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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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One of my favorite things to do is read cookbooks and recipes as well as watch food television shows, all of which provide me with incredible inspiration and creative challenges, most especially when the recipe is not a 100% plant-based recipe.

In addition, friends and loved ones are constantly sending me recipes that they stumble upon. My partner’s daughter, Erika, forwarded this amazing recipe for a blood orange olive oil cake.  It was on the web, and although I’m not sure exactly when it was published, it was from the NY Times.  Ah, butter, buttermilk or yogurt, eggs, honey, whipped cream — ingredients called for in abundance in the original recipe as published in the NY Times By Melissa Clark.  I knew I had to immediately veganify this recipe; and have to tell you that the results were stellar.

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My version is stuffed with scrambled Vegan Egg, vegan mozzarella cheese, air-fried potatoes, but be creative. Add fresh herbs, some hot sauce, vegan faux meat, beans, jalapenos, etc. This is a great meal to recycle your leftovers in disguise, so no one would recognize them.

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I had the opportunity to pop into Pomegranate Café last week for brunch. I’ve eaten there many times, and was especially excited that morning because I had a plan. I was starting my meal with a dessert as my appetizer as I wanted to make sure there was room in my belly for their oh-so-delightful raw chocolate almond joy with an almond buttercup latte as a chaser, made with espresso, vanilla-almond syrup, POMilk, coconut whip, and cinnamon. Could there be any better way to start brunch? I think not. I was in dessert/appetizer heaven!

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Making Meatballs Meatless

My maternal Great-Grandma Felicetta and her daughter, my Grandma Mary before (whom I’ve written about before), were infamous for their Italian meatballs, strife with a plethora of animal products.

It was a challenge to come up with a version that forsakes these ingredients without abandoning their amazing flavor and texture.  It took a while to come up with this version; but as best I can remember (I haven’t had one of their meatballs in over 34 years—they have long passed away, but my father, Dutch by birth but Italian through osmosis, continues the tradition), this recipe absolutely fits the bill.

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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.

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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.

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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.   ……

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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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About Linda Voorhis

I’ve always had a love for cooking and read cookbooks and cooking magazines the way other people read books. They inspire me to create my own recipes and have taught me the ‘science’ of cooking, most especially baking.

Julia Child (definitely nothing veg about her, but probably the greatest skills technician) and my maternal Italian grandmother, Mary, were my first mentors. With the advent of the celebrity chef and abundance of television cooking shows, inspiration continued to be placed before me. Food, its preparation with love, and the creativity it sparks within me, became a passion of mine.

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