Archive for March, 2014

Wow, this year is flying by.  It’s almost a quarter of the way through!

I’ve been so busy when it comes to work, farmer’s markets, cooking, writing, drawing, reading, & taking care of the couple canine companions while my partner is gone on vacation that I rarely think about the time going by.  Sometimes it’s just good to relax & take in an hour or two to yourself.

That said, I do try to take about ten to fifteen minutes a day just to sit.

Yep, just sit.

Don’t think about anything, unplug, and SIT.  Breathing is good too, and great if you focus on some breathing exercises, but just to relax & let everything go…that’s what it’s all about.  Most people call it meditation, but you can call it whatever you want as long as you just relax.

Beyond that, makeup.  Not for me necessarily, I have rosy enough cheeks under the beard.

I was approached by a girl who was selling makeup at one of the farmer’s markets(again, not really to me).  She focused on the fact that I was slinging gluten-free vegan stuff.

I’m not gluten-free, but I have been working with the current company that is & I’ve taught myself some tricks when it comes to cooking & doing things gluten-free style.  It adds an extra challenge, and I always like those.

Anyway, the girl’s name is Amanda & she is with a group called Fresh Face Girl, a gluten & paraben free lipstick company(it’s also vegan).  This isn’t a giant plug for the company or anything, I just get excited when there are new options for my cruelty-free friends.

The fact that Amanda is new to this line of business shows–she was really nervous coming up to me & presenting her points.  I loved this about her, because it takes an awesome type of person to try something new & go outside of the box;  those are the people who eventually do great, and I told her so.  I made sure to let her know that it’s so easy & a lot of people would love to see something like this on the market, so she didn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to her being new with this concept.  I told her that she could relax & just be herself when talking to anyone, after all, what’s the worst that could happen?  If she’s trying to help people with a gluten intolerance, why would they shun her?

She ended up relaxing & I hope she found some new confidence.  I know she had a conference that she was promoting her product at this past weekend, and I hope she did well.  I think she’ll be a natural & I hope all of the luck in the world for her.  Check out the website & see what it’s all about, she gave me some samples that I probably won’t try out, but I’m sure I can find some people who would like to try them.  I’d love to see Amanda thrive, because again, it takes a special type of person to jump out of their element & I have faith in her, even just meeting her for the short time I did.

For today’s recipe, I don’t have much, but this should help you out in everyday life if you have a canine companion.

Apple butter prep!!

Apple butter prep!!

See, I have been making apple butter lately(everyone has an apple butter recipe, right?  If not, I’m sure I’ll post it sometime.  Also, it is for sale by the jar!) and tonight I’m making a strawberry variety.  I’ll actually post the recipe as soon as I know it is awesome.  In the meantime, we are going to focus on those pesky byproducts of making apple butter:

APPLE PEELS.

APPLE PEELS.

Obviously, you want to throw the cores away(or do you?).  You can always toss them in a compost bin or I’ve even had luck growing little trees.  Unfortunately, they didn’t last too long in my environment the last time I grew them(maybe the hot Florida afternoon Sun), but I’ll try again soon.  Just call me Johnny Appleseed.

All of those peels, just take them & throw them into a dehydrator.  That’s it.  So easy, so resourceful, so cheap, and your dogs LOVE THEM.

SEE???!!

SEE???!!

I’ve been doing that with all of the peels & anytime I peel sweet potatoes for baked sweet potato chips(again, future post:)), I’ll do the same.  The pups absolutely love them!

This is what they look like when they are done:

An easy month's worth of treats right here.

An easy month’s worth of treats right here.

So, the next time you think about throwing away those nutritious peels, save them, dehydrate them, & give them to good puppies.

Or ship them to me so I can do it.  My pups aren’t really good all the time, but I spoil them like they are.

Have a good rest of the month & I’ll let you know how that strawberry apple butter works out!

 

Wow!  As I was writing this, I was forwarded a feedback form from Amanda regarding our talk at the market & it sounded like she had a great weekend at her conference!  So great, in fact, that she signed up to be at the Gluten-Free Living Conference in Orlando in April!  I’m stoked that she did well & hope she continues on her path to awesomeness!  Go Amanda!!

Well, I went & got tattoos.

Plural.

That’s two of them at the same time.  It’s either just because I can, or just because I wanted to get them out of the way.  I’ve been talking about getting them done for some time & have had them drawn up as well, just needed that final touch.

Now, there is a looming problem when you look at tattoos and you’re vegan.  Some of the black pigment in the inks is made from burnt up animal bone.  There is also the potential for the use of glycerin, derived from animal fats, in a tattoo artist’s tool belt.  Not all black pigment is animal bone, not all glycerin is animal-derived; don’t get worried yet.

The only thing you have to do is ask.  Ask the artist if they use these things or not, and sometimes you’ll be surprised.  You can also go to known vegan artists or artists that mix their own inks & have great knowledge of what is in them.  The problem with most commercial ink brands is that they aren’t necessarily required to list ingredients because they are typically regarded as a coloring agent similar to printer ink by the FDA.

The solution, once more, is to ask.  There are great brands out there that are quite popular & already out there with the tattoo community that have no animal products in them like Stable.

That all said, here”s a collage of the new ink:

My pup Cinder takes after me in her photobombing skills.

My pup Cinder takes after me in her photobombing skills.

