Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall is Here

I have been trying to deny it for awhile. I was not ready to give up the summer weather allowing hiking and camping and biking without the need for raingear. Every time someone would mention fall was here, I would ask them to stop talking.

The calendar and all the news reporters started to say that it was "official", fall was here. The weather was raining for the first time in quite awhile and getting a little cold. I thought about turning on my heater one evening, but I was not ready for that. I was probably being wimpy anyway.

I went to one of my favorite places, the Rhododendron Gardens and admission was no longer being collected. The place was not crowded, even though it was the middle of the day on the weekend, and, the different ducks were starting to arrive. I was seeing Coots, Grebes, Gadwalls, Wood Ducks and even the wide billed Shovelers. I LOVE seeing all the migratory birds stopping for a visit. Really, this was my favorite time of year to visit the garden.

At my local grocery store, I then noticed something else that would make fall a little more inviting. Honey Crisp Apples! It is the perfect apple, really. The only type that I will eat daily and I'll even pay a little more for them. They are the perfect combination of sweet and tangy with a bite full of crispy juiciness. Just writing this makes me want to get the one out I have waiting for snack time and start enjoying it.

Another sign of fall is I've had a cold for about a week now so I haven't been cooking much and that is why that's all I have to share today. I promise my next post will be an amazing recipe everyone will want to try. In the meantime, look for the best apple ever in your local store.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Farm Animal Freedom

Today I went to Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary and fell in love. I fell in love with the sheep that stayed close together and ventured near you in hopes for a treat. I fell in love with the 1,000 pound pigs and giving one of them a tummy rub. I fell in love with the multitude of goat personalities looking at me through curious eyes. I fell in love with the massiveness of the cows and the challenge to rub their head without their horns hitting you. I fell in love with the freedom of the chickens to run around the farm watching guard. I fell in love with the air I breathed and the feeling of comfort after working hours on projects to help the facility. Most of all, I fell in love with a tiny donkey full of affection named Oyte.

Let me tell you about Oyte. He distracted me from my job of helping others move irrigation pipes. Once I started to pet his head and look into his eyes, I was hooked. He gave me kisses through the fence and I felt guilty not doing more to help, but how could I step away from such adorableness?

Some other donkeys came by and I looked up to say hello. Oyte poked me in the belly and I could tell he was not happy. He was the jealous type. So I ignored the other animals and told Oyte I was here for him and to relax. He settled down after awhile but I couldn't stay there for ever. Every time I walked away he would make weird noises so I would go back up to him and he would stop. If a person ever did this to me I would think they were really annoying, but for this donkey, it was quite cute. Throughout the day I visited Oyte and many other people fell in love with him as well.

These animals are why I am vegan. Although some of these animals such as donkeys are not used for milk, eggs or meat, they are all farm animals harmed from a culture of animal consumption. These are individuals with unique personalities, not pieces of meat or machinery to produce dairy or eggs. These animals have their own life to live, not sacrificing theirs so someone can eat something not healthy for them anyway.

After I left the farm, my carload of people drove past a truck full of chickens going to slaughter. Not great after a day at a rescue farm. I wish I could have reached out my arm to grab one of these chickens and shown them the freedom this farm could provide. We have the opportunity to make changes in our lives and others so this suffering can stop a little more every year. So if you are not vegetarian, go vegetarian. If you are vegetarian, make the transition to eat vegan. If you are vegan, donate to farms like this.

These pictures tell a tale of hope and possibility. Please share this message with others so we can keep making a difference in animals' lives.

Pigs love to get tummy rubs. With a pig this size, you just have to watch your feet!

These pigmy goats were so cute! Unfortunately they did not want anyone touching them. Goats are really affectionate with one another though, which was adorable to witness!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cabin Dining

This month I took a long weekend and rented a log cabin near Mt. Hood with a friend.  The cabin, built in 1939 as a vacation home, is beautiful and the inside decor fits the place nicely .  The back porch was my favorite since there were trees and paths leading to the Sandy River.  I could just sit out there and relax all day long.  

On Saturday we took a trip to Timberline Lodge.  I forget how close the mountain is and wasn't sure why I don't visit more often.  Mt. Hood was gorgeous of course.  The day was clear with just a few clouds hanging around.  The lodge itself has a lot of history inside which I could see even with just a glance here and there.  We went to the restaurant inside the lodge and did not see many vegan options besides a salad but the blackberry ice tea was great.  

My real treat is when we went exploring outside afterwards.  Suddenly chipmunks started to pop up everywhere.  Really, there were just a few of them, but they were running all around so it seemed like a lot more.  One chipmunk acted a little shy, but every time I started to leave she got closer to me.  She was posing like crazy and I was excited to get some good shots of her and some others.
Saturday night was my turn to make dinner.  I was obsessed with this meal for a few weeks in spring and decided to share it with my friend.  This is by no means me trying to make an authentic Thai dish.  This is me taking some of my favorite Thai ingredients and making my own dish that I enjoy.  I hope you do as well.

Red Curry Noodles
Makes 4 servings.

12 oz. Rice Noodles
1 Tb. Olive Oil
8 oz. Tofu, cubed
1 cup Veggies, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Green Onion, chopped
14 oz. Coconut Milk, Light
1/2 tsp. Red Curry Paste
3 Tb Braggs
1 Lime, squeezed
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast

To cook the noodles, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil.  Turn off heat and add noodles.  Let sit 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Cook tofu in the olive oil until it starts to brown.  Add veggies of choice (I like red peppers and broccoli) and garlic and cook about 5 minutes.  Add the green onion and cook an additional minute.  In a bowl, combine the coconut milk, lime juice, Braggs and red curry paste.  Pour this mixture into the cooking tofu and veggies.  Add the cooked and drained pasta.  Sprinkle the nutritional yeast on top.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the coconut milk is absorbed.  Make sure to mix often so the noodles absorb the liquid evenly.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vegan Joys, Oh My!

I remember the first time I had these, I was so excited about them.  This comes from a recipe a friend shared with me.  The concept is easy, the middle is half powdered sugar and half shredded coconut.  Then to make those two ingredients stick together, you just add some mashed potatoes.  That's right!  Potato is the secret ingredient to these tasty treats.

I brought these to a potluck once where people either brought a potato dish or they brought cookies.  It was not coordinated for that to happen, it just did.  I was amused since my dish was a little of both.  

These can be made like a "mounds" variety without almonds, or almonds can be added in.  I brought these to work and didn't want to spend the extra money on almonds, but I do prefer them added.  Everyone will love these!

Vegan Joys

3 cups Powdered Sugar
3 cups Shredded Coconut, unsweetened
6-8 Tb Mashed Potatoes
1 cup Almonds (optional)

1 cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Soymilk
1 Tb Margarine

Mix together the powdered sugar and coconut.  Add in the mashed potato until these two ingredients stick together but are not too sticky.  This is when you would add the almonds if you choose to do so.  Form this into about 40 one inch balls and refrigerate 20 minutes.

To prepare the chocolate outside coating, place the soymilk and margarine in a saucepan and turn heat to low.  Once margarine starts to melt, add in the chocolate chips.  Stir until everything is melted and smooth.

Dip the balls into the chocolate coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Place the treats in the refrigerator at least an hour to harden.  Enjoy!