Vegan Thyme - vegetarian recipes

Vegan Thyme vegetarian recipes

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie from Joy of Cooking (Update: Good News Monday Edition)

April 27 2020 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie from Joy of Cooking (Update: Good News Monday Edition) I've made these chocolate chip cookies at least a half-dozen times since quarantine. But when I whipped up a batch yesterday, the feeling of folding in the butter and flour and chips brought with it a sense of new purpose. Now I was baking like I had during "normal" times: for relaxation. For pleasure. Not for stress relief and escape and sugar coma. The results are in: COVID negative. We're elated! Relieved. Grateful. I wonder how many other families received similar news yesterday and how they're feeling. Did they jump into their kitchens and bake cookies? The roller coaster of emotions we endured while this was all going on was terrifying. And now states (including Missouri) are considering easing restrictions. I hope the virus gets the memo, and surely it has because of course a virus takes direction. I can see it putting on its little coat, fedora hat, grabbing its luggage and just shuffling off into the great unknown. Downtrodden and broken because we, the human hosts--are not going to stand down any longer. We're coming back!  I've been trying to incorporate whole wheat flour/­­ground oats or almond flour into as many recipes as I can to extend the use of my all-purpose flour. So far I've only ruined one loaf of bread because my ratio of water wasn't increased enough or something for a proper rise. It became a nice flat bread instead. Waste not, want not. Use whatever form of chocolate you have on hand here. It can be chopped up chunks, it can be tiny chips, it can be peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. It can be M&Ms--whatever you have on hand that gives you the chocolate jolt you need, use it. This cookie also welcomes any bit of nut you'd like to add as well.  Here is my modified vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe from Joy of Cooking.  Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie  1 stick Earth Balance butter 1/­­3 cup sugar 1/­­3 brown sugar  1 t. vanilla extract 1 T. ground flax plus 2 T. water and 1 t. olive oil (Flax Egg) 3/­­4 cup AP flour 1/­­4 cup whole wheat flour (or sub any kind of flour you have here) 1/­­2 t. baking soda 1/­­2 t. salt 1 cup chocolate chips 1/­­3 cup chopped pecans *optional Preheat oven to 375. Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper or light oil. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt. Set aside. Prepare flax egg and set aside. In medium mixing bowl, add butter, sugars, extract and mix well. Add flax egg and blend until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture until all dry flour pieces are incorporated. Then fold in the chocolate and nuts (if using). Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet spaced two inches apart. Place in fridge for twenty minutes.  Remove and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges of cookies begin to brown. Freeze any unused dough into round balls for later. 

COVID-19 Hits Home (I will not allow my family to be a "statistic")

April 23 2020 Vegan Thyme 

COVID-19 Hits Home (I will not allow my family to be a This is my sister, Julie. She's the world to me, to my husband, to her husband, to her friends. She's strong, beautiful, brilliant and everything else you'd want in a sister, friend, wife, doggie-mom. Yesterday she called with the news that shook me to my core: her whole house is under 14-day quarantine. It's not pretty. It came on fast. It zapped her energy, the fever--textbook version. The day before she'd been super busy with life: housework, workouts, chatting with me, face-timing with friends, making dinner...just your usual busy "Julie Day."  In a heap. Crying. Worried. Crying more. Calling/­­texting my girlfriends, neighbors.  Hearing my baby sister telling ME: It's going to be okay. No dammit. This virus is insidious and goes from mild to ventilator in a matter of hours. It's effing NOT going to be okay. We pray it WILL be a mild case. . . we bargain, beg and hope for all things to maintain as they are right now. And testing? What about testing? Good luck with that unless you have A-list status/­­wealth or some shit. She's getting tested, her doctor ordered it. The results take three days. Three days!  I'm sick of watching people "march/­­protest/­­demand" we Open for Business like this is just another issue of "rights being violated" moment. It's anything but that. It's about supporting ideology over medicine while this country crumbles. It's about sitting comfortably in your ignorance and joining with a chorus of others who subscribe to poisonous political views (and feel righteous and protected while Group Think takes over) when people are dying and our medical system fights to keep others alive.  To those demonstrating an unwillingness to believe science (I'm married to a scientist)...I become less and less inclined to maintain my "observer" status. I'm furious right now.  If you aren't part of the solution--you ARE the problem. 

Sewing Face Masks for Healthcare Workers

March 22 2020 Vegan Thyme 

Sewing Face Masks for Healthcare Workers I am making face masks. I used this tutorial. In the last 24 hours many more face mask tutorials have begun to pop up with a simple Google search. Please note: the CDC has issued a statement regarding the homemade masks here. I feel helpless, I want to help. So do others. Our very own Missouri Star Quilt Company, Jenny Doan, shared a video face mask tutorial here.  We are all going through the same unimaginable crisis at once. Our healthcare workers are going to be on the front lines of the brunt of what is to come. I have neighbors and family members who work in healthcare and are now bracing for what is to come. It is terrifying. I am so grateful for each and every one of these brave souls. I am sending them love and appreciation.  During the days, I spend time at my sewing machine, though I've got the concentration of a hummingbird right now. I've stumbled through knitting and crochet projects in fits and starts. I still manage to get dinner on the table. I did a bit of baking and will share a recipe or two here shortly.  In the evenings we both try to carve out a little time of zen TV watching--no news! I sit with a project in my lap, hands busy with each stitch.   From Brene Brown: "Try to be scared without being scarry."

Vegan Chocolate Chunk Blondies (somehow I must've known it would come to this)

March 12 2020 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Chocolate Chunk Blondies (somehow I must've known it would come to this) I threw these blondies together as I prepped a big batch of black bean burgers to freeze for later. (Yes, I am food prepping.) Probably made over a dozen batches of these cookies over the past few months. As usual, I took a break from sugary carb-craving in February. Things are much different now. Even though the grass is beginning to green up and my daffodils are blooming, the urge to bake and soothe my soul with comfort foods normally reserved for dark, winter months has returned with a vengeance.  (As a news-obsessed individual, I'm sure you can guess why.) My cookbooks lining the kitchen walls are more precious to me than ever right now. I've collected hundreds over the decades. I drop into flea markets looking for Pyrex and instead find myself with a two-dollar cookbook I'd wanted years ago. One more for the collection. Call me crazy, but in my Marie Kondo cleaning frenzy last spring--very few cookbooks left this house. Very. Few. One of my old stand-by cookbooks, an Alice Medrich classic, stands the test of time.   Published in 2010, my dog-eared, taped-page and post-it noted guides indicate the cookbook's utility.  Here's my vegan version blondie--and don't bake these in an 8" square pan. Use instead a rectangle if you can. Mine is 10 x 6" pan I purchased for eight bucks at the grocery store. Once you add the batter to the pan, you may look at it and think: this cannot be right--there's barely enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Trust the recipe, they bake up beautifully. And after a night in the fridge, even better.  Vegan Blondies (adapted) 3/­­4 cup unbleached AP flour 1/­­4 cup whole wheat flour 1/­­2 t. baking powder 1/­­4 t. fine sea salt 1 stick vegan butter 3/­­4 cup light brown sugar 1 t. vanilla extract 2 T. ground flax, plus 3 T. water, 1 t. olive oil (vegan egg) 2/­­3 cup walnuts or pecans 1/­­2 cup chocolate chunks Preheat oven to 350. Line pan with parchment paper, lightly spray. Mix dry ingredients together, set aside. Place small saucepan over low heat, add butter and sugar and stir until butter melts and sugar is mostly dissolved. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and flax egg. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix just until flour is mostly incorporated. Add half nuts and half chocolate. Spread batter in pan, then sprinkle remaining nuts and chocolate over. Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the sides begin to turn golden. Let cool completely, then cut into squares and store in fridge. With all the bleak AF stuff out in the world lately, my own version of self-care includes a nice vitamin rich juice first thing in the morning. I've had my juicer for a dozen or so years now. It's come in very handy lately (even though it sat literally unused for about eight of these). If you think, "Hey, nice blondie recipe, but then's that work?" Um, resistance is futile. I will always have chocolate in my life in one form or another. This is my favorite juicing recipe: 1 beet 1 carrot 1 celery stick 1 knob ginger 1 granny smith apple juice of half a lemon When I can, I make enough for two small pints (one before I eat oatmeal for breakfast, another to drink later in the day--you know, around three in the afternoon when I'd rather scarf down a whole package of M&Ms). I've been a believer in juicing for ages...has it helped? I have no damned idea. It makes me feel good. So yes. It "helps". Also been intermittent fasting. So basically the day goes like this: Eat between nine and five. Stop.  Went to my local WM on Tuesday, just as a precaution, trying to get my hands on bleach cleaner. Wow. I happened to turn the corner and spotted an out of place single bottle left. I was like: "Thank you retail-eagle-eye for helping me spot the thing that wasn't like the other things."

Vegan Pasta e Fagioli Soup (and my gardener's lament: winter poison ivy!)

March 3 2019 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Pasta e Fagioli Soup (and my gardener's lament: winter poison ivy!) Dear Soup, Thank you for always reminding me there are better days ahead. Soups are mainstays around here, especially with snow on the ground and temps hovering in low twenties to single digits tonight, plus more cold on the horizon this week. And poison ivy. (Yup.) I've probably made six batches of this already this winter. It involves a food processor and a soup pot. That's it. Comes together in approximately five minutes and is satisfying, warm and delicious. Here's my take on this soup, which was originally inspired by this. Here's how I made my Vegan Pasta e Fagioli: 4 carrots 1 leek 6 cloves garlic 1 celery stalk 1/­­2 onion sliced thin 2 bay leaves 1/­­2 head of cabbage 1 can of cannellini beans (drained, rinsed) 1 can diced tomatoes 1/­­3 cup ditalini pasta (cooked in separate pot, then added to soup just before serving) 2 T. nutritional yeast 1 qt. veggie stock olive oil thyme oregano red pepper flakes salt & pepper to taste Add chopped veggies--carrots, leeks, garlic to food processor, pulse about ten times. Prep the soup pot with the olive oil over medium heat, add chopped veg. Cook till just tender. Add remaining ingredients and broth and seasonings, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer two hours over low heat. Serve with a side of your best homemade bread. (Mine is Jim Lahey's --I made the ciabatta version). After a visit with the folks at Urgent Care yesterday for a infernal outbreak of poison ivy, I am now awaiting an agonizing three weeks for this painful mess to clear up. Or longer. Why does Mother Earth require such an evil, toxic plant? What purpose does it serve? I've been struck by this havoc on only a handful of times in my life because I am so gawdawful afraid. Sounds impossible. But trust me when I tell you: only to me, the Master Gardener, and in winter no less. And above is the culprit.  Our home is undergoing a transformation of sorts in a few weeks which will finally rid us of these old railroad timbers and be replaced with a more substantial wall of stone. (That will hopefully outlive us and beyond.)  So I found myself outside on a warm-ish day earlier last week in a bit of a snit over the demise of some cherished plants I couldn't bear to loose. I've spent fifteen years tending and planting, so obviously there are plants I want to keep. Out with the shovel and buckets and pots. Everything's dormant, ground was soft, sun was out: perfect. Until later that night when I woke with what I imagined to be some sort of bug bite. Then to the next afternoon when my arm reached up to scratch my wrist (pulling the long sleeve back and discovering to my horror what really had happened). OMG. WTH? Could this be? . . . is this? Noooooo!  And then began the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, guilt, anger and bargaining, depression and loneliness to reconstruction (the UC visit) and finally acceptance. Yes, I accept that I have the rash of the spring and summertime, of gardeners, campers, hikers and landscapers, the poisonous fury of: Leaves of Three Let it Be! Ah, but what about the roots?  I had come in contact with said dormant plant--through the roots. I had oh-so carefully lifted plants and divided, setting each clump aside. Gloves and long sleeves. I have replayed this moment back through my mind a hundred times: as I reached under one of my plants, I must have accidentally, on an exposed part of my wrist, come in contact with the worst plant root on the planet, unbeknownst to me.  I am more allergic than most and so, this lovely little visitor and its prescribed remedy dosed out (the horrid steroid treatment) is, well. It's hell. The rash has traveled from my left wrist, up my right arm, to my abdomen, and leg. There's a perfect dot-to-dot landscape you can follow if you wanted. I can see the entry at every point. It's like an incredibly cruel irony and one I will face with tears, determination, agitation and regret. As for the remainder of the plants. They'll be destined for demolition. 

A Lesson in Artisan Bread Baking with Flea Market Find: Pyrex Bowls

March 19 2018 Vegan Thyme 

A Lesson in Artisan Bread Baking with Flea Market Find: Pyrex Bowls I had a spur-of-the moment notion yesterday driven by the need to get my hands on some old kitchen ware needed for a bread recipe. I asked dear husband if he'd like to accompany me to a flea market (third weekends of every month in Belleville, Illinois--in case you find yourself in the same predicament). I hadn't shared with him my motive just yet, but he was game. Out the door in fifteen and there we were were at the flea market on Sunday. My goal: Pyrex. Before I launch into the whole Hunt for Pyrex Sunday, let me tell you why it happened. I've tinkered with bread baking for over ten years now. There isn't a lot I haven't tried. Okay, maybe no croissants. But still. I even went the GF route for a bit. I'm lucky enough to still be able to tolerate bread and all its gluten glory. But not too much.   I came across  Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford this weekend and began reading through both book and blog. I discovered that all last year this was the IT bread recipe and bread book on FB and social media. (You can find the recipe for the basic bread on her blog.) I had no idea. How had I missed this? I worked around books all day! I was out of the loop on all things bread and it broke my heart a little to be honest.  Alexandra's no-knead method of baking same day bread reminded me of my Jim Lahey no-knead obsession. Only with her mother's recipe (acquired after many years of asking--she goes into this in her book), the task of bread baking occurs same day with similar results. One quaint difference in baking these marvelous little miracles was her use of pint and a half sized Pyrex bowls my mother used to have. . . EVERYWHERE! Immediately I looked through all of the many bowls I had on hand to find that just perfect Pyrex dish. I had three. None in the size I wanted for the recipe for an artisan boule.  I began my bread mixing at 3:30 in the afternoon. I wanted to try the flax seed and quinoa loaf, made with a bit of olive oil and the requisite instant yeast. The loaves surpassed my expectation. The addition of the flax and quinoa made for a healthier tasting dinner bread vs a plain AP flour loaf. The golden crust and wonderful light, moist crumb along with a good rise were delicious. The bread sliced up perfectly after a good twenty minute rest after baking. We ate half a loaf with dinner, then I sliced up the rest for toast this morning and froze the other loaf.  So now for the the Hunt for Pyrex Sunday antique expedition. At the flea market scanning over the hundreds of tables of everything you can imagine (we're big fans of American Pickers), we channeled our inner Mike, Frank and Danielle. DH and I split up. Me on a Pyrex mission, him on a wood working/­tool mission. I hadn't traveled more than one aisle and I spotted them: my mother's Pyrex. (Well, not exactly, but yes. . . exactly!) I had to contain my thrill or I'd be paying out the waazoo. I looked at the bottoms and rims of the nest of one set and of a single of the 1.5 pint sized bowl sold separately because apparently it is from the "Pyrex Friendship" collection. Who knew? I wanted the set AND the single bowl because I needed two of the pint-sized for my bread. I wasn't paying the tagged price of course because: I'd watched Pickers! And yes, I researched asking prices online, which I must say shocked me to my core. Honestly, where have I been? These things are like gold apparently. I must have seemed a little too eager because I was hugging the entire set against my body as other shoppers lurked around this vendor's table. I said, "You have a very good eye." Trying to butter her up. I added, "I remember this set. . . what would you take for these, plus the little one?" She went high. I went no. I said another number. She stuck to her price (which was still lower than ticket--so at least I felt somewhat satisfied on price wrangling). Then I spotted another Pyrex piece, a measuring cup--asked to "bundle"--what price might I get? I wasn't t bluffing anyone here. She flexed a bit more, but not too much. However, I added before I handed over my cash, I'd not be back if I found a better deal elsewhere. She said, Good luck, you won't. Hmm. Okay then: deal.  DH found a rock breaking tool for a song on his journey. We toured the rest of the flea market and the vendor I bought my Pyrex from was right--the other sets were not nearly as good in price nor in appearance than the one I found. She and I talked a bit more. I explained the whole bread thing, Pyrex baking. She seemed to not have heard about this, but was definitely interested in learning more, asking me again what the name of the cookbook was. I was happy to share. In her booth was another awesome bread baking find in cast iron cookware. I had it already but made sure to tell her that she would have no problem selling it if another bread baker came along seeking the perfect no-knead bread vessel.   I'll tell you one thing, I love my set. I love them so much. I have a hunch why. These were the food vessels of my youth. They have my mother etched all over them. Every dinner we had, there was trusty old Pyrex. They're now a part of the dinner table again and I couldn't be happier.

