Project 365: Days 310-323

Day 310: I took a few quick snaps at the farm of these flowers or were flowers

110715-w-1 110715-w-2

Day 311: Forgot to take a photo. Whomp whomp!

Day 312: There are some crab apples in my neighbors lawn.


Day 313: Toulouse waits for some food.


Day 314: Found a prettier crab apple to photograph, it almost looks like a cherry!


Day 315: Toulouse only let’s me photograph her when she is sleeping or eating. I think she doesn’t like the sound of the shutter in the camera.


Day 316: I was actually sick this day and made myself some hot pot soup. I was thinking about taking photos for a recipe for the blog, but I forgot to get a “cooked” photo.


Day 317: I did not get any photos today. Whomp whomp.

Day 318: Toulouse looked so cute on this retro blanket.


Day 319: Forgot to take a photo on Monday, I was actually running errands all day, trying to help tidy up my house to look more “home” like.

Day 320: I got home and the sky looked pretty amazing, so I snapped a quick shot.


Day 321: I walked downstairs and saw this funny visual of our cat pillow creepily looking over the couch. I had to take a quick photo.


Day 322: I’ve been really slipping with this photo a day prompt towards the end of the year. I haven’t been getting around as much as the beginning of the year when I use to walk to work, then I drove past more interesting things that I could stop and take a photo. I now drive past strip malls, malls, and industrial complexes. BORING! Oh and everything is dying at work.

Day 323: I left work during rush hour and drove past this one abandoned diner I’ve meaning to snap some photos of, but thought “oh it is too dark” then I as I drove by and notice in my rear view mirror it was actually really beautiful on the otherside where the sun was setting, and I could of gotten a really cool shot of the sunset with the run down sign, but I missed my chance. So I got home, took a photo with my iPhone of my drink. Better luck next time.


Alexa Asks, Jen Answers #22: How do I buy vegan shoes?


Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaWhen going vegan everyone focuses on food, but what about clothes? How can I tell shoes are vegan? And where do I get them?

There are lots of vegan shoes out there, but it can be a little hard to find. Sure if you type in “vegan shoes” in google you get a bunch of stuff. There are stores that specialize in vegan shoes like Moo Shoes (which has a brick and mortar store in New York City and Los Angeles) but they can be pretty expensive. There are other all vegan shoe stores like Lookie Lou, Vegan Chic, and Alternative Outfitters. Some companies have vegan shoe tags like Modcloth, Zappos, and Lulus. But I’ve found sometimes these searches aren’t the greatest. For example if I went to DSW and search “vegan” I get a few hits. But truthfully there are MORE shoes available. So why the low results? Because they are basically showing only brands the identify the faux leather as VEGAN faux leather. 

So how can you tell what your shoe is made out of? Well, luckily it is all in the tag. Do yourself a favor and grab a shoe from your closet (hopefully not too old that the label is worn down) There are several different ways shoes have their materials listed. They sometimes have a chart, sometimes they have a small note, sometimes it is on a sticker, or printed on the inside of the shoe. Just keep looking around. 

The shoe should have materials listed for upper material (this is what you see on the outside of the shoe), lining/inner (you know, the stuff your feet touches), and outer sole. Some shoes will have these graphic charts. It will have these images, and whatever is next to upper shoe icon will be the material they use. 


So for example I grabbed an old pair (pre-vgan days) of shoes from my closet (it’s this pair if you are wondering). I flipped the shoe over and on the sole there was a sticker that looked like this: (synthetic outside, leather inside, synthetic sole)


So not vegan, but only the inside isn’t vegan, which is actually very common. The problem with these icons is that they are vague. For example, they have “textile” but it doesn’t need to specify what the material is. So you could picking up a pair of shoes that have a fabric that is made from silk or wool. Some people even have found that the icons don’t match up with information on the box, or catalogue. There is also the chance the glue isn’t vegan, and it is pretty much near impossible to find any confirmation about the glue source. So it is always a good idea to check the box the shoe comes in to see if there is any additional information.

Truthfully I am loving Target’s website as they do a great job listing the materials in their shoes. It is nice to be able to look around and read the materials before heading out to the store. In general I find that vegan shoes are usually super expensive or super cheap. Why? Well, leather is a little expensive, and is actually desired by most people. So most shoes want to have it. Most cheap shoes are cheap because of the lack of leather. The downside is that this can be bad for the environment and be made in sweatshops. Some of the more expensive vegan shoe brands are trying to have better quality and better working conditions for the workers.

How do you guys buy vegan shoes? Any favorite sites or store to shop at?

