Entries Tagged as 'vegan'

Grilled Pretzel Panzanella Salad + A Summer Stock Up Giveaway

Posted on: June 30, 2014

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If you are located here in the states then you are probably having a hard time getting into the groove of this week knowing it’s going to be a short one. With Friday being a national grill-copious-amounts-of-food holiday (oh and a celebration of the countries birth), I’ve got grilling (and eating. and watching fireworks. and swimming) on the mind.

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Living in a smallish town has it’s perks – it is easy to walk to the local co-op to grab vegetables for dinner. Taking a nightly bike ride is never interrupted by honking cars. You don’t ever have to wait for a table at your favorite local eatery and weekends are spent swimming at the neaby lakes and quarries. The downside is that sometimes resources can be limited – in this case, pretzel bread. I love making homemade bread but it’s not the first activity I get excited about when it’s already 90 degrees in my kitchen. My lack of success after adventuring to 3 grocery stores, 2 co-op stands, and our local bakery to find pretzel bread only made me more determined. If only we had a Trader Joes around here… I kept thinking, which just enraged me more. Finally, I took a deep breath, pulled out my rolling pin, and whipped up 6 mini-loaves of pretzel bread.

Do you need to make fresh bread for this recipe? No. In fact, I may even advise against it since you’ll need to then let it sit for several days to become stale enough to truly be panzanella. But, if you are feeling overly ambitious or lack pretzel bread in your town, like me, then feel free to start on this a few days early with the bread and come back to it when the bread has become slightly stale.

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Salted Date Caramel Cashew Tart with Mocha Graham Crust

Posted on: June 16, 2014

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I’m pretty sure I need to bookmark this post as a reminder to the annoyed and freezing January version of myself. This post needs to be a reminder that no matter how hard it is cut an onion while you can’t feel your fingers, its even harder to bake in a 90 degree kitchen without passing out of heat exhaustion. It is one thing to use your oven as a heater in the winter but how do you cool the kitchen down in the summer? The secret is most certainly in avoiding turning that oven back on.

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but our kitchen was a add-on from the original 1920′s ranch we live in so it’s a little bit of a awkward shack addition in the back of the home. All weird bugs and lack of natural light aside, the workspace wouldn’t be so bad if the builders had managed to hook it up to the central air system. Nope – they did not. This means that its absolutely frigid in the winter and beyond humid / muggy in the summer. Hell, the kitchen might as well be outside so I could at least get some nice natural light out of the thing.

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Rosemary & Garlic Smashed Purple Potatoes

Posted on: June 12, 2014

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The posts are starting to dwindle down to once a week around here while the weather warms up and I take more and more breaks from my computer. I’ve had more evenings filled with evening hikes and less evenings spent wrapped in a blanket on Pinterest. I sometimes think I need to stay focused and spend less time wondering but I’m mostly just enjoying the much needed break from the interwebz.

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Did I tell you I inherited a boat? It’s a sweeeeeeet 1961 vintage, turquoise, motor boat that fits 4-6 people on its dark wood seats. It’s old and has needed a lot of work but we spent all last weekend cleaning it out, adding new lights to the trailer, replacing the gas tank, and getting it back into a usable state. It’s in pretty darn good shape for being 50 years old since my dad has housed it in the garage for the last 30 but there are still a few minor tweaks still needed before we can hit the water. All hard work aside, it’s been a fun summer project that has helped us get our hands dirty and reminded us of the rewarding benefits that come with physically putting effort into something.

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Let’s Talk About Driftless Magazine

Posted on: May 27, 2014

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I’m going to real talk you here for a minute. About four months ago I posted that I wanted to start a magazine about the Midwest – 20 contributors, 2 editors, 2 creative directors, 1 designer, 2 illustrators, and numerous bumps later – we are finally ready to release issue 1 of Driftless. Now here’s the real talk – this was 10000% more work than I had ever imagined it would be. Did I have any idea how to layout a magazine? No. Did I have any idea what kind of costs are involved with print? No. Did I have any idea how to coordinate deadlines with a slew of 20+ people? Hellll no. Thankfully, my good friend Leah came on board as a partner at the start of all of this or I would have never stayed sane trying to get this off the ground.

