I’m still pinching myself. Astig Vegan has made it on television! Last Thursday I was on the television cable station, The Filipino Channel, to feature my vegan Filipino dishes.
The show is called “Adobo Nation“, a magazine television show that features food, entertainment, fashion, and other hot topics in the Filipino American community.
The show’s associate producer emailed me several weeks ago saying she was interested in my work. Of course, I said yes! Granted I did know her in the past when I was freelancing for the station ten years ago (on a different show called “Balitang America”), I was still pretty amazed that they haven’t forgotten about me and that they were interested in what I’ve been up to.
I was asked to bring my vegan shrimp paste and some of my cooked dishes. I researched and reviewed past segments on Adobo Nation’s Youtube channel and realized others had brought in massive spread of food. And by massive, I mean at least 15 dishes! I almost fainted when I saw just how much food they had brought in to the show. The guests were restaurant owners and chefs so of course they had a team to whip up their food in no time. Good thing my mom and my sister were able to volunteer a bit of their time to help me. They were life savers.
Two days before the studio taping, I was cooking like a mad woman. I made vegan Sisig, vegan Menudo Stew, vegan MunggoStew, vegan Dinuguan, vegan shrimp paste or Bagoong, vegan Bicol Express, vegan Pinakbet, grilled eggplant, and sliced mangoes and jicama. Yes, I was on a roll. Why did I torture myself, I had no clue. The producers had made it clear I didn’t have to bring the same number of dishes the past guests did because the producers understood I don’t have a restaurant. Yet, I challenged myself to step it up and bring it on.
Minced Mushroom and Tofu Sisig. One of the dishes I featured on the tv show, Adobo Nation (Filipino cable station, TFC). Airing March 8.
As hectic as everything was, I finished cooking on time. I also finished getting ready on time – quite rare! Lucky me, my sister who is into make up (actually two of my sisters are), was able to doll me up. She was also able to go with me to the studio and help out with plating and presentation. She was also able to take photos during the show. I don’t know what I would have done without her help.
Here are some of the photos she took during the segment:
The segment will air on The Filipino Channel via cable subscription on March 8. I believe I will also get a digital copy so I could upload it on my YouTube channel. I’m looking forward to share the episode with you and hear your reaction. Crossing fingers that I didn’t make a fool out of myself. I guess we’ll find out soon!
Call me lucky, but I have friends who are always the first to learn about upcoming vegan events in town and out. Six months ago, my friend Rosie alerted me that vegan cookbook author and vegan culinary celebrity, Isa Chandra Moskowitz will be in Napa on February 8th for a cooking tour. The event sold out quickly online and we were the first ones to get our tickets in. Time flew and before we knew it, we were driving on our way to Napa.
To the vegan world, Isa is a rock star that cooks. The vegan woman version of Jamie Oliver. Isa made vegan cooking “cool”. She was one of the first, if not the first to have a vegan cooking show, which was aired on public television pre-Internet days.
Isa’s event in Napa was scheduled on a Sunday night. My friends and I decided to go earlier in the afternoon to grab lunch and check out what Napa had in store for us. After researching “vegan Napa” online, my friend suggested a restaurant called Melted.
Melted had three vegan options: two vegan and gluten-free waffle sandwiches and a vegan smoothie.
Rosie and I got the “Aunt Weaver Stamper” with vegan swiss, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and walnut arugula pesto.
My two other friends got the “Settin the Woods On Fire”, originally vegetarian but veganized for them with vegan cheese, tomato, avocado, salsa, cilantro.
We all got the vegan smoothie (not pictured) called “Dan Rather” with peanut butter, chocolate, and banana. From the description alone, we should have known that the smoothie would be too thick and heavy for a drink; it was more like a dessert.
We realized we also should have went with a half order instead of a full order because the portions were too big for us. My friends preferred the “Aunt Weaver Stamper” better than the “Settin the Woods On Fire”.
