Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Our Thanksgiving Feast

I have fallen behind for Vegan MoFo, but hopefully I will be forgiven (have been sick the last few days). Here is our Thanksgiving feast, posted just a few days late. I think my mom and I got a bit carried away with the amount of food we made for just five people, but the leftovers made it into our tummies eventually.

For starters we had Spiced Nuts from ED&BV. Very delicate and not over spiced, perfect to munch on. We made ours with a mixture of pecans, cashews, and almonds.

Pumpkin hummus with assorted veggies for dipping. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle and I think this convinced my mom that homemade hummus is the way to go! Also, not pictured for appetizers, seitan stuffed mushrooms from VWAV, requested by the mushrooms eaters in the family.
Our table, pre-dinner set up. My mom made the cutest little turkey cutouts for placecards. These will definitely be going in my scrapbook for the year! I also was a bit bored at home and printed out a fancy menu for the feast (end of table).
And finally, the main event. Clockwise from the top: green salad with apple,pecan, and dried cranberries. cornmeal masala roasted brussels sprouts (V-con), cashew-buttered sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing (my mom's veganized recipe), steamed green beans, two types of cranberry sauce/relish, chickpea cutlets (v-con) with Tofurky gravy, and my mom's homemade bread in the center (with added flax meal this time!). Wow! I tried to fit a little bit of everything on my plate. It was all very yummy but I think my favorites were the sweet potatoes, bread, and brussels.
Somehow we saved room for pie. I had a small piece of this Fudge Pecan Pie from La Dolce Vegan (made by my mom) and some of the pumkpin cheesecake I posted about previously. We brought the leftovers along when visiting family on Friday and everyone tried a piece, and no remarks about it tasting "vegan" just silence as everyone gorged themselves...
So there you have it. I will try my best to make up for my lack of posts these past few days, plus I need to visit everyone's blog. I'll get to it, promise...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pausing to Give Thanks

A simple list of what I'm thankful for:

1. My wonderful, loving husband (still so new it's weird to write that word, but nice :-) John.

2. An amazingly supportive and caring family. I am also very thankful to have my parents so close by (especially after them being far away in England for four years). Developing a relationship with my parents as an adult has been such a rewarding journey, I count my parents as two of my best friends.

3. A small group of close friends that I know I can count on. It's so much fun to see our lives unfolding before us.

4. Stumbling upon a path that led to veganism. Though I'd been a "flexitarian" through most of high school and never a huge meat eater, somehow I picked up Fast Food Nation and several books later, found myself giving up animal products for good. It has made me a better person, more compassionate, patient, and understanding.

5. Discovering the vegan blog world. Before finding Vegan Lunch Box (the first blog I read)and discovering all of your amazing blogs, I felt pretty alone as far as veganism goes. But now I feel like I have a huge network of vegan friends (yes, that's you!). I have learned so much from all of you and your kind words and support have meant a lot.

There's really a lot to be thankful for. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm still full...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I just have to say that I have hard the hardest typing the word pumkpin ... whoops, pumpkin, this fall season. It's not that I can't spell, just something about the way the keyboard is set up and it just feels un-natural to type it. Okay, glad to have gotten that out of the way, now back to the food.

Last night I made Autumn Cloud cookies (I love the name) aka pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, from a recipe on the vegan cookies blog. These were so so good. Very soft and fluffy and cakey, I love my cookies that way. I'm just a bit sad because there are only two left and I thought they would last longer. :-(

After getting out of work early today (yay!) I got started on Thanksgiving baking. Here is the pumpkin cheesecake from the Joy of Vegan Baking that I've blogged about before (but I think this is a better pic). We will also have the Fudge Pecan Pie From La Dolce Vegan. Did I mention there will only be five of us? Not sure if any of you saw Paula Dean's Thanksgiving special, but she actually made a fried pumpkin cake, in fact her whole Thanksgiving meal was fried. I wonder if it was any good...
There will also be pumpkin hummus tomorrow and I may toss some pepitas in somewhere. I'm excited about spending the morning in the kitchen with my mom and sharing a big meal with my family.

All that typing of the word pumpkin has made my fingers tired....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Our Happy Ending

September 23, 2007

Here's the property where we got married in Beverly, MA. Misselwood at Endicott College.
I had the most beautiful jewelry a bride could dream of, all designed and handmade by an awesome fellow vegan and blogger (McFarland Designs on etsy). Since I'm a geologist, here's what they are: prehnite, green garnet, moonstone, labradorite, vasonite, and vegan Swarovski simulated pearls.

Instead of a garter, John's sister knitted me these anklets.
My wedding bouquet. Mango cala lilies, green cymbidium orchids, kermit mums, green hydrangea, hypercium berried, and eucalyptus.

