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Friday, December 25, 2015

Making Merry in 2015...

Christmas Day, 2015.

Turns out Diesel really loves Christmas.

I slept too late to capture the Christmas morning sunrise, but I was
greeted with immense beauty regardless.
Holy bananas, that went fast. From Vegan MoFo to Christmastime. As I write, Christmas Day is winding down. We had the day off, and made the most of it, innkeeper-style; naps, eating, naps, playing with cats, napping, taking pictures of the animals, naps, looking at the ocean, and naps. Did I mention... naps?

This was probably the busiest month of December for me since moving here. On the few nights we did not have guests, I could be found in the kitchen till 4am pressing cookies, rolling dough, stamping cookies, coloring icing and well, you get the drift.

I made a copious amount of special order "beach" Christmas cookies....
plus a few extras to send to family and friends...
This month, our Big Pine Key Vegan Support Group Meetup had a vegan cookie exchange which was absolutely stellar. Our group is growing and I'm loving it. I started the group because I was feeling a little isolated, and hoped to meet more local vegans. The group is open to non-vegans, but it's mission is solely to promote veganism, help people transition to veganism, celebrate vegan food, support vegans in the challenges we face being vegan in a (so far) non-vegan world, and so forth. I really should have taken pictures..... we had so many cookies, and really there were no duplicates. They were all beautiful, delicious and made with so much love it was overwhelming. After we all had filled our plates, the rest were plated nicely and taken to the local Senior Center as a donation. Spreading the vegan love.

Last weekend myself and 2 friends headed into Key West to spread some jolly to those needing a lift. I stayed up till 3:40am the night before pressing out hundreds of spritz, vegan style, bagged them up and hit the streets. I also made 2 very large platters of Minimalist Baker's gingerbread apple cake in small bundt pans, stacked them high and donated them to the local soup kitchen. We then spent the better part of the day handing out tiny bags of cookies as we worked our way through the city. Sometimes we got some odd looks (see photo below), but honestly in a city like Key West we basically just blended in. We did, however, keep running into that chubby dude in the red suit. Last I saw, he was twirling around the dance floor at La-Te-Da during their 4pm tea party. 

My first "selfie."
Is it a selfie if I'm not the one taking the shot?
Julie on the left, Jen #2 on the right, and
me in the center.
That's how Christmas cheer rolls in the Keys.


Chubby dude in the red suit was everywhere.
Christmas magic, or too much vegan nog,
you be the judge.
I shipped a bunch of cookies out that people had ordered, and managed to scrape up a decent amount in donations from the sale of my mango biscotti that will go to the Grimal Grove to help them offset the code violation fines that were in existence before the current owners took the place over. Grimal Grove is having it's First Annual Chocolate Fest in a few weeks too.... I'll be there vending. Hope you can make it out and support the Grove.


Our current feline lineup.
Can you figure who is who?
Last night we set out our candles of remembrance as we do every year. There were candles lit for homeless animals, homeless people, animals suffering in misery through animal agriculture, and many other people and causes. We lit the last one for our Mother Earth. We set intentions for a world of peace.... a vegan world. After we did that, together we sat and watched the sky go from yellow, to orange to pink and red, then finally we watched the full moon.  Although there were scattered clouds, incredibly none of them covered the moon, at least as long as I was watching. It was so quiet and beautiful. It makes me feel very tiny, unimportant, and contemplative. I don't consider any of that a bad thing.... keeps ya humble, right?
A shot of some of the Panda with Cookie ornaments.
Sure you know Angel in the middle, and Peri on the top, but...
do you know who that is on the left??


Angel in full color, waiting for a wing rub.


All Diesel, all the time.
Turns out Diesel wants ALL the pizza slices and is willing to work hard to get them!

One of Santa's illusive reindeer passing through.
It was an ordeal, but I managed to surprise the other happy vegan
with paw print ornaments of all the furry family.

The other happy vegan helps Angel make her foot print ornament on Christmas Day 2015. 

Princes really got into opening her pizza slice!

We have an invisible cat, her name is Pink Moon.
She has anxiety issues. She lives mostly under the covers.
Here she is before opening her "pizza slice."
Yes, she's under the covers here.... the other happy vegan
opened up the covers, I took the picture, and then we left her
to her pizza slice, under the covers.

I was inside doing some chores while the other happy vegan had Princess outside (on a leash.... remind you of anyone???) and Santa went over. Yes, he really did.... in an airplane with a red light. I heard him calling "Santa! Santa! There's Santa!" and 5 seconds later he was in the house.... turns out Princess was scared of the low flying plane and clamored to come inside. Who can blame her, when you're expecting reindeer and a plane shows up?

Today I took advantage of my morning off and slept to a ridiculously late hour, and woke up to a breakfast of Follow Your Heart Vegan Eggs (OMG SOOOO GOOD!) and Field Roast sausages with fruit. I drank coffee (yup, first time in many months), poured our great maple syrup over everything (no, not the coffee) and didn't have 1 single speck of guilt over any of it. After, we watched the kitties open their gifts, and then took Angel her gift. All the furry ones got "pizza slices" from Panda With Cookie, while Angel got 2 new giant toys of her own. If you don't know Panda With Cookie, you need to find her on Etsy. She makes many cute eco-felted vegan items, including custom animal ornaments. My gift to the other happy vegan was a full set of our animal family, along with a paw print ornament from each animal. Instead of an ornament from Angel, he got a jar full of stuff to make the ornament, and together we worked with Angel to capture her footprint. Her little ornament is in the oven right now. Her feet are pretty big, but I think it will come out perfectly.

Diesel made quick work of her pizza slice. She opened it, batted it a few times,
then became immersed with the paper it was wrapped in.
Kittens!
We get right back to work tomorrow, and it's going to be a long time before I have another day off. The new year is right around the corner, lots of people make resolutions but I don't, actually I consider that silly... UNLESS you make a resolution to go vegan. What I can say about that is why wait till the new year, how about going vegan now. Right this second. You can find the support you need at www.howdoigovegan.com and through support groups too. If you don't have a support group in  your neighborhood, you can always just start one of your own, just like we did here. Of course, you can always write to me, we're on Facebook too, but you already knew that didn't you.