After our lunch, we met up with more friends and went to a vegan-friendly winery at O’Brien Estate . We checked the online resource, barnivore.com to confirm if indeed O’Brien Winery offers vegan wines. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gone! O’Brien Winery passed much to our relief. My friend Rosie had gone before and she said that the owners’ daughter is vegan and she gave her a tour around the estate.
Alas the daughter was not there when we arrived at the winery. Another bummer was that it had been raining that day so we weren’t able to roam around for a tour. Instead, we were seated in a nice dining area where we tasted various fine wines. When the rain stopped and the clouds calmed down a bit, we walked around with our guide, Julio, who poured us dessert wine while explaining the process of growing their grapes and making their wines.
The wine tasting was originally priced at $25 per person but it recently jumped up to $40. We were lucky that Rosie had reserved the wine tasting before the price hike so O’Brien Winery had to honor the old price.
The O’Briens live right in the estate; that’s their house painted in grey color.
We also visited the room where barrels and barrels of wine were stored. Another group had its wine tasting here.
My gorgeous friend, Cassie.
Vegan red wine and raw almonds.
The O’Brien wines are grown, picked, fermented, and bottled within the vicinity. Everything is self-contained; in fact the wines are not distributed to any retail stores.
As you could tell, some of us have turned red. Oops.
I’m not going to lie; I got pretty buzzed from all the fine wines. I don’t usually drink so unfortunately I didn’t feel well after the tasting. I was hoping the next place we visit would make me feel better. I thought perhaps caffeine would help (ha!).
Next, we headed to Oxbow Public Market. We found several artisan vendors that sell vegan products and other creative stuff.
Ritual Coffee where we had our caffeine fix. Unfortunately, the coffee didn’t sober me up. I should have known better!
Whole Spice store.
Some of my friends got hungry so they ordered vegan tacos and chips from C Casa.
The Avocado Tacos had corn relish, poblanos, green onions, mixed greens & avocado crema.
The Guacamole and Chips had roasted corn relish. Thankfully, I had the chance to recover before going to our main event, Isa’s cooking show. Actually, the event is called “Isa Live, a Vegan Life in Four Courses“. It was held at City Winery which was not so far away from Oxbow.
Upon arriving, I realized just how big the venue was. I heard that about 300 people were there! The venue was a music hall where the audience area was configured into a massive dining space with tables and chairs. It had a main stage where Isa cooked and talked to us. Sandwiching the main stage were screen projects showing the food up close.
Isa was hilarious all through out the show. My friends and I were laughing the entire time. In fact, we felt like we were watching a stand-up comedy routine instead of a cooking demo.
The first course, vegan Caesar Salad with grilled tofu, quinoa, and pine nuts.
The second course was a vegan Tamale with lentil “chorizo”, mole sauce, and guacamole.
The third course was a Chickpea Stew with chewy rosemary Biscuit.
For dessert, we had Chocolate Mousse cupcake with coconut whipped cream on the side.
The happy bunch.
After the show, the audience had the chance to do a meet and greet with Isa. I should have brought my Isa Does It cookbook for her to sign. But then again, we had a long day and were dog tired and ready to get some rest. The dinner ended around 10pm!
Isa graciously answered all of our questions and even took a photo of the audience when my friend asked for her to do it. Prior to meeting Isa, I thought she would have this “I’m too cool for anything” attitude but she turned out to be super nice, funny, and down to earth. Her humble personality made her even more of a rock star in my book.
After dinner, my friends and I checked in to Hawthorn Suites. We knew the event would end late so we booked a hotel and didn’t risk driving back to San Francisco.
I brought my own toiletries but it was nice to see that the hotel offers toiletries from Mineral Fusion, a vegan skin-care company.
The next morning, we packed our bags and checked out of the hotel. We saw commercial stores nearby like Michaels, Home Goods, and Kohls so we decided to stop by and check out Home Goods before leaving Napa.
I ended up buying a cake stand. At first, I was debating whether I should go for the fancy ribboned cake stand or the simple one. I eventually chose the simple one because it could go with any occasion and could match any style and theme.
