Friday, November 30, 2012

Vegan pizza

Okay, I made gluten-free veggie pizza for the kids and my son inhaled it (5 slices!). I made 2 pizzas--one with traditional Italian cheese as well as organic green bell peppers and organic red onions on a vegan gluten-free crust. The second had everything the same, except Daiya shredded "mozzarella cheese." And while it's good, I just am not thrilled with any of the vegan cheeses I've had.

I'm thinking next time of simply using my homemade sauce (oh yeah, made that too) and a whole ton of veggies with no vegan cheese on my pizza.

I need opinions and suggestions. Help!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Read and eat -- books for cooking and eating and living vegan

So other than the mutant case of strep throat I seem to have picked up from my youngest daughter (neither she nor the other two kids got sick but mom has been miserable), I've been feeling much better not eating meat, fish, or dairy. And I've had time to read a lot more and when I've felt like it, I've been cooking some great stuff.

My latest finds? Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran, with Adair Moran. More of a good read than a cookbook, although there are recipes following each chapter, plus a wonderful index at the end of companies that are vegan. The problem is that some of those companies are actually not vegan. For that information, I would see For cosmetics, body products, and household cleaning products, I think this is a really good reference site.

The book I'm cooking my way through now is Viva Vegan by Terry Romero, co-author with Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Veganomicon, probably the one book I want for Hannukah/Christmas this year. Although I'd take Viva Vegan as well (hint, hint, if my kids are reading this!). The latino recipes are fantastic; I've made Venezuelan black beans and yellow rice with garlic and I couldn't stop eating! And I made a batch of aceite de achiote (annato oil) to cook with. I'm actually thinking about making homemade vegan tamales for the holidays as well. Thankfully, the Scottsdale Public Library has a great selection of vegan cookbooks; I'm enjoying myself.

Anyone have any suggestions for other books to look at or other website for vegan products? Oh, and by the way, for cheap and wonderful fresh food, if you live in Arizona go to Food City. I bought achiote seed for $.79, a big bunch of fresh spinach for $.77, two avocados for $.98. They had tons of dried beans, in bags and in bulk, all really cheap. Next trip: peruano beans ($.99/lb.).

Happy reading and eating.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Food, glorious vegan food

Okay, I'm waxing ridiculous now but I am having so much fun dreaming up dishes to eat that are vegan. Tonight, I had some leftover brown rice with some soybeans and some soy sauce and on the side a healthy helping of roasted brussels sprouts. Okay, I know, for some people that sounds like hell on a plate. But it made me happy. 

Now last night, I made an amazing lasagna--gluten free, with "tofu ricotta cheese" and "Teese mozzarella cheese" on top. The kids all had second helpings and they finished what was left (not much) for dinner tonight. And for dessert: gluten free, vegan oatmeal raisin cookies. Fantastic, chewy, sweet, raisin-y, oat-y. Okay, I'm getting hungry and I'm really just making cookies for the kids. I'm still trying to stay away from sugar, even if it's raw, organic, brown, whatever. 

Just read a really great book, especially if you're interested in or worried about good nutrition if you are a vegan. It's Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina. They have lots of good sample menus for people at all stages of life--pregnant women, kids, teens, adults, older people--and extra nutrition requirements (we should all be taking B12 for example). 

Also, at the back of the book are good sites to visit for information about animals, animal rights, ethics, and other issues. Probably the best site to visit is Vegan Outreach. Of course, there's always PETA, but other good sites are Mercy for Animals and Compassion Over Killing

Two of my favorite blogs, which I've mentioned here before, are Gluten Free Goddess and Oh She Glows although the latter doesn't have as many gluten free recipes. 

I guess for me this was a natural move. I didn't like meat when I was a kid, I was vegetarian when I first went to college, and I was mostly vegetarian in graduate school. I'm not saying this is the only way to go. As my friend Colleen commented here, a couple of posts ago, she and her family practice humane animal raising and slaughtering. They are not factory farmers and they do not abuse animals. I think that's fine. I just can't think about eating animals anymore.

Okay, I've rambled on enough now. I think I will go have a cup of tea and one of those cookies I've been resisting!

I will post some of my growing favorite gluten-free vegan recipes as I make them. If anyone wants the lasagna recipe, let me know. It's my own and I'd be happy to share. Gluten-free, dairy-free (unfortunately for those of you who can't eat soy, not soy free). Next time I make it, I'll take a picture. I've got to remember to do that. Things look so much better in photos than just me blathering on about them.

In the meantime, till later, be healthy and have peace: of mind, body, and spirit.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading in October

I'm torn in my reading habits in Octobers during presidential election years. On the one hand, I do read everything about candidates, primarily local candidates who I feel are the most important in that they directly represent us and are responsible for money matters and legislative matters. I also like to read history and current political books around the time of year.

On the other hand, I want to run and hide for cover. I want to read something totally unrelated to the general muck of politics (not to be confused with governing and statesmanship). My latest joy is vegan cooking and I've discovered the most fun vegan site (and recipes and cookbooks): The Post Punk Kitchen ( Check out not only the website but the cookbooks Veganomicon and Appetite for Reduction. Both fantastic. And last night I made a batch of Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (great chocolate-y taste with a kick of cayenne at the end). Amazing...and vegan! My 13-year-old son turned up his nose until he tasted them ("You can't make good cookies without butter and eggs." And after a bite, "Wow, that's fantastic!")

I'm about to check out an ebook from the library, Vegan For Life. It looks like a really good book too. And there is a cookbook that goes with the movie, Forks Over Knives, that also looks interesting.

