Thursday, April 27, 2006


Well, a coworker and I went to a local elementary school today to judge a science fair so I didn't bring the lunchbox with me. It took us about 45 minutes this morning to drive to the school (I know, local?) and we got there about 9AM. It took us until almost 1PM to finish all the judging. There were lots of interesting science projects, and it's always fun to listen to kids (kindergarten through 4th grade) explain scientific things to you. I was actually quite shocked because it was two kids in kindergarten that impressed us the most with their knowledge of their project and the subject matter that they dealt with. Anyway, when all that was done, we stopped by Rush Street Grill for lunch on our way back to work. It's a local restaurant, so unless you live close to me I don't guess there's any use in searching for one. They have some really good food. I used to eat there a lot back when I was vegetarian because they actually have quite a few vegetarian options. Trying to eat vegan there presents a few additional challenges, but it is very doable. It's one of the easier places in town to eat vegan at, which I why I still like to frequent it as often as I can. It is a beautiful day here in Tennessee and they have a really nice outdoor dining area, which is where we sat. The main lunch crowd had already left and gone back to work, so it ended up being really nice.

I ordered what I usually like to eat there, which you will see in a moment, but I opted to replace the fries that normally come with it with a nice salad. First of all, besides just not really being that healthy, I assume most places probably just fry their french fries in the same oil that they fry everything else in, including frozen items containing cheese or animal parts, so that right there probably makes most restaurant french fries NOT VEGAN. There are a couple of places where I will eat the fries, but only because I happen to know that they use a dedicated fryer and oil for their potatoes. I did have to specify that I didn't want any cheese, bacon bits or croutons on the salad. In other words, I said I wanted "just vegetables". I thought I might have trouble with the dressings since a lot of them contain mayonnaise, and I believe even most Italian dressings contain parmesan cheese, but they had some yummy vinegar & oil which arrived in separate containers and was really tasty. It was a good salad.

Then it was time for the main course. I got the Grilled Portabella Sandwich. It's a big portabella mushroom cap which is grilled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's topped with some grilled onions and roasted peppers, spinach leaves, tomato and onion. It normally comes with some cheese on it too, along with some basil mayo, but leaving those two things off, like I did, make this delicious sandwich vegan. It's a little messy eating it, because the mushroom is SO juicy, but it is very delicious.

Eating this sandwich actually got me stirred up again because I have been thinking a lot about all the cookouts that will be coming up this Summer at the lake and at people's houses. I had decided yesterday, after eating that hot dog, that vegan hot dogs would probably be the easiest option for me to take to cookouts so that I could eat something I like and still fit in with everyone else. I thought that might be better than a veggie burger since my favorite veggie burger really doesn't try to copy the taste of meat, it just has its own delicious flavor, but it would probably be hard to cook on a grill without it falling apart. But today, while I was eating that grilled mushroom, I was just thinking that honestly, that was the most meat-like thing that I had eaten since I became a vegan. So I may be taking some big portabella mushrooms to cookouts this season. Of course, there's then all kinds of other things you can worry about when cooking out, like keeping my food away from the meat on the grill, don't touch my mushroom with that spatula you just handled meat with, etc. But I'll cross those bridges when I come to them.

Actually, just a bunch of grilled vegetables like squash and zucchini, like I had at Cootie Brown's a while back, on a sandwich would also be good for a cookout. And speaking of cookouts, I got an e-mail reply from Texas Pete's about their Hot Dog Chili Sauce that I loved so much but had started to wonder whether it was vegan or not since it contained "natural flavor". Well, I got a quick reply from a lady named Becky Michael, who is a Quality Assurance Manager, and she said: "I am pleased to tell you that sauce is indeed suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The natural flavor in the chili is a reactive flavor on a soy oil base. There are no animal sources in the product." Yipee! I really like that stuff on vegan hot dogs, and it is very inexpensive. I'm actually surprised that they don't try to market it to vegetarians and vegans. I don't know if you've ever noticed it in the store where you live or not, but it comes in a can and is always over there beside all the canned meats like tuna, potted meat, SPAM and all that stuff. The LAST place you would expect to find a vegan hot dog chili. There are usually several brands of this meatless, usually fat-free, chili sauce lined up, but every other one that I have ever seen, even the fat-free ones, contain beef fat in the list of ingredients. Texas Pete is the only one I have been able to find that contains absolutely no animal products whatsoever. And guess what, it tastes good.

Well, that was lunch for Thursday. It was really nice eating outside, and missing the lunch crowd. Plus my food from Rush Street was really, really delicious. Definitely a place I would recommend eating if you ever find yourself in Kingsport, Tennessee.

I'll be back with the lunchbox tomorrow. See you then, and have a GREAT day.


Jane M said...

Wow, what a day. Sounds like it went well though! Oh, I found this site and it has a lot of raw recipes so I'm relaying it to you.

Anonymous said...

Here's a great idea for cookouts using Tofurky Beer Brats.

Brooke said...

Your lunch looks awesome. Am now craving a mushroom burger!

bitterknitter said...

Hi, I've been reading your blog for a week or so! I hope to get me a laptop lunchbox soon, it will be easier than my current lunch method :)

For the grilling, I usually put a piece of foil on the grill and threaten everyone with serious harm if they touch anything that is on my piece of foil. That way it is clear what is allowed to be flipped and what isn't! It also keeps whatever I'm cooking from getting any of the flavor from the grill since I know most people don't really clean their grill. The tofurky brats are yummy too!

kennyboy said...

Oh yes, Tofurkey brats look awesome. I hadn't seen those. I had found several non-meat brats but they weren't vegan. I am glad to see that these are.

The foil is a great idea emily. I will have to remember that.

jeni4 said...

I live in Texas so cookouts are just about a weekly thing and I face a lot of those problems, too. What I usually do is bring my own burgers or hotdogs and wrap them in foil, that way I won't have to worry about someone using a meat infested spatula on it and I also don't have to worry about me sounding rude if I ask the person cooking not to touch my burger with the spatula or any other meat. They've always tasted good wether they're in foil or not. So that seems to work the best for me, so maybe that helps you out. :)

and I just read the comments other people left and noticed someone else already mentioned it... oh well. hehe.