Monday, December 28, 2009

New Blog(s)..Please Visit Me!

Hello blog friends!! For a technical reasons, I've decided to move my blog from Blogger to Wordpress . And not only that, I've started two more (I'm so crazy like that ya know!). Please visit Gemusings on Wordpress at:

And if you are interested (secretly hoping you are!), my new Fuzzies and Friends blog will feature the adventures of Squirrelly and her family as well as my growing Degu family. This blog is the fodder for my upcoming squirrel book which I hope to find a publisher for in 2010 (fingers crossed)! Please check out:

And last but not least, I have been percolating this idea for over a year now and "My No Buy Year" is the result..from January 1st-December 31st, 2010 I will try to buy and consume as little material (non-food) goods as possible and figure out what exactly it takes to be vegan on a budget..I hope you'll follow along as I'm sure this is going to get challenging and hopefully quite interesting!!

For now, my past Gemusings posts will live here until I find a way to transfer them over. If you have me in your blogroll, I'd be thrilled if you update my new location. And if you'd like me to add your vegan/fuzzy/crafty blog to my blogroll, please email me at amandatrombley AT and I'd be happy to do so.

Happy new year everyone!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

VeganMoFo #8: Boston Baked Beans

Baked beans for dinner on saturday nights is a long standing New England tradition for a few hundred years. The story goes that the religious settlers of this area strictly observed the sabbath and would not cook on sundays so the need for a precooked meal started on saturday was necessary. I don't know how this transitioned into eating beans on saturday nights..that part of the story is fuzzy! There are also stories that this was a common dish in many New England logging camps..a fire pit was created in the ground and the beans would cook in it for up to two days.

My family has had baked beans almost every saturday night since way before I was even born. Usually with hamburgers although when I was a little kid it was hot dogs. It would be easy for me to continue the tradition as there are many vegan options for baked beans and hot dogs but that's just a little too predictable for me! Instead I like to eat baked beans whenever I get the craving. Sometimes even for breakfast. Despite my love of the bean, I rarely make them myself. After locating a recipe for Boston Baked Beans, I found that it's easily veganized by substituting the traditional salt pork with just a dash or two of liquid smoke.

This is my absolute favorite picture of my mom and's from our June of '08 trip to Germany. Grandpa's second trip to Europe..the first time was 1945, the year mom was born!

My grandpa has always been the family expert on baked beans. He used to make his own beans many Saturdays in his own bean pot. Grandpa was just about to turn 92 in the picture above..he's now 93 as of June!

Grandpa recently sold his house which was also the family summer camp..lots of stuff full of memories had to find new homes. I was lucky enough to be the beneficiary of his bean pot! If you are looking for canned baked beans, Grandpa recommends Bush's Baked Beans. Although he doesn't buy the vegetarian ones, I can vouch that they (the veggie ones) are really good.

Below: Grandpa's Beanpot, now in my kitchen

Bush's recipe is a bit more tomato-ish than I remember traditional Boston Baked Beans the following recipe is less tomato-ish and more molasses tasting. I played around with the ingredients and ended up using more ketchup than it called for to get the taste that I wanted. You can also feel free to experiment with the type of beans that you use..I used much larger all works out just fine! For interesting facts and stories about baked beans, check this out. Or visit the Bean Bible!

Boston Baked Beans
3 lbs. navy beans
6 qts. water
2 tbsp. brown sugar (I substituted agave and it worked just fine)
1 tbsp. bottled mustard (or from a jar)
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cupped onion
A few dashes of liquid smoke to taste
1 bay leaf

Soak the beans overnight or for 8-10 hours. In a large soup pot or crock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer an hour til the skins break and the beans are tender. Drain off the water and set it aside. Put beans and bay leaf in a bean pot or suitable oven-proof cooking container. In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients and three cups of reserved bean liquid. Add mixture to beans. Cover and bake in a 300 degree F oven for about four hours. Stir occassionally. Add more reserve bean water if needed to keep beans from getting too dry.

Unrelated to bean but I wanted to share: I recently went to an art fair in New Hampshire and saw some of the nicest animal paintings I've ever seen. How could these paintings not convert a person to veganism immediately?! The artist's blog is here..check out those soulful sheep eyes. I love them!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vegan MoFo Post #7: Lunch Out and the Return of...

Too busy for cooking today unfortunately..but had a nice vegan soup at Diesel Cafe..a celery root with dried cranberries soup with some whole wheat bread. I hope to recreate it with the two celery roots that I got in my farm share pick up tonight.

Diesel Cafe was packed as always...

Mongolian masks on display..perfect for October and Halloween!

And finally on our walk back to the office past our apartment building on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue, she returned..and by she, I mean Squirrelly! Tah dah!
"Hi Guys! Where have you been?"

She recognized us right away and stopped her mushroom harvesting (really) to say hello. I haven't seen her in almost two months. I was getting worried. Her daughter has taken over the nest in the tree across the street and had babies. So Squirrelly is a grandma now. But I hadn't seen "Grandma" herself in a while. This is actually common the five years that we've known her, we've always joked that she takes a vacation in August and September. We won't see her for weeks and then suddenly she will appear in October much to our relief. Here she is snacking on a wild mushroom that she just found.

People always ask us how we recognize her. We don't actually by sight most times (although if we study her face we can usually recognize her)'s more based upon the fact that she comes bounding after us when she sees us. And of course, responds to me calling her name. Even after five years she still remembers.

In a neighbor's yard...

Our girl needs to fatten up for the winter..but she's working on it!

I finally got to say happy birthday to her in person. Happy fifth birthday my sweet little squirrel..wish you many more..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VeganMoFo Post #6: Another Year Celebrated With Two Cakes and Some Fuzzies

I'm really behind with my MoFo'ing..and this post isn't really about me cooking so let me distract you with some scenes from my recent birthday (Monday) and some fuzzies!

Wonderful sister got me two vegan birthday cakes! This is the chocolate raspberry:

And a vanilla strawberry cream cake..with vegan gum drops on top:

The day began with the first frost in New Hampshire. I ran around in my slippers trying to capture the frost melting in the sun but wasn't super successful. Frost is hard to photograph I learned!

The day ended with an amazing fireworks display put on by a local church to celebrate 100 years of, well, um, churchness?

Some birthday loot..Sarah gave me the VeganYumYum cookbook. Lauren Ulm, the author, is local and she's speaking at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival on November 1st so this baby is so being autographed. I can't wait! And H gave me a copy of Scared Squirrel which is one of my favorite books of all times!

A variety of cards perfect for a vegan!

And finally to distract you further with fuzzies, the Goos got a new bathhouse. I tried to get a picture of them in the bathhouse. However, the mere presence of me with a camera was too much for their curiosity.

What are you doing? Do you have nuts for us? Are you going to let us run around in the bedroom now? Can we play?

Finally Keebler poses near the bathhouse. Degus, like Chinchillas, need daily dust baths to keep clean. We tried a variety of containers but found the dust as far as the kitchen so we knew we needed an enclosed container. I saw the bathhouse at a pet store and thought "perfect." The goos spent several minutes checking it out and enjoying their new private, members-only bathhouse! "Mom, you didn't tell us that we had to keep the dust IN the bathhouse!"

Friday, October 09, 2009

VeganMoFo Post #5: Sweet Ending to a Rough Work Week

There wasn't much mofo'ing going on today here at has been keeping me extremely busy. Work, home, eat, play with goos, go to bed. That's pretty much it. Aside from my stuffed squash dish last night, I really haven't cooked much this week. We've been living off the leftovers from Sunday's Red Flannel Hash (which only improved over the days..definitely making this one again) and had stuffed squash for lunch AND dinner. Also another great find this week. So although I am "wicked" behind in my mofo'ing posts, MoFo has pushed me to try two new recipes that I probably wouldn't have made the time for otherwise. So I'll be satisfied with that. Tonight I am planning on storming the couch with a good movie and the opportunity to let my mind go blank for 138 minutes..the running length of the movie. Seemed like the perfect time to indulge in a little treat. I found this vegan hot cocoa sweetened with only stevia and mint (they also have a delicious orange cocoa too). It's perfect for me because I can't handle a lot of sugar in the evening. Topped off with a little coconut milk creamer, it was a yummy treat along with three little mint UFO chocolates from Trader Joe's. Speaking of Trader Joe's..did you know that they have a list of vegan ingredients in the store? Nice..

Just add water and a little coconut creamer..yum..minty fresh goodness..

Some other sweeties: Wiley..Goo #4 out of 6. He's got a unique white patch on his back and he's a pretty easy going little guy. He and his two brothers, Brownie and Baby were the last three goos we adopted this spring. Our originals (Keebler, Cubbie and Trolli) came from a local animal shelter whereas Wiley, Brownie and Baby came to us via Craig's List. These two sets of brothers couldn't be more different. The original group were affectionate and fearless the very first day home. They literally came running over to meet us at the shelter! I thought this was typical of degus but it's not always. A lot of people buy them from pet stores and don't have enough time to spend with them. Since degus are extremely social animals, it's important that they work you into their social group. If you don't have time to do this with them, they will be terrified of you. The second set of goos' original owner became bored with them in a few months and wanted to feed them to his pet snake. They were rescued by the owner's roommate..who then moved out and took the goos with him (lucky little goos to cross paths with such a kind guy). He cared for them (and took very good care of them) for a few months but his new apartment didn't allow them so he put them up for adoption on Craig's List. That's when I met them!

Wiley is very bold and an excellent climber. He's also very good-natured and affectionate..only after months of getting to know me though. It's a really cool feeling to have these three little guys warm up to me after living in fear of me for the first few weeks.

