We were oh so lucky on Saturday to be greeted with sunshine, wonderful smiling faces, and a TON of delicious food. Who are we to complain? We dug in and prepared for our second Book Club meeting! We read Matt Miner’s graphic novel “Liberator” for this round, and I for one am so glad we did. I’ve only read one other graphic novel in my life (“Maus“) and while I do consider myself slightly nerdy, I’ve never delved into comics or graphic novels (save for Archie and that fool, Jughead). So this choice was particularly exciting for this nerd.
I cannot recommend Liberator enough, or Matt Miner for that matter. Liberator centers around animals activists that try to liberate animals from a furrier. I cannot wait to get my hands on his “Toe Tag Riot” comics because this is the description: “TOE TAG RIOT is: A tongue-in-cheek horror/comedy series about a punk rock band cursed to become zombies whenever they play their music. Being that this is a band of ethical punk rockers, they use their “zombie superpowers” to take on racists, homophobes, sexists and, eventually, the Westboro Baptist Church”. HOLY YES, right? Not only do I love zombies (I’m on Season 4/Episode 8 of the Walking Dead and am contemplating buying the complete graphic novel set like a loser) but don’t you just love that these zombie’s are taking on the bad people of the world? That’s the kind of zombie I would want to be.
We were extremely lucky to have Matt Miner along for our Book Club meeting via Skype and he lovingly answered our questions and was an amazing host. We learned about his dog rescue program that he runs in New York and all about what makes him a generally awesome person. After the Skype chat, we all talked about Liberator some more and then began to feast:
Sigh. Doesn’t it just warm your heart to see all of this food made my hand for this wonderful Book Club? The mac-n-cheese was DELICIOUS as was Chef Billy’s homemade potato salad (we live and die by the age old adage of #allthecarbs). I wanted to live on that table forever and ever and keep eating it all, especially the homemade apple crumble.
I can be honest here, right? I can say things and you guys won’t judge, because this is a judge-free zone. You would never judge me for, say…being in such a severe binge watching marathon of the Walking Dead that sometimes I’m thinking of that show when I’m listening to people talk? Or that when I was in Gatlinburg this past weekend and passed cabins I would wonder if they would be a safe haven in the case of a zombie apocalypse? Right. JUDGE FREE ZONE. So you again will not judge me for having watched 13 episodes between Friday and Monday or for texting a friend “Dude. Does the Governor come back in season 4? He simply disappeared in the final episode of season 3 (unhappy face emoji).” I can’t help it. It’s an excellent show with a great cast and a fascinating plot line. I also blame the fact that I didn’t have cable for years on my recent binge.
Moving on. Gatlinburg is beautiful and nestled quaintly in the Smokey Mountains. I actually said out loud “I’ll bet these mountains would look beautiful in the Fall”, to which my parents both said “Mmmmmm, yes” and I realized I was 84 years old and needed to grab a rocking chair and head for a porch. We saw a male turkey (a tom) doing his mating dance for two lucky hens who emphatically ignored him. Nature, amiright?
On Saturday we made a fiercly delicious breakfast and I found these cinnamon rolls (Immaculate Cinnamon Rolls) at Kroger that are vegan. They were amazing! The whole fam enjoyed them. I also tried a new bacon by Sweet Earth (if you see their burritos in the freezer section of Target, buy them! They’re delicious) and I really was not a fan. I think I’m coming to grips with the fact that I really do not like seitan all that much.
After lunch on Saturday I took an amazing nap because that’s what I do best. I woke up to everyone hangry and ready to eat. So we headed into Gatlinburg’s center to eat some widely mediocre Mexican food and enjoy horrible service. I had the veggie fajitas with no sour cream and no cheese. Bonus: they had eggplant and portobello mushrooms in the fajitas! (though I absolutely hate mushrooms and threw them aside, I thought it was nice that they were an option)
Saturday night we pulled out the Jello jigglers that my sister-in-law made for the nephews and we couldn’t help but notice that the seemingly innocent space shapes had taken on a life of their own:
Don’t see it? Lemme help you.
Hmmmmm. Interesting, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it’s a space ship, but they couldn’t do better than this? What are we teaching the youth of America??
On Sunday we headed home after a relaxing weekend in the mountains. We stopped at Jaemor Farms and I proceeded to lose my mind. You know those kinds of “off the interstate” places that offer all different flavors of candies? Jaemor has it:
They also have a giant section of fresh produce so I helped myself to apples, kale, cucumbers, spinach, sweet potatoes, and fresh sourdough bread.
