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My *Vegan* Future

Back on the birthday I posted my “30 things for my 30’s” list. And even though it’s only almost 5 months old some modifications have been made…Specifically #5: Take the GRE (must find time!) & #6: Start Grad School (read: and finish) in a program that aligns with my passions

So what’s changed. Well, grad school is very (read: very) expensive. I was narrowing down my choices and then upon further research I found that I won’t qualify for financial aid. You have to be attending half time (2-3 classes per term) in order to qualify for any aid and that’s just not something I can do (not if I want to do anything outside of work & school…who needs sleep, right?). After realizing this in January I basically felt crushed and angry and so I prayed, a lot. Prayed my little heart out, friends we’re praying for me too. I also talked with The Sister, The Dad, & The BF. We all did a mental breakdown of what I like in life, what I don’t like, what I love doing, what makes me smile, what makes me angry, etc. And we all circled back to the same thing I’ve been circling back to since I was 10 years old (as The Sister said). Baking. Cooking. I love it. I love to feed people, I love the make cookies, cakes, pies, scones, bars, brownies, chocolate covered things, crisps, okay, I’m hungry now.

So what did all this mean? Do I really want to cook? Do I really want to be a chef? Perhaps. I did actually start out in culinary arts and had a massive panic attack involving a fish and removing it’s head. I realized that yes, I LOVE cooking, but I very much dislike and cannot handle cooking with animals. So where does that leave me? There are a few programs in the country that offer vegan options (score!) But currently I don’t live near any of them and I really love Chicago. BUT, there are a few intensive programs/certificates I can take. So…this April I’ll become a certified Vegan Baker. I repeat: a certified Vegan Baker! I’ll be going to the courses at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Needless to say I am excited. The final plan on how I’ll apply this new certificate is still in the works. But one things for sure, if you need a vegan baker let me know. I’d love to bake for you!!

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Veganniversary – 3 Years!

My 3 year Veganniversary was on January 17th! The delay in my posting was simply due to my computer crashing, being busy, and…well there you go. But my friend Amy D. and I got together for dinner to celebrate my 3 years of being vegan (Before which I spend 9 years as a vegetarian – which mean’s I’ve saved over 1,000 animals from being slaughterer.) So, of course I wanted to celebrate that!

We went to the Chicago Diner and noshed on some wonderful sweet potato fries as our appetizer (they were super yummy!)

Shared Plate of Sweet Potato Fries!

For our main dishes we both had Gluten Free dishes (Amy’s GF, and the diner has some great options)!

Amy: Avocado Tostado’s
Mine: Pumpkin Tamale’s

Let me start by saying how wonderful the Pumpkin Tamales were…no really – amazing. Filled with black beans, wonderful sauce, sauteed greens…yummy! It was one of the monthly specials, so I jumped on board to try it out…very pleased with my choice.

Desserts…we’re celebrating, of course we needed dessert! And yes, we even got more fries.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Ice Cream & Sweet Potato Fries (what, they’re good!)

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Christmas – The Day of Food – Part 2

The day after Christmas The BF & I made the trek to his Mom’s house for our second Christmas. For dinner The BF got us the Field Roast Hazelnut En Croute. The meal was simple and nice and I enjoyed being there. I snacked a ton throughout the afternoon and was actually quite full by the time we sat down for dinner. So my plate was small…but good:

Starting with the roll, going clockwise: Roll via Whole Foods, Sweet Potatoes (It was mashed with pineapple, brown sugar, and topped with walnuts – it was good, but I much prefer regular sweet potatoes), Hazelnut En Croute, Cranberry Sauce, Green Beans with Pine Nuts, and a mixed field greens salad with cranberries and walnuts.

The Field Roast was wonderful. I might have to try that for a future holiday’s, a bit more fancy for holiday gatherings than a Tofurky. Flavor was great and it went well with the cranberry sauce. Dessert I failed to picture (sorry!) it was the vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods. Good, but my pie is way better.

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Christmas – The Day of Food – Part 1

For Christmas Day Breakfast I made my Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread, while The Aunt made Vegan Blueberry Muffins, Roasted Potatoes, and Oatmeal for me. The meal was awesome.

Dinner was quite a meal. I made a Holiday Lentil Loaf, and The Aunt made a large amount of sides, all vegan, for me and The BF. I was so excited that she offered to made a lot of the usual options vegan, for me.

Well go clockwise from the roll…The roll is from Whole Foods, then we have cranberry sauce, Holiday Lentil Loaf (went so well together…yum!), sweet corn, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes and then glazed carrots (in the middle). The brussels sprouts were like I always do…EVOO & Garlic, roasted for 45 minutes. It was a great meal!

