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.

Monday, December 25, 2017

And So This Is Christmas

This time of year I do my best impression of a hibernating bear. Mostly it's due to super long hours in the kitchen bakery getting orders ready for shipping and local delivery. This year sure was different since my kitchen remains almost totally offline (still not conducive to VeganMoFo, mini or not). I found myself retreating inwards even more, not for the best of reasons either. Finally I decided to make an effort to shake the blues and I've started working outside the bed and breakfast. Two part time jobs, one involving food (vegan!) the other involving animals (aw). The scheduling is a lot harder to get used to than expected, and the driving involved can be quite treacherous this time of year (we've moved into season here, honestly even with less visitors to the Keys due to Irma, the roads remain very clogged with people taking ridiculous and unnecessary risks like passing in no passing zones, speeding, shooting iPhone video while driving, and so forth). Since we're not reopened yet, and I couldn't take a single baking order, I thought it best to find a purpose, that's where the jobs come in. We are making slow progress around here,  I'd like to say slow and steady progress but it's not that way. Some days we accomplish far more than other days, some days it seems absolutely nothing gets done. Once January hits, things will get back to a more normal schedule and it will be hopefully easier to get things done. The County has been slower than normal, contractors that have been working like mad have taken some well earned time off, and many people tend to get caught up in this whole holiday madness thing.

Down here, the community did a lot of nice things for a lot of people in need. We did our small part, for what we were able, driving around a couple neighborhoods, being silly and handing out small boxes and bags of vegan cookies. I'd also like to say that really brought a warm fuzzy but damn it was so hard being in such hard hit areas (yes, our neighborhood is among the hardest hit too, but since I don't go out much, I ignore the realities that go with all that). Both of us happy vegans were out there, and we had a little elf with us... the son of our neighbors, he is such a fine and sweet boy. He was so sweet and excited handing out the cookies. People were hugging him, thanking him. It was just cookie, not a magic wand. It simply sucks looking at shattered lives when all you have to give is a cookie. After we were all finished, the little elf said something like "wow, those are some messed up houses, we should do this more often." Mind you, this sweet little elf had his own life and house shattered thanks to Irma, and they too are putting back their own pieces. But there he was with a smile, a big heart, caring about others knowing full well we should do that more often.

The reality is, at least for us, we can't. At least not yet. We have to keep our eye on the prize though, and that means rebuilding our lives and our business. There is so much red tape that has been an issue, and so much unnecessary nonsense that we have zero control over. If you've been following us for a while, you know full well the way I cope with stress is either through running, exercise or working with food. Triple frustrating because those things have all been compromised as well.

So frustrating.

Despite all the stumbling blocks, I was very determined to do something for us, and something... anything... for the community. The cookies started out as a donation for one of the great feeding the community programs that has popped up, but they didn't get picked up on time. That's when we decided to head out ourselves, which was a good, but hard, move.  I baked several hundred very plain, but still kinda cute vegan sugar and gingerbread cookies in (Key) deer and people shapes. They looked like this before bagging:

And this after bagging:

We had a visit from one of Santa's reindeer on Christmas Eve:

We took a trip up to the mainland a few weeks ago to do some business, have some really important meetings about some really important issues we're dealing with, and we stopped into IKEA to have a look around at some ideas for decorating when we finish the rebuild. Yup, IKEA is know for ultra modern, but we were super pleasantly surprised to find 1) vegan food in the cafeteria and 2) furniture styles that can blend into coastal styling and some really great storage design ideas. We also stumbled upon an accidentally vegan gingerbread house that (of course) needs assembly, IKEA style. It was $4! I had to get one! So, with some accidentally vegan candies from the local CVS (by the way, I never knew that CVS has it's own brand of candy, some of which actually says "vegan" on the label), a little aquafaba royal icing, and some vegan sprinkles I get from Sweetopolita, we came up with this:

Since cooking and baking really is not happening on a regular basis here due to logistical issues as well as mechanical issues (you have no idea how much went into baking those couple hundred bags and boxes of cookies.... but it was still worth all the challenges), and I knew I wanted to do my best to have a nice post for MiniMoFo as well as keeping my own tradition of an annual Buche de Noel, I had my wishes granted by the raw fairy when I stumbled upon a photo of a raw Yule log on facebook. The recipe is offered in a free seasonal e-book download from Joey's Kitchen. Seriously, their picture is mind blowing, it stole my heart. I knew as soon as I saw it that was the ticket. I headed out a few weeks ago to get the 1 ingredient I did not have (psyllium powder), and this is what I came up with:

That, dear hearts, is a raw, vegan organic Buche de Noel. I decorated it with organic pomegranate seeds I had left from a few poms we picked up while at Whole Foods on the mainland, as well as some raw cacao nibs. The ganache softens quickly at room temperature, I think if I let the cake chill a little bit longer the sugar snow would've held up better, but I was happy, very happy, very VERY happy. If you want to make that same cake, you can look up "Joey's Plate" on facebook and sign up for the free ebook. I'd give you the link, but it's only a sign up link. Get the book, its free and has several recipes.

I do write about life post Irma, because that is my reality. I suppose if one doesn't live here or visit here to help repair lives, it's hard to fathom what it's like right now, but basically it's all consuming and exhausting. Knowing this, we HAVE to keep our spirits up, do silly things, find a way to get through the day helping someone else, find a way to laugh, anything along those lines. We lost most of our family things for Christmas, and what was saved just didn't make sense to drag out only to be covered in the dust from drywall sanding or whatever else is floating around. Instead, I had an idea and asked the other happy vegan to grab the ladder that was our very good friend for a couple months as a stand in for when we had no steps. I came up with this:

He opened up the ladder and together we started grabbing random things lying around.... contractors demolition bags, paint chip samples, stirrers, outlet covers, caution tape that we had leftover from the house we lived when we had it roped off before final demolition... you get the idea. The "angel" on top is a safety lantern that was donated to us in a relief delivery from Adam & Timberly along with one of the respirators they donated as well. I popped on the head of a broken angel that my dad gave to me many years ago retrieved from underneath some rubble. It made us laugh, mission accomplished.

