Tuesday, October 27, 2009

more about food

confession - we eat out a lot here. and by a lot, i mean... maybe 5 nights a week. i'm pretty sure i'd eat out 7 nights a week if allison let me. not that we can defend going out that much, especially after cooking so much at home, but i'll try. as vegans, the food here is super cheap. actually, most food is cheap, but the vegetables are cheaper. currently, you can get about 33 new taiwanese dollars (NT$) for 1 US$, which helps (i think... not sure how that works). also, our kitchen is really small and narrow and we don't have an oven. ok, i know those were weak points, but the food is reallllly good.

we live really close to three or four restaurants. there is a thai place, with an english menu, near us called thai yun (first one on the page) that has great water spinach, spicy green beans (best ever), fried tofu with garlic piled on top, and some fried cabbage that allison loves. the only thing holding this back from being our "cheers" is that they can't speaking english, so they don't know our name. right next door to that, there is a japanese place (see: stanky tofu experience) with an english speaking waiter who helps us out. this place has silken tofu, which isn't allison's favorite, but quite a few vegetable options. i think the best part about this one is the atmosphere (pictures later). a couple restaurants down, there is a vegetarian dumpling place (that are boiled, not fried). we'll get to the fried goodness in a second) we had our friend's girlfriend (who speaks/reads chinese) translate the whole menu for us, so we're able to order anything we want. 10 dumplings = US$ 1.33, which is crazy. allison usually gets wonton soup with it and we usually end up spending around $5 for dinner and lunch the next day. my favorite thing about this place is the lady/owner/cook there pretends like i can understand chinese. if it isn't charades, then i don't want to play. she likes to speak chinese a million words a minute to me and then repeat a world 10 times, trying to get the point across. accidentally ordered sauteed and boiled water spinach at the same time. she really didn't want me to get it, but i did she was right. i should learn chinese. in addition to those three restaurants, there are about 10 small little street food carts that are along the side of the road within three or blocks both directions of us. i usually go to one owned by a brother and sister that is amazing. all of it is fried, so we try not to eat there too often (but it is so good, so i go too often). they have fried tofu, gelatin fries, sweet potatoes (sprinkled with strawberry-y sugar), rice brats, broccoli, green beans, corn on the cob... yes, fried, and a lot of other meaty items that scare me. i usually have them smother mine in their chili powder stuff and allison opts for a sweet kind of sprinkled stuff. lately, i've brought the brother, who is around my age, a beer and he has a big smile on his face and then gives me a bunch of stuff for free. i've been using google translator on my phone to tell them things and asking questions, but it is pretty funny because they can't reply back to me.

also... about ten minutes away from us, we've been hitting up indian food once a week. we're currently addicted to a place called little india moslem restaurant. they have five or six veg dishes and each one comes with naan and rice. everything tastes great and we usually get some to take for lunch the next day. another place, a little closer to us, is a place called loving hut which is a chain of restaurants throughout the world with pretty cheap set meals. other than that, we're looking forward to trying spring natural vegetarian restaurant in the next couple of weeks. anyone that is reading this in taiwan know if any other good places to go?

since there are no resources for vegan restaurants in taichung (that are in english) i'm going to start a review blog of the places we go to and try to go to a new one each week or month. i'll plan on posting a few pictures of the places i've mentioned here once i get it going. i'll probably get that going this week and will post the link.  hopefully it will kind of look like stumptown vegans food review site, but we all know it won't.

few random pictures.

sign shop in taichung (looks fun, right virgil?)

morning traffic
rest stop sighting on the way to taipei for volleyball

still love our car
(and spending $75 on gas per month instead of $375)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Carepackage love!

Today we got a fun package in the mail! Jeremiah's parents sent us some goodies and we are so excited! Thank you Lisa and Jerry!!

Part of this care package included a bunch of delicious vegan treats that we definitely have not been able to find here. Our good vegan and "generally vegan" friends selected some of our favorites from Food Fight. We've already opened the kale crisps, the chocolate "whizzers" and the marshmallows - so good! Thank you Drew and Steph!
We love these little bits of home. I might have, maybe, sort of, had a twinge of missing home when I saw these things. OK, I did. Mostly though I just miss the people that sent them and all the others in Oregon and throughout the US. So love to you all!

