Friday, November 16, 2007

Empanadas de Calabasa Sefardicas

The dish for "E" is empanadas. This recipe for pumpkin empanadas was also featured on Vegan Lunchbox. Because Sefardica or Sephardic in English is used in the recipe title, we know this recipe is both Spanish and Jewish.

In case you are unfamiliar with the term Sephardic, I thought I might give a quick explanation. Sephardic is derived from the Hebrew word for Spain and generally refers to Jewish people from the Iberian peninsula including Spain, North Africa, Middle East, and Portugal. Ashkenazic is derived from the Hebrew word for Germany and generally refers to Jews from Eastern Europe. Each group tends to have some different traditions. Most American Jews follow Ashkenazic tradition. Believe it or not there are quite a few other delineations that these groups can be broken down into, but this is the simple view.

When I was in Spain, I was definitely not vegetarian. Empanadas were a quick easy meal to buy on the go or pack for a trip. Sometimes the empanadas were like little pocket pies just as this recipe. Other times they would make the emapanada in three layers on a cookie sheet (dough, filling, dough) and slice it in squares. In the 5 weeks I was there, I only recall finding veggie empanadas once. Often I wonder, whether I'd notice veggie options more now. Maybe they were everywhere and I didn't see them because I wasn't looking.

Anyway, these pumpkin empanadas are a tad on the sweet side for me. It isn't because of the sugar, but more likely because of the apple in the filling. I'm a huge pumpkin fan and between the spices and the apple, the pumpkin felt a little watered down. This crust is simple and is definitely something I would make again. I'm always having trouble with the more delicate pie crusts.
BTW - Thanks for the concern about me and the car. My window is all fixed and I'm onto lots of other issues including PT for my knee that I injured snowboarding last year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Avgolemono Soup

Today, I'm taking a quick timeout from my alphabet scheme, though we are still touring the world. Yesterday was a crazy day. My car was broken into at my office parking garage and that messed up my schedule for the night. After filing the police report, dropping my car off to get the glass replaced, and then getting a rental vehicle, I didn't have much energy to continue with my plan for "E".

On the way home, I did stop to pick up some parsley so I could make a tester recipe that I've been waiting to try. Yup, you heard that right. What do you do after someone breaks into your car? ---Go home and cook.

Suzie from One Chubby Vegan has started some recipe testing for her cookbook. As soon as I saw her post on the Avgolomeno Soup, I knew I wanted in as a tester.

Avgolemono is a Greek soup made with lemon. Eggs are used as a thickener. Could this be veganized? Well, Suzie did it and this soup is marvelous. Thick lemony goodness with seitan, rice and parsley.
Avgolemono Soup

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Damper is a bread from Australia. The are many recipes, but all are simple. It was made from staples that the swagmen had on hand when they were in the outback. Generally you would mix flour, salt, baking powder, butter (if available), and water/milk/beer to form a dough. Then it is cooked on the coals of a campfire. Any Aussie will tell you to drizzle honey or golden syrup on the damper and serve it with billy tea.

Billy tea is also prepared over a campfire. You boil water in a billy (can) and add a fistful of tea per person. In a minute when the tea is done, you grab the handle with a bandanna and swing the hot can around in a circle. Really this is just for show, you could just as easily let the it sit for a few minutes to settle the leaves. Though swinging the billy in circles works, even if it is a bit dangerous.

For my damper, I used the following recipe:

2 cups of flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp (scant) salt
1 T melted Earth Balance
3/4 cup beer (approximate start with less and add until dough is smooth)

Mix, knead, flatten into a circle on the cookie sheet, and then bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

Damper sliced with agave drizzled on top

Here's an old photo of me (40 pounds ago!) enjoying billy tea in the Australian rain forest. It is way too early in the morning for me which explains my happy demeanor. Yes, our guide did actually swing the billy around the campfire!

Friday, November 09, 2007


Ceviche is a citrus marinated seafood dish that originated in Ecuador. While watching the news the other night, I saw a chef prepare Scallop Ceviche. Since "C" is up next, why not veganize the dish?

