Monday, July 19, 2010


When we stopped by the library the other day, I started flipping
through a cookbook that was entitled something like exotic
sandwiches, or unusual sandwiches-- I can't remember. But the first
thing I opened the book to was a pickle and peanut butter sandwich.
The name was much less memorable than the sandwich, obviously.

My title? Babysitter’s Nightmare, what else is so fitting?

I don’t ever ever ever eat potato chips, but my family had some and
I just had to replicate this recipe. So I pulled out some of the
pickles I made and my apricot jam and sat down for a very strange

whole wheat bread
peanut butter
sliced dill pickles
apricot jam or preserves
plain potato chips
a very open mind

The verdict? Not really sure. It was ok, not bad. Strange.
Some bites were kind of like I bit into something smelly, but
overall it was decent. I probably won’t make it again very soon,
but I just had to try it to say that I've eaten a peanut butter
and pickle sandwich. I don't think I'll ever get to the mayo and
banana, but I can live with that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Living Free Animal Sanctuary

Yesterday we indeed hit up the Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival, but I
was disappointed that there were no flowers to been seen. As I found
out the flower is actually near extinction and this event acts as a
fundraiser to try and reintroduce these flowers that are completely
unique to the area. To actually see the flowers we would have had to
drive all the way to the far far end of town, up the mountain, hike
up to the area and pay like $15 or something to get to the space.
So we passed. It was hot, too far and my family was doubtful they
could comfortably go with me and were not inclined to hike.

At the festival they naturally had a ‘petting zoo’ with the usual
miniature horse, goats, sheep, duck, piggy, a giant rabbit, and a
turtle. Someone told me they had baby doll sheep, so I went to go
see. If you haven’t seen a baby doll sheep, google them. Adorable.
But they did not. I think ‘petting zoos’ are pretty screwed up, I
felt horrible for all those poor guys out in that heat. The
miniature horse was snuffling me from inside the ring, but when I
offered my hand to snuffle he tried to bite off my finger. Guess I
taste good.

After that we went down to a companion animal sanctuary called
Living Free. It is basically the Farm Sanctuary of cats and dogs.
We went to ask about trying to find a home for one of my kittens
and then took a tour of the catteries.

Living Free Animal Sanctuary Entrance

The Cattery
The sanctuary is set up on a huge acreage with a great view.
They operate entirely on donations and rescue animals from
different pounds etc at which they would have been euthanized.
So all the animals there are basically last chancers that were
not adopted and going to be put down. They offer adoptions for
all the animals, so they can either have another chance getting
a home or can live their lives out in happiness or dignity there.

The Cattery is comprised of three large rooms with large outdoor
cages attached to each. The cats may come and go as they please
by way of open windows or little kitty doors cut into the walls.
As you can see the rooms are amazing and any cat’s dream.
Carpeted trees, blankets, beds, nooks, crannies, baskets,
shelves, toys...

The entire place was extremely clean and you wouldn’t believe
that that many cats lived there as it wasn’t stinky at all.
(Why are my cats so stinky!?)

The Lookout
And none of these cats missed being adopted before they came
here because of their own faults. All of the cats were
extremely friendly and affectionate. They were all shapes,
shades, and sizes and they seemed to get along just fine. I
guess they must adapt pretty quickly because if they don’t
like other cats they don’t have much of a choice.

The First Greeter

Everyone was cozy

This old baldy calico reminds me of our 'Rags'

One-eyed Pirate Kitty

All the walls were lined with shelves to sleep on

Enjoying the outdoor houses

Adorable Scottish Fold

Super Cute Fatty

A Handsome Fellow


One of the biggest boys I've ever seen

Muppet Kitty with Owl Eyes

Cranky Butt

Such amazing faces...

Overall the place was amazing and so heartening. Its wonderful to
see that there are places like this out there, I only wish there
were more. If I lived in this area I would for sure volunteer.
I’ve seen other no-kill shelters, but the had nothing on this place.
I see it due more to better management than of more resources though.
The other no-kills I’ve seen had cats and dogs running loose, the
spaces were a mish mash of cages tied together, they were dirty and
stinky and a huge pity. The cats here were so mellow and content,
I’ll let them be the judges...

Friday, July 16, 2010

sweaty summer

No recipes to post today, just a couple shots of stuff that will soon
be going up on my tester blog. I'm going to be getting up early
tomorrow to catch up on some cooking projects. We've been running
all over the place running errands etc, so I've had very little time
to do some serious experimenting.

Tomorrow I will also be going to the Lemon Lily Festival in town,
so I should be able to catch some awesome photos!

Here are my tester dishes for the book...

Van Helsing's Alfredo

Holiday Citrus Green Beans

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vegan Garb

It is important to remember that veganism isn't just a diet or all about
food. It also incorporates everything we put on our bodies. I've never
worn leather, I don't think I've ever owned anything silk. Although I
did have some wool when I was a kid.

There were some changes when I became vegan and I did a good purge.
I had some jewelry with shell and even a pair of earrings with feathers...
Yeah, gross.