Dessert – The Aunt made a chocolate cake (the same recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, double batch), then topped with an orange glazed (OJ & Powdered Sugar). It was really good!



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Vegan MoFo – Day 22 – Red Hat Lunch

ON Saturday I headed down to BLN to join my Aunt at her Red Hat Lunch. She drove up from SPI for the luncheon and I took the train down from CHI. We had plans to stay the night in BLN, have dinner, shop, socialize (you know, do girl things!).

At the lunch, since I’m not of Red Hat age, I wear lavender and pink. The Aunt scored me a pink hat (THX!) and I found a lavender top at the sample sale at work (score!). Don’t we look lovely?

imageThe Aunt made a few vegan dishes for me to enjoy! She made German Chocolate Cake (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World) and Szechuan Black-Eyed Pea Salad from Vegetarian Times. This was a great dish, love the flavor, and even just a typical serving is very filling. It’s  great cold, room temp, or even warmed up a bit. I was blessed with the leftovers, so I’ve been trying it out. Also, several ladies complimented the dish. Actually both. One fellow Red Hatter has a sister severally allergic to eggs and she couldn’t stop talking about how fab the cake was. So The Aunt is going to hook her up with the recipe!
imageI made an easy dish…brown lentils, brown rice, cooked until tender. Add diced onions, some pesto season and viola! Lentil Salad. It was good, but seriously, The Aunts dish was WAY better.
imageYum, cake. I’m not a huge fan of coconut, so I tend to scrap off the icing. But the chocolate cake part rocked. As always, anything from VCTOTW is fab!

I had a great weekend with The Aunt and we even plotted out some of Christmas dinner. She’s offered to cook all the veggies without any butter or milk. I’m so excited!!!

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30 Things for my 30’s

Totally inspired by so many other bloggers creating life lists, I am making my own list. 30 Things for my 30’s. Stuff I’ve been putting off, delaying, or to scared to try! I’m kicking this list off on a proper day…my 31st birthday!

I love (my) birthdays, in fact, I think it should be a holiday. If I could get the city to give everyone the day off and, perhaps, do fireworks, I would…and supply vegan cake for all? Why, yes that would be lovely! 30 has not exactly been the greatest of all years for me and because of that I have been very much looking forward to this birthday (even though I’ve been complaining that I’m old, but 31 has got to be better than 30 was!). Anyway, on to the list and hopefully a fresh start and a less cranky mtbVegan (I hope!)

  1. Learn to live life and stop worrying, about everything, all the time
  2. Accept myself for who I am
    1. Take inspiration from Operation Beautiful
    2. Stop obsessing over calories in, calories out, and what the scale says. Just be healthy (and Happy!) by eating right, exercising, and listening to my body…much like Angela of Oh She Glows!
  3. Plant a small container garden & a herb garden – I like herbs
  4. Visit my family way more than I do now, I miss them
  5. Take the GRE (must find time!) maybe later….
  6. Start Grad School (read: and finish) in a program that aligns with my passions
    1. I already know I want to study Economic Policy/Public Policy/Urban Planning, it’s just a matter of how I apply this degree to my passions. It does met one passion, my love for economics. I also feel that my passions are pointing in either Vegan or Cycling advocacy. Guess we’ll see!
  7. Find my passion(s) – Vegan Baker?
  8. Get a job that fulfills my passions
  9. Attempt to learn a foreign language – Danish is my top choice, since I’m 1/2 danish
  10. Ride my bike for fun more and for racing less
  11. Learn to ride harder/more technical trails, better
  12. Travel – there are so many place I want to see, way more than I can afford to do in my 30’s but here’s some of the top places
    1. Portland
    2. NYC (again)
    3. DC – I’ve never been…and I’m an economist for the love of tofu!
    4. Colorado
    5. Visit several of America’s National Parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, etc)
    6. See the majority of the 7 wonders of the world
    7. Stare in awe at the Northern -or- Southern lights
    8. Niagara Falls – but stay in Lake Niagara
    9. Australia/New Zealand
    10. Plan a European or Asia trip, maybe several…
      • if it’s Europe – go to the Vatican, meet the Pope
  13. Go back to Vancouver & Whistler – vacation do-over!
  14. Take one bike focused vacation each year – either a long weekend tour or an all out bike vacation.
  15. Take an epic bike camping trek through some wicked awesome place
  16. Practice Yoga (goal: twice a week)
  17. Learn to meditate properly and then meditate daily
  18. Do weight training (goal: twice a week) – bone density is important!
  19. Learn to kayak
  20. Get a massage each season (at least), my muscles are tight and who doesn’t need (read: want) a massage?
  21. Learn to take better photographs
  22. Volunteer/Work at a Farm Sanctuary
  23. Be a mom – either by having or adopting a child
  24. Cook every recipe from my favorite cookbooks…currently the list is:
    1. Vegan Brunch
    2. Vegan With a Vengeance
    3. Vegan on the Cheap
    4. Veganomicon
  25. Get my motorcycle license
  26. Take a helicopter tour (see #11)
  27. Stay alive
  28. Every 365 days start a new 365 day project (Photo Blogness)
  29. Take time each day to pray
  30. Get more involved in church, I enjoy going, I just need to find a church I call home in CHI (I miss my MKE church!)
  31. (Since I’m 31, lets add one more!)Revise this list yearly – as in to touch base with what I’ve done, what needs to be done still and maybe what else I should do!

