For the Sea Lions…and a Giveaway

This is a very sad post (with a happy giveaway at the end). Sometimes life can be fulfilling, and other times you just want to sink into a hole and hide (well I do anyway). I am not sure how many of you have heard about the deaths of seven sea lions here in Oregon, on the Columbia River, but the news is a shock to animal lovers. To save myself from having to type out the details, you can read the news stories with these links (here and here). This really breaks me to pieces, and brings to light how cruel and heartless and greedy some people in our world are. While there have been continual updates and rotating theories on how these sea lions died, the truth is, they would not have died if they were not in traps.


My first close encounter with sea lions occurred when I was living and traveling around New Zealand for a year. My boyfriend and I had made our way to the South Island, near Invercargill, and were walking along the coast. Watching the waves, we could see this wobbly, bobbing shape coming toward us…what was it? A sea lion! It was coming to rest in the sand. It was awesome watching the sea lion slowly cruise along the sand to a cozy spot. There was no fear from the animal toward us, nor us toward the animal. But, there was a connection (of course!). After a few moments, two or three more sea lions emerged from the water and dragged themselves to rest. Smelly as they were, it was hard to walk away…

When I am depressed for any reason, I turn to baking, which is my solace (whether I am happy or sad). So, in honor of these passing sea lions, and in salute to World Ocean Day on June 8th (the link below might actually be for last year’s World Ocean Day, but still!), I am having a giveaway! Yep. Free stuff!

All you lovely readers have to do is leave a comment about your favorite sea creature (in keeping with the World Ocean Day theme). Make sure to leave your comment by Friday, May 16th (midnight Pacific Standard Time). I will randomly select a comment, and the winner will receive a variety of homemade vegan cookies!! Cookies make me happy, as I have mentioned in previous posts. So, cookies ought to make others happy as well, right?! The whole idea of this giveaway is simply to honor these sea lions, and all animals whose lives are taken from them unjustly. OK? OK!

Music and Strippers

This past weekend I went to Seattle to see my favorite band perform (they are on tour now, go see them, they are AMAZING!). Although I live a mere three hours from Seattle, I have only visited the city a few times. I left a warm and sunny day in Portland, and was greeted (unsurprisingly) to a warm and very rainy day in Seattle. That’s okay because I made a new friend along the way! He was cruising the sidewalk, most likely searching for Mighty O Donuts (which I indulged in, but sadly have no photos to share).

While in Seattle, I had the chance to dine at Pizza Pi. It was a nice escape from the rain, very warm and cozy inside. The folks working there were super kind. The pizza was tasty, but I must agree with the lovely Vegan Noodle, the cheese on top was a needless addition. After pizza, I stopped across the street at Side Car for Pigs Peace. I was able to spot some nifty items that I have never seen in Portland, including some fun bubble bath scented in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry and packed in wee milk cartons. Too cute…and wow, this stuff smells awesome! After that, it was on to the show…seriously, go watch these guys perform…

Now, the strippers…hehehe…

Crazy name for a…cookie! I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine years back, and usually only make them around the holidays, but sometimes it’s cool to break tradition. You can find the recipe here, and it is easily veganized by making a few small substitutions: (1) use vegan margarine instead of butter, and (2) use an egg replacer method instead of an egg white. These cookies are addictive, and best eaten warm. I always make them using homemade jam, but undoubtedly, they would be great with any jam. I made two batches this time around, a Strawberry-Raspberry Stripper, and an Apple-Cinnamon Stripper. For the latter, I replaced the lemon juice in the glaze with plain soy milk, and added a healthy dash of cinnamon, and then sprinkled the tops with slivered (and crushed) almonds. Oh, and I used an apple jelly as the filling. These are a snap to prepare, and it’s fun slicing the logs and drizzling the glaze over them. The perfect cookie for impatient cookie munchers…they don’t really need to cool!

My Other Favorite Cookie

Cookies make me happy. I eat a lot of cookies. Cookies make lots of people happy. And lots of people eat lots of cookies. So, I am going to post about cookies, again! This particular cookie is definitely close behind Peanut Butter Babas…very close! Enter the Snickerdoodle. I call these Twisted Snicksters, simply because I like the word “snickster” (definitely NOT because of that lame heavy metal band from the beloved 80’s, Twisted Sister…). Anyway, I created this recipe when I was trying to start a vegan cookie company. My boyfriend likes to roll the dough in the cinnamon-sugar. So, if you have a happy helper in the kitchen, let them do the rolling! It is incredibly essential to the final product!