And, finally, last night in the stillness I decided to find it in me to be with nature, which used to be one of my most favorite things. I rarely go outside anymore, I don't think walking from where ever I may be to my car counts either. When I went outside I saw the deer walking by, a fish jumping past the flats, and was treated to the most amazing technicolor sunset:

After I took the shot above, the sun did set, and the sky went from fire oranges and amber to pinks and purples, then finally to black. Since it was Christmas Eve, I stayed out there til the other happy vegan joined me, and we walked up onto the roof to watch Santa & Rudolph fly over. Every year some kind pilot gets some special clearances and flies down the Keys with just a red glowing light. High enough so the wee ones can't see him, but low enough that us not-so-wee ones hear the gentle buzz of the props. The schedule is published ahead of time, and indeed Rudolph came at the stroke of his appointed time. The astronomy buff in the other happy vegan came out in him last night as we talked about Orion and a few other constellations. It was crystal clear where we were last night, perfectly still and quiet. There actually was a slight chill in the air, but that's probably only Keys style talking, I mean if I had to take an honest guess I'd say it was about 72 degrees. When I looked at the temperature during cookie delivery time, it said 81. I'm so not a white Christmas, holly jolly, rolly polly with Santa gal.

So, even for a Solstice loving, summer loving, tropical kind of gal like me, Christmas came and gave us a few moments trying to fool us into peace and good will. We don't wait for holidays and such for that kind of thing, that's why we went vegan, you know.... to actually DO something about the troubles in the world, not just give lip service and SAY we'd like to change the world.

I was able to keep up the Yule log tradition in spite of some really difficult circumstances, and I'm just pleased as punch (kombucha?) about that. No matter what Yule 2018 brings, I know cake will be involved because if I can do it this year, seriously I can do anything. One more week of 2017.... to take a page from Queen Elizabeth, with a little Key's twist:  "2017 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure ... In the words of of one my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis' I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so." Oh Queenie.... if only you and I both had a crystal ball!

Annus Horribilis or not, we still have cake. Raw, vegan, organic, fair trade, blissful, beautiful cake. And that, my friends, is where it will always be at. Vegan style, for the win.

Wishing us ALL a better 2018... getting it in now, in the very likely event I don't get back to the computer before January washes in. And, oh what a year 2018 will be. I am SO kicking 2017 in the ass come December 31. New Year look out, here we are totally ready for you with open arms, and we plan to make it fabulous beyond comprehension.

Happy Solstice. Merry Everything. Happy New Year. Go Vegan. Stay Vegan.

Yup, we've got it all covered.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Plate That They're On

Last night I put up a picture on our Deer Run facebook page of vegan egg nog muffins. As I said then, probably only the second time I've baked since Irma. Between having to throw out thousands and thousands of dollars of ingredients, and also have some equipment impacted, I just cannot find my way in the kitchen right now. But..... muffins are doable, and in the spirit of the season I thought I'd come up with something not so run of the mill as far as a seasonal flavor. Anyway, the muffins came out pretty darn great, and I wanted to put them on a holiday plate for the picture. When I posted the picture, I said something about maybe someday I'll talk about the plate they're on.

Vegan eggless nog muffins
On "the plate"

Let's talk.

When dad was alive, he would give me gifts at Christmas of certain things that were cumulative over time. Crystal for example. I have this amazingly gorgeous set of lead crystal which I have not used once since I moved to Florida. In fact, I even wrote about that crystal on a prior blog post, because I remember writing about how a box I picked up one day actually still had a shred of Christmas paper attached. It was causing me angst because I have these things that I do not use, but couldn't seem to part with.

Irma has given me quite a change of perspective.

Take, for example, the plate those muffins are on. Along the lines of those "cumulative" gifts from dad was a set of Spode "Christmas Tree" dishes. He started me on them, and kept me going for years. I actually really liked them, and I began to pick up little "fillers" here and there as I would see them at thrifts (not often for Spode, but it happens), on sale in department stores (goes to show how long ago this dates back for me), and other stores. I had some nifty pieces like a cake cutter, a quiche dish (used quite often as it was just a perfect size for my own chickpea quiches) and other neat pieces that aren't really dishes. I was looking in my cabinets a year or so ago and decided some things had to be packed up since I wasn't using them, and this included my Spode. I had so much of it all in protective china cases and boxes. I pulled it all out of the cabinets and packed everything away into plastic tubs. And, then I put them into my storage trailer where I also had the bulk of my personal items which were removed from here when we put the place on the market.

Hello Irma. You really suck.

Irma took our storage trailer, and everything inside. She didn't flood it. She took it. She moved it from here to there, and along the way she decided just taking it wasn't enough, she wanted the exclamation point of it actually exploding into pieces. Even writing these words actually cause a sort of nausea for me. The things that were in there and will never recover... maybe I'll never completely come to grips with the personal nature of it actually. I'm not talking about things like clothing (although that was in there too), it's more like the tubs and tubs of photographs going back decades before I was even born. My books, I'm a book lover. I love the smell of the, the feel of them, and the experience of reading a book instead of a computer screen. 95% of my books are gone (cookbooks excluded). Things like that which would have no value to anyone else, but were irreplaceable to me. So sad. Anyway.... Irma took the Spode. All of it. Gone. Vanished.

Not too long after Irma, I put a video up about my experience with "death cleaning." I was surprised when I opened up the cabinets where the Spode used to live and saw that it was already gone. In that moment, I realized yet another thing that was gone not by my choice. Big empty spaces in those cabinets where years of memories through dishes used to be. I even used the Spode during Christmas time here for guests. Not every day, but I used it. Not because it was Christmas, but because it brought me good memories.

I've been out to the Coupon Bight several times searching for things that Irma took, including clothing, photos, books, paintings, furniture, you name it. I found so little, but there were a few victories. One of the lowest moments for me after the storm was the time I was out in the Coupon Bight in the post storm blistering heat. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, I was wearing my non-fishing fishing boots, a swimsuit and sobbing as I sifted through the silt trying to retrieve as much of grandma's silverware as possible. At that moment, a rental carload of 'bags came down the not-yet-repaired street still rife with asphalt washouts, (so obviously not from around here in their shiny new Mustang convertible, laughing) holding their iPhones up high recording every image, including me. It was humiliating, sickening, infuriating, and a moment I just wanted to give in to all my misery and run away. I didn't go back out there anymore after that until the other happy vegan and I went out there together in an effort to survey the wreckage of the Save-A-Turtle trailer and see what we could salvage from that for the non-profit (so very little, unfortunately). Yeah, that trailer also was eaten by Irma, and I've not gone back out there again since, but the other happy vegan has made a few trips on his own. Alone, he's brought a kayak to load anything he found, just as I had done in the early post-Irma days. After one of those trips I saw a small pile of mud encrusted zippered china/dish protectors sitting in the sand near my sad room. I knew immediately what it was.... Spode! I plopped myself down in the sand and unzipped every case right then and there. Not a single dish had nary a chip or crack. They had been submerged for more than 2 months, ripped out with a huge storm surge pushed by winds that reports say at times were in excess of 150 mph in my zone.

