Friday, January 16, 2015

Ode to DTLA Homeless

True stories of L.A. told in haikus. All events happened within 5 feet of my house and yes, I name my outdoor neighbors. Sadly, I see them more than any other neighbor living in my own building. 

"Mountain Woman" sits
Peaks and valleys of trash bags
Outside my window

"Mountain Woman" fights
With stretchy pants drunk lady
Who's gonna back down?

"Savron" screams and rides
With his arm and leg outstretched
Crazy or genius?

"Time-Machine" rides by
Clock on back, music out front
Lucas from future?

Alley hobo man
Calls out "good morning princess"
I smile and run

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How to do Paris

Here is my 6 things on how to do Paris, France

Where to...(from a frugal vegan's point-of-view):

  1. Stay: Le Marais. This is where all the vegan food and fun is. However, I stayed at a cheap Air BNB in the 13th arrondissement and it was a perfect spot that was pretty close to everything too. 
  2. Eat: Loving Hut. Eat the crepe from Loving Hut! Shop in their little store for some vegan croissants and chocolate sauce so you don't die from walking by the million patisseries you can't eat at.
  3. Drink: M.O.B. Go to MOB to get a bite to eat, feel like you're in America again with vegan burgers and fries, and grab a beer. Sit outside on the second-story outdoor seating with a view of the Seine. 
  4. Walk: The Seine. Walk along the Seine river from Le Marais to the Eiffel Tower. This is a long, but beautiful walk where you will see the core of Paris. 
  5. Shop: Naturulia. This is a natural grocery store with some interesting food you can cook at home. But of course, don't miss the daily farmers markets that are to die for and have a picnic.
  6. See/do: Walk, again! Stroll through the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissments. Walk everywhere and take in the beautiful architecture and lights at night. Check out Sorbonne, shop a little, and grab a bite to eat.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vegan Double Chocolatey Nutty Chip Cookies

This is a adaptation of the double chocolate chip cookie recipe from Babycakes. I made it non-gluten free and changed the flax for banana. You can also just add another 1/4 cup applesauce instead of banana too. These recipes can be a little oily, so check the consistency and adjust as necessary.

1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 1/4 cup unbleached sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 TB vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ripe banana
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (try Ghirardelli) 
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl (cocoa, flour, salt, baking soda, sugar). Smash the banana in another bowl and then mix all the wet ingredients together with it (oil, applesauce, vanilla). Then, mix the wet ingredients into the dry bowl and fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Scoop up 1 inch balls of dough and place 1 inch apart from each other on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 14 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet 180 degrees and cook another 9 minutes. Check the books to make sure they are crisp on the outside.

Take them out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Los Angeles Walking Tour - Downtown and Arts District

I have a common walk in downtown LA that I like to do and decided to put my common walk and food, drink and shopping spots on a map. In between this walking tour there are amazing views of downtown, the arts district, and less views of creepy-town USA spots and "pee-pee" corners (no joke). This is a fun walk that I bring my visitors when they want to see our favorite spots in LA. Have fun!

Rachel's LA Walking Tour - Downtown and Art District

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Trip to Portland (w/ Food Itinerary!)

Portland has never been on my radar until Portlandia came out. After that, I was anxious to check out the weird, quirky city that was shown as being ridiculous and hipster, yet liberal and eco-conscious. The only other things I've heard about Portland is the abundance of vegan food, so with all of my favorite things in one place, I booked a weekend trip on labor day weekend. Here is a run-down of my impressions and some itinerary items (especially food, beer, and coffee spots) to hit up!

Overall first impression:
My first impression was happy when I flew over the forests of Oregon to reach our destination. Oregon looks like Sweden from above with their lush forests and water. I'm a big fan of nature and I love that I don't have to fly through a cloud of smog as I do when I come back home to LA. My second impression is "Where is everyone?!". I mostly felt like downtown was a ghost town. I expected hordes of people on a Friday night, but it mostly seemed like a scene out of 28 Days Later when the whole world has died from a zombie attack and no one is around. This place is QUIET and compared to other cities, isolated. But that is good and bad, as I come to enjoy the quietness of the city. With only 500k people in Portland, it is really small. However, this created a very relaxing, pleasant weekend where traffic, smog, long lines, and crazy people were not to be seen (mostly). 

Some of my favorite restaurants are here, and also has to do with the cheap prices and no sales tax. Food is cheap, brunch is king, and vegan is EVERYWHERE! Being vegan in Portland is so passe I feel. No one cares if you want to ask for soy milk because they offer soy, almond, hemp, rice and whatever else they come up with. Vegan brunch was standard and weekend brunch lines are where are the people are hiding. Friday night drinking is so over! Brunch lines all day long are in! Here is a run-down of must eats for the vegan traveler:

Paradox Cafe - Cheap, tasty brunch. Two people with huge breakfast plates with tip = $14. What?!
Vegan strip mall - Food Fight! and Sweetpea Bakery: There are three vegan places all in a row. I really enjoyed the almond croissant at Sweetpea, and the selection at the small grocery store Food Fight! was actually pretty great. Portland is known for supporting their community and it shows with the made in Portland selection. There are a lot of items I have never seen before, and I've been to the largest vegan grocery store in the world.
Back to Eden Bakery - This is a MUST (see my full review). They have my favorite biscuit sausage gravy bowl and soft serve banana split of all time. Don't ask, just go.
Sweet Hereafter - This is a vegan bar! Super good food, surprisingly. I expected low-quality for a bar, but they have fresh, healthy food that is really flavorful. I loved the bowls. The beer was great too, and a ton of local brew options. The wait here was insane, it took about 1 hour to get our food order.
VooDoo Doughnuts - Seriously, the best doughnuts in the world. Try the Portland Cream Doughnut and the Voodoo Doll doughnut. Half of them are vegan, half not - just ask.. Worth the trip to Portland just for this. If you want me to bring you a doughnut to LA next time I go, comment on this post!

Beer and Coffee:
The beer here is really great. Sweet Hereafter and Rogue were my two favorite spots. Rogue was by far the best and I loved their fruit salad cider. Portland has the most microbreweries of any city in the world, so check one out!
Local coffee shops are abundant here, and you can't go wrong anywhere. I went to Stumptown, the hipster spot. I still like Blue Bottle and Intelligencia better, but you can get your hipster coffee fix at least.

Forest Park is a 15 minute bus ride from downtown, and it is a lush forest perfect for a nice, relaxing hike surrounded by water and huge trees. You can go for a mile or 10, whatever you're up for. Definitely worth the short trek.

Final opinions:
The good - 
I love Portland for the food, amazing transit system, forests, bike trails, and push for community and local businesses. There are no fast food chains here, you will see the entire city promotes locally made and really sticks to it. Every store supports a local artist or business owner, and it is really refreshing. I also love that you can go to a forest in 15 minutes, but be back in the city for lunch. The houses are cheap and the times slowly crawls as you relax for your second plate of brunch on the weekend. I felt fully relaxed and we really enjoyed our time here. I would love to live here someday, except for....

The weird/bad - 
Portland is 80% white. It is one of the least diverse places I've been in America. It's oddly liberal, yet not integrated. I saw one Indian family and a few Asian people while I was there. That's about it. People are hipster, but they are 90's hipster like it is 1995 and no one told me. Tie dye is cool here still and Soundgarden is still a band for some reason. There are also a lot of hippy-homeless that hang around and pan handle. They swarm VooDoo doughnuts all day. I definitely prefer them over the LA homeless that have actual mental problems though. 

So, go to Portland for a trip. Eat your heart out, get drunk, and bring back some doughnuts. Then, head back home to a city that respects diversity like LA or SF and enjoy the high prices of good weather and at least a few more races. 

Back To Eden Bakery Review

Back To Eden Bakery in Portland, OR is my favorite bakery of all time. They have great  lattes, baked goods, breakfast, and amazing soft serve ice cream. I went there twice for the weekend I was there and got one or more of each of these categories! Everything is vegan and gluten-free and homemade!

In order of amazingnes:
The sausage/biscuit breakfast bowl: This consists of all homemade ingredients including a biscuit, sausage, and gravy. It was extremely good and there is nothing else like it.

Soft serve ice cream banana split: I got the banana split with chocolate/vanilla ice cream, marshmallows, and caramel. This was the best dessert and ice cream I've ever had!

Baked goods: everything is good here from the savory to the sweet. We had the tempeh broccoli quiche, tempeh bacon scone, and some type of nutty donut. Everything was seriously amazing again.

I've been to vegan bakeries everywhere, but they just do it better here. Plus, when you're on Alberta street, check out the cute stores and other delights in the neighborhood. Next door is the grilled cheese truck that makes homemade cashew cheese grilled cheese and mac and cheese that is also worth the trip from LA!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Guilt-Free Pancakes (Vegan Oat Flour Pancakes)

I'm not gluten-free, but when I can find a pancake without flour to indulge in my pancake love without gaining 50 lbs, I'm in! Also, these are by far my favorite pancakes and I've tried every vegan recipe out there! Usually, the arrowroot kills the pancake with its stickiness. Flax pancakes have the benefit of many bathroom breaks, but these banana/oat pancakes are healthier, fluffier, and a huge favorite at my house!
I veganized a regular gluten-free pancake recipe and even added another 1/2 banana with good results. These pancakes taste like the real thing except they are much healthier and use natural ingredients. The banana makes them not fall apart, and it doesn't give a banana flavor if you don't like that. Enjoy!
  • 1¾ cup oats 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup soy milk
  • 1½ tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 ripe banana smashed
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Pre-heat a non-stick pan on med-high heat
  2. Put oats in a blender and pulse a few times until they have a flour texture
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  4. Mix all the liquid ingredients together in a second bowl
  5. Mix dry and wet ingredients. Optional: Fold in some blueberries, nuts, or chocolate chips!
  6. Spray the pan with a little grape seed oil 
  7. Pour about 1/2 cup into pan, cook until brown on both sides
  8. Top with maple syrup and enjoy!