Vegan Chocolate Dipped Eclipse Shortbread Cookies

August 20 2017 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Chocolate Dipped Eclipse Shortbread Cookies We're in the 'path of totality' so I thought I'd bake some cookies. Who needs an eclipse to be inspired to bake? Not me, but the idea of something coated in chocolate to munch on while the sun disappears tomorrow is where I was going. (Apparently this is kinda a big deal and maybe the first and last one I'll witness in my fifty-some years of living on this planet! So we'll call it a BIG DEAL!) The dough will come together in under fifteen minutes or so. It requires about two hours of chilling (and I will tell you the dough is quite solid after this chill)--you'll need a sharp knife to cut into the quarter-inch thick sliced miracles. There's a bit of cinnamon in the mix to add a little zing to the flavor with all the chocolate happening. Also, there's coffee for good measure and then, THEN, the chocolate dipping thing happens. These are so crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth, you'll love 'em. (We had to taste-test before the eclipse!)   See you after the eclipse St. Louis! Vegan Chocolate Dipped Eclipse Shortbread Cookies (makes about 20 cookies--double recipe if you'd like more) 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/­­2 t. ground cinnamon pinch of salt 1/­­4 cup vegan butter, room temperature 1/­­4 cup vegan shortening 1/­­4 cup brown sugar 1/­­4 cup sugar 2 t. coffee granules 2 t. warm water (to mix in with the coffee) 1/­­2 t. vanilla extract 2 t. ground flaxseed plus 2 T. water AND 1 t. light flavored olive oil (egg replacement) 1/­­8 cup chocolate chips melted For dipping sauce: 1/­­2 cup chocolate chips 1 1/­­2 T. shortening In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mix together the butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the flax egg, melted chocolate chips, vanilla extract and coffee mix, blend until well mixed. Then add the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. (Your dough will be a little sticky, but just flour the counter before you roll it into a log--about six inches long.) Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for about 2 hours until firm.  Preheat oven to 350. Remove the dough and slice into 1/­­4" slices and place about an inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes--until the cookies are just getting a little color around the edges.  Allow to cool completely. While cookies cool, prepare the dipping sauce. (I used the "20 seconds at a time in microwave" to melt the chocolate/­­shortening for dipping.) Dip cookies and place on parchment. Enjoy! Store in the fridge for best results once the dipping edge has solidified. 

Vegan Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas and Eggplant

May 4 2017 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas and Eggplant I steered toward cozy, comfort food last night. My kitchen provides a respite for the chaotic world outside the door, and in our own personal lives. With my Spice Tiffin and my mother's vintage copper bottom pot at hand, I was able to whip up a wonderful, aromatic, flavorful, smooth not too-spicy-but-just-right curry. I added a touch of coconut milk to the dish just before serving. There's something magical about the addition of coconut milk to curries. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's a fine balance of how the flavors meld together before and after--the after being much, much better. This dish took me about 30 minutes give or take. I used my new favorite cookbook for inspiration: America's Test Kitchen Vegan for Everybody.  The first step in any cooking direction I take when it comes to making curry is to add spices to warm oil. I always include brown mustard seeds. They impart a tart component that, once cooked down, evolve into a creaminess. Well, to my mind they do. Then you add a bit of this and that from the spices you see here. My general ratio is more of the Sweet Curry spice to the rest (I get mine at Penzey's)--and I add based upon my preferred tastes for the evening. I wanted a garam masala boost to this dish: warm cinnamon and cloves permeate this on the front end, but once I added in my second favorite curry seasoning: The Now Curry (again, from Penzeys), it came together very nicely. My motto in curry is: More is Better. I keep tasting until I find the right heat, flavor combo. Taste. Taste. Taste. I only needed half an eggplant for this. I find I dislike the taste of eggplant heavy flavor. I bet that's why I love the addition of coconut milk to this curry. The flavor boosters go in next: minced fresh ginger, garlic and onion (diced, not minced). Then the other veggies I have on hand: eggplant, sweet potato, some green pepper, a handful of green beans. It then is up to you as to whether or not you want to add a can of diced tomatoes. I usually do. I had a splash of veggie broth left over from the other night, and about a half cup of it was added, plus a little water. Then I added about a third of a cup of coconut milk and that's when the flavors really did their thing.  We are experiencing our second flood in our community in fifteen months. I look at the map of the rest of the country and it's as if there is the vortex here in the middle that keeps circling around our state just daring us to keep dry. The photos above were taken on our single sunny day we had on Tuesday as the waters on the Meramec River began rising.  She hates this weather.  Meantime, I baked more vegan chocolate chip cookies. My End of World plan for survival.  Vegan Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas and Eggplant 3 T. olive oil 1 T. vegan butter 1" minced fresh ginger 3 garlic cloves minced 1 onion diced 1 t. brown mustard seeds 2-3 t. curry powder 1/­­2 t. tumuric powder 2 t. garam masala salt and pepper to taste 1 medium sweet potato cut into half moons 1 green pepper chopped 1/­­2 medium eggplant chopped into 1/­­2" pieces 1 can chickpeas 1/­­2 cup green beans 1/­­2 cup or more veggie broth 1 can diced tomatoes 1/­­3 cup lite coconut milk Over medium heat, add oil and spices. When mustard seeds begin to pop, add the rest of the veggies. Simmer for about five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer together about 20 minutes. Taste as you develop the flavor. If mixture becomes too thick, add more broth or coconut milk. Serve over rice.  

Vegan Flag Cake (Gluten Free. . .Born in the U.S.A.)

July 2 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Flag Cake (Gluten Free. . .Born in the U.S.A.) All this cake needs is Bruce Springsteen and a sparkler and you'd be set.  I became Flag Cake obsessed this morning while catching up on some reading. More specifically this article on Food52. It showed up in my Twitter feed as I was scrolling through the "what you might like" links. Wow. They REALLY know me. The article is about the history of the (wait for it): Flag Cake. I read the entire history of this cake from Betty Crocker to Ina Garten and Taylor Swift til now. I always assumed Flag Cake was something our mom did to the store-bought angel food cakes to make us feel less poor. Turns out, we were poor, but this cake was not our mother's invention. (Let me give credit where credit is due, she did splurge on some sparklers and a few of those awful stick things where giant plumes of color flames flew out right there in our HANDs!)  I thought my cake making days were behind me. I mean, it's been years since I've made a cake. But being the OCD person that I am, I could not stop thinking about Flag Cakes. All morning. Until finally I announced we'd be having Flag Cake (while hiding in our home with two terrified dogs and Netflix streaming at its highest volume, fans running in every bedroom to drown out the noise. . . until this godforsaken holiday passes).  This cake typically gets made in a 9 x 13" pan. I opted to make mine a 9" square cake pan. There is nothing fancy about this cake. It's a basic vegan yellow cake (made with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour--the 1-to-1 kind), and your basic vegan buttercream frosting. I've made a hundred cakes just like this. What you want to keep in mind is that it is not going to have that airy, super crumbly texture you'd get were you using eggs and making it GF. You'll get a denser cake, which is fine because just look at the amount of berries you'll use. The cake weighs a ton, too. But serve it with a side of vanilla coconut ice cream and be ready to cry with happiness.   Couple things on the cake making front, you'll notice I've used Ener-G egg replacer in my cake AND a flax egg. Why? The original larger cake calls for SIX eggs! So as I was parsing out how to adjust for not only it being a no egg cake, but also how the GF flour would react to all this deviation and I figured it'd be best to err on the side of caution and did the more is better thinking here. It worked! Vegan Flag Cake (Gluten Free) 1 1/­­4 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1) 1/­­4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot) 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/­­2 cup unsweetened almond milk 1 cup turbinado sugar 4 tablespoons vegan butter 3/­­4 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/­­2 teaspoon almond extract 3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons water 1 teaspoon ground flax with 2 tablespoons water plus 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 pints red raspberries 1 pint blueberries Buttercream Frosting 4 tablespoons vegan butter 4 tablespoons vegan shortening 1/­­2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract 2 tablespoons vegan creamer 3 cups powdered sugar Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9" square cake pan with a smear of butter and a dusting of flour to make it nonstick. Then line the bottom with parchment paper. Place all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and sift together. In another bowl, add the vegan butter and sugar, vanilla and almond extract and mix until light and fluffy. Prepare the vegan flax egg and egg replacer--then whisk them together. That's right, prepare them separately, then combine. Add this to the butter/­­sugar mixture. Mix well until fully incorporated. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/­­sugar/­­egg mixture, and then add a third of the almond milk and mix well. Continue adding the flour, then milk until finished. Mix the batter until it is a smooth consistency. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.  Prepare the buttercream frosting by adding the shortening and butter cream and extract to a medium bowl and mixing well until smooth. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Add more if the consistency seems too thin, and add less if the frosting seems too thick. Frost the cooled cake. Take a moment to outline with a toothpick or tip of a knife where you'd like the blueberries vs. raspberries to go. Chill in the fridge for an hour before serving. Serving the cake cooled yields a delicious cake. Trust me. 

Homemade Chamomile Tea with Fresh Flowers from The Garden

May 29 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Homemade Chamomile Tea with Fresh Flowers from The Garden The flowers of the chamomile plant resemble a carpet of mini-daisies blanketing a small, sunny corner of my vegetable patch.  They're lovely, actually. Hardy, too. Tonight I made my first batch of chamomile/­­mint tea.  By the way, mint is the other "easiest herb in the world to grow"--you simply cannot kill it.  Trust me.  So back to chamomile: I snipped a small bouquet of the white and yellow flowers and placed them in my coffee mug with a few sprigs of mint leaves. I poured warm water over and set the timer for about five minutes.  I strained the liquid into another mug, and like magic, we had homemade chamomile tea. Your tea will taste nothing like the dried bags of herbal chamomile tea you may have tried.  The fresh-flower variety of tea is very herb-y. A bit of a lemony taste, too. It's delicious.  Chamomile tea is said to be good for helping ease stomach upset and to help with sleep. The best chamomile herb to buy is one of German origin matricaria retutica, or so I've read.  I basically used common sense and bought the herb from the nursery with the tag that said, Excellent for Making Tea!  Side-by-side growing mint with green beans. I KNOW!  But it works.  Make sure you strain the tea. Once you do, you'll have this lovely pale greenish-yellow brew.  Comfort in a cup. In other news. This is Frankie. She's a giant. We just adore her and her sissy tolerates her. 

March Gardening Chores and What the. . . Snow?! (And Books I'm Reading Now: Padma Lakshmi, and When Breath Becomes Air)

March 20 2016 Vegan Thyme 

March Gardening Chores and What the. . . Snow?! (And Books I'm Reading Now: Padma Lakshmi, and When Breath Becomes Air) I'm so glad mother nature has a sense of humor. It's not unheard of to have snow in St. Louis in March or April for that matter. But this morning, it looked like a December morning when I pulled back the curtains and looked outside. The flakes were like wet cotton balls coming down. Very odd. We've worked tirelessly in the garden this weekend hauling mulch, preparing garden beds (both old and new) till we could barely move from our chairs in the evening. I fell asleep sitting up both Friday and Saturday night. I feel like I have a "handle" on the gardening at this point. But as anyone who gardens will tell you: There is no end to gardening. I have never, ever looked out my window and said, Meh, that's "good enough". This horrible "gardening gene" was passed down to me and renders me completely out of my mind from about mid-February till the first kill frost in November.  I even ventured out with the lawn mower in tow at one point!  OH the horrors.   Today is time for a much needed break. We are both curled up around the fireplace reading our books. I've got Padma Lakshmi's memoir: Love, Loss and What We Ate. I love this book. Love. It.  For starters, I've watched Padma on Top Chef like most foodies I suppose do: in admiration and envy.  Oh, to be able to sit at those tables and judge, taste and critique!  Oh to sit at those tables and radiate her charm and beauty! (Just love the Padma.)  I've always thought of her as the glue that kept the show together and watchable.  Her careful, measured tone with all of the contestants--it lends an air of sophistication to an otherwise pretty awful landscape of "reality" TV. So, when I spotted her memoir on the shelf the other day, I picked it up and began reading the first chapter. I was hooked. I'd been living in shell as far as it relates to her "life". Honestly, I never thought much about her having had a past worthy of reading about at all.  Oh. How. Wrong. I. Was.  Wonderful book.  Highly recommend. Then, like everyone else in the known world, I am also reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I've had to stop and rest after moments of reading this small but powerful book.  It's a moving, striking, vivid account of Dr. Kalanithi's life. And then the rest I'll leave at that.  I love memoirs. I have, as I've gotten older, felt that while I still find a good story is always worth reading, spending some time in the real world is also just as rewarding for me as a reader.  Dr. Thyme is a prolific reader, too--though Science Fiction is on his radar constantly.  He'll probably read two books today alone.  I'll be lucky to finish one. It's such a book kind of day today.  But before I leave here, more on the garden front.  I have bulbs and seeds galore that will be our next plan of attack. For some reason I thought it might be a good idea to heap loads of good early deals I happened upon during my sojourn through the gardening section of ALL the stores in our neighborhood. All told, the tally comes to about 100 new flowers seeds, hostas, lilies and what have you for "punching up" the colors in the landscape. Or for feeding the rabbits.  Though most of the planting will be managed by yours truly, I am very grateful for the "man" help Dr. Thyme provides.  All that lifting and dragging and pouring, he's been a real trooper.  On one of my strolls out back, the blossoms on my peach tree this year stopped me in my tracks.  Could this be the bounty I've been waiting for?  I'll have to install a motion detector to assure I get at least ONE damn peach from my crop as the varmint wreaked havoc on the poor tree last summer.  We carved out some special time for the kids this weekend, too, taking a walk along our favorite trail. The girls loved it. Pear tree blossoms.

Easy Vegan Veggie Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust (comfort food cooking. . . simple knitting)

February 14 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Easy Vegan Veggie Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust (comfort food cooking. . . simple knitting) I will give this pot pie recipe one thing, and that is, it came together in a snap. My prep work consisted of pulling a puff pastry sheet out from the freezer and putting it in the fridge while I went about sauteing an onion, some mushrooms and garlic, adding a can of tomatoes, then opening a bag of veggies, pouring in some ready-made potato leek soup (oh the horrors! but hey, that's life right now) and a smattering of seasoning, close it up with the pastry top, bake: ta-da!  See that yummy layer of puff pastry? Yup. That's the whole reason I fell for this recipe. I was perusing my latest issue of Vegetarian Times (March 2016 issue) and the five ingredient list both surprised and delighted me to no end. I had to do some of my own magic to make it a bit more yummy, but overall, for ease of prep and deliciousness factor combined, this recipe will now be added to our rotation.  It's Sunday, so for us, it's a lazy day. We woke to snow.  There's nothing better than a Snowy Sunday.  (Well, yes there is, a Snowy Sunday in December!) Some of us in the house thought it might be amusing to do things we normally wouldn't do. Frankie's had a growth spurt and she's also regressing a bit to her earlier puppy days behavior. She totally knows what she's doing when she does things like this--right under our noses! But some of us just chill and roll our eyes. I'm making the Traveling Woman Shawl in Malabrigo Rios. I LOVE this pattern.  It's fast. It's knit on size 9 needles! It's pink. What's not to love here?

Taming the Introvert Anxiety with LOTS of Knitting (new career, more gray hair: I Want to Believe!)

January 18 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Taming the Introvert Anxiety with LOTS of Knitting (new career, more gray hair: I Want to Believe!)Well, week one went off without a hitch. I arrived, I met, I chatted, I learned. In the evenings I crawled into my shell and collapsed into bed for very hard, long sleeps. I got up the next day and hit repeat.  Suddenly our whole world has been turned on its head by the arrival of my new career/­­J-O-B.  I am in the book business now. Books and people, how bad can it be you ask? Not bad at all. . . so far. I love books. I love people who love books. I love reading. (Truth be told, not much of that going on now that I'm the working girl again--though I sneak in as much as I can in the wee hours of the mornings or late evenings right before bed.) The working girl in me says, "calm down, this is the chaos part", this is the remembering what it's like to be surrounded by noise, people, and strangers all day. The introvert in me climbs out of her shell (yes the one who has spent the last seven years and mostly every day surrounded by canines, plants, food and my own quiet pace and rhythm)--and crawls into the depths of business/­­work. It's going to be a long road to my fully grasping every little detail of my new role. I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. If there is one book that has helped me prepare and understand how my introvert self might better cope in situations where people are required--it's this one. A brilliant reflection on the matter of being an introvert and how strategies of other introverts might be used to overcome the stress of working outside our comfort zones. Highly recommend. It's been out for a while now, but every time I re-read a passage here and there, it's like I've just worked a ten minute meditation into my day.  I swear, my white streak managed to get whiter after only five days of this upheaval!  I love my gray hair.  Badges of my courage and outragousness!  In between the chaos of jumping up and heading out the door at a godawful-who-gets-up-at-this-hour time in the morning--to the evenings of shared updates and stories I share with DH about the this or the that of every single second, sprinkled in between are moments of sheer terror of BUT WHAT IF? He calmly re-assures, as does my sister, that "these are fragile times for you. . .give yourself a break" and carry on--all will be fine. Well, my fingers are crossed.  Knitting has helped. Boy has the knitting helped. Right before the BIG CHANGE, I promised myself I would assess all of the yarn, patterns, and what have you of my knitting. I joined two MKALs on Ravelry. One for Downton Abbey and one by Never Not Knitting's Alan Dakos. So far both have proved to be perfect distractions and have helped me calm down and re-center. I have knit more consistently in the last seven days than I have in the last seven years. Click. Click. Click.   The Downton Abbey MKAL. The other MKAL shawl. Lots going on in this one: cables, and more cables. So far I think I've been able to keep up here. But sort of space out on the repeats and I will need to check the chat room on this to make sure what I am making what sort of looks like what everyone else is making. So. Excited! X-Files stitch markers--yay! Cannot wait for the return of X-Files!  I Want to Believe!

