Saturday, February 15, 2020

January Round-Up: Simple Home Cookin

January was a quiet month around here, which was really wonderful. I started the month with a big and special teaching commitment... and then I had a relatively light load for the rest of the month. It was so nice after all the hub-bub of the holidays, and especially after Dottie's sudden death, to finally have a chance to lay low, cook lots of healthy meals, and watch some extra Netflix. Y'know. 

POWER PLATES

Lately, my very favorite cookbook is Power Plates, by Gena Hamshaw 

I have been cooking from it so often, and we've had so many great meals from it. All her recipes are balanced, nutritious, and well-seasoned... satisfying both emotionally and physically. They almost all have protein, veggies, grains, greens... all the good stuff you want in a perfect meal. I already have a long list of favorites, but I've been challenging myself to make more recipes that I haven't tried yet.
Here are a few we tried recently:
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lentils
Tofu Migas (with greens on the side)
Stuffed Bell Peppers

That Roasted Cauliflower Salad sounds like the kind of thing where you'd be hungry 20 minutes later, but with the lentils and the dressing, it's heartier than you'd think. I had a huge cauliflower, so I doubled the dressing - No Regerts! 

Also the Stuffed Peppers were great! I have another recipe from Vegan Diner that I usually use, but I loved this variation. Even Mr. VE&T who doesn't like tempeh (sad face) really loved these. They were easy to make, packed with nutrition, and then we had them for dinner two nights in a row, plus a couple lunches. Yes! 


Roasted Veggies with Spiced Tahini Sauce with Yogurt and Sumac
from Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin

Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin is the other book I've been loving and using a lot lately. It was an xmas gift from Mr VE&T and it's full of innovative ideas, interesting flavor combinations, and daring spices. It's not 100% vegan, but mostly vegan, and it's just so fun to have a book that feels really creative and new to me. It's not the easiest book for beginners, but is a really fun book for a confident and creative home cook. I really love having a recipe to follow and just being "told what to do," and this book challenges me a bit by giving me direction (like a great sauce recipe, and some ideas - but not specific recipes - on how to use it). 

We've had several great meals from this book and I look forward to using it more!


Fruit Tree Care!

One of the great xmas prezzies that I got from my auntie this year was the gift of her knowledgable time to help me take care of our fruit trees! First we spent a long time pruning our beloved apple tree (a big project) and then we moved on to my insanely overgrown lime tree. My aunt is a properly skilled and educated gardener (I am not!) so her help really means a lot to me. We pruned the lime tree WAY back and collected SO MANY LIMES in the process. I gave two huge boxes of limes to one of my students who owns a restaurant, and brought some to my trainer, and brought the last box to my class. Plus, the tree is still full of more limes! 

While we were at it, we did some nice gentle pruning on the orange trees and I picked lot of oranges. We've been having fresh OJ with breakfast, and have lots more oranges that are still ripening on the trees. 

I love my fruit trees so much and I appreciate all the deliciousness they share with us, so it felt really good to give them some TLC.


lovin' up the cozy crew

And of course there's been lots of love and cuddles and quiet times with our sweet little fur gang! 
As you would expect! 


Monday, January 20, 2020

December Round-Up! Vegan Wedding, Holidays, Cookies!

Hello Beloved Blog Readers! Last month was quite a time... so much happened, joys and sorrows... and also lots of delicious vegan food. I kept thinking "I should blog about this!" - but then I would either be too busy or too tired. So, in keeping with the eternal school of "better late than never," I present you with a proper account of many delicious events from last month!


A Vegan Wedding! 

December started with lots of joyful hustle and bustle as one of my very favorite besties got married! It was a perfect wedding - filled with love and joy. And also nothing but amazing vegan food. For appetizers they had great bread from a local bakery, gluten-free crackers, and a big vegan cheese plate (top left). The dinner was absolutely great - something I would love to eat every night if I could! - green salad with special goodies, seared broccolini, PERFECT roasted baby potatoes, a white bean dish, ratatouille, and more delicious bread (lower left). It was so fun to be at a wedding and to have a full plate full of delicious and nourishing food! We all know, that doesn't happen often. 

