Swap Love

I recently participated in a PPK package swap. My swap partner (thanks Aimee!!) sent me a package that was literally bulging at the seams! Thankfully I have a nice mailman who brings bigger/heavier packages to my door. He isn’t the most timely dude (I know it’s not his fault that the package took two weeks to arrive, but you know…), but I’ll still give him some praise.

Onto the package contents!!!!

swap-this

-A huge tin full of homemade yummy cookies (brownie bites, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and sugar)

-Two kinds of herbal teas

-A handmade snowflake apron that pretty much rules my kitchen

-A long-sleeved tee (in my favorite color: brown) that says “Go Green” on the front, and “Go Vegan” on the back. I am pretty sure she had this specially made, how sweet is that?

-Tons of gourmet chocolate bars

-Butterscotch chips (I’ve never found vegan ones around Portland, so I am psyched to have these)

-Pure Ohio maple syrup

-Candy

-Local handmade soap that smells lovely

- Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (not pictured, I took these to work to share with my co-workers, and they were devoured)

-Snacky-type chips (also not pictured)

This package made my weekend. Aimee put a lot of time, thought, and effort into all the contents. I love how two people with the same name were paired up! Too fun!! Thanks so much, Aimee! You are the queen of package swaps!!!

On a different note, please take the time to send an e-mail to the Oregon Zoo asking them to stop using bullhooks on the elephants. It’s incredibly cruel and painful to the elephants. Even if you don’t live in/near Oregon, taking this simple action (seriously, it will take you a few minutes max) sends out a positive message of compassion for animals. Please help the elephants. Please?

Oh! This past Sunday Tim and I went to a Culinary Activism lecture at Portland State University given by Isa and organized by the Let Live Foundation. We saw a similar talk over the summer at the Let Live Animal Rights Conference, but it was worth going a second time. Isa gave people cookies (chocolatey gingery yummy ones). How cool is that? Plus, there is always something new to learn when you are in a room full of like-minded people. The new video footage isn’t up yet, but you can check out the footage from her first lecture here (along with many other awesome videos). Go take a peak!

100 and Counting…

I was reading Jennifer’s blog over at Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings, and came across this fun list activity. I enjoyed reading hers so much, I thought I’d make proper use of my lunch hour and play along. If you feel the need to do this too, copy and paste the list, bold what you’ve done, and italicize five items you want to do.

1. Started my own blog – Yep, last March was my first post!

2. Slept under the stars – Many times while backpacking.

3. Played in a band – Does grammar school band count? I played the clarinet. Cool, I know…

4. Visited Hawaii – It sure would be nice, but not worth the expense.

5. Watched a meteor shower – Several times growing up, and more recently within the last few years.

6. Given more than I can afford to charity – I do this all the time, and then struggle to pay my own bills, but it makes me feel good.

7. Been to Disneyland/world – Once as a wee tot, and again as a young teen.

8. Climbed a mountain – I’ve climbed lots of mountains, and summitted several too (both in the US and in New Zealand).

9. Held a praying mantis – Once, as a kid.

10. Sung a solo – Sigh, not in public.

11. Bungee jumped – Too scared, but the opportunity did arise.

12. Visited Paris – Blah, not on purpose, I was rerouted there once when traveling to visit my sister in Germany.

13. Watched lightning at sea – I grew up close to Lake Erie, so this was a common activity.

14. Taught myself an art from scratch – Painting, sewing, baking, cooking…

15. Adopted a child – I don’t want kids, but I think this is the best choice considering all the orphaned children in the world.

16. Had food poisoning – Yep, from a Taco Bell when I was in college.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty – Nope. I’ve been to NYC, but not to the statue.

18. Grown my own vegetables – If I had the space, I totally would.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France – Nope. I don’t even like the Mona Lisa.

20. Slept on an overnight train – I’ve been on plenty of long train rides, but no overnighters.

21. Had a pillow fight – With my sisters and friends at slumber parties. Oh, and with Tim too.

22. Hitchhiked – I did this twice when I was living in Scotland.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. – More than once, and always totally deserving.

24. Built a snow fort – As a kid, quite often. My dad was good at doing this too!

25. Held a lamb – I wish!!!

26. Gone skinny dipping – Yep.

27. Run a Marathon – It’s a goal of mine, but my knees are already crumbling.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice – Nope.

29. Seen a total eclipse – I saw a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset – Both, many times.

31. Hit a home run – Sports are dumb.

32. Been on a cruise – I’d barf.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person – On several occasions, I grew up pretty much on the other side of the lake.

34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors – My mom’s family has Scottish genes, and I’ve been there.

35. Seen an Amish community – Tim’s family lives close by an Amish community, so we’ve seen them for sure.

36. Taught myself a new language – I make up my own words all the time.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied – I have enough to live comfortably.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person – Nope.

