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Thursday, August 9, 2018

If I Die Road Trip: Part One.

Recently we were on a road trip. It was relatively spontaneous, I almost decided not to go. In the end I went for one main reason, I had major surgery scheduled imminently weighing over me like a cloud. Not to be morbid, but I decided this would be my "what if I die" road trip. It has been a protracted hardship to say the least since Irma struck down here. Being mucked down almost 1 year in post Irma recovery, still having an empty lot where the house was, and our business not yet reopened, I figured damn that would REALLY suck if that was the exclamation point on the end of my life.

We flew to Montana first to pick up a car that we would drive back to the Keys for a friend. The location was quite remote, the house sits high up in the mountains. The road is paved, but the long road to the house is not. Didn't see anyone, didn't care to see anyone.

We flew Delta, which I've never done before. They actually had a fully vegan in flight snack purchase option, first time I've ever seen such a thing. We had 1 layover before the final destination. I quickly came to realize that airports have also upped their vegan game. As usual, whenever I have time I explore what the vegan options are, including airports. To my absolute astonishment we found the airport to be vegan friendly both in multiple restaurant options as well as packaged food options. Look at these photos:

This was available on the airplane
for anyone who desired!
Vegan for the win!
This was just one of the all vegan
choices available at one of the
restaurants where our layover
was.
That's a house made vegan patty
for the other happy vegan!
This was the first time
I've seen this relatively new
product for sale.
It's a meal replacement drink.
I didn't try it, but think
it's an excellent choice
for the airport shops to carry.
This is what I ordered, it was huge.
Hard to see but it had a small scoop of
hummus and a small scoop of
something else ... was it baba ganoush?
I forget, but it was delicious!
The airport had an ice
cream bar with
a vegan selection!







Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dessert? Yes Please!

This post is dedicated to dessert. Besides breakfast or brunch, probably my favorite food topic. We're tasked with talking about a favorite dessert, a memorable dessert... vegan style. Lucky for me, life recently brought something my way on topic for here. The dessert topic also brought reminiscing my way, as you'll see at the end of this post.

I like cake. It's safe to say I like cake enough that I went to cake school and learned cakey things. I've trained a bit with a pastry chef, and I liked cake enough to have a side business going as a vegan baker. Chocolate is my favorite, but there's almost no combination I'm unwilling to try (although carrot cake is bottom of the food chain here). I'm off the cake game since Irma, and have pretty much hung up my baking apron but...

One of the people I work with in the natural foods cafe I'm at had a birthday coming up. I don't really keep up with birthdays much anymore, working there is busy besides I'm so unmotivated to do much of anything these days. But, this one came to my attention because he was talking about it at least a month in advance with glee and excitement. I mean, who does that anymore... who looks forward to their birthday once we've passed the milestones of 18 and 21? It's been a while since I noted my own, plus it was welcome to the AARP years, no thank you. But, he likes his birthday. I've been going through another rough patch. As you know I usually combat difficult times with exercise or working with food. Exercise is currently off the list for a few reasons, and my kitchen still needs help. Add that I've lost much of my equipment in Irma, I wasn't sure what I could do for his birthday, but I did decide cake was in order.

I rummaged through the cake ware I have left. I pulled 2 pans without measuring, I thought they were 8"but turned out they were 10", this I realized as I filled them with batter. This meant I had to make 2 more layers because they were too thin to make a pretty cake on their own; not a really big deal because all this part was 2 days before the birthday.

I had been planning an Elvis cake.... banana cake with peanut butter frosting. Todd (birthday boy) is a fiend for peanut butter. After almost every peanut butter smoothie I make at the cafe, I offer him the spoon before washing and setting it into the blue goo (disinfectant). He almost never declines. So... bananas & peanut butter it was (plus chocolate chips into the batter because you know... chocolate is life).

