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


Monday, July 31, 2017

Vegan Month of Food July 2017: Grill It!

(Scroll to end for video & recipe link)

It's a good thing we videoed our MoFo post yesterday considering as I write heavy bands of rain are passing over us thanks to Tropical Storm Emily. Our poor beloveds up in the Tampa/St. Pete area are getting clobbered, here we just have some rain coming through. No big deal, but certainly not conducive to sitting on the beach at the moment. It was a different story yesterday as we grilled and videoed.... this was our view:

I need to spend more time on the beach, I really do
Since we've met here in June, I have written a few other posts, however I've chosen so far not to publish them. Many things have happened in the Keys and in our lives here over the last few weeks, but I'm going to keep the focus on food, at least for now.

Our prompt this month for Vegan MoFo is "grill it!" I saw the prompt and immediately thought "yay!" and then "hmmm....." The "yay" is for obvious reasons (grilling is fun!) the "hmmm" came after because I had recommitted a few weeks ago to fully raw.  The "hmmm...." of it all includes the fact that although we DO have a grill here, we never (and I mean never) use it. It's a nice grill sitting on the deck, fully covered. If you've stayed here, you've seen it, it's a behemoth you cannot miss it... nice chef's grill. But, without fail every time we've made efforts to use it, we get far too much animal company for us to safely complete our efforts. Those little Key deer can smell veggies miles away best as I can tell. So, rather than feel guilty trying to grill food in front of the sweet little faces, we've retired our grilling efforts. It also left me wondering how do I grill, without a grill? Google to the rescue!

I discovered there's plenty of ingenious ways to built impromptu grills from household items, heck I even found a way to make one from a soda can! I enlisted the aid of the other happy vegan, and he built me a grill. If you want to BBQ but don't have one, all you need is a foil pan w/high sides (or a hotel pan) filled with charcoal, wire (we used chicken wire) and a safe flat surface to light the fire and keep the pan level. We did put our food into a small veggie grilling basket, but it probably wasn't necessary. He put our "hobo grill" on our outside fire pit which is really cool made out of the drum of a dryer and filled with re purposed windshield glass. You can see little bits of that in the video, but here's a picture of our hobo grill:

Come On Baby, Light My Fire
Once the actual "ok, we need a grill" issue was solved, I was still left with my "but I'm raw right now" situation. I decided to find a simple recipe using seasonal fruits and veggies, a recipe gentle enough (hopefully) for my system to deal with cooked-wise, and nice enough to say "see how simple grilling vegan style is, and delicious too!" The other happy vegan hears "grill" and immediately wants frankfurters. Field Roast to the rescue! Think it's an issue because breads down here have l-cysteine in them (hair/feathers) well, no biggie.... it's a grill for stinkin' sake.... SKEWER IT! He made island 'dawg skewers with Field Roast Franks, pineapple and Big Pine Key grown starfruit.... look how beautiful:

Oopsie, the ones on the right were a little overdone.
He even made his very own sweet KC style BBQ sauce!
I found a recipe from "Blissful Basil" which sounded suitable enough for all the considerations I had plus I had all the ingredients on hand as well. If you don't know Blissful Basil, I do recommend you check Ashley out, she has a nice blog and some really nice, yet uncomplicated, recipes vegan of course. I chose her grilled romaine & avocado salad w/Caesar style dressing. The original recipe called for hemp seeds as the base for the dressing, but I switched it up to raw cashews as the base, since I had already soaked enough for a different recipe the day before. If you scroll to the end past the video, you'll see a link to her recipe, plus further below in this post are some of my own preferences for changes I would make if I made this again.

See how pretty my stuff was before grilling:

Do you think this picture is upside down?
Romaine before grilling, w/avocado
Mango too!
Key limes are for the mango, they don't get grilled
As a currently fully raw vegan, I'm also generally oil free as well, but for this recipe I did brush a very small amount of oil over the fruits & veggies. Truth be told, the oil did not agree with me and I should've just left it off. The romaine also has salt and pepper sprinkled before grilling. The mango also was brushed with oil... mistake. At least for me it was. You don't need oil, not at all, to grill in my opinion. I'd never put mango on a grill before, but seriously down here they are literally falling off the trees. Avocados are coming into season here now (although this one was store bought, our variety down here are of course called "Florida" avocados, they are larger, have a higher water content and not quite as creamy. None of that matters to me since as you already know, avocados are on the "ick" list for me, but I do eat them from time to time just to keep up the calories and good fats). Key limes are in full swing here now, they go with everything you can imagine, including mango. The mangoes in this picture are a variety known as "golden lippens" they are my new mid-season crush.

The lettuce takes about 2 minutes on each side, the avocado about 4 minutes. The mango took longer, but most likely I won't grill mango again. As you probably already know, grilling fruits caramelizes and intensifies their sugars; it was far too sickly sweet for me. I squeezed Key lime juice over the grilled mango, plus sprinkled it nicely with chipotle chili powder before serving. Ancho would work just as well, but I do like spicy. The chili powder helped balance some of that sweetness for me. 

Anyway, I've rejoined the land of the raw after indulging in this beautiful grilled meal last night. Funny how perceptions change about food.... most people really would not look at this and say "total indulgence" but for me it was and I enjoyed it, you should too, just kick the oil to the curb, you'll thank me.

For the dressing, here is the link: The recipe as written had too much mustard for my taste. Also maybe start with a little less ACV, a bit more garlic and I added a pinch more salt (salt is not an issue for me, I am eating absolutely zero added salts in my food as long as I stay whole food raw). Also, you might be able to tell from the photo on the cover, the dressing wasn't 100% smooth. When I make small amounts in my Vitamix, it doesn't always work perfectly because there's not enough ingredients in the blender to get the blades to do the work they need to as designed. I'd rather work in smaller quantities than waste the food, so for me I'm a-ok with it. It did not have a gritty texture, although it looks like it does.... the cashews were well soaked and drained, that is not an issue at all.

Enough chit chat, here's the video and we'll meet here for August MoFo, same bat time, same bat channel. There may even been a published post or two between now and then....we do have so much to talk about with you!

Thanks for checking us out this month, til next time: go vegan, stay vegan! xo

Friday, June 30, 2017

Vegan MoFo June 2017: FRUIT!

Hello friends. We've had a bit of a situation here. The other happy vegan has had a family emergency, and he jetted off in the middle of the night early this week. Things around the B&B continue, but I haven't had time to test & photograph the recipe that I'm sharing. I hope to do that maybe in a week or so. I'm still sharing the recipe at the end of this post, actually it's a recipe from a vintage tropical fruit book which I veganized and turned gluten free. I'm actually sharing how I intend to make it with all purpose flour instead of gluten free. Enough about my problems, let's get to the action.

Last Saturday we high tailed it to Key West's Little Truman White House for the 3rd Annual Grimal Grove Tropical Fruit Fiesta. You and I have been out to the Grove a few times, I've shared videos with you, interviews, and photos. It's an historical 2 acre (give or take) tropical fruit grove on the interior of the island where I live. The founder (Adolph Grimal) was eccentric. He traveled the world decades ago and collected the finest specimen tropical fruiting trees that he could find. Then he brought them back to Big Pine Key where he had property. He blasted the property with dynamite to create a basic but highly functional (to this day) cistern system for the fruiting trees. Some of the trees that are out there simply do not exist any other place in this country but there. So, the Grove fell into disrepair after Mr. Grimal's death, and ultimately became overgrown with invasive exotic plants, as well as a drug den (hate to say that, very sad, but true). Along came Patrick Garvey a few years ago to tour the property which had hundreds of thousands of dollars of code enforcement fines against it along with all the other problems. He bought the property and pulled it back from the brink of death. Enough has been done that he's had a few events out there, and 2 years ago he started the Tropical Fruit Fiesta to coincide with the beginning of mango season.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I never liked mangoes til I moved here. Rather, I THOUGHT I didn't like mangoes til I moved here. Those little things supermarkets sell in other parts of the country aren't mangoes, they call them mangoes, but they are not. I could live on mangoes this time of year, some days I do.

