About tahinitoo

I live in Portland, Oregon and have been vegan for seven years. I really enjoy backpacking, snowshoeing, photography, baking, birds, biking and food.

My Top 20 Kitchen Essentials

Happy 2013 everybody!! I started my year off right with blueberry pancakes, fresh juice, and some cozy time off with Tim. We even had a few teeny tiny snowflakes fall from the sky on New Year’s Eve. Brrr…

Recently I’ve seen fellow bloggers post lists of their favorite kitchen essentials. I thought it would be fun to share my own list. Most of these items are used daily in my kitchen.

1.  Tahini – Big surprise, huh? Tahini contains calcium and is wonderful in both savory and sweet recipes. I absolutely love this tahini-miso sauce for rice bowls, sweet potatoes, and pasta. It is simple to make and very, very addictive! If you make your own tahini at home it is much less expensive than jarred varieties at the store.

2. VitaMix – High-speed blenders are a worthwhile investment. You can expertly blend cashews to the smoothest consistency imaginable, create delicious smoothies/juices, puree soups, and even grind whole grains into flour! We use Vity (yes, we name our appliances) so much that he resides on our kitchen table.

3. Garlic – Where would I be without garlic? Even when recipes don’t call for it, I add some anyway. It heightens flavor and smells amazing. Plus, it wards off evil…

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4. Bamboo spatula - We have a bamboo spatula that has lasted us almost a decade. It is great for stir-frys, flipping veggie burgers, and anything cooked in a cast iron pan. Tim would cry if we didn’t have one.

5. Rice cooker - Making rice the old-fashioned way on the stovetop is fine, but using a rice cooker means you can scoot about doing other things at the same time. We have a small Cuisinart rice cooker that never fails – perfect, fluffy rice every time. It works well with other grains too.

6. Kale – Two bunches of kale reside in my fridge after each weekly shopping trip. Most often it goes into bowl meals or massaged salads, but we make kale chips too. The curly variety is my favorite.

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7. Quinoa - Go ahead, ask me where I get my protein! It’s quick to make and a reliable way to keep my tummy full.

8. Oats – We eat a lot of granola. Most likely because oats are affordable, nourishing, and delicious. Sometimes I will make granola bars.

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9. Chef’s knife – Life without our 8″ chef’s knife wouldn’t be complete. It is the best for chopping, mincing, dicing, slicing, you name it. A quality knife will last you a long time if you sharpen it regularly and store it properly.

10. Avocados – It’s too bad the Pacific Northwest doesn’t have the appropriate climate for growing avocados because I would plant a tree in my apartment. I eat them like most people use their smarty phones (translation: ALL the time). Luckily I don’t have a dumb smarty phone or I’d never have time to eat avocados.

11. Wire whisk – A simple little tool that makes a world of difference in my kitchen = the whisk. It’s great for smoothing sauces, combining dry ingredients, and making the best hot cocoa you can imagine. A good whisk or two should be mandatory in every kitchen.

12. Fresh ginger – Ginger is one of the best scented creations of all time. We use fresh ginger in juice, stir-frys, sauces, tea, and cookies. It keeps well in the fridge, so stock up!

13. Cast iron pan – Our cast iron pan lives on the stovetop because it gets used every single day. We love it for caramelizing onions, making charred BBQ soy curls, heating tortillas, simmering feijoada, and so much more. One pan will definitely last you a lifetime unless you are silly and ruin it by putting it in the dishwasher.

14. Apple cider vinegar - The pure, organic, unfiltered variety is best. Most commonly, I add apple cider vinegar to savory sauces and cakes. It is rich in enzymes and potassium.

15. Sweet potatoes - Baked, roasted, mashed, steamed, pureed…

16. Cashews – The ultimate nut for making creamy sauces, awesome vegan cheeses, and  non-dairy sour cream for burritos. I know they are crazy expensive, but sometimes a splurge is okay.

17. Silicone baking mats - Eliminate having to use parchment paper with handy, reusable silicone baking mats. My first set lasted about 9 years. Tim was sweet and got me a new set for Christmas. They will be well-loved.

18. Chocolate – Don’t even get me started! We love, love, love chocolate. I have to hide chocolate chips from Tim because he will eat them all before I can bake with them. It is important to buy organic, fair trade whenever possible. Please click the link to learn why.

19. Nutritional yeast - The most magical vegan pantry staple in the universe!!! Get your B-12, cheesy flavor goodness! I eat it with a spoon on occasion. And, you will NEVER catch me referring to nutritional yeast as nooch (except right now). I hate that word.

20. Smoked salt – Fancypants salt is always fun to have on hand. The smoked variety is wonderful for soups, stews, beans, chili, homemade cheeses, sauces, and whatever else you create. A little goes a long way too.

So there you have it! I encourage you to write about your kitchen essentials too. It’s so fun to learn about what we all love. Plus, it’s nice to try new things.

A Look Back on 2012

I am very grateful for the adventures, new opportunities, and growth I experienced in 2012. Even numbers have always been my favorite so let’s hope that 2013 doesn’t disappoint (negative much, Amy?). Here is a photo-overloaded look back on the highlights of 2012:

January and February involved trips to the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast – two places that cannot be missed if you ever venture to the Pacific Northwest. They both have unique beauty and the ability to relax even the wildest of souls. January also included a trip to Omaha, NE to help much-loved Isa Moskowitz with her dessert contributions for the now released Forks Over Knives Cookbook.

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March was the tail end of my first paid freelance photography gig. The challenges that accompanied that experience really helped me trust myself more and approach photography with new insight.

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April was a collection of early season hiking, bird watching, a visit from my dad, and tons of baking for Portland’s part in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.

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May and June highlights are rather silly, but this is primarily a food blog, so you’ll understand – attending the Veggie Grill grand opening and celebrating National Doughnut Day (vegan style!!) were top of the list!

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The remainder of June and most of July was perhaps the most incredible portion of 2012 for me. Tim and I went on an 8,000+ mile road trip all the way across the country and back, visiting National Parks, quirky small towns, friends, and family along the way. We had a blast! Spending so much time with Tim exploring new places and hiking in some of the most beautiful wilderness was truly, truly awesome. Recaps of our journey are here and here.

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August and September opened up more time for wilderness recreation. We went backpacking, spent time with friends in Seattle eating yummy food, and entertained my parents when they came for a visit. It was my mom’s first time in the Pacific Northwest and she loved every minute. September also marked the start of my employment with Herbivore Clothing Company. Best. Job. Ever.

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October was a month full of food since it was the Vegan Month of Food! Click here to see all the fun I stirred up in the kitchen!

November? I received two new cookbooks and had a blast cooking and baking from them. Preparing delicious food is almost as fun as devouring it!

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And that brings us to December! New recipe creations, a photo project, and a second new job round out the end of the year. I am excited for what lies ahead. Thanks for following me over the course of 2012. I wish all of you a super duper Happy New Year!!!