I pressed some firm tofu, cut it into cubes, and then followed the same preparation instructions as the scallops. After making some plantain chips, the ceviche was ready to serve. Though the dish is relatively simple to make, the presentation wowed a friend that joined me for dinner.

Tofu Ceviche
A couple of days ago I stumbled upon Meyer lemons at the store. I've always wanted to give them a try, so I was pretty happy to find some. Legend has it, the Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. This creates a sweeter citrus flavor. After checking some cookbooks and searching the net, I decided on Meyer Lemon Scones from a baking website.

The recipe was easy to veganize, just replace the butter with Earth Balance. I also made the scones slightly more healthy by subbing some whole wheat pastry flour and garbanzo flour. My only suggestion if you try the recipe, use powdered sugar instead of white sugar for the glaze. White sugar sounded wrong to me, but I followed the directions anyway. The topping is ok as is, but not a typical glaze. The scones are delicious.

Meyer Lemon Scones

Thursday, November 08, 2007


My first VeganMoFo post happened to include Amazake from Japan. As I started to think about my plan for the month, I thought why not continue along to the letter B. This month we'll be touring the world and wandering through my cookbook shelves from A-Z.

Today's post is Bazirgan, a Syrian recipe for fine crushed wheat "caviar". The recipe is from A Fistful of Lentils which consists of Syrian-Jewish recipes.

The ingredients called for fine-grain bulgur. I only had medium grain, so it required a trip to the Middle Eastern store. Of course, I had to wander through all the aisles and check out everything. Before leaving, I purchased some whole wheat Markouk bread to use for dipping the Bazirgan. I'd never seen Markouk before. It is paper thin and they fold the large circles to fit in the package. Here's an interesting article about how it is baked by hand in Lebanon.

Here's a photo of a piece Markouk. It unfolds into a 3 foot circle!

Here's the Bazirgan.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of this recipe. There a lot flavors mixed into one dish. I'm thinking I may add some extra plain bulgur to "water" it down a bit.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


So, a bunch of PPKers decided we should have VeganMoFo - Vegan Month of Food. It is in response to NaNaWriMo where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of November. Unfortunately, I can't commit to cook, take photos, and write once a day. However, I will guarantee a bunch of extra posts this month.

When I was in high school, I made some lame attempts at completing novels. My mom was a was writer and you'd think I would have picked up on some of her skills. Nope, blogging is the best I can offer. In honor of VeganMoFo, I bring you lots of foods posts. Who can resist the participating when they managed to abbreviate using MOFO?

Sunday I planned to start this with a new recipe from ExtraVeganZa. However, I am not the best at preparing and I failed to read through the recipe on Saturday. It required that the batter sit out overnight, so the recipe was rescheduled for yesterday.

Amazake is a sweet, Japanese rice beverage. It is one of my favorite drinks especially the pecan pie flavor that I occasionally find at the store. I used almond Amazake to make spelt pancakes. The recipe from ExtraVeganZa stated the spelt flour, Amazake and salt should be mixed and left out overnight. I did this Sunday and cooked up the pancakes Monday morning.

Unfortunately, they were not as light and fluffy as I expected. Perhaps the Amazake is supposed to act like sourdough. If that is the case, the batter never really took off. They look good and the flavor is a nice change of pace. The recipe was for a crepe like, thin pancake. These little guys ripped easily, so eventually I gave up and made some silver dollar pancakes.

A couple of crepes with syrup and dried cherries. (You know I hate raisins, right?)
Plain silver dollar cakes. (Boring photo, that's what happens when I cook in the morning.)

Oh yeah, thanks for all the great comments on my carving from a few years back. Honestly, anyone can do something like that with some tools and pattern. Grab yourself some of those carving books on clearance and save them for next year. Here's a photo of the pumpkin in daylight. You can see that the carving is not as intricate as you might have guessed.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pumpkin, Pumpkin and more Pumpkin

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Though today, the blustery storm is a bit much. The wind makes it seem so cold.

I love the smell of fall, the brightly colored leaves, and the crisp air. Pumpkin seemed like the proper homage to the season.

