Weekend Cuteness: Pet adoptions!

I’ve decided to make a recurring weekly theme – listing adorable animals waiting to be adopted at local shelters!

I suppose the people in my current city of the Lehigh Valley, PA and surrounding areas would be the likeliest candidates of folks who could take these particular pets home, but maybe it will encourage you to support your local shelter, wherever you are!

And at the very least, it’s an excuse to look at cute animals. As if you needed another one.

Gabby – English Bulldog Gabby ended up at the shelter because her pervious owners found “no use” for her since she couldn’t have babies. They must have been complete idiots – obviously she’s the cutest ball of chubby love with arms and legs sticking out!   Read more about her, and get her foster mom’s info here: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=15823873

I have to move along because if I keep looking at that picture my head is going to literally explode. I cannot handle how freaking adorable she is. AHHH!

Coco Chanel – Basset Hound A glamorous name for a glamorous dog! Look at the rest of her pictures to see those long, flowing ears looking so shiny! Her description says she has “elegant bassetude”. If a dog is so wonderful it causes you to make up words, she must be something special. Check her out here: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=12899533


Sammy – Tuxedo, Domestic Long-Hair This handsome little guy looks like a well-dressed puffball (or an allergy attack, if you’re me). Need a handsome date to cuddle up to and watch all this crazy weather? He looks so nice and soft!  His description even says he loves to give kisses.  Read more about him here: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=15003950

Damon – Black and White, Domestic Short-Hair Can you feel your heart breaking looking at that picture? I know. I’m sorry. It hurts, doesn’t it? He is just so darn CUTE. As a kitten, he has a ton of energy. Apparently, he has some allergy issues as well, so his new mom or dad needs to make sure they can take care of him. But look at that face. Look at it. Now go here so you can apply for the adoption: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=15545785

Beuford – Bloodhound I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bloodhound in person, so this fellow really caught my eye. Although he’s big, he’s young! Bloodhounds are described as “kind, patient, noble and mild-mannered”, so don’t let his size intimidate you. Give this oversized teddy bear a chance, and read more here: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=15824519?rvp=1

All animals and photos found via PetFinder.com

You’re so cheesy.

People often say the hardest thing about eating vegan is giving up cheese. I totally hear you.

But we know that cheese, whether we still consume it or not, is very fat-laden and quite simply not healthy. Regardless of our eating habits, it’s something we could all stand to consume less of. “But…. but… it’s so GOOD”, you say. And though there are many vegan cheeses that have gained popularity in the past year as being actually very tasty, they are still expensive and processed.

SO! You will be happy to know today I am presenting you with, drumroll please:

VEGAN CHEESE SAUCE!

Seriously. Not only is it completely scrumptious and versatile, it is actually healthy and only has three (or four) ingredients. Think I’m lying? Try me.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Tbsp. olive oil
  • *optional, but recommended – 1/2 Tbsp. white miso paste

Add all ingredients to food processor or blender, adding water in small increments until sauce is desired thickness. Salt to taste (you may not need any salt if you add miso paste). Recipe can be easily doubled or tripled for more sauce.

Continue reading

How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never even tried it?

I have not one, but TWO videos for you! But I’ve also been the busiest bee and still need to edit. I cross my heart and promise they will be up over the weekend!

As for today, the sun is shining, it’s actually kind of warm, the snow is melting and splashing through gutter pipes everywhere. AND I got to do one of my very favorite chores/errands/joys… grocery shopping!

(This is the greens section of my local supermarket. If you aren’t familiar with yours, I urge you to get acquainted! There are so many goodies in here!)

Call me a total grandma if you’d like, but I love grocery shopping. I looove it. Not the kind you do when you’re in a hurry, but the leisurely strolls though aisles and produce bins, looking at the colors, imagining what things you could cook up. But the best part is trying something I’ve never tried before.

It’s my new mission that once or twice a week, I grab a few things I’ve never had (and in some cases, not even sure how to cook!). The great thing about cooking is if it doesn’t work out, no harm done. It can be a mantra applied to any area of life – try something new, do the best you can with it.

