A couple of weekends ago, my daughter and I went on a group field trip with other Portland-area vegan families to volunteer at Green Acres Farm Sanctuary out in Silverton.
We had been to Out to Pasture a couple of times, and really enjoyed seeing the animals living their lives without interference or expectation. I can’t describe it really, it just feels different. I think this video gives you a good sense of the environment, and photos say it better than words.
It is what I imagine heaven would be like. That may sound crazy, but you can feel the peace of the animals, and the beauty of the surroundings.
The people who run these farm sanctuary organizations are so compassionate and rely on volunteers and donations to keep them going. I hope you’ll consider spending time and/or money to support rescued animals.
Our job was to clean out one of the sheep sheds. Not too bad, and very satisfying to spend an hour or so shoveling out old straw and manure, adding clean straw and giving them fresh water. Kids pitching in and using wheelbarrows and rakes is good for them!
It was a fun experience to go with other families, and we ended up staying quite awhile afterwards meeting each other, sharing food, recipe ideas, and similar experiences. I hadn’t realized before that was missing from my life. I am just used to being the odd one out. Very nice to balance that with people who understand a different perspective too.
Did I mention in addition to all the more common farm animals, they have a hinny?
And baby animals?
Not to mention, they happened to have about 9 wiggly puppies at that time!
Check out their website for the next work party and to read about the animals! We look forward to our next visit.
I have two kitchen items that I rely on consistently. I would hesitate to call them gadgets, they are more like my mainstay appliances, especially for all the fruits and vegetables we eat.
The first is my Vitamix. At first I thought it seemed silly to spend hundreds of dollars on a blender. But, I use it almost every single day, and sometimes twice a day. I can pulverize nuts into milk or butter, make soups, sauces, ice cream and smoothies so easily and quickly. I bought mine refurbished at a Whole Foods demo for much less than a brand new one. It looks brand new and has a warranty, recipe book, etc. It can be a little intimidating with it’s power- but I find that is a good thing since it keeps other people from using it! The clean up is so easy- just blend some dish soap and water to clean it.
It is awesome, and everyone who has it swears by it. Only downside is also why it is amazing- it is so powerful! I may need a food processor as well for some recipes. It is easy to over-process food in there and start making peanut butter when you just need to grind up nuts, or turn salsa into soup. That may also just be user error, hmmm. I thought I had broken it once when it turned off suddenly, but fortunately, it was the built-in feature that will shut the machine down rather than let it overheat. After it cooled down, it was fine.
The other tool I use the most is a recent purchase: the Instant Pot. I don’t remember how I heard about this. It is an electric pressure cooker that allows me to make beans, rice, lentils, soup, slow cooker recipes, steel cut oats, vegetables in record time. It also seals in their flavors while cooking in a way that makes everything taste better. I’m still earning to use it, but I have been using it almost every day as well. Apparently, you can even make yogurt in the model that I chose. It speeds cooking time by 2-10 times, and reduces energy use by 70%. I chose the DUO60, 7 in 1, 6 Qt model. I think if you don’t need the yogurt function and make smaller quantities, you could get a less expensive one.
It wasn’t cheap- but much less than the blender- around $100. I am really enjoying it, and how much easier it makes cooking. My mother-in-law gave us a stove top pressure cooker years ago but I never used it. I was afraid of the metal thing that was shaking, and stuff whistling, all the different movable parts, and fear of a giant explosion (which does happen). The electric one has safeguards in place to ensure that you can’t remove the lid while it is under pressure. There is an Instant Pot Vegan Facebook page with recipes, and a lot of Indian cooking uses this method (my favorite).
I’ll probably start posting some recipes from my Instant Pot. Basically, the only drawback I have seen so far is that you have to learn how long things take (always refer to a book). Since you can’t just peek in while it is cooking, you can under cook or overcook vegetables. It has the sauté feature at the beginning, which allows you just to cook onions or something with the lid off first. One of the best features is that it is very easy to clean- just one stainless steel pot.
I hope to get some vegan pressure cookbooks to try next month and will update this post with my favorites. My mom is the Queen of Kitchen Gadgets. Many have been very helpful, like the Vidalia Chop Wizard. She has a pasta maker, mandolin, juicer, everything… Her latest recommendation is the spiralizer to make raw noodles, curly fries, etc.
