Posts Tagged ‘Vegan Food’

Signs, Ogham, and the Search for Snake Plants

Amidst work on my novel, I’ve so enjoyed having David in Kalamazoo full time, beginning last Friday. We’ve gotten caught up on move-in projects and some long postponed day trips. The first occurred last Saturday, our first return to Holland, Michigan since David’s 2015 birthday celebration. You can read about “Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan with Two Dutchmen” by clicking here, the two Dutchmen referring to David and his father from Amsterdam. This recent trip marked a different kind of birthday — the official beginning of David’s new life in our new home.

The day proved a jam packed manifestation of almost every article of clothing or boot I’ve sought since moving here. We also loved our gluten-free vegan New York style pizza at Crust 54, amazing vegan Thai at Thai Palace, and our pint of Dragon’s Milk at New Holland Brewing. As much as the cute boutiques, funky resale shops, excellent natural foods co-op, and gustatory pleasures, we delighted in all the signs scattered in stores and along the quaint downtown streets. You can see a few of our favorites below:

IMG_6672 Continue reading

Vegan Treats!

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I would be very hard pressed to call this health food, but we just picked up some beautiful gluten-free vegan cheesecakes from Vegan Treats for my mom’s birthday celebration tomorrow, along with a mandarin orange white chocolate giant gluten-free vegan cookie for now. 😉

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Those who prefer compassionate Easter candies or just general vegan decadence might enjoy their online shop. Here’s what the in-store stash looked like today:

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I’m always blown away by their gorgeous cake designs (and the sugar rush) whenever I visit. Sweet times, and Happy Birthday, Momma Jane!

Vegan Comfort Food

I’m not sure if it’s the unusual weather or the winds of change, but I’ve recently felt some creative kitchen urges. Although David and I are no longer 100% vegan, we still eat that way most of the time, with occasional forays into raw cheese for my continued tooth health. Goshen offers so few places we can eat that we’ve become “the best diner in town” with all our vegan versions of traditional foods. We each have our specialties. David makes some mean vegan Sloppy Joe’s and chili, and we both enjoy gluten free vegan pizza and various Italian creations served over lentil pasta. I tend to experiment more, since working from home gives me more time to play in the kitchen.

Some recent favorites:

Gluten-free, Soy-free, Vegan Mac ‘n’ Chz

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I adapted this recipe from Organic Authority’s “The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe: Comfort in a Bowl.” I changed some key ingredients, though, so I’ll post my recipe here, especially since I know quite a few blog readers now grow my favorite (and prolific!) White Scallop Squash, which features prominently in my version. The original recipe uses potatoes, which require some extra cooking care. In addition to a more forgiving method, Continue reading

Quick Updates and Tree Love

Just a few updates on a sunshine and snow filled day!

It’s Good to be Alive, Right About Now

For most people I know, 2017 got off to a slow start, but then the forward momentum snapped like a rubber band. Lots of people, myself included, started new creative projects, and others have redecorated or embraced cleaner, higher vibration foods, as well as new exercise programs. I’ve lost track of how many people started rebounding after I wrote about it in my “Shaking Up the Energies” post. Bouncing, especially to fun and/or sacred music, really does get that lymph flowing and gives stagnation the old heave-ho.

The following Andy Grammer song sums up the shift of energies for so many people, and, coincidentally, this would be great for some dance-rebounding. 😉 Continue reading

Autumn Beauty: Asters, Mums, Bouquets and Cocoa Spice Cake

Just a few pretties from the yard and kitchen:

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On Friday, that bed above got an infusion of spring daffodils and giant hyacinths. Fortunately, an unusually late first frost has allowed the trough below to make up for its very late planting. We’ve enjoyed so much lettuce already, while the rest of the greens and mustard race the frost faeries.

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Although the temperatures are back up again, a cool weekend encouraged this experimental cocoa spice cake with chocolate ganache from the delightful cookbook, Afro Vegan. This one uses coconut milk and mashed avocado for creaminess, and with cayenne, ginger and nutmeg, it was, indeed, spicy enough to delight some foodie friends and their other guests:

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Bouquets abound:

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And here you can see Sunday’s flowers with Saturday’s cake:

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Wishing everyone a glorious week!

