Week of Random: Busy Transitional Times and Funny Things

We Mad Men-ed it in this conference room with a crazy painting of the Steelmills in the background.

I just got back from meeting with the head chef and head of food services for the soon-to-be-open SteelStacks where we just talked  about delicious food for an hour. Let it be known, these guys are very personable and have a genuine, sincere interest in ways to provide veg-options at the venue. I don’t want to say too much since nothing is set in stone, but some things discussed may have been: vegan buffalo wings (!!!!), the ability to substitute tofu instead of meat in as many dishes as possible, and what it would take to buy Daiya wholesale.

And it’s possible the days of planning pilgrimages to Philly for vegan cheesesteaks may become a thing of the past. Cross your fingers.

Thursday was fun, tiring and busy as Meghan of Lehigh Valley Style and photographer Olaf came by to interview me and take    photos of my food! I cleaned and prepared like a madwoman, and in the end only about a 2×3 cube of counter space is going to make it into the photos, but I know they will be beautiful! Everyone was so kind and funny and we hugged as they departed. I wonder if Tyra would say my food is “fierce”.

I'm too sexy for this olive oil.

This my new camouflage, Pierogi will never find me.

Is that a banana in your pocket?

I’ve been on a scone baking kick lately, and yesterday I made what Ryan dubbed the best thus far – whole wheat scones with lime, coconut and toasted almonds. And you’ll never believe it – there I was in the kitchen, making some tea, singing to the cat and minding my own business when this guy showed up looking all smug.

 

Don’t you love the way health food stores smell? I found this tea which wins the award for Most Adorable/Appealing-to-Jaime-K Packaging. What would you do all day if YOU were a sachet of tea?

Inanimate objects with arms and legs.

Living with a comedian is fun because you come home from grocery shopping and find lists like this on the kitchen table.

It's funnier if I don't explain it.

This week I hope to have another VegFest meeting – keep the ideas comin! Please don’t be the guy that waits until the day after to criticize everything and brag about how much better it would have been if it had this/didn’t have that, etc… I can’t stress enough that we are encouraging as many people and ideas to be present as possible, so take all the time you may spend passive-aggressively trashing something on the internet and you know, do something! We want your input! We really do.

Until the next (real) post, you can check out the soon-to-be-revamped website that the Chamber of the city put together for VEGFEST thus far. We have an amazing graphic designer working with us who has made a logo and will be doing posters, t-shirts, etc.

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THE REAL REASON WE ARE HERE: Quitting My Job and Taking a Chance

After months of encouraging conversations with bloggers, nutritionists, cooks, and absolutely FRIENDS, I finally made the step I’ve wanted to take for a long time. It’s a big ol’ scary step. It’s the kind that holds you accountable for everything. It’s also, ultimately, the most rewarding.

"Fresh Start" by artist Margaret Huber

I notified my employers that I will not longer work full-time there. I’m turning Save the Kales! into a legal business (with accountants and LLC papers and all kinds of crazy things that are still very new to me!).

This past Saturday, I was having brunch with Alison and Ryan – an amazing buffet of tofu scramble, grapefruit and orange  mimosas, roasted root vegetables, coffee – and they held an intervention of sorts. They were on a mission to kick the last little bit of self-doubt out of me to convince me that I really could do this.

And in my heart I know I can. But here’s the safety net (positive thoughts! positive thoughts!), just in case I need one: If things don’t go exactly as planned, I will still get to wake up every day and do exactly what I love. Paying bills is important, running a successful business is the goal, but being able to LOVE what I do EVERY DAY is better than all of that.

‎”There are things you do because they feel right and they make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good.”  Brian Andreas

I am not blind the to fact that aside from all the hard work I’ve put in, there is an element of luck. Though, Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Maybe he’s right.

Multiple times a day, I reflect on the pure gratefulness I have to be surrounded by supportive people (people who having lovingly said “I might actually be mad at you if you don’t do this”), gratefulness for a community that has been so receptive to what I’m doing and thus to me. I am in a place in my life where I can take a chance like this and rest assured that even if it’s a little rocky to start (Alison would interrupt me here and say “IT WON’T BE!”) I will still be able to take care of my responsibilities andbe okay. None of this is lost on me for a single second.

Save the Kales! began as a blog project. It cost no money (and began at a time when I was in a bad financial situation). While I have degrees, they are not in cooking. I barely knew anyone in this community and was literally making a plan to move across the country, but when I decided to stay I went out and met the people here, opening me up to a world of entrepreneurs, artists, and friends.

My point is this: I had spent my whole life previously waiting for “permission” when I graduate, when someone hires me, when I have more money, when I get healthier, when when when when when… And it turns out, the thing I love, the thing becoming my career didn’t need ANY of it.

YOU DON’T NEED ANYONES PERMISSION. Begin a project. Be okay with the fact that some people will be critical of you. That you may not make any money. That it’s going to take up a lot of your free time, especially if you have another job to pay your bills.  All the time you spend feeling bad about where you are, comparing yourself to “successful” people and making lists of reasons why you can’t have it – just stopGo and DO IT instead.

