a vegan’s guide to eating in omaha

I came to Omaha last August for a year-long position at a nonprofit organization.  As my year wraps up, it seems like a nice time to write about the amazing food I’ve had here. I know most people who live elsewhere don’t think much of this city, smack dab in the middle of the country, surrounded by the Dakotas, Iowa, and the rest of Nebraska. Well, I have news for all of you! Omaha is awesome! I mean, as awesome as any small to midsize city. It has a lot of very serious problems that other cities also face: a mayor who loves the police a little too much, racial segregation, people who hate reproductive rights, people facing severe economic injustices, pollution, police brutality and militarization, and pipelines galore. But Omaha is not whatever empty wasteland people from the coasts (and even from snobbier parts of the Midwest!) imagine. It has a rich culinary community, and there are plenty of wonderful places to eat if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Here are some of my favorites: Continue reading a vegan’s guide to eating in omaha

review: “beatriz at dinner”

I couldn’t help thinking about “Get Out” while I was watching “Beatriz at Dinner.” Both are slightly fantastical movies about the insidious violence of rich, white people’s racism, filled with microaggressions and dream sequences. While “Get Out” is a full-blown horror movie, though, “Beatriz at Dinner” is something different. It could be categorized as a cringe comedy; the overwhelming feelings I had while watching it were stress and anxiety. However, while most cringe comedies skewer a few characters for obliviously violating social norms, this one targets not only individual characters but entire systems of violence.  It also critiques a particular segment of likely viewers: wealthy or upper-middle class liberals. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call this a cringe dramedy, given the solemn underlying tone of the film.

The film, directed by Michael Arteta and written by Mike White, is about a woman, Beatriz (Salma Hayek), who emigrated to California from Mexico as a child and who is now a healer, dealing in massage, sound therapy, reiki, and more.  She is a deeply compassionate person; we see this before we know her occupation, when we first meet her as she is awakened by her distressed goat who is bleating loudly from a pen in her bedroom. She climbs into the small pen and holds the goat close to her body, making soothing noises. She is also spiritual: she has both Buddha and the Virgin Mary in her car, and she starts her day by meditating on loved ones she has lost. The rest of her day is spent tending to other people’s pain at a clinic for people with cancer. Continue reading review: “beatriz at dinner”

chickpea mushroom toast

I knew I was going to like “Mushrooms and Garbanzos on Toast with Cider and Thyme” before I tried it. It hits a lot of my favorite food tastes and textures: crispy bread, browned mushrooms, tart vinegar, sautéed shallots, fresh herbs. I was right. It’s so delicious.

I’ve made it 5 times in the last two weeks. It’s so easy and quick, it tastes amazing, it’s filling and feels hearty, it’s cheap, it’s vegan. I’ve made a few of changes to mine from the original recipe on Food52, sometimes for taste, sometimes for budget: I use fresh rosemary instead of thyme, sherry cooking wine instead of hard cider, onion instead of shallot, corn starch instead of arrowroot starch, baby bella mushrooms instead of shiitakes, added garlic, and I don’t have poultry seasoning so I use a combination of spices to replace it.

That sounds like a lot of changes, but the spirit of the food is the same. You should play around with it too and find the yummy toast that speaks to you!  You could add non-dairy milk to make it creamier; you could increase the proportion of liquid to make more gravy; you could change up the spices; you could add vegetable stock; you could do this with lentils; you could change the kind of mushroom. You can do anything! You’re in charge.

Enjoy! Continue reading chickpea mushroom toast

review: “get out” and the myth of interracial liberation

Nobody needs me to write about how great Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is (it’s been done, better than I could have). But holy shit, it is incredible on every level. Powerful and nuanced political messages, well-developed characters, an exciting and emotional narrative, just the right number of jump scares, gut-twisting suspense. It’s got everything. Go see it.

Beyond the obvious merits of the film, one thing that I loved was its pretty clear assertion that interracial relationships (and, implicitly, interracial mating and babies) cannot be counted upon to liberate anyone.  I think it is becoming increasingly clear that putting all hopes for an anti-racist future in interracial coupling and multiracial babies will assuredly lead to failure, but it is still a pervasive myth that having interracial relationships and giving birth to multiracial children are, in themselves, anti-racist actions.  Rates of interracial marriage are often used as a proxy for racial progress (always focused on white interracial marriage); the beauty of multiracial babies is touted as some sort of hallmark of both physical and social evolution. Continue reading review: “get out” and the myth of interracial liberation

review: homegrown collective soap-making kit

I love the idea of being a DIY gurl. The kind of person who understands how shit gets made and who makes their own stuff. That’s why I love to understand the science behind cooking and baking, why I like reading ingredient lists of pre-made/processed foods, why I have always loved cooking and DIY shows, why I watch How It’s Made to destress (any other How It’s Made fans out there??? So good. Highly recommend). I just like that kind of thing. There’s something satisfying about making something that you usually buy. Like fuck you, maybe I CAN live detached from the corporate teat. And sometimes it’s just fun do get crafty and make stuff. Continue reading review: homegrown collective soap-making kit

chicagooo!

