Happy Holidays, New Year, and beyond

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Hello all! I know I’ve been woefully absent after my month of daily posting, but maybe we can average it all out and pick up from here? This of course means that I’ve been posting roughly every other day for the last two months, which isn’t so bad if I do say so myself. 😉

I hope you all are enjoying a wonderful holiday season! So far, we had a really nice, low-key Christmas Eve celebration at our home with Chris’ parents. The edible spread featured a cheese plate from the fabulous Dr. Cow and vegan versions of some of my grandma’s holiday classics: creamy wild rice soup and luscious risalamande (Danish rice pudding).

After Roman tore into all of his presents the next morning, we headed up to Westchester for the big family celebration. There was a killer vegan bean dip put together by Chris’ cousin Ava, a bloomy Kite Hill almond brie with cranberry sauce (holy crap was that good!), a hearty lentil shepherd’s pie via Aunt Janine, and vegan eggplant parm made by my sister-in-law Amy. Feeling full yet? There was also dessert! Pizzelles, cookies, and pumpkin upside down cake—all vegan and gluten-free. And as amazing as all of the food was, the company was even better.

We’re looking forward to ringing in the New Year tomorrow with Chris’ family as well. There may or may not definitely be Buffalo Chickpea Dip involved.

I’ll be back early in the new year with a list of some goals that I’ve been thinking about for 2015. I’m not one of those anti-resolution people or anything, they’ve just been swirling about my head more as “goals” than “resolutions,” so that’s what I’m going with.

And speaking of goals/resolutions: for any of you who have been thinking about giving a plant-based diet a test drive, wanting to lighten your environmental footprint, feeling disheartened about animal suffering, or maybe just itching to challenge yourself to try something new, there’s this great thing happening next month called Veganuary. Basically, Veganuary is an opportunity for non-vegans to take a one-month vegan pledge for the month of January. And the best part is that the minds behind Veganuary will be there to hold your hand the whole way! Their website is brimming with resources and tips, some hardcore myth busting, and tons of information about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Plus, they’re super active on Twitter and the vegan community is really stepping up to the plate to support participants as well. Why not give it a go? I’d love to hear if you’ll be taking on this challenge and will be happy to provide any support that I can.

A very Happy New Year to all of you! I hope your holiday season has been filled with love, joy, and compassion that carries all the way through the next year. See you in 2015!

Weekly Links

This has been such a crazy week!  I feel like I’ve hardly had a minute to read anything.  And after all the cooking and traveling over the last few days, I have a mountain of post-holiday laundry and dishes ahead of me this week.  Yikes.

I am proud (and a little relieved?) to say that today is the final day of NaBloPoMo.  I did it!  I want to talk a little more about my experience with blogging every day this month, but it might take me a few days to collect those thoughts while I get back on my feet here at home.  I am planning to continue posting regularly, though, and will keep doing What Vegans Eat Wednesday as well as a link roundup at the end of each week.  We’ll see what kind of posting schedule develops from here.  Let me know if there are things you’d like to see more of, too.  I’m always happy to take requests.

Despite the hectic holiday week, I did manage to bookmark a few little things. Hope you all had a great weekend and happy reading!… 

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Two Main Philosophies

Andy napping

I’m exhausted from two days of travel, the first of which having been a bit of a disaster, so today’s post is brief. I recently came across this quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson that really resonated with me. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration in it as well.

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

Amen and goodnight.

Thankfully Exhausted

Pie prep

I’ve spent the last two days in the kitchen, on my feet, preparing Thanksgiving dinner, and I am exhausted.  Let me tell you, though, it was worth it.  No spoilers for now, except to say that there was pie.  Well, technically there will be pie.  Chris and I are about to cut into that now.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and found much for which to be thankful.  Today I gave thanks for my husband, our son, our dog, our home, and for veganism, both my personal experience of it and that it’s something we share as a family.  Of course, these are things I’m thankful for every day, but it’s nice to take the time to acknowledge and say them aloud.

I’m also thankful that Chris was so supportive over the past couple days.  In all the craziness, I know I haven’t given him enough credit for this.  It would have been easy for him to suggest at any point that I had taken on too much for a meal for that only the three of us would be eating (it was something I considered myself a handful of times), but he didn’t.  He played with Roman and took care of some things around the house while I toiled away.  He even introduced me to a podcast to help pass the time (If you’re not yet on the Serial bandwagon, do that. Now.).

Full recap of our delicious dinner tomorrow.  Right now, I’m off to nab some pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Vegan Thanksgiving No. 4

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This Thanksgiving will be my fourth as a vegan.  When I look back over my journey, the past three Thanksgivings have become like mile markers along the path.  There’s something about this particular holiday, more than any other date, that I remember very clearly and specifically in relationship to my veganism.  I imagine it has to do with its primary focus being a large meal, the centerpiece of which is a dead turkey.

On my first, I had been eating a plant-based diet for less than two months.  I was doing it for a number of personal health reasons and because of the incredible information that I’d discovered about the diet’s many benefits.  I felt amazing and, for the first time in my life, was losing weight without having to think about it.  I remember explaining to my sister-in-law’s then boyfriend (now fiancé), whom we were meeting for the first time, that it wasn’t “a thing,” though—i.e. “I’m not one of those vegans, I’m just not eating animal products right now.” I remember how important this disclaimer was to me, a fact that makes me cringe today.

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Loren, Links, & Turkey Love

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I’m super excited to share that we received the card for the turkey we sponsored this year!  We let Woodstock pick our turkey for us and they chose Loren.  It was great reading her story and we’re thrilled that she’ll have a symbolic seat at our table.  (There’s still time to sponsor a turkey of your own!)

Thanksgiving is now only two days away.  In honor of the holiday, I thought I’d share a handful of turkey-related articles that have caught my attention recently, as well as a video of what I’m sure 46 million turkeys would much rather be doing come Thursday (spoiler: it’s hilariously cute!).

Happy reading!… 

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Change of Plans

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Today’s post was supposed to be a recipe.  It’s a recipe that still needs photographing, though, and, because I can’t leave well enough alone, one more round of testing.  None of that happened.

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How to make recipes that call for raw cashews without a high speed blender

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I use raw cashews in my cooking a lot. Like, a lot. Like, I just bought my third 4-lb bag of cashews since early August, which means that we go through about two pounds of cashews a month. See? A lot.

I use them to make plant milk when I need it, occasionally culturing that milk into yogurt, I use them to make creams and aioli, raw cheesecake, salad dressings, a mind-boggling variety of creamy pasta sauces and soups, and so much more. Raw cashews are one of the most versatile ingredients that exists. Period.

One of the things about using raw cashews in these ways is that, to achieve the best results, you almost always need a high-speed blender. I’ve made things for friends and family that they’ve wanted to replicate at home, and I always have to tell them that it’s probably not going to be the same. For instance, my mother-in-law loves this smooth, creamy, totally killer cashew ranch dressing that I make, but, when she tried it in the food processor at home, it came out a bit chunky and disappointing by comparison. Since cashews are the base for so many of the things I create, I’ve always felt bad that these recipes remain inaccessible to those who haven’t invested in something like a Vitamix.

I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while that there may be a way around this, but hadn’t actually tried it until about a week ago. The secret to making recipes that call for raw cashews when you don’t have a high-speed blender is this:… 

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