Nov 13, 2010

mother's cafe and garden (MoFo 7)

Mother's Cafe and Garden is located in Austin, TX. Anyone who has traveled through the great beef state knows that Austin is the haven for vegetarians in a sea of meat-aholics. I even think they have their burgers with a side of beef.

Anyway, that is what it was like back a decade ago when we lived there. As with all places things change and there were some unfortunate turn of events concerning the veg establishments there. One was that Mother's Cafe burned down. Since then they have rebuilt, but after being open since 1985, they had to keep their doors closed for eight months during the refurbishment. Boy, we're gone for a few years and the whole place falls apart!

This was the very first place we frequented as newly indoctrinated vegans. Although the place is vegetarian, they have very strict sanitary practices regarding segregating vegetarian instruments and cooking vessels with vegan ones. Looking back now, I realize we were the 'vegan police,' and such vigilance is best reserved for omni restaurants, but for what we were looking for then, they certainly fit the bill.

They are not high end, have reasonable prices and pretty good food. So if in Texas, you know what city to aim to get to.

Starting with a drink, the Iced Hibiscus-Mint tea is a must. Hibiscus not only is reported to lower blood pressure, but tastes refreshing with the mint. No sweetener was ever required by me - the complimentary flavors of the tea were enough without having to mask it with sugar.

On to the Garden Patch Salad. This was my first taste of sunflower sprouts and it made me try to grow them myself. Not as easy to grow as alfalfa sprouts, they are worth the extra effort. Let me tell you about the Cashew Tamari dressing! I must have spent at least a pound of cashews trying to get the flavor just right so we can have it at home (we weren't exactly next to Mother's, you see). 

The Chili Rellenos alas were filled with cheese and we never got to try them, but that is only extra impetus to make them vegan. Rellenos are poblano peppers (usually) that have been roasted, skinned and seeded. They are then stuffed with cheese, covered in an egg batter and fried. I stuffed mine with Native Chi's that I made for Native Foods menu mixed with black beans. The Native Chi's melted (yay!), but you can use Daiya or Follow Your Heart or any cheese from the Uncheese Cookbook. They will melt. I advise against using only cheese (even dairy) since it is just too much. 

The batter is really the most challenging part. It has fry light and not leave the relleno oily. My version was very good and I was very happy that we could have a relleno again. I think it does need more testing since the authentic version uses whipped eggs and just like flan or sunny side up eggs, eggs are eggs and I am not mother nature. Although, I certainly pretend to be sometimes!

Lastly, I couldn't omit my oldest daughter's favorite dish at Mother's: Sage Mashed Potatoes. Go light on the sage since it can be overpowering, but make sure not to add so little that the flavor is not evident.

Cost Breakdown:

hibiscus tea, mint: $1

carrot, cuke, tomato, onion: $2
lettuce, purple cabbage: $3
tamari, cashew, balsamic, oil: $2
sprouts: $2
Total to make 4 servings:

poblano: $4
cheese: $1
tomato, onion, garlic: $2
black beans: $2
ener-G, cashew, flour: $1.50
Total to make 4 servings:

Potatoes, milk, sage: $4

Hibiscus-Mint Tea

Garden Patch Salad

Chili Relleno

Sage Mashed Potatoes


  1. That is very sage advice your daughter. Lovely post.

  2. Do you know Piraro? Because he has just as many wonderful puns as you do. I love puns, btw. Very much.

  3. Boy I haven't been to Austin in a long time! I don't know where you live now but Texas is still pretty much the Meat state. They will serve it with bread though, or corn or potatoes if necessary. Sometimes you can even get greens that have been cooked to mush along with a nasty piece of bacon. Anyhow, I love your menus and breakdowns, very inventive.
    The last time I had a chile relleno it had sunflower seeds and raisins mixed with spices in the filling. Granted it was a while back but it definitely "made" the dish, much better than cheese alone would have been.

  4. Thanks for visiting, Laurelvb.

    I'm in the Chicago-area now, but have ALL the family back in the Meat State. We lived in Austin (the best of the bunch) and Dallas and Ft. Worth.
    Texas is thinking out of the box,now, are they? Meat with vegetables adn grains! Daring!

  5. I just found your blog and love it! Especially your photo stream. I've been looking at the photos and coming back to the blog to search for the recipes that look good to me :) Just whipped up the Cashew Tamari Dressing, yum!!!!!

  6. Thanks, Tammy! Glad to have you here!


Thanks for your comment! I'll check if it's spam and post if it is not. I appreciate your time and effort for commenting! ~ Zsu