What I Ate Wednesday: Last Day Of School & The Lusty Vegan Pop-Up

June 17th, 2014 - filed under: The Food » Food Styles

Morning doggy

Oh, what a face to wake up to . . .

School’s out!

It’s done. The finals I had to take, are taken. The finals I had to grade, are graded. Assignments turned in. Wrap-up meetings wrapped. And just like that, my first year of graduate school is finished. Whoa.

And what better way to celebrate, than an impromptu trip to LA for a very special vegan pop-up dinner, thrown by one of my very favorite vegans?? Not many better ways, I’d say!

Here’s how the whole thing went – the very last day of my very first year of grad school:

tea and oatmeal

It always starts the same . . . they all start the same. Black tea for me to drink while I’m getting ready, black tea for me to take when I go, and breakfast porridge for my baby boy.

vegan oatmeal

Simple oats with strawberry preserves and fresh-picked blueberries.

I pack up our lunches while he eats.

green smoothie vegan

A greens + protein smoothie is a major component of his lunch every day. Well, maybe not specifically at lunch per se, but he drinks one every day ad libitum. And me? I get to drink the leftovers for breakfast.

vegan green smoothie

Behold, my morning splendor of bedhead and big hoodie!

vegan kids lunch

Kiddo lunch: leftover homemade mac, strawberry green smoothie, kidney beans with extra virgin olive oil and nutritional yeast, and for sharing snack, herbed popcorn. And water of course.

oats and oat milk

Waits finished up his oats and his oat milk while I got myself ready. Then we got him dressed, brushed our teeth, and were off!

First stop was preschool to drop him off, with a long goodbye because it was a daddy night. Then out to UCSB for me, and into my last class of the quarter. Macroevolution.

We watched a documentary about how Creationists repackaged Intelligent Design and tried to sneak it into the science curriculum, which was infuriating but fascinating, and not a bad way to end the year.

Afterwards, lunch in the UCEN.

giant lunch salad

A ginormous salad with shredded carrots and shredded beets, kalamata olives and green onions, mixed beans and mesclun. YUM.

vegan iced coffee stevia

And after lunch and some wrap-up work, I grabbed an iced coffee in my travel cup on my way off campus.

By then it was mid-afternoon and I was headed home to change. Jeremy and I had a quick business meeting (his, not mine) at a local winery, which timed up perfectly with our SB –> LA traffic-avoiding departure time. We stopped in at the winery on our way out of town, and that was that. Road trip!

car trip!

We were bound for Venice Beach, where the pop-up dinner would be held at the G2 gallery, which specializes in nature and wildlife photography. The show that was up that night featured rare and endangered animals, and it was so beautiful. A perfect venue for this event.

The dining area:

Lust Vegan Pop-Up

And they had a photo booth for pre-dinner shenanigans! I am physically unable to resist a photo booth. True fact.


Finally, it was time for the main event. The overall meal was modeled in a sort of “surf n turf” theme, but it began, of course, with Ayinde’s super-famous, top secret family recipe (which is not in the book, unfortunately) . . . Mac & Yease.

Ayinde Mac and Yease

This was, no lie, the best from-scratch vegan mac I think I’ve ever had – and that’s saying a LOT.

While we settled into the meal, Ayinde and Zoe introduced themselves and talked a little bit about their collaboration.

Lust Vegan Ayinde Zoe

Zoe Eisenberg writes about love and lust, dating and mating, sex advice and veganism, over on her blog Sexy Tofu. I’ve been following along there for a little over a year now, so I was happy to finally meet her in person. Check it out – it’s a whoooole other kind of vegan blog!

Ayinde is a chef and entrepreneur, but to me he is a precious unicorn . . . because he’s been vegan since the day he was born! Vegan since birth, vegan for life. And such an inspiration for us mamas! You can catch up with Ayinde and all his many projects over at I Eat Grass.

And of course, together Zoe and Ayinde have penned The Lusty Vegan: A Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans and Those Who Love Them (that link is for pre-order; the book is slated for release this October). With the forces of these two combined, I seriously can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Ooh, also, shout out to my pal Geoff who did all the photography – he is amazing!

Okay okay, now I know you want to see the meal!

Lust Vegan Geoff

Second course was a citrus and salt pickled fennel salad, you can kind of see it here as Geoff was shooting.

Lusty Vegan pop-up crab cakes

Next up was a hearts of Baltimore crab cake served with garlic dill aioli, and this made Jeremy exceptionally happy. He’s a Maryland boy and this dish hit his nostalgia button like whoa.

Lust Vegan pop-up baked tofu

And finally, a “fillet de soy” with blood orange and nappa cabbage slaw.

There was also a delightful dessert of fresh-made biscuit strawberry shortcakes with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream, but I somehow managed to not get a picture of that. Maybe because it looked irresistible and I dove right in!