This magazine was by far the hardest creative adventure to date for us. But I’m hoping it could be the most rewarding as well. With the time ticking (this issue is about the summer), we are scrambling to get this to the printed press asap and start getting this out into the world. One problem: it is going to cost around $7000 to print these at a high enough volume that we can sell them back to the public at a reasonable price. Yup – Seven Thousand Dollars. That is a whole ‘latta cash…and about $4000 more than we had budgeted for. I know talking about money is so ugly – believe me, I feel ugly talking about money but there is just no way around it here. We could really use some help getting this project off the ground – we could really use your help. Even if you don’t have any cash to contribute – just sharing this on your blog, Facebook, twitter, etc would really help spread the word about Driftless!

If nothing else, hop on over to the crowd funding page to see a video of Leah and myself – you’ll get to watch how awkward I am in front of a camera and imagine that this is probably how awkward I would be in real life if we met.

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Here are the hard facts:

Driftless is a new, ad-free, independent magazine about adventuring in the Midwest. Our quarterly publication introduces readers to the creative and awe-inspiring wonders the Midwest has to offer by way of stories, recipes, guides, essays, and interviews. Driftless is putting the Midwest back on the map as a beautiful place to both live and visit — we are way more than just flyover territory! We showcase the talent, creativity, and ingenuity that flourishes in our neck of the woods.

Driftless is the type of magazine that you keep on your bedside table for nightly reading, your bookshelf for easy reference, and on your coffee table for showing off your favorite Midwestern inspirations. Issue 1 is 100 perfect-bound pages of gorgeous photographs, beautiful illustrations and clean design from Midwestern artists and makers.

By contributing $25 or more, you are pre-ordering Issue 1 which will show up at your doorstep before it becomes available in any retail shops. 

A few snapshots from issue one (if that recipe looks familiar that is because its from the insanely talented creators of A Couple Cooks, the Grand Rapids photo by Jill DeVries, the swimming photo by Leah Fithian, and all design layouts are by Jessica Kleoppel):

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And don’t forget to follow Driftless on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates!

Thanks again for always supporting VV and taking a minute to hear about my other wild and creative endeavors! I’ll be back later this week with a  deliciously spring biscotti recipe.

On Record Collecting // Weekend Almanac Issue 2

Posted on: May 9, 2014

I’ve got a fun little personal post before the weekend sets in. What are your plans this weekend? Are you going to be spending it with your beautiful mother? I personally will be relishing in a graduation grill-outs since Wyatt’s little bro is finally graduating. I’m in charge of desserts too so there is probably a good chance something sweet will be popping up around here in the next few days!

Last fall, I wrote an article about record collecting for Weekend Almanac and it finally appeared in their newest issue that was released last month. Weekend Almanac is an inspiration of beautiful photos, recipes, adventures, and guides that all take place on the weekend. You should definetely hop on over to their website and check it out for yourself.

On that note, there were a lot of ‘outtakes’ from the photo shoot I took for the article and I thought it might be fun to share them on here with all of you! Yes, this was before Wyatt cut all of his hair off. And yes, record collecting is sort of like cheating for me since I sell indie records for my day job. But hey, its a hobby none-the-less and something else I’m passionate about when not in the kitchen. Plus, lets be honest, there is nothing more satisfying than cooking up a meal with a warm vinyl spinning in the background.
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Happy Friday! See you in a few days with a new recipe to share with all of you!

Spinach & Radicchio Salad with Broiled Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted on: May 5, 2014

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I know, I know. You are all over winter citrus and have moved on to asparagus and ramps. However, I can’t resist a beautiful blood orange and had to pick up the last few at our local co-op since these are what I can only assume to be the last batch of the season.

I discovered the technique of cooking citrus this past winter and am basically hooked. There is a completely new, sharp flavor that the citrus takes on when caramelized slightly and its not to be overlooked. I recommend using broiled, roasted, and grilled citrus in something that will let the fruit flavor shine instead of burying it under a dish chocked full of too many ingredients. You can count on there being lots of outdoor grilling days ahead with grilled citrus over the open coals.

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We are dangerously fast approaching salad season here at the Blue Bush (that is the term for our bright blue house that we reside in). Our kitchen doesn’t have air-conditioning so we tend to live off of raw foods for much of the warmer months. Oh and grilling – did I mention how much Midwesterns love a good cookout? Yup, salads for lunch and grilling for dinner. That is our summer routine.

Although air conditioning would be super rad, I’m not too mad about it. This will be our third summer here and I’ve learned to really appreciate the diversity that can be made with a big bowl of raw veggies and some wonderful dressing.