Brownie (below) bit me on the index finger the first week we had him, pretty hard. It was my fault because I swatted the air near his nose and he took that as a threat. We have worked hard at reconciling and he's now the most devoted friend..sitting on my leg for 10-20 minutes just happy to chill out with me. Typically I'd say that goos do not bite that much (at least my shelter animals do not) but this second group is much more fearful and they will bite if they feel threatened. Now that everyone is comfortable with each other, there are no more bites which is great. I do not have a picture though of Baby because he is often hiding. He is extremely skittish but now even he has taken to sitting on my leg and shoulder.

If you can't tell, I'm absolutely and totally in love with these six little boys. H has got a bad case of Goo Fever too..I often finding him hoovering in the goo house, giving out little treats or tickling them. Expect many more goos stories and pictures in the future to supplement my squirrels!! Okay, good night sister is coming to Boston tomorrow and we'll then head up to New Hampshire for leaf peeping, family visiting and some good vegan chowing. More posts to come soon..have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

VeganMoFo Post #4: Baked Delicata w/Herbed Stuffing

We picked up the farm share tonight and while I'm usually not so down with my CSA's recipes..this one caught my eye because a. it's vegan and b. I had most of the ingredients in the cash-strapped Gemusings kitchen. Oh, you may or may not remember that I had a wonderful summer with a few trips. Notably a big one to NYC. In the words of Edith Pilaf "Je ne regrette rien!" I regret nothing. Well, except that it left the ole budget in serious needs of some belt tightening. So begins the Gemusings Bare Cupboard Challenge. Just in time for VeganMoFo. Oh crap. This should! Sure! Recipe below with my cheapskate substitutions as needed:

Baked Squash with Herbed Stuffing
(from the Rolling Prairie Cookbook by Nancy O'Connor..recipe shared by my CSA)

2 delicata squash (CSA gave me three..I used them all)
1 tbsp. olive oil (we have like 1 tbsp. of olive oil left..okay, now we have none)
1 med. leek, chopped (luckily I had these)
1 sm. apple, finely chopped (0ut of apples..used worked!)
2 stalks celery, chopped (had 'em)
2-3 cups bread cubes, 1/2" (from the bag in the freezer of stale bread ends softened in the micro)
1/2 cup veg. broth (from a cube..almost out..will have to resort to the yucky powdered stuff soon)
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. chopped parsley

Cut squash, remove seeds (dry and save for goos if you've got 'em!), and baked at 350 for 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek, celery, and apple. Saute until tender..about 10 minutes. Add bread cubes. Pour veg broth over the mixture, stirring to evenly distribute. Stir in the salt, pepper and the parsley. Mix well. Remove the stuffing from the heat. Heap the filling into the squash shells. Cover and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Serves 4.

This recipe turned out pretty well but it was missing something. Luckily I caught it before it went into the oven: SAGE!! Is it just me or is stuffing not stuffing without sage? This helped round out the taste and made it feel a little more festive. I might save this recipe for Thanksgiving day.

And last but not least, some edible flowers are still going strong in the garden. I'm drying them on drying racks. Never done this so I hope it works okay. I've got a ton of lavender to dry too. For certain special little somebodies' winter diet:

And speaking of the budget-conscious, the squirrels don't have to tighten their belts this year. Supposedly there is acorn explosion this fall. The squirrels can't keep up. Luckily for Squirrelly and her this little guy!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Review: Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen

This summer I tried my hand at some raw "uncooking." I got of copy of Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen and dug right in.

The "Save the Chicks" Pâte..very tasty..I enjoyed this in a lettuce wrap.

Buckwheat Crispies which are simply soaked sprouted buckwheat dehydrated in my toaster oven which conveniently came with a dehydrate setting. Serving here as cereal w/raw almond milk and some red plums.

Raw lemon coconut date bars. Really easy to make and yummy. This recipe finally convinced me to buy a citrus zest. My life is changed! How did I ever live without a zester? A grater just doesn't do the job! Anyway, I made this recipe several times.

A raw chocolate milk made with dates, cacao nibs, almonds, vanilla and water..delicious cold on a hot day! Ignore those chocolate chips on the side..that was for some non-raw recipe! Long since eaten, long since forgotten.

And finally, my favorite raw foodists..having their daily dried unsweetened cranberry.

I enjoyed these recipes, however, a few pounds later and after a lot of advance preparation, I gotta say, the raw food diet is not for me. I definitely will try to incorporate more raw into my diet but my schedule just doesn't allow for this kind of time for preparation and the high amount of fat included in many of the recipes was shocking to mine eyes! A cup of olive oil, a 1/2 cup of all adds up. However, I really liked that Ani's recipes are much simpler than a typical raw food cookbook so if you are going to try raw, check out Ani's books. Even if only for those raw lemon bars! Yum..