Three Grain Burger With Smoked Gouda Pimento & Fried Avocado

March 22, 2015

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Earlier this month, I headed down to North Carolina for a food and photography workshop. I had never been to Asheville before but had heard really great things; the town was supposed to be filled with a thriving music scene, up and coming food spots, and an endless background of mountains viewed from any point in the city. The food scene alone was enough to urge me to get down there early and do some exploring. I managed to talk Grace from Earthy Feast into joining me in the city a night early as well so we could do some adventuring together.

My original plan was to leave the day before the workshop started so I could get there in the early afternoon and spend all day exploring whatever I wanted before meeting up with Grace for dinner and drinks. However, my six hour drive was quickly bombarded with a snowstorm that struck the south and the wide open highways were turned into deadly ice patches. Kentucky had completely shut down and declared a state of emergency which caused a weird twilight-zone effect to my trip; everything was closed and the one gas station I did find was packed with panicked southerners wandering the store aimlessly in an attempt to not have to get back on the highway. Nine and a half hours later, I finally arrived in Asheville just before sunset. Worn and defeated, I had to cross off most spots on my Bon Appetit guide I snagged from their most recent issue; fortunately, I did still get a chance to stop by Harvest Record shops and treat myself to a comforting breakfast plate of egg topped grits and broccoli cheddar hush puppies at Early Girl Eatery.

After dinner, I headed back to the AirBnB and waited for Grace to arrive. I hadn’t met Grace in person yet but we’ve been online blog friends for years and I already felt we were close friends. I’m not sure when we first connected but Grace’s comments have always stuck out as they are so genuine and engaging. She is the type of person that always just completely gets what I’m saying and her comments are always met with a big smile from me and a ‘she totally gets me’ feeling of satisfaction. I’ll admit I had a few butterflies while waiting for her to arrive but wasn’t too worried as all the other online friends I had met in the past were fantastic and we clicked right away.

And just as expected, Grace and I hit it off right upon arrival. She has that polite southern charm that I never experience in the standoffish Midwest. We headed out to Wicked Weed Brewery for some drinks / late night snacks and I gawked at their modern twist on southern cuisine. We ate the best candied brussel sprouts I’ve ever had in my life and Grace talked me into trying boiled peanuts for the first time (which I had only heard of because of House of Cards! note: they are not like you would expect. they are squishy (!!) but super flavorful!). We also nerded out over the menu and obsessed endlessly over the Three Grain Burger that was topped with homemade pimento and pickled okra. Well, when I say ‘we’, maybe I just obsessed over it? Pimento is basically nonexistent on the menus in Indiana and I was in awe of the perfect mix of modern vegetarian and traditional southern cuisine that it managed to create. We weren’t hungry enough to order it (after all, they brought us A LOT of boiled peanuts) but that burger stuck in my mind the rest of the trip and I knew I needed to create my own version when I got back home.

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Cold Mountain Workshop Recap

March 15, 2015

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…And I’m back! The small pause around here was due to my trip into the Smokey Mountains for Eva and Carey’s Food & Styling Weekend workshop. I had the most wonderful time getting to know Eva from Adventures in Cooking, Carey of Reclaiming Provincial, Grace of Earthy Feast, Molly from Molly Yeh, Jordan of Ver-Modern.com, Rebecca, Kelly, and Patty. We spent the whole weekend photographing, eating, and nerding out over props, natural lighting, and lens preferences.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about their workshop and anyone looking to bring their photography to a new level should check out their future classes. We covered everything from camera basics to how to make photo backdrops to the rules of the business. The amount I learned through this workshop is worth the money alone but I also found that I enjoyed being able to connect with like-minded people and meet some of my favorite blogger friends that I’ve been following for years (I’m talking about you Grace & Molly).

I’ve got a Southern style recipe planned for the next post (hey, I did just spend five days in North Carolina!) but until then I’ve got a quick photo recap for ya (I say ‘quick’ because these are just a fraction of the photos I snapped). Anyhow, below is a photo recap of endless amounts of food, playing down by the creek, and ‘smores making over the open fire:

 

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Phyllo Veggie Pockets

March 2, 2015

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I don’t mean to alienate anyone in the southern hemisphere right now but I. have. cabin. fever. I grew up  in a town right along Lake Michigan and we would get the craziest lake effect snow. When all the nearby towns would get hit with 2 or 3 inches, we would get buried in 2 to 3 feet. As a little kid, it was great; they’d cancel school (and work), our electricity would go out so we’d have to sleep next to the fireplace in our sleeping bags (it felt like camping – which I adored so much as a kid), and we’d get to ride snowmobiles to the gas station for grilled cheese supplies. I have fond memories of being locked in the house with my family and the adventures that would occur due to the wild storms we’d get.

I don’t live near Lake Michigan anymore; now I live in a landlocked town that gets enough snow to keep you away from the outdoors but not enough to ever have the town shut down. Work continues regardless of the pile up of white fluff outside our doorsteps. The wind chill is too intense to do anything after working hours but curl up with my favorite pup and blanket. This cycle has continued for two months now. And although I thought my wildest dreams consisted of eating pizza every night while snuggling with my favorite pup, I’m starting to get that crazy itch. The itch that I need to feel the sun’s warmth on my face and run around without 4 layers of clothing on.

 

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We got hit with another snow storm yesterday so I was forced to cook with only ingredients found in the kitchen. These phyllo pockets were the result of pantry ingredients so I want to keep the recipe open-ended so you too can find yourself with everything on hand to whip this up. Don’t have phyllo dough? Swap it for puff pastry! Use whatever veggies you have on hand that will roast well together. Mix in curry powder instead of cumin or chickpeas instead of feta. Get creative – it’s fun and there is a good chance it’ll turn out delicious (as long as you pick ingredients that you like).

I guess you could say this recipe is for all of us that outgrew our snow pants. I can’t spend all day frolicking in the snow anymore because…well… I get cold and building snow forts doesn’t entertain me for hours like it once did. Instead, I have to turn to inside activities like getting creative in the kitchen and figuring out how to use all these veggies up before they go bad (exciting! I know!).