I must say that it is pretty hard to find a pair of shoes I like.
Usually I just go with a good pair of chuck taylors and I even own a
pair of crocs. Last winter I was desperately trying to find a decent
pair of boots. First I started trying to find some wellies and then
I just wanted any boots period.

My place gets super muddy when it rains and the streets flood.
I definitely needed something waterproof and now I'm super jazzed.

Check out these thick padded, water proof boots I found at goodwill!
I usually avoid faux fur like the plague, but this was so entirely
plastic I knew it was cool. If anything had to give its skin it was
probably a teddy bear. They are down-free too.

The second pair I found are so rad! They are like converse meets
Pocahontas! I just need to find some laces...

But quite a score if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pleasing with Paninis

I really think that if you're cooking to tempt omnis, sandwiches and
paninis are definitely one of the best things you can make. Honestly
everybody likes sandwiches and you can pack in so much flavor with
veggie patties, spreads and marinades that you snag people with the

I marinaded a pack of extra firm tofu in this marinade, but
added a 1/3-1/2 cup of red wine.

For bread, I made a single batch of whole wheat focaccia.
While that was baking I briefly sauteed 2 sliced yellow squash,
1 zucchini, and 1 green bell pepper. I caramalized a sliced onion
in the remaining marinade that was left over from the tofu. (I used
most of the remaining marinade to actually cook the tofu in).

Once the focaccia was cooked I cut it into 3x6 pieces. I used
guacamole and veganaise on one half and hummus on the other.
Usually when I make paninis I add a splash of balsamic vinegar
or a good slather of pesto. But these spreads were flavourful
enough to enhance the flavour of the veggies.

When assembling put the smaller stuff on the spread so it sticks
and doesn't fall out when you're grilling the sandwiches. I also
added some raw tomatoes and some moz daiya when stacking on the
squash, onions, peppers and tofu. When grilling the paninis you
need to either be using a press or lay something heavy on top of
them. I use another pan with a heavy mixing bowl set inside of it.
Monkey man says to pull a Martha Stewart and use bricks covered
with foil.

Grill each side on med-hi heat for 3-5 minutes with a bit of
olive oil or earthbalance.

I served mine with some oven-baked garlicy frenchy fries.
I ended up with about 8 paninis and some left over veggies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cool Summer Pasta

When it is hot, it takes a lot to get cooking. Sometimes you
don't even want to eat, but you can get all the veggies you
need by keeping it cool. I certainly needed a break from all
the bread I've been baking, but I still wanted my carbs.

I whipped up some simple summer pasta for a warm day that
really hit the spot. You can even shred some raw squash instead
of pasta. I briefly sautéed some zucchini and yellow squash just
enough to get rid of that raw flavor and add a little bit of
moisture. Other than that, all I had to do was cook some spaghetti.

Throwing in some chopped green beans, asparagus or even some
tofu-feta would be a nice touch too.

By adding some red chili you can get a little bit of a sweat
going, which is perfect for a hot day. Getting your body to
sweat will tell your body to cool down. Plus the dish itself is
chilled, so you get the meal to cool your mind too.

Chilled Summer Pasta

1 package of spaghetti or angel hair
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 zucchinis, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 can artichoke hearts
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
a few green olives sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
juice from half a lemon
1 tsp salt
Red Chili Flakes to taste
black pepper

Cook the squash and zucchini over medium heat with a few
tablespoons of water for only a couple of minutes. Toss
together everything and chill for about an hour before
cooking (opt).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

Whenever I don't really feel up to cooking or I'm worried abut
time, I make soup. It was one of those 'what needs to be used
in the fridge' days. I didn't have a lot of open kitchen time
and had a ton of broccoli that needed to be used, so cream of
broccoli soup it was.

I like adding potatoes because it adds a heartiness and
thickness that is so yummy. You can either use a variety of
vegetables or keep it simple with some foundation onions and
garlic then add a dash of nutmeg!

Monkey-man likes his soup with all the big vegetable chunks,
but if I'm cooking for guests and such or if I used some funky
or odd shaped veg I'll blend the whole batch. It is also good
if I want to hide a certain vegetable from my picky Mom. Even
blending half is good and gives you the best of both worlds.

I served these with some baked potato cakes. They are super light
fluffy biscuits. I also added a little bit of kale to keep the super green
color. It is important to try and chop everything around the same size
so that it cooks evenly.

Simple Broccoli Vegetable Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 small crowns broccoli, chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 leaves of kale, shredded
1 bouillon cube
1 1/2-2 cups unsweetened soymilk or nondairy milk
2 tbsp braggs
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp sage
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic and onion briefly with water, until tender
and fragrant. Add the remaining vegetables (except kale) with
about a cup of water and cover. Continue to cook, stirring
occasionally until potatoes are almost soft. Add the kale and
cook for about 5 more minutes.

Either add to a blender and add soymilk slowly until you get
your own desired thickness or just add the soymilk and
nutritional yeast if you're not blending. Keep on low-med heat
to heat added soymilk, but do not boil.

