Alexa Asks, Jen Answers #7: Favorite Restaurants?

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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!

asksalexaDo you have a favorite Vegan restaurant that you’ve been to?

This is a tough question since my husband and I don’t eat out often. We only eat out 2-3 times a month, including eating out for lunch during work. We don’t even go to bars that much since it is so expensive. But I think we hit the same problems most vegan have, there aren’t any LOCAL vegan restaurants. Sure there are lots of options in Philadelphia, but it involves taking a train and walking to the location (like 30-40 minutes each way)

That being said we have some favorite vegan and non-vegan places. Each place has their own special place in our hearts. All of these places are pretty much exclusive to South Jersey or Philadephia with one exception. So take this an an eating guide to the Philly area.

MAJOR CHAIN: Panera Bread USA

If we are traveling and need to grab a bite, we almost always stop here. Sure there are other chains with great vegan options, but I find that Panera is the most spread out. There is a hearty sandwich that is easy to veganize (no cheese, swap bread). There are also other options, and their website is really helpful and open.

FAMILY EATING: The Pop Shop Collingswood, NJ

If you are eating out with your non-vegan family and they just want your standard all American dinner, the Pop Shop is your best bet. The Pop Shop isn’t a vegan restaurant, but a sort of family geared diner. They specialize in breakfast, ice cream, and grilled cheese. They also have vegan options for all categories. They have a great vegan cheese, vegan pancakes, vegan shakes, and tofu scrambles. My favorite? Tofu Buffalo Wing Sandwich, no cheese, no mayo. Downside? They don’t have an exclusive vegan grill, so that might freak some strict vegans out, or pose a problem to extreme dairy allergies. Also worth noting, I have only been charged extra for the vegan option once- for a sundae. So that’s a bonus.

ICE CREAM: The Franklin Fountain Philadelphia, PA

Okay this another non-exclusive vegan eatery. And I have to say narrowing down best ice cream in Philly is hard. I mean Capogiro’s has fabulous sorbets, and has been named world’s best ice cream. Little Baby’s Ice Cream is my favorite part of seeing a concert at Union Transfer (yes you can rock out to Chrvrches with some vegan ice cream). But neither is are exclusively vegan. (hey did you notice how many ice cream places I just dropped? Can you tell I like ice cream?)

But Franklin Fountain is a throwback soda fountain that is very accurate to the time period, well with the exception of their few vegan ice creams. They give lots of options for vegans, including vanilla, chocolate, and one seasonal vegan ice cream (such as peppermint stick or pumpkin), sorbets, caramel, whip cream, and much more. My favorite? Vanilla ice cream in a violet soda. It’s not on the menu, but trust me, it’s awesome.

PIZZA: Blackbird Pizza Philadelphia, PA

I remember being disbelief that a vegan pizzeria would ever open. I am even more shocked that it stayed open for so long. I wish I tried this place out when I lived in Philadelphia because it is even better than most of the pizza places in the city. The place is really laid back and feels like any old pizza takeout. The options are amazing, and some non-vegans drool over their potato pizza, which is apparently a thing.  This place is ALL vegan, so no sweating the menu.

QUICK BITES: HipCityVeg Philadelphia, PA

HipCityVeg has been featured on the site a few times. When I go into the city it is usually do something specific like see a movie at The International House, or go to the Art Museum. So I usually don’t want to sit down and eat. No instead I plan on eating at home, and realize that by the time the train arrives and I start cooking I won’t be able to eat until 7 or 8 pm. So I usually stop by HipCityVeg and grab something to eat. Everything is vegan, and the menu is simple which means your food get made fast. My recommendations: The Banana Whip, Buffalo Bella Burger, and the Udon Noodle Salad.

FANCY BITES: Eden Vegetarian Cafe, Bar Harbor Maine

I am super sad this place closed, but I think it is worth mentioning. This was an all vegan restaurant in Bar Harbor Maine. It was suppose to be a little more high end, and even had a bar. I liked the place since the food was a perfect way to end a day full of hiking. The menu was seasonal and would list all the locally sourced food, including things such as fiddleheads, tofu, and seaweed!