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Tips For Living a Vegan Lifestyle + A Giveaway

Posted on: April 29, 2014

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How to Be Vegan By Elizabeth Castoria struck me in a way that the majority of vegan books weren’t able to in the past. So many of the books I’ve read about making the transition into veganism focus primarily on your diet. Although what you eat is very important as a vegan, diet is only one topic of many that this book touches on with chapters dedicated to diet, travel, manners, and lifestyle.

My favorite part about this book is, right off the bat on the first page, she breaks all expectations down and reminds you that no one can be vegan all the time. That right there immediately lifts so much pressure off any aspiring vegan. She also manages to be so witty throughout the whole book and makes sure to mention all the things you can buy and eat as a vegan instead of the  usual ‘no this or this or this or this’.

One really unique topic in the book that struck me as super informative was the part on how to eat vegan while traveling. I often times worry about what I’m going to eat while traveling as a vegetarian and can only imagine it has to be 100x worse for full on vegans. Elizabeth gives great tips for not only the airport but also how to handle being vegan in foreign countries. Plus, if you really are stranded somewhere without any vegan options, she’s got 50 recipes listed in the back of the book for you to whip up in your Airbnb kitchen.

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This may sound surprising with all the vegan book reviews I’ve done around here but I’m not actually a vegan. I do eat vegan sometimes but if my body is craving an egg or a cheesestick, I’m not going to deny it. I believe strongly in listening to your body and my body has told me time and time again that it craves protein in the form of cheese and scrambled eggs (and I also believe everyone’s body is different so you should take some time to figure out what your body is telling you!). With that being said, I am still fascinated with the vegan culture and actions I can take to harm less animals in my everyday routine.

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Chickpea Magazine Spring 2014

Posted on: April 10, 2014

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Spring is here and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t keep busy all winter long while hiding from the polar vortex. It’s silly how things pop up in waves but it seems like a lot of work I did the past few months is all becoming available this spring. First up, this article in the newest edition of Chickpea Magazine. It’s their Spring 2014 issue and I wrote an article on how to prep your garden.

Chickpea Magazine is a vegan, wholefood, and ad-free quarterly magazine that showcases everything from irriesistable recipes to seasonal photo essays to useful how-tos. You should most certainly become familiar with the magazine if you haven’t already – its wonderful!

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Greek Goddess Celebratory Nachos

Posted on: April 1, 2014

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These aren’t just any nachos – these are celebratory nachos! These are ‘I just got nominated for a Best Food Blog Award’ by Saveur Magazine and am gonna treat myself to nachos and ice cream for dinner. I still remember the first time I voted for Saveurs BFBA three years ago and felt like I had such a strong opinion on who should win every category because I knew one blog per category. And I remember the first time I saw Oh, Ladycake’s badge on her site and was like ‘Wow. That would look mighty nice on VV’ (ha!). Fast forward several years and I can honestly say I follow 80% of the blogs nominated and consider a large portion of them dear blog friends of mine.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, if you are feeling it, you should hop on over and vote for VV in the ‘special diet category’ on Saveur’s site. But honestly, its okay if you don’t because I’m just happy to be a part of the club and mentioned among so many talented writers and photographers. I’m thinking of it as a win-win since I’ll be munching on Laura’s Quinoa Onion Rings if The First Mess wins and this Orange Chocolate Tart if Happyyolks is sent to Vegas.

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These nachos are like no nachos you’ve probably ever munched on before. According to Food52, the most important elements for nachos are quality ingredients and strong layering ethic. We’ve got both of those bases covered here. These are a mix between eating a greek pita sandwich and a faleffel burger.

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Marbled Paper DIY

Posted on: March 25, 2014

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Well, hello there! It has been a minute, hasn’t it? I’ve been in a little food lull the past few weeks with the seasons changing (still too early for asparagus here but all the delicious citrus is also gone), my boyfriend still slowly recovering from food poisoning (not sure why he thought getting eel in this landlocked city was a good idea), and putting all my creative energy into my magazine project, Driftless.

Did I mention that trying to create your own magazine is a TON of work? Theres so much time and energy that goes into fielding submissions, building a website, creating a brand, laying out the print issue, and figuring out where to get it printed. We’ve finally gathered all the content for the magazine and are now in the process of laying the magazine out. I made some marbled backgrounds over the weekend for filler pieces in the magazine and thought it might be fun to share a tutorial for them here.

