Restaurant Review: Lovin’ Spoonfuls [Tucson]

On a recent trip to Arizona, I checked out the Happy Cow app to help me find some local vegan restaurants and was stoked to see a place called Lovin’ Spoonfuls.  After reading a few reviews I decided to head over and check it out.

The location is simple, but nice, nestled into a strip mall off Campbell Avenue.  Parking was simple, and I found a spot right in front.  They have a nice covered outdoor seating area and on this cool evening, I decided to eat out front.

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Once inside, there is a really nice seating area with a dessert case, small retail section, and some information on animal rights and activism.

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After reading the reviews, I had already decided to try the Cashew Loaf, so I ordered it.  I was also interested in trying the fried ravioli with marinara.

The fried ravioli arrived first, and looked pretty good.  However the breading was really tough and the marinara was almost ice cold, which really detracted from the appetizer.  I only ate one of the raviolis, hoping this was not a sign of the meal to come.

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Soon the cashew loaf arrived and the plate, while warm, seemed pretty bare and uninviting.    My first fork slice into the loaf, and it broke apart into dry, flaky chunks.  The gravy was really tasty, but was the only saving grace for this cashew loaf.  As the gravy soon disappeared, the loaf itself was too dry and tough to eat on it’s own.

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Overall, while I appreciate the warm staff,  clean facility, and good intentions of the animal rights information I just could not fall in love with the food.  In all honesty, it was some of the worst vegan food I have ever had.  And I am pretty tolerant.

Either I am just spoiled being in Portland, or the Tucson vegan scene has some growing up to do. This is the very type of vegan food that in my opinion turns off a lot of prospective vegans.  And I know that seems harsh.  But if Lovin’ Spoonfuls just brought the menu and food quality up a notch (i.e. no cold marinara), they would be nailing it.

Regardless, I decided to give them another chance.  Maybe it was just an off day.  So I decided to come back the next day and try out the breakfast.

I followed the staff’s recommendation and chose the french toast (which is my personal fav breakfast, anyway).  It was a HUGE improvement over the previous day.  I opted for the stripped down version, without all the fruit and nuts that were originally offered to me.

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The french toast was warm, and cooked perfectly.  The syrup and strawberries served with it were also good.

This meal made me feel better about the food quality at Lovin’ Spoonfuls.  But it also made me a little mad.  If they can nail breakfast like this, what happened with my dinner the night before?  Why not do the same thing?

Either way, I am glad I stopped into Lovin’ Spoonfuls.  I would rather have marginal quality vegan food in a city like Tucson, than none at all.  I just really hope they work a little harder on stepping up their vegan game and making improvements in the food quality.

 

 

 

2016 Tillamook Jeep Jamboree

Well it has happened again – a hoard of Jeeps from around the country descended upon Tillamook, Oregon for the 2nd Annual Jeep Jamboree.

I was invited to trail guide for the Archer’s Firebreak trail which coincidentally is my personal favorite in the TSF trail network.

The first day we arrived, we setup our tent trailer and camp, got vehicles checked in and evaluated, and signed up for trails.  In the evening, we had our Trail Guides & Gunners dinner at Shilo Inn.

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Mark and the Jamboree staff hold a mandatory Trail Guide/Gunner meeting.

Continue reading 2016 Tillamook Jeep Jamboree

Recipe: VEGAN “Joadan Maash” Blueberry Muffins

Any Massachusetts native worth their salt knows about Jordan Marsh and their amazing blueberry muffins.  For people in the other 49 states, here is a summary:  Jordan Marsh (pronounced in Mass. as Joadan Maash) was a department store in and around New England.  There is some interesting history here. And here.

Some stores had bakeries inside (like Nordstrom’s today) and their blueberry muffins were sought after.  Not too long ago, the baker that made the muffins leaked the recipe, so I knew we had to veganize it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.2 c. Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla (we used real)
  • 2 Tbsps. Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer + 6 Tbsps of water (follow instructions on Bob’s Red Mill packaging)
  • 1/2 c. cashew milk – we used unsweetened original
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 2.5 c. organic blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together, add vegan eggs.
  2. Add dry ingredients, and alternate with amounts of cashew milk.

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3. Mash 1/2 c. blueberries and stir in.  Add rest of blueberries.

4. Grease muffin tin, pour in mix.

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5. Sprinkle sugar on top of muffins.

6. Bake on 375 for 30 minutes, (ours averaged 20 mins) or until brown and not sticky in the middle.

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Yield is 18 small muffins.

They are delicious and do not last long around the house!  These would also make a GREAT trail companion for those early morning Jeep meetups!

Recipe: Orange Glazed Soy Curls

Of all the vegan food staples out there, I feel the humble soy curl gets a bad rap.  Basically, there is nothing that sounds good or enticing about a “soy curl.”   Yet as many vegans know, these nutritious, easy to store, easy to prepare curls are amazing meal starters and replace chicken in almost any way.

Make sure to create this amazing vegan dinner when your family is craving an asian-inspired junk food night!

Continue reading Recipe: Orange Glazed Soy Curls

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Crossroads Cafe [Joshua Tree]

Way back in the day, I was a defense contractor and one of my projects was located in Twentynine Palms, California.  At that time I was vegetarian, and we didn’t have fancy apps like Happy Cow to show us the way.  We had to ask people.

One person told me way back then about a place in Joshua Tree (JT) called Crossroads Cafe.  From that moment on in 2005, I would drive each morning from 29P to JT for their delicious espresso and vegetarian breakfast.

The desert-chic-vintage decor is funky and interesting.

Continue reading RESTAURANT REVIEW: Crossroads Cafe [Joshua Tree]

Product Review: Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative

While roaming around our local grocery store, something caught my eye – a few Silk brand yogurts in the refrigerated case.

I have never been a huge yogurt fan, but I thought I’d give these a try.

So tonight we cracked them open and gave them a go.

Continue reading Product Review: Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative

Product Install: Synergy Sector Shaft Brace Kit

Today with friends Chad and Dirk, we installed a Synergy Tie Rod and Sector Shaft brace kit into Chad’s 2007 Jeep JK.  This was a great project, so I decided to do an install on it, hopefully to help any other Jeepers with their own future installs.

  1. Remove factory components: We ended up removing the track bar, sway bar links, driver’s side coil, and drag link.  We also removed the driver’s side shock, to help with coil removal.

2. Remove the four factory bolts that hold the steering box in place. Be sure to leave one barely threaded, or have a friend ready to catch and hold the steering box!  These are the only bolts holding it in place.  Remove the pitman arm nut (keep the washer handy!).

Continue reading Product Install: Synergy Sector Shaft Brace Kit

RESTAURANT REVIEW: MITASIE III [Huntington Beach]

On a recent trip to Anaheim, California, I escaped the hotel and went off the grid in hopes of finding a good vegan place.  Happy Cow did not disappoint and I ended up finding Mitasie 3 in Huntington Beach.

Continue reading RESTAURANT REVIEW: MITASIE III [Huntington Beach]

Restaurant Review: Vegan Pizza [California]

One of my favorite parts of traveling is finding new vegan places to eat.  Last night I arrived in Anaheim, California and resigned myself to a dinner at the local Taco Bell.  But I figured I should check the Happy Cow app, and sure enough, it delivered in spades!

I found a 100% vegan pizzeria about a mile from my hotel called Vegan Pizza.

I opted for the walk, to check out the place but was pleasantly surprised they also delivered.

I walked up to the little shop in the middle of a nondescript Socal strip mall.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Vegan Pizza [California]

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