Honeymoon – Los Angeles 

I’m loving reading this year’s Vegan MoFo posts! Sadly, my last semster of school is taking main focus, but I’ve still got two more honeymoon posts left to share with you guys.

Los Angeles was interesting to say the least. Our overnight train arrived extremely early to the station (4:30 a.m. to be exact), which was too early for us to drop our bags in the hotel lobby and go see any attractions. So we ended up sleeping in the station with the huddled masses until about 9 when we knew the La Brea Tar Pits would be opening.

So slightly frazzled looking, but still excited, we set off to see LA. We took an Uber to the tar pits and our driver was this fascinating Armenian man who chatted with us about his home country, how he came here, and what we should do with our two days in town. I’m glad he was so friendly because it made our time stuck in LA’s notorious traffic seem less long.    

We stopped by the museum first before exploring the grounds. It was a bit pricey to get in, but ended up being worth it to see the massive amount of bones excavated from this site. There were tons of skeletons, each accompanied by paintings of their original state and visual timelines for those unfamiliar with the tar pits’ history. IMG_0844They have collected 100’s of dire wolf skulls and had a huge display of them on the wall. IMG_0831 After the museum we walked around the grounds to see the actual excavation sites. We could stand there and gawk at researchers as they tediously chipped away at the dirt and moved around the various fossil crates.
There were no researchers to be seen in this area, but according to nearby plaques they’re still currently finding bones in this section.Looking at the bones and drawings of giant sloths (here and at the Houston Museum of Natural Science) has caused me to develop a deep fear of them. So these sculptures were not my favorite part of the La Brea Tar Pits, but it was made up for by the lovely grounds and extremely friendly staff. A definite must see when visiting LA.

Our next stop was the Museum of Death in Hollywood. No photos are allowed inside, so the image below is all we’ve got from this stop. But it’s probably a good thing photos inside aren’t allowed, because it’s a very very gruesome museum.

We mostly went because of my morbid fascination with serial killers, which they greatly feature in their extensive collection, but some of the rooms were stomach churning with photographs of car crash or war crime victims. It was a bit too much for us and we walked through some rooms without looking at the images plastered on the walls. Although I’m glad we went, I wish we could’ve just picked and chosen the rooms we enjoyed in our visit (which would be the serial killers and Charles Manson displays) and not had to walk through some of the grislier areas. It was worth it though to see a quilt that was hand sewn by Manson’s followers which were cute floral prints made into a swastika pattern. Totally crazy.

So with the warning that they are 100% serious when they say it is a morbid affair, Museum of Death might be a good stop if you have a sick fascination or two.I could’ve sworn I had more photos, including our lunch, but they seem to have disappeared from my camera. So I’ll wow you with my description in lieu of visual evidence. After the museum, we walked down Sunset Boulevard (and saw the vastly over-rated stars on the sidewalk) to Veggie Grill, which is a chain in California that is totally vegan and has a ton of faux meat options.

I couldn’t resist the b-wing salad, which features a bed of lettuce topped with spicy buffalo wings, avocado, corn salsa, and a creamy ranch. Peter got a Santa Fe crispy chicken sandwich, which has a fried chicken patty with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and a spicy mayo. Both of our meals were beyond amazing. I didn’t go in expecting too much because chains don’t always deliver quality, but we were very full and happy afterwards and kept repeating “That was just SO good.”

Afterwards we still quite tired from our lack of sleep, so we just watched a movie (Mad Max: Fury Road) at the theatre next door. Later we went back to the hotel, napped, woke up for dinner and realized that we were so tired we didn’t want to walk anywhere. So (lucky for us they deliver) we got Veggie Grill again! I got the crispy chicken plate which had sides of mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and garlic kale. Peter got the exact same sandwich because his earlier meal was so good. Once again, we were very happy with our dinner and it was made even better that we got to eat it while wearing pajamas in bed.

After a night of restful sleep, we set off early to see the beach. We went to Venice Beach first and rented a tandem bicycle for the afternoon. We rode it along the bike path and although it was a bit scary at first (especially since Peter was the “driver”) we had a great time whizzing by the beach goers. We stopped a few times to wander around the strange shops and avoid the scary tattoo parlors. Trust me, you don’t want that $20 bargain tattoo on you forever.
  Eventually we ended up at Santa Monica Pier, which has the Pacific Park amusement park. Pretty hungry from our journey, we stopped off to have lunch and take a ride on the Ferris wheel. I cannot remember which restaurant we went to (even after scouring the area in Google Maps), but it was nearby  and they ended up having black bean tacos that could be veganized and a vegetarian burger for Peter. We paid out the nose for eating so close to a tourist spot, but the food was good and the view of the ocean from the patio was great.We wandered the beach after lunch, picking up shells and being amused by the various types of birds that would jump around in the tide.For dinner we headed to China Town, which was only a 20 minutes walk from our hotel. Now I know ramen is Japanese and not Chinese, but we had to check out Ramen Champ for two reasons: 1. I’ve never eaten ramen made with fresh noodles 2. They had vegan optionsThe atmosphere in Ramen Champ was great. With art plastered on everything from the wall, to the menu, to the chopstick packaging, the visuals of the restaurant realy added to the meal. I got the house ramen with added tofu and I paid a bit extra to make it spicy. Peter got the same exact thing, minus the heat.  This was a bittersweet meal, both because the fresh noodles were amazingly chewy while the flavorful broth seared my mouth and because I knew that there’s no place that serves ramen like this in central Alabama. So we savored this delicious meal before heading back to the hotel to rest for our journey to San Diego the next day.