Working with phyllo dough can be a bit intimidating as it is a finicky thing. Make sure that you are keeping the sheets you aren’t directly working with moist under a slightly damp towel. Also, once you’ve taken them out of the package, you’ll want to work quickly to ensure they don’t dry out or else they will stick together.

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Homemade Coconut Chai Latte

February 26, 2015

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Hey friends! Just popping in real quick to let you know that there is a new VV recipe over at 80Twenty this week! It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for this never ending cold so many of us in America is enduring right now!

Okay – that is all for now. I’ll be back in a few days with another warm and comforting recipe!

 

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Multi-Grain Knots 2 Ways: Parsley-Garlic & Cinnamon-Whiskey Sugar

February 22, 2015

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Remember when I used to post about salads and juices and the benefits of food healing? Well those topics feel miles away as this Midwest February demands carbs, alcohol, and anything else that is going to fatten me up and keep me warm. Honestly, if I wasn’t so set on turning these into garlic knots and sweet rolls then the bread would have just been fantastic on it’s own; I sometimes struggle with my loaves coming out dense  but these were light (despite using whole wheat flour!) with a wonderful crunch on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside.

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As you may notice, this post is crowded with photos; I’m trying out something new today. Instead of photoshopping my photos side by side (since my site doesn’t allow me to put photos next to each other – grrrr), I just made them all HUGE! The only problem with that is that there are now SO many of them which makes me think that I probably spend way too much time editing photos to begin with and I could have just shown you a finished product shot and been done with this post five hours ago. Ugh, unfortunately that is not how I work – my words aren’t usually that inspiring (hey, I know where my strengths and weaknesses are) so I strive to lead with gorgeous photos. Anyhow, I’m sorry if it’s crowded – I’ve already spent all afternoon editing photos so I’ll keep it minimal with the words to try and tone down the scrolling. Maybe we’ll end up being really into it this way and it will feel less crowded with time? Or maybe I’ll go back to the side-by-side photoshop edited photos that look so uninspiring when pinned and awkward when linked to on Facebook. Who knows – we’ll see.

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Gin & [Blood Orange] Juice

February 15, 2015

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I have all sorts of opinions on being an adult. I really really dislike it most of the time; in fact, not only do I dislike it but I’m pretty darn awful at it. I’m the kind of person who needs to set monthly reminders to pay the billz on my cellphone, ical, and fridge yet still forget to pay it until the 3rd notice, in which they threaten to turn off our water, arrives in the mail (this is also the kind of things that really ticks off the boyfriend / roommates which is another annoying adult thing: being held accountable for your mistakes). Ever since I graduated from college (note: it’s been YEARS since I graduated so I really should be adjusted by now), I’ve groaned at the concept of having to spend 40 hours of my time a week at work in order to pay the rent in this small college town. I’ve agonized over the right foods to put into my body in an attempt to take care of myself. I’ve bitched and bitched about how insanely expensive things like health insurance and dentist appointments are. I’ve had numerous nightmares about going to jail for doing my taxes wrong and not being able to pay rent because I blew all of my paycheck on records.

Sure, it felt easier when my parents were footing the bill and I could skip class to cure a hangover at the local diner BUT being an adult isn’t all bad. In fact, being an adult can be down right fun at times. You can go a whole month without doing your own laundry and no one will say anything. You can re-arrange your entire living room on a Sunday afternoon and no one will get angry because its your living room. You can spontaneously adopt a dog. You can eat french fries and ice cream for dinner while sitting in front of the TV and watching Gilmore Girls. You can spend all of your money on records and wait to pay the bills until next month (oh wait…).

For Christmas, I was given a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin by one of my accounts (yup, I have ‘accounts’ that I work with on the regular – very adult). Gin is my thing – the rest of my office enjoys whiskey (or so I told myself that) so I decided to just bring this bottle home for a rainy day. The adult thing to do would have been to stop drinking $5-a-bottle gin after college but I hadn’t kicked that habit yet; well not until I started making drinks from this bottle of Hendrick’s. This stuff is fantastic and it’s not even that fancy or expensive. Like my adult paycheck could afford a bottle of this a month and I plan on adding it into the budget (the expendable part that I usually just reserve for netflix and cookbooks). The best part? It’s so good that you don’t even have to really add that much of a mixer. Heck, enjoy this stuff on the rocks if you want…although I recommend adding a splash of orange juice for the perfect winter relaxer. So, what I am trying to say is, be an adult and buy adult alcohol so that you can enjoy cocktails for what they really should be: mostly alcohol!

Anyhow, is it just me or was that kind of a weak punch line… I don’t know where I am going with this. I’m 25 years old. I’m an adult and it’s cool but also sort of hard and mostly confusing but also really fun. Oh and I think about growing up way too much…when I’m not too busy being grown up.

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Winter Panzanella Salad With Cornbread Croutons + A GIVEAWAY!

February 10, 2015

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It has been a very long time since I hosted a giveaway around here. I am beyond thrilled to let you know that the wonderful folks over at Turntable Kitchen hired me to create the recipe for their February pairing box. I had so much fun with it – the dreary and cold days are never ending in the Midwest this time of year so I let my imagination drift away to blissful summer days that revolve around endless afternoons with friends at the lake. The box was loosely inspired by summer camp – with a healthy Midwest vegetarian twist, of course (just my style). So, what I am trying to say is that this month’s pairing box is going to be a real treat that you won’t want to miss! I mean, it’s going to feature 3 never-before-seen Vegetarian ‘Ventures recipes! As an avid reader, I didn’t want you to miss out on these recipes so I’m giving you a chance to win a 3 month subscription to Turntable Kitchen’s pairing box which will start with the February box that I recipe developed for! What’s in the pairing box, you ask? Well here is what you get:

  • An exclusive 7″ vinyl
  • Digital mixtape
  • A premium ingredient
  • 3 seasonal recipes
  • Tasting notes

Here is a video to learn more about the pairing box (which, by the way, usually costs $75 for 3 months and I am offering a chance to win it FOR FREE below):

The Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box Experience from High Beam Media on Vimeo.