My cake was mostly inspired by the banana/peanut butter frosting cake I had one time at the Cafe in Key West. The cake was good, but the frosting made me swoon. I could've eaten a vat of that stuff. See?
My inspiration.
That peanut butter frosting... it could solve the worlds problems, I'm sure.
I have a recipe for peanut butter frosting I've used many times, it's never failed me, yay. The next morning, I made a 4x batch of the peanut butter frosting for the filling. I filled and crumb coated the cake, set it in the fridge and off to work I went. So far so good, no issues. Cake is beautiful (although twice the size as planned), first several batches of icing for the filling and crumb coating were perfect too. Plans were to finish the cake after I got home from work, usually between 6:30pm and 7:00pm.

When I got home, I made my next mistake. Instead of finishing the cake first, I decided to get down to kitty snuggles, snacks for dinner, and drinking one of my first ever home brew kombuchas (success! at least with that...) 

Once I finally got around to the cake, I decided to make a 6x batch of the peanut butter frosting. I had plans for a super thick coating with swirls and poofy things of soft, luscious PB icing. I did the math and checked it twice. As soon as the sugar hit the frosting, I knew something was wrong. Now, from here I could write several paragraphs of how it all went SO very wrong, but I'll edit down to this: the 6x batch could not be saved, it landed in the compost. I went to the market at 9:30pm (just before they closed) to fetch more peanut butter and sugar to make a 4x batch, it also didn't work however I salvaged enough to coat the giant cake. I took my hobbled cake to the finish line with my no fail chocolate frosting for decorations and still warm ganache to cover much of it. The edible silver and gold stars are vegan of course, from Sweetopolita's vegan line. None of the other sprinkles I had on hand color coordinated, and I couldn't write "Happy Birthday" on the cake because the lettering wouldn't set right on the ganache either (another reason you see those marks on the top ganache, sigh).

By the time I took the cake to the fridge (just before 2am) I popped it onto a scale, it weighed in at just under 10 pounds. Not a big deal if you're feeding a roomful of people, but this was made for a bachelor.

Inside.
Tasted good, but was cut while still ice cold. It crumbled a bit.
I suppose any baker will see only their imperfections on the
finished project, but I'm relieved the birthday boy was happy.
Mission accomplished.
Todd has a good sense of humor.
He and the other kitchen staff make my days better.
This whole experience had me thinking back to a time long ago when the other happy vegan made me a cake. A birthday cake. With his version of Hello Kitty on it. This was a really big deal in my life because this was so long ago that although I was vegan, he was not. We weren't even living in Florida yet. But, he went out and got the stuff and made me a cake, a vegan one. I think at that time I had only one other vegan cake made for me on a birthday, and it was custom ordered by a now long defunct vegan restaurant that did indeed make one of the best chocolate cakes you could ever imagine. Birthdays were still kinda fun back then, but they didn't usually involve cake unless I made my own. He was good for that kind of thing, the specialness of events, and making things fun.

This was a long time ago.
No comment on the hair please...
So, yeah, remember I said "his version" of a Hello Kitty cake. I mean, it was close enough I knew what he was going for... and it was the first time anyone had made a home version of a vegan cake, I was so excited, must've been quite wonderful because some 20 years later I'm still remembering this cake. Yes, you can say for sure this was a favorite dessert of mine.

This prompt from VeganMoFo covers July and August. Not sure if I'll have the opportunity to offer a second round for the topic, maybe or maybe not. I've got a few things coming up very soon that will impact my available time, but if I have the opportunity to write for you, I will do so.

Cake on, vegan style, my friends.

xo til next time!


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Food with Friends!

I read an article on line recently or maybe it was a blog post, regardless the subject matter caught my attention. The writer was asking "why don't food bloggers just get to the recipe?!!! Why do I have to read through so much writing before getting to the point?" I wanted to see the "official" reason for that, although I have my own reasons. Basically, the magic reason is that bloggers like to write. Well, then.... can I just add that water is wet. Haha. But seriously, yes, bloggers like to write. I like to write. My grammar skills and punctuation may be weak, but I needed a creative outlet plus I needed to build my own vegan tribe at a time when I felt isolated. Ironically, everything that's old is new again as we vegans in the Keys are finally weaving our own little patchwork quilt of online social media, in person activism events, and other in person gatherings to have fun, educate people, raise awareness and do anything we can to help the community with veganism. I do have a recipe for you this month, if you want to skip my story here, scroll down. I mean, an entire article had to be written to solve the "problem" of skipping over a story to get to a recipe? First world problems baby, first world problems.