So today, my never-had-these-before choices were (going clockwise):  dandelion greens, a batata, a persimmon, and an asian pear.

The dandelion greens smell like it’s summer and someone just cut the grass. A refreshing smell, though I’ve never wanted to eat the front lawn. But cooked, they take on a different smell and flavor entirely. Not bitter at all.

The batata, and obvious root vegetable, is a word for “sweet potato” in many languages. And that’s what it tastes like when it’s cooked! More mild than an orange sweet potato, but certainly with that creamy sweet flavor. I bet this would be excellent made like mashed potatoes.

Still haven’t had the persimmon or asian pear. But I was going through some back issues of Vegetarian Times, and found an article on persimmons that describes them as having “a melony taste with tropical undertones and an almost astringent bite”. Oooh la la. Plus they’re my favorite shade of orange!

I sauteed the dandelion greens in some olive oil, garlic and seasoning. I cut the batata and some carrots in small pieces and boiled until tender. I piled these on top of the greens, and added some vegan “cheese” sauce (recipe tomorrow) on the top! It was delicious. So, so yummy and it looked pretty too!

I encourage you to find the wackiest, strangest looking produce and take it home with you. You can find recipe suggestions for anything online, or dress it up simply with a few seasonings and see what you think.

I remember it was only after I became vegan that a whole new world of fruits and vegetables opened itself to me! People ask “What do vegans eat?” and the answer is, a TON of stuff! Prior, I never had Indian food, vegetable sushi, or for crying out loud, an avacado! And these are all foods that now, after typing them out 4 seconds ago, have made my belly grumble in hunger.

Mom was right: just try it!

“A woman who writes thinks too much.”

My humble city has been making many great strides in terms of art, new business, progressive politics, eco-awareness and building community. It’s exciting to witness so much happening at all at once, like everyone called each other up and said “Hey guys, let’s just do this, okay?”  I am honored to be a part of it.

I wanted to mention two local bloggers that I have recently discovered and been inspired by. The first is Capri Roth, fellow cooking blogger, who runs a site called Not Like the Pants (“capri pants”, get it?) which I’m sure stems from people that think they’re clever when they meet her for the first time.

I met Capri years ago when I frequented punk shows, and she was always clever, poised and doing something interesting. Among other projects she is currently working on, Not Like the Pants is a vegetarian recipe blog with enviable photography and mouth-watering recipes. (Seriously, you will salivate.)

Perhaps we can all join forces and bat our eyelashes at her to cook us a feast. But in the meantime, head over to her site, and bring some napkins in case you begin to drool. You can find her in my blogroll, or by clicking here: http://notlikethepants.wordpress.com/

The second is Andrew Kleiner who runs Remember Kleiner, a local blog focusing on the eco-system, parks and waterways. Andrew contacted me recently about my own blog, and it’s been a pleasure to correspond with him about the direction of our city and the many efforts being made to develop awareness about important political and social issues.

His blog has caught the attention of local officials, including the Mayor of Allentown and the Director of Parks. If you’re in the Lehigh Valley, you’ll want to see what Andrew’s up to next. And if you’re not, you can still be inspired by the work he is doing which reminds us of the importance of nature and beauty.

In this recent video post which calls local citizens to join him for gatherings in local parks, Andrew says “”Experiencing nature together, as a community, is just as important as experiencing it by yourself.” Visit his site at: http://rememberkleiner.blogspot.com/

A new Save the Kales! cooking video will be up tomorrow – and it will be fast and simple!

Take it with a grain of salt.

Salt. Some people are told by their doctors to stay far, far away from it. Some can’t eat anything unless the food is dusted in it. It has become a B-List ingredient as it’s usually haphazardly tacked onto the end of a recipe, “Salt to taste”.

These meager little crystals have earned a bad rap. While it’s true that too much salt in your diet may raise your blood pressure, there is a history behind it’s importance, and ways to use it as a flavor-enhancing and, believe it or not, nutrient-adding seasoning. As cute at the Morton’s Salt Girl is, you can do better.

