Jungle Jim’s Visit

After a crazy few weeks at work, I was looking to get out of town. After having visited Jungle Jim’s nearly two years ago with my friend, Erin, we decided to make our way there so that my husband could experience it for himself.

Now, we’re really lucky in that my hometown of Louisville, for a city its size, has a ton of international markets spread throughout the city. And if I wanted to, I could probably find all of the ingredients I purchased in various markets around town. But to find them all under one roof? Well, that’s the beauty of Jungle Jim’s, which is based outside of Cincinnati. Sure, you can do your regular grocery shopping there, but its international section is a sight to behold. Oh, and not to mention that the store itself looks like a combination of a Chuck E. Cheese and a water park. It’s just bizarre.

If you decide to make your way there, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes and eating a good meal before you head into the market. You’re going to be there for a while (we spent nearly three hours there and were even rushing towards the end) and there’s nothing worse than being hungry while shopping for food. We opted to fill up at a Chipotle next door, which does offer vegan items (avoid the pinto beans as they are cooked with bacon).

So, what did we bring back from our trip?

  • jackfruit in brine
  • black salt
  • rice vinegar
  • shichimi tōgarashi (Japanese Seven Spice)
  • chocolate extract
  • coffee extract
  • Düsseldorf-style German mustard
  • Chinese mustard
  • black sesame seeds
  • panang curry paste
  • habanero and orange peel hot sauce

When we got to the counter, I was afraid so see the total, but we only spent $66 in all, and that also included two six packs of beer, a bag of okra and a bag of raw almonds. And most of the ingredients we purchased will last a while.

My only complaints about the place are that its natural food section, while fairly large, is really, really pricey. Also, the carts: I really wish they would offer smaller, pushable carts. The place gets really packed and with everyone pushing large carts, aisles can get quite jammed.

Still, if you’re anywhere near Fairfield, Ohio, a trip to Jungle Jim’s is a must. And if you aren’t completely worn out from browsing international foods all day, there is an IKEA about 15 minutes away (we managed a quick trip there, too).

Hope you all are well! I’ll have some food posts up soon.

Holiday Cookies and Appetizers

My husband and I, along with our fabulous downstairs neighbors, had a holiday gathering last night, with cookies being the major theme. We both provided a few savory snacks in addition to the sweets, and it was a chance for me to try a few new dishes. And with me being the procrastinator that I am, I was down to the wire trying to get everything onto the table, so I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures. But, this morning, I was at least able to snap a shot of some of the leftover cookies that we made for the get-together.

Cookies

For cookie ideas, we turned to Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I decided to make the Linzertorte Thumbprint Cookies, and my husband decided to make the Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies – his first ever attempt to make cookies from scratch, I might add. Both cookies turned out perfectly. We took the recipes directly from the book without any variation, so I’m not going to post the recipes here, but like all of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s and Terry Hope Romero’s books, I highly recommend that you purchase them for your cookbook collection.

The thumbprint cookies looked very fancy, but they were surprisingly easy to make. They consisted of a lightly-sweetened shortbread dough, rolled in crushed hazelnuts, and then topped with a tiny dollop of raspberry jam.

The oatmeal cookies, according to my husband, were also easy to make. The instant espresso powder and chocolate chips really took the oatmeal cookies to a whole new level. They were chewy and sweet, without being too sweet.

Appetizers

For the savory portion of our spread, I decided to try three new recipes: Chestnut Lentil Pâté, Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart, and vegan cream cheese topped with red pepper jelly and walnuts. They were all incredibly easy to make and turned out way better than I had expected.

The pâté recipe was pulled directly from Veganomicon. I discovered a few days ago, after buying two pounds of chestnuts and roasting a few of them, that I really don’t like chestnuts. At least by themselves. But their strange, meaty texture works perfectly for a pâté. Now, I’ve never had real pâté before, but to me, this looked just like the real thing. It had a touch of sweetness from the chestnuts, and paired well with melba toast.

My favorite appetizer of the entire evening was the Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart, which you can find here on Vegan Yum Yum. It was super-easy, and looked beautiful on the tray. It was also a big hit with our guests (I should have made more!). The white bean spread was very reminiscent of a hummus, but the Dijon mustard, cashews, and pesto set it apart from its chickpea cousin.

Last weekend, my friend, Erin, and I venture up north just outside of Cincinnati to check out Jungle Jim’s, which is what can best be described and the “Las Vegas of grocery stores.” The place is overwhelmingly huge, and has an incredible international food section. We stocked up on fun party foods while we were there, and using her suggestion, I picked up a bottle of red pepper jelly. For the party, I spread it over vegan cream cheese and topped it with walnuts. The spicy and sweet jelly paired perfectly with the tangy cream cheese, and the walnuts added a nice crunch when spread over a cracker.

Our spread also included some other goodies, but I was most proud of our cookies and other new recipe additions.

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season!