Monday, February 18, 2019

Hurricane Irma Stories: The Fish

A few nights before Irma struck, our friends came by with their two 'tween aged children. They were heading out of the Keys to evacuate prior to the hurricane. I had so much anxiety, by this point we all pretty much knew Irma was coming and it was going to be bad. However, their kids were here so I did my best to act nonchalant and confident. Each child had a fish as companion. We had been asked if we would take care of them as this was the one "glitch" they were having a problem with for evacuation due to so many other issues they had going on. Of course I agreed. I remember them handing over their precious friends and me saying something like "I promise they will be ok, don't worry, I will take care of them, you will see them soon."

It was now my job to keep their animals cared for and alive through a hurricane.

We had done preparations at the start of hurricane season just as we do every year, and had spent pretty much the whole week before preparing specifically for this storm. We had enough supplies to live off grid 3 months, 4 if we rationed more carefully. This included water, canned provisions and fuel.

We never planned to stay in our home (ground level oceanfront), and only for a short time considered staying at Deer Run (stilted wooden). Our years long ago agreed upon plan had been that we'd stay here for up to a Cat2, while Cat 3/4 was highly questionable, and Cat5 was "get the hell out."

What I thought was to be the final plan for Irma would be us sheltering in the elevated concrete bunker of a home owned by a dear friend of us (a future story). So, there we were with all the animals, 2 other families who had taken shelter in the same home (with animals of course), our possessions, our animals, the foster kitty and the foster fishes. It was only after a very long night of anguish and conversation in that home that we then decided to abandon that plan. Irma was now huge and as far as anything can be certain, we were certain to get a sizable impact. We repacked the truck with emergency survival necessities, a cooler full of random drinks and food (nothing great, we would be back home soon!) the animals with all their needs (6 cats--1 an "empty the shelter" kitty on medication, our rescue parrot, and now these 2 foster fish), identification, paperwork, and our travel safe with it's contents. We were headed to the "shelter of last resort" down at the Sugarloaf School. One family and their animals had left the night before with no idea where they'd end up, and our other friend and his dog wanted to stick with us. At that point, my anxiety was raging inside of me, but outwardly I think I was doing a good job holding it together. Sure it crossed my mind that whatever we left behind was the end of life as we knew it, but our minds work wonders with the ability to push those thoughts aside as alarmist and deny them.

I called our veterinarians and asked how to safely transfer the fish into better containers to insure I could put lids on them during travel and not risk their lives, which I promptly did.

The truck was ready, and we drove off. He did his best to go slowly around turns and bumps so as not to slosh the fishes homes, but basically it's not entirely plausible.

We got to the shelter of last resort and staked our space. Our primary focus was the animals. We started to call the shelter "Noah's Ark" there were so many animals. I think there may have been more animals than people actually. We were the only ones with fish.

The storm came.

We took care of the animals, including the fish.

Everything was not ok, and they would not see their fish for a long time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Mini VeganMoFo January 2019: Beat the Blues!

Welcome to 2019, we have a prompt! Let's "beat the blues!"

Oh what a beauty!
Ocean Blue Smoothie Bowl!
Ironically, this is the year I decided I won't get "blue" in January, nope I'm still super mad about all the delays and incompetency we've been forced to deal with through Irma restoration, so I'm super fired up and if you have to deal with me in business you might even classify me as somewhat manic lately.

I was actually pretty jazzed by the prompt anyway... do you remember in Vegan Month of Food when we had to pick a color and well, I ended up with Mahogany cake because my special ingredient didn't show up on time. Well, it's BLUE, my special color is and was BLUE and my special ingredient is and was blue spirulina. OMG, this stuff is amazing, you cannot taste it, but the color it gives is so lush, bright and tropical. It is like a mini ocean in a bowl, I'm going to have so much fun with this powder as time goes on! A little goes a long way, so even though the price seems exorbitant (at least to me), the packet I purchased will last me a really long time. In fact, I look forward to someday having enough spare coin to get the rest of those lush colors including pink pitaya powder, and butterfly pea tea! If life gives me a little hand here and there, I am going to take a crack at making my own pink pitaya powder, that's I'm sure something we'll talk about in coming months once red dragonfruit comes into season and flow my way. You can expect this magic blue beautiful powder is going to continue to show up in my posts periodically.