Okay, in case you aren’t sold yet, I’ve made a short list of reasons why you need this pairing box in your life:

  • It’s almost Valentine’s Day and this would be the perfect gift to impress that hot hipster that you’ve been trying to snag for months now
  • You are a vinyl enthusiastic and on a mission to collect every vinyl to ever be made so you must seek out these exclusive TTK 7″s immediately
  • YOLO. Treat Yo ‘Self. Whatever you want to call it, you love receiving gifts and this is a specially curated one that will arrive at your doorstep every month (until I cut you off…which will be in 3 months)
  • You like music and cooking. If that is the case then this is especially for you.
  • You always knew the coolest bands in college but then you got a corporate job and don’t have time for hobbies like rummaging through vinyl at record stores, hanging out in sweaty bars waiting for midnight sets to start, or reading every ‘rising artist’ article posted on Pitchfork. This delivers vinyl and mix tapes from new and upcoming bands right to your doorstep. (PS I should note that this scenario is highly unlikely because why would you have time for my wordy blog posts but not time for searching iTune’s daily ‘indie spotlight’ section or whatever they call it these days?)
  • You like cool stuff and this is cool and I am giving you the chance to potentially win this contest and try it out for free so why not?

(side note: Dang I’m good at this! It’s like I sell vinyl records for a living or something…)

Cool? Cool! Now enter this giveaway already!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Oh and here is a simple winter salad that is perfect with leftover cornbread or as an excuse to whip up a batch.

Winter Panzanella Salad With Cornbread Croutons

Serves 6 as a side or starter

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, cute into 1 inch wedges
  • 3 cups brussel sprouts, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt / Pepper
  • 3-4 Thyme Sprigs
  • Lemon or Orange Wedges
  • Parmesan, to spring on top (omit if vegan)

For the cornbread croutons:

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove crushed

For the cornbread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper. Squeeze the lemon juice into the milk and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the coconut oil, maple syrup, and milk mixture. Slowly whisk together the wet ingredients and then start incorporating the dry ingredients as you whisk until a thick batter is formed. Spread evenly in your baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Slice the bread into 1 inch squares to make them ‘croutons’ and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Combine the crushed garlic with the olive oil and brush over the croutons. Stick on the toaster setting in your toaster oven for 5 minutes (or until browned) or into your boiler for 1-2 minutes or until crispy.

For the veggies: Raise the oven temperature to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out the seedy insides of the butternut squash and cut it into 1 inch cubes. Transfer the butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and onions to the prepared baking dish and lay out in a single layer. Top with olive oil, salt, pepper, and toss until everything is completely coated. Bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and browned. Remove from heat and let cool. Toss with the cornbread croutons, a squirt of citrus, some parmesan (if using), and serve warm.

Blood Orange & Quinoa Muffins with Crystalized Ginger-Thyme Butter

February 1, 2015

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It’s already that time again where you can’t step into a store without seeing the huge display of heart shaped candy boxes and pink / red themed decorations. The hints to Wyatt started as soon as that first rose-shaped candy hit the shelves: “Oh, I love my chocolate boxes to have a variety in them but hate the jelly filled ones.” “Don’t the bigger shaped heart boxes just look so much more special?” “I wonder where you are taking me for Valentine’s Day this year…”. All of these hints (if we can call them that since they are pretty obvious) have been met with rolled eyes and silence as if I hadn’t said anything at all. Usually I am annoyed by the silent treatment and meet it with even more snarky comments. However, it hit me one evening when I was contemplating making my hints more obvious or if I should just straight up tell him what I wanted him to do…why does he have to do anything? I mean, it would be rad if he did but Valentine’s Day is about showing your love so why am I planning what HE should do instead of planning what I should do for him? I got even more excited by this thought when I realized that Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year so I have all day to plan out a fancy meal and cook up something delicious for us.

Turning the conversation a bit, I had the pleasure of spending this past Saturday creating a delicious Valentine’s Day brunch menu for you with Sonja and Alex from A Couple Cooks. They have the most gorgeous kitchen (which they recently re-did and you can see images of the redo on their blog!) that I was almost as excited about cooking in as I was about cooking with them (ha!). We first connected through our shared passion of food and Indiana a few years back and have since worked together on Driftless and now through our blogs. They are some of the most inviting people I’ve ever met and it was so inspiring to see them create their beautiful brunch dishes. Here is the menu we created for your practical yet delicious Valentine’s Day spread:

  • Blood Orange Rosemary Sparkling Water (Recipe coming later this week on A Couple Cooks)
  • Blood Orange & Quinoa Muffins with Crystalized Ginger-Thyme Butter (recipe below)
  • Two-Potato Hash with Soft-Boiled Eggs

If we hadn’t been so chatty, this spread could have easily been whipped up in an hour and maybe even a little faster.

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How To Make A Quick & Healthy Cheese Plate [Vegan Option] /// Roasted Curry Sesame Almonds

January 25, 2015

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For today’s post, I’ve paired up with the fine folks over at Kite Hill to bring you a simple and straightforward guide to creating a healthy cheese plate.

I notice the same goals popping up again and again on my resolution list come January: try to eat healthier, get outside more in the cold months, be more social, etc. On this year’s list was ‘host more friends‘ so I jumped at the chance to work on a cheese plate when Kite Hill contacted me about sending over some cheese to try. Wyatt & I recently signed a lease to a smaller (but newer) house that we’ll be moving into in this summer so I’m feeling the urge to have as many gatherings as we can while we still have a huge dining room for game evenings, a big fenced in back yard for grill outs, and a roomy living room for movie nights.

Hosting a cheese and wine party (or even just starting out an evening with a cheese plate) doesn’t have to exclude all of your vegan friends. Because of places like Kite Hill, there are now delicious nut-based cheeses that are just as diverse and interesting at the ones you pick up at the local dairy farm. The cheese plate I made here featured cheese exclusively by Kite Hill but I plan to mix and match my cheese plates in the future with both dairy and non-dairy options to please any kind of guest.

Below you will find some tips and tricks that I’ve discovered along the way on how to assemble a quick and healthy cheese plate along with a recipe at the bottom for some zesty roasted almonds that are the perfect accompaniment to all of your favorite cheeses.