Tania Marie and Me: Equinox Visit and Cosmic Adventures with Our D’s ~ Part 1

Best friend and faery twin Tania Marie and I are never apart in spirit. We keep in nearly constant touch via anything from texts to telepathy, and even if we have longer times without contact, we find our lives have either synchronously paralleled or gone into exactly opposite complementary experiences. Our own mothers have mixed us up in photographs, and our lives really do seem like those stories of twins separated at birth.

We both have our North Nodes (Destiny) in Capricorn, and we both have David’s/Dave’s with Cancer North Nodes. We’re roughly the same size and height, and our haircuts seem to parallel each other. Tania’s a two-fish Pisces, and I’m a twin Gemini. Tania has a special needs bunny, and I have a special needs yard. When Tania and her Dave downsized last year to start full time RV living, I simultaneously upsized by renting the house next door as an office/classroom/guesthouse filled with my David’s parents’ furniture they needed to move out of their old house. Despite the miles between Tania and me, we often giggle to discover we’ve made the exact same thing for dinner, or that one of us is out shopping for the very ingredient the other one just chopped.

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All these long distance connections and synchronicities go into life-changing hyperdrive whenever life permits a fun and magickal in-person adventure. We went to the San Francisco Veg Fest Together in 2008 carrying bunny Nestor’s ashes and then learned about a bunny rescue that eventually led to Tania adopting Joy; I picked up her Joy with Tania and held her on their first road trip together; we’ve had many Cafe Gratitude binge fests where the waitresses actually looked under the table to see where we’d hidden all our food; we braved a spooky and synchronous Halloween 2008 in Bodega Bay with our friend Karen; have enjoyed multiple vegan Thanksgiving’s together; took a crazy, wild, and life-altering visit to Mendocino in 2009; did a silly, but potent faery reclamation of Chicago in 2010; and had a joyful reunion and birthday celebration in Goshen in 2015 when Tania first got to meet my David.

We’ve been planning this year’s gathering with “both our D’s” pretty much since Tania and her D took off in the RV. As timing and plans coalesced, we originally thought we’d meet over Samhain/Halloween as they drove East through Canada and then down through Michigan to Goshen, IN then wintering South and continuing their East Coast travels next Spring and Summer. These plans morphed all over the place until we finally decided to meet in Viroqua, WI on Autumn Equinox.

Yes, Wisconsin, the land of giant mice, cheese and brats:

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Readers of this blog might remember The Sunflower Saga, Synchronicity and the NAPC, the first time tried to go to Viroqua amidst massive redirection, dreams and another head injury. I tried a second time for David’s birthday this year, but life strongly rearranged itself to send us to Turkey Run State Park instead. Apparently, I have a “thing” with Viroqua — a strong pull accompanied by a major block. When making plans with Tania, I mentioned that I was still a little nervous about that location, even though I’ve always wanted to go there, but we reasoned that since I’d be there with both Tania and my David, I’d be fine.

And so we made our respective reservations. While I harvested and prepped food for an Equinox Feast, we all gathered and prepared various gifts for one another. The afternoon before our trip, just as Tania and Dave neared Viroqua, I felt a sudden “flood” of energy. It was so strong that it knocked me back onto the couch, even when I tried to get up. Whenever I thought of our trip, I felt this powerful force field of energy so strong that it felt like a rush of water pulling me deeper and deeper. I texted Tania to say, “Wow, really potent energy for our trip in Viroqua. Almost knocked me out.” Then I checked the weather there, only to find a “Flood Warning.”

Hmmm …. I texted her not to set up camp too close to the Kickapoo River, as it might overflow, but we continued with our plans. We figured the potent energy came more from the intentional ceremony we had planned for that evening, the first time all four of us would be together, with Tania’s bunny Cosmo anchoring the center of our Circle. I had copied, modified and highlighted an OBOD Alban Elfed ritual, so that the five of us could personify the four directions and “the cosmos.”