As we headed to our car, we saw a rainbow facing us. I thought the rainbow was a nice goodbye gesture from Napa.
The drive back from Napa to San Francisco was beautiful and scenic. Even though Napa was far from being a vegan paradise, our trip was a memorable one. Many thanks to Rosie who invited me to Isa’s event and for driving us safe and sound in the pouring rain. Like I said, I’m one lucky gal for having such friends. Speaking of which, I have to go now, I just got a Facebook invite about another vegan event happening soon!
I’ve also put together a short video of our trip. I hope you enjoy!
When I was selling my vegan shrimp paste (aka bagoong), someone had asked if he could barter instead of pay me money. I thought that was an unusual request but I didn’t see anything wrong with it especially if the stuff I’ll get is vegan.
Romeo Victor runs Endu Designs, an etsy store selling handmade t-shirts and apparel. One of the shirts is a black baby doll tee with an image of a pink rhino and the word “herbivore” on it. I thought the design was super adorable so I agreed to do the barter.
I sent him a bottle of the vegan bagoong and he sent me the shirt. When the shirt arrived in the mail, it looked better than I had expected it. The fit was perfect and the colors looked great. Much to my surprise, my Astig Vegan logo was also printed in the back! I loved that he personalized the shirt for me! The great thing about etsy stores is that you could customize and personalize your orders. I’m definitely loving mine and I’m making it my favorite of the week!
My vegan shrimp paste aka vegan bagoong are all currently sold out. I won’t be making a new batch any time soon but please stay tuned for the next time I do. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot in the waiting list.
By the way, Endu Designs is NOT sponsoring me to post about my shirt. I’m simply sharing my favorite of the week!
Last week, my best friend and I went to the beauty store, Ulta, just to check it out. Of course, “just to check it out” doesn’t end with anyone empty handed. I walked out of the store with this hair conditioner:
Ulta was having a big sale that day. I got 50% off Abba Hair Conditioner, which was marked down to $15. Although $15 is still pricey compared to drug store products, it’s a bargain for a professional hair-care product that usually averages around $30. Plus I got a free pump to go with it ($3 value).
My friend advised I buy a smaller size so I could sample it first, but it had the same price so I thought of going with the big one to get more bang for my buck.
After a week of using it, my hair feels so much softer and easier to comb! My hair is ridiculously long but a little bit of this product goes a long way, which I love. Other strong conditioners leave my hair heavy if not greasy. Abba hair conditioner moisturizes my hair without weighing it down. I also love that I didn’t have to wait three minutes or longer in the shower to rinse it (a big annoyance especially when I’m in a hurry or feeling cold). Abba conditioner works instantly and effectively. How wish I wish Ulta’s sale never ends so I could keeping buying it!
Lately I’ve been learning about “green” and natural products, which has become a factor whenever I go shopping . Of course, I also go for products that are vegan. I’m glad that Abba hits all the mark.
I’m not sure if Ulta is still holding the sale but it’s worth looking into. By the way, I am in no way sponsored by Ulta or Abba. I’m simply sharing my favorite product of the week!
How about you? Do you have a favorite vegan hair conditioner?
I remember when I was debating whether or not I should enroll in an online cooking school called Rouxbe. The tuition fee costs $1,500 for a six-month plant-based cooking course and I wasn’t sure if it was worth the money. After all, there are tons of free information online, right? Most of my friends and my boyfriend Chris were skeptical because they haven’t heard of the program and they thought I didn’t need it. Still, I researched and took the free trial. I had always wanted to go to a plant-based cooking school but the closest one is in New York! I didn’t want to be that far away for six months. Rouxbe seemed more practical for my schedule and lifestyle.
After taking the free trial, I got a better idea of what it’s all about. I grew very excited! Still, I was on a budget. I called Rouxbe and learned that I could pay in three installments. I thought that was a good deal so I finally enrolled. Super fast forward to six months later, I’ve gotten my certificate of completion.
