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Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Coming Soon...


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just a Bit of Fun.

If you are a pet person, I think you'll love this video. Cat Friend Vs. Dog Friend. Ha. Ha. 


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Post-Christmas Smile...Santa's Carbon Footprint...

Thanks for sharing, Ethical Ocean. Next year we can all act accordingly to help a Santa out. 

Santa's Carbon Footprint
via Ethical Ocean - eco friendly products, fair trade and vegan shopping.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ringing....

Dark, horrible, despairing news just about everywhere I turn. If it's not the tragic details, speculations and debates over Friday's massacre, it's the talk of the impending end of the world. 

I found this link on another blog and it's just a series of tiny reminders that we have a choice, every single one of us, to make a positive difference. You might want a tissue nearby when you watch it.

Our sermon on Sunday was called "Bells" and it was a how-to to live a life of few regrets and to make a tremendous mark on the humanity around us and within our orbits.

B = set out to BLESS three people this week. A blessing can be a compliment or kind word, buying a cup of coffee or someone's lunch. Holding a door and offering a smile. It is not difficult to offer hope and goodwill. It's actually embarrassingly easy at times.

E = eat with at least three different people this week. Share a meal or snack and connect. Make eye contact, listen, engage, silence the phone and put it out of sight. We, as a society, are quickly becoming islands connected by fragile threads of technology.

L = Listen to God. An hour a week, get somewhere where you can just listen to and for God. No noises, no distractions, just racing thoughts that eventually calm into listening and connecting to the creator of the universe. 

L = Learn. As religious folks we are prone to follow rules, sometimes to the point of crushing people. Spend an hour a week reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - the first four books in the New Testament). We all think we know who Jesus was/is. He was a baby who changed the world, an amazing teacher, and then He died and rose again (to simply sum up the Christmas/Easter stories and common overall feeling). The Gospels display Him in action, quote His words, and show us His heart towards us. He is the ultimate picture of grace and this world needs all the grace it can get. 

S = Sent. Our lives have purpose. Every last one of us. We are not random, disposable creatures. We were created to love and be loved at the most boiled down level. Beyond that we were created to live life to it's fullest. And to give, love and be for others. We will interact with the world. Our lives will tell a story. It's up to us to decide what story we will tell. What picture we will paint.

In this Christmas season, into this hurting world, we can all ring with the hope and joy and truth that light does penetrate darkness. That heroism and grace, mercy and love exist and can be found. Be a bell. Ring.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Grief and Horror


This world has a dark underbelly, doesn't it?

Andy Warhol once said that everyone would get 15 minutes of fame. And that sometimes feels true. Reality television, YouTube, the blogging world all have made fame a reality for people who otherwise might not ever reach an audience.

And as twisted minds and broken people strive to make their mark, grab their fame, heinous behavior seems to be increasing.

Shootings and terror once happened infrequently. The little pockets of affected world would gasp, question, grieve and begin to heal before the next lunatic struck the next community.

The massacre in Connecticut takes suicide and mass murder to the next level of horror. Suicide by cop has existed for a long time. Have we now entered a societal norm of suicide by sensationalism?

My heart goes out to the families who have been victimized and who have lost their precious babies. And to the community that has suffered such a tremendous blow. I can't begin to wrap my mind around the loss and the horror.

Stolen from these families are the babies, this Christmas, all future normal, safety and security, peace, sleep, and large chunks of their hearts. The community has lost normalcy, peace, a sense of protection, a mere fraction of population that, like a thread, runs throughout the warp and weave of the entire town.

Added to them all is fear, twisted memories, grief over what will never be, and even the loss of being able to mourn and remember each individual person outside of this horrible mass victim tragedy.

My prayers are with you. And, though, none of us can even begin to understand your loss and the depth of this tragedy and what it means for your future, so many grieve your loss and your pain.    