All proceeded according to plan until …

…what I’ve come to consider “my Viroqua hex” reared its powerful head again.

Early Equinox morning, I received hurried texts from Tania that she and Dave were being evacuated from their camp site. A flurry of texts and phone calls followed as I tried to see if they could stay in the parking lot by our hotel, but people on their end urged them to get out of town while they still could. “Mudslides and flash floods would make it impossible” for David and me to reach Viroqua, and the Sheriff advised Tania and Dave to go to Madison. I knew she had little signal, so I located a KOA in De Forest, WI, just north of Madison, and it turned out they had trailers for rent, as well as a site for T and D.

Originally, we would have been staying about twenty minutes apart since we could not find any accommodations capable of housing both parties. Our trailer option meant a very different sort of packing, but it also meant we would be about twenty yards instead of twenty minutes away from each other! It meant we could hang out with Tania and Dave in their “home on the road,” while David and I shared our homecoming to the place he and I first lived together. A place with loads of vegan food options. A place we both love and had planned to drive through on our way home anyway to have lunch with dear friends there. A place which increasingly seems to be some kind of Wheel of the Year vortex portal for us, as demonstrated further by our potent Winter Solstice 2015 in Madison.

In any case, our plans rapidly morphed, and the synchronicities suddenly catapulted into crazy high gear. All of us dodged potential injury or death that day, between the rising floods on T and D’s end, and a rogue white van suddenly crossing and stopping right in front of us on the highway. As the day continued, Tania and I began to feel forces strongly opposing our visit, while even stronger forces protected and redirected us to safe communion. We eventually arrived, quickly got settled and then gathered in their “Magick Bus,” where we did introductions, hugged, changed into fun “Equinox costumes,” held our little ceremony and then feasted on the garden fresh white scallop squash “faux”lenta, pesto, tomatoes, leafy greens, raspberries and Sun Oven Lammas brownies, I had brought. It was so yummy and love filled that we forgot to take any photos that night.

Tania and I noticed that we “floated for hours” in some kind of altered state as our guys slept. The next day, Tania received word from our friend Dawn that she also felt floaty and interdimensional that night. We all felt we crossed onto a different timeline or alternate reality, as things eerily fell into perfect alignment, despite all the sudden twists and turns. I received texts from others confirming similar sense of shifts the night of Autumn Equinox, so we’re curious if anyone has other info to share in the comments below.

On Friday, we toured some of our favorite spots in Madison, including Willy Street Co-Op, of special interest to my D and me for green juice, and to T’s D for … vegan scones and donuts! Oh, yes, Dave is not only a vegan author, speaker, and animal rights advocate but also quite the junk food vegan connoisseur! He kept us well supplied with goodies throughout our trip, a bit of a shock to my “just harvested from the garden” norm, but also a fun and welcome treat! We enjoyed chocolate bark, donuts, scones and lots of wonderful teas from his extensive collection. We took them to our much missed restaurants Himal Chuli and The Green Owl Cafe, as well as to Roman Candle Pizzeria for vegan pizza. Here we are below on our first full, crazy windy day there, overlooking Lake Mendota, on the UW Madison campus. The wind was so strong it started blowing off my jacket and shirt, but we did manage to snap this selfie before wandering into more sheltered woods:

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The whole trip continued to evolve moment-by-moment, and it seemed impossible to plan anything. Between road detours, missing emails, very specific weather guidelines, and more, we had no choice but to go with the flow. Saturday brought us to Cave of the Mounds, where we picnicked and then went on an amazing underground tour. I experienced such powerful and unshakeable déjà vu when we got there that I kept trying to explain it away by my early childhood visits to Pennsylvania’s Crystal Cave. The avalanche of synchronicities and slow motion time experience of our pre-tour time there convinced Tania and me that some other important time nexus or circular time event had arranged for us to be there right then. My David kept mentioning “the importance of getting you ladies deep inside the Earth so you can do whatever you need to do there.”

It truly was magical inside that ancient cave, but I’ll continue our adventure in Part 2.

