July 29, 2010

Seattle vs. Madison | The Green Owl | Saigon salad

Fresh and sweet from the farmers market


Seattle.................vs................Madison
too much rain..............................too much snow
too little heat................................right amount of heat
too little sun.................................lots of sun
long growing season....................short growing season
family members...........................no family members
very few friends :(........................lots of friends
no mosquitoes..............................mosquitoes
no fireflies.....................................many fireflies
large city (too large!)....................medium-sized city (just right)
heavy traffic..................................light traffic
hard to navigate............................easy to navigate
mountains.....................................small hills
many veg restaurants....................one veg restaurant (many ethnic restaurants)
high cost of living..........................moderate cost of living
high-rent house.............................paid off house
damp cold......................................dry cold
cars stop for pedestrians...............cars try to run over pedestrians
adorable granddaughter................no granddaughter
farmers markets............................easily accessible farmers markets

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The Green Owl Cafe: vegetarian and vegan cuisine

In my previous post I reviewed our lunch at The Green Owl, and this post will be about the dinner we recently shared there with friends. Entrees come with a choice of a small salad or cup of soup; my dining companions chose salads, and I chose soup. The salads were pretty standard mixed greens and I didn't photograph them. My soup of the day was a very thin, extremely salty version of split pea. It was tasty but so salty that I actually didn't finish it. I'm used to restaurant food being salty, but the soup surprised me with the intensity of the salt flavor — almost as if someone had spilled too much salt into the pot. I think diners at restaurants should give feedback on the food but I'm always too self-conscious to do so, myself. Do you tell the waitstaff when something is too salty or otherwise not up to par?

Mary had the vegan schnitzel ($13) with porcini mushroom sauce, broccoli and oven-roasted potatoes, and she said she really enjoyed her dinner.

Ken had the stuffed red pepper ($12). It was stuffed with quinoa, lentils and slivered almonds, covered with a Moroccan tomato sauce, and accompanied by steamed broccoli. The pepper filling was sweet rather than savory and tasted of cinnamon. Although it looks large in the photo, the serving was modest but filling. Ken liked it a lot and said he'd order it again.

My vegetarian jambalaya ($12), described on the menu as "a smoky mixture of rice, red beans, vegetables and marinated baked tempeh," came with steamed kale and roasted red pepper cornbread. The jambalaya was very flavorful though I wouldn't have described it as "smoky." The wonderful kale was perfectly cooked to a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, and tasted very fresh. I'm a kale fanatic, and this made me very happy. The real surprise was the cornbread, with its almost creamy texture and full-corn flavor. It was the one food that didn't seem to over-rely on salt for its flavor. I was too full to finish the jambalaya though I did enjoy all of the kale and cornbread.

Allen chose the special of the day, and the only non-vegan meal at our table, the "fish" fry. It came with coleslaw and oven-fried potatoes. He said he enjoyed it, but after dinner we talked about our meals, and salt kept coming up. Both Allen and Mary (not vegetarians, by the way) have cut way back on salt, and both found the food a little salty. Allen commented that the potatoes were particularly salty. We were all feeling somewhat thirsty as we left the restaurant. Extra salt is something one can add at the table so it seems unnecessary to present over-salted food. (Not everyone is sensitive to salt, and of course I understand that restaurants usually cater to the majority, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.)

Overall, dining at the Green Owl is a very pleasant experience, with attentive waitstaff and comfortable surroundings. As a vegan, it's great to be able to order food without having to ask a dozen questions and wonder if my dinner is really vegan or not. I'd love to see the restaurant depend less on salt, more on plants, for flavor. I hope Madison vegetarians will come out to support the restaurant and help it to be a success. I'll certainly eat there again soon!
note: As I mentioned in my lunch review, a gluten-free menu is available upon request.

addendum: I received a very nice note from Jennie Capellaro, owner of The Green Owl, explaining and apologizing for the extremely salty pea soup. She said, "Andrea, I like your blog a lot and wanted to apologize for the split pea soup. It was too salty. The kitchen staff who prepared it had followed my recipe but used table salt instead of kosher salt and that resulted in a soup that was, as you tasted, too SALTY. I was glad to read that you still feel fairly positive about us after that experience. I've made it clear in all the recipes which salt to use and re-emphasized the rule to staff that everyone needs to be tasting things and not simply blindly following recipes. So, hopefully you won't encounter something like that again and, to repeat, I'm really sorry you had that experience. Please try us again and don't be shy about letting your server know if there are any issues. We are very nice about stuff like that. Take care."