Friday, December 14, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Java Shop Update

No, I didn't make this one. A little Seattle trip reminiscing.
I'm getting to know the customers at the coffee shop. The guy in the uniform = the large Caramel Frappe with extra coffee...unless he wants to mix it up and go with a hot caramel. Never, ever whipped cream, don't even ask. He could come back behind the counter and make his own because when I was still learning and asked & how many pumps or ounces of one of the components he'd supply the answer.

Mocha Jim, skim, extra shot mocha with a sticker on the spout. Generous tipper, too, I might add. 

The four to five guys who buy varying scenarios of brewed coffee. One likes four ice cubes, another likes an inch of hot water. One buys a small, then comes back up to pay for a refill. Another likes the endless mug but in the smaller cup.  Another buys an Americano then sits down while we make it. I delivered it the other morning. The guys complained, "Hey, why do you deliver his coffee? Why are you so nice to him?" (Said in whiney, pitiful voices.) Mr. Americano thanked me graciously. So I told them that they could learn a little bit by paying attention. With a smile, of course, my sarcasm is always delivered with a smile. 

So yesterday, when I delivered the Americano, one of them piped up. "Hey, are you and your daughter the same age?" 

Did I mention that I like my little coffee gig?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scrambles and Scribbles ~ Vegan 101. Meet the "Meats" Part 1

"You don't eat meat!?! That's Okay. I fix lamb."  uh, no. Thanks. 

Meat. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that your first experience with a meat substitute will rock your world and replace meat in your heart forever. If you are committed to getting meat out of your life, you need also to commit to allowing your tastebuds a chance to change and grow. And they will. Some of the meat subs we've tried have tasted as good to meat eaters as they do to us, others have been utter fails to all. But the key is to keep trying and growing. I'll post links to some of my favorite recipes (mine or others) the next time in Part 2. But for now, he's something to chew on.

This is where the omnivores (meat and veggie eaters) in your life really notice the "Vegan thing."  It's pretty difficult to fake steak and pot roast, turkey and ham. However, you can get the sensation of a meaty feel or flavor. And you can usually satisfy the meat itch. My favorite go to cookbooks for meat replacements are by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Vegan with a Vengeance has the best Seitan recipe. (more about Seitan in a moment). And Veganomicon brings us the Chickpea cutlet. These recipes are worth the purchase price of the cookbooks and as a bonus she has lots of other great recipes in them as well. If you buy fake meat at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's you're making an investment. With some fairly inexpensive ingredients and a little time you can make your own and you control what goes into the end product. But fake meat that's packaged and ready to go is wonderful for convenience. We love the Gardein, Fieldroast and Upton products we've tried. Trader Joe's has an inexpensive meatless strip that has fooled a few omnivores.
Seitan is wheat meat also known as gluten. You buy gluten flour either packaged or in bulk. Most recipes call for anywhere from a 1/2 cup to 2 cups depending on what you are making and how many you need to feed. Average price that I pay is about three bucks a pound and a pound makes several servings. The Vegan with a Vengeance recipe is very close to the same taste as found in the processed seitans. Machine made seitan texture is hard to replicate, but I've made seitan rolls and sliced it pretty thin and frozen it and it's a satisfying meat replacement. The chickpea cutlet recipe I mentioned above contains gluten as well as chickpeas and they make a really filling and delicious chicken breast substitute. But. People with wheat allergies can't do gluten.

Tofu and tempeh are other meat substitutes. Tempeh is a step beyond tofu, basically tofu that has fermented and may contain grains.  Both of these are an aquired taste. Tofu, unless it's breaded and fried or blended into something like "scrambled eggs" is pretty tasteless and the texture will not fool anyone. And tofu is the classic Vegan staple from the seventies. Tofu will develop a chewier texture if you freeze it to help dry it out. Tofu bacon is really tasty and easy. Tofu is pressed (to push out water) marinated in soy sauce (some add liquid smoke and maple syrup) and then sliced and pan fried. I will marinate, slice and freeze it. Otherwise, my tofu usually ends up as scrambled eggs...how to:. saute the veggies you want, dump your pressed tofu (to get the water out, put it between two plates on a few paper towels set something heavy on top plate for a half hour or so) into the pan. Toss in some spices like salt, garlic powder...and tumeric. Tumeric gives it the yellow you need to fool yourself into thinking you are eating scrambled eggs. Cook until the tofu is broken up and yellow and you have what resembles scrambled eggs and veggies. Isa Chandra Moskowitz has a Vegan Brunch cookbook that has several "egg" dishes. Google vegan scrambled eggs and you'll find a lot of recipes. A local Asian restaurant serves peanut butter tofu which is on my list to recreate at home.

