Sunday, December 27, 2009


Awhile ago I decided I wanted to host a dinner party so we did it a couple of weekends ago. Since I have become such a fancy lady, I thought it was fitting. Okay, maybe not fancy but I try to make myself and family look nice.
Before we get to the dinner part though, I want to tell you about the pre-dinner action. T and I realized that since we aren't married and therefore haven't registered for all the nice house things, we don't have all the things one needs to throw a dinner party.
Wine glasses, well, check. Enough tables, check. Candles, yea. Sister to help decorate table, yessir. Plates, need about 3. Butter knives, have about 3. Regular cups, that numbers keeps shrinking due to mister and sister butterfingers. Napkins, I guess paper towels don't count. Crap. Time to go to the fancy home store. If we are going to buy things, might as well start out right. Off we went to the Greenhouse in Bham. We decided to go without the butter knives though, we didn't really need them. And napkins were brought in the paper variety. Who can spend $20 on four napkins? We needed 10. Don't worry, we left enough for you to buy.
Okay back from the store, we have some eco-friendly plates (can't leave water on them or they'll disintegrate, seriously), we have flowers, we have food, we have drinks. Let's get this partay started yo! To begin, I would like to say that one guest exclaimed, "you made this and you can't even taste it?! It is so good!" Yes, I had some rave reviews. The menu was:
Veggie Sushi
Garlic Mashed Taters
Sage Grilled Carrots
Beef Wellington
Ricotta Gnocchi with Apple Cream Sauce
Mmmmm! Now that I think about it, I never did post my gnocchi recipe. I have been meaning to, it is awesome. I will someday. Right now I would like to focus on the Beef Wellington. Now, I have never had beef wellington but saw it on the Food Network over Thanksgiving (we don't have cable so I watch a crap ton at Mom and Dad's when I visit). It looked divine and like something T would enjoy. After a positive taste testing from T before the dinner party, I decide to make it. It is actually quite easy. You can find the recipe I used here at the Food Network site (the cook time is not 6 hours, I don't know why it says that!). I haven't figured out how to make the bottom not soggy though. If you figure it out, please let me know.
Besides the good food, the party was a good time and enjoyed by all (I believe). We chatted and played apples to apples and ate 3 different desserts thanks to the guests. We even had a sleep over with a few party-goers. It was a success and I can't wait until I feel like having another one.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookin' Cookies

I have come across some awesome vegan cookie recipes this winter. Here are a couple of my favs! They are so easy to make...and eat.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Punk Post Kitchen blog
Yields about 2 dozen smallish cookies

Ingredients -

1/2c brown sugar
1/4c white sugar
2/3c canola oil
1/4c your favorite non-dairy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1 T tapioca flour
2 t pure vanilla extract
1 3/4c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

how ever many you want chocolate chips

Method -

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. Mix in the vanilla (use a bit less if you used a vanilla "milk").

Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into desired sized balls (ping pong size will make 3 inch cookies). Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit when cooking. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes - no more than 9 - until they are just a little browned around the edges. Cook a little less for chewier cookies. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Pb Filled Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Punk Post Kitchen blog
Yields about 2.5 dozen smallish cookies


1/2c canola oil

1c sugar

1/4c maple syrup

3T non dairy milk (I used vanilla soy)

1/2t vanilla extract (use less if using a vanilla flavored milk)

1 1/2c all purpose flour

1/3c unsweetened cocoa powder

2T shaved (or food processed) black unsweetened cocoa

1/2t baking soda

1/4t salt

PB Filling:
3/4c natural peanut butter (any style)

2/3c powder sugar
2T non dairy milk

1/4t vanilla extract

Method -

In a large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract and mix with fork until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, black cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

In another mixing bowl beat together peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk and vanilla extract to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is too dry (as different natural peanut butters have different moisture content), stir in another tablespoon of non-dairy milk.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Its time to shape the cookies. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into hazelnut-sized balls. Use a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a disc with palm of hand and place a peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll the chocolate into a ball ans smooth by rolling. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with remaining doughs.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and let cookies for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to complete cooling. If you desire the cookies warm (which is better) microwave for 10 to 12 seconds before serving.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Note to Self:

I would say most people living in the county have a dog. The dog(s) get to roam the property and be happy. Some of them are outside dogs, some are inside dogs, and the spoiled rotten ones are the dogs that get to stay inside and be warm but go outside to run independently. Buk and Gus, our dogs, fit in the third category. The summer months are great, the rainy months are not so great. The dogs come in with the muddiest paws, dirtiest stomachs, and usually bleeding from something. They don't mind though, they LOVE it. They also love to find dead things. At least, that is what I am guessing that stank is. Gus, rarely Buk, comes home probably 50% of the time smelling like rotten bodies. It is so gross. He obviously rolls around in deadness and so his whole body and collar are sick! In fact, he did this today and here is my story....

