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Friday, August 31, 2012

Madam Swaps-a-Lot

I'm quite proud of myself. I participated in TWO snail mail food swaps in August, AND I sent out my packages BEFORE the shipping deadline, and now I'm posting about the packages I received BEFORE the end of the month! Sometimes I astound myself.

First up: The vegan food swap via The Verdant Life. I received a package from Denise from A Family of Foodies.

After reading Denise's lovely letter, I dove into the bulging Trader Joe's bag.

Denise sent a nice variety of goodies! I plan to share the candies with some of my kiddos at work. I'm going to follow Denise's suggestions and use the Tajin spice mix on jicama and cucumbers with lime juice. (Gosh, that sounds good.) She also suggested crushing the Sea Tangle and adding it to chickpea (not-tuna) salad. I've never added seaweed to chickpea salad before, but I've been known to be a bit adventurous. The tea is a welcome addition to my tea stash. I love all things chai! And any and all vegan bars are super appreciated, as they are great to eat on the go.


Next up, I received a "breakfast box" from Martha via the Lean Green Bean's Foodie Pen Pals swap!

Martha said she was thrown for a "minor loop" when she learned that I'm gluten-free and vegan. She said she read on my blog that I missed breakfast during every single day of Vegetarian Summerfest (an early riser, I am not), so she sent me a box of breakfast goodies!

More tea for my tea stash (there's no such thing as too much tea), gluten-free pancake/waffle mix, coconut milk, date paste, and raspberry syrup. This pretty much means that I need to have a brunch party soon.


If you're interested in participating in any of these swaps, be sure to check out their respective links up above. Happy swapping!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Women's Equality Day

This is not a political blog, but with today being Women's Equality Day and the Republican National Convention kicking off here in my beloved city, I can't help but feel a little political.

It was on this day, in 1920, that women were finally given their right to vote. Less than 100 years later, we are still fighting for ALL of our rights. We've come a long way, but we cannot forget the hard battle fought by those who came before us.

And looking ahead, this is totally me in 40-ish years.

Take time today to be thankful - and I mean, truly thankful - for what you have, wherever you are. With that gratitude, stand up and speak up for the rights you still deserve, as well as the rights of others.

Now if you'll excuse me, there are a couple of storms on the way.

Friday, August 17, 2012


(And by "rumble," I mean read this installment of Linky-Dinks!)

Ginger.ous shares 6 items to help "ward off travel funk." My day-to-day purse may be the size of a horse's feed bag, but it does NOT contain many of the items she lists here. Also, the one time I tried dry shampoo, it turned my hair grey and no amount of brushing would change that.

7 Tips for Cheap, Long Term Travel: There’s one thing you absolutely must have if you want to hit the road for an extended period of time: a willingness to make it work. It’s most definitely not going to be an easy ride and you will have moments where your plan is nonexistent and your funds are lingering in negative territory. But those moments—the ones that cultivate resourcefulness and resilience—are precisely why travel changes you as a person. They also make for the best stories down the line.

Three decades of selling crap - Happy birthday, Diet Coke!

whatever, gatsby wrote some fun posts about her journey from Boston to Florida for the summer. Check her out. She's adorable!

Jersey City Vegan writes an open letter to Lady Gaga regarding "Furgate."

Sad news: Vegan Treats in Bethlehem, PA, was burglarized. Link includes contact # for anyone with info.

Triple-Decker Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge? Um, YES PLEASE.

How ALL animal shelters should be:

What has rocked your e-socks this weekend?

Monday, August 13, 2012

What a Crock!

Last month I dusted off the ol' Crock Pot for the first time in several months. Crock Pots are really great. They're perfect for super-busy and/or lazy people, and for people who like mysteries or surprises. When trying out recipes for the first time, you never know until 6-8 hours later how it will turn out! I tried a few different recipes for the first time last month, all yielding different results.

breakfast quinoa (recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker)
Verdict: Disgusting. The texture was AWFUL. It was mushier than mush. I added cinnamon and maple syrup, but that didn't get around that awful, regurgitated-like mouth feel. I ended up tossing this out.

