Monthly Archives: January 2013

All that Glitters

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Bling-a-ling? Yes, please! Bling for a good cause – and support local small business/artists? Gosh, we just can’t resist! This weekend at one of our favorite vintage shops, Objects Found, is the 9th Annual Soroptimist Jewelry Show. Nine local jewelers and artists will be selling their irresistible baubles – and 20% of all jewelry sales go to the Soroptimists to further their mission of helping women of all ages in fulfill their dreams and grow within their communities.

We attended last year’s sale in January 2012 and selected a few favorites to illustrate the variety and style of the Soroptimist Jewelry Show. All three of these artists will be making an appearance at this weekend’s event, too – so if you like what you see, make a point to come check it out…

The above quad of vintage necklaces were presented at the 2012 Soroptimist Jewelry Show by Andrew Bruchey of The Parisian Flea in Hampden, Baltimore.  We are long-time fans of Andrew’s stunning estate finds and real-deal vintage jewelry. The Parisan Flea always offers up very fine selections – not just vintage pieces, but the kind of jewelry that is both timeless and very collectible. One could call these statement pieces – Seriously, just look at those glass flowers! Love!

Local artist Cindy Blackburn works in sterling silver, gold and semi-precious stones creating custom pieces. Her collection includes rings, earrings, pedants, bracelets and pins. We both loved the earthy, grounded quality to her designs. Each item  felt organic and totally comfortable, as if you could wear it everyday with any outfit – from a work suit to jeans & tee. Cindy was wonderful to talk to and is happy to share the stories that inspire her work. The ring-tree was my absolute favorite!

ReWearables by  Niki Hord was completely our style. We applaud Niki for crafting her collection (and even her display pieces!) from found and upcycled beads and objects. The ReWearables style is eclectic, fun, funky and casual – just like Niki herself. We both enjoyed chatting with her about her creations and how she started making jewelry. She said that she hated to see  beautiful things from the past in disrepair and headed for the landfill, so she reimagined them into whole modern pieces. Niki’s jewelry was very affordable and very, very wearable!

In addition to Andrew Bruchey from the Parisian Flea, Cindy Blackburn and ReWearables by Niki Hord, the other artists participating this weekend at the the Soroptimist Jewelry Show will be Denise Ashby, Patti Boyle, Andrea Harris, Ellen Montoya, Wanda Robinson and Beth Rogers.

Soroptimist International is an international organization of business and professional women trying to make a difference through volunteerism locally and throughout the world, advancing the status of women, promoting friendship, international understanding, goodwill and peace. Each year, Soroptimist clubs in 19 countries and territories assist women in overcoming personal difficulties and improving their lives through education and skills training.

Locally,  Soroptimist of Arbutus works on a signature local project called “Comfort Caps” in which they provide turbans and bandanas to a local oncology center to be given free of charge to women experienced hair loss due to cancer treatment.

Objects Found is located at 818 Frederick Rd., Catonsville, MD 21228. The Soroptimist Jewelry Show will be open from 2/2/13 from 10am to 6pm and again on Sunday from 2/3/13 from 10am to 4pm.

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Sweeties: Feed Your Face Vegan Caramels

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Is it too soon for another post in the category of Sweeties? What treat could inspire us to bump aside a savory recipe or healthy dish? Three words… Buttery, sweet, gooey. What bliss art thou.? Yes, we’re talking about YOU, vegan caramels…

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Genius candy maker Nicole at Feed Your Face has come up with coconut-milk based vegan caramels. Flavors include… green tea chai, carrot cake, blood orange, spicy mango, mulled apple cider, lemongrass coconut, pomegranate balsamic, dark chocolate orange, mocha, vanilla orange creamsicle, dark chocolate, double ginger, dark chocolate pumpkin spice, vanilla, maple, Hawaiian sea salt, dark chocolate sea salt, espresso, pumpkin spice, lavender brown sugar. Yes, that’s TWENTY different flavors of vegan caramels.

You can buy a sampler to indulge in one bite of each exquisite sweetie. They’re also gluten-free and corn syrup-free! There are special flavors that come along from time-to-time as well, such as gingerbread and eggnog for the holidays, and raspberry-balsamic-white pepper for Valentine’s Day. Yum! Be sure to check the Feed Your Face site for seasonal offerings.

Bonus: her wrappers are eco-friendly – you can compost the plastic the candies come in, as well as the bag. The ribbon they were tied with is handmade of reclaimed cotton or banana fibers by a fair trade women’s cooperative in Nepal. Gorgeous.

Aside from the fact that she is based in New York state, the Feed Your Face/Vegan Caramels website doesn’t say much about the company – nothing about what inspired Nicole to make vegan caramels, her philosophy, or even cute notes about her pets or kids. We have to think, though, that Nicole is a great lady, as her Facebook page has lots of personality, and when worthy causes come along, she donates proceeds from her sales to them. Plus, I mean – gosh – she makes vegan caramels! She must be an angel of awesomeness.