It would seem Christmas is magical for kittens....
We always light candles on Christmas Eve.
These are some of them.
Homeless people.
Homeless animals.
Animals suffering in animal agriculture.
People and animals who have crossed over.
Our Mother Earth.
And others......
The other happy vegan built me a tree. He really did.
He soaked a tree stump for a few days, drilled holes, then stuck some
Jamaican caper and pine branches. Strung some lights, and called it a day.
I was happy.
Luciana didn't work quite as hard to open her pizza slice, but once it was open,
she was quite enchanted with it.
Aggie worked really hard to get to her pizza slice!
Couldn't resist, had to put this picture in. As I was attempting to take a photo of Agatha Rain
opening her "pizza slice" from Panda With Cookie, Diesel came running to play, and
as you see.... leapt clear over Aggie!
Lemon LOVES his "pizza slice" from Panda With Cookie...
Princess LOVES her "pizza slice" from Panda With Cookie.....

So there it is. Another Christmas Day done and over. My wish for all of you is to live with compassionlive your life as an example to others, be proud of your compassionate choices, and help others go vegan and stay vegan. Every day we happy vegans feel the urgency more and more to spread the vegan messageBut you already knew that too, didn't you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 30: Fusion Challenge

Today is the last day of Vegan Month of Food 2015, our assigned prompt is "Fusion Challenge." This stuck fear into my heart (ok, I'm being a little melodramatic), but it was pretty much the topic I've been dreading the most. When it comes to cooking I am anything but a natural. I thought for weeks on this one, asking around for suggestions and help. Nothing hit me just right. This morning on the ride back from Key West, the other happy vegan and I were talking. I said again "Cooking doesn't inspire me, I'm a baker. I wish I could just do some baking." What followed next was stream of consciousness ramblings including something about "I love sweet and savory together so much...!" blah blah blah.... and here we are.

Challenge accepted, challenge met. French toast chocolate chip cookies.

I do not have a recipe for you, understand that I used my recipe from my professional line. I'm just not up to giving those recipes away.  But, also understand you can do this with your own recipe. Add cinnamon.... lots of it. Use maple syrup. The real deal, and be generous as well. Adjust your dry ingredients accordingly for any added liquid you may use (maple syrup). I mixed in coconut bacon too. A lot of that as well, but I think it could've used even more in the recipe. Although the ones in my video do not have an icing on top, I think a vegan "bacon" icing, or a maple icing (or a maple "bacon" icing) would be divine. These were a spur of the moment inspiration of mine, and I didn't really have time to frost them allowing the icing to set up properly.

These are so good, I'm going to do a little more research and development and I think I'm going to add these to my professional line.



See you maybe in 2016 for Month of Food, I hope you've enjoyed my posts/videos, as well as all the other great bloggers and vloggers. Thank you for checking things out. I'll do my best to keep going with videos occasionally as well, and of course my semi-regular posts on the blog.

Happy, healthy vegan living to you all.

xo


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 29: What Would You Bring On A Vegan Road Trip

So, today the "list" tells me to talk about what I'd bring on a vegan road trip. First, I've covered this before, you know pretty much everything we do in the Keys is a road trip due to logistics, and also when I think about this.... every road trip we do is a VEGAN road trip, not just a road trip. All that being said, as in pretty much all aspects of my life at this point, I'm minimalistic on road trips as well. I usually bring just enough food to get through my first (or 2nd) destination, after that I leave things up to the Universe to help me forage as I think that adds to some of the adventure. What I've not mentioned in this video is that often times I pack "energy balls" which I talked about on last year's MoFo. You can put pretty much any nut, along with some dates or raisins, nut butters, cocoa powder, and/or coconut in the food processor, blend to a chunky paste, then roll into bite size balls. Things like that have gotten us happy vegans through some lean times on the road, no doubt.

Here's my video offering for today's topic. Perhaps I should've been a little more inventive and packed fancy cucumber sandwiches with tea being that it's Vegan Month of Food and all.  Maybe that is what everyone else is writing about, but heck that's just so not me. After all, I was the gal in a supermarket parking lot in the jump seat of a rental car just a few months ago slathering peanut butter and jelly on a pita at 10:30pm on our last trip to see Pop. Everything always works out one way or another.... I didn't even get jelly on the rug.


xo

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 28: Tacos vs. Burritos

Well ok, our topic assigned today is "tacos vs. burritos." I think this is a non-topic, as there's just no debating, it's tacos hands down. Somehow you can make a taco out of anything, but that's just not my same truth with burritos.


All that, and ole'.

xo


Monday, September 28, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 27: Favorite Herb or Spice

Today we're to talk about our favorite herb or spice. Just a few short months ago I would've been waxing poetic about basil, but things change. Turmeric has taken the number one spot in my world.

Turmeric is the apple of my eye; turmeric and I are thick as thieves these days. Let's watch the video and see what's up, shall we?


xo

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 26: Snowy Day Dining?

Today our Month of Food prompt goes something like this: "its cold and rainy out, you have a snowdrift at your door, what do you make to eat with what's in your pantry." Um...... I'm looking out my window at a blissful blue sky, the temperature is 91 degrees Fahrenheit, and palm trees are a-swaying.

Snowy day dining? There's definitely only one way for me to go with this, trust me.



I've not published my personal brownie recipe here, as I make and sell them, so that recipe is not up for sharing. Yet. Instead, I used a recipe from the Minimalist Baker site. I love her stuff, it's great, much less complicated than my own, and much more budget friendly than my own. You can find this recipe, and so many other great ones at www.MinimalistBaker.com

xo

Friday, September 25, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 25: Favorite Regional Cuisine

Today for our assigned Month of Food prompt, we talk about my favorite regional cuisine. This is a total no-brainer on my end.... Italian food. I never tire of Italian food, and lucky for me so much of it is accidentally vegan. Further, to veganize most Italian dishes is also not typically overly difficult either.