Anyway, this year, Patrick moved the Fiesta to Key West for more exposure and more space. This is an event where I usually sell food and donate the money to the Grove. I've always done jackfruit, it's perfect for the Fiesta, but this year unfortunately there was no way I could work here, get to Key West for set up and start time by 9am on the day of the event. In fact, we barely made it there for the event at all, it's a quick fiesta of only 4 hours. We arrived with about 40 minutes to spare, checked out the live music for a few minutes and got right down to searching for fruit. We came home with mangoes, rambutan, wax jambu, Key limes, bananas, and dragonfruit. Everything was local except the rambutan. Talk about fruit! Not even mentioning the mangoes that were there.... so many varieties. This is considered early mango time down here, so the early varieties are what's available. I'm a mango snob at this point.... I wouldn't even look at the mangoes from the mainland, I stick 100% to the Grimal Grove offerings. My freezer is slowly filling up as I stockpile for the entire year, and some days I will eat 4 or 5 myself. I haven't even begun to dehydrate mango, but I highly recommend you do so. The recipe I'm providing includes dried mango. Fresh will not work, as you have to soak the dried fruit in rum. If you cannot get mango, use pineapple.

Sadly the food options were beyond depressing for vegans at the fiesta, which I had a hard time reconciling the event with the very slim selection of vegan options. The smoothie person there had NO vegan options (seriously?!!!) We were so disappointed, as usually Date & Thyme attends and they always have all vegan smoothies. There was a restaurant representing on site (Firefly, Key West) who actually made dehydrated dragonfruit chips served with an all tropical fruit salsa which was vegan. We tried that and it was super great, neither of us had ever had dehydrated dragonfruit before, and I'm going to probably do some of that as summer grinds on. Beyond that, we stuck to fruit tastings. If there is any way I can move mountains next year, I will be there slinging the vegan goods for our community, and of course donating those proceeds to the Grove.

We saw so many people we know, and we really happy about that. Quite a few people came down from Big Pine Key to the event which surprised even us (you have to understand people up and down the Keys really don't travel too far on weekends, even in the summer. The roads are busy, and most of us just want to beat the heat and usually find a way to get out on the water.... unless you're an innkeeper of course, ha ha?)

We shot a quick video at the event, and as we got started we saw our friend Anthony who is from Key West and vegan. Anthony is one of the supervegans who helped us table at the Bahia Honda Earth Day celebration for our vegan advocacy booth. He pops up from time to time, that day he popped up at the Fiesta AND the Sugar Apple (bonus video at end).

It was about a billion face-melting degrees last Saturday (in fact lately every day has been a billion face-melting degrees lately), we were soaked like sponges, everyone was soaked like sponges, in a way you sort of get used to this face-melting, sponge soaked feeling, but admittedly it would be so nice for a day with no humidity. After the Fiesta we ducked over to the Sugar Apple for lunch, to our delight Anthony popped up there as well.

There's 2 short videos for you, and at the end, the recipe. Hopefully next month's video will be shot inside somewhere so our faces don't melt off again, but who knows. It's summer in the Keys, if we can't take the heat, we simply shouldn't be here. 

Here's a video of us and everyone else at the face-melting Tropical Fruit Fiesta in Key West last week. Face melting..... we don't kid around, the heat index was around 108 if I had to take a guess. It's ok because supervegan Anthony popped up as a surprise guest!

Post face-melting lunch at Sugar Apple, with surprise guest again, Anthony!

There you have the videos, see how spongy we are!

Here's a recipe for you now too. I base this off a recipe from a vintage tropical fruit book. It was not vegan. I made it gluten free and vegan. This time around I'm making it with all purpose flour, as most people I know prefer to stick with regular flour, unless there's a reason to be gluten free. I've developed a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity to go along with some other crap I have to deal with. Despite this, I do occasionally eat gluten, witness the above video post-tempeh reuben. All I can say is those Sugar Apple tempeh reubens are totally worth any misery that comes my way as a result later. Mostly itching for me, what can I say, they do sprinkle rainbows and faerie dust on those sandwiches.

