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.

Fur Free Friday

First off, thank you for the kind words regarding my previous post. A four-day weekend and a partner who has been taking awesome care of me is helping immensely. Cookies have helped too!

I participated in my first protest today (!), and I definitely see myself attending more in the near future. As a shy, quiet, and likes-to-hide-in-the-shadows kind of person, this protest dug deep within and had me shouting phrases like “Forty dead animals, one fur coat” while marching proudly in the front of the group. It was quite an afternoon. Portland had a great turnout for Fur Free Friday, an event that takes place in cities all over the country on the lamest (in my opinion) day of the year: Black Friday. It felt awesome to promote something other than obnoxious consumerism and 4 a.m. “early bird” sales. I’ve never been one to shop on Black Friday, but being out amongst those that do while communicating a powerful message was exhilarating. Plus, marching through the streets (police escorted) and holding up traffic is pretty satisfying, so says the evil twin who resides in me…

One last issue: please click here, and encourage the soon-to-come Obama Administration to bring change to the US Department of Agriculture. It only takes a few moments and it will help promote more humane agricultural policies nationwide. Thanks!

Skanky Pumpkin Squares – The Recipe

As promised, here is the recipe for Skanky Pumkpin Squares:

*Just a quick note: The first time I made these, I used all-purpose flour and evaporated cane juice. The second time (for which the recipe below reflects), I used whole wheat pastry flour and unrefined dark brown sugar. Both methods worked nicely, but I am posting the latter because they might be a tad bit healthier.

Makes 9 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 T ground flax seeds
6 T warm (not hot!) non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup unrefined dark brown sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 T blackstrap molasses
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (scooped and leveled with a knife)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t fine sea salt
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

METHOD:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax seeds and soy milk. Set aside (let rest for at least 5 minutes, you want it to get thick and goopy).
3. In a large bowl, or stand mixer bowl, blend together the pumpkin puree, canola oil, and brown sugar.
4. Blend in the flax mixture. Add the vanilla extract and molasses. Blend some more. Scrape down the sides of your bowl if necessary.
5. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.
7. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 inch square baking pan (I used metal).
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

For the cream cheese frosting:

2 ounces vegan cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 ounces Earth Balance or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese and margarine until smooth and creamy. Add in the vanilla extract and blend some more. Add the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time. Blend on high speed for several minutes, or until the frosting reaches a consistency you like.
2.When your Skanky Pumpkin Squares are cool, spread the frosting over the top and cut into 9 squares (or however many you want). These are awesome with a mug of tea, a glass of milk, or probably even coffee (but I don’t drink coffee so I might be wrong about that). Enjoy!!