Being that I just returned from a short trip, my pantry is bare and I couldn't showcase my favorite thing.... eggplant Parmesan. I'm a total sucker for pasta and red sauce, but pasta has been scratched off my list for quite a while (not including this last trip..... RIGATONI!!!) instead both of us happy vegans eat an edamame "pasta" by Explore Asia which actually is completely flourless and made with beans, yet is so delicious. We were introduced to that line actually by a chef at a fine Italian restaurant last fall while we were on a road trip. Upon finding out we were vegan, the chef/owner happily scurried back to her kitchen and came out with a bag of said "pasta" saying she had just purchased it for herself to try, and wondered if we would like to try it in a dish she made. Of course we were thrilled, it was so good, and the rest is history. It's in my pantry all the time (and the local health food stores here also carry it).

My most perfect dinner is some Chianti (check the Barnivore app to make sure it's vegan!), a simple salad with balsamic vinaigrette, gnocchi with red sauce, orange sorbet, vegan tiramisu or vegan biscotti (if available) and a double (or triple) espresso. While I was on this trip, I had one of the best cups of espresso I've had in as long as I can remember, brewed to perfection. I ate Italian bread (so crispy, so perfect) dipped in real olive oil, pasta, vegan tiramisu, espresso, salads, salads and more salads, and of course broccoli rabe. Italian food is lacking in the Keys, but there IS one place I think is worthy of a mention, La Trattoria in Key West, which is actually where I chose to go for my birthday this year (their gnocchi is vegan!) On the plus side, being that in my opinion true Italian food is so lacking where I live, it's been zero trouble ditching the extra bread which was my nemesis up north. If someone gave me a loaf of bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I'd be absolutely content.

Did someone say "high raw?" Yikes.

I'm back in my own territory, and more accountable for my food choices again so out went the oil, sugar, wheat, gluten, grains, nuts and most cooked food. I managed to eat no nuts while I was up north, so that's a win in that department at least. Lest anyone forget, I'm healing a chronically injured ankle with this high raw, anti-inflammatory elimination diet. It's temporary for sure, but it's not quite over yet; that's brought an extra dimension to Month of Food for me that has been interesting to say the least.

I could wax poetic all day and all night about Italian food. If you live in an area where this great regional cuisine is always available, count your blessings. I scream, you scream, we all scream for Italian food (I never claimed to be a poet).



Buon appetito!

xo

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 24: "What Would _________ Eat If They Were Vegan?"

Today is Day number 24 of Vegan Month of Food, and I'm answering the prompt "what would ______ eat if they were vegan?" I get to fill in the blank.

I chose Mother Teresa as my fill in the blank figure. Mother Teresa is on my exceptionally short list of personal heroes. There are no words I could possibly say to convey how I feel about Mother and  her devotion to the service of others. I actually read up on what Mother Teresa ate, although there wasn't much to find. Mother Teresa tended to the sickest of the sick, the neediest of the needy, the most desperate human souls in the slums of Calcutta. She most likely usually ate what I call "accidentally vegan" food simply because she chose to live her life the same as those she tended to.... in complete and total poverty, thus "peasant food" was probably her everyday go-to. I actually wanted to jazz this meal up a bit, but that wouldn't be Mother's style. If I did put mango or something on this for her, she would've probably eaten just 1 piece at best, then given the rest to someone else in need. So, I kept it just as I think she truly would have wanted. As simple as this food is, she would've been just as grateful as if I'd have prepared a 4-course meal for her.... actually she probably would've been MORE grateful for the simple food, and asked that the 4-course meal be given to someone else. Or, even more likely, she would have asked me to not make the 4-course meal, but rather use the money to make many more meals like this one, and feed that many more people in need, yes that is the most likely scenario.

This is what Mother Teresa would eat if she were vegan.



xo

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 23: Autumn Equinox Eats

Day 23! Wow, this month is flying by. Today our prompt is to talk about "Autumn Equinox eats." I can do that!

Fall arrived this morning at 4:21am. At that moment, I was in a car driving the Expressway blasting towards an airport to come home. As the clock ticked past 4:20 (may I remind you how I am NOT a morning person....), I felt sadness. I loathe autumn. Well, ok, I USED to loathe autumn when I lived in the cold zone. I don't dislike it for itself, I dislike it for what comes next.... grey, cold, misery. I just don't belong in cold weather, and snow for all its momentary beauty is something I can say I truly don't miss, not at all. Where I was their world was rejoicing in mums, pumpkins, corn stalks and nonsense like that. When I touched down upon arrival up there the trees were still lush and green with just the teeniest bits of red randomly on only a few trees. By the time I left (and trust me it was a short trip) there was a lot more red tipped trees. One day brought cooler temps with northeast winds and I could smell in the air that familiar scent of fall. The skies were overcast that same day and with it came some melancholy in my soul, and the reminder that I really used to have troubles adjusting when fall hit. Thankfully that's all gone for me down here. When my plane touched down upon my return, it was a solid 88 on the mainland. Bliss, absolute bliss.

If you don't know The Vegan 8 blog you're missing out. She's an evil genius in the best way possible. It's all vegan recipes with just 8 ingredients or less. That woman is after my heart I tell you that! Never any ridiculous hard-to-source ingredients, just good food with 8 ingredients or less, simply and quickly made. She recently posted a recipe for "5 ingredient peanut butter ice cream" based on her "4 ingredient chocolate ice cream" recipe. Any time I see peanut butter anything, my interest is piqued. She has again outdone herself, and I want the world to know about Brandi and her recipes. After the video you'll find the recipe, and a link to her blog. My autumn equinox eats comply for sure with what may be a "traditional" food (sweet potatoes), but heck it's still ice cream weather in my 'hood. so I won't even begin to talk about silly things like stuffed squash, cranberry rice or pumpkin lattes. You do not need an ice cream maker for this recipe either. Lastly, if you have a peanut allergy, use sunbutter, problem solved. This is good, REAL good, TOO good if you know what I mean. I made this before I left on my trip, basically a hit and run if you will.... if this was in the house while I was around, well, let's just say it would've been a duel to the death between me and the other happy vegan.



