Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vegan Tacos - The Interview with Jason Wyrick



Jason Wyrick was kind enough to grant me this interview months ago when he and his lovely bride were expecting their first bundle of love. I wasn't able to post it during vegan MoFo then time and motivation to blog got away from me. The book is a true treasure of information on Mexican food and more importantly Tacos. Tacos for every meal and for every taste. Tacos for breakfast, hell to the yes! Tantalizing side dishes, you know it. Oh and margaritas, si! Not to mention Jason provides tequniques and tips to make you cook like abuela (Mexican for Grandma).

Not that the interview isn't awesome enough; but to make the deal sweeter, I'm going to be giving away a copy of Vegan Tacos to one lucky amigo or amiga as the case may be. Read on, the giveaway is at the bottom of the post. Enjoy the interview and a few pictures of the mouth watering tacos I made from the book!


Tacos with Chorizo and Fresh Shiitakes in a Chipotle Tomato Stew(pg. 102)
With Wilted Chard (subbed kale) with Mojo de Ajo (pg. 199)
Crushed Red Salsa (pg. 212)


Your heath tranformation story is quite amazing. What finally made you take charge of your health and why vegan?
I'll be blunt. I used to be fat and diabetic. It was a pretty traumatizing experience. I had all the symptoms of diabetes. Joint pain, failing eyesight, spikes and crashes, having to sleep for way too long, cloudy thinking, neuropathy, and chronic infections, all by the time I was in my mid-twenties. A pretty drastic change from being a high-school athlete. The thing is, obesity and diabetes feed on themselves, so both got worse quickly. I eventually had a life-threatening infection and after being treated for it, I was told I had to take medication for the rest of my life. I thought first, I never want to go through that particularly painful treatment again, and second, it's ridiculous that I was being told to take meds and I wasn't even thirty. So I did the best thing that I could. I switched my diet after discovering Dr. John McDougall's work.
Did you go vegan cold turkey or was it a gradual shift?
I was vegan, except on Wednesdays, when I would go to my favorite restaurant and get all-you-can-eat enchiladas. After a while, I would go every other week, then once a month, and finally, I realized the enchiladas didn't taste good anymore and I felt horrible after eating them. I also learned about factory farming during that time. One day, I simply stopped eating them and then I was fully vegan.
You kicked diabetes single handedly. With so many Americans being diagnosed with diabetes and other degenerative diseases, what suggestions do you have for those who want to live a healthier lifestyle?
Make as many changes as you can, but don't make so many that you end up feeling a high level of stress about a lifestyle change. The more changes you make, the more you will want to make. Give yourself some time and don't let anyone tell you to go from 0 to 60 and make you feel bad when you can't.
If you could cook for and dine with anyone in history, who would it be and why? What would you make for them?
Heh, I have an interesting answer for that. I'd dine with Socrates and make him a meal with chiles and coffee. Maybe a chilaquile with coffee chile sauce. Coffee and chiles act as stimulants and therefor antidotes for hemlock. Once I mitigated the hemlock poison, with a fine meal I might add, I'd try to smuggle him out of Athens. A vegan meal to save one of the great philosophers of ancient Greece! Ok, it might be best not to ask me questions like this, lol.
Jason, you and I met several years ago. At the time you were the only vegan caterer in the Phoenix area. You catered both my bachelorette party and my wedding. Not only was your food incredible, but as my non-vegan friends ate it, they thought it was delicious. Have you seen a change in the vegan food scene here in Arizona? Do you have some suggestions for Phoenicians looking for good vegan friendly restaurants?
There are a few more restaurants, and a couple less. A few of the more popular ones here have problems, but I always recommend Fresh Mint to people. It's on Scottsdale and Thunderbird Road. 
I often get the question "What do we feed you people?" from friends and family. How do you handle social events as "The Vegan"?
I just make food with bold flavors and hearty textures if I am cooking for others. When serving non-vegans, you need something that cuts through all the rich foods they are used to eating. It's as simple as that.
Tell us about your new book Vegan Tacos.
This book isn't just a book about vegan tacos, it happens to be one of the most comprehensive book of authentic Mexican tacos published in English, regardless of being vegan. I love real Mexican food. It's complex, bright, bold, spicy, and soulful. A true taco encapsulates all of those aspects into a handheld bite. I went to Mexico to find as many authentic tacos as I could to bring back to the vegan community, and I found an entire book's worth of them! You'll learn about the different styles of tacos, plus Vegan Tacos has entire sections dedicated to salsas, how to make your own tortillas, and various toppings for all the taco recipes in the book.
It's also filled with historical and anthropological information because I think the story of food is fascinating. To me, it's not just what is on the plate. 