Thanksgiving Dinner


It is funny when people ask vegetarians what they eat during Thanksgiving. To me the answer is easy, everything except the turkey and ham (yes, my Grandma would cook both a ham and turkey for Thanksgiving). Vegan is a little bit more tricky, not because there is something particularly not vegan about Thanksgiving Day food, but because people love using butter and heavy cream. So a lot of a vegan’s job is trying to ask a host to use vegan butters or oils in the food. An easy answer is to make you own food, I usually recommend making a very not vegan dish, like a green bean casserole. Good news is that crescent rolls and cranberry sauces are usually accidentally vegan. Read labels to double check. If you found this page because you want to figure out what to cook for a vegan, I already wrote a post about it last year!

Last year Alexa asked for recommendations for cooking her own Thanksgiving, so I kind-of made a fantasy cooking list, but I wasn’t actually cooking all those things. I ate with my in-laws who amazingly made all the sides vegan (except for one dish where she left some cheese-less stuff onions for us). This year I am taking up Thanksgiving dinner. I am pretty excited but I am trying to not go too nuts, I mean it is going to be a small dinner, just my husband and his parents. We will have my family come over for desserts, which in someways nice to only have to make one pie in the end… but I’ll probably make a cake too. XD

Picking things were pretty hard, because there has been a recent obesession with people trying to make a new vegetarian showstopper. People are trying to make vegduckens, with epicurious and food52 both giving a stab at it. Food52 does a blow by blow coverage of the process, which is just interesting to read if you are trying to roast 6 different squashes nested into each other. Epicurious had a much simpler summer squash nested in an eggplant, nested in a butternut squash. But my husband didn’t seem interested in any of these ideas, so we ditched them. Maybe one year?

The Dinner Menu:

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Normally I just make the sweet potato drop biscuits from Appetite for Reduction, but these look so fluffy and flakey, I should give this recipe a try.

Garlicky Lacinato Kale
With so many different types of carbs out there, I figured having something green will help balance everything out a little.

Mashed Potatoes
Nothing special, just good old fashioned mashed potatoes with Earth Balance butter and soy milk. My husband badly wanted this, so I will make it.

Roasted Carrots with a Sweet Tahini Drizzle
My Father in Law always wants boiled carrots for dinner. I don’t know about you guys but I hate straight carrots. They are either too earthy or too sweet! But the tahini looks like it will balance everything out nicely.

Sage Stuffing and Shiitake Shallot Gravy
I’ve never made stuffing before so this should be interesting. Something about stuffing seems so unnatural, baking already cooked bread? And you make it soggy then bake it out? So, so, weird.

Seitan Stuffed with Wanuts, Dried Cranberries, and Mushrooms
Since I wasn’t doing a show stopping veggie, I figured I would make something meaty for Jon and I. This is a homemade seitan roast, and it looked impressive. So why not right?

Scarlet Barley
This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction, it is simple and easy and very striking. I figured it is a nice addition without much work since it is pretty much simmer on the stovetop.

Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, and turkey
Yeah, my in-laws are pitching in. They are still pretty attached to the turkey tradition, and I get that can be a hard thing to let go of, so if they want to roast a whole bird at home, then they can. But she is going to bring some brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce to add to the dinner. I think we will have plenty to eat.

The Dessert Menu:

Apple Pie
Jon and I have been kind-of working on our own apple pie recipe. I think we will pull all the stops to make the ultimate apple pie for dessert. And if it works out, we will post it on the blog.

Sweet Potato Cake
I am still not sure if I am going to make this cake, but it looks good. It probably isn’t too hard to put together and I will have to roast some sweet potatoes for the biscuits.

Non-vegan pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and some cranberry something…
I swear people love making dessert? I figured someone in my family would make a dessert, Jon’s father would make his pumpkin pie, and all would be good. No I find myself giving up my pecan pie. I thought about if I wanted to make another dessert, and I am still up in the air about that, but I figured why not give some booze options?

Apple Pie on the Rocks
This was found from Vegan Yack Attack. She made a note that fireball is not actually vegan, so I would have to pick up some other cinnamon vodka. I am not a huge flavored vodka cocktail fan, but I do like the look of that sugar rim.

Maple Bourbon Cocktail
I like bourbon, I like maple syrup, and I have tons of bitters to use up. I think this is the perfect cocktail to make for people want a little bit less of the sweetness from the apple pie on the rocks.

Sweet Potato Pie Cocktail
Why does everyone need to make liquid pie? This one depends if I can find the liquor in the store, Sweet Potato vodka by Art in the Age. I mostly like the visual of having the toasted marshmallows on the top.

Sweet Potato Latte
This is probably a quickie to make off to the side for the two little girls. If we have the sweet potato pie cocktail I will probably have marshmallows on top.

Plan of Action

I think planning is what makes Thanksgiving so hard, so I am trying to plan things out. My husband is taking off Wednesday from work, and so will I. We will use that day to prepare a few things. We will roast some sweet potatoes for the latte, cake, and biscuits. For the desserts, we will try and make the pie and cake ahead of time, and they should be find sitting out of the fridge for one day. We will probably also make the sweet potato lattes a head of time so we can just microwave them for the girls. The only thing for dinner I will prep would be to wash and clean the kale, and to make the mashed potatoes a head of time. 