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Cheese: Use a variety of hard and soft cheeses. For dairy cheeses, use a few that you know are crowd pleasers and then a few that most people probably haven’t tried yet. For non-dairy cheeses, you can make your own for a personal touch or an array of store bought versions (I’d recommend Kite Hill, Herbed Chao Cheese, etc). Also a great way to make cheese your own is by creating a flavorful cheese ball out of ingredients that are already in your pantry.

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Chocolate Espresso Almond Biscotti

January 18, 2015

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2015 has been very good to me so far. We signed a new lease for a house that has the most gorgeous natural light and a kitchen that actually has heat and air conditioning in it (!!!), we spent the first few weeks of it exploring the Everglades and lounging on the beaches of Florida, and we’ve spent every weekend with friends and family that remind us how important it is to have human connection in our lives. I don’t want to jinx it but I have high hopes for 2015; I’ve struggled with anxiety holding me back in the past but am feeling a clear vision for myself right now and am really hoping to project that into the future. I am determined to let 2015 be the year that my anxiety doesn’t hold me back from collaborating with more people (perhaps even taking a little trip to Asheville to mingle with so many of my favorite bloggers), from saying yes to new opportunities I haven’t experienced yet, and making sure to make time to physically be with the people in my life. It’s so easy to fall into the routine of work, work, work (especially when freelancing, as there aren’t any set hours) and then you realize you haven’t spent time with friends in weeks..or months. I’m taking this recharged energy from our vacation as a sign that I need to step back and do it more often. Sometimes I schedule myself so heavily that the anxiety of getting it all done becomes too much and I don’t realize that the best solution would actually be to take a break instead of pushing through and feeling miserable and like a failure while doing it.

Stepping outside of my usual routine has been a great reminder that time does need to be set aside for friends and for movies and for midnight walks. That is what I want 2015 to be about. I want it to be about working but having fun while doing it and letting myself step away if I need to. I want it to be the year that I say yes to getting out of my comfort zone and no to overbooking myself on the same old routined gigs. Here’s to 2015 and here’s to hoping it’s as marvelous as I imagine it will be.

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This recipe was inspired by some biscotti that my aunt brought over during the holidays. I was worried that the coffee grounds might not work into the dough and end up grainy in the final product but that wasn’t the case at all. If you are feeling fancy then I bet these would be magnificent dipped in caramelized white chocolate or dark chocolate but they are honestly great without it.

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Caramelized White Chocolate & Dark Chocolate Covered Oranges

January 12, 2015

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As I posted about on instagram a few weeks back, we visited a citrus grove when we were in Florida over the holidays. My grandma lives on a small island down near the Everglades and we’ve gone down to visit her at least once a year since I was a little kid. Most of our trips have always consisted of laying on the beach, seeing movies at the local diner-style movie theatre, and taking boardwalk adventures through the Everglades. All those activities were up there on my list this time around but I also wanted to try something new; this time I wanted to pick some legendary Florida citrus. The idea came after reading Forager: A Subjective Guide To Miami’s Edible Plants this fall. The book is filled with adventure photos of foraging in the tropics which was so different than the mushroom and apple picking I am used to here in the Midwest. I wanted to be able to forage in a sundress instead of a sweater and to walk away with my hands smelling of sweet orange.

I was able to pull my reluctant mother and boyfriend away from the beach one morning and convinced my grandma that there are things worth getting off the island for. We drove off the island and a good hour into the inland of Florida. I should let you know that driving in the ‘country’ of Florida is not like any other countryside I’ve been to in America.  It doesn’t take long for the coastal mansions and condos to fade and before you know it, you’re on a small dirt road that is wedged between vibrant swamps. We drove through the swamps for an hour before we started to see citrus groves dotting the landscape a few acres at a time. Finally, right when I was starting to get to the point of being nervous that I dragged my family out into the very wild south, we came upon the citrus ranch I had mapped out. The farmer’s were similar to Midwest ones (in fact, they were originally from Michigan but had moved down to Florida to retreat from the winters) but the landscape could not have been more the opposite. This was the kind of place where they told stories of rattle snakes getting too close to your dogs and pesticides ruining your bodies; this was the kind of place you won’t find without really looking for it. This is the kind of place where you find real adventures and discover where your food comes from.

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Green Minestrone With Kale Pistachio Pesto

January 6, 2015

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This is the obligatory ‘kick off the year with a healthy start’ post. We just got back from Marco Island and going from 80 degrees and sunny to this 17 degree weather is really messing with my body. It feels confused, cold, and a little bit achy so I’ve been giving into it’s cravings – hot tea, warm soup, and lots and lots of greens.

I usually have time at the end of the year to do a wrap up post and look back on how the last year has shaped up. However, since we were on vacation, I jumped right into 2015 without much reflection. 2014 was a whirlwind of a year for me – starting a magazine, doing freelance recipe development with some of my favorite brands, being interviewed by Food & Wine, getting nominated for a Saveur Award, and continually watching as more and more of you come around VV. I know this is belated but I wanted to say thank you to all of you reading and to everyone who has commented, encouraged through social media, or sent me a thoughtful email about Vegetarian ‘Ventures. This place wouldn’t be the same without you and it’s moments like that that push me to try even harder around here. Cheers to being internet friends and cheers to our continued time together in 2015!

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Vegetarian Ventures Guilt-Free Gift Guide

December 17, 2014

 

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Sure, it’s already the middle of December but do you really have all of your holiday shopping done? Oh, you do? Well dang – cheers to you for being way more on top of it than me and this conversation can just go ahead and end right now. Oh wait, what was that? I misheard you? Phew – I was beginning to think I was the irresponsible one in this friendship!

Are you one of those people who agonizes over where your product was made, the material that was used to make it, the animal products (or lack there of) that went into it, and the foot print it took to have it shipped to you? Well then you are pretty damn picky and exactly like me! You could just do two click shopping on Amazon and hope it all shows up at your doorstep next week or you could make sure that the money you spend is an example of what you believe in and who you think you should support. We have all learned to vote with our money by shopping at the local farmers market and support local farmers but what about everything else we purchase? What about the furniture you decide to fill your home with? Was it made in a sweat shop on the other side of the world? What about the toys you purchase for your niece and nephew? And the shoes you got on sale at a department store last week?

