Sorry to be THAT guy…

especially on Halloween, but I interrupt your candy binging with big news!

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That’s not news to anybody…. Here’s the real news:
I have officially bought my first domain and website!

All the content you love on sweettoothnothings.wordpress.com has been transferred over to my fancy schmancy new site: sweettoothtravels.com

It’ll be more professional, hopefully.
More monetarily beneficial for me, hopefully.
And… it’s way less characters to type into your browser, for sure!

Unfortunately, that does mean you will have to click the ‘Follow’ button and enter your email address again. Laaame. The bright side is, once you verify your email address, you’ll automatically be alerted of my new posts. Huzzah!

So, please go ahead and follow more of my adventure at sweettoothtravels.com.
I won’t be posting on this site anymore!
Also be sure to share my posts, follow my Instagram and Twitter, comment, and even buy a product or two.
Admittedly, I do get a percentage of the sales, but most of my money goes to travel and foster dogs, anyways. It’s a win-win!

If there’s a product you’d like me to advertise or somewhere you’d recommend I become an affiliate, please let me know. Mama needs a new dog harness!

Not to mention, if you have a business with which you’d like some support, let me know! I’m happy to help, collaborate, or do whatever I can to get your business going.

Thank you, thank you, thank you ALL for your continuing support. I adore ya.
Happy Halloween!

Instagram: @sweettoothtravels

Twitter: @sweettoothvegan

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I was All Set at Sacred Chow

I ate food today.

Not impressed?

Well, what if I told you I ate food at a vegan restaurant for free today?

Bam. You’re intrigued.

Really- I did! Thanks to the Allset program I just downloaded on my phone. There was a promotion going on that if I promised to send them a review, they’d give me $15 free! Being that I like eating until my body registers for refugee status due to cruel conditions,  I felt this promotion could be of great benefit to me.

What is Allset? It’s actually kind of a neat idea…. But before you ask, and before I explain, I’ll make this clear: they didn’t pay me to say good things about them. They gave me free food because they’re a small company. They knew no one would download their new and totally random program, pay, and hope for the best. So they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Download, get $15 for free, and let them know how they’re doing. Sweet.

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The story on their website is kind of abstract and frootsy tootsy, so let me explain the program in dirty gurdy terms. Basically, you pick a restaurant at which you want to eat. The selection is a bit limited, but they do have a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants already! I emailed them to make sure before downloading it.

Once you have a restaurant in mind, you can book a reservation for either the same day or the next day. You pick a time. Now, that’s good enough for most people, but Allset does more than that! Once you picked your place, number of people, and time, you can even look at the menu, make selections, and yes, you can PAY! Tip, tax, and all. You go to the restaurant, get seated and fed nearly immediately, and feel VIP. Or you can pretend you’re dining and ditching. Really depends where you want to take this. As you can see, you’re ALL SET!

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*Music plays, crowd stands and applauses*

Keep in mind, as of now they only have New York City and SF Bay Area options. However, there is a clicky-doo that locates where places are in relation to you, so I assume they plan on expanding… if all goes well.

I won’t say this thing is perfect. I did find it a little confusing (that might just be me) to figure out what times were available and how to go through the menu options…. Overall, though, I found the program super straightforward. They also offer the option to join tables with other people, especially if you’re over 6 people. Plus, they have a deal that allows you to refer friends. With your own special little code, your friend gets $10 off and you get $10 off. That’s, like, $20!

What I addressed when I sent feedback was my uncertainty regarding changes of plans. What if your reservation and order is set at 7, but a friend forgot about his lobotomy at 5? Oh, no! There’s no way he’ll be dressed and ready to eat artichoke hearts by 7!  Can you still get a refund and change your number of people!? Or, what if you get to the restaurant and realize you’re suddenly extremely allergic to the pasta and peanut potato pancake you ordered? Methinks all these things can be dealt with at the restaurant, though. As long as you didn’t order something that had to be made way ahead of time….

Now that we covered the technology portion of this post, let’s talk about food-eating. After all, I took more time eating than I did with the booking thing.

Sacred Chow is yet another vegan restaurant in the West Village. I don’t say “yet another” because I am sick of them, I say it because there are so many! I am emphasizing that fact. It is my pleasure to announce that there is *yet another* vegan establishment in the West Village of New York City in the United States of America on Earth.