On warmer day, I tried my hand at making pumpkin ice cream. I used the recipe from A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise.

Last week I made sourdough pumpkin pancakes. All I did was add pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon to the regular sourdough recipe I've linked to in the past.

Could I have been more happy to finally receive Veganomicon in the mail? The second recipe I tried was the Pumpkin Saag. Saag translates to greens. This is an Indian dish with roasted pumpkin, spinach, and loads of spices. It turned out fabulously, despite my concerns. (I'd been unsuccessful cooking with fresh pumpkin in the past.)
Unfortunately, this year I did not carve a pumpkin. It was a rough week for me and my normal Halloween spirit was no where to be found. Halloween night, I actually met a friend for dinner and a movie. (We saw Darjeeling Limited, if you were wondering.) Anyway, here's a photo of one I carved a few years back.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

VegFest and Lots of cookin'

Ok, so last Saturday I headed to the Boston Vegetarian Festival. In the morning I volunteered which entailed setting up chairs in the lecture rooms and setup of the children's area. Later, I helped exhibitors bring their products inside and locate their tables.

Getting to the fest early worked out to be a huge advantage. At 10am I started to wander around before it got too crowded. The first table I stopped by was Herbivore. Lolo was there and I said hi. Isa and Terry hadn't arrived yet.

I met some nice folks from Stark Sister's Granola. The Potent Foods people were friendly and their maca bars were mighty good. There were many tables showcasing awesome vegan baked goods. I steered clear as I am on junk food cut back. Later, I attended two of the lectures. The second one on nutrition labels was really eye opening. I'll likely post about it in the future.

Freebies this year were not as generous as previous years, but I guess you can't complain about free. I scored some mini Lara bars, tea, Trader's Joe's rice, some popcorn samples and a bunch of coupons.

After the lectures I headed back downstairs. The festival had gotten so crowded, it bordered on fire hazard. While I was glad to see so many people interested in vegetarianism, I was disappointed at the pushy, angry crowd. Many people must have been put off by the attitude. I looked over and saw Isa, Terry, and Veganomicon. The crowds were relentless though and I decided to leave. On the way out I grabbed some pumpkin ice cream from Wheeler's Vegan Ice Cream which will soon have a Cambridge location. If BVS sticks with the same location next year, I may have to skip it unless I stop by as soon as it opens.

That night over 20 PPKers met at Elephant Walk in Cambridge for dinner. It was a lot of fun to meet everyone.

I forgot my camera early in the morning, so unfortunately I have no pictures of the festival. How about some food pics to make up for it?

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting (Terry's from VegNews)
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Cheezy Crackers from Celine's blog
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More Sourdough Pancakes (strawberry and regular)
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Since I'm on junkfood cut back, but wanted some pumpkin cookies... I adapted this recipe from The Healthiest Diet in the World Cookbook. They were originally chocolate chip cookies. I added 1 cup of pumpkin. Then used hazelnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The cookies have oat flour, whole wheat flour, no refined sugar besides the choc chips (1/3 cup of maple syrup) and only 1 Tbl of oil! They are both hearty and yummy.

Healthy Pumpkin Chip cookies
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When I was hiking on Sunday, I saw the coolest tree ever.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Catching Up...

First, I've got another auction on Ebay to benefit America's Second Harvest. My original auction made $62.36 for the charity.

The new item up for bids is a brand new I-fish that was sitting around my house. This would be great for kids or those that are young at heart if they have an Ipod. 50% of the proceeds from this one will also go to Second Harvest. Check it out, here.

Moving along...

The Boston Vegetarian Food Festival is tomorrow. I'll be volunteering there in the morning and then wandering around. Quite a few bloggers that I know will be there as well. We've got a plan to meet for dinner at Grasshopper, so drop me a line if you want to hang with us.

How about some food posts?

This is a tester recipe for Hawaiian Bread from the next Don't Eat of the Sidewalk zine.

Sourdough crust, filled with mushroom curry that I found on 28Cooks.
Sourdough pizza,with FYH cheese, veggie sausage, and oven dried tomatoes.