After I unwrapped each plate, I soaked them in tubs with anti bacterial cleaners, scrubbed them with soap and a special scrubby, rinsed them, and then ran them through twice in my superheated dishwasher (new, also since Irma). I stacked them, opened the cabinet where they had lived for well over a decade since I moved here, and put them right back where they sat all those years before I moved them into the trailer as an "unnecessary" item, although they no longer sit in their protective pouches, and there's a mere fraction of what used to be.

None of the special cute pieces have been located, including the cake server, and the quiche dish. Not a single cup has been located, but almost all the saucers have been retrieved. I don't have all the plates, cake plates, salad plates, rather just a few of each. But, I do have some. I know I did a death cleaning after Irma, but I feel like these dishes are meant to be kept, at least I'll say not meant to be given away just yet.

It was astonishing to me to come full circle with something as innocuous as plates. But for whatever reason(s), these dishes are a sign of either ridiculous excess, or the exact opposite. I'm not sure which, and actually since most days I'm not really coping very well navigating life and all the bombs that come with it since September 10, I'll try not to read too much into any of this. But.... I cannot help but to some tiny extent think of my dad more than ever right now. It's been really difficult to go through the storm, and everything that's happening since. The ground is constantly moving under us both personally and with our business since Irma, we are constantly adjusting our sails and it's exhausting at a time when I'm already exhausted.

So, I have some Spode and it's a pretty safe bet that I'll be eating off that plate after December is long gone. Seems like the right thing to do, when there are no rules anymore anyway. I think a nice red dragonfruit will look just as beautiful on it as the vegan eggless nog muffins.

And that is the story of the plate that they're on.

Vegan love my friends.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mini MoFo November 2017: LAZY AF!

Ok, I added the "AF" to the "lazy" part. I've got a bit of a chip on my shoulder these most recent post Irma days. Roller coaster baby, it's a roller coaster down here and we're all on it together as a community. Hence the AF part, since I have said chip.

I'm dragging myself out from under my safe space of the desk to be here and write this post. I've retreated. Away. From everyone. Everything. Except for the animals. I am with them. All. The. Time.

I went up to pick Angel's ashes up today. I ended up stopping somewhere else first, and then I forgot why I went up to Marathon. Yes, I forgot to pick up Angel's ashes. I suck beyond words. This is what it is like for me now, this is my newest stage. I forget everything. What I do seem to remember, I want to forget. Someone linked a hurricane video to me a few days ago, I felt physically sick. It ruined me and I think I made it through 6 seconds. This is what life is ... I'm a bit of a mess.

But.... we always have MoFo! Praise MoFo! I saw the prompt of "lazy" and promised myself I would do a post. I have done so. Sort of what I planned on, but not quite. We're tasked with showing you essentially just how lazy we can be with our vegan food.... that doesn't mean BAD vegan food, it just means, um simplify?

In my post Irma world, I now wear my "lazy" badge with honor. I admit the wind is knocked out of my sails with Angel dying and Lemon getting diagnosed. That kinda pushed me over the edge a bit. I'm still not cooking, although I did muster enough kitchen cleaning and ingredients to pull a few things together for Tina & Phil's vegan ThanksLiving potluck in Key West on Thanksgiving Day. Beyond that, basically I'm still going into the food donations daily, rummaging around, seeing what I might be able to eat enough of to consider a meal (still on the Irma diet, and so many of us still are) Yeah, still not hungry a lot, but I eat because I'm reminded when headache comes along.

When I got the Vegan Black Metal Chef's Seitanic Spellbook, my perspective on cooking changed a lot. I've talked about this before, in my better days. I became far more experimental on my own with cooking. And I learned to really simplify things. One of the best "hacks" in the book is carmelizing onions in a crock pot. Absolutely epic. The first "lazy" thing I did for this post was do the onion thing. I pulled out the tiny crock pot that Adam & Timberly sent in a relief delivery (thank you Robin!!!), sliced up an onion, put some olive oil over it, set to low and left it overnight. Viola, beautiful carmelized onions! I mean, I was so lazy I never even stirred them. That is REALLY lazy.

Lazy Crock pot Onions Before Crockpotting

Lazy Crock pot Onions After Crockpotting

But, then I got to thinking.... what else can I do with this crock pot besides make lazy soups, lazy onions, and lazy stews. Bread?

Don't mind if I do.

Lazy bread..... in the tiny crock pot. Ok, honestly the crock pot was too small, I needed a bigger one, or I should've cut the quantity in half. But overall, the method itself was enough to prove this IS doable. I found a recipe on line, but .... LAZY...... I decided to do my own based on the first recipe that popped up. All I remembered was 2.5 cups of flour, after that, it's all me:


2.5 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 envelope if you do the envelope thing)
wad of diced lazy carmelized onions
oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, cracked black pepper
about 2T vegan sweetener (I just jammed a spoon 2x into my sugar bin)
a little oil (ok, here, check this.... the height of laziness.... I didn't even measure this, I simply used whatever liquid was floating in the bottom of the tiny crock pot from the onions and dumped it into the dough, for reals)
some sea salt
some wheat gluten (no measure, I just added it to the dough til it wasn't overly shaggy anymore)
3/4-1 cup filtered water (1 cup was too much with the onions cuz they are wet, so if you don't use onions use 1 cup, if you do use onions reduce the amount OR add the wheat gluten like I did)

Put the warm water, yeast & sugar in a cup and let it fizz about 10 minutes.

Mix the rest of the ingredients, add the fizzy yeasty water, and knead til smooth, and not overly shaggy (I love using the word shaggy when I describe dough, cracks me up... it's the little things, what can I say?) Use a mixer if you have one. Use your hands if you don't.

What next?

I lined the tiny crock pot with parchment. Why? Cuz the thing I saw online said to do that. So, I did. I mean, I didn't even wash the pot from the onions... LAZY. I unrolled some parchment, cut it then just stuck it into the crock pot. I then dumped the dough into the tiny crock pot, sprinkled some fleur de sel over it, and flicked it on high for an hour. Came back in an hour... oopsie the crock pot it a wee bit small... the dough is hitting the lid but... I'm LAZY... not gonna swap the pot out. I removed the lid, scraped the wet dough off, and plopped a sauce pan on top of the crock pot like a hat. Yes, I really did this. LAZY! Then what? Well, then I went to Hell Depot for 3 hours and subjected myself to the lights, sounds, smells and FREAKING CHRISTMAS MUSIC up there. Why? Because I had to. I have to pick flooring, tile and whatever else I'm forced to do in my post Irma days instead of flipping pancakes and playing with cupcakes. Dammit. Oopsie, I'm raging again.... back to LAZY.

Come back after my Hell Depot experience and look at the bread, holy bananas, basically it worked! The top was a teeny bit doughy, the bottom a teeny bit dark, but it actually was bread!

