I have a confession to make.

Thinking of original recipes, putting together indoor light lamps, photographing every step of the cooking process, editing photos, and coming up witticisms about pictures of my food seems like absolute drudgery these days.

I have also been feeling exceptionally uninspired lately.

The thing is I still like to read blogs, peruse cookbooks, shop for unique ingredients, put together meal plans, try new recipes, find fun workouts, learn about nutrition, holistic health, the human body, and talk about all things vegan.

In fact, I could spend a whole weekend doing those things.

I could even spend a whole cold, dreary, gray January weekend, curled up in my favorite fleece blanket putting together a list of all my favorite food, health, and wellness things.

I could spend the better part of a day paging through any and all cookbooks, but when I need some meal planning help, it’s a short list:



by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

If you’re making your foray into vegan cooking, and you can only afford one cookbook, this is the one to buy. It has everything you will ever need to be able to cook wholesome and delicious vegan food for the rest of your life. It contains recipes from every category including appetizers, snacks, dips, spreads, brunch, salads, dressings, sandwiches, vegetables, grains, beans, soups, casseroles, tofu, tempeh, pasta, breads, cookies, and desserts.

Not only that, it has basic cooking guides for grains, vegetables, and beans so you can try a variety of techniques and put together your own meals.

It is literally an encyclopedia of cooking and recipes.

Mine is splattered with various batters and sauces because every recipe I have tried has been awesome. Usually, I find only one or two recipes I make more than once from a cookbook, but this book is filled with recipes that will become part of your weekly rotation.

I promise.

When I’m looking for lower calorie fare, I reach for

Appetite for Reduction

Appetite for Reduction

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

What can I say? This girl has it going on. All of her food is so, so good! This book is packed with salads, dressings, hummus, veggies, pasta, soups, and comforting stews and chili. If it sounds plain, it’s because I’m not a good enough writer to properly do it justice. However,  let the recipes speak for themselves:

Sanctuary Chef Salad

Green Goddess Garlic Dressing

Catalan Couscous Salad with Pears and Romanesco Dressing

OMG Oven Baked Onion Rings

Butternut Coconut Rice

Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale

Mac and Trees

Lotsa Veggie Lentil Soup

Veggie Potpie Stew

Some of the recipes sound exotic, but they are all simple and are perfect for the weeknight meal rotation. Plus they are filled with whole grains, veggies, beans, and aren’t excessive in fat or calories. I also appreciate that it includes the nutritional stats for each recipe for those who like to keep track of that sort of thing.

If you read the blog with any regularity, you have seen this book pop up from time to time:


Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar

It’s because it’s filled with no-fuss  cookie recipes that no one would ever guess are vegan. They are real cookies. None of that health food crap pretending to be a classic cookie. It’s fat, sugar, and flour and all your childhood memories mixed together in a bowl and baked until the tears from the realization that adulthood is hard have dried up.

The book I’m looking forward to cooking from:

Betty Goes Vegan

Betty Goes Vegan

by Betty and Dan Shannon

This book is also an encyclopedia of vegan cookery and I can’t wait to get crackin’. Vegan Betty has a little bit of everything but all 500(!) recipes are inspired from traditional Betty Crocker recipes. It’s a combination of nutritious eats and veganized comfort food classics, and there is a recipe for every occasion including:

Blueberry Banana Bread Pancakes

Mediterranean Salad

Vegan Ranch Dressing

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

French Toast Biscotti

Pizza Bread

Peanut Butter Egg Cookies


More Doughnuts

Inside Out Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Hazlenut Pudding

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

There are also plenty of recipes for sauces, dressings, pie crusts, puddings, and frostings to add to foods already in your arsenal.

A word of warning: Many of the recipes in the book contain processed vegan meat and cheese replacements. It’s nothing to get in a huff about but don’t get all pissed off at me if you buy the book hoping for 100% whole foods. Remember, its imitating the meat and cheese goddess of the 20th century. And personally, I have no problem having those things on occasion. I try not to make them staples of my diet, but if I’m hankering for pizza, then Daiya cheese just might find its way on top of it. All things in moderation and all that blah, blah, blah.

The book I want but don’t have:

Vegetarian Flavor Bible

Vegetarian flavor bible

I’m depending on this book to make up for my shortcomings as a self-taught home cook and help me put together foods and flavors that go beyond peanutbutter/banana and tomato/basil. I like to experiment but since time, money, and resources are at a premium, I’d sure appreciate not having to throw away a whole cake because I was just so sure it needed two tablespoons of cardamom powder.

And in the things you need to know category:


Vegan Thin Mints

Sure, we could get in a debate about the best tasting Girl Scout Cookie but we all know that there is one cookie that punches every other cookie in it’s sweet, sweet face.