Day of I will probably start with the seitan roast, as it is the most labor intensive. Once that starts up I’ll start cooking the barley since it is easy but takes over an hour to cook. Then I will move along to the stuffing, then carrots, and biscuits. Then I will finish up with the gravy and kale on the stovetop. I will probably have everything spread out and pre-measured before hand to make everything run smoothly and keep warm for dinner time. 

Then when dessert comes around, I will make cocktails as they are being ordered, and the little kids get the job of taking orders. And I will probably go out and buy some trader joe’s vegan vanilla ice cream with some coconut whip. I guess I will make another post after Thanksgiving reporting how well this actually went. XD

So what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving? Do you have a 100% vegan Thanksgiving? Or do you just bring your own casserole to dinner?

Naturally Sweet Desserts


Naturally Sweet Desserts

Philadelphia/Cherry Hill Area
website | facebook | twitter

I love it when I randomly find new local businesses, which is why I kind-of like the new “Hatchery” in Whole Foods. They bring smaller businesses out into the front for people to see. Truthfully, I love the idea of farmer markets, but I never go to them. Why? Well, I don’t like getting out and about after work hours and I am usually tied up on Saturdays with my CSA. So I think the Hatchery is able to hit a wider range of people, or catch the attention of people who are waiting in line (which was myself today).

I was looking for Follow Your Heart Ranch Dressing, I didn’t find it. A little bummed I went to pay for the few items I had and saw the word “vegan” at the hatchery stand. Oh yeah? What’s going on here? A small bakery was set up with some cupcakes, brownies, and little pies. Naturally Sweet Desserts is a small bakery that is starting up. You can find them at various events, farmer markets, and they have a delivery service.


So what is special about HER business? Well, it reminds me a little of Sweet Freedom, lots of natural ingredients and not too sweet, but Naturally Sweet isn’t as “free” of allergens as Sweet Freedom. For example, I ended up getting the PB brownie which has peanuts and wheat. But the ingredients list is fairly short- whole wheat flour, cocoa, peanut butter, avocado, hemp milk, turbinado sugar, coconut yogurt, applesauce, spices, and flax seed.

How was it? Super fudgy and yummy. I personally love a fudgey brownie. It is also super filling. I could only eat half of a brownie at first. My only complaint is that it had a little bit of a bite. I am thinking maybe she had a little too much ginger in the mix? But if I walked by her stand in a market I would totally grab something again. I paid $4 for this brownie, and seeing the ingredients list, I have no problem with that. If you want an even better deal you can buy a dozen from her website for $29.50, saving you $18.50.


The downside is that this is a small business that is starting up. So you can’t just walk into a store and buy one brownie. As mentioned she has been going to farmer markets, and looks like delivering to a few other sources (like a CSA). You can go to their website to see which events they will be at, and their facebook page as well. But when talking to the owner today, I saw that she was mostly planning on doing a delivery service for at least the winter season (I don’t know if she will be going to farmer markets again in the summer). You can go to their website and send an email (on the contacts page) and ask about their delivery service, and she will add you to her mailing list. She will send out emails each week for people to reply with orders.

It sounded like she was making deliveries in the Philadelphia and Cherry Hill area, so email her to get specifics. I personally don’t eat sweets that much and will make baked goods for myself when need be. I hope the best to Naturally Sweet Desserts, and like a said, if they ever open a permeant location or start doing farmer markets again, I will be there.

Sunday Reading 11-08-15 #54


Alexa hardly ever takes photos of Gizmo! Such a cutie!

Hey everyone! I hope everyone had a good week. I had a pretty productive one, and I even squeezed in a sick day! It is weird because it has been awhile since I’ve had a “sick” day. I had stomach bugs, but never stayed home with a flu. Even still, I just felt dizzy Friday and left work early mostly because I didn’t feel comfortable standing up for long periods of time. Got home, slept for 3 hours and when I work up I thought MAYBE I should take my temperature. Nothing huge, 99 degree temperature, but it was kind-of a “oh I guess I should came home then.” I am fine now, heck I was pretty much fine by the end of the night. But I think the experience has given me the motivation to get my flu shot this year. I can’t remember the last time I got one, so I am not really looking forward to it. XD

I am also trying to get use to working out again. I think it was much easier to be motivated in my old apartment, it was so small that going out for a run was a joy (also the area was beautiful, not too thrilled about my new run) Now I am going up and down stairs a lot more, more space to walk, I chase the cat, more personal space, and we can control the temperature so we are constantly snuggling under blankets. So I think is hard to find the motivation to lift weights when a cat is snuggling on my lap. Well, I want to really try and run 3 days a week, and weight train 2 days of the week. Maybe I’ll write a post about it once a week, I don’t know.