I’m not really sure what vibe or theme they’re aiming for, exactly…. It’s kind of Asian, but they also serve tempeh reuben, French lentil meatloaf, and Mama’s ‘No-Soy’ Meatballs. I don’t know. I guess it’s just a place that serves food that people want to eat. What a concept.

As soon as I got to Sacred Chow, I knew everything was cool. How did I know this? Because the waiter kept saying, “cool.”

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He had no one idea what Allset was, but I explained, and he said he’d go look into it. In the meantime, “Sit anywhere”, he said, “…anywhere is cool.”

Cool.

I sat facing the door so I could admire the beautiful view of a building’s wall across from me. Fortunately, there was enough stuff hanging on the restaurant’s walls to keep me amused. What confused me amidst all the Western-themed hanging lamps and meditating cows was a neon sign advertising Cerveza. I kind of felt like I had climbed the Himalayas seeking nirvana and found Keanu Reeves instead. “Cool… dude.”

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After sitting for awhile, I began to wonder if the waiter was planning on returning. Was he going to let me know if my order was received and recognized and paid for or is this a test of my willingness to speak up for myself?

Well… I have lukewarm water in a nifty jar thing and there’s stuff on the walls. Maybe I’ll just wait.

And wait.

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That’s when it happened. See that curtain back there? A hand appeared! I swear- not even a wrist, just a hand swung around the curtain, balanced a small plate on the edge of the counter, and disappeared. DEMONS! But, hey, it’s my food! Yay!

The waiter brought my plate over without a word. Well, maybe I heard, “Coooooolllll” off in the distance.

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Not gonna lie- at this point, I totally forgot what I had ordered. Brown stuff with green things. Probably that. Now that I can look at the menu online, I see it’s the Thai Ginger BBQ Seitan with roasted kale. None of those things had I guessed correctly. I guessed maybe BBQ something, but that’s just what I assume everything is.

I liked it. I liked my seitan a lot. However, of course, I have some comments. The thing is, the plate was small, right? Here I am trying to cut up these long curls of kale and strips of seitan, but there’s no room to spread! The only thing that can possibly occur is splashing of oils and sauces. Not gonna lie- I was getting pretty sweaty and anxious cutting this stuff up. Smaller chunks, my friends, smaller bits and pieces. That’s the point of tapas, after all! Although, I did get one piece of seitan that the right size, and it was also a bit more firm. That piece was heavenly! The rest was more like purgatory- like, a nice, good one. But that chunka hunka was just the right texture. Fortunately, the sauce wasn’t overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet or too gloppy. The kale was cooked nicely, too.

Take note, whenever you have the chance to serve a slice of lime, do it! Do it! There is nothing I love more than the smell of lime on my hands after a meal. I could be covered in blood and beans and baby powder and still feel fresh and clean if my hands are bathed in lime juice.

I took my time eating my little tapas. I enjoyed the conversations around me and the people screaming in Spanish outside. It was like home. Next thing I knew, my food was done. That is, until the waiter came over to inform me that it was cool that I was done and cool that I was still waiting for something else.

What was that something else? A COOKIE!!!! I didn’t really have my hopes too high. As I mentioned before, cookies are… eh. Cookies seldom get a mention or a huzzah. They don’t make lists or make children popular. They’re just cookies. What I didn’t take into account was that this was a no-soy, sugar-free, gluten-free toasted macaroon cookie. And, oh, baby, was it ever!

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That is my cookie. A cookie with no other that can compete. SUGAR-FREE? But, how? It’s so yummy and “buttery” and ALL the coconut. They hadn’t even mentioned the raspberry coulis on top, but I am mentioning it. Hard.

Macaroon cookie, just kidnap me and forever be mine. It was a cool treat, not right out of the oven, but it didn’t feel old or frozen. It was soft and decadent and man, I could have eaten that cookie forever.

Before this cookie affair took place, I was pretty ready to give Sacred Chow 8/10 unicorn hugs, but I’m thinking this treat alone gives them…

10/10 unicorn hugs

Check out things you’re not eating:

Sacred Chow

If you’re interested in Allset: an app for reserving seats, ordering your food, and paying ahead of time:

https://allsetnow.com/

Click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in when I review something else!