Allow me to get to the story here (the rest of you can scroll down to the recipe/method, pictures and videos)

A little over a week ago, we took our first totally full day off since Hurricane Irma to do nothing but "play" here in the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys Vegan Community was holding it's monthly potluck. I was excited to be able to tie this potluck in with the current summertime VeganMoFo prompt "food with friends." Since one of the organizers has Celiac, I wanted to make sure my own contributions were completely gluten free. I do not have Celiac, but do far better with zero wheat and gluten in my body. Unfortunately, that concern of mine has taken a back seat to simply being grateful to have vegan food especially through the first several months of recovery when things were total chaos. I've not yet reigned that aspect back in, but will soon(ish). You know how much I love those tempeh reubens from Sugar Apple in Key West... the sandwich by which all other sandwiches in the Universe are rated against... I decided to bring a gluten free version, inspired by the tofu reuben created by the Manatee Cafe (St. Augustine). The Manatee Cafe version is not gluten free, maybe they can make it GF but I've never asked for it that way from them. They use fairy dust and eco friendly glitter to make their sandwich happen tofu style. Any problems I had with bread would be solved because the Food for Thought natural foods store in Marathon now sells a vegan gluten free bread by the Deland company which is truly delicious. It's the only gluten free bread I've discovered in all my years here that I think is worth eating. As I made my way to the freezer for the magical Deland bread my heart sank.... sold out. I tell a lot of people about good products, Deland being just one of them. Good to see people listen, bad to see now I was stuck with no bread for the gluten free reubens. Hm..... what to do.

I ended up using Food for Life gluten free multi seed English muffins. I often keep a box of those in my freezer anyway. They are spendy in my opinion ($6.59 US for a pack of 6) but they are good. The marinade is based on a recipe I found on the internet. I'm not copying their exact recipe so I'm not worried that credit is not provided here. This recipe made enough marinade for 1 entire pound of tofu. The recipe looks longer than it is... it's simply a longer list of ingredients. The preparation itself is just minutes.

Ingredients:

Sauerkraut (I love Bubbies... raw, organic, my favorite)
vegan dressing (I combine Vegenaise, ketchup and sweet relish)
vegan cheeze (you don't need this, but I used Follow Your  Heart Smoked Gouda, and it was stellar
vegan gluten free bread of choice (see my notes below)
non-dairy butter (Miyokos has come into the reasonably priced range, and is free of palm oil)
1 pound super firm marinated tofu, drained (see below)
DOUBLE CHECK ALL YOUR COMPONENTS TO INSURE THEY ARE GLUTEN FREE WHEN YOU MAKE THIS FOR SOMEONE WHO CAN BECOME DEATHLY ILL FROM GLUTEN/WHEAT PRODUCTS!

Method:

Slice your drained tofu and place it in a lasagna style pan, then prep your marinade.

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg's raw)
1/4 cup coconut aminos (I love the Coconut Secret brand, but Bragg's makes one too)
NOTE: SOY SAUCE/BRAGGS/and MOST TAMARI are NOT GLUTEN FREE, USE AMINOS!
1/4 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (Colgin brand... accidentally vegan, and certified gluten free)
4-6 cloves crushed garlic
2 heaping teaspoons smoked paprika (I really think this is necessary but if you cannot get it, use regular)
2 tsp dried mustard (I think you can use GF Dijon mustard if you cannot find the mustard spice)
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix your marinade. Pour it over the tofu, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to make the sandwiches, heat your skillet or griddle on medium low, then spread your Miyokos or other non-dairy butter on both sides of your bread or English muffin. Place the pieces in the skillet (I sprayed a little Vegelene on my non-stick pan just in case, it's a restaurant non-stick spray... gluten free, vegan; you could even use a little more Miyokos or whatever vegan butter you're using for your pan, make sure it's non stick so your cheeze won't stick....) Very lightly brown both sides, set the bread aside.