Saying our vows. This is the promise we made to each other: I promise to be there when you need me, to fill your days with sunshine, to comfort you and encourage you, to help you reach your goals, to be your best friend ever, and to love you all my life, with all my heart.
My favorite part of the ceremony. We had a moment of reflection where we got to spend some time alone while listening to my mom (flute) and sister (cello) play a beautiful piece of music.
We just got married!
Our first moments as newlyweds....
Goofing around....

Looking out over the Atlantic....

An up-close shot of our vegan wedding cake made by Hippie Chick Bakery. Table decor. I loved the flower arrangements. Lots of greens with a splash of orange. We also had mini-photobooks on every table of different places we have visited together (from Nycole on etsy). Soy candles provided mood lighting (from Dirty Bird Soaps on etsy)
Wedding favors! (chocolate bars from Endangered Species) We also adopted a pig, Petunia, in honor of our guests from the Peaceful Prairie Farm Sanctuary.

Our first dance, "Blue Eyes" by the Cary Brothers (I love the Garden State soundtrack!).
Our rebuttal to the toasts of the evening, given by my father, John's brother, and my sister.
Cutting the vegan wedding cake. I had a piece of chocolate and a piece of the pumpkin, mmmmm.
Our last dance of the evening to the tune of "Amanda" (my name) by Boston (how fitting and corny of course).
The end of a perfect day...
Back to regular posting tomorrow! And if you just can't get enough wedding photos, feel free to check all 501 of them out online at http://www.pictage.com/350348 using the event key 4863.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blonde Ambition

This is my favorite form of vegan outreach: baked goods! Sunday evening we went to a small gathering of colleagues from work. So I used the opportunity to try the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Blondies from VWAV.

Oh, these were so good!! I'm not even usually a fan of raspberries. This was a much cakier blondie than I am used to, but I enjoyed the change. Plus it was lots of fun dotting the top with the dough. Maybe next time I'll try for a lattice design or something fancy. Ah, but I am a bit saddened now thinking of the next time.... it will probably be awhile. There are so many new sweet recipes I want to try, there's just no time to make something that I've already tried!
Since this made a huge 9x13 pan of blonde babes, and the party was small, I took the remaining bars into work this morning. After about an hour they were gone. Hopefully someone noticed the "Gentle Thanksgiving" information I set beside it. I thought this was better than just labeling them as vegan blondies.

Okay, so I might veer from normal vegan mofo posting next time to put up just a few wedding photos (the professional ones have finally arrived). You don't mind do you?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A PEACEful Feast

On Saturday night John and I got a head start on expanding the capacity of our stomachs for Thanksgiving day. We attended a Vegan Thanksgiving Feast, hosted by the Society of PEACE (People for the Earth, Animals, Compassion, and Enlightenment) at a local vegan-friendly restaurant, Field of Greens. Greeting us at our seats was literature on having a compassionate Thanksgiving, Tofurky coupons, a 2008 calendar, and S.O.P. Go Vegan! pens (I love using these in business meetings). A literature table was also set up and stocked with vegan starter kits, recipe booklets, and postcards. Over 75 places were set... in Houston! And what's even more impressive was that over 100 people had responded, but the venue didn't have enough room. was such fun to be sharing a meal with that many like-minded folks.

Dinner began with a simple garden salad with cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, and sprouts. We were lucky we all ate the same super garlicky dressing, I can still taste in on my breath today! To warm us up (from the air conditioner that is), we sipped on carrot ginger soup. Sorry in advance for the poor quality pictures, I didn't bring my new lighting toys with me :-)
The main course totally exceeded my expectations... I almost asked for seconds after that huge plate of food! There was a cornbread stuffing, roasted potatoes and eggplant, green beans, kale, wheat roast, faux turkey, and a mushroom gravy. John was so excited about the faux turkey and is determined to find out what it is and how we can get it. My favorite was the cornbread stuffing and green beans.
For dessert, as if I had room for it, was a slice of pumpkin pie and a piece of fudge. Mmmmm, pumpkin pie! Oh how I love fall flavors!

After the meal there was a door prize drawing, and John actually won! He got some faux cheese coupons, a TryVeg.com bumper sticker (which I think I'll steal for my car), some veg recipe booklets, and Howard Lyman's book Mad Cowboy (which I plan on reading as well).

Professor Alan Clune (from Sam Houston State University) then gave a presentation about the various philosophies of animal ethics. I have never had any sort of philosophy course, so it was very interesting to learn about the different views and the reasonings behind them. Makes me want to pick up a book and learn more....

