Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rehoboth Beach goes Vegan!

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Tomorrow Rehoboth Beach, DE will be host to the city’s first-ever VegFest!

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This fun day of eating, shopping, speakers and demos is sponsored by Compassion Over Killing and VegRehoboth.com .  The Rehoboth VegFest will include vendors, goodie bags for the first 300 attendees (with treats from awesome vegan companies like Upton’s Naturals, Alternative Baking Company, Parma, Daiya, Gardein, Salazon Chocolate, Go Veggie, Field Roast and Mary’s Gone Crackers).

What else to do besides browse vendors? Eat of course! Food exhibitors include  a(MUSE.)Cake BreakHobos Restaurant,  Modern Mixture , and Nage Restaurant. Better show up with an appetite!

And of course, there’s a wonderful line-up of speakers: Paul Shapiro from the HSUS, Ruby Lathon from PCRM, Erica Mayer from COK, cookbook author John Schlimm (Tipsy Vegan, anyone? How about Grilling Vegan Style?) and our favorite vegan chef, Gretchen Hanson from Hobos. Long-time readers will recall the profile we did of Gretchen back in 2011.

This event is a FREE, family-friendly, pet-friendly celebration of how easy and delicious it is to choose vegetarian foods. The outdoor festival highlights the community’s diverse range of animal-friendly cuisine and the many benefits of choosing plant-based foods. The Rehoboth Beach VegFest  has something for everyone to enjoy!

Wanna go? The event is from 11am to 5pm at Epworth United Methodist Church, 9285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Bring a water bottle – you will be able to refill it on-site! 🙂

See you there!

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Somer’s Oil-Free Banana Muffins

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There are always a few leftover bananas around here. Those few that somehow don’t make it – you know what I mean. Well, Somer, our friend at Vedged Out knows just what to do with them. Her recipe for oil-free banana muffins is fast, simple and ridiculously good!

She developed the recipe to make her children a healthy after-school snack, and it turned into a family favorite. They don’t need oil because three bananas  keep the batter moist as it bakes. For us, we love to make mini-loaves of banana-muffin and travel with it. These are super on road trips, for breakfast or an any-time snack. On Vedged Out, Somer suggests different add-in’s to jazz up the muffins (though they’re wonderful as-is, too!). We’ve tried goji berries, chocolate chips and dried blueberries. The photo below shows goji berries.

Somer was kind enough to allow us to re-post her recipe, as below. So grab those ‘nanas and get your oven pre-heated! And be sure to visit Somer’s wonderful blog at Vedged Out!

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Somer’s Oil Free Banana Muffins (or Mini-Loaves!)

3 ripe bananas

1/2  cup plain soymillk + 2 Tbls. lemon juice stirred together = vegan buttermilk

1/2  cup raw sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1  1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Optional stir-ins: goji berries, cranberries, vegan chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend bananas, sugar, vanilla, and vegan buttermilk in your blender until smooth  (we use a food processor). Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Pour wet mixture in and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Measure out by 1/4 cup measures into a lightly oiled 12 tin muffin tin (don’t use papers, these will stick). Press in a few fillings if desired, or leave plain. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just golden. Cool on a baking rack for a few minutes before eating.

Thanks Somer!

Sentimental Upcycling

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If you’re an animal lover, you know how it feels to want to keep your beloved companion with you all the time. Wouldn’t it be super if your hound could cruise the mall with you? Alas, dogs and cats can rarely accompany us to work, grocery shopping or other public places. That day may come. Someday. But till then,  if you save your friend’s annual tags, you can have a singular remembrance made that will last and last – and look incredibly cool at the same time.

Our friend Kathy, of Feathered Gems, makes unique and very special jewelry for animal lovers. Like us, she has a greyhound-baby in her life, but her work pays respect to all manner of critters – birds, dogs, kitties, rabbits, horses, ferrets and sea life. Kathy truly has a place in her heart – and her creative metal work – for all creatures great and small.

TagBracelet2_lr The tag bracelets from Feathered Gems are quite special – basically, you will have your beloved friend’s tags around your wrist all the time. You simply save up enough annual tags to circle your wrist – for the DH it was 6 tags; for my wrist, it took 4. (Most women need 4 or 5.) This is upcycling at its most sentimental!