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Baked Vegan Maple Bacon Donuts

Posted on: March 10, 2014

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I’d like to think I live in a pretty progressive town for it being smack-dab in the middle of cornfields (also known as the ‘meat-and-potato region’). Bloomington, Indiana is home to around only 40,000 people (80,000 if you count the students from the university) yet we have 4 co-op grocery stores, an entire street dedicated to ethnic restaruants, a vegan diner, numerous international grocery spots, a bike trail that runs the length of the city, and bakery dedicated to only serving vegan goodies.

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I bring this up because our local vegan bakery specialized in baked (or cake? I’d like to think they are the same thing but my boyfriend said this is 100% false) donuts. Theres always an array ranging from traditional toffee to more unique lavender-lemon. My usual go-to (after the huge cinnamon rolls and buckeyes) is always their maple bacon donut. They are wonderfully sweet with a hint of smoke from the coconut bacon.

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Curried Carrot Soup With Maple Roasted Chickpeas

Posted on: March 5, 2014

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I’d like to start off by apologizing if this recipe looks faintly familiar. I may have made a super similar one over here but its been slightly updated for an even more delicious experience. I guess I could have omitted the chickpeas or swapped them out with croutons for more of a variety but, if we are being honest here, the maple chickpeas are what made this dish.

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We picked up the cutest little carrots at the Farmer’s Market on our trip to Marco Island. The market made me so gitty and very homesick for summer days. We have a market here in Bloomington in the winter but it’s in a gymnasium and I can’t seem to get myself excited about it. Perhaps the gymnasium part reminds me too much of being at a children’s christmas bazaar or the lack of sunshine in the building brings a whole new gloom to dirty vegetables. Either way, it will never compare to the exciting hustle and bustle of the summer outdoor market.

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This recipe is forever adaptable so please don’t feel limited by the ingredients and instructions listed below. Feel free to substitute some coconut milk for the broth or swap out whatever herbs you have on hand or toss the chickpeas in whatever spices you are craving at that moment. This soup is never the same for me because I always switch it up to fulfill my cravings at the time. As long as the soup is flavorful and the chickpeas are crispy then it’s probably going to be pretty darn delicious.

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In Search of Sun

Posted on: March 2, 2014

It feels a bit inappropriate to be sharing these island photos with you while it’s currently pouring freezing rain outside my window but these photos are keeping me sane. They are keeping me sane in the dozenth winter storm we’ve had this year and I hope that they can maybe also give you a little bit of hope with all their sunshine and greenery.

A few weeks back we headed down to Marco Island to visit family and explore the sun. Here are a few photos from our adventures:

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We actually spent the week with my entire family on my mother’s side even though all these pictures are only of Wyatt and I. Perhaps this is because I forgot to lug my camera around during most of our adventures and the few pictures I did take were during our long walks around sunset.

Honey Roasted Citrus & Thyme Popsicles

Posted on: February 23, 2014

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As mentioned in my previous post, we’ve been in Florida for the last week as an attempt to relieve ourselves from the negative temperatures that the Midwest can’t seem to shake. The week has been filled with lazy mornings at the beach, afternoons by the pool, and early evenings were spent exploring the Everglades.

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More on our adventures later this week after I finish editing all the photos I managed to snap. As for now, I tried to spend the whole week relaxing but couldn’t resist the urge to document these popsicles to share with all of you. I received both an ice cream maker and popsicle molds for Christmas and although I’ve played around with a few recipes, the Midwest ground has been covered in snow since December and our home has maybe seen the sun half a dozen times since the new year. Thus, ice cream cravings have been at a standstill (well, at least until last week when we headed to the coast).

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Blood Orange Smash

Posted on: February 11, 2014

 

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This may sound like an odd question for February but have you been keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? Yup, I’m still asking. I realize that most of us stop thinking about them after the first two weeks of January but setting these intentions are meant to be carried out throughout the year, no? I still have three light-hearted ones that are less serious (and going strong): naming 5 things I’m grateful for every night before falling asleep, going bra-free (this will probably have to change when it starts getting warmer and I have to actually wear things besides oversized sweaters. Was this an over-share? If so, I’m sorry. It’s not an act of feminism but just out of pure comfort), and hosting people more often. We’ve had friends over almost every weekend since the New Year and it’s been a blast – watching movies, playing games, and drinking cocktails (mostly this one).

 

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We are pretty obsessed with our cozy house but didn’t share it much last year. It’s so easy to get into a groove of laying around with our boxer pup and watching the X-Files (Or Seinfeld or New Girl). That is fine and all but having people over motivates us to keep the house clean, make fun appetizers, and play games that aren’t focused around a screen.