BAKERY: Sweet Freedom, Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, PA & Collingswood, NJ

I had a friend recommend this vegan bakery, so I went to check it out with my husband. After eating the yummiest cookie sandwich and root beer float cupcake I saw tons of signs with “gluten free” written all over them. I wouldn’t of had a clue. Sweet Freedom is all gluten-free, animal-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free. I think this why I love them so much, I don’t feel stuffed, or bogged down like most baked goods (or that rotting teeth feel from too much sugar). They started in Philly and expanded to Collingswood and Bryn Mawr, expanding their menu to juices, smoothies, and foods (hot foods only at the Bryn Mawr location). My recommendation? Their cookie ice cream sandwiches for the summer, cake balls, and cookie sandwiches.

Orlando Florida’s Loving Hut

I first heard of Loving Hut from Eat Your Kimchi. They visited one of the Korean branches that catered their menu to have more traditionally Korean foods. The name and logo looked familiar, which I later found out that there use to be a Loving Hut chain on South Street in Philadelphia that I would pass by on a weekly basis. I never had the chance to eat there before it closed down. But I always wanted to give this all vegan chain a try.

When I flew into Orlando to visit my Grandparents, I knew I wanted to go to a vegan restaurant before heading down to a small town. By chance I found out that there was a Loving Hut in Orlando, about 20 minutes away from the airport. Unaware of how the chained worked, I was surprised to see absolutely no Korean food like in the Eat Your Kimchi video, nor did it look like that restaurant. When I returned home, I learned a little bit more about the chain.

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Loving Hut is owned by spiritual leader Ching Hai. She leads the spiritual movement called the Quan Yin Method, in which one of the rules is that followers maintain a vegan diet. Loving Hut was opened to show the world how delicious vegan cooking could be. As a marketing tactic, all stores are allowed to alter the menu. This is great to make the menu reflect the tastes of each region. For example a vegan living in Korea might want Korean styled food over a vegan burger. The downside is that not all Loving Hut chains are created equal. I’ve read reviews that the Philadelphia Loving Hut was embarrassingly bad.

The setting of restaurant was pretty laid back, and reminded me of most Chinese and pizza takeout shops in New Jersey. The store had posters hanging with Vegan “celebrities” including Leonardo da Vinci (which he wasn’t rumored to be vegan, just a vegetarian). There was also a big flat screen TV showing videos of Ching Hai. Aside from the videos, the atmosphere was very open with a wonderful server who was happy to ask where all guests were from. I assume that they got lots of people who were traveling to Disney World and other theme parks.

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This location carried foods that had Southeast Asian influences and some Americanized foods like burgers. We were pretty hungry so we got the Happy Half Moon wontons. They were perfectly deep-fried, the wraps weren’t chewy or oily. This would be a dish I would of recommended to anyone who enjoys dumplings and wontons.

I got the King Spice Cha Cha, Oyster Mushrooms that have a spicy breading and are deep fried. They are served with sauted peppers and onions with a large scoop of rice on the side. Everything was a little more oily than I was use to, but never overwhelming. There also wasn’t too much food, just enough for one really hungry person.

My husband got the Lemongrass Noodles, which had a faux beef topping the noodles. Even though my husband isn’t a huge faux meat person, he loved the dish. For anyone who doesn’t like faux meats or TVP, there is a tofu option. The noodle to protein ratio might of been a little high, but it didn’t seem to bother my husband.

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We finished the dinner with an avocado shake and rose cappuccino. The avocado shake could of been better, as it was little watery. The cappuccino was delicious, not too sweet and it didn’t have a pool of syrup on the bottom of cup. The rose flavors actually worked well with the espresso. Although there wasn’t enough foam to make it a “cappuccino,” it was a pretty tasty latte.

If I had this restaurant nearby me, I would get all my takeout from it. Sadly, even though the staff was very open and welcoming, I didn’t like the atmosphere enough to come back and sit down. It was fine since we was a stop in between traveling.

Toulouse wraps some presents

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Today I started to wrap my Christmas gifts and my cat, Toulouse, decided she would help me out. She does this every time I try and wrap gifts. She usually walks on the paper and sits down, watching me.