How to Help Flood Victims in My Community: Arnold, Missouri (Red Cross of Greater St. Louis, Missouri)

December 31 2015 Vegan Thyme 

How to Help Flood Victims in My Community: Arnold, Missouri (Red Cross of Greater St. Louis, Missouri) For nearly all of my life, I've lived along great bodies of water: Lake Michigan as a child, the rest of my adult life along the Great Mississippi River and its tributaries. We have logged hundreds of miles both walking and (me) running along the trails of the Meramec River. It is by far one of the most beautiful rivers in Missouri and home to many parks I hold dear, visiting one nearly every weekend with our dogs in tow.  The many parks and trails surrounding the river are a testament to its glory.   However right now, there is not a trail in sight. And there won't be for months to come. The Meramec River is causing historical flooding in my community.  Rivers are a way of life for us in the Midwest--they are both beautiful and devastating all in one. The Meramec River feeds directly into the Mississippi River. With the latest rounds of rain (nearly twelve inches in three days) the Mississippi is no longer able to do her part to help carry the Meramec's excess away. As a result hundreds of families are being displaced by this unprecedented storm's fallout. It is beyond comprehension.  On the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning is a heartbreaking yet telling photo of two women carrying belongings from their home as the water behind them covers the street. It broke my heart. I feel helpless and searched frantically this morning for ways to offer assistance in this emergency so that a donation would go to my community and directly support the effort to help the displaced families in our neighborhood.  Here are ways you can help: The Red Cross of Greater St. Louis is on site offering support, food and shelter assistance.  The Humane Society of Missouri is offering shelter for animals for owners unable to take their pets with them.   We watched the evening news all night in disbelief as our community was swallowed by the quickly rising waters.  The encroaching water is only the first part of the disaster, the second part of the disaster will occur after the water recedes and people's lives are forever changed--some not having a home to return to, only left with the belongings they could carry with them in the short window they had to evacuate. 

Vegan Apple Streusel Pie Cookie Bars (and the "parking lot" incident)

December 2 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Apple Streusel Pie Cookie Bars (and the This looks like apple pie. It tastes like apple pie. The topping is streusel. The middle is, of course,  filled with a staggering amount of sliced granny smith apples and a whole lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and what have you. And it was heavenly. The trick is to "chill" the finished pie. This requires planning as you may want to make it the day before you are planning to serve. As the pie bakes, the apples shrink, the streusel topping gets crackly and yummy. With the thick pie dough to hold the pie up, once the dough is chilled, you slice the pie and serve on a plate as  apple-pie-cookie bars. No fork required. One solid slice that stays stacked and solid after sliced. Skinny slices work--not your "normal pie thick" slices--to really get the true cookie experience. (*Note: As you can see, I baked my pie in a pie shell, however, to get the true "bar cookie" effect, you may swap out the round shell for a square 8" pan.) The parking lot incident is told after the recipe so as not waste anyone's time. Here's how the "pie-became-cookie" recipe happened.  There is the crust. Any single pie crust recipe will do. Mine happens to have very little thought behind it, but a lot of precision insofar as the mixing of said dough goes--and it is rather thick on the bottom, baking up to almost a shortbread type of cookie base for all those apples. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/­­2 cup spelt flour 5 tablespoons Earth Balance butter cut into small cubes 3 tablespoons vegan shortening cut into small cubes or pieces 1/­­4 teaspoon sugar pinch of fine sea salt 1/­­4 - 1/­­3 cup ice cold water The secret to wonderful pie dough: careful handling. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Then first add the butter pieces and mix in with a fork until you have pea-sized pieces of flour/­­butter mixture. Then add the shortening, and do the same, only now the pieces will be smaller. Add ice water to mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork after each addition. Pinch a piece of dough together to see if it holds, if it does and you can hold a wad of the dough in your palm, then you have added enough cold water. Remove dough from the bowl onto counter and begin to knead the dough until it forms a ball. Put the dough in fridge for about thirty minutes. After dough is chilled, remove and roll out and place in the pie shell (a 9-inch pie shell), and place in the fridge while you prepare the apples. I used seven apples--all granny smith. Toss apples with 1/­­2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/­­2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, pinch of fine sea salt, juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons flour. Remove the pie shell from fridge and roll to about 1/­­4" thick. Place in pie or pan and tap out to the edges and up the sides. Pinch the top overhang over and give it that nice "pie crust" pinching. Place apple mixture in pie shell.  Make the streusel: 1/­­2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/­­2 cup oat flour 1/­­3 cup meusli 4 tablespoons sugar 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/­­2 teaspoon ground nutmeg pinch of fine sea salt 1 1/­­2 teaspoons vanilla extract 5 tablespoons Earth Balance butter (plus 2 tablespoons reserved for topping the pie) Preheat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl with a fork until small crumbs form. Sprinkle over the pie. Bake pie for 30 minutes at 400. Then turn oven down to 350 and bake for one hour. *Use a piece of foil over the pie if the crust begins to brown too much. I actually added foil over the pie about halfway through baking. Yesterday I had to venture out. It's not a good time for introverts of any kind to find themselves in stores. From now until about a week after Christmas, strategic planning goes on with regard to anything I have to do that requires me to navigate people. Since I am the "bringer of food/­­essentials" into the home, the duty falls to me. Doing so leaves me feeling exhausted, stressed and completely ready to sleep for the remainder of the year. I know it's the holidays, but truly don't feel so jolly this year.  (Lack of snow, days of rain, fifty-sixty degree weather. Ew.)  Yesterday, I knew I'd reached some crossover point of stress when this happened.  I have a routine monthly stop at a big box store. It's a necessary evil. But I hate the store. Invariably,  I will have a "crazy human story" to share with DH after most of my stops there.  It makes for good dinner banter.  As I said, it's routine shopping, so I have made this stop countless times, could do it in my sleep.  I was trying to stay positive and "cheery". I shop with my sunglasses and baseball cap on. That's all I got in the cheery department right now. Just call it an extra layer of "please don't talk to me".   (At least for the four hours it takes to gather all the detritus we need to live.) I pulled into a parking lot I'd thought I'd pulled into a hundred times. Something seemed off. It was almost three in the afternoon. I was on my last stop. The "worst" for last. I parked the car. The lot was full. All parking lots are full now, I noticed several people sitting in their cars. I thought it was odd, but nothing beyond that. I had my list, my mission. Maybe all these folks suffered the same ailment of "people" aversion?  Well, off I walked. First one direction. Looking up, I saw the corner I imagined being where the normal entrance to said store was, was all brick--no shopping carts, no nothing. Crickets. Well, perhaps I have my directions screwed up. I must have parked somewhere else last time I made this stop. So back I walk, along this LONG brick wall. Looking for the entrance to the store. I get another brick corner. What the. . .? Then I stopped and noticed someone in front of me wearing a logo of a store I was not intending to shop--literally speed walking to the designated entrance to the store--which was on the other side from where I parked.   That's when it dawned on me. I had parked in not only the wrong store lot, but the employee lot of ANOTHER big box store (which would explain the people sitting in their cars--either on break or in despair over hating their jobs. I had days like this.)  Now that I am "that crazy lady walking the parking lot in glasses and hat",  I finally locate my car. Because by now, I am completely flustered and had to pinpoint where I may have parked in the first place. In this wrong lot.  Get in my car. Tell myself it's going to be okay. Couple of deep breaths.  It's just another awful December.  It'll be over in about thirty more days.  Fa. La. La.

Vegan Icelandic Coffee Wreath (because it's time for a little less talking and a little more baking)

November 17 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Icelandic Coffee Wreath (because it's time for a little less talking and a little more baking) I have a great need to be in the kitchen. Baking calms me. It makes getting through the news, the oncoming winter and the holidays bearable. I have to keep busy. Following recipes and pinching and folding dough as in this recipe--it's like meditation. Yesterday I baked cookies. Last week, it was this coffee cake. People can be cruel, life can be dreadfully challenging, heartbreaking and sad, but coping by baking--I don't know why, it seems like the right thing to do now. It won't cure the ills of society, but it fills my soul and gives me perspective on life and simply getting through one day at a time, sharing food to show love--this works for me. You can mix the dough for this pastry in about five minutes before you go to bed. The next morning, you'll need about ten minutes to pull the dough from the fridge, combine the filling and roll the wreath. Let it proof for about 45 minutes while the oven preheats and viola: coffee cake. There is literally nothing in the world I love more with my espresso in the morning than this. I have to keep my paws off it all day long while it sits under the cake keeper on the kitchen counter mocking me. This confection always impresses the husband.  (Let's be honest, it'll impress anyone.) The aroma of almond, citrus with cinnamon and nutmeg lingers in the house for about two days after it's been baked.  Our home smells like early winter mornings when we have this on hand, and I love it.   I have a precious baking book I bought several years ago and around this time each year it comes off the shelf and plays a prominent role in all things "baking", it's called: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. There are no colorful photos in it--only sketches of baked goodies, so be prepared to have to READ. (I know, such a terrible way to have to bake, to actually have to READ.) Please don't get me started.  Dough removed from fridge in the morning, shaped into a rectangle with your hands. Filling in food processor ready to be blitzed, along with some flax/­­water mixture.  I put the dough right in the fridge after it's mixed in the the stand mixer bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  No one wants to do dishes at ten o'clock at night. Filling with added raisins, orange zest and chopped pecans sprinkled over the dough. Rolling the dough. Wreath proofing. Coffee ring proofed and then sliced around with scissors to create a "wreath". This cake spent five days on the counter under the cake keeper here.  DH and I shared a slice of it every morning.  I heat a small sliver of it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds. Perfect every time. Maybe I've blogged about this before. No matter.  With things in the world being what they are, I find foods like this to be exactly what I need.  Vegan Icelandic Coffee Wreath *adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour 1 cup spelt flour 1/­­3 cup sugar 1/­­3 cup almond milk with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon ground flax mixed with 2 tablespoons water 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, cut into 1/­­4" pieces 1/­­2 cup warm water 3 teaspoons dry active yeast Filling 1 package almond paste (cut into chunks) 1 teaspoon ground flax mixed with 2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/­­2 cup raisins 1/­­3 cup chopped pecans zest of one orange *powdered sugar for dusting The night before you plan to bake the wreath, prepare the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the water and yeast and allow yeast to dissolve and begin to foam (takes about five minutes). Next, add the sugar, flax mixture, almond milk and butter, then mix in the flour in three separate additions--stopping after each addition to make sure the flour has been incorporated. Then turn the mixer on medium speed and mix the dough for about 3-5 minutes, until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. (If you find the dough either too wet or too dry, add flour or a tablespoon of almond milk to adjust.) Place dough in fridge, covered with plastic wrap overnight. The next morning remove dough from fridge and prepare the filling. Place all filling ingredients in food processor and pulse carefully until the mixture is crumbly. Lightly dust your counter and remove the dough from the bowl and flatten to a rectangle about 16-20 inches across and about 8 inches in width. The dough will be about 1/­­4" thick. Sprinkle filling over dough to within an inch of the borders. Roll up from the bottom (the long way) and pinch the dough closed. Carefully bring the dough ends together to form a ring. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle flour over the ring and place in a warm place and allow dough to proof (or get puffy) for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After the dough has risen, clip around the wreath every few inches. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dough begins to turn golden. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing. Just before you slice it, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for about three days.  

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Brownies (and why I run. . . with Frankie)

October 2 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Brownies (and why I run. . . with Frankie) The pumpkin craving kicked in and I began a search for what I'd bake. Not that there isn't a billion options with regard to pumpkin. I have pumpkin recipes galore within the hundreds of cookbooks scattered around this house to last me the full month of October and then some. Thumbing through the stacks yesterday, I was sure of one thing, the cinnamon and ginger were coming off the spice racks. Finally.  I have old recipes cut from magazines stuffed in files as well. Add an internet search on top and I became a "frenzied overwhelmed baker"!  I finally settled on my direction and ingredients.  I would go "brownie" with my pumpkin.  Basically, I took bread recipes apart, pared down the flour and liquid ingredients, omitted the eggs (of course), amped up the spice factors and had DH pleading 'I hope you wrote this recipe down'.  I will tell you from snacking on these this morning after a night in the fridge that the flavor and moistness factor went triple on them. They are really good right after you've baked them and then cooled, and taken with tea right before bed. They're insanely delicious the NEXT day. So just keep 'em in the pan covered with some foil and have some with your coffee in the mornings. OMG. My favorite baking pan is an old 8" x 8" cake pan that belonged to my mother. It has years of baking on it and I credit this with having much to do with success of my baking anything in this relic.  Fall is the time when along with baking, my reading obsession kicks in.  Right now, "Purity" by Jonathan Franzen and "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout are in the queue.  Both are fantastic.  I am a huge Franzen fan. He grew up in St. Louis. I did not.  So I find him fascinating for that reason alone.  Okay, many other reasons for my admiration, but mostly he's brilliant. Olive Kitteridge came to me by way of my fascination with Francis McDormand and the Emmy's last month. I happened to catch a few brief moments of the awards show but enough of it to land me in the middle of the awards handed out to "Olive Kitteridge" and Frances McDormand for Lead Actress. I watched in complete admiration her accepting this award in her very black dress and very natural appearance and admired her even more. I began streaming the mini-series the next night.  And. I. Loved. It.  I would have to say it is one of the top five films I've watched in the last ten years. Simply loved it. Right after finishing the series, I got the book. I don't want to spoil this for anyone by saying this, but if you watch the series, you will not be any less pleased with how the book reads.  I am typically not a movie-then-book person, rather I am a book-then-skip-the-movie person.  The book is wonderful. Where was I when all of this Olive Kitteridge was happening?  (Well we don't have cable for one. But still. No excuse.)  I've also been able to run more now that the horrible nightmare of plantar fasciitis has taken a break.  So Frankie and I head out for a few miles together a couple of times a week. I had an incident this week on my run through a St. Louis County Park that left me a little shocked and a bit shaken. If you'd rather skip the story--and get the recipe, that's fine. The recipe is below.  I totally understand, but given this whole thing sort of left me a bit paralyzed, I have to write about it.  Call it my therapy. I love running. It's my meditation. It's my strength. It's where I go to just be. As a runner, I don't typically like to run alone. I know it sounds crazy, but for one, running alone as a man is different than running alone as a woman. The vulnerability of the running woman is what I'm mostly talking about here. In my youth, the thoughts of crazy whacked out men out there really didn't phase me much. I always figured I'd "out run" anyone who tried to catch me. No body ever has. But still. As I've aged (and now in my fifties!), I find running alone (even through my neighborhood) a bit of a scary proposition, though it shouldn't be and I should be able to run anywhere just as most men are able to run "anywhere". . . alone.  *What we like to call "Male Privilege" allows that men can run alone with less fear than women.  This is why I take my dog and I wear on my wrist pepper spray. This is the reality of my running philosophy.  And it's a good thing.  Running through a local park in the middle of the week this week, I happened along a man standing in the middle of the trail, pants down. What I glimpsed of him as I came over the crest was enough for me to cringe and pull Frankie closer to me and sort of stop. I wasn't close enough to the opening of the trail to turn back. And we were far enough away from the perv that my pausing sent enough of a signal that I was not unaware of what I had just witnessed. We scared this imbecile enough that he almost fell backwards down the hill trying to manage his dog--yes, he had a small terrified dog, and pull his shorts back up. I was completely incensed. Furious. Scared. Worried. Focused on getting by him and not having an "encounter". I've got a good gut read on people and when I read something as scary I will project this fear outward. In this instance I projected disgust and then fear. And a lot of WTF?! What was happening here was someone who has a problem had come to the park to deal with his "issues" in a most inappropriate way.  A public park that should be safe, respected and beautiful was sullied by someone who needs help.  I wasn't facing anything like a major deep woods, off trail oh-my-god I have to hike to the open space four miles back to my car, I was only into the trail by about a quarter mile. Anyone could have happened upon this idiot. Here's the thing about this moment. Most people are harmless. Most men I've come across are respectful and polite--and most of the time, if you were to come across me on my run, I keep my head down, sunglasses on and give a quick look up to let you know I've seen you. Frankie along side. For those instances when I have an icky gut feel, I will turn around after passing to make sure the person has moved on. I've never been that trusting of people. I think it's a safe and far smarter way to get by in this world. This philosophy has carried me along this far in my running life and served me well. And my response to an incident like this is: see, I'm right.     I know I gave a very clear signal to this individual that he'd better not ever do this again, with Frankie barking up a storm as we ran by him--mostly out of protecting because I believe she sensed fear emanating from me, she went into protection mode. For me, I was in recovery mode trying to calm my heart and keep my feet moving until we reached an open space. Frankly, if I had to describe him, I don't think I could other than I remembered the dog, that poor little terrified dog he tugged along. Thankfully once Frankie and I came out at the other end of the trail we were at the lake and there were several folks with whom I took a quiet respite. I simply needed to get back to my car now. Still in shock and disbelief.  Sharing the story with Dr. Thyme that evening over the phone, he was stunned. And worried. And sickened, furious. Hearing a story like this reminds him of how vulnerable I can be sometimes when he's away. However, I refuse to be holed up in my house because of a whack job. I just won't. But I can see how something like this might prevent someone from venturing out.  But if we don't. . .then they win.  I could go on and on on the subject of this crazy moment I had in the park and why our system of mental health is broken in this country and how we don't do enough to protect innocent people. The news lately is filled with stories of sick people hurting innocent bystanders. The incident I had has scarred me a bit. I am not immune to the ugliness of the world. Neither am I a Pollyanna who goes about just happy-go-lucky, people are great! Hardly. But really, we need to do a better job of it. Really. People are complicated. Not that I won't run again in this park. But it's a reminder, ladies: Be vigilant. Be aware. But run on . . . with your dog, or pepper spray. Vegan Pumpkin Spice Brownies *makes one 8"x 8" pan  1/­­2 cup spelt flour 1/­­2 cup unbleached all purpose flour 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/­­2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/­­4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/­­4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/­­2 teaspoon salt  2 teaspoons ground golden flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water 2/­­3 cup brown sugar 1 1/­­4 cup canned pumpkin 1/­­2 cup soy milk 1/­­4 cup olive oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract *powdered sugar for dusting over  Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray and 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Add all dry ingredients and spices to a medium mixing bowl and sift together. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the flaxseed and water and and mix together, set this aside to thicken. In another bowl, add the brown sugar, pumpkin, soy milk, olive oil and vanilla extract, mix well. Add the entire bowl of wet ingredients to the dry, the with a spoon, mix well--just until the dry ingredients are moist. Pour mixture into pan and smooth over with back of spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Cover the pan with foil and store in fridge for three days. Enjoy!

