Thursday, April 23, 2009

To Fu or Not To Fu?

Hello again! Two posts in a week..what has gotten into me? Well, I'm very excited about two new soy products I found in the market last week and just had to share. This is NOT the promised tofu post I wrote about in my last post..that's coming soon (and there will be mangoes)! But first, I have some older friends (boomers) who write and pronounce tofu as "To Fu." I have no idea the reason for this. When they speak it, they even pause between the "To" and the "Fu." It sounds and looks so odd to me! They can't explain's just how they were first exposed to tofu. I, however, was raised on the Fu but we always called it "tofu" back in the seventies and eighties. Gosh, did my mom rock or what? Small town in NH back then when tofu wasn't a staple in the markets..yet hummus and tofu were regulars in our house. I'm still amazed...anyway, I digress, check these guys out:

I stumbled across Nasoya's Silken Creations soy starter for desserts/smoothies. I thought, well, how good could this be? I picked up the chocolate and thought, well, let's give it a try. OMG. Like total rich chocolately velvet pudding. I remember trying some other brand of soy chocolate pudding cups..found them disgusting..thought this might fall into this category. Happy to report that I was TOTALLY wrong. This stuff is amazing! You can eat it right out of the container (um, which is why I don't have my own pics..devoured this stuff..okay in several sittings but forgot to take a picture). Whirled with a little almond, coconut, or peppermint extract OR with some berries, amazing dinner-party ready dessert if you don't have time to whip something else together. Trust me, I am the toughest chocolate critic I know..this stuff rocks!

The second product I found was from Vermont Soy. They make a variety of products including artisan tofu!'s about time, yay! This tofu will be featured in an upcoming tofu post dancing with mangoes..he he he! I was also so excited to see that they have just released a maple-ginger tofu..oh, wait til I get my hands on that one. I'm also thrilled to support a local New England business. I keep thinking of Vermont as "just across the river" on account of me growing up in New Hampshire, right on the border of reality I am now a couple of hours away here in Boston. However, the distance does nothing to quell my fondness for all things Vermont (and of course, Maple..grade B? Oh yeah). And just look at the goodies Vermont Soy is working on for us! "We're working on an okara burger, a soy creamer and a new soymilk flavored with organic Vermont maple syrup. Stay tuned!" You betcha! Check out their web site recipe section..

Do you have trouble with soy sometimes? Me too. I was so upset last year when I thought I'd have to break up with tofu! However, I've found that my stomach is selective about just what exactly kind of soy I am eating. Super processed soy such as soy protein powders or the soy protein isolate that is found in so many vegan/vegetarian "fast foods" really bothers my stomach. I can't eat very much, especially of those bars that have a lot of processed soy. BUT soy that is less processed such as artisan tofu and tempeh are not a problem. Organic probably helps too since so much processed soy is GMO (nasty genetically modified). If you have trouble with soy, could it be the same with you? Not sure but maybe try my little experiment by looking at the kind of soy that you are eating and see what happens. Then you and tofu can be true loves always once again!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April Catch-up

Hello everyone! I've been MIA again for a bit..lots of stuff goin' on.

One thing that has been keepin' me really busy is that I am a volunteer for a local pedestrian advocacy group here in Cambridge, MA. Cambridge was voted #1 walking city in America last year (and we hope this year!) by Prevention Magazine and it feels great getting to participate in making my city more walkable! In May we are running a program called "The Golden Shoes" program where we hide 100 "golden" shoes throughout the city..they are in reality old shoes, spray painted gold but regardless, everyone gets a kick out of it. The "finders" of the shoes get a giftie baggie full of fun stuff collected by my team from local merchants, etc. So I've been busy in my free time doing some marketing and soliciting sponsors for the program. I'm having a blast!

Yesterday, I contacted Barefoot Books here in Cambridge. Barefoot is a publisher of children's books and they just happen to have their flagship retail space down the street from yours truly. Since many of our golden shoe "finders" are kids, I thought Barefoot would be a good match for a sponsor. They kindly agreed to participate! What impressed me the most is that they have a whole selection of kids books with an eco-friendly message. How cool is that? If you have kids in your life (or if you just like kids books!) I hope you'll check them out because they rock! And with Earth Day today, how timely.