For now, there's my ocean blue smoothie bowl using the blue spirulina. If you make one of these, don't even bother adding blueberries to your base, in fact keep the base as neutral as possible. I made one with blueberries, and the powder barely made a dent, the bowl was purple. Pretty, yes.... but the prompt isn't "beat the purples." This bowl is so simple, decadent and delicious in both appearance and taste.... it's simply bananas, coconut milk and some shredded coconut as the base with the blue spirulina. I have a Vitamix, it absolutely destroys the shredded coconut.... if you don't have a good blender, don't add the coconut if you don't want texture. The granola I made is riffing on Brandi's oil free granola from the Vegan 8. Use nutbutter (or sunbutter or whatever) instead of oil. It's not fat free.... it's OIL free. I do think this is a far better choice using a nut or seed butter when it comes to nutrition. I still like to keep as oil free as I possibly can manage.  So easy, use whatever you like (here oats, pecans, sunflower butter, very scant cinnamon, allspice then add in some cacao nibs after baking... yes that's it) and have at it.

If you need one final laugh.... I went to the store last night to buy blueberries. They're not in season here, but I wanted them for my blue ocean bowl. Look closely at the picture... notice anything? Sigh. Stupid is as stupid does.

Til next time friends, here looking at you with ocean blue vegany love!


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vegan Month of Food 2018 Day 30: Swan Song

Today is the last day for Vegan Month of Food 2018. Our prompt is "kitchen tour." We are not ready for that because of the hurricane. Instead, I shot a video for you on egg replacers as someone suggested I do this when I asked "what would you  like to see?" There are so many more vegan egg replacers than there used to be even just a couple years ago, it can be confusing for sure. I don't use the same replacer for every application. I have issues down here with the relentless heat (especially in summertime) and year round humidity. I've refined what works best for me. In different climates, different things may work better for you. Here's a picture of most of the different items I use. Scroll down for the video as well as a link to a really nice chart of measurements and applications for almost all the viable egg replacers you'd ever want to use.

Here's the link to the egg replacer chart I really liked:

Thank you for following the bouncing ball for Vegan Month of Food this year. Hopes are I'll be back one way or another for 2019, with any luck. This blog is always up and running, feel free to throw suggestions my way. I'll be writing a little more frequently, a lot is happening right now with the preparations for reopening, it's been a long road with a few more miles to go, but it's nice to be working with furniture designing instead of having conferences with lawyers.

See you soon!
Vegan love to you and yours, always.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Vegan Month of Food 2018 Day 29: BRUNCH!!! (and a dead panini press, boo hoo)

Today we're talking about brunch. It's neck and neck with breakfast for my favorite meal. Brunches are typically associated with holidays, occasions and Sundays in my world, but really every day is an occasion for brunch. I was simply going to post a few pictures of the millions (millions?) of photos I have from the years of food photos I've made for guest breakfasts and special occasions. By the time 5 minutes had passed, I was overwhelmed and couldn't even begin to choose. In frustration, I reached for Isa's "Vegan Brunch" one of the best cookbooks of all time (mine is so shopworn it's actually in 3 pieces now), made myself an omelette and called it a morning.

That right up there? That took all of about 15 minutes. From scratch. It's a gluten free vegan omelette made from silken tofu and chick pea flour. Chick pea flour? No need to buy a special ingredient, take your high speed blender (not a regular blender, no way) toss in some dried chick peas and let it rip. What gives this the eggy flavor is kala namak salt. For filling, I used what I had from MoFo leftovers: tofu ricotta, diced artichokes, kale and mushrooms. Those potatoes are pieces of leftover tater tots I had waffled in the iron for a failed effort on one of the themes. The bread is gluten free vegan DeLand (now back in stock at Food for Thought) and the mango.... show stealer.... I've still got about 1 dozen South Florida mangoes in my fridge. By keeping them in my fridge til the day or 2 before I want to eat them, I've been able to make my very last seasonal delivery extend by several weeks. The only thing that would've made this breakfast better is if someone made it for me.

Meanwhile, in sad appliance goings-on.... as I was flipping this omelette in the pan a large crash occurred about 8 feet over. I looked over and saw my little grill press exploding into bits on the floor. RIP little panini press, it was too good to be true when you entered my life. I lovingly transported you from the thrift in Moab all the way to your new home in the Keys, and used you maybe 6 times if I include last night's picnic sandwich post. Your plates are still in the dishwasher from last night's MoFo, you didn't even get to complete your last bath time scrub. HOW did this happen? Suffice to say... if you happen to see the other happy vegan out and about in town today, maybe give him a hug. There is no love coming my way today... it's his fault my panini press is in RIP-land. Between the one Irma stole, and this one, perhaps the Universe doesn't want me to panini press things. Ever.

