Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Food with Friends!

I read an article on line recently or maybe it was a blog post, regardless the subject matter caught my attention. The writer was asking "why don't food bloggers just get to the recipe?!!! Why do I have to read through so much writing before getting to the point?" I wanted to see the "official" reason for that, although I have my own reasons. Basically, the magic reason is that bloggers like to write. Well, then.... can I just add that water is wet. Haha. But seriously, yes, bloggers like to write. I like to write. My grammar skills and punctuation may be weak, but I needed a creative outlet plus I needed to build my own vegan tribe at a time when I felt isolated. Ironically, everything that's old is new again as we vegans in the Keys are finally weaving our own little patchwork quilt of online social media, in person activism events, and other in person gatherings to have fun, educate people, raise awareness and do anything we can to help the community with veganism. I do have a recipe for you this month, if you want to skip my story here, scroll down. I mean, an entire article had to be written to solve the "problem" of skipping over a story to get to a recipe? First world problems baby, first world problems.

Allow me to get to the story here (the rest of you can scroll down to the recipe/method, pictures and videos)

A little over a week ago, we took our first totally full day off since Hurricane Irma to do nothing but "play" here in the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys Vegan Community was holding it's monthly potluck. I was excited to be able to tie this potluck in with the current summertime VeganMoFo prompt "food with friends." Since one of the organizers has Celiac, I wanted to make sure my own contributions were completely gluten free. I do not have Celiac, but do far better with zero wheat and gluten in my body. Unfortunately, that concern of mine has taken a back seat to simply being grateful to have vegan food especially through the first several months of recovery when things were total chaos. I've not yet reigned that aspect back in, but will soon(ish). You know how much I love those tempeh reubens from Sugar Apple in Key West... the sandwich by which all other sandwiches in the Universe are rated against... I decided to bring a gluten free version, inspired by the tofu reuben created by the Manatee Cafe (St. Augustine). The Manatee Cafe version is not gluten free, maybe they can make it GF but I've never asked for it that way from them. They use fairy dust and eco friendly glitter to make their sandwich happen tofu style. Any problems I had with bread would be solved because the Food for Thought natural foods store in Marathon now sells a vegan gluten free bread by the Deland company which is truly delicious. It's the only gluten free bread I've discovered in all my years here that I think is worth eating. As I made my way to the freezer for the magical Deland bread my heart sank.... sold out. I tell a lot of people about good products, Deland being just one of them. Good to see people listen, bad to see now I was stuck with no bread for the gluten free reubens. Hm..... what to do.

I ended up using Food for Life gluten free multi seed English muffins. I often keep a box of those in my freezer anyway. They are spendy in my opinion ($6.59 US for a pack of 6) but they are good. The marinade is based on a recipe I found on the internet. I'm not copying their exact recipe so I'm not worried that credit is not provided here. This recipe made enough marinade for 1 entire pound of tofu. The recipe looks longer than it is... it's simply a longer list of ingredients. The preparation itself is just minutes.


Sauerkraut (I love Bubbies... raw, organic, my favorite)
vegan dressing (I combine Vegenaise, ketchup and sweet relish)
vegan cheeze (you don't need this, but I used Follow Your  Heart Smoked Gouda, and it was stellar
vegan gluten free bread of choice (see my notes below)
non-dairy butter (Miyokos has come into the reasonably priced range, and is free of palm oil)
1 pound super firm marinated tofu, drained (see below)


Slice your drained tofu and place it in a lasagna style pan, then prep your marinade.


