Vanilla Rosewater Parfaits (with Lentils!) from Kathy Hester

You’d never think this gorgeous, fluffy parfait is a protein powerhouse made with beans, so your mind is about to be blown.

great vegan bean book This recipe comes to us from Kathy Hester and her freakin’ fabulous new book, The Great Vegan Bean Book.

I love love love this cookbook, not only because of the creative recipes, but because beans are so inexpensive and nutritious, and using them in so many inventive ways helps brings delicious vegan food to so many palates and grocery budgets. High five, Kathy.

Some of my favorite recipes in the book are:

  • Black Bean Breakfast Sausage Patties
  • Lemon Coconut Chickpea Muffins
  • Beluga Lentil Borscht
  • Hard Cider-Sauced Beans
  • Sun-dried Tomato White Bean Wheat Balls (“meat balls”)

Wholly inventive uses of beans to provide texture and flavor, from creamy dips and sauces to silky desserts (see below), plus gorgeous color photos throughout the book, make this book one of my new go-to favorites.

.     .     .     .     .

Vanilla Rosewater Parfaits from The Great Vegan Bean Book

gluten-free option*, oil-free

vanilla rosewater parfait kathy hester

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup  (262 g) vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup ( 192 g) cooked red lentils
  • 1 container (12.3 ounces/349g) silken tofu
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (more if using plain yogurt)
  • 3 cups (240 g) vanilla cookie crumbs (*use gluten-free cookies to make gluten-free or leave them out and just have pudding)

Add everything except for the cookie crumbs to a food process and purée for about 8 minutes. Stop every few minutes and scrape down the side of the bowl to make sure it all gets smooth.

In 8 small (10 ounce) custard cups (or in shot glasses to make minis) layer the crumbs on the bottom, add a layer of the tofu mixture, more crumbs, another layer of tofu and end by completely cover the top with the rest of the cookie crumbs.

The mixture will thicken up when you refrigerate the parfaits, so put them in the fridge at least 2 hours before serving but will keep covered for a few days.

Yield: 8 servings
Per serving: 124.1 calories; 3.1 g total fat; .0 g saturated fat; 6.0 g protein; 17.8 g carbohydrate; 2.3 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol.
Total Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Serving Suggestions & Variations: Use different extract flavors, add cocoa powder or even liquors to make an unlimited array of versions. Graham crackers and chocolate cookies make great crumb layers as well.

LINKS:

Order your of The Great Vegan Bean Book

Check out Kathy’s website, Healthy Slow Cooking

Beautiful food photography by  Renee Comet

Colombian Empanadas: Vegan and Gluten-Free by Allyson Kramer

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 8.14.58 AM Did you know Allyson Kramer has a new cookbook, available on newsstands right this moment? Her impressive, best-selling title Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats gets some international flair in her new book, GGFVE From Around the World.

Allyson, darling that she is, was kind enough to pop in for an e-visit on her book tour, and provided one of the many recipes you’ll find in her new book (see below).

A few more favorites include:

  • Peanutty Parsnip and Carrot Soup, Fusion Dish
  • Boeuf(less) Bourgignon, France
  • Fig Pastries, Sicily
  • “Seafood” Stew, Ecuador
  • Australian Veggie Pie, Australia
  • Baked Poutine, Canada

As we’ve come to expect from Allyson, the book is full of stunning color photos for nearly every recipe. Go here to order a copy immediately! And enjoy the recipe below. Thanks, Allyson! xo

.    .    .    .    .

Colombian Empanadas by Allyson Kramer

Yield: 12 empanadas

photo by Allyson Kramer

photo by Allyson Kramer

INGREDIENTS 

For the dough:

21⁄2 cups (560 g) masa harina flour

3 cups (700 ml) hot water

11⁄2 teaspoons sea salt

For the filling:

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

1 cup (70 g) chopped mushrooms

1 small potato, diced

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt, to taste

1⁄4 cup (4 g) packed cilantro

1 cup (130 g) frozen peas, thawed

1 teaspoon cumin

3⁄4 cup (84 g) vegan cheese shreds (Daiya brand works best)

Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

In a medium-size bowl, combine the masa harina, hot water, and salt into a dough using a fork. Cover and let rest about 20 minutes.

To prepare the filling: Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan and sauté the mushrooms, potato, onion, and garlic until the potato is softened and the onions are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Salt lightly while cooking. Stir the cilantro, peas, cumin, and cheese shreds into the rest of the filling mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set in the refrigerator to cool.

