Friday, December 18, 2009

A Candle Review

Anyone who knows me probably knows how big of a fanatic I am when it comes to good smelling things. Naturally, I love candles. I shouldn't say that. I don't love just any old candles. Recently, I've been doing a bit of research and decided for the most part, I'm going to lay off the parafin stuff. My all time favorite candles are from a local Philadelphia company called Duross and Langel, which you may have heard about here. They make awesome personal care and home products, most of which are vegan. (I have a soap addiction too...)

Today, however, I'd like to talk about a company that I've very recently heard about, thanks to Molly over at It's a Vegan Dog's Life. Her post, aptly named "Soy Candles by Phebes", included info on how to receive a free candle when you order three from this vegan and eco-friendly company. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I decided to order "Coconut Lime Verbena," "Sunday Morning," "Cranberry Cobbler," and "Christmas Tree." Mike from Soy Candles by Phebes emailed me right away and said that he'd throw in a surprise candle. How awesome! This one was another holiday scent, "Twinkle."

When the package arrived (and boy, did it arrive soon after I placed the order!), I took a big whiff of each candle. Scrumptious!

Right now I have the Coconut Lime Verbena burning and it's a lovely, mild scent. I wouldn't say the entire apartment is awash in the fragrance, but it's doing a great job of filling the living room with the tropical aroma, which is actually quite perfect as DocDufresne and I sit down to watch the last season of Lost on DVD.

Life is good when you have a candle alight and a partner plus two warm pups to cuddle up with.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sushi Night

It was Sushi Night in our home the other night. I decided it might be a good idea to document the steps involved in making sushi for those of you that might not have tried it. DocDufresne shot the footage.

What you'll need:
Sushi Mat
Large Sharp Knife
Clean Kitchen Cloth (to wipe your knife and hands)

Rice (you don't really need sushi rice)
Rice Vinegar
Any combination of fillings (veggies, tempeh, name it)
Dipping sauce (soy sauce, spicy mayo...)

Step 1: Prepare the rice
Cook a couple of cups of rice, as usual. When most of the water has been absorbed, remove from heat. Add a few splashes of rice vinegar and about 1/2 tbsp sugar. Combine. Refrigerate, covered for at least an hour.

Step 2: Assemble the fillings
Slice veggies and other fillings and have them ready-to-go on your cutting board. In our sushi, we used combinations of carrot, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, baked tempeh, and pickles (try it, you'll like it!).

Step 3: Toast the nori
If you have a gas stove top, gently toast each nori sheet above the flame.

Step 4: Spread the rice
Place a nori sheet on your sushi mat. Don't use a ton of rice, or other fillings for that matter. Our tendency seems to be to over-fill. Use just enough rice so that you can spread it thinly over 3/4 of the nori sheet.

Step 5: Spread the fillings
Create a line across the rice with your veggies and other fillings. Remember not to go overboard, or it will be difficult to roll. The line should be about 2" from the bottom of the nori sheet.

Step 6: Roll it up
Carefully work the sushi mat and filled nori into a roll. Try to keep it as tight as possible. This takes some practice.

Step 7: Cut the roll
First cut off the edges of the roll. Vegan dogs are happy to assist with the disposal of the ends. If the nori seems too dry or brittle, apply a little bit of water to the roll with your hands. You'll probably need to wipe your knife off with a clean kitchen rag every few cuts.

Step 8 (optional): Top with toasted sesame seeds
Line the bottom of a small bowl with toasted sesame seeds. Dip the sushi segments in.

Step 9: Enjoy!
Enjoy with your favorite soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger, or spicy mayo. If you'd like to make spicy mayo, it's very simple! Just mix Vegenaise with hot pepper oil. Oolong is quite a nice accompaniment.