Re glaze the pan with your spray, place the tofu slices and allow to brown slowly, don't make this crispy... lightly golden brown only. I added the marinade to each batch (my pan was small) and cooked it down.

When the bread and tofu are set aside, melt your cheeze if you want. This literally takes seconds... do only a piece or 2 at a time. Warm 1 side, flip and warm the other size. Have a slice of bread/English muffin ready and place 1 piece on each slice. Continue til finished. If you don't want, don't heat the cheeze.

Warm your sauerkraut in the pan if you're eating these fresh at home. For the potluck, it was unnecessary.

The only downside to using the English muffins is they are super hard to cut. I cut each sandwich in half since these were for a potluck, so I had 10 servings. Then I double wrapped them in parchment instead of plastic. If you make these for a picnic or potluck using English muffins, please make the effort to cut them. They are super messy and hard to eat uncut...  I know a thing or 2 about this as I've been making them for myself at home and I'm too lazy to cut. Boy oh boy I cannot wait til that Deland comes back in stock!

I also made a vegan gluten free Key lime pie (brought both vegan versions of the RediWhip "cream"... yes full of chemicals I'm sure, but dang was that a great addition to the pie), and nonGF vegan tempeh reubens. Other contributions were fruit, salad, avo pasta salad, fresh garden grown greens with coconut curry cream, cookies... I know I'm missing things, but I cannot remember it all. I ate a little taste of everything, that's how to roll at potlucks... try new things, taste it all.

One other thing that was a bonus... Sombrero Beach is dog friendly! Sandy & Bill brought their dog, but I'm ashamed to admit I cannot remember his name. He was so sweet, and fun to have at the potluck. See... animals are friends not food.... we have food with non-human friends too. Woof woof.

The potlucks are a monthly event run by the Florida Keys Vegan Community. If you're visiting us here in the Keys from out of the area, feel free to drop into the potluck if it's going on during your stay. Also, you don't have to be vegan to attend, but this is a vegan potluck so obviously all food must be vegan.

I snapped a few photos, not as many as I should have, and not a full group picture. I met some new people and saw others I've not seen since before Irma. It was also my first visit to Sombrero, in a post Irma world the beach looks absolutely wonderful. Excellent job on the first steps of the restoration, as you will see in the videos I shot:



These 2 videos above are where we were for the potluck, it was a beautiful Sunday in the Keys!

This video below is of Bob and Marlee who created the Florida Keys Vegan Community Group. They organize dinners out, potlucks, and other fun events through the Keys:





A few pictures from the day:

Meet Vicki. She came all the way from Key West.
She is a vibrant light in the world.
Rocking the vegan food with friends.

Meet my feet.
In a hammock.

Bueller? Bueller?
Not sure but I think that's Bob tucked in there.

Hello sweet one!
Thanks for coming to the potluck, it was a privilege to meet you!
Animals are friends, not food.

This was my view from the hammock.

The ride home.

This was the tofu I used, pre-pressed! It was great!

So, food with friends has come to an end. We'll go to as many potlucks as we are able, honestly being away from the place here was just what the doctor ordered. Sombrero Beach looked really pretty too. I did a walk through to see if there were any unmarked sea turtle nests, but there were none. Please remember to join the growing vegan Keys community, both on line and in person. Not to mention if you're in the area for any of the vegan community events, feel free to drop in.

Vegan for the win, vegan for the animals, vegan for ever and ever.

See you next month!

xo

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April Showers Bring.... (I wouldn't know, we're in a drought)

Well friends, here we are. April. Not just April, end of April.

April showers bring May flowers. What do Mayflowers bring? Pilgrims! Sorry, couldn't resist.

Actually, April showers barely exist where I am. Since we've last chatted, Big Pine Key had a wildfire. Actually tonight it's still going on, but it's contained in the high percentages now. But, for a while.... it was raging and out of control:

Wildfire, Day 1
Raging out of control on BPK
This was our view from across the island

Resources came from all over to assist in the fire fight. There is so much post hurricane vegetative debris, a wildfire has been of course at the forefront of many of our thoughts down here. Supposedly "they" are still investigating the cause, but my money would be that "they" already know what caused it, and somehow humans are involved.

