COOKBOOKS AND HAPPINESS

Woo, what a week! This week I’ll get to see the FULL episode of the show, and it’ll air by the weekend, I do believe! Dates and times to come! We’re also going to be taping some of Episode 2. Man, this is just too much fun.

But let me point you to some things:

The first is a wonderful project that YOU can be a part of: A Cookbook Fundraiser for Bethlehem Food Co-op. The Co-op folks are working on putting together a professional, color-photo cookbook as a fundraiser. They are collecting recipes now! Send one in and get it published! We will even borrow the talents of professional food photographers to make your dish look like a fancy supermodel.

Surely your recipes will be better than the ol' sandwich loaf.

Recipes do not have to be veg*n, but in a fun twist, the cookbook is striving to include adjustments for all recipes with tips on how to make them vegan or vegetarian wherever possible.

You (yup, you, the readers!) have proved time and again that you are creative little geniuses in the kitchen, so don’t be shy – send in your work!

GO HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BETHLEHEM FOOD CO-OP COOKBOOK!

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  The second thing I want you to take a few moments and read is this post by Allyson of Manifest Vegan. She posted this a couple weeks ago and I keep returning to it when the mood strikes. It’s inspirational, it’s 100% true, and it’s done in that cheerful oh-so-darling Allyson way.

Please head over to her blog and read TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO HAPPINESS.

Excerpt:

…I discovered a really fascinating way of approaching life through the study of Buddhism and Hinduism: simply to live compassionately. I tossed a lot of what I didn’t feel applied to me and kept that one notion. And, it really does go a long way.

That is why I’m vegan. I’m not in it for denser bones, healthier eyes, stronger muscles, or smoother digestion–although these things are very nice perks. I guess you could say I do it for my mental health. I do it because it makes me happy. I do it because I want to be a compassionate person, both to others and to myself. For me, veganism just fits right in with everything so very nicely.

Ten Simple Steps to Happiness by Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan

  • 1) Say thank you, and mean it.
  • 2) Take change as an opportunity to act.
  • 3) Have no expectations. 
  • 4) Smile.
  • 5) Let the important people in your life know how much they mean to you.
  • 6) Don’t get bogged down with toxic emotions like jealousy, anger, fear and self-loathing.
  • 7) Love your body.
  • 8) Help others.
  • 9) Surround yourself with positive people, and let the one’s who don’t bring you positive energy (and especially those with downright negative energy) fall to the wayside.
  • 10) Be the change.

*Note that all of these topics are expanded upon in the actual post, so head over there to read it, learn it, live it.

Marcel the Shell: A modern day prophet

Save the Kales! Half Hour TV Show… Coming Soon!

It’s past 3:00am and I’m literally so excited I can’t sleep.

My producer/editor, Matt, just sent the in-progress first minute of the first episode of the show…

… And  cried. Oh gosh, did I cry. The set is gorgeous, the music is perfect, the graphics are amazing, and I got so emotional I had to call my mother.

Check out THIS POST if you’re not familiar with the new show!

This is happening. And my guts (and I’ve learned to listen to my guts, funny how they know more than my brain sometimes) are stirring and telling me THIS COULD BE SOMETHING BIG SOME DAY.

No matter, it’s easily one of the best and most important projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of. In a few weeks, the first episode will air on RCN TV in the Lehigh Valley, and on the internet everywhere. Wow!

I’m not allowed to show you the intro to the official first episode, but this commercial has been playing on TV for the past two weeks. I’ve heard notification that local friends have seen it on: Animal Planet, Comedy Central, and other unmemorable stations. I will faint for a moment when I see a commercial on The Food Network.

The people involved in creating and producing this show are working endlessly, day after day, sending me clips or proofs at 1am, “What do you think of the texture? What do you think of this font?”, and I could never ever ever do this show without them. Thank you Matt, Sarah and Christian.

Depending Upon That Rupture

“People often talked about wishing they could return to the moment just before a tragedy and begin again, repairing the rupture in their lives, setting off down a different path, the right path, the path that should have been theirs all along, but then, as time passed, they healed and moved forward in ways that depended exactly upon that rupture, and it became harder and harder to justify abandoning what they had gained for the sake of what they lost.”

The Illumination, by Kevin Brockmeier

Unrelated, I’m posting this too, so I don’t forget. There are too many perfect quotes here to select the best, so I suggest you find a few moments and read the entire article: 12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself

I really like number three:

 3.  I am making a difference.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.

Is it true that we all live to serve?  That by helping others we fulfill our own destiny?  The answer is a simple ‘yes.’  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.

You are only one, but you are one.  You cannot do everything, but you can do something.  Smile and enjoy the fact that you made a difference – one you’ll likely remember forever.”

MIXED BERRY PUDDING: Pretty and Tasty Pudding with Five Ingredients

Grocery shopping is always incredibly inspiring when it comes to developing new, simple recipes. At the moment I’m boiling some dried fava beans (I’ve never used them, they’re HUGE!) and have a few cooking projects going in the kitchen while I work on various writing assignments due this week.

Last night was special because Ryan and I were both and decidedly finished with work by 8pm, which is truly record time to end a work day, by leaps and bounds. I cooked up a three course dinner, lit a million candles, adorned the table with fresh flowers and two big ol’ glasses of wine.