It may be mean to make them pose for these photos, but that's what you've gotta do to get sushi at our place!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Seattlegiving 2009

Last week I returned from a wonderful trip to Seattle, where I met up with friends that I went to school with in Gainesville, FL. We were all part of an animal activist group at UF and have remained good friends since. Three of the group moved to Seattle recently and were gracious enough to take turns hosting the out-of-towners. Thanks, Shivels and A and J! TCat, Ladybeth, Nowheydude, and I traveled from all points in the country for this reunion. What fun!

We ate lots of wonderful vegan food (some of it too exciting to wait and take a photo of!), spent a good deal of time traipsing around Seattle, and best of all: catching up.

GoMaxGo bars are abundant in Seattle. Our first stop the morning after TCat and I arrived was at a UW bookstore that Shivels took us to. Why? GoMaxGo bars, of course! We even waited outside the store for several minutes until they opened! My favorite is the Jokerz (Snickers). TCat (who is well-featured in photos from this trip), poses with our early morning find.

In between thrifting and site seeing, we ate brunch on Day 1 at Silence Heat Nest.

Next stop was the outdoor market in Fremont, which was full of great finds and delicious treats like the truffles found below:

And the site-seeing continues:

TCat with her three (nesting) vintage suitcases acquired at the market.

The troll under the bridge.

No photos of the delicious pizza at Juliano's, but here's one of hemp ice cream at Healeo.

Day 2: Filled with wonderful thrifting, and walking around Seattle, was not picture heavy!

We ate from the superb Vegan Thai buffet at Araya's for lunch. Afterward, TCat and I spontaneously decided to get our noses pierced. (If ever she decides to post her photos from the trip on FB, I'll post some more here!) Dinner was a low-key meal at A and J's.
Day 3: "Tuna melt" at Cyberdogs

A brussel sprout-loving iguana spotted at Pike Place Market

Shots from inside the AWESOME main library.

Dinner at Teapot was meh. Apparently there were better items we could have ordered. Oh well!

Day 4: After volunteering at A's work, TCat, A, and I met up with Shivels at Wayward Cafe.

Next, we hit up Sidecar for Pigs Peace, also meeting up with J, and headed to Mighty O Donuts. When we got there, TCat and I were crestfallen with the selection of plain cake donuts they had left for the day. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a tray appeared with all sorts of wonderful delights, all at half-price. I bought half a dozen of donuts to take home with me. I ended up taking 3.5 home to Philly, which were devoured the next day.

Yay! I'm in a photo, and just look at that double vegan whammy!

This doesn't completely capture our ecstasy!
I was even able to meet up with a middle/high school friend that has also recently moved to Seattle!

Day 5: Thanksgiving!
Wonderful, wonderful J made delicious "sausage" with biscuits for breakfast. (I liked them so much, I made them for breakfast this morning!)

Then we headed over to Shivels' house to start preparing the meal. So many vegan cooks in the kitchen was great. It helped that her kitchen was so large! Unfortunately, I didn't take any preparation photos.

TCat posing with her namesake.

The meal (ALL VEGAN!):

Cranberry Orange muffins (Vegan Brunch) made my J

Cinnamon Rolls made by Ladybeth (and transported from FL)

Herbed Stuffing with cranberries, pomegranate, and celery made by A

Kale Slaw made by Shivels

Creamy Herbed Potatoes made by Ladybeth's friend Raf

Tofu Turkey (vegweb) with Miso Gravy (VWAV) and stuffing made by me

Cranberry Pineapple sauce made by me

Cornbread made by Shivels

Brussel Sprouts with Root Vegetables made by Ladybeth (and transported from FL)

Cashew Nutloaf (or casserole) (port wine sauce not pictured) made by TCat- The favorite of the night

Pumpkin Cheesecake made by Shivels

Pumpkin Pie made by J's friend Babs

Pumpkin Pie made by J

J and A....and Shivels deomonstrating how full we all felt after the meal.

Playing Telephone Pictionary

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that while I was off galavanting with my friends, DocDufresne had daddy duty and took Andy and Emerson to his parents' home for Thanksgiving. I just had to include these photos of Emerson sleeping on his great grandfather's lap, taken by Doc's brother.