Monday, January 31, 2011

Chocolate. Avocado. Cake.

I have to make this cake!!! 

This WILL be going on in my kitchen. Very soon. This makes me super jones for cake and I'm so stoked that it is vegan. AND had good fats from avocado?! what the ...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Vegan Baking Beginnings - ChocOatChip Cookies

This month I am venturing into the unknown and mysterious world of vegan baking. This is not especially easy, as a lifetime of Southern-American kitchen exposure tells me that baked goods MUST have fats. Butter! Eggs! White sugar! And preferably chocolate of some kind. 

There isn't much wrong with these ingredients except that some of them are from animals, they are fattening and full of cholesterol. Cookies and scones (and surely any other type of baked item) will turn out just as delicious without them.

I can't say it's the easiest thing in the world transitioning from fattening cookies to not-quite-so-fattening cookies, since egg replacers and vegetable oil behave rather differently than room-temperature butter and a couple whisked eggs. But it's worth stepping out of my comfort zone. And no one at my office who tried one of the choc-oat-chip cookies I baked could guess there were no eggs, butter or cow milk to be found in the tasty morsels. Try it! The animals (and your heart) will thank you.

My first vegan recipe ...

So-Close-To-Vegan Choc-Oat-Chip Cookies:

I tried really hard but these are not 100% vegan since there is dairy in the semi-sweet chocolate chips; I don't have any vegan chocolate chips around (carob and the like) so I used what I had. It was a good way to test the recipe at least, and I found that the cookies baked up wonderfully. They don't brown quite like they would if you had traditional dairy ingredients, but the prep and baking times are the same ... oh, except for that hour I saved NOT waiting for butter to soften.
This is the recipe I tried and I was very pleased. Instead of refined/white sugar, I used some brown and turbinado sugars; I didn't have any on hand but I would like to use sucanat or something else even less refined next time ... I am still working on transitioning my kitchen to a healthier place - I definitely have some shopping to do.

Here are a few photos from my baking experience:

Sugars and oil mixed together. This time, some vegetable oil replaces the typical 2 sticks of butter.

Here is what I used to replace the dairy eggs and milk (you can find out more about each of these items here and here):


Finely milled oats from The Peach Basket in Fredericksburg, TX - Kevin thought they would be nice for baking. =)

Ready for the oven ...

I had to take a peak 1/2 way through ... yep, they still look like cookies. ;)

All done and cooled, ready to be stored (eaten!)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Lately I have been discovering some great vintage dishes (as in, kitchenware, plates, coffee pots) that I absolutely love. Some of them I collect, some of them I simply admire, some take me back to my grandma's dining room table in Arkansas eating THE best enchiladas. Ever.

Here is my current (and working) list of favorite kitchenware patterns and makers and a few insights about where I have discovered mine for reasonable prices ... and a few pieces of nostalgia to mix things up a bit.

1. Homer Laughlin China: Fiestaware - I collect this as my 'every day' dishes. Honestly I don't have any 'special occasions' dishes so my Fiesta is quite literally every day. I like the eclectic idea of having multiple colors 'going on' at once in my kitchen - I guess partly because I have never had a 'favorite' color and partly because I just like the fun of picking an orange dish and green mug together or a purple bowl with a blue dish. I have never been one for matching things really - even less so as the days pass. I collect my Fiesta 4-piece sets at Macy's when they are on sale.

2. Anchor Hocking Milano in Honey Gold - I love this glassware! My cousin Mike helped me figure out what they are called - I never knew who made them until he told me. He was an avid collector and expert on vintage glassware - my 3 vintage Jadite cups and saucers are a gift from him. My grandma had these and I remember when I was little drinking sweet peach tea out of them. I found a few at a yard sale a couple Summers ago - a few tall glasses and one short glass. I love the warm gold color of the glass and the lumpy texture in my hand.

I discovered this great set of glasses and 96oz pitcher at an antique shop in Denison last Spring and wish I had gotten it - I love the cheerful ball pitcher!

