Well friends, here we are. April. Not just April, end of April.
April showers bring May flowers. What do Mayflowers bring? Pilgrims! Sorry, couldn't resist.
Actually, April showers barely exist where I am. Since we've last chatted, Big Pine Key had a wildfire. Actually tonight it's still going on, but it's contained in the high percentages now. But, for a while.... it was raging and out of control:
|Wildfire, Day 1|
Raging out of control on BPK
This was our view from across the island
Resources came from all over to assist in the fire fight. There is so much post hurricane vegetative debris, a wildfire has been of course at the forefront of many of our thoughts down here. Supposedly "they" are still investigating the cause, but my money would be that "they" already know what caused it, and somehow humans are involved.
We watched as a special helicopter that was dispatched to the island scooped up hundreds of gallons of water at a clip, flew up and staged, then dropped the water (cannot help but wonder.... did anyone else think wonder about the sea life at the wrong place at the wrong time? Swimming around in your water home and next thing you know poof you're out for a few seconds then free falling into the unknown....) Trip after trip after trip we watched, it was an amazing sight. The next day, the scene was much improved:
|The firefighting efforts already paying off!|
The next day, the scene was much different.
Still burning, but wow what a difference!
So, here we are 1 week later and there are supposedly still hot spots flaring up, but they are being controlled and extinguished. We finally had a real soaker of rain a couple days ago. We're in a huge drought down here. The animals are suffering because of no rain, plants need the rain too, and quite frankly this overload of brush which apparently is of no matter to local government needs to just stay super saturated all day every day, but not a chance. Honestly, I'm terrified of fire. The other happy vegan recently had to go on another road trip and I simply had no peace in his absence. Before he left I made him go around and switch "off" anything and everything he had plugged in that I had no use for, or didn't want plugged in, IE: all ceiling fans, tools, etc. I'm legit scared some shithead is going to illegally camp on the beach somewhere out here, flick a cig or have some illegal campfire and whoosh the entire 'hood will go up in flames. Maybe part of this comes from the fact that the house to the west of us burned down in the middle of the night a few years ago. I'll never forget that... the other happy vegan rushed into the house his voice with a tone never I'd heard before, or since, saying that house was on fire, call 9-1-1 and back outside he went over to the house. No one was in it, it was vacant at the time, but honestly we had no idea if 1) there were actually people in there that did not belong that had caused the fire (no), and 2) we had things of ours stored there (including a small boat) that were also going up in flames, very big flames, very scary flames.... flames seemingly everywhere at that moment. It's VERY rural out here, no hydrants, and an all volunteer fire department. We were evacuated, as were all our guests and animals of course. The great and wonderful Dr. Mader came here during the evacuation and helped us round up the animals.... I remember seeing him on our back porch trying to literally pry our cat Pink Moon off the wood ceiling. She gave him a very unfortunate beating, but he did manage to pry her off and get her into a carrier. Our place was filled with emergency personnel getting us out, there was literally zero time for gathering possessions. Get out with the clothes on your back (hopefully ya sleep in pajamas.....) and our animals.
So, yeah, fire scares the crap out of me.
Thank you to all who came to Big Pine to help battle the blaze. There has been a loss of a home, which is one home too many.
So... all that comes from April showers?
A few weeks ago, I made soup and tempeh Rubens special to post for Vegan MoFo... "rainy day food" theme. This was before the wildfire, and on a day it actually rained. Not much. And, with lightning, which I can SO do without in massive drought. Can't we just have rain without any lightning to cause my mind to whirl with thoughts of that starting a fire too? Sigh..... my ramblings are getting the best of me.
I made Rubens. Of the tempeh variety. Not as in "Kincaid" (hey, YOU don't have to love the Partridge Family, but don't expect me not to!) and I made soup. Potato cabbage soup. And, we lived it up eating said soup and Rubens. Now, the Rubens ... I didn't wing them, I followed a recipe, and sure, they were great but not worth all the extra effort I put into them. Did some sort of weird dry rub spice, then marinated, and put in a special pan to slowly brown. Bleh. Too many steps, too much effort. Usually I mix up apple juice, vegan Worcestershire, vegan liquid smoke and maybe a dash of veggie broth, let sit about an hour and bake. That's it. None of those ridiculous spend your day before blending spices, blah blah. So, you don't get a link for the Reuben. Because, just google "vegan tempeh Reuben recipe" and make the simplest one you can find. But... use the best ingredients you can get your hands on, including the best sauerkraut you have access to (or lucky for you if you make your own). I prefer Bubbie's sauerkraut, it's wonderful. And, use vegan cheese, or omit. Brutal honesty here, I prefer my Reuben w/o the added vegan cheese. Just the tempeh, sauerkraut and vegan dressing is my style on the grilled bread. And, I make my own dressing.... vegan mayo, ketchup and sweet relish. That's it for that, ok?
But the soup.... oh, you get a link for that! It was SOOOOO wonderful. Potatoes are life. I love potatoes any way they can be served. And, this recipe didn't disappoint. I used an entire head of cabbage. I took extra time to clean the leeks extra well.... leeks are always filled with dirt and do take effort... don't omit the leeks, they're worth the effort, trust me. Also, I used an immersion blender to blend up the soup partially, but I don't like a full puree of any soup so I'd say my version was about 60 nonblended/40 blended. Whatever works for you.
Here's the link: https://www.veganosity.com/vegan-colcannon-potato-cabbage-soup/
Here's a picture:
|Yeah, there's vegan cheese on this one.|
I made it for the other happy vegan. I prefer mine without.
That soup though.... perfection. And, I jammed some coconut bacon on top!
|It didn't rain enough to prevent a wildfire on Big Pine....|
But, it did rain.
So, there it all is. Rainy picture. Rainy sandwich. Rainy soup. We're precariously close to the "rainy season" starting down here. That's code for hurricane season. Don't be a shithead and ask me if I'm ready for hurricane season. I will never be ready again for hurricane season. Nothing can make me ready for what really does happen in a natural disaster. But, yeah, we've got our plans nailed down as best as possible for "what if" and that's all I'll say about that here.
We welcome the rain. We will not welcome another natural disaster. One last tidbit that surprised me. When the wildfire hit, I didn't panic, but was all consumed by it moment by moment. Then, I went looking for the ferals. This was during the time that the power had been intentionally cut in that area, I guess it had something to do with protecting that infrastructure or whatever. Well.... driving down the Overseas the roads were filled with emergency vehicles parked and staged in various areas, as well as some with flashing lights speeding to different spots. And it was dark. Very dark. Very VERY dark. No lights. Nothing. So eerie. Major flashbacks to the post Irma time we lived through, along with physical manifestations of sickness from stress, anxiety or whatever you call that. I wasn't really prepared for those feelings. It's been difficult getting through even 7.5 months post hurricane, but I guess part of me didn't want to admit just how scarred I remain inside from what we've endured.
We'll be here for May blogging, but probably you won't find any pilgrims alongside. In the mean time, I suppose it would be nice if you'd do a rain dance but ask for no lightning please, and yeah, make some soup cuz even in summer soup is the bomb.
Vegan soupy (and sandwichy) love to you til next time.