Wednesday, November 25, 2009


In preparation for the post I plan to make on my family's celebration and then my very own vegan Thanksgiving, I give just two reasons I am thankful.



Growing up (yeah, a lot of my stories start with that!) we were a family of animal rescuers. My mother was notorious for bringing home strays. They were very loved and I hope that we made their lives full and happy.

Mercutio came to me in October of 2002. I was working in a pizza place and one of the video store employees next door came over with this tiny black kitten. He asked if I wanted a kitten and while I certainly did not need one, I couldn't say no. The kitten came at the nick of time. I split with my boyfriend at the time and having to take care of a cat helped me to take care of myself better. Merc LOVES Jeff, and as soon as Jeff sits down anywhere, Merc is in his lap. He also loves to sleep with us. That cat has helped me out in so many ways.

Delilah was a rescue kitty. My best friend works for a vet clinic. She went out to her car one day and noticed a suitcase next to a truck. Thinking that it belonged to the owner of the truck, she left it alone. Well, the truck left and the suitcase stayed. My friend went to investigate and found the suitcase was locked and the bottom was warm. After some maneuvering, the vets got it open and found a cat with 5 kittens. While I'm thankful that the suitcase was dropped in a vet clinic's parking lot, who the hell locks up a bunch of cats in a suitcase?!?! I was warned of calico traits before we adopted Delilah, and she has not let us down. She's rambunctious, crazy, hyper and nervous. She loves us, but if anyone else comes in the door she hides under the couch. But when she cuddles up to you, you forget the torn blinds and chipped paint.

Of course, these two furballs aren't the only things I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for my loving relationship, my family, my friends and a roof over my head. I'm thankful that I have the choice to be vegan and the ability to support my little family, however hard it may seem.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


A truly wonderful thing happened on Friday night.

I finally got my copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

Now, this isn't a good thing for my attempts to lose weight. Not at all. But c'mon, it's the holidays, and what better gifts than cookies? I just have to try them out first...

I asked Jeff to pick a recipe for me to make while he was at work. Well, he picked 4. Out of those 4 I chose 2. Peanut butter blondies and hazelnut fudge dreamies.

The hazelnut cookies hugging the fudgey center are light and rich and shortbread like. Eating a cookie like that makes me stick my pinky out and demand tea. The peanut butter blondies are buttery and delicious. And addicting. I highly recommend this book to vegans and non vegans alike. Proof that you really don't need eggs or cows milk to get the amazing cookies you desire.

Now on to something completely different. I mentioned in my last post that I would share my Thanksvegan menu. Here ya go:

Tofurkey Roast
Cornbread Stuffing with Pears & Pecans
Green Bean Casserole a la Fat Free Vegan
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Root Vegetables (Jeff thinks squash would be better, we'll see)
Dinner rolls with regular and roasted garlic margarine

I have never, ever had a tofurkey roast. We thought we would try it before moving on to homemade roasts and if it doesn't taste good, well there's a ton more food for the eating. Last night I made a first runner up for the mashed sweet potaotes: Joanna Vaught's coconut mashed sweet potatoes from her new potluck zine. These were incredible! Jeff didn't like the curry and ginger, but I might play around with the spices 'cause I want these taters on my table! Here they share a plate with roasted brussel sprouts and chili lime tofu:

I finally got the hang of the manual settings on my camera. It's funny, I'm such a photo nerd and I've never played around with the light settings - I guess I assumed that night pictures would just be bad for all time!

Good eating!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catch! Up.

I was doing so well too.

I know I've mentioned this before, but we were broke growing up. Like, way, way, WAY below the poverty line. I always knew when my mom got her tax return 'cause that's when the "lunch money" basket was overflowing with dollars and sometimes fives. Most of the time it was change. My mom worked really hard during our childhood, and did a damn good job at raising my sister and I. One of our "treats" happened every couple of months: my mom would ring up ole Nick's Tavern, order 3 Nick's Burgers (2 without onions!) and we would feast on the deliciousness. It wasn't any better than any other burger, but it was a treat, which made it special.

Recently, I tried to recreate the experience. I used my standby, the black bean burger from VCon, and caramelized onions and mushrooms for the top. As you can see, I had no bun, but that's ok. It was delicious anyways. I dedicate this burger to my mother and my sister:

I also got a full day with the husband and an empty fridge over the weekend. Turns out we had the supplies for two breakfasts in one day. First up, for real breakfast, was the mushroom frittata from Vegan Brunch, with caramelized onions(I love those buggers) and spices:

Next up, for brinner, I utilized my hated waffle maker. We had requested one through our registry and didn't end up with the same. Now, I am so not the person to pick apart a freaking gift, and they didn't have to get us anything at all, but this thing is junk. I got it to work for me though! I made the gingerbread waffles from Vegan Brunch, topped with the diabetic friendly lite syrup (read: gross):

And finally. It's time for the blog cooking challenge on the PPK! I have lots of stuff in store for this weekend, but I made the Tempeh Helper on Tuesday. It's fast and filling. I didn't think it was close to the original taste-wise (which is ok with me!) but when I reheated the leftovers, I was taken back to a dark place; a place where my then-boyfriend requested Hamburger HELL almost every night. A place where I gained a million pounds.

