Holiday

Four Years

Four years ago I finally made the decision to go vegan. After being vegetarian for 13 years and toying with the idea of being vegan for three years, I finally took the plunge in August of 2010. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve met some great people and eaten some delicious food over the past four years. And now I get to share that experience with two amazing people: E and Little H. 20140209-112103.jpg

E and Little H were born last October. We got off to a rough start with E spending almost 6 weeks in the NICU, but she was able to come home for Thanksgiving and has been doing great ever since. After many sleepless nights over the past nine months, I feel like we have somewhat of a routine now.

E and Little H have a great nanny, which has allowed me to go back to work part time, cook, train for a marathon, and occasionally take a nap. I’ve filled the blogging void with Instagram (follow me here), but I hope to get back into blogging at least once or twice a week now.

Besides baby smiles and laughs, the highlights of the last few months include:

1. Isa Does It. This cookbook is amazing. Most recipes are pretty quick, so it’s great for a week night. Everything we’ve tried has been delicious.

2. Getting back into running – the Woodstock Challenge 5K.

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3. A family trip to Wisconsin and a meeting of the cousins!

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4. A road trip to Nashville to celebrate the marriage of my best friend from high school.

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(The Wild Cow)

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(Khan’s Desserts)

5. A 24-hour trip to New Orleans for a bachelorette party

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6. Cookies – for Christmas, Chinese New Year, the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and St. Patrick’s Day

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Mardi Gras 2013

To celebrate Mardi Gras this year, I made red beans and rice and tempeh étouffée. The red beans and rice was from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin; it was easy and pretty tasty. Apparently, quasi-vegan talk show host Ellen DeGeneres really likes it and she is from New Orleans, so I considered that a good endorsement.  My only complaint was the sausage; it’s not my favorite way to eat Field Roast sausages. I’d rather have more beans. Fortunately, the étouffée came out well, because the roux was labor intensive. I veganized a fancy Saveur crawfish étouffée recipe. Not a diet dish even if I cut down the margarine (12 tablespoons of butter!). I subbed two packages of tempeh, steamed and soaked in a broth all day (the broth was salty, so I cut out the salt in the recipe), margarine and vegan chick’n broth for the three non-vegan ingredients.

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Sadly no king cake this year, but I did make Mardi Gras sugar cookies.

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Year of the Small Dragon

Happy New Year! It’s the year of the snake.

Menu
Tahini Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum
Sweet Chili Lime Tofu from Vegan Yum Yum
Steamed Eggplant
Baby Bok Choy with black bean and garlic chili sauce
Spring Rolls with peanut sauce
Vegetable dumplings from the Fresh Market
Traditional Chinese Sugar Cookies

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Snake sugar cookies from Sticky Finger Sweets!

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I’m not going to lie; these are a little creepy to eat.

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Christmas Wrap Up

H and i went to Birmingham for Christmas and we had a great time with friends and family. My sister and I decorated gingerbread and sugar cookies on Christmas Eve. We forgot to leave some out with a glass of soy milk for Santa.

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After a hilly run and opening presents, we had a lovely brunch: spinach artichoke dip quiche, Field Roast sausages, my mom’s famous sticky buns, a healthy fruit salad, cranberry mimosas and Barney’s Santa’s white Christmas coffee.

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Brunch put us way behind, so dinner preparations went hours past the scheduled time (not that we would have been hungry any earlier). We had portobello Wellingtons with carrots and roasted potatoes, but I didn’t get any pictures.

Between making the marshmallow fondant, baking the cake and delicately putting the dragees on the side, I spent hours on this cake. It tasted good and looked okay, but I definitely need to work on my fondant skills.

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(photo credit: Clara)

Eggnog Cupcakes with Spiked Eggnog Frosting

This is the first of two recipes I entered in the Earth Balance baking contest.

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Ingredients

Eggnog Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup Earth Balance Soynog
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Spiked Eggnog Frosting
1/4 cup Earth Balance Shortening
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Soynog
1 tablespoon rum
12 cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery stick and sugar (brown & white). Add soynog and vanilla extract.
  4. In two batches, add flour to butter mixture until just combined.
  5. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
  6. For the frosting: In an electric mixer, combine shortening and buttery sticks until fluffy. Add two cups of confectioners sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of soynog. Add remaining confectioners sugar, remaining soynog and rum. Mix on high for several minute until light and fluffy.
  7. When cupcakes are completely cooled, pipe frosting and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
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Suburban Chicago Veggie Meetup – Holiday edition

Christmas cake pops!

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The cake pops are chocolate cake from Sticky Finger Sweets mixed with icing and covered in chocolate – semi-sweet and white. For the white chocolate, I made the recipe from Bittersweet, and I doubled it, but it still didn’t make that much. I only had enough white chocolate for 8 cake pops! This worked much better than the disastrous snowmen cake pops of 2010. I will buy cocoa butter in bulk and make a huge batch of white chocolate the next time I make colored cake pops.

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Lunch

The menu included spinach artichoke dip, hummus, black bean salsa, lentil salad, tabbouleh, spinach artichoke dip quiche*, and a seitan roast.
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The quiche recipe is from Save the Kales.

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Desserts
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*I have been to three potlucks at Kathy & Collin’s house and every time there is a similar dish. The first time I brought scalloped potatoes and someone else made scalloped potatoes; last time I made lasagna and there was another lasagna. This time I made a spinach artichoke dip quiche and there was spinach artichoke dip.

Molly and her Mohawk in a Christmas dress.

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Vegan Christmas Gift Guide 2012

Looking for that perfect gift for your favorite vegan? Here are my suggestions for a very merry Christmas.

1. Cruelty-free shoes
Jeffrey Campbell has done a vegan-friendly and sustainable collaboration with Convert, some of which are available on Ebay, if you don’t like near Berkeley.

Wrapped flats in blue & metallic silver and metallic gold

Wrapped blue & metallic silver

Wrapped metallic gold

Red Heels, sadly not available in my size.

Gray Wedge

Olsen Haus is another great eco-friendly line of vegan shoes
Galactic Gray Wedge

Spirit heel in black, green and blue

Olsen Haus is offering 40% off all shoes with code PURELOVETOYOU. Valid through 12/16.

And finally, the Stella McCartney glitter pump, which I hope is not available in size 6 anymore because H bought the last one.

2. A Gunas Bag
Emma Mini in green

It is comes in a black satchel, which I also love, but it’s only available for pre-order.

Gunas is offering 30% off all bags through 12/30 with code FRIFAM30.

3. A Tofu Xpress – I have wanted one of these forever. I hate using lots of paper towels to drain tofu and towels don’t absorb as well.

4. Vaute Couture accessories and sweatshirts

Crochet bamboo headband

Swirl Cable Hat

Friends series tanks and sweatshirts

5. Eco-friendly socks to go with your vegan shoes: RockNSocks from Vshoen

6. Environmentally conscious & conflict-free diamond earrings from Diamond Nexus Labs

7. Sweatshop-free running clothes
Recycled Track Jacket and v-neck tee

Neck warmer and headband
Capris and tights

8. Vegan Leather Clothes

Peplum top and pencil skirt

9. Feather-free puffers

10. Vegan Cuts Snack box subscription

Vegan Cuts has lots of discounted vegan products from body care items to food to fashion. And they have their own gift guide.

11. Urban Decay makeup

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And I’ve bought some Corn for Popping

So it’s nowhere near cold enough to snow, but we have a wreath and a decorated tree, so we’re ready for Christmas.

We went back to Anthony’s Tree Farm to get our tree. In the past we have always stuck it in the back of my old Oldsmobile, but there was no way I was putting a sappy tree in the backseat of my new Prius. So we took Hsiong’s Mini and tied it to the roof.

Our tree

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Ready to go home!

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I went a little overboard with cookies this year. I made gingerbread and sugar cutout cookies. Over six dozen if you include the Band of Outsiders cookies. Angels, candy canes, stockings, bells, candles, stars, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, women & houses, reindeer, ornaments, snowmen, mittens, and the lamp from a Christmas Story (a movie I don’t even like that much, but it’s a funny cookie and the cookie cutter was free).

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We decorated the tree Monday night and celebrated with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.

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Santa Run

This weekend I ran the Kiwanis Santa Run for Kids, a 5K through Crystal Lake in a full on Santa suit.

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The sea of Santas

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Me, Anne & Lauren in the start corral

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I even took a picture during the race.

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I am done racing for the year, so I just did this race for fun. Anne and I ran together and we obviously started in the wrong place. It took us almost 30 seconds to cross the start line, which in a race that is not chip-timed is huge. Once we crossed the start time, it was more of a slow jog than a run until we were able to break through the slower runners. Our poor start position might have cost us a minute of time.

I did not wear the pants, because it was so warm and they were huge. Plus, I wanted another excuse to wear my sparkly green skirt.

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