I am also in the process of planning my Thanksgiving dinner! I am pretty excited about this. It is almost all vegan, my in-laws are bringing their own turkey, which is fine to me because I know turkey can be a hard symbol to loose for the holiday. This is Jon’s first Thanksgiving without eating turkey, so it should be interesting. I will probably post a menu outline of what I plan on making for the dinner.

The Mayo Clinic did some research to what an energy drink does to your body. Answer, just releases stress hormones.

This article made me stop and rethink my day. It is one of those “yeah we all know this” sort of fact, busy people aren’t productive. I feel like I have been having a hard time getting things done, and maybe I am just bouncing too many different things around. I really want to focus on just reading, or just writing a blog post, or just looking at facebook. I find that when I focus, the clock ticks slower.

Since I am talking about trying to run more, I found this article about why writers run interesting.

Another article in defense of wild bees. Many people defend honey in a vegan diet because OMG ALL OUR BEES ARE DYING! And that is true, but a lot of the problems are manmade creations that we could fix, like planting more native flowers, having various blooms during the season, etc.

Anyone else use their apple news app? I do, and I love it. I like getting a wide variety of article, many I might not find on vegan media platforms. This one is what happens when an Italian goes paleo. I like the conclusion and the breakdown of all the science, and how the author didn’t gush about how she felt amazing. I think a lot of special diets are placebo effects, and if you do feel any real effect, it might take months, or years to have any change, and you might not notice since the change is so gradual.

My husband loves bears, and I love these sculpture projects where there is one blank form that is decorated various ways. This one is a bear in Germany that just made me smile.

Alexa shared this article with me about how our housing situation shapes our friendships. We both struggle with friends living far away, and I even hear how people in New York City struggle keeping in touch since with public transportation it can take several hours to get to certain spots. We also prize privacy, which and keep us closed off from the world. I think we both feel like the most “interaction” we felt with our community might of been when we lived in cities. What do you guys think?

What’s a CSA: A Beginners Guide

farmer cow

I originally started this post back in the day- maybe over a year ago? Recently I was asked by someone outside of the United States what a CSA was, and I think it might be a good idea to talk about it. I find CSAs a great movement in agriculture, and connects farmers to the consumers much more directly. And this is the time of the year you might want to start looking around for CSA programs. Why? They usually have caps and they are in such demand many have waiting lists. So let’s start with out first question…

What’s a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Although each CSA is run differently, the idea is simple, get the buyer to interact more with the farmers. The consumer invests money into the farm, and earns a “share.” This means you get a certain percentage of the produce. That it. Basically you are a shareholder of a business, but instead of capital gains, you get the physical produce. The idea is popular in the United States and Canada, although they might just have different names outside of North America. Most CSAs revolve around produce but have included meats, cheeses, and other products. Some have branched out to more unconventional ideas. I ran into an Alpaca CSA where shareholders would get divided up yarn, and there was a start up for a wine CSA, but due to liquor laws it was quickly shut down.

But each CSA will have different set ups. Some will have various pick up stations and will have pre-made boxes. This is a popular thing to do since it will give farmers a chance to offer their CSA to a wider range of people. Pick up stations can be in any store, I’ve seen some in bakeries and yoga studios. Some have shareholders more actively involved with the farming process and will help with the farming duties. My personal CSA has it’s members pick up their share at the farm. I get to the farm where they have a large board listing all the veggies I can get. There is a large table where we can “pick and choose” the vegetables we want, usually filling up a large bag with whatever combo we want. Then we have some things we go and pick ourselves, usually berries, tomatoes, beans, and peas. I am lucky to directly pick which veggies I want, but in CSAs that have pre-made boxes usually have request forms where you can write what you would like to see in your box.

Will I be dealing with one farm or more?

Due the popularity of CSAs many farms have joined forces to form one CSA. This is common with CSAs that might have several pick up locations. This gives farmers the chance to be an expert with a specific crop but give the consumer a large selection. So you might have a CSA with 4 different farmers, each one maybe growing 4 to 5 different types of fruits and vegetables. This tends to happen more with food that grow on trees, like peaches, apples, and avocados.

Even if you are dealing with CSA that is one central farm, they might sell food from other local farms. For example my CSA gives shareholders options to buy more food outside of their share. So there are meats from small farmers, apples from a local orchard, homemade foods (like pot pies and veggie burgers), breads, and cheeses.

What’s the advantage?

As a buyer a CSA gives you the advantage for fresher and cheaper produce than a supermarket. Although I love supporting farmer markets, they aren’t always full of fruit and vegetables, especially smaller ones (I find they usually sell cooked foods and finished goods). If you sign up for a good CSA, you should see the farmers. This gives you a chance to ask about farming advice for your small garden, what will be good next week, what to do with this weeks produce, and whatever else you might be wondering.