I visited Chicago spontaneously for a couple of days this week because my two best friends happened to be there at the same time, and I only live a couple hours away. It was super fun to see them; we just graduated from college, so seeing college friends feels really special and exciting these days.  While there, I ate a LOT of amazing food. Here are some of the places I went/what I ate/what I thought!

Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling – Chinatown

The menu for this restaurant was populated almost entirely by dumplings. An amazing place. We got the chicken + mushroom, pork + pickled Chinese cabbage, and beef + onion. I liked the pork the most; my friends liked the beef. They were steamed and juicy; very straightforward dumplings. SO GOOD!!!!

Minghin Cuisine – Chinatown

We bopped over to this place after the dumpling restaurant (and got boba in between) because they had LATE NIGHT DIM SUM! We were already pretty full but still got an order of bbq pork buns, deep fried pork dumplings, and shrimp dumplings with chives. The pork buns were delicious and sweet. The deep fried pork dumplings were very puffy and hollow, with little filling, but were definitely tasty. The shrimp dumplings had a super gelatinous casing, and were pretty good, although not as good as the other two dishes. Late night dim sum is exciting though, even if the shrimp dumplings didn’t knock it out of the park.

Pierogi Street – Clark and Monroe (the pierogis are the image– they look gross because I’m bad at food photography, not because they are gross)

This is a food truck; it hits up multiple locations (according to foodtruckfinder.com), but I had it on Clark St.  I love pierogis (noticing a theme? savory filling encased in carbs? my favorite foods?), and I haven’t had any in a while, so I was PUMPED to see this truck. I got mushroom + sauerkraut and cheddar + potato, topped with sour cream and peppery caramelized onions. Both were delicious, although I preferred the cheddar + potato variety. They were kinda expensive, but I don’t really have any sense of pricing in Chicago (I’ve only lived in much smaller towns), so it might have been totally reasonable. There were lots of other people in line for the pierogis, so I definitely wasn’t getting ripped off.

Moe’s Cantina – River North

This place was cray cray! The walls facing the street were totally open, and the waitresses were all wearing cowboy boots. Wild. I went here for dinner; we each got drinks. I tried the Dragonfruit Vojito (vodka mojito lol) which was not very good, but my friends got the white wine sangria and the El Sueño (a coconutty cocktail), both of which were very delicious. For food, we got their guacamole which was yummy. I got the goat cheese + rajas tacos; they were SO GOOD. They were just goat cheese, chihuahua cheese, and roasted poblano peppers on corn tortillas. I added some lettuce to mine because one of my friends had a bunch of shredded romaine on her plate that she wasn’t eating and I love shredded lettuce. Definitely delicious. This place also felt expensive, but I think it’s a small town girl goes to the big city thing.

Firecakes Donuts – River North

I know donuts are kind of overrated but these were really delicious! Like they would not change a donut hater’s mind about donuts, but if you’re into donuts, these were solid. I got a “classic jelly” which was filled with an ambiguous berry jelly and covered in sugar. The filling was perfect; plenty of sugar and no seeds, but you could tell it was made with fruit (as opposed to the bright red, corn syrupy filling that some jelly donuts have). They had a lot of flavors that looked good; orange poppy seed and pistachio also stuck out to me (but I’m a jelly donut gurl 4 life sry!).

Saucy Porka – The Loop

This is an Asian-Latino fusion restaurant which are my two favorite broad categories of food, so that was exciting! It also didn’t make me uncomfortable because it is small and Latinx-owned, so it isn’t white people exploiting “exotic” and “ethnic” cuisines for the big buck$$$$. They have bao tacos (aka bacos aka they use the little bao buns and fill them with stuff like a taco), banh mi, rice bowls, tostones, egg rolls, and more. I got the soy ginger tofu bacos and vegetable egg rolls. I love the texture of bao buns, and the tofu was really yummy. Nice and crispy with lots of really flavorful sauce. The egg rolls were also great, but I feel like the bacos stood out more to me cuz they’re so ~creative~.

Big cities intimidate me, but the food choices are so amazing! I was very lucky and only had great food experiences the couple of days I was in Chicago. I highly recommend all of these places. I hope you get to go!!!! Ciao bishes!