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

LADIES IN THE KITCHEN: Cooking video with The Blissful Chef, Manifest Vegan and Save the Kales!

By the end of this post, you’ll see a video and the recipe for these tasty goodies: Popeye Cakes with Avocado Dipping Sauce. But I need to tell you about some great girls first…

Popeye Cakes, photo by Allyson Kramer

Popeye Cakes, photo by Allyson Kramer

Last week I went to Philly to meet in person (finally!) Allyson Kramer of Manifest vegan, now a Philly resident, and Christy Morgan, “The Blissful Chef” on her Blissful Bites book tour as she was traveling around from Texas.

This day meant an awful lot to me. Both of these brilliant women have played a rather large role in my own cooking knowledge and inspiration on a very basic level, but I have always admired them for being awesome vegan role models in their own right. (Yeah, I said role models, ladies!)

Allyson and Dot

Two summers ago when this blog went under a bit of an attack (to be fair, it needed to happen and that   instance taught me a lot), Allyson found my email address and wrote the most beautiful, supportive email. It      meant so much to me at the time that someone reached out to share her own story of a similar issue, how to deal with it, to remember not everyone thinks about things the same way, and NOT to be deterred from moving forward. I had just read about her and her work in VegNews magazine and she was somewhat of a celebrity in my eyes, and she was writing to little ol’ me?

It’s been nearly two years since that first email, and Allyson has been around since then to be my sounding board and a point of graceful insight when things in “the vegan community” can get confusing or disillusioning. Many times I’ve hastily written to her, a knot in my stomach, and an email 18 paragraphs long of rambling and spelling errors, and she always comes back with incredible insight, even if it’s just to say she’s felt the same way.

None of that even begins to touch on her work. I have an older interview with her HERE, though some information is different now, she’s had much more recognition for her work, and her book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats is coming out in June. You’ll be buying it, riiighhht?

Christy Morgan cooking demo

Christy Morgan is a powerhouse. I was surprised when I met her to see how tiny she is (I’m taller than someone, what?!) because she operates on this go-go-go level. She is a trained macrobiotic chef and has participated in countless cooking demonstrations on TV, at Vegfests, and most recently at the super-big-deal IACP NYC event.  She teaches cooking classes and can do nutrition consultations over the phone, so if you’re looking to work with a true professional, give her a call.

Blissful Bites is a gorgeous full-color book that teaches basics like knife skills, to the simple “what’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan?”, and each recipe has notes to let you know if it’s low oil, gluten free (most are), can be made in less than 45 minutes, etc… It’s broken down by season, THEN by type of dish within the season. So… it’s Spring, and you’re hungry for lunch– Boom. A ton of recipe ideas. How cool is that?

Brunette Vegan Cooks with Glasses club, first meeting.

Christy offered so much insight on book deals, touring, working with clients and people of all backgrounds and skill levels, and “a typical day in the business”. I don’t know if this girl ever stops working! She’s a great example of how hard work pays off.

OKAY, I’M DONE GUSHING FOR NOW! On to the recipe!

When I got to Allyson’s house I had just got done hugging everyone and we had a few rounds of “Oh my gosh, we’re all hanging out together!”, we immediately got to work on making some lunch. Allyson had a well-stocked fridge with every vegetable you could think of, so we started throwing things together and came up with what Christy has dubbed: Popeye Cakes!  (They are green and kind of tasted like spinach, despite not using any spinach!)

Here’s a video and the recipe (taken from The Blissful Chef Blog):

Popeye Cakes with Curry Avocado Sauce
(makes about 14 cakes with 2 cups sauce)

Popeye Cakes

Toasted sesame oil
1 bunch chard, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
4 baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 29oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown rice flour

Preparation

Heat up a medium skillet with sesame oil then saute veggies with spices for a few minutes. Cover with lid and stir occasionally. In the food processor, blend chickpeas with mustard, vinegar, flax, and salt until no big chunks remain. Add sauteed veggies and pulse those into the chickpeas until well combined. Place mixture in a large bowl then mix in flour until well combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with SIlpat or parchment paper. Wet your hands and form cakes about 2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheet and continue until all mixture is made into cakes. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip and bake for 20 more minutes. Meanwhile make your sauce!

Curry Avocado Sauce

1 small bunch kale, steamed
2 avocado, pitted
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup fresh dill
1 teaspoon white miso
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy, about a minute. Scrap the edges of the bowl a few times to incorporate all the ingredients. Serve on top of Popeye Cakes or as a dip with corn chips!

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Thank you so much, Allyson and Christy, for being friends and inspirations. I’m on a path that has no clear direction but forward, and there aren’t a lot of people I can turn to for personal experience and advice, but you have filled that void and I’m thankful and proud of you both.

Thanks to Kate for taping the video and taking photos so we can always remember this day!

The only still photo of the three of us, haha.

Allyson’s blog Manifest Vegan, and Christy Morgan’s website The Blissful Chef.

Vegan Blogger Conference in Philly: DIY Style… and a Week of Wonderful

Hello! Hello hello hello. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so excited for a Monday. I stumbled around the house a few minutes before remembering: I don’t have to do anything but awesome things ALL WEEK.

Photo by Momota.M

Starting today! But for now, let me tell you the rest of the week Ryan and I will finally be taking that getaway trip  we tried to take a few weeks ago. Our goal is “no work” but there is so much to be done, SO MUCH TO TELL, I’m not sure we’ll comply. In any case, it’s supposed to rain and I’m perfectly content (happy, even) to take my book-pile and computer to a coffee shop for several hours and put a dent in what needs to be done. Or maybe I’ll just take a lot of baths. We’ll see.

On Friday, I’ll be speaking at Northampton Community College about the inspiration and forward progress of The Bethlehem Food Co-op. I love public speaking and I love the co-op! Win-win. There were be will a few other great people on the panel from other projects and initiatives, and a question and answer session. Yay, learning!

When secrets are no longer secrets

Saturday I’ll be at the Spring Home Show at Stabler Arena. I can’t tell you why just yet, but I can tell you it’ll be to officially announce The Big Secret. Which means by the end of this week, I’ll be able to tell everybody which feels both exciting and overwhelming. If you’re in town and want to learn about local companies that can help with home improvement projects, etc… come visit! I’ll be there between 2pm-4pm.

So today… ah, today. Just as I am working to squish the last of the anxieties I have about The Big Secret, I can finally talk to just the people who can offer the best advice and understanding.

They are none other than Christy Morgan from The Blissful Chef:

Christy Morgan aka The Blissful Chef

AND Allyson Kramer from Manifest Vegan:

Allyson Kramer and Manifest Vegan book

I cannot tell you the amount of respect and adoration I have for these two, not only for their hard working ethos and the fact that they are published authors (Allyson’s book comes out in a few months!), but because I have had the pleasure to know them as friends thanks to the internet, and they have been excellent role models and even at times, support systems.

I’ll blabber on about them after today, WITH PHOTOS, because Christy is in Philly this week for a book tour. Tonight she will be doing a book signing and cooking demo at the Whole Foods in Jenkintown, PA. Give them a call if you want to reserve a spot (it’s free!), and maybe I’ll see you there from 6-7:30pm.

But once I get myself dressed, I am off to Philly to Allyson’s house where I hear rumors that the three of us will make cooking videos together. And maybe shopping! And Allyson made lunch! And and and… ?

So if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out their websites, Christy’s here and Allyson’s here.  They are masterful! Oh, and gluten-free folks – Allyson has been cooking only gluten-free (vegan) food for the past few years. Something for everyone, just as it should be.