Kristen, the S.O.P. president, did an amazing job setting up this event. Seeing how passionate and dedicated she is about veganism makes me want to do more. As Tamara mentioned on her blog the other week, sometimes vegan activism is a focus in our lives and sometimes it is just in the background. This event has inspired me though to be more active in promoting veganism in my everyday life. Tomorrow I'm going to post some of the gentle Thanksgiving literature I picked up from the event on my office door. And I'm going to bring in some treats I made (I'll post those tomorrow). It's a start.... to hopefully a more PEACEful world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lemon Light

This afternoon I did some experimentation with light, photography, and food. I have been trying to follow along with an online photography course and this week's assignment had the student use some simple objects to play with lighting. My objects of choice were a white styrofoam block, a mirror, a box covered with an emergency blanket (, and some black and white foam core board. My subject was a few Meyer lemons that I picked up at the farmer's market this morning (yay, it's citrus time!). Here are a few of my photos....

1. Just regular sunlight.
2. Reflective box on right side. Notice the brightening of the greens on the right underside of the lemons.
3. Reflective source on both sides. This one brings out the greens on both sides of the lemons.
4. Black background. This one was my favorite of the photos.
5. White background, plus a reflective source on the right side.
I have learned a lot about my little point and shoot camera (Canon powershot SD550) from this class, and discovered some cool settings. Certainly part of Vegan MoFo is the way in which we showcase our vegan food to the world, and nice pictures help!

Other farmer's market buys this morning: green onions, zucchini (benefits of living in the south!), baby bok choy, plum tomatoes, and mixed greens. Now what to do with these Meyer lemons... I'm thinking lemon bars!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cozy Night

Finally, we've had a cold snap! The low tonight will be a chilly 56 degrees. Time to break out the chili! John and I have both been feeling a bit under the weather (him more than I), so we stayed in this evening, layered on the blankets and ate while watching a movie. Sometimes I do just need to veg a little bit...

This is the Sweet Potato Red Lentil Chili from ED&BV. Not your typical chili, but I loved the spice combinations (cinnamon and nutmeg in chili....genius!). I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes and didn't puree them as the recipe directed, I like my chili nice and chunky. I also substituted frozen corn for celery (I always sub something for celery). This made me feel all cozy and warm inside.

Okay, that's enough for a Friday night. Tomorrow we are attending a Vegan Thanksgiving Feast here in Houston. Can't wait!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Overcoming Fear of Fillo

Okay, so it's not the scariest thing in the world, but I was pretty nervous working with phyllo (aka fillo or filo) dough for the first time. My mission was to recreate the wild mushroom phyllo tart we had at our wedding. So I sauteed up some cremini, shitake, and woods ear mushrooms along with some shallot (which was way too strong, should have trusted my onion instinct, less is more!), added some dry vermouth, and thickened it up with a mixture of cornstarch and soy milk. Finally I added some chopped parsley. Now we're ready for the dough....

I followed all of the tips I found on the web. Defrosted for 24 hours in fridge, let it come to room temperature before opening, lay out dough on wax paper and cover with damp cloth, and work as fast as you can!! I had never seen phyllo dough before, so I was surprised at how dry and paper thin it was. Pretty much all of the "pages" had tears in them on the sides, but this didn't seem to matter. Here are the steps I took.... (like I'm some kind of expert, ha!)

1. Remove the damp cloth from the phyllo sheets.
2. Lay out a single sheet of phyllo on a dry surface, I covered mine with wax paper.
3. After spraying with olive oil, then layering a second sheet on top, add the filling on top of the phyllo sheet.
4. Roll it up, I just kind of winged this part and did what seemed easy. Maybe next time I'll try little triangles or something fancy.

5. Place the phyllo rolls in the oven. Mine cooked for about 20 minutes.
6. While you're waiting for them to cook, enjoy a glass of homemade cider (John is the brewer).
7. Enjoy your dinner with some broccoli on the side!

The verdict? Working with phyllo was actually relatively easy. You just have to be careful with the sheets to not rip them more than they already are. I wasn't totally crazy about the filling. Maybe too much shallot, maybe the wood's ear mushrooms were too strong. But I am not giving up (John begged me not to). Plus I think I'm now comfortable enough to make some of those Moroccan phyllo rolls from ED&BV to go along with our Thanksgiving dinner!

This was not the only first of the evening. Carob chips have made their debut in my mouth. I bought a bag out of curiosity... if Veggie Girl likes them so much, why shouldn't I? I made the mistake of trying one straight out of the bag (which I later learned is a mistake us non-carob lovers should not make). After consulting the Carob Queen, she directed me to her own S'mores muffins. I had to give them a shot...

Do you like my ode to carob via cookies (shhhh, they're chocolate!)? My only changes were using cocoa powder (had no carob) and instead of graham cracker I used these cookies. The result was a not-too-sweet muffin with yummy bits of melted marshmallow... and carob! I actually didn't mind it baked! I'm not saying I'm in love or anything, but I liked it enough to keep trying it. I think my taste buds just need to adjust. Thanks Liz for the motivation to try it!

