The year was 1995. At that point, I had been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for twelve years and still had no idea about the cruelty associated with companion animal breeders. My stepson was allergic to cats; and I very dearly missed living with feline companions, so someone suggested that I purchase sphynx cats from a breeder. The Austin Powers movies had yet to be released, so sphynx cats were still something of an anomaly. Breeders were hard to find; but eventually I was able to find one. Cleo arrived shortly thereafter, and was immediately diagnosed with cardio-myopathy, a heart disease which would prove to be fatal. Not having any experience with homeopathic care, we went the traditional veterinary route, providing care through a cardiologist veterinarian. Cleo survived for four years, far longer than was expected had he not received specialized care. I was devastated when he passed away; so very shortly after his death, I embarked on the journey of finding/selecting two new Sphynx cats to join my family. Continue reading Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs & Cats, 4th Edition, Out on Shelves 3/21/17
Growing up, my Italian Grandma Mary would make these delectable and delicate cookies on what looked to me like a mini waffle iron. She would stand in front of that machine for over an hour, as each set of cookies (her “iron”, which I have come to know as a pizzelle machine, made two at a time” would cook the cookies in a minute flat. She’d then remove them to a cooling rack and sprinkle them with powdered sugar, and if we grandchildren didn’t snatch them before she got to do it, after about another minute or two, she’d stack them onto a beautiful ceramic platter.
Of course, her recipe, which she passed on to me, was not vegan, having eggs and milk in it. Also, they were made with your typical white flour. Today, I’ve been able to use my ‘veganification’ methods, and convert her heirloom recipe into the exact same, absolutely delicious, cookies that I so fondly remember, without any sacrifice, and now 100% plant-based, vegan. Continue reading Pizzelles
For dinner the other night, I made mashed sweet potatoes; and delightfully, we had leftovers, which begged the question “now what do I do with these?” Something fun, different, easy, and oh-by-the-way, an experiment. Thus, air-fried sweet potato tots. …… Continue reading Air-Fried Tater Tots
Saturday, February 25, started out with a bit of crispness in the air with the sun shining. A beautiful day for a vegan food festival, most of which was outdoors.
The location was the Phoenix Theater, an absolutely perfect place for the festival.
I arrived for the VIP opening, excited for the day to begin. I was greeted by the friendly staff, who handed me my Swag bag, which included some valuable coupons from Daiya Foods and Tofurky, along with many others. Samples included Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Egg, and bars from several companys, such as Raw Revolution Organic Bars, Go Macro Bars, and Kind Bars. Sir Kensington’s even included a small bottle of ketchup.
I had my plan of attack laid out….first, check out all the vendors; and second, get into the auditorium where the speakers would be early so I could get a center seat towards the front of the room (yes, I am one of those people who like to sit in the front of the classroom 🙂 .
Upon perusing the vendors, I have to admit that my wallet was also a frequent visitor. Thankfully, I had my swag bag to assist as storage compartment for my acquisitions as I meandered through the vendor aisles. So many wonderful items to choose from, from conscious clothing and accessories to the most mouth-watering vegan food. One of my favorite scores was from Grape Cat Vegan Clothing and Accessories, a matching wallet and coin purse, which are richly-colored in a dark fuchsia with a black cat on them. The wallet even came with a shoulder strap, so it could double as a purse. Oh, and vegan, of course! I really did damage at the stand, also purchasing two birthday presents for loved ones. But, shhhh! Please don’t tell, they are a surprise.
I adore anything Picasso, and at Davisson Studio, I scored a serving tray that I will use this upcoming Monday during my cooking demonstration. Isn’t is lovely?!
Ah, the food! It was absolutely everywhere…from nestled between the non-food vendors to an entire row of nothing but vegan food trucks! It was a vegan’s sensory overload with fragrant aromas coming from every nook and cranny. The list is far too long to include here; but suffice to say that it included area favs such as, 24 Carrots, Café Lalibela, Green New American Vegetarian, Pomegrante Café, Udupi Café. Food Truck Row, as I like to refer to it, included Affogato Truck, Loca Popa, Mustache Pretzrels, Pho King Kitchen, Mi Vegana Madre, to name a few. Oh my! Throughout the day, there were lines at all the stands and trucks, and rightfully so, for sure.
Knowing that I couldn’t eat my way through the festival (it would have been nice to do so; but I knew I wanted to hear the speakers, so off I went to the auditorium).
