Monday, April 14, 2014

Positive Change is in the Air!

I have good news! Lots of it, as a matter of fact. Spring is definitely in the air, energies are shifting, and my whole world is about to change - for the better!

We've been trying to sell our house for quite a while now, so we can move back to the west coast to be closer to our families. It's finally happened, and we're set to close the deal and be on our way on April 25th. We've been in Taos, NM for 13 years, and have loved it dearly. But now having the freedom to move about the country is exactly what we want because it opens up so many doors. We plan to go to San Jose for a while, to hang out with my dad. And then... well, it's wide open, but we're strongly considering Portland, OR. It would be a good "hub" for us, in easy reach of all the people we have in the Bay Area, Oregon, Seattle, and Nevada, either by car, or short plane rides. By comparison, it takes almost 3 hours to get to the Albuquerque airport from Taos. Our world is getting bigger and simpler, and we intend to flap our wings. A lot.

What we think we want to do is buy a small motor home, to call "home" while we wander around and decide where to land. We've done this before, and I blogged about it on my other blog, Taking the Long Way Home. Another piece of my news is that I've revived that blog after a 2 year break from it. I know a lot of people followed me over here, but have been missing the more personal nature of LWH. There will be some crossover between the two blogs, but PV will remain mostly about food and vegan stuff, while LWH will be more about our travels, life, and personal stuff. I hope you'll subscribe to both!

And there's more! One of my favorite bits of this puzzle has just fallen into place. I've been accepted to the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) Food For Life training in Washington DC in June. I'm so excited about this I can barely sit still! It means I'll be certified and licensed to teach the Food For Life classes, which focus on prevention and reversal of disease through plant-based diet. I am for sure an animal-and-planet-loving vegan, but the core of my dedication to this lifestyle is in human health and healing. I'm thinking it might work out to travel in our little RV and teach classes wherever someone wants us. Mobile Vegan Ambassadors! It would be so much fun for me to be able to get out there and meet more of you face to face. Let me know if you'd consider helping me put together a class, or if you have a driveway we could camp in for a couple of nights!

I'm coming down off a long weekend of moving sales, and heading into the remainder of our packing. There's not a lot of cooking going on in my colorful Taos kitchen, but I have a few recipe posts ready to pop into place for you while I get myself on the road. Soon you can expect food posts from wherever I find myself, in whatever kitchens I can use. Please don't wander off!

If you haven't done so already, now would be a great time to pick up my Recipe Box. It will give you over 100 of my best recipes, plus cool printable recipe cards, so you can find lots of good PV food to make while I'm distracted by the move. Taos has been kind of rough on us financially. We will walk away from here out of debt (yay!), but semi-homeless and without much cash. Eek! Scary! If you find what I do here (and what I'm about to do) useful, I'd sure appreciate your support! Either way, I'm glad you're along to share this adventure with me. It's going to be a life-changing doozy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherry Cobbler

My mom used to make the best peach cobbler. The best. I've tried and tried to veganize it in a way that still came out with that fluffy, cakey crust that crisped on top and soaked up juices from the fruit underneath. I never quite nailed it until I got a sample of the new Vegg Baking Mix to test drive. This is different from the original Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk, which I sampled a while back. (see post)

I am pleased as punch to report that the new Vegg Baking Mix was exactly what I needed to recreate Mom's cobbler crust. I had some cherries from a friend's tree in the freezer, so used those rather than the traditional canned peaches. The result was a big hit at the little dinner party we brought it too. Many thanks and big kisses to the genius egg impersonators at Now here's my updated recipe!

Fruit Cobbler - Vegg Style
serves 4-6
About 2 cups fruit, canned or fresh, with juice
1 tsp Vegg Baking Mix, mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 cup brown rice flour (or any flour you like)
1 cup organic sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 T melted Earth Balance "butter"

Preheat oven to 375º.
Place fruit in an 8x8 or 10x10 baking dish.
Mix all topping ingredients, except butter, together.
Spoon the topping batter over the fruit, and drizzle with melted Earth Balance.
Bake at 375º for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
(Note - foil under the baking pan is a good idea in case of a bubble-over.)

Serve with your favorite vegan ice cream and prepare to swoon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

These amazing little treats are vegan, gluten free, and totally scrumptious. They disappear around here as fast as I can make them, which is pretty fast. Read the recipe through and follow the steps as I've laid them out, and you'll have no problem making these perfectly every time. I recommend a very slick non-stick cupcake pan here. Might be time to buy a new one and delegate the old one to something sturdier, like Tempeh Meatloaves.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes
makes 12

1 can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained and juice reserved
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, cut in half
1/2 cup agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 - 1 cup unsweetened, dried cherries

Measure 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, plus the 1/2 cup almond milk into a medium sized bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. It will curdle. This is good!
Measure the rice flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.
Melt 1/2 of the stick of Earth Balance in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk the melted "butter" into the flour mixture. It will be coarse and crumbly. 
Now add the agave and vanilla to the pineapple/milk and stir them together. 
Gradually whisk the liquid mixture into the flour mixture until you have a fairly smooth batter.
Let the batter sit a few minute while you prepare the cupcake pan.
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Generously spray a non-stick cupcake pan with coconut oil.
Over low heat, in the same small saucepan you used earlier, melt the other half of the "butter" along with the brown sugar. Blend them with a small whisk and cook for a minute or so.
Spoon the brown sugar mixture equally into each of the 12 cake cups.