So is Rouxbe plant-based online cooking school really worth it?
The short answer is yes, the long answer will explain why.
My Cauliflower Steak with Olive Pistou, on the unit of ” Plant Based World of Flavors”.
ROUXBE IS COMPREHENSIVE. Rouxbe covers a range of topics such as understanding cooking techniques, making your own staples, culinary wellness, the science of good plant-based cooking, and so much more. While you could definitely learn from online articles, YouTube, and cookbooks, the learning material on Rouxbe explains the science of good plant-based cooking like no other platform. It not only explains how it works but also why it works. As a result, the knowledge will give you the confidence to explore and experiment in the kitchen. Even if you prefer to stick to following recipes, you’ll understand the framework and thought process behind the recipe instead of blindly following it.
My Moroccan Chickpea Tagine on the unit of “Plant Based World of Flavors”.
My vegan pho soup on the unit “Plant Based Staples”
SO HOW DOES ROUXBE WORK? After enrollment, you’ll login with a username and password. You’ll then see the course dashboard and click which lesson to study. Each lesson has multiple teaching formats: text, videos, and live video conferences. You could post questions in the student forum as well as post questions for the live event. If you end up missing the live video event, you could still go back to watch the recorded version.
By the end of each lesson, you’ll have a written exam and a cooking assignment that both contribute to your overall grade. The assignments require you to cook, take photos, and write descriptions. The instructors, Chef Chad Sarno, Chef Ken Rubin, and RHN Barb Thomas will review your work as well as grade it with a short explanation behind the grade. You could appeal the grade though I never felt I needed to.
My roasted beets and yam with no-oil dijon vinaigrette on the unit “Oil-Free and Low-Sodium Cooking”
My gluten-free spaghetti with olives and tomatoes on the unit “Gluten-Free Cooking”
ROUXBE INVITES EXPERT GUEST SPEAKERS. During live video conferences, Rouxbe invites guest speakers to talk about their expertise. We had Julieanna Hever to talk about nutrition, Dr. Neal Barnard about reversing diabetes, Raghavan Iyer about finding one’s culinary path, Margaret Wittenberg about exploring heirloom legumes, and many more experts. I think this is a great educational bonus on top of the materials I was already learning in the course.
My chocolate ganache torte on the unit “No-Heat Cooking and Raw Gastronomy”
My udon soup with homemade udon noodles on the unit “Pasta and Noodles”
SO WHAT DID I LEARN? I learned the basics such as steaming, roasting, stir frying, basic knife cuts up to advanced techniques such as raw gastronomy, global flavors, making my own staples, pasta and noodles, and plant-based entertaining, just to name a few. It also covers a lot about culinary wellness like gluten-free cooking, no-oil and low sodium cooking, diabetes support, cardio-vascular support, gastro-intestinal support, and many more.
Whenever I would get overconfident and assumed that a lesson was something I already knew and does not need reading, Rouxbe has these assessment quizzes to show how much I thought I knew about the subject, how much I actually knew about the subject, and after learning the subject -how much I know now.
My garlic mushrooms on the unit of “No-Oil and Low Sodium Cooking”
My vegan manicotti on the unit “Pasta and Noodles”
ROUXBE IS LENIENT AND FLEXIBLE. I could skip and jump around lessons (though I don’t advise it). Skipping assignments was convenient for me when I didn’t have the time to cook. Incomplete assignments could pile up though so I try to knock em out as much as I could.
ROUXBE IS WORK. A lot of work. Just because you could skip around lessons does not mean that Rouxbe is easy. In fact, hard work is needed to get the grade. It requires a lot of cooking. A big chunk of your schedule will go into cooking plus photographing, writing, and reading. But who is afraid of hard work? If Rouxbe is easy, it won’t be worth the tuition fee.
My sambal tempeh goreng on the unit “Plant-Based World of Flavors”
I THINK THE ONLY DOWNSIDE was that the instructors obviously could not taste the food that I made. It would have been nice to get a critique from them based from the taste. But like I mentioned before, the instructors explained the grades they gave me so I was reassured they knew what I was trying to do.