I want to emphasize again that although I complained a little about some of the food, I would definitely eat there again, and encourage anyone living in or traveling to Madison, to give The Green Owl a try.

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Taste of India
We had dinner at Taste of India with our neighbors Marsha and David. I had the same thing I always have at Indian restaurants, aloo gobi. I'm not kidding about always having the same thing. I've tried other dishes but have settled on this one as my favorite, and it's what I always order. My husband usually orders vegetable biryani and we share, but he must have been feeling adventurous because he chose vegetable mango. I didn't get a photo but he said it was very tasty. (Very tasty is the limit of his verbal enthusiasm, and indicates he liked the dish a lot. If he only liked it a little he would have said it was good.)

Here's Marsha looking pretty happy after her meal. She also had vegetable mango.
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Saigon salad à la Zoa

So, with all this eating out, do we ever cook? The answer is yes, but not much. We did make a terrific summer dish called Saigon salad that I found on The Airy Way. Zoa said this salad was so yummy she could eat it every night, and she's right about it being that good. We had it two nights in a row, and I believe I'll be having it for lunch. (Alas, no lunch dates arranged for today.) We made ours with stir-fried marinated tofu, and the addition of shredded raw zucchini and leftover corn cut from the cob. Actually, my husband assembled the salad, and he's not really into presentation — go look at Zoa's blog here and here for her versions.
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First corn
of the season

Our first corn of the summer, bought at the farmers market and cooked shortly after purchase, was the best of the best — tender, and so sweet it tasted like someone had added sugar to it. We enjoyed it lightly steamed, straight up. It needed nothing added to enhance the flavor.

July 23, 2010

Funning ourselves ragged | The Green Owl | ice cream sundaes with balsamic pineapple topping

The weather has been hot and humid and most folks are complaining. Two years ago I would probably have been complaining, too, but after a long winter, spring and early summer in the heat-and-sun deprived Pacific Northwest, I feel the heat seeping into my core and warming my bones. It feels restorative and comforting, and I'm drinking it in. Can't say how I'll feel about it next week but at this moment, it's a pleasure.

We arrived in Madison from Seattle last Friday night after four days on the road, and have been dividing our time between doing necessary upkeep on our house (servicing the furnace, cleaning the chimney, plunging the bathtub drain, blah, blah, blah) and and socializing. I mean SOCIALIZING. We've been going day and night. Wednesday, for example, began for me with an energetic early morning walk with a friend, continued with an afternoon of errands, an early evening visit with another friend, and an night of folk dancing and catching up with more old friends. I didn't get to bed until midnight, then was up for another early morning walk the next day. I'm too old for this. :) Fortunately, the walk was canceled because of a dramatic rain storm, and I had a chance to sort cupboards until our lunch dates arrived. (short restaurant review follows.)

Yes, I ate the whole thing for lunch today.
I'm sure the pace will slow down but right now it's pretty hectic, and I haven't been doing much cooking, existing in between restaurant dates on coconut milk yogurt and fruit for breakfast and salad and hummus for lunch (as in above photo). We've had a couple of simple stir-fries for supper and now we're about to enter a new round of restaurant dining for the next few days.

We had lunch yesterday at The Green Owl, Madison's newest and only vegetarian restaurant. Most of the menu items are vegan and some of the vegetarian items can be made vegan. They also have a gluten-free menu available. I'd heard that the restaurant specialized in making familiar regular food vegan rather than creatively using vegetables and fruits to create signature dishes, and this may be true, but I totally enjoyed my lunch.

I had a Crabby Cake Po'Boy, ($9) which consisted of two crabby cakes on a roll with lettuce, tomato and chipotle rémoulade. It came with a side of yummy kale chips. (I could have chosen oven-roasted red potatoes or a salad but I always choose kale.) I've never had actual crab cakes so these didn't serve as a substitution for me, and I didn't compare them to the real thing. I would have preferred them less salty and in a whole grain bun, but they were delicious. Totally yummy and I'd order this sandwich again. I couldn't really taste the chipotle, though.