39. Gone rock climbing – I started in college and loved it. I still have my gear, but haven’t gone in quite some time.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David – Nope.

41. Sung karaoke – Nope.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt – Nope.

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant – I rarely eat out. But, Tim and I donate money to local homeless shelters, and the money goes toward meals.

44. Visited Africa – Nope.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight – More than once.

46. Been transported in an ambulance – Nope.

47. Had my portrait painted – As a kid, it was a silhouette. I still have it on my shelf.

48. Gone deep sea fishing – Nope.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person – Nope.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris – Nope.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling – I can’t swim and being under water freaks me out.

52. Kissed in the rain – Yeah.

53. Played in the mud – I don’t like to be dirty, but I’ve definitely played in the mud!!!

54. Gone to a drive-in theater – As a kid, we had one a mile from our house.

55. Been in a movie. – HA. Yeah right. I’d have a bag over my head and I’d be in a dark corner ready to curse at the camera person.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China – Nope.

57. Started a business – I tried to start a vegan cookie company; I had a logo and everything, but the motivation didn’t exist.

58. Taken a martial arts class – I took karate in college. That was fun.

59. Visited Russia – Nope.

60. Served at a soup kitchen – Nope, but I want to, I’m just too shy.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies – I hated Girl Scouts, and quit soon after starting, but I did make it through a cookie selling season.

62. Gone whale watching – Yes, it was on accident, and utterly fascinating. Whales are amazing!

63. Got flowers for no reason – Yes, but I hate that kind of crap, and I hope it never happens again.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma – I can’t because I don’t weigh enough.

65. Gone sky diving – I like my feet on the floor usually.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp – No.

67. Bounced a check – No.

68. Flown in a helicopter – No.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy – I still have my first teddy bear, and some barbies and other random dolls. Remember Rainbow Brite?!

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial – School trip, woo hoo!

71. Eaten caviar – Blarg, never ever.

72. Pieced a quilt – Nope.

73. Stood in Times Square – Yes.

74. Toured the Everglades – No.

75. Been fired from a job – Nope.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London – Yep, funny hats.

77. Broken a bone – Nope!

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle – I dated a boy who took me on rides often. He was lame, but I liked the rides.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person – No.

80. Published a book – No, but I started a children’s book last year.

81. Visited the Vatican – Nope.

82. Bought a brand new car – Nope. I had a 1987 Subaru wagon that I loved in college and then she got hit by a tree and that was the end… I miss you Manta!

83. Walked in Jerusalem – Nope

84. Had my picture in the newspaper – Yes, in high school and in college. I had my own column in the college newspaper. In high school, it was because I was student of the month once.

85. Read the entire Bible – No, but my younger sister has. I’m not religious, so it doesn’t appeal to me.

86. Visited the White House  – outside only.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating – NO!

88. Had chickenpox – I was young, I still have some scars.

89. Saved someone’s life – Bugs, but not humans.

90. Sat on a jury – Not yet!

91. Met someone famous – Several cookbook authors, some bands, the owners of Food Fight (smooch)!

92. Joined a book club – No, I read too slow and get too confused with plots. I read kid’s books mostly.

93. Lost a loved one – All of my grandparents, my aunt

94. Had a baby – Nope and don’t want to! Ever.

95. Seen the Alamo in person – Nope.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake – Nope.

97. Been involved in a law suit – Well, some drunk flimsy smashed her car into ours, and Tim had to go to court, but it got canceled because she lied her way out of it. So, kind of.

98. Owned a cell phone – Once, but only to drive across the country with. I am cell phone free and happy about it. I hate them.

99. Been stung by a bee – Too many times to count.

100. Ridden an elephant – Fun! I want to do this!!!

Snow Play

Portland rarely gets snow. A few weeks ago the snow started falling and falling and falling and falling… The city comes to a halt when it snows here, and this amuses me greatly. Sidewalks don’t get shoveled, roads don’t get plowed, public transportation flops, schools close for days, people complain and hibernate indoors, and the only news in the papers and on television relates to the weather. Eventually people realize life must trudge forward and they start digging their cars out from mountains of snow and ice, they ski/snowshoe/walk to work, kids go back to school, and attempts (not necessarily successful however) are made to clear roads and sidewalks. The funniest part? The names the local media give to winter storms. I remember the “Winter Blast of 2004″ as a particularly snowy stint. This year? It was the “Deep Freeze 2008″. Ha! I almost look forward to snow just to hear what privileged title the storm will receive. Sigh… The temperatures recently warmed to above freezing and rain melted most of the snow. Life goes back to normal I suppose. Luckily for people like Tim and I, we have Mt. Hood as a snowy retreat. So, we bundled up and packed our snowshoes and some snacks and headed for the mountain the day after Christmas. You would think it would be crowded with folks escaping the city, but we only saw one other group of people on the trail we picked, and we had complete solitude pretty much the entire time!