Lazy Freaking Crock pot Bread Before Crockpotting
Ok. There it is. Lazy me doing 2 things with no quantities (basically), no measurements, and just fly by the seat of your pants. You know what else? I'll bet I could do lazy mushrooms in the crock pot.... am I the only one that could sit down and eat an entire super large bowl of cooked mushrooms? But it takes a long time to sweat them out if you do it right...... maybe the lazy in me will crawl back out of my safe space at some point again to go to the store and get some mushrooms. Then again, maybe not. The social in me, which barely existed before, is gone now. You don't mind, I mean do you? Nah, I didn't think so.
Lazy Vegan Crock pot Bread After Crockpotting
Lemon is still with us, if you are wondering. Ellin at Food for Thought gifted us a bottle of True CBD brand 325 mg CBD oil for him. And you know, it is helping. I have been giving him relatively large doses. No, it's not going to cure him. But it is absolutely giving him a better quality of restorative rest. And, he is eating. He is walking. He is on my lap some days for hours and hours and HOURS at a time. I love it. He is my main purpose right now. I know we don't have much time together left. He and I have been through a lot, and I mean A LOT in our years together. He's my last connection to my pre-Deer Run life. I cannot imagine being without him, so most times I just pretend he is not sick, he's just sleeping and purring in my lap.... I rotate the chair to face sun and let him bask and purr while in my lap. Lazy? No... this is SMART. It's a big difference.

My boy Lemon
Ok, oh, yeah... I forgot. When I said this was mostly what I meant to post about as far as lazy food, this is true. What I did intend to do was make something more out of these ingredients though. I pulled a polenta out of the donations.... some roasted red pepper hummus..... a couple bags of fancy crackers. All from the epic, magic "ingredient" trailer.... I considered making a small plate of appetizers with the onions and the bread. But... I got LAZY. Oopsie daisy. Here's what happened instead:
Ok, Ok, I opened a pack of red pepper hummus
Spread it on the lazy bread
covered it with the lazy onions
Crawled back into my cave and ate this
Lazy, but REALLY delicious

Maybe next month for the mini MoFo I'll remove the AF from any post, and not be as lazy. Then again, if I were a betting gal, I would NOT take that bet. After all, somehow it finally dawned on me (at Hell Depot I guess) that next up is December, and for the love of dog, people actually cook, and bake, and socialize, and have parties, and wear sparkly things. No, no, no.... just no. Not me. Not this year. No.

Lazy? Yes..... I got that... no prob.

Thanks for checking in.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

This Is Not a Month of Food Post

Friends, there is not much more load that we can bear... the news on Lemon is as bad as it gets. Another punch to the gut for us, nothing in comparison to what he faces. I've tried to put a positive face on for you, so many truly care and it's what has been holding things together for us, but there are cracks In the veneer of my being that are growing by the minute it seems. I've spoken very little of the bureaucratic debacle we are being subjected to by government on every level including local, but it's taking a toll that is indescribable. I thought it would be therapeutic in some ways on our end while informative on your end to do videos and show certain realities. But as with absolutely everything else in my post Irma world, this too is impacted. Simple things are just not simple, will they ever be again is what I ask every day. I've enjoyed what I've been able to do, so I will try and get videos or posts up to finish out the month but I'm not sure I am able,

We have worked so hard, there has been no down time, none. It's all for the reopening, 18 hour days usually. the news about Lemon comes as a total shock in this chaos. I've been his person a very long time, and the other happy vegan loves him just as much. It's difficult to be back in this position just weeks after Princess crossed.

Lemon is very brave, he always has been. His beginning wasn't the best, we were lucky he landed with us. He's my boy, my man, and although I don't speak of him much, he's been a constant and stable presence through some of the worst times I've lived through. Hold good thoughts for him. He is comfortable, loved and supported by excellent trusted doctors. We can never know how long, but the prognosis is grim, we will do our best to maximize the time that remains and be the stewards he deserves.

Thank you friends as we continue to try and work through the shitstorm.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 24: Whats Up In The Hood and A Recipe

Today on the video I talk about the progress of the community at large down here. Resilient does not even scratch the surface.

Our prompt today is party food. Scroll past the video and you will find a link to a fantastic vegan wet buffalo mozzarella recipe. I've made it dozens of times, it's no fail, easy and delicious. A great intro to the DIY vegan cheese world, no special items required. Locals, you can get unsweetened vegan yogurt locally at Date and Thyme in Key West, and sometimes at Publix, marketed under the So Delicious label.

Come see my video!

Here's the link to the vegan wet buffalo mozzarella recipe published by Miyoko Schinner. Miyoko is a culinary genius far ahead of her time. Anything with her fingerprints on it I recommend, from books, to products to videos. Her artisan vegan cheeses are available locally at Date and Thyme in Key West as well as Food for Thought in Marathon. They are a little on the spendy side, but if you can swing it they truly are worth every penny. Here's the link:

The recipe is perfect for entertaining, you can make it a few days ahead (change the water every day). Although good tomatoes are hard to find in the Keys, this is perfect with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and drizzled with balsamic. Getting hungry over here...

Thanks for checking in today, see you tomorrow!

Vegan love to you! xo

Monday, October 23, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 23: The Key Deer

On my way to feed the ferals tonight, I came upon a freshly hit and killed Key deer doe on my street. I'm furious. The road is piled high with hurricane debris, has only temporary patches where the washouts were (in fact one large washout remains to this day), and visibility is compromised due to all the chaos. Despite this, all sorts of haulers, contractors, scrap people and curiosity seekers are speeding up and down the road night and day. On the video I say the Refuge states there are 12 deer deaths attributable to vehicles since the hurricane, well you can add one more to that and if you ask me I bet dollars to vegan donuts the number is MUCH higher.

Here's today's video:

I'll be very honest, I'm feeling weary lately and stupidity doesn't help the cause. Drive with care please, there are animals and people displaced all over down here. Thank you for being among those who care. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 22: Good News!

Guys I'm so tired I cannot do a video. But I can share a recipe and some great news.