My husband had the Middle-Eastern Platter, consisting of hummus, tabooli, muhammara and baba ganoush served with toasted pita, olives and pickled vegetables. ($8.50) He said it was delicious, but a little too rich for him, and it upset his stomach. (It was a large quantity of food and maybe he over-consumed?)

Our two dining companions both ordered the TLT, ($9), with avocado, smoky baked tempeh, lettuce and tomato served on Madison Sourdough wheat bread with a vegan aioli. Both seemed to really enjoy their meal.

We ordered one dessert to share — a slice of cheesecake with a praline topping and vegan whipped cream. It was very creamy but I have a super sensitive tofu detector, and it tasted a little like tofu to me. Everyone else thought it was delicious. We're going back to The Green Owl for dinner tonight with friends, so I'll get to try a completely different menu item.

Last night we had dinner at the home of friends, and we brought the dessert. We're not stocking many ingredients in our pantry since we're here for such a short time, so it was a simple concoction. But, hey, summer is all about simple — and easy cooking is my specialty, right? We brought the ingredients for ice cream sundaes topped with balsamic pineapple sauce. The sauce was nothing fancy but it added a nice touch to the other flavors. We purchased my favorite flavor of So Delicious soy ice cream, mocha fudge, plus organic blueberries and strawberries. The pineapple was from a can our previous renters had left in the pantry. It was pineapple rings, which I cut into smallish pieces after I drained the juice.

Quick ice cream sundaes with balsamic pineapple sauce
  • vegan ice cream of choice (So Delicious mocha fudge is pretty great.)
  • fresh blueberries
  • fresh strawberries, sliced
  • vegan bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (8 oz.) pineapple rings in 100% pineapple juice (pineapple cut into small pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice or rice syrup
  • 2 level teaspoons arrowroot (or cornstarch)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  1. Mix together the blueberries and strawberries.
  2. Drain the pineapple juice into a small pot.
  3. Dissolve the arrowroot in 1 tablespoon of water in a small dish. (always add the water to the arrowroot or it will lump.)
  4. Add the sugar and dissolved arrowroot to the pineapple juice, and stir over low heat to dissolve sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat and bubble gently for a minute or two until the juice thickens and clarifies. Add the cut-up pineapple pieces and turn off the heat.
  5. Add 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and taste. Add the other 1/2 teaspoon if needed. Chill if desired. (I chilled mine but I'd like to try it warm.)
  6. Scoop ice cream into four bowls. Spoon berries over ice cream. Add some chocolate chips. Top with pineapple sauce.
note: If you use arrowroot and make this sauce ahead, don't try reheating it because arrowroot sauce will become thin if reheated. This quality makes arrowroot a good choice as a thickener for vegan cheese sauces that you want to become melt-y on a pizza or in mac and cheese.

July 19, 2010

From there to here | Tire safety | Safe sunscreen?

Buffy, standing up through the opened top of her Gogo soft pet carrier

Buffy was ready to roll when we started our four-day road trip from Seattle to Wisconsin. She had a new soft harness, new lightweight pink collar and her favorite dog carrier to ride in, and I guess she was as pumped as a 17-year-old miniature poodle can be. The first day was pretty exciting for her, and she had a little trouble focusing on the necessary tasks of sleeping and staying calm, but the last three days she was an easy rider. She liked the motels, too, though we humans learned that carpets in the dog-friendly rooms are disgusting. They don't smell bad but they are covered with scary spots and look terrible.

Our first night was spent in Missoula, Montana, where The Good Food Store provided our supper. I had a bean burger, and Ken had a tempeh reuben. Mine was just OK — too salty and bread-y for my taste. I know I could have removed the bun, but I was lacking in discipline and overate, instead.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were our lunches of convenience every day of the trip. Each morning I'd repack the cooler with ice, and make two sandwiches for the road — we carried coconut milk yogurt, fruit, carrots and the pb&j in the cooler. We also had a bag of homemade trail mix and some additional pretzels. Dinners we planned to find when we stopped each day.

