Monday, July 30, 2007

Apricot Season!

Mom called to say the apricots on her tree were ready, and to hurry up before all the birds got them. The girls and I arrived on the scene within hours. Our bags were already packed and waiting in the car with pectin, sugar, jars & lids. We had been anticipating apricots for weeks!

My helpers and I filled up two buckets, and there was still plenty for my uncle Larry & aunt Nancy, who were on their way to pick some also.

Mom & Bill played with the girls (& took photos!) while I made a batch of apricot jelly.

It was a little awkward in mom's kitchen, and lucky for me, aunt Nancy arrived just in time
to help with the batch of jelly.
She shared some tips she's learned from a lifetime of preserving nature's bounty. For years, she fed a family of 12 almost entirely on what they produced or bartered. She really knows her stuff, and it was a pleasure to have this opportunity.

We used the recipe inside the pectin box, and it yielded 11 pint-sized jars. I gave a jar to Mom & Nancy.

When we got home, I made
another batch of apricot jelly, only this time I added a can of crushed pineapple, juice and all, as suggested by Mom & Nancy. This batch yielded 10 pint-size jars.

If you'd like more ideas and info on apricots, see this post at The Vegan Diet.

Our apricots produced 2 batches jelly, and a full dehydrator.

I was looking forward to the dried apricots, but was disappointed that most had mold on the underside. Did I wait too long before drying the fruit? Was I supposed to do something to the fruit first? Anyway, it's buggin' me because I want to dry some peaches next week, but don't want to waste anymore. Dehydrating tips anybody?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Goji Berry Ice-T & Damn tasty muffins!

I found this package of Himalayan organic gogi berries at the Co-op, and couldn't resist trying something new. They taste good and have a unique flavor and texture - a little like a fig, only the size of a raisin, but not as plump.

I like them even more after reading the health benefits. Goji berries are considered to be one of the world's most nutrient rich fruit. Virtually unknown to the West until recently, Goji are rich in anti-aging agents, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. Gogi contains more beta carotene than carrots do and more iron than spinach does. They are also rich in minerals, other vitamins including C & E. Next, I want to throw them in breads & muffins, smoothies, cereal, salad, and soup. Oh, the possibilities!

My goji tea:
1 bag cold brew ice tea
lemon slice
handful goji berries
couple swirls agave nectar
couple swigs pomegranate juice

Yeaah, I finally tried a recipe from Damn Tasty! These are 'Blueberry Streusel Muffins' and they would be fantastic with the tea above, or coffee, or water, or any beverage, or on their own! These muffins were such a treat, and the fresh blueberries only made them that much better. Any suggestions for the next recipe to try? Thanks for signing my book, Kris! :)

Today I pulled out the sewing machine and my plan is to make an anniversary quilt. I found some jean material 50% off for the back, and I plan to use the material I've accumulated for the squares. If you need me, that's where I'll be....

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Breakfast with Amey & Musty!!!

I was happy to learn that Amey, of Vegan Eats & Treats would be in town for a wedding, and that our schedules meshed for a breakfast. Amey is the hip-chic who was selected to attend the VegNews Roundtable. (What an honor!) And she's the hostess who throws the ultimate Indian Food Party, and Earth Day Feast.
Yes, I was very excited to meet her, and, oddly, at the same time, I felt like I already knew her. When we saw each other at the door, we hugged right away!

and a little nervous, too. After all, you've seen the fabulous food she cooks. Here's a favorite or two of mine...
What would I serve for breakfast at 8:30 a.m.? The way our mornings are, I'd have to keep it simple and prepare most the day before.
I know many of you love Amey through her blog, and let me tell you, she is even more warm, sincere, & friendly in person. Jolie knows where it's at, and stayed right by Amey's side the whole time.

On the left, you see fresh blackberries & blueberries from The Berry Ranch, French Vanilla Almond granola, with scoops of Soy Delicious Vanilla.
Next is VeganYumYum's 'Lavender Shortbread' served with lavender jelly. Thanks, Jody, for suggesting this after seeing my lavender post.
Liv (aka "Cookie Monster") has her paw on a 'Chocolate Mint Melties' from The Everyday Dish DVD. The platter has 'Creamy Hummus' from Vive, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced beets, pickles & olives for the pita bread. Nothing fancy. The real "Vegan Treat" was smiling across the table at me! It was such a pleasure to meet you both! Thanks for coming over! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Idaho Global Warming Forum - TODAY!

*****UPDATE after the forum******

I sat through the presentation, and it was no surprise that a plant based diet was never mentioned as a solution to global warming, even though it is the single most effective thing a person can do. Then, they asked the audience if they had other ideas to fight global warming, I raised my hand (keeping Veggie Girl's advice in mind), and said,

"A groundbreaking 2006 U.N. report states that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gasses than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. (I heard people gasp!) Furthermore, raising animals for food consumes nearly half the water used in the U.S. and the meat industry causes more water pollution in the U.S. than all other industries combined! Fighting global warming is as easy as changing what's on your plate. Stop eating meat, at least for one meal a week. You can do it, and you just might like it!"

A couple people actually cheered for me! Afterward, some came over to talk to me more about what I said. I was really encouraged by the interest! I really believe some people just don't know how destructive to us and the environment the meat industry really is. I also took the opportunity to speak personally with Mayor Bieter (Boise mayor) about other concerns of mine, including our fledgling recycling program and he agreed with me that Seattle remains a shining example of how a large city can effectively handle recycling. At the forum, I shared some, learned some, and networked a lot. It was good to get involved. :)


A couple days ago, a small article on the back of the business section caught my eye, which I rarely ever glance at.

"The Idaho Conservation League has teamed up with Conservation Voters of Idaho and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter to hold a forum on solutions to Idaho challenges posed by global warming."

I arranged for a sitter, RSVP'd, and I'll be going in a few hours. In the shower, I had a scary thought that made my heart race (and it hasn't stopped). I wonder if they'll talk about diet as a solution to global warming? If it isn't discussed, I will be compelled to bring up the meat problem, and spew some facts from this
article. I hate speaking in public! Send me strength to do this in the most positive way.

PLEASE any advice? tips? suggestions? things to say? questions to ask?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Weekend Wrap-up

This is Vegan YumYum's 'Sour Cream Banana Bundt Cake' with fresh peaches. I had everything except a bundt pan, so I used a jumbo muffin tin, reducing the bake time to about 25 minutes. I had it again the next day with kiwi, and imagine any fruit would be delectable on top it's so good - moist and delicately flavored. I highly recommend this recipe, especially if you have 3 bananas that need to be reincarnated, and you're in the mood for a yum-yummy treat.

Making more of Bryanna's 'Vegan Pork Tenderloin' from the Everyday Dish DVD, because we were out... again. We really dig this roast, and I seriously can't wait for her upcoming seitan e-book.
This time, I added 1/8 tsp ground chipotle chile and 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning, and will probably do the same next time. I have the Romertopf clay cooker #111, which I recommend because it is larger and you can double the recipe, cooking 2 roasts side by side, which is what I'll do next time...

We haven't had an outdoor grill for many years, and on a whim we picked one up. We christened the Smoky Joe with boca burgers, black bean burgers, Yves Dogs, and Vegan Pork Tenderloin. The verdict? The burgers were better than ever, and Art loved the hot dogs dipped in spicy mustard. We were disappointed that the Pork Tenderloin dried out too much. Is it because we didn't put bbq sauce on until the plate (we wanted to keep it clean). Any tips on grilling seitan? We had fun cooking outside, and next time I'm throwing on some veggies.

Going to The Berry Ranch has become a tradition for us. It's a cute farm nearby that grows raspberries, blackberries, sweet corn, pumpkins, and so much more including hanging petunia baskets you see in front of the barn.
This time, we bought a flat of blackberries and a "celebrating 15 years" Berry Ranch mug. Although Art and I haven't been visiting the ranch that many years, we have been married that many coming up next month.

A Yummy Salad: greens, fava beans, beets, fresh cut corn, vegan pork tenderloin seitan sauteed with teriyaki & pomegranate juice, red bell pepper, French cornichons, and tossed with 'Simple Cider Vinaigrette' from Vive.

This is how I prepared the fava beans fresh from the FM: 1. pull open along the seams and remove the beans. 2. drop in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds. Drain & drop in ice water. 3. slice the inner skin of each bean with a fingernail and pop out the beans.

Amey, of Vegan Eats & Treats was in town for a wedding, and we were thrilled to have her and Musty over for breakfast yesterday. I took some photos, and can't wait to share them next time. See you soon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This one's for the dogs!


1/2 c. cornmeal
2 c. whole wheat flour
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 c. vegetable broth

We've made these before, and they are so easy, even a kid (or two) could make them!

Mix all the ingredients together well.

Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut into desired shapes with a cookie cutter.

Bake 35-40 minutes. Let cool.

Store in your favorite doggie treat container, and dispense frequently.

Our bone shaped cookie cutters came from PeTA, along with the recipe. Check the sight, they have cool stuff for your animal companion.

Jolie liked them! She's our rescue dog. Avarie and I were volunteering for Best Friends at La Brea Tar Pits July of 2000. At the end of the day, she was the only pup not adopted and it didn't look good for her. I called Art to tell him of the situation, and without meeting her, said, "Bring her home", and she has been home for 7 years now. She is such a good dog. Check out her special talent! She will hold this pose until I say, and sometimes she can even catch it in the air. We love you & Happy Anniversary, Jolie! <3

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lakeside Lavender Farm Festival

We went to the Lakeside Lavender Farm festival this morning.

I read directions to Art as he drove along the country roads -- it was a short drive from our home.

This is the path that leads to a farm house with lavender fields on either side.

There were lots of interesting areas for the girls to explore. They were running here & there and literally rolling around in the grass.

I grew up on and around farms like this, so it pleased me to share this type of experience with them.

This festival was extra delightful because it was void of commercialism. This is a family farm, and you get the feeling that you are invited to help and partake in the harvest.

They say lavender can ease stress, induce relaxation, refresh, and even invigorate. It's called a "mood balancing herb" that possesses a sedative and calming effect; as well as an uplifting, refreshing and rejuvenating effect on the psyche.

Look at the uplifting effect it had on my oldest daughter!

Here you see it's calming effects...

and our basket full of lavender goodies!

* sachets
* jelly
* lip balm
* tea cookie recipe & lavender buds
* bundles - snipped fresh by me!

They had lots more homemade lavender things: lotion, oil, spritzer, relaxation pillows, soap, cookies, honey, ice cream, already dried lavender, and more.

I picked up just enough for me, and a couple friends. One was hand delivered, and the other by mail.
I'm marking my calendar for next year, and I hope they continue this festival for many years to come.
Happy 7 * 7 * 7 !!! I guess today there will be lots of lottery tickets sold and many weddings to attend. For me, I got "lucky" with lavender. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fourth of July

A mostly local foods 4th of July:
green salad with red bell peppers
gold beets (boiled & sliced)
mashed potatoes
vegan pork tenderloin (sauteed in BBQ)
kalamata & sun-dried tomato soda bread
corn on the cob
All the produce is Farmer's Market fresh and organic. It's peak season for beets, which I like boiled - leave 1 inch of the stem and don't trim the root to preserve color and nutrients.

This is the 'Vegan Pork Tenderloin ' from the Everyday Dish DVD -- right out of the oven and still in my new Romertopf clay baker as suggested by Bryanna Clark. This roast is easy to make, the process just takes several hours, so find something around the house to do. It'll make enough for a feast, or plenty to freeze. The texture of the roast is outstanding, and can be sliced thinly. We have been having fun slicing it, dropping Earth Balance into a pan, and experiment with different BBQ sauces, teriyaki, and sweet & sour. This roast has already made our Thanksgiving meal plan.

'Kalamata & Sun-dried Tomato Soda Bread' looks lots better in this photo than it tasted. Art and I agreed that something tasted funny with the bread, and we didn't like it. Maybe I took a wrong turn somewhere. Anybody else made this bread before? I usually have good luck with La Dolce Vegan! I now notice that the title has the word soda, but the recipe has no soda whatsoever. What's up with that?

We went to the parade downtown, and the girls found some curbside seats. Funny how a simple shirt like Abi's can bring such emotions... A sixty-ish man marching with "The Veterans for Peace" made eye contact with Abi, and it brought a tear to his eye as he said to me, "That's exactly why we served, so that there would be peace." An elderly vet in a wheelchair made eye contact for a while with Abi and they exchanged smiles and parade waves.

We found solace in the shade, along the parade route. Almost each parade entrant handed out candies. It was touching to see the older veterans coming through in a bus and waving to the kids.

Art accidentally cut his face earlier in the week (dumb story, forget about it) but that's why he is sporting the bandage on his cheek, trying to keep sun away from the healing process. We learned that scars are most often caused by sun exposure to fresh skin once a scab peels. Makes sense -- the new skin burns easily, then there is a color difference, and a scar. Try wearing a
band aid on your face at a parade and see how many double-takes you get.

