Category Archives: Local-ity

On the radio in Annapolis, MD!

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Recently, the Bohemian Girl (aka as Rissa) was honored to be interviewed on Annapolis Green Radio for their show on “Eating Thoughtfully” – basically it was a show about how diet affects the planet.  You can still listen to the show online, even if you can’t tune into Annapolis 99.5FM – it’s preserved on the internet forever!

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Rissa shared the interview with Lori, director of Sister Eden, where so many of our fun vegan recipes and eco-crafts find their home online. Thanks to Eliva and Vic, hosts of the Living Green show on WNAV for having Lori and myself in to talk about diet and the environment – it was super fun (though I was nervous), and hope your listeners enjoy the program!

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ExpoFinds: Virginia’s First Tea Farm

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Tea is like the elixir of life around here. It is not unusual for me to consume 6 to 10 cups of tea every-single-day. No joke. My only moment of guilt with my green tea is that it travels sssoooooo far to get to me here in Baltimore. Until recently, I thought tea only grew in China and India. Turns out, tea also grows in the USA.

Virginia’s First Tea Farm was founded on the belief that nature’s way is the best way. Their tea is grown in Virginia! Seriously, I was amazed to find this out! I can get locally grown TEA? And in addition to matcha drinking tea, they also make personal care and cleaning products that harness the power of green tea.

These cleansers are effective, restorative, and kind to our bodies and the planet. Green tea’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties make it an ideal ingredient in household cleansers, while its antioxidants and anti-inflammatories enrich skin and hair with unique nourishment and vitality.

We got to try the Green Tea Castille Soap for face & body, as well as the Peppermint Shampoo-and-Conditioner All-in-one and their Grapefruit Shampoo-and-Conditioner All-in-one. The soap lathers up beautifully without being to drying or filmy. And the shampoo left our hair curly and soft. Love it!!!

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 Virginia’s First Tea Farm products are American-made, all-natural, fully vegan and never tested on animals.  You can buy them online and feel great about it – they are natural, hard-working and grown in the USA – as well as vegan and cruelty-free.

Did we mention, they also make black tea soap, almond soap, dish detergent and laundry detergent?? Yep, Virginia’s First Tea Farm is not wasting any time – their awesome teas and tea products are out there and ready to save the world – one sip (or scrub) at a time! Glad we found this company at EXPO – we are going to be regular customers!!

ExpoFinds: Sibu Sura Chocolate

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Sibu Sura Chocolates are another local company we were excited to find at EXPO. They’re based in Myersville, Maryland and their line of Fair Trade chocolates are insanely decadent and are from a single-source origin in Peru.

With one bite, you know you’ve found something quite special. Sibu Sura’s Funky Bars are not simply flavorful, they are soulful. The richness of the chocolate is so potent, you can almost inhale it as the delicate confection melts against your tongue. I liked the Dark Raspberry Pop best, but the other flavors were all wonderful too. As far as which one you should try first… what do you like? Spicy? Fruit? Straight-up chocolate? Go with the thing that sounds best!

 

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All but two of their chocolate bars are vegan-friendly, so you can log on and choose from”Funky Bars” in Dark Raspberry Pop, Dark Ancho Chili, Dark Cherry N’ Almond, Dark Island with coconut, pineapple and macadamia nut, and Decadent Dark. Sibu Sura also offers other chocolaty goodies, such as Cocoa Nib Coffee, Cacao Nibs and chocolate by the block for home dessert projects.

Sibu Sura’s website lists several retailers around the country where you can find their products. You can also shop online, too. If you’re thinking ahead to the holidays, these would make wonderful gifts for co-workers, family and friends – anyone who truly appreciates high-end, sophisticated chocolates.

ExpoFinds: the Neat Egg

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Last year (2013) at the Natural Products Expo East we found and fell in love with Neat. It’s plant-based “meat” made from pecans, chickpeas & oats, and the company is local to us, based in Lancaster, PA. At the time, they had three varieties of Neat: Italian, Mexican and Original. We tried all three and have been loyal customers ever since. “Neatballs” are a favorite around here on spaghetti-night, and our non-vegan family and friends also give these meat replacements the thumbs-up. It’s exciting – we’ve seen their company grow from Neat being available only online to being carried at Wegman’s and MOM’s locations. Awesome!

This year at EXPO, the nice folks from Neat were showcasing their newest item – the Neat Egg!NeatEgg_lr

The Neat Egg is a powdered egg replacer for baking and cooking. It’s made of chia seeds and chickpea flour, and works in any recipe that uses egg as a binder. You can’t make it like a scrambled egg or omelette, but it’s great for quick breads, muffins and things like that. It also works well in Neatballs – as the original Neat mixes need a binder to form into balls, loaves and patties.

We haven’t had a chance yet to create a new recipe using the Neat Egg, but we’re used chia seeds in baked goods before and they work well, so this product looks like yet another winner from the Neat company! As soon as we have a moment to test this out, we promised to post a recipe! Till then, be sure to check out the Neat Egg and the rest of the Neat line!

Locality: Shiny Spoons Pudding

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Folks in Baltimore come up with some pretty tasty stuff. Like Shiny Spoons Puddings. We first tried these at the DC Green Festival and we were hooked. We ate several that day and bought a bunch to bring home. And the good news – we also found these gems at Whole Foods and Grind House Juice Bar. You can also order them via Relay Foods. This is more than just love for the local company, though.

Shiny Spoons Pudding is made from buckwheat. It’s hearty & filling, smooth, creamy, gluten-free and vegan. The flavors are amazing, too: try dark, dark chocolate, vanilla bean & cashew, toasted pistachio with tea rose or my favortite – NoMilk chocolate with jasmine tea.

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The puddings were created in the kitchen of a young mother as an ode to her past and a commitment to serving her family only the purest, most wholesome ingredients. Using flavor combinations from her childhood, growing up on the shores of the Black Sea, Irina Rey set out to create healthy versions of sinfully delicious desserts that could satisfy even the toughest critics – her four young daughters.

 

These little sweeties are sure to please your kids – and you. The would be ideal for packed lunches, picnics, car trips and to pull out of the cooler at the beach. Shiny Spoons Puddings, you make Baltimore proud! 🙂 If you live in the area, seek these gems out. You won’t be sorry for the search!

Locality: Anything Vegan Sauces

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In our various travels we cross paths with many awesome, small vegan companies. Anything Vegan is one of those. We met them at an event in Washington D.C. and bought two jars of their O’So Cheesy vegan cheese alternative sauces. What can we say but… hot damn! They are good!

Based in Virginia, Anything Vegan is made of up of two chefs, Jasmine and Marjorie and their motto is “Anything you can make, I can make vegan.”  Which rocks! They offer vegan coaching services, home chef services and have written two cookbooks: Juice Power and How to Create a Very Merry Vegan Holiday Meal. Both are available for your Kindle or e-reader.

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In all honesty, when I walked away from their table with this wonderful jarred cheesy sauce, I had the complete, total intention to write a recipe to go with it. Unfortunately, that never happened because we ate it like ravenous beasts. The O’So Cheesy sauce really lives up to its name. It’s thick and cheesy and freaking delicious. The Roasted Red Pepper has a slight tanginess and the Original is smooth and gorgeous. (There is a third flavor, too, 7-Herb & Garlic, but they were sold out of that one.)

To be totally honest, we ate a good deal of it off spoons. I’d like to say we at least poured it into a cute dish and dipped in sliced carrots or broccoli or even chips. That would have been great, too. The reality is, it didn’t make it that long. It was just too darn delicious.

At the event where we met them, they were giving away recipe booklets for the O’So Cheesy sauce, which included menu ideas like Vegan Bacon & O’So Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms, O’So Cheesy 7-Herb & Garlic Baked Eggplant Rolls and Vegan O’So Cheesy “Hamburger” Soup. Alas, our jars of cheesy goodness didn’t last long enough to try these!

But while you’re on their site, there are some recipes worthy of your time – be sure to look at Apple-Almond Buttery Pancakes, Stuff Me Vegan Sensuous Stuffing, Super Food Herb Garden Burgers and Mushroom Pate Pastry.

While you can find lots of photos of this wonderous O’So Cheesy sauce on the website, there is not a link to buy it online, nor directions on where it is available locally. It could be that the site is under construction. Perhaps drop the ladies an email if you want some. 🙂  Thanks Jasmine and Marjorie – we cannot wait to get more O’So Cheesy sauces!!

Show some love to Cupig

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It’s Valentine’s Day. And you are all set with your chocolate and dinner reservations. But why not really share the love? Local farmed animal sanctuary, Burleigh Manor in Ellicott City has many gorgeous critters you can adopt. You can’t actually take them home to snuggle, but for a reasonable cost you can help support one of these noble creatures. Your adoption donation helps with the animal’s feeding, bedding, shelter, vet care and heating costs over the winter. With all the snow and ice storms in the Maryland region, the pigs, horses, goats, cows, chickens, bunnies, mules and donkeys could really use the extra support.

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For a one-time donation of  $15 for a bunny or chicken; $25 for a pig or goat (Cupig loves this idea!); $35 for a donkey or $50 for a horse, cow or mule,  your recipient will get a card in the mail from their adopted critter and can set up an appointment to visit if you are local to the area. These crucial sponsorships help pay for the animals’ feed, vet care, bedding, housing – and HEATING in the winter!

How can you say no to these faces? In the top photo, Moose and Cash, both mules rescued literally from a slaughterhouse; below, Jenny the donkey watches over shy Lil, the cow – both surrendered by owners who could not care for them, but didn’t want them sent to slaughter.

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Cupig is actually Mabel. Here she is with her companion, Hamlet. Mabel was taken as a runt from a farmer at the county fair, escaping her fate at the stockyard. She’s very smart and can even unlock her pen and walk over to the main house to oink for food. Hamlet was purchased to be a pet and his family loved him, but the neighbors did not, so he had to be surrendered to the Sanctuary. He has found his forever home with Mabel, but still enjoys occasional walking on a lead around his new neighborhood, just like a pooch.

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Won’t you share the love this Valentine’s Day and help a rescued animal? Visit the adoption page at Burleigh to pick out your new sweetie.

2014 Vegan Living Program

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Thinking about going vegan? Or are you already vegan and willing to share your experiences? We’re excited to tell you about the Vegan Living Program (VLP), sponsored by Open the Cages Alliance in Baltimore. This well-designed program pairs new vegan pledges with vegan coaches – folks with at least one year of vegan living behind them.  The VLP is a series of educational events that cover the hows and whys of vegan living, including the ethical and environmental implications of vegan lifestyles, nutrition, cooking, meal planning, and living vegan in a not-yet-vegan world.

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Thirty people pledge to live vegan for the 5-week program, with the help of volunteer vegan coaches. Vegan pledges receive a binder of resources and recipes, as well as a goody bag of free vegan stuff to make the transition easier and more fun! Classes and cooking demos are free and open to the public.

The VLP is currently taking both pledges and coaches.

To be a volunteer coach… you need to have a positive attitude as your pledge makes changes;  have maintained a vegan lifestyle for a year or longer;  attend one of the pre-program meetings March 1st or 8th; commit to attending all six VLP sessions (dates below); and stay in touch with your pledge throughout the five-week program, to provide support and advice.

To sign on as a pledge, you must be ready to commit to diet and lifestyle changes and attend all six VLP sessions.

Vegan-curious, but not ready to pledge? Come to the educational sessions! The sessions are open to everyone, but coaches and pledges must attend all six sessions! (Why would you want to miss them?!)

Here is the 2014 Schedule:

Saturday March 15th 3:00-6:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom (861 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230) – Coach/Pledge Intros & Meal Prep Demo
Saturday March 22nd 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Vegan Nutrition
Saturday March 29th 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Environmental Benefits of Vegan Living
Saturday April 5th 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Making the Connection: Sustaining Veganism by Understanding the Big Picture
Saturday April 12th 1:00-3:00pm – Field Trip to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, 15200 Mt. Nebo Road, Poolesville, MD
Saturday April 19th 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Vegan Pledge Graduation! (For Pledges & Coaches only) Below is a photo from 2013’s graduating class of the VLP.

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The VLP community is continuing to get together through the Veganism Support Meetup Group!  This Meetup group is not just for VLP participants; it’s for anyone who wants to give or receive support for their vegans or those aspiring to a vegan lifestyle…or anyone who just wants to ask questions in a friendly, supportive environment!

Want to help this program succeed but can’t commit to being a pledge or coach this year? Donations are welcome – remember this is a FREE program for participants. At the very least, help by spreading the word. Please post this program on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – you get the idea!  Paper flyers are also available to leave at your gym, office, place of worship, library, fave coffee shop. Anywhere!

Have a question? Want more info or flyers to hand out? Email info@openthecages.org or call (443) 478-3074. You can also find Open the Cages Alliance on Facebook and Twitter, too. OTCA offers other programs/events throughout the year centering on veganism and animal advocacy.

Creature Comfort

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There’s nothing like a cozy nap in the winter time. And who better to snuggle with than a zebra? Or, maybe a frog… Not real ones of course, but botanical-filled ones from Herbal Animals. These adorable critters are actually eye pillows, stuffed with organically grown herbs that have relaxing properties.

The weight of the animal massages accupressure points around your eyes and the fragrant herbs will coax you into a deep, healing sleep. This is serious relaxation, folks. We picked up two of them at the DC VegFest. We thought they would be sweet gifts for our niece and nephew, who are small children. Ahem… they never got them. The DH uses the frog. I use the zebra. We love them so much, we even take them on trips.

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Abra K’ Zebra is filled with lavender.

Lavender, originally a Mediterranean shrub cultivated for its aromatic flowers, is one of the queens of herbs. It relieves nervous tension, headaches and insomnia.

Buddy Bullfrog (aka, the Prince) is filled with lavender and orange.

Orange is an evergreen tree which originated in Asia and is now commonly cultivated elsewhere. Orange is an antiseptic aromatic.

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Different Herbal Animals have different herbs. The varieties include lavender, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, orange, lemon balm, mugwort, passionflower, hops, rose, sweet annie and linden flower.  Each animal pillow is made with 100% certified organically grown herbs, seeds, and cotton. Each animal’s colors and herbal scent is unique.

There are lots of critters to choose from, too: turtles, bulls, cows, camels, panda, brown bears, puppies, kitties, elephants, otters, piggies, dolphins, deer, iguanas, seals, tigers, monkeys, bunnies, sheep, whales, stallions and penguins are all available to soothe you to sleep. There are also “nighties” for the eye pillows, which can be washed and keep your Herbal Animal free of eye-goop, as well as 2-foot long animal shoulder pillows.

Herbal Animals donates to Feed the Children, The Humane Society, and Save the Children. Basically, they help kids + animals lead happier lives. And help you get a good night’s sleep! Did we mention they’re also eco-friendly? In addition to using all organic materials, these cuddly sleep companions are made in the USA in a local company based in Bethesda, MD.  Their boxes are recyclable – and made with recycled board printed with soy ink. Their website offers other eco-goodies too, like jewelry made from upcycled telephone wire and records, as well as bags and wallets made from upcycled bicycle tires.
If you are between the ages of 3 and 103, or so, you will love an Herbal Animal. Ours are like part of the family now. Even our dog has been found cuddling with them! The cutie eye pillows are $18.00 each online and are certified Cruelty-free. Neck Pillows are $39.50. If you order a bunch, there’s free shipping on $90+ of merchandise. Sweet Dreams!

Baby, Light my Fire

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Nothing is as soothing as the elegant fragrance of burning petroleum. Wait – that’s not right. Which is the reason we pass by most candles these days. Why support the petroleum industry any more than you have to? Especially when there are great alternatives for other candles. Like River Road Candleworks, run by Delaware artist & craftsman, Mark Turner.

We met Mark first through his work with greyhound rescues. Already a man after our own hearts, he loves his hounds, and all animals, and many of his paintings are themed with nature and critters. When you purchase or commission animal-focused paintings from him, he makes a donation to rescue groups. Love it!

Someplace along the way, Mark started making soy candles, too. And we find them to be just as fabulous as his artwork!

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On their site, they explain their position on soy wax, palm wax and more:

Some folks trying to sell you ‘soy candles’ aren’t using eco-friendly, sustainable 100 % Soy Wax! Many so-called  soy waxes use ‘botanical oils or ingredients’ to enhance the look or performance of their products. Guess what those might be…. Many include Palm Wax made from palm oil. Palm oils come from palm oil plantations…most of those are carved out of the tropical rainforest – which destroys rainforest habitat…  My guess is that you want your candles to be as eco-friendly as possible. That doesn’t include using non-habitat sustaining palm wax in your candles.

River Road Candleworks doesn’t use any extra ‘Stuff’ in your candles. We don’t use any polymer additives. We don’t use any dyes. We don’t use any chemical stabilizers for our scents or in our wax. We don’t use any ‘universal soy additive’ (USA) in our wax. Our wax is 100% soy. We use Elevance C-3 NatureWax, not any of the other soy blends or vegetable oil-based waxes.

As you may know, palm oil is non-sustainable for another reason too – when companies kill the trees, they destroy the habitat of many endangered species, including orangutans. Read more here and just say no to non-sustainable palm oil!

Furthermore, Mark will recycle the jars from his pure soy candles! For each jar you return (with or without the lid), Mark will credit you $.25 towards your next purchase. Again, love it!

Mark’s event schedule is online here, so you can get candles from him in time for the fall and winter holidays. Or just order online!

When you are shopping around, our favorite scents are lavender, clove, citrus spruce, hot chocolate, pumpkin and olive tree. Mmmm! Of course, we haven’t had any River Road candles yet that we didn’t enjoy. They make perfect gifts, too!

Thanks, Mark, for making a sustainable and great-smelling candle!