We really enjoyed the vegan caramels from Feed Your Face. They stick to your teeth; have a rich smooth texture; and leave a buttery aftertaste on the tongue. All the hallmarks of delish caramel. If you want a truly sweet sweet, this is the candy for you! Visit her site and feast your eyes on the twenty incredible flavors. She’s currently taking pre-orders for Valentine’s Day. Oh, our favorites were lavender brown sugar, dark chocolate, maple and mocha. In case anyone cares to send another bag our way…

Baltimore Vegan Drinks ~ January 22nd!

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It’s that time again. Baltimore Vegan Drinks is on the horizon. If you’re in the area of Charm City, stop by and see us next week at Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria & Tavern, home to Baltimore’s bestest vegan pizzas and “cheesesteaks”.

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Vegan Drinks is a happy hour for vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious.   You can RSVP on the Vegan Drinks Facebook page for the Tuesday, January 22nd Vegan Drinks at Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria and Tavern.  There’s no cover charge, and there are 100%-vegan appetizers, salads, sandwiches and pizza.  And of course there are awesome vegan drinks!

So mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 22nd.  Festivities are from 7-9pm.

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Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria and Tavern is located at 2108 Eastern Avenue, between S. Chester Street and S. Duncan Street and is accessible via the city buses and the Charm City Circulator.  And there is plenty of street parking. Oh yea… did we mention the vegan “cheesesteaks” – smothered in Teese, with house-made rolls and seasoned fries? Oh, we did? Well. It bears mentioning again.

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Very Berry Laundry

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Everyone has to have clean clothes. And most laundry soap is a bit less than eco-friendly. Many contain phosphates and other toxins that end up in our water – killing off sea life and algae in the ocean, and creating dead zones where no aquatic life can survive. Another concern relating to laundry detergent is that it can make the wash water acidic, and depending on where that water runs to, it could further impact the environment, having effects similar to acid rain. Apparently, the EPA has done research into standard laundry detergents being possible carcinogens to the humans wearing the clean clothes. We heard all these uplifting facts (and many more- whew) at a talk we attended a few months ago hosted by the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Though we’re both vegan, drive a hybrid and do everything green we can think of, we decided to try harder with our soap usage, especially laundry soap. Enter BerryPlus.

BerryPlus came to us off a deal on Vegan Cuts. (As a sidenote, if you don’t subscribe to Vegan Cuts, take a break from this blog and go sign up now!) The adorable packaging caught my eye and I wondered how it was possible for such an itsy teeny tiny amount of soap to get an entire load of laundry clean. The folks at BerryPlus call those little tubes “microdoses” and one works for an entire load.

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After reading about BerryPlus online, I learned that it is made from soapberries, which, when combined with water and shaken, give off a soapy residue that has been used to clean clothes naturally in India and other parts of Asia, like, forever. We tried it first on towels – they came out clean and vivid, and after a tumble in the dryer, they were fluffy and soft with no noticeable smell of any kind.  Feeling confident, the next load was jeans. These were *really dirty* and again, we were thrilled with how they came out – soft, clean, no smell. As a different kind of test, I used BerryPlus on a load of delicates – stockings and lacy intimates. My “personals” turned out well – just very clean.

Officially sold. We love BerryPlus.

The BerryPlus website says it works as well as anything else on the market, but is much less irritating and super safe for your clothes, your family, your washing machine and the planet. It is so safe that BerryPlus doesn’t come with warnings or first aid instructions about how to use it.  It is made of berries, water, vegetable glycerin (for softening & stability), olive leaf extract (to kill bacteria) and potassium sorbate/sodium benozoate (food grade preservatives to make it shelf stable).

Save the fish. Save the waterways. Save your clothes. Try this awesome laundry soap.  Chances are that you can’t find it yet in your local supermarket, so try this link to get a pack of microdoses. They are also selling BerryPlus in dropper bottles, now, as well.

Have a happy, healthy Laundry Day!

Sweeties: Go Max Go Candy Bars

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Sometimes we miss things from the past. Like certain candy that spurs warm nostalgia. I have many happy memories of Krackel bars: sharing one with a friend at lunch in elementary school or finding them in Halloween treat bags. But of course, no vegan eats Krackel bars. Or Mounds. Or Milky Way, Reese’s Cups, Three Musketeers, Snickers or Butterfinger. These items are far from vegan and their companies are even farther from ethical.

Well. Get ready, Go Max Go is about to blow your mind. This fabulous company has created all-vegan versions of your  classic candy bar favorites. Shazam!

Go Max Go is a vegan family-owned and operated, Dallas, Texas-based business. Their name is a tribute their dog Max, a German Shepherd-mix, who taught them through action that life should be about big love, having fun at every opportunity, and not worrying about tripping when you’re chasing after your dream (in his case, usually a tennis ball).

To honor all the great times they shared with Max, the owners felt his favorite cheer, “Go Max, go!” would be a great name for their company and a wonderful way to memorialize their canine friend of 16 1/2 years.

