Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just For Today, I Am An Early Birdie
Whole Foods Market Fresh Pond: 5:52 AM, 32 degrees fahrenheit with a pretty dark blue sky before sun rise and no shovey pushy holiday shoppers..

Okay, it's the countdown to T-day..which I refer to as "Tofurkey Day." T minus one! Which means tomorrow is the big day. So I figured that I had better do some shopping. Last year, I noticed that my market had a "shop early, shop late" thingey going on where they'd open at 6am instead of the usual 8 and then close at 11pm instead of 10. They had a special incentive for the early birds--a gift bag of local treats. I went last year and had a fun time so when I saw it was on again this year, I marked my little calendar. Despite what I though, not that many people are motivated to get up that early (what? The gift bag does not beckon as strongly as sleep?? Call me crazy then!). I stood by the door (really, there weren't enough of us to call it a "line") and chatted with the other 7-8 people who, like me love cities but despise crowds and obviously are suckers for gift baggies! Nice people, jovial mood and we could have hugged the store employee who let us in from the cold.

Sure, there were a few crazies running around wild-eyed sprinting to the cash register in order to get their goodie bags. However, for the rest of us, just doing our shopping without a pressing crowd was motivation enough. After securing all my vegan baked goody ingredients plus some veggies into my mini-cart, I headed to the checkout and was presented with this cute little bag and its contents displayed below. Yay! Unlike last year, almost all of it is vegan-friendly with the exception of a hot cocoa packet and a small jar of local honey.

So what are you having for Thanksgiving? I'm always curious to hear what other veggies are having. I am grateful to have a family that is very supportive of my lifestyle. Middle sister Nicole has prepared a very vegan friendly list of dishes that she is preparing. Little sister Michelle schlepped all over Brooklyn and Manhattan to find some Dr. Cow vegan cheese for me only to find it not available (it's the thought that counts!). We are having a Tofurkey..I normally don't like processed foods too much but the hubster really loves Tofurkey (he raves about their gravy) and I'm just so happy that he loves it that I don't want to tamper with success yet by trying something else. I should have photos soon of our meal in all it's yummy glory!

I also did something new this year and adopted a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. If you've got a minute, Colleen Patrick Goudreau's podcast did a great episode on turkeys two years ago. You can listen to it here.

So this past week I tried a few new recipes. This one "Coconut Black Rice Pudding" is from the Whole Foods web site. It makes for a pretty presentation with the mango and kiwi. It's also not too sweet..I used agave instead of sugar.

And potato knishes from Vegan With a Vengeance!

Hot potato! I love how these turned out..they're so cute!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Winter of Vegan Has Begun!
Brrr.... The temperature here in the Boston area took a crazy swing from balmy 60 degrees last week to mid-20s this week. There's a cold north (Arctic? Sarah, help me out here!) wind blowing. Wait, I'm not ready for it to be winter already! Don't we have another month left of fall?!!

I have long since made my peace with winter. I used to dread it so much when I was a kid. Sure, I love sledding, hot chocolate and skiing but hey, that's just 1% of winter I used to think. The rest is schlepping through mounds of snow, negotiating slippery ice and worst of all, the limited daylight.

So a few years ago, I found a book that changed how I thought of winter. It's the Winter Vegetarian by Darra Goldstein. It's not completely vegan but it's got some great recipes and ideas that can be veganized. The best part about the book is that it made me change my perspective of winter from something that should be dreaded to a season that can be enjoyed. Winter picnics? Flaming hot drinks? Count me in!

Another big realization came when I figured out that staying warm is key to how much I enjoy the season. For vegans, this can be a bit challenging in a cold weather climate since wool isn't our friend. Cashmere and merino are no gos but omnipresent in most stores. Silk--no way. Let's not even bring up angora! Many cheaper sweaters are made from acrylic but I don't like balls up easily after just a few wears and looks terrible. Cotton sweaters can be helpful and the option I use the most but it's important with cotton sweaters to layer, layer, layer. It's typical around these parts to use long underwear to stay warm..however, vegans have to be careful to avoid wool and silk, two common components of "long johns." After much searching over the past few years, here are a few of my favorite things:
And of course, if all this fails, I simply heat up my big ole gas oven and bake something, steam up a cup of Taza Mexican Almond hot chocolate made with almond milk, and turn up my little electric "fireplace" stove. Bring on the cozy!
The Week Looking Back

I got the cutest little box in the mail this week from! I stopped by their table at the Boston Vegetarian Festival earlier this month and they had a signup to receive a free sample of their baklava. How sweet (literally)! I was kind of offbeat little girl (still am maybe?!) and when I was nine years old, I requested baklava instead of a birthday cake. Nowadays, this might not sound strange but if you consider it was 1980 when baklava was rare outside places like NYC, it was kinda weird. So the love affair between me and baklava began! We're still going out...;)

Anyway, this vegan baklava with brown rice syrup instead of the traditional honey is delicious and I suspect that not even a Greek could tell the difference!