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But today she thought to inspect inside the wrapping paper, you know just incase there was something good in there. She also bit the paper, just incase it was alive and tasty.

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Then she decided scissors would be a great toy to bat at.

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Which developed into a fearlessness with the pair of scissors. Usually chopping down the paper is enough to send her running. But she has to move eventually right?

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Nope.

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Then the cut paper itself was fun enough to play it. Eventually she got up and left so I could finish the wrapping. But she was pretty darn cute so I couldn’t be mad.

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Sunday Reading 12-14-14 #15

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Another week goes by, and it is another week pretty far from the kitchen. I don’t mean to, but my husband and I keep getting leftovers! First it was Thanksgiving, which was a little brutal on our tummies. SO MUCH STARCH! Then my husband had his office Christmas party and we took home the all vegan antipasto trays. It was pretty cool since we could do so much with it- wraps, grilled vegan cheese sandwiches, pizza, etc. But I thought about it, I hardly had to chop anything all week. Very weird.

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This weekend I got almost all my gifts bought and wrapped. There are a few stragglers, and gifts that still need to arrive. So now our Christmas tree is overflowing with gifts. Our apartment is small so our tree is on a table, our gifts are under the tree, next to the tree, and on the floor because we ran out of table. I am really hoping this is our last Christmas in this apartment, which might mean a full size tree next year.

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The Lives of Millennial Career Jugglers

I think any blogger can relate to this article. Alexa and I have had our fair share of “slash this” type of jobs. Alexa- baby sitter/illustrator/toy sales clerk/blogger and I was up until recently was line chef/framer/food blogger. I think what I really like about this article is that it sheds light on millennials as hard workers. People from this generation are viewed as lazy moochers. Truthfully, there is a lot of blocks stacked against us, and the debt is scary and overwelming. Because most people aren’t able to find the jobs they wanted when coming out of school, many people are pursuing their dreams as a side job. Truthfully, there are lots of businesses that start out that way, so there is nothing new being said.

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The 2014 Hater’s Guide To Williams-Sonoma Catalog

I remember flipping through the Williams-Sonoma catalog when I was little (like 6th grade to high school little) and dreaming up my kitchen. I didn’t give two shits about what the house looked like. I am pretty sure my kitchen would of been 30% of the house, and I am fairly certain I would still be happy with that arrangement. 

But as I got older, parts of me started to shy away from the company. I mean I still love my all-clad, vitamix, and kitchen-aid mixer, but do I need a separate pot of chocolate milk? Maybe I shy away from specialty cooking equipment because I had to get so creative in college. No square pan for brownies? No problem! This pie pan will work just fine. 

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The Stereotype-Driven Business of Selling Nutrition Bar to Women

I think every vegan has nutrition bar in their purse or pocket when they walk around. I know I do. Why? Because if I get hungry when arrands are taking longer than expected I know I have something to eat, and don’t need to buy something before getting home. In a way it is the whole idea that I am eating a bar that costs a dollar instead of buying a five dollar or more sandwich, drink, burrito, whatever.

So when I read this article about how nutrition bars are marketed to women I found it amazing. Yes, I know there were lots of gender stereo-types but this article made it more more clear. Does the article change my buying habits? Probably not, I will still buy clif bars, the company that owns Luna bars. But it is a great way to be aware of how companies are trying get your attention.

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Berry Mango Sorbet with Banana and Pineapple

I love ice cream. I love This Rawsome Vegan Life. So this was a great post. I love Emily’s down to earth raw recipes. No coconut meat in her recipes! And when she does call for more expensive items, she is realistic about if people can buy them. I particularly liked the writing in her post. It made me smile, and lately the news in America is far from sunshine and rainbows. Go read, smile, then think “Why doesn’t Emily become a newscaster in the US?”

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Maple Horchata

So I bought Apple Brandy for my almond nog, and it was kind-of a mistake. Now I am trying to find some recipes that will highlight the flavors in apple brandy. I have an idea for a yummy toddy, but I would love to try out this really complicated Horchata. I mean TWO DAYS! It takes TWO DAYS to make! I have to try it. 