Twisted Snicksters (this recipe is easily halved, and works just as well)

1 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups unrefined sugar
2 eggs replaced (I use Ener’G Egg Replacer)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt

For the cinnamon-sugar topping:

1/4 cup unrefined sugar + 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I usually don’t use all of the mix, so save some for oatmeal or toast!)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the margarine for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, gradually. Beat for about 3 minutes. Add the replaced eggs, and beat some more. Add the vanilla.
4. In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add this to the creamed mixture, and beat well.
5. Put the dough in the fridge until firm (about an hour). Although sometimes I am impatient for cookies, and I skip this step, and they still turn out just fine!
6. Once you have removed the dough from the fridge, roll into balls, roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, and place on your cookie sheet. Gently press the dough balls down with palm of your hand, or something flat.
7. Bake in your oven for about 11 minutes, or until they look done. The number of cookies you get depends on how big you make the balls. I eat these so fast I never count them.

My Favorite Cookie

In a previous post, I mentioned something about a peanut butter cookie recipe. Well, here is my most favorite recipe…EVER…for peanut butter cookies. This recipe is adapted from one my mom had scribbled on an index card in her recipe box. I don’t know the source, so let’s pretend it was passed down through the generations…although it probably wasn’t. Anyway, I call these Peanut Butter Babas (ummm…don’t ask me why, it’s a bit strange…). I never said cookies were supposed to be healthy…remember that! But, they are TASTY!


Peanut Butter Babas

1/2 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance), softened
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg replaced (whatever method makes you happy, although I have only ever tried plain soy yogurt and Ener’G Egg Replacer)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Beat the margarine and peanut butter together in a stand mixer (or use your hand mixer) until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugars. Beat until fluffy. Add in your replaced egg and vanilla. Beat until even more fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, slowly.
4. Using about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of dough, shape into balls (I use a BIG cookie scoop to make perfectly round cookies, because I am a bit of a perfectionist…sometimes…). Place cookie balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. One at a time, dip the cookie balls in a shallow dish with some sugar in it. Slightly flatten each cookie ball with the palm of your hand, and use either a fork or a potato masher to make a pretty criss-cross pattern on the top (flattening the cookie a bit more).
5. Bake in your oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are golden (if you have a sassy oven like I do, you may want to adjust the baking time accordingly). Let the cookies cool a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Makes about 8 big, fat, yummy cookies. Or, if you want, make these smaller so you have lots!

Buns of Soul

What?! Buns of Soul? Yep. Today my boyfriend made these buns (thank you Celine…you rock!) for a major component of our dinner…Black-Eyed Pea Soul Burgers. Several years ago, we picked up a rejected copy of The Healthy Soul Food Cookbook from our local Goodwill. At the time, we were vegetarian, and there were plenty of suitable recipes in it, this one included. It quickly became a summertime favorite because it packs a ton of flavor and some spicy kick (and veggie-type burgers are fun in the summer). Bootsy Collins would be happy with one of these for sure! Anyway, the recipe is easily veganized, and pairs well with roasted potatoes, fruit, greens, whatever you want.

Black-Eyed Pea Soul Burgers (recipe adapted from The Healthy Soul Food Cookbook)

1 can black-eyed peas, cooked in their liquid until mashable, and drained
1/2 cup chopped cauliflower, cooked (I steam it until pretty tender)
1/2 cup chopped broccoli, cooked (same as cauliflower)
1/2 -1/3 cup chopped cremini mushrooms (any mushrooms really)
1-2 tablespoons flour
2-3 tablespoons vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, minced (more or less depending on how you feel about garlic)
1 squirt of Braggs or low-sodium tamari sauce
3 teaspoons Soul Food Seasoning (recipe follows)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a big bowl (I like to use my stand mixer), mix all the ingredients together, mashing the peas against the sides of your bowl.
3. Form into 4″ patties. (These can be messy. If you find that your mixture is too wet, add some breadcrumbs or flour. If it is too dry, add some veggie broth or a bit of water.)
4. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Put the patties on the pan. Bake for a total of about 25 minutes or so, flipping the patties halfway through baking. The recipe says it makes 4, but I always end up with 6. These work well with any vegetable you choose. So versatile!

Soul Food Seasoning (adapted from The Healthy Soul Food Cookbook)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon dark chili powder
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Combine and store in a tightly sealed container. And if you shake this before taking off the lid, oh my, turn your head! This is potent! Alas…I am weak…

Tomorrow, I will post the promised Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, even though only a few people made guesses regarding the birds. It’s alright…