Jamaican Mango-Banana Muffins
Vegan, Contains Gluten

1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup diced dried mango (if you don't dehydrate your own, really try and find sulfite free)
4 T coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1T flax meal mixed w/3T filtered water, allow to gel/thicken a minute or 2
2 extra ripe medium bananas
1/4 cup unsweetened yogurt (I make my own with super low sugar, if you don't try So Delicious brand unsweetened, it's pretty low in sugar)
2 cups flour
1/2 T baking powder
 1/2 T baking soda
1t EACH: allspice, nutmeg cinnamon
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Place the mango and rum in a bowl and let sit uncovered about an hour.

By hand or in stand mixer, beat the coconut oil and sugar, add the flax/water mixture and beat til fluffy (as best as fluffy will be for this style of baking). Add in the bananas, and beat well, scrape down as needed, then add in the yogurt and beat well. It may look slightly separated, this is ok/normal.

In separate bowl, sift in the flour, powder, soda, salt and spices. Add, alternating about 1/3 dry mixture to the wet mixture and very gently fold in, do not overmix and better to do this by hand, not with mixer. Drain the rum from the mango, and fold in along with the nuts (if using).

Let batter stand about 15 minutes, portion into lined or sprayed muffin tins (or use a 9" loaf pan if desired). Bake about 22 minutes, checking at that point with a toothpick. Bake another 2-5 minutes if needed. Do not over bake.

Double the baking time for a loaf pan, but check after about 35 minutes.

Options: use different choice of dried fruit, pineapple is a good pick.
Add some coconut extract (about 1t) for more coconut flavor if desired.
Mix in some dried coconut flakes if that's your thing.
You could use pumpkin pie spice in a pinch if you are out of any 1 spice.

Thanks for the love, we'll be back on track in a few more days, and I know I'm really looking forward to July's prompt.

I have a few other things to talk about, look for an additional post or 2 in July, plus our MoFo post. Hope the summer is treating you all well. It's hot as Hades down here, but if you're a local here's hoping you're on the water most days!

Vegan love.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Vegan MiniMoFo May 2017: FAVORITES!

Hi. Our Vegan MiniMoFo prompt for this month is "favorite." Favorite what? Favorite ANYTHING. Could be a restaurant, ingredient, recipe, meal, fruit, vegetable, you name it. Since I again thought this was a great prompt I really wanted to run with it; I had grand delusions for my post this month, all sorts of ideas for mini movies, recipes, and other fun things for you. I did manage to actually make a fantastic recipe (link provided) of my hands-down favorite dessert, vegan tiramisu! This time we took the raw route. Make it, I promise, you will not be sorry. We also took a short trip to Key West, there's a mini video at the end for you.

Summer has moved into the Keys, honestly I think my schedule should open up a little bit over the next few weeks. If not, what can I say.... hope springs eternal! For now, I'm simply elated that posts are up, along with fellow participating bloggers and vloggers which I make a point to check in with. We're awesome, what can I say?!!!

Here's our video, scroll below for the recipe link with a few of my own comments, and then the bonus video.

Here's the link:

FYI, I didn't have enough cashews, so only used cashews in the cashew cream. I used only almonds in the "cake" and the "coffee" layer. It was a good swap, as there was virtually no nutty flavor, which is what I was going for. I thought pecans would be too pronounced in the recipe. I was shocked how cake-like the cake layer turned out to be. Indeed it IS fluffy for a raw recipe; do NOT pack down the layers. It was a little hard to serve, didn't quite firm up as much as regular vegan tiramisu would, but I was working with a spatula when I probably should been worked with a long handled spoon. You could also make a raw chocolate sauce to drizzle on your plate for effect using raw cacao -- look up any raw recipe if you choose (I did not).

I'm heading back more and more to a raw lifestyle, not sure how far it will take me this time, but last time I healed a fracture, plantar fascitis, and myriad other random issues. A raw dessert like this is pure indulgence, typically I stick with fruits, vegetables and eat very little nuts. If you serve this to anyone, you will get the "you must've spent HOURS in the kitchen making this!" haha.... if only "they" knew.

