Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Festive Times

Wow- Christmas is gone already? And 2010 just around the corner?

Well, hope all you folks had a fantastic holiday like I did, and Happy New Year to you! I was blessed with the Christmas gift of a Canon EOS digital Rebel Xt and have had a jolly time twiddling with it all week. Unfortunately, having gotten the camera used, it didn't come with a computer hook up so I can't show off any of my photographs (just as well, the pictures have been a bit unpredictable). I thought I might instead show you a photograph close to my heart...

You may recognize this photo, as it's appeared on the blog once before and is my profile picture. It depicts last Christmas- Sisters Vi and PJ (rats) enjoying cookies nestled in the tree. As this year's holiday progressed, I couldn't help but think of PJ, wishing she were with us.

How things changed with our menagerie (of pets): just this year we lost a cat and PJ, and adopted three degus and three bunnies. How things change! Many bloggers have been saying '09 was a drag, and relish the opportunity to start a fresh decade. I disagree, with the bad 2009 part. It been be quite a year- for learning, personal growth (both mentally and literally- it's amazing how many inches you can grow in just 365 days!), and new beginnings. I have read many life changing books, developed more love and bonds with animals, and I feel prepared for the new decade.

The blog will be undergoing some changes, too. I'll be adding more features for easier navigation, indexes, etc.. I have one New Year's resolution right now- post more regularly!

Of course I have my other resolutions, but I think I'll wait till New Years Eve to put them on paper, for now I just want to enjoy the life and love of the last couple days of the year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Along with gift buying, card making, preparing for company coming, and the need for a dessert plan for the holidays, the kitchen has been cranking out the creations of various reworks and twist of the old holiday classics.

Out of this came- macaroons! Some might write off a vegan sugar-free macaroon, since eggs and sugar are two of the three ingredients in the traditional version. Of course, I had to prove them wrong and create something that would taste good, and I hope you'll agree I succeeded. I have made these with brown rice syrup as well, which makes for a crunchy cookie on the outside. My taste testers (aka family members) preferred it with agave, so I went with that. Besides, brown rice syrup can spike blood sugar in diabetics, whereas agave nectar won't as much.

Gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, oil-free

1/4 c. hot water
2 tablespoons ground golden flax seeds
1/4 c. agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 c. unsweetened coconut shreds

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

In a medium sized bowl, blend together the hot water and ground flax until smooth. Allow this mixture to sit for a few moments to gel up into a nice goop. At this point, beat in the agave nectar and vanilla. Thoroughly incorporate the coconut shreds. Press some of the "batter" into a small ice cream scoop and drop onto the cookie sheet, repeating this with the rest of the "batter", packing the cookies together onto the sheet as needed, since they won't spread. Alternatively, you could use a spoonful of "batter" and shape it into a mound for your cookie. In any case, bake the macaroons for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms have browned, and turn the heat of the oven down to 300 degrees F, without taking the cookies out if the oven. Let them dry out for an additional ten minutes or so, when the tops of the macaroons are tanned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Great eaten hot or cooled.

Makes 18 macaroons

Printable recipe

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A litttle cup of love

A cup of love, you say? Why, yes, but not the beverage kind. Remember those Reese's peanut butter cups? With all that milk-saturated chocolate, hydrogenated margarine, and crappy peanut butter? Yeah, yeah, they were good, but oh so unhealthy. VEGirl decided to take the matter into her own hands and late one night a pure chocolate peanutty cup of love emerged.

Mine aren't an identical copy. Goodness no, they are much better! Not exactly healthy, but most definitely an improvement over the original. Give them as holiday gifts, stuff in stockings, or at least get them out of the house before you are tempted to eat the whole batch!

Peanut butter cups of love

You will need: 25 candy wrapper cups

1/3 c. peanut butter
2 teaspoons arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

1 1/2 c. chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
2 squares (1 square inch each) 100% cocoa bakers chocolate (about two tablespoons) (optional)

Set out 25 little foil candy cups. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, agave, arrowroot, vanilla, and a healthy pinch of salt. Form this mixture into twenty-five 1/2 inch balls and set aside.

Place the chocolate chips and baker's chocolate, if using, in a heat safe bowl (for the microwave or toaster oven), or in a double boiler. Whatever melting method you use, stir the chocolate frequently to prevent scorching, until it is smooth.

Now to the assembly! Take a foil cup, fill it a third way with melted chocolate, then press one peanut butter ball into it. Top it off with more chocolate, filling the wrapper almost to the top. Repeat this until all your wrappers are filled. Allow to set completely before serving, gifting, or gobbling yourself.

Printable recipe

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are officially upon us, and everyone has to start thinking about gifts! My oh my! This year, I want to spread the vegan/animal-friendly/environmental word through gifts. Here are some ideas for you!

Sponsoring an animal for someone is a great gift. A lot of animal organizations and foundations have this system; you donate money for a particular animal and the person you gift it to receives a certificate of thanks. This is a great one for long-distance gifts. places such as Farm Sanctuary, and local organizations offer this.

Building on the previous gift idea: donate to environmental/humanitarian/animal organizations, depending on the gift receiver's interests or passion. Since not all organizations give you the option of donating in someones name, you could make a little certificate of recognition yourself!

Gift products made with recycled materials. Preserve is a company that uses old yogurt cups and consumer's #5 plastic to make kitchen, tableware, and personal care products. Their process of manufacturing these products uses much less resources and power then making normal plastic. The products also look nice! Check out their website.

Bake you present! Baking or making candy for people is a sweet (*haha*) way to express your gratitude to them for being a great friend or family member. I have a list down to the floor of baked goods to create the people on my nice list! The way to make sure you cook the right thing for people is to sneakily ask them in the middle of conversation or something. I like Hannah of Bittersweet's list of baked gift ideas. You'll also see some recipes on my blog coming up!

With the need to restrict spending more and more, giving recipes and samples for low-cost beauty and household products are good gifts. For instance, recipes and samples for homemade soaps, lotions, lip balms, cleaners, etc. These are also more eco-friendly, since they don't come in all the packaging and the ingredients are generally easy to buy bulk and cheap.

Well, that's all I have for now. What are you gifting this year?

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