Late Summer Reflection

August 31 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Late Summer Reflection This morning I woke at five a.m. Never happy to be so rudely introduced to a new day, I obliged my body's biological demands (as many women my age do on any given morning), deciding going back to sleep would render me useless. I'd be a wreck the rest of the day for having squandered a perfectly good morning on trying to catch a few extra winks. I love my sleep and am an early-to-bed-girl.  Mornings are me time. Ever so quietly, I read, I write, I read some more. It was quite beautiful this morning. The full moon was peeking out from behind the clouds in the west, and the sun was barely beginning to rise in the east. I try to keep as quiet as possible for fear of waking the sleeping dogs:  Let sleeping dogs lie--I remained true. This morning, I was thinking about my tomatoes. It's been a good year despite the drenching rains and flooding we had mid-summer. I worried a lot about the tomato crop. But somehow those seedlings I'd begun in March: they've survived (as have I). Every Sunday since mid-July, I've made homemade marinara sauce with the fresh tomatoes picked throughout the week, adding, of course, fresh basil and any other garden edible along the way I find interesting. I don't have enough ripened tomatoes any given week to can--just plenty to fill a bowl on the kitchen counter, then into my saucepan come Sunday. The aroma that fills the house is undeniably "summer". Lately I've had enough tomatoes to use in a curry mid-week as well. Then whenever possible, DH loves a nice veggie burger topped with huge slices of the garden tomatoes. Because as I remind him, I don't bring a tomato into this house after summer and my tomatoes are gone. Canned are okay. But those other things in the grocery store sold as "tomatoes", not gonna happen. By this stage of summer, however, my zest for tomatoes begins to wane. It happens. What an ingrate, right? Oh well. I keep harvesting the ripe ones. Sundays will remain marinara days until the first frost. I feel so sorry for women I see at the grocery store pondering the cost of a nice heirloom variety getting sticker shocked at having to pay almost four dollars a pound for a tomato. I seriously want to have a conversation with each and every one of them about the virtues of keeping and tending to tomato plants and how impossibly easy they actually are to grow (despite the hullabaloo to the contrary).  No one should have to pay four dollars for a tomato. No. One.  Right now, we're having one of those Miserable Midwest Heat Waves of A Sort. Stagnate air. Icky, sticky humidity. No rain in sight. It's been a strong belief of mine that August is about punishing. September is a reward for making it through July, and then August.     I've been setting aside time for reading in the afternoons.  (Because I am coming clean here: I can't meditate to save my life.) This has proven to be both very good for me and sort of like meditating. I've always been "a reader". My mother was a reader, my sister likes to read, my grandmother was a reader.  Books always mattered in our home. But I'm a person who distracts easily. With three dogs, a husband, a house, land, plus a million other little projects dangling in front of me, getting distracted happens quite a lot. So my reading time helps me center, helps me focus. Plus it reminds me that I am currently not suffering the effects of any dementia as I am able to follow the story along.  *Fingers crossed. Prayers said.  Currently I have my head in Judy Blume's book, In the Unlikely Event. Enjoying it. But that's just one of the paper versions of reading I have going on. I also just ordered Joan Didion's book, Slouching Toward Bethlehem: Essays. (Reading her 1968 observations on America: priceless.) Huge. Fan. I'm a person who juggles my reading, never committed to just one book at a time. I don't know why. My Kindle has sort of contributed to this "problem"--but in a good way. (I think.) There is no such thing as "too many books" around here. Right now, Mr. Kindle is chock FULL of books of interest plus my "currently reading" titles. If there are folks tracking my reading--and I am certain there are, I am sure they scratch their heads and consider me a bit of a neurotic, but passionate reading patron. (Perhaps we should just slap one of those Amazon smiley faces across the front of our house.) Seriously. I love nonfiction as much as fiction. I'm a picky reader, of course. (Aren't we all?) The most interesting and by far the one that I have stepped in and out of the most throughout this summer has been Atul Gawande's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.  It's very accessible to the non-medical layperson, but also a heady read.  Such an important book on all matters of living and then . . . not.  Sunday as DH and I sat reading, someone else sat on mommy's lap and wished for a) me to put the book down, and b) for this damn heat to go away and for cool, crisp autumn to arrive.  Soon. Very Soon.

Vegan Buffalo Chik'n Chickpea Salad with Fresh Peaches (from the sewing room. . .with love, Frankie)

August 4 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Buffalo Chik'n Chickpea Salad with Fresh Peaches (from the sewing room. . .with love, Frankie) This dinner salad is quick, cool, yummy, satisfying and PERFECT for when it's Hot as Hades like it's been here in Missouri. And folks, it's been that way for a looong time now. I am no fan.  It's a good thing I love salads for dinner and would eat them every night if I could.  What attracted me to the recipe I riffed on was the inclusion of peaches.  Peaches and Dinner=Love.  They are always on hand in this house during the summer.  (An unfortunate thing happened to MY peaches in the backyard: raccoons.)  Lucky for us, this was a bountiful peach season--so the local stores have been stocked with them.  Hot sauce seemed like the right thing to do here with the chickpeas and Gardein Chick'n .  I added rice, too. The idea came from the cookbook:  Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen by Kathy Patalsky.  I love a good vegan cookbook.  You can get Kathy's recipe for the dressing here.  The variation to my salad includes:  omitting peanuts and lime, adding rice, adding hot sauce to the chick'n.   It was a dinner fave and may make another appearance soon! Or as we like to call 'em: repeater! Meantime, Frankie found my sewing and thought she'd like to try.   Thank god the fabric place had a yard left of my beeeutiful shirt design. So we are all better and am moving right along on my Aster Sewalong.  Adorable. But don't let that face fool you.  Just woke up from a nap.  I know, I know. She breaks my heart every day, but. . . She is trouble. With a capital "T".

Vegan Texas Sheet Cake for Two (eat chocolate: feel better. . . and Frankie's first year)

July 20 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Texas Sheet Cake for Two (eat chocolate: feel better. . . and Frankie's first year) Well. I needed chocolate. You know how when you usually bake a Texas Sheet Cake, you're obliged to bake with an overly large thirteen inch cake pan--with a TON of leftover cake mocking you the rest of the week? (Nibbling away here and there until five more pounds creep up on you? Seriously, now that I'm in the "over fifty" range--if I look at a cake, I can feel my thighs growing.) Not so with this cake. It takes a six-inch round springform pan, less temptation--more reason to love, and viola: cake for two! Perhaps a more appropriate name for it would be: Rhode Island Chocolate Sheet Cake. (Okay, I have dibs on this name for my future restaurant.)  It's delicious, moist, chocolate-y, nutty and cinnamon-y. Pure delish. Serve it with some vegan ice cream and really get your dessert fix on. But not five pounds worth, 'kay? I found a wonderful little baking book: Dessert for Two by Christina Lane in the book store quite by accident a few weeks back (or maybe the book found me). Although not vegan in its design, you know I've never met a non-vegan recipe I couldn't veganize--I'll be busy baking from this book for  awhile.  **The summer here in St. Louis, thus far, has been brutal and awful.  This heat and humidity: OMG. It's unbearable. Call me weak. Say whatever you want.  I am not a lover of July in St. Louis. Period. It's enough to drive a person mad. Mad I tell you! Well. Back to this cake. For obvious reasons, the magnetic pull of "chocolate" drew me right to this recipe first. So. Happy. I found a six-inch round springform pan at JoAnn's of all places!  (I was in there to buy fabric, I swear! But you know how you have to wait in the "que" with your number to be called for your fabric cutting, um yeah. That's when even MORE money leaves your hands. It's a brilliant strategy. But sneaky, too.)   So cute to bake a mini-cake version of one of my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipes. Even better, the cake pan and all went right into the fridge afterwards for storing.  Well our little Frankenstein turned one this weekend. We have come so far. And have no regrets. (Maybe some sleepless nights owing to the utter insanity a puppy reigns over a house for the first couple of months: new pillows, new rugs, new sofa--not yet, but soon!)--but other than that, we really have no regrets. And as for her sissy's take on the matter, well. . . we think she adores her, too.  Frankie reminds us that life is one big flippy-floppy. (Her toy.) Some days she loves it, some days not so much. Dr. Thyme and I have discussed the fact that no matter what--however she turns out--it is a direct reflection of us. Which is sort of scary when you think about it. We've always rescued dogs in the past. What we got is what we got. With a lot of unconditional love and care, dogs are so resilient, they usually find that being around humans is okay after all. When you are all a dog knows, and no other influences have affected her, well, you pray all the love and corrections take, is all. With a puppy, you are shaping the world for them. You are what they see in humanity: the good days, the bad days and the stuff in between. She is a mommy's girl for sure. If I leave the room--and the back of the house is baby-gated off--she starts to whine. When I was gone visiting my sister, Dr. Thyme told me she'd sit at the baby gate in the evenings looking for me to come back. Precious.  (But you know, I sort of needed my "breaks".)  This weekend, I stopped in the big box pet store and wouldn't you know it, they were having a dog adoption event. Dammit. I was trying to walk in with one eye on the treats section, but my other eye caught the face of a terrier mix--adult dog, "just surrendered". I had to stop and ask: what's this one's story. And was told two were surrendered, and that the other was already adopted out. I hung out over the cage and as people passed by and if they showed the least bit of interest, I'd say, This is an awesome dog--you can tell he's super smart and super sweet: he'd make the perfect companion! I was smitten with the little guy. Totally smitten. But one must know one's limitations. And we do. I suppose in my own way, I was re-visiting the days when our home was bigger and our dog count was seven--eight! We aren't in our thirties and forties any more, but fifties and sixties. Those days of a canine "ranch" are over. But it doesn't mean we won't rescue again. We have sworn no more puppies after Frankie. She was our first Pyr puppy and perhaps our last. (Never say "never", but it has been a LONG road, trust me, and there's still more to go because that puppy Pyr doesn't seem to want to let go, thus her nickname: Frankenstein.) Last week she had her first "spa" day. I was VERY concerned/­­worried/­­nervous. She can be a pill if you try to handle her too much. I mean, those TEETH! Well, I took both Pyr girls in for a once over. (Our oldest girl has short hair and bless her heart, it left the day for us together and we had a spa day in the back yard).  When I finally got the call that the big girls were "ready" at four in the afternoon, I asked the groomer, "Well, are you okay?. . . Can we come back?" She laughed and said they both did fine and yes! I got there to find Frankie and her sissy had the run of the place--plus the groomer's cat on hand! Frankie had never seen a cat--and I said, "How'd that go--with the cat?" She said Frankie got on her front paws looking for a new playmate, the cat ignored her, of course, but that was about it. Awww.  Well, baby girl, I hope you're happy and that you have another fifteen years ahead of you.  We love you to pieces and don't change a thing. Um, maybe you could work on the teeth thing, but other than that--Love You! Vegan Texas Sheet Cake for Two (*adapted from Desserts for Two by Christina Lane) 1/­­4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/­­4 cup spelt flour 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1/­­4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/­­2 teaspoon baking soda 2 tablespoons water plus 2 teaspoons ground flax (for the egg) 1/­­3 cup canola oil 1/­­2 cup sugar 1/­­3 cup coconut milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar  1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon brewed coffee 1/­­3 cup chopped pecans (divided) for frosting 2 tablespoons vegan butter 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tablespoon coconut milk  1-2 cups powdered sugar left over chopped pecans Preheat oven to 350. Spray 6-inch springform pan with nonstick baking spray. (Make sure you place your pan on a cookie sheet in the oven in case of spills--I didn't have that problem, but just wanted you to know. I have a Wilton springform pan.) Whisk together the dry ingredients--except sugar. Add oil and sugar in another bowl and stir until well blended. Add flax egg, vanilla extract and stir until combined. Add half the chopped pecans. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well--until dry ingredients are moist. Pour batter into pan. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out with a few crumbs on it. Remove cake to cool 15 minutes before adding frosting.  While cake bakes, prepare frosting. Add all ingredients to small saucepan, over low heat. Whisk together well until the butter begins to melt. Keep whisking until mixture becomes smooth. If you find you need to add more or less sugar, do so! Keep tasting. **I found I needed to add more sugar and bit more cocoa to get just the right flavor. And NOTE: the frosting thickens up as it sits. SO don't panic if you think it's too runny--you'll want it a bit runny. Once cake is cooled, pour frosting over. Allow to cool about an hour before slicing. Store in fridge--the two pieces of leftovers! Enjoy!