Tempeh is a smokier, nuttier taste and is firmer and smaller than tofu. It can be sliced, marinated, breaded, crumbled. It can work as bacon, in dishes to replace chicken or beef. I've not found a must go to recipe with tempeh. But I keep trying.

Beans, nuts, grains and vegetables can stand in for meat. Meaty vegetables are eggplant, mushrooms and cauliflower. Cauliflower has become a new favorite. I haven't done what some have, slab it like steak, but have discovered breaded cauliflower wings and that alone makes me sing it's praises. Portabella mushrooms are another favorite meatlike vegetable, we love them grilled or roasted. And we love then sliced and sauteed with pepper and onions. We have come to the point we are not seeking to have a "meat" with each meal. Instead we are trying to find foods that makes us feel alive and nourished. If that's three piles of different styles of veggies, then that's what it is.

Binders like eggs are limited in cooking. Ground flax seed and liquid (1 TBSP flax to 3 TBSP liquid)  works in something like "meatloaf." As I mentioned with scrambled eggs, tofu is a usual substitute. I've even seen tofu used as egg salad. I haven't tried it, don't know if I want to. Ya know?

Chicken and tuna salads are all over the internet. I've seen seitan, tempeh, tofu and chickpea versions. I've made one that almost scratches the itch for us. But we were never big chicken salad fans. Tuna, I haven't even tried, though sea vegetables add the fish to the "tuna". I think the key is to add similar spices and bits. For tuna salad I'd need to add sweet pickles and mustard because that's what my mom's recipe included.

The following websites have some great meaty type meal ideas and recipes.

Fat Free Vegan
Peas and Thank You
PPK
Happy, Healthy Life

Oh She Glows

The following cookbooks have great recipes. Each of these has multiple vegan recipes I've made and love, Peas and Thank you (check out her blog for a feel) is a go to book with traditional recipes tweaked and some new creative ideas. I've already mentioned Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegiminicon. Both of these have traditional and ethnic recipes. (The authors blog at PPK so you can check out some of their recipes there.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Peanut Butter Crack Bars


A recipe fail that turned into a delicious, addictive candy cookie. 

I attempted to tweak a toffee recipe into a Vegan version with an extra tweak. 

Yeah. These aren't toffee. And they are oh so good. Addictive actually. 

Grease a cookie sheet with a rim. Preheat the oven to 350.

Fill the cookie sheet with saltine crackers. (40 squares, approximately a sleeve.)

1/2 Cup peanut butter
1/2 Cup coconut oil
1 Cup brown sugar

Put in a saucepan. Mix and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes. 

Dump and spread over the crackers. Place the cookie pan in the oven for 5 minutes. 

Remove the pan.

Using the same sauce pan melt and combine:

1/2 Cup peanut butter
1 and 1/2 Cups chocolate chips

Pour over peanut butter crackers. Sprinkle the chocolate with salt. Just a few shakes. 

In a clean pan dump 1/2 Cup crushed peanuts and heat until fragrant. When heated add 1 TBSP sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until sugar melts and begins to stick to peanuts.

Sprinkle peanut mixture over chocolate layer. 

Place the pan in the fridge until completely cooled. When chilled through use a pizza cutter and cut diagonally so the pieces are bite sized. Keep in the fridge. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Vegan Fat and Soy Free Egg Salad

Dinner was an adventure of "What to eat" again. I had two avocados that needed to get used. So I decided to make the amazing avocado sandwich spread that is to die for. But. Problem. I didn't have onion or cilantro or chickpeas. 

