My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lights, camera, giveaway action!

I hope everyone enjoyed a festive, happy holiday weekend! Ours was restful and ridiculously balmy (shorts-and-tank-top-on-the-deck-balmy!) We enjoyed some good hikes with the dogs, cooked, baked, and ate lots of goodies, and on Christmas night we took the girls (decked out in their snowman bandanas, of course) and drove around looking at people's lights and decorations. I did my best to get good photos, but in such low light without a tripod I fear I mostly got unintended special effects. :-) Still, I think they're pretty, so here are three of my favorites from three different neighborhoods...

While Christmas is over for another 363 days, the pretty lights are still aglow and so is the spirit of giving. One of my Christmas gifts from my friend Jo was
Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews by Nava Atlas (and boy am I eager to dig into it!), we bought Viva Vegan last month, and I plan to buy Color Me Vegan with Christmas money from my mom. So to make some room and keep our cookbook collection under some semblance of control, at least one of my previous cookbooks must go!

Vegan Delights by Jeanne Marie Martin is one of the many vegan cookbooks I got early on, but it's one I just never found myself using. So it's
in pristine condition and I'm offering it as a Happy New Year giveaway, just in time for all those resolutions, fresh starts and new experiences. Perfect time to explore vegan cooking and baking if it's new to you (and a great time to sign up for PCRM's third 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, which begins on Jan 3)... or a great time to add to your recipe repertoire if you're already vegan. Actually, any time of year is a great time to do these things, but the beginning of a new year is especially auspicious.
A caveat: since this cookbook was published in 1993, some of its nutritional advice is outdated or questionable, and her lists of vegan web sites and cookbooks are quaintly brief since there has been an explosion of both since 1993. But plenty of the information in it is enduring and always useful, especially for beginning vegans.

Since I've never made any of the recipes, I can't speak to how easy or tasty they are. For anyone with food allergies, intolerances or other concerns about certain ingredients, several of her recipes contain soy, a few contain wheat (or other gluten-containing grains), and many contain oil (sometimes in large quantities), which in most cases can simply be omitted or easily substituted. And plenty of recipes contain none of those ingredients.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway (open to US and Canadian residents), please leave a comment about your favorite vegan delight: recipe, cookbook, food blog, web site, restaurant, city, animal sanctuary, quote, person, vegan-friendly kitchen gadget, vegetable, fruit, bean, nut, seed, legume ... well, you get the idea. :-) And if I don't already know it, please leave a way to contact you.

I'll randomly draw a name at 9pm MST on Dec 31 (I'm getting too old to commit to staying up till midnight, lol) and will announce the winner shortly thereafter.

So let's get cookin'! :-)

Unrelated P.S. - I hope everyone in the path of the huge nor'easter blizzard is staying safe and warm!


  1. Laloofah -- Your cow cooking cartoon was great. I will send it to a few friends.

    I am not what one would call a cook or baker. Do you recall Helen Nearing's cookbook? That is how I cook -- like dear Helen. Extremely simple. So I will opt out of the drawing hoping someone gets it that loves to cook. Nice of you to offer it to your readers.

    Your Christmas cruise through streets of lights brought back memories of riding in the back seat of my parents car -- gasping at some of the huge light displays on the lawns, rooftops and trees.

    Hard to believe shorts and tank tops as we sit here in a cold and snow bound world.

    Loved the idea of snowmen scarfs on the girls.
    -- barbara

  2. Barbara ~ Isn't that a wonderful cartoon? That was one of our holiday cards last year, and I have one of them displayed on our fridge. PCRM sells a lot of different things with that illustration on it!

    LOL - I recommended Helen Nearing's "Simple Food for the Good Life" in a recent comment reply to you! We've had a copy of it for years, and it struck me as perfect for you and one you'd get a kick out of too... guess I called that one right - just late! :-)

    I have the same fond memories of riding in the back seat as a kid, looking at Christmas lights. It was always so exciting! We'd take popcorn balls with us to snack on, because all that gawking really works up an appetite for dyed corn syrup. (Yarite! lol) We don't always manage it, but some years BW rallies to placate my incessant whining to go look at lights, and this was one of those years. :-)

    It's definitely hard to believe that it's this warm and dry in the mountains of northern Wyoming, while so much of the country has been pounded with rain, ice and snow! (I'm envious of the snow!)

    Enjoy a cozy day in your pretty snow!

  3. A favorite vegan cookbook is The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld, George Minot, and Sheila Hamanaka. the recipes are arranged in menus for celebrations so it's very helpful to folks new to putting vegan meals together. Especially for entertaining.