Now that my little sis, Michelle, is all settled in NYC (well, as settled as she can be in one week), I felt it was time to send her a little care package/housewarming present. She loves pumpkin so I figured it was time to try the Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip biscotti recipe from Everyday Dish TV (see the video). And it would be a good time to use those vegan white chocolate chips that I got at the veggie fest this month. They are really good and surprisingly easy to make. I packed 'em up with a Taza vegan chocolate bar and Michelle should have some pumpkin lovin' by Monday..just in time for her to start off her week (and everyone else's) of decadent eating. Hello Thanksgiving!

This photo is just for good measure so that you don't think that I only eat sweet stuff! A quick lunch stir-fry with mushrooms, baby bok choy and tofu from the Whole Foods hot deli bar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Turning Into Little Miss Muffin!

Okay, another weekend and MORE muffins. We visited Gpa yesterday aka Grandpa and my dad who is home alone this weekend while my mom helps my lil' sister Michelle move back to Brooklyn. We got Gpa a mac mini this past week with a 22 inch monitor. Did you know that Apple is just amazing with people who have vision or hearing problems? If you've got a mac, everything you need is already built in via your system preferences/Universal Access. It's amazing. We helped Gpa set up his email so that his mac "reads" the email to him. Way cool!

Anyway, Gpa loves blueberry muffins so I decided to make some for him. Now when baking vegan goods for the fam, I find it's necessary to pull out the big guns. Meaning, the recipes that I love and that are well tested. So that means pulling out Sarah's mom's blueberry muffin recipe which Sarah and I have pretty much veganized.

Using frozen blueberries means that I have to coat them in flour first so they don't make a big mess..but instead leave cool purply swirls in the batter.

The final product. I kept a few for hubby and they are quickly disappearing from the kitchen counter! Hum..must check husband for blue smudges around the mouth ;)

And finally, I also made the pumpkin spice muffins from Vegan w/A Vengeance ...turned out wonderfully. Which reminds me that I need to repeat the apple spice muffins since the disaster of forgetting the sugar in them last month!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cranberry Orange Yummy Fest

It's November and my mind always reminds me of cranberries and orange. I guess it's partially because of Thanksgiving but I really trace it all back to 7th grade Home Economics class when sweet little Ms. Booras taught me and the other 12-13 year olds how to make Cranberry-Orange Bread. It was one of my very first solo baking successes! Of course nowadays, you'll find me making a vegan version and more likely than not, I tend to make muffins instead of breads. So when I got these guys in my bi-weekly fruit delivery, I knew it was cranberry orange magic time. My new favorite recipe is from the Little Vegan Monsters' Cookbook and yum is it ever good!

Aren't they beautiful? And organic!

Hot out of the oven and we're impatiently waiting for them to cool down:

Full of cranberries and orange don't need a thing on these ..they are so good plain!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Who Let the Dogs Out? WE DID! Yay, Massachusetts!!
I spent Tuesday night tearing up on the couch in front of our television. What can I, mere little me, say that hasn't already been said? This is a historic time for the United States and my little heart is just bursting with love for my country right now. After eight years of thinking "why, why, why?" I feel the burning of optimism that I haven't felt in a very long time. I believe that Obama is Gen X and Y's JFK. Long time coming but so worth waiting for.Of course, my main attention was on the presidential race..Obama and Biden had my vote from the get-go so I am over the top happy that they won.