The prompt today is something like unusual grains. I'm a huge fan of buckwheat as well as freekah. Buckwheat is far more affordable where I am. They are both gluten free, a plus for me. I was making large batches of raw vegan chocolate buckwheat granola before the storm and had dehydrated tons of organic strawberries also as topping for the cereal. All wiped out in the storm, probably in the Florida Straits along with everything else we lost. It's been a while since I made the granola but I did find what looks like a similar method as how I was making mine. No sprouting required but it is dehydrated. It was so wonderful, I really enjoyed it. Add things you like, omit things you dislike. I only use scant amounts of sweetener when I make things for myself but maple syrup is my first choice. Here's the link, and there's a photo that happened to be on my phone I'll post on Facebook since I cannot upload here. Same pic from chocolate day, lucky you:

Now on to the good news. I still go feed the ferals each  night. There is only one left post storm it's killing me. There's a new tuxedo who shows up every few days, nothing on schedule though. I still search for the others, to no avail. But tonight while I was at one of the regular stops, my fellow feral steward Mr. "Z" appeared beaming ear to ear... "my buddy showed up tonight!!! He's there, he's there!" So there it is, great news another has returned. We will keep going, looking, calling, and hoping. But now we have 2 of the old regulars back. A miracle.

See you tomorrow, thanks for letting me slide today, it was just too much. Still love you though. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 2017 Day 21: Lost and Found.

In a post Irma world, you win some, you lose some. Which I guess is the same as in pre Irma world.  PS.  potato! Roll em! (Scroll past video for recipe link, yum!)


Friday, October 20, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 18: Irony and Food

Today I was schooled quite painfully on the meaning of irony. Ouch. If I don't laugh, I'll cry and never stop.

The prompt is deconstructed food, hipster style. I had to google it to understand. My little Keys vegan life didn't have hipster food, til today. Proud moment for me with this offering, donated food, hurricane style.

Watch and learn about both.

Giving  thanks yet again for all the beautiful people who lift us up every day in every way. 😊❤️

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 17: Animals and A Recipe

Today I talk about the animals that share their lives with us and give you a 3 ingredient recipe. If you scroll past the video there are links to the fudge recipe and to the Vegan 8 site which is among my all time favorites. If you only make the chocolate and peanut butter non dairy ice creams off the Vegan 8 I would be happy. Life changing recipes made with freaking SWEET POTATOES!!!!! But don't stop there, she's got the goods so have at it. Now let's go to the videotape!

Here is the link for the fudge. I used fleur de self finishing salt, by mistake I say sea salt on the video, oopsie.

This is the link to the Vegan 8's 4 ingredient chocolate ice cream, mind blown... sweet potato base.

This is the link to the Vegan 8's 5 ingredient peanut butter ice cream, again sweet potato base, again mind blowing... I would not steer you wrong!!

Keep on vegan on. Hugs til tomorrow. 🐾

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 17: Give Me Chocolate

There is no video today, instead quasi stream of consciousness ramblings from yours truly.

Our prompt today is "chocolate." Another home run.

When my father was alive he had few clothes in the scheme of things. All his life, dad leaned more toward humor even with clothing (or maybe that all really just started when us kids came along). I still have a Far Side cartoon t-shirt of his, yup survived Irma. His clothes always made me laugh, in particular a sweatshirt with a bear on it that said "give me chocolate and nobody gets hurt." Trust me, it was funny. As we go about our lives around here frantically restoring, repairing, rebuilding it's about 1000 times a day I want to pick up the phone and call him. Then the other part of me simply gives thanks he's not alive to see this, it would be a crushing weight for him to bear, one no parent deserves.

The past day or so has been a test in the faith we have in our own selves, a test of patience, and a test I think of how strong we will continue to be no matter how many times it seems we are being tested at every turn. Thing is, we know we are not alone probably the majority of the Keys community feels the same at this moment for one reason or another.

So, how does this tie in with chocolate

When Charlie Wilson of Date and Thyme came up to hand deliver fresh, delicious, organic vegan food she brought a chocolate bar in the care package. I think it was the first thing I tore into. I will never forget those deliveries from Charlie and her angels nor that chocolate bar. I savored it bite by bite as the day wore on, zero guilt, 100% happiness and gratitude. It made me feel better. Chocolate is my ultimate comfort food, you should know that by now if you follow us here or Facebook. One of my most memorable food moments of my entire life was the first time I went to a full vegan restaurant I think over 20 years ago. So ahead of their time. I ordered a slice of chocolate ganache cake for dessert. To this day that slice of cake remains the best cake I've ever had for so many reasons. They are long out of business though just another casualty of being ahead of one's time. I can relate to that whole ahead of your time thing with our own business model. The majority of things done here pre Irma were through our own good steward initiatives, certainly not because any incentives were involved. I sit here wondering if any of it mattered, didn't get us extra business nor recognition. Cost us gobs of money in the long run fighting tooth and nail often against our own government to do things, there's often times big reasons people go into government, not many are visionaries and innovators that's for sure. However, our green business model insured we always slept with a clear conscience in that regard. Likely  I ate a lot of extra chocolate through the years, you never thought all those asphalt miles I pounded out were because I like running did you?

Yes we are being tested and you just can't keep good people down here or anywhere else in this Keys community. Look out, we are coming back with a roar, we are not lying down, and most importantly we are both locked and loaded with our chocolate.

Ps for good measure I'll see what pictures I may have of chocolate things lingering on my phone, I'll get something up on Facebook because right about now seems to me we all need more chocolate in our lives. 😬

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 16: Zombie Apocolypse Survival Food

This prompt was hand tailored for me, they are asking for zombie apocolypse survival food. I got this. Keeping it real, no jokes. We lived through, and are recovering from, a disaster. When life cuts you off at the knees, you can either learn from it and rise from the ashes, or roll over and die. Phoenix. Always choose Phoenix.

PS: what do vegan zombies eat?  GRAINS!!! Tee hee 😊

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 17: Alcohol (as an ingredient)

I'm taking some liberties with this post. First no video, no time. When I say I'm busy, it's an understatement. We hope to roll out our reopen date for you in the very near future, which adds a double fun layer to things right now as you can rightly imagine. Secondly, the picture posted (a miracle itself) is a Sugar Apple tempeh Reuben... close enough under the circumstances. Mostly food on this post today with a few personal ramblings, follow along.

I removed alcohol from my life due to issues I have with sugar. Yes if I want a drink I'll have it, but it's rare. I'm not anti alcohol personally, although certainly not everyone should be drinking, and if we do indulge no driving (or texting haha). Lots of people use alcohol in recipes but I look at it as simply another allergen and I choose to not include it in anything I make commercially, for catering or for our guests. That said I will still add it to things like tiramisu for friends and family. When recipes do call for the hard stuff I typically swap out juice of some type. Here's a recipe I discovered years ago when VegWeb was in its prime. Beer baked tempeh Reuben's! I've made it with vegan beer back in the day but now when I make this I substitute apple juice. Here in the Keys make the trip to Cole's Peace in Key West for the vegan rye you won't be sorry. You know my favorite sandwich, that which I judge all other sandwiches by is a tempeh Reuben. I'm fortunate enough that Sugar Apple in Key West makes the best I've ever had, so I'm sharing a picture from one of the gazillion Reuben's I've had there. Someday soon we will be back to some type of normal life and a tempeh Reuben at Sugar Apple is top of my list. I would never steer you wrong...try this recipe with or without an IPA. I leave off the caraway seeds but that's just me.