I've just about set my Thanksgiving menu in stone. In addition to the family get together (in which I will have to bring my own food) I'm holding a vegan dinner the Saturday after. I'm greatly anticipating the feast.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Vegan: First Year

November marks the date that I decided to go vegan a year ago. According to a blog I wrote on some social networking site, the date was around November 21st. Just in time for Thanksgiving, right? Well, I seem to turn to this holiday to make such decisions. I decided to go vegetarian in 2004, just a week before Thanksgiving. And you know, I have absolutely not missed the turkey.

Looking back, my first year of veganism was pretty darn amazing. Sure, there were a couple slip ups (some intentional, some not) but I don't let it get me down. I thought cheese would be the hardest thing to cut but not eating it seemed so natural. I first jumped into this thinking I'd have to buy all these fancy ingredients, but seriously, it's so not necessary. I eat so much better now than I did a year ago.

That being said, I need to make some more changes. First and foremost: drinking. I won't completely give it up, but there is no need for me to have a freakin' beer (or two) every night. Last night I went out with some friends, had a grand ole time and drank probably 4 beers without even registering it. That scares me. When I have people over or throw a party, I always have wine or a shot of vodka to loosen up. Totally not helping with my social anxieties. Or my quest to lose some weight.

Weight. That's my second problem. Since turning vegan, and losing my job, and cooking all this amazing food all the time I've gained more this past year than I have the 4 previous that I was vegetarian, when I ate a lot more cheese and processed foods! Obviously I didn't turn to veganism as a way to lose weight, but in addition to a better focus on whole, fresh foods, I'm going to apply myself to eating less at mealtime - more often than not I put more on my plate than I should and then go back for seconds.

Lastly, I just need to get off my ass! Not working full time is giving me all this extra time to do....nothing. Next quarter I'll be in school full time, but right now I'm focusing on getting to the gym on my cheap membership at least every other day, if not more, and making myself leave the house more often.

None of this will be done in a radical sort of way. I just need to learn to pay attention to my body and my health, just like I do my husband's health. I fully intend on continuing to make treats and indulge, just not so darn often!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

African Peanut Stew

Yesterday, before I left for my ridiculously dumb shift of 2-5, my husband asked if we could have some kind of stew for dinner. Now, I was intrigued. When he mentioned it, I didn't automatically feel nauseous like I usually do when soup-like substances are brought up. I have not been feeling well, and the thought of something rich and spicy just sounded GOOD.

So, while at work on my ridiculous shift, I perused recipezaar, which is my go-to when I have an idea but don't really know where to go with it. I was rewarded with African Peanut Stew.

Here is my very modified version of this recipe, which I cut into half and substituted things for things. I actually forgot to add the lime juice and peanuts at the end due to hunger, but this was SO FREAKING GOOD, it didn't matter.

African Peanut Stew (courtesy of recipezaar)
2 servings and a couple leftovers.

1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 14oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup peanut butter (told you I was craving rich.....)
1/2 of a kabocha squash, cut into large chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup fresh green beans (frozen, no thanks)
3 cups kale
juice of 1 lime
chopped peanuts

Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger, and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the broth and peanut butter, season with pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kabocha chunks and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes and carrots, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes. Add the green beans, cover partially and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add the kale and juice of 1 lime, and cook for 10 more minutes.

Transfer to deep bowls and serve hot. Garnish with lime wedges and chopped peanuts at the table.

Now, the original recipe calls for 3 cups chickpeas and okra. I have been eating so many beans lately that I just didn't want them in the stew and kabocha was an awesome substitution. Okra....I didn't really put in an effort to get some. I do believe I'm on the right track to enjoying soup again!

Doesn't it look rich and inviting?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The end of MoFo and Halloween Roundup

I did 28 posts during October! The last couple days I was stressed over other things, but I think the continuous posting throughout most of the month really upped my numbers. Woo hoo!

Halloween rocked. Friends that I haven't seen in YEARS came, and a grand time was had by all. We had tons of food, beer, hot cider and a photobooth setup. The night ended on a high note as everyone made their way to Cartopia on 12th & Hawthorne and enjoyed pies and fries. A pictorial for your viewing enjoyment:

Jellyfish in the photo booth!
I'm Charlie Chaplin, my lovely friend is my silent actress
The guy in the beard is from Sword & the Stone, Florin is just Florin
The food spread, with silly names
The lady carnie won most creative costumeHer prize were these awesome galoshesJellyfish floating to Cartopia