If you would like me to attend your event, review your food, or submit your own review, send an email to:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

 

Try your best, but you don’t succeed

I always thought Indian was in my blood. As though I could turn water into lassi. I love the Hindi language, I loved my week in India, the Hindu beliefs, the culture… and most of all, I love Indian food. I’ll eat daal and dosa or palak and poori any day of the week!

Being so convinced that I was born to be a disciple of Brahma, I got it in my head that I would be a natural when it came to cooking Indian food. That makes complete and total sense. Not delusional at all.

This is when I decided to make one of my favourite Indian foods: samosas! These are triangular pastries filled with potato and spices, then fried (or baked.) Samosas are beloved for their flaky dough and soft and salty insides. They are also often served with various chutney options or tamarind paste. They can be filled with lentils, peas, corn, onion, or any vegetable you like. I kept it simple: I just wanted spicy potatoes. Most people have samosas as a side or appetizer. They also serve as a tasty little lunch, though!

On my hunt for the most perfect and easiest samosa recipe online I came across The Flaming Vegan. On this website, I found a recipe for vegan samosas. The author of this recipe, Neha Basrani believes that I can prepare these dumplings of delish in 10 minutes, and after cooking for 30 minutes have perfect little Indian knishes. Here’s her photo:

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Okay- cool! I’m totally down for perfect symmetry; golden tetrahedrons. Just show me the way, Neha!

Here you can see her recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

For the pocket:

• 1 cup of all purpose flour

• Vegetable oil to fry the snack

For the filling:

• 3 large potatoes

• 1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped

• 1 onion finely chopped

• 2 green chilies finely chopped

• 3 tablespoon oil

• ½ teaspoon turmeric

• ½ teaspoon red chili powder

• ½ teaspoon crushed garlic

• ½ teaspoon grated ginger

• Salt to taste

Incredibly, I had many of these ingredients! Sure, I had to substitute leek for onion. 2 green chilies for one large. Cayenne instead of chili powder. Whatever. You get the idea. I was mostly there.

Unlike my usual cooking adventures, I was ready this time. I was willing to make all the mess, use all the bowls, and do whatever necessary in order to have my samosas come out ready to serve to Buddha. Yeah, Buddhism- WHAT!

Maybe using my recipe sheet as a spoon and vegetable rest wasn’t the best way of doing things, but I had no fear at this point. I was ready to cumin, salt, and conquer.

METHOD:

STEP 1: In a medium sized bowl, mix the oil, salt, and flour together to form dough. The dough should not be too hard nor too soft.

STEP 2: Cover the bowl with a cloth for for at least twenty minutes and let it rest.

STEP 3: For the filling, first peel, boil , and mash the potatoes.

I have never in my life peeled, boiled, nor mashed potatoes. Turns out, this is fairly easy. One might even say it was fun! Not that I had a potato masher tool thing…. I just used my fork and stabbed the potatoes a lot once they were boiled and soft. Anger management complete!

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Go, Potato, it’s your boilday! Gonna pot ya like it’s your boilday!

I did a really good job at boiling and mashing my potatoes. Pretty sure I could do that for a living. Not to brag. #hireme

STEP 4: Heat some oil in a pan (approximately 3 tablespoons). Add ginger, garlic, onion, and green chilies. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture turns golden brown.

STEP 5: Now add mashed potatoes, cilantro, salt, turmeric, and chili powder. Saute the mixture for two more minutes.

STEP 6: Set mixture aside for five minutes to cool.

I was pretty good at this, too. I chopped up two types of chili peppers and added a bunch of spices and herbs and junk. Like, you’d be impressed if you knew how much I added. The cacophony of flavours would flip your lid. The tricky part was knowing when the potato mix was “browned”. Turmeric is kinda golden, it turns the taters brownish. I just kind of assumed that they were cooked when they were burning my fingers. That is, because I kept taking forkfuls of the mix and eating it. This is part of the recipe that was left out. Always taste what you’re cooking… multiple times.

Now, here’s when things start getting complicated. I’m still completely confused when it comes to the dough.

STEP 7: Take the dough and roll it into 5” flat ovals. Cut each of them into halves.