And, yes, I planned on making a mini-movie this month for you.... fun little clips of "favorites" from all the things I did this month, food-related. I managed ONE clip, and here it is:

Do you find it as humorous as I do when I look at this and hear me speak the words that I'll be bringing you lots of favorites this month. At least I meant it when I said it, I swear!

There it is, favorites for May 2017. No idea what June's prompt will be, but with any luck mangoes will finally be coming in..... I actually find myself daydreaming about eating Grimal Grove mangoes. Fingers crossed for June!

See you next time, vegan love to you as always!


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vegan Month of Food April 2017: What's In Season Where I Live?

Hello friends! Our prompt for Vegan MoFo April 2017 is "what's in season where you live?" You already know I live on an island in the Florida Keys. This is a subtropical climate, with very poor growing conditions generally speaking. Despite this, back in times when the settlers here lived off the land, pineapple plantations, Key limes, bananas and other tropical fruits were abundantly grown and shipped out of the area. That is no more, but we do have pockets of little gems here and there, one of them being the Grimal Grove which is an historical tropical fruit grove on Big Pine Key. We've spoken about the Grove before, and you've even seen videos with me for this blog out there. So, for this post I immediately called up the wonderful, knowledgeable and good natured Patrick, founder of the reborn Grimal Grove. It sort of went like this:

Me: Patrick, what's in season out at the Grove RIGHT NOW!
Patrick: Bilimbe, Mamey Sapote, and Jaboticaba
Me: Huh?
Patrick: you heard me.
Me: Uh.... ok.

Poof, 3 days later, all the fruit appeared.... actually I went out to the Grove, and he showed me jaboticaba growing on the tree. You gotta check this out:

This is an extreme close up of Jaboticaba growing at the Grimal Grove.
The fruit is about the size of a grape, has 3-4 seeds inside,
is very thick skinned, very high in tannins.
Jaboticaba is a shrub, the fruit grows on the branches and the trunk.
It looks like bubbles when you see it.
It's freakishly spectacular!
This is a bilimbi tree growing at the Grimal Grove on Big Pine Key.
The bilimbe is really great for juicing, among other things.
Patrick and I actually picked it off the tree for MoFo, but....
sadly my schedule got the worst of me, the bilimbe turned
before I could complete my recipe.
Next time for sure!
This is my mamey ripened and cut up.
It yielded just over a pound.
There was 1 very large black smooth seed inside.
The outside is reminiscent of a coconut, but not as
hairy or hard.
Mamey are ripe if they dent in slightly when pressed upon.
Exceptionally creamy texture.
This is one I REALLY love, totally new to me!

When I got the mamey, Patrick told me it will take a while to ripen, he wasn't kidding! It took almost 2 weeks sitting on my counter. When it finally did ripen, I cut it open... never seen one before, had no idea what to expect. He told me there was a large seed inside, as always he's right. The mamey is a berry technically, and grows up to 10 inches. The texture is exceptionally creamy. I was prepared not to like it (no idea why I felt that way) but when I tasted it, I LOVED IT! The texture so creamy, combined with a flavor to me of very mellow cantaloupe, maybe some apricot and sweet pineapple really surprised me. I sliced the mamey up and froze it for a smoothie. Looking on line, I learned that mamey is a staple food in Latin America, and I even found a reference that it's high in protein thus extra recommended for vegans and vegetarians (I guess that author is on the protein train with the rest of the world?) Both these fruits are noted to be known for anti cancer properties. Jaboticaba is off the charts with it's potassium content, noted to be good for heart health, as potassium is a vasodialator thus may lower blood pressure and other risks to good health.

So, being that today is the last day of April, I had to get my contribution here up by midnight for this prompt. I looked for mamey smoothies, and found a great recipe from It included sweetened condensed milk, but I used Let's Do Organics usweetened condensed coconut milk as that's a brand new offering from Food for Thought in Marathon (OMG, it is SOOOOOO good!) If rum is your jam, I can imagine some rum added in. After I shot the video, I added in some frozen bananas too because, well... because bananas. I've learned I absolutely LOVE mamey. The addition of unsweetened condensed (coconut) milk apparently is a very Cuban "thing." Extra bonus points here for me ... we're closer to Cuba than we are to Miami, remember?