Kathy started making the tag bracelets when a customer asked her to create a memorial for a dog that had passed away.  After polishing the dog’s tags, Kathy knew there were enough to circle her client’s wrist and linked them into a bracelet. It’s been a very popular, personalized offer for her company, she said. Some vets are even getting them for patients as gifts, and they’re suitable for men and women as jewelry. Depending on the size and shape of the tags, they can be made to show the names and dates, too.

“It’s a wonderful way to keep happy memories with you, ” Kathy said. 🙂

We couldn’t agree more. Though our houndie is still going strong, the familiar jingle of her tags – at an unexpected moment when she isn’t with us – is a welcome and comforting sound.  Not to mention an incredible conversation starter! Very few pieces of jewelry have inspired more comments that our tag bracelets!

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Love the tag bracelets but don’t have a dog, or don’t have enough tags of your own? As part of the Cooke County (Chicago) Dangerous Dog Project, there were 900 leftover, confiscated tags. In an effort to re-use them and remember the dogs, Kathy took almost 900 old tags and you can purchase the bracelets she created from them via Feathered Gems.

Based in Detriot, Michigan, Kathy’s company supports many worthy causes in the animal community and she even sends donations to groups that are holding raffles and fund-raisers. Be sure to browse all the beautiful jewelry Kathy creates when you visit her page.

To get your own tag bracelet, contact Kathy via her Feathered Gems website. Bracelets start at $25.00 plus shipping – and of course, unless you want one made from Kathy’s tags, you will need to send her your pet’s used tags! She will need measurements from your wrist and if the tags are to be in special order, you will need to make notes for her!

Jingle, jingle!

Pizzeria-Style Garlic Knots

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Just near our house, there’s a family-owned Italian place called Chef P’s and it’s just like you would imagine – fresh sauce, fresh dough – loads of traditional lasganas, pizzas, calzones. Sadly, they have about 4 vegan options on the 7 page menu (besides the huge salads, of course!). Not to complain, 4 vegan options is more than some places have! But when you walk in and see all the fresh pizzas, smells the amazing smells, and – oh – the garlic knots – you start to fill with longing for the other goodies. (As a sidenote, if you are a vegetarian, Chef Paolino’s is your place! Be sure to check it out, their cheesy dishes look incredible.)

Considering the decadent amount of melted butter and parm cheese on the garlic knots, we decided to re-make them at home. So we started with our usual pizza dough recipe, just like they do at the Italian place, and then coated it with vegan butter, garlic and parsley. We called this Garlic Goo. Pretty simple stuff.

If you want a shortcut, skip making the dough and use store-bought pizza dough (like Trader Joe’s) or get freshly made dough from your favorite local pizzeria.  They usually sell a ball of it cheaply and nothing beats fresh dough!

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Pizzeria-Style Garlic Knots

Pizza Dough:

1 cup warm water

1 package dry active yeast (we use Fleischman’s Pizza Crust Yeast)

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cups all purpose flour (we like King Arthur’s)

Garlic Goo:

4 Tbl. Earth Balance (or use olive oil)

14 cloves of garlic, finely minced (use less if you like milder flavor)

2 Tbl. dried parsley flakes or 4 Tbl. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. salt

Gently mix yeast into warm water with sugar and olive oil  in a glass bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast blooms and the water is cloudy and foamy. The sugar will “feed” the yeast.

Meanwhile, pour flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and when yeast combo is ready, add it and mix together to form a soft dough ball. (If you have a stand mixer, you can do this with your dough hook. ) Knead by hand for about 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t overwork or the dough will get tough. Shape into a ball. Lightly oil a second bowl and place dough ball in there. Cover with a warm, damp kitchen towel (not drippy, be sure to ring it out!) and place in a warm, dark place to rise. The rising process will take about two hours until the dough has doubled in size.

If you are using bought dough, this is the place to enter the recipe.