To assemble the empanadas: Grab a touch larger than a golf-ball-size amount of dough and roll out in-between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, forming a 5-inch (13 cm) diameter circle. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon (15 g) of the filling on half of the dough and using the plastic wrap, gently coax the other half of the circle to cover the filling. Use your fingers to seal the dough and form a half moon–shaped pocket. Make sure there aren’t any breaks or tears in the empanada; if needed, use wet fingers to help seal any small holes. Place prepared empanadas on a parchment-covered surface and repeat until all dough and filling has been used.

To cook the empanadas: Preheat a deep fryer to 360°F (182°C). Prepare a surface with either paper bags or paper towels to place the empanadas on once they have cooked. Drop about 3 empanadas at a time into the preheated oil and cook for 6 minutes or until golden yellow in color. Place on the prepared surface and let cool briefly before serving.

Recipe Note: For an easy alternate filling, simply stuff the empanadas with Soyrizo (in the book, page 103) and follow the directions the same way.Stir the cilantro, peas, cumin, and cheese shreds into the rest of the filling mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set in the refrigerator to cool.

GGFVEaroundtheworld

*Recipe Printed with Permission of Fair Winds Press

Moving, Adopting a Dog and Other Overdue Updates

I’ve been doing most of my writing off the internet these days. Some new freelance jobs and personal projects have me filling my bag with scribbled scrap paper and taking advantage of the voice recorder on my phone, an effort to make sense of all the thinking. Inspiration is coming from all directions and at the forefront are some self-discoveries (or perhaps “been-there-along-and-finally-paying-attentions”).

The more I learn about myself, the more I have made peace with being somehow an introvert and extrovert at once. My energy level and creativity are at their peaks when surrounded by happy, interesting, involved people. (Bethlehem Food Co-op meetings are wonderful for this. You should come, learn more HERE.) I start to feel a pang of urgency and even sadness when the meetings wrap up, please please please can we keep talking? 

The night I got the keys, my best friend came over and we sat on the floor talking until the wee hours. A christening, a new home full of love and ideas.

The night I got the keys, my best friend came over and we sat on the floor talking until the wee hours. A christening, a new home full of love and ideas.

But those days…the days off when duties are: go for a run in the woods (alone), to make a great big pot of soup from dried beans, just me in the kitchen moving slowly, when cooking becomes meditative again instead of a thing I have to blog about or a recipe that has to top another. (And that’s a lot of pressure as my cooking has become simpler over time. Most things are just incarnations of themselves, enhanced with fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs.) Surrounded by my books and my *furballs and the thickest knitted sweater to burrow inside of, I feel such peace.

A small percentage of my library, still inhabiting various corners of every room until I find the best way to organize them. This home didn't have a soul until they arrived.

A small percentage of my library, still inhabiting various corners of every room until I find the best way to organize them. This home didn’t have a soul until they arrived.

Today, this one last burst of snow before Spring completely takes over, and everything is quieter. I feel overwhelmed with projects to be completed by the week’s end, though it’s exactly the work I’d want to do if I could choose any work in the world. For that, I’m grateful.

AND!

We have a fuzzy new member of the family! *This is Chubby. He is a mini-Dashchund/Jack Russell Terrier mix, and just turned five. He was raised by an incredibly kind, loving family who came into circumstances and were no longer able to keep him and wanted to avoid sending him off to a shelter.

"Draw me like one of your French girls."

“Draw me like one of your French girls.”

Lazy mornings.

Lazy mornings.

He sleeps on my lap, and burrows under the covers, and loves roasted sweet potatoes and I’m just head-over-heels. A goner. Some Saturday mornings, Ryan and I walk him to Main Street for coffee and bagels, something I’ve dreamed about as a Perfect Weekend Morning for several years. It’s wonderful. My heart has expanded and carved out a special Chubby-shaped space.

AND!

We’ve moved, quickly and without much of a plan. Perhaps you can blame my love and bit of background in interior design, but I firmly believe (and can even physically feel) that our environments greatly affect the way we live and who we are. They can support our sense of self and creative exploration, or stifle them. The latter was happening for me and on a whim, I went to look at a new place and immediately it felt like home. It has so much character, more space, and is somehow cheaper than the old place. And we can paint. (!)

An incredibly offensive blue in the office becomes a bright white with the just the softest hint of warm gray. It looks like the room took a huge sigh of relief.