Link to The Vegan 8 Blog: www.thevegan8.com

Here's the recipe. Brace yourselves, this is divine perfection.

Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Ice Cream
 
Author: 
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, with no additives (I used Santa Cruz organic, only has added salt)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 can "lite" canned coconut milk (or you can sub with another creamy milk like cashew or soy, the creamier, the better the results. You will need 1¾ cups plant milk)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (only if your peanut butter doesn't have any added already)
  • Optional, but recommended! Bittersweet Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce
  • Note: If you choose to make the Bittersweet chocolate sauce, then I recommend making it the day before you want to eat the ice cream, so it gets really nice and thick. It only takes 5 minutes to make! This ice cream uses no fillers, gums or oils, so it will harden a bit more after fully freezing overnight more than commercial ones. I recommend a container like this, because it really helps to keep the ice cream softer.
Instructions
  1. Cook your sweet potato your preferred method. I baked mine on parchment paper at 400 degrees, whole with skin still on, until very soft, 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your potato. Do not steam or boil it, as too much water will be absorbed into it. Let it cool a few minutes.
  2. Once your potato is cooked and cooled a bit, peel the skin off and completely mash it really well with a fork. You don't want any chunks or skins. Pack it in the measuring cup (1/2 cup) really well and level off. Add it to a blender.
  3. Add the peanut butter, syrup, coconut milk, vanilla and salt (if using). Blend until completely smooth and creamy and not chunks are remaining. It should be a fairly thick consistency. If you have an ice cream maker, then by all means, use it. Otherwise, add your blended ice cream base to a well insulated ice cream storage container and place in the freezer. I really recommend an ice cream container designed for storing ice cream like this one. It will truly make a difference in keeping your ice cream soft after fully freezing. Set your timer for 1 hour and stir the ice cream around really well, as the edges will start to firm up first. Add back to the freezer and do this every 30 minutes until it is solid or at your desired consistency. About 2-3 hours should do it, depending on your freezer temp. After that, if you let it freeze overnight, you will need to let it sit out at room temperature for about 15 minutes or so to soften a bit before eating. You can also pop it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds too if you like.
  4. Drizzle Bittersweet Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce all over the top and serve!
  5. Tips on Freezing: Each time you let ice cream sit out and thaw, you encourage ice crystals to form. So, you can freeze the ice cream base in individual servings and just take out your serving each time you want some ice cream. Or, when removing the ice cream to thaw, the condensation that forms underneath the lid, make sure to wipe that each time so it doesn't refreeze and drop ice crystals into your ice cream.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 312.4 Fat: 19.8 g Carbohydrates: 24.1 g Sugar: 17.8 g Sodium: 115.3 mg Fiber: 3.5 gProtein: 8.2 g

xo

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 22: Eating With All Seasonal Produce

Ooooooo, another day of Month of Food! Today, our prompt is "make a dish using all seasonal produce." This is interesting, as here where I live we are still in the thick of summer weather. This time of year is known as the "wet season" in the Keys, typically we have rain for a little while every day or overnight. We've been in drought for years down here, rain is always welcome. Along with this rain comes beautiful soul-warming heat, most days are still well over 90 degrees with even higher heat indexes. Here our last mangoes are being harvested, and avocados are just starting to fruit. Keep your pumpkins to yourselves, I've got late summer mangoes and I intend to savor every last bite.

This video showcases what is seasonal for us in our area this time of year. Avocados and mangoes. I love mangoes, loathe avocados, yet this recipe is fantastic, and I will be making this one again for sure.


See you next time!

xo

Monday, September 21, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 21: Stranded On An Island?

Hi everyone, today we're already at day 21 of Vegan Month of Food, and I am tasked with the scenario of being stranded on an island, all my nutritional needs are met, what three foods couldn't I live without. So, let me say I DO live on an island and life is abundantly wonderful! I've chosen my three things, now lets go to the video.




See you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vegan Month of Food Day 20: Veganize an Old Family Recipe

Yay, it's Day 20 of Vegan Month of Food! Today I am supposed to veganize an old family recipe. This is the best I could do. Scroll down for video.


xo

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vegan Month of Food Day 19: Lunch on the Go

My oh my, day 19 already! Today we are tasked to bring you "lunch on the go." I got your back, check this out!


See you tomorrow!

xo

Friday, September 18, 2015

Vegan Month of Food Day 18: Honoring Who Inspires My Veganism

Seriously, I need to get my technologically challenged self together.... Today I am to honor a human or non human animal who inspires my Veganism. My video will not publish today, I am so sorry! I will try to get the video up tomorrow, and I will also publish Day19 on time. I explained I might have troubles with this for a few days, but I hoped for the best. Stuff happens! Make sure you keep up with the other bloggers, ok? Thank you for understanding!

Edit 9/30/15:
Yes, here's the video. Like my inspiration, or lump my inspiration, this one is about me. We vegans best stop telling each other "my veganism is better than your veganism" and start supporting each other, and stop the infighting. Go vegan. Go vegan now. I don't care what you eat, what you wear, and how you go vegan, so long as you ARE vegan. Get it?

Sincere thanks to my latest inspiration.... he has made me a better advocate, a better activist, a better vegan, a more compassionate person, and quite truthfully a better human. Cheers.


xo

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vegan Month of Food Day 17: 90 Miles to Cuba......