Okay, so you might not know it, but you are reading a superstar’s blog right now.

Maybe a celebrity.

Alright, just a regular guy with a super sense of vegan food artistry that got pulled up on stage three times during the Jacksonville Home & Patio Show this past weekend.  I still rocked it out.

Well, at least one of those times.  The first one I was a bit nervous, the second I was assisting, the third, rock status was achieved.

And “rocked” might not be the best word.  I DESTROYED it.  Or just had fun, that’s the point.

Like a kid in a candy store!

Like a kid in a candy store!

We’ve been so busy with work that I had absolutely no practice time to try a preliminary recipe, so I threw things that sounded good together & went with it.  That turned out to be great, everyone loved it, and I had a great time.  I think it was a win-win situation.

Plus, this goes to show that throwing things together is a great way to get into cooking.  You can be missing a flavor and add it, you can have too much of something and counterbalance it with something else, or you can get it right the first time too.  No one is perfect.  Except my canine companions.  Sometimes me, but not often.

My personal trick is to smell it.  It’s that easy–smell, adjust, smell again.  I’m always tasting it, but smell is a huge part too.

It’s like when you were a kid & people told you to hold your nose when you ate brussel sprouts & you wouldn’t taste them.

That was just me?

Well, try it with any food.  You won’t taste it until you let go of your nose.  The two work together.

Though I still have yet to try smelling something while holding my tongue.

I digress.  Here’s the easy recipe:

Start with 5 cups of water on a boil & add 4 cups of rice.

Saute two yellow onions in a little olive oil until translucent, add four cloves of garlic(minced), 2 cups of broccoli chopped to dime size, 2 cans of drained & rinsed corn, 4 cups of diced tomatoes, and let that heat for a bit to a simmer.  The tomatoes should provide a saucy, juicy mix.

Next, throw 4 cups of chopped spinach in there, mix, & let sit for just a couple of minutes or until wilted.

Then the fun.

Mix in a cup of chopped fresh cilantro, 3 tablespoons of cumin, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika, 3 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of pepper, half a tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and a half a tablespoon of oregano.  Let that simmer for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors & put that in the pot of rice.  The rice should be a bit soupy as well for this next part.

Add a cup of nutritional yeast.

Mix all of that together & you have something that I have no name for except a southwest “hodgepodge”.  But it was great, and people loved it, even came back for more.  I don’t have any pics of this recipe because I was so busy handing it out to people, but this one is close to peeking over the edge of the pot:

They even gave me a headset so I could ramble incessantly at the crowd.

They even gave me a headset so I could ramble incessantly at the crowd.

Some of the spices above are a variation of a combination that is found in one of the spices that I use at work, but that is a close representation.  Here is what I did on stage if you have access to our online store or can even make it out to the farmer’s markets we work.  In either case, I hope you enjoy!!

Oh yeah, and as for the community garden pic that I promised, here is the beginning:

Just a little before & after pic.  I finished this in a couple days.

Just a little before & after pic. I finished this in a couple days.

Have a great couple of weeks!!

I’ve just been barraged by a giant amount of insane awesomeness.

Remember a few posts back where I wrote about how to make curried tofu scramble & an awesomely unique animal rights comic book called Liberator?  If not, it’s here.

If you do, you may pass go & hold on to your seat, because this is what’s coming out on March 12th:

Pretty awesome, yeah?!

Pretty awesome, yeah?!

Yes, you see right.  Matt Miner’s Liberator story is back, but this time Matt has collaborated with Earth Crisis, a metalcore band that was quite active in the nineties & started making music again in 2007.

I have been listening to the new album as much as I can & now I need to get all of them.  The band focuses on animal rights, political & social issues and is really hardcore, which I can definitely rock out to.  You can too–the new album “Salvation of Innocents” comes out March 4th!

The new comic revolves around a girl named Sarah who resorts to getting a job at an animal testing lab, only to see what happens behind closed & oftentimes hidden doors.  This causes an eventual moral dilemma, almost a moral compass explosion of sorts, & she gets active.  I’m not going to spoil the story for you by any means, but here is a pretty epic piece of art to give you a hint….

I told you.  Epically epic.

I told you. Epically epic.

There were quite a few pages that were really moving with the parallel that they drew with the real labs that we see today.  You see the faces of the animals in the raw, where they aren’t really just objectified & hidden at the risk of prosecution(Idaho’s Ag-gag law was passed recently, making it illegal to film, even publicize any of the grossly inhumane & unnecessary practices that are in use even today).  You see the actual pain, the suffering on the faces of the sentient beings, and many look away, trying to not think about it.

Trying to imagine it isn’t happening.

This conflicts Sarah to no end & is eventually the spark that lights the fire.

Needless to say, the story is just phenomenal & it is coupled again with Javier Sanchez Aranda, a bad ass when it comes to inking up some realistic quality art that a lot of comics don’t really have yet.  The color is spectacular & done by Joaquin Pereyra.  When you have these three working together, you know there’s going to be magic.

Look for it on shelves March 12th from Black Mask Studios & while you’re reading it, I definitely advocate blasting the entire Salvation of Innocents album from Earth Crisis.  Caution:  doing both at the same time might drive you into action.

Not that that is a bad thing at all.

Here are a couple more previews to get you stoked & looking for this book:

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