PS Is it the weekend yet??

Monday, October 19, 2009

back and random!

i'm back!  busy with school (not really).  just booked two tickets to bangkok for thanksgiving.  going with a few teachers from school, so we're excited.  any advice?  also, been playing ultimate frisbee on wednesday and fridays and getting ready to get back in to running.  allison has been working out a lot, so she is motivating me.  finally got my 3gs and i love it.  had the same... crappy LG phones for the last five years, so it is nice to have something a little more up to date.  compass is amazing, as is video.  will post videos soon.  off to bed.  oh yeah, been updating flickr off to the right of this blog if you want to take a look.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Being vegan in Taiwan hasn't been difficult - but it's a far cry from Portland where being vegan is easy peasy. We don't have food fight, or voodoo donuts (maybe that's a good thing?) or the ease of all-vegan restaurants, but we have found lots of good food we really enjoy. We have learned how to communicate that we don't eat meat and Jeremiah's pulled out the chicken dance a few times to help this process. Also, we really don't cook. Our kitchen is small and heats up incredibly fast, it's hard to figure out what ingredients are when it's all written in chinese, and eating out is cheap and easy. I've seen this survey around in the vegan blog world so thought I'd fill out for my vegan experience so far in Taichung.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk? Soymilk - haven't found anything else

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook? hmmm.. rice, noodles and more rice.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? At home I was a popcorn fiend with nooch being the topping of choice. Not here. Microwave popcorn at school is what I've got.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? this is n/a for me since I really haven't cooked here more than the obvious noodles and rice.

5. Favorite pickled item? bamboo shoots. Not sure if they are really pickled, but something's been done to them.

6. How do you organize your recipes? I don't cook here so there are no recipes. But the internet is where I would go.
7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? Trash, but when we take the trash out there is a specific spot just for food waste. I'm not sure what happens to it.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)? Peanut butter, grapes, cereal
9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup and making homemade ice cream

10. Favorite vegan ice cream? I haven't had vegan ice cream here yet, but we did scope some out at Loving Hut restaurant. Excited to try it!

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? a rice cooker once we get one. Was sad to leave behind the kitchenaid food processor, mixer and immersion blender.

12. Spice/herb you would die without? Garlic!

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? Vegan with a Vengeance

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? raspberry jam or preserves. jelly freaks me out.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend? something somewhat normal - a pasta dish maybe.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh? Tofu - luckily lots of restaurants have it and it's easy to find at the grocery stores!

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? Dinner.
18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? Our dishes are drying on the dish rack (counter space is limited)

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. Frozen bell peppers, gluten peanutbutter rice balls and vegetarian dumplings.

20. What’s on your grocery list? Fake meat, veggies, fruit
21. Favorite grocery store? matsusei because it's just down the road

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet. grandma's chicken and dumplings.
23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3? Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate? anything chewy and fruity - hichews are good and come in grape flavor

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? ummm.... I can't think of anything right now.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with? I'm nervous just buying any food since so few have english ingredient lists.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stinky tofu round 2

Jeremiah tried stinky tofu again, this time on purpose, at a little market. I stayed away - once was good for me.

Made fresh to order

He made a good go at it, eating a good majority. When the sauce ran out though, he couldn't eat any more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just another inservice day

None of that silly CPR training for us - we get to learn how to fight fires! The fire department came, set controlled fires in a pit and had designated people practiced using the fire extinguishers. Jeremiah was one of the lucky ones who got to do this. I just watched.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Double Ten Day

For your reading enjoyment today - a short history lesson. I won't be offended if you stop reading now, I might too if I were you, for 2 reasons: 1) as I proclaimed in 12th grade history class "I hate history" (ok, maybe I don't hate it, but it's far from my favorite subject) and 2) I know very little about Taiwanese history so I may not have my facts straight. Are you now asking yourself "why isn't Jeremiah, the history major, and social studies teacher, writing this blog post"? Good question - he seems to have taken a blog posting hiatus even though it is his turn.