3. Metlox Wild Poppy - Thanks to Kevin, I found several pieces at an estate sale recently and discovered after a little web browsing that they are worth quite a lot more than I paid for them. The coffee pot alone sells for about $50 online. Such a fun, colorful pattern. I have 4 dishes now and I use them intermixed with my Fiesta plates.

4. Hull Drip Glaze Pottery - I adore this pottery. I grew up with the French Onion Soup Bowls (with handles) and a few serving pieces. I am not sure how much I liked them when I was young, but now I love the old-fashioned look and color. I found one lone bowl for myself at a garage sale for a few dollars - a small price to pay for nostalgia. It is now my designated tabbouleh bowl. ;)

5. Mikasa, I'll call it 'Yellow F9300' since it is IMPOSSIBLE to find any actual name for this particular design on the internet - My mom had the whole set of Mikasa French Countryside (white) when I was growing up. I found this great creamer and sugar set online but I am not so sure it's actually French Countryside. I have found this design and color online listed as 'French Countryside Yellow', 'Italian Countryside' (which it most definitely is NOT), and several other random names; when I look up those names in Google to find other pieces in the collection I have no luck - apparently none of those are the actual name so I am still in the dark as to what I should call it. All that to say, I love it and think it's darling and vintage, whatever its name really is.

Late breaking news: Omg! I figured it out! It's called Mikasa 'Countryside Yellow'! Thank you, ... not sure how I missed that before. *at last*

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Some really good things for January

First I should mention that the wonderful fluffy slippers I doted on have turned out to be a slipper failure. The tag said they are machine washable so my husband threw them in the wash for me, and out came matted, wadded, lumpy ex-slippers. Why would it tell me they are machine washable, only to come out looking like a hairball? Not good. So, alas, my quest for the perfect slipper continues.

I have found a few more good things this month that I thought I would share - none of which can be destroyed in your washing machine. ;)

1. Actually, this could be destroyed in your washing machine along with that great sweater or your favorite pair of jeans, but only if you leave it in a pocket. ;) It's called Zumbo Kiss Shea Butter Lip Balm in Peppermint and it's lovely (manufacturer is Indigo Wild in Kansas City). Just a hint of tingly peppermint that fades slowly into a soothing shea butter balm. Get it for $7.50 at Whole Foods or through their website; they are currently offering a buy one get one free special. It's actually one of those extra fat chapsticks so it's great for applying directly to dry hands, too.

2. I always love a good body scrub, especially this time of year. It's a good idea to exfoliate a few times a week all year round, but especially during these drying winter months. Thanks to the existence of November through February, I can't touch any textile without my chapped fingers and feet snagging the fabric - gross. And my legs start looking like crackled desert sands. Thankfully when I was shopping this weekend I happened upon Victoria's Secret's Smoothing Body Scrub; it was on sale for $3 dollars (originally $12) so I grabbed a couple ... now I'm thinking I should go back and get more because I love this stuff. It smells great, it lathers just a little and it scrubs efficiently. They are on sale on the web, too, but it's not as deep a discount ($5 vs $3) - so try to hit a brick and mortar store if you can for the best deal.

3. In my ongoing quest for home decor, I found some comfortable velvet throw pillows at World Market (always a trusty resource). They come in some great, vibrant colors. The covers zip off and can go in the wash - though I have not yet tested their mettle against the washing machine, so I can't speak to the results. They are $9.99 per pillow; at that price you can get one of each color! I chose the peacock blue, grellow and gold for the living room and 2 gray ones for the master bedroom now that we finally have the bed purchased and set up (at last!). They go perfectly with the deep greens, blues and grays of the paisley quilt and the other toss pillows I put on the bed.

4. Speaking of pillows, I simply must recommend these lovely Extra Firm Density Bed Pillows (Set of 2) I scored at for our master bed (King size). They are $29.99 for a pair - even for King size - and soft but still firm for good neck support. Really comfy, and an unbeatable deal.