Here are some images from our snowshoe hike:

tim-sips-tea

Tim sipping tea! He gave me an awesome insulated thermos for Christmas and we filled it with tasty spiced chai before we headed out the door. It stayed perfectly hot and delicious the whole trek! It was even warm enough to enjoy some afterward when we got back to our car. It was so relaxing to take a rest in the snowy cold and warm up with this tea.

poles-and-snow

Trekking poles and snow. Look how heavily weighted those trees are! We usually see gray jays fluttering about in this area, but there were none to be found this time around.

snack-to-eat

A tasty snack mix. See the banana chips? We made those ourselves!! We received a food dehydrator for Christmas and the first (and only so far) creation was banana chips. They aren’t as crispy as store-bought ones, but they are more pliable and sweet, and just plain addictive! I can’t wait for berry picking season!!!!

We hope to head up to the mountain again next weekend…

My next post will cover a recent PPK swap I participated in! Hooray for swaps.

Expansion of Tummy

Communication between my stomach and brain ceased to exist on Friday evening. Or really, I chose to ignore everything except utensils, food, and Tim. We attended the third benefit dinner held at Sweetpea Bakery here in Portland (you can read about our experience at the previous two dinners here, and here). It was a cold, rainy, windy night and this meal provided solace. Thanks once again to Isa, and all the lovely folks who helped prepare, serve, and take care of all 40 diners. I always look forward to the next dinner!

Photos of our meal (descriptions for each course taken from the Apron Activists blog):

Appetizer
Plantain Rice Paper Rolls
Rice noodles, sweet plantains and toasted pumpkin seeds in a fresh rice paper roll with chili dipping sauce

These were amazingly yummy! I could have eaten about twenty or more. I am not usually a spicy savvy person, but the chili dipping sauce that these rolls came with was good enough to eat with a spoon. I didn’t do that, but I should have…

Soup
Jamaican Curry With Roti Bread
Sweet potatoes, kidney beans and baby limas in a rich Jamaican spiced coconut curry served with flat bread for dipping

Okay, I love beans, I love curry, and I love this soup. The flat bread was the perfect accompaniment. I nearly licked my bowl clean, but, sigh, I had to keep my manners in tact.

Entree
Jerk Tofu And Yucca
Marinated and grilled jerk tofu a green beans served over mashed yucca and topped with a fresh mango salsa

Gorgeous plating, no? This was my first time eating yucca. It was pretty good! I almost stole Tim’s serving of tofu, but he had somebody keeping watch over me:

Meet Creepy Doggy. We made him a fun hat and a paper airplane out of tea bag wrappers. He caused a lot of trouble. At the last benefit dinner, every table had a kitty figurine and we uh, accidentally left ours behind. This time, we were reprimanded (thank you, Jess), and now Creepy Doggy lives with us…

Dessert 
Pumpkin Rum Bread Pudding
A lush and spicy pumpkin bread pudding spiked with rum, served warm with vanilla ice cream

This was when I had to accept defeat with my stomach. I was insanely full after a few bites of this decadent dessert. I ate more than I should have because it was hard to stop (kind of like picking strawberries…). Wow this was yummy.

And if that wasn’t enough, diners left with homemade cookies wrapped up in takeout boxes. Despite a stomach nearly eighty times its normal size, I still ate a cookie when I got back to my apartment. So there. Addiction isn’t a bad thing if it revolves around cookies.

Tempehtational

What a nerdy title, right? Ha. Who cares!?! I’m so full of yummy food that my mind is looped in loops. What yummy food you ask? Maybe I shouldn’t tell… Ok, ok I’m weak, I’ll tell you. Tim and I made Jessy’s (of happyveganface fame) Green Rice and Tempeh Meatlessballs for dinner. This meal is so incredibly delicious!! The rice is perfectly seasoned and loaded with spinach; the tempeh meatlessballs are fun to make and a lovely complement to the rice. In fact, this is the best tempeh recipe I’ve made. Try it!! I can see (in the near future) using the mixture for tempeh burgers. Indeed. Tempeh burgers and some sweet potato fries would be great after a long day at the office!

Who doesn’t love food you can eat in a bowl?

On a separate note, remember when I posted about Portland’s first Let Live Animal Right’s Conference? Well, now you can view video footage from the event!!! The Let Live organizers have also started a monthly series of talks that are free and open to the public. There have been two so far; the next one is on December 28th and features Isa doing a talk on culinary activism. Hooray!! If you don’t live in Portland, or can’t make it to the events, keep checking the above site for new videos. You will learn a lot, I promise. A lot.