I hadn’t thought about dessert beforehand and needed to use what I had on hand: I had picked up some berries from the store and had silken tofu in the pantry, and have made berry puddings in the past using those as a base. A few minutes flipping through cookbooks and browsing the internet, I found a super simple (E-A-S-Y!) recipe for a vegan berry pudding. 

Vegan Mixed Berry Pudding

MIXED BERRY PUDDING

  • 5 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 5 Tbsp water
  • 12 oz. fresh berries (I used 8 oz. strawberries, 4 oz. blueberries, or about half a container of each)
  • 1 pack silken tofu (make sure it’s silken!)
  • tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of sea salt

Add the agave, water, and berries (I sliced the strawberries in halves or thirds) and bring to a boil, then allow to simmer on low heat until berries start to get syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

In a blender, add the silken tofu, berry mixture, lemon juice and salt, and blend on high until everything is whipped together.

Pour mixture into individual cups or a large bowl, and allow to cool in the fridge. (I put it in the freezer for it to cool faster, and the sides started to freeze and become sort of like a frozen cream pop. I think I liked it better as a pudding texture, though.)

Once cooled, top with fresh fruit for garnish.

Make this for someone you love and enjoy!

PS – Can I just rave again about the colors of fresh produce? My gosh, the colors!

AVOCADO COCONUT CUCUMBER SOUP: Chilled and Creamy, Strange and Delicious

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of having some dental work done, so I stocked up on soft, slurpable foods. Although I spent the majority of the day sleeping, there was a brief afternoon glimmer of kitchen creativity as I searched for something I could physically eat but that contained more nutrition and satiety than, say, organic applesauce.

(Bonus: I ‘ve been reading up on alkaline/ph diets and just learned that an avocado has more usable, absorbable protein than an 8 oz. steak. I love facts like this, especially when they come from doctors or resources that aren’t vegetarian, thus having no “agenda”.  Good to know!)

I came up with this recipe on the spot by throwing a bunch of things into a blender and hoping for the best. Root canals make the hefty impulse purchase of a Vita-Mix last summer totally worth it.

AVOCADO COCONUT CUCUMBER SOUP

  • flesh of 1 avocado
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) cucumber, peeled
  • 1-2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1/2 SMALL garlic clove
  • touch of salt
  • coconut milk until creamy consistency, about 1/2 cup
  • *add a little water if you’d like to thin the soup
  • lime zest and unsweetened dried coconut flakes for garnish

Chilled avocado soup ingredients

Start with the first four ingredients and add them to a high-powered blender. Add the coconut milk. Taste. At this point you could take it a number of directions by adding different flavors, or continue on…

Coconut milk makes everything, anything extra tasty

Add the remaining ingredients and plate in a bowl that contrasts the pretty green color. Garnish with some lime zest and dried coconut.

Avocado Coconut Cucumber soup

Vegan chilled summer avocado soup

It has the familiarity of guacamole, but “fluffier” and sweetened from the coconut. The three main ingredients – avocado, coconut and cucumber – each come through distinctly for a somewhat tropical and very refreshing taste.

I imagine if you take out the garlic and add in a sweetner, it would make a delicious dip for fruit. Some big ol’ chunks of pineapple topped with this on a July afternoon? Yes, please.

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My mouth hurts and pain meds make me feel like life is an out of body experience. But this morning I got to sit in the yard in pajamas, drink tea from my eggplant mug (a lovely handcrafted pottery set gifted to us from Ryan’s Aunt and Uncle), eat soy yogurt and read my official letter of reservation for my place at Vegetarian Summerfest 2012!

And I read this, and I quite liked it:

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Updating “Lehigh Valley” Tab For an Easy Resource to Local Eateries

I’m doing a little maintenance over here… Check out the beginning of the list of local restaurants and food spots in the area.

Check out the LEHIGH VALLEY tab at the top of this page, or click here

This will continue to evolve and be updated, and I’m still going through back entries to add them. If you have a favorite spot that’s not listed, feel free to take some photos and write a review and I’ll share it here!

In the spirit of STK! I’d like to keep reviews positive: let’s talk about the places we’d want to go.

Came across this post on Design Sponge and had to share!

HOW TO ESCAPE THE COMPARISON TRAP

Read it, read the entire thing. Even if you don’t own a small business but are someone who pursues a creative passion, talent, aspires to be paid for the work that most important to your soul, this will likely resonate with you.

I can tell you, in my own experience, one of the very best things I’ve done to prevent this from happening is to block any access you have from seeking out, or even accidentally finding out, about the people who’s successes can upset you when they cause you to reflect on yourself. We are responsible for how we filter content and how we react, but if you can’t help but reacting with upset feelings or insecurities, get that trigger out of your life.

(*All that, after just making a post about how everyone deserves to be happy. But that includes YOU and getting rid of the stuff that prevents it isn’t a bad thing, and doesn’t mean you don’t wish happiness for others.)

If you have the time, I encourage you to read the comments as well. Usually comment sections are full of vitriol and horror, but the comments for this post feel like everyone is taking a collective deep breath after realizing they weren’t the only ones in their skewed thinking.

I particularly like this comment:

There’s a saying I try (trying really hard!) to remember when I look at blogs/tweets: don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.