 

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Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Biscuits [Vegan Option]

Posted on: January 31, 2014

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I’m not sure why everyone is so hung up on dip and mini corndog recipes this week? Let’s be honest – do you even really like sports? When is the last time you sat down and watched a football game? I guess it’s the excitement of it all pulling us in. I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t really understand sports at all. However, I do still get excited about Superbowl Sunday. There is one game I’ll be transfixed watching on Sunday but it won’t be the Superbowl. You’ll find me over on Animal Planet watching The Puppy Bowl. Yup, have you seen the line-up of puppies up for adoption this year?! Everything from the baby boxer to the husky / lab mix pulls at my heart strings. I’m sorry – am I gushing? I can’t help it – they are just so darn cute.

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Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

Posted on: January 26, 2014

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I knew this was going to be a tough post to write when I spent over an hour debating on just the title. It went a little something like this: Is this recipe a cobbler or crisp? What even is the difference between a cobbler and a crisp? Is Huffington Post an accurate source for telling me what to name my recipe? Well, if it is an accurate source then neither of these names are correct. According to the good old Huff’ Post, a cobbler must have individually dropped biscuits while a crumble is a fruit based dessert topped with an oat mixture and a crisp is similar to a crumble but won’t have any oats involved (Did you get all that?). Huh, who would have known? Do you believe them? Yeah, I don’t know if I do either but I also don’t have the answer so we are sticking with it.

Well, now that we are talking about the title of this post, why not keep going? What else were we even going to chat about today? I can’t seem to remember anymore either. You are wondering what makes this a breakfast recipe? Cool. Let’s chat about that.

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Breakfast, for me, is a pretty routined affair. During the week I eat granola/yougurt or oatmeal and during the weekends it’s usually biscuits & gravy (per the boyfriend’s request). That’s it. And maybe a boiled egg or banana mixed in there every once and awhile for variety. So why, you ask, did I make this breakfast cobbler (whoops – I mean ‘crumble’)? Well, it wasn’t really intended to be a breakfast thing at all. I’ve been trying to incorporate more whole foods into my diet and fruit has been a particularly challenging one. Every time I eat an apple or orange or any fruit really, it reminds me of apple dumplings or crumb cake or cobbler. My body has obviously been neglecting fruit in its original state because all fruit triggers a craving for some sort of baked good.

So my desire for fruity baked goods grew every time I enjoyed another apple for a snack or a banana as a post-lunch dessert. The desire grew and grew until I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I didn’t want to shatter all this healthy whole food eating with a thick sugary dessert so I set out to make a ‘healthified’ version. One that could be made almost completely out of unrefined sugar and loaded with tons of oat fiber and fruit nutrients.

This crumble was the outcome. It doesn’t have the gooey inside consistency that most traditional crumbles have but it’s still packed full of just as much flavor while leaving you feeling lighter than any traditional recipe. To compensate for the lack of gooeyness, I mixed in part of the oat mixture with the apples to create a creamy oatmeal consistency while still topping the cobbler with the rest for a crispy oat outer layer.

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Currently Lusting: Pink Patisserie

Posted on: January 9, 2014

Currently Lusting is a bi-weekly series which features blogs that VV finds particularly inspiring / creative / beautiful or probably all three. Although we’d like to pretend that all ideas spring from these wonderful brains of ours, that is just simply not the truth. We pull so much inspiration and ideas from other blogs that I think it’s really important to acknowledge these people and the hard work they put into their virtual spaces. Want to create a truly gorgeous blog? One of the biggest steps is having an inspiring set of other blogs that constantly makes you want to make yours better.

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Pink Patisserie is one of those blogs that I’ll have pinned 4 of her photos and be struck by how delicious a recipe looks before even realizing where it came from. Then I’ll be going through my blogfeed later on, see those photo and be like ‘ah ha! Of course this was the work of Maria!’. This has happened at least a half a dozen times. I can usually pin point a photo from most of my favorite blogs because they stick to a similar aesthetic… but not Pink Patisserie. Maria is constantly surprising me with her ever growing photography talent and each photo I stumble upon seems to only be more gorgeous than the last. Just when I think she’s mastered it, she creates a new post with even more inspiring photos and recipes. And that is what keeps me always coming back to Pink Patisserie.

