Tag Archives: Vegfest

Veg Fest & Feast

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Weekend Hodgepodge, this Saturday was spent enjoying vegetables, plain and simple. I am an omnivore, and a locavore, no longer vegan or vegetarian, but I love vegetables and was happy to be able to see them in the spotlight this weekend.

Jaime K

Jaime K of Save the Kales!

First of all, let me say that Bethlehem Vegfest was a knock-out success and I hope to see it continue for years to come. Many thanks to the Downtown Bethlehem Association,  Jaime K of Save the Kales! and everyone else who contributed for bringing this sort of festival to Bethlehem. I heard rumor that 10,000 people attended the fair, which stretched for several blocks down South Bethlehem’s Greenway. I arrived at 12:10, just ten minutes after the festival began, and a large crowd had already amassed. I had never actually visited the Greenway before and was quite happy to see such a well maintained rail-trail through the heart of the city! I had heard of the trail before, but tended to stay away from the area due to its previous reputation as a skeevy part of town before the tracks were paved.

Vegfest Entrance

The start of Vegfest

Emeril's Booth

A chef from the local Emeril's restaurant serves samples.

The festival grounds were divided into several themed areas (think platzes from Musikfest, but without the sausages and obnoxious people) housing about 200 vendors. There was a pet area, a farmers’ market, a food court, a sustainable energy area, a lecture tent, cooking demo area, and music stage, among others. Vendors peddled goods, services and wares while entertainers put children inside huge bubbles, and vegetarians could eat free samples without having to ask “Is there meat in that?”

Local Dub

This band, Local Dub, played some chill reggae music, and even used the word "irie" in their PR for the gig! Irie is our cat's name, meaning the ultimate positive, powerful, pleasing, all encompassing quality. I've never heard anyone else use it.

Cooking Demo

While catching a few minutes of this cooking demo, I got to taste grilled watermelon. Mmm! Definitely keeping that in mind!

Smart Juice

Bethlehem-based Smart Juice company

I was on a pretty tight budget since Vegfest fell between paydays, but I did indulge in a bottle of yummy organic no-sugar added peach-apricot juice from Smart Juice, a Bethlehem-based company that I first encountered when they donated juice for the Iftar dinner I attended (read about that here). This juice made me feel like I was James in a giant peach, that’s how real it was.

I also found a book that I must purchase, From Asparagus to Zucchini. It is a comprehensive guide to produce, listing nutritional information, storage and cooking techniques and recipes. One of the best parts, though, is in the back, where it lists recipes using seasonal ingredient combinations. SO, when you get your CSA share and wonder what to do with a bunch of eggplants, a tomato, and several ears of corn or something, you can just check the book! Wishing there was a book fairy right now …

Vegan Treats Display

My sister-in-law works the Vegan Treats table.

Vegfest didn’t carry any hints of the pompous attitude vegetarians are sometimes unfairly labeled with. Instead, it exuded a warm community vibe, inviting people of all sorts to take a look and try something new.

Later that evening, my in-laws came over for a very belated Christmas gift of a dinner & game night at our house. My mother-in-law recently began moving in the vegan direction, so I wanted to prepare a meal that honored that decision. However, my husband and I are fairly opposed to many of the “fake meat” and “dairy” products on the market. A lot of those products are so highly processed and full of genetically modified or laboratory-created ingredients that I cannot justify eating them. So, I made a meal highlighting vegetables, with no meat, dairy or egg substitutes. It’s also very important to me to use local ingredients, so everything in this meal is from this area with the exception of cooking oil, salt, pepper, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and polenta. Nothing on this menu will require a trip to the health food store or a large amount of money.

Normally, I leave the vegan meals up to Save the Kales!, but I will share this one with you.

A Vegan Feast:

Vegan Meal

An all-local vegan meal, with no "fake meat": salad, roasted tomatoes with garlic & herbs, tri-color potatoes & beets, polenta & beet green stuffed zucchini, and pear crisp.

In the interest of avoiding carpal tunnel, I am going to list the vendors I purchased ingredients from once, here, instead of immediately following the ingredient: Heritage Farms CSA, Apple Ridge Farm, Bechdolt’s Orchard, Jett’s Natural Produce, Cardamom & Curry, and Jumbars.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic & Herbs

Roasted Tomatoes

The contrast between the slow-roasted flavor of the tomatoes & garlic and the freshness of the herbs balances wonderfully.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 6 or so basil leaves
  • a few sprigs oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cut tomatoes into 6-8 wedges each and place in glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Chop garlic cloves and sprinkle over tomatoes.
  4. Remove thyme leaves and sprinkle over tomatoes.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and begin to turn golden.
  7. Chop basil and oregano and mix with tomatoes before serving.

Tri-Color Potatoes & Beets

Rustic & colorful

Rustic & colorful

Ingredients:

  • 5 potatoes of different colors (I used purple, red and white)
  • 10 small beets (or 3-4 large ones)
  • 1 red onion
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Wash potatoes and cut into 1″ chunks.
  3. Peel and trim beets, reserving greens for zucchini recipe or to sauté on the side. Cut into 1″ chunks.
  4. Cut onion into thick slices.
  5. Combine potatoes, beets and onion in 9×13″ baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, rosemary, salt & pepper.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  8. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Polenta & Beet Green Stuffed Zucchini

Polenta and Beet Green Stuffed Zucchini

A hearty vegan entrée

Ingredients:

  • 2 big zucchinis
  • 1/2 c. coarse ground cornmeal
  • 1.5 c water
  • 10 small beets’ worth of beet greens (or 3-4 large beets’ worth)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • few sprigs thyme
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cut a v-shaped opening, going the long way, into each zucchini, removing in one piece and setting top aside. Scoop out insides, discarding large seeds but reserving pulp. Scrape pulp from removed top, too.
  3. Salt hollowed zucchinis and tops and place, cut side down, in greased baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring water to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring with a whisk. Stir until thickened and creamy looking.
  6. Add thyme leaves to polenta and stir.
  7. Dice onion and garlic. Sautée in olive oil over medium heat until tender.
  8. Chop zucchini pulp and add to onion and garlic mixture. Cook for 4 minutes.
  9. Chop beet greens, removing tough stems, and add to zucchini mixture. Cook until greens are wilted.
  10. Remove zucchini from oven and spoon thyme polenta into zucchini boats.
  11. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly over polenta.
  12. Place cut out tops of zucchini over filling.
  13. Bake 20 more minutes, or until zucchini are tender.
  14. Let sit 5-10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Pear-Granola Crisp

Pear-Granola Crisp

You can make this dessert ahead and serve at room temperature or pop it in the oven when guests arrive and serve warm.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium pears
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger (I ended up using some turmeric tea (with ginger in it) from Cardamom & Curry that I had already steeped a few times instead. It’s a great way to get the most of your tea—Use the leaves to make 2-3 cups of tea, then add them to a dish you are cooking—They still have flavor!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. granola (double check that it is vegan)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 5 T. canola oil (walnut or coconut oil would be even better)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Peel and slice pears. Place in deep, square baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle pears with 1/4 c. sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (or tea leaves!).
  4. Add vanilla extract and 1/3 c. sugar. Stir until evenly mixed.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix flour, remaining 1/4 c. sugar, and granola.
  6. Add oil and stir until mixture is wet.
  7. Spread topping evenly over pears in baking dish.
  8. Bake 40 minutes or until top is golden.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Weekend Hodgepodge

As it seemed for much of the nation, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 turned this weekend into a kind of dichotomy between the positive notion of moving forward and the somber act of remembering. Leading up to the anniversary, my husband and I tossed around several ideas of how we should spend the weekend. He suggested a trip to NYC, which I did not go for (I feared it would turn into an ugly rally of intolerance, which I don’t think it did, but I wanted to stay out of that area). I suggested a commemorative play reading at the nearby college. We even toyed with the notion of going to church (a rarity for us) to hear one of my colleagues preach. In the end, we opted for a weekend directed more at moving forward than memorial activity. This is not to say we didn’t focus on and discuss the national tragedy this weekend, but we made a point of enjoying the country we live in. We watched this great video of Paul Simon performing “Sound of Silence” at the NYC memorial and discussed, like many others, our memories of that day 10 years ago. I recalled my particularly stern 10th grade English teacher expressing frustration when I was called out of class to sit in the guidance office until we were sure that my sister, who worked near the WTC, was alright. When the call came in that she had escaped injury, I remember hearing, “She didn’t stop running until she hit Chinatown.” We also discussed the split in our generation between those who were old enough to comprehend 9/11 and those who only understood the bogeyman aspect of Osama bin Laden.

Coincidentally, we were afforded the opportunity to celebrate a favorite American pastime this weekend—a baseball game at the local AAA stadium. Due to the weather, a playoff game had been postponed, so my in-laws were unable to use their tickets and passed them over to us. It turned out to be a fantastic game, with the Iron Pigs winning in an extra inning.

Iron Pigs Game

It was an edge-of-the-seat game, even though I am not generally a baseball fanatic. The crowd was full of energy and the game was followed by a pretty spectacular fireworks display.

Saturday was spent reliving my vegan days. I spent several years going back and forth between the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, mainly fueled by a strong opposition to factory farms and animal testing. Now, I have settled on a primarily local omnivorous diet where I do not purchase industrially farmed food (basically, if I can’t go see the farm, I don’t buy the food) or products tested on animals. However, I support the vegetarian community, enjoy many vegetarian meals, and honor each persons choice to eat as desired.

So, I was thrilled to attend the first annual Vegfest in South Bethlehem. Organized by the Downtown Bethlehem Association and Jaime K of Save the Kales!, the festival celebrated delicious vegetarian food, sustainable products and innovations, healthy education, great music and more.

Vegfest Banner

"Lettuce Rejoice" was just one of the catchy slogans on banners, t-shirts and signs at the festival. I even got a purple eggplant stress ball.

It truly was a great gathering of happy people, vegetarian, vegan and omnivorous, enjoying the first sunny day in about 2 weeks in a part of town that often gets overlooked when it comes to the festing Bethlehem is known for. I was reminded of the market in Portland, OR, with such diversity and positive spirit.

Praying Mantis

This praying mantis must have sensed that Vegfest was safe for all living things!

Continuing the theme for the day, my in-laws joined us for a very-belated Christmas gift of dinner at our home. My mother-in-law recently began moving toward a vegan diet after a visit to the Farm Sanctuary, and my sister-in-law is vegetarian, so I prepared a vegan meal. There will be a post this week dedicated to Vegfest and the recipes for the meal I prepared.

Vegan Meal

An all-local vegan meal, with no "fake meat": salad, roasted tomatoes with garlic & herbs, tri-color potatoes & beets, polenta & beet green stuffed zucchini, and pear crisp.

Finally, Sunday was spent catching up on some freelance design work and attempting to save our garden from tomato blight. We spent over an hour pulling yellowed or spotted leaves off the tomato plants and lifting low stalks off the ground. The plum tomato plant only has about half of its leaves left, so I hope it will survive! Once the rain finally stops, I’ll be spraying the leaves with raw milk to try and hold off the fungus.

The garden, after pruning blighted leaves.

The garden, after pruning blighted leaves. See how sparse the first tomato plant is now?


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