Just before the dough is done, make the Garlic Goo. Melt the Earth Balance in a saucepan and stir in the minced garlic, parsley and salt. Set aside. Prepare two large cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

When the dough is done rising, punch it down and turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half and place second half in the bowl.  Roll first half  into a rectangle (or flatten with your hands for a more rustic look) until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Brush with about half of the Garlic Goo. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, slice dough into 6 inch-inch strips, about 1 inch wide.  Tie the dough in a knot and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with all remaining dough, leaving a little space between each knot, and repeat the entire process with the second half of your dough ball. If you are using homemade or fresh dough, cover lightly with wax paper or parchment and allow to rise again until doubled in size, one to two hours. (If you have store-bought dough, like Trader Joe’s, it won’t rise again, so skip to baking.) The recipe will make about 25 knots.

Towards the end of the rising process, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until toasted and slightly browned on top. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes and serve warm.

Note: If you want them to be as hearty as the ones they make at Chef P’s, toss while hot in a large bowl with more olive oil/melted Earth Balance, more minced garlic and perhaps a little vegan parm or nutritional yeast. They will be slathered in goodness.

Seaweed Addiction

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Sometimes you only need a quick snack. And it’s nice when you can find a snack that’s not gooey or messy – something simple to eat, say, in the car or at your desk. You want nutrition, too? Okay. How about some SeaSnax? Don’t click off the page – seriously, you’ve gotta give these seaweed snacks a chance. You’re going to be surprised by how tasty they are!

SeaSnax come in four flavors: classic, spicy chipotle, wasabi and toasty onion. Plus there are SeaSprinkles – lightly roasted nori clusters with olive oil, agave syrup, sesame seeds and sesame oil. You can eat those with your hands too. (Or, ahem, just open the bag and pour it into your mouth. Not that I’d know anything about that…) All of these treats are vegan, gluten-free and non-gmo verified with no artificial colors or flavorings.

We were introduced to nori much the same way most people are: the wrapper on your cucumber maki sushi. But SeaSnax are crispy and have a different texture than the black strip around your sushi roll. They have some snap when you bite into them and for real – there is no funky sea-water taste! Each flavor is truly savory. The wasabi has a bold, sharp spiciness, while the chipotle and onion flavors are milder and more robust, with the classic offering a more clean & simple taste.

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Sea vegetables are one of the most healthful foods on earth. Nori is rich in minerals such as iodine, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper and selenium, as well as  vitamins B1, B6, C and E. Also, seaweed provides fiber and protein. Sea vegetables have a higher proportion of essential fatty acids than land plants! One sheet of raw nori usually conatins about .5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Seaweed is low fat, low carb, gluten free and sugar free.

SeaSnax is a socially conscious, kid-inspired, family business. The founder is Jin Jun, an acupuncturist, and she developed an interest in nutrition as a tool for prevention of disease.  In her view, food is medicine for the soul and body, and is the only lasting treatment for self-healing. During her pregnancy with her daughter, Jin’s appreciation for nutrition gained more relevance as she realized eating was no longer for “me”, but “we.”  Her kids eat SeaSnax everyday and enjoy seaweed like candy, so it’s crucial to her and the rest of the company to source the highest quality ingredients available.

10% of SeaSnax‘s annual net profit goes to non-profit organizations committed to making the world a better and gentler place for our children and our earth. Some of the charities have included Children’s Miracle Network, Non-GMO Project, Waldorf Schools, World Vegan Day, Humane Society of US and the Urban Arts Partnership.

To find SeaSnax, head over to your local Whole Foods. If you’re in Maryland, you can find them at Roots Markets, too. Prefer to shop online? You can buy directly from SeaSnax. And sometimes, you can find deals on Vegan Cuts, where we purchased a whole box for a great discount.

Ready to try these fun snacks? Yea, you know you are. Step away from the greasy chips…  Prepare for a seaweed addiction.

 

The PA Lavender Festival & a Scone

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If you haven’t been to Willow Pond Farm in Fairfield, Pa., chances are good that you haven’t been lucky enough in your lifetime to walk through a field of organic lavender. Unless you’ve been to Provence, France, that is. But if France isn’t in your immediate budget, mark your calendar for June 8th or June 15th, 2013. Those are the dates this year when Willow Pond will open their doors and invite the public in for two days of mini-Lavender Festivals.

For the past 11 years, Willow Pond has hosted a huge Lavender Festival, but  it’s been scaled back to two Saturdays. You can still enjoy it though. Seriously. The moment you step into that lush field of lavender… gentle rolling hills in the background, it’s like you’ve been transported to another place. For a few dollars you can snip a bouquet of fresh lavender flowers or weave them into a small wreath. The smell fills the air – 75 varieties of organic lavender. There’s really nothing else like it. You can literally feel your worries evaporate as you meander through the fields.

