Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving From Paradise!


With love from the whole gang at Deer Run: us happy vegans, Angel, Peri, Elsa, the Key deer, all the teeny lizards, the ibis, the pipers, the vultures, the osprey, the eagles (!!!), the butterflies, the spiders (eek!), the not so teeny lizards, the crabs, the bees, the snakes (no worries, you won't see them..... usually), the dragonflies, the ladybugs, the snails, the dolphin, the turtles, the shark, the fish, the pelicans, our kitties, the woodpeckers, the white crowned pigeons, the blue buntings, all the songbirds, the hawks, and all the other residents, permanent and temporary that pass through our little slice of Paradise.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving, Vegan Style

I had a dear friend who has long since left this world, Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday.  She told me there's no presents, no hassle, no mess, no fuss.  A holiday to celebrate gratitude.  She loved it. Now, saying no mess-no fuss is relative.  She would plan for weeks, and cook for days, to prepare for Thanksgiving.  But, she also was a full time domestic goddess, so such work was more feasible for her.

I'm essentially in the same boat these days (full time domestic goddess), but planning for weeks, cooking for days, is not on my list of things to do. I've got far too many other ways I'd rather spend my time, and far too many other pressing obligations. I'm a gal who's all about the K.I.S.S. philosophy (keep it simple, stupid).  This applies for me on holidays as well.

Thanksgiving is a few short days away.  The traditional holiday meal involves a carcass being displayed on the center of a beautifully set table, surrounded by people oo-ing and ah-ing over it.  That is so not for me.

If you, or someone you love, is making an effort to go veg, please don't get derailed over the holidays.  If you really want to keep it simple, go to your local market, and pick up a Tofurkey.  For about $10 you can buy a Tofurkey with a tub of gravy, which will feed 4.  If you want something larger, buy more.  I no longer buy the Tofurkey dinners, I only buy the Tofurkey roast on it's own.  While I appreciate their efforts, the dinner box has items there I won't use, because the other happy vegan wants his mashed potatoes instead.  Some years its dumplings in the box, other years its something else. Now there are also beautiful products called Field Roast.  They are divine, trust me on this.  They make something called a Celebration Roast, same philosophy as Tofurkey.... a roast stuffed with things.  I am a fan of Field Roast as well.  The price point is a little higher than Tofurkey, and the product is a little smaller.  It's money well spent.

Some people don't like prepared foods.  So, if that's not your thing, here's where you can really simplify.  Buy a beautiful squash, any squash will do.  Then cut it, take the seeds out and roast it with a little Earth Balance (soy margarine, but also now available in non-soy coconut, and olive oil for those avoiding soy).  You can stuff your squash if you want..... fill it with things like cooked brown rice, quinoa, dried cranberries, raisins, and nuts.  Or, really simplify things, and just use stuffing you made (of course using vegetable broth) from your own recipe, or perish the thought, from a bag.

For sides dishes you really don't have to change anything.  Mashed potatoes are the same, just use non-dairy substitutes like soy milk, coconut milk or almond milk instead of the moo-cow, and non-dairy margarine (choose soy free or soy it up).  You can even get fancy and whip your potatoes with roasted garlic and good quality olive oil.... delicious!

Roast veggies as you would, just w/o the butter.  Carrots, beets, yams. All good to go with a little olive oil and brown sugar.  Oh, and if you really want those candied sweet potatoes, go the Earth Balance route, and then also buy a bag of vegan marshmallows.... Dandies are the brand I use here at Deer Run when I'm going for the marshmallow.

Salad is vegan.  Skip the blue cheese dressing, and make your own oil and vinegar dressing.  Or, you can buy vegan versions of the creamy stuff.

If you need to substitute milk, use soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk.  I don't like rice milk, it is too thin.  I always choose organic, and always choose unsweetened.

If you need to substitute butter, buy Earth Balance.  As I said its available in soy or non-soy versions.

If you need to substitute eggs, this depends on what are you doing with the eggs.  If you are baking, and need an egg substitute, about 1/4 cup applesauce or mashed banana per egg is a fair substitute. Personally I tend to use either 1 tablespoon of ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons of water (equals 1 egg) OR appropriate measures of a product called EnerG egg replacer.  EnerG is carried by stores like Whole Foods, and health food stores.  It is a egg substitute for baking.  It is NOT an egg substitute for scrambling.  I like the flax substitute for things like fruit cakes or muffins (carrot, apple, blueberry, etc) and the EnerG egg replacer for things that have a more delicate crumb like non-fruit cakes (yellow, chocolate, coconut) and cookies.