All in all, an amazing meal from start to finish, eaten slowly and savored, among friends old and new. By the time it was over we were due to hit the road back to Santa Barbara, which we did with full bellies and happy hearts.

kiss kiss dark car

Have I told you lately how much I love this dude? Summer summer, here we come!

♥ ♥ ♥

  • Jenn

    Hey Seyward, I’ve written to you a few times now… Hey I live in Baltimore now (moved from Santa Fe, which I miss dearly) wanted to tell you guys about an awesome place here that you should come visit next time Jeremy needs to visit home K:) it’s called Red Emma’s and it’s a cooperative, anarchist bookstore/vegan,vegetarian cafe. And I would love a link to perhaps the recipe for those Baltimore crab cakes featured in today’s post. Also I thought you gave up coffee? We also lived in Cali for a short time, and I soo miss Manhattan Beach, and we loved hanging out there in funky Venice. Peace Jenn

  • Lisa B.

    I love “What I Ate Wednesdays” posts! Glad to hear that you and the fella had a lovely (and well deserved) I’m-finished-year-one-of-grad-school celebratory dinner. That’s such a huge accomplishment!

    Enjoy the rest of the week xo.

    - L

  • Meredith

    At the risk of sounding all groupie-ish, can I just say that you are freaking radiant? So many vegans I know have this pale, washed out sort of look about them, but you seriously look like sunshine. You are doing it right!!

  • Joyce

    “infuriated.” Wow. I guess we all have our chosen religions. You bow to the altar of veganism of which in reality is an impossibility in this world. Even soil has animal by-products added nowadays. “Plant based” is more honest. I bow to God without dismissing science. http://www.thecatholicthing.org/content/view/2439/2/

    To each his own…without the negativity of infuriation.

  • http://trailsnail.com/ Ingunn

    Even just looking at photos of your meals makes me want to eat better. So much color!

    Oh, and mac n’ yease…I just realized Ayinde is Makini Howell’s (of Plum fame) brother! We owe their parents countless thanks for teaching them how to cook these amazing foods.

  • anjali

    wait, that’s kinda creapy and i never thought about it by i have to think that joyce is right! of course even soil has animal by products added! obvi not even just manure… oh ew… oh i m freaking out! please someone say it cant possibly be so…

  • vegyogini

    I can’t remember why I skipped this pop-up dinner, but I did. Sorry to have missed you, but delighted to see your photos! Happy summer vacation and congrats on finishing your first year!

  • rebelgrrrlraechel

    Congratulations on finishing year one! I know it is no small feat, and I am crazy in awe of all the grad student mommas out there! Looks like this was a great celebratory evening. Enjoy your summer! xo

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Joyce, you seem upset. I think you feel like I’m dismissing religion itself as infuriating, which is not what I intended at all. I believe very strongly in religious freedom (for ALL) and would fight tooth and nail to preserve it.

    What I do have a problem with is religion being inserted into science – where it does not belong. The scientific community is very much in agreement regarding evolution as the process by which all life on earth has arisen. In fact, it is the foundational principle in the study of biology, and it would be literally impossible to study any of the earth sciences without an understanding of evolution. Creationism, and Intelligent Design, are not science and do not belong in a science classroom (and the US courts agree).

    I do not have a problem with Creationism being taught in public schools – in a comparative religion class, or in a philosophy class, or even in an english class (at my public high school there was a “The Bible As Literature” english class). I have nothing against religion and the sharing or studying of religious ideas. But once again, religion =/= science.

    If you can’t handle me saying that, then this probably isn’t the blog for you. Which is fine! Different strokes.

    As for your comments regarding veganism, I’m not sure which “soil” you mean. When I buy potting soil for my yard and garden, I buy vegan potting soil (and vegan fertilizer, and vegan pest control, etc – I’m actually working on a post on veganic gardening!)

    But my guess is that you’re referring to the soil that my store-bought food is grown in, or for example, the bugs that splat on my windshield when I drive, or the unavoidable animal byproducts in my computer, or blah blah blah. And my guilt about those things in terms of my veganism? Literally ZERO. (I have guilt about driving and about computers, but that’s a whole other kind of guilt)

    I am vegan, I am not “plant-based.” I am 100% vegan.

    And I don’t bow to any alter.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Anjali, what is it that you’re concerned about? Remember that the definition of veganism (as coined by the founder of the word) is: “. . . the word “veganism” denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”

    The key there is the clause – as far as is possible and practical. It is literally impossible to avoid all animals/animal products, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible to be vegan! Being vegan means avoiding animals/products whenever possible. THAT is being vegan.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oh awesome, I think we’re going to try to get back there this fall, we will definitely check that place out. Sounds AWESOME!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks for the sweet words of support, Lisa! Have a great week and weekend. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thanks Meredith! I don’t know about all that, but I think I know what you mean . . . I look at old pics from Portland and man! I really look like a different person. What a difference a few years can make, huh?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I’ve never had a chance to visit Plum, but I want to SO BAD. Definitely top on my list for Seattle eats.