In my own backyard, specifically three blocks down from my house, an organization that I respect very much, Grey 2K, has almost put themselves out of business, happily and on purpose. Massachusetts voters rallied to vote to abolish greyhound racing in the state. This has been a long, hard-fought battle for several years. The main argument of the proponents of dog racing say that we'll lose jobs statewide. However, in discussion with a rep from Grey 2k at the recent veggie fest in Boston, she pointed out to me, rightly so, that this argument is moot. When a local department store chain, Bradlee's (oh, fond childhood memories of this store!), shut down a few years ago, we lost far more jobs yet there was no vote on it. Back at ya, dog-racers!To outsiders, we're known as the radically left-leaning "activist" state whose state legislators refused to put gay marriage on the ballot because you shouldn't put civil rights to a vote (I heart and vote for you my state legislators). We're also know as the state of the Masshole driver (aggressive, reckless, rude) and I admit that it's well deserved. While I am not proud of the later, I am thrilled to live in a state that now recognizes the rights of people AND animals alike. This state election went to the dogs! Yay!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Back to Business: McDougall Day 1

After a month of VeganMoFo and numerous birthday celebrations, I feel the need for a stretch of healthy eating. So for the next ten days, I'll be doing the McDougall 10-Day Program which always leaves me feeling good after a massive month of sugar consumption!

Breakfast was my ginger pear oatmeal:

Lunch was a chickpea sandwich spread (recipe) and a green smoothie (almond milk, banana, flax seed, and kale):

Forgot to take a picture of dinner (mexican salad) but here's dessert..our sliced kiwi and apple habit in the evening has returned!

Two winters ago we started this fruit in the evening habit. I'll cut up an apple and a kiwi and hubby and I will share it. We haven't had many colds for the past two winters either. Hopefully the fruit is responsible!
The Day of the Dead Celebration, Vegan-Style

This past Sunday, November 2nd, H. and I plus our two upstairs neighbors, went to the Peabody Museum at Harvard University for their annual Day of the Dead Celebration, sponsored by the Mexican Consulate of Boston. H. and I went last year and really enjoyed it. Until last year, I didn't know much about the celebration. Since then, I've learned that it's a lovely holiday for remembering family members and loved ones who have passed away. Yummy food, beautiful decorations, and a little sentimentality..what more could I ask for!

The decorations were festive! I love the colors:

A salsa dancing demonstration:

Me and H. Not bad for a cell phone camera photo!

And finally, the alters:

Fruits are always offered.

Beans and nut bars!

Fruits AND veggies.

This alter was in honor of people who died from was very touching:

And finally, although the food was good and free(!) at the event, it wasn't vegan so we stopped at Boca Grande where I got rice and beans. I noticed that they now offer tofu in many dishes so I'll have to return soon to try it!

At the festival itself, two non-vegan treats were served: Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead I guess!) and Mexican hot chocolate. So in the spirit of the season, I'll make some vegan versions soon. Until then, I'm watching the Saturday Night Live Election Special and biting my nails for tomorrow, The Really Big Election Day.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Boston Vegetarian Festival 2008

Guess where I went yesterday? Okay, the title gave it away! The festival was packed, even more than usual, and what a great bunch of speakers!

Sarah and me: She's holding the nudie pen that she won from vegan cookbook author Sarah Kramer's session! "My" Sarah was the first person to produce a safety pin and show how "punk rock" she is ;)

Author T. Colin Campbell, author of the China Study, packed 'em in. There wasn't even standing room.

I scored the very last bag of vegan white chocolate chips from the Cosmo vegan shop booth. Saving them for the holidays..maybe nice in some chocolate cookies with reverse chips? I'm a sucker for any item with a cute bear on the packaging ;)

Later at Grasshopper (vegetarian restaurant): Sarah's yummy "Sweet and Sour Sensation" and the communal veggie "chicken fingers" shared by all four of us.

My veggie wonton soup. Delicious!

And finally, the yummilious cake that Sarah and Tom brought to celebrate my bday since we couldn't get together on the day. Thanks guys, you're the best!!

Halloween Post-Mortem

Not much in the way of cooking. I tried Shellyfish's chocolate sugar cookie skeleton idea but wheat-free..mixed result. But they sure were cute!

My neighborhood really gets into the spirit of the holiday:

Fighting over a fly..

Something about this decoration reminds me of the Burning Man Festival:

Later: at night, a neighbor's ghostly lawn has some interesting landscaping!

Trick or Treat

After the Gruesome Threesome at the Somerville Theatre (we got to see the Simpson's "Shinning" following by the actual "Shining"), we stopped by the Museum of Bad Art in the basement of the theatre. pictures other than the entrance!

Sarah is an evil doctor..Tom is her unwilling (or willing?) jailbird victim!

Evil Doctor (Sarah) and the Devil (Michelle) fight to the death (or pose for the photo):

The Devil doesn't like having her picture taken. From the looks of her "bloody" nose, it seems the good/bad doctor won!