From an economic standpoint, farmer or farmers who own the CSA have a set source of income. They don’t need to worry about growing a certain amount of product, or worrying about not selling all of it. They are able to get a set amount of money for the year, and can budget accordingly. This also means better job security for the workers as well. They are also cutting out the middle man. Most farms grow produce and sell it to a company which then packages and sells the produce to a supermarket, which sells it to you. So the money you spend goes more directly towards the farmers.

And it is great for the environment. Not all CSAs are certified organic since it can be an expensive and time consuming process to get the certification. But that doesn’t mean the farm will use pesticides and chemicals. Most CSAs work as one farm, growing various fruits and vegetables. This gives a lot more variety, so if one year if there is a blight, you might not get many tomatoes but you will get plenty of kale. Also by having people who live close pick up their produce, you cut out a lot of gas used for transportation. Now you don’t need a truck to ship your berries across the country.

So then what’s the disadvantage?

As I mention before that CSAs will grow many different vegetables, letting the weather decide to a certain degree which ones will die and flourish. This forces you to take what you can get. This can get you to be creative and find new foods to eat. This is exciting. It also can mean you are still spending money in the supermarket for things you want. For example, the few years my CSA to perfect the growing process of onions and garlic, so I was buying those for awhile at the supermarket (and still do from time to time).

You might get too much. And you might think that isn’t a problem. I use to think that way. I thought, oh how could I ever have too much food? During farming season, I spend 3 minutes with my fridge door open just trying to find ketchup. Depending on the season things are better than others. Spring is brutal as the produce just takes up lots of space. Most greens cook down to make only one meal, but will fill up your vegetable drawer fast. Some weekends I feel like I am simply cooking just to get things out of the way- like when I made kimchi just to make room in the fridge for kale and collard greens.

Beginners Tips

  1. Get a salad spinner. Seriously. You’ll need it. I can not stress how dirty your food will be from the farm. I will wash my greens 3 or 4 times just to get all the dirt out. I was a little ticked when my husband put a salad spinner on our registry as they take up a lot of space and our kitchen is small. But it is has proved to be a must have kitchen item.
  2. Prep all your food when you get home. It might be tempting to toss you bag in the fridge and call it a day. But organizing and prepping your food will ensure it will last longer. Make sure your produce are in bags, except for berries, apples, etc. If your CSA doesn’t provide produce bags, I’ve found that reusing old plastic shopping bags work great. Otherwise your produce will wilt before the end of the week and nobody wants to eat that.
  3. Dry off your lettuce. This kind-of falls into the “prep your food first” tip, but it is slightly different. Aside from berries, lettuce is the next most perishable produce from farms. They always seem to be wet from farmers trying to clean them, or from morning dew. So after three days the lettuce is a little slimy. So I’ve made practice to chop, wash, and dry lettuce as soon as I can so it stays fresher, longer. Plus, letting lettuce greens sit a day or two after chopping actually INCREASES it’s nutritional value.
  4. Sign up for pinterest and buy a BIG book on veggies. You will find lots of new vegetables at your CSA. For example, kolhrabi might not be all that well known to you. Even veggies that you know of, you might want more ideas to toss around, like using radish for something other than salads. So I find pinterest a big help. Also getting a dictionary of vegetables is helpful. I like using Vegetable Love as a guide on how to cook certain vegetables, and get ideas on what I can do with them (note it isn’t a vegan or vegetarian cookbook).
  5. SPIDERS! CATERPILLARS! AND MAGGOTS OH MY! Put your produce in the fridge, especially fruits. I remember being in grade school and having teachers say how people use to think food with transform into maggots, and think “wow people sure were dumb.” Until you pick some berries and leave them on the counter overnight. You swear you picked the untainted berries, but then you get a text from your husband asking if you saw any maggots in the berries. I am constantly finding caterpillars in my kale, and then I feel bad for killing them in my fridge. It happens. You’ll get use to it.
  6. Learn to pickle and can your food. You WILL get too much food than you can eat in a week. Even if you have lots of kids, you still might struggle to use ALL of your produce. Especially if you get a lot of a specific item. You might need to make jam, pick some peppers, freeze beans, and make tomato sauce. Learning how to make these items will help preserve some food for the winter, and prevent waste.

Picking Tips

Not many CSAs have you pick fields. But if they do, you can get some first dibs on produce. The best part of these is towards the end of the season there are lots of “finder keepers” days, or free for alls because the plants are producing so much fruit.