If blended, add nutritional yeast last. It adds a nice subtle
cheesy taste that rings of old cream of broccoli.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Peachy-Keen Bars

I recently nabbed a vegetarian cookbook at a thrift store:
The American Vegetarian Cookbook by Marilyn Diamond. It would
be vegan if not for the honey factor. So far it seems like an awesome
book and huge to boot (over 400 pages).

It was published in 1990, so I'm thankful there are no photos.
Older cookbooks have the most ugly, dated looking food pics. I'm not
sure what it is, but everything looks orange and fresh out of a

Flipping through it I saw a recipe that looked pretty good, but I
wanted to twist it to my own immediate dessert needs. Here is the
resulting experiment. The original called for 1 egg replacer, honey
and carob. I veganized it with raw sugar and had some peaches I
needed to use. I also added a drizzle of brandy to make the flavor
of the peaches pop.

And then I got a little fancy...

Peachy-Keen Bars

1/3 cup vegetable oil or earthbalance
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 pack of silken tofu
1/3 cup agave
1 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch
3 peaches sliced
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp brandy

In a food processor first process the oil/earthbalance, sugar,
ginger and flour until crumbly. Press half off flour mixture
into a 9x9 tray. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Next process the tofu with the remaining ingredients, except for
the peaches and brandy.

After the bottom crust is cooled, pour the tofu
over baked crust. Arrange sliced peaches on top of that layer
and sprinkle remaining flour mix over peaches.

On top of that I arranged some roses out of super thinly sliced

Finally, sprinkle alcohol over everything and bake for 20 more
minutes at 350F. Slice and serve alone or with whipped soycream
or vanilla nondairy ice cream.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Preserving Some Summer

I wrote before on how much I love preserving the tastes of the seasons.
While Monkey-man is into pickling, his assignment while I'm gone is
pickling 1 lb of jalapenos and maui onions for me. Before I had to
whip up the rest of our apricot yield.

When it comes to apricot jams and such, I prefer mine as preserves.
Not only are you using much less sugar, but I love that chunky type
of jam where it is more reminiscent of real fruit. The lemon juice
acts as a natural pectin to help thicken along with the cooking redux.

Absolutely perfect! You can just as easily substitute peaches or
nectarines, but I love me some apricots. You don't need to worry
about peeling the apricots because the skins break down with cooking
and the peel also contains natural pectin that assists in thickening.

Apricot Preserves

4-5 cups of halved, pitted apricots
3/4 cup raw sugar
juice of one lemon
1 cinnamon stick

In a medium-large sauce pan over medium heat, melt sugar.

Add in your apricots, juice and cinnamon and slightly turn up
the heat. Continue to cook just short of a good boil for about
20 minutes or until it visibly looks thickened.

Don't worry, it will thicken a little more after cooling.
Once it looks thick enough, remove from heat and spoon carefully
in to sterilized jars. After that you can either process or just
allow to cool before refrigerating. It will keep for a couple
weeks in your fridge, but it probably won't last that long because
its sooo yummy!

I love mine on some 'buttered' toast for breakfast.
It's also my favorite fruit spread for some nut butter sandwiches
right up there with my famous pumpkin butter!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tater Scramble

I guess we were on a roasted mexican potato kick. But I especially liked
this because it was one of my favorite meals... tofu scramble.
However, not the way we normally serve it up. Instead we used our
marinating tofu feta from the uncheese book to jazz to twist it around
as a tater scramble with tofu instead of a tofu scramble with a side
of taters.

We went by the same seasonings of chili powder, cumin, salt, and
pepper but also threw in some jalapenos and bell peppers. The tofu
feta cooks up nicely, gets a little puffy, but crunchy.

We loved it on pizza and it was just as good with potatoes.

We always have our scrambles with earthbalanced toast, but also had
some yummy avocados on hand! The avocados on the 'buttered' toast
perfectly balanced the spiciness of the peppered scramble.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day: Freedom from flesh

The fourth of July has never been on my favorite's list, but if I'm
heading up the party it can be. When we get invited to summer bbqs
and the parties of non-vegan friends, I am usually very tentative
to attend. Not that our friends and family are not good at providing
some vegan options.

I get physically ill at the smell of cooking flesh, so if there is
to be alot of animal grilling I would rather not go at all.
On the other hand...
I love being 'the vegan in the room'. The best way to positively
impact people is to offer excellent, delicious vegan grub.
This Fourth of July I certainly did that.

I started with some marinated veggie/tofu kabobs....
First remember to soak your skewers so they don't catch fire!

Marinate your veg before skewering them.

I used some green bell peppers, onions, zucchini, tofu, tomatoes,
and some mushy-roomie-rooms.

Veggie Kabob marinade

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp agave
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
3 cloves chopped garlic cloves
1 tsp mustard

Marinade overnight or at least a couple hours. Brush the skewered
kabobs before grilling. Grill for about 5-10 minutes to perfection!
Plus stick to firm or extra firm tofu. Tempeh would be just as
yummy though.

Here are our cooked Kabobs. Mine atop a slice of pineapple
destined for my veggie burger. I had a boca burger. Not really
loyal to any kind of packaged veggie burger. I prefer to make my
own. You guys know that! But once in a while these things come up.

My evil little homemade bun is dastardly awaiting his burger.