Tag Archives: vegan

Road Trip to Human Frailty #foodie

This last weekend we drove 100 miles north to the town of Snohomish to visit our oldest daughter and her family. We left our house early to avoid the worst of traffic, so we made it two hours.

road tripLeah and Tom have no spare bedrooms until the remodel is done. So, we stayed at the Snohomish Inn, two blocks away. It’s an older place but clean.

The first thing we did on arriving in Snohomish was to go with our daughter to our favorite lunch place, Grilla Bites. They have a fantastic menu with various vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore foods.

Every diner has a lot of choices in soups and sandwiches, so no one should go home hungry. I certainly didn’t.

Then we went back to the daughter’s house and watched 2 movies I hadn’t yet seen but wanted to. Pixar’s Coco and Soul—I loved them both. The storylines were uplifting and thought-provoking, brilliant storytelling, and brilliant voice acting.

And food?  OhMaGosh!

Thanks to my son-in-law, Tom, I seriously overate this weekend. Tom’s hobby is cooking fancy, restaurant-quality foods for us, and he outdid himself. He made a deep-fried chicken fillet and poutine for the omnivores, and a lovely meal for me, with plenty of his amazing homemade French fries. (Chips to you in the UK.)

Whether for the lone vegan (me) or the omnivores, everything was plated beautifully and tasted even better.

Tom's avocado Toast for the vegan mother-in-lawSunday morning began with the best avocado toast I’ve ever had. Everyone who knows me has heard how much I love that particular dish. Tom’s version is incredibly simple: a good bread, toasted and topped with mashed avocado, chopped walnuts sprinkled over the top, and a teensy drizzle of honey. It sounds odd, but wow. That was a divine, filling breakfast. The picture I took doesn’t do it justice.

After leaving Snohomish, we stopped in Bothell to visit our younger son. We met for lunch at the Beardslee Public House. They had several tasty-looking options for me, but the vegan Benedict was my choice. Even though I don’t do hollandaise sauce, I didn’t miss it because the charred avocado, spinach, and tomato were grilled perfectly. Paired with the pub’s signature russet potato hash, it was delicious.

So, while I didn’t get much writing done, we had a great weekend.

One of the good things about living here in the Pacific Northwest is the number of restaurants that also provide a variety of plant-based options for diners of all persuasions. I especially appreciate those chefs who care about all the people who might enter their premises. They don’t lump gluten-free and vegan into one carelessly planned, slightly bland, punishment meal.

Taste is a primary sensory experience, as is texture. I’m vegan, but every person has foods they will or won’t eat. They have good logical reasons behind those choices. Some people are strictly kosher, and others are halal. Others are vegetarian, and still others are omnivores. Every culture has standards of cleanliness and what food is fit for consumption–something you can work into your worldbuilding.

We can’t judge others by our standards, even though that is a time-honored human frailty. My son-in-law loves me, and he gets it. A simple dish like avocado toast goes a long way toward making me a happy diner!

So, what other human frailties did I deal with this week? I’ve been using Excel since 1993 and it still finds ways to aggravate me.

Somehow, Excel got crazy with the word “of” in my World of Neveyah glossary (covering 7 books). It replaced every instance of “of” in column D with random words drawn from the explanations in Column C. Two hours wasted, laughing and trying to straighten it out. Fortunately, it was only fifty or so words out of over 400.

Every time I ran across a new blooper, it cracked me up.

I have no idea how such a weird merge happened, but it was hilarious. It has to be some inadvertent thing I did when pasting a new section into it. I somehow merged column C and column D when I right-clicked to paste the new page of words and meanings. Unaware of that, I sorted the page alphabetically, which mixed the wonky errors all through the entire list.

It’s straightened out now, but it the fact it was only the word “of” that was replaced made me laugh so hard my husband thought I was nuts. See the screenshot below–every time I see this image, I can’t help laughing.

screenshot of Excel stupidnessAnd as a final twist to the craziness–we were finally getting ready for sleep in our hotel room, both of us tired but feeling good about our day. All our toiletries were in a small, dark zipper-bag.