An incredibly offensive blue in the office becomes a bright white with the just the softest hint of warm gray. It looks like the room took a huge sigh of relief.

It’s so funny how people change, our influences and environments shift as we do. I used to ache for a super modern industrial loft space with lots of metal and concrete and square, angular furniture and now I want the softness of natural light, worn wood, space to wander through with a knitted blanket wrapped around me and mugs and mugs and mugs of coffee.

The living room has windows that begin at the ceiling and touch the floor, making it perfect for lounging cats, and dogs with tiny legs to fulfill their duties as impromptu Neighborhood Watch.

Snow silhouettes.

Snow silhouettes.

I’ve been working on a long post about why I’ve been so quiet here (as Allyson calls it, “going to bloggy sleep”), and look forward to finally – heaven help me, finally – feeling satisfied with the final edit.

“Basically, I realized I was living in that awful stage of life between twenty-six and thirty-seven known as stupidity. It’s when you don’t know anything, not even as much as you did when you were younger, and you don’t even have a philosophy about all the things you don’t know…” 

-Lorrie Moore

… Hibernation is good for a mind rest, but I’ve rubbed my eyes open and what I see is new and beautiful.

.

“Our Truthfulness Can Change Lives” – On Writing, Blogging, Sharing and the Year Ahead

On the evening of the Winter Solstice, I took a pen and scribbled tiny, torn scraps of paper with the words and ideas I wanted to let go in the year ahead. I was at the home of a friend with a handful of other folks, some I knew better than others, and we shared the very sincere and open experience of acknowledging what we no longer want (writing it down) and symbolically releasing it (burning it to ash). Passing paper and pens around and each of us, silently, taking our turns saying

g o o d b y e

to any negative untruths, what has held us back, or prevented growth.

solstice

If it sounds a little eye-rolling and new-agey, it was. In the best possible way. There’s nothing like seeing your weakness literally turn to dust to give you a new frame of mind.

. . . . .

Last night, I got an email from a sweet girl who wants to start a blog. She asked, “How do you handle putting so much of yourself out there?”, impeccable timing because I have been wondering the same thing.

2012 was the year I put less out there. Moments and experiences and opportunities, and even some of the beauty of the minutiae of day-to-day life, were kept to myself or those I shared them with. It can be so exciting to have these magical tools that you tell anyone and everyone about anything and everything… but before long your life doesn’t feel valid if not enough people “like” it, and you’ve created a weird reality-show version of yourself (albiet unintentionally).

There’s another part, too. While hate-mail and comments are inevitable for anyone with a blog (or anyone doing just about anything, thanks to the internet) and I’ve learned so much about how to handle them when they come, there’s one that continues to stick out and I’ve let it prevent me from blogging some of my most important experiences.

Without glorifying The Meanest Email I’ve Ever Received, one small part of it suggested that Save the Kales! had become what so many other “lifestyle” blogs can become: A perfectly curated illusion of a perfect life with a perfect home and perfect food and a perfect relationship along with perfect clothes, friends, social life and material goods.

Wow.

It shook me, mainly because 1) I know those blogs, I have felt that way looking at them, the way you slink around your house after reading them, feeling ho-hum and wondering how you pulled the short straw in life and 2) I didn’t want to be a part of anything that made people feel bad about themselves. Because life is beautiful, but not perfect.

oasis of health food in Maryland

So I never wrote or shared photos of the biggest experiences of the last year. (Some are too precious, even now, and I like the feeling of keeping the best secrets just between me and the stars.) But in omitting experiences, I omitted the best part of blogging: reflection and appreciation, figuring-things-out and seeing life outside your own mind.

In her book This I Know, Susannah Conway writes on blogging:

“My blog began as a simple space to share my passions and talk about my days. There was no great plan… But as I became more comfortable sharing my feelings online, the healing path wasn’t far behind.

Blogging gave me back my voice after a year of feeling mute, the daily writing as a way to measure progress, the support from my readers such a boon on the days I crumbled, a collective cheer on the days I soared. I felt seen again, that I had a purpose, that my story was helping others, while they in turn helped me.”

Looking forward, I’ll continue to mind the gap between over-sharing and shamefully hiding. Save the Kales! began as an outlet in a time of crippling anxiety and depression, and to look back on how life has changed in almost three years since it began… that really is something. And it wasn’t because anyone handed me an answer — it happened because I worked my ass off to get better and actually got out and did things. I changed my perspective, I changed my life. Easy? Nope. Essential? Oh, yes yes yes.