Thin Mints have always been my all-time favorite Girl Scout cookie.

And now those cute, little cookie monsters have made them Vegan.

I shall enjoy them by the sleeve and make sure that each and every tooth is crusted in Thin Mint Cookie crumbs.

Thin Mints

I’ll be back at a later undisclosed date and time with more randomness floating around my brain space!

*Note: Some people get compensated for featuring things on their blog. I am not one of those people. This is just a list of stuff I truly, actually like.


Rock you like a hurricane

The outlook was bleak.

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 Photo Credit:

Irene was coming for the East Coast and she was ornery.

Fear and anxiety drifted down empty hallways at work on Friday.

Quiet discussions took place in every corner of the building about whether or not there would be an evacuation, whether taping windows was really effective, and what kind of emergency supplies people were gathering in preparation for the worst storm this side of the Atlantic has seen in over a century.

Normally, I love the excitement surrounding extreme weather because I love the possibility of being holed up in my house, free to do everything and nothing and not feeling one iota of guilt for burying my nose in a book for seven hours.

There is something so comforting knowing that millions of people share the same feelings of apprehension, concern, and comradery against a common entity.

Sometimes it takes the threat of disaster to bring people together.

Believe me when I say was fearful.

Not about the impending hurricane, though.

I was scared I would never get the damn song “Come On Eileen”  out of my head.

I have been humming it, singing it, whistling it, and thinking about it since the news began heavily covering Irene over a week ago.

Apparently my cousins had the same problem.

Photo credit: Jake Shellhammer

Since the week prior was spent getting ready for a cranky, PMS-ing hurricane, I took the opportunity to spend the day of Irene’s arrival doing whatever I felt like.

I slept in until a ridiculous hour and woke up in time to send hubby off into the trenches (work).

Then I took a nice, long run on the treadmill. And by nice I mean that it was a difficult, never-ending run and it took way too many miles before I felt like I was in “the zone.”  Even though it was a toughie, I was glad I did it because the threat of losing power might mean no treadmill for days or possibly weeks.

Food would make me feel better.

The hurricane menu for the day was a whirlwind of flavors and textures.

Breakfast was eaten during the run (that was interesting and attractive, I’m sure).

But lunch was a thing of beauty.

I wanted to start using up the refrigerated food just in case we did lose power so I made a salad of spinach, heirloom tomatoes, black beans, egg white and salsa served with a slice of homemade whole wheat bread topped with peach jam.

The afternoon commenced with some heavy reading and light snacks.

A little yogurt with  a fresh, locally grown pear and baked granola to sustain me while I read cookbooks and organized my ever-growing recipe collection.

Some people like to curl up with actual books that contain words and sentences but I could spend hours pouring over cookbook recipes and drooling over pictures of glazed hams, roasted chickens, and big, fat cheesy burgers.

I don’t even eat meat.

But that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the variety of styles, ideas, and artwork that goes into creating a cookbook.

When I finally had my recipe and cookbook collection organized to my satisfaction, it was already time for dinner. Hubby was still at work so I decided I would make myself some quick, comforting pumpkin soup.

I topped it with protein packed, dry roasted edemame for a little saltiness and crunch.

Mid-way through the soup prep, hubby walked in the door, looking a little like the Gorton’s Fisherman, if the Gorton’s guy had been stranded at sea for three days during a tsunami.

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My first thought was “Good. He made it home safe.”

My second thought was “Crap. I have to make him dinner.”

  Hubs will eat practically anything if it comes rolled up in a tortilla so that’s exactly what he got.

And beer.

See? I did a lot of preparing for Irene. The beer drawer was fully stocked!

This storm was so scary, even the dog took cover.

After dinner was cleaned up and we had saturated ourselves with all the hurricane coverage we could handle, it was time for more reading. And more beer.


My family was clearly drunk terrified.

I had been saving this Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout for the perfect gloomy, rainy day.

I don’t think the conditions, or the beer, could have been more perfect.

The only reason hubby hadn’t snatched up this beer months ago was because it was brewed with brewers licorice and he thought it was going to taste like a big chunk of nasty, black licorice.

Ha! He couldn’t have been more wrong.

It was a deep, chocolate color with a smooth texture and notes of mocha, caramel, and coffee. It’s rich flavor and the fact that it’s brewed a few hours from my hometown in Kalamazoo, Michigan made this beer a definite favorite.

We woke up Sunday morning to an intact house, fully functioning electricity, and another rainy, autumnal day.

Know what that means?

Pancakes and fall decorating!

In the words of Dexy’s Midnight Runners:

Toora Loora Toora Loo Rye Aye!