White beans, garlic powder, avocados and lime juice worked. But as I was tasting and missing the crunch of the onion and bite of the cilantro it occurred to me that this concoction reminded me of something. 

Tada! Another batch of salad with a few tweaks and I have found the mouthfeel and taste reminiscent of the version of egg salad that I used to love. 

Mind you, the egg salad I used to love was just hard-boiled eggs, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. I know there are other versions with crunch and other tastes, but that was my mom's version and something about egg salad on white bread just does it for me. I'd make it once or twice a month and it was a real comfort food meal. 

That said. I'm not going to put my sandwich in front of my brothers or parents and try to convince them it's the real deal. But, it's going to work for me. And it's freaky close. 

1 Can white beans (approximately 1 1/2 cups home cooked)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
heavy 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 and 1/2 TBSP mustard (I used spicy brown)
1 TBSP hot water
pinch turmeric
 
Set aside 1 cup white beans.

Combine everything else together and smash/mix until smoothish. 

Add whole white beans and mix well.

Place on bread of choice. 

 After dinner, while we decorated the Christmas tree, I put together crack bars. I will share that recipe tomorrow.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Weekend Craziness




My weekend was jam-packed. 

I babysat a three-year- old who put me through an action packed hour plus time warp like only a creative three-year-old-can. Let's just say I have never been chased by a curler wielding child. It was apparently a "gun" and I was running because he kept chanting, "Run, Aunt Kelly! Run!" while shooting me. Running just seemed like the smart thing to do. 

Vegan cheese loaf and other goodies followed at a Christmas Vegan social. 


Classy music on Saturday night. 

Followed by a crazy-fun play on Sunday afternoon. 

Oy. Good times. 

Hope you all had a great weekend. Not even going to think about the number of shopping days and/or crafting days before Christmas. Just sayin.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ How Vegan - Vegan 101 Part 2



Basic Cooking Trials and Tribulations. Transition from Traditional to Vegan. One step at a time.


Don’t get rid of your regular cookbooks quite yet. You can adapt many of your favorites. This occurred to me about six months into this adventure. I played around with loads of experiments and tried (and served) a lot of “Fail!!!” recipes. Had I simply followed Vegan recipes or veganized my traditionally favorite recipes, one ingredient at a time I probably would've had better results. However, I generally learn a thing or two with a good fail. Let me pass on my lessons.


How to Veganize a Recipe 101 and to Avoid the Processed Vegan Diet ... think whole food and healthy. Honestly, many not so great "food" items are accidentally Vegan. I.E. some puddings. How is that possible? Chemical concoctions. We all want to avoid those nasty test-tube cocktails, right? Unless you are thinking Vegan for animals only, you are seeking an avenue to better health, right? So the more packaged something is the more handled it is, and the further it veers from being food. If you can find organic ingredients that aren't crazy expensive go for it.


Cooking:

Almost all animal products are replaceable. Some are easier than others.


Instead of meat based bouillon and broths, use vegetable. Organic is best. And if you don’t like to spend money on broths, make your own. Stick a gallon sized zipper bag or bowl in your freezer. Dump your veggie peels, odds and ends in the bag (avoid lettuces and rotten bits, do throw in stems from herbs). When it is full, dump the contents in a dutch oven, crock pot or soup pot. Cover it with water and simmer a few hours. Let sit til it cools, strain the liquid and put the liquid in recycled pasta sauce or peanut butter jars. (Leave room for liquid expansion). Freeze til you need them. This is not salted. If you want a salty liquid you can add soy sauce. (I use my seitan (weird word....it's also called wheat meat. It's a stretchy protein that can and does mimic the texture and mouthfeel of some meats. It's made from gluten flour....you can find excellent packaged versions. Trader Joe's and Gardein for example) simmering liquid to cover my scraps as it has flavor in it, too.) I make the seitan, fish it out, throw my frozen veggie bits in, add more water and do big batches of seitan and vegetable broth back to back.

