Sunday, February 22, 2009

San Francisco on Film

Last weekend, we finally got our act together and went out to watch "Milk" at the Castro Theatre (, a San Francisco landmark dating back to the silent film era. We missed the film's initial run a few months back so we were delighted when it returned for a pre-Oscar re-release.

About fifteen minutes before the movie started, an organ rose out of the stage in front of the screen. The organist began playing film standards like Moon River and Somewhere Over the Rainbow, bringing back a bit of the magic that has gone missing from the modern movie experience. We'll take that over ninety minutes of awful movie previews any day.

”Milk” was excellent and it was especially interesting to watch the demonstrations against Prop 6 (1978) being played out on film much in the same way the anti-Prop 8 demonstrations took over the city last year. However, while Prop 6 was voted down in California three decades ago, Prop 8 passed...for now, at least. So much for progress.

Still, in doing a bit of research on Prop 8, we found a link to the Prop 8 contributions ( from our neighbors in our Castro zip code:

Donations in support of Prop 8: 18.
Donations in opposition to Prop 8: 3908.

Seeing those numbers brings up a bit of San Francisco pride.

During almost every crowd scene in the movie, we could hear whispers from one row or another in the dark around us, exclaiming "hey, that's me!" We laughed at the thought that half of our audience seemed to have been an extra in the film. When "Milk" was being filmed in the city, ads were placed on Craigslist inviting the public to appear at specific areas in period clothing to be extras. Unfortunately, the filming took place on weekdays while we were at work...having seen the film, we wish we'd called in sick.

If you haven't seen the film yet, do so. And if you have the chance to watch it at the Castro, definitely do so. It was so cool to watch a movie about "The Mayor of Castro Street" while sitting in a theater on Castro Street. Thirty-plus years ago, Harvey Milk's camera shop was located a block from where we were sitting. On our walk home after the film ended, we even passed the storefront that was once Castro Camera.

All of the actors were fantastic. Sean Penn's Oscar nomination is well-deserved and we are hoping he wins this weekend. James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Alison Pill also stood out, as did the city of San Francisco.

Tune in to our next San Francisco Film Review when we'll be exploring Telegraph Hill through the lens of the documentary film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Further Adventures in Vegan Cooking

Chris and I have been having fun with new vegan recipes again. Our latest experiments include:

* Vegan Donuts

* Buffalo “chicken” wings

* FLT sandwiches with homemade “facon”

* Fruit tarts with blueberry and apple fillings

* Strawberry & banana “ice cream”

* Blueberry muffins

* Coffee crumb cakes

* Eggplant Parmesan (with pine nut cream)

The photo above was taken on the night we made FLT sandwiches and Buffalo wings. We usually try to avoid cooking with wheat gluten/seitan but both dishes were delicious and we wanted to share them here.

Facon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches



- 1/2 cup of chickpeas

- 2 tbsp olive oil

- 1/2 cup water

- 2 tbsp Bragg's soy seasoning

- 1 tsp liquid smoke

- 1 tbsp maple syrup

- 1 tsp sage

- 1 cup vital wheat gluten


1. Finely mash chickpeas with a fork in a bowl. Add everything else in but the wheat gluten and mix well. Add in wheat gluten and mix with a fork, then knead by hand for a few minutes.

2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan over med-low heat. While pan is heating, flatten dough out with the heel of your hand on a cutting board. Get as flat as possible.

3. Cut dough into thin strips resembling bacon (only thinner). Flatten each strip even more before placing in the pan. The thinner the better. Place in pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, until crispy and no longer "squishy." Add a little more oil to the pan, if necessary, when flipping “bacon” strips.




Tempura Mix


For the “chicken”, place seitan in tempura mix and coat completely. Fry until golden. Set aside.

Sauce recipe from:,1839,132191-246195,00.html


2 cups of dry cayenne peppers (50 grams)
1/2 cup of water
1/3 cup of chopped onion
1 chopped garlic
1/3 cup of chopped tomato
1 cup of white vinegar
1 stick of butter
1 bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/2 of the juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of honey


Start by roasting the cayenne peppers on a pan over a medium high flame. Toss them around inside the pan for a couple of minutes and make sure you don't let these get burned. Add enough water to cover the peppers and bring water to a boil. Let them cook for ten minutes. Drain water and place them in blender. Add 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar and salt. Blend on high and allow to percolate.

Place Smart Balance on a pan over a medium flame so that it melts. Add onion, garlic, tomato and the whole bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Let all cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Immediately pour into blender and add the percolated cayenne pepper sauce. Blend on high for two minutes. Add the lemon juice, honey and ketchup, and blend again for a few seconds. Pour back into the pan where you melted the butter, and let it simmer for a good 20 minutes.

Pour sauce over seitan pieces and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm.