cookies

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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Vegan Dad

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Next Father’s Day won’t be as quiet as yesterday, because there will be two screaming babies in out house. In preparation for fatherhood, I bought H this e-cookbook. It is based on a blog by the same name. There are lots of kid-friendly recipes. Even though H is not a vegan dad, we’ll still be a vegan home and raise the twins vegan until they are old enough to make the decision themselves, so this book is a good resource to have. Last night I made the tofu chick’n pita in a wrap; the fried tofu was delicious. I also made McChick’n nuggets, which did not turn out well. I’ve made several good things from the blog, but I’m not a fan of his seitan recipes. Sadly, after all my hard work, the nuggets went into the trash.

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For dessert, I made tie & bowtie cookies.
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Reveal Cake:
We had an ultrasound the first week of June to find out the sex(es). I made a three-layer chocolate cake for my mom with a layer of frosting for each twin. Blue was for boy and green was for girl, because I don’t like pink.

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It’s a girl! And a boy!

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My sister and brother-in-law bought them these cute onsies.

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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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Z is for Zombie

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Happy Halloween!

I was able to leave work a little early to be home in time for Trick or Treating.  I put out some pumpkins and a happy Halloween sign to let kids know candy is available! There are kids in the neighborhood, but I guess they think people in our units don’t hand out candy because some will  just walk right by our door.

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We don’t get a lot of trick or treaters, so I usually have a ton of extra candy. This year I bought a lot less, but I bought quality vegan candy: Sjaaks Halloween bites (peanut butter and orange – that’s two different flavors, not a combination) and caramel bites, all with fair trade chocolate, and Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears.

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Halloween dinner:
Black tofu, forbidden rice, orange bell pepper, and roasted butternut squash with coriander seeds (from Veganomicon) .

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While I waited for trick or treaters, I made Halloween sugar cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

Zombies and braaaains!

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Bats, cats, ghosts, pumpkins and witch’s brooms.

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Ghosts in the graveyard with vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream

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Last weekend, I celebrated  Halloween with a costume 5K and brunch party.

The Running Scared 5K in McHenry benefited Illinois Special Olympics. This was its first year, so it was not a large race, but the majority of people were in costume. I went as Robin.

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And I won! During the whole race I was in front, which is a scary place to be when you don’t know the route. I have never had to worry about making a wrong turn in a race before. Turns out, I am not a good race leader. Either I missed an arrow or the race missed putting an arrow at the intersection, but I led around 15-20 people on a .3 mile detour; it was a long 5K. My official time was 24:33 and I probably added about 2 minutes by doing the extra loop.

Halloween Brunch Menu

Spooky Hummus

Caramelized Onion Quiche

Pumpkin French Toast

Gluten-Free Pancakes

Apple Sticky Buns

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

Hot Cranberry Apple Cider

The quiche, french toast and pancakes were from Vegan Brunch; my friend brought the pumpkin muffins.

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Chicago Vegan Mania & Vaute Couture

Yesterday was the fourth annual Chicago Vegan Mania festival. This hugely popular event outgrew its space at Polaski Park fieldhouse and moved up to the Broadway Armory in Edgewater, which was extremely difficult for me to get to via public transportation, but well worth it. CVM has lots of delicious food, speakers, demonstrations, samples, and vegan companies selling their goods.

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I only got to see one chef demonstration, which was Kat Barry from Kat’s Hot Cakes. She made a super easy chocolate nut bark and pancakes. I was also able to catch Farmer Harold Brown, a former beef farmer, talk about the humane myth. Check that website out, please. There is some great information on so-called humane farming.

I was starving by the time I got to the food court. There were so many great restaurants represented, so it was really hard to decide. I finally settled on the dumplings from Urban Vegan, chana masala from Arya Bhavan, tofu rolls with peanut sauce from Native Foods (to use up my 2 final food coins) and mint chocolate ice cream from Robin’s Frozen Fantasy. Everything was good, but the hemp milk ice cream was phenomenal!

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The reason I was starving was because I worked the Vaute Couture booth until 2:00 p.m. It was a lot of fun to tell people about this amazing company, and show them some of the fabulous coats and tees it offers. Because it is pretty much impossible for me to go somewhere without baking, I made gingerbread coats in the shape of my three favorite coats from the new line: the Belden (also from last year, which I own and love!), the Lori and the Emily. Of course, I baked these before Leanne told me I would be working with Kelly Peloza, who literally wrote the book on vegan cookies. (I picked up her cookzine, Vegan Candyland; I was sold at “kit kat”).

The Belden

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The Lori (blue) and Emily (black, but was available in Eggplant, too):

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I pre-ordered the Wings coat this year, and I’m thinking about getting the James for H.

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I love coats; probably as much as I love shoes. Before going vegan, I didn’t think much about wool or down, but the more I learned about it, the more horrified I became. It is pretty gruesome. Switching to cotton sweaters was easy, but what about all my beautiful coats? While I continued to wear them until they needed to be replaced, I was worried about finding something that was both cute and warm. Enter Vaute Couture: a vegan, eco-friendly, American-made coat company with super cute dress coats. If you are in the market for a winter coat, I highly recommend Vaute Couture.