Take home some of the magic of Willow Pond in the form of herbal teas, spice blends, jams & jellies, lotions & soaps, herbal sugars and more – they even have herb-based flea “collars” for your dog! The herbs and spices are so fresh and flavorful, you’ll never want the stuff in the plastic jars from the grocery store again. (Read on to see what we created with their divine culinary lavender.)

Like gardening? You’re in luck, because you can buy all manner of herbs and plants – organic – at Willow Pond. They sell many varieties of lavender, of course, but also sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and every other culinary or medicinal herb you might want – even some fairly exotic ones! 

Spending the day at the Lavender Festival will make you slow down and truly enjoy the moment. There’s something ethereal about the entire place – the earthy food, the plants, the breeze filled with the fragrance of lavender…  You can sit by the pond all afternoon. You can wander the fields or the huge herb & flower garden. You can shop, get a massage or even take a short class on cooking with lavender. One thought though – if you are vegan – you may want to pack a small lunch. The Farm always offers vegetarian munchies – like lavender cheesecake or goat cheese sandwiches with roasted red peppers and lavender jelly – but we’ve never seen a vegan option in all the years we attended. You should try the lavender iced tea and lavender lemonade, though – they are refreshing and bright, with a touch of flowery lavender flavor.

We found these cute frogs there last summer and decided they had to come home to live in our garden. We didn’t disturb the real ones, of course.  🙂

If you want to attend, admission is free. Willow Pond Farm is at 145 Tract Road, Fairfield, PA 17320 and the two mini-Lavender Festivals will be from 9am to 5pm Saturday June 8th and Saturday June 15th. Tours and festival activities occur outdoors. Dress casually to walk around outside. Most of the festival’s activities are held within a manageable area for people with limited mobility. Pets are not allowed on the grounds, only service animals, however the event is family-friendly. (Can’t make it to the Festival? You can check out Willow Pond’s online store here. Spring for the culinary lavender. If nothing else, make lemonade with it. You won’t be sorry.)

And when you get home, these lovely lavender scones will make the day at Willow Pond last just a little longer… enjoy with a cup of tea.

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Lavender Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbl. baking powder

1 tsp.  salt

1/2 cup sugar

8 Tbl. Earth Balance, cold and cut into pieces

2/3 cup soy milk or soy creamer

1 Tbl. lemon zest

2 Tbl. culinary lavender flowers (Note: do not use lavender from potpourri – only culinary grade!)

Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking liner.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to mix Earth Balance into the dry ingredients. It will still be a little chunky with buttery pieces the size of peas when it’s all ready. Add in soy milk, lemon zest and lavender flowers. Gently stir until just incorporated. Do not overwork.

Drop scones from a spoon onto the baking sheet. Makes 12 large or 24 small scones.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Allow to cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to cookie rack or devouring with your Earl Grey.

Chew on This

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Not all vegans and vegetarians have companion animals that follow in their footsteps and embrace a plant-based lifestyle. But for some, it’s a natural choice.

For those canines who miss the hobby of  a good, satisfying chew (provided your hound hasn’t chewed up shoes or sofas… anyone ever have a lab puppy?) there’s now a veg-friendly option: sweet potato chews.  Carolina Prime is a USA-based pet food company and has two vegan options for dogs that love to chew, chew, chew.

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Sweet Tater Fries come in two vegan flavors: Plain and Peanut Butter. Both have very short ingredient lists that even fussy pooch-mommies and -daddies will approve of. The sweet potatoes are dehydrated for a tough texture and also boast vitamins A & C, iron, folate, copper and zinc. They are made in the USA (North Carolina) and are a natural, low fat source of fiber. So your pooch will enjoy the chewing – and feel full! Eurkea! The sofa is safe again!

You can buy them online from Carolina Prime, or pick them up at your local Petco or Petsmart.

Chew on that, my houndie friends!