Day 17! Today we're asked to make (or eat) a traditional local food. I live 90 miles (as the crow flies) from Cuba. I'm closer to Cuba than I am to Miami. There's something that's seemingly offered EVERYWHERE in my region called a Cuban sandwich. Being that I actually HAVE Cuban blood running through my veins (yes, this is true) and have lived here long enough to be called a "fresh water Conch" it doesn't seem right that I have NO idea what a Cuban sandwich is, but that too is true. I hadn't a clue, thus I had to investigate. What I learned is that this sandwich is a heart attack on a plate, piled high with tons of cruelty. Lard. Pork. Ham. Dairy. I set out to veganize this atrocity into a compassionate vehicle, starting with lard-free, scratch made vegan Cuban bread.


Mission accomplished, vegan style.

xo

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 16: Favorite Late Summer Food

Hello and welcome to day sixteen of Vegan Month of Food. I'm not as amazed that today is day sixteen as I am that this means we're half way through the entire month of September; that's just mangoes uh, I mean bananas.

Today we are asked to bring you our favorite late summer food! Anyone have any guesses what that might be for me????? You outta know by now, cuz I'm not shy on this one.


Till tomorrow!
xo

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 15: Dining with the President

Scroll down for video.

Today our appointed topic is that the President knows I serve awesome vegan food, and is coming by; what would I do?

Every day I work to get the message of compassion through to people. At this point in time, my main form of advocacy is through food; cooking it, serving it, donating it, baking it, talking about it, showing pictures of it and providing recipes. I've got the "food" part of things down cold. My words, however, well they fall on deaf ears the majority of the time. I don't understand how such smart and caring people can be so misguided, including the President of the United States. All I can say is why why WHY?

I thought a lot about this one. It's doubtful this is what most anyone else would do, but that bothers me not at all. Like it or not, this is EXACTLY what I would do, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart. Yes, there's food involved.


Till tomorrow.... xo


Monday, September 14, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 14: Have Great Vegan Food with a Non-Vegan Friend

Today our assigned prompt is to have vegan food with a non-vegan friend. Scroll down for the video.

Yesterday a friend was in town who lives in suburbs of Chicago. We really love this friend, and have grown close over the last few years. He is a bachelor and basically all the cooking he ever wants to do shouldn't be more than "open box, insert into microwave." There's a FEW exceptions to that, and his #1 exception is steamed hot dogs. And guess what.... since meeting us and becoming our friends, he exclusively eats vegan hot dogs. In fact, we've learned it seems he's dropped meat, but still eats dairy (sorry everyone, but the dairy industry IS the veal industry, no free passes from us on this one). We want desperately for him to go vegan, and are always throwing simple vegan food at him to try so he can replace those items when at home.

Our friend likes burgers. Yesterday, we  prepared a delicious simple vegan lunch for our friend consisting of a Field Roast hand formed vegan burger with Field Roast Chao vegan cheese (original flavor) topped with onion, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, (all out of tomatoes yesterday, oops!) housed within a delicious home made vegan challah pretzel bun made by yours truly. I'm showing you a close replica of yesterday's friend's lunch.... this plate has a simple potato salad, and an equally simple chocolate chip cookie recipe. To wash this down, I made him organic lemonade (our bachelor friend's favorite drink) using just organic lemon juice, simple syrup, water and ice.

He LOVED it, although we knew he would.

After the video, I give you the sites where I found the recipes. Yes the buns take a bit more work, and no I don't think our friend is going to go home and make pretzel buns. That's ok though, he can buy vegan buns (he already does anyway) and so can you. If you want to make your own, including the cookies,  I tell you where to find the recipes after the video.

What am I trying to prove? I'm trying to prove that vegan food is delicious, gorgeous, and simple. Hey you haters out there getting on me about the meat analogues (this includes vegans who hate on the analogues as well) let me tell you this: if we do not find unity and stop telling people HOW to be vegan, all is lost. If YOU don't want a meat analogue, have at it with your no sodium lentil burger. As a point of fact that's MY preference too, however.... I don't expect my bachelor friend to eat a lentil burger when this Field Roast is already made and ready to go.  I'm not that gal telling ANYONE how to be vegan. I will say however, we all MUST go vegan, or yes I believe all will be lost.



The pretzel buns are a yeast bun/bread recipe I pulled off the files of the Vegan Meringues-Hits & Misses Page. They indeed are made using aquafaba (all that is the bean water we all used to dump off our cooked or canned beans!) The cookies are also made with aquafaba, and seriously took 5 minutes to make, honestly just slightly more time consuming than slice and bake. If you cannot find the recipes, hit me up with a private message, I'll get them to you. And that potato salad? NO RECIPE! Wash and cube your potatoes, boil them till fork tender, drain and cool. Then, add Vegenaise or Just Mayo to taste (heck, get all fancy, make your own mayo again off that Vegan Meringues page!) give a generous squeeze of Dijon mustard, a little shredded carrot, sweet pickle relish, salt and pepper.

Boom.

xo


Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 13: Kitchen Tour

Scroll down for video. Due to technical difficulties uploading the video, this didn't post by midnight my time. My apologies.

Our prompt for Month of Food today is taking you on a tour of our kitchen.

I used to be the girl who loved country style. Colonial blue was among my favorite colors of all time, I loved pictures of chickens everywhere, all windows had to have ruffled curtains, every surface had to have an object laying upon it (functional or decorative), and oh I could go on about this. Things change. Happy Vegan 2.0 has gone minimalistic and loves industrial style.

I can't stand having clutter around, country decor is so long gone, and I now spend hours pouring through supply catalogues and at thrifts figuring out new ways to incorporate authentic industrial items into my home. Being by the ocean is soothing, and clutter is not. Clean lines are soothing to me, they're simple. My kitchen reflect this, and has a lot of which I like by way of style. If I had my way, I would even have a polished poured concrete floor. I absolutely love the look and functionality of stainless steel and subway tile.

