Friday, January 25, 2019

Now is the Time to Go Vegan

I often have West Wing on in the background when I'm doing things around the house, especially when we have a government in power which makes me feel sad and angry. I know West Wing isn't reality and even for fiction, it definitely isn't perfect, but it makes me feel like there are times when intelligent, caring people can work together to make the world a better place.

This scene stuck with me today.
Of course, I am anti-death penalty...the issue of this particular episode, but I think the story of The Man Who Lived by the River is actually quite timely for climate change and the environmental mess we have created. I hear from many religious people that it is God's will or that God will save us. I respect all religions and atheists, but I will never respect inaction. We have to do something now and we can't wait for someone else to do it.

Overwhelmingly, the evidence is clear that people adopting a vegan diet, or at least mostly plant-based, is an important part of the puzzle that everyone can do. It doesn't take voting someone into power, running for government ourselves, suing a corporation, or even taxing the insanely wealthy. We can and have to all make this choice to do what is best for our future...so we have a future. Those of us who are already vegan need to help others and show them how easy it can be to do what is necessary and right. Before it is too late.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

18 Going on 19

Parker turns 19 in a few weeks and he is starting his 2nd semester of his first year of college. He has been house/cat-sitting for a neighbor friend for most of the first semester so we don't see him much. We are fortunate this transition to adulthood has been pretty easy and gradual for us, as parents. Since he homeschooled his entire life (except for 6th grade at public school and a few college classes during high school) it was easy for me to get used to him always being here. I definitely miss his help around the house, but I am fortunate that he chose to stay in town for now. I love that he still likes to have long talks with me and he has been rocking the adult thing.

Parker has a theatre scholarship which also requires a certain number of hours per semester working in the theatre department. He makes college look easy by getting straight As (dean's list), fulfilling his work requirements for his scholarship well ahead of time, he was also hired (paid gig) to work part-time in the scene department at his college so he is there 10-19 hours a week, most days he is rehearsing or in tech week (often for more than one production at a time), he dog/pet sits in his free time, spends time with friends (including being a DM for two weekly Dungeons and Dragons groups), goes on dates, and still makes time to home cook all his own vegan food (he hates to spend money on eating out).

The house where he is pet/house sitting has a fully stocked kitchen, but I knew soon he will be moving into his own place so I've been gradually buying some kitchen necessities. He now has his own cast iron sauté pan (he uses it at least once a day) and an instant pot. He is a pro at making staples like brown rice in the instant pot and using it in different dishes throughout the week. He even shares with us if I run out. If I make s big pot of beans, I'll drop off some for him. He shares recipes with me an I share recipes with him. It is really handy to have him in neighborhood.

I thought I would share (weekly, hopefully) recipes that are college kid friendly or weeknight family friendly.

Quick, inexpensive, healthy recipe of the week: Instant Pot Black Bean Soup from Sweet Simple Vegan

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thankful for Family, Local Theatre, Sweet Dogs, and Homemade Vegan Ethiopian Food

We had a low stress more "traditional" vegan Thanksgiving this year. We started a tradition years ago of making an Indian food feast for Thanksgiving with our neighbor friends, Gita and Seth and their girls. They moved a few years ago and since then Thanksgiving has not been the same. Some years Rob has taken Dema and Josie to NC for Thanksgiving while Parker and I stayed home. With the dogs I care for and the theatre Parker was always involved in, getting away around holidays is always tough. This year was no exception with Parker finishing up his run in The  Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 at his college. He got to play a cross dressing homicidal German maid, Dieter Wenzel. It was quite fun!
Parker with a meat clever on the set of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. Kind of ironic for a vegan actor. 
Parker is working in the scene shop now at his college so not only did he get to act, he got to help create this wonderful set with secret passages and fun effects!
We had some of the sweetest of our canine friends as guest over the holiday.
Ruth Bader Greyhound in her new pajamas and our dog, Gracie. They love to snuggle on the slumberball.
Romeo spends a lot of holidays with us and makes us so happy!
Rob decided to stay home since he's been to Germany twice in the last several weeks for work and could use some time at home. It was so nice to have the entire family home and relaxing.
This year Dema asked for things like mashed potatoes and gravy so we made country fried tofu and garlicky kale to go with. My sister, Karen, and her husband, Stuart, brought the best dressing I've ever tasted (I'm not usually a dressing fan) so I will try to get the recipe. My sister also made a seitan roast and I talked her into bringing the dessert since she is so much better at desserts. I sent her the recipe for Vegan Irish Cream Cheesecake and she had to make her own Irish Creme since we don't seem to have the Bailey's Almonde locally. It turned out beautifully and so delicious! Sadly, I have no pictures since I was living in the moment. But, we were invited over to our neighbor friends', Katie and Wade, house for dinner on Saturday. They are vegetarian and Wade is always cooking up yummy food and inviting us over. This was a special treat since he's been on an Ethiopian food kick lately.
Wade is still trying to get the injera bread down, but it was really great! I hope he keeps working on it so we get more Ethiopian dinners! Our closest Ethiopian restaurant is a couples hours away.

Friday, October 26, 2018

First Solids

I was on a liquid diet the last two weeks (long story) and I also didn't feel like eating much for the first week anyway. Then I had an outpatient surgery and wasn't supposed to eat solid foods for a week after that. Rob was gone for most of the two weeks (North Carolina beach trip with his brother, trip to Germany for work, and then working on his sailboat in Virginia). This meant I was cooking for the kids, but feeling pretty bad and not being able to taste or eat anything. Not fun for many reasons.
Our CSA share pickup was Wednesday and Rob got back that day too so I roasted some beets and a misato radish and made garlicky kale. There was some left over by the time I was off the liquid diet so the leftovers (and a vegan carrot cake muffin my sister made with the carrots from her CSA share) were my first solid meal for two weeks. It was perfect!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Vegan Cabbage and Sausage - Instant Pot

This week's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share included a large cabbage, potatoes, and yellow onions so I made this recipe I watched recently. Josie and I were on our way out to see a play, Rob was out of town, and the boys were home to fend for themselves. I threw this together so they had something good to eat and Josie and I ate it after we got home. Thumbs up from everyone.