    Small world! =D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oh man! Haha, one of these days our paths shall cross again . . . one of these days!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much! Have a great week – weekend – summer as well!

  • Bianca

    What a cool concept for a book!! I’ll have to check it out. That dinner looks amazing!

  • Jennifer

    Know what I think I love the most? That I’ve been following you long enough to see your down and out and now this joyful, loving-life woman! Very happy for you. Love these adventures! :)

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Sayward,
    I have been reading, in agreement and in disagreement, with your post for a few years now; been there through all the ups and downs; both yours and mine.
    I don’t aspire to be vegan but I am intrigued by and incorporate your recipes into my day. I love the passion that you live life with, desiring to pass it on to others.
    I am a Christian, hence a Creationist, who believes that you can’t have science without including the One who created it. I would be interested to see this documentary you watched…can you give the title, distributor, link?
    You are correct that religion =/= science, but science = God because He created it and placed His creativity and wisdom and intelligence in all things right down to the working of an individual cell (ex. ATP synthase enzyme) so that we can recognize that there is Intelligent Design in this world (Romans 1:20).
    Thank you, Sayward. Blessings.

  • Jenn

    why you’re at it why don’t you read Christopher Hitchens’ : God is Not Great, How Religion Poisions Everything.

  • Tracy

    I am just curious…why do you feed Waits oat milk…rather than almond, hemp, etc?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oat milk has 4 times the protein and 3 times the calories as almond milk. It’s also naturally sweet (so no sugar added) and he looooooves it! It’s a bit more expensive but for me, it’s worth it for the protein and calorie content.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Elizabeth, the documentary was on PBS (NOVA) and it’s called Judgement Day: Intelligent Design On Trial. It follows the trial that happened in Dover PA back in 2005, when they were attempting to teach Intelligent Design in a public school science class. It’s a great documentary, definitely worth watching. Here’s a link to the full film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HZzGXnYL5I

  • Minna T.

    Yay, congratulations! It’s a great feeling when school is done for the year.

    Also, just wanted to say a big thank you for your awesome pregnancy survival book! Who knew I’d need it so soon :) It’s so much fun and really very easy and quick to read. Of course most brands etc you recommend are not available here but it’s still been very helpful.
    Also2, my parents are slowly getting more relaxed about my food choices, although my mom’s a biologist with oldschool knowledge about nutrition. I’ve shown her photos of Waits explaining that I’ve followed your blog for years and this kid has been vegan since the beginning. And she just agreed that Waits seems to be a very healthy and happy kid. Vegan children are nooot so common here :)
    Also3, a quick update on veganism in Eastern Europe –> a couple of friends opened the very first Estonian vegan restaurant (called “V”!) this spring and it’s unbelievably popular! The whole vegan-thing is getting quite trendy, although unfortunately most restaurant visitors don’t know much about the real reasons behind it. But still. And me and two other girls just finished a manuscript for a book on veganism (the very first one in Estonian) which most likely will be published this autumn. So things are slowly progressing :)

    Okay, bye! :D

  • Gsouder

    Thanks for the post Sayward, and thanks for including me! It was so nice to spend time with you and Jeremy. And the food, it was pretty amazing. That book is going to change the game.

    Also, I’m really proud of your patience and tact dealing with the pushback from the intelligent design portion of your post. I’m not sure I understand why we need to address these arguments head on and not dismiss them as the ramblings of passionately misinformed religious fanatics. I’m not sure I would have the same patience.

  • Tracy

    Interesting…my 20 month old is still nursing so she just has almond milk to supplement but maybe I will try oat milk for the future. My picky/independent 4 year old will only drink water:)…

  • chantel

    I know this is not news to you but Waits is just a BEAUTIFUL child! And yes, you do look radiant and BEAUTIFUL!

  • Elizabeth

    Jenn, I have read it and it’s not great. Poor Christopher Hitchens. He now knows how wrong he was. Should have listened to his brother. Blessings to you, Jenn

  • Z Eisenberg

    Hi Sayward – thanks for coming to the pop up and the kind words. It was great meeting you!

  • Miriam Capellan

    Mmm “Crab”cakes. Got to recipe test those and some other things for Ayinde. Such a genuinely nice guy and awesome recipes. Looking forward to seeing the book!

  • Pingback: LA Vegan Beer Fest Takes The Rose Bowl By Storm! | Bonzai Aphrodite