I love my kitchen, and for someone like me it is dreamy. It is minimalistic with abundant storage, very well organized, easy to clean, has commercial appliances, and 99% of the time I absolutely love working in my kitchen (the 1% of time I don't enjoy is the "I'm not a morning person" data that I factor in, tee hee). When I put a tea kettle on for my own little cuppa tea, my pink kettle rides in style. Also, since I confessed just yesterday to owning over 200 cookbooks, you may wonder "where the heck ARE all those books?!" I do not keep any cookbooks in my kitchen, instead they are housed in my office which is adjacent to the kitchen. The thought of that volume of clutter in my kitchen gives me anxiety.

The principals of running a commercial kitchen no matter the size of small or large are the same, which includes high functionality with great layout and tools, no clutter, and easy to clean. Being that my commercial kitchen is in my home, I do have residential style cabinetry, there's no way around that. The only personal appointments currently in my kitchen are things you cannot probably see in this video. I have a shelf above my window which has grandpa's old pasta maker, a large jar holding something that was in my mother's kitchen, 2 other small antique kitchen appliances, and a kitchen witch. In my whole life, there are only 2 other people I've ever met that I know keep kitchen witches... one was my mom. Most days my kitchen witch takes good care of my kitchen. We painted not too long ago, so I took down grandpa's copper pots, but I'll get them back up eventually.

Enough chit chat, let's check things out.


It's all true... I absolutely love my kitchen.

xo


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 12: Favorite Cookbook

Today's prompt is to talk about my favorite cookbook. I thought I had close to 200 when I shot this, but afterwards I did a quick count.... I stopped counting at 200. Holy bananas, that's a lot of cookbooks.

Looking back, mom had 1 cookbook (in the video) and a very small notebook totaling maybe 12 or so of her own recipes. Most of them were pressure cooker recipes. Hello, hello... 1974 is calling. I still use a pressure cooker (just for beans), but to this day they scare me. Thankfully mom had decent luck, we never had one explode back then (many others did).

My personal collection is full of vintage conventional cookbooks, with quite a decent smattering of vegan cookbooks thrown in. Most "modern" cookbooks aren't really what I call "cooks books." Unlike vintage books, you'd be hard pressed to find a current book that covers from grocery shopping, to kitchen preparation, through the food prep and cooking, and even etiquette for setting tables for different occasions (mom's book does!) Instead, too many of today's cookbooks are rushed to press thus have tons of typos, and far too often contain laundry lists of ridiculously difficult to find ingredients with recipes that will take half the day to prepare. Good luck with that. I'm not that girl.

These days I buy most of my "new" cookbooks at the thrifts. I find that cookbooks dating from the 60s/70s and earlier are very often gems, I've gotten pretty darn good at simplistic veganizing of those many books. I also don't have to break the bank finding crazy stupid ingredients, and when my company shows up I can actually sit down and enjoy tea and conversation, instead of being stuck in the kitchen, or just being the angry vegan from spending 8 hours preparing a meal that is gone in 60 seconds.

Boiling it down to just 1 book wasn't quite possible, I'll explain why in this short video. It's interesting though how with so many books in the house, I consistently reach for just a very few select ones.

I'm older now, and realize how mom really disliked cooking. I'm also remembering how very much she enjoyed baking. This baked apple didn't fall far from the tree. One thing though.... just don't ask me to bake you a pie.... I hate pie. And, mom must've too, for we never EVER made a pie together. (We sure made lots of cakes though!)



xo

Friday, September 11, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day #11: Magnesium Madness

Today our prompt is "focus on a nutrient." I'm taking you to our beach to get some Vitamin D, chill with a baby deer, and talk about magnesium. Magnesium is where it's at baby..... my life is much better now that a years long magnesium deficiency was finally diagnosed and fixed. After the video, I give you a recipe from the "Oh She Glows" cookbook for Healing Rooibos Tea. Only I use honeybush tea (yes, it's vegan, that's just the name, ok?) It's a wonderful healing tea, chock full of turmeric and ginger. This is a great tea with anti-inflammatory properties, and perfect for someone like me who's still high raw, and taking anti-inflammatory supplements, enzymes and other lovelies to heal my "finally-almost-better" injured ankle. I make my tea unsweetened.

There's a little bit of noise on the video because it was breezy. Sorry about that.

The deer you see in this video is a Key deer fawn, who has just a few of her spots left on her flank. If you look closely you may be able to see them. Key deer are an endangered species. They are frequent visitors here, and one of the reasons I moved here. I watch them constantly and love their playfulness, their herd mentality (at least within the does and fawns), and so many other things about them. Animals make me a better person, they make me want to do more, do better and make this Earth an ok place to be.

That said, let's get some sun.


Healing Rooibos Tea
Credit: Angela Liddon
Oh She Glows Cookbook

4 cups filtered water
4 tsp loose rooibos tea or 4 rooibos tea bags (I usually use honeybush, they're both "red" teas)
1-2 lemon slices, seeds removed
1-2 inch piece turmeric root, peeled, thinly sliced
2-3 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled, thinly sliced
sweetener to taste (optional) (I omit)

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, tea, lemon, turmeric and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce to med/low, simmering about 10 minutes. Longer if you desire a stronger brew.

Pour the tea through a fine mesh sieve place over a bowl, stir in sweetener if using, and serve immediately. Store excess in fridge.

PS: I do not drink this warm/hot, I like it chilled. I also tend to add a little more lemon, but that's just me.

Add a smidgen of black pepper to your tea, it will help the body absorb the turmeric better. Yes, this is true, look it up.

xo




Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vegan Month of Food 2015 Day 10: Something Blue

Day 10! Today we're tasked with bringing you blue food. Honestly, if I had my way, I would've dumped a pint of (organic) blueberries in a parfait dish, chilled up some (organic) unsweetened coconut milk, whipped it, then plopped it on top of the berries. Being that this is VeganMoFo, even I think I needed to bring you something a little more inventive.... even someone as minimalistic and simple as me.

I made a blue velvet naked vegan cake. Dog help us all.


The good:
It's vegan. It's a naked cake--quite trendy, even I've learned this in the Keys.

The bad:
Blue food coloring.... and lots of it.

