edible, unlike Daiya. Melted, the Violife was quite mild, although I guess I’d prefer that to aggressively unpleasant, as other cheeses can be!

Not a bad Friday night at all.