Vegan Blueberry Muffins (during a mandatory evacuation: crochet a mandala, knit a sweater)

March 17 2019 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Blueberry Muffins (during a mandatory evacuation: crochet a mandala, knit a sweater) I began baking like a fiend this week. Remarkably, everything I've cooked/­­baked or attempted to do in lieu of checking myself into some place for a "respite" has turned out to be exactly what I needed to function just one minute longer, one hour longer, then an afternoon and finally an evening longer. Because that's how I'm operating here: in moments--with really good food. I stumbled across this recipe for blueberry muffins in a mad search for a morning treat for the workers in the yard and DH and me (because who doesn't love blueberry muffins?). I have dozens of amazing blueberry muffin recipes throughout my collection. But the need to seek and find just the right recipe was urgent and a nice Google distraction. Trusty King Arthur Flour was the answer to my prayers. I landed on the Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffin recipe. If you've got five minutes, cupcake liners and blueberries (frozen are fine), I highly recommend you give these a shot. Mine were made with a flax egg and vegan butter--that's all the substitution needed to re-create the recipe. I know I'll be making these again, possibly adding lemon zest next time, and subbing some whole wheat flour in the mix as well--making a gluten free version would work well, too. It's quite a forgiving recipe: so simple, plain and lovely. If you'd like a taller muffin, you can always up the baking powder by a 1/­­8-1/­­4 teaspoon. My kitchen once again became my sanctuary.  Vegan Blueberry Muffins  *Adapted from Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffin Recipe by King Arthur  2 cups all-purpose flour 2 1/­­4 t. baking power 1/­­4 t. salt (I adjusted down the amt. with salted vegan butter) 1/­­2 cup vegan butter 1 cup sugar 4 t. ground flax seed with 4 T. water and 2 t. EVOO (flax egg subbing for 2 eggs) 1 t. vanilla extract 1/­­2 cup almond milk 2 cups frozen blueberries  *a little sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins before baking Preheat oven to 375. Prepare muffin tin lined with cupcake wrappers, spray wrappers with nonstick spray. Measure out flour, salt and baking soda in bowl and sift together. Set aside. In medium bowl, mix butter for about two minutes. Add sugar, mixing until light and fluffy--about a minute longer. Add vanilla and flax egg, then mix a bit more. Then add flour and milk alternately mixing lightly after each addition--just until the dry flour is mixed in. Then fold in the blueberries. Fill cupcake liners about 3/­­4 full with batter, then sprinkle about a 1/­­2 teaspoon of sugar on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes. *I found baking for a little longer yielded a nice golden brown top. I used a toothpick to test if batter was baked through.   So why all this baking urgency, kitchen therapy? Well, last week this happened: continued treatment for winter poison ivy outbreak, major demolition of yard, my sister scheduled for surgery in a week...oh and there was the mandatory evacuation of our home IMMEDIATELY owing to our gas line being hit during yard excavation--(not owing to our crew, rather something to do with "marking" of line). With barely enough time to spare to grab my purse, phone and two Great Pyrenees--knocking on neighbor's doors to warn them of potential doom--again with TWO seventy pound white Thunder Wolves on my wrists--it's a miracle I've made it to Sunday. ALL this while DH went about calmly managing the entire surreal afternoon as the fire department, gas, water and line inspectors arrived. (Wonder how I held up? Picture exactly what I've described here, sprinkle in screaming, crying, blaming and more crying. Okay, so I'm not exactly Mother Teresa during a crisis.) It's all I could do to keep my heart from simply stopping in my chest. Alas, the crisis was averted, things repaired and life returned to somewhat normal conditions. Above--as the demolition began. Below, the calm after the "evacuate" storm: Dr. Thyme checking on the progress with the workers. I was inside at this point--rocking back in forth in a chair chanting some illegible crap about "There's no place like home...there's no place like home." So yes, there be baking happening. All through this, I'm trying to remain calm. Lending positive affirmations to my sister who is about to face a really tough trial (as if she hasn't faced enough already).  It's been one thing after another.  Luckily I have friends (dear, dear friends) who've received texts with probably too-long-while-also-trying-not-to-be-overly-dramatic explanations of all that's transpired. Then there's been two- and three-hour phone conversations with these women and my sister as well. Truthfully, everyone I know has A LOT happening, but I don't know what I'd do without them. I guess we've hit the age in life where the proverbial sh*t hits the fan fairly regularly. But honestly, enough already. "Pass the muffins, please!" Helping along the way are my needlework projects--working with my hands while my mind tries to make order out of chaos.  Projects I've found incredibly blissful. The Sunny Spread blanket. Using my stash yarn for this. It's a mandala with a square finish. Such a calm one-mandala-at-a-time escape. I'll need to make about 25 of these to create a nice throw.  Oh boy do I have a long way to go, but my Great Love Cardigan will be SO lovely when it's finished. I can't wait. I've been working on this while listening to an audiobook: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  This is the Adirondack Wrap crochet project. It's very relaxing to work on. Three triangles sewn together for final assembly. I just love it in my Mandala yarn. 

The Chocolate Chip Cookie I Can't Stop Baking (it's been around awhile, sorta like this blog)

February 17 2019 Vegan Thyme 

The Chocolate Chip Cookie I Can't Stop Baking (it's been around awhile, sorta like this blog) This is the chocolate chip cookie for which no other chocolate chip cookie can be measured. It's Alison Roman's chocolate chip cookie recipe. Yes, this is 'that' cookie--the Instagram darling from ages ago. I'm late to the party again. But I've made over a hundred of these by now. During the holidays, I'd gone off them for a bit--baking the Greatest Hits from the archive which appear every December. Then three weeks ago, during cookie craving mania, the recipe appeared on the top of my pile of recipes and here we are, on our third batch. I halve the recipe (which is very easy to do) because I take great joy in re-making this cookie. Takes five minutes to mix, roll into a log, then chill. I prep in the morning usually because it requires a two hour chill. The halved recipe makes for a perfect 12-16 or so cookie batch. That's enough cookies to last us a week. A shortbread texture, chocolate chunks and a pinch of salt. Before slicing, Alison't recipe indicates a roll of cookie log in egg and then sugar. I brush mine with soy milk and then roll in sugar and bake. Seemed to work fine.  I've spent ten years sharing food and life stuff here. During these last few years, a little less so. I told someone recently I "had" a blog as we discussed recipes. I said it had gone dormant, almost with a sense of shame. But truthfully, I'm not ashamed at all. Life moves on, new voices arise and new stories are told.  I've simplified, pared down. This is a hard thing to do in a that-was-news-five-minutes-ago world. I think it's why I felt compelled to share this cookie even though its five minutes of fame was last year.   If you've read this far, I might as well add a few highlights/­­accomplishments/­­humble-brag moments of life--just so we're all caught up. Things haven't changed much. There's the knitting. My steady companion for over fifteen years now.  Ramblin' Woman by Caitlin Hunter. Here's mine on Ravelry here. The Weekender by Andrea Mowry pullover. Here's mine on Ravelry here.  The 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes. Here's mine on Ravelry here. (Btw, DH loves this hat. I was so thrilled!) Us. My steady companion for over twenty-two years. The furbabies. Always. My sister and her Dear Husband: the newlyweds as of last summer

Vegan Peanut Butter Sandies

October 22 2017 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Peanut Butter Sandies This cookie isn't your typical peanut butter cookie--no fork tine and crosshatched business required. Which is good, because having to maneuver a fork over balls of dough poses challenges for me right now. Simple baking only. One handed baking and cooking only. It's okay. These peanut butter cookies surprised me. They have a light, crumbly texture--even with the addition of my natural chunky style peanut butter. By my own insistence that I get back to baking, I stumbled upon this recipe in the New York Times for cookie inspiration. Julia Moskin was on a mission to recreate this cookie from City Bakery in New York. There are seventy-five comments regarding the cookie making attempts. I read them all (because why not). To make vegan, I simply used flax egg--with so few ingredients, it's really a very easy cookie to make/­­adapt. (I will admit that though I love a peanut butter cookie, just the thought of the measuring cup after sort of makes me not pursue it as regularly as I'd like.) What an insane concern. As a fan of peanut butter of all stripes, these have been worth the effort. I made them using my small cookie baking scoop. You will thank yourself later when you can't resist having another one.   Took a little tumble a few weeks ago, and like THAT, I was in a cast. Broke my wrist, needed surgery, blah, blah, blah. The whole thing has been an awakening for me. My fifties so far have proven to be, well. . . I'm ready to skip into my sixties and forget this decade is all I'm saying. I'm not sugar-coating here nor do I need be reminded of how much worse it could have been. Were it not for my sister, my dear friends and my oh-so-patient husband, this ordeal may have been my undoing. We were on a hike, on a beautiful fall afternoon--the crispest, coolest Saturday we've had all year, then. . . DH saw me go down. Wrist was in a bit of a twisted and unnatural state at the end of my arm as I struggled to stand up, then came OMG! I broke my wrist! (and other choice words). Luckily I: 1) did not break my dominant hand 2) have an amazing orthopedic surgeon who saw to it that I was tended to per his direction in the ER and then subsequently operated on said fracture, and 3) had both a wonderful urgent care and hospital staff who utterly and completely took excellent care of me despite my cries, screams and moments of near passing out--and then made sure I was passed out to properly tend to the break: thank you!     Other knitters/­­crocheters and bakers and people in general have had similar wrist break experiences. I know because I have read about them ALL. My first thought was: WHAT ABOUT KNITTING AND CROCHET: OMG! By my second week, there were fewer tears and woe is me-ing, and I finally picked up my needles and held them in my hand for the first time.  Knitting Shoulder Cozy by Churchmouse Yarns. Using Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball. The Puppy. . .The Runt--a fitting term of endearment as we have realized: we definitely have a runt. She weighs in at under forty pounds and. . .we are past our six month mark. Her sister weighed almost sixty by this point. She is just adorable and smart and loves, loves, loves her very big sissy. Though I think there are times when she wonders: when will I get that big? Actually, she's perfect just the way she is. Vegan Peanut Butter Sandies *adapted from NYT /­­ Julia Moskin makes appx. 24 cookies with small 1" cookie scoop 1/­­2 cup vegan butter 1/­­4 cup plus 2 T. brown sugar 1/­­4 cup plus 2 T. granulated sugar 1/­­2 t. fines sea salt 1 cup chunky natural peanut butter (I used Smuckers) 2 T. ground flaxseed + 4 T. water + 1 T. olive oil whisked (to replace egg) 1 cup all purpose flour *extra sugar and salt for dusting Preheat oven to 350. Get your cookie sheet ready with parchment paper. In medium bowl, cream together the sugar and vegan butter--then add peanut butter and flax egg--mix well. Then add salt and flour and mix until just combined--don't over mix. Scoop out in small 1' cookie mounds. They won't spread so no worries on crowding. Then sift together 2 T. sugar and 1 t. sea salt or flake salt in a small bowl and lightly sprinkle over each cookie before baking. Bake for 15 minutes--you want them to brown a bit around edges.   

Oh My Vegan Blueberry Pie with Perfect Double Crust Dough (and eight paws!)

July 1 2017 Vegan Thyme 

Oh My Vegan Blueberry Pie with Perfect Double Crust Dough (and eight paws!) In baking, like everything else in life, weather, moods and trips to the store dictate whether pie is in order. I'm that person who sees pies in grocery store cases and thinks: what a shame, why don't people bake their own pies anymore? Then crave pie all the way home. It's been humid and unbearable one day, dry and breezy the next so far this summer with very little rain.  Hot days of summer or not--I was baking a pie this week.  I don't know why I've always felt baking a pie is an all day affair. It never is. Pie memories I have are of a pastry cutter and my mother with a large bowl of flour and clumps of butter rolling about in pieces, seeping through the thin wires of the cutter, and of me asking for raw bits of dough to nibble on while she continues to roll through the process of butter, dough, shortening. Then her with a large wooden rolling pin (the same one I still use today), shaping a circle out onto the kitchen counter with a few flings of flour tossed over and under the dough before being carefully flattened into the vintage Corning Ware blue cornflower pie plate (the exact same pie plate I use to today). Then she'd take gobs of whatever fresh fruit was available at the store for filling and copious amounts of sugar. Peach pies more often than not, but for me--berries always in summer. It never seemed to be a big deal for her to just magically throw together a pie.  The pies were always scrumptious.  There are a few schools of thought out there as to whether pie crust is a butter only affair or a shortening AND butter affair. I am of the latter in terms of preference. Nothing fancy. Use whatever design you'd like to vent the pie during baking. Giving into my craving for pie the entire pie process comes together and bakes in about an hour and a half. The "half hour" set aside for mandatory cooling period for the dough. Eating of said pie commences after a good hour or two of cooling with a dallop of vegan vanilla ice cream: a la mode. Or saved for the next morning. . . for breakfast. (The best way to eat pie if you ask me.)   This is actually my second berry pie I've baked in two days.  And aside from pies: here's the newest member of the family.  This is our last addition to the family what with all the aging we have left in front of us . . we are now two dogs, two humans and four hearts. She is a little under weight and has much growing to go. She is super smart. Her sister loves her, but is a bit too big to have "full access" for play time (because her paw literally covers the little one's head entirely). Supervised play only for the time being.  She fell asleep on the exam table at her first vet appointment while getting her booster shots.  Awww.  The first day we ALL met her! Smallest. Sweetest. Big Sissy loves her, too.  Now. Yup. It's a whole new world around here. Vegan Blueberry Pie Perfect Double Crust Pie Dough 2 1/­2 cups all purpose flour (10 1/­2 ounces by weight) 7 T. cold vegan butter  1/­4 cup cold vegetable shortening 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 8 T. ice cold water In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Then cube the ice cold butter and shortening and using a pastry blender, work the dough until the butter and shortening are in small pieces--some larger pieces are okay--actually are fine! Then begin adding the water one tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough around with a spoon to incorporate the water. Begin to work the dough into a ball carefully with your hand--but don't "over handle" the dough--you want to be able to form a ball. Then divide the ball in half. Flatten each half into a disc, then wrap in plastic and place in fridge for 30-45 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the filling: 6-7 cups frozen blueberries (*I only had four cups of blueberries on hand, so added frozen black and red raspberries to offset the amount--it works out fine--but I did buy more blueberries for next time) 1/­4 t. ground cinnamon 2 T. corn starch 2 T. all purpose flour 1/­2 cup sugar juice of whole lemon Preheat oven to 425. Prepare a 9" pie plate for baking. Toss all filling ingredients together in a bowl. Roll out pie dough on well-floured surface to a 10" in diameter circle--or wide enough to cover the base of the pie plate with a bit of overhang. Place dough in pie plate, pressing it in to fit bottom and come up the sides. *You don't want the crust too thin--about a 1/­4" works well. Add the filling. Repeat with other half of dough and then place on top of filling. Fold the dough around the edges under and using your finger and thumb, pinch the crust closed. For the top of the pie, use whatever "venting" system you'd like. I just used a knife and cut out my own decorations, well. . . triangles.  Bake for 20 minutes at 425. Then turn oven down to 350 and bake for an additional 40 minutes or until crust begins to brown.  Allow to pie to cool for at least an hour before slicing. Store in fridge. 

Little Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Gluten Free!)

September 24 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Little Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Gluten Free!) Named so for their little bite-sized appeal, these cookies are a powerful reminder that even if it's an unbearable 90 degrees in St. Louis (and has been so since like May!), fall is really just around the corner. The fact that my oven has been on the fritz since about the same time means my kitchen magic has, too. Thank god for husbands who will stay home while one works to answer the door when oven repairmen appear, to steadfastly refuse to let said person leave unless it has been undeniably tested beyond a reasonable doubt that said oven is FULLY functional because, godforbid, should said WIFE come home and even for one minute NOT be able to work her oven because we had that happen already and to say life was pretty miserable for awhile without the oven is an understatement, well. . . it was.  I am happy to report, things are MUCH better here now.   Little Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies (GF) *makes 12 cookies 3/­­4 cup plus 2 T. gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1) 1/­­4 C sugar 3 T. brown sugar 4 T. vegan butter 1 1/­­2 t. ground flax seed plus 2 T. water with 1 T. olive oil (for the egg) 2 T. pumpkin puree 2 T. pecan pieces 1/­­3 C chocolate chips 1/­­2 t. vanilla extract 1/­­2 t. ground cinnamon 1/­­2 t. ground nutmeg 1/­­2 t. ground ginger 1/­­4 t. ground allspice 1/­­4 t. fine sea salt 1/­­4 t. baking soda 1/­­4 t. baking powder Sift all dry ingredients (including spices) together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Then mix your vegan egg (flax seed mixture) in a small bowl and set aside. Put butter, sugars, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract in a medium bowl and mix well until smooth and creamy. Add the flax seed mixture to this. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet mixture while also adding the pecans and chocolate chips--mix just until all dough is wet. Place the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400. Using a cookie scoop, place cookie dough about 2" apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool. Enjoy!

Reading Between the Lines

June 26 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Reading Between the Lines I opened the door to walk out and get the paper in this godforsaken heat at seven in the morning, and this fellow was staring at me. First of all, it must have taken him all day to get up the gigantic hill in our back yard to our FRONT door. Omg. Poor creature.  Then, working in the book biz continues (to my utter shock and dismay). At times, my intermittent dealing with the public slowly erodes my faith in the future of humanity. Not that all book lovers are dealing a blow to my sensibility of our plight, but let's say if I have one more seventy year old woman ask me to look up five erotic-romance titles for her while she steadies herself on her walker, well, I think I might just leave the whole entire job behind with utterances of "WTF?!" I cannot make this up. I wish I could. But nope. When I come home and share these stories with DH, he laughs hysterically, shaking his head in disbelief. On a good note: working around books, I find my personal love of reading has been put to the test as I work with some really brilliant folks who, for probably the same reason I landed in a book store, are there as well: the books. (And maybe not so much the "people".) There are speed readers who devour books like I devour pints of Ben & Jerry's vegan ice cream. I have great conversations about books. It's like having my own personal book club around me forty hours a week. I love it.  Right now I'm reading: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley. Let's just say I speed read my way through the first hundred pages yesterday. There's a private plane that crashes. Two survivors. The book is written in quick-paced prose with plenty of questions raised as you begin to learn the past of each of the passengers on board--which may or may not lead to who or why or how the plane went down. Keeping me interested, on my toes and will finish it today--well, I'll try. Then there was the book, Dodgers by Bill Beverly. This book became a store Must Read as one of our resident readers one day shared as I was perusing titles: LOTS of buzz about this book. Read it and let me know what YOU think. Hmm. Well, I thought it both gripping and I could not put it down. (Even mailed it to my sister.)  It's about two young brothers East and his brother Ty and two others who are from the "drug-infested" inner-city of LA who are instructed to travel with each other to Wisconsin on a "mission" given to them by a leader of the clan to kill a witness in an upcoming trial. If there is ever a movie made of this book (and I'm sure there will be)--I know exactly who I'd root for to play East. You read this book and see what a Road Trip is really like from the eyes of four young men who navigate the Midwest highways and landscape, but at the same time navigate surviving each other.     Sometimes I look at Frankie and am so damn happy with her, I want to cry.  These are Eastern Phoebes who decided to make a nest in our breezeway.  This bird is part of the flycatcher family of birds. So they seek out areas high and protected, for raising their brood. The birds feed on bugs and insects brought to them by mama bird, who is catching them mid-flight at times and returning to the nest with bugs sometimes as big as her head, it's wonder she can even fly. This behavior is called "hawking" according to the Bird Book. She's a protective mama bird. Though I will say, she's all business with these kids she's raising. One morning we lost one. It broke my heart. But they are very close to flying the coop now. Any day. It's also said that they may "return" the following year to the same nest.  Our fingers are crossed. Knitting up a Reverse Psychology shawl, with Vice hombre yarn I got at my LYS.  The color makes me happy. So did the trip to the yarn store. Got a much needed break yesterday as I ran on a trail nearby. I heard the whistle and thought I'd make the crossing. But then approached the tracks only to see the train had arrived. I thought it'd make for a nice screen capture of a happy woman who had to make a hard stop on a three-miler during the morning's ninety-degree temps. I finished the run. But barely.