The ugly:
See above comment.

This recipe is not being supplied. I do not want to be associated with this cake. I wouldn't make a cake with coloring like this. The amount of unnatural food coloring in a cake like this is, in my opinion, not healthy, and also impacts the final flavor of the cake. If you are tasked to make a blue velvet cake and you want it REALLY blue like this, take a conventional blue velvet recipe, use about 1/2 ounce vegan color gel (I used Wilton, as of this writing, it's vegan), use your own egg replacer of choice (I used aquafaba, didn't reduce it, simply measured, whisked by hand till somewhat fluffy and firm, and combined), use coconut oil or vegan butter for the butter, and swap out the poison dairy milk with your choice of non-dairy milk (I would suggest soy milk for the best structure and texture, but coconut milk, flax milk and hemp milk would work well I think), and wing it. It will be blue, trust me. So will everything else in your kitchen. Trust me on that as well.

Being that it's a "velvet" cake, I went with vegan cream cheese frosting. I have my own personal recipe, but you can find tons of decent recipes on line for vegan versions, or simply use a conventional recipe and convert to vegan by use of vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti, non-hydrogenated).

I filled the inside of my cake with blueberries and strawberries.

I trimmed the edges of the cake evenly all the way around to make sure I got the most "bang for the buck" of blue... it's bluer on the inside than where the cake touched the pan.

Naked cakes are something I personally really like the look of. If this wasn't about "blue" I would've handled this cake totally differently and "crumb coated" the entire cake, then pretty much called it a day after some additional minor decorating.

Minimalistic. I like that. Both in food and home.

It took 2 days to rid my kitchen of all the blue dye I found in random places, I sacrificed one professional silicon spatula to the dogs of blue, and in the end I of course gave the cake away.

If you want a blue velvet cake, go with a recipe such as Chocolate Covered Katie's blue velvet made with things like blueberries. No, it won't be electric blue, but then again, you're not writing for MoFo, are you.

Glad to have my kitchen un-blued. See you tomorrow!

xo





Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vegan Month of Food Day 9: Retro Recipe

Already at day number 9! Today we were tasked with bringing you a "retro recipe." Especially for you, I've created a "wacky cake" also known as a "war cake." My twist is that this recipe is an allergen free version.... no nuts, no soy, no gluten, no wheat, and of course no eggs, dairy or cruelty. "Wacky cakes" are what I call "accidentally vegan." When eggs and dairy were being rationed back in the depression, people simply used vinegar and baking soda to make great cakes. I sometimes call these "company cakes" because they're so easy to whip up for company in just minutes. After you watch the video, scroll past and you will find a little more commentary from me, as well as my original recipe which I am sharing with you today.

Make cake, not war.




Wacky cakes are so easy, why complicate them? Prepare your pan (remember if you're going soy free, check any vegetable oil spray you may be using to make sure it is indeed soy free and gluten free). I used organic shortening to grease the pan, dusted with cocoa, and then put a small piece of parchment in as a liner to insure it was no stick. I knew I would not be serving in the pan since this was for a video, so the parchment wasn't a problem. Don't use parchment if you're serving straight from the pan.

Also, as this is a gluten free cake, you should know a couple tips that help me when baking gluten free in this tropical climate with so much humidity this time of year. Sift your ingredients, not once but twice. Yes, I know, this is a wacky cake. I sifted. Twice.

When I made this cake last night for Meetup, it was ok, but I knew I could do better. The cake in last night's Meetup video was a little dry, I knew I could do better. Among the changes, I increased the fat slightly,  and used half oil and half vegan mayo. It vastly improved the cake, it was SO moist the 2nd time around. Also, you can use any liquid you like instead of the coconut milk, especially noting that most depression cakes simply use water. When making gluten free baked goods, you've essentially removed the protein from the cake because there's no gluten. Gluten gives cakes structure, so gluten free cakes need something to help with that. I added some guar gum, you could use xanthan gum instead. Also... you'll see I did not use water, I used unsweetened coconut milk. This gave the cake more structure than my first try, maybe because there is a little protein in the coconut milk. If that's true (protein), then I would imagine if you don't care about your cake being soy free, use soy milk, you'll probably get an even firmer structure, but still with a good crumb.

When I bake gluten free cakes, I like to use combinations of medium and lightweight flours. I almost never use a heavy weight flour in gluten free cakes (i.e.: almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, etc) because they give me a far too dense end result. Despite this, I still combine different flours, and any time I use rice flour in a cake I like to do a "mix in" to help overcome any gritty texture that may exist in the baked cake. Rice flour helps give structure, but since I also cannot find superfine rice flour in bulk, I use regular organic rice flour. Here in this case, I've mixed in the allergen free chocolate chips. I find that rice flour is great in most cookies, and there is never an issue with texture. Different beast I guess.

And, lastly, I'd like to mention that I do use almost entirely organic ingredients. For some reason I am unable to find organic sorghum flour through the suppliers down here, but other than that, EVERYTHING in my cake is organic. Also, here we support fair trade so know that my sugars, cocoa, extracts, and chocolate in this cake are fair trade. I like to use the Multiple Organics line of allergen free organic fair trade chocolate chips as it comes in bulk quantities. Usually you'll find the Enjoy Life line of allergen free chocolate chips on most supermarket shelves, which are good too, just not fair trade.

Enough chit chat, let's get to the recipe. This is an original recipe of mine. Even if you are not allergic to things like nuts, soy, gluten or wheat, it's always good to have a recipe like this around the house in case someone dear to you with allergies comes for a visit and you want to be the hero and give them cake.  If you share this recipe, please tell people where you got it from, and that it was me. Only fair as I do that all the time as well.

