Friday, December 31, 2010

Chopstix Gourmet

There are few people I still talk to from high school, and one of them is my friend Julie. She was one of my best friends in high school, and although she went away to college and now grad school, we still keep in touch. She was home for the holidays, and we decided to go out to lunch to catch up.

We attempted to go to an Indian restaurant in the 'burbs because Indian food is also on my "ohmygod I love this" list. Is anyone really surprised? To my dismay, they were closed, so we ended up at Chopstix Gourmet, a Chinese sushi bar.

Venturing out to unfamiliar omni restaurants can sometimes be a pain. Prior to meeting up with Julie, I perused their online menu, and although they had some vegetarian options listed, it was hard to determine if anything was truly vegan. I called the restaurant in an attempt to answer my million dollar question, but the person who answered was mostly unhelpful.

So, without really knowing if I'd be eating anything more than brown rice, we went in. As was the case with their online menu, the menu wasn't particularly helpful in identifying vegetarian/vegan items. Julie seemed to have no problems, but I couldn't understand the waitress. Eventually I asked to speak to the manager, who was able to help me find a vegan meal. I probably asked her ten times, "No egg? No fish?"

I ended up ordering a steamed vegetable meal with brown rice and a soy sauce-based sauce. The food was yummy, and I loved the wooden/bamboo contraption that held the vegetables. Despite having to play 20 questions with the waitress prior to ordering, I enjoyed the place. The ambiance is neat, the food was tasty, and the company was fabulous.

As this will be my last post of 2010, I want to wish everyone Happy New Year! Be safe tonight, and may the new year bring you everything you wish for!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pureed Spicy Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew with Chickpeas

Fact: I love food. In the world of vegan food, there's little I won't eat (read: mushrooms). As such, the list of "ohmygod I love this" is quite extensive. On it, you'll find chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and somewhere near the top peanut butter. My love for peanut butter is so obnoxious, a spoonful of pb - be it smooth or crunchy, I don't discriminate - is a sufficient snack. When I came across this recipe, my reaction was somewhere along the lines of, "Ooooh, I have to make this!"

Combining sweet potatoes, peanut butter, and chickpeas might seem like an odd combination, but I've learned to trust Dreena Burton's sometimes unusual sounding recipes. I'm not sure I truly achieved "stew" consistency, but regardless, the flavor can be best described as absolutely delicious. Because bread is also on my "I love this" list, I paired the soup with a slice of French bread and a green salad. The end result? Total nomnomnom.

The online recipe is printed here!


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cups sweet potato, chopped
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 3-4 lg cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper flakes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas 
  • freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/2 lime

In a large pot on med-high heat, add oil, sweet potatoes, onion, celery, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add stock, water and 1 1/2 tbsp ginger (save the other half). Stir to combine and increase heat to bring to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover for 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are completely softened. Stir in remaining ginger and peanut butter. With a hand blender, puree until just smooth then stir in the chickpeas. Add the lime juice and serve.

Number of Servings: 8

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let me preface this by apologizing for this picture. I took it with my phone around 11PM on Christmas Eve, at which point I had absolutely no desire to retrieve my camera.

Moving on.

Christmas is easily my favorite holiday, and little else encompasses the pure deliciousness of the season quite like cookies, particularly of the chocolate chip variety. In my pre-vegan days, my mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies were my favorite, and seeing them make an appearance on my dinner plate was not unusual.

Until this year, the holiday seasons of my vegan days have always coincided with the insanity of the end of the semester and working full-time to try to make up for an entire semester's worth of being the typical poor college kid. This year, however, I had a week off before Christmas and decided to make a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies. I'm glad I had a week before Christmas to master this seemingly simple recipe, because my first two attempts failed. To call them a complete failure would be unfair, because the flavor was divine. The consistency of the dough, however, left a bit to be desired and me feeling like an idiot. Instead of having the normal texture and consistency of cookie dough, I had a crumbly mixture that refused to hold its shape. I managed to salvage the cookies by putting it all on a cookie sheet and making cookie bars.

In hindsight, I realize the problem was the Earth Balance - it didn't reach a warm enough room temperature, and for this I blame my frigid kitchen, where the average temperature during the winter months rivals that of the North Pole. The third time was the charm - I set out the Earth Balance in my living room for a good two hours prior to mixing up the dough. The cookies came out so yummy and perfect. I wrapped up some of them and gave them to my best friend, who, upon realizing they were vegan, said, "They are pretty good, I have to admit I'm impressed." Omnivore seal of approval: check.

And the fact that they were bite sized forced me to consume five or six at a time. I wish I were kidding.

Monday, December 27, 2010

This is Charm City Vegan

Hi, hi! Welcome to Charm City Vegan.

Charm City Vegan has been a long time coming. For several months, I've wanted to create a public forum to share my experiences as a vegan. I'm fortunate to live in a fairly vegan-friendly city and have some wonderfully supportive people in my life, but I know only a handful of vegetarians and even fewer vegans. As such, the Internet has been my primary gateway to like-minded people, as there are loads of websites, blogs, and other amazing resources.

I've eaten a strict vegan diet for nearly three years - March 2011 will be my third vegaversary - and have explored some aspects of a vegan lifestyle. I hope to document culinary fails and successes (I wish I could say the successes far outweigh the fails at this point, but that'd be a lie), my transition to a more thoroughly vegan lifestyle, and veg life in Baltimore.

Happy reading!