Arrange the pineapple tidbits in a little flower pattern in the bottom of each cup.
Place dried cherries in the center of each flower, and between each pineapple petal.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide the cake batter equally between cake cups.

Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes, or until they're golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

As soon as the cupcakes are out of the oven, flip them over onto a large board (I use two placed next to each other). Do this in one swift and fearless motion, slamming the pan down to loosed the cupcakes. 
Leave the pan sitting on the cakes for 5 minutes, so the glaze can seep into them, then gently lift it off, revealing the finished cupcakes. If a few pineapple pieces stay in the pan, simply place them back on top of the cupcakes.

These are best eaten warm or at room temperature, and should be stored in the refrigerator. They can be rewarmed in a toaster oven for a few minutes before serving... if you have any left the next day!

Like this recipe? There are over 100 more in the Recipe Box!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brown Rice Scrambowl with Cashew Yogurt Sauce

This recipe was inspired by a beautiful California Barley Bowl over at 101 Cookbooks. I wanted a vegan, gluten free version, so here's what I came up with. We had it for breakfast the other day, and love, love, loved it! Cooked like a scramble, served like a bowl - it's a scrambowl.

Brown Rice Scrambowl
serves 2-4

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
2 T tamari
1 avocado, sliced

Over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet until they start to brown and pop.

Add the rice, tofu, and mushrooms. Stir gently and cook to heat through for about 5 minutes. Add a little water if it sticks.
Add the spinach a little at a time, and stir gently to wilt it in.
Add the tamari. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve topped with sliced avocado and Cashew Yogurt Sauce

Cashew Yogurt Sauce
makes about 1 cup

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 20 minutes or longer
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 T dry basil
2 T  nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp yellow miso paste
1 T apple cider vinegar (or white)
1/2 cup water

Drain and rinse the cashews, and place in a food processor with all other ingredients, except water. Blend on high speed, adding the water gradually, until smooth.

Like this recipe? There are over 100 more in the Recipe Box!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feeling the (Cafe) Gratitude in Santa Cruz

I'm on a short visit to San Jose, CA, where I grew up. No trip back home is complete without a day (or more) in Santa Cruz, where I spent a lot of time as a kid. Honestly, I don't know why I've never just moved to Santa Cruz, or somewhere in the general area. I absolutely love it there. And after my trip "over the hill" the other day with my darling niece, Kelsey, I love it even more.

We spent some time on the beach of course, on a perfect almost-spring day that had us dipping our toes in the surf and wishing the roller coaster was open for the season.

But we were also on a mission. We were there to have lunch at the famously fabulous Cafe Gratitude, once located in San Francisco, and now operating in a relaxed and lovely spot in Santa Cruz, as well as three other locations. We found free 3-hour parking in the lot across the street, and then were greeted with a smile and menus at the restaurant, and asked to sit wherever we liked. We settled in, but then decided to move closer to the window after a few minutes, and nobody minded a bit. Going over the menu took some time. I'm not used to being able to choose from everything on a menu. What a treat. All vegan, some raw, and all enticing. I finally asked our server what he would suggest. He gave it great consideration, and finally came to the "I Am Whole" bowl because it's something repeat customers order often, and because it's really pretty, which I requested.

Everything on the menu starts with "I Am..." followed by words like Thriving, Vibrant, Transformed, and so on. Instead of asking us what we wanted to eat, the server actually asked what we would like to be. "Whole" suited me, and Kelsey ordered the "I Am Extraordinary," a maple coconut-bacon BLT with avocado. We also had "I Am Effervescent" ginger-lemon-sparkly drinks, which made us both smile as we savored each sip.

The food was perfect. Fresh, beautifully prepared and presented, and bursting with flavor and energy. My bowl, which had brown rice and millet, kale, kimchee, carrots, sunflower sprouts, sea vegetables, teriyaki almonds with garlic-tahini sauce was so good (and so big) Kelsey kept dipping across the table to help me with it. I'm a bowl girl, and this one was pure delight.

I had a couple of bites of Kelsey's sandwich too, and it was another winner. That coconut-bacon... oh wow! I really need the recipe.

And then there was dessert, which we really didn't need, but certainly wanted. We were on a mission after all. So we went for the lemon pie as well as the chocolate chai cheesecake with house-made ice cream. After one bite I just wanted to take it all in a corner and be alone with it. Sweet Heaven on a plate.

Thank you Cafe Gratitude. I Am Grateful for your very existence. And as we walked back out into the Santa Cruz sunshine, I looked at Kelsey and said, I Am Happy.