The scenery in Montana was gorgeous. We were surrounded by mountains, and open land in a thousand shades of soft green and apricot. Remind me to take some photos on the trip back.


Our second night was spent in Sheridan, Wyoming. We had Chinese takeout in our hotel and then went for a walk downtown. The rodeo was happening while we were there, but, you know, vegans don't go to rodeos, so we strolled down the main street to soak up the Wild West feel of the place. The stores were all closed for the rodeo, but Buffy was delighted to just walk around and window shop, and so were we.

How about a pair of gold cowboy boots to go with that wedding gown?

The street was filled with sculpture of every kind from abstract to very literal. The one above is called Granny's Garden, I think.

The rodeo is a pretty big deal and most of the shops had Rodeo signs in the windows.

The above is a bar window. The sign says, "it isn't always the bull who knocks you off your feet."

Even the shops selling non-cowboy-like Tevas and cool socks had ropes and guitars.

If I were a leather-wearing kind o' girl I'd want these boots.


The shops may sell modern goods but the buildings are beautiful, old and historic.

The mint is an icon. Be warned, though, that it's full of stuffed, previously-alive animals.





Wyoming (especially western Wyo.) was a beautiful ride. The third day was scheduled to be our longest as we made our way through Wyoming and South Dakota, and everything was going well until somewhere east of Murdo, S. Dakota, when we blew a rear tire and had to pull onto the road shoulder. The first thought we had was, "OMG where are we?" It felt like the middle of nowhere - flat, open land, few cars. It didn't help that it was 95˚ without an inch of shade. (Why aren't there any trees?) We felt cooked. And, I think we were still a little creeped out by the plague of flying grasshoppers we'd encountered at the last rest stop. There were still grasshopper bodies embedded in the windshield wipers.

A guy in a pickup came to our aid and changed the tire. He was wearing overalls, cowboy boots, and called his wife "mama." In exchange for his efforts he received a monetary reward and our extreme gratitude. I was desperate to photograph him for this post but was too shy to ask if it was OK. I guess I'll never be a photojournalist. :)

Buffy was relieved to be back on the road again but we were shaken, and every road-sound seemed like an impending catastrophe. By the time we reached Sioux Falls, S. Dakota, we were too exhausted to go find dinner so we ate our "emergency" udon soup bowls. The next morning Ken replaced our 9-year-old tires with new ones manufactured in 2010. (See below for a short, informative video about tire age and safety.)

Our first dinner at home was Indian takeout from a neighborhood restaurant. The next day we went to the farmers market and bought summer squash, green beans and cucumber to add to the broccoli and tomatoes growing in the garden our tenants had planted in the backyard. We also bopped into Trader Joe's for greens, carrots, avocados, canned pinto beans and sourdough bread because it was way too hot to cook, and the only thing we could possibly do was make a big salad. You can see the summer squash grated into the vegetable mix. I dressed the salad with balsamic vinegar and let the rich avocado stand in for oil.

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Are your tires too old to be safe?
Even tires that are purchased "new" may be years old and unsafe. Old tires are subject to tread separation and can be deadly, according to this report. This isn't what happened to our tire, but having our tire blow out focused our attention on just how safe our tires were as we traveled at high speeds on the highway.

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Is your safe sunscreen safe? Is anything safe?
I was a little disturbed to read recently that number 4 on the American Cancer Society's report on knowledge gaps for 20 suspected carcinogens list is titanium dioxide. This is an ingredient that often replaces dangerous ingredients in the newest sunscreens. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are listed in the sunscreens noted as safe by EWG (Environmental Working Group). My new sunscreen has both. Anyone know anything about this?

July 13, 2010

Where is home? | Leftovers | tangy salad | Dietary shift

Buffy feeling at home.

I've been thinking a lot this past year about what exactly makes one feel at home. Is it family? friends and community? a house? a location? All of the above? Last year we left the city where we'd lived since 1976, and moved to the city where two of our sons, our daughter-in-law and our granddaughter live. When we made the move, our youngest son came with us, so now our whole immediate family lives in the same place. This sounds great, until you remember that everyone we know (except family) and everything familiar to us, was left behind. When we were young and moved to completely new places, it was with excitement and anticipation; we made new friends easily, and settled into new experiences. Moving seems harder now that we're older. It's not as easy to meet new friends, and I'm finding getting around a larger city much harder than finding my way in our smaller town. There are people back in Wisconsin that we've known for 30 years, and we own a house there that we've been renting out. I was really happy there and I miss my old life.