STEP 8: Take one half and roll it like a cone in your hand.

STEP 9: Put about a tablespoon of the filling into your cone. Then seal the third side with a moist finger (use oil or water) so that when you deep fry them, no oil will enter.

STEP 10: Repeat. 

STEP 11: Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the samosas. Serve them piping hot with dipping sauce of your choice, such as a chutney.

My dough wasn’t really cooperating. I really did use the amounts of oil and flour that are suggested here, but the dough was like bread crumbs. So, I added more oil. Then more flour. Then more oil. No matter what I did, the dough kept falling apart!

In this photo, things were looking okay. Maybe even promising. I took a big ball of my crumbles and squished them together. Then I made a triangle with my hands. I’m not sure what the logistics were supposed to be when it came to cutting and shaping, but I just kinda did what made sense to me.

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Apparently, what makes sense to me is nonsense. Everything just… wasn’t good.

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I don’t know how many samosas you’ve seen or eaten in your life, but I’ve had many. Many. Never in my life have I ever had a samosa that looked like this. My dough was just not having it. It was like, “Yo, it’s Saturday. It’s my day off, I’m not dealing with this.”

For my second trick I took pieces of dough and applied it like cement to the cracks. Not gonna say I’m a genius, but I’m pretty sure I’m thinking at Einstein level.

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Check that out! It almost looks like something! I continued this method due to the success I was having. Great success, let me tell you.

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I mean, how badly do you want to eat these samosas? They look just like the stuff you get at the restaurant, ammirite?

Put those suckers in the oven at 250 for 30 minutes…. Oh, yeah, I decided to bake them rather than fry them, ’cause I’m so health conscious and junk. This meant I had to totally guess time and temperature. Sounded good to me. Like they say: too much is better than too little! …right?

At this point, I had also decided these little guys were going to completely transform in the oven. Like, they were supposed to look like this, and then would change completely as they heated up.

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A little something I learned in the 90s

Presto! It worked!

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Wait… no… that’s not right. Let me try again.

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There we go. Levitating lunch.

Remember earlier when I told you that people loved samosa because of their flaky exterior? We missed the boat on that one, kids. My samosa dough wasn’t bad, but it was soft and fluffy. Like a cupcake samosa for your toothless friends.

Now, am I going to lie and tell you that my samosas came out looking like love dumplin’s? Yes.

Now you can try!

My attempt: 2/10 satars for appearance and likeness … but, 7/10 satars for flavour!

The recipe itself: 8/10 satars

If you would like me to try your recipe or product, or you would like to submit your own review, contact me at: sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

Also, be sure to check out my new Facebook page. It’ll be growing over the next few weeks! https://www.facebook.com/sweettooth.nothings

 

To quit or not to quit?

“5 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Travel”

This was the first headline I saw when I opened the interwebs to Twitter today. I’ve seen a million blog titles like this, and my thought is always the same, “But… I don’t have a job.”

Most people have a job of some sort, but many people at my age and in my position in life don’t have a job. This means your family is either entirely paying your bills or helping you out a lot. Maybe you’re even living with them. In which case, it seems impossible to leave school, your side job, or caring for a loved one, and take up the travel life. After all, how will you even get to your first destination without $100 to your name?

This is why I’ve saved you the grief, disappointing reality check, and shame by creating a new list. This one is titled, “5 Reasons Not to Travel Right Now”

5. You have plenty of time. I am sure you hear this a lot, and you’re impatient, and feeling rebellious. You’re in your 20s or 30s and hearing, “Clean your room!” for the millionth time.You already have a list of things to pack and are researching how difficult it is to live on a mountain in a small van with a broken window. HELP.png

Maybe that is what you need, but maybe you’re idealizing it a tad. Even if you don’t LOVE the life you’re living, that doesn’t mean the nomads you read about are living the dream, either. Everything online is photoshopped, even travel adventures.

3853bbc7c85dabe4c3723df5f10b7cf5.jpgIf the article doesn’t mention the struggles, the nights of questioning life choices, and all the tears and fears, then you’re reading a lie. Traveling to a new country every month is great, but it’s not for everyone. Figure out what you’re seeking and why you want to run away before you start making these huge decisions.