Gluten Free Mexican Casserole with Pickled Onions

May 2 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Gluten Free Mexican Casserole with Pickled Onions This dinner should be called, "my-kitchen's-calling-me" casserole.  Here' how this awesome vegan (oh and did I mention it was gluten-free, too?) casserole came about.  I made a lovely pan of veggies and beans to use as my filler: onion, garlic, green pepper, mushrooms, black beans, corn and a can of tomatoes, plenty of cumin and oregano--spice it up to your heart's content. *I have a special Penzey's blend I use, too. Let this mixture simmer for a bit (let the juices reduce, too), and while it simmers, make the pickled onions: red onion slice thin, juice of one lime with a pinch of sugar and some salt and white vinegar--enough to cover the onions in a bowl. Set this aside. When you've finished the pickling stuff, begin layering the casserole by using a square dish, spread a bit of salsa over the bottom to begin with, then cover this with corn tortillas (you'll have to break a few in half just to fill in the corners well. In between the three or four layers you make, add a smattering of vegan cheeze in between for good measure, then top the casserole with a bit of the cheese and bake at 375 until bubbly, about 30 minutes. While this bakes, make your rice and guacamole you'll be serving with it on the side. This has been on our table at least once a week for the past few weeks now.  You can see here what I'm talking about with the whole "layering" thing. Just keep layering until you run out of filling. You'll want to keep room at the top so while it bakes, you don't have oven spillage. This is delicious and makes for an even better left over.   The night I made this, I called home to say "I" would be cooking dinner.  (Dr. Thyme has been doing the honors of cooking as of late, and doing a fine job at it, I might add, however. . .) Yes, I realized it was almost five-thirty, but I still wanted to cook.  You see, I missed my kitchen.  My afternoons planning for an evening.  My evenings planning for the next day.  This "work" stuff is beginning to wear thin on me.  Seems like life itself has been zipping by at warp speed.  I don't like it one bit.  I had to go somewhere for some "work stuff". Those critters you see here were what I saw when I was there. It was some awful work-related thing designed to torture you into becoming better at *stuff*.  Yes, three days, eight hours a day in a windowless conference room ALWAYS motivates.  When I got home, I craved normalcy. Like knitting, gardening and just chilling. I'm knitting this Pebble Beach Shawl. I'm using some yarn that I had left over from my "subscription" yarn deal: Teresa Ruch Designs Fingering 5/­­2. It literally took me two hours to wind into a cake--it's a slippery kind of yarn. I'm not used to working with "slippery" yarns, but felt this would be a nice change rather than hold onto wool during the summer.  I thought it might go faster than it is going. It's still very lovely. There is "purling".  (I'm not a lover of the purl stitch.) Yup. That's my spring garden shoved into the back of our car. Pretty, no? Happy to be home.  So. Happy.  Our baby girl will be two years old this summer. Hard to believe. Time is flying here, folks.

Vegan Feel-Good Chili with Everything (cooking to help heal--isn't that what all cooking is anyway?)

March 6 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Feel-Good Chili with Everything (cooking to help heal--isn't that what all cooking is anyway?) I needed to spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen. It began like all chili making endeavors: a glug of oil, spoonfuls of cumin, coriander, some mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, salt and the pile of veggies I had carefully spent the last half hour chopping and mincing. I literally just kept pulling out veggies from the crisper and methodically went through them with the knife: zucchini, onion, carrot, garlic, green pepper, celery. Then poured in a can of black beans and a can of kidney beans, then two cans of tomatoes--one sauce, one diced. And finally, added a bag of my favorite vegan crumbles (Beyond Beef). With the aroma of cumin and my heavy-handed scoops of some favorite chili blends (okay, it's Penzey's), my kitchen began to heal my soul.  Low and slow--the way all chili should be cooked, the way all souls should heal.  Quickly, while one eye was on the pot of chili, I whipped up a batch of brownies, too.  It seems lately with the job and all, my time in my most favorite place has been shrunken to minutes of chopping or re-heating here and there rather than immersing myself in a beloved recipe and lingering over my cookbooks. Pulling a homemade meal from scratch is relegated to weekends only. Today, I wanted a lingering, good-smelling pot of chili to make the house feel like a home. Like it felt before I jumped head first into this full-time work stuff.  I will be honest and say I have doubted my ability to handle such an enormous change in my life from the minute I walked into this. Last week made me question this journey even more.  I made an urgent trip to Chicago to be with my sister.  On the phone was someone saying through tears, "It's me." Over and over again. I had no idea who the "me" was. It was my sister. I was completely taken aback and stunned and all the other words you can find to describe shock. I had to calm down and listen to what she was trying to tell me, because for a minute, I thought she was hurt.  Turns out, someone was hurt, in fact, someone hurt so much, they were no longer here.  The pain in my sister's voice, the tears in my own eyes--burning, we both wept uncontrollably. Neither one of us understanding much of what the other said for the first few minutes. Then clarity. Then composure. Then I said I'd be there in the coming days. (For timing, it could not have been worse as DH had to catch a plane for NYC and this trip could not be negotiated. Don't ask.) The story as it relates to "the call" is too difficult to re-count. The sad truth, however, is that no matter what you think or see someone presenting to "the world", i.e., FB or blogs or what-have-you, you are NOT getting the full picture. Never. Ever. I have gone through the postings, my sister and I seeing the smile, the family, the friends. We both offering guesses as to when the moment of serious doubt may have crept in? Wondering whether anyone else could have seen, sensed or guessed.   How could this have happened? The sad truth is no one could have, and we'll never know. It struck so close to home--our father's grief so deep we can barely reach him.  And my sister and I realizing that this moment is one with which she and I could have easily lived through ourselves had she not changed (six years ago last Thursday). Not that any one's personal struggles and overcoming them is any greater or less than someone else's, it's just that in this particular instance no one was able to help. Though it was not for lack of trying.   Someone helped my sister, someone saved her. She saved herself. She was saved.  Saved. Saved. Still here. Still my sister.  I have had six more years with my sister. Six years longer. Six years happier. Six years strong.  This separation from my family, this five hour drive/­­forty-five minute plane trip is too long, too far away.  I am very homesick. Now more than ever. I think how lucky I am to have the small family left that I do have. It is a gossamer thread in that it consists of only three--my husband, my sister and our dad--the dad who adopted me, who is now almost seventy-five, and having to manage through a grief so strong, we don't know how he'll survive.  Back to reality tomorrow. But meantime, DH and I went for a long walk yesterday as I shared all the stories of the trip home I could, trying to scrape together in my recounting of how such a thing could have possibly occurred.  I find solace in re-telling. I don't know, maybe it's a woman thing. But the telling of this has helped me in some way put this piece of grief somewhere else for the time being. As anyone who has experience with death will tell you, time heals. It surely does. But it is a healing that is unique to each individual it touches.  Finding comfort and taking care of each other. And coming home. . . Finally a reminder of what I miss when I'm gone. 

Finding My Voice and Strength Through Change (and a new blog direction)

February 7 2016 Vegan Thyme 

Finding My Voice and Strength Through Change (and a new blog direction) Time is ridiculously cruel. How dare spring think she can rear her head up! It's only February for goodness' sake! Now here I am post-seven-years-of-solitude, and everything around me seems to be moving at lightening speed.  I loved every minute of my time alone. Well, I wasn't exactly "alone" in the sense that I sat in my hovel worrying away every minute of the day in my own head--there were the dogs, my husband, our garden, the woods, books, my cooking, running, knitting.  Every day had its ebb and flow.  Mornings were set aside for morning stuff, like coffee (lots), reading, knitting, walking the dogs and running.  Then afternoon arrived and a whole different set of priorities emerged: dinner, dogs (again and always, the dogs), knitting (because I am really someone who prefers evening knitting to day time knitting) and then time with hubby as we found ourselves gobsmacked over the fact that another twenty-four hours had passed.  As we are aging, we find time to be a thief.  We cannot believe it. Another day. Gone. It's hard for me to believe, but this blog's life began eight years (and many dinners, desserts, cookies and traumatic experiences) ago. I cannot begin to imagine what I might have missed capturing in life were it not for these pages. Oh sure, the memories would be stored in my head. But still, the emotional content and visual components would be lost.  I don't pretend to think that this blog will live on into eternity, but a woman can wish.  I made a choice not to contribute to the human legacy, therefore, I leave "legacy" up to the family I have (my sister), my husband, our canine companions we've cherished, loved and lost (fourteen and counting), and those few close, dear friends I have known nearly all my life.  Now I shift my focus here from the vegan food, to Vegan Time (or Thyme). This, after all, is the footprint of my life here. Now not just the "food please", but the rest of life. Because there is so much more than just food happening. Oh but there are still amazing vegan eats happening, there just seems to be only so much one person can produce and, well, I've produced hundreds of those "eats" and now many, if not all of them, are on a steady rotation here at home.  *If by chance my creative cooking emerges with a plate I feel is share-worthy, it will find a place here. So the blog stays.   I've been struggling to work out a balance that allows me to enjoy life in the same way I had a month ago: in solitude, in quiet, with my own rhythm.  I've come home at the end of a few of these days completely spent and sometimes in tears.  Fear is what has brought me here. Fear is what has kept me moving.  (Someone said this once, I can't remember who.) I finally, just last week, told a best friend of mine (since we were fourteen--we've known each other, mind you!) that I had returned to working full time. She was shocked. She said she thought she'd rather DIE than to work full time again, but also added (just to paint her in a more loving light) that she was so very proud of what I was doing. The same thing my sister has shared with me over and over again. The same another dear friend of mine said when she reached out--so proud and happy for me.  Kind words of encouragement. All welcome. But those women have all been heroes to me for so very long as they have carried on raising children (or not) and STILL worked full time.  That was me last November: no way. I could NEVER. . . return to work. But the opportunity (and strange timing of it all) was something that was bigger than me. Not looking. No resume in hand.  This happened for a reason. One still unclear to me.  Meantime, our weekends are filled with a renewed sense of purpose. Getting out with the kiddos is something we make time for. And somehow, weekends are--instead of a run-on sentence of the M-F of old--now a mandate to recharge, find new things to do and new places to go.  Recently our love of St. Louis' Forest Park has given us new ground to explore with the four-legged girls. And then we always migrate to South Grand for a bite to eat.  We love this city.  The Great Basin in front and the St. Louis Art Museum in back.  Maps and new foot paths make getting around Forest Park so much better than it used to be. We moved from the south city area eleven years ago. I have always loved the city. But now I love my garden, my woods more. Sometimes, change is good. We stumbled upon a Little Free Library on a walk last weekend.  It thrilled me to no end!  Again with the books, right? Of course we're always hungry, too. So then off to Lulu's. My favorite vegan eatery ever and fave menu item: buffalo cauliflower wrap and tater tots. Yum! (I know you've seen me rave about this before, but seriously. . . best. food. ever.) Well, tomorrow is Monday again.  Reset.

It's Organized Chaos

January 4 2016 Vegan Thyme 

It's Organized ChaosI have spent the better part of these last few days "tidying up". The stories of people in my community losing everything to raging flood waters sparked something in my heart that said, "if that were me, how would I manage." Every year around this time, I go through and try to purge from life those items and things collected that might have worn out their welcome and need a new home. It's a long process of self inventory as well as physical inventory of what we have, what we need and what can simply go. For me, doing so is a luxury, for others right now, it is a forced experience brought on by the floods. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like. This is a year of change for our household. My blog will serve as my "outlet" for navigating around this coming year and all it brings. I'll continue to highlight vegan eats as much as possible and toss in those sometimes "snarky" observations of life here and there.  The year ended on a sad note for us with the loss of Annie. We spent a lot of time during the holiday reflecting on our life as a family of "many dogs" and how each dog we've shared our life with has shaped us, changed us and made us better people.  We cannot ever imagine our lives without the dogs.  Then the floods hit and we once again, reflected on life.  How can you not when you see neighbors suffering through one of the worst disasters to hit this area since the floods of '93.  People impacted by the flooding still need help and I read in this morning's paper the Red Cross  provided shelter to over five hundred families at the height of the disaster. The Salvation Army is also assisting families. Donations of items to the displaced are now being sorted and will be distributed.  It is still beyond comprehension the loss. Soon I was considering the "things" we have and hold on to. I function best with very little clutter, straight lines and organization. Simple is better. That little best selling book on the matter of "tidying up" is my manifesto when it comes to dealing with life as I have dealt with it over these fifty-some decades. Does it give me joy, no? Out it goes. Well. . . not so fast: Hello, YARN!  All yarn gives joy, does it not?  And cookbooks and books in general, they give joy, too. Right? According to me, the answer is YES.  So my tidying up began in earnest with my yarn. Oh. The. Places. I. Thought. I'd. Go. (with my yarn). And the places I still think I'll go to with my yarn: brioche knitting (loved it, then hated it, then NO). Cabled pullover sweater, maybe. Tons of shawls I never wear, YES! Why so many shawls? Mostly because they are fun to knit, to manipulate, to look at in admiration as I: YO, p1 and skpsso. Knitting works to calm my mind.  One of the last things I do every night before bed is to knit.  So the yarn stays. All one full closet of it and dresser drawer. It all stays.  Saroyan Shawl I am knitting (has a beautiful leaf pattern along the side. Pretty!).  On the wardrobe front, I pulled every single piece of clothing I owned out from my closet and placed them in piles: keep, donate, business, casual, long sleeve, short sleeve, workout, light-to-dark color--one thing became clear: I am someone for whom the color spectrum of black bell tolls. My closet consists of black (mostly), grey (second mostly), purple (third place), and a very few teals have come to be my staples. No yellows, blues, greens, whites or any funky horizontal stripes or polka dots either.  I hate stripes and when they began to appear in fashion I thought the world had gone mad!  Stripes should be banished from fashion forever. My life already feels lighter.