Today we're headed back to our old home. We'll do some maintenance on the house, visit with friends, try to rent out the house for another year, and see how we feel about being back in our old familiar neighborhood. Do we still want to live there? Will we be anxious to return to our family? We'll be in the car for four days and then in Wisconsin about a month. I'm not sure when I'll be doing another post — hopefully by the weekend.

What are your thoughts about moving?

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Lentil burgers coming out of our ears

I really misjudged how many lentil burgers I was making the other night, and we've been eating them non-stop. How many ways are there to eat lentil burgers? You'd be surprised. My husband made an Asian-style dish with zucchini and rice noodles — and chopped up lentil burgers. It didn't look like much but it tasted great. I've been grilling them in the wok and piling them with leftover cabbage salad (see below), and when that ran out, with baby greens and tomatoes. They can be eaten with onions, mustard, ketchup, mayo or hot sauce in buns or on a plate . They can be added to spaghetti and sauce, or eaten in a roll smothered in tomato sauce like a meatball sandwich. Or they can be frozen for another day. :D

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Tangy potluck salad with cold, simmered tofu

We went to a potluck lunch last Saturday, and this is a little embarasing to admit, but I couldn't think of a single thing to bring. Honestly, I wracked my brains all day Friday, and all I could come up with was to buy the makings of a Mediterranean platter from Trader Joe's and put it together on a nice plate. But I prefer to bring a homemade dish to a potluck, and finally, as I was doing some blog maintenance, I chanced upon an old recipe that appealed to me.

I pretty much followed the recipe as written, ending up with a huge quantity of salad. I used my mandoline to julienne the carrots and finely shred the cabbage. The rest of the veggies were cut by hand.

The only thing I did differently was to add some simmered and seasoned tofu chunks. Simmering tofu for 20-30 minutes gives it a very firm, pleasant texture, and if you add your favorite seasonings to the water, the tofu will pick up the flavors. I started with extra firm tofu that I pulled apart into bite-sized pieces. I added a little rice vinegar to the water, brought it to a boil, then turned the flame down to simmer. After it was cooked I drained the tofu and tossed it with tamari, granulated garlic and a little yeast flakes. At this point I browned it in my wok to seal in the flavors, and placed it in a dish in the refrigerator to chill. Just before we left for the party, I tossed the cold tofu into the salad with the dressing. Here's a link to the recipe for tangy carrot and cabbage salad.

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So what else is new?
This seems like old news to me but I just received it from the Vegetarian Resource Group, and I wanted to pass it along. This is the kind of information that's helpful when discussing the global benefits of a vegan diet.

UN REPORT CALLS FOR GLOBAL DIETARY SHIFT AWAY FROM ANIMAL PRODUCTS
In a new report entitled Assessing the Environmental Impacts of
Consumption And Production, UNEP (United Nations Environment
Programme) calls for a global dietary shift away from animal
products in the face of these findings:

Agricultural production accounts for a staggering 70% of the
global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use, and
14% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

From the conclusions of the report:

Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase
substantially due to population growth, increasing consumption
of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to
look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial
reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial
worldwide diet change, away from animal products.


from:
VRG-NEWS: The Vegetarian Resource Group Newsletter
Volume 14, Issue 4
June/July 2010

To view VRG-NEWS on the web, visit:
[ http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/2010jun.php

July 09, 2010

Breakfast ruts | lentil burgers | Goodwill finds

From elementary school through college, I never ate breakfast. I just couldn't handle anything in my stomach early in the morning. My appetite was fine — even hearty — the rest of the day, but NOT in the morning. Maybe it was the anxiety of school that affected my eating habits, but whatever the reason, breakfast didn't exist as a meal for me.