Okay, I need to go back to my comfort zone for a few days now....

**Update** Had two of the s'mores muffins for breakfast this morning and they got even better overnight!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vegan MoFo Survey

I've seen this now on quite a few blogs, so I thought I would join in on the fun. Plus, daily posts are starting to get a little tough. But I'm excited for my new food experiment tomorrow night, hopefully it will be successful and I won't have to replace question number 4 with a new story.... at least it should make for a good post :-)

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Normally I drink Soy Dream Enriched Original, but I think I may now be addicted to chocolate hemp milk. Luckily I have to order this online...

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
So tough with so many new cookbooks out! Seitan in Mole Sauce (V-con), Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (ED&BV), and Edamame Burgers (Cozy Inside), and something with carob

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Don't really like popcorn... gets stuck in my teeth. But if forced, covered with caramel and with nuts and chocolate.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Hmmm, that would have to be my attempt at Vegan Fried Chicken from a recipe on vegweb. So many folks gave it great reviews, but it turned out awful for me. Made us stay away from TVP for quite some time.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Not really a fan of anything pickled....

6. How do you organize your recipes?
Cookbooks are on a few shelves in the kitchen. Anything non-vegan has been banned to the upper shelves :-) Recipes from the web I usually print out and stick in a folder organized by recipe type, but it's getting a little out of control at the moment.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash and garbage disposal, though I've been reading up on composting and would love to try that. Not sure what we'd so with the soil...

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
quinoa, mango, chocolate pudding

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
I have lots of food memories, but probably the fondest is our traditional Christmas morning breakfast; almond puff. I'm determined to veganize it this year!

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
So Delicious Chocolate Almond Brownie, but if I lived in San Fran it would be Maggie Mudd's without a doubt...

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My food processor! And my wok.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Cilantro, it brightens up any meal :-)

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I think my mom or sis got me this while I was in college and they were worried I would never cook for myself.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Any kind of dessert (always questions about egg and dairy replacements) and roasted veggies (because way too many people boil the heck out of them....leaving little flavor and nutrients)

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Lately, tempeh.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Breakfast, served any time of day (like in my last post!)

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Lots. A wooden cutting board, salad bowl, cake tupperware, three boxes of cereal, and countless old soy yogurt containers filled with various toasted nuts.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
wedding cake (coming up on our 2 month anniversary, we're gonna eat some!), ground flax, my mom's homemade bread (veganized!)

20. What's on your grocery list?
Oh this is helpful! I'm going after work today. Peanut butter, greens, red pepper, jalapeno, tofu, tempeh, wild mushrooms, whole wheat tortillas, tofutti cream cheese, sweet potatoes, and black seedless grapes

21. Favorite grocery store?
I shop at Whole Foods majority of the time. Wish I had a Food Fight around the corner though.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
One of my favorite late childhood desserts. It has angle food cake torn in pieces and a chocolate mousse like filling holding it together with lots of pecans sprinkled on top. The tough part is the angel food cake....any suggestions?

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
This is way too hard to choose. I discover new blogs I love everyday!

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Crispy Cat... both the roasted peanut and almond variety

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Although I see it as a necessity, organic pure vanilla extract. Pricey! As far as most extravangant that's not necessary, hemp seed nut butter.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Phyllo dough. Going to try and overcome this on tomorrow. I did fine with rice paper and sushi making so I'm feeling okay about it...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Grown-Up Perks

Sometimes being a grown-up has it's advantages. You can eat whatever you want for dinner!! It was a special treat when I was a kid (in my mind) when we got to have pancakes for dinner. So last night that's exactly what I did. Plus, I got to try out my new double burner griddle pan. Look at everything that fit on there! (and I could have squeezed more) Four pancakes and two veggie breakfast sausages. Please ignore the dirty stove top....

Not only did I have pancakes, but they were totally unhealthy pancakes. No wheat flour here tonight. I liberally tossed in some chocolate chips. I suppose there was a banana in the batter, that's good for me at least. And I ran out of regular soymilk, so I used some of the Silk pumpkin spice soymilk. Extra sweetness! I used the very simple recipe for Banana Walnut Pancakes from La Dolce Vegan (minus the walnuts).
Here's my pancake and veggie sausage sandwich, drowned in maple syrup. Even though the pancakes were sweet, the saltiness of the sausage helped balance things out. And I have to admit, the white flour made these so light and fluffy.

Okay, I promise to eat something green tomorrow (okay, today, I'm being bad and posting this in the past....). Or at least a vegetable.
More VeganMoFo later....