Godspeed Annie (rescue lessons learned: a dog from the streets to our home. . . we were never the same again)

December 16 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Godspeed Annie (rescue lessons learned: a dog from the streets to our home. . . we were never the same again) When we brought Annie home, or I should say, when I brought Annie home, it was during a time when I was knee-deep into "rescuing" dogs, doing volunteer work with a couple of local animal organizations. We had more than a few rescues at home already. But some well-intended person I had met within the "dog rescue world" mentioned they had a lab mix that had been returned twice for "behavior issues". I don't know why this statement fell on deaf ears. It broke my heart. At the time, I had absolutely zero tolerance for such humans and their intolerance of dogs. I was shocked, "She's not an ill-fitting coat for crying out loud!" She came home with me joining our already growing family of canines. That was fourteen years and many traumatic encounters ago. I have to be honest with you, Annie was a wonderful dog, but also a very flawed dog owing to some obviously flawed humans.  I'm not going to sugar coat our life with Annie. She loved humans, however, she was never a snuggler, hugger or lap dog. Never. She "allowed" you to pet her, and rub her belly--but only once in a while, if she felt like it. But rolling over on her back was never much her thing. As we would soon learn, there are reasons for this, not least of which was her having to defend herself. But beyond that, the typical human/­­dog bonding stuff never happened. She loved treats. Loved them.  Other dogs, not so much. Except for one little beagle we had rescued from the country--she became her lifelong companion. And for other reasons I'll never quite understand, her partner in a canine "packing" order.  Dogs pack.  They are pack animals by nature.  We forget this sometimes when we are--with the best of intentions--giving them loving homes, warmth, safety and security. Annie and her best friend packed so well, they decided one night to begin to do what pack animals do: to rid the home of one of our dogs (my very first dog I had had since she was eight weeks old), a cocker spaniel named Lexi. She was our oldest dog and not in the best of health. Despite this, her other sisters respected her as she was seen as sort of the queen of the roost. To our eyes anyway. One night we came home to a noiseless welcome. An eerie quiet. And only a couple of happy tail wags, minus one in particular--who always welcomed her mommy home. When we got to the kitchen, there was a gruesome scene. One so traumatic it changed my views of dogs being warm and fuzzy creatures to my now having an incredible respect for their capability of instinctual, primitive behaviors. And yes, Lexi bore the brunt of the hierarchy of the pecking order, to our complete and utter disbelief. But the question was, which dog(s) had committed the heinous act?  A few short months later, we would find out. It was as I was home alone and DH had left the house for an errand and I was there with our kiddos when an attack so vicious occurred, it knocked me off my feet. Annie and her cohort went after the second oldest dog in the home and were on a mission to now take her out. I was in the middle trying desperately to separate the jaws from the skin and in the process was bitten. I regained my balance enough to protect as best I could the dog being attacked.  I was afraid for not only her life, but for my own.  When DH returned home, of course there were tears and hysteria. Immediately, we had to get medical attention for our girl. The other two, completely unaware of their ill deeds, were being removed from the home immediately. I could barely stand to look at them. Our girl made it, thankfully. Annie and her cohort ended up in our city shelter not twenty-four hours later (which was then a gas chamber)--even though we took them to the Humane Society. (Apparently they are automatically put on death row when a "bite" incident occurs--this was what we were told then.) Needless to say, I have strong opinions on this particular philosophy, and let's just say it's been duly noted in my mind. And because I volunteered and helped rescue dogs with the city, they phoned me immediately after checking Annie and her partner in for their "final days".  I was completely losing my mind by this point. I marched right down there and saw them behind those bars and couldn't bear the thought of them being "destroyed". I pulled them out and brought them both home.  And here is where life with dogs for us changed forever.  We took them both to our vet. He looked me straight in the eye and said, You really would be best served to NEVER, EVER let either one of these dogs around another dog again, they are now working on instinct alone. This WILL happen again, and again. And of course the option of a humane euthanization was discussed, but at the time, I just couldn't bear it. DH and I discussed this ad nauseam. It was decided we'd bring them home work out a system of gating them off and giving them free rein over half the house. It was painful, uncomfortable, but the other alternative was worse in my mind.  When you love a dog, you will do almost anything to help them. There is no other creature on earth more connected to me than canines. I believe this to my very core. I am here for the dogs.  Life with them is both precious and sacred. We are all put here for some greater good--I believe mine and my husband's are for the dogs. The strays in this world did not ask to be dumped, left for society to clean up. And to those people who relegate these animals out into the streets, or "dump in the country"--there is a special place in hell for you. I am absolutely sure of this.  The people who open their homes to these animals are angels. You have NO idea what you are getting no matter how many ways to Sunday some good samaritan's sworn the dog is "rehabilitated" and now ready for a "forever" home. You. Just. Never. Know.  Nine times out of ten, the dog has been fostered, temperment tested, is in great shape and acclimates to its new home and all is well. But I cannot tell you the number of times I've encountered someone overly enthusiastic about their new "rescue" who is out in public for the first few times and their dog suddenly sees another dog and begins to exhibit behavior the new owners swear: "We've never seen her/­­him like this before."  I understand. Believe me. I do. When we decided to move, we had to give the floor plan great consideration. We had to have a home that would accommodate a two-pack family. When we left the home, we had to make doubly sure the security of one group of dogs from the other group was firmly in place. When we scheduled vet visits, the place had to arrange for either a separate entrance or for an appointment time when we would not encounter other dogs. When it came to dividing our time between the packs, we always practiced fairness and equal time share.    Six years ago, I stopped "rescuing" or volunteering for animal organizations.  We will always be a dog home, but a carefully vetted dog home.  If Annie is anywhere now, it is some place where her best buddy, Mystique is.  They are off somewhere ruling the world, running wild.  We said our goodbye to Annie here at home Sunday. She was "ready". Sixteen (or more--we have no idea) years long for this world. We just could not bear to take her into a place to have her final moments shattered by the chaos and discomfort of a sterile office setting. I was a psychological mess. I still am. I have spent every single day with her for the past several years.  Her schedule was my schedule and visa-versa.   On Sunday, we enlisted Lap of Love here in St. Louis.  This was our first time using this home service and all I can say is, Thank God for them.  Her ending, unlike her beginning, was peaceful, loving, respectful and graceful.  We wept. I am still weeping. I will have bouts of crying spells that will be out of nowhere. Then I will have moments where I can be completely stoic and discuss her without tearing up. My grieving process over her will take time. She was a lesson in unconditional love we will never forget.   We shared memories, challenges, wishes and torments we'd had with Annie with the vet that came to the home. I'm certain she's heard a thousand, but for this calling, you must steel yourself for these stories and shared experiences. She was a wonderful listener, she was gentle and caring.  For the first time in a long time, I was able to give Annie a bunch of big hugs and kisses and she didn't  squirm away or snap at me. I wrote Annie a letter Monday morning in my journal. I told her first and foremost we loved her. No matter what, we always loved her.  And of course, I told her I'd see her again.  We love you, Annabella Rosillini. (Because that is what we called her.)

My Mother's Stuffing Recipe: Gratitude Entry Number 328

November 25 2015 Vegan Thyme 

My Mother's Stuffing Recipe: Gratitude Entry Number 328 Today, I went for a run while DH hiked. We each had a dog in hand.  Nary a soul on the trail.  It was heaven.  Solitude.  Cool day, crisp breeze off the Mississippi River.  I logged three and a half miles. Frankie lead the whole way.  She's now sixteen months old.  Such a big girl.  Tomorrow, we sit around the table counting blessings, eating enough stuffing to officially count as an "entire baguette" (per person!) and keeping leftovers in the fridge hoping we (I) won't have to cook again for at least another five days.  I have had an especially good year (knock on wood).  No broken bones, still running, no serious illnesses, time with family and friends, etc. So many more things. But to keep this focused, I thought I'd stick with these few that come to mind. (There are thirty-seven more days left in this year. I know!) First of all. . .  For my husband, and the four-legged kiddos.  For brioche knitting.  What!?  Learning brioche knitting nearly did me in.  There were major knitting needle throw downs.  There were a few hissy fits. Many knots to untangle. Because it has taken me FOREVER to figure this out.  Thankfully, no one was hurt. I am quite proud of this knitting maneuver.  Score one for Over Fifty Brain! There will be more brioche knitting in my future.  For our sweet little special rescue who loves everyone she meets. She is our "senior" special needs girl.  She has taught us many life lessons.  For time with my sister.  I don't know where I'd be without her support, unconditional love and simple sisterly wisdom. Our mother was a kitchen goddess on Thanksgiving. It was the ONE day of the year we could count on her to really throw down in the food department.  Until she was too ill to carry on the tradition and a bucket of chicken became our Thanksgiving meal.  (Those were dark days.) My mom's stuffing recipe resides in my heart and I make it every year.  Or some iteration of it. It's gone through some revisions over the years, but the basic premise of it is the same. I've noted the ingredients which have become "newly-added": equal parts celery and onions with a stick of vegan butter cooked until onions soften (1-2 sticks vegan butter) two or more teaspoons sage, thyme and rosemary (yes, all of them)  (not the leaf kind of sage, the powder kind) bread cubes--like four cups or more *be sure ALL bread cubes are coated in butter before you add a single other thing (this is where the nibbling/­­eating of the stuffing always begins--you must taste it to be sure it has a sage-y flavor) wild rice (1/­­3 cup cooked--my new twist) 8 oz. mushrooms chopped (new) chopped pecans and dried cherries (like a 1/­­3 cup--also new to recipe) fresh ground pepper (lots) a bit of salt cook all these things together over medium heat until everything sort of smells and tastes amazing add about 2 qts. veggie stock  add stock in slow increments over a medium heat until all the ingredients begin to bubble and most of the bread cubes look like they are disintegrating, then add more stock, cook liquid down turn off heat pour stuffing into casserole dish pour a bit more stock over bread cube mixture bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes So grateful I watched her make this.  Thanks, mom!

Vegan Potato Kale Cauliflower Soup with Bernard Clayton's Dinner Rolls (let me catch you up on what's happened. . .)

October 26 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Potato Kale Cauliflower Soup with Bernard Clayton's Dinner Rolls (let me catch you up on what's happened. . .) It's soup season. I could eat it year round, but soup's appeal really begins to nestle in my bones around late October and runs all the way through til April. I blame this soup on my sister. She visited last week, and during one of our many "excursions" around town--(and there were many), we stopped in at Foundation Grounds Coffee in Maplewood, Missouri. They have vegan options on their menu! Yay! I had a bowl of their potato kale soup--a very restorative and nourishing break, with a cup of their hot chocolate. So. Good. I couldn't get the soup out of my mind and my food memory backlash wouldn't let go. So here I was yesterday afternoon trying my hand at the same soup, only this time, going into our garden for fresh kale, tossing in some cauliflower we had on hand and aromatics of onion and garlic for good measure. In total this soup has six ingredients give or take. The hands on time is minimal for such a ridiculously good soup. So simple. I needed simple as I am experiencing my first full-on cold. Or maybe it's a light case of flu. Whatever I have, it's rendered me light headed and low-energy. So soup making was something I could handle. Well, and then I craved bread.   Never one to ever, ever serve a bowl of soup without crusty rolls or a loaf of bread, I opted for one of my old time favorites: I whipped up a batch of Dinner Rolls from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Small Breads. Love this cookbook.  When I bake these, I modify the recipe quite a bit to my vegan/­­whole grain style of baking.   If you'd like to make these rolls with less "hands-on" time, place all the ingredients in a bread machine. It's much quicker. I make these at least once a week. They bake up superbly, crusty and are pure heaven. Freeze the left over rolls for the next night.  (*My god it's taken me an hour to write this first paragraph, cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle.)  All summer long, this kale looked like a giant bunch of weeds. I always leave it alone knowing that come fall--kale's beauty emerges.  Kale meals, and kale smoothies.  Well, as I was saying, my sister visited from Chicago. And we did and saw so much while she was here. When you take someone as a guest around your home town, it makes you really love where you live that much more. It's beautiful in St. Louis this time of year. The weather was amazing, the fall colors were stunning, and there were plenty of things to do and see. One day we dedicated to shopping--and I don't mean small shopping, we went big--which is exhausting for me because normally I don't venture out of my lair in the basement except for a trip to WM or Target. Then we spent another day hanging out in some of St. Louis' best used book stores. (St. Louis has many.) It's one of my all-time favorite pastimes: book shopping. We even went so far as to attend a "festival": OMG.  Saturday, the introverts in us decided we needed to go outside our comfort zone BIG time. So we attended the Apple Butter Festival in Kimmswick, Mo. Again. . . OMG. I was a little paralyzed with fear stunned at the attendance. But I thought this might be a great place for my sister to get some early Christmas shopping done. And she did. But by about our last turn in walking the entire square of the city through about a million human beings, I said two words: "I'm done." My sister laughed and said, "Me, too. . . you read my mind". We were both done. Heading up the hill back to our car, what do we spy with our little eye, but Jack Skellington! We both instantaneously looked at each other. What happened next is obvious.   We also spent some time in Tower Grove Park and I took her to my favorite local vegan restaurant, Lulu's Local Eatery. Again, anytime you are in St. Louis my vegan friends, you must visit here.  The pavilion at Tower Grove Park.  Tower Grove Park Scenery.  Frankie is now fifteen months old. She's slowly but surely turning into that Great Pyrenees we always knew she could be.  I have more gray hair as a result of it, but still.  I finally finished knitting this beeeuutiful, lacy, frilly scarf. I am not usually a "frilly" scarf woman, but for some reason, this speaks to me. I bought the yarn two years ago and have since done the unthinkable: I have no idea what yarn I used, the manufacturer's tag/­­wrapping is gone. I nonetheless wanted to share this and will provide this description: gossamer thread, berry-colored yarn, drapey and lacy and completely time consumptive.  It took me two years to finish.  Three hours to bind off.  Two seconds to fall in love with--unblocked.  As I said farewell to sissy, I captured a moment that so clearly captures what is most important to me in lifeFamily. Love. Happiness.  Vegan Potato Kale Cauliflower Soup serves 4 5 medium potatoes sliced (russets and red potato-combo is fine) 2 onions chopped 4 cloves garlic minced 1/­­2 head medium cauliflower chopped 4-6 leaves of kale 6 cups veggie broth 1/­­2 teaspoon coriander 1 teaspoon Italian herb blend 1/­­8 teaspoon cayenne pepper salt and pepper to taste In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in about a 1/­­4 cup of olive oil until they just begin to soften. Add seasonings--and you may use a bay leaf if you'd like, but we skipped it. Add the remainder of the ingredients, place lid on pot and simmer for about an hour. The potatoes and cauliflower should be fork tender. Break up the potatoes with the back of a spoon, leaving big chunks in there. Taste and add salt if and pepper as needed. Remove from heat about a half hour before serving to allow the soup to "settle" down a bit. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some yummy dinner rolls. Bernard Clayton's Dinner Rolls makes 9-10 rolls 1 small russet potato cooked (about 1/­­3 cup--you can leave skin on or scrape out the flesh) 1/­­3 cup soy or almond milk 1 teaspoon flaxseed mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter 1 1/­­2 cup unbleached all purpose flour 1/­­2 cup spelt flour 2 teaspoons sugar 1/­­4 teaspoon salt 2 1/­­2 teaspoons yeast Place all ingredients in bread machine in order specified. In mine, I put the wet ingredients first, then dry, with the yeast going in last. Select the "dough" program. After dough is finished, remove from machine and roll into log, cut into approximately ten pieces. Roll each dough piece into a round ball, tucking in at the bottom, or pinching together at bottom. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure the dough balls are not touching. Sprinkle with a bit of the flour, then cover with plastic wrap and let the dough balls proof for about 30 minutes in a warm spot in the kitchen. While the dough proofs, preheat oven to 400. After dough has proofed, remove plastic and bake rolls for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for about ten minutes before serving. 

Vegan Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Rosemary Pecan Cookies (September flew by. . .Milestones and Knitting Markers)

September 27 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Rosemary Pecan Cookies (September flew by. . .Milestones and Knitting Markers) I bake a batch of these rosemary cookies at least once a month--when I remember to trim my rosemary. The cookies are delicious, aromatic and, of course, filled with chocolate. Lately it's been all I can do to keep up with my garden. The late summer heat wreaked havoc on everything from the tomatoes, to the lawn to even the oregano--which tolerates everything. While I was doing some container plant housekeeping I discovered hidden underneath some erstwhile yellow pear tomato plants a little bush of rosemary I had tucked into a container as companion plant with thyme and lemon balm. After trimming back the vines, here was this gorgeous, full rosemary plant flourishing. I pinched off a stem and inhaled the piney aroma. I had to bake something with this now.  I always grow rosemary during summer. In the past, my plants have survived. Lately, I get them for one summer, then end up having to hunt down new plants in the spring. It's a shame because I would love to have a hedgerow of rosemary in the garden. Alas, it's not to be.  Before I share the recipe for the cookies, let me give you some background about the origin of the cookie. It comes from one of these cookbooks lining my shelf: Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. By far, one of my most cherished vegan cookbooks. But tucked in the back of the book, in the dessert section, was a rosemary chocolate chip cookie recipe. I remember that being the first recipe I tried. And every other recipe since--and we're talking probably once a week I turn to the book for inspiration, I find delicious vegan eats. But this cookie! My adaptation is below. It's completely worth the splurge for some rosemary if you find yourself out of it. Don't even think about using dry.   I cannot believe we're almost out of September. A lot happens in September. A lot of personal milestones for me, too. I find it a bit overwhelming quite honestly. But I always somehow come out at the end of the month feeling like we've gotten to October and now, deep breath and okay. . . the next three months will be a blur.  Yesterday Dr. Thyme and I hiked around Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis. The hike would have been a simple 3.75 miles. All pavement. No biggie.  Except we got lost. Don't ask me how. It defies rationality. Thank god for his smartphone app and the find my car point on Google Maps.  Technically, we hiked over six miles. Which is a 10k walk. Which is fine, except neither one of us were prepared for it. Which meant for some very thirsty, hungry, need to use the facilities NOW sort of moments at the end.  I love getting old. LOVE it. Yup. We're lost. And a little sunburnt. Wearing our look-alike David Bowie t-shirts.  Meanwhile, in the back yard. The Monarch butterflies have arrived, or maybe they're passing through.  I love them dearly and look for them every time I hike through the woods.  At the lake yesterday. Beautiful, overcast. Perfect. I took a brief hiatus from knitting when we had the miserable ninety degree weather.  I guess I'm a fall/­­winter/­­spring knitter.  Well, I think I might be able to finish my Hitofude cardigan. I am almost finished with my first repeat on the bottom. Two more to go. During the course of my knitting and counting and watching my markers, I somehow dropped a stitch.  Oh the horrors! I was royally pissed about it being that it was like twelve rows back.  No way in hell am I ripping this damn thing back. I'll fix it after I bind off this effing thing.  *I do love it. It will be easier to love once it's off the needles and on my shoulders. I am sort of in a love hate with my Stephen West Exploration Station shawl. There is a section of brioche knitting ahead of me in the pattern.  I have never 'brioched' before. So this should be fun! Our baby girl Francine is just so precious we can't stand it. Celebrating the Pope being in the country because she is, after all, named after him.  (Which keeps her in our good graces despite the holy terror she has reigned upon this house.) There is nothing she won't put into that mouth of hers.  At fourteen months, we keep wondering: when will she grow up and act like the Great Pyrenees she is supposed to be?  Her big sister wants to know, too.  Vegan Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Rosemary Pecan Cookies *adapted from Isa Does It makes about 18 cookies 1 cup spelt flour 1/­­3 cup unbleached all purpose flour 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans 1/­­2 teaspoon baking soda 1/­­2 teaspoon salt 1/­­2 cup coconut oil 2 stems of fresh rosemary about 3" long--chopped  1/­­3 cup brown sugar 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/­­4 cup plus two tablespoons almond milk 1 tablespoon ground golden flaxseed 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3/­­4 cup chocolate chips Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flours, baking soda, salt and pecans. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add the oil, rosemary, sugars flax, vanilla extracts and mix well. Add the almond milk and mix until blended. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips to the wet and stir with a spoon until a soft dough forms. Place in fridge for about thirty minutes. Remove and using a cookie scoop, place cookies on baking sheet about 2 inches apart--they will spread a bit. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Enjoy!