Gingerbread Apple Granola

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Remember how I mentioned I’ve been a little bummed lately? I am trying to be a little proactive about it. Tonight I am going try out a run in Philadelphia with my friend. Hopefully all goes according to plan, it is suppose to snow on and off all day. I am a little nervous since my running has been pretty null lately. I’ve been much happier sleeping in or lifting weights inside.

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This granola is a great way to add a little bit of a christmas flair to any normal dishes. Add a little granola on yogurt, now you have GINGERBREAD yogurt. Add a little to your chia pudding, BAM Christmas-a-fied. I have big plans for this granola, and if all goes according to plan, I will posting the recipe on here.

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This recipe was a big labor of love. It happened to use a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers, so there were lots of pecans, walnuts, and cashews in there. There is also home dried apples. I figured I would give it a try since my husband picked 16 pounds of apples before our local orchard closed down for the year. I couldn’t even tell you what types of apples are in there. I just kind-of grabbed a bunch from our bags, diced and dehydrated. They are pretty yummy in oatmeal or chia pudding. If you don’t feel like making your own diced apples, you can easily just chop up dried apple rings.

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Continue reading

Christmas Wishlist

I’ve been pretty down, and I felt like the best remedy was to be 100% superficial. I wanted to make a fantasy wish list for Christmas. These are things that I wouldn’t of even asked for Christmas since they are so over the top and impractical. I have been so careful about my money and not buying any clothes it is driving me a little nuts.

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Big Splendor Skirt | Causing Quite a Sternum Tee | A Very Hip Engagement Skirt

I’ve been all about golds and skeletons lately. I love these three pieces, having a cutesy top with a collar and rib cage on it. I could either pair it with a flared (and discontinued) skirt to make it more feminine. Or I could pair it with a gold pencil skirt to add more of the leg bones. Although my bosses wouldn’t prevent me from wearing bones on my clothing, I think they would prefer if I didn’t.

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Gold Leopard Leggings | Shiny Sun Shorts

I love running but I hate being told that I should be wearing $200 pair of running pants. You can usually find me running in a pair of galaxy leggings with a giant Jet’s shirt on top. As far as I’m concert workout gear isn’t everyday clothing, which gives you tons of space to have fun and do something crazy. Which makes me wonder why there isn’t more gold and silver involved. I am loving these gold leopard leggings, and they look really warm. I’ve also been swooning over these gold shorts for the summer. Side note- am I the only one who loves how unhappy all the American Apparel models look? Like that guy, his face looks like “Yeah, buy these shorts if you fucking idiot. These shorts are lame man.”

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Gold Human Skull Shaped Box | Hippo-Hop and You Don’t Stop Vase | Rustic Romp Taper Holder

I think this collection items I want for my house is a great example of my collect taste. Actually it is more about being obsessed with animal themed decor. I mean humans are animals right? So that skull goes in the animal category. I would love the skull to keep little knick-knacks in in the living room. The hippo would be great since I am always picking flowers from my CSA, or I could keep some herbs in him for the kitchen.

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Glacier Sweater | Prosecco Wishes Sequin Shorts

I love the look or sequined shorts, but they are usually expensive and itchy. So I never actually get them. But I can’t help love the idea of pairing them with a polar bear sweater-shirt. Some tights would go under the shorts so I could keep warm during the winter, with knee high socks going over them. But lets face it, out of all articles of clothing I need, sparkly winter shorts is not on that list.

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The last thing I want? To dye my hair. I’ve been pretty down lately, and I kind-of wish I could wake up with bright and happy head of hair. I remember in college I use to go brown for the summer, and bleach out blonde in the winter. I kind-of liked having that happy bright burst in the morning. I particularly love how Kaylah from The Dainty Squid has her bright orange hair creeping out of her comfy hat.

Sadly, I don’t think my bosses would like my brightly colored hair. They are just put off by “punk” appearances and very old fashioned that people with colored hair, holes in their faces, and tattooed are mean people. I feel like if I stop working retail I would go through a colored hair phase, which would be pretty fun.

What impractical dream gift are wishing for this Christmas?