One of my friend's and my favorite things to do together is go to the farmers market, so for their wedding gift I painted them a big serving platter with some of their very favorite produce goodies, along with real samples of their favorites. Her faves are parsnips and delicata squash. His are artichokes and pomegrantes. It was a fun project!


Dessert!

OH YEAH. A vegan wedding with vegan desserts? I am here for that! The groom's sister made a VERY delicious chocolate cake with cherry compote. Oh man it was good. And my friend herself also made many batches of two different excellent gluten-free cookies. Of course I had cookies AND cake because I am no dummy. 


Our Beloved Dottie Bonkers

The hardest part of December, without a doubt, was the sudden and totally unexpected loss of our sweet and wild Dottie Bonkers. She died the same day as the wedding, which definitely made for quite an emotionally intense weekend. Dottie was a truly vivacious spirit - so full of inquiry and curiosity and relentless levels of energy. She was ALWAYS up for just about anything. If you were gonna get up and walk into the other room, she was right there with you. If you called her name, her head would swivel around at a hundred miles an hour - with her giant ears radio-dialed for total attention. She didn't ever want to miss ANYTHING. She kept a vigilant eye on everyone's activity and especially loved to police all feline antics. Whenever we would get out Footie's toys to start playing kitty games, Dottie would jump up and run to Footie's play zone, and start whimpering with overwhelming enthusiasm and excitement. She was slightly aloof, and didn't love snuggles, but was also wildly jealous if you tried to snuggle anyone else. Most of all, she loved attention - she could learn any trick in 15 minutes and loved to learn and do tricks and play, and make eye contact and know that she was doing just what she was supposed to do. That said, the second you turned away, she was also very skilled at being naughty - and was especially good at taking entire loaves of bread off the counter top. She had a docked tail that we called "Stumpy" and she could wiggle that little stump like nothing else - she was exuberant and goofy and earnest. Our house is so different, and so quiet without her and our hearts have been heavy. 


cooking up xmas gifts

I kinda threw myself into xmas this year - I always like the holiday season but this year I think it was an especially welcome distraction from grieving for Dottie. I try to focus on giving homemade gifts and this year I made lots of things:
Fruitcakes
Dried Persimmons
 Prune and Armagnac Truffles
Lime Marmalade
Biscotti for my dad
and 3 kinds of Homemade Hot Sauces for my brother! 

It definitely kept me busy in the kitchen, and it felt so good to settle into the quiet joys of culinary projects. Especially with my sad heart, it was so nice to follow the instructions, slice the persimmons, roll the truffles... tangible tasks with a beginning and an end. 

Also, my mom gave me those very sweet little utensils in the top left - they were my dad's baby spoon and baby fork!! Isn't that extremely special? They even have his little monogram on them. My dad was raised in a middle class home, but apparently he did have a silver spoon! 


COOKIES

You all already know that I love cookies. Every year I pick one week of December and I made cookies for each of my yoga classes. I made a different kind of cookie for each day of the week, so that if people came multiple times, they could have some variety! And I also bring gluten-free options so that no one needs to leave without a cookie. 

I also made a big batch of my favorite gingerbread cookies for some special friend dates. I always use the "Lower Fat Gingerbread Men" from the Joy of Cooking. It's SUCH a delicious recipe and really easy to veganize. 


Friend Date!

My long-time BFF and I have a history of doing fun holiday crafts and antics with her daughter and this year they were going to be travelling for the holidays. SO! I headed over (on a school night!) and we had a great night of xmas crafting, a delicious vegan dinner (my pal made the Tofu, Beans and Rice from Power Plates by Gena Hamshaw - it was a delicious and hearty dinner!), and then after dinner we decorated cookies together. It was such a sweet night with people I love. 


Xmas Dinner! 

This year our family decided to do Italian Christmas again... in our own little way. My mom made some beautiful and delicious antipasti platters - full of marinated and roasted veggies. She also made a big bowl of her signature hummus. ha ha. I know it is definitely not Italian, but I guess we are Californians who are addicted to hummus and we were all on board with hummus. Ha ha ha. My mom also made a huge green salad, and you may not know this, but my mom makes THE BEST SALAD. I love her salad so much. I ate a lot of it!! 