As a vegan, I promise if I came to your house and you offered me a salad with vinaigrette, roasted squash, some mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, I'd be in  heaven. Wait, but what about dessert?  You can bake apples, very easy with earth balance, brown sugar and nuts.  You can make a pudding with non-dairy milk (I'll give you a link at the end of this post for a helpful recipe site).  You can make your own regular pie with a vegan crust (yes, they are available frozen at the grocer, many are accidentally vegan); just ditch the butter and use Earth Balance in your pie.  Truth be told, one of my favorite desserts of all time is a fresh orange and some chocolate. Not all chocolate is vegan, but almost all mainstream grocery stores have some vegan chocolate bars for sale. Be on the look out for non-vegan ingredients like whey, milk, milk solids, butter, milk fat, and other dairy type words.  If you're not sure, simply ask.  And, if you can't find vegan chocolate, skip it.  I love oranges, and am always pretty darn happy when I have the good fortune of a beautiful organic orange before me.

Keep it simple.  No one should spend the day in the kitchen when family and friends want to celebrate with you.

A really simple vegan web site for recipes is  And, a vegan magazine called VegNews has an on line presence that has great Thanksgiving ideas and recipes at  From there, click the "food" link on the header, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Don't over complicate things. Please spare yourself the grief.  And, speaking of sparing..... please spare the life of another sentient being.  Our good fortune doesn't have to come at the expense of the life of another.

Here I'll be roasting a tofurkey, and making the other happy vegan his requisite mashed potatoes and gravy.  I'll make some random veggies, probably roasting some carrots and squash.  We'll have a beautiful simple salad of baby greens, and if we can even consider dessert, it will be fruit or a cookie with some coffee.  If you want a simple vegan cupcake recipe, or cookie recipe, I would look to either of those 2 web sites and choose your recipe.  And, if you have any questions about something, I honestly and truly encourage you to email me at  I promise you I will help you as best as I can with any guidance you need with your veg holiday plans.

Vegan food on Thanksgiving really is where it's at, hooray for compassion, and hooray for simplicity!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Call Me Ms. Cellaneous

This post is just miscellaneous ramblings to catch up on some of what's been going on around here.

I've rolled out a fundraising campaign called "Pies for People (and Pets Too!) to raise money specifically for Superstorm Sandy disaster relief.  I am selling vegan key lime pies for $30 a pie, and donating 100% of that $30, yes the ENTIRE amount, to The American Red Cross Superstorm Sandy Relief and The HSUS Superstorm Sandy Relief efforts. I will raise $1000, and $500 will go to each charity.  So far I have sold 11 pies.  I will not stop until I hit goal.  If you are local and would like to buy a pie, give me a call at (305) 872-2015 to place your order.  If you are not local, and would still like to buy, you can donate your pie to the St. Mary's Soup Kitchen on Flagler Avenue in Key West.  In fact, 7 pies have already been donated by people to St. Mary's, and I will have more to deliver this week as well.

This week past the Superboats were back in town for the annual Offshore Powerboat Races. We headed down 2 of the 3 days, and spent most all of Sunday at the Key West Harbor watching the races.  It was a wonderful sunny day and the boating conditions made for very good racing.

It was a beautiful day for the races.
It's an adrenaline rush even just watching! 
Here's some Extreme boats tied up before the final race.
After the races we headed over to Help Yourself on Fleming Street for a fantastic early dinner.  We each had different wraps, and shared some Indian Summer Salad. The food is so good at Help Yourself, we are very fortunate to have them as a solid part of the Keys community.  Usually after the powerboat races food is an issue. Since expanding their cafe and opening their organic grocer this year, they've expanded the cafe hours, til 6pm on Sunday. Bliss.

On Saturday we attended the annual Save-A-Turtle banquet.  It was at the Marathon Yacht Club this year.  Vegan food received consideration this year; there was a vegan pasta choice on the buffet, plus the salad was vegan.  Yours truly did the dessert... a massive chocolate cake filled with ganache, and topped with my best vanilla not-buttercream icing.  I made little turtles to decorate the cake too. When among turtle people, you just cannot have enough turtles representing!