I can only say from personal experience – hydrocortisone cream does not make a good toothpaste.

That is all I have to say on that subject.

And so my friends, may you eat well, write what you feel passion for, and laugh every chance you can.


Filed under writing

The Summer Retreat #amwriting #amvegan

This week I’m traveling, visiting my favorite summer retreat, Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s about a four hour drive from my home, but we make a longer trip because we like to stop in Astoria.

I live all year for this week of rest and restoration. We join other members of our family there and reconnect over food, kite-flying, and long strolls on the beach.

The sunshine and occasionally stormy waters, the seabirds–this place inspires me and clears my head like no other place. I write whenever the muse seizes me. Our little condo is one we regularly rent. The owners have come to know us, and it’s perfectly situated, just steps from the beach but also in the middle of town. More importantly for us, it comes with a fully outfitted kitchen. As always, I cook many meals for my family, and my sister-in-law also cooks, so we don’t starve.

I know it seems odd to many people, but being vegan means, I eat nothing that came from an animal. No cheese, no meat, no eggs. People immediately think “how complicated!” but it’s not complicated at all if you know what to use instead. It’s simply a diet that celebrates vegetables and grains and all the many ways to eat them. Vegans consume nothing from animals, vegetarians may or may not eat dairy or eggs.

People can be inadvertently rude  when they hear I am vegan, but I realize it’s just ignorance speaking. I never engage in words with these people, as they have already pigeonholed me as a “looney fad dieter,” simply because I admit to my dirty little habit of not consuming other living creatures.

In case this worries you, we all know that humans do need a certain amount of protein as part of their balanced diet, and it is easy to get that nutrition from plants. In fact, even vegans eat far more grams of protein daily than the minimum daily requirements.

In a post for the website, Forks over Knives, Dr. Michael Greger answers the question that vegans and vegetarians hear all the time: “Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?”

The average recommended intake of protein is 42 grams a day.

Non-vegetarians eat way more than that (almost 80 grams), but so does everyone else.

Vegetarians and vegans actually average 70% more protein than they need every day (over 70 grams).

When a person changes to a completely different cuisine, we need to learn how to prepare the new-to-us ingredients, and we want to keep the same flavors and textures we are used to. My favorite comfort food recipes adapted easily to vegan. My food is simple to make and inexpensive. I make my own staples usually, from recipes found in my three favorite cookbooks.

The first book that has been worn out in my kitchen is The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples, by Miyoko Schinner.

The Blurb:

A guide to creating vegan versions of pantry staples–from dairy and meat substitutes such as vegan yogurt, mayo, bacon, and cheese, to dressings, sauces, cookies, and more.

Kitchen crafters know the pleasure of making their own staples and specialty foods, whether it’s cultured sour cream or a stellar soup stock. It’s a fresher, healthier, more natural approach to eating and living. Now vegans who are sick of buying over-processed, over-packaged products can finally join the homemade revolution.

Studded with full-color photos, The Homemade Vegan Pantry celebrates beautiful, handcrafted foods that don’t take a ton of time, from ice cream and pizza dough, to granola and breakfast sausage. Miyoko Schinner guides readers through the techniques for making French-style buttercreams, roasted tomatoes, and pasta without special equipment. Her easy methods make “slow food” fast, and full of flavor.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry raises the bar on plant-based cuisine, not only for vegans and vegetarians, but also for the growing number of Americans looking to eat lighter and healthier, and anyone interested in a handcrafted approach to food.

The next book that is a wonderful idea generator for me is Robin Robertson’s Veganize It!