Sunday Reading 12-07-14 #14

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This week has been pretty depressing. It seems like the news is really getting under my skin, and it probably has to do with how close everything is to me. Riots in Ferguson are riots in Ferguson. Horrible things are happening in an area far away, surely things are different in parts of the US where there is so much racial diversity? Apparently not. Perhaps this makes me feel unmotivated to post anything. Sure it helps that I am spending time buying gifts, and working more at work. I think the thing that horrifies me the most is how people are still denying that Eric Garner’s death is a problem. The excuses and explanations are troubling.

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She Loves Dress – Let’s Talk

At first I thought I wouldn’t talk about it on the blog since I don’t think I am the most qualified person to talk about it. Then I read the most recent post from She Loves Dress- Let’s Talk. If you are unfamiliar with the blog, Jenny wears beautiful vintage dresses, and does tackle personal issue from suicide, race, and anorexia. So it was amazing to me that someone would post something on a fashion blog about the death Eric Garner.

I would check out her post, because I think she brings up a great point, you can talk and talk, but money helps. No, it can’t solve everything but there are hard working people trying to make a difference. Money is the way that they can pay lawyers, or take unpaid time to educate people. Jenny lists some projects, but not all. 

The Daily Show – We Can’t Breathe

I don’t think anyone could summarize it any better.

Bite Size Vegan – Double Your Money

I think I mentioned that Bite Size Vegan is a great source of information. Emily does a lot of research to bring you small videos packed with information. But I think she is fun, and is doing this just to spread the word of veganism. She started a Patreon page on her website, to help raise money so she can go full time on her YouTube channel.

I am not saying you NEED to donate money, but at least watch some her videos. Give her a chance, and if you feel like you love it, this is the month to donate. If she raises $1,000, a donator is going to match it. 

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Uncross Your Bad Luck: Take a Bath

This post made me really want to take a nice warm bath, unwind just a little. Then I remembered that my tub is a little too small. So you know, when I buy a house maybe I will get a really big and fancy bath so I can relax, and read a book in the tub. Then I thought about how much my apartment is horrible, and I really need to get out. Man, I’m feeling really stressed, I should take a nice relaxing bath.

A Trip to the Highlands Hammock State Park

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I’ve been so busy with work lately. I’ve started to feel a little stressed. Oddly, since I am stressed I decided to start walking to work again. Which is weird since it cuts out a total of 40 minutes out of my day, but it really just clears my mind. I can think, get a little exercise, and some fresh air. Plus, I haven’t been running lately in part that I don’t have adequate running gear for the winter. *crosses fingers for Christmas* But all that walking cuts into time that would normally be used for the blog.

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Since I’ve been in a weird writing funk I haven’t posted anything from my trip to Florida. I visited my Nanna and Pappy for their 60th wedding anniversary. They live in Sebring Florida, which I am sure 99.9% of my readers are going “huh, where?” It is 2 hours south of Orlando, or 2 hours east of Tampa Bay, pretty much in the middle of the state.

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There isn’t much in Sebring. It is a pretty small town. There use to be a big botanical garden named Cyprus Gardens but it was bought out and turned into Legoland. I was little sad since I remember loving their winter light displays, and I always wanted to dress up as a Southern Belle. I remember the gardens being particularly cool since it had flowers AND animals.

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I know I would go to Disney World with my Grandparents, but oddly I have more vivid memories of Cyprus Gardens, the Everglades, and Hammock State Park. I remember getting on a boat in the Everglades and being terrified about falling out and being eaten by an alligator.  My sister and I both got close to a manatee, we just watched him bob in the water.

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When I was little, I remember walking around Hammock State Park. Most of the trails are boardwalks that go over swampy areas. At one point I remember having to turn around because there was a mother alligator, and my Nanna thought it wasn’t smart to walk by a mother alligator and her babies, which was probably a smart idea.

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Coming back to the park as an adult was pretty exciting. Jon had never been to Florida for anything outside Disney World, so it was fun seeing his reaction to the wild life. The landscape is very different from the deserts of Utah or the temperate forests on the east coast. Jon described it as being in Jurassic Park, which isn’t entirely wrong.