I don’t know where you live (thankfully – that could get creepy!) so I can’t tell you where to shop locally but I do have a few gift ideas that are perfect for any location. Hopefully these products will help you get off that fence you were dangling on with what to get your boyfriend, niece, wife, etc:

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Holiday Cookie Tray: Brownie Cookies With Rum Sugar

December 14, 2014

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Hey Friends! Are you guys ready for the holidays? Yeah, me neither… I have yet to get around to putting up our Christmas tree, buying a fresh wreath from the local nursery, creating a fantastic Christmas playlist, and I have yet to do any holiday shopping for friends or family. I’m assuming you could guess by my lack of posting that I’ve been busy busy (owning a business during the holidays is hectic but I’m not complaining as all the orders coming in have been great) but I finally penciled in a free day yesterday and had a baking marathon.

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You can scold me for not being a traditionalist but I wasn’t excited about holiday baking until I picked up my Bon Appetit December issue earlier this week (I’m not sponsored by them – I just really have a passion for the aesthetic of that magazine). I was so sick of seeing cookie roundups featuring the traditional molasses and sugar cookies; I can turn to grandma’s Betty Crocker cookbook for foolproof versions of those recipes so I want something new and exciting when looking to new sources.  I wanted something that would challenge my baking ability, make me inspired, and keep me focused through the whole process. Finally, I came across Bon Appetit’s cookie round up and I was sold. Boozy sugar? check. Gooey triple chocolate brownie cookies? I’m in. Salted Honey bark? Yes, please! Fast forward 2 Fleetwood Mac albums and 3 baking sessions later and I have my cookie trays filled to the brim with new and delicious treats!

Sure, these aren’t the peppermint bark or gingerbread cookies we all grew up with but I prefer to embrace new adventures. Perhaps it’s because the only family recipe I know of is my grandma’s horribly awful jello recipe that I resent to make (let alone feed to people). Even if I did eat gelatin, the thought of tiny chunks of food speckled through cloudy jello makes my taste buds cringe. Instead of finding comfort in traditional recipes, I find comfort in the cookie tray concept as a whole. My mother always taught me to have a variety of cookies on the tray (with a high ratio of chocolate ones) and always add festive color by way of candy. I used lindt peppermint pieces for this tray but only because I couldn’t find any Franco mints in this darn town.

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I’ll be splitting up my Saturday adventure into two posts and this first one has the recipe for the gooey, double chocolate brownie cookies. These little nuggets of rich chocolate gold have a hard outer shell with a gooey, brownie center. And to top it all off, I sprinkled them with homemade rum sugar (inspiration borrowed from Bon Appetit’s bourbon sugar).

When making this recipe, make sure to start on the sugar the night before as it must dry out overnight. Also, my other suggestion on this recipe is to make sure not to over mix the ingredients. I know our generation leans on the stand mixer for all of our baking miracles but skip it for this one recipe and whisk by hand. If the dough ends up over mixed then it will become tough and the end product’s final texture will be off.

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Goat Cheese Dip With Red Wine Figs

November 20, 2014

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Here we go – this post is coming a few days early as I am squeezing one more post in before I dip out for the Thanksgiving week and put all my focus into consuming as much pie as possible and into keeping warm. We are heading up to Minneapolis in a few days, despite weather.com reminding me that it’s a horrible idea to travel north during the season of polar vortexs and non-stop blizzards. Don’t worry, I am trying to stay positive and ignore all the articles on the people who have been stuck in their cars for over 24 hours due to the New Buffalo blizzard (okay, now I am just being dramatic).

I had intended to do another vegetarian Thanksgiving round-up and remind everyone that it is possible to have a 100% humane holiday but I’ve honestly already seen a slew of really great vegetarian round-ups that made me second guess needing to put another one out there. It’s crazy wonderful how far vegetarianism has come, just in the three years since I’ve been blogging (despite the 12 years since I became a vegetarian) and it’s really inspiring to see so many people catching on! I mean, I know you guys get it (that is why you are here!) but it used to be really really hard for us vegetarians to sit down at the Thanksgiving table and find something to eat. Luckily, the days of frozen meat protein and plates full of dinner rolls are over because there are endless recipes for vegetarian mains and even meat-free sides!

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I have one more recipe to throw into the Thanksgiving mix – a simple and cheesy dip that is a perfect starter to have around while everyone’s mouths start salivating over the irresistible cooking smell coming from the kitchen. The base is creamy and then it is layered with red wine poached figs for an elegant twist – the sweet from the figs and savory from the goat cheese is addictive in the best way possible.

I prefer this dip with fresh cut veggies (your body will thank you later) but it is also great served with toasted flat bread or homemade crackers. Make sure you pick super fresh and vibrant vegetables for the tray as they are going to be a shining piece of the flavor. I picked an array of carrots, homemade crackers, romanesco broccoli, watermelon radishes, grapes (more to cleanse your pallet between bites rather than dipping), and celery. Feel free to get creative with your tray and pick what you find looks the freshest at your grocery store. Also, make sure you pick vegetables that have different colors, textures, and size to create a show stopper appetizer tray.

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Goat Cheese Dip With Red Wine Figs


Serves 6 as an appetizer

  • 1 pint of fresh figs (about 6 large or 8 small), quartered
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • dash of salt

 

  •  4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives + more for garnish
  • Salt / Pepper

 

  • An assortment of veggies, crackers, and chips

Combine the figs, red wine, sugar, cinnamon stick, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the figs has absorbed the red color (I like to keep my figs a little firm but feel free to let them simmer for longer if you’d like them to absorb more of the wine flavor). Remove from heat and strain.

Whisk together the goat cheese, sour cream, and chives and transfer to serving dish. Top with poached figs and chives.