The Blurb:

Vegan pantry staples plus enticing recipes in which to use them

This is the ultimate DIY pantry book, doing double duty with recipes for vegan staples, plus ideas on how to use them as building blocks in both new and classic recipes. Many cooks prefer to make their own basics rather than buy expensive store versions, which are often loaded with additives and preservatives. These easy recipes make it easy to stock a home pantry. Enjoy milks, cheeses, bacon, burgers, sausages, butter, and vegan Worcestershire sauce in your favorite dishes, and then try delicious recipes using the staples. Sample Bahn Mi, Sausage Biscuits, Meaty-Cheesy Pizza, Milk Shakes, Jambalaya–even Jerky and Lemon Meringue Pie. With more than 150 recipes and 50 color photos, this will become an indispensable cookbook for vegans–and everyone else who enjoys animal-free food.

I like to get fancy with my meals sometimes, especially during holidays. Seattle-based chef, Tommy McDonald’s Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share, and Savor is my best friend when I want to prepare something fancy that will impress folks. This cookbook has the recipes that fine restaurants should have but don’t.

The Blurb:

Hailed as 2015’s Company of the Year by VegNews Magazine, the Field Roast Grain Meat Co. offers their first cookbook, with over 100 delicious, satisfying vegan recipes.

In Field Roast, Chef Tommy McDonald shares fundamental techniques and tips that will enable you to make your own vegan meats at home–for everyday (sandwiches, burgers, meatloaf) to holiday (stuffed roast, anyone?), as well as recipes for using them in every meal from breakfast through dinner. The 100 recipes are flexible: want to make your own plant-based meats? Great! Want to use Field Roast products instead? That will work too. All you need are grains, veggies, and spices–easy-to-find whole food ingredients for authentic, hearty taste. With basics such as cutlets and sausages, along with dishes like Burnt Ends Biscuit Sandwich, Chicken Fried Field Roast and Waffles, Pastrami on Rye, Tuscan Shepherd’s Pie, Curry Katsu, (and even some favorite desserts), Field Roast brings new meaning to plant-based meat.

I prefer a hardbound cookbook to an online site when I am cooking. They get a bit messy, but that’s because they are well-used. I can write my notes and adjustments in them. When I became vegan, these three books were all I needed to learn how to keep the grand kids and carnivores in my family loving my cooking. I give these books as gifts to friends who choose to embrace vegan cuisine.

Rest assured, our vacation always involves both eating well and enjoying the company of my favorite people—and there is plenty of writing as that part of my life never stops for long. The many moods of the North Pacific never fail to inspire me!

Credits and Attributions:

Forks Over Knives, Do Vegetarians and Vegans Eat Enough Protein? © 2015 by Naomi Imatome-Yun, https://www.forksoverknives.com/do-vegetarians-and-vegans-eat-enough-protein/ (Accessed August 16, 2018)

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Filed under Food, Vegan, writing

#amwriting: #gratitude

gravy_1The best thing about the Thanksgiving meal is the gravy.

Just saying.

And for this vegan, mashed taters and mushroom gravy are heaven on a plate.

To be vegan means I only eat plants and foods made from plants. I don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. Unlike some people, I’m not evangelical about my dietary choice. I simply bring my own food wherever I go.

I choose this diet because I have an autoimmune form of arthritis triggered by dairy and animal proteins. I have been pain-free since adopting this lifestyle in 2012. In terms of money, it’s far less expensive, as beans are my go-to protein source, and a variety of vegetables are relatively inexpensive. Other family members have more ethical reasons for not eating animals–if you are curious as to the many reasons for choosing a vegan lifestyle, click here.

We’re going to daughter number two’s house this year. I am bringing vegan foods, as there will be several vegans there besides me. I make my mashed potatoes with lots of Earth Balance margarine (100% plant-based, unlike most margarines) and I also throw in a heft dollop of Sour Supreme (Tofutti’s brand of vegan sour cream). We don’t make mashed potatoes very often, as we are careful about the amount of fat we normally consume, but this is a special meal.