4. Times is tough. If you’re in school still, you’re drowning. The things you want to do, the things you need to do, and the things you might not get around to doing seem to be all life is about. The moment you find an escape, you want to make a run for it!

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If you’re currently working towards something, you’re on a good path. You’re working your way towards something you’re either passionate about or that will give you a career. Not just a job for a month, but a career to which you can become dedicated and feel useful and productive. When it comes to travel work, nothing is certain. Money, housing, and even good company can be hard to find. And, then, once you’ve seen it all, and got that wanderlust satisfied, will you be able to return home? If so, what will you find there? Most likely, you’ll have to start from scratch, even if you decide to live in a foreign country. There are no quick solutions, no matter where you’re living or visiting, there are bills to pay and your life to maintain.

3. Adjusting is hard. Now, let’s say you’ve made the big leap. You’ve dropped out, quit, and said goodbye to everyone. You’re off to find… things! You can’t go to your local coffee shop, you can’t necessarily text your best friend at 3 AM, and you may not be able to speak the language with which you are most familiar and comfortable. Everything is different.

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This is a good thing in some cases. Being out of the safety net and living a bit dangerously is a great experience. It’s also a difficult reality once you’re deep into your new lifestyle. Taking a vacation in Disneyland for a week is not the same as moving to Bangkok for a year. You might face some obstacles that you simply did not expect to face. No one took a moment to warn you about something, and now you’re facing it alone. Maybe this is part of the struggle and adventure- maybe this is the wake up call you were seeking, but in that moment, it’s difficult and scary. Obstacles are not to be taken lightly, you never know when you might break. It might even be the moment you realize that the country you’re stuck in doesn’t sell your favourite beverage. Seems tiny, but convenience is not to be taken for granted.

2. People!! Ugh, traveling would be so much easier if it weren’t for other people, am I right? It is so hard leaving the people you know and love. What if someone gets sick while you’re gone? What if someone has a baby that you won’t get to meet? Geez, what if someone dies? Maybe you’ll miss that hug from someone who always knows just where and when to grab ya…. e69f200cfabab58f7eb0b8343abd9441.jpg

Even if you really feel there is no one at home who you will miss, there is something about seeing familiar faces that gives a person some warmth and joy. Are you prepared to have those faces come and go at a rapid pace? One day you’re meeting your soulmate in Korea, the next day you’re traveling to Bangladesh without them. The people for whom you care, the countries you fall in love with, and all the things you come to enjoy in one place won’t be coming with you once you move along. Everything is changed and replaced, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. You don’t know until the time comes and you’ve made a choice. Every choice has an uncertain outcome. The thrill may wear off, and you could be left feeling lonely and afraid, a feeling to which you may have to adjust sometimes.

1.The deeper reason. Most people know they want to travel and see the world, but not everyone leaves their lives behind and starts anew in a country they can barely pronounce. The question is: Why you? Why now? Problems will follow you, feelings will linger… you can’t run away from yourself.

Not everyone who travels hates their life, I think that’s a myth, but everyone is trying to escape something or find something. There’s nothing wrong with that! But, will you find the solution? If you’re just jumping around the world thinking that eventually the solution will fall upon you, then you may find yourself extremely depressed, even while riding a fishing boat around a beautiful island in the sun. Looking for solutions and answers is great, and doing so through travel is possibly one of the best ways to do it, but coping when the answer is not found can be hard. At the end of the journey it’s awful to feel as though you’ve wasted years of your life- that’s not the goal. Traveling should be fulfilling a dream; leaving behind the ordinary and predictable!

I didn’t write this to dissuade people from traveling, let me be clear about that. Even after considering all these cons, I still aim to travel the world, write, and be washed over by fantasy… once I graduate from school. However, I think there are many articles that make it seem as though travel is perfect, it’s perfect for everyone, and everyone should do it right away.

If you can’t do it right this moment or you’re not ready to do it- that’s okay! Don’t feel like you’re wasting your time or missing out on something. As is the case for me, when the time is right, you can make that choice. If it’s not for you, just follow other people’s adventures, travel when you can, and make the best of your life at home!

In the meantime, get satisfied!

If you would like to submit your own experiences or opinions on travel, or you would like me to write about any particular topic of interest, please contact me at: sweettoothnothings@gmail.com