The banquet also offered a recap of this year's turtle nesting and hatch activity in the Keys.  It was not a good year for Keys turtles. We had stormy weather in July that devastated many nests.  I know on Long Beach after those storms, the turtles never really seemed to come back to us.  We had no hatches on our beach this year.  It's very disheartening, and I hope that the whole great beach walking crew comes back for next year.  When there's no turtle hatches, you're simply a glorified beach cleaner, and I'm using the word glorified to be kind.  We go out there in rain, wind, heat and any other weather, every day looking for turtles.  And, picking up trash.  So, when there's no turtles, we're just out there under the searing heat lugging bags of garbage, armloads of carelessly discarded lures, lines and other fishing paraphernalia that can harm wildlife, plus all the other crap that washes up.  For freshman turtle walkers, it can be discouraging.

I blogged extensively about Wyland's visit to the Keys to do the mural restorations and my experiences with various events associated with his work and visit.  Well, I also went back to the Marathon wall to study it since I couldn't go for the dedication.  It is beautiful.  Here are some pictures of the Marathon wall.

Looking up the wall.
It is magnificent!

Close up of the goliath grouper Wyland added.
I haven't been up to Key Largo yet (that's so far away in Key's travel!) but I will be in Key West to take photos of the finished wall there very soon.  I'm such a fan of Wyland, and was introduced to his work through the other happy vegan, who has been a fan for decades.

Here the weather has officially kicked summer and we have welcomed fall.  Triple digit heat indexes are gone, and we have had a few days of no humidity.  My doors and windows are open from time to time, and there's that crisp taste in the air that those of us who live here identify with fall... while visitors just don't feel it. That's ok because it's all good.  I expect we'll be about 76-77 degrees today.  I plan to be out there running, but don't say that above a whisper in case my plans tank, ok?

That's about it for now. Oh, if you haven't "liked" us on Facebook you, check us out.  I put posts up fairly often, and will be using that forum to post short notice cancellations as well come high season.  Have a great afternoon everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!

Here's Pop as he exits the polls.
103 and voting strong!
Here in America it is Election Day.  Both of us happy vegans voted. And, we took Pop to the polls so he could cast his ballot as well.  It's cool taking Pop to vote, he's like the Mayor of Big Pine.  Everyone, absolutely everyone knows him.  He lights up the room when he enters.

This election was a big one.  On our very long ballots here, we're also voting for President. It's been a long arduous campaign on all sides, and there's a lot of bitterness flowing from the mouths and pens of many.  Way to keep it classy, not.

My thought basically is that the reason we're down to the choices we have for president is because all the great thinkers and doers in this country are busy thinking and doing.  So in politics we get the leftovers.

Leftovers or not, it's a right not taken lightly.  Plus, I like that our little "I voted" stickers that we get here in the Conch Republic have teeny conch shells on them.

Personally, I'm glad it's almost over.  My mailbox was clogged with enough literature to do in the rain forest, my ears have taken all they can take with regurgitated rhetoric, and the thought of the amount of money spent all the way around on campaigns makes me sick. We could probably feed staving babies worldwide for a very long time with the same amount of money.

That's about it from me on Election Day.  I'm privileged to have the right to vote, and I hope you feel the same way.  Tomorrow is another day, another chance to get it right for Mother Earth.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Plea

I'm still pretty much fixated on the disaster brought from Superstorm Sandy.  Personally I just call her a bitch, but others call her the Superstorm.  Whatever.

My best source for information on this disaster remains social media so far.  Sure I can find (finally) information on line... aerial videos of shorelines, reports and photos of the fires burning or that have burned in Queens, and the barrier islands of Jersey.  But, it's different when you're trying to find out about a specific person or family or street.

We're very concerned about the scope of the disaster, and have a hard time soaking this all in.  As I've written since I've started this blog, I'm in love with the Jersey shore, and both of us happy vegans here have spent the better portion of our lives connected to the shore.  Even now we still go up there at least once a year.

We have been charitable and never discriminated throughout the world when disaster hit be it in this country or overseas.  We are donating money to the disaster relief effort regarding Superstorm Sandy, and we're making a plea for anyone who is able to please make a donation to a reputable charity of your choice.  There are many organizations, some very well known.  I'm not going to make any suggestions here, beyond saying make sure they are REPUTABLE.  And, also in lieu of sending goods, send money.  Every penny adds up, no donation is too small.  If you are unable to donate money to the relief effort, you can still help. I would simply ask that every day as you go about your business, at some point work on sending some good mojo to all the people and animals who have been displaced or are suffering in any way as a result of the storm. And, include on that mojo list the people who are working to help those in need.  The government, the power companies, the first responders, the police departments, the good Samaritans, the people who are committing random acts of kindness everywhere.

Thank you very much.