This year I am making everything gluten free that I can, because my daughter’s mother-in-law has celiac disease, and anything with gluten will make her terribly ill. I found an amazing recipe for that most delicious of comfort foods, gluten-free mushroom gravy as created by Molly Katzen. I’m also making a crustless pumpkin custard–the vegan pumpkin pie filling in custard dishes rather than in a pie shell. Wheat flour is the natural source of gluten, so there will be no wheat in anything I make and bring to this event.

I am not a fan of that well-known holiday staple, the Tofurkey, although many vegans are. I prefer to just eat the side-dishes and I do go a little wild on the vegan cheese tray. Miyoko’s Kitchen makes the most amazing spreadable cheese, and it’s all plant-based. It’s quite expensive, but for a special occasion it is so worth it.

I’m playing around with the idea of stuffed squash boats, using a savory wild-rice pilaf to stuff them with, if I can find the perfect squash. Or perhaps I’ll stuff the pilaf into those colorful little mini-peppers.

Food Network Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Food Network Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Regardless, it will be a famdamily free-for-all as four of our five children will be there along with their extended families. The grandchildren will be running wild, our daughter’s kitchen will be packed, seven conversations will be occurring at once, and the noise level will approach that of a space-shuttle launch.

No longer the main cooks, my husband and I and the other older people will keep the grandparental eye on the littlest grandkids so their parents can get the meal ready to be served. When the tables are set, and the prayer is said, we old people will be thankful for our many, many blessings.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving “traditionally” marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, but I tell you this now: Being in the company of our children and their children, and sharing this meal with our children’s in-laws is a gift more precious than anything that could arrive wrapped in tissue paper.

The dinner will be loud, and not always polite as the youngest are still learning manners. There will be the lovingly waged war between the vegans and the carnivores. We will find common ground in the mashed potatoes and the two different kinds of gravy. But chaotic and messy though it will be, it will be a table full of love and that is a dish no one can pass up. This large, noisy, sometimes dysfunctional family we have blended from so many disparate pieces is the only real treasure we have. My husband and I are filled with gratitude for every minute we have in their company, grateful in ways that can’t be expressed with mere words.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe here

Vegan Gluten Free Gravy recipe here

Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe here

Miyoko’s Kitchen|Artisan Cultured Vegan Cheese


Filed under Vegan, writing

Vegan and loving it (mostly)

Me at the age of 29

Me at the age of 29

When I  set out to write a novel, I approach it from the viewpoint of a storyteller.  This creates some problems with having “a passive” voice when the first draft is “eye-balled” for revisions.  Of course, I can’t see it unless it is pointed out to me, so I have to allow another person to read it.

Some people will tell you that allowing ANYONE to see a manuscript at that stage of development is just plain suicidal.  It’s certainly difficult for me to do, but I’m doing it. If I am to chug these things out with any speed at all, I have to bite the bullet and let Irene have the first look at it.  Hopefully, getting rid of the passive voice immediately will be a positive step toward making the ms ready to be edited.

In the past I have finished the entire ms before I allowed anyone to see the first draft. Before I let them see it, I went over it a million times.  When I sent it to them, I was sure it was a good as I could get it. Still, the first chapter that was sent back to me was a sea of red.


So, the premise is this–I’m going to have to revise it anyway. If all these strange things I can’t see in my own work are going to still be there after I’ve wasted a year on grooming the story, why bother?  Why not just go for it and see what happens? Irene was bored, and needed something to work on. We agreed that this is a true experiment and if I can’t do it, I won’t feel too embarrassed. (edit: Correction – Irene says she was NOT BORED and may never have been bored in her life. Knowing her as I do, that’s most likely true!)

However, the first chapter arrived back in my Gmail this morning. It was a sea of red just like the finely polished apple would have been, and it said basically the same things. SO maybe this is a more streamlined way to get the process done; I hope so!  It is helping me to stay focused on the final chapters of the book as I write them, and I am keeping the active voice more clearly in my mind.