  4. Oh wow, those lights are really pretty. I love the snowman who looks like Humpty Dumpty. :D

    It's a good strategy to keep your shelves from getting too cluttered with cookbooks...mine is full of cookbooks I never look at and/or have only used once or twice. Oh well...

    Hmmm, my favorite vegan delight? That's a tough one. With regards to food, I love eating at a vegetarian Thai restaurant we have here called JhanJay Vegetarian's delicious and if you specify "no egg" almost everything is vegan.

    Also, I recently got Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine and that's one book I have used quite a lot already...the dishes come out really tasty, and they do taste "authentic" authentic as anything I've eaten anyway...admittedly I'm not an expert.

    And of course, I love the vegan blogging community! So inspiring...a real oasis in a largely omnivorous world.

    Fun giveaway Laurie! Good luck to all! And, I'm looking forward to seeing some of the recipes from your new cookbooks; they all sound like winners.

  5. I agree with Barbara that the cow cooking cartoon is fantastic! And I disagree with you about the quality of your photos, since I thought they were excellent and brought back memories of childhood when we did the same drive to see the lights. I guess there has to be warmth and dryness somewhere, so I'm glad you are getting it. Ours is probably a record wet year--I think we've already had more than we usually do all year and the rain counting year starts Oct. 1. I know I was definitely not alone in having to put in a sump pump in my crawl space because it flooded for the first time ever!

    Anyway, I do have Color Me Vegan and I have actually read through it and it seems fantastic to me, but as a brand new cook, I haven't actually tried the recipes. So far the only real recipes I've used have been one for hummus in the Vitamix recipe book (done it twice now and I love it!) and one for cranberry/orange sauce which was actually on the package for the cranberries (came out nice and tart the way I like it--only later did I realize that I'd doubled the amount of cranberries but nothing else and in fact I'd cut back on the brown sugar, so no wonder it is very tart, but I do love it!). I have a number of vegan cookbooks now so I'll be getting into them soon and many are gluten-free, which I need (or at least wheat-free). I'll let you know if I find one I particularly like. I am definitely not a new vegan (been vegan since '94), but rather a new cook, so I'd probably better stick with simpler info, and let others win your book. Meanwhile, I sure do agree with Rose about the supportiveness of the vegan blogging community! Thanks and have a great evening!

  6. Teslaca ~ Thanks for stopping by and tossing your hat into the giveaway ring! I took a quick peek at your team blog and it looks like a fun one I will definitely be checking out more thoroughly when time permits!

    Thank you also for your synopsis of The Voluptuous Vegan. There are so many great vegan cookbooks out there, it's helpful to get feedback like yours.

    Rose~ LOL - I knew that snowman reminded me of something, but hadn't bothered to spend enough time thinking about it to figure out who! Humpty Dumpty is it exactly!! :-)

    When we remodeled our kitchen, I had a 2-shelf cupboard installed at the end of our counter and that's where I keep my recipe binders and file box, herbal books, cookbooks, BW's beer brewing books, etc. It's a great spot, but there is a limit to the space available. I used to have a bunch of vegan cookbooks I'd gathered up willy-nilly in my early days, back when pickin's were much slimmer than now, and over the past few years I've gotten rid of almost all of the ones I never used, donating them to the library or selling them at yard sales. I hung on to this one all this time because some of the recipes look really good, but now I need the room more than I need a cookbook I might use someday! :-)

    That vegetarian Thai restaurant sounds good! I've only had Thai food a couple of times (both in Calif) and really liked it, but I know fish sauce can be a problem in non-veg Thai places (the only kind within 300 miles of us!) I'm glad to hear your experience with Bryanna's Chinese cookbook! That's one that's been on my wish list for quite a while. We don't cook Chinese food nearly enough.

    I totally agree about the vegan blogging community! I love the sense I get, when I have time to spend a good chunk of a day visiting the vast array of vegan blogs, that I'm living in a vegan world. (It's always a bit of a jarring shock when I emerge from that comforting space to discover that I don't! YET.) ;-)

    I'm glad you think this giveaway is fun, Rose, and am happy you entered it! I haven't tried any recipes from the new cookbooks yet but we've picked one of Nava's soups to make over NY weekend, so I'll be throwing that on my "things to blog about" pile! We chose a soup recipe that would lend itself to adding Space Noodles, becaues if that won't bring us good luck in the New Year, I don't know what will! :-)

  7. Daphne ~ That brilliant cartoon's artist is Doug Hall, who does most of the illustrations for PCRM. I have tried to find a web site for him, but so far to no avail. I adore that cartoon too!