Another tester from the Don't Eat of the Sidewalk zine. Chipotle seitan on sun dried tomato bread. The side is roasted butternut squash from my very last CSA share.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day Post

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is the environment. I'd been thinking about what to post for the past two weeks or so and time just flew by.

Hunger has been at the top my activist concerns lately, so I thought I might write a little about that. Many of my blog readers are already vegetarian or vegan, so I feel like I am really preaching to the choir.

Over 800 million people suffer from hunger. Yet 43% of the grain we grow, goes to feeding livestock. It takes approximately 7 pounds of corn to grow 1 pound of beef. Other animals including fish require 2-3 pounds of corn per each pound of bodyweight. This is an incredibly inefficient way to feed people. Let's link the hunger issue to the environment.

US farmed animals create 1.3 billion tons of waste per year. This roughly equal 5 tons of waste per every American. None of this goes through a water treatment like human waste. Does anyone wonder why our food and water has contamination problems? Let's also think about erosion, green house gases released by livestock, and the inefficiencies of land/water use. (It takes 100x more water to grow a pound of beef versus growing 1 pound of vegetable protein.)

Here's another factoid for you. According to National Geographic, it takes 3/4 of a gallon of oil to produce 1 pound of beef. 283 gallons of oil are used to raise one cow.

One more tidbit that I ripped off from GoVeg, "According to the USDA and the United Nations, using an acre of land to raise cattle for slaughter yields 20 pounds of usable protein. That same acre would yield 356 pounds of protein if soybeans were grown instead—more than 17 times as much!"

Can you really be an omnivore and an environmentalist? For that matter, how can you not feel selfish eating a quarter pound hamburger that cost 1.75 pounds of grain to grow when people are starving? If you didn't do the math, the burger also required almost a 1/5 of a gallon of oil to produce. Next time you complain about gas prices, think about your food choices. In general grains and veggies require 1/18 the amount of fuel that livestock requires.

Other topics I considered writing about...

What exactly do carbon credits get you? If you drive an SUV and buy carbon credits, are you really helping? One of the sustainability leaders at my company says they do enough for the environment in other parts of their life and that they are buying carbon credits to offset the effects of their SUV. What if everyone just bought carbon credits, but didn't make changes?

Biofuels like ethanol actually aren't carbon neutral.

For an interesting read re: carbon credits and biofuels check out:

or check out this cool article on about carbon credits.

Also, some of the facts or ideas above were taken from an awesome pamphlet called 101 Reasons Why I'm Vegetarian. You can learn much more about environmental, ethical, health, and socio-economic reasons why veg is really the way to go. The extensive footnotes list gives you tons of reading and learning opportunities.

If you wrote a Blog Action Day post today, drop me a line so I can read what you had to say!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Testers, Vegan 4 course Dinner

Thanks everyone for the comments on my last post. Like I said, my goal is to do more this year. That being said, I ended up with a $100 Blockbuster gift card that I'm not going to use. I've posted it on Ebay. 70% of whatever the card makes will go directly to America's Second Harvest via MissionFish. It works in stores for rentals or purchases of used games or DVDs. Anyway, if you could use it or know someone who could, check out the auction.

Onto the food...

A few weeks back I picked up carrots at the farmer's market as they closed. The nice guy gave me a bunch of beets for free. On the way home I decided I would saute beet greens. The bright green carrot tops caught my eye and I wondered if I could cook them as well. A quick google search said yes. Carrot greens are on the bitter side, but mix well with other greens.

Tempeh Teriyaki, a Melomeals tester with sauteed beet and carrot greens.
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Veggie Planet had a 4 course vegan dinner on October 1st. The menu was created by chef Amie Swanson. The special nights are pricey and crowded, but the the creative meals are worth it. Unfortunately, I only remembered to take photos of three courses.

Lentil and swiss chard soup. Check out how the peppers are cut into little shapes.
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Spinach salad with roasted carrots, spiced pumpkin seeds, and apples with a maple dijon vinagrette.
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The missing photo is sweet potato gnocchi in a vegan butter and sage sauce.