Here’s hope 31 is incredible ~ or at least better! (Ah, that positive attitude!)

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As you may have noticed I’ve moved things around a bit and changed the format of this blog. I’ve noticed how over the past 2 years I’ve been blogging and decided that one way to make it easier to find information here is to get organized. So I’ve now set up the blog in such a way as to have various categories. If I cook from a cookbook it’ll be categorized under the cookbook, then the type of dish. So if you want to see some Joy of Vegan Baking Cookies…you can, or say a Vegan Brunch Waffle, you can do that too, just by selecting from the categories menu on the right.

There is also a category for Product Reviews, Travel, Blogger Recipes, etc. I feel like this new organization will really help you find the information you want. I’ve gone through my entire blog and relabeled everything to get it all set up. I hope you like it, if not, let me know and help me improve my site for you!

At the top of the right side panel are pages for places to eat when you’re traveling around. Currently it’s just Chicago and Milwaukee, places I’ve lived or visited often. Let me know if you have a suggestion or place to add!

You might also be wondering where all my recipes went, well they are right on my snazzy new website/cookbook. Save a link and enjoy it, after all, they recipes are for you!

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Vegan in mtbVegan world…

I’ve been vegan now for over 2 years and I have to say I’ve experienced a wide variety of responses to my veganism. I wanted to share some of the good and some of the not so good aspects in my vegan life and I also wanted to vent a little…

First, let’s start with the awesome. I have to say that my Dad and Sister are by far the most supportive people of my choice to be vegan. My Dad always goes vegan when I visit, not because I ask him, because he wants to. This gives me the opportunity to cook him loads of vegan food or to plan out all the vegan places we will eat.  He enjoys being vegan with me and has always loved the food I pick out. My sister, and her husband, are also both willing to eat vegan with me. The Sister came to visit and she tried loads of vegan options and she liked most of them. Still, she’s always willing to eat vegan for me and at least try something new. When I went to visit her last time she ever stocked her kitchen with some of my fav vegan items…without my even asking, they were just there waiting for me! My sister also has my back, she knows how disgusted I am when I see people eating meat in (what I tend to call) “full form” (think thanksgiving day turkey, muscles, anything with bones in it, etc) and she never eats or cooks anything like this when I’m near.

Everyone else in the family can get lumped together in the “just don’t make it difficult for me” group. It’s sort of morphed into this awful thing. I had family that used to ask  me what they could make for me and now I don’t get asked, and if I request something I get ignored completely. I tried for a while to bring things to cook and in any attempt to use something outside of the microwave I got those annoyed looks and the huff and puffing of irritation. Lately, even my using the microwave has become a bother. Whats more is that they don’t realize how difficult they’re making it on me. Often my family “jokes” with me about my veganism, I’ve had bacon waved in my face, been harassed at breakfasts out to the point of tears, eyes rolled as one family member shouts to the waitress…”she’s vegan” when I was just saying I don’t want milk with my breakfast.

My friends are a wide range of characters. Some are almost vegan, other are so “meat & potatoes” its a wonder we can be friends. Some often request that I cook for them, but are not willing to buy some of the items needed to do the cooking. It’s almost as if they think since it’s vegan and I’m cooking I must purchase everything, every time, even if they eat way more than I do. I’m always willing to cook, but sometimes a girl wants some help….and sometimes, a girl wants someone to cook for her. I’ve had a few friends prepare vegan dishes for me…and they rocked and we’re much appreciated (reciprocated with vegan desserts)! It’s nice to know that some people read the labels and find vegan eats in their kitchen just for me.

But I do have to say that the Dad, The Sister, and The Brother-in-Law are my best allies. I love you guys so very much!

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