Pomegranate Cranberry Rum Punch With Candied Rosemary

November 16, 2014

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I know I know – I disappear for a whole month and when I come back, I only have a simple drink recipe to give you? I can explain. Our oven was broken – for six weeks. We rent our home so it wasn’t as simple as dipping into our saving to invest in a new one; instead, it was a constant battle of calling and emailing our rental company, them ordering parts, installing those parts (3 different times), and it still coming out broken. It was frustrating and I may have had a few meltdowns that made me disgusted with even bothering with the kitchen for a few weeks. Yes, I could have used the stove-top to whip you something delicious but it was the frustration of the whole thing that really unnerved me every time I walked into the kitchen and the annoyance took all my creative drive right out of me. So yeah – I was feeling negative the last few weeks and really didn’t want to bring you into it..I am hoping you understand. After a particularly nasty call I made when we were told it was fixed (for the second time) and I whipped up a big batch of cake batter only to find that the oven stopped halfway through the baking process, Wyatt snuck out of the house and returned with a toaster oven the size of our real oven. I am now able to bake you cakes, pizzas, breads, and so much more in this giant toaster oven so watch out – there will be lots more recipes very soon!

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Until then, I bring you a cocktail recipe! Thanksgiving is approaching fast and we are switching up the tradition this year. In years past, Thanksgiving prep was actually great practice for the freelance world; I would spend weeks researching recipes by scanning through magazines, Pinterest boards, and the indexes of my favorite blogs. I’d make lists of 30 to 40 recipes that would then be dwindled down to 10 or so by my stepdad and ma. We would then spend two solid days cooking (these are now shoot days in my freelance life) and prepping the food. It would all end up with a huge feast that we’d present to the whole family. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case this year due to my stepfather’s passing two months ago and my mother not ready to carry out that tradition just yet.

Instead, I will be heading up the the northern part of Wisconsin (brrrrrrrr) to celebrate with Wyatt’s family in their cabin. I am excited to start this new tradition with Wyatt’s family but am also bummed I won’t be taking control of the food this year. Wisconsin may only be 2 states away but the drive is 13 hours and I can’t imagine that a cake or pie will fair well in the back seat with Tuko.

So alas, I am throwing in the towel and only bringing ingredients for a cocktail recipe instead. Besides the obvious point that these ingredients will travel well and it’ll be easy to prepare, I am hoping to bring a bit of my family’s tradition with me to Wyatt’s event. It is not that this particular cocktail is an old family recipe but that my family has always celebrated with alcohol. Both sides of my family are German and we all tend to be heavy and joyful drinkers; I realize some families have negative views of drinking as it leads to dramatic arguments and un-controllable negative habits but not with my family. My family works hard and we also play hard; my mother and I have at least one ‘mother-daughter pool day’ a year in the summer months that consist of drinking sangria and lounging by the family pool, my grandparent’s drank a Manhatten together every evening as they talked about their days for over 50 years, my father pulls out the bottle of Jack whenever his old college buddies come into town and they drink rum and cokes while reminiscing about their old prank days, and my mother and I always get a boot full of glühwein during the holiday season when we go up to Chicago for Christmas shopping.  Similar to food, it’s nice to be able to take a sip of a certain cocktail and have my mind transported to a moment in time that I had shared with loved ones.

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Savory Cheddar & Cornmeal Waffles With Green Tomato Salsa

November 3, 2014

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November. November. November. No matter how many times I say it, I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that it is already November. Instead of rambling on in an attempt at trying to catch you up on everything that has been going on lately over here with me, I decided to take the time to sit down and edit all the photos I’ve accumulated over the last 2 months; I decided it would be more interesting to tell you through these photos. It’s been a whirlwind of freelancing, road tripping, hiking, completing another issue of our magazine, and continually trying to find myself through it all. Here are a few glimpses from the more scenic moments of the last two months:

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Tropical Mini Breakfast Muffins + Forager

October 15, 2014

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As a food blogger, it’s not uncommon for me to be sent promotional food books on the regular. I usually enjoy flipping through their pages, finding inspiration in their recipes, and connecting with the writer in print and online. However, I was blown away and pleasantly surprised when that routine was shaken up with Forager: A Subjective Guide to Miami’s Edible Plants. In Forager, there are no recipes but they aren’t even missed next to all the insightful facts on picking tropical edibles in South Florida. The gorgeous images and clean aesthetic has me yearning for a trip to the tropical state to do my own foraging.

The book is divided by items foraged and gives you facts on where you can find it, what its nicknames are, the time of year it can be foraged, and its nutrient benefits. For example, I used a banana in the recipe below and the book talks about how bananas have a sugary, buttery, and floral taste to them and that the commercial variety we are used to see in grocery stores is the Grand Nain, which is a cultivator of the Cavendish banana. However, if you are foraging your own in Miami, you can find an array of other varieties that won’t appear in your local grocery shop including Cuban Red, Manzana, Hua Moa, and many others.

This is one of the most unique field guides I’ve come across and can’t recommend it enough. It’s been on my coffee table all summer and I can’t bring myself to put it away since I find a new page I’m in love with every time I pick it up. It is the kind of book that doesn’t make you want to turn to your kitchen for inspiration but turn to going outside and exploring your surroundings.

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Spiced Apple Biscuit Waffles For Popover + Driftless Issue 2

October 9, 2014

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I am interrupting my usual weekend-only posting to stop in and chat really quick about two exciting VV related topics going on outside the blog. The first note is that I did a guest recipe post over on Popover last week. The recipe is for Spiced Apple Biscuit Waffles (so fall) and a little story behind apple picking. For this recipe, imagine spiced apple slices wedged in between melt-in-your-mouth flaky biscuits that are crisped perfectly in a waffle iron. Are you imagining that? Yeah – pretty amazing, huh? I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Popover is an up and coming lifestyle blog that I highly recommend you check out if you aren’t already following along. The creators behind it obviously have a really great eye and I’m excited to watch it grow. My favorite posts so far have been this one, this one, and this one if you are looking for a place to start on the site.

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The other topic I wanted to bring up is that Issue 2 of Driftless Magazine is finally done! If you are fairly new around here then you may not have heard me mention this magazine before (recap can be found here and here) but it’s basically my other half these days (VV being my first love, of course).

Issue 2 Cover

Driftless is an ad-free, independent magazine about Midwest adventuring. It’s pretty insane how much this magazine has grown since bringing the idea of it up to you all back in January. I feel a duty to keep you filled in since we began this together but I only wish you could see all the insanely time consuming hard work that has gone into it behind the scenes! We are so proud of what has come from that hardwork and I couldn’t be more excited for an issue than I am for Issue 2. Issue 1 was great (like really really great) but it took us six months to make it and I was feeling pretty burnt out at the end after staring at the same content for that long. Issue 2 also is close to my heart because I actually contributed to this one instead of just helping arrange the whole thing (woot woot! That is right – VV makes an appearance for several recipes this time around!).