Butter for cooking basics. For sautéing you can use coconut oil (this will give you a slight coconutty flavor/taste unless you buy one that specifically does not flavor) Earth Balance, organic canola oil (buy organic to avoid GMOs). You can use vegetable broth. You can dry sauté using a very hot pan with vegetables that will caramelize like onions, peppers, mushrooms. The key is to get the veggies to immediately sear once they hit the pan. To add flavor in breads and mashed potatoes etc.Earth Balance is the Vegan alternative to butter. It's pretty tasty and has all those same butter properties like melt and taste factor.

Milk might be the easiest ingredient to switch out. Between the options of flax, hemp, rice, soy, almond, coconut, oat and probably a few more, most people should be able to find something that works tastewise. For cooking it won't matter as much as the milk won't be the primary taste. The one thing to be aware of is that some milks work better in some recipes, and any flavored milk (vanilla) is likely to be sweetened. You'll need to look for plain if you are going for savory. Read the ingredients, original does not necessarily mean plain. You can also make your own milks if you have a high speed blender. Basically nuts or oats and water are the ingredients. It won't keep as long as the store bought versions but it's less expensive.

Sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise cheese have commercially prepared substitutes. We've tried a few different types of each of these. Cheese, hands down for us is Daiya. Trader Joe's has a cream cheese substitute. Several cookbooks have recipes for homemade vegan sour creams, cream cheese and mayos. There are even recipes for Vegan cheeses and butters on websites. Tofu is often used for these items and so are nuts.  We've been experimenting with cream cheese at our house and the results are pretty amazing.

Eggs. A biggie for me. Eggs in baking can be replaced with commercial egg substitute (or made with tapicoa/potato flour combinations). I use mostly ground flax eggs. 1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSPs liquid replaces one egg. This works great. Ground or whole chia 1 TBSP to 3 TBSP liquid is another common egg replacement. You won't miss the eggs in your cakes, cookies, etc.

Next: Meet the Meat Replacements...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Goulash Tapenade

I hate not knowing what I'm going to make for dinner. 

It's even worse when I'm hungry while thinking about it.

I had half a jar of organic tomato basil spaghetti sauce, half a package of spiral pasta and various assorted bits and pieces of other items. 

Goulash Tapenade

Finely dice 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic
Finely dice 1/2 Cup of black, green, gourmet olives you have on hand.
Finely dice 1/2 Cup mushrooms
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 Jar (standard spaghetti sauce jar - 28 ozish)
1/4 Jar of water swished to get all the tomato sauce out

Saute garlic in olive oil until tender. Add mushrooms. Then olives. Finally add spaghetti sauce and water. Simmer until it thickens. About 20 minutes.

Prepare pasta according to directions.

Drain spaghetti and add sauce in bowl and mix well. 


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Why Vegan # 1

So I've learned a few things since starting the Vegan journey almost two years ago. 

I've waxed not so eloquently about some of these details but maybe have not covered enough to make my journey clear to my readers. 

The big question I would've and did ask when starting this trip is "How to go Vegan and what have been the best helps along the way?"

And since January is right around the corner, and January is the month when humanity generally decides to make healthier choices, I think the timing is right to share our personal Vegan 101 path. 

Are you considering going meatless? Once a week? Cutting back? Do you want to live a greener life and reduce your carbon footprint? Are you motivated by health? Animal protection? A combination of both?

In this season of overindulgence, while considering your future health and choices, here are some details that may build a map of the route we are on. 


The following information is fluid rather than concrete because I haven’t read all or cooked from all Vegan cookbooks and websites. However, the resources I’m supplying have been helpful to me on my journey. And they have been well worth the cost of trying the recipes and buying the books.

The first three are recipe books that have a decent amount of teaching on the whos, whats, whys and hows of Veganism. If you are concerned about the environment, your health and furry (or not so furry) little (or not so little) critters you would choose well to check out Thrive Foods, The Kind Diet and Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. Each of these contain loads of details and help on how and what to do. Each of them also contains some tasty recipes. Some of the ingredients are likely odd for the newbie Vegan or wannabe Vegan, especially in Thrive Foods and The Kind Diet. Thrive Foods really does a great job explaining why to consume the unusual items he suggests. 