Enchilada-Style Tacos (pg.118)

You have been writing, creating and teaching for a long time. What did you find most challenging about writing a book compared to you digital publications?
Print photography is a lot more exacting than photography for digital publications. The other challenge is that once it's printed, it's set in stone. With digital publications, you can update them as needed. There are also space limitations with a physical book, although kudos to my publisher, because the book was slated to be much smaller than it ended up being, but once Vegan Heritage Press saw all the material, they upped the page count instead of cutting the content. Overall, I think digital products are more versatile and pack more information if done well, but they're not considered as legitimate as having the information printed on a page. Hence, why I switched to writing books.
I'm a lover of southwestern fare as you can probably tell by many of my blog posts. What recommendations can you make to those who do not live in the Southwest as far as finding the chiles and spices that give life and bold flavor to your recipes?
If it's a dry chile, order them from Amazon! They're not expensive and you can get big bags of dried chiles shipped right to your door. For fresh chiles, you should at least be able to find jalapenos so you can get some heat in your tacos. I travel around the country a lot teaching vegan cooking classes and it is rare that I find a place where I can't find decent Mexican ingredients.
What is your favorite recipe from Vegan Tacos?
Right now, it's the Grilled Lime Margarita with Mesquite Smoked Salt. Did I mention that there is an entire section on drinks in Vegan Tacos? Now I want to make another margarita...
What's next? Do you have another book in the works?
I do have a few more books in the works, although I can't talk about them yet. I'll be traveling around to various vegfests doing taco demos and showcasing amazing vegan Mexican food to people everywhere! I can't wait.

Thanks for the great interview Jason!

Now for what you have been drooling over! I will be giving away a copy of Vegan Tacos to one of you loyal readers. Leave a post about what you dream about having in a taco or your favorite Mexican food or spice by this Friday, March 6th by midnight MST. The winner will be drawn at random on Saturday the 7th. US only please. Muy Bueno! Good Luck! *****PLEASE MAKE SURE TO LEAVE ME A WAY TO CONTACT YOU, THANKS****

Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Answer to the NFL Invasion of Phoenix - Buffalo Cauliflower - Just in Time for the Big Game

My fellow Phoenicians, if you are like me, you want to stay away from all of the craziness of the NFL fan craziness and traffic in our fair valley. I'm going to be staying close to home and making my own game day tailgating style fabulousness. If you are staying home or going to a house party for the big game, here is a twist on wings that will be sure to disappear quickly.

I've been seeing quite a few pictures of Buffalo Cauliflower floating around in cyberspace. I tried one recipe that was baked and although it was probably a fairly healthy alternative, the texture just wasn't working for me. So I decided that mine need to be fried! Yes, some days I just throw caution to the wind and fire up that pot of hot oil. I love the crunch of deep fried yumminess. You will love these crisply cruciferous nuggets of glorious Louisiana heat. You will get some fiber and antioxidants along with a little fire for the taste buds. They can be made gluten free by substituting gluten free flour. These are the perfect snack for the football or puppy bowl game.


Louisiana Heat Cauliflower Wingz

4 Servings (can double)

1/2 cup Louisianna Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional for suicide wings)

1/4 cup flour (can use rice flour for GF option)
1/4 cup non-GMO corn starch
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion (or onion powder)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

1 medium head organic cauliflower, cut into approximately 1/2 - 3/4 inch florets (not too big)

Oil for frying (must be at least 1/2 inch deep in pan). Heated in an iron skillet or heavy bottomed skillet to 350.

Whisk hot sauce and olive oil in large bowl (and crushed red pepper if using). Set aside.

Whisk flour, corn starch, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, granulated onion, smoked paprika, salt together until batter is smooth. Dip cauliflower into batter, making sure to gently tap off extra batter. Note: You don't want the batter to be too think or the nuggets may not have that crispy awesomeness. Carefully place battered cauliflower into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon draining as much of the oil as possible. Add to bowl with sauce mixture. Toss to coat. Serve with your favorite ranch dressing and carrot and celery sticks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Vegan MOFO - Day 30 - Thank You Chow Locally!



Well, it's the conclusion of yet another MOFO. I did not gain MOFO rock star status by posting every day while I'm crazy busy. But, we did share a month of local awesomeness and much produce was eaten and given away. I'm already thinking about next year when life will be less hectic and I can truly put all of my creative energy into blogging. So many cool themes. Hoping to start doing some video for next year. So make sure to pop in…maybe even like the page so you can get notification when something new gets posted.

I want to thank Eric at Chow Locally for providing FOUR share boxes to the lucky winners. I hope you all enjoyed the produce and hopefully signed up to get a weekly box. Give yourself a big local hug for supporting sustainable and local farmers. They need  you!

As both MOFO and summer wind down, I leave you for now with a refreshing summer drink created with love and local watermelon from a previous Chow Locally box. Be well and eat your fruits and veggies.


Watermelon-tini

Makes one Drink poo

1 oz. premium vodka
1/3 cup diced seeded watermelon
1/4 cup sparkling mineral water

Add vodka and watermelon to blender. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into chilled martini glass. Add sparkling mineral water and gently stir. Garnish rim with small, thin wedge of watermelon. Drink!

Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Vegan MOFO - Day 29 - Asian Pear Salad with Miso Ginger Dressing

Today's recipes features three things from this past week's Chow Locally share box:


I'itoi Onions from Maya's Farm - I'itoi onions have a ing history in Arizona having been traditionally grown by Native Americans such as the Tohono O'odham for centuries. Store in the crisper drawer. My note: we have had great luck growing this variety in our garden. The onions from last year gave us a whole new crop this year.

Mixed Bell Peppers from Crooked Sky Farms - Bell pepper are a great way to add crunch to salads and stir fries, or simply to slice up and add to lunches as a snack.

Yalo Pears from Sleeping Frog Farm - Yali (Asian) pears can be stored on the countertop or in the fridge. They are slightly crispier than regular pears, so they make for a delicious crunchy snack! My note: The texture vaguely reminded me of jicama.

I got some gorgeous kale at the farmers market and had some nice radicchio left over from a previous dish. I added some almonds for extra calcium and protein and voila, a full meal salad! The dressing I used was a variation from this post. I added a little tahini to make it creamier and boost the nutrients a bit. I love how the hint of sweetness of the pear contrasts the slight bitterness of the radicchio in this salad.


Asian Pear Salad with Miso Ginger Dressing

Makes 2 Entree Salad or 4 side salads

1 small bunch kale (about 4 cups), torn into bite sized pieces
1 recipe Miso Ginger Dressing (recipe below), separated
1 small head radicchio (about 1 cup, can sub regular red cabbage)
2 Asian pears, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper (any color but green), diced small
2 I'itoi or green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 cup raw almonds (I like more than less)
1 medium avocado, diced

In a large bowl, massage kale with 1/4 cup Miso Ginger Dressing. Toss in radicchio, pears, bell pepper almonds and green onions. Taste and add more dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss in diced avocado. Serve immediately.

Miso Ginger Dressing

Makes approximately 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon red miso
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon low sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Can store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Vegan Mofo - Day 28 - Costco Vegan Pierogi and Pear Sauce

As time has been tight as of late, my eating habits have been iffy at best. I was cruising through Costco to get some Dave's Killer Bread and Pellegrino Water. There was one of those vendor road shows where they pass out samples. Well it was my lucky day! They were sampling 4 different kind of Pierogi - 2 vegan!!! I decided to buy a giant bag of the potato and onion variety. Some people I know eat them with apple sauce. I did a little play on that idea (and a much easier one). A couple of weeks ago my Chow Locally Box had Bartlett pears in it. They were not yet ripe, so I had to wait before I could eat and use them.

I took 3 small very ripe bartlett pears, peeled and roughly chopped them (about 1 1/2 cups before pureeing). Tossed those in the bullet container with about 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom and pureed it all in my Magic Bullet until is was the consistency of apple sauce. NOTE: If the pears are not soft, you may have to add a little water.

The pierogi were really good! I was surprised. I'm glad I bought the giant bag. There were plenty of onions in them and the dough was yummy. I sautéed the pierogi in a healthy amount of olive oil until they were gorgeously browned. Dip and love! The sauce will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014 Vegan MOFO - Day 25 - Chow Locally Winner and my latest share box

Hello blogatrons. I haven't had much time to create and post, but I have had some time to give away stuff! But before I do that, let's have a look at this week's Chow Locally share box, shall we?

This week's box has some beautiful stuff that I can't wait to have my way with! Look at those gorgeous peppers. Oh and did I mention the apple that is the size of a softball? I am so happy to have the box this week as I plan to do some kitchen time between study sessions. There are some fun ingredients. Hmmm. What to make….


Let's get down to what we are really here for today…free stuff. This is the last Chow Locally giveaway for the month and the winner is…. #1 Jackie! Way to go. I'll be contacting you to set up your pick up. Congrats. Wait, which Jackie is it? :)


Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 Vegan MOFO - Day 22 - Giveaway Day and My Latest Breakfast Obsession

Honestly this could be eaten any time of day. But for me, I like savory stuff for the early meal of the day. The other day I was totally strapped for time and creativity. I grabbed a few staples from my fridge and counter top. Last week's Chow Locally box had roma tomatoes and cucumbers which are perfect for this easy meal. You can sub any type of tomato or cucumber about 3/4 cup each. Dice up a medium ripe avocado. Top with 2 tablespoon hemp seeds and 1/3 cup of your favorite hummus, salt and pepper if you please and DONE! I like to squeeze a touch of lemon juice over the top for a little added tartness. For variety, change up the type of hummus you use. This version was an artichoke hummus.


It wouldn't be MOFO Monday without a giveaway now would it? I have one more Chow Locally box to give away. One lucky winner is going to take the prize this week.

Here is the fine print on what you need to do to be eligible to win:
1 - You must live or be in the Phoenix area.
2 - You must be able to pick up your fresh produce on the day specified for  the pick up location you chose. (I will contact you with details on pick up locations/times).
3 - You must leave a comment about why you like to eat local by midnight this Wednesday, September 24th, 2014. Please make sure to leave a way to contact you should you be the lucky one.
4 - If the winner is unreachable by Sunday, September 28th an alternate winner will be selected at random