I used No Evil sausage and added yellow sprinkle for seasoning, it would have been fine without, but it also adds some nutrition. I can see this becoming a common meal around here.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Eating Out Vegan at Chain Restaurants

When Brixx Pizza closed in our town, it left a bit of a hole for our family. We don't eat a chain restaurants much, but Brixx was an easy option when we were eating out with friends or nice place for the boys to take their girlfriends on dates. Parker has never dated a vegetarian and Dema dated one vegetarian, but it was still nice to go someplace where everyone had easy, yummy options. 

Fortunately, Blaze Pizza was being built as Brixx closed their doors. Blaze is even better, in some ways. Most of my family loves to pile on the toppings so it is nice to not have to pay per topping. The staff has always been great about the vegan thing and since you talk to them about what toppings you want they can put just the right amount of everything on your pizza.
Josie likes to add a lot of toppings to her pizza. This one has red onions, mushrooms, spinach, pineapple, zucchini, kalamata olives,  chopped garlic, artichokes, vegan cheese, spicy red sauce, and oregano. She loves that they also have healthier drink options like hibiscus tea.
Dema is more of a simple topping guy with black olives, pineapple, and vegan cheese.
 Dema is the one in the family who just wants two or three toppings on his pizza and they can do that too.
This was my pizza and was very similar to Josie's.
This was our first visit so I didn't know about the arugula and other post-cooking toppings. I always add arugula now. We like talking to the friendly staff and deciding in the moment what toppings we want, but we've also used the online app to order ahead.

Josie had a birthday sleepover for her 11th birthday. Usually, we are at the beach for Josie's birthday so she hasn't had a party with her friends for years. Only one of the girls was veg, but I ordered vegan Blaze pizzas online and picked them up. All the girls loved them and it was much cheaper than other pizza options we've done for other parties in the past!

At the same time Blaze was being built, there was another restaurant in the same area with a similar look. Rob and I finally checked it out. CoreLife Eatery is now added to our go to list. It was so nice to be able to grab a quick bowl of veggies and quinoa goodness! It isn't as vegan friendly as you would think but the handful of options seem pretty solid.
Sriracha Ginger Tofu with Ancient Grains from CoreLife Eatery.
The kids, especially Josie, have been asking to check out CoreLife. I'll let you know how they like it.
Update: Huge thumbs up from Josie. We went just the two of us and we got a Sriracha Ginger Tofu with Ancient Grains bowl (see green beauty above) and a Shiitake Mushroom Roasted Tofu broth bowl. We "shared" them both, but Josie definitely ate more than half of both. So good!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Ugh!

Anyone else out there feeling frustrated, angry, hopeless, or triggered by the craziness happening in the US these days? I need to vent and don't feel like FB is an appropriate space right now. I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said, just need to type it out.

So the grown men who report being sexually abused by priests when they were children should just sit down and shut up? They should never come forward? If they couldn't do it at X age, then so sorry so sad? Get over it? Take the political aspect out of it for a second. I get that this is very politically charged. Those of us with daughters, let us think about our daughters for a second (or sister or female friend...whatever you can relate to). Can we imagine a horrific scenario where something could happen to them and they didn't want to tell us? I can. I've been that teen and I had a mother who was trained to deal with situations of abuse, who was extremely understanding, and her job had her working with people who were abused. I still didn't want to say anything. Fortunately, because many women (and some men) have paved the way so my daughter feels comfortable telling me (because things have already come up...nothing to this extent, but inappropriate comments or touching that made her uncomfortable and she has told me right away) right now. But, will she feel the same way when she isn't living at home or if I was no longer around? What if I was the type of parent who blamed her for what she was wearing or if she drank alcohol or just being around men or not going home early enough or all the hundreds of reasons we put the blame on the woman (or man in some situations)? Or the type of parent who didn't want to make waves and didn't want to upset a powerful family in my community. I'm not talking about this particular case, but I can completely empathize with women who do not come forward or come forward years later.

What I don't understand is the men who I know have treated women in similar ways (or worse) who are acting like they are "allies" without dealing with their own behavior. Don't pretend that you are "one of the good guys". I'm not saying you should all be locked up and throw away the key, but just come clean, look at your past behavior, vow to do better. Then you truly can be a good guy and can be there for others.

I am guilty of not coming forward. So many different times. For myself, for my friends...I was there to listen, but I never believed anything good could come from me "getting someone in trouble" or "ruining someone's life". Here we are. My sons and my daughter are growing up with the same misogyny and culture that values "powerful" white men over all else. It makes me want to scream. It makes me very angry at my young self. I makes me want to hide in a hole and never speak to another human being again.

So, here are pictures of the wonderful canine beings that I am so fortunate to care for and have in my life. They are helping me through these days. I hope you have someone or something helping you through. I hope you know you are not alone. I hope we, as a species, can come out better on the other side of all this stuff.

Unity, a sweet greyhound we care for and she cares for us right back.
Ruth Bader Greyhound, a gentle soul who was pretty skittish when we first started watching her and her lab mix sister, Hadley, but it has been such a joy and privilege to see her fun-loving personality emerge as we get to know her better.