Vegan and Vegetarian Holiday Options

Over the years, I’ve posted lots of photos, recipes and tips for preparing vegan, raw vegan, and/or vegetarian holiday food. You can click through to read about a Raw Vegan Easter Feast, a Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Feast, a Raw Vegan Indian Food Feast, a Raw Vegan Pizza and Italian Feast, Raw Vegan Thai, Tiramisu and Key Lime Pie, two Raw Vegan Christmas Feasts, Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry, the five flavors principle, vegan alfredo sauce and links to various other recipes. We also have some sort of vegan feast every six weeks for our Wheel of the Year Celebrations, although I usually keep the details of those gatherings private. It’s some good vegan eating, though!

Today, I wanted to share what we did this year for Thanksgiving, Yule and Christmas. Hopefully, the vast variety of foods shared in the above links and below will inspire some people to think of new possibilities when sharing holidays with non-vegans or non-vegetarians.

Please note: I’m not fully vegan anymore. For tooth and bone strength, I drink organic, raw goat milk, which we pick up directly from local farmers. I loved being 100% vegan and often 100% raw in California and Arizona, but once I got back to the cold Midwest, after 8.5 years of a strict vegan lifestyle, my body started demanding very specific types of dairy and occasional organic, free range eggs.

It was an extremely difficult decision to move from vegan to vegetarian, but the improvements in my health really speak for themselves. In photos I often miss my former waif self, not always recognizing my stronger, curvier self these days; however, I cannot argue with improved cognitive function, no more tooth pain, and greatly increased overall strength. It was the right decision for me, for now. I’ve never judged anyone for his or her dietary choices, as I know injuries, relocations, illnesses, stress, vibrational management, and other factors make “ideal” diets much more complicated than a simple dogma sometimes addresses.

I share the information here, not to judge, but to inspire. I prefer as cruelty free as possible for the holidays. It’s nice not to look at a carcass, to bypass the food coma, to celebrate life, and sometimes even to feed relatives the only veggies they’d willingly eat! All while having them ask for seconds. Or thirds. Anyway, without further ado … our menus this fall holiday season:

The night before Thanksgiving, David and I met his daughter and her boyfriend at a new microbrewery in South Bend called The Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House. This place has a dedicated vegan menu that directly corresponds to the regular menu. We thought it would be fun to take the young ones to a new spot where all of us could eat and enjoy an edgier atmosphere than Northern Indiana usually offers.

Oftentimes vegan versions of traditional menu items involve a lot of fake meat made from wheat gluten or soy, but we were blown away by the creativity and freshness of their entrees. It was too dark for photos, so we don’t have any; however, the dishes were so authentic tasting we actually asked our server if he had remembered to give us the vegan versions. Instead of gluten and soy, our “wings” were made from tender, perfectly seasons artichokes! Our Thai inspired dish used cauliflower instead of beef. We seriously could not believe how good our meals were! I will write a long overdue vegan Michiana post at some point. For now, just know that if you’re vegan or have a vegan in your crew, Crooked Ewe would be a special treat.

Just prior to meeting our young dinner guests, we stopped at the Mishawaka Whole Foods (which David helped open in 2013), and treated ourselves to one of their vegetarian holiday boxes. We don’t usually buy a prepared box of holiday foods, but with everything we had going on Thanksgiving weekend, we thought we’d treat ourselves. It was entirely vegetarian, some of it vegan, and some of it gluten-free. It did feature a seitan based loaf, which I could not stomach even beyond one bite, but David enjoyed that loaf a lot. The surprising thing coming from “Whole Paycheck” was just how much food we got for $29.95! We seriously had about 5 meals from this box. You can see some of the spread below:

Vegetarian Thanksgiving from Whole Foods

 

If you’re hosting a holiday for “regular eaters” and don’t know what to do with some oddball vegetarian guests, then the Whole Foods Holiday Box for vegetarians might be a great way to go. Vegans or gluten-free peeps would need more a la carte ordering, which removes some of the price advantage of the box, but if you’re out of your league cooking for vegans or vegetarians, Whole Foods offers an easy, tasty, considerate option.