  1. Go to the far ends of the rows. Pretty much go where no one else is. It sounds silly, but I am shocked by how most people stick to the very openings. Going to the opposite ends usually ensure you get virtually untouched plants. I also will try and pick rows where it is hard to get to, whether it is lots of weeds or falling branches. People just pass right over them, giving you a chance to go nuts.
  2. Dress appropriately. I like wearing knee high socks during the summer, the height of picking season. Weeds grow and they tend to be prickly. Wearing socks will protect you. Other tips? Wear a big hat or sunglasses, wear boots if it rained recently, and don’t dress up.
  3. Get ready to squat and go on your tippy toes.  Most people look at eye level, and therefore miss a lot of low produce. Squat down and look around, you might find a bunch of produce on a seemingly empty plant. If there is a tree or vine, look at the top, as some people won’t bother if it isn’t easy to pick. Kids can be great since they are naturally small and the some produce is naturally at their sight lines. But they are usually not so productive, so you know, disadvantages.
  4. Get there early. The early big catches the worm, right? Well the same it true at your CSA, people are looking to make their trip faster, so the earlier you get there the less picked over the plants will be.
  5. As for tips. Each plant has their own way to check for ripeness. It might take some trial and error to find the perfect fruit, but you will get the handle on it. But if you are totally clueless, ask some of the farmers, they will be happy to get suggestions. You can even ask some of the members of your CSA, they might steer you away from a specific area or show you examples of what they picked.

Is a CSA right for you?

Although I love my CSA, and think all places should base their farms off of theirs, I am aware it isn’t for everyone. Cooking seasonally takes awhile to learn. It is hard to write about since each area has different produce and different food comes in season at different times. Some things seems a no brainer to eat, like salad during the summer? Right? Well lettuce is actually a spring crop! There are varieties that grow during the summer, but you can’t assume your CSA will try growing them.

You also need to enjoy cooking and be willing to try new things. As mentioned above, you might need to pickle things to preserve them. I started pickling peas since we would get more than what we could eat in a week. I’ve also made my own tomato sauce and bbq sauce since there were so many tomatoes from the farm one year. It might be a lot of work but it lets you have it a little easier during the winter when you can just defrost some tomato sauce for a recipe.

Nervous? Find someone to split a share with! Some people at my CSA will alternate weeks between two people. This can give you a chance to get use to eating seasonally. We have gotten so use to buying whatever we want whenever we need it, that it is can be a hard pill to swallow to be told what to take. This can mean breaking traditions and creating new ones.

So what about you guys? Are you part of a CSA? Do you have any tips or info that I left out?

My Vegan Restaurant: Beyond Sushi


Beyond Sushi

229 E. 14th St (Between 2nd & 3rd Ave), New York, NY 10003
75 9th Ave (Between 15th & 16th St) New York, NY 10011
62 W 56th St (Between 5th & 6th Ave) New York, NY 10019
website | facebook | google+ | instagram | twitter | youtube

You may of read in one of my posts that I had a surprise concert in September. I got a call from my Father in Law asking if I was free, he bought tickets to see a concert but his wife was sick. He said he would invite my husband, but he knew that he had a particularly bad work week (apparently he didn’t get home that night until 9!) So we rushed plans, caught a train into New York City, and I looked for some vegan grub for us to get. I found out the venue was really close to Beyond Sushi. I’ve heard of Beyond Sushi from an instagram post by Terry Hope Romero– and yeah I dug deep in the instagram archive to share that image with you.


First sorry for the photos, we were kind of rushing. I am not sure why. I knew it would be awhile for the band to start, but there is still that hardwired feeling to get to the venue when the doors open. Plus I didn’t want to carry an expensive camera to a show or look like weirdo with my Father in Law… though I doubt he would of cared. So you get poorly lit iPhone photos! Oh well. We decided to kind-of share our sushi and get two different combos (combo number 2, two rolls, and two a la cart/individual pieces for $14.25) We got the following rolls:

  • Might Mushroom: Six-grain rice – Enoki – Tofu – Shiitake – Micro arugula; Sauce: Shiitake Teriyaki
  • Green Machine: Six-grain rice – English cucumber – Asparagus – Basil marinated veggies; Sauce: Jalapenõ Wasabi 
  • Spicy Mang: Black rice – Avocado – Mango – English cucumber – Spicy veggies; Sauce: Toasted Cayenne
  • Pickle Me: Six-grain rice – Gobo – Carrot Pickled daikon – Avocado; Sauce: Carrot Ginger 
  • Individual Pieces: Baked Tofu, Carrot, Enoki, and Seaweed

The store also provides some other non-sushi options. They will make some rice paper wraps, ranging from about $6 to $10. There are also hand rolls, side salads, side soups, and meal salads. There were also desserts and juices that looked like they might of been made at a different site. I didn’t get a good look at the company that makes them, but I assume it is another vegan shop located in New York City.


Combo number 2 was pretty filling, and I would probably get again. My FIL (father in law) didn’t quite eat all of his plate, like maybe two pieces too many. I found the seaweed and baked tofu individual pieces pretty awesome, the tofu being really firm and the seaweed perfectly spiced. My FIL seemed happy with his enoki mushroom and carrot choices. His favorite overall was the Green Machine, which had nice crunchy veggies inside, and a mildly spicy topping. My favorite was the Mighty Mushroom which had lots of umami flavors and made me think of eel rolls that I use to love to eat. The spicy mang packed a nice punch, making it most comparable to spicy tuna rolls. And the pickle me was yummy, but truthfully the most unoriginal for vegans, since pickled daikon rolls are common place vegan option in sushi bars. It was still good, but if you aren’t from the area, you might want to try the other rolls first.