My sister in law made a non-vegan lasagna, and I made two vegan lasagnas! The littler one is salt-free and oil-free, for my aunt and her partner. We had a fun afternoon, because my aunt came over and helped me in the kitchen we made the lasagnas together, which felt special and festive. 

This year's holiday was extra special because we had several beloved family members in town who haven't been here for the holidays for many years. It felt so good and sweet to all be together. Back in the day, when my grandparents were still alive, we used to have big holiday dinners almost every year, and this year felt like that and I appreciated it a lot. 


Christmas cookies!

For Italian Christmas, I made cuccidati, for only the second time ever. Holy MAJOLEY these cookies are SO amazing. I use a recipe that my Italian friend Sara sent me, and the recipe call for baking ammonia. Have you ever baked with ammonia? It certainly smells terrible in the batter, but when you cook them, the ammonia evaporates and leaves a very light and flaky crust. I use two different fillings - one has chocolate and the other doesn't - but both are variations of dried fruits and dates and nuts and warming spices all blended together, and these cookies are MAGIC. I need to tidy up my recipe and put it all into English and put it up on the blog - for myself and for all of you! 

For Christmas Day dinner, my sister in law asked if I would make some chocolate chip cookies. Why, yes, I'd be happy to! Her mom was in town for the holidays and her mom happens to love my vegan chocolate chip cookies. What an honor! I use Somer's recipe  which is sheer perfection. 


Lisa's Birthday! 

My cousin Lisa, and her husband, and their little boy were here for the holidays this year, which was REALLY great... and - bonus! - Lisa's birthday is just a few days after xmas, so we also got to celebrate her birthday together for the first time in eons. Lisa and I consulted about all sorts of cake flavor options... and finally she settled on a Lemon Cake. I love lemon cake too, so I was excited. 

The day before, I made a lemon cake and I could tell it just hadn't worked. The layers were dense and heavy and hadn't risen at all. I actually just threw it away. Damn! SO, I busted out a SECOND lemon cake - this time I used a recipe for a bundt cake - but when it came out, it started to sink and collapse a little. It looked okay, but not good enough for a special birthday cake. * SO I MADE A THIRD CAKE. ha ha ha. It's funny now, but I was actually pretty annoyed. I was busting out before rushing off to teach yoga and even had to rely on Mr. VE&T to take the cakes out of the oven at the right time (he did!) Thank goodness I tried again, because this third attempt was absolutely amazing. I used "The Best Lemon Cake" from Lovin it Vegan, and it was absolutely fantastic and now I officially have a preferred lemon cake recipe. 100% I recommend. Will make again!! 

* Happy news on cake #2, I was able to give it to a vegan friend who shared it with her class, where it was appreciated and didn't go to waste. Phew! 


Furbies!

Our remaining fur crew are doing pretty well. Stevie and Dottie never got along... so funny enough, Stevie has been enjoying her absence. She's soaking up the extra attention we've been giving her. She's so old now, and she has cancer, so she appreciates the new sense of quiet and calm. 

Snoopy really misses his friend Dottie... she was his fearless leader and he was her loyal follower. Since she died, he's been extra clingy and cuddly and a little weird. He needs so much snuggling and reassuring.

Footie is more on Stevie's team. He doesn't seem to miss Dottie at all. He's free to tear around the house at top speed, attack his peacock feathers with abandon, and jump up on the counter (illegal!) without Dottie narcing him out. ha ha Footie is just such a snuggle bug and I'm so grateful for his relatively youthful vigor in this house full of senior citizens!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Vegan Shoe Review: JBU Nina Boots

Vegan Shoe Review!


Hello buddies! As you may know, I am a brand ambassador for Jambu's vegan line of shoes. I have been a fan of their vegan shoes for years, and I love spreading the word about all the cute vegan shoes for women that they make - everything from boots to winter shoes to sandals and sneakers. This fall, I'll be reviewing two new styles. I also have a coupon code to share so that you can save 20% off any purchase at Jambu.com (good only until November 25th, so get busy!)