The Degus (aka the "Goos") we adopted almost a month ago are doing really well! Degu Manor is still not complete but it's livable. We have noticed a big difference in the Goos' climbing and jumping skills. We think this is because they were probably in much smaller cages in the past that didn't allow them to jump and play as much as they need. I gave them some sunflower seeds for the first time last night and wow, squabble fest! My mom got a chuckle out of this having raised three girls who are close in age. Everything must be one child must get more than the other. Well, the Goos are the same. Squabbles break out if I give a peanut to one..the other two will chase him to get the peanut (cause it's only fair, right?!) even though I have peanuts for all. So I figured out that I must put all three nuts in my outstretched hand and they will each pick one (and only one) for themselves. My mom is secretly giggling to herself after what my sisters and I put her through for years I am sure! Although my Goos have a gigantic amount of space to play in Degu Manor, we like to let them out. Since they are little gnawers, I cannot let them run free because their fav thing to gnaw are electric cords. Ack! So when I saw these balls in the local pet store I thought, let's try it. I'm still shocked how much the Goos love these balls. They practically jump over themselves trying to get into a ball when I offer them up. Check this out:

The weather is getting warm! Time for smoothies, right?! Here's my favorito favorite! Choco-Raspberry...Take 1 cup chocolate "milk" (I use Almond Breeze), 1 cup frozen organic raspberries, 1 tbsp. cocoa powder and whirl in your blender until smooth. Add liquid sweetener such as agave or maple syrup to taste if you want (I rarely do because the "milk" is sweet enough for me).

Pre-blender button push..

The result is a thick and frosty smoothie in a gorgeous pinkie color. I have these all warm weather long as my favorite healthy treat!

This past Sunday, I visited Greenward, my local eco-friendly store for some finishing details for my PIF'ers (yes, it's comin' soon!). They were having a birthday/Earth Day Celebration and each customer received an adorable decorated brown bag with a variety of gifties. Check out my loot generously donated by The Sampler. If you haven't heard of the Sampler, please check it out! It's a super cool way for indie crafters like, well, all of us, to get the word around about our wares. Now I do not sell my stuff 'cause a.) I don't have the time b.) I am really lazy and would rather dream of making vegan pancakes on a weekend BUT I love to support peeps who do. You can subscribe to the Sampler and get a gifty bag each month full of crafty fun. Love it!

Cute paper flowers decorating the bag...

Just call me Strawberry Shortcake, I won't mind berry much at all..strawberry hair clips from Cherry Red Studios. They are having a sale..check 'em out. Now I finally have hair clips to match my strawberry handbag..he he he!

A cute pendant made from a bottle cap by Emily Kirscher, recycling artist..I've worn this several times since Sunday. I love it...

For keeping your tissues cute in your bag! From the Blankie Keeper..cute stuff especially if you have kids..or just act like one. Guilty!

Magneto kittie by Dismissie..for my new metal bulletin board at work. Great stuff on their site and their Etsy store...

A pencil from's forgive them because obviously they haven't read OUR blogs right?? Not to mention most bloggers I know are darn fierce readers too..check out their site..darn cutie wooden bookmarks!

Cards! Vegan perfect, huh?

Handmade soap from Naikid..was excited to see it 's vegan!

So I've got a ton more things to share but don't want to make this blog post any longer and bore you to death! In the coming week I will finally post about the following things I've been promising for oh so long:
  • My animal rights study group (which is wrapping up early May). I'll get into the details of New Welfarism vs. Abolitionism
  • Making your own vegan lip balm
  • Making your own vegan laundry detergent
  • An amazing vegan lemon bread recipe
  • Tofu, tofu, tofu!
Finally, I'll leave you all with a new product announcement that I cannot wait to try but it hasn't shown up in my Whole Foods yet:

I haven't tried a Turtle Mountain Foods brand that I don't like..I especially LOVE their So Delicious line of coconut products. Check 'em out online and enter to win a cooler full of coconut milk! Contest ends May 15th, 2009.

Later friends!! Hope you all can get out and enjoy some warmer weather wherever you are!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

April Showers Bring Lots of Photos

It's April? Easter is this coming week? Oh dear god. How did that happen??!! My nose has been to the grindstone at work lately but my camera tells me that I actually have been doing some fun stuff too. Wanna see? Well, the first is a cute little vegan tea cafe I stumbled upon one rainy day when walking outside of Harvard Square. The Karma Tea Cafe is connected to the Karma Yoga Studio. You can volunteer to work at the cafe in exchange for free classes at the yoga studio. How cool is that?! Love it!