All lessons lead to the final exam which consisted of 200 questions. Very scary! Good thing every chapter had flash card practice and I could watch the video lessons again.
After much preparation and studying, I took the timed final exam. After about 45 minutes, here’s how I did: After completing 100% of the course including all activities, quizzes, and final exam, I was ready to get my certificate. This certificate is not just a piece of paper (or .jpeg). It’s a symbol of my achievement and I’m extremely proud of it. Another reason to be proud is that Rouxbe is recognized by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation as a Quality Program so I’m reassured this program is legit.
My only regret is that I didn’t interact with the other people in the class. Rouxbe has a page where you could talk to other students, exchange questions and answers, “like” each other’s photos and many more. I just joined the Rouxbe plant-based Facebook group so hopefully I could do some catching up.
How about you? Have you taken the Rouxbe plant-based cooking course? What do you think of it? If you haven’t taken it yet, has this blogpost given you better idea of Rouxbe?
I believe because Rouxbe is online, you could apply from anywhere in the world. I took a quick peek at the student list and found some people were from Canada and the United Kingdom.
Bottom line, I suggest to give it a shot and see if it works for you. It definitely worked for me. I feel more motivated now to cook and produce more quality content for Astig Vegan.
Bittersweet news. The vegan fine dining restaurant, Millennium in San Francisco is closing down. Bittersweet because it won’t be renewing its lease but it will move to another location, possibly in the East Bay. So while it’s not really goodbye but see you later, my friends and I still decided to have dinner here for one last time in its original location.
My must-have, Crusted king Trumpet Mushrooms appetizer with “Arborio rice dredge, cabbage salad with lime vinaigrette, citrus-habanero jam, Szechuan pepper sesame salt”
What our friend Cobi ordered, January Salad with “little gem lettuces, watermelon radish, tarragon, caramelized garlic, Prosecco-Meyer lemon vinaigrette, croutons, fried capers”.
What our friend, Whitney ordered, Rendang Tempeh. I believe the menu had it originally as Rendang Tofu but she kindly requested to sub tofu for tempeh.
What our friend, Abigail ordered Seared Artichoke with “pumpkin seed picadillo filling of Castelvetrano olives, lacinato kale, farro verde, cranberry beans & currants, creamy cashew-pumpkin polenta, almond-espelette chile Romesco, toasted alond gremolata, frisee & citrus salad”. She requested to have it gluten-free to which Millennium happily complied.
What our friend, Rosie ordered: Vegan Tamales. One of the winners of the night.
What I ordered, Mushroom En Papillote served on top of barley risotto. Black chantrelle and trumpet mushrooms were baked inside the paper bag or the “papillote”.
What half of the table ordered for drinks, a vegan Creamsickle with “Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, Vanilla Agave, Coconut Milk, Soda”.
We were feasting and having a great time and next thing we knew it was almost midnight and we were the last table left! Our server didn’t rush us at all. In fact, we even got a complimentary dessert to go with the dessert drinks we’ve ordered.
Complimentary dessert! Seasonal Sweet Ending with “chocolate-peanut butter buckeye, coconut-pineapple biscotti, peach, brown sugar & pecan oat crumble, orange brandy & mint chocolate truffles.
My dessert drink, Digestive Elixir with chamomile, lemon, ginger, agave, and mint.
Empty Millennium after closing time. Apparently we were the last ones to leave. Time flies when you’re having fun. We’ll miss you Millennium!
It was my first time meeting Whitney at Eco Vegan Gal and Abigail at The So Abby Show. Both of them were so nice and friendly, it felt like we’ve already been friends. Of course, it’s always fun to see Cobi at Veggietorials again. She’s super awesome and personable online and in person. And the one on the far right is one of my vegan partners in crime, Rosie at @rose_petalz.
After 20 years, Millennium will be closing its doors on April 30, 2015. If you’d like to catch it before it closes, I highly suggest to make a reservation.
Thanks again for the memories Millennium! I’ll never forget them. Looking forward to your revamp at your new location!
The kind folks at O Olive Oil Company sent me some of their premium California Balsamic Vinegar for me to try. But before reviewing them, I researched and dug up some information about the proper handling and usage of balsamic vinegar so I could properly deliberate the products.
SO FAR, HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BALSAMIC VINEGAR:
When mixing with olive oil, the proper ratio of oil to balsamic vinegar is 3:1
Use dark-colored balsamic vinegar in ingredients with bold flavors like spinach, spring mix, etc.
Use white balsamic vinegar in ingredients with light flavors like lettuce, avocado, etc.
Make sure the greens in your salad are dry before adding the dressing so the salad won’t be watered down.
Add the balsamic vinegar to the salad just right before serving. Don’t let it sit for a long time because the vinegar will wilt the greens.
Generally, the older the age of the balsamic vinegar, the more delicate it is. A well-aged balsamic vinegar is ideal for flavoring foods that have been cooked as well as deliciously paired with fruits like strawberries. A younger balsamic vinegar (less than 12 years old) is ideal for dressings, dips, and sauces.
High quality balsamic vinegar are traditionally labeled “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena”, which means they passed the standards created by the Italian city of Modena. However, there’s also been a concern about lead potentially found in European balsamic vinegars. O Olive Oil company barrel-ages its vinegars in Sonoma California to comply with The California State Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or Proposition 65. To learn more about Prop 65, check out: www.envirolaw.org/prop65
OAK AGED BALSAMIC
Flavors: rich, sweet, tangy, and smooth.
Perfect for: dips (mixed with olive oil), salads (mixed with olive oil), fruits such as strawberries and pears.
Verdict: out of all the vinegar sent to me, this is my favorite because it’s the most versatile. This balsamic vinegar is as classic as it could get.
Flavors: light, citrus-y, mildly sweet
Perfect for: salads with mild flavors. Here, I mixed the white balsamic with lemon infused olive oil.
Verdict: I think this white balsamic is best on a warm weather when refreshing salads are the perfect accompaniment. With that said, I couldn’t wait for spring!
CALIFORNIA PORT BALSAMIC Flavors: Sweet with hints of plum
Perfect for: baked apples and other baked fruits. Here, I baked apple slices and raisins and seasoned them with brown sugar and port balsamic vinegar.
Verdict: The port is a pleasant surprise considering I was used to having it as dessert wine instead of balsamic vinegar. I particularly like this vinegar for adding sweetness and depth of flavor to the dish. Take heed that port balsamic is sweeter than the standard balsamic vinegar.
Flavors: Sweet with hints of, you guessed it, figs
Perfect for: adding sweetness to salads and marinades. Here, I drizzled quite a bit on red onions. I heard it’s good on vanilla bean ice cream too.
Verdict: Probably even sweeter than the port balsamic, this fig balsamic is ideal for sweet desserts and side dishes.
O OLIVE OIL, WITH MEYER LEMONS
Flavors: light and aromatic
Perfect for: salads, soups, and dips.
Verdict: I love the convenience of having my olive oil already infused with citrus -organic meyer lemons even! I wouldn’t have to worry about buying another lemon to go with my salads and soups. I just need to drizzle this olive oil. I think this could also make a great gift for the olive oil aficionado.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with what O Olive Oil has sent me. I’m a purist by heart so my favorite was the classic oak-aged balsamic. But don’t let me stop you from exploring other sweet and interesting flavors O Olive Oil offers in the market.
Speaking of markets, I spotted O Olive oil and balsamic vinegar at my local supermarket, Rainbow Grocery. From the looks of it, Rainbow was having a sale. I’m not sure if the sale is still going on but it’s worth checking out!
I’m disclosing that O Olive Oil sent these products for me to review. All of the views stated here are my own and I was not compensated for this blog post.