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A Look Back & New Goals /// 2013 Round-Up

Posted on: December 29, 2013

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The small gap between Christmas and New Years has always been a time of reflection. A time to sit back in awe and amazement that another year has gone by. A time to shuffle through all the things you’ve clung onto for the past year. And a time to let go of all the items on your list that weren’t checked off. It’s even easier for us bloggers to do this since we’ve got a whole website dedicated to documenting our year – whether its through the food we ate or the clothes we wore or the products we lusted over..these actions tell a story that make up a chapter of our lives.

I’m very pleased to report that my reflections this year have been SO much more positive than last years. 2012 had been a year of huge change and a complete year of doubt. I had graduated from college halfway through and had spent my whole life in confidence before that point. After graduation, I was left feeling lost and vulnerable – left with complete doubt in everything I did (everything from where I was living to what food I was putting into my body to coming to terms with getting older). But – let’s stop there and not reminiscent down that rabbit hole.

It feels so good to read that old post and know that I’ve grown into my ‘adult’ skin so much in this past year. Yes, I still have a lot of growing to do and I still have a long list of irrational fears (who doesn’t?) but it’s been such an improvement since then. I’ve come to really love the small Midwest town I call home – not because there is that punk house that used to serve us drinks underage during shows or those spider-ridden rocks where we could day drink on the lake all day without being bothered. No, I’ve learned to look at this city with fresh eyes and appreciate being able to walk a few blocks to our local co-op grocery store to buy ‘hard to find’ flour blends and local produce. I’ve learned to love the lake for it’s beautiful trails that you can spend a whole Saturday afternoon getting lost in (sober!) and making your dog’s day by taking him for long walks through the centuries old neighborhoods.

I don’t think I’ve changed too much in 2013 but my outlook certainly has. I’m so very excited to evolve more come 2014. Here were my 2013 goals:

1. More adventures close to home

2. Less doubt, More Risk

3. Less processed foods

4. Work on photography

5. Keep moving forward & always improving

6. Continue to surround myself with positive people

 

I think it’s safe to say I can check all of those off my list. Although, everything on that list are all things that are still a ‘work in progress’ and I do want to continue with these goals in 2014. Here are a few more light-hearted goals to add to the 2014 mix:

7. Get our asses to Montreal. It’s time – this IS our next big trip.

8. Spend as many lazy Saturdays as possible on the vintage turquoise boat I inherited

9. Rent a summer home on Lake Michigan and spend a weekend on the beach

10. Make my own print magazine / zine (whether it be a collaboration or just all VV – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and needs to happen)

10 feels good. 6 BIG ongoing goals from last year and 4 new fun ones. Yeah, I feel good about this. I’m ready for you 2014!

 

And finally, as I continue with my reflection of 2013, I thought I’d share some of my favorite VV memories with you..

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How To Make Pureed Soup Without A Recipe /// Guest Post by Livia Sweets

Posted on: December 12, 2013

Remember when I posted that wonderful staple recipe for homemade vegetable stock over at Livia Sweets last month? Well, Claire from Livia Sweets has been kind enough to build on that and create a wonderful tutorial for me to share with all you VV readers. I am so excited to say that she has the secret of how to make delicious pureed soup without a recipe and is here sharing it with all of us today!

That’s right – a healthy recipe! You have to be getting a tooth ache from looking at all those sweet recipes all over the internet right now! Here is a nice break and cleansing meal idea to enjoy between woofing down sprtiz cookies. Enjoy!

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Gingerbread Syrup /// DIY Gifting

Posted on: December 9, 2013

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Yikes, another sweets recipe? The holiday season has once again taken over and I can’t seem to get my mind to focus on anything else. I feel a little guilty about how sugar-laden VV has been over the past month (I’m not exaggerating. don’t believe me? Look here. and here. and even here). I feel like I’m setting a bad example after I went on that long rant last week to you guys about how switching to a vegetarian lifestyle is a healthy choice. So, I guess, what I’m trying to say is that for every sweets recipe I post on here, there are 10 salads being eaten in the days between which are not getting photographed / recorded. And that being a vegetarian is not an excuse to skip dinner because there is meat in it and jump right into dessert. But… do you know what is an excuse for that? The holidays! And they are here – so why don’t we just indulge for a little longer? Come on – what do you say? Well stuff our faces with fresh lentil soup and kale smoothies come the New Year – I promise!