It has been used for thousands of years to naturally preserve food. The ancient Egyptians used it to preserve mummies. It became something everyone needed, but only a few could mine and produce, so governments actually began to tax it! You can learn more about the history of salt in Mark Kurlansky’s book, appropriately titled Salt, A World History.

As this is primarily a cooking blog, I wanted to talk about why it’s important to switch from plain table salt to a less-processed kind. When I first began to cooking for myself as a teenager, I noticed many of my cookbooks specified using sea salt. I didn’t understand why this was of any importance, other than it looked a little fancier (and thus a little more expensive).

While the minerals that make up various salts are the same – sodium and chloride – the differences lie in taste, texture and processing. To put it plainly, table salt is highly processed and has been stripped of any minerals that it may have once contained. A basic sea salt is made by evaporating the water from which it came, leaving behind trace minerals.

It’s easy: If you are going to cook with salt, you may as well use one that has more nutrients.

If you have never seen “gourmet salts”, you are in for a treat. They do cost much more than table salt, but would make a beautiful gift for someone that loves to cook, or a nice treat for yourself. Different kinds have different flavors.

Hawaiian sea salt, for example, is dark red in color due to the addition of a volcanic baked red clay called “Alaea” which gives it iron oxide, and a mellow salty flavor. Smoked sea salt is black in color and is actually smoked over real wood fires to add that deep, smokey flavor to dishes – certainly a flavor that would enhance grilled veggies!

Sea salt can be purchased in the spice aisle of most grocery stores, and certainly at your local health food stores. A basic sea salt is not very expensive, so don’t let the prices of the gourmet salts deter you!  Get those minerals! And if nothing else, it makes you feel like a fancy-schmancy cook!

Like peas and carrots

Valentine’s Weekend is well under way, and in between all the smooching and jazz records and chocolate surprises (more on those later, stay tuned!), I needed to take this opportunity to be self-indulgent and honor one of the greatest loves of my life.

Yup, it’s my cupcakes-for-brains kitty, Pierogi!

When I first met this little guy, he was only a week or two old and could fit into one hand. We were both kind of lost souls and kindred spirits that took to each other, and I do believe we came into each others lives at just the right time. I can’t imagine coming home to an empty house now, and the absolute unconditional love we get from companion animals does so much to lift out spirits and fill our hearts. We could learn, and continue to learn so much from them.

So, in honor of you P-man… Thanks for being my cuddle buddy no matter what.


I also got this adorable, absolutely perfect valentine for him, which is going in a frame. I found this gorgeous paper perfection on Etsy from seller The Rasilisk. DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS? http://www.etsy.com/shop/theRasilisk

If you have stories or pictures of your favorite animal buddies, please post them or email them to me at savethekales@gmail.com. “The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals.”

Edit:

vvvvvvggppppppkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk;;;;;;;;;nbbbbhhhhh

Love, Pierogi

Fill your belly, fill your heart.

You can’t possibly imagine how excited I am to bring you the very first cooking video!

(!!!!!!! This needs more exclamation points!!!!!!!)

I have a Valentine’s Day themed show, and today you’ll learn to make Moroccan (heart)Beet Salad and Sauteed Purple Kale.



(Disclaimer: As the first video, it was also a lesson in lighting, angle, and amount of spoken information. I’m learning and am looking forward to improving for the next video! Please bear with me as I get the hang of this – I’m doing everything by myself!)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 (not part 2…. as it says in the beginning… I was too excited to count!)

Moroccan (heart)Beet Salad

DRESSING:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar (as a substitute for honey)
  • 1 Tbsp dijon (spicy brown) mustard
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

SALAD:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bunches beets, with greens intact (if you choose to use them)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup red beans (or lentils; chick peas)
  • 1 red pear, diced


Put quinoa in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, and turn heat to medium-low. Cook until all water is evaporated, about 15-20 minutes. Cut green stems off beets. Put whole beets into a pot so they are covered in water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, and turn heat to medium-low. Cook until beets are soft and can be easily pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Remove the stalk from the beet greens so you have only the leafy green part. Run your knife through the stems to make smaller slices. Steam the greens until done, about 4-5 minutes.