I will find out what brand, but it is a way to make eating vegetables very attractive.
What is your favorite gadget/tool that makes your life easier?
I celebrate Earth Day every day in some way, and it feels great. The more people join forces together, will make it even easier. From saving water to battling climate change, making your diet “greener” is something everyone can do! Click on the graphic below to learn 7 ways your food choices can help the planet for people and animals.
1 1/2 pounds small thin-skinned potatoes, like yukon gold (about 10)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cashews or almonds, soaked in boiling water for half an hour. If using almonds, remove skins.
3/4 cup water (or veg broth)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kala namak Indian black salt (or 3/4 teaspoon regular salt)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Slice potatoes in half the long way and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Rub potatoes to coat, and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
3. In the meantime, drain the nuts and place them in the blender with water, turmeric, salt, lemon juice and pepper. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could take 1 to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your blender.
4. When potatoes are tender, remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, but still hot, scoop the centers out with a melon baller or rounded teaspoon, leaving about 1/4-inch lining of potato inside.
5. Place the scooped out potato into a mixing bowl and mash until smooth. It’s important that they’re still warm so that they mash well. Add the “yolk” cream mixture, and continue to mash until well incorporated. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes so that the mixture stiffens up.
6. Once cool, scoop back into potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.
The special salt, and the paprika garnish really added to this. Everyone really liked it, and it was much more delicious than my photo represents! Would be fun to bring to a party, or serve as an appetizer. We ate them as a side course.
I want to be a friendly resource for those who may not have considered a plant-based lifestyle.
There are so many logical and strong arguments to change; from huge environmental impact, to animal cruelty, to health reasons, that we simply cannot continue our current path as our population grows and lifestyles of Western consumption spread. It is not illogical, just unpopular. I believe we just need to make it as easy as possible for people to adopt.
The frustrating part is that although I believe in my message and passion, I haven’t grown my readership past my own personal friends- or just slightly beyond that. I am extremely grateful to these people, but those who know me, probably won’t tell me the hard truth. I want to talk to non-vegans, from “carnivore” to vegetarians, so that is pretty much 99% of the people out there- I need to know what will make them interested in this subject. I’m not here to preach to the choir of those who already agree!
At first I hoped to simply raise awareness in a fun way by using art: illustrating veg food on instagram and the blog, making info graphics that would make the data easier to visualize.
Then I tried posting about articles that I felt consumers would want to know– like how some chicken is shipped to China. Or, environmental issues.
I added resources on HOW to make changes, to make small steps, or have a trial period.
Still not gaining more interest, I just posted my own personal lifestyle posts about our family, hoping to just be somewhat interesting enough to engage.
And now, I am feeling that the bigger obstacle is just the newness of people learning how to eat and cook without animal products. To that end, I think recipes and meal planning are the most important hurdles.
I want to use my time wisely… how can I best help you?
Four years ago I started down a path that has changed my life. It has given me a way to align my heart and my actions. It opened my eyes to another way of viewing the world and our relationship to other species that I had previously ignored. It made a huge impact to our family.
I stopped eating meat, fish, dairy and eggs or buying any products made from animals. In February 2012, I took a one month vegan challenge.
More than just the physical act of eating a different diet, it was very difficult for me to go against the flow of how I grew up, traditions, social gatherings. In fact for many years I tread a line where I was mostly vegan, but would not necessarily call myself one.
Then, I realized that I have to stand for what I believe in. I am proud of being compassionate, peaceful, and not wanting to cause harm. I’m okay with extending the acceptable love of animals to include ALL animals.
I vote proudly with how I spend my money.
I’m proud that I have never written anything on the internet that I am ashamed of, that I regret. I do not criticize, mock or am rude to others who do not share my beliefs. I hope to be a positive example, and a friendly and pragmatic vegan.
If I don’t stand up as a positive, non-radical, business owner, designer, mother, it won’t help the word vegan to become more mainstream and accepted.
The more you open your heart and your mind to the health, environmental, and animal issues… it really just makes a lot of sense.