Baltimore Vegan Drinks: The Judge’s Bench

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Got plans after work on Wednesday night? Well, you’re not gonna want to miss Baltimore Vegan Drinks at the Judge’s Bench in historic Ellicott City. The fun will happen from 7pm to 9pm on May 15th, 2013. The Judge’s Bench is located at 8385 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043. There’s no cover charge to attend – and anyone can come.

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Get ready for a great time… they’ll have BBQ shoestring fries on the menu, as well as the drink special, a flight of four microbrews, and the evening’s dinner special – a $5.99 Ultimate Beefless Gardein Burger on a Kasier roll with veggie fixin’s!

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Want more? The Judge’s Bench will deliver! How about Beyond Meat chikin “jammies” – tossed in vegan buffalo sauce; spinach potstickers; or white bean chili with peppers and corn? Yum!

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The Judge’s Bench has 17 microbrews on tap, 80 additional bottled beers and Maryland’s largest collection of single malt liquors – like scotch and bourbon. The party room, which will host the Vegan Drinks event, has a jukebox with free music and a foosball table!

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And don’t forget the awesome door prizes and excellent company. 🙂 See you there!

Three Cups of Cozy

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Will it ever get warm? We’ve been having quite a chilly spring in Baltimore. Normally we’d have warm evenings by now, but not so much. It’s been damp and unseasonably cold. Which brings me to hot cocoa. Who wants steamy hot cocoa in May? Um…this spring, it’s the perfect cup of cozy.

As far as we know, there aren’t many commercially ready vegan cocoa-mixes. After looking at a bunch of places, we decided to just make our own. It was so much fun – and it’s so great to have them mixed up and ready to go – we made three flavors. When you are sourcing the ingredients, remember that Florida Crystals is great vegan sugar and easy to find. And the powdered soy or rice milk, like Better Than Milk brand, is available on Amazon.com , as are the vegan white chocolate chips.

So get a good book, a blanket and a mug – it’s time to warm up this cool, rainy May evening! These make great gifts, too!

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 Mocha Java Cocoa Mix

1 cup sugar

1 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups powdered soy  or rice milk (we used Better Than Milk brand)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup instant coffee powder

1 pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Recipe will fill two quart jars. To prepare cocoa, stir 2-3 Tbl. of cocoa mix into a mug of hot water or hot vegan milk of choice. Top with vegan marshmallows, like Dandies, as desired.

Vanilla White Chocolate Cocoa Mix

1 cup sugar

3/4  cup cocoa

2 cups powdered soy or rice milk (we used Better Than Milk brand)

1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips (see our post on vegan white chocolate)

two whole vanilla beans, seeds scraped

1 pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Recipe will fill two quart jars. To prepare cocoa, stir 2-3 Tbl. of cocoa mix into a mug of hot water or hot vegan milk of choice. Top with vegan marshmallows, like Dandies, as desired.

Spice and Chili Cocoa Mix

1 cup sugar

1 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups powdered soy  or rice milk (we used Better Than Milk brand)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

2 Tbl. ground cinnamon

2 Tbl. ground ginger

2 Tbl. chili powder

1 pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Recipe will fill two quart jars. To prepare cocoa, stir 2-3 Tbl. of cocoa mix into a mug of hot water or hot vegan milk of choice. Top with vegan marshmallows, like Dandies, as desired.

Yellow Rice with Onions

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Need a delicious and easy rice dish? We’ve got you. This Yellow Rice is fast and flavorful!

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Yellow Rice with Onions

1 cup long grain rice

1 pinch saffron strands

1/2 tsp. tumeric (optional, for yellow color)

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

2 Tbl. Earth Balance (or olive oil)

1 cup red onion, chopped roughly

1/4-1/2 cup frozen peas

2 Tb. lemon zest

salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, combine rice, saffron, tumeric, bay leaves, vegetable stock and Earth Balance. Stir well and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the rice boils, cover saucepan and lower heat, cooking about 20-30 minutes more, until rice is plump and tender – and yellow! Check often to make sure rice doesn’t stick to bottom. Alternatively, this will work well in a rice cooker, too. Add all ingredients to rice cooker and cover. It will cook about 20 minutes and most rice cookers turn off automatically when grains are done.

While rice cooks, saute red onion lightly until soft. Stir in frozen peas.

When rice is done, fluff in a serving bowl and mix in onions/peas and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm. Easy peas-y!