At some point I learned that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" and took it to heart, and I've been eating breakfast ever since. BUT, breakfast tends to be my least creative meal of the day. I'm always in one breakfast rut or another. I'll go for long stretches eating only homemade granola, or only oatmeal, or only one kind of cold cereal. (That would be Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran Cereal (whew), to which I'm sadly addicted.) Well, when I recently had my back molar removed, I couldn't eat the usual crunchy flakes, and I fell into a new rut. Every morning I've been scarfing down bananas, blueberries and yogurt. You'd think I could at least change up the fruit, but nope, that's the nature of ruts — they stay the same.

I WILL change the fruit. I'll try. But at least I have changed the yogurt. Sometimes it's Whole Soy plain, but right now it's So Delicious Coconut milk yogurt in vanilla or plain. The first taste was weird, but now I love it. So I guess I'll be in a coconut milk yogurt rut for a while.

Two-year-old Miss E spent the night with us, and in spite of my own personal rut, I always like to have something special for her breakfast. She usually wants pancakes but I wanted to try the French toast recipe from 30-Minute Vegan, and I'm glad I did. It was fantastic. I made it with thick slices of wholegrain bread, and served it topped with blueberries and pure maple syrup. Of course, I also had yogurt with bananas and blueberries. :D

My son makes all sorts of things for breakfast (though not always at what one would consider the normal breakfast hour), and one day I was lucky enough to stumble upon some delicious tofu scramble with tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and kale.

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Dinner on a hot night

It was 96˚ as dinner was about to be prepared last night, but I'm not complaining. I've been wishing for temperatures like this to counteract the long months of dreary dampness. I'm not used to living sun-free for such long periods of time, and I love having the sunshine and heat. There wasn't much humidity so I didn't find the heat oppressive. That said, I also didn't want to slave over a hot stove for a long time or heat up the kitchen with the oven. What I wanted was lentil burgers, and since there was a lot of leftover quinoa in the refrigerator, I made lentil-quinoa burgers. Lentils cook really fast and the quinoa was already cooked. With the addition of chopped onion, carrots, fresh basil, paprika, chipotle powder, granulated onion, dry breadcrumbs and hickory-smoked salt, the burgers were easily thrown together and cooked on a cast iron pan. I ate mine in a sandwich with a little mustard, hot sauce and tons of salad greens on top.

The burgers were served with lightly steamed dinosaur kale and peppers. And salad.

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Latest Goodwill finds


If you've been reading this blog for a while you know I love thrift store shopping. I don't go that often (maybe every few weeks) but I usually find something I want (e.g. mandoline, bundt pan, popcorn popper, skirt). On our last trip to Goodwill my husband found an oak coffee table. We're living in a furnished rented house with a huge living room and not a lot of furniture, and we've been wanting a coffee table. For $14.99, we now have one. It's not the gorgeous round one I recently saw at Crate and Barrel, but it will do for a year. I also found a 3/4 sleeve black stretchy cotton Gap top which I love.

July 05, 2010

Makeup | Takeout | July 4 | Vegan omelet #3 | Awards


Vegans don't just think about food, you know. It's an on-going search in an animal-consuming world to find vegan-friendly, ordinary, everyday products that other people take for granted. Say ... cosmetics, for example. I know, I know, vegans aren't vain like omnivores. (:D) Vegans go forth unwashed and natural, never worrying about finding a shampoo that leaves their hair full and shiny, or the right shade of blush. Well, smack me with an organic tomato but I worry about those things, and more. Call me shallow, but sometimes I feel a little pale, and need some color. And I want my ultra fine hair to have some body. I'm going to share my favorite vegan cosmetics of the moment. I've been using Zuzu Luxe blush, eye shadow, and foundation powder and I really like them. The blush and powder are very natural — goes on smoothly and is never weird or cake-y. The shadow (vegan and gluten-free) comes in cool colors that are beautiful. I've got silver (vixen) and deep mauve (dusk) and both are either subtle or more dramatic depending on how much you use. I prefer a natural look on myself because I'm much too shy to draw attention to my appearance. I'm not trying to look dramatically different or "made-up," — just add a little evenness and color to my complexion. Though I'm pretty conservative when it comes to my own makeup, I appreciate verve and daring in others, and there are lots of gorgeous colors in this vegan collection. (Don't forget to seek out vegan/cruelty-free brushes, too. I love my Eco Tools blush and eye shadow brushes, though I wish the eye shadow brush were smaller. The kabuki is a different brand that I can't remember the name of.)