I’m much more of a Yule gal than a Christmas celebrant, so when we went to David’s daughter’s graduation last weekend in Madison, I prepared a Yule Feast for the friends who hosted us. These are the same friends who joined us for most of the raw vegan feasts linked above, although this time, I offered a mix of cooked and raw, always gluten-free vegan dishes: homegrown cushaw squash soup, chickpea “meat”loaf, homegrown massaged kale and tomato salad, almond flour rolls, and a gluten-free vegan yule log. Those yule logs are labor intensive, but for once a year festivities, I do love them! So did our friends, who jumped with glee when I gifted them all the leftovers.

chickpea roast and kale salad

You can find the Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf recipe here. I made this twice — once for Yule and then again for Christmas because David requested it. I texted Tania Marie about our Christmas Eve Feast, and her Dave requested it, too! I found that the recipe needed between 1/8 to 1/4 cup of ground chia seeds added in. I used less the second time I made it, and although it tasted good, the texture never firmed up. David’s completely meat eating, non “weird diet” brother-in-law requested firsts, seconds and thirds of even the mushier version on Christmas, though, which tells you how yummy this recipe is.

The kale salad above is just kale, dehydrated tomatoes (soaked), chopped olives, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt, massaged together.

Below, you can see this year’s gluten-free, almost sugar-free, vegan yule log. I loosely followed this recipe, substituting gluten-free flour and a combo of coconut sugar and birch sweetener for the refined sugar. The non-edible holly garnish came from bushes I relocated to the blue house front yard:

vegan yule log

Whenever I make a yule log, I always have some kind of major kitchen whoops! In this case, I did not have enough gluten-free flour, and had subbed in some fava bean/chickpea flour without the other ingredients to make it “all purpose.” Oops, no arrowroot in the house, so I added chia seeds. This was the year of chia. The cake was fine as a cake, but in order to make a yule log, you need to fill it with creme or jam and roll it up. I used a low-sugar, local strawberry jam, but once I started rolling, this baby cracked all over the place!

I had not planned to make a glaze, but I needed a coconut based one to hold it together. I heated up coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla stevia and chocolate on a low burner, but quickly realized that would just dribble down the cake, not hold it together. It needed a little chilling; however, our fridge was full. Outside it went into 29 degree weather for enough time to turn firm enough to mold, but not so firm I couldn’t use if for yule log intervention. The final product turned out just right. You’d never know this one created almost as much mess as the one gluten-free-sugar-free-dairy-free yule log I made in 2013.

When we returned from our whirlwind trip to Madison, I thought I was mostly done cooking for the holidays, but David liked the chickpea loaf so much that he wanted one for Christmas. His daughter loves the traditional green bean casserole, and David had seen a reasonably clean gluten-free version of the crispy onion topping at ALDI’s of all places. I ended up planning another homemade feast. This one included gluten-free vegan versions of all the traditional green bean casserole ingredients:

green bean casserole

I threw all that together on Christmas Eve, along with the loaf, and prepared a favorite sweet potato dish with coconut milk and lots of sauteed, home grown garlic. I added some sauteed mushrooms and onion to the traditional directions for the green bean casserole, but it was pretty plug ‘n’ play. The green beans were a hit with everyone, and the sweet potatoes surprised David’s brother-in-law into requesting both firsts and seconds. Even the non-veggie eating nephew liked one serving of sweet potatoes:

sweet potato mash and green bean casserole

I appear to have redeemed myself from the “swamp pie” I made David and me for Christmas 2012. We loved the deep green spirulina raw vegan pie topped with goji berries, but we’ll never forget the reaction of the bro-in-law and nephew when they learned that spirulina’s algae! Stuck out green tongues and no end of remarks like, “As long as you don’t try to serve us pond scum …” .

All of which is to say, you can find no end to creative vegan and vegetarian meal options for the holiday, but if you’d like to share your feast with others, take it easy on the algae. 😉

Bon Appétit!