RIP panini press. I am going to miss you, sniff sniff.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Vegan Month of Food 2018 Day 28: Let's Picnic

We're going on a picnic today, or realistically we're faking going on a picnic today. I had to work, no picnic for me, but I did want to eat when I got home and the other happy vegan was famished after another long drawn out day with zero food. I dragged out the little panini press I picked up while in Moab and set to making different sandwiches using some things I had on hand, filling in the blanks with purchases.

What I had already was:

hummus (my first batch in over a year!)
cilantro cream (tofu based)
pesto (walnut based)
balsamic dressing

 What I purchased was:

Miyoko's sun dried tomato and garlic cheese (half price!)
marinated artichokes
baguette loaf bread
roasted red peppers

I cut the baguette and filled each piece with a different combo of all the above, just randomly mixed things up. Then I jammed them on the panini press and heated through so everything thoroughly melted together:

I also made rigatoni pasta (other than wagon wheels, the best pasta ever) since the store where I'm at actually had organic rigatoni imported from Italy sitting right there on the shelf calling out to me with love. I had a little bit of pesto left, so I mixed it all up with some of the artichoke hearts I diced. See how beautiful it looks?! Tasted even better. I also picked up a bag of Vegan Rob's cauliflower puffs. Really if you buy ANY Vegan Rob's you'll be super happy, but these puffs and the turmeric chips are my favorites so far (although the rice flips do suck, so it's not entirely true that they all are great.... just that one, meh).

All those things travel well, and are delicious cold or room temp. The sandwiches can be made the day before, and the pasta 1-2 days before.

I'd love to go on a picnic. I'm about 15 years overdue. The sun is shining, I think it's best we all make hay.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Vegan Month of Food 2018 Day 27: TV Dinner

"TV dinners, there's nothin' else to eat...
TV dinners, they really can't be beat..."

So, today we're talking TV dinners. Curl up on the couch, Netflix, and our own version of a TV dinner. It's really a comfort food kind of thing... not a whole dinner.

I'm a mashed potato and gravy kind of gal. That's all I want if it's comfort food. See?

Mashed potatoes, skin on
Soy Milk
Tons of black pepper
And the vegan gravy recipe noted outside the caption
A happy zone for me

I like them lumpy, but I'll eat them smooth. I don't care, as long as they're vegan, potatoes are life. Here's the gravy recipe I really love, I have no idea who to credit this to, but if anyone knows, please fill me in, I'm not looking to jack someone else's recipe as mine:

2 cubes vegan poultry bouillon (I use Edward & Son)
3 cups water
3T vegan butter
3T flour, plus more to thicken
1/2 tsp vegan poultry seasoning (pretty much all poultry seasoning is vegan, but double check)
cracked black pepper to taste

Heat the water and bouillon, stir til dissolved. Heat a pan over low/medium heat and whisk butter/flour til smooth and a roux forms. Pour the bouillon water slowly into the pan, whisking as you do so you don't get lumps (lumps are evil). Keep over medium heat til it bubbles, whisking to thicken... adding flour by the tablespoon til it's your desired consistency. When thick, remove from heat, whisk in seasoning and pepper.

Yepper, this is the real deal in my world.

"I like 'em frozen but you understand
I throw 'em in and wave 'em and I'm a brand new (wo)man, oh yeah"

Did you know Robert Palmer did a recording of this song too? :)


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Vegan Month of Food 2018 Day 26: Holiday Time

Today's post is dedicated to holiday times. I do believe it's actually what is our own favorite holiday, in case I'm wrong, we'll cover that at the end.

Endless Summer baby!!!! True love forever and ever! Really, is this ANY surprise?!!!

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake
Sweet Vegan Biscuit Recipe
Organic Strawberries Marinated All Day in a Touch of Organic Sugar
RediWhip Non-Dairy Almond Whipping Cream
My favorite holiday is the First Day of Summer; Summer Solstice; Litha for the Pagans out there. I'm a simple gal.... ocean, sunshine, palm trees, beach, boat, breezes. Cats on beaches. Deer on beaches. The smell of sun tan lotion and ice cubes clinking in glasses. Moonlight. Heat, the more the better. Humidity, no problem if it comes with sunshine. Get my drift?

With summertime comes vegan strawberry shortcake.

The end (Almost. Refer to the PS...)


PS: for those that missed it, and you're thinking "the holidays" as in what many think of.... please go back a few days to my Day 18 post.... you'll be rewarded with about 10 pounds of Miyoko's Unturkey for your holiday.