    Normally I hate it when people disagree with me, but in this case I'll make an exception. LOL Glad you think the photos are pretty. I had to discard a lot of them that looked good on my camera's viewfinder, but on my computer they looked like they were taken by a staggering drunk. :-) I don't mind the "muzzy" ones so much, they do make the lights look soft and pretty.

    It sure sounds soggy in your neck of the woods! It's bone dry and dusty here, but it looks like we have a big snowstorm moving in tomorrow afternoon. I wish it would wait till Thursday night after BW gets home! I'd love a cozy long weekend (we sit tight on New Year's Eve!), but hate when he's out delivering in blizzard conditions and his getting home is a trecherous uncertainty. And right now our truck with the plow on it is in the middle of repairs in our garage!

    I just ordered Color Me Vegan yesterday! I'm looking forward to it! I just love Colleen.

    Congratulations on almost 17 years of vegan living! I was wondering if you're gluten-intolerant or allergic to wheat. So no wheat, but other grains are okay? Sounds like you've got plenty of new cookbooks to take for a spin and don't need another one, but this cookbook has very few recipes that contain wheat, most look pretty simple and straight-forward and contain easy-to-find ingredients. So if you change your mind and want to enter the giveaway, just let me know!

    And speaking of wheat, gluten-free, recipes and the wonderful vegan blogging community, don't forget Mary's Mitten Machen blog - all vegan, and gluten-free since Sept 2009 when she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She's had a baby recently and hasn't posted for a while, but she has a good archive of recipes. And Cupcake Kitteh is another vegan blog with a lot of gluten-free recipes (which are clearly labeled as such). I love my cookbooks, but I find the two-way communication you can have with blogs ~ reading other people's comments with their recipe feedback, problems, questions and variations, asking questions myself, and reading responses from the recipe's author/poster ~ really helpful.

  8. Thanks, Laloofah, and I've subscribed to the two blogs you recommended. I am just allergic to wheat so other grains are ok. And today I made a Carrot Ginger soup in my Vitamix and it came out great even though I didn't follow the directions too well. I was suppose to blend after just a few ingredients were in and then do something with oil (which I forgot entirely) and then blend it again with all the ingredients, but you know, what I did worked great--I don't need the oil, and the taste was incredible, so I'm taking that as a win even if it did take longer to blend. What an adventure!

  9. Hey I just found your blog and I am excited about your giveaway :) Well lets see, My favorite vegan delight..that's hard....I truly love Thai food so I would probably have to say that. Although I do love some good avocado maki or vegetable lettuce wraps. My favorite fruit...which actually isn't a fruit, it's a seed, is coconut! I loooooove coconut. Coconut and mango! I am from Hawaii though so go figure. I am following your blog now by the way. Come check mine out when you can!!

  10. Daphne ~ I've heard the Vitamix is great for making soup! And carrot ginger soup, yum!

    Anytime I try a new recipe, I have to read through it first or I will screw it up. I'll leave something out, add something in, measure wrong, skip a step or do the steps in the wrong order - I swear, no matter how carefully I think I'm following it as I go, I am bound to goof if I don't read the entire thing first before I even get out the measuring spoons. :-) Once in a while my boo-boos will result in a less-than-stellar result (though rarely have I completely ruined a dish beyond all hope of redemption). :-) But often, like in your case, my boo-boos seem to make little or no difference, or they actually improve things. That's what happened with a little something I call Boo-boo Paté. :-) That was a pretty big flub on my part, but it actually made it better. You never know!

    And I've found you can leave oil out of soup (and most other recipes that call for it, sometimes without any substitution) and you'd never know the difference. If a soup calls for sautéing some veggies, I sauté them in water, and never add oil or margarine to anything. So if when I eat out I'm handed a bowl of soup with a greasy oil slick floating on the surface, it makes me want to gag. You'll always get a gold star from me when you leave the oil out of a recipe, even if by mistake! :-)

    Carissa ~ Welcome! And thanks for entering the giveaway! I recognize you from Rose's blog. :-)

    So, we have another fan of Thai food. I don't believe I've ever met anyone who doesn't like Thai! And any vegan thing with avocados in it will always get my vote too! Maki - that's a type of sushi, right? Coconut (yum!) and mangos (another yum!) sound like a winning combination, especially for someone in Hawaii! (If I lived there, for starters I'd be busy eating every pineapple in the state, while my husband would definitely be fighting you for the mangos. That boy is a fiend for mangos!) :-)

    I'll be happy to pay your blog a quick visit tonight and more thoroughly when I have more time (hopefully tomorrow). Thanks again for stopping by, and good luck in the giveaway!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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