I failed to photograph the other Crock Pot dishes I tried out that week (I was dog-sitting at the time, pooches win), but here's a breakdown of the rest of that week's experiments:

Caribbean Mango Black Beans from The Vegan Slow Cooker: AWESOME! I love this recipe! I actually had to go out and buy specific spices for this, which was exciting!

Spicy Black Bean Chili from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Not at all spicy, but still very good. Freezes well.

Hominy-White Bean Chili from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: AWESOME!! I'd made this before, but it had been awhile. Love this recipe! Also freezes well.

Stepping away from the Crock Pot for a moment, I want to share with you another recipe that I tried out. Remember when Dr. Oz had That Vegan Episode awhile back? Jasmine from Our Hen House made a (much-too-brief) appearance. (Seriously, why didn't Dr. Oz interview her?!) Anyway, one of the women who appeared on the show was talking about her black bean brownie recipe. Vegan, flour-free, no added sugar, blah blah blah. It sounded promising.

I have a terrible tendency to NOT read recipes all the way through. Most of the time, things end up okay, but in this case, it was a horrible experience. I was pleased to discover that I had ALL of the ingredients on hand that the recipe called for. Perfect! So, I set to work, dumping all the ingredients into my friend's Vitamix.

Now I'm about to share an opinion that I know is greatly debatable, but just remember that it is simply my opinion: Vitamix sucks. I was "raised" on Blendtec. Blendtecs have hella convenient programmed settings, it has a higher horsepower, they're easier to use, and in my opinion, they just work better, plain and simple. It took me FOR-F*CKING-EVER to blend all of these ingredients in the Vitamix. After about an hour (only a slight exaggeration), I poured the mixture into the pan, which was a super messy experience. (Another observation: Vitamixes are too damn deep and narrow!)

Once it was all nice and neat in the pan, it looked pretty good!

Now time for another horrible step in this hellish recipe: It "bakes" in the oven at 200* for AN HOUR AND A HALF.

WHO THE HELL HAS THAT KIND OF TIME?! Did I also mention that, by the time the Vitamix finally blended everything, it was nearly midnight?! I was none too happen with this recipe, and ya best believe I was cursing Dr. Oz's name. How could he endorse such an inconvenient recipe?! Clearly, he had never made it himself.

I guess it worked out, though, since it would take me another hour (another slight exaggeration) to clean out that God-forsaken Vitamix. (Blendtec or go home, people.)

After an hour and a half, the brownies were not brownies. It was still pudding. I upped the temp slightly and let them bake for another half hour. After the additional 30 minutes, there was a nice cooked-looking "crust" on top, but it was 2am and I was deliriously tired, so I pulled the pan out of the oven and let it set on top of the stove.

The only thing this recipe does right is in calling the brownies "fudgy." But really, this was more like FUDGE than BROWNIES.

Look at this mess.

The flavor was...okay. Nothing amazing. For a vegan, no-sugar, no-flour FUDGE, this would be okay, but I KNOW that there are easier and simpler recipes out there for a such a treat.

Hooray for kitchen adventures!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

June 2012 Vegan Swap Reveal

Holy guacamole, I did it again: waited too darn long to update this blog. I've actually had a pretty big, honest blog post on my mind grapes, but that's not happening today.

Today I'm going to FINALLY post about the goodies I received from Adriana from Vegan Corner, via The Verdant Life's vegan package swap!

Shiny, happy goodies (holding hands?)

These bars were chewy-tastic, like bars of nougat!

This cactus jerky was interesting! I loved its salty, smoky flavor, and it wasn't as tough as, say, Stonewall's Jerquee. Still, jerky is TOUGH. Is that why they call it jerky? Because you look like a jerk(y) when you're eating it?

I love little snacks like these because they're perfect for taking along with me to work. Just toss it in my bag and go.

Apple chips (yum!), agar agar (gotta do something fun with that! Adriana's flan, perhaps?), and more random teas for my tea stash. I love having a wide variety of teas on hand.

Thank you, Adriana!

**The Vegan Corner currently has an indiegogo fundraiser happening. They're trying to create the ultimate, worldwide vegan guide. Check it out HERE.**

I took July off from online swaps, but I'm back in swapping action in August. Hopefully it won't take me as long to post my goodies. Life, man, I'm tellin' ya!