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I remember all the citrus when I was little. My Nanna and Pappy pointed out every citrus orchard we passed, and they even had a lemon tree in their backyard. The lemons weren’t smooth like the ones you buy at the grocery store. It was bumpy and huge. As I got older, I learned a lot about citrus (like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit are all the same species) so I was a little perplexed by this citrus plant. It was growing in the park, and makes me wonder if some one planted a tree, or if maybe a seed started to grow. There were two “wild” citrus trees growing in the park.

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Jon and I saw this written on the trail, and thought it pretty interesting. It had our initials (I mean how many J + J’s really get together?) and 55 years on it. We were at my Nanna and Pappy’s 60th wedding anniversary, so the numbers were really close.

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I don’t think I’ve seen so many spiders in one spot in awhile. It probably makes sense that there would be a large amount of bugs that spiders could catch. Autofocus always tries to focus on the trees and not the spider and it’s web, so I was proud how focused I got them with manual focus.

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No alligators this trip, but we did see a bunch of cool lizards and a snowy egret. The lizard just plopped from the sky and down on the leaf while we were admiring the scenery. He didn’t seemed to freaked out about us. Jon and I have seen snowy egrets in New Jersey before, but it was magical seeing it in a totally different surrounding (and not in a backyard). I tried to switch lenses but he flew away before I could get a good snap.

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I think convincing my husband to make another trip to Florida won’t be hard. It is beautiful and completely different than what we are use to. I wasn’t thrilled by my photos, so that gives me even more incentive to go back down, maybe to the Everglades.

Sunday Reading 11-30-14 #13

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I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving- or a good weekend for any non-Americans. My weekend? Has been awful. I mentioned in my last post that I had the world itchiest allergy eye, then got the worst migraine. I laid down in my bed for two and half hours with my eyes closed and my brain feeling like a horn was trying to grow through it. So that’s why my “Sunday Reads” are a little late, and to be honest they might not be happening for the rest of year. You know how it is, retail = super busy. And my weekend might be busy making gingerbread cookies and sneaking in vegan ingredients. “What do you  mean? I used butter. You are just miscounting the butter in the fridge!” *hides earth balance and flax seeds*

But I had the joy of finding out that Corey Booker is going vegan for the rest of the year. Which is pretty cool. Alexa and I both are NJ natives and have lots of pride in the state. But I am not going to lie, it does seem a little weird that Booker becomes vegan shortly after Chris Christie vetoes the bill banning gestation crates in NJ. Although his motives are true, but it probably gives me great timing for the public eye.

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And I think this just blew Alexa’s and my minds. This beers sounds like a disaster, but we will be riding that train wreck when it happens- vomiting our gingerbread cookies and almond nog. But let’s move to the articles that have a little more substance.

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Fun With Food

Part of my struggle with veganism hits a rather funny bone. Sure there are traditions that are hard to change, but I’m not talking about serving turkey for thanksgiving dinner. No what really makes me want to break veganism are the far flung history and practices. I honestly would love to try really old fermented japanese fish. Or even haggis, or black pudding. I still have that “don’t knock it till you try it” attitude about food. I also have a weird fascination with using all the ingredients of an animal (I mean I just mentioned haggis and black pudding)

Well, the article isn’t vegan, but it does talk about ingredients and techniques that are. A bunch of chefs are exploring cooking with the uncookable. Although molds and fermentation are making a comeback, there is still a fair amount of still traditional application to them. Sure we have hempeh, but nothing close to the chimp root, “licorice root, whittled down and brushed with juniper-wood-infused honey, and stuck with herbs, seeds, nuts, fruits, and two types of ants.”

Although the creations might be high end and impractical for daily consumption it might yield some good results. Most artistic movements are from people who were playing around. Some things worked, some didn’t. But it might get one small thing right, which would be borrowed by other artists.

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An Introduction To The Beagle Freedom Project & The Cruelty Cutter App!