I used the jaboticaba to make jelly. I pulled a link off I modified the recipe using 3# of fruit, and it yielded about 3 QUARTS of jelly in the end. I didn't "can" mine, I'm allowing it to set up overnight, and then I think I am going to try it in pastry pockets and give them away. Any jelly left I'm giving to Patrick and his beautiful wife Angelica, hopefully I'll have some left and it will be good enough once it sets up that they'll enjoy it.

Recipe links are at the end of this post.

Here's my video for this month. I hope you enjoy it. If we were just a teensy bit closer to June, we'd be showered in mango, but it was not meant to be.  A mango! A mango.... my kingdom for a mango!

Links for the recipes: (this is the site I used 2 years ago when I veganized the Cuban bread...remember that one?)

Well, there it is. Another raggedy video from me at the awesome bed and breakfast I call home. Hope you enjoyed it.... I'm sure we'll be back in May for a prompt, and hopefully for another post or two about some of the other things we've been up to around here.... it's been BUSY!

See you soon. Vegan love. xo

Friday, March 31, 2017

Vegan Month of Food March 2017: Mini MoFo.... STUFFED!

Hi there. These Mini MoFo themes are great. Not only do they keep hope alive that I'll come back to more frequent publishing, but I am enjoying the prompts. This month we were tasked with "stuffed!" I planned on making breakfast items for you, but as you'll see in the video I changed my mind. After the video there are the links to what I used, as well as the main recipe for the pirogi, which I veganized of course.

Let's go to the videotape!

Now that we've got that under our belt, let's see what we actually used:

Caramelized Onions:

Vegan Black Metal Chef method. If you don't have his "Seitanic Spellbook" cookbook, you're nuts, go and get it. For the onions, pull out your crockpot, slice your onions thin, cover with some olive oil, put the cover on the unit, set to low and go to bed. Stir when you wake up, and stir again before they finish. Give them a good solid 12 hours to caramelize. You'll want to kiss Chef for this, trust me. You can make these ahead. Make more than you need, and put them on everything else you make!!

Vegan Farmer's Cheese:

As I mention, I didn't even know what this was, so I googled it. This link provides the recipe I used. I would reduce the lemon juice by half. If you have a nut allergy, I don't see why you can't use sunflower or pumpkin seeds to replace the nuts. I have no suggestions for substituting the tofu on this recipe if you have soy issues. Make this at least 1 day ahead, it becomes more tangy as it sits.

Recipe adapted from The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook by Sally & Martin Stone

"Russian Potato & Farmer Cheese-filled Pirogi in Sour Cream Dough" VEGAN STYLE FOR SURE!
Yield 70-80 3" cut pirogi

Pastry Dough:
3.5 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter
6 tablespoons aquafaba
1 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
extra aquafaba for sealing/wash


1.5 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled/quartered
3T olive oil
3/4 pound vegan Farmer's cheeze (see link from An Unrefined Vegan above!)
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 cup vegan butter (for the topping if desired, this is not for the filling!)

Vegan Farmer's Cheeze:

Use the link above, you need to make this 1 day ahead or more.... I did mine 4 days ahead of time, it was still great!

Make the pirogi as follows:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder & 1 tsp salt. With your fingers or a pastry cutter work quickly and rub in 1/2 cup vegan butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl mix the 6 T aquafaba (I did this part in a stand mixer and whipped the AF for about 4 minutes, you don't have to, just use it straight), then mix in the vegan sour cream until well combined; add this to the flour mixture, and gently combine with your hands til mixed.

When well combined, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and either knead with your hands til smooth or do this in your stand mixer using a dough hook til it's smooth and pliable, adding flour if you need just a bit at a time to prevent sticking (I didn't add any flour). Divide dough in half, make into discs and wrap with cello wrap, chill about 30 minutes or til needed.