Only tea here. I had a "honey" rooibos which didn't actually have any honey in it. Just tasted a little like honey. They had a variety of locally baked vegan goods. I had a pumpkin chocolate-chip muffin. Yum...

The lovely zen-like decor is very tranquil. I can see sitting here to write my squirrel book, hopefully this summer!

This past weekend my girl, Sarah and her hubster, Tom, came down for a visit. They wanted to see the Shepard Fairey exhibit (the Obama "Hope" poster artist) at the new Boston Institute for Contemporary Art. And since I rarely get my lazy self actually into Boston, let alone a museum, it was a good excuse to check it out! Here we are posing at the Water Cafe at the museum. The menu was created by Wolfgang Puck (a vegan chef he is not sadly) but was easily veganized by request. Do you think we look like sisters? Lots of peeps tell us that!

The entrance to the exhibit...sorry..not pictures allowed in the exhibit. But it was amazing..

Sarah looking down at the harbor..this room had stairs going down towards the water. This picture doesn't give you a true literally feel as if you are going to tumble into the water...

I was part of the effort to fete Shellyfish's mom on her 60th birthday! My gift to Mamafish is a homemade vegan lemon bread and two of my handmade lip balms. I hope Mamafish likes them! The card, which is hard to see here, is a pattern I created in Adobe Illustrator for some squirrel pillows I'm working on.

Don't they look so pro? He he he..wait til my next post where I spill the beans on how easy it is to make and package your own vegan lip balm.

A quick dinner we threw together tonight. Two cups water, boiled with a bouillon cube, some saffron threads. Add two cups couscous, let it sit for 5 minutes. Add in peas, carrots and chickpeas. Yum..we gobbled this up. It's kind of plain Jane but such comfort food.

And last but not least..the Degus. Or the "Goos" as we're calling them. Officially it's been a week since we adopted them. I can see why degus, although very sweet animals, do not make good pets. They need A LOT of space. They love to run around, climb, and chase each other. I did read up on the little guys before we got them. Some web sites talked about an ideal amount of space. We had no idea just how much space. We bought a cage but the little guys were fighting like mad the second day home. bad that one brother ripped off the other's fingernail. I felt so horrible..and somewhat irresponsible. True that there is not a lot of info out there on degus but I should have planned better. So off to Lowe's we went on a Thursday night. A three level Degu Manor is in the works. Here are the Goos watching the construction.

H has been hard at work building Degu Manor. The Goos moved into the first level on Friday night. H has been working feverishly to get the rest done. Complete with a PVC tunnel system (they love it!), chain ladders, a rock garden and more. Degus never had it so good!

The Goos are adorable little guys, very affectionate, very mild-mannered but full of energy. They have taken to grooming us lately..ruffling our hair when they sit on our shoulders.

Since Degus love tree bark and blossoms, we felt these knobs were appropriate for Degu Manor.

Some of the PVC tunnels. Degu Manor is right smack in the middle of our open kitchen/living room area so the Goos are right in the middle of all the action, just the way they like it.

I'm really glad that these little muffins have found a home with us but it reinforces some growing ideas that I have about certain kinds of pets, especially exotic pets. I don't regard these guys as our pets even though others might..I see us as their caretakers instead. Unless I want to smuggle them back to Chile, where they are originally from, they are dependent upon us humans to care for them. We owe them that much especially since their great-great-great something grandparents were originally imported to the US for animal testing against their will (ack! I cannot imagine anyone testing on these sweet little animals). I do not recommend degus as pets at all..they need so much space and care that unless you're willing to drop ~$600 on supplies for a home and supplies at the get-go they may not be happy. That is a bit of money to spend on a small rodent pet vs. say, a gerbil or hamster. They'll pay you back in love though..mine already have!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Degu Vu

Things are busy here in the gemusings household (okay, apartment!) because we have some new furry guests. On Friday, I read about an animal shelter closing in western Massachusetts. Four dogs, three cats, and three degus still needed homes. Degu-what? So I looked 'em up. Small social rodents who look a bit like squirrels. Well, needless to say we were smitten. After tracking them down, they were transferred to the local Boston shelter. We stopped by yesterday to adopt them. We went into the adoption room and well, the hamsters, gerbils, etc. were all minding their own business. The degus? Well, these three brothers were hopping over themselves to see us. Love at first sight! Meet Keebler, Scout and Troll. We didn't name them..their names were already given when we got them. They are just four months old and full of energy. Shhhh! Don't tell the squirrels...