5. For a while, I have wanted some flat Oxford-style shoes. I think they are cute and stylish and a little vintage. I found these at Forever21. They are not leather - actually they are entirely vegan and very comfortable. I have worn them with tights and with regular cotton socks, with jeans and skirts. I love them. That's probably just because I *supposedly* have a weird sense of style, but ... there it is. ;)

6. CB2 comes through yet again with adorable and reasonably-priced home accessories. I was thumbing through their latest catalog with some of their new offerings for 2011 and found these cuties: Canary Tealight Holders ... how presh are they? Less than $8 each so you have to buy them in pairs! Too cute to perch on a stack of books or on a window ledge to help welcome Spring.

New Year's Resolution: To treat my body better

This winter I resolved to change my habits for the better. Someone once said something about insanity and doing the same things over with the expectation of a different result. I'm over doing the same thing over; over and done. I'm ready to really change my habits, make them better and heathier, smarter. New year; new start ... here's hoping I can make it last.

Speaking of new starts, check out my new haircut. Now you see it now you don't! I decided to go extra short. I have wanted to for so long and finally did. It is one of the most liberating things I've done and I don't see myself 'going back' for a long time.

Before ...

After ...

One of the facets of my self-improvement is fitness. Since September (ish) I have been doing yoga at my house with a friend three evenings a week. It makes me feel better, more connected, more vibrant. I used to do yoga ALL the time. When I was living with my parents (over 6 years ago) and going to school in the mornings, I would come home and have lunch with my mom and then spend sometimes all afternoon and evening studying, reading, listening to music and practicing yoga in my room. My parents said I was 'cloistering' myself. I believed I was taking care of myself. I still do.

I think yoga has the power to restore my body; I have already seen it happening over the last few months. I feel stronger and more centered. I feel more at rest mentally; this is huge - no other pratice has had the ability to do this for me. I can't believe I allowed myself to drop the practice of yoga for so long knowing its healing power. It's a rush of energy, strength and peace throughout my body ... a connection with something great within myself. I can't imagine not doing yoga; I know life with yoga and life without it: life with yoga is a much better way to live.

So ... I continue my yoga practice 3 times a week. I supplement it with healthier eats and happier thoughts - I find the latter comes even more naturally with the incorporation of yoga into my routine. I eat more raw foods, fruits and vegetables and less animal products - no meat (sometimes a piece of tilapia), but still eggs from time to time and my Greek yogurt drizzled over almond granola. I try not to eat sugar and desserts (honey in my tea though). I make lots of tabbouleh and raw cabbage salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, steamed broccoli, curried chickpeas. Between meals I snack on apples, bananas, grapes, almonds or a glass of So Delicious Dairy Free. My goal is to go entirely vegan this year; I haven't gone 'cold turkey', but I'm making the shift.

Here are a couple of recipes for raw, vegan foods that I adore. They are nothing but pure goodness for your body and mind.


I love tabbouleh! I could eat it every day and not tire of it.

You can find my full recipe here.


I first made this salad (not exactly the same) a couple of years ago. I was actually making a 'regular' (lettuce) salad and thought it would be nice to add some raw cabbage for crunch (not to mention heart health). I loved it. This version is now all cabbage and no lettuce so I guess it's technically a slaw, but I don't drown it in a fatty mayo dressing; just some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

1/2 head cabbage, green or red, grated or chopped into small pieces
1 tomato, diced small
1/4 green bell pepper, diced small
1 carrot, grated
1/3 large cucumber, peeled and diced small
2 green onions, chopped (greens and whites)
1 T capers, drained and rinsed
2 eggs, hardboiled and coarse chopped (obviously if I was a pure vegan I wouldn't include this)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

drizzle of olive oil
juice of 1/2 a large lemon

Combine all the prepared vegetables and toss with the oil and lemon juice. Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracker pepper.

Leftovers for lunch today. is a great website I stumbled upon in my quest for health. It's a great resource for all things vegetarian, vegan and raw.

Let me know what you are doing this year to make your body and mind a better place to live. And please share your healthy recipes, too!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...