Celebrating the Veg Lifestyle

Being vegetarian or vegan is not just eating a certain diet.  It is a lifestyle that involved a more conscientious way of living, one in which people pay attention to things to which  the average carnivore does not give as much consideration, or so it seems.

Each year in Portland, the Northwest Vegetarian Society holds a huge event at the Portland Convention Center.  This weekend was the 12th year for this celebration, and John and I were in attendance.

The festival was packed with booths handing out literature, GREAT free food samples and all kind sof veg-friendly products.  In attendance were doctors and lawyers and people with tattoos and people without tattoos.  There were housewives and house husbands.  There were kids of all ages, who enjoyed many activities that were set up for them.

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We forwent lunch and opted, instead, to wander from booth to booth trying new products and sampling our favorites that we had tried before.  All were just great.

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Although both of us are vegetarian and not vegan, we both loved all of the many vegan options that we tried.  Vegan/vegetarian foods have really come a long way over the last decade.

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The event had all kinds of entertainment, lectures and demonstrations. One of my favorites was a demonstration by the author of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty, Sunny Subramanian of the Vegan Beauty Review.

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This is Sunny with her little boy who insisted upon singing for us.  He was very sweet.  Sunny’s demo was great.  She has a great blog online, too.  I purchased her book and just love it.  It has the most fantastic all-natural recipes for cosmetics and related items.  Really great.

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We attended a lecture by Juleanna Heaver, RD, about The Vegan Ten: Basics of the Vegiterranean Diet, which is a vegan version of the Mediterranean diet, one of the most healthful diets in existence.

I attended another one on investing in humanitarian causes.

It was a good time.  I think I’ll attend again next year.

 

The Writing Life

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The Mills Brothers  released their hit  “Too Many Irons in the Fire” in 1946.  70 years later, this song could be designated my theme song. Yet, how many irons are too many?  I suppose that much is subjective.

I live a multi-faceted existence and always seem to have a lot of irons in the fire.  With the onset of the new year, however, I find myself busier than ever, but I am also happier than ever, and with great hope for the future.

I am working on opening a new business and have been developing workshops and programs for that, gathering partners and finances, and creating a dynamic endeavor that may take a couple of years to get off the ground, so  I continue to work on other things as I focus on getting this done.

A friend, who is a former celebrity client from a decades-ago stint I did with an entertainment law firm, contacted me over the holidays to ask if I would be part of a $25 million capital raising campaign with a view toward producing 5 new independent films.  I will be working in the capacity of a consultant, designing social media promotions and campaigns, but won’t know many details until some time next week. This will be my first MOIP-related, salaried work I have done since I received my masters degree, and while I’m excited about the work, this is not what I’ll be doing professionally, in the long run, but that is another story for another time.

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In addition to my art work, a large part of my vocational time is spent writing.  I have my various creative writing projects going on….my cookbook, my novel, my poetry and short stories, all of which take the back burner too often in favor of the writing work that I get paid for.

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Over the last 48 hours, I have written essays on the world-renowned Monte Pascoal cigars, Missouri fly fishing, eyeliner, the Bakken oil fields, Maternity photo shoots and the merits of portable ballet barres.  I have written essays for a graphic design company, two criminal law firms, a judge, an artist and a physician whose specialty is the treatment of diabetes.  I have a long list of articles to complete today, and another list of articles that I will have to complete from our retreat at Lake Tahoe.

I have honed article writing down to a fine art and can knock out what my editors designate as “high quality” writing in a very short period of time.  My research skills were honed to perfection while I was in graduate school, and I am able to produce many articles in a short period of time.  All this, is in addition to writing the Chinese fashion catalog that provides an endless stream of work.

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Admittedly, I do not feel a lot of passion about the paid writing that I do.  My heart lies with my creative work, but the paid work provides a good income, and I rather enjoy it.  It isn’t what I intend to do over the long run, but for now, it is fine.

I work through a number of different agencies.  Over the years, my ranking has risen to the top with many of these agencies, and I have received a more noteworthy status than I once had as a hack writer.  Today, I am frequently notified by editors and former clients, so that the majority of the work I do is for private clients or special projects.

My work involves long hours and intense concentration, and, therefore, results in my having to make a special efforts to exercise and stay healthy.  This work can be all-consuming, and it is as easy to forget to eat and exercise as it is to breathe.  There have been days when I have started work before the sun came up, and ended it well after midnight.

In this new year, I shall endeavor to moderate my writing into a more manageable enterprise.  I vow to place my health first, and to exercise twice a day, beginning each morning with  yoga and a long walk, and doing a concentrated aerobic effort each afternoon. I have been doing this three times a week, but I am going to up the ante.

This freedom to arrange my schedule as I want it is the primary reason I continue to pursue the writing life.  This freedom to travel.  This freedom to begin and end work when I want.  The freedom to take off a half hour when my best friend calls, or the freedom to stop what I’m doing to pick Ingrid up from school.  These are the reasons that I write.