I've also been enjoying Aubrey Chamomile shampoo and conditioner. The consistency of the shampoo is a little weird — kind of gelatinous and loose — and it doesn't suds much, but it does leave my hair clean and shiny. The creamy conditioner seems to leave my hair with a good amount of body.

If you want other ideas for the most super pure cosmetics and bodycare products, look at Kristen's Raw blog. She's much more picky about her bodycare products than I am. She thought the Aubrey shampoo was a compromise, and I respect her opinion. (I did try the Morrocco Method products she recommended, and the shampoos and conditioners absolutely did NOT work for me, but I love the spray-on styling products.)

Full disclosure: I did not receive samples, compensation, or encouragement of any kind.

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Takeout happens
Sometimes cooking is just not going to happen at our house, and takeout seems like the only option except for going hungry. This happened to us recently, and our takeout restaurant of choice, a vegan Chinese establishment, was CLOSED for vacation. Our second choice (which is sometimes our first choice) was a vegan Thai restaurant. I ordered several appetizers and one entrée, and you can see in the photo that they all looked pretty good. I don't know what went wrong in their kitchen that night but everything was horrible. I nearly gagged on the gooey doughy vegetable dumpling, and the tofu satay was a strange, florescent yellow color and nearly tasteless. The broccoli was rubbery and nasty and the rice, gummy. Horrible.


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Vegan omelet #3

Vegan omelet #1 was a disappointment to me but I vowed to try again. I had a lot of omelet mix to use up so I tried a second version and then a third. I'm skipping right to the third because it was the best one so far. This one had asparagus and seitan inside, and leftover artichoke-and-zucchini tomato sauce on top. Plus it had a dollop of pickled jalapeños and carrots.

It was good but I'm still not a true fan. There's something about the texture I don't love. I can't get it dry enough, and it reminds me too much of the kind of eggs I would never eat — moist ones.


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July 4th family dinner
We had the whole family over for a July 4th dinner but most of the food was stuff that's been on the blog before so I didn't photograph it. The dessert, however, was a little different. I wanted to make something unexpected, and I think the guests were surprised. I made peanut butter s'mores with Amaranth graham crackers, Dandies marshmallows and bittersweet chocolate chips. I spread a thick coating of peanut butter on the bottom crackers, then sprinkled them generously with chocolate chips. The Dandies went on top of the chips, then the top crackers were put in place. The s'mores were all next to each other on a plate, and stored, covered, until dessert time. Then the plate went into the microwave for about 1 minute to melt everything before serving. The treats were nearly gone when I remembered to take a picture.

Here's the reaction of one of the guests. By the way, I also served fresh local organic blueberries to balance the food groups. :D







I had one little problem. The Dandies were all stuck together in their bag, and I ended up grabbing wads of marshmallow blob from the bag. This was the first time I've had Dandies. Have you had this happen?
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Birthday shirts

My husband recently celebrated a birthday, and he received some vegan-themed t-shirts from Andrea's Tees Etc. (He also received a Lost t-shirt but so what.) It's hard to see in the photo but the t-shirt above is covered with "Vs" with the word vegan in purple. He wanted a vegan t-shirt but he's a little shy so it had to be just a tad subtle. (If you click on the image you'll be able to see it bigger.)

This shirt is rather self-explanatory.

And here's a pink butterfly shirt just for the little s'more-eater. She gets things even when it's not her birthday.


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Awards and stuffI've been honored to receive an award and other recognition for the blog, and I'd like to express my gratitude. From Kiersten of Vegan Awakening, I received my second sunshine award. Thank you so much Kiersten; you made my day! (I just love reading Kiersten's blog — it's filled with not only great cooking ideas, but honesty and thoughtfulness about life's issues — both difficulties and joys.) Especially here in Seattle, sunshine can be very scarce! I'd love to give this award to all of the wonderful blogs I read. Each one brings sunshine into my day.

Also, I'm honored to have this blog included on two "best of" lists, 100 Best Blogs for Healthy and Delicious Recipes and Top 50 blogs for Eating and Cooking Healthy. Check out the lists for blogs you may not yet be familiar with.

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