My initial thought when deciding to make this syrup was that I could use dates as the sweetener and do a little bit of healthy twist on it. But I also wanted to make this syrup for far-away friends and I was worried about the dates not being able to travel halfway across the country without spoiling, ya know? What an awful greeting to an old friend – ‘Hey! Here is a package of spoiled baked goods for you! Enjoy! Hope ya don’t get too sick’. It just didn’t seem worth the risk. So, instead, I stuck to the good ‘ole fashion recipe that we’ve been making every year around this time. Silky and sweet – so you only need a few teaspoons. Perfect in your hot cocoa or morning cup of coffee. A great addition to a festive cocktail or to drizzle over baked goods. When deciding that I wanted to make some festive care packages for old friends, I couldn’t think of a more versatile gift.

In addition to this syrup, I’m including some homemade vanilla extract (that has been aging for 5 months now), my Sweet & Salty Curry Molasses Popcorn, and Baker Royale’s Cookies & Cream Bark (which was really just an excuse to buy another package of Newman-Os) in the goodies I’m sending to friends.

Next up – family packages! What are you DIY gifting this year? I need some more inspiration!

***REMINDER: Don’t forget to enter to win the book bundle I am giving away! Entries will be accepted until next Sunday so hop on over here and sign up!***

 

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On Being Vegetarian + A Giveaway!

Posted on: December 5, 2013

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I’d like to think I’m not a preachy vegetarian. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a very meat-centric family that would have half a cow in their freezer at all times (from the farmer down the street) and a family who found my eating habits to be bizarre. Or maybe it’s because I can’t help but roll my eyes at every new food trend that comes onto the market and the media’s excuses for why you should try it out. Or maybe it’s because I met a lot of pushy people who wanted to tell me why ‘meat is the answer’ and I realize how annoying it can be to have another diet pushed on you. And perhaps more because I hate explaining my dietary reasoning to everyone. ‘Is it because of health? It it for animal rights? It is environmental excuses? religion?’

To be honest, it’s because of a lot of things but mostly because of the animals and my health. I used to hate getting those ‘Oh, so do you work for PETA or something?’ looks when explaining I didn’t approve of commercial farming or that I couldn’t stomach the texture of fatty meat in my mouth. I used to usually just say it was for my health (which, in part, is true) and explain that I lost a lot of weight and gained so much energy when I transitioned to vegetarianism. Although, I was also 12 and going through puberty so who knows which helped out more? Being a vegetarian for 12 years, I sort of forgot why I did it until a few months back. Being vegetarian has become such second nature that I never ever even think to glance at a meat item on the menu or compromise on a chicken based broth at a restaurant.

I didn’t realize my animal morals were so strong until my boyfriend went hunting with his father a few months back. It being his first time and his excuse was to get out into the woods / meditate so I didn’t really think much of them actually killing anything. Oh but they did. They came home with big grins on their faces and a giant dead deer in their trunk. I remember seeing the look of smog on their faces when they broke the news and I had to hold back crying. For a few days, I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so upset – people have been hunting for thousands of years and it’s very natural. I finally realized that my opinions on killing & eating animals were more passionate than I had previous thought. I was so angry at how selfish the whole situation was; he’s been eating a sustainable and delicious vegetarian diet the 3 years we’ve been together and it bummed me out that he could so selfishly take a life for a ‘morning of fun’. It’s one thing when you need it to survive but it’s another thing when we can so easily live off of plants and nuts. It all just seems so selfish when removed from the ‘meat and potato’ American stigma we are used to.

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What sprung putting my vegetarian thoughts down on paper was receiving a copy of The Vegetarian Cookbook For Beginners which is divided into a informative section as the first part and recipes as the second. I was amazed at how much I learned about the different religious, moral, and health reasons that provokes people to go veg. I was also fascinated to learn about all the health benefits, the history of vegetarianism, and some of the many challenges that come along with switching to a new lifestyle.

I know that not all of you come to VV because you are vegetarian. Perhaps some are here for the creative recipes and clean aesthetic? Or some are just interested in what it is like to be a vegetarian? Or some of you prefer to eat a few vegetarian meals a week? Or some just really enjoy my sweets posts that have nothing to do with any dietary restrictions. Whatever your reason is for being here and reading this, if you have any interest in vegetarianism at all, I suggest you check this book out.

 

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And now for the giveaway! In addition to giving away the Vegetarian Cookbook For Beginners, I am also giving away some of my favorite spice grinders. Do you remember when I did a shout out to JR Watkins during that Pumpkin Pie with Salted Molasses post (pictured above)? Well I’m obviously a huge fan of their spices and they were kind enough to send me some grinders. And these aren’t just any grinders – they are lemon pepper and garlic salt. Both goes fantastic with literally everything! I’ve basically replaced them with my usual table salt / pepper because they had such a wonderful extra bite (except in baking – garlic and sweets don’t usually go together).