Tomorrow, as my friends go to their offices and get snagged in rush hour traffic, I will be departing for Reno/Tahoe.  THIS is why I engage in the writing life.  This freedom to leave when I want or to sleep as late as I want …..although I am an early riser….this freedom is why I write.

 

 

 

Moroccan Carrot Salad

One of my favorite types of meatless “meats” is that manufactured by Gardien.    Last night, I tried this Moroccan Carrot Salad and it was absolutely divine.  Served it with Gardien chicken.    The recipe is from Tal Ronen from Crossroads Restaurant in LA.

Crossroads offers diners Mediterranean-themed small dishes, salads, farm-to-glass cocktails, and desserts in a fine-dining dinner style that encourages exploration. With its stylish atmosphere and refreshing sensibility, Crossroads isn’t just a leap forward in refined plant-based cuisine — it’s one of the most innovative culinary destinations in Los Angeles. It’s a decadent and indulgent dining experience approached in a conscious and cohesive manner.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

  • 1 1/2 lbssmall rainbow carrots (about 24), tops trimmed
  • 1/4 cupmicro greens
  • 1/4 cuprosemary-fried almonds (recipe follows) or toasted Marcona almonds, smashed
  • flaked sea salt

marinade

  • 8dried red chilies, such as guajillo, stems removed
  • 1/2 cupred wine vinegar
  • 3garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tspground cumin
  • 1/2 tspkosher salt
  • 1/2 tspblack pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tspred pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cupextra-virgin olive oil

rosemary-fried almonds

  • 1 cupexpeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1 large sprigfresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stem and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cupswhole Marcona almonds
  • 1 tspkosher salt

preparation

1. To prepare the carrots: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with water and adding a tray of ice cubes.

2. Blanch the carrots in the boiling water until tender when pierced with a knife, about 3 minutes. Drain the carrots and plunge into the ice bath to shock them—i.e., stop the cooking and cool them quickly; this procedure also locks in the carrots’ bright color.

3. Drain the carrots again. You want them to be relatively uniform in size, so if any of them are large, cut them lengthwise in half.

4. To prepare the marinade: Put a small dry skillet over low heat, add the chilies, and toast for 1 or 2 minutes; shake the pan so they don’t scorch. Break up the chilies and put them in a food processor. Pulse the chilies to a coarse powder; you should have about ½ cup.

5. Put the chili powder in a mixing bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and whisk until blended. While whisking, slowly pour in the oil in a stream until emulsified.

6. Put the carrots in a mixing bowl and pour in the chili mixture, tossing to coat. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours, tossing periodically. 7. To serve: Crisscross the carrots on a platter. Scatter the micro greens and almonds on top and season with flaked sea salt.

To Make the Almonds:
1. Put a cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil, add the rosemary, and stir to infuse the flavor into the oil. Heat the oil to around 300°F. (You don’t need a thermometer for this: Drop an almond into the oil. When it sinks a bit, then floats right back to the top and starts sizzling, the oil is hot enough.) Once the oil is ready to go, add half of the almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until they are fragrant and toasted, 10 to 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the almonds from the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle them with the salt while they are hot. Repeat with the remaining almonds. Use to top the marinated olives or serve as a snack.

An Outstanding Vegan Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.59.57 PMThis is one of the best vegan cauliflower soup recipes I have ever tried.  It is very light and low-cal.  If you want to add a potato or two, it will make the soup thicker and creamier, but it is fine without them.

Vegan Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Prep time
15 mins
Cook time
40 mins
Total time
55 mins
Recipe type: dinner, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: savory, soup
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbl Earth Balance or other vegan oil spread
  • 2 cloves fresh, organic garlic, minced
  • 1 medium organic onion, diced  (I use Walla-Wallas or Videlia’s)
  • 2 stalks of organic celery, diced
  • 1 head of organic cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 cups of vegan chick’n broth, vegetable broth or mushroom broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 slices veggie bacon
  • ½ cup unsweetened, original almond milk
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. In a large stockpot, heat butter over medium heat. Add your garlic and onions and sauté until they’re translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in your celery and cauliflower and coat with the butter mix, stirring for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add in your broth, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme, bring to a boil. Reduce heat down and let simmer over medium low heat until your cauliflower is very tender for about 15-20 minutes. In the meantime prepare your tempeh bacon.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add in your tempeh bacon and cook until crispy for about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Once all your ingredients are tender, remove your bay leaf and discard, and either wait until your soup cools and transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until your soup is at your desired consistency, or use an immersion blender (aka handheld blender), blend until your soup is to your desired consistency.  Chunky is good, if you ask me.
  6. Add in your almond and coconut milk and whisk until thickened, about 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Top with your veggie  bacon, and enjoy!