Their line includes….

Cleo’s – A sweet, creamy peanut butter cup with rice-milk chocolate. And it’s gluten free.

Snap! – My personal favorite, a crunchy, noisy crisp-rice chocolate bar with rice milk chocolate. Also gluten-free.

Jokerz – Layers of dry-roasted peanuts, decadent caramel, and gooey peanut nougat, wrapped in chocolate.

Twlight – Fluffy, chocolate nougat topped with a thick layer of caramel, swathed in rice-milk chocolate.

Mahalo – Sweetened coconut candy topped with three whole dry roasted almonds and covered in a luscious chocolate.

Buccaneer –  Decadent and smooth nougat covered in a creamy rice-milk chocolate coating.

and their newest treat…

Thumbs Up – We haven’t tried this one yet, but it looks in the photo like a Butterfinger, with crunchy peanut candy filling. As soon as we can do some, eh, research, we’re report back on the Thumbs Up bar!

One bite of these heavenly candies will take you back in time to those days of youth when an occasional chocolate bar was the treat you looked forward to all week. The gooey caramel; the crisp rice. Everything is just like you remember, but better cuz its vegan and made with ethically sourced ingredients by Go Max Go.

Finding these little gems is perhaps the toughest part of the equation. We knew about them long before we tried them. It wasn’t until we bought a few at the gift shop of Farm Sanctuary in New York that we experienced the bliss of Go Max Go bars. Our local Wegman’s in Maryland carries three of the bars. You can find them online at Vegan Essentials, and using the Go Max Go online locator as well.

Ready to bite into a dairy-free, cruelty-free version of your childhood favorite? You gotta get your hands on some candy bars from Go Max Go!

Ridiculous Deep Dish Veggie Pizza Pie

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It’s cold here. I’m not sure where you are as you read this, but it’s in the twenties tonight in Baltimore and we needed a hearty, warming supper to chase away the winter chills. Enter the Ridiculous Deep Dish Veggie Pizza Pie. This is more than just a slice of pizza, it will literally warm you from the inside out. It’s filling, savory and a fun project to boot. And why is it ridiculous? Well, you need to make the recipe and find out!

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We made our own herb dough in this dish, but I want to let you know, it’s not necessary. If you prefer to skip that part, just buy two balls of pre-made pizza dough at your local grocery, Trader Joe’s, or get it from a favorite pizzeria. Then follow the steps for the filling and baking below. Just make sure you are hungry, cuz this meal-in-one will stick to your ribs!

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Ridiculous Deep Dish Veggie Pizza Pie

1 package dry active yeast

1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 Tbsp. olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup chopped mushrooms (we used shiitakes)

1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out

1 jar pasta sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)

1 8 oz. bag of mozzarella Daiya

In a small bowl, combine sugar and warm water with yeast. Allow to sit for five minutes, so yeast can activate. In a large bowl, combine flour, dried basil and dried oregano. When yeast is fluffy and foamy, pour into the flour mixture. Stir together until dough begins to form, then add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Work oil into the dough, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes. Dough should be soft and pliable.

Spray the mixing bowl with non-stick spray and return dough-ball to bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm area to rise for about an hour. Dough-ball will double in size.

While the dough is doing its thing, make the pizza pie filling. In remaining tablespoon of oil, saute onions and garlic in a large pan over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until wilted. Add spinach, being sure to break apart any lumpy bits, and 1/2 jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and when heated through, take off heat and set aside.

Oil a deep-dish, oven-safe pan, such as a large pie plate, deep-dish Pyrex pan or Corningware dish. It should be about 12 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. This is not the meal for your flat pizza stone or a baking sheet!

When the dough is ready, remove the cloth and punch it down. Really get in there and give it a good whack. This should be fun. It will gradually deflate and make a sound like it’s sighing. At this point, preheat your oven to 400. Next, pull the dough into to chunks, about 1/3 and 2/3. Using your hands or a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, work the 2/3 chunk of dough into a shape that will cover the bottom of your dish and the sides with a tiny it of overhang. Place in the oiled deep-dish and press into corners, making sure the dough covers the bottom and sides, with enough leftover to close the pie at the top.

Pour about half the bag of Daiya mozzarella into the dough, then follow with all the prepared veggie filling from your pan, and top with nutritional yeast if using and the rest of the Daiya. Now, to close the pizza pie, use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten out the 1/3 chunk of dough to a circle slightly larger than your deep dish. Carefully place it on top of the pie and twist or crimp the edges shut using any method you like. Some folks use a fork, some make folds. Really fancy bakers actually make shapes. We like little twists.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes. When your pizza pie is ready, the top will be browned and your entire kitchen will smell heavenly. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving. We got 8 portions from our pie, but this may vary depending on the size of the dish you use.

To serve – we liked ours with a little extra warmed pasta sauce for dipping; a crisp green garden salad on the side and red wine.