We announced issue 2 on October 1st and will begin mailing it out to people this coming Monday (eee!). This issue is all about the fall and winter months in Midwest America and does a gradual transition from the beginning of fall (apple picking, hiking amongst the changing leaves) to the deepest depths of winter (holiday dessert recipes, cabin celebrations). You can pre-order it now (AND get free shipping until next Wednesday, October 15th). Here is a preview:

 


 

Lastly, I am SO excited to announce that we’ll be having a Driftless Magazine booth at both the Chicago Renegade Fair and the Indianapolis INDIEana Handicraft Exchange the first week in December. If you live in either area and think you might be adventuring to one of these two events, let me know so we can meet up! I’d love to chat all things independent magazines, vegan baking, indie-rock, and the likes.

Okay – those were my excited plugins for the day. I’ll be back this weekend with a new recipe for you all.

Salted Maple Dark Chocolate Raspberry Crumble [Vegan Option] + Raspberry Picking

October 5, 2014

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Caroline and I took a short drive into the country yesterday in search of an apple orchard that would fulfill our fall fever. We knew the moment we were close because the vast open corn fields were upbruptly interrupted with what seemed like skyscraper-high blow up bounce houses and multi-colored tents popping up in the distance. As we approached the entrance, we realized we had no idea what we got ourselves into with police officers directing traffic and fields filled with minivans. Luckily, the apple orchard was large enough that we could find pockets of solitude to snap some photos of the gorgeous apple trees and our picking adventure. After we had our fill of the apples, we headed back to the entrance to pay and inquired about a ‘Pick Your Own Raspberry’ sign that was near the parking lot. The worker handed us a bucket and told us to head across the street if we were interested in berry picking. To our surprise, across the street was a whole different story; the sound of children squealing and the constant need to dodge groups of people disappeared. Not only was the berry field completely void of cars, but also of people in general. We were shocked to be the only ones out there picking thriving raspberries while hundreds of families pushed their way through the crowds for apple-flavored everything just yards away. It was a small oasis of solitude in an otherwise crazy tourist attraction and we were surprised to unexpectedly stumbled upon it. Cheers to the bright red underdog of the season and here are a few photos from our adventure:

 

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One Pot Veggie Chili Cornbread Casserole Over the Open Fire

September 28, 2014

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Man, all this talk about getting older, family members passing away, and animal cruelty is exhausting. How about we keep this one light today, cool? Cool because I’m about to overload you with photos from our trip last month!

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People always talk about apple picking this time of year but what about camping? For some reason, camping gets lumped into summer activities but have you ever tried to go camping in July? If the heat doesn’t eat you alive then the bugs will. So many people I talk to won’t go camping after Labor Day even though this is the best time of year to be outside. What is better than spending all day hiking around in the woods while the leaves change colors? And what is better than getting a huge fire going to keep you warm in the evenings and to roast your ‘mallows over? And what is better than zipping two sleeping bags together so you have to snuggle really close to your significant other to keep warm at night? Not much if you ask me.

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Vegan Corn Cream Soup With Cornbread Croutons + National Chicken Month

September 21, 2014

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One of my very close friends recently decided she wanted to stop eating meat so she came to me as for suggestions on where to begin. I was able to send her a long list of blogs, cookbooks, and resources for her new found dietary adventure and was very flattered to help. I try to not be preachy here on VV but my vegetarian beliefs are strong and I’m so very grateful to be used as a resource for helping others find their footing in the world of vegetarianism when they are ready.

There are times where I honestly forget that my diet is any different than most Americans. I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years so the thought of ordering a steak at a restaurant never even crosses my mind. Yes, I sometimes bring it up but I like to let my recipes speak for themselves and for you to want to dive into them because they look and taste delicious. I want you to forget that my recipes are even vegetarian and for you to decide to make them because they are what sound good to you at the time.

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Perhaps if we knew each other in real life then I may be more open to offering up my vegetarian beliefs to you – when you could sit down next to me and see that I am a totally normal person who loves Seinfeld marathons and strong drip coffee just like everyone else. But we are not right next to each other and you don’t have any confirmation that I am in fact a level headed human (except maybe through the words posted here on VV). This means flashing a slaughter video of animals being mistreated would most likely be found as appalling and, at the very least, a horrible start to a friendship. This is unfortunately the approach that many animal activists organizations take and, although I do support them, I do not feel comfortable posting their traumatic content on VV. With that being said, I was contacted by ASPCA (The American Society Against the Cruelty of Animals) earlier this week about National Chicken Month and found their campaign to not only be void of preachiness but straight up educational. The video they sent me was tasteful and informative. Heck, they aren’t even telling you to give up eating chickens but just to be mindful that the chickens you do eat have humane living and slaughter conditions (which…maybe it’s because I’m a vegetarian but sounds like a no brainer).

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Apricot Barbecue Sauce [Vegan Option]

September 14, 2014

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Well, the first week into being 25 has been quite the unfortunate whirlwind; It’s bizarre how this crazy world works. Two Fridays ago, Wyatt and I were enjoying our last day at the cabin with an early morning canoe trip. The air was slightly crisp, the water completely calm, and not a soul was in sight; the whole experience reminded me of a family summer vacation we took when I was 7 up to the boundary waters for a week of backpack camping. The feeling of awe and excitement that I felt as a little kid on that trip was all rushing back to me that morning as I scanned the rocky shores that drifted by parallel to the canoe. All these memories from the trip that I hadn’t thought of in at least a decade were coming back — bathing in the ice cold Canadian waters with endless wilderness as our backdrops, stopping for lunch on islands along the canoe route, giggling as my brothers attempted to chase a family of moose, and watching the sunsets over the wild wilderness along the shores of our campsite. On that early morning canoe trip, I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness that I was able to have those experiences growing up and so proud that motion of paddling felt more natural than driving a car. That morning, I was thinking of the family I had spent that canoe trip with: my mother whom had grown up in the city but had come to love the wilderness due to marrying my stepfather, my brother who can get me more annoyed than anyone on the planet but who I suddenly missed terribly, my stepbrother whom I had drifted apart from almost a decade earlier, and my stepfather who was always so strong and the leader of the bunch on our outdoor adventures.