This is all still so new to me, I get nervous, I worry, I start to think of the things that can go wrong or if someone criticizes it or —– and then I have to stop, and breathe, and take solace in knowing that I’m making the right decision. What got me here was when I finally stopped worrying and blaming, and replaced it with believing in myself enough.

Enough. Finally.


TOMATO BLACK BEAN SOUP: Low Fat, High Health, Big Flavor

I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of expressing my love for soup. It’s so easy – you just need take some leftover veggies and a food processor to make something healthy and delicious!

This soup is from a cookbook recipe, so while I can’t take the credit, I CAN tell you it was absolutely tasty and bursting with bright flavors. This makes a great year-round meal.

This one comes to us from what I truly believe is one of the best cookbooks to come out in the last year – Kim Barnouin’s Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. I’m a bit of a cookbook junkie, and people often ask me what would be a good book especially if they aren’t already familiar with vegan cooking. THIS book should be on your list. It’s beautiful, full of gorgeous color photos, and the recipes are simple enough that you don’t need to feel like a culinary student to make something amazing.

Skinny Bitch Black Bean and Tomato Soup (p. 99)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbsp oil (olive, grapeseed, etc.)
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • two 15 oz. cans of black beans
  • 1 large 28 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (*I recommend using “Better Than Bullion” brand, mix with water)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce *** Find a veg-friendly kind, you can use Wizard’s brand or search online for other recommendations!
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • *** If you want it spicy, add some cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped green onions  (garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (garnish)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and red bell pepper, and saute about 30 seconds. Add the chili pepper and cumin, and stir until combined.

Add the black beans, tomatoes, corn, broth, water, oregano, red pepper flakes and worcestershire sauce. Stir and simmer about 15 minutes.

(NOTE: When I first typed this I wrote “ass the black beans”. I won’t begin to try and explain what that could mean, so be thankful I changed it to ‘add’ or we’d all be very messy.)

Transfer half of the soup to a food processor or blender. DON’T BLEND YET. Let soup sit in there about 10 minutes to cool off. Then blend until creamy.

Add the blended half of the soup back to the pot with the unblended soup. Add lime juice and salt.

Garnish with green onions and cilantro. You can also use crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, red pepper strips or avocado!

This makes about six servings, and check this out: one serving only has 180 calories and 9 grams of fiber! So eat it up.

SteelStacks Live! With Save the Kales!

Yay, my little interview with ArtsQuest/SteelStacks Live just went up today! Thank you infinitely to Jon Lunger for being so welcoming and witty. I had a blast, and I’ve been invited back to do some actual on-camera cooking in months to come. Wee!

Check out more fun interviews with artists and musicians (Tina of beloved WINK Magazine will be on there soon!) by going to SteelStacksLive.org

LEHIGH VALLEY VEGFEST!

Wait, let me make this announcement with something closer to the correct amount of excitement:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WE ARE HAVING A VEGFEST IN BETHLEHEM THIS SUMMER!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lehigh Valley, how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

We are going to host the first ever Lehigh Valley VegFest – a vegetarian and vegan STREET FESTIVAL on September 17th!

*The date on the poster above is incorrect – new date is SEPT. 17th. This poster is a mock-up and we will soon get our own fancy schmancy posters by an amazingly talented local graphic designer!

We’re going big (as we should). You’ll see everything from health networks toting the benefits of plant-based diets and eating, lots of cute adoptable pets from local shelters, cooking demos, interactive stations, green and eco-friendly businesses and crafters, live music, nutrition information, animal welfare/rights street teams, and FOOD!

This is a JUST ANNOUNCED event! There are so many ways for YOU to be involved. If you have a veg-group, contact me so we can see how to get you there. If you are crafter, musician, or someone with amazing ideas that you’d love to share, let’s do this.

We are taking over the Southside and celebrating it’s new GreenWay – a public green space currently being constructed for community enjoyment and awesome events like THIS!

*This will also be pet friendly event! Bring your best four-legged bud and make a day of it!

PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP IN ANY WAY: savethekales@gmail.com

And I mean that about helping. You DO NOT have to be a brick-and-mortar business (or a business at all), a certain group affiliate, etc. If you are someone that loves animals, the earth and all the awesome beauty of Veg-Everything, we WELCOME you to get involved, even if it’s just to offer ideas! I know so many of you have vested interests and strong opinions about many different aspects of a Veg lifestyle – please get involved and share your insight and resources. The more the merrier!

DO WHAT YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO.

Save the Kales! is undergoing an amazing transition.

This moment marks the beginning of a very exciting shift that has been gaining momentum over the past year. This is a time that risks will be taken and opportunities seized.

I’m so happy you’ll be with me while the transition continues! And once I have my footing more realized, I’m having you all over to my house for the biggest potluck in Pennsylvania. Everyone’s invited. Really, everyone!

More details as everything is put into effect!

(Infinite thank you’s to the people who have offered support and advice. To my beloved friend Alison. business-woman extraordinaire and my biggest cheerleader and visionary. And to Ryan, who reminds me “The only way you could possibly fail is if you didn’t follow your heart and take the risk.“)

Very good story. It's mine and it is yours.

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