I definitely would like to take my husband here next time we go into New York City. The place is awesome but truthfully not the most relaxing spot. We went to the Union Square location (229 E. 14th St) and it was a hole in the wall, as many of the stores are on that block. There aren’t many seats, and some seasoned New Yorkers might be a little rude and take up extra space to prevent you from sharing a table (though I am sure they would just move their shit if you ask if you could sit down). I would suggest coming during off hours to grab a seat, or ordering take out, which sushi holds up well for that. 

Sunday Reading 11-08-15 #54


It if funny reading blogs and hearing people be bummed out about the cooler weather. I am loving it. I love layering clothing, I like snuggling with blankets, and I love a big bowl of soup. Plus I am getting excited about the holidays since we are probably able to enjoy it a lot more this year. I am no longer working with retail, though the framing business does get a little more jobs during Christmas. So all the holiday planning is happening, which is a little less stressful. 

I am also starting to think about what to make for Thanksgiving dinner, which is stressful because I started to plot it in my head then my Mother In Law was like “oh I can make this!” and it brought my plans crashing down. Not because it is us competing to make food, but because I forget there are certain foods that people expect in Thanksgiving foods. Which makes me think, does anyone have any good carrot side dishes? My Father in Law LOVES carrots, but it is just cut boiled carrots, and no one wants them. I don’t think any of us like sweet carrots, so that rules out orange juice glazed carrots. If anyone has any ideas, please share!

Today is all about catching up on posts, and getting a few things done around the house. Yesterday was, ugh, weird. My husband had me buzz his hair and the machine kept making a painfully loud noise. Sure it was working but it sounds like it might explode mid-cut. This led to us fighting right before spending the day with his parents. This worked out in the end, but I think if our hair cutting buzzer whatever you call it breaks again, I am throwing in the hair cutting towel. I don’t know, it just seems wasteful if we have to buy a machine every three years to cut one person’s hair. Though I did get Jon to agree to cut his hair with me next time I make an appointment at Talking Headz. So that will get a post here at some point.


What is neurogastronomy? A new branch of science is emerging on how to study food.

Some of you might of read a study that found animal and human DNA in veggie dogs. This article from Vox pretty much reassures us to not freak out

I would really like to make this black bean cake. It just looks so ooey gooey and yummy!

Apparently there is a growing demand for natural dyes. I have mixed feelings. Yes, natural coloring is better but at the same time it feels weird looking for plant sources for something superficial as coloring.

I am not huge on The Kitchn recipes since most are not vegan, but this one with beans and greens look pretty tasty.

I love gingerbread and pumpkin flavored things! So I am excited about these pumpkin gingerbread spice muffins! She uses a gluten-free mix, but I might do a blend of regular flour with other flours. 

Maybe since my husband and I have been watching the Great British Bake Off, we have been more interested in sweets. This sweet potato cake looks super nice, maybe something to make for a Christmas get together?

I love learning about movements for urban gardening. There are a bunch springing up teaching lower income family how to garden, teaching farming to at risk teens, and more. Bite Size Vegan does a quick video covering some movements that are more exclusively vegan.


I found this article about how most coconuts are actually harvested by monkeys! It is an interesting read since the article basically come to the conclusion that isn’t enough information about the topic. I have to say that it doesn’t look like direct animal abuse, but then begs the question, are coconuts vegan?

There is a vegan soccer team? Okay that is a little misleading, more like a stadium that serves vegan food for a team.

Need another reason not to each chicken? How about adult diapers? Yup, this website is all about human rights for people working in the meat industry.


I think I might of posted an article about how honey is just as bad a high fructose sugar, and now I have to bust my own bubble with this article. *sigh* I can’t argue with it because it is true, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about tests, and if anything the study just is proving that the SUGAR in honey is just as bad as high fructose corn syrup, which is still important I think. 

I’ve fallen behind on my workout routine, and this article about the connection between lifting weights in brain function gives me even more motivation to get my shit together.

I spent time when I should of been working (at work) reading about sports bras. It is surprisingly interesting.

Winter Coats

I know that winter coats that don’t have wool can be a hard task. Well, I was browsing on Modcloth an found some cute coats. I love coats, I would love to have 10 different ones to choose from but I know that is impractical, and I still many pre-vegan wool ones. I would donate them, but some have ripped lining or are too cute. I have one vegan winter coat, and it is actually just a blue version of this coat. I love how bright it is, especially when I lived in the city and everyone just had a black coat. Having a colored coat is cool since most of the time you can only see your jeans or black leggings underneath. There is a fuchsia coat by the same company that is vegan as well.

