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Tradition, tradition! Tradition!

I love traditions. I love the idea of doing something only once a year to make it special, or making the day special by doing certain things on it, no matter if it goes with the holiday standards or not. Having days in the calendar that are different from the other days make life worth living, in my opinion. If every day is the same then what do we have to look forward to? Besides the zombie apocalypse, I mean.

I didn’t grow up with a lot of traditions. I found out that there wasn’t a Santa Claus at the ripe old age of four, and it was all downhill from there. I’ve also mentioned before that besides angel food cake, which has yet to be veganized, there aren’t really any childhood recipes I have fond memories of. So as an adult, I have to start my own traditions from scratch and take inspiration from my friends and the family i’ve created.

A few years ago, Brian and I decided to watch Die Hard on Christmas Eve on a whim. It was a great night, we opened our presents and his sister and I painted our nails and we had a nice dinner. Last year, we watched Gremlins. This year, we switched our present opening to Christmas afternoon (everyone goes to grandma’s on Christmas morning) so on the eve, Brian and I watched Batman Returns and ate pancakes because they’re easy. Not-Christmasy Christmas movies and pancakes are definitely something I want to keep up, because Christmas is a big source of stress for me and it’s nice to have something purposely lazy to look forward to.

A couple of years ago, I blogged about Amy Deluxe/Supreme, which is macaroni and cheese with wing sauce (wings optional, must have Dr. Pepper to make it authentic). Somehow, it turned into my traditional NYE meal, I think last year I even went out and got a gas station Dr. Pepper (which is the best kind, we agreed) and tweeted a picture to Amy. It’s just something that I really like but don’t make very often because Brian doesn’t like wing sauce because he is a monster.

Amy died suddenly this summer, from a pulmonary embolism. We only knew each other through the internet, but she was a cool fucking lady. We met as moderators on the PPK forums, and chatted on AIM before facebook made instant messaging obsolete. Amy was the kind of person who would always tell you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted. If you said something stupid, she would tell you. If you had a problem, she would listen. She was a true friend to those who were lucky to know her, and an amazing teacher to her students. She was just overall an awesome human being, and her passing was truly a loss to anyone who crossed her path. I miss her funny tweets, her dog pictures, and excitedly talking about nail polish on the PPK. Thanks Amy, for being awesome and for giving me this tasty tradition to look forward to every year.

posted: December 31, 2013
under: Uncategorized

Cheers To Vegan Sweets Review + Giveaway

The winner has been chosen! random.org pulled number 8. Congratulations Gabrielle!

It’s Cyber Monday, and while emptying your bank account for “gifts” for “people who aren’t you” is dandy, giveaways are even better!

If you follow Kelly around on the internet, you know that this book has actually been in the making for a couple of years. So it’s really nice to see all of her work come to fruition in a beautiful book. Kelly studied photography in college, so all of the photographs were styled and taken by her. Fair Winds books are always very well designed. In short, it’s a pretty book!

As you may know, I don’t drink, so it may seem odd for me to review a book that clearly relies on alcohol for a lot of recipes. But that made me want to review it more, and the first thing I noticed when I got the book was that the four recipes featured on the cover are booze-free, and there are many more inside. Some of the recipes with alcohol have a substitution noted, most of the rum recipes can be made with rum extract instead, vodka can be replaced with water, etc. And while some of the recipes don’t have substitutions noted because you want the specific flavor of the alcohol called for, I don’t think it would hurt any of the recipes if you used water or non-dairy milk instead. They won’t taste exactly as intended, but the recipes are still interesting enough on their own.

One thing I will note is, this is not a basic vegan baking book. There are some fancier recipes in here that called for ingredients that I can’t get in my small town, like white chocolate and butterscotch chips, lavender, rosewater, and I couldn’t find rum extract but I did find imitation rum flavoring. There aren’t diagrams or long descriptions of baking techniques. Neither of those things is necessarily a negative: if you aren’t already comfortable with basic baking techniques and don’t want to be adventurous and try fancier recipes, you probably wouldn’t want this book. But if you are and you do, you will love it! Everything I mentioned not being able to find can be easily ordered online.

Onto the recipes we tried! We’ve had a cold and dreary fall for the most part, so I stuck to mostly simple recipes that I could make out of my pantry, and not have to go around town looking for the ingredients.

The first one, Brian actually made for my birthday. We chose the grape soda cupcakes because grape is my favorite of the artificial fruit flavors and they’re pretty simple. The grape reduction didn’t reduce enough, because Brian doesn’t know what a reduction looks like. So the ones one the cover of the book are much prettier, but they were still delicious.

On Halloween, I made the Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls. My apples were too small so I ended up with less apple filling, so if you make these make sure to get big apples or grab an extra one. Cinnamon rolls have a lot of down time, so they were perfect to make while we set up our Halloween display and filled up the candy bowls.