We watched as a special helicopter that was dispatched to the island scooped up hundreds of gallons of water at a clip, flew up and staged, then dropped the water (cannot help but wonder.... did anyone else think wonder about the sea life at the wrong place at the wrong time? Swimming around in your water home and next thing you know poof you're out for a few seconds then free falling into the unknown....) Trip after trip after trip we watched, it was an amazing sight. The next day, the scene was much improved:

The firefighting efforts already paying off!
The next day, the scene was much different.
Still burning, but wow what a difference!
So, here we are 1 week later and there are supposedly still hot spots flaring up, but they are being controlled and extinguished. We finally had a real soaker of rain a couple days ago. We're in a huge drought down here. The animals are suffering because of no rain, plants need the rain too, and quite frankly this overload of brush which apparently is of no matter to local government needs to just stay super saturated all day every day, but not a chance. Honestly, I'm terrified of fire. The other happy vegan recently had to go on another road trip and I simply had no peace in his absence. Before he left I made him go around and switch "off" anything and everything he had plugged in that I had no use for, or didn't want plugged in, IE: all ceiling fans, tools, etc. I'm legit scared some shithead is going to illegally camp on the beach somewhere out here, flick a cig or have some illegal campfire and whoosh the entire 'hood will go up in flames. Maybe part of this comes from the fact that the house to the west of us burned down in the middle of the night a few years ago. I'll never forget that... the other happy vegan rushed into the house his voice with a tone never I'd heard before, or since, saying that house was on fire, call 9-1-1 and back outside he went over to the house. No one was in it, it was vacant at the time, but honestly we had no idea if 1) there were actually people in there that did not belong that had caused the fire (no), and 2) we had things of ours stored there (including a small boat) that were also going up in flames, very big flames, very scary flames.... flames seemingly everywhere at that moment. It's VERY rural out here, no hydrants, and an all volunteer fire department. We were evacuated, as were all our guests and animals of course. The great and wonderful Dr. Mader came here during the evacuation and helped us round up the animals.... I remember seeing him on our back porch trying to literally pry our cat Pink Moon off the wood ceiling. She gave him a very unfortunate beating, but he did manage to pry her off and get her into a carrier. Our place was filled with emergency personnel getting us out, there was literally zero time for gathering possessions. Get out with the clothes on your back (hopefully ya sleep in pajamas.....) and our animals.

So, yeah, fire scares the crap out of me.

Thank you to all who came to Big Pine to help battle the blaze. There has been a loss of a home, which is one home too many.

So... all that comes from April showers?

A few weeks ago, I made soup and tempeh Rubens special to post for Vegan MoFo... "rainy day food" theme. This was before the wildfire, and on a day it actually rained. Not much. And, with lightning, which I can SO do without in massive drought. Can't we just have rain without any lightning to cause my mind to whirl with thoughts of that starting a fire too? Sigh..... my ramblings are getting the best of me.

I made Rubens. Of the tempeh variety. Not as in "Kincaid" (hey, YOU don't have to love the Partridge Family, but don't expect me not to!) and I made soup. Potato cabbage soup. And, we lived it up eating said soup and Rubens. Now, the Rubens ... I didn't wing them, I followed a recipe, and sure, they were great but not worth all the extra effort I put into them. Did some sort of weird dry rub spice, then marinated, and put in a special pan to slowly brown. Bleh. Too many steps, too much effort. Usually I mix up apple juice, vegan Worcestershire, vegan liquid smoke and maybe a dash of veggie broth, let sit about an hour and bake. That's it. None of those ridiculous spend your day before blending spices, blah blah. So, you don't get a link for the Reuben. Because, just google "vegan tempeh Reuben recipe" and make the simplest one you can find. But... use the best ingredients you can get your hands on, including the best sauerkraut you have access to (or lucky for you if you make your own). I prefer Bubbie's sauerkraut, it's wonderful. And, use vegan cheese, or omit. Brutal honesty here, I prefer my Reuben w/o the added vegan cheese. Just the tempeh, sauerkraut and vegan dressing is my style on the grilled bread. And, I make my own dressing.... vegan mayo, ketchup and sweet relish. That's it for that, ok?

