This weekend I headed down to Foodswings, Williamsburg’s own vegan comfort food joint. I had been trying to corral my boyfriend into going here with me since before he was my boyfriend, so it had been a long time coming. Although I was able to sample their “chicken” at the Seed Expo a few weeks back, I wanted the entire diner experience. What do I mean? I wanted a burger and a shake, dammit.

Foodswings is not health food, and it doesn’t try to pretend it’s health food. When you think “comfort food,” do you conjure up a raw crudite platter? No. You think creamy, fatty, tastes so good “junk” food. I met a very nice Brooklyn-based vegan couple a few weeks ago, when they came to stay at my mom’s farm. I asked them if they liked Foodswings, and the woman groaned inward and said she thought it was awful. Why? “It’s junk food!” she said. Mmmm. All the better to eat you with, my dear!

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How I feel about BBQ sauce…

Happy national BBQ day, folks! Now, you may be surprised to learn that I love a great barbecue more than almost anything, because I am vegan. Shouldn’t I be out gnawing on someone’s lawn clippings?

When I ditched meat ten years ago, my love for barbecue didn’t change. The only thing that changed was what I was smothering in the sauce—tofu, tempeh, veggies, sweet potato french fries…frozen pizza crust at 4 am when I’ve had too much to drink and it sounds appealing. To me, it isn’t about what you’re barbecuing…it’s all about the sauce. I have always loved a terrific barbecue sauce—sweet, tangy, and spicy—and so this didn’t change when I nixed meat. Making your own barbecue sauce is shockingly easy, although it takes patience as you need to simmer it for a good 45 minutes. The best thing about making your own (aside from avoiding all nasty preservatives and additives) is that you can control your level of heat!

Below is a recipe for a sauce I created while visiting a girlfriend in Arizona a month or two back. Since one of the key ingredients in this recipe is ginger, we named the sauce Red Bush BBQ sauce. It’s sort of gross, sure, but i’m sort of gross…Sorry I’m not sorry! Hot and spicy, this sauce will make your nose run the way only a great spicy sauce can. Enjoy!

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Yes, those are peas and carrots in the corn bread…

In honor of A’s southern home-town, this past Friday we whipped up a vegan friendly southern meal of barbecued tempeh, gluten free corn bread and—in lieu of lardy collard greens—raw kale avocado salad.

The kale avocado salad was inspired by one of my mom’s recipe. My version is much simpler—mainly it contains less ingredients because I am usually too poor to get all the good stuff Ma puts in. Plus, her recipe is top secret!

Raw Kale Avo Salad
Serves: two hungry people

1 large bunch of kale, washed and torn
1 medium organic ripe avo
2 tablespoons fresh basil (foraged from the basil plants for sale outside the local grocery store, perhaps?!)
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Step One:
Put kale in bowl and add flesh of avo. Mash with (clean!) fingers.

Step Two:
Add rest of ingredients, except tomatoes, and massage until kale begins to break down. You will know this is happening because the kale will shrink right before your eyes, ending up with an itty bitty fraction of the mass you started off with. I usually mash mine for a solid 10-15 minutes straight.

Step Three:
Lick fingers. Add tomatoes. Serve.

The barbecue sauce A and I concocted was inspired by Veganomicon, although we didn’t follow any of the sauce recipes in there…just lovingly observed what Isa Chandra Moskowitz did. A and I love a good spicy hot sauce, so  one of the featured flavors in our BBQ is ginger. In honor of that, we named our sauce Red Bush BBQ. (A’s boyfriend disapproved of the name, saying no one wants to “think about pubes while eating.” I disagree. )

I am currently working on perfecting this BBQ sauce in time for National Barbecue day, which is May 16. I actually vowed to stop celebrating national food days after I had an extremely traumatizing experience on National Pancake day, which is why I am prepping this recipe wayyyy in advance.

Red Bush BBQ sauce is a terrific late-night food. We made the meal for dinner and then teetered home at around 3 am to eat the rest of it. When the tempeh was gone, we continued to dip everything in sight in the BBQ sauce while saying stupid drunk-girl things like “do you know what would be good in this BBQ sauce? Frozen pizza crust,” and “OHHHMYGAWD I don’t want to still be dating at 35. I want nuggets”

A is so adorable, stirring that sauce, drinking her chai. She will most certainly be wifeyed and nuggeted by 35.

Stay tuned for the recipe for Red Bush BBQ sauce, coming in May! Are you still dating at 35? Is it like when I was 16 and thought 24 was old, and now that I am 24 I think 35 is old?  Do you agree with A’s boyfriend about the name of our BBQ sauce? I like it. But I am kind of gross. (Thus I will probably not be married at 35…)

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