While this blog will always be a “vegan blog” by default, I’m thrilled to get back to the roots of why I love to write (which are not unlike why I love to read): because through shared experiences we find purpose and connection.

I hope you’ll be a part of it.

Cheers to writing and dreaming and scheming and full-heart-believing.

Happy New year!

xo Jaime K

.     .      .     .     .

in 2012:

ballerinas

For a few months, I worked for an Arts Organization/Festival and have a whole new respect for these types of nonprofits, especially with a small staff (of two) and the faint hint of a budget. The behind-the-scenes work is more than I could have thought possible if I hadn’t seen it first hand. Keep fighting the good fight.

cafe santosha

I had some truly spectacular food.

h20kitchen

Including the fanciest, prettiest, 14-course dinner of my life, with special vegan dishes made just for me. This was edible art from a dear artist/chef who I’m happy to call a friend.

somuchcoffee

… and so much coffee. So. Much. Coffee.

jaimeandryan4ever

I began the fourth year of the dearest relationship to my heart, and along the way learned so much about expectations, commitment, remaining an individual while being one-half of a partnership, and deep, soul-brightening love.

trees

I found my way back to nature, to running, and learning more about what my body (and mind) are capable of.

masonjarlightsinNYC

I embraced concepts of minimalism, and continue to get rid of what doesn’t support my vision of the most beautiful life, tossing everything from spark-dimming ideas to material possessions. Stripped down, there’s a whole lot of beauty.

veria

I found myself in places I’ve only dreamed of, for reasons I still can’t believe are… real. (Sometimes photographs serve as the pinch on the arm, the you-aren’t-dreaming reminder that life is so weird and crazy and good.)

purplehouse

I found my way to new towns.

eastonpa

And rediscovered my own town.

cavetour

And traveled through underground caves.

nycskyline

And navigated the biggest cities.

beach

And went to the ends of the earth.

MOSTLY-RAW VEGAN PIZZA DIP: Video + Recipe for VegNews TV

To learn more about the Save the Kales! half-hour television show, click hereSTK! is a vegan cooking + lifestyle show which airs in Pennsylvania, and full episodes are available online.

.   .   .   .   .

Three years ago, before I started blogging, I saw a video with the Spork girls on the VegNews Magazine website, and it became a dreamy, warm-fuzzy desire to some day create one of my own.

Well! I’m over the moon with utter joy that TODAY IS THAT DAY!

Enjoy this video made exclusively for VegNews TV:

This is a mostly-raw dish.  It does contain nutritional yeast which isn’t technically raw but has been embraced by the raw community. No matter, it’s 100% vegan and deeeeeeeeelicious.

(RAW VEGAN) PIZZA DIP

1 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (shelled)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (acts as a Parmesan cheese substitute; horrible name, delicious ingredient!)
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp fresh basil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Process until everything is mixed into a thick spread.

That’s all!

.      .      .      .      .

I swear this tastes like a delicious, fresh Margherita pizza. Plate and serve with bread or fresh veggies. People who usually don’t like veggies will eat them, if for no other reason then that they are merely a vehicle with which to get this spread into their mouths. YUM.

It may turn somewhat brown in color, which happens when you blend red and green. It’s natural. Embrace it. (Though it helps if you garnish with some leftover basil or parsley.)

You can find a trillion other VegNews TV clips HERE.  Thanks to the best production staff ever for helping to create this video!

EPISODE 5: HOME SWEET HOMEGROWN, Grow Indie gardens, The Joyful Elephant, Stir-fry Shepherds Pie and Vegan Breakfast Bowl

We travel to the Grow Indie test gardens to meet DIy gardener and book author Robyn Jasko.

In the kitchen, we make a Stir-fry Shepherds Pie with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, followed by a breakfast or dessert of a Rice Bowl with Stone Fruits, Ginger and Cinnamon topped with an pretty pistachio garnish.

Finally, we meet Lehigh Valley nutrition coach Michelle of The Joyful Elephant, who helps people transition to a plant-based diet.

STIR-FRY SHEPHERDS PIE with WASABI MASHED POTATOES

  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 block tempeh, crumbled by hand
  • head of broccoli, florets cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 green cabbage, chopped

Boil a pot of water on the stove, enough to cover the potatoes, and add salt. Boil until potatoes are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large pan, then add the onions and mushrooms. Let the onions get translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir to avoid the veggies sticking to the bottom. Add the crumbled tempeh to the pan, letting it brown and stirring so it doesn’t burn.