I am going to work late today so I use my morning to clean the house and get ready for a dinner party we are having the next night. I let the dogs out because I will be home for awhile and they have ample time to wander back home. They come home. One of them stinks like deadness. It's Gus. Go figure. I have about 30 min to get ready and I still need to take a shower. Great idea!! Gus will just come in the shower with me then Sis won't have to give him a bath when she gets home. Into the shower we go. Gus does all right. He only doesn't like it when I try to hold him on his back to get water on his belly. He is cute in the shower. Shower over, that was fine. Note to self: that was NOT fine, no showering with the dogs! Floor, all wet. Stomach, covered in Gus hair. Towel, now covered in Gus hair. Clean? Gus, yes. Me, no. Gross.

Gus will be happy that was his last co-shower.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


As you may well know, I like to celebrate the holiday season. However, because T and I aren't affiliated with any religion, I like to acknowledge them all and T becomes somewhat of a humbug. He doesn't "really like" the holidays, he told one co-worker. Sometimes I can see that he likes it. He needs underwear at least ONCE a year, come on. I do know that T likes the Nutcracker, even community preformed Nutcrackers. He likes watching me play ballet after the Nutcracker. He secretly likes lights too. Although, he only acknowledges these things in a comment or smile about once a season but I catch it every time.
I only talk about this because now that we are engaged, we have to start making our own traditions. These conversations all end by discussing what we will do with our kids. I think it is worth exploring. When T told me my Hanukkah menorah was stupid, I asked why. He said because we aren't Jewish. In my mind I thought, yeah we aren't Christian either but we have that crap too. Upon second look though, we don't. We just celebrate winter. huh. Interesting. My menorah is so colorful though, I like it. Maybe I just need a cool nativity scene to go with it. Nice. My minor is in religion so I think I think they are interesting. My kids will know about different winter traditions. They won't have dreads though.

Another one of my holiday conundrums is the fact that I want to give gifts that are handmade and/or homemade. I have been able to get most gifts at local bazaars which are great but I think the handmade thing is not really going to work this year. I didn't plan for it. Shocking, I know. Next year I will do a better job.

To sign off, I want to let you know I have all been listening to Bob Dylan's Christmas CD that T's sister so kindly sent to me! Let me just say I am on the first song and Bobby sounds like a creeper. His old rough voice singing about Santa is almost too much. But then, you realize it is just great and Bobby is Jewish anyway. He likes exploring traditions and he understands me. Obviously.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Get it. Watch it. Think about it.

Last year a movie named, Food Inc. came out on the scene. I don't think it was played in theaters, lord knows it wasn't actually. But Bellingham has an independent movie theater where it did play, The Pickford Theatre. I had heard about this movie but of course, I don't spend money on movies as I can't justify spending $9 for that when I can get it for free later (Library...shout out!). So after months of waiting, actually forgetting about it, I got it from the library. Every time a movie that I have on hold comes to me, it is like a new present, it’s great.

Anywho, this week we watched Food Inc. It was pretty much stuff I already knew; the food industry is pretty corrupt and the nasty-ass food is much cheaper than healthy food because of government subsidies which leads to poor farming practices and genetic engineering which leads to poor health which leads to poor people eating crap and getting sick, blah, blah, blah. However, it is great to watch films like this once in awhile because it reminds me why I want to eat local and what I can do to NOT support that industry. I want people to be healthy and support local growth but with big business controlling everything (and things you don't even think about, like soybeans) it is hard to get away from it. People want things cheap and so they buy these things that have poor employee practices and support big businesses. That’s capitalism, which is fine, but I think it has gone a little too far in this case.
It makes me happy that we are trying to be more self sustainable and the movie makes me want to own a farm with animals and gardens galore. Although I don't want to eat meat, it seems like a cool idea to grow animals that you kill and sell to local people. I don't want to kill them but if people are going to eat them instead of meat from factories with horrible employee conditions and poor animal practices, I would like to provide that opportunity.
Honestly, I don't think we will ever get that productive but it is nice to at least do these things for ourselves.

I recommend that people see Food Inc. It makes you think about your food and where it comes from. It isn't about animal cruelty or anything and it isn't trying to make you a vegetarian at all. In fact, it wants you to eat meat. The producers just want you to think about reading labels and what you are supporting by buying certain foods. It makes you think about what is important to you because it's true, some people don't care about what they support buying food, they just need/want it cheap, which is fine. Personally, I would rather spend more money on local food and less on other things (like movies). So, I want you to watch Food Inc. and make that decision for yourself.

Plus, how can you not want to see this farmer? In this pose!

It is Joel Salatin, he runs a pretty sweet farm. He's a little odd though.