Veganism with my diet seems to be widely accepted. But when I say I try to avoid wools and animal based beauty products I get a weird look. I think everyone knows that animals are needed for experimentation, but most test animals are for cosmetics and inaccurate testing. Science have proven that mice love getting cancer. (So for the love of god stop citing lab tests where mice get cancer. Know what gives mice cancer? Everything)

Two movements are featured in Sayward’s blog: The Beagle Freedom Project and The Cruelty Cutter App. The Beagle Freedom Project works with and helps test animals and try to find them homes. What animal is being tested on for your eyeshadow? Beagles duh! Most people imagine bunnies and guinea pigs are normal test subjects, and they are more likely to bite and be jerk pets. So when people know that man’s best friend is also man’s best test subject it gets peoples attention.

The Cruelty Cutter App makes finding cruelty free products easier. I love this idea to have something in your hand as you go shopping. I love Logical Harmony since she makes cosmetics easy. Honestly, I just dropped way too many links. Check them all out guys, they are really interesting.

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Throw this Party: T.Hanksgiving

Even though I had a wonderful spread, I really don’t like Thanksgiving. People are usually in two parties for Thanksgiving, people who spend their day cooking, and people who watch football. Okay that is an over simplification, but after many year my husband started to understand why Thanksgiving and football are a bad idea. If you are cooking you can’t watch the game. So growing up my family made more a tradition of watching the parade.

So I like this fun idea of having a T.Hanksgiving the day before. Maybe next year there will be Splash showing Wednesday night while serving cheesy shit like octopus dip. Or maybe I can make some vegan dish and call it “Mermaid Purse.” Simple and easy, and everyone can love it.

The Militant Baker: Behind the “Decent” Music Video

There are a few songs appearing that embrace curves or being a big girl. There is something great proclaiming “I’m fat, I love it, and fuck you if you don’t like it” Even my boss in her late 50s loves the song All About That Bass. But I am loving this new song Decent by Elly Kellner. It is less “I’m LOVING MY BODY!” but more about the type of guilt tripping that happens. I recommend watching the video and lyrics and reading the post on The Militant Baker. She has a great story to go with the song, which I think anyone of any size can relate to.

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Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat?

Eating vegan or healthfully on a budget is a big topic. I hear people saying how they want to eat more healthfully but don’t have the money. I am a firm believer that eating well can be cheaper or about the same cost of junk foods. But the Slate investigates the new Whole Foods that opened in Detroit, one of the poorest cities in America. It goes from it’s noble goals, and benefits it creates for the city.

Then the article goes to the big question- can Whole Foods change the eating habits of the poor? The evidence says no. The article paints the picture of why health is associated with the rich. Reading the article I kept thinking that there were better ways to help the consumer. I am sure most everyone knows how to shop smart, but don’t know healthy and cheap eats.

Overall it saddens me that there is more focus on no-GMOs, organic, and grass-fed cows as being healthy over which fats you eat, and how much sugar is consumed. Perhaps it is because meats, sugar, and dairy can get easily pulled out of our diets and people are trying to find ways to keep them there. Or it is hard to admit that maybe if something is expensive, we just should eat it.

Thanksgiving 2014

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know this post is a little late, but I’ve been busy in the kitchen and busy being sick. My allergies reared a new, ugly head that was both horrible and obnoxious. My eyes swelled up and became horribly itchy.  I started to wonder if I was getting pink eye. Wonderful timing as I had to prepare many sides for our Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws. Terrified of being contagious, I asked Jon cook most of the sides. 

I wanted to share my Thanksgiving, because it was probably the best Thanksgiving I had (well food wise). Every year I almost always break my veganism, because my choices ranged from veggies swimming in butter to veggies playing hide-n-seek between bacon bits and cheese. This year, my Mother-in-law cooked everything vegan with the exception of turkey, gravy, and one side. This gave me the freedom of choice.

before1

My Mother-in-law loves decorating a dinner table. I wish I could put forth such effort in my own home. When I read blog posts for “easy Thanksgiving centerpieces” I always wonder: who has space on their table for centerpieces? Then I think that maybe I could just sucker any future kids I may have into making the centerpiece so I don’t have to think about it. Crafts are fun right? Kids should love making a paper turkey. And no one is going to say how crappy it is, because no one wants to shatter kids’ dreams. Point is that I may have figured out a way to decorate my table without actually doing anything. Sadly though, my husband can’t cut paper in a straight line and is far too old for a poorly made hand turkey to be “endearing.” So instead, his Mom took care of the decorations and made her table stylish.