Add tomato, beans and pear to a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the Dressing ingredients. When beets are done cooking, cut off stems and tails and peel the skins. Slice into 1/2-inch thick discs. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on the beets to make the heart shape. Add quinoa to the mixing bowl with half the dressing and stir. Add greens and beets to the bowl with the remaining dressing, and stir.

***OOPS! I shot the entire video only to realize afterwards I had been saying the incorrect ingredient the entire time – woopsies! So anytime you hear me say “cous cous”, please substitute that for QUINOA (pronounced “keen-wa”). Quinoa is the grainy ingredient used in this recipe!***

Sauteed Purple Kale

  • 1 bunch purple kale
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
  • 3 cloves garlic (or less to taste) minced
  • pinch hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Cut stems off kale, roughly chop the leaves. Steam until done, about 3-5 minutes. Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and sautee for about 8 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic, vinegar, and red pepper flakes and stir about 1-2 minutes. Add steamed kale and toss with ingredients for 2-3 minutes.

Thanks for watching! Your support has meant the world to me!



Honest Engine

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be embarrassed by my guilty-pleasure addiction to the Dr. Oz show. But I think he’s sort of geeky and weird and that obviously makes him cool, plus he brings a fine mix of eastern and western medicine to laymen and the “Average American”. I watch him every morning while I’m trying to pull myself out of the bed comforter.

But this is the best part: At least several times a show, he explains how a good diet is related to good health. While he is not vegan (or vegetarian) and often won’t even use those words, he highlights the benefits of plant-based diets all the time, giving guests free dinners to the infamous Candle Cafe in NYC, spotlighting whole plant foods, and having guests on the show that gloat the wonders of vegan foods. But here’s the trick….

He doesn’t use the V Word.

“Vegetarian” and heaven forbid, “Vegan” have so much political agenda attached to them that it can really push people away. More often than not, if you tell someone you eat this way, it brings on a barrage of questions, defensive statements, and sometimes just plain ridicule. This happens because food is political. And food is very, very personal. But if we back away from the V words for a minute, and simply say “I am trying to eat healthier”, we can gain respect and interest. People listen. Dr. Oz succeeds at this.

Today, Dr. Oz had firefighter and author of The Engine 2 Diet, Rip Esselstyn, on his show for a segment involving three male firefighters who have obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Rip, professional athlete-turned firefighter, developed the diet to help the folks in his own firehouse. In his book and on today’s show, he explained that his diet can, within weeks, dramatically reduce health problems and practically melt off extra weight. He’s helped over 100 firefighters in his own firehouse do this!

And, you guessed it, it’s a healthy vegan diet. But he never uses the V word. Instead, he shows how simple substituting food can be – for example, a hamburger and fries for 950 calories switched to a portobello “burger” and baked sweet potato fries for 350 calories.

You can follow this link to read more about the show segment, and get lasagna, mushroom burger and dark chocolate brownie recipes! http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dr-oz-fire-drill

And check out The Engine 2 Diet website for a great video about Rip and how eating vegan has helped him and thousands of others accomplish their health goals. http://engine2diet.com/

The time of year for letting go.

It’s been snowing in Pennsylvania since 10pm yesterday. When I looked outside this morning, the sky looked like a big blank piece of paper, a theater set someone forgot to paint. In the evening I put on my boots and walked up and down Main Street, right down the middle, guessing where the yellow lines should be.

The snow has accumulated nearly 2 feet. Every object outside looks like its casting a reverse-shadow of itself, the shape is there but its bright white and exaggerated. Now when I look across the street, I can see neighbors watching football on TV while sitting on seperate sofas; making dinner and looking melancholy; typing on a laptop at the dining room table. All of us kind of estranged and alone, but in it together.