Tag Archives: restaurants

Native American Buffet

native american food buffet

The Red Herring recently hosted a buffet featuring vegetarian Native American foods. Of course I forgot the camera, as I’ve been doing a lot lately, so I took this grainy iPod Touch picture. Foods may be tastier than they appear.

From left: wild rice and spinach casserole, spicy seitan strips, succotash, cornbread, squash, black beans, and frybread with tempeh filling. All delicious, and all for a mere $7 ($5 for students and kids).

We learned something too, about the Three Sister: corn, beans, and squash. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations. (from The Three Sisters Garden)

The Three Sisters are also an important part of a balanced diet, and complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates. Beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.

Tour de Mofo: Weeks 1 & 2

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodI’m subscribed to my own Healthy/Whole Foods category for MoFo, so most of these sightings are from that category. I can barely keep up with this small portion of the entries, and I totally fell behind the second week. Holy carrots.

Here are some of my favorite and most fun contributions to MoFo:

Biscoff spreadBest kid-friendly food that makes my kid’s PB&J sandwiches look sad:
Fun Kid Foods – Vegan and So Forth

What can I say – he likes PB&J. We use natural peanut butter, real fruit jelly, and whole grain bread. This week’s sandwiches included homemade wheat bread, Biscoff spread (a.k.a. the infamous Speculoos) and bananas.

Best idea for a restaurant that I should have thought of first:
Pop Bar

Hand-crafted ALL VEGAN gelato on a stick. With dips and toppings. Oh my. Pistachio bar dipped in dark chocolate and coconut, please!

Best food product picture that looks like a body part but isn’t:
Tempt Vanilla with Fudge Swirls Bar

A.k.a. a giant, waxy ear. Just a glimpse of my brain at work. I’m also good at creatively mishearing conversations.

Kitchen gadget I’m coveting but don’t actually need:
Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters

I like irreverent takes on the classic gingerbread man. Last Christmas, I made giant Domokun gingerbread cookies. I sculpted them freehand, but this year I would like to try making my own cookie cutters. It looks easy, as long as I don’t slice off a finger.

Coolest theme idea (and I WON twice, woot!):
MoFo Mystery Pictures by The Airy Way

This is such a fun way to participate in MoFo! And I won twice so far, with “cabbage” and “those bumpy knobs on the outside of squashes”. The squash bumps were a total longshot, and a sign that some of my neurons are being put to good use.

Cutest mascot:
Ingvar

A little finger that poses with food. Finger food!

Post for making you say, “Eww!” and “Yum!” at the same time:
Creepy Crudités

I need to make these for Halloween.

Random Food: Aug. 20-27

vegan firm tofu banh miFirm Tofu Banh Mi from Xinh Xinh Cafe. Cucumber, daikon, onion, carrot, super-hot jalapeños, cilantro, and delicately fried slices of tofu. There are herbs embedded in the tofu. I don’t understand how this is done, and I can’t question the deliciousness.

veggie fried spring rolls with riceVeggie fried spring rolls with rice.

vegan "Big Mac"-style Gardein burgerVegan “Big Mac” Gardein burger. Special sauce, lettuce, homemade pickles, onions, tomato.

pretzel rollsPretzel rolls from Serious Eats, made without the egg white-brushing step.

The Red Herring is Back!

The Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant is back in the lunch business after a long summer vacation. I ate a lot of vegetarian meals in college, but never visited the Herring until last year. What a shame! I guess I need to make up for lost time.

The Herring’s menu features a popular array of delicious vegetarian options, most of which are vegan or could easily be ordered as vegan. The sandwiches are served on hearty, homemade breads or pita. Portions are generous, and prices are very reasonable for fresh made (and often local and organic) fare.

Salads are topped with homemade dressings. A daily soup offering (vegan Cream of Broccoli on the day I visited) and vegan chili are great if you need a warm-up, and are served with moist, delicious cornbread. They also offer falafel plates, rice and beans, breads, a daily special entree, fair trade coffee, tea, juice, sodas, and desserts.

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant menu

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant menu 2

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant menu 3

I chose the BBQ Seitan sandwich because I really missed it this summer. It’s tender strips of seitan, dressed with a homemade barbecue sauce and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and vegan mayonnaise. It was served atop a little nest of popcorn with a pickle spear. Lance ordered the PB&J, and devoured it before I could take a picture. The raspberry jam tasted like it could have been homemade, and the bread was the same fluffy and hearty whole wheat english muffin bread pictured with my seitan.

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant BBQ Seitan sandwich

Though their processing machine was not working when we visited, the Herring now accepts credit cards. I don’t usually carry cash, so now I have yet another option for a great vegan meal on campus.

Be sure to “like” The Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant on Facebook to get all the latest specials and up to date hours. You can also give them some love on Yelp.com. They’re located at 1209 W. Oregon Street in Urbana, IL. Here are some more pictures of the Herring’s funky and friendly atmosphere.

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant - welcome locavores!

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant artwork - let's make pie!

The monkey on the left says, “let’s make pie.” I’m down with that.

the john, aka think tank

the divine throne room - the seat of revelation

you are here.

This Week’s Random Food

Here’s another installment of random things I have eaten this week.

vegan curry udon with tofu and vegetablesBest photo first! This is Curry Udon Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables, from Cravings Restaurant in Champaign. “Meat-Free” Mike from Food For Thought suggested this, and it was excellent. I love the shape of the carrots. Thanks, Mike!

vegan macaroni and cheese with beer cheese sauceNext on the carb parade: Macaroni with Beer Cheese Sauce. We made fondue last weekend, and I tossed the leftover vegan beer cheese sauce with some hot pasta and seasoned it with black pepper. The beer cheese sauce is based on Classic Fondue from The Uncheese Cookbook. It was delicious as a fondue, but subbing all beer for the wine in the original recipe meant the beer flavor was a bit too strong. Next time I’ll go with half veg broth and half beer. Very creamy, cheesy, and easy to make in a blender.

vegan tofu, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with olive saladHere’s a version of one of my favorite vegetarian sandwiches, the Tofulatta from Strawberry Fields in Urbana. The original sandwich contains grilled tofu, lettuce, tomato, provolone, and olive salad. No provolone here, but plenty of yummy olive salad. It’s the Tofuletta!

I am thrilled to have successfully grilled tofu. And now I can’t stop eating it. I used an indoor panini maker, and it was fast and easy.

tofu on the grill

The Best Tofu In The World is from the deli case at Common Ground Food Co-Op, sold in bulk. Thank you to Sarah, my vegetarian friend and colleague, for the suggestion. It’s the perfect firmness, and requires very little pressing. I slice it about 1/2 inch thick, press it briefly between towels, spread it out on a plate, and brush it with a soy/garlic marinade, then grill for about 3 minutes. The texture is great for sandwiches: chewy and a little crisp on the edges. I’m working on a post featuring several marinades. I prefer these a lot over vegan deli slices.

vegan smoky white beans and kaleThese smoky white beans and kale were awesome, and so easy to prepare. I started with roughly-torn kale, sauteed in some olive oil, with garlic and black pepper. When the kale was slightly wilted, I added about 2 cups of leftover canellini beans I had slow-cooked earlier this week, and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth with a few drops of liquid smoke mixed in. I also added vegan bacon bits. In about 10-15 minutes, the kale was tender but not completely mushy – just right.

vegan zucchini pasta with white bean basil sauceThis is a weird late-summer combination resulting from excessive heat and too many produce odds and ends.

The corn is topped with mayonnaise and lime juice, like elotes served from a local Mexican food truck. I’m really not a fan of mayonnaise on corn, but at least I tried it. The tomatoes have bacon bits on them, because I really wanted something with tomato and bacon flavors. The zucchini is sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. This is the first time I have tried that, and I found that I liked slicing off the outer part of the zucchini only, just down to the seeds. I sliced the leftover seedy “core” I was left with and saved it for smoothies later. Let no vegetable go to waste, right?

The sauce on the zucchini isn’t very visible, but it’s a leftover white bean and basil dip that I made over the weekend. I will definitely post this recipe later, because it’s AWESOME. I was surprised how well it transformed into a creamy sauce over the warm zucchini. I think serving it over wheat pasta would be too bland, but the zucchini “pasta” really works.

vegan Doodles cup: ramen, tofu, bok choy, marinated carrotsThis cup of noodles is from Doodles in Champaign. It’s a little restaurant on campus serving customized bowls of ramen noodles. You can choose your broth flavor (a few flavors are vegan, most surprisingly the “beef” flavor; must be a hydrolyzed soy-based flavoring) and top it with whatever you want. There are a number of meats, of course, and plenty of vegetable options, including vegetable gyoza (not sure if they’re vegan, though).

Random Eats: Week of July 31

Tofu with Black Bean Garlic Sauce from Cravings Restaurant, Champaign, IL. We love the owner of this place. He will cook us anything. My favorite dish is the green beans with spicy lemongrass. Their szechuan chili oil dishes are served sizzling-hot in little iron kettles, and will make you cough from across the room, they are so extremely spicy.

Black Bean Garlic Tofu

Our regular Channa Masala, cooked on the stove instead of the crock pot, with added cubes of super firm tofu. After marinating in the sauce, the texture is very, very close to paneer. I foresee a lot of vegetable + indian tomato gravy + cubed tofu combinations in my future.

channa masala with tofu

Pita with Cashew Goat Cheese (Vegetarian Times), fresh basil, and local tomatoes. With some fruit and nuts, it was enough to fuel a 9-mile run.

tomato basil pita with vegan goat cheese

Very Red Berry Smoothie. Super thick, almost like a dessert. I think this one contained frozen dark sweet cherries, frozen mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries), kale, golden flax meal, coconut milk, and a little cocoa powder.

red berry smoothie

I didn’t get a picture of the finished product for the ingredients below, but they became sauteed zucchini with Penzeys Greek Seasoning. Lance and I battled over the second helpings.

zucchini with greek seasoning

Tempeh Salad & Carrot-Ginger Soup

Since becoming vegan, people around the office are curious about what I’m eating. I suspect that one person makes a trip down the hall daily just to check out my lunch. I am totally ok with this! I’m happy to report that the interactions have progressed from strange looks, to ingredient questions, and finally, to recipe requests. I love my colleagues.

Today I picked up a soup and sandwich from The Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant. It was worth the trip across post-blizzard snow and ice, in sub-zero temps.

This is a Tempeh Salad Sandwich, and I’m happy to report, my first positive tempeh experience! I want to like it, since fermented soy products like tempeh have numerous health benefits. The salad is a blend of tempeh, Vegenaise, peppers, onions, and a bit of lemon juice. It’s served with spinach and tomatoes on a whole wheat pita, but nine-grain bread is also an option.

The vivid green pickles in the background are Green Oil Pickles, made and canned by my mom. They’re a sweet pickle flavored with cinnamon and clove oils, and were a nice accompaniment to the sandwich.

The moist, lightly-sweetened cornbread goes with this Carrot-Ginger Soup.

Carrot Ginger Soup

This was perfect for a cold day like today: sweet, spicy, and just a little bit creamy. Excellent.