Not using/consuming animal products makes a huge difference in our environment. Again, Thrive foods goes into loads of detail about the impact of animal farming. Recycling, walking or riding a bike everywhere, buying local…these things all add up, but avoiding the use of animal products knocks it out of the park. 

If words like Miso (just opened my first bag ever), Tempeh (started dabbling a year ago) and the idea of eating sea vegetables (gag) makes you feel overwhelmed, you can breeze past those ingredients and revisit them as you feel more comfortable. Thrive has smoothie recipes and raw meal ideas. Skinny Bitch has a vegan cookie that will fool anyone. And The Kind Diet has a couple of recipes that have become go-to for me. 

Documentaries are also a great source of information on health and environment. (Food Matters, Food, Inc. Forks over Knives, King Corn, Vegucated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead)Do note that if you are sensitive about animal suffering, you may struggle with many details. And documentaries always have a bent.   

Inform yourself to make the decision that is best for you and one you can live with. And no matter what decision you make, you will discover nay-sayers and critics. What you choose to put in your body is a lot like your spiritual beliefs. What I believe spiritually is truth. But that truth, no matter how real it is, feels, is shared with others, documented by ancient writings etc. etc. is a personal decision. I believe and base my life on truth, many others do not. And beliefs can be passionate and polar opposites. Veganism, food, diet and nutrition contains those same camps and sometimes they are light years away from each other.

Another cookbook that is of value for newbies or explorers is Supermarket Vegan, especially if you live in an area without Trader Joes, Whole Foods, co-ops or Farmer’s Markets. Supermarket Vegan is a good resource. Heavy on salads and sides, light on desserts, but lots of recipes where you can find ingredients in your local grocery store.

One of my most valuable basic books is The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutions. It contains charts and details, recipes for just about every substitution you might need to find. It shows how to veganize your favorite recipes. It’s a basic building block. The handful of recipes I’ve tried will be ones I’ll tweak the next time I make them, though, because they were a bit bland. It offers a basic foundation to build on rather than the perfect book for the recipe you will serve to your next gathering of omnivores (meat and dairy eaters...). Vegan on the Cheap is another good resource. I like (and so does my budget and body) using whole foods to make my own meals. These both help me to do that.

Next Topic: 

Basic Cooking Trials and Tribulations. Transition from Traditional to Vegan. One step at a time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Gingerbread Nachos ~


Gingerbread Nachos

I've included some easier store bought suggestions to substitute for the homemade version if you aren't a big fan of cooking and mixing. But it's as easy as making Christmas cookies. And of note, the homemade cookies and dips are lower in fat and contain healthier ingredients than standard holiday fare. Win. Win.

This recipe will feed lots of nibblers. (at least a dozen unless they are starved and this is the only thing you are offering them.) :  ) 
Gingerbread Men

(If you want to take a shortcut any vegan ginger or cinnamon cookies will do. In addition each of these dips would taste great on apple slices and pretzels so put those out as well.
These little guys are pretty simple to make.

Prep two to three cookies trays with coconut oil, spray or butter. Preheat oven to 350.

1/2 Cup coconut oil or non-dairy butter
1/2 Cup applesauce
1 Cup brown sugar (if you are a big fan of sweet add an additional 1/4 cup, these are not overly sweet but kids and adults alike liked them with the recipe as written.) (Also, you will use additional brown sugar as you roll out the cookies.)
6 TBSP molasses
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of almond extract (can sub vanilla)
4 Cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour).
Combine room temperature oil/non-dairy butter and applesauce, add spices, soda and tartar and mix well. Add sugar and molasses and combine until completely incorporated. Stir in extract and mix. Finally add the flour and mix well. Chill for ten minutes. Grab about a 1/3 of the dough and roll it between two sheets of waxed paper to slightly thicker than pie dough or equivalent to sugar cookie dough. Sprinkle the dough with brown sugar. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 1 minute. Remove to cooling rack. Reroll cookie dough for another batch. If the dough starts to get sticky refrigerate for another 5 minutes or so. This will make 50-60 cookies depending on size. This batch made about 50 3 x 2 inch gingerbread and 20 1 and 1/2 x 1 inch mini guys.