But the soup.... oh, you get a link for that! It was SOOOOO wonderful. Potatoes are life. I love potatoes any way they can be served. And, this recipe didn't disappoint. I used an entire head of cabbage. I took extra time to clean the leeks extra well.... leeks are always filled with dirt and do take effort... don't omit the leeks, they're worth the effort, trust me. Also, I used an immersion blender to blend up the soup partially, but I don't like a full puree of any soup so I'd say my version was about 60 nonblended/40 blended. Whatever works for you.

Here's the link: https://www.veganosity.com/vegan-colcannon-potato-cabbage-soup/

Here's a picture:

Yeah, there's vegan cheese on this one.
I made it for the other happy vegan. I prefer mine without.
That soup though.... perfection. And, I jammed some coconut bacon on top!
My view on the day I made this:

It didn't rain enough to prevent a wildfire on Big Pine....
But, it did rain.

So, there it all is. Rainy picture. Rainy sandwich. Rainy soup. We're precariously close to the "rainy season" starting down here. That's code for hurricane season. Don't be a shithead and ask me if I'm ready for hurricane season. I will never be ready again for hurricane season. Nothing can make me ready for what really does happen in a natural disaster. But, yeah, we've got our plans nailed down as best as possible for "what if" and that's all I'll say about that here.

We welcome the rain. We will not welcome another natural disaster. One last tidbit that surprised me. When the wildfire hit, I didn't panic, but was all consumed by it moment by moment. Then, I went looking for the ferals. This was during the time that the power had been intentionally cut in that area, I guess it had something to do with protecting that infrastructure or whatever. Well.... driving down the Overseas the roads were filled with emergency vehicles parked and staged in various areas, as well as some with flashing lights speeding to different spots. And it was dark. Very dark. Very VERY dark. No lights. Nothing. So eerie. Major flashbacks to the post Irma time we lived through, along with physical manifestations of sickness from stress, anxiety or whatever you call that. I wasn't really prepared for those feelings. It's been difficult getting through even 7.5 months post hurricane, but I guess part of me didn't want to admit just how scarred I remain inside from what we've endured.

We'll be here for May blogging, but probably you won't find any pilgrims alongside. In the mean time, I suppose it would be nice if you'd do a rain dance but ask for no lightning please, and yeah, make some soup cuz even in summer soup is the bomb. 

Vegan soupy (and sandwichy) love to you til next time.

xo


Saturday, March 31, 2018

March(ing) on.... Green Stuff (ie: food & crafts)

Well here we are last day of March 2018. Our prompt for MiniMoFo this month was basically sharing the green, after all it WAS St. Patrick's Day what seems like ages ago (although in reality merely about 10+ days ago).

It's been another busy month around here, if you follow along on Facebook you know I post more there than here, it's just easier for me. I had lots of ideas for green, but basically when it came down to the wire, I made a sandwich and I did my first post-Irma crafting. The sandwich was inspired by a gorgeous photo I saw on someones Pinterest page, all green things and of course vegan. My version was DeLand brand vegan gluten free bread stuffed with avocado (can you believe it?!! Me and avocado!), overloaded with organic greens, a super fast pesto I made using a purchased basil paste (hey don't hate.... it's March, where I am you try and find organic fresh basil that's not outrageously priced this time of year), a sprinkle of pico de gallo I made inspired by the cafe I'm working at part time, and a slice of Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. I made a toastee, or as we call it on this side of the pond, a grilled sandwich. If I had a panini press, it would've landed in there, probably would've looked better. I contemplated shoving this in the waffle iron, but was too lazy to rummage around... the kitchen is still mostly non-functional and the waffle iron is tucked away in a large tote somewhere. Here's my sandwich:

Mostly green!
So, perhaps it's not as pretty as the sandwich that inspired me, but dang this was super tasty. Here's what I used for the pesto:

1 cup vegan parm cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
3T basil paste
pepper to taste
(yes you read this right.... no added garlic, amazing how tasty this is even without the garlic. I don't have garlic in the house anymore since basically I'm still not cooking)

I put a dash of vegan butter on the bread, heated a small skillet, built the sandwich, and heated it in the pan. Then I ate it. With avocado. Yes, I ate avocado. A miracle. Not a miracle are my photography skills. I should take a class to improve on that. Then again, I'm still using that antique phone so I'm grateful there's any photos at all, yay!

The next thing I did was my first post hurricane crafting effort. I saw a "thing" on line about cold porcelain. I was interested enough to give it a try. I used vegan white glue, cornstarch, mineral oil and lemon juice. Honestly, not worth my effort. I'm making a set of wind chimes. In the last few weeks, we've had a lot of new landscaping going in on our property, the 2 empty lots which used to be thick with hardwood trees that were completely destroyed, and the neighbor's house on the opposite of the lot. The lot is being reforested through the efforts of the neighbors. They, at their own cost and expense, are going through the effort, and major expense, to get the approvals and trees (have to have every tree approved by gov't officials) planted on these 2 County conservation lots. Because they want to see our area re beautified. The big diggers came and worked all day for a few days. It looks so much nicer, so great to see GREEN! So, there's more birds now. And bees. And, Key deer seem to be wandering through more often. Which made me want to hang chimes on my  property. So, I made cold porcelain hearts, stamped them, painted them, and will be stringing these on some driftwood (pick of the litter around these parts) and then hanging this eventually. They won't chime, and were a half hearted effort since I was very unhappy with the cold porcelain. But, tomorrow is the day I string them and hang them. The letters are here. I'm going to cover them with iridescent paint and seal them with vegan friendly outdoor sealer before they go out there. More green. Here's the lettering:

vegan is love
vegan cold porcelain getting ready to be turned into outdoor chimes
I'm pretty sure I'm hanging up my crafting apron for a long time. Most of my art and crafting stash was also destroyed and won't be replaced. I was lucky enough to find and save most of my brushes, and a very small amount of paints. I also found and kept my stencils which I plan on using for a larger scale pallet project to brighten up the grounds. That I will absolutely share with you, once that day comes.  The cold porcelain was no better or worse than cornstarch or clay, but I found it more difficult to stamp, which is why I painted on the letters. Nothing special here, just something I've been wanting to try. Since the MiniMoFo prompt said our green efforts could be pretty much about anything, why not crafting too.

March flew by. I always hope to have more interesting posts, and more frequent posts, but it's a challenge. Let's see what April brings (well, April showers bring May flowers.... this I know) and look for a post here over the next month. Maybe more if things swing my way.

Vegan for the win, green style. I miss you guys! Thanks for your support. xo

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Food is Love

This post is my contribution for February's "food is love" prompt in Vegan Month of Food world, but is also a little update about things.

I've not felt up to shooting videos for a while. The red tape boondoggle has continued, and it takes a toll on every level for us; financially, emotionally, physically (yeah, don't ask me why but stress sure does manifest with physical issues, right?) So, instead I've been working a couple jobs sometimes with odd hours. I've been treated to rising in pre-dawn hours which at times allows me to see the sunrise as I drive up the Keys, and also at times driving home very late with largely vacant roads (although still seem to find the annoying drivers who just "have" to pass in no pass zones.... ugh). The kitchen here is still not up to speed, so my forays into food preparation are nothing complicated. I'm really looking forward to summertime when the fruits and more veggies are back in season, not really sure what will come our way in post-Irma world of growing (so many farmers on the mainland took a huge hit, not just our local beloveds like the Grimal Grove) but I am sure there will be more variety coming down the pike.

So, this is February, and many people turn to thoughts of love because well, Valentine's Day. In years past, I've always made an extra nice presentation here at the bed and breakfast for guests, this year that was off the radar since we're still closed. I did reminisce though to the times I offered up "Single Awareness Day" cookies for the stores. 