If you are looking for something retro try out this plaid cape! I am thinking about writing a post about getting hand-me downs and thrifting and how it falls in a vegan lifestyle. Sometimes cool throwback things get you to buy vegan.

Any EGL fans out there? Well there are three different cute coats you can get in the clothing style! I love the style but I am much too lazy to wear it, and too cheap to put together an outfit. This coat looks pretty cute, and it even has some little heart pockets! The winnipeg coat has a little bit of faux fur on it! It comes in a pastel blue with white fur or red with black fur. Both are cute, and I kind-of want one. Ugh! I want those and the yellow coat!

Project 365: Days 303-309

Day 303: I “dressed up” as a witch for halloween. Pretty much I took a dress from the closet and put on a $3 witch hat. I made a bunch of kids pretty happy to see someone dressed up on the other side of the door.

Day 304: I am not sure what went wrong with this photo. I took a photo of the bush in front of our house because I loved the red leaves, and it just looks grainy and like an old camera photo!


Day 305: On Monday I made a pumpkin cheesecakes. The recipe was actually kind-of a bust, but I took a photo of the almond nut mix on top before it got put in the oven.


Day 306: I’ve taken a photo of this plant before. It is one in the garden at my work. The weather has been crazy, reaching frost, then getting back up to 70 degrees! So I guess the plant started to grow again, creating some bright green tips!


Day 307: Another plant from work that previously photographed. It has developed some pink on the edge of the leaves.


Day 308: I’m really loving being able to see how other plants handle to cooler weather. We always think about how everything simply dies, and the leaves on the trees change colors. Clearly things are more complicated. I forget what type of plant this is, but I think it was some sort of bush.


Day 309: I am in love with these flower shots! I definitely started the week with some mediocre photos, but ended with a big bang!



Horror Flicks – Part Three

Big bummer, my server deleted this post and so I have do it all over again. I mean that should be too hard to write up two reviews again. I totally forgot to write a review for Day of the Dead which I saw earlier in October. And then I watched The Brood on Halloween day. Overall we watched 14 horror films in the month of October which I thought was pretty good! And we have been watching plenty of Goosebumps, and Halloween cartoon episodes. I also was sick in October and didn’t want to watch anything that might make me feel queazy. Anyways, I hope you enjoy these last two reviews.


The Brood

Year: 1978
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Mutants
Watch: Hulu

Plot: A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation. –IMDB

Review: This is easily the best film I watched all month. I am not saying it is the best film of all time, just be best film that balances shock and gore with a great script/production. Apparently when the film first came out a lot of people thought it was complete trash, a cheap shot at the alternative mental health professionals. But the film is much more than that. It is about divorce and the difficulties children go through. 

At the time of the filming the director himself was getting out of a divorce with his then wife. During the divorce process it can be incredibly difficult for the child, and depending on how the adults act, can be a heavy weight into adulthood. I’ve heard petty stories of parents refusing to go to weddings if their ex is there as well. What the heck? To show the trauma, the lead characters Nola and Frank are separated, and Nola is getting mental help to try and save their marriage. During her sessions, we find out that her parents divorced as well, with both parents drunks, implying the damage seeped into Nola’s adult life.

Even with this heavy message, the movie has plenty of shocks. There is a kill fairly early in the movie, getting the momentum in the film going. And in Cronenberg’s style there is a great mutated body shock scene, so good that I am probably going to steal the idea for my next halloween costume. Since the movie is so trashy, but uses it to convey a message (and done in an excellent way) the movie makes it a perfect halloween film.

Overall: Perfect horror film, in my opinion.


Day of the Dead

Year: 1985
Directed by: George A. Romero
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Zombies
Watch: Hulu

Plot: Zombies rule the world, except for a small group of scientists and military personnel who reside in an underground bunker in Florida. The scientists are using the undead in gruesome experiments; much to the chagrin of the military. Finally the military finds that their men have been used in the scientists’ experiments, and banish the scientists to the caves that house the Living Dead. Unfortunately, the zombies from above ground have made their way into the bunker. –IMDB

Review: This was the first film by George A. Romero that I watched, and that was probably a mistake. Romero is known for his zombie themes, and this is the third film in the dead series. It has also been (loosely) remade in 2008. This film is known for being gory and the best special effects, but the tone is quite different. Yes there are zombies, but they aren’t really the scary part. The scary part is the tension between the military personnel and the scientists. This makes an interesting twist to the zombie genre so I have to give props to Romero for that.

But the film is really of the times. The clothing, hair, stereotypes, music, filming styles, everything is very 80s. It is not my favorite time period so I had to focus to ignore the stylistic choices. The idea is really interesting, but the execution didn’t match up. The characters were pretty flat, which is probably why the acting was lacking. Overall I found the film decent, and worth checking out if you like watching a lot of different films.

Overall: Not the best Romero film to start with