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg's raw)
1/4 cup coconut aminos (I love the Coconut Secret brand, but Bragg's makes one too)
1/4 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (Colgin brand... accidentally vegan, and certified gluten free)
4-6 cloves crushed garlic
2 heaping teaspoons smoked paprika (I really think this is necessary but if you cannot get it, use regular)
2 tsp dried mustard (I think you can use GF Dijon mustard if you cannot find the mustard spice)
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix your marinade. Pour it over the tofu, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to make the sandwiches, heat your skillet or griddle on medium low, then spread your Miyokos or other non-dairy butter on both sides of your bread or English muffin. Place the pieces in the skillet (I sprayed a little Vegelene on my non-stick pan just in case, it's a restaurant non-stick spray... gluten free, vegan; you could even use a little more Miyokos or whatever vegan butter you're using for your pan, make sure it's non stick so your cheeze won't stick....) Very lightly brown both sides, set the bread aside.

Re glaze the pan with your spray, place the tofu slices and allow to brown slowly, don't make this crispy... lightly golden brown only. I added the marinade to each batch (my pan was small) and cooked it down.

When the bread and tofu are set aside, melt your cheeze if you want. This literally takes seconds... do only a piece or 2 at a time. Warm 1 side, flip and warm the other size. Have a slice of bread/English muffin ready and place 1 piece on each slice. Continue til finished. If you don't want, don't heat the cheeze.

Warm your sauerkraut in the pan if you're eating these fresh at home. For the potluck, it was unnecessary.

The only downside to using the English muffins is they are super hard to cut. I cut each sandwich in half since these were for a potluck, so I had 10 servings. Then I double wrapped them in parchment instead of plastic. If you make these for a picnic or potluck using English muffins, please make the effort to cut them. They are super messy and hard to eat uncut...  I know a thing or 2 about this as I've been making them for myself at home and I'm too lazy to cut. Boy oh boy I cannot wait til that Deland comes back in stock!

I also made a vegan gluten free Key lime pie (brought both vegan versions of the RediWhip "cream"... yes full of chemicals I'm sure, but dang was that a great addition to the pie), and nonGF vegan tempeh reubens. Other contributions were fruit, salad, avo pasta salad, fresh garden grown greens with coconut curry cream, cookies... I know I'm missing things, but I cannot remember it all. I ate a little taste of everything, that's how to roll at potlucks... try new things, taste it all.

One other thing that was a bonus... Sombrero Beach is dog friendly! Sandy & Bill brought their dog, but I'm ashamed to admit I cannot remember his name. He was so sweet, and fun to have at the potluck. See... animals are friends not food.... we have food with non-human friends too. Woof woof.

The potlucks are a monthly event run by the Florida Keys Vegan Community. If you're visiting us here in the Keys from out of the area, feel free to drop into the potluck if it's going on during your stay. Also, you don't have to be vegan to attend, but this is a vegan potluck so obviously all food must be vegan.

I snapped a few photos, not as many as I should have, and not a full group picture. I met some new people and saw others I've not seen since before Irma. It was also my first visit to Sombrero, in a post Irma world the beach looks absolutely wonderful. Excellent job on the first steps of the restoration, as you will see in the videos I shot:

These 2 videos above are where we were for the potluck, it was a beautiful Sunday in the Keys!

This video below is of Bob and Marlee who created the Florida Keys Vegan Community Group. They organize dinners out, potlucks, and other fun events through the Keys:

A few pictures from the day:

Meet Vicki. She came all the way from Key West.
She is a vibrant light in the world.
Rocking the vegan food with friends.

Meet my feet.
In a hammock.

Bueller? Bueller?
Not sure but I think that's Bob tucked in there.

Hello sweet one!
Thanks for coming to the potluck, it was a privilege to meet you!
Animals are friends, not food.

This was my view from the hammock.

The ride home.

This was the tofu I used, pre-pressed! It was great!

So, food with friends has come to an end. We'll go to as many potlucks as we are able, honestly being away from the place here was just what the doctor ordered. Sombrero Beach looked really pretty too. I did a walk through to see if there were any unmarked sea turtle nests, but there were none. Please remember to join the growing vegan Keys community, both on line and in person. Not to mention if you're in the area for any of the vegan community events, feel free to drop in.

Vegan for the win, vegan for the animals, vegan for ever and ever.

See you next month!