Nina Boots

I love these stylish little low-cut boots! As you can see, they have a zip on the inner ankle, so they're easy to slip into. I like the loopy stitching and the nod to cowboy boot styling - without being overly "cowboy boots." 

They come in two colors - black (the color I chose) and brown. As you can see the black is more like a dark grey, which I actually prefer.  They come in sizes from 6-11. 


at the park

Mr Vegan Eats & Treats snapped this picture of me in my Ninas - feeling very at ease! These shoes are a little bit on the narrow side, but the more I've worn them, they've responded to the shape of my feet. I have pretty wide feet, so probably a lot of you wouldn't even notice this. I'm also a size 9, and a lot of shoes really just don't look all that cute after size 7.5... but these boots are SUPER flattering and make my feet look charmingly dainty! Sign me up! 


with the antsy pupperses!

I thought it would be cute to snap selfies with each of the pups - but as you can see, they urgently wanted to return to the critical business of sniffing and lollygagging around the park. Also, it started raining - which was unexpected! - but my feet stayed cozy and happy in my boots. The Nina Boots have memory foam insoles, which makes them so cooshy and comfy to walk in. They're a really perfect autumn boot: comfy enough for bopping around town, and classy enough for going to work, looking chic, and feeling stylish.


Pointy little boot toes, autumn leaves, and a silky doggo.


COUPON CODE!
Use the coupon code VEGANTREATS19 to save 20% of any purchase at Jambu.com ! This coupon is good until November 25th, so get shopping! Remember, not all their shoes are vegan, so make sure you're shopping in their vegan shoes selection. Let me know if you get something!




Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chai Spice Marzipan Pumpkins! Recipe!

our little Angel Stevie Wonder

Happy Halloween!


Yesterday, while I was in yoga class and should have been contemplating the union between consciousness and the material form, instead I was dreaming up a great idea: Chai Spice Marzipan Pumpkins!! 

I based this recipe on the little marzipan "Tut" or "Mulberries" that I make every year for Persian New Year (original recipe from My Persian Kitchen). They're easy and delicious, and perfect little bite-sized morsels. The Tut have almonds and sugar and rosewater in them, and they are magical. So, for these Halloween treats, I de-Persianized the tut recipe and turned them into delicious fall nuggets. I'm super proud of this recipe! Let me know if you make them! 

(Dottie broke her toe, so she has a splint on her back leg right now)

Chai Spice Marzipan Pumpkins
makes 28-30 little pumpkins

Chai Spice Mix
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger (scant)

Mix it all together. 

Marzipan Pumpkins
1.5 cups slivered almonds
1.5 cups powdered sugar
3/4-1 tsp chai spice
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
orange food coloring
1-2 Tbsp almond meal, as needed
1/3 cup sugar
28-30 raw pistachio slivers*

Place the slivered almonds, powdered sugar, and chai spice in the bowl of a food processor and whiz it all together until quite smooth and well-blended. Obviously, the larger quantity of chai spice will give a more heavily spice flavor. Once well-ground, add in the water, food coloring, and vanilla extract. If the dough seems quite moist, add in the 1-2 Tbsp of almond meal. I almost always need to add this, as I prefer the "dough" to be a bit more stiff than loose, but it depends a bit on how the sugar and almonds mix up. The dough should be sticky, but workable, and the color should be well-incorporated. You can take it out of the food processor and stir it in a bowl to blend in the color. 

Now, put the sugar in a little bowl. Roll the dough into small little balls - about the size of a small melon ball - and then roll the balls in the sugar to coat them. Use your thumb to gently flatten them slightly into a squat pumpkin shape. Take a pistachio sliver, and poke it into the pumpkin to mimic a little stem.

Eat your tiny pumpkins! Share them with friends! 

*I just buy some raw pistachios and use a sharp knife to cut some slivers. 


Happy Halloween!
I hope you have a nice holiday!