If the veggies are sticking to the bottom, add a little soy sauce or Bragg’s to loosen them up.

Add the broccoli and cabbage to the pan. Make the dressing (if you haven’t done so) and add that, stirring it through the veggies. Let veggies cook until broccoli is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

DRESSING/SAUCE for Stir-Fry

  • 2 Tbsp tamari/soy sauce/Bragg’s
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp agave
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, grated

Whisk everything together in a small bowl.

Vegan Stir-fry Shephards Pie with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

WASABI MASHED POTATOES

  • 4 peeled, boiled potatoes, cooled off
  • 2 Tbsp water, with 1 tsp veggie broth base (or just veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste (more or less to taste)
  • pinch of salt

Use a potato masher to mash potatoes — or if you have a fancy mixer, use that! When potatoes are mashed, add remaining ingredients. You don’t need to add vegan butter or oil, but you can for a richer flavor.

Note: DO NOT EVER “mash” potatoes in a food processor. They get very gummy and are… awful.

ASSEMBLE the Dish

Turn oven to Broil. In a casserole dish, dump the veggie mixture and make an even layer. Add mashed potatoes on top. Add fresh cracked black pepper. Put the dish in the oven til the potatoes start to brown, about 10 minutes (but keep and eye on it, your oven may be different!)

—————-

Vegan Breakfast Rice Bowl with Stone Fruits, Ginger and Cinnamon

STONE FRUIT and GINGER CINNAMON RICE BOWL

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (or grain of choice)
  • 2 peaches, chopped
  • 2 purple plums, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

DRESSING

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 inches ginger, grated
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (use the good stuff!)
  • chopped pistachios to garnish

Add rice and fruits to a large bowl and mix. Add dressing and mix with rice and fruit. Get a handful of shelled pistachios,  wrap in saran wrap, and use a hammer (or heavy object) to gently crush them into pieces, and use them to garnish the bowls.

.     .     .     .     .

The People We Meet

Robyn Jasko of Grow Indie, and Home Sweet Homegrown with Jaime K of Save the Kales!

Meet Robyn Jasko, author of Home Sweet Homegrown  book and gardener extraordinaire! Robyn runs the Grow Indie test gardens in Kutztown PA,  and GrowIndie.com, an AMAZING website and resource for all things DIY/organic gardening.

Meet Michelle of The Joyful Elephant – Plant Based Nutrition Support. Michelle is a food coach and works with her clients to meet their health and dietary needs through education, hands-on work, and support to help people make a smooth transition into plant-based nutrition. Michelle is certified through courses from two of the top plant-based doctors, T. Colin Campbell (as seen in the film Forks over Knives), and Dr. Fuhrman of the Eat to Live program.

Michelle of The Joyful Elephant, and Jaime K of Save the Kales!

LINKS:

The Joyful Elephant facebook page

The Joyful Elephant website

Grow Indie facebook page

Grow Indie website

“Home Sweet Homegrown” by Robyn Jasko, book order site

The Noise of Failure Growing Beautiful

I’ve been reading and re-reading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, which is — and I’m choosy about the books I describe this way — probably the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of writing.

It includes this poem, perfect for a September Monday (which is, by nature, different than other-month Mondays).

August in Waterton, Alberta by: Bill Holm

Above me, the wind does it’s best

to blow leaves off

the aspen tree a month too soon.

No use wind. All you succeed

in doing is making music, the noise

of failure growing beautiful.

Waterton Lakes National Park

 

I’m working on “Jaime K’s Guide to Autumn, Pt. I”, which acknowledges the impossibility of talking about autumn in a short, singular way. I’ll describe the best books, movies and outfits among other things, for hands-down the best season of (f)all.

 

Thankful Thursday: 09 August 2012

I’ve had some experiences in the last week that I am beyond grateful for, which warrant their own posts and attention, which I believe may be one of the best “problems” to have when writing a gratitude list. Those are on the way…

“Learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want” – Jim Rohn

.     .     .     .     .

LoveList: August 09, 2012.

Colorful sky bubbles

{This ceiling full of paper lanterns on my trip to Montclair, NJ. We passed through a commercial commons building while walking around and this was a pleasant and colorful surprise. What a great reminder to stop and look around a little. Tunnel vision is boring.}

“Reads like Henry James on speed.”

{This description of a David Foster Wallace book by an employee at Watchung Booksellers.}

{THIS VIDEO/PROJECT. How fitting that I’m putting it on a gratitude list. Give yourself the four minutes of time to watch the video – get some tissues when she shares that story about her husband – and then eagerly anticipate this as it continues to grow. Heck, get involved right now.}

Gala Darling + pup

{Gala Darling is having a HALF OFF sale on her ‘Love and Sequins  Radical Self Love e-book/audiobook. I have been waiting for this to happen and this morning I (literally) hopped out of bed to take advantage. The sale goes on until next Wednesday! You can also buy chapters for just $6/each. Learn the practical “Smart Girl’s Guide to Business” to the joy-inducing “Manifesting and Magic-Making”. My evening will be spent devouring as much as possible.}

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
– Sarah Ban Breathnach

{This quote posted online today by my friend Harold Brown.}

Melon Gazpacho

{Going on a lunch date with my designer to discuss website/postcard ideas, and the Fiestaware and the melon gazpacho and the good, good coffee.}

Vegan Treats, what a treat.

{… and making a stop at Vegan Treats to admire the beautiful cake sculptures, the sweet smells and the blood organge + vanilla bean swirl soft serve. Maybe this is why Bethlehem makes people think of heavenly things.}

and

{making personal connections with personal heroes / loud, gray thunderstorms / feeling supported and empowered by women instead of weird competitiveness / SUPPORTING and EMPOWERING WOMEN instead of being in competition / buying flowers for yourself (or picking some) / anthropomorphic vegetable art / cats named after food /     friends who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re being ridiculous}

… til next week. xo

Blog Inspiration: Corinne Bowen (Okay, also Human Being Inspiration)

Corinne first contacted me what must be over a year ago to tell me I won an online contest via Crazy Sexy Life for some UliMana raw cacao truffles. Hey, online contests are fun, and it’s really fun to get an email from a women who writes for one of your favorite websites (CrazySexyLife.com) and print publications (VegNews and Vegetarian Times magazines).

I’ve enjoyed seeing her work pop up in media outlets I frequently explore, and I’ve poked around on her website now and again. Corinne is also in-house-editor of Crazy Sexy Kitchen, by Kris Carr, a new book due out later this year.

Hanging out/working with Kris Carr in Woodstock, NY.

It’s not an exaggeration to say to women has her hands in some of my favorite things, truly dream projects.

In the last two weeks we’ve reconnected via the internet, and I have been endlessly pouring through her blog. Literally reading every entry whenever I have the time. I have been making the time, in fact, because her posts make me so excited about writing, cooking, carving my own career path, and the entirety of life in general.

http://www.CorinneBowen.com

Her blog has everything I truly find pertinent and personally satisfying in a blog at this point in my life: she’s   soon turning 30 so I’m finding moments of her life quite relatable from an age-perspective (I’m 28); I love reading about her beautiful, creative family and her extremely healthy vegan pregnancy; she has been focusing on the simple pleasures we can often forget – how refreshing it is to clear up some clutter which creates better mental space as well as physical, or that chopping vegetables can be meditative; but especially the posts she writes about following your bliss and how she gave up a “safe” career path (a salary, a 401K) to pursue freelance writing.

When I read about her projects, I almost (almost) feel intimidated because she has worked on/is working on what are some of my personal dream projects. A quick glance at her resume of work makes me feel like I’m talking to a person living the dream life.

Her beautiful family enjoying the sunshine.

And that’s whats so special about her blog. She illustrates that a dream life is possible. It’s not always glitzy and glamorous, it may still require a grocery budget, and it’s certainly not always easy or without self-doubt or hard work. But that’s what makes it great: it’s tangible, and it may be simpler to come by than we imagine.

There are far too many wonderful posts to try and pull from my favorite parts, but this one sums it up fairly well:

“I showed Audrey (daughter) her reflection in the mirror and couldn’t help but snap our photo. I thought: This is my life, on my terms, doing what I love with my baby girl beside me. I remembered: The doubt of changing careers, the anxiety of taking leaps of faith (over and over again), and the difficulties that came with ignoring advice. And I confirmed: Every single sleepless night, every what-if mind game, every hymn sung by my imaginary choir of critics (all of which still exist on very low volume) were so clearly worth the grief.

When I feel afraid to listen to my gut, I reflect on tiny yet tremendous moments like the one at Ma Petite Shoe. These quieter times are loud in perspective. They give me a little space to relish the fact that I’ve yet to discover a moment that following my bliss didn’t eventually lead to just that. And I’d urge anyone who has something daring or dreamy tugging at their heart to take a step forward, even if it seems scary.”

– Corinne Bowen.com

Corinne and baby Audrey

EXCITING THINGS!

Cookbook Giveaway/Birthday Wish (Support a Sanctuary)

1. Corinne is giving away a copy of the wonderful Blissful Bites cookbook! I’ve talked about Christy and her book before – it’s really lovely, tons of color photos, and the recipes are healthy and easy to make. This is one of my favorite cookbooks and Corinne feels the same way. She’s giving away one copy! 

2. For her 30th birthday, Corinne has asked folks to donate to the Maple Farm Sanctuary. She was introduced to this sanctuary after writing about them for a VegNews article, and it inspired her to selflessly ask that her birthday gifts come in the form of donations. You can sponsor a chicken for as little as $10 (yup, just ten dollars) and greater donations help larger animals. Instead of going out for lunch one day next week, consider donating to a wonderful cause and make a birthday wish come true at the same time.

She ended our most recent email exchage, a few hours ago, with this:

“It’s funny how easy it is to think that when we achieve a certain milestone, everything else will make sense. I’ve found that that never really happens. It’s just about being happy where you are. Things are always getting easier and more difficult at the same time! I think that’s the beauty of life when you guide your path by your heart. xo”

Go to her site. Start reading. Continue reading. Bookmark then read some more. Repeat.

WEATHER PREDICTIONS: How Weather Influences Productivity

I’ve had a bunch of OCD’s my entire life. They are very mild – I don’t have trouble leaving the house or functioning in day to day life because of them. But I like things in even numbers. Except six. OhmygoodnessIHATEthenumbersix. Last week I parked in a metered lot and didn’t realize I was in space 6 until I went back to my car where it had been, sitting on the blacktop of SPACE SIX for HOURS and I felt uncomfortable the rest of the day.

I also need touch and temperature to be balanced. (Am I a Libra or what?) For example, if someone with very cold hands touches my right arm, I need them to touch my left arm in exactly the same place.

Another one that has crept up in the last 2-3 years is where I can be, physically and literally exist and take up Jaime-shaped space, based on the weather. If it’s a day I’m working from home and it’s sunny, I cannot be in my house. I pace around hugging the cat and feeling “off” and unproductive even if I’m getting work done.

Rainy days are preferable (unless I’m taking a road trip… but maybe even then) because I can be home and feel relaxed. You are supposed to be home and comfortable and loungey on a rainy day, even if you have a lot of work to do. Although, coffee shops make a great backdrop (one of my favorite atmospheres) for writing and reading and saying hello to neighbors, watching the people scamper with umbrellas.

Remember that scene in High Fidelity when Rob said he organized his record collection autobiographically? Mine is organized by season.

This morning I woke up to a strange weather phenomenon: hovering over my street was a giant dark gray storm cloud, like the space ship in Armageddon. Beyond it, looking toward the library, a bright blue sky with puffy, cheerful white cumulus clouds.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

I got dressed, I flopped back in bed, I tried to read, I tried to relax with a cooking show until I “figured it out”. It was so incredibly uncomfortable. I considered closing all the curtains and trying to go to sleep until the afternoon. There’s so much to do, so much to write. The places I’ve been, the people met, the food happily eaten in the past few weeks… but how do you do anything on a day like this?

So here I am. One of my favorite coffee shops, armed with books (The Five Things We Cannot Change and my signed copy of Vegan’s Daily Companion, specifically), trying to make a plan for the rest of this day, this week, this month, forever and ever? I don’t know.

From The Five Things We Cannot Change by David Richo (every page is highlighted multiple times, it’s nearly impossible to pull out just one part, but here you go):

“If we have the courage to face life’s unavoidable truths, we will find the grace to love no matter what happens to us. Love is always unconditional.

Neither changes, endings, altered plans, unfairness, suffering, disloyalty, or lack of love can stop us from loving. Our ‘yes’ to such a stunning grace is what our ego always wants to say, since it means the end of being afraid is the beginning of being free.”

I needed to write a post today because now I feel like I’ve done something. Thanks for understanding I used this as a sort of outlet today, differently than other days in content.

I hope you’ll find the courage, motivation and inspiration to do something beautiful today. Even if it’s just to pause a moment to reflect on yourself.