 

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And the last part of the giveaway are some Vegetarian ‘Ventures magnets. Yup, I made magnets. I don’t know why? Probably because my boyfriend and all his friends make band swag in the form of buttons, t-shirts, and cassettes so I wanted to have a little blog swag. Why not, right? I love these little magnets – I wish I could just send one out to every single one of you! They are seriously SO cute and awesome.

 

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The giveaway starts today and will run through next Sunday. I will be shipping out the winner their goodies the following Monday. Thanks for entering!

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Hosting A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Posted on: November 21, 2013

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(Although I wish this was my own feast that I was muchin’ down on, it is not. As a change of pace on VV, I’ve borrowed most of the photos in this post so please click on the images to check out more beautiful photos from the original authors)

 

I’m a total planner. Anytime my boyfriend mentions he’d like to go on a trip somewhere, I’ll have a full day by day itinerary wrote up and emailed to him by the following evening. He usually has forgot he even mentioned anything by the time he receives the email but I know he has to smirk a little in that moment he opens it to find days (usually by the hour) planned out with restaurants, museums, sights, road stops, forests, and campsites. At least, I know I smirk a little when I re-read those emails. I don’t realize I’m doing it but I’m being exactly like my father in those moments. He would take us all (my brother, my three cousins who lived with us, and my step-mother) on a two week vacation every August when I was growing up. For the months leading up to it, he would pull out the atlas after dinner and compare tourist books (this was before the internet was a real big thing) to what was along the route. I remember how playful he always was in those planning moments and he’d tease me with comments like ‘should we go gambling in Vegas or take that 7 mile hike all uphill to see the rock that resembles a monkey head?’ (as if either of those things were appealing to a 10 year old).

Most of these trips I plan are just ideas – tucked away in email folders – never to actually be carried out. Sometimes I wonder if I have more fun planning adventures then actually taking them. There is just something comforting about these plans being there – comforting in the sense that if we did ever decide to sneak away to the Smoky Mountains or Lake Powell or Montreal at the last second, we wouldn’t miss a thing because I’ve got an itinerary for that!

Anyhow, I bring this story up because I planned out Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is sort of like a trip – you spend months planning and prepping only to have it carried out in one big meal. The funny thing is I’m not even hosting Thanksgiving this year. We always have Thanksgiving at my parent’s house up north and all I do is pick out a few recipes to make the day of and demand a Tofurky. However, even though I’m not hosting Thanksgiving, I still made a Thanksgiving menu. You know, just in case I ever feel like throwing a Thanksgiving dinner on a non-Thanksgiving holiday or something? Okay, that sounded crazy. I just mean that I did it because I enjoy planning. Planning can be a hobby, right?

So, to get to the point, if you are looking to host a Vegetarian Thanksgiving this year or just still need a few ideas on some sides, here is how I envision the perfect Vegetarian Thanksgiving:

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Currently Lusting: Gourmande In The Kitchen

Posted on: November 7, 2013

Currently Lusting is a bi-weekly series which features blogs that VV finds particularly inspiring / creative / beautiful or probably all three. Although we’d like to pretend that all of these ideas spring from these wonderful brains of ours, that is just simply not the truth. We pull so much inspiration and ideas from other blogs that I think it’s really important to acknowledge these people and the hard work they put into their virtual spaces. Want to create a truly gorgeous blog? I think the biggest step is having an inspiring set of other blogs that constantly makes you want to make yours better.

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I came across Gourmande In The Kitchen last year when searching for the perfect gluten-free birthday dessert recipe. The friend who I was making the dessert for, at the time, was very new to her gluten-free diet and I could tell she was bumming about the notion that all gluten-free desserts are dry / crumbly and not worth wasting a birthday on. Instead of trying to master a gluten-free cake on the first try, I came across Sylvie’s Chocolate Date Caramel Walnut Tart and fell in love. The birthday girl could not believe the tart has any sort of food “restrictions” like gluten-free, vegan, and even being grain-free.

 

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Favorite Winter Recipe

Posted on: November 5, 2013

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I am so very pleased to share my favorite kitchen trick over at Livia Sweets for her usual Tuesday Tutorial feature. Hop on over and check it out!

 

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