This weekend marks Double Ten Day, Oct. 10th, also called National Day of the Republic of China (commonly called Taiwan). This date is the anniversary of the start of the Wuchang Uprising in 1911. This uprising in mainland China eventually caused the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China. After WWII in 1945 the Republic of China gained control of Taiwan. Then, in the Chinese Civil War the Republic of China lost control of mainland China and withdrew to Taiwan while the People's Republic of China was established in mainland China.

Hmmm, I guess that explanation, minus any political commentary (this is not the forum for political discussions and we will not judge or align with any political goings on this blog), is not much longer than my introduction. In an even shorter version: the uprising in 1911 led Taiwan to where it is today. For a longer version I encourage you to google some of Taiwan's history. It's interesting, even to me, self-proclaimed history hater.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Celebrating the moon

Yesterday we were invited to celebrate Mid-Autum Moon Festival with a local Taiwanese woman. This holiday is based on a lunar calendar, so is on a different day each year. There are a few stories behind the holiday - each with many versions.

One of them, from what I understand, is about Houyi and Chang'e. Houyi was an archer who shot down 9 of the suns that were circling the Earth, leaving only one. He was given two pills which contained the elixer for eternal life. His wife, Chang'e, took her pill before she was supposed to and ended up (in some versions she was banished, others she simply floated up) on the moon.

Many Taiwanese families get together and have bbqs, eat moon cakes, pomelos and many people light fireworks. We sampled many varieties of moon cake (though not the more traditional Taiwanese moon cakes because they had pork in them) and had pomelos and tea.

Picture from here

you heard it here first

*update* 1:52am  6.2 about 60 miles from us

1:40am  well, if you read our blog you did.  just felt our first earthquake in taiwan.  was big enough to wake allison up, but she is a light sleeper.  made things rattle.  will update when we know more.  off to sleep.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Morning Hike

Jeremiah took me on the hike he went on for Peace Day with his students. It was very hot, and saw lots of critters: chickens, lizards, huge butterflies that landed on Jeremiah's head, a grasshopper on steroids and more of those spiders that are the size of my face.

Whole lot of stairs

That's me at the bottom, I couldn't keep up even though I've been doing the stair master at the gym, I'd better step it up a notch next time!

Luckily there were a few rest stops, and we could have had tea here if we had been prepared for it

At the top!

Next hike we'll venture somewhere new...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's different you ask?

We've obviously made some adjustments and changes since coming to Taiwan. These are some of the things I've noticed recently that we do in Taiwan that are different from home.
-use chopsticks (duh, right? But, a recent email from my uncle outlining the many uses of a cane reminded me that chopsticks also have many uses, though not done in public so we don't offend the local people. They make great pointers, head scratchers, poking devices, etc.)
-eat buns that have beans tucked inside (and we like them)
Picture from here

-don't pay attention to the lines on the road when driving; the government must have thought they would be a good idea, but drivers have a different idea
-eat out a lot

-drive to work in 10 minutes
-comment on how cool it feels when the temperature drops below 85
-buy meals from street vendors

-speak a few chinese words (When Jeremiah doesn't understand someone he turns to me and asks "Allison, what are they saying?" like I'm going to know. Most of the time I have no idea.)
-get cold tea delivered to us at school once a week
-park anywhere we can (even sidewalks)

-walk in the street because 1) there are hardly any sidewalks, and 2) when there are sidewalks they are either parked on or the shops are spilling out from their building onto the sidewalk and streets
-drink coke instead of pepsi
-have our laundry done by someone else
-sometimes run red lights, but never turn right on a red
-go to 7-11 often (to pay bills, get cash, as a breakfast stop on the way to school...)
-talk to our families through skype, emails and cards

-notice flashes of dark movements out of the corner of our eye and pray it's a gecko and not a cockroach (well, this is mostly for me, though jeremiah probably hopes so too because cockroaches mean we have to catch and release; geckos can just hang out)
and... last but not least
-get to hold super cute Taiwanese babies (as much as Lisa hopes this is our baby so she can be a grandma, it isn't :)