What are you reading this October? What do you turn to? Politics? Or do you turn away to hide from what goes on? Share your books here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Arthritis updated

I haven't updated the arthritis situation for awhile. Had a lot of tests but they all turned up negative for rheumatoid arthritis. It seems I'm just falling apart and have osteoarthritis. A little early for it to be as painful and aggressive as it is but just good old degenerative osteoarthritis all the same. My right thumb cracks and hurts every day (makes it hard to be someone who works all day long on the computer). My knees are quite creaky and the one ankle (the right one) that I had surgery on, with the long Frankenstein scar on it, is quite the weather barometer. (Yes, I can tell when the pressure is shifting!)

It's all a part of this body getting old. It's not terrible. It could be far worse. I can still type and I can still dance and I can still walk my dogs. And how bad can life be, even if the body parts are a bit creaky?!!!

Let me hear from you. How do you cope with arthritis or with other aches and pains?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Big changes in life

I've made a big change in my life--I've decided not only to eat gluten-free (my daughter has celiac disease so we've been pretty much gluten-free around here for the past 10 years but now my stomach seems to be reacting in not-so-nice ways to gluten so I've decided it certainly doesn't hurt me to stay away from it), but also to go vegan. It isn't much of a stretch; I already don't drink milk and while I like eggs and cheese and butter, I don't really feel like I can't live without them. And I'm already vegetarian. It just seems healthier. And I feel more full from eating plants and beans and fruit and some grains than from cheese or other dairy or certainly meat.

The only thing I wish is that I had a garden and lots of my own home-grown veggies. Of course, this being Arizona, I don't know how much I could grow here other than chiles and some beans. I grew some nice cherry tomatoes this spring and some really nice English peas in the winter. But it's really difficult, especially since I'm just renting and I have to grow in pots. 

So I am finding some of the greatest recipes and falling in love with vegan cooking and baking. Some of my favorites Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon and Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction, which has low fat vegan recipes, a lot of which are gluten free. There is also Moskowitz's online site, The Post Punk Kitchen.

Then there's Oh She Glows, a fantastic vegan blog. Lots of gluten free stuff there too. And Karina Bland's The Gluten-Free Goddess, one of my favorite go-to blogs. She's got lots of wonderful recipes and a ton of vegan ones too. 

Well, if you have experiences being vegan and gluten-free, please comment here. I'd love to hear from folks, trade recipes, etc. Also, are you vegan for ethical reasons? (That's part of it for me too. I love animals, and I love this planet and frankly, treating animals horribly for food is not only cruel but a waste of space and food that could feed the world.)

More as I discover good tasting ways to bake and eat. I'll post recipes and review books as I come upon them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Food allergies? Visit a great dairy-free cake baking blog

I'm now writing for a great blog: it's all about dairy-free cake baking. There are recipes, instructions on how to bake dairy-free (and gluten-free), good substitutes for dairy in baking and cooking, and more information. Visit to see all the information and make your mouth water!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nice Arizona cocktail for the summer

Okay, I admit it, I'm a great fan of Rachel Maddow, whose show is on MSNBC. She's bright, funny, sarcastic, and she does two things on her show I love: Moment of Geek, which is all about great science and nerdy stuff, and her Cocktail Moment on Fridays, which I adore. the spirit of Rachel Maddow's Cocktail Moment, I'm going to post my take on an Arizona summer cocktail that is cool, comforting, and has just the right amount of spice to make your day interesting.

Arizona Prickly Pear Vodka Lemonade

1 oz vodka (something good; you don't need top shelf but always use good vodka)
6 oz lemonade
1 tbsp prickly pear syrup (recipe follows)
2-3 slices of jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and de-veined

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Pour the vodka into the glass, then throw in the jalapeno slices. Pour the lemonade into the glass, and then spoon in the prickly pear syrup. Stir and serve. And don't drink too many!

Prickly Pear Syrup

You can probably buy this commercially but if you live in the Southwest U.S., you can get a couple of prickly pear cactus fruits and make your own.

2 prickly pear cactus fruit, peeled and chopped into quarters
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/3 cup water

Make sure you peel the prickly pear fruit. If you buy it in your grocery store (it's usually with the exotic fruit, even in Arizona!) it's not too big a deal but if you pick it from your own cactus WEAR GLOVES. These fruits have tiny needles and you don't want them in your fingers. You can scrape the fruit with a vegetable peeler while wearing the gloves to get the needles off as well as peel them.

When they are peeled and cut into quarters, throw all the ingredients into a blender, blend on the "puree" setting for 30-60 seconds. You can use it right away for the drink and you can save it in the refrigerator for a few days. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Writing with arthritis?

New problem in life: it seems I might have rheumatoid arthritis. My fingers are developing nodules, there is pain in my joints in my hands, my elbows, and my toes. Sometimes I'm really tired and just feeling so achy and sore. But, on the positive side, I have been writing, no matter how much my hands hurt. At least I can type on the computer for short periods of time.

I don't know about inspiration. I just seem to have a lot of that packed away and it seems to be unfolding itself. Don't know what changed but it is nice. Haven't spent any time revising yet but I have started a short novel and finished one poem and started another, longer one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer in Arizona

It is moving toward summer in Arizona. It doesn't matter what the calendar says; when it hits over 100 degrees, it is the beginning of summer. Yes, the beginning. The middle of summer is 110 or more. And that, too, is coming.

Most people in temperate climates feel happy when summer comes. School is out for kids, people are going on vacation. But I get hot. And cranky. And I start hating living here. People are thin and rich in Scottsdale. They don't seem to sweat. I don't belong here. I'm from Brooklyn and I sweat. I don't perspire like a lady. I sweat. A lot. And I am not easy to be around when I'm hot and sweaty.

I want to live somewhere cool, near an ocean. I am so tired of heat and prejudice and misery and rich people who care nothing for others. I realize a temperate or cool climate won't resolve everything. But it would sure make me not sweat and be cranky. And maybe I'd write more