I couldn’t help but to buy some boiled peanuts there and then enjoyed the most Southern of dinners I may have ever had:
I’m drooling just looking at it. Farm fresh tomatoes, sourdough bread with butter, corn, fried okra, and boiled peanuts. HOLY YUM. Heavenly.
Two other new products I have tried recently include the Salted Caramel Gelato by Dream and the Macaroons by Hail Merry.
I’ve loved Hail Merry since last year’s Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo mostly because of their amazing products, but also because the people were sooooo nice. Note that the macaroon bag was empty because I ate them all. The Dream gelato was delicious albeit slightly too sweet for me. I do love caramel but not as much as my mom, who I’m pretty sure would like an I.V. drip of caramel flowing into her body at all times. That’s normal, right?
Folks, I am super duper excited to announce that I have been chosen as one of the official bloggers for the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo that is coming to Atlanta on April 18th! Words cannot describe how excited I am. Instead of words, I have done a little shimmy-type dance in celebration (imagine Elaine from Seinfeld). I had the pleasure of going to the expo as a very new vegan last year (you can read about it here, excuse the filter on my camera) and I had the best time! All of the vendors were very informative, the products were amazing, and I felt truly welcome in my new world. This expo is for anyone who wants to take a conscious step in their health and nutrition. I’ve never been to an expo like this; one in which I feel like I am amongst my people. This year I will be joining in the fun by blogging and posting on my social media about the event and all of the goodies.
Interested in joining me for this amazing foodie ride? You are in luck, dear reader! You can receive 20% off of your ticket by entering in ADVANCE when you go to this link before April 17th. I’m never one to tell you how to live your lives, but if you’re interesting in eating delicious goodies and getting samples to take home all while learning about new products, this place is for you! Oh, and if 20% isn’t enough to get you excited, then how about this: you guys will receive a FREE 1-year subscriptionto Delight Gluten Free Magazine if you purchase an Expo ticket online through April 17th. Is your mind blown yet? EXACTLY!
But wait, there’s more! Comment below on what your favorite gluten free or allergen friendly product is and you could be chosen to go to the Expo FOR FREE. I will announce the winners one week from today.
I’ve become a huge fan of the weekend trip. You can experience the sights, sounds, and culture of a new place that’s just a drive away. Living in Georgia allows me to daydream of glorious and fun places such as Charlotte, Savannah, St. Simons Island, Asheville, and tons of others. This trip was dedicated to seeing just what exactly happens when two foodie bloggers jump in a car and head to Nashville with but one item on the to-do list: EAT.
But first, lemme get a Jamberry. My pals Beevy and Jem are way into the Jamberry scene, and for good reason. Jamberrys are basically nail stickers that are vegan and cruelty free and will last on your nails (without chipping) from anywhere between 2 weeks and one month. Baller, right? So Holly and I made our way to a girls night and applied our first Jams. Let me tell you all that they are indeed as awesome as the seem. You know how you pay $30 for a manicure only to have it chip like 2 days later? Get thee to the Jamberry world and invest in your future.
Friday night we all went to Mellow Mushroom, who now has a separate vegan menu! So exciting. I made the poor choice of getting the house calzone but with vegan cheese. The calzone itself was delicious, but seriously, can we talk about Daiya for a moment? I’m so happy that restaurants are offering vegan cheese but Daiya tastes soooooo weird, right? A little goes a long way, homies.
Holly and I headed to Nashville early Saturday morning with over-packed bags (a lady HAS to have options) and a back seat full of snacks. We were truly lucky to have sunny and crisp weather that guided us to Tennessee. By the way, has anyone else noticed that on the way to Nashville you enter Tennessee then Georgia again and then back to Tennessee? Strange things are definitely afoot. We drove straight to Sunflower Cafe to eat lunch and laugh hysterically about the fact that we drove 4 hours to eat. We both were slightly overwhelmed by the options available, but the employees were SUPER helpful and let us try the food. I ended up getting the ginger tofu + sesame kale + pad thai with some raspberry and ginger kombucha. The sesame kale was THE BEST kale I may have ever had. Holly got the Banh Mi style house made veggie burger and the pad thai. We were pretty hungry at this point so we chowed down, but not before some pictures:
It was delicious. We sat on their patio in the sun, thinking about where to go next. A quick search led us to Jeni’s which was SLAMMED and smelling of fresh waffle cones (not vegan). They have sorbets on tap and vegan melted chocolate to pour over everything. Note to self: there’s one in Georgia. I got the black currant lambic sorbet + riesling poached pear sorbet (yes, these are boozy sorbets) and smothered with chocolate sauce.
We popped into an eclectic thrift store of sorts and wandered around until we spotted these shirts:
I’m still not sure why I didn’t buy these, except for the small fact that I actually am not a farm girl. Sigh.
Holly was dying to go to Barista Parlor so we brought our computers and set up shop. I was smart not to drink more coffee so I went with this crazy herbal tea while Holly had a cappuccino with soy milk. We ended up staying there for almost 4 hours, watching the sun go down. Then I realized that I was completely hangry and brain dead and desperately needed more food in my life.
We headed to Wild Cow for dinner and after a short wait were seated. This is the holy grail of the veg scene in Nashville, and we were super excited (read: bitter and hangry) to be there. Not surprisingly, people actually stared at the amount of food we ordered. For our appetizers, we got the Buffalo Tempeh Strips and the Nachos.
I looooooved the buffalo tempeh strips mainly because they came with a vegan ranch that was to die for. The nachos were outstanding and came with a house made vegan sour cream and cheese sauce. What more can I say? Except that nachos and ranch are a girl’s best friend.
For dinner I had the Peanut Tempeh Tacos and Holly got the Philly sandwich (I didn’t snag a picture of that). The tacos were very yummy and peanuty, and the mixture of the rice and the tempeh with the cilantro was all spot on.
We left the Wild Cow with some leftover nachos that we later ate and then I ate some popcorn and we both went to bed. On Sunday we got a late start out of our place and on to our next adventure, mainly because there was a random comic convention happening and we needed to be a part of it. Holly loves a comic and we both love Star Wars, so off we went to see what we could find. Holly got some comics and a cool Star Wars sign and we were super happy that we stopped there.
After the comics, we were starving so we headed to Khan’s Desserts and proceeded to lose our minds. We ordered WAY too much and ate way too much but it’s all in the name of research. The owner is very very nice and the guy that served us was so helpful. After all is said and done, understand this: the next time you’re in Nashville, you must go to Khan’s and eat everything they have.
You guys didn’t think we’d leave without getting dessert, right? We each got a GIANT cookie sandwich with vanilla frosting and chocolate chips inside. I got the toasted coconut brownie and Holly got some apple fritters, too. Later that night I ate the cookie sandwich and my nephews even got in on the cookie sandwich game. Because the perfect litmus test to see if someone is insane would be to offer them a bite of a cookie sandwich. If they refuse, run for your life because that person is a robot zombie that will soon rip out your heart and eat it.
Long story short, Nashville is amazing. It may be smaller than Atlanta but it’s got a huge heart and that heart is filled with nachos and biscuits.
If Harmony were a boat, I would swim fiercely to reach its safety. If Harmony were a book, I would read it cover to cover and carry it with me at all times for comfort. If Harmony were a restaurant, I would go there far too often for someone that lives 45 minutes away and eat all the foods and never feel shame because it’s my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. I’m not sure if I’m accurately relaying to you my emotions about this place, but if not, let me be blunt: GO THERE AND EAT EVERYTHING. You’re welcome and I told you so in advance.
PlantBasedATL had its February/March meet-up at Harmony and it was quite the success! We had about 30-40 people show up, with some first-timers to the restaurant and to the meet-ups. Including Courtney:
Courtney, I quickly learned, works at the Publix near where I live. She also knows my mom as “the woman who hands me candy bars that I have to hold until she leaves the store and then I have to give the candy bars to Bharti, the other cashier she loves” so it is indeed a small world after all. See those nuggets of fried yumminess to the right and left of Courtney? That is Harmony’s General Tao’s and it was my first time having it. Needless to say (though when have I ever felt the need to not say it?), they were fried bundles of doughy-crunchy-salty-sweet-tangy-heaven-balls.
The PlantBasedATL crew was there:
We actually got there early to set up (cough cough…order appetizers and eat them before anyone else came). The Harmony crew is sooooooo nice and gracious and the service is quick and always correct. They have the restaurant game down to a science. Allow me to introduce you to some of my favorite dishes:
This is my all-time favorite thing at Harmony. This is an entree but you can ask for it as an appetizer. Imagine crunchy-salty-spicy-fried chicken and you’ve got it. I crave it fortnightly.
Holly wanted to try this soup and we both thought it was delicious and tasty. The ham may take a little getting used to but the broth and noodles were delightful.
Friends, here’s a secret. Take a noodle and fry it and then add sauce and veggies. I believe that this may be the secret to life itself. Don’t quote me on that, though.
Daniel got the curry with vegetables and it was very delicious. I was lucky enough to take this bad boy home as leftovers (the key to this is to always bring friends with smaller stomachs than you, and therefore you reap the benefits).
We ordered fried dumplings, Won Ton soup, curry pockets, and more dumplings.
Everyone had a great time, met some new people, made future plans, and ate more food than we thought was humanly possible. If you haven’t tried Harmony and you’re craving AMAZING food, please go and invite me. I promise we will order way too much food and be happy that we did.
Nashville, Holly and I are about to be all up in ya this Saturday! Below I have begun a log for your viewing enjoyment on our future trip:
Why Nashville? Great question, me! Holly and I were supposed to go to Nashville a while back but the trip didn’t happen. This is a re-do and a re-launch and a re-ally-gotta-get-out-of-this-city-for-a-minute trip!
What are you guys going to do there? This should come as no shock to any of you at this point, but we’re going to eat! Yay! Here are some places that I have been DROOLING over: The Wild Cow,Sunflower Cafe, Khan’s Desserts, Italia Pizza, and Barista Parlor. Basically, if there’s a time when we don’t have food in our hands and mouths at any point this weekend, then we are not doing our jobs correctly and should be ashamed. We’re also going to be doing some work on PlantBasedATL, this blog, social media, photography, etc. Our biggest goal is to go to bed at around 9 pm after eating nachos. #old
How long will you guys be there? Overnight Saturday – Sunday. Though it’s a quick trip, I have no doubt that it will recharge our batteries. Did I mention the food? Ok, good.
Wait, didn’t PlantBasedATL have a meet-up last night? Why haven’t we heard about that? Well aren’t you a nosy one! Yes, PlantBasedATL hosted and AMAZING meet-up last night and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it! A future post will detail how ridiculously delicious the food was, how awesome the conversation was, and how much I want to move in to the restaurant and live in their kitchen.
I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be a vegan. Note to the Vegan Police: STAY AWAY! I don’t have any time for that mess. (Side note: to those who don’t know, the Vegan Police are those that feel it is their duty to advise vegans when they are not being vegan enough. Right.) As a baby vegan, it has taken me almost an entire year to wrap my brain around the food aspect of eating vegan. How far do you take it? Do you ask the waiter at the Mexican restaurant if the veggies are grilled in the same area as meat? I still struggle with eating out sometimes. For me, it seems to be safer to eat at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant or at a place where it is clearly labeled vegan.
How about clothing? Shoes? Nail polish? What about products that are vegan and cruelty free and yet are owned by companies that test on animals? What about things I owned before I became a vegan? You see, the rabbit hole of veganism is wide and long and terrifying at times and indeed overwhelming. But I find it comforting that I am not alone in my journey. I believe wholeheartedly in the mantra: progress not perfection. If I accidentally eat something that is not vegan, I do not beat myself up for it. I move on and learn from the experience. When I learned that Tom’s (the maker of toothpaste and deodorant, not shoes) was owned by Colgate, and that Colgate tests on animals, I finished the toothpaste and then moved on to a cruelty-free vegan brand. I recently went through all of my shoes and donated the ones that had animal products in them, then I bought myself a kick ass pair of these bad boys. I have now learned that Aveda products, while vegan, are not entirely cruelty free. This makes me wonder where I can get my blonde highlights done now. (edit: after some light Googling, I may have a few new places to try!)
I am not perfect. I don’t want to be perfect. Perfect is stupid and lame and not possible. I want to be the best I can be, and to lighten up on the things I cannot control. I don’t ever want my friends and family to think veganism is about restriction or what you DON’T have, because I want to make it clear that we live a great and full life filled with delicious foods and no judgments. Maybe baby steps is the way to go? I’m just doing what feels right for me.
On a different topic, some new and exciting things will soon be happening at The Veg Abides! My good friend Holly is awesome and is going to help me revamp my site to make it cleaner and streamlined and beautiful. I also will be starting an interview portion for the blog, and I cannot WAIT to tell you guys who I have lined up. Also, I am honored to have been asked to be the monthly blogger for Full Circle Farm Sanctuary! If you know me at all, you know how dearly I hold this Sanctuary in my heart, and this truly is a privilege for me. I’m looking forward to growth and healthy change soon!