Next up, Kool-Aid cookies! I think I drank my last cup of Kool-Aid at least 20 years ago, but the recipe was so simple that I had to try it. I thought they would basically be sugar cookies, but they weren’t too sweet and came out soft and cakey. We went with Black Cherry, but you can use any flavor.

Onto something slightly more adult, I made the Arnold Palmer Loaf. An Arnold Palmer is half tea, half lemonade and was my drink of choice at the Farmer’s Market for the past few years before I moved. Another fairly easy recipe, especially if you’re a tea drinker and already have black tea handy. It smells wonderful and would make a great gift if you like to bake mini-loaves for the holidays.

I whipped up the Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Muffins on a whim one day, I made a double batch so I could freeze half of them. I wondered if I was supposed to melt the peanut butter so it would mix in smoothly, but the recipe didn’t say and i’m glad I didn’t because it made teeny peanut butter flecks throughout each muffin.

And finally, I decided to try a beer recipe. I will cook with alcohol, but since I don’t buy it I tend to avoid recipes that call for say, half a cup of vodka because then i’m stuck with a bottle of vodka. But you can buy a single bottle of beer at most grocery stores, I got a bottle of Fat Tire and made the Beer Soft Pretzels. Making pretzels at home may sound daunting, but it’s really not! The trick is to boil them for a minute in baking soda water before putting them in the oven. Or maybe the trick lies in how to shape them so they look like actual pretzels and not just knotted blobs, I don’t know. But they were DELICIOUS.

The one thing I definitely want to make soon is the Fried Coca-Cola. When you’re raised in the city where the state fair is hosted and you become vegan, you really miss fair food. Deep fried everything, y’all! I had wanted to include this recipe in my Dinner and A Movie post for The Blues Brothers, but at the time the recipe was only available in a charity zine. Now we all can bask in the glory of deep fried goodness! Now if someone will just veganize Fat Balls, we can really get this party going.

And now to the part everyone cares about, the giveaway! Fair Winds said I could give a book away, and it’s open to the US, Canada, and the UK! International shipping is expensive so it’s nice that they’re willing to ship across the pond. As always, you do not have to like or tweet or regram anything to enter a contest on my blog. All you have to do is comment below with a vegan gift idea – you can link to an item or just mention it. I love giving gifts so I would like to know what goodies are out there this year! Also make sure you leave an email address that you check regularly – no one is going to see it but me. If I contact the winner and they don’t respond within two days, I will redraw. A winner will be chosen this Saturday, December 7th.

posted: December 2, 2013
under: Uncategorized

VeganMoFo: The Addams Family

Who is the most awesome tv/movie family of all time? If you think it’s The Brady Bunch, please go have sexual relations with yourself. If you said The Munsters, okay, but they aren’t as popular as The Addams. Did you know that The Addams Family started as a comic strip, and none of them even had names until the tv show? For a brief history of all things Addams, go here.

While I think the first movie is awesome, I think the sequel is even better so let’s jump to that! In the second movie, Morticia and Gomez welcome a new baby, Pubert. How those two don’t have 18 kids and counting i’ll never know, because one of the running themes of the tv show and the movie is that they’re constantly making bedroom eyes at each other. So they hire a nanny, who (spoiler alert) is evil, and convinces the parents to ship Wednesday and Pugsley off to summer camp, which is the BEST part of the movie. They could scrap everything else and turn it into a short called ‘Wednesday and Pugsley Go To Camp Chippewa” and that would be just fine. Then some other stuff happens and what it boils down to is that this family loves each other a lot and it’s very heartwarming and blah di dah.

This is a ‘who isn’t in this movie’, so i’ll just point out a few: Mercedes McNab (Hatchet, Buffy/Angel) is the annoying blonde girl at camp, David Krumholtz (Numb3rs, Harold and Kumar, Serenity) plays the nerdy love interest of Wednesday, and John Franklin (Issac from Children of the Corn) plays Cousin Itt. And of course, Peter MacNicol (Ally McBeal, Numb3rs, 24, Ghostbusters II) and Christine Baranski (The Good Wife, Mama Mia, Sheldon’s mom on Big Bang Theory) are amazing as the directors of Camp Chippewa.

For the menu, I went with black and white foods, with a spicy kick to represent the burning passion between Morticia and Gomez. If you want you can just drink lemonade and make vegan girl scout cookies, there is a recipe for Thin Mints in The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and a recipe for Samoas in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

Entree: Black and White Bean Burgers with Spicy Mango Salsa
Side: Yuca Fries (omg how cute is that blog?!)
Dessert: Black and White Cookies

posted: October 19, 2011
under: Uncategorized, veganmofo

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