Dessert: Chocoloate hazelnet layer cake with chocolate ganache
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Last photo, I was farm sitting at my friend's place in Maine again. Three chickens decided to roost in the bushes next to the house for the night. Apparently the leaves were cozier than the coop. Can you find them all?
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I've also got a few other pics from Cafe Indigo and Crazy Burger on the new blog as I was able to stop by both places recently.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Are you grateful?

A couple of weeks ago my family observed Yom Kippur. It is a somber, holy day where we reflect on on our actions during the previous year. We note where we could be better and we say we are sorry for the things we did wrong. This is accompanied by a 24 hour fast. Of course, I'm skipping a bit of the theological significance here.

Though I am normally not particularly religious, this is a holiday I look forward to. People that know me well, often give me a bit of flack for what seems like a sudden surge of religious inspiration. I'm a very spiritual person, but I honestly can't say I am particularly religious. I'd like to think if I wasn't Jewish and just stumbled upon the idea of Yom Kippur, it would still interest me. We don't often get to put aside a whole day to reflect on our lives. So, why am I mentioning all this?

Well, the rabbi's sermon was about hunger. It is a fitting topic for a day when you are fasting. She spoke a bit about the food stamp challenge. If you aren't aware, a number of groups have been pushing politicians to try living on $21 per week. That is the amount currently allotted to someone collecting food stamp benefits. Living on $21 per week is difficult and most people who tried it, found it nearly impossible. You certainly can't afford much fresh fruit or vegetables with that money.

The number itself is accurate, but it is a simplification. Many people getting food stamps are also receiving other benefits. Also food pantries, shelters, and charities provide a buffer for the needy. Perhaps the food stamp program does need reform if it is really the sole means for a recipient to get their food.

While fasting, I looked around my kitchen which is filled with food. I noted my blog where I write about food. Honestly, I even checked out the PPK food porn and some of your blogs. We're all pretty dang lucky. We aren't worried about whether we are going to be able to find a meal, we are busy thinking about what we are going to cook for dinner.

Normally, I donate to charities like America's Second Harvest because 98% of my donation goes to making a difference rather than overhead. I also donate to the local food pantry collection bins at my supermarket. My goal is to do this more regularly.

I challenge you to do something whether it is talking to your friends or family about what they can do, making a donation to Second Harvest or a local food pantry, volunteering somewhere, or even just clicking at the HungerSite every day.

I've got a backlog of food posts which I will get to soon. I've been thinking about this entry for awhile now and wanted to get this out there first.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some old pics, scary charcoal crackers, dining guide

Well, it occurred to me that I've got loads of info on veg dining in New England that I keep locked up in my little brain. So, I started a Veg Dining NE list on the left side of my blog and will work on updating it to include all the places I've tried. That also gives me some incentive to visit restaurants that I've always wanted to, but not made the time for. The info about each place actually exists on a secondary blog I created, so it is totally searchable if you click a link and head over to the other blog which is Searching will be really useful if you are looking for a particular state or town.

The second blog gives me the capability to have static links to stuff without cluttering up regular posts here. Onto some food...

Awhile back, a friend and I headed up to Acadia. Our dinner on the way was Lolo's Picnic Sandwiches. Never fear, I hear the cookbook will be available soon.

This sandwich is awesome and travels well.
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When I went strawberry picking, months ago...I made Lolo's Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake.
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Lastly, I wanted to share a weird product I saw at the market yesterday. Charcoal crackers...
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These aren't vegan as they contain milk and whey powder. The ingredients also list charcoal powder. Ummm...why? Has anyone heard of this product before? I can't say charcoal crackers sound appetizing. Though, they might be good for you if you have been poisoned. I've heard they use activated charcoal in emergency rooms. Well, actually I don't know if the charcoal in the crackers is activated.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Testers, holidays, and stuff

The crisp fall weather is starting to settle in. I'm beginning to think about apple picking and what kind of pumpkin to carve. Time really does fly by.

Speaking of that, sometimes I can be a terrible blogger...letting a month pass by before posting. Fortunately while lurking around reading everyone else's blogs, I eventually get motivated. Sometimes I wonder about bloggers that show up and then disappear forever. Even though most of us don't get to meet in person, we know each other on some level. Has any one ever emailed one of the bloggers that fell off the map just to see how they are doing?

