Last year, Richard and I built a raised bed garden structure out of pecky cedar. We choose that wood because it is untreated, and thus, was in alignment with our desire to have an organic garden. We built it ourselves and had some much fun in the process.

There are 36 3-foot rebar, some inside and others on the outside of the lumber, holding the structure together. Six ton of what was supposed to be organic garden soil was delivered and dumped into the raised bed, whose inside measures 8’x16’. We had irrigation lines put in to ensure adequate and consistent watering, even when we would be out-of-town.

Now, I’m sort of getting ahead of myself here. I should tell you that I am a Jersey Girl, born, raised, and lived the vast majority of my life approximately 12-20 miles outside of Manhattan. Richard, on the other hand, is from Washington State. And here we are now in Northern Arizona, where the climate is dry, the air is hotter, and there are pretty much two growing seasons. Geez, were we (and still are) on a huge gardening learning curve.

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My friend, Terri, passed away more than several years ago. Like me, she had a love for vegan cooking and an equitable adoration for kitchen gadgets/equipment/tools. One of the beautiful items she left to me was this 9’x13’ metal cake pan with a green lid, with “Vegan Goodies” and pinecones/leaves etched into the top. It’s beautiful; and whenever I pull it out to bake in it, I am immediately brought back to fond memories of Terry.

As a sidenote, I’ll share one of my favorites with you. In 2010, we took the 7 hour drive up to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York for their July 4 Pignic. It was an idyllic weekend communing with all the beautiful farm animals that have been given a second chance and the ability to live out the remainder of their lives in peace, knowing love and compassion and no terror…a very different life from whence they came, factory farming. The weather was warm with a cooling breeze. We spent two full days on the farm and enjoyed their vegan barbeque and a couple of talks given by their more-than-adept staff.

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Walking up and down Duval Street, live music abounds, pouring out of restaurants, clubs, and dives onto the streets. The joint that we seemed most drawn to, however, was Willie T’s. It was an open-air, outdoor patio with some of the tables under an overhang. The genre seemed to be predominantly, if not exclusively, solo guitar rock / sometimes margaritaville-like male singers. Each evening, we’d stop and stand on the sidewalk, taking in the sights and sounds. We quickly came to a consensus regarding our favorite—John LaMere. His shtick was classic rock band covers. Geez, could he ever pull of a Mellencamp (as in John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, now John Mellencamp)! It was not uncommon for me to break out in dance right there on the sidewalk! So, after our nightly sidewalk voyeuring, we decided that we would eat our final dinner at Willie T’s and arrive at the beginning of John LaMere’s set that evening.

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We awoke one morning, ravenous and deciding that we wanted to forego the vacation-standard, go-to, made in the room, smoothie. What to eat became the question. It was the only rainy day, at least it started out as such, so we decided to take a trek over to the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, located in the Historic Seaport neighborhood. We fell into Two Friends Patio, one of the few remaining original Old Towne restaurants, established in 1967 and still family run. The place was hustling and bustling. Cutting straight down the middle of the restaurant, however, is an open walkway, so they had to close off some of the tables because of the rain. No one seemed to care, even those patrons who were graced with the occasional spray of rain. It really didn’t matter to us because, even though we had our all-weather jackets on, we were fairly damp already from the walk. We were hungry, that’s what mattered. And, they had a table with only about a 15 minute wait. Worked for us.

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Recently, my partner Richard and I had the exquisite joy of traipsing about Key West for a glorious nine days of fun and sun (and eating).

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With summer approaching, I love making quick and delicious wraps. They are so versatile, from what you put in them to what you choose to wrap them. They get in and out of the kitchen quickly, pack well for a hike or picnic, and are very nutritious and satisfying.

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May 4, 2017 was a beautiful and balmy evening in Old Towne Cottonwood, Arizona (just a stone’s through from Sedona). After a couple months of planning, the evening finally arrived. Veganification and Verde Valley Vegans, the Meetup Group that I sponsor/organize, converged upon Abbie’s Kitchen, a quaint, intimate artisan restaurant

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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

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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.

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So, yes, I have to admit that I am one of those people that have been terrified, and I do mean terrified, for years at the sight of a pressure cooker. Visions of it exploding on the stove, dousing ceiling to floor with the pressurized contents gone awry abound aplenty.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago, when a dear friend introduced me to using a pressure cooker to make Daal, Indian lentils, that one of those contraptions made its arrival into my kitchen arsenal. What a score! I embarked on my journey of using my pressure cooker, albeit still somewhat trepidatiously, cooking a variety of beans. But, alas, my journey pretty much stalled at that point….well, that is, until JL Fields’ “Vegan Pressure Cooking”. A whole new world of culinary skills and delights entered my gastronomic sphere.

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I am fortunate to have whom I consider to be the absolute best neighbors in the world. They live across the street from me. For the first six years, I did not reside in my home, but rather, visited several times each year. During the first six years, we became friendly with one particular couple. And then finally, on September 1, 2015, it happened! I was able to semi-retire and move to my dream house in my fantasy world, although it was neither a dream nor a fantasy. It was real life. Ah, so much to be grateful for today. Since then, we (my partner, Richard, and I) have become endearing friends with Skip and Cynthia. But, I am digressing here just a bit. Back to being on point….

If you’ve been following this blog, you might have realized by now that I not only love to cook, but also have a real passion for baking as well. Coupled with that, it positively feeds my soul to gift my baked treats to those I love.

Skip is diabetic, so I tweaked my original carrot muffin recipe (which was not vegan) into a delicious (and quick and easy) sugar-free carrot-apple muffin in his honor.

I just finished baking these muffins as part of my Holiday gift to Skip and Cynthia. I will be presenting these baked goodies to them on “The Giving Plate”. The giving plate reads: This special plate is yours today. Its purpose is very clear. It comes to tell you that you’re loved and someone holds you dear! Savor all the plate contains and fill it full again. Then send it on renewed with love to family and friends.

So, here’s my new, veganized recipe. At the very end, I will include my former original non-vegan recipe, since after all, this blog is “veganification”, celebrating the journey of becoming and being vegan. That includes recipes in addition to us sentient beings.

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