Singles Awareness Day is always so much more fun than Valentines
in my opinion!
This year Valentines Day came and went with zero pomp or festivities. I have had it on my mind though to work more with aquafaba, so I took a crack at Valentines macarons, since my prior attempts at macarons with aquafaba had come out perfectly. You'll note there are no pictures here of Valentines macarons..... you do that math.

One of the perks of working in a natural foods cafe is the aquafaba. It comes my way. In copious amounts if I want. Since we finally have a freezer again for the last couple months or so, I have a few items back on ice in larger quantities, well ok 2 items... frozen wild blueberries and a bit of frozen aquafaba once again. Although I enjoy the concept of meringues, I seriously do not like the taste. Sugar, pure sugar, just far too sweet for me. But, I have fun from time to time making things out of little meringues. Since I'm a fan of chocolate, I've been wanting to make a chocolate meringue, but you must remember oils/fats are the enemy of meringues. As I was wiling my night away (insomnia....) a few weeks ago, I found a method for chocolate meringues. I improvised a little bit, and then a little bit more. The method on line was to make your aquafaba meringues, and then fold melted cooled chocolate into the meringue batter. When I followed this method, little by little the meringues deflated. But the flavor..... ooh, the flavor! So wonderful!

These are the aquafaba vegan meringues using the "fold in" chocolate method
Perfect flavor, but the structure.... not so much.

I then got to thinking more about filling them. I piped little discs onto the parchment, and then piped bits of cooled melted vegan chocolate onto the discs. I took a toothpick and swirled the chocolate just a bit on each one, and then piped a vegan aquafaba meringue "kiss" on top of every one. See?

As you can see, the meringues were much more full bodied this way.
I drizzled some additional melted chocolate on them too.

I've made the chocolate filled meringues a few more times, each time with varying degrees of success. No matter what, the chocolate contacts the meringue, and that causes them to deflate to a certain extent. My next batch will be the last method... I'm going to pipe larger "kiss" style meringues onto the parchment, and then with a smaller nozzle I intend to inject the chocolate into each meringue then dry. I also will try half of the batch in my dehydrator instead of the oven method just to test the differences.

People everywhere seem to love meringues. I brought the chocolate ones to the store cafe where I'm working and people went mad for them, which made me happy. Anything cruelty free that brings to smiles about is what it's about.

I missed last month's prompt, it was "creating warmth." I'm still going to work on my creation, I desperately wanted to veganize my mothers stroganoff, but I couldn't find eggless noodles, and worse yet, her tiny yellow recipe book (remember that thing from a video years ago?) is MIA since Irma. There's hardly any recipes in there to begin with, but it had the stroganoff recipe... she used dead cow back in the day I have extra mushrooms, or if I change my mind I will forage for a bag of vegan crumbles conveniently for sale in the store of the cafe where I'm working. I have a bag of beautiful organic mushrooms again in the fridge, I'm so hoping I can find her book, because as a little miracle I did finally find eggless noodles while up on a very short road trip to the mainland last week. I have tomorrow as a day off and my intentions are of course spend half my time doing administrative work that all of us are coping with in post Irma world, but the other half of the day is devoted to locating mom's book and veganizing that recipe. As I always say... hope springs eternal.

So, there's my contribution for "food is love" during the month of February (today is the 27th... I'm a day ahead, right? haha!) I hope you've been continuing to follow the monthly mini prompts on the VeganMoFo site, and that you're continuing to follow along the happenings here at the inn. We're getting there, slowly but sure, we're getting there. In just about another month or so, it looks like the kitchen will be back to almost full function too.... makes me look forward to all the wonderful prompts coming down the pike for VeganMoFo!

Till next time.... sending the vegan love! xo



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year - Welcome 2018, Hurry Hurry!








When you are born
in a world you don't fit in
It's because you were born
to help create a new one






Happy New Year dear ones.
Let's make it big.


Kiss My Ass 2017
Cheers to 2018 in the biggest way possible!



Go vegan, stay vegan.
xo