Mmmmmm vegan tempeh Reuben. For the win. Here's the link:

Motor over to Facebook for the picture, sorry!

Til next time. ❤️

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 15: A Walk in the Park

A friend that works for the State of Florida offered to escort me through a tour of Bahia Honda State Park post Irma. I jumped at the chance as the Park remains closed since the storm. It's funny how sometimes I think I know how I'm going to feel during certain experiences, but since I never experienced whatever the "it" is I shouldn't have expectations, right? That's how it was for me today... my feelings were very different than I expected them to be. I wasn't allowed to shoot video or photographs, but I can tell you what I saw. ❤️🌴

My friend's friend said it best... Bahia Honda has taken herself back from us. What will we learn as we move forward... will we hear her cries and heed the message?
Vegan love to you and yours. ⛱

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 14: Touring a Debris Pile

Today my first video explains how I spent the day. Fasten your seat belt for the second video. We scope out a debris pile. And since it is Vegan Month of Food but I forgot to talk about food, my tip is save all those odd peels, bits and ends of your veggies, not a morsel of that goes into my compost. I freeze it all and when I have enough I throw it all into a pot, cover it with water, add whatever herbs I have around and make my own stock. No measurements, no fuss. I strain it and freeze in muffin tins then pop them out and store them frozen to roast your veggies, make your vegan frittatas and do all sorts of magic.  My great stash of stock was lost to Irma but once we get a freezer again, I'll be back on the mission. Now videos!

And here we go...

😪 indeed.

Til next time. xo

Friday, October 13, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 13: An Update and A Recipe

Whew, today was busy! I got a video up for you just after sunset offering an update on what's really going on with our business. Also, we have cake. Sort of. This is what I made so many weeks ago, pre-Irma, for my birthday. It's a mostly raw chocolate peanut butter swirl cake. If you've never had a good raw dessert you're missing out.... they can be unbelievably decadent. My peanut butter was not raw and the nuts were pasteurized so not truly raw. Who cares, the recipe sounded good... I was right! Almost 6 weeks bouncing from freezer to freezer and it still tasted spectacular. I made a few tweaks based on what I had on hand but stuck close to the recipe also because that site is one of my favorites for raw. Since Irma I couldn't be any further from raw, but I'll always be vegan. We are simply blessed to even have food in our life during times of strife, hardship or disaster (or a combo of all 3...) the link to the recipe is after the video. Today is actually the other happy vegan's birthday. I went all out and got him a pint of his favorite almond milk ice cream, and he even had some of the raw ice cream cake too. Mr. Happy Camper! Lol.

And here's the link to the cake recipe. Feel free to post any questions you have, now go be your rawsome vegan self!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 12: Why Stay

Not a morsel of food today. I was doing fairly well through the morning then without warning a headache flattened me. I tried to rest but couldn't find the off switch for the brain. Been thinking and thinking about so much. One question so many of us wrestle with in any relationship when the going gets tough is "Why Stay?" Anyone living here among us has a relationship with the Keys. This is not like most other places. It's raw and at times angry. Sometimes it's bliss and literal rainbows and sunshine. But we all can't be faulted for wanting to bail when the going gets this tough, can we?

I admit when I first saw things post storm my reaction was nope, no way, no how, I'm outta here... done. I said it to the other happy vegan. "But where?" Was his response. I said Oregon and a camper sounds good. We had a plan anyway. Before this all happened. Had our little house by the sea waiting for a gentle renovation after this place was finally in the loving arms of the next good and deserving stewards but first thing we wanted to do was rent a camper, pile all the animals in and drive for a month or two. Princess wanted Oregon, once we explained what Oregon is. We told her many stories about the trip. Then she died. And Irma came. So I decided that's it I actually can break so I was broken. Every day was pain every day a struggle. Slowly "it" began...after about the first 2 weeks I realized maybe things might actually get better... so many resources were deployed here and so many individuals began helping us with relief, concern, genuine affection. About that time I took my first true walk on the beach. Oh no... do not suck me back in... more days passed and the sky enveloped us with crazy colors every night along with so many rainbows during the day. No no please let me go... but everyday brings something fresh (ironic under the circumstances where things seem so far from fresh), nature splashes the sky with stars, a new feral shows up at the store where the others used to be (of which only 1 remains) and now this tonight. As I sit here alone doing laundry at a friend's place pecking out letters on the tiniest phone known to humankind the walls rattle with thunder, the room explodes with lightning:

Keys life is not for everyone, I get that. But so far she won't let me go without a fight. 🌴❤️

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 11: Happy Irmaversary

I hate to let you down but I have no video for you today and I'm not hitting the prompt either (kitchen tour).  Yesterday was one month since Irma blew through and changed so many lives. I know about the wildfires in California and it's weighing so heavily on me right now, you likely feel similar. I'm listening to sound bytes on the radio "it all happened so fast, so fast" "it's gone, all gone" "this is the price we pay to live in such a beautiful area" it's like flashbacks, same words uttered by so many of us in the Keys exactly 1 month ago.  Looking back and reflecting, we have made huge amounts of progress. Sometimes I forget that fact when so much is left to do. But I do have water, electric and communication to a good degree. The road is getting a temporary fix. I'm not scared that people think I died in the storm, and I can call my family and friends at will. C130s and military choppers are not the only thing in the sky, in fact I've even begun to notice the stars again. Some people think books should be written about this whole mess in fact we all know that will happen. Not by me. I don't want to remember. I grabbed a notebook a day or two after the storm to write things down so I'd remember. Just as quickly I realized I just want this over. Remembering the palm trees completely bent sideways at the shelter accompanied by near white out conditions... driving back to Big Pine on the tail end of the storm, seeing the higheay littered with boats, dumpsters, huge trees and wreckage flying around like tinker toys... turning  onto Long Beach during the receding surge and feeling nothing but sheer terror the truck was going to start to float and we were going to die by drowning (more fuel for my water terror)...Living at a friend's formerly beautiful home now in ruins plucking land crabs and iguanas off walls and from behind moldy furniture day and night... no sanitation at all... finally getting a shower after too many days to count, using bottled water... military military military absolutely everywhere providing aid and protecting us. Sitting on line for Fuel Relief Fund gasoline when no place in the Keys had a drop of fuel, besides even if they did they couldn't sell it since there was no power and the stations themselves were destroyed. The first glimpse of where my house was... then finally getting my first glimpse of Deer Run, gut punch after gut punch. Standing in the middle of Grimal Grove and literally having no idea where I was. All of this barely scratches the surface. I guess when I allow myself the luxury to think about this, just one month in, yeah it's been pretty traumatic. The wildfires are making me ache for all those effected. I know a bit of what they are in for during recovery and compared to them I've got it easy. Not to mention having to deal with FEMA, SBA and disaster assistance and at times feeling so ashamed to need help after working my entire life having my first job at 13. The fire survivors will be subjected to, and will have to endure that final humiliation as well.