Allergen-Free Double Chocolate Wacky Cake - use organic as much as possible!
Serves: 1 8" or 9" layer
By: Jen D. at Deer Run Bed and Breakfast, Big Pine Key, Florida

DRY INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup arrowroot, corn starch or potato starch
3 tablespoons rice flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup organic sugar (regular sugar is NOT vegan, use organic or certified vegan sugar)
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp guar gum OR xanthan gum

WET INGREDIENTS:
1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used coconut to keep it allergen free)
3 tablespoons vegan mayo (ie: Vegenaise or Just Mayo, make sure its GF/SF/NF)
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (use vanilla if you don't have chocolate)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

MIX IN:
1/3 cup allergen free vegan chocolate chips

METHOD:

Prepare one 8" OR 9" pan by greasing and dusting with cocoa. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees (yes, 300). Either sift your ingredients in a bowl, or sift them into the prepared pan (that's a wacky cake tradition). Add in your wet ingredients directly to the dry--either in the bowl, or in the pan--and stir. If you are mixing your ingredients in a bowl first, really whisk your ingredients well.... think of the air as an ingredient, whisking very well will help make your gluten free cake fluffier. You cannot over mix a gluten free cake, as there is no gluten in there to develop, ok? I whisked mine by hand about 5 minutes, it became glossy, shiny and exceptionally smooth.

Pour into prepare pan (if you used a separate bowl), then bake 22 minutes. Check for doneness with a wooden toothpick... a few moist crumbs should cling to the toothpick. If not, bake another 2-3 minutes and remove. Gluten free cakes cook faster (usually) and can overbake quickly. Always remember, your baked goods will continue to bake a few minutes even after you've removed them from the oven. Trust me, reduce your oven temp on this recipe, and don't let this go longer than I've recommended.

Cool in pan on wire rack, and dust with confectionary sugar or cocoa prior to serving. Or, if desired, frost with your favorite frosting, I used my own version of allergen free vanilla vegan white frosting, and dusted with cocoa.

Lastly... use an oven thermometer. I will not be blamed for a crappy oven. My baker's oven runs almost 30 degrees hotter than I set it for. This is pretty much normal.

Go vegan, stay vegan.

xo






Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015 Day #8: Make A New Friend!

I'm writing this post with just minutes to go before the clock strikes midnight in my timezone, so I best hurry up. Today our assigned topic was "Make A New Friend." A few weeks ago, I decided to start a Vegan Support Group down here. By chance, I chose today, September 8, as the first Meetup. Talk about a stroke of luck.

Tonight I complied and made a new friend. I also saw some old friends. I am SO happy to have started this group. If you ever feel a little more alone than you wish you did as a vegan, I urge you to start a Meetup in your area. We had a nice turnout tonight, although everyone was camera shy except me, trust me it was a success. I'm REALLY happy about this right about now, and basically wondering why I didn't do this a VERY long time ago.


See you tomorrow!

xo

Monday, September 7, 2015

VeganMoFo 2015 Day 7: Make Food Inspired by a Book or Movie

Make food inspired by a book or movie? This post was a bit of a pain as I work. A lot. I usually fall asleep during most movies, and I have a stack of books I WANT to read, but haven't gotten to in ages. If it's not a tabloid magazine, I don't have time to read it. When I find a movie I love, I can watch it dozens of times and be happy. My favorite genre of movies are either comedies or children's movies  (well, ok, I love Ironman but food isn't really integral there...) Children's movies are interesting to me, as they so very often are geared towards adults with lines built in exclusively for us grownups. Also, so often children's movies are about animals, my favorite topic! When exactly is it in our lives where the innocence we are born with is smashed out of us so much so that we think it's normal to torture and eat animals? I find it almost astonishing how so many children's movies actually are pro-animal, and pro-compassion.... yet so many people cannot see that compassion IS the way.

My inspiration for today's food comes from the children's movie "Finding Nemo." Seriously, this is one of the best movies ever. I live by the words "just keep swimming," and even better the movie reminds us all that "fish are friends, not food!"

Here's my video for today, I hope you enjoy it, see you tomorrow!



xo


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015 Day 6: Recreate a Restaurant Meal

Today I'm supposed to recreate a restaurant meal for you. Scroll down and you'll find my short video. Today I'm showing you my interpretation of a vegan raw meal at Present Moment Cafe in St. Augustine. We found Present Moment on the last night of a quick stop through St. Augustine last year. It's a lovely mostly raw vegan restaurant. Back in the day I never would have even considered a raw food restaurant, yet for the last several years I now seek them out. I could possibly see how someone on the typical standard American diet (it's called "SAD" for a HUGE reason!) might be more than a little surprised by a meal in a raw food restaurant, but thankfully more and more people are waking up to not only the benefits of eating raw, but how it can be elegant as well. The presentation at Present Moment was gorgeous (admittedly I didn't put as much pizazz into my presentation, I'm on a limited time frame), the food was delicious, and the people in there were so friendly. Almost a year later and we still talk about our meal there, and how we cannot wait to go back (it's quite a hike for us up to St. Augustine, but we'll get there again!) While we were there, I was so impressed by the food that I bought a copy of their cookbook (uncookbook?) on site. Although many of the recipes do contain nuts, I've been able to alter them for my own purposes with success anytime needed. For purposes of this video, I stuck with the recipes even though I'm still nut and oil free. The other happy vegan absolutely devoured the food the minute the video was finished, and pronounced it "deeeeeelicious" in his best Pop voice.

Here's my video, I've recreated a raw vegan pesto "pasta" using spiralized zucchini with nut "parm," and a raw brownie banana split. Instead of using the ice cream recipe from Present Moment, I did use the 4 ingredient ice cream recipe from the Vegan 8 blog. It's not raw, but has no added sugar, no nuts, and is absolutely decadent.


Recipes in this video were mostly from the book "Handmade in the Present Moment," but also include one from "The Vegan 8" blog. The vegan "Magic Shell" was one I pulled off the internet, you can use any recipe as long as it's vegan. Chocolate and coconut oil ARE magic when combined and drizzled over ice cream. I highly recommend Present Moment Cafe in St. Augustine, but until you can get there, pick up their book. I love it!

xo