Vegan Peach Cobbler with Crunchy Muesli Topping (revamped from the Amish. . . and my new "coloring book" obsession)

August 10 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Peach Cobbler with Crunchy Muesli Topping (revamped from the Amish. . . and my new  I had two bowls of this peach cobbler last night. First bowl was my test picture (does that one count)? I HAD to eat it or the ice cream would have gone to waste. Second bowl was right before bed. No regrets. I have to tell you peaches are one of my most favorite fruits. When this time of year rolls around and my kitchen counters and fridge are full of summer veggies and stone fruits, I am in heaven. Cobblers are one of those desserts that even a non-baker can master. Using an old passed down recipe from my mother's cookbook collection, this cobbler came together in a snap.  It's ridiculously simple: eight ingredients. No stand mixer required.  When I was a little girl, when we had peaches, it was with a bit of cream poured over the top. That's it: dessert. I didn't exactly crave them then. In adulthood, however, the peach became something to adore. I use them in anything I can: my cereal, in my smoothies, in salads and. . . in cobblers.  If I knew then what I know now of the versatility of this fruit, I think I'd have a been peach farmer.  Our grandmother was a fruit aficionado. She'd can, she'd jar--peaches, plums, grapes. She grew her own grapes on a trellis along her white fence in the backyard of her duplex in the city! She always wax sealed her jars and I loved opening fresh jars and eating the fruit from under the lids.  Peaches. Plums. Summer.  And I don't peel my peaches. That makes no sense to me. The peach and it's skin is full of wonderful fiber and good-for-you stuff.   The secret to the recipe is the way it is made: layers--with vegan butter on bottom, then your flour mixture, peaches, muesli topping, then into the oven.  The flour "floats" to the top of the cobbler creating this crunchy layer.  Like magic.  So. Good. Cobbler before. Cobbler after. Mmmm. My mother was obsessed with the Amish. She loved Marcia Adams and her Amish cookbooks and TV show. We'd visit the Indiana Amish communities regularly. (My home state.)  She'd drag me along explaining all the intricacies of being Amish--as if she'd been raised as such. (Which she was NOT.)  "Look, Kelly, they have no phones. . . can you imagine?! No electricity either, they get around in horse and buggy. . . aren't you thankful for what you have?"  To her, it was a magical place, a simpler time and something, I suppose, she'd hope I'd "remember" as I grew older.  Well, mom. It worked.  I cherish her Amish cookbook collection.  I've not been back to Amish Country since. Maybe later.  (*Um, electricity and air conditioning are sort of critical to me. Plus, honestly, I have a slight fear of "farm" animals, too. I have no idea why. Horses are okay, but pigs, cows, goats, chickens. Nope.)  The Amish cookbooks are not the most vegan friendly in the world, but they do throw down some incredibly delicious confections. I love re-creating them vegan-style. Jump down below for the cobbler recipe. I've fallen in love with coloring again.  I colored a lot as a kid. I loved crayons, markers, paint. What kid doesn't? In high school, I don't remember art class being super influential. Could be a teacher or someone along the way that was inconsiderate of my work. It happens.  But I took art classes as an undergraduate with a professor who nurtured my talents through her tough criticisms. I loved the class. I still have my work in a portfolio tucked away in a closet.  She passed away last year at a fairly young age. I went to my portfolio and found the index cards where she wrote her grades and critiques of my work: needs more negative space, great shading, good use of form, try mixing this with that next time.    I graduated and life and making money mattered more.  Art went away. About eight years ago, I took a beginning water color class.  I was lucky enough to find an instructor who tapped back into the Bohemian in me. It was like a re-awakening of a giant. Art came back. I ordered and LOVE Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest Coloring Book, some markers, gel pens and water coloring markers.  I can't stop coloring and painting. I've made it a morning ritual.  Just a little color here and there.  A few quiet moments to myself. Sunday was a painting, baking, snuggling-with-the-dogs day.  We love days like this. Vegan Peach Cobbler with Crunchy Muesli Topping (*adapted from New Recipes from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams) 1/­­2 cup vegan butter melted 3/­­4 cup turbinado sugar 1/­­2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/­­2 cup oat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/­­4 teaspoon salt 1/­­2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 3/­­4 cup almond milk 4 medium peaches sliced thin (leave the skins on) topping 1/­­3 cup muesli 1/­­4 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons vegan butter Preheat oven to 350. Pour the melted butter into an 8" or 9" inch casserole dish. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Set aside. Measure out the milk and set aside. Prepare the peaches. Make the topping in a small bowl--add all ingredients and use your fingers or a fork to mash it all up until it forms small clumps. Now pour the milk into the flour mixture, mix with a fork--the batter will be a bit thin. Then pour this on top of the butter in the dish. Do not stir! Place peaches on top of the batter, then add topping over the peaches. Bake for 55 minutes or until the top of the cobbler begins to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for thirty minutes. Serve over vegan vanilla ice cream for the ultimate experience. Store any left overs in fridge. 

Vegan Summer Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter (. . . feeding my "inner fashionista" hand sewing Alabama Chanin and joining Sew-a-longs)

July 28 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Summer Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter (. . . feeding my The tomatoes have been piling up here. I had to do something. So I did Italian of course. Not that I needed a recipe to create a perfect fresh tomato sauce with pasta dinner. I didn't. But I believe anything Italian made well can be made even better with little pearls of wisdom from Marcella Hazan. Made with 2 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes, a half stick of vegan butter, an onion (peeled and cut into quarters), five cloves of garlic and cooked this according to Marcella at "a very slow but steady simmer for 45 minutes . . . until the fat floats from from the tomato". Her basic sauce omits the garlic and I can appreciate that option. But as far as I'm concerned, it's not really edible Italian Sauce without the garlic. I tasted the sauce while it was simmering without the garlic, it was "okay". As the sauce simmered, I thought it needed some umph: so I also added a fresh zucchini, a carrot, some celery and a can of garbanzo beans. This was a scrumptious meal.  And an even better leftover the next night.  I also added fresh basil and oregano from the garden, too--but toward the end of cooking.  Finally, I hit it with some balsamic vinegar. Perfecto!  The comfort of creating an Italian sauce completely from scratch was exactly what I needed.  The aroma filling the house was intoxicating.  (Regardless of the fact that it was a blistering 110 degrees outside!) (I hope Marcella would have loved me for riffing on her basic sauce recipe in creating this dinner. Surely she would have "loved" knowing the ingredients were grown right out my back door.) The bounty from my garden has been overwhelming. With all the rain and horrid growing conditions, I was concerned my tomatoes wouldn't produce.  I moved them to a new location this year, and obviously they LOVE their new home.  (In the old asparagus bed.)  Asparagus + Tomatoes = Love. This is the largest tomato of perfect shape and size I've EVER grown.  I was giddy when I picked it. So. Delish. I've been sewing a lot lately. Not every single day, I can't "mentally" take it.  Sewing still intimidates me.  Don't ask me why.  Nevertheless, the creative sewing forces driving lately have taken me to try my hand at completing a tank top I ordered from Alabama Chanin--and hand sewing a garment.  I sort of can't get enough of the Alabama Chanin "looks" and styles, plus this cotton fabric made from plants only a few states south of where I sit!--It boggles my mind, really.  Take a tour of her offerings and tell me that her fashions aren't the most brilliant, comfortable, easy living you've ever seen.  It's eye candy for my sewing soul. (*Plus I have to tell you, Rosanne Cash is one of my favorite people--love her music, love her passion, loved her dad, Johnny. . . she LOVES Alabama Chanin, too. Small World.)  I have three of Alabama Chanin sewing books in my collection. I've been picking them up here and there over the course of a few years now. I never knew quite where to start. I was going to try my hand at buying some cotton fabric myself and stencil and applique it with one of her designs, but the thought of narrowing it all down: figuring out what silhouette I wanted, what stencil to apply, what color. . . well, it was too much "deciding".  So I ordered one of the more affordable pieces I could find on her site. This is the V-neck tank with the Magdalena stencil.  I ordered it in all black. It's a color I happen to love.  There are sewing techniques you need to be familiar with in sewing her seams. The books help a lot in that arena.  On the shoulder here, I have double sewn my seams in the manner she describes, using a flat-felled seam: stitch the seams together, then tuck under and stitch again.  Brilliant and leaves a much cleaner looking finished seam. The part I am working on now is the stencil. Now I may have done this incorrectly. I am embroidering the applique to the top of my tank. In the photo, you can see where I cut away the top layer of fabric around the applique--which gives this very hip, natural "layered" effect to the otherwise fairly basic black cotton. It's brilliant. And like I said, I have a crush on these clothes right now.  My "inner fashionista" sews s-l-o-w-l-y. But I sew because I want to, not because I have to.  Having spent nearly twenty years in fashion retail, my DNA is forever altered. I love clothes. However, I dread shopping. I would rather find a few sewing patterns/­­silhouettes I absolutely cannot live without, and recreate them over and over in several colors and fabric choices vs. having to schlep through racks of ready-to-wear, only then have to schlep again to the fitting room to "try on". Ugh.  Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap. (My sewing supplanted my knitting in the evenings. Who can hold wool in their hands when it's 110 outside? Um, I can't. Don't worry yarn gods, I'll be back, I promise!) Anyway. . .So far, I love how the tank is turning out. It will be a cross-seasonal wearable top. In the fall, I can wear it under a denim jacket.  A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Aster Sewalong sponsored by Colette Patterns.  I have no idea how to sew a top like this.  I've never sewn a front button shirt!   I hope I don't screw this up.  Just in case, I bought two different fabrics for my project--I figure making two will totally "up" my learning curve in the area of attaching sleeves, adding buttons and working with shirting material.  This is my fabric for my first go-around on the Aster shirt.  I love this print. I bought it at Hawthorne Threads Fabric and it's from Amy Butler.  LOVE. IT. Well, now I just need a job in an optometrists office and then I'll have somewhere to wear it. My sewing philosophy: It's all about that fabric. My second Aster shirt will be made with some fabric I picked up on sale at JoAnns--it's Gertie's fabric! I loved this chambray looking cotton.  I decided I'd pair with pink buttons and pink bias tape for the hem and collar.   Finally, I wanted to show you a McCall's pattern 6510 I made with a jersey knit I picked several years ago. (Or maybe last year--it's difficult to recall exactly.)  First of all, I LOVE this pattern--this is totally my silhouette:  flowing, drapey and casual. I used gray bias tape around the collar and it sort of flips out when I wear it, which is fine. I mean, it's casual and comfortable. It really gives it that "organic/­­handmade look" which works for me. I plan on making another one. It's so simple--a giant circle, with a seam up from the bottom to just under the arms. Used my serger for blind hemming the whole thing (which is a HUGE hem)-- but it worked. Next up:

Roasted Corn, Avocado and Black Bean Salad (A Yankee as "Miss Maudie" reading . . . To Kill a Mockingbird)

July 14 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Roasted Corn, Avocado and Black Bean Salad (A Yankee as This salad is a result of a time-honored tradition as head chef of this household: It's a hundred and thirty here in St. Louis. Cripes almighty! No cooking will happen--we are all raw foods here. This salad took literally five minutes to prep. I have tomatoes and cucumbers galore from the garden--I pulled out whatever else I had on hand to make a lovely main-dish salad. It was dressed with a yummy balsamic vinaigrette and fresh lemon juice. I had so little energy yesterday afternoon, I could barely scoop the avocado from its shell. Chopping and peeling the cucumber from the garden nearly did me in. And the corn roasting part!--I was able to muster only because I had made a quick dash to the store after my morning run, husked it right away and put in a bag in the fridge. All I had to do was place the corn over the open flame of the stove for a few seconds to add a nice color of "I-worked-hard-to-make-you-a-salad-for-dinner" appeal. Simple. Straightforward and filling. I topped the salad with some quinoa for an extra protein boost. Salads are an essential summer staple right now.  I am no shrinking violet when it comes to cold weather, but if it climbs even a tenth of a degree over seventy-eight, I am DONE. I am a Northerner through and through--as a Southerner in "residence", the summers in Missouri about do me in. The older I get, the worse it gets. This summer's rains have turned this town into a literal cauldron of unacceptable tropical insanity.  (Perhaps I was spoiled with my trip to Lake Michigan in late June where I had to don a jacket during my morning runs. No. I was simply living in what I knew as child was summer! Sure we had some heat, but it was short-lived and tolerable as the Lake winds provided much relief.)   Believe me when I tell you, I nearly died yesterday in this St. Louis heat. I felt a complete and utter draining of my faculties and all of my senses as I left the bookstore after an afternoon volunteering as one of the readers for our local library of To Kill a Mockingbird. (The entire book was read aloud.) Maybe you are asking yourself about this thing called "air conditioning". Well, I am a stubborn cheapskate, born of the mind of a woman who won't let go of something until it finally dies of its own accord: my thirteen year old car has no A/­­C and I refuse, REFUSE--to shell out one hot dime for another car until this one tells me she's through.  Meantime, let me tell you how I spent my weekend: Reading To Kill a Mockingbird in anticipation of today's arrival of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. This was my third time reading the book. And as a lover of all literature, it still stands as one of my all-time favorite books. I laughed out loud at Scout, I felt the anger over the injustices, prejudices and simple Southern ignorance of that time, I cried during the trial as Atticus stood by the accused, and I nearly had forgotten the ending as our Boo Radley finally makes an appearance. It was the best summer weekend I've had in a long time.  **Well, it's not even eleven a.m. here and I see in the link to Amazon's page twenty seven reviews of the Watchman book already! Mine arrived via my Kindle and at three a.m., I couldn't resist: I began reading. For the life of me, I'd like to know how those folks got through the book so dang fast. They must not have three dogs (a puppy in the mix to boot), and a husband who all need tending to in the morning.    Given all the surprise, mystery and controversy surrounding the finding and release of the GSAW book, I have tried to keep my head down in terms of reading too much of the new book's press. (Even skipping the reading of the first chapter when it was available.) However, I stumbled across  this piece in the New York Times. A third book?!! Wait. . . I have to finish THIS one!  Of course, my favorite character in TKAM is Miss Maudie. And I doubt Miss Maudie would have availed herself of such ridiculous attire in the middle of a heatwave and instead rested comfortably at home with her azaleas. But, as a close as I could, I meant (with silly hat I keep on a nail in the garage) I meant to have a little fun--especially if I was dragging myself out sans air conditioner: gardener, dispenser of wisdom, hat-wearing, azalea-loving southern Lady. (Okay, here's the skinny: I can do Southern with the best of them, thanks to our mother's fourth marriage and transplantation of my sister and me to The Bootheel of Missouri during my most precious teenage years). Talk about cold slap in the face. I can remember not being able to understand a WORD most of the people around me spoke. I swear. But soon enough, I HAD a drawl like everyone else--a sloppy sort that ran around my "y'alls" and "sody-pop" like a tight wrench. In celebration of the release of GTAW, our local library partnered with a local Barnes and Noble and held an all day reading of TKAM. I channeled my inner Miss Maudie and braved the heat.  (And of course, shopped for more books!) Here in my garden, my star-gazer lilies have bloomed and are at their most beautiful I have ever seen. This is one of my favorite flowers and they're planted right next to the front door so when we come and go, we get to stare at them. Their scent fills the sticky-hot air and for a moment I am happy.  (Then the sun hits my face and run back inside to the sanctity of air conditioning and books.) 

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