Lazy Liebster

It has been a little over two weeks since Vegan MoFo ended and I have been enjoying my time off. But I’m back and happy to hear I’ve gotten an “award” from Just About Vegan. She gave me the Liebster Award which is meant to recognize newer/smaller blogs and form relationships in the blogging community. Now it’s my turn to answer her questions, and choose other blogs to join in on the fun. I couldn’t figure out the amount of followers for the blogs I chose, so I just estimated by the amount of comments on their posts.

liebster-award (1)The rules are:

  • Answer the questions provided by the nominator, then come up with 10 new ones to ask your nominees.
  • Nominate 8 other blogs, let them know you have nominated them and put a link to their blog in your post.
  • No Tag backs (i.e. you cannot nominate the blog that nominated you)
  • Nominees must have under 200 followers on any platform.
  • You must tell all the blogs that you nominate that you have nominated them.

1. Describe your fantasy meal.
I would love to have a vegan version of pretty much any meal in any Studio Ghibli film. For some reason I just think animated food looks so good, especially anything Asian. So Sen’s steamed red bean buns, Sophie’s large breakfasts, and Ponyo’s ramen with ham would all be on my fantasy meal menu.

2. What’s your go-to easy weeknight dinner?
The one thing I usually have ingredients for is chili. Throwing together some canned beans with tomatoes, spices, and a handful of textured vegetable protein is a very easy and filling dinner. Plus it’s easy to mix things up by adding different vegetables or hot sauces each time.

3. How did you learn to cook?
I’ve pretty much always had an interest in cooking. I grew up with both an Easy Bake Oven and a Queasy Bake Oven. Once I went vegan, my mom had a hard time figuring out what to feed me. So I soon was making the majority of my own meals. The first few recipes I learned how to make were chili, twice baked potatoes, and carbonara. Reading blogs also helped me to know that it was possible to live vegan and still eat incredible dishes.

4. How do you go about developing a recipe for your blog?
I have to have some inspiration spark for a recipe to appear in my head. It’s usually from something I see (omnivore cooking show, food a book/comic character is eating, etc.) or the desperation of combining random ingredients from a nearly bare pantry. I start by listing the ingredients, maybe looking up a few similar recipes (especially if I need certain ratios like in baking), and then just set to cooking. I always have a food-stained notebook nearby to write down measurements, cooking times, and what did or didn’t work out.

5. Have you ever had a kitchen disaster? What did you learn from it, if anything?      I once started a small kitchen fire by turning on the wrong burner, which accidentally melted a Tupperware top and caused it to burst into flames. I learned to always double check which burner you turn on, and it’s always stupid to leave plastic things near the stove top. Plus you should always be a good friend and buy your roommate new Tupperware when you melt his. Many life lessons were learned that day.

6. What have you found to be the most surprising thing about being a vegetarian or vegan?                                                                                                                                      I eat way more variety now than I did in my pre-vegan days. Most people view veganism as a very restrictive diet, but I’ve got a much wider palate now than ever before. Before I would have never tried nutritional yeast, seitan, chia seeds, or a variety of other “health” foods that are currently sitting in my kitchen cabinets.

7. What about the most challenging?                                                                                  Not to sound whiny, but the judgment of other people. Most of my friends and family are wonderful about how I choose to live, but sometimes they, or even complete strangers, feel the need to but in with unwarranted advice. “You are going to eat dairy when you get pregnant, right? A vegan diet cannot support a baby.” or “God made animals to be eaten. It’s an insult to not eat them.” and my personal favorite from a customer at work “Well if you don’t eat meat you’ll end up looking like Quasimodo.” My life philosophy is for everyone to mind their own business and we’ll all be happy, vegan or not. 😀

8. How do you tend to navigate situations in which you’re the only vegetarian or vegan?                                                                                                                            Always bring lots of yummy food. That way you both know you’ll have something to munch on, and can pleasantly surprise others who thought vegans only ate kale and buckwheat.

9. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon?                                          If it has been a long week, I’ll sit down and watch a few episodes of Adventure Time while knitting. When I am not in the mood to veg out I’ll hula hoop, read a book (mostly fantasy, with a bit of non-fiction thrown in there), or practice some yoga.

10. What is one one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not sure how much crap I’m going to get for revealing this, but Peter and I work part-time at a chicken restaurant. It’s actually a wonderful place to work with fun bosses and coworkers with great live music, though it is sometimes awkward when a customer asks “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?” and I have to say “Umm, the salad?” I know it would bother some vegans, but it’s a way for us to make ends meet and work at someplace we enjoy. Plus I’m eventually going to harass them into adding a veggie burger to their menu.

And now to foist this off on award some awesome blogs. I nominate:

A Cook in the Making

Banana Girl Vegan Curl

Chreese on Toast

Desi P Knits and Quilts

Elite Food

Ellen’s Vegan Kitchen

Rabbit Food

Vegan Heartbeats

Here are my questions:

  1. What famous chef would you choose to cook you dinner?
  2. What food did you hate as a child and enjoy/tolerate now?
  3. Favorite sandwich filling?
  4. If you could only eat three meals for the rest of your life (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), what would you choose?
  5. What was the first recipe you veganized?
  6. What is the weirdest or funniest reaction someone has had to your vegan choices?
  7. Do you have any strange food habits (my food can’t touch, has to all be a different color, etc.)?
  8. Which type of vegan substitute (veggie meat, plant milk, etc.) can you not live without?
  9. What food item do you prefer to make at home, even if it’s easily bought?
  10. What is your preferred dish for sharing with omnivores?