I cannot even post a picture of the first brewed cup of coffee I had weeks after the storm. It was from Tom Thumb and even though it came in a shitty foam cup I savored it. But we still do not have a computer or internet it makes everything that much more challenging, thank goodness for this vintage phone. One thing I've not yet discussed either is the trauma of watching the post storm ecological disaster unfold in real time as well. It's a lot to take in seeing the trash piles, looking at the plastic everywhere and being an active participant in that aspect by drinking bottled water, having everything including food come in plastic and seeing the stuff in the water and on the trees that we will have to help cleanup.  How did 1 cup of coffee turn into this? I'll be back tomorrow with a video. FYI the prompt today was kitchen tour. The good news is that once I got through all the stuff that swirled into the kitchen it looks like we will be in pretty good shape that way when it gets a monumental scrub down. Have tested most, but not all, the appliances. So far so good. Hope springs eternal is all I know.

When you wake up tomorrow, make sure you breathe deeply when you pour your coffee. I hope you have a roof over your head to give thanks for, and a job or purpose that, no matter how crummy or great you think it is, you give thanks for that as well.

Hang tough my kindred Keys and beyond spirits. We will get there.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 10: Death Cleaning, WTF?!

Today is about keeping and purging. Not decluttering, this is different. Oh and PS... nooch is life, haha. 🌈


Monday, October 9, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 9: A Hurricane Story & A Gadget

Every word of this story is true. The days immediately after the storm were some of the most anxiety riddled of my life mostly because there were actual moments when I believed no one would know what happened to us down here. Completely cut off from the rest of the world those first days were surreal. Sometimes at night I lay awake reliving the scariest, weirdest or strangest moments. I love animals but damn it was unbelievable the stuff that was going on at times.... come listen.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 8: A Cat and A Salad

I worked in what remains of the attic sweeping out the glass from broken objects that Irma tore from boxes and bins. Also pulled out more attic insulation and swept that out all in preparation for renovations. Reapplied the anti mold spray since that came back with yesterday's final downpour as the fearless persons from the Blue Tarp Project were working. Hot sweaty filthy work today no way to salvage this spirit for a front of camera video, instead I've got something far better.... a cat video.

I could watch this all day... those jumps are so fabulous.

As today's prompt was winning friends with salad, I made one post-hurricane style for you and the other happy vegan. There's a photo on the Facebook page since I'm still having technical difficulties. In fact I'm sitting in my car again to do this. All from donations, I used a pack of precooked pasta, half a can each of carrots, corn and black beans, an avocado (fresh!!! Brought up with other fresh vegan food by the ever lovely Charlie herself of Date and Thyme) and 2 pieces of Chao that sort of survived Irmageddon being housed in a cooler before making it to a generator powered fridge. I also used Bragg's dressing and balsamic in the pantry from pre storm. A little salt, a little pepper with the magic ingredient a pack of bruschetta also donated. Ir may not look like much but damn it's good and I know the other happy vegan will be all over it any minute now. 

I'm going to try to purge my skin of these insulation fibers and with that I wish you a beautiful vegany evening. Hugs to you my friends. 🥑❤️🐾

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 7: Look What Happened Today!!!

Woah today was epic!

I've come to realize there is a glitch uploading photos from this antique to the blog, I'll see if I can get someone smart to troubleshoot in the next few days. I put a picture of my little food creation in the comments on Facebook for you. Vegan for the win. ❤️🌈


Friday, October 6, 2017

Vegan MoFo Day 6: On the Street

Getting a good hard look around. Oh a brief mention of a cake  recipe soon coming your way. ❤️💔

Next time we meet I shall be free from my shop vac purgatory! Woot!


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 5 (6?): More rain. King Tides. Food.

Sitting in my car to publish this. Bear with me. Rain last night, today, tonight and tomorrow we are being subjected to a tropical depression along with crazy ass King Tides.  Some may be debating on things like outfits public persona are wearing, the NFL and other topics foreign to me, here I along with so many others are simply seeking a dry place of refuge as we all work together to restore our lives.  It's been a frustrating day with flood after flood, but we are in this together, plus I'm remaining upbeat and optimistic because I have so much love in my life whereas others are struggling with that as well. Depression and other hard things are beginning to creep into the lives of so many right now, our goal is to get our s*** together asap and then do more than currently able to help the rest, this is a protracted recovery in our area. Scroll down past the video for a few shots of King Tides on my road.... everything you see is ocean water not standing rain no matter the color.

Here's the photos I promised:

Crap none of the photos will upload at this moment I'll get some help and to a better spot to work and load them for you then, thanks I know under the circumstances you all understand.

Hugs til tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Vegan Mofo 2017 Day 4: Post Hurricane Wildlife

So much more to say, but you lucked out... the rain came yet again and shut me up. May do another video later this month again discussing the wildlife. As the rain pours in all I can do is remember how good this is for nature. Sigh.

Vegan love to you!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 3: Your First Look at the Beach

I'd say grab a drink (if that's your thing, I stick with kombucha) and some tissues, but that would imply things won't get better. In fact it's quite the opposite, we've already done a huge amount of debris removal to allow the beach and dune restoration to commence as you will see. I'm working with a really old iPhone so I couldn't flip the view back and forth from me to the Beach and back; instead I offer up 3 short videos for you. This is the first video that I'm offering you of our property, remember I said we are doing this in steps, that's for a reason as there's a lot to digest. Here's the videos in 3 parts:

Part 1 (the intro)

Part 2 (the nitty gritty)

Part 3 (the wrap up)

We will see you lovelies tomorrow! Sending vegany love now and always. ❤️

Monday, October 2, 2017

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 2: Seeking Comfort

A shooting, a storm story and vegan macaroni and cheese, they connect. Today's video; there's a steaming pile of crazy going on 💔 I'm so glad to be surrounded by such love and support near and far.