It’s a first draft. I’m most likely still letting the ‘thats’ and ‘whichs’ fly where they may, and be aware: commas are landmines in my hands.  Hopefully Irene will still like the book when I’ve dragged her all the way to the end.

I’m sure some will remember that on December 31, 2012 I became a vegan.  That means I stopped including meat and dairy in my diet, completely. I got off to a good start with a fun dinner party that was split fairly evenly between vegans and carnivores.  So now, 34 days into this, I am still vegan, and surprisingly I’ve found it to be easy.

The picture at the top left is of me in 1982, two years after my first thyroid tumor was removed.  I’ve lived an active life for the most part, and on the occasions when I did gain weight, I was able to take it off. At the age of 55 I began gaining weight and I was unable to shed it. Now 4 years later I know it was because of two unavoidable things: menopause and the thyroid.

I’ve lost 7 pounds of weight since January 01, 2013.  Losing weight is difficult with a thyroid tumor, and since the tumor is benign and isn’t life threatening, we aren’t opting for surgery. Instead I’m making positive changes in my lifestyle and the weight is slowly coming off.

Some of my weight loss can surely be attributed to the energy I’ve burned reading labels.  I’ve always avoided GMO products and also corn syrups and corn sugars, but now I’ve a whole new world of things to be on the lookout for! For instance, I have discovered that  vitamin D3 is rarely vegan while D2 always is, casein is a milk protein that finds its way into stupid things like soy cheese and honey.  I avoid anything with the word lactose although I’ve been told that most other lac- ingredients are fine. I am not well-educated enough yet to know what is what so I just avoid it if it says ‘lac-‘.

I do know that if the product has any cholesterol, even 1 mg, then the product is not vegan, because cholesterol is not found in any plant-based products. So that means there is some sort of animal-derived ingredient. When I found that out, I looked at my cooking oils, products that I thought were vegan by virtue of being olive or safflower oil and I found that they were spiked! The bastards!  Even margarine can have animal based products in it!

So now, I am careful to carry a list of no-no words and I try to stay vigilant. After all, either you are a vegan, or you are not–there is no such thing as ‘sort-of -a-vegan’.  For me, I think giving up the dairy is what has made the difference in my health.  I feel better, I have more energy, and by golly I did lose seven pounds in 34 days.

I guess I’ll keep on keeping on a while longer, and see what happens. Heck, I have all day to read labels and not much else to do in the way of excercise.

Unless you count ranting, tearing my hair out and desperately squeezing out my self imposed word-count goal of NO LESS THAN 1800 words a day.

I get a lot of excercise from that.


Filed under Adventure, Books, Dragons, Humor, Music, writing

Party On!

472px-Judith_Leyster_Merry_TrioHappy Christmas and Merry New Year!  As my favorite author of all time, Charles Dickens,English novelist (1812 – 1870), wrote in his epic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

If that doesn’t describe 2012, nothing does!  So, let the revels begin!  I will be celebrating the New Year with a small dinner party as I finally make that commitment to go fully vegan for the 31 days of January.  If I find my health improves I will stay on the vegan diet permanently.  It just so happens that this group is evenly divided between carnivores and vegans with those bearing the Y chomosomes being the carnivores.

So on Dec. 31st I will spend the day making a dinner for the husbands AND a dinner for the wives!  This will be an adventure.  I curry and sweet potato soupwill make a chicken marsala, and mashed red potatoes with grilled asparagus for the men and a curry and maple sweet potato soup for the ladies, along with salads and fruit for everyone.  I make my bread vegan now anyway. I will keep you all posted on my progress with this new (to me) way of eating.

So put on your party hats and bring out the noisemakers!  What better way to start the New Year than to enjoy a fine dinner, a brisk game of Monopoly and the company of friends?



Filed under Battles, Books, Final Fantasy, knights, Literature, Uncategorized, writer, writing