To prepare your filling, place your potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water (salt if you want, I didn't). Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and cook til tender. Drain and cool. When potatoes are cool,  mince your already caramelized onions, measure out your Farmer's Cheeze and combine those ingredients in a bowl, with about 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp black pepper (I used a little more pepper). Combine well.

On a floured surface, roll your dough out thin (it will act very elasticy the more you work it, work fast and keep the dough cool) Roll thin! About 1/8" at most. Using a 3" biscuit cutter (use a glass if you don't have one) cut out rounds til your dough is done, I got about 75 of them! Measure out about 1 tsp of filling for each pirogi and place onto each round. Fold the rounds in half, pinch very well closed, and then press with a fork to make a decorate edge (this seals them even better). Place the pirogi on a floured towel. If you're not going to cook them right away, place them on baking trays in a single layer, freeze, then when frozen store them in containers in your freezer.

To cook, bring a large pot of water (salt if desired, I do not) to boil. Add a few pirogi at a time to the water, when they float, cook about 3 minutes, remove with slotted spoon to a platter. Keep warm as you cook the rest. When ready to serve, either use vegan butter, brown gravy, red sauce, or whatever. The original recipe said to saute more onions ... seriously? Plenty here for me, no more onions.

I used the Yup It's Vegan rice paper bac'n recipe, and made some bak'n bits, which I sprinkled over the top with cracked pepper and a little vegan butter.

This recipe is worth making! Here's a few pictures:

As you can see, not all were perfectly round as I worked.
Using a 3" biscuit cutter on the dough works perfectly,
however the dough is quite elastic. This works against us when cutting
but works in our favor when shaping after filling! 
Look at all these beauties!
After ya pinch them, press the edges gently with a fork.
Makes a pretty pirogi and keeps the filling in nicely.

Divine perfection.

Vegan Hand Pies as shown in video:

Recipe adapted from (Pepperidge Farms, can you believe it?)

3T aquafaba
2T flour
1 package (17.3 oz) puff pastry sheets, thawed
4 ounces vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand yellow label) softened
2T sugar (I use organic vegan sugar)
1/2 cup chopped vegan chocolate of choice
6 oz minced strawberries (or fruit of choice... wait til mango season!!!!)
3T coarse sugar for sprinkling on top, and more aquafaba
Not bad for first time on a whim! 

Sprinkle work surface with flour, and roll out 1 sheet of pastry. Either using a 3" round cutter, or just cut square to save dough, make 12 individual pieces, equally. Repeat with other sheet.

Stir the Tofutti and sugar in a bowl, stir in chopped chocolate chips or whatever you're using. Brush the edges of the bottom pieces of pastry with the aquafaba, put about 1T of Tofutti mixture in center of each pie, top with about 1 T of diced berries, cover with top piece of pastry, seal tight. Either make a decorative boarder or use a fork and seal again. Place onto parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with more aquafaba, cut small vent holes in top of each pie, sprinkle with decorative sugar. Bake in preheated oven (I baked at 325 for convection) about 20 minutes, use 350 if non-convection. Bake til golden.


That's a lot of typing.

There it is. Get stuffed, vegan style!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mini MoFo February 2017 - SOMETHING RED!

Hello dear ones. We are in the throes of high season over here, so no video this time. We got a nice Mini MoFo prompt to post "something red." Easy peasy once again.

Valentines Day has come and gone, but I made this as the entree for our guests:

So, those are double chocolate waffles done strawberry shortcake style. I used So Delicious CocoWhip, with organic berries, organic fair trade shaved chocolate; everything about those waffles is organic and fair trade. You can do this too.... choose your own recipe and toppings and get to it.

It's hard to see, but that tiny red bowl is the CUTEST thing going.... I got it at the local thrift, it's hand painted with tiny hearts all through the inside, even signed by the artist on the bottom, from Italy! Fifty cents!