Til tomorrow. x

Sunday, October 1, 2017

MoFo 2017 Day 1 ... intro to Irma

Yay, it's really here! Day One of Vegan Month of Food!!  We've got a video to share if you'd like to see how things will go this month. This annual international blogging event is celebrating vegan food, however this year we will be coloring outside the lines as a result of our having an uninvited guest named Irma. What can I say ... you win some, you lose some, we don't draw our own cards necessarily. We think this month's event is a good way to explain what's going on in our neck of the world, and yes there WILL be food!!! Oh. FYI this video is probably the longest one you'll find all month, I like to keep them short, however today we needed a bit more time for the intro. Let's roll the video!

Big vegan love to you all, see you tomorrow! ❤️

Monday, September 18, 2017

Making Lemonade

By now the super majority of anyone reading this is aware we've had some changes lately. I think it was September 10th that hurricane Irma hit, but days and nights blur. The Lowers Keys took a big hit. We have a lot to cope with. Despite all the hardships we are optimistic although we have a long road as does our Keys community.  A huge outpouring of love, concern, relief, people and so many other resources is flooding into the Keys. Plus, we've  already been sucked into the vortex of bureaucracy, that part is maddening.  Despite all this I want some normalcy ... we all are seeking the smallest victories of any semblance of our prior life. This is why I've decided to blog another year for Vegan MoFo. Intentions are to put a post up everyday about hurricane recovery (and life in general) as a vegan.  I only have a teeny mobile device to work with but I know I can get pictures up, time will tell on videos.  Mostly this is for my own mental health at this time, however I am acutely aware there is a story to be told. I'm willing to share some of it here.  This is the ultimate making of lemonade out of a shit storm of lemons (use that organic sugar in your lemonade, no bone char please 😬) So that's food related and hits the mark for the Month of Food, whee! I hope you'll tune in, daily posts will begin on October 1st. 

Thanks for your support. ❤️

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Vegan (Mini) MoFo August 2017: "Go Outside"

Tasked with going outside this month, our plan was to take you out on the boat to a tiny unpopulated secret island rich with wildlife while we shared a vegan summer picnic. Instead, this very impromptu video and post shares a very personal moment in the lives of a few of us here.... a going away party for one of our favorite people. A dear friend, wonderful woman, staunch animal advocate, proud vegan, compassionate soul, animal rescuer, and someone who gives hope for the human race in general, is relocating to a very far flung part of the world. I'm so sad it hurts, but I'm very happy for the next chapter in her (and her family's) life.

The last 7-8 weeks have been brutal on a personal level. We kept it together pretty well for July, despite the fact that at the end of June there was a death in the other happy vegan's family, yes his mom passed.

In July, two more close friends moved away forever.

In August, our friend who's the subject of this post/video was tasked with winding down her Keys days.

Then, in August, our beloved Princess Glitter FancyPants unexpectedly and suddenly crossed the Rainbow Bridge. That pretty  much was the last straw of what we could handle. We bailed on the boat trip. It's so hard to find joy sometimes when in the middle of grief. That, and grief is simply exhausting.

Apologies for the drama, let's get on with the food!

By the time you read this, our friend will be on the road with one of her adult children, 2 cats (1 hospice case), and 1 dog. Super long road trip for them to get to the location where her daughter will relocate with the animals, and then for my friend, in a few more days after her daughter settles in a 14-16 hour airline flight awaits for her to get to her own next destination. My friend's employer/friend  put together a beautiful going away party a few weeks ago, and then down to the wire just about 36 hours before she leaves the Keys, 5 of us got together at a local watering hole for some final laughs, vegan food, a beautiful sunset, music and proper goodbyes. Saying goodbye for any reason is never easy for me. Watching friends leave is something that I simply cannot get used to at all, but is so common in such a transient area. Then again..... I just know we will see our friend again some day. Modern technolgy can soften the blow in the meantime too, gotta love social media for that at least.

We went to a very non-vegan friendly place, but ironically they have wonderful vegan veggie "sushi" rolls, and they are my favorite place in the Keys for vegan sushi because they have soy paper as an option instead of nori, if desired. You know me.... I can't stand the taste of any sea veggies, so that soy paper is amazing! This place also happens to be on the water where they get some of the absolute best sunset views in the entire Keys. It's at the top of the 7 Mile Bridge in Marathon, so you'll see in the video and the pictures that sunset. Also, it just so happens, they have a smart, friendly, beautiful inside and out VEGAN waitperson working there, her name is Cleona. I love her to pieces, she is such a bright light.

I shot the video (scroll down below) just panning around from the musicians to the sunset through the entire restaurant. We all ordered the same thing, all vegan... ginger salads, vegan "sushi," truffle fries for the table to share, assorted gluten free and vegan wines/beer/soft drinks, and to share I made a box of vegan, gluten free, organic cupcakes since my friend has Celiac. I like to make extra of any food I bring in case anyone working would like to partake, and in my experience, it's always a thoughtful and appreciated gesture.

We all ordered this same dish, I was the only one who had soy paper.... everyone else went for traditional nori:

Vegan "sushi" roll
Mine had soy paper instead of Nori
Oopsie, 1 piece already missing..... YUM!

The restaurant is a giant open air tiki, with a step down bar to their huge outdoor movie screen, pool and musician's area, but... this is the view we had as we were seated right next to the rail:

Huge pool, huge tiki, step down bar
What a place!
We all saw this:

These views never get old or tiresome down here
Our friend has Celiac, so I made a big box of vegan, organic, gluten free cupcakes
These are chocolate, filled w/chocolate ganache
Topped w/vanilla frosting, gluten free sugar cookie hearts and gluten free sprinkles
Cuz you know what, vegans love us some cupcakes!
Best animal advocate and friend you'd ever want to know
Our friend Sue with a cupcake
Aloha friend
(vegans are taking over, lookout world!)
The restaurant is called Sunset Grille, it is in Marathon, Florida at the East end of the 7 Mile Bridge (most people call it the North end, but it's actually East). I took a few pictures of Cleona too, but the sun was too far set and all you'd see is her silhouette. I'm giving excellent advice when I say this "if you go to the Sunset Grille, ask to be taken care of by Cleona!" Not only will you get a compassionate soul, but you'll be taken care of by the best of the best. Thank you Cleona!

Here's our video, raw footage of the sum total of it all, and some darn good tropical tunes:

So, there it is. We went outside for a going away party in the Keys. Thanks for your support, and for everyone whom has contacted us to express condolences. Princess did appear in a few of our Vegan MoFo videos in the past, so maybe you remember her. She was truly the heart of our home, and the center of our world for so many reasons.

We'll be joining the huge annual VeganMoFo worldwide event again this year as well, coming in October, 2017. We'll be sharing videos with our blog posts, and I think by then we will be in better emotional shape to have some fun and share our beautiful Florida Keys with you, vegan food style.

Looking forward to see you here again soon. Big vegan love to you and yours. xo