before2

Jon’s Brother and Sister-in-law drove up from Virginia with their massive black lab, Duke. Duke is the friendliest, most well behaved, and most docile of any labrador that I’ve met. He is also spoiled rotten as he gets home cooked meals ever since being diagnosed with a long list of allergies. I know lots of humans who don’t get daily home cooked meals. I hope this pup knows how lucky he is. He spent most of Thanksgiving day bouncing from person to person in search of attention or just a hug.

duke

As mentioned our spread this year was the best I experienced. There wasn’t a single dish I didn’t enjoy. So I will go food by food providing links (if they exist) to recipes. I hope this spread inspires your future holiday dinners.

stuffedonions

Has anyone heard of stuffed onions before? I hadn’t until this Thanksgiving. This was a recipe from my Mother-in-law’s friend, so there isn’t a link to share. She had to take off the outer shell of the onions, cook it, and stuff in a similar manner as stuffed cabbage. The onions were stuffed with tomatoes, breading, and feta cheese, but she left a few without the cheese for me.

carrotsandgravy

Every year simple boiled carrots make it to the dinner table. It is my Father-in-law’s favorite and is pictured above in the covered dish. Next to it is a turkey-based gravy. I made a mushroom miso gravy for myself, but it didn’t look as nice as it tasted.

cranberrysauce

I am actually not a fan of Cranberry sauce. Is that a little odd? I usually find it too sweet, and may be better as a garnish instead of a side. However, this year’s cranberry sauce seemed to be an exception. The secret?  It was cooked with port wine. This gave the sauce a robust and complex flavor. Although I am not sure if it is the same recipe, Cookin’ Canuck has a port wine cranberry sauce that looks pretty good.

stuffing

I have no idea what was in this stuffing. I am not fully even sure what the point of stuffing is. Sure it was bread put into a turkey, but now there are so many recipes that don’t involve the stuffing to be stuffed into something. This is one of them. I can say it tasted amazing with my mushroom miso gravy. It was so good, I am actually thinking about eating some of those leftovers right now.

brusselsprouts

Unfortunately the photos of the actual brussel sprouts didn’t turn out well enough for the blog. They were all blurry. But this was a really tasty dish. They were shredded brussel sprouts that were sautéed with a small amount of apples and apple cider vinegar to give it a little tang.

lentilballs

I made these lentil balls with only one person in mind- me. But it seemed that other people enjoyed the dish, and I was asked to leave some behind for others to take home as leftovers. It is definitely a dish I would make again, but the beauty is that they freeze well. So make it ahead of time, freeze it, and bring it out any day of the week for a meal. The recipe is over at Oh She Glows.

greenbeans

These green beans already made an appearance on the blog, and it didn’t have burn onions on top. I made some last minute changes (like I thought burn onions would be more crispy, right?) by adding some cashews to the mushroom like gravy. I had soaked some cashews with the intention of making “rad whip” but ran out of time. I figured it could only enhance the green beans so I blended them in. It created a very rich and creamy sauce.

sweetpotato

On my green beans post I mentioned how I hated green bean casserole so much, I felt like there had to be a better version out there. The same thing can be said about sweet potato casserole. So many times I had tried making a sweet potato casserole and just found it to be too sweet. So when a recipe was posted on Oh She Glows for a Sweet Potato Casserole, I knew I would give it a try. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll try a different recipe in the future. It made a crispy granola like topping that was perfect to go on top of a lightly sweetened sweet potato.

pecanpumpkin

Then comes dessert. I can safely say that my husband pretty much made the entire pecan pie. I blended a few ingredients together, but nothing else outside of that. We used The Post Punk Kitchen’s Maple Pecan Pie, which is tasty. But I joked it was pretty much a shoo-fly-pie with some pecans in it. There was also a very not vegan pumpkin pie. It is just what my Father-in-law makes every year. He also praises his crust every year, or any time he makes it. 

What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving?