Prince for all creatures

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Outside First Avenue in Minneapolis on Friday morning, April 22

Yesterday we lost a very important person: Prince. Best known as a singer, he was always a proud resident of the Twin Cities and someone who didn’t let people or things define him. But to me the thing that always stuck our most was his commitment to and compassion for animals.

I remember in the 90s when I hadn’t been vegetarian long and I learned Prince was vegan. Already inspiring for taking risks and being his funky, confident self, he also has a strong love for all animals. He is either the first or one of the earliest celebrities who I realized makes this lifestyle important, even as he has certain demands and expectations placed upon him as a worldwide figure. And he always appeared to hold true to his convictions, which I admire.

Read a tribute to him that PETA, an organization he worked with, posted yesterday.

Listening to the local radio stations yesterday and reading social media, it’s clear Prince has left an impact on people locally and around the world. what lasting impression has Prince left for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocado

Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and AleThis weekend I made pulled pork stuffed avocados, and they were a tasty, vegan and gluten free success. Yes, you read that right. That’s because my pulled pork is made of jackfruit, a popular food that had The Guardian asking last year if it’s the next big food craze, and includes a recipe on how to prepare it.

Pulled Pork from Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and AleJackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, native to South Asia and is a popular food in tropical regions around the world. Often sold in the U.S. in cans at Asian markeets, it is becoming a popular substitution for meats. My pulled pork (with gluten-free chipotle sauce) came from the first vegan butcher in the U.S., Minneapolis’ own Herbivorous Butcher. If you haven’t been and you are in the area, GO! If you aren’t in the area, COME VISIT! If neither of those is possible, you could substitute with real pork (if you eat pork), this jackfruit recipe, this seitan reipce, this stewed carrots recipe or this eggplant recipe.

OK, so now we know what jackfruit is and have a pulled whatever planned. This recipe works because there aren’t many ingredients, it’s quick to assemble (perfect for a weeknight), has fresh flavor and feels more difficult/fancy than it is.

Sauteed avocado | Kale and Ale
Seriously, the flavor is popping, thanks to unexpected surprises like giving avocado a saute in coconut oil to enhance the buttery flavor and a crisp texture, and a tangy vinaigrette to balance the smoothness of the pork and avocado. This recipe really involves heating things through and blending the vinaigrette, and then stacking for a flavor explosion.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and Ale
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados
Print Recipe
This meal is quick to pull together on a busy night and features bursts of flavor.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and Ale
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados
Print Recipe
This meal is quick to pull together on a busy night and features bursts of flavor.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Pulled Pork Avocado
Cilantro Vinigrette
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Use a cast-iron skillet if you have it, it will help the avocado to get the best crust.
  2. Season the avocado to taste. Put it into the heated skillet, browning a few minutes per side. When done, set it on paper towels to drain excess oil.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Saute the onions until translucent, about three minutes.
  4. Add the pork to the pan and heat through. Set aside.
  5. For the vinaigrette, place all items in a blender and blend until smooth.
  6. Place two avocado slices on a plate, add half the pork mix and top with cilantro vinaigrette. You will have leftover vinaigrette, which is delicious with corn chips.
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Friday Links

There are lots of good reads this week! What have you been reading? Since there’s a lot to cover, let’s dive right in.

With a name like “Farm to Fable,” you know it can’t be good. Spoiler: It’s pretty appalling, and sometimes scary, what restaurants are doing, serving and saying about the food they serve. It’s a long, engrossing read by the Tampa Bay Times worth your time if you care about food or integrity.

To counter this, imagine a sustainable home garden. A guide on Active shows you how to get started with a garden in your yard. Talk about my happy place; how amazing would that be?

RELATED: Tips for planning and growing your garden and what to expect when joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) program

The Washington Post has this food video satirizing a genre of lazy social media shares: The quick food video. As the article points out, it’s high on processed food and light on technical details. I see these ALL. THE. TIME. and wonder how many people actually make what they are sharing on social media?!? What is your stance on this, I would really love to hear in the comments. Watch the mock video below.

 

Grilled cheese tips | Kale and Ale

National Grilled Cheese Day was this week, and my guest blogger and boyfriend Aaron shares tips and tricks for the perfect grilled cheese. Um, yum. Trust me, these are no-fail, dressed-to-impress tips. Did you celebrate the special day? If so, how?

Thug Kitchen Party Grub review | Kale and Ale

And this week I posted my first cookbook review, Thug Kitchen’s Party Grub. Check it out and find a recipe from the book. Be sure to sign up for my e-newsletter, the next cookbook review also features a giveaway!

Cookbook Review: Party Grub, Thug Kitchen (With Recipe)

This post contains affiliate links, where I may get a small portion of sales to fund this blog.

I love Thug Kitchen, a duo of vegans who were writing a blog a few years ago and got a book deal. They use salty language and flavorful recipes to get their message across that vegan food doesn’t have to be boring or only for certain people:

“Everyone deserves to feel a part of our push toward a healthier diet, not just people with disposable incomes who speak a certain way. So we’re here to help.”

Their second book “Party Grub” is, not surprisingly, a slam dunk, just like their first book “Thug Kitchen.” I own both and they are among the first cookbooks I reach for when looking for recipes and cooking inspiration. The first book has solid recipes, and the second book is all about party and social gathering food. While I love light meals and apps, I was surprised to find the book contains a lot of  dishes that are hearty, meal-worthy fare. There are more than 100 dishes for any time of celebration or get-together, and the pages are packed with mouth-watering fare and fun tips.