I also made gobs of these:

These are mini bundt cakes using a recipe I think from Minimalist Baker, I used organic ginger ale instead of stout. I dipped each one in my own ganache and sprinkled with red vegan sprinkles. I made the cutest toppers for each cake, but was (as usual) very pressed for time so the best I could do was slap these bad boys into boxes and call it a day. We had a beautiful Valentines breakfast for our guests with heart shaped white chocolate strawberry muffins, Love Potion #9 beverages, pink smoothies, fresh fruit, Valentine cookies for all, and mini cakes. I learned the hard way that these larger sprinkles have a relative low melt point, so never again will I coat my sugar cookies before baking if using the large sprinkles. I'm pretty new to this line of sprinkles (Sweetopolita, on Etsy, she has an entire vegan section). They are really great variety and brightness, but they are no good for the baking situation which is why no pictures of the sugar cookies.

There it is, short and sweet... something red. Vegan for the win as always!

See you soon!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

MiniMoFo "NEW!" .... come on baby, light my fire (cider)

Yay! We have a prompt for January and it's "NEW!" Anything new! We have free reign to do any vegan topic, as long as it's something new to us. Easy peasy!

This time of year keeps us hopping around here. How have you been? We've been doing great, the weather is glorious, the animals are healthy, and overall we are feeling pretty good too. For those participating in "MiniMoFo" themes this year (you know my plans are to hit up every single theme....  so far I've not missed any!) When  I saw the theme "NEW!" I thought about so many possibilities. When push came to shove, I decided on taking a little road trip to our perfect health food store on our tiny island which is called Good Food Conspiracy. You already know all about them because we've done videos, photos, stories, and had so many laughs here together courtesy of Good Food. You also might remember the fact that one of the top 3 reasons I agreed to move to Big Pine "for a year" (ahahhahahahah, a YEAR!) was because of that little store. Good Food has been on the island, in the same location, for well over 30 years at this point. I'm not really sure everyone can grasp how epic that fact is (over 30 years) unless you've spent some time living in the Keys. So many people come and go so quickly down here, and the same can be said for businesses. There's an ebb and flow to living and working in a resort destination such as the Keys, and some people clearly are not cut out for that. For those of us that ARE cut out for that, we have the backbone of our community.... small businesses like Good Food.

About 3 years ago (give or take) sometime after Superstorm Sandy destroyed so much of the East Coast (especially Jersey), and then the fire on the Shore boardwalk (again.... Jersey), a woman named Debbie Quinn came to the Keys to heal from the disaster at the behest of a friend. Debbie is an herbalist, a REAL herbalist. She's also an aromatherapist (her company is Blue Moon Herbals), a REAL aromatherapist. I've never met anyone like Debbie before. I remember the first time I met her too... it was in the garden at Good Food at a New Year's event. There were healers, vendors, merchants, food, music and fun. And Debbie was there with her booth selling some of the most beautiful essential oils I'd ever been privileged to experience. We chatted, I bought things from her for a friend in need of healing, and called it a day. Then I began to see more and more of Debbie at the store. Now she's essentially the resident herbalist at Good Food. Between Debbie and Marney (we've spoken at length about Marney, she's a miracle) we have 2 of the best healers I've ever EVER met in my life, right here practically in my backyard.

One of the most wonderful things that Debbie has brought to Good Food is her recipe for fire cider. Fire cider is a folk remedy for many ails including inflammation, which is my personal nemesis. One day not too long ago, I walked into Good Food on a day they were making many jars of fire cider. I wasn't sure what it was, but as soon as I heard it was made with apple cider vinegar as the base, I was all in.

"Set me up with a shot of that fire cider!"  BOOM, down the hatch!

Ooooo.... little warm tingles all over in just moments!

So, today for "NEW!" we are at the Good Food Conspiracy with Debbie and Meghan (who makes the cider, she's absolutely adorable). Fire cider is no longer new to me, but it probably will be to you, and I honestly can say if you come to the Keys you MUST stop into Good Food and add a shot of fire cider to your order, you will not regret it.

Come, watch and learn.

There ya have it.... my friends from the Good Food Conspiracy making fire cider. That's our "NEW!" for January, and of course we'll be back right here in February for whatever comes next, along with a few random other posts from yours truly in between.

Until next time, get your fire cider on. Now go forth and let your epic vegan side shine!