The speakers opened with Chef Madelyn Pryor, from The Vegan Taste. In addition to her amazing cooking prowess, she has an astounding sense of humor. What a delight! She prepared two raw blender soups that were flavorful, quick, and easy. When she realized she had forgotten the top to her VitaMix, she didn’t skip a beat. She grabbed a paper plate, and improvised.
Will Tucker, vegan body builder, owner of Will Tucker Fitness (WTF!) and contributor to Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine was electric. He talked about how his shifting to a plant-based, mostly fruit, diet transformed his professional body building competing into a winning run.
Jason Wyrick, from the Vegan Taste, was up next. What can I say about our local vegan chef hero! He is the author of two wonderful cookbooks (Vegan Tacos: Authentic and Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food and Vegan Mexico: Soul-Satisfying Regional Recipes from Tamales to Tostadas). But more importantly, he tells his personal story of triumph from a life-threatening diagnosis to wellness as a result of shifting to a healthy, plant-based diet. For me personally, I LOVE, yes LOVE, his recipes! One of my biggest gripes with most vegan restaurants is their lack of seasonings, thus resulting in boring, bland food that I find rather unappealing. Not with Jason’s recipes! He is neither shy nor bashful about how he heightens and enhances the flavor profile of his creations. Brilliant is definitely an understatement. If you haven’t checked out his website or his cookbooks, you absolutely must!
So, several years ago I remember hearing about this young woman who was traipsing around the U.S. in a van in search of the quintessential meal at vegan restaurants. I remember thinking how much I envied her gumption, first of all, to even think about, then embark on such a journey. Then, being the food brat that I am, how I wished I could have the courage to leave my everyday life behind in search of vegan meals. I couldn’t wait to hear her speak. Her name — Kristin Lajeunesse. Her blog that chronicled her two-year expedition – Will Travel for Vegan Food. Her story was inspiring, not only because of her actually pulling it off but also because of her effervescent tenacity and down-to-earth approach to life. It was a real treat hearing her story.
Last, but certain not least, was Tess Challis, author, wellness coach, and vegan chef. She prepared a caramel corn that was easy, healthful, and would satisfy all urges for a sweet treat.
It was a full and glorious day of community, conversation, impulse purchases, great food, amazing speakers, and music. Oh, I seem to have forgotten to tell you that live music abounded everywhere. Outdoors, there were three different music venues.
I am already looking forward to my next Vegan Food Festival, wherever it takes me.
One of my favorite culinary techniques is working with doughs or all sorts. I think I probably have the most fun with focaccia dough because it is rather unlike most other doughs in that it is soft and wet. Rather than kneading the dough and punching it down, you instead do a sequence of stretching and folding the dough to develop the gluten followed by a sequence of what I like to call “playing the piano.
The lightness and airiness of the interior of the focaccia coupled with the crispiness of the crust and the toppings you select make for a delightful bread that rightfully can stand alone but also makes a great sandwich bread or dipping into gravy (either my Italian tomato gravy or Bolognese). Continue reading The Magic of Focaccia
During Martin Luther King’s Birthday weekend, I participated in the Sedona VegFest as an Exhibitor (that’s me on the right-hand side representing the Meetup Group that I founded/organize, Verde Valley Vegans). It was an exciting weekend, having the opportunity to meet so many like-minded, wonderful, and interesting people.
As is typical of me, conversations tend to shift towards the direction of food and recipes. One of the lovely participants (who requested to remain anonymous but gave me permission to share her recipe), told me about one of her family’s heirloom recipes for a Gingerbread Cake. It was not at all vegan; however, she successfully veganized it; and shared it with me so I could share it with you. Continue reading 3-Ginger Gingerbread Cake
I love candied ginger. In baking, it just brings the flavor up some many notches. But, for the individual who prefers/needs to reduce/eliminate sugar, it has been locked down onto the “Do Not Use” category of ingredients……that is, until now…. Continue reading Sugar-Free Candied/Crystallized Ginger
Sorry I missed writing last week. I was out-of-town, traveling for business. Whenever I do so, I try to book myself in hotels that have those mini suites that include a refrigerator and an induction stovetop. Makes life on the road sooooo much easier, at least in the food department. I get to control what I eat and what goes into it. Traveling is stressful enough…adding eating out throughout the duration gets old quickly, not to mention the temptation of ordering not only an entrée but also an appetizer, and heck, if they have it, a vegan dessert. Continue reading Hotel Pasta
This past weekend, I had the incredible privilege of participating in Sedona’s (Arizona) first VegFest, hosted by Healthy World Sedona. While so many ‘responsibilities’ called to me, both before and during the event, I almost immediately realized what an outstanding opportunity it was for building community. Continue reading Community Building