I’m always looking for a good vegan cheese, and their Queso-ish Dip is a great creamy dip for Mexican flavors, with tomatoes making it seem kind of creamy, flavorful and chunky with a little kick all at once.

Thug Kitchen Queso-ish Dip Recipe | Kale and Ale

Thug Kitchen Queso-ish Dip

When I ate the enchiladas (with the easiest homemade sauce I’ve ever made) I had to remind myself they were vegan, I totally forgot! That’s a ringing endorsement right there, since I love the cheese to hold everything together. And they were so filling, stuffed full with goodness and the flavorful sauce.

The book features chapters on brunch grub, small bites, salads and sides, potluck necessities and desserts and drinks, so the entire range of party food is covered. This book has a variety of flavorful dishes and makes me want to grab a group of friends and get in the kitchen and cook and eat.

Thug Kitchen Loaded Nachos Recipe

Thug Kitchen was kind enough to share a recipe from their new book with Kale and Ale readers! They let us in on how to make loaded creamy nachos with the dip I preview above. Remember, there is salty NSFW language, but it’s worth it to get to the loaded nachos.

Reprinted from “Thug Kitchen Party Grub” by Thug Kitchen. Copyright (c) 2015 by Thug Kitchen. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.


Thug Kitchen Nachos Butternut Squash Queso
Loaded Nachos
Print Recipe
OK, this is less of a recipe and more of a recommendation for you to get your shit together and make some fucking nachos. A plate of these gorgeous motherfuckers just screams party so much that it was almost our cover shot. We give you an idea below on how to pile your shit correctly, but take the damn queso and run with it. #nachobusiness
Servings
4 to 6 people
Servings
4 to 6 people
Thug Kitchen Nachos Butternut Squash Queso
Loaded Nachos
Print Recipe
OK, this is less of a recipe and more of a recommendation for you to get your shit together and make some fucking nachos. A plate of these gorgeous motherfuckers just screams party so much that it was almost our cover shot. We give you an idea below on how to pile your shit correctly, but take the damn queso and run with it. #nachobusiness
Servings
4 to 6 people
Servings
4 to 6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. You know how nachos work, so you can pile this shit on however you like and leave off or add whatever the fuck you want. We like to put the warm chips out in a thin layer on a tray or giant plate. A huge pile of chips where you end up with a shit-ton of dry chips at the bottom is a fucking bummer. Thin layer is the way to go.
  2. Scatter the black beans and cabbage over that, then drizzle the queso all over the chips. Glob on nice spoonfuls of guacamole and salsa all over the platter then sprinkle with the jalapeno and cilantro. Drizzle over some hot sauce if you roll like that.
  3. Serve that shit right up to the happy crowd.
Recipe Notes

* Warming not required, but this shows commitment to the nacho cause. Just throw the chips in a microwave for a few seconds, or cover and put in a 250°F oven for 10 minutes.

** Or a 15-ounce can of beans, rinsed and drained.

*** The Mid-Summer Salsa from our first book would be dope here.

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Tips for Perfect Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese tips | Kale and Ale

I love cooking. It is very calming and relaxing to me, and I can make food to my preference (which usually means savory and heat level). But there are two things in our house that I had the reigns (if by reigns we mean skillet and spatula) over to Aaron for: Pancakes and grilled cheese. That’s because those are his specialties and he enjoys making those. And make them well he does!

His pancakes stay pretty traditional (maybe a little vanilla or chocolate chips here or there) but they are fluffy and moist, consistently good. While the pancakes are good, the grilled cheese is simply divine. I tried to be helpful and make the grilled cheese once, and it didn’t compare. Aaron’s grilled cheese game is on point, I leave it up to him.

Like stepping away from the stove on grilled cheese night,  I hand over my blog ahead of National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12. Aaron shares his tips and tricks to the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to Kale and Ale readers.

Aaron national grilled cheese | Kale and Ale

Aaron shares his tips for perfect grilled cheese.


Hi, Aaron here.

I love helping Val with her blog from the background or as a taste-tester, but melty cheese is my jam. It’s a food group in my diet, anchored by foods like mac ‘n’ cheese, pizza and, of course grilled cheese. I want to share some tips for the perfect sandwich on National Grilled Cheese Day or any other day, which have been honed and shared here.

Tips for the perfect grilled cheeseNational Grilled Cheese Day assembly | Kale and Ale

Low and slow cooking.

I set my stove on medium low to medium. This helps the sandwich achieve a nice crisp golden-brown outside and smooth inside. If your burner doesn’t cook evenly or you’re making two at once, you might need to rotate the sandwich during cooking to brown all sides evenly.

If it’s a basic grilled cheese, it’s ready to flip when the top butter starts to melt. If it’s a deluxe sandwich, pay attention to how the bottom is browning, flipping when it’s cooked and starting to get crisp but not overdone.

Cheese choice is crucial.

A combination of flavorful and melting cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar and Havarti or chedder and pepper jack) balances one another nicely. You end up with a mix of taste and flavor and gooey meltiness blended together in every bite.

Grilled cheese layers | Kale and AleExtras really elevate the sandwich.

Guacamole is my filling of choice because it adds a creamy, buttery richness and good flavor. Other add on ideas include sauteed mushrooms and onions or tomatoes, but really the sky is the limit.