The sourdough starter I got from a friend is gradually taking over the country. It has now been shipped to NY, NH, WA, and CA. Soon I will be mailing some to OH and VA. It is pretty neat to see how it is passed around and kind of amazing to imagine how many generations kept it going after making it through the Oregon Trail.

On to food stuffs...

The supermarket had the mondo green peppers. Of course, I didn't buy them as green peppers fall into the category of "Foods Jody Despises."
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The family got together for Rosh Hashanah dinner last week. My dad's girlfriend is always very aware and cooks special dishes for me. She made some squash soup and almond rice. She was also sure to pickup hummus, tabbouli, babaganoush, and my favorite pita bread. Between all that and the side dishes, I had a full belly.

My aunt also cooked up some wonderful vegan desserts using margarine and egg replacer. She made a lemon apricot cake and also some molasses clove cookies.
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I'd tested a batch of Mocha Snickerdoodles to bring, but didn't make more after my aunt mentioned veganizing her recipes for me. These cookies were adapted from Celine's recipe for Chai Snickerdoodles on her blog Have Cake Will Travel.
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This weekend my aunt and I went for a hike at one of my favorite parks. The weather was beautiful. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera. Here's a quick shot from my phone.
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Ok some Lolo/VeganYumYum testers:

Sugar and Spice Snap Peas
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Roasted Eggplant and Caramelized Onion Marinara over red quinoa
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Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Bake The side salad is something that I learned about from B&B at the PPKer picnic. Raw beets, roasted corn, arrugula, with lime and cumin.
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Up soon, more testers for Melody and some other random recipes I want to try.

Monday, September 03, 2007

August Wrap up...

I'll be the first to admit, I'm terrible at keeping up with blogging. I've got a whole months worth of pictures that I've failed to post. I'm also always lurking around at other blogs and need to get into the habit of commenting more.

Let's see...

A few weekends back I was in Ithaca for a wedding with a friend of mine. I was most excited about this because I'd finally get to eat at Moosewood. We met up with another pal and headed over there for dinner. Unfortunately only a handful of dishes are vegan. I had the African Stew with grilled tofu.

Here's a shot from the outside of Moosewood
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The stew...
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The wedding was at the interfaith church on Ithaca college's campus. The church is pretty neat and located on a little man made pond.

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Ithaca iteself, was very veg friendly and kind of crunchy. It reminded me a little bit of Burlington, VT. The co-op there was great and I dragged my friends around there looking at everything for at least an hour. We tried cactus jerky...not a fan.

I saw this newspaper box when we were out and walking around. Isn't it cute?
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The folks at the wedding we attended, decided to have cupcakes instead of wedding cake. They asked us to bring vegan cupcakes. I cooked up chocolate mint, chocolate almond, agave, and peanut butter cupcakes and brought them along. When we got to Ithaca, we ganached and sprinkled them.

The chocolate mint/almond ones...
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Agave and PB
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On the way back from Ithaca we stopped in to meet Bazu and Daiku. Bazu cooked up some wonderful lunch and snacks for us and we had lots of fun hanging out with them. Check out the post on Where the Revolution?, to see what Bazu cooked. ---Thanks guys!

What else? Well, I am always cooking with the sourdough. It needs to be fed once a week. Usually I just make some variation of pancakes because it is simple.

This morning, I made plain and peach sourdough pancakes.

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Speaking of sourdough, Marti over at Tofu and Sprouts had always wanted sourdough starter. I offered to try sending her some. I mixed in extra flour and dried it out a bit. Then dropped it in the mail to go cross country. Neither us were sure how it would go, but it worked out wonderfully. Check out Marti's post on her first sourdough recipe.

One more sourdough photo. I made this wonderful recipe I found online as got two perfect loaves of bread.

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Ok, I've got a few Lolo Cookbook tester recipes to post later in the week and I've also started testing for Melody over at Melomeals.

I'll checking out everyone's blogs this week.