All kinds of different entries appeared at the Boise parade -- they actually call it "The We The People Liberty Day Parade" instead of just "Independence Day Parade" or something short. In this pic you can see a fake
Dalai Lama in the float. Art had the chance to attend and tape a Dalai Lama speech several years ago, you can hear it by clicking the "podcast" link at Also in the picture is some boy driving the float by way of a ship's steering wheel --- this whole entry was quite fun to watch!

But not quite as fun as the firefighter crews that came afterwards, squirting down the crowds with fire hoses. That was sweet because it was getting hot down on the street (though we were lucky having lots of shade).

Happy Independence Day!

Urban Vegan's Gone Wild Contest!

To me, there's something naughty and overly indulgent about buying processed junk food -- especially for vegans because most are off limits. For urban vegan's contest, I scoped this PeTA site and tried to create some decadent desserts. What a fun challenge - thanks, urban!

Originally, my 'Sinful Sandwiches' were to have the creamy richness of Jello-O Instant Chocolate Pudding, sadly I discovered it doesn't firm up with Vanilla Silk. Next time I'll get some Smucker's Marshmallow topping...

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal (crushed)
Nabisco Chocolate Teddy Grahams (crushed)
Chick-o-sticks (crushed)
Peanut butter
Dark Chocolate (melted)
Coconut flakes
Cherries (sliced)
Kiwi (sliced)
Powdered Sugar (sprinkle on top)

I used biscuit cutters to get the circle shape, baked @ 400* for 10 minutes, sliced them in half, and then assembled the sinful sandwiches. The cherry & chocolate combo tasted a lot like a cherry cordial, but our favorite topping was crushed Reese's Cereal. Go to the link above to see what else is "accidentally vegan," you might be surprised at just how indulgent you can be. <3

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Restaurant Review: Vegan Zone (San Diego, CA)

Hey, Art here; Vicki has been a little too sparse on these posts so I thought I'd hijack the thing and do a quick restaurant review. Last week, my buddy, Chris, in San Diego, told me about this place he really thought I would like. By my information, this would be the newest vegan eatery in the San Diego -- called The Vegan Zone, located at 859 Hornblend in the Pacific Beach area. Vicki and I lived in "PB" for several years, but we moved away in 1997. It seems like each time we get back to PB we find more and more healthy food options. I can't find a website for the Vegan Zone, but their phone number is (858) 272-1913, they are located one block east of Mission Boulevard, just south of Garnet Avenue.

We were parched so we started with vegan smoothies, forgot the flavor but damn they were good. It was like strawberry and another fruit, maybe pineapple.

The best way for me to describe the event was to snap pictures on my cell phone camera and post them up here. They actually turned out pretty good for cell phone pictures and no flash.

Fake "chicken" drumsticks with sauce -- the same ones we have found at some Thai places (MaiThai in Boise serves them). It's some kind of seitan wrapped onto wood sticks, crisp fried. I got them out of curiosity to see if they were the same ol' thing, and they are; they were good, I would have used a different sauce instead of the teriyaki stuff that came with it, but they were really good with the "stock sauce."

Chris ordered the quesadilla, it was good with the vegan "cheese" and a little guacamole, but it needed hot sauce (we scarfed it before asking). Each table had Braggs and also organic condiments. I'm not big on vegan cheese, and the tortilla was a little dry, but the guacamole was tasty. We were hungry and this was gone pretty quickly, and we just shined the hot sauce request.

The fries that came with the burgers were delicious! I also had a bite of this burger (for sake of doing this, because dudes generally don't share bites like that). If I went back, I'd get this burger, it was killer. The menu was substantial, but they did not have "to go" menus available. I did actually try to snap some photos of the menu (for Vicki to check out) but then I felt funny, I was already taking tons of pictures and I didn't want to blow my cover.

Chris loved his Hawaiian Burger which was soy chicken and pineapple, tomato, lettuce, & fixins. I overheard him raving about it later to his roommate ("it was actually really good.").

I had sweet and sour chicken, which was great, and different, kinda cutlet style below larger, chunky vegetables. I was glad that the veggies were not cooked into submission, but instead, they were still crisp and fresh.

The place is brand new, people were streaming in and freaking out on the menu. There is a fantastic Thai place one block away (Karina Thai) which has famously served "mock duck" and such for decades, but it's all Thai, and more of a "restaurant" than a cafe. Adding the Vegan Zone to PB makes it possible to actually eat somewhere else other than Sipz (thank Kleo for that great find!).