Nacho Dips (There are five)
The Cran-Orange Dip and the Cinnavanilla Dips are as follows:
You combine the first three ingredients in a food processor and then divide that in half.

1 Can drained white (canelli/navy/white) beans (If you soak and cook your own 1 2/3 cups prepared)
1 Cup brown sugar
1 TBSP vanilla

Whir until smooth.

Place half this mixture (approx ¾ cup) into a serving bowl and stir in a strong ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.

To remaining dip in processor add the following:

Zest of one orange
½ Cup dried cranberries

Combine until cranberries are pulverized. Place in a serving bowl.

Place both of those dips in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make easy versions of these:

Cran-Orange Dip

3 TBSP non-dairy cream cheese
1 TBSP orange marmalade (Vegan)
1 TBSP finely chopped dried cranberries or canned cranberry sauce. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

CinnaVanilla

3 TBSP Non-dairy cream cheese
1 TBSP brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Maple Caramel

¼ Cup brown sugar
1 TBSP coconut oil or non-dairy butter
2 TBSP milk
¼ Cup maple syrup
2 TBSP peanut butter

Combine all in a pan, bring to a rolling boil stirring constantly, boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Place in refrigerator until ten minutes before you are ready to serve.


“Egg Nog” Dip

1 Can full fat coconut milk chilled for 2 days so the fat separates from the coconut water. (Use Thai Kitchen, Whole Foods 365 brand or Trader Joe's – not Geisha)
2 TBSP maple syrup
¼ Cup powdered sugar
2 sprinkles of cinnamon
¾ to 1 teaspoon nutmeg (start small, you can always add more)

Coconut milk makes great whipped cream. You scrape (some brands are thicker than others. Trader Joe's is the thickest and needs the least amount of time to separate/chill) the thick white layer into a bowl, leaving the watery layer behind (if you are a smoothie or juice drinker or like Thai food, you can save the watery leftovers for one of those). Whip the cream, add the other ingredients and whip until fluffy. It gets firmer in the refrigerator.


Pumpkin Cream Dip:

½ Cup  non-dairy cream cheese
          3 TBSP coconut oil or non-dairy butter
1 TBSP pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 Cup powdered sugar

Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Restaurant Review McFoster's...

Happy hummus
Over the weekend we tried a new restaurant in Omaha. Well, not new at all. But new to me and under new management. 

McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant with both Vegan options and meat dishes. 

Our Vegan friends got together and shared four different dishes. McFoster's was offering free hummus and sweet potato fries with the purchase of two meals. We ate well. 


Sweet potato fries
The Vegan Reuben was top-notch. Absolutely delicious. A creamy brown rice eggplant mushroom dish which I don't remember the name of was memorably delicious. Brown rice, eggplant, mushroom and creamy...yeah. Who needs the name of the dish. 

Reuben and brussel sprouts
The hummus was good. Not stellar but the presentation was nice. 

vegan ice cream
Sweet potato fries...oh, so bad, good. Fries battered and fried. And served with banana ketchup. Good thing four of us shared one batch. The banana ketchup was devoured by two of the girls who said they might just take a spoon to it if the rest of us would turn our backs. Ha. It was very bananay and Sarah and I were a little harder to convince. But the fries didn't need it. That's for sure. 


Hannah's meal for &
 A Vegan BLT was fabulous. And the portabello panini both fine. Clearly the eggplant dish, Reuben and sweet potato fries were the highlights of my palette. 

Then we all stopped at Ted and Wally's homemade ice cream where we enjoyed a scoop of Vegan peppermint chocolate cookie crunch ice cream.

If you are in Omaha and looking for Vegan both of these places are worth checking out. And on a funny note...& was in the church nursery on Sunday. Hannah dished up a play food meal. Since it was a lovely vegan spread, & snapped a picture. Ha. Ha.