I want to change the world to be kinder, less violent, and sustainable for all. I am very proud to no longer contribute to the horrific factory farms, and on that point I definitely feel there is common ground we can all find. The cruelty, pollution, disease, and destruction does not make sense. Let’s start there and move forward together. We have strength in numbers. Even if you would not call yourself a vegan… vote with your money and your choices. You can make a difference in the world, and for the future.
Is it easy or hard to become vegan? A lot of people talk about the transition from eating meat to plant-based diet as a journey. Within the vegan community there may be dispute about the concept of baby steps.
It is possible that some people went from watching a video or talking to a friend, directly to embracing a vegan life. For many others, there are different paths, and some stop in different places, often for years.
I made this scale to show that there are easy steps to take no matter where you are.
Many people stay at vegetarian level forever or for years. I am always surprised at what triggers someone to take further action. It is very individual. One long-term pescetarian told me she was considering going vegan after seeing a beautiful live salmon is a stream while on a hike. Other omnivores may make a connection between their pet companion and be struck by the similarity to intelligence and sensitivity to farm animals.
We have a new winner for cookies! Although I still love my Lunchbox cookies, I don’t have almond butter on hand usually, and the recipe only makes a very small amount. Also, my daughter can’t take anything with nuts to her school. In my ongoing quest for cookie recipes, there were two miserable fails on other recipes I tried. Think I am kidding? Making it to the blog requires that it works for non-technical, bumbling cooks like myself!
This is NOT from a picture of the new recipe, will not be posting this recipe!
This recipe can make 3 1/2 dozen, and is more of a basic cookie recipe. I used this recipe as the base and made a few changes.
Everyone liked them a lot, and even though they made more cookies, they still didn’t last 24 hours!
More Tasty Cookies
1-1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
6 tablespoons vanilla soy milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 T ground flax seeds in 1/4 cup warm water (OR 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce)
In a large bowl, beat the first six ingredients until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto un-greased cookie sheets Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks.Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.
I have been searching for a specific Indian black salt called kala namak for awhile. Not so hard that I would actually drive to Beaverton, or even NW Portland, but I do look in all the spice areas of stores. I’ve been looking for so long, I forgot which recipe I needed it for! Finally, a spice store from the coast opened a brand new location in our neighborhood and they had it in stock.
It is a very interesting salt with it’s sulfuric smell and taste.
I decided to start my experiments with this quiche from the One Green Planet’s list, simply because I had all the ingredients.
This was very healthy, although I ate way too much of it. No crust makes this gluten free too. After all this, I almost forgot to use my special new salt instead of regular when making this recipe!
Easy Spinach and Pepper Quiche [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
1 pound extra-firm tofu
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt (black salt if you have it!)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup arrowroot or cornstarch
1½ tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a shallow 9″ pie dish and set aside.
Combine all ingredients, except spinach and pepper, in a Vitamix or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to break up chunks and scrape the sides as necessary.
In a bowl, mix chopped spinach and pepper.
Add the batter and mix well.
Transfer batter to pie dish.
Using a spatula, spread the mixture around so it’s even and tight.
Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden and the center is not still mushy.
Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing (luke warm or room temperature is best for slicing).
Or, what would I be happy and excited to do even if I weren’t paid?
Funny enough, I have had almost a year to experience this. Although I have retained my design firm, I am also doing a lot of work that only pays in feeling good.
I’m not sure I can answer this question completely at this point. I have always thought design, art and illustration are what I love and where my skills lie. Sometimes I wonder if this is just the default thought pattern, and where I have spent my 10,000+ hours. It is definitely what people thank me for, but I don’t know if it what makes me happy and excited. The creative process has always been stressful, but I think that is a common issue with artists, writers, and others.
If I truly could name one thing that makes me happy and excited- it is travel, new experiences, exploring foreign countries. I love it.
What I have learned is that integrating my life with what I care about is great.
I’ve learned that I don’t have a community.
I’ve learned that now that I have space and time, I have to let go of excuses that running on the work treadmill gave me. If I don’t cook, clean, exercise or parent well, I no longer can think it is because I am just too busy and working too hard.
I’m most happy and excited when I am productive creating things. I’m excited when I am not just making promises, but actually delivering them. When people appreciate and thank me for helping with a worthwhile project, that feels really good.