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On Turning 25 + Vegan Carrot Pistachio Cake

September 6, 2014

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[Photo of me on the last day of me being 24 years old - AKA earlier this week]

I’m currently on vacation in the most luxurious cabin on a small lake in Wisconsin. It’s Wyatt’s aunt and uncle’s cabin and can house anywhere between 12-15 people so we are feeling like we’re living in a mansion here by ourselves. It’s been a blast with a mix of hiking in the sunshine and reflecting / reading during the rain. With my 25th birthday being this week, I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about what getting older means to me and if I’m still as terrified of it as I was at 22. Yes, I’m horrified by the thought of having to go to the doctor every few months to keep my body from falling apart and of losing my incredible metabolism but, at the same time, I’m also excited about continuing to mature and figure out this crazy thing we call living.

I spent the long 8 hour car ride up here reflecting on how my life has changed since I first stepped into my 20s five years ago and would like to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way with you:

1. You are who you surround yourself with. This one was something that became so clear to me when I dropped my druggie high school friends for highly creative and motivational college buddies. Spending a Saturday night hosting a potluck and playing board games was so much more rewarding than playing video games and getting drunk in friends’ basements. I learned that there are people out there that do get as excited as me about trying a new vegetable and not just about their newest weed blend. Going from living with people who spend every night hosting “ragers” to living with my highly motivated musician boyfriend was also an eye opener. He spends every extra waking moment working on music which only motivated me to work on my passions as I see him dedicate his entire self to what he loves and wants to become.

2. You don’t have to like everyone. This one was hard for me – it felt like if I was going to be around someone then I really wanted to be their friend. I’ve come to realize that putting a lot of energy into trying to force a friendship is a lot of wasted time and it’s okay to find someone completely talented and work with them on a professional level without feeling the needs to go get drinks with them afterwards or on the weekends.

3. It’s not about where you are but what you do while being there. I was, like every young ‘adult’ getting ready to graduate from college, obsessed with moving to the coast. I was sure that I was meant to move to Portland or San Francisco after I received my degree and never come back to Indiana. However, when the time came to move – my mother talked me into visiting these places for a few days first to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake. She, like all parents, was nervous about me moving to a new place without a job (market) when I had already been offered a full time job in Indiana. When I actually flew out there, I realized that San Fran was much too large for me and Portland…well Portland was amazing (ha). Despite Portland being an amazing place to visit, I spent a few days with Wyatt’s inviting friends which showed us a blast of a time by taking us to some great dive bars and brunch spots. I was totally in love with Portland but was a little bit taken aback by the idea of me in Portland. Wyatt’s friends had been living there for a few years now but were working as servers and in resteraunts. Back in Indiana, we had a full fledge career already starting in the industry (music industry) of our dreams. We decided to stay in Bloomington for a year to test it out and have been here since for 3 years. I’ve watched many of my friends lose interest in their passions as they are gobbled up by large city activities and I feel lucky knowing that I’m able to put hours into VV and Driftless since I don’t have a 2 hour commute a day or rent that costs 3/4 of my salary.

4. Naive can be good. It sounds silly but I’m so greatful that I dived head first into some big adventures without realizing what they would entail. For example, if I had any idea the learning curve and constant work that went into making a magazine then Driftless would have most likely never released an issue. The truth can be daunting so just going for that big dream and you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

5. You make your own opportunities. I often time have trouble sitting still and watching TV when I know I could be working on a blog post that may be the post that gets me noticed by that oh-so-famous blogger. Or I could be shooting a new article to be featured in a print issue of one of my favorite independent magazines. It took several years for VV to get off the ground but persistence with constantly photographing and recipe developing puts me one step closer to my dreams everyday. Little victories like being interviewed for Food & Wine, being nominated by Saveur Magazine, and getting motivational emails from some of my favorite bloggers are all just the small victories that help push me towards growing this little place and I know that these little victories didn’t happen because of luck – I worked my ass off for them! This also means that hopefully more opportunities will come as I only continue to develop my skills more.

These are a handful of big picture maturaties that I’ve had to discover for myself over the last few years. Although I’ve grown immensely since turning 20, I am pretty excited to see what else I learn over the last 5 years of my twenties. I’m sure life has some pretty insightful things planned for the next 5 years but I’d really love to work on growing the following:

1. Learn to lose control. I really struggle with needing to be in control (of my daily routine, my blog, my body, my attitude) at all times and get really upset when things are out of my control (even little things like the weather not going as I hoped really bums me out).

2. Learn balance. Right now I am ALL in. I go from work to magazine to blog to bed. It’s great and I stay constantly engaged but it sure would be great for me to be able to…you know…watch some TV or something without my mind wondering to my next to-do list.

Now, as I mentioned, it’s my birthday (week) so let’s eat cake!!

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Vegan Carrot Pistachio Cake

adapted from Love & Lemons

  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2  cup coconut oil, melted

 

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 8 ounces earth balance (or regular butter if you aren’t looking to make vegan)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ~1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or seeds from a a vanilla bean)

 

  • 1/2 cup shopped pistachios

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray or line two 8 inch round cake pans. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in one bowl. Whisk together the yogurt, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, and coconut oil in another. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones until everything is combined and then fold in the grated carrots. Divide the dough between your two prepared pans and stick in the oven for 30 minutes (or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out clean).

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the frosting: Beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Add more milk if it ends up stiff. Divide the frosting into 3 parts and use 1 as the center layer, one on the sides, and the remaining part for the top. Top with crusted pistachios and enjoy!

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*A few notes:

- I made this cake vegan because it was my birthday and it was what I wanted. Feel free to swap out the non-dairy items with organic dairy items if you’d prefer to.

- Also, feel free to add in an extra 1/2 cup shopped pistachios into the batter (throw them in the same time you put in the grated carrots) if you’d like the added texture in your cake. I stuck with keeping mine on the outside but that is just my personal preference.

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