Saturday, March 31, 2012

9 diy gifts

Several years ago I made a commitment to only give handmade gifts, both because it forces me to be creative and I believe it is a responsible way to care for our environment and people around the world by limiting our consumer's desire. While I have not been entirely successful I keep making the effort, and as birthdays and baby showers and housewarmings give me a lot opportunity to celebrate and give, I figured I ought to dedicate a list to gifts and hopefully it will keep me inspired (and some of you) to give creatively and generously.

1. Knit hat and scarf. Last Christmas I made three scarves and Jason made three hats for our three nieces. We used yarn lying around the house and only the most basic knitting skills to complete these cute combos.

2. Gift Baskets. Always an occasion and with endless themes, a gift basket always makes a nice gift whether it's a celebration for a baby, a new parent, a housewarming, or a valentines special. Here is a good website I found with several different basket ideas.

3. Chocolate Truffles. If I'm not making candy in my kitchen in December it just does not feel like Christmas. Over the past five years I have been working on my vegan truffle recipes and gifting them around holidays. I am planning on making them available for sale next Christmas season.

4. Napkins and Placemats. A simple sewing pattern, scratch fabric, and such a wonderful housewarming or wedding gift. I have made a handful of these sets over the years but yet to have two matching napkins in my own house.

5. Homemade Meal. I enjoy gifting my parents with homemade feasts highlighting different countries of the world. I thoroughly love the process of the gift as well as the opportunity to spend time with my folks.

6. Bath Products. A great gift for a new mother or newly pregnant woman, there are all kinds of recipes for bath salts, scrubs, lotions, bubbles, and soaps.

7.Mason Jars. I got this idea of pinterest from this website.There is such a variety of things that fit into a mason jar, check it out. And after all the goods are consumed, the receiver has mason jars and has the possibility to continue the cycle of gifts in a jar.

8. Recipe Book. Early on when I went vegan I went through a cookbook addiction where I bought unnecessary amounts of cookbooks and studied them. Pretty soon I wanted to start sharing all the amazing recipes I was finding, so I started making recipe boxes for my friends and family.

9. Coupons. Everyone one loves a coupons packet. Back rubs, babysitting, date night, etc. When in doubt, make a coupon.

Eden Mae

It is hard to remember life before Eden Mae. In the past two months my time, focus, and priorities have shifted so dramatically and this new life shadows over the memories of a time before.

Early in labor I shared with my mom my fears of the impending change. I did not feel ready for the selflessness required to love and parent a child. I did not feel rested in preparation for the sleeplessness that spanned ahead. I did not feel like I had any more room to adopt a new identity as mother, for I had been myself in one particular way for so long.

After two months of reflection I realize it was Eden that I needed for so long. She has taught me how to be a parent; how to love selflessly while making room for an identity that fulfills rather than depletes me. In return I am given the chance to see the world anew, with a childish wonder, through a fresh pair of eyes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

tacos sin carne

Remember the other day when I mentioned how delicious Textured Vegetable Protein is as a replacement for ground beef? I may have even said that many of my meat-eating friends prefer my tacos sin carne. Want to try it for yourself? Here's my incredible easy, surprisingly fast, and totally flexible taco recipe:

Tacos Sin Carne

the meat
1 cup dried textured vegetable protein
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup diced or crushed tomatoes, optional

the seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t oregano
1 t paprika
1 Tbsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

the rest
any other toppings you love
taco shells or tortillas

Textured Vegetable Protein "Ground Beef"

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), a protein-rich meat substitute made from soy flour, can be found at health stores or in larger supermarkets, usually in the bulk section. When ready to use TVP needs to be re-hydrated at a 1:1 ratio. To do this place 1 part TVP in bowl and cover with 1 part boiling water. Place lid on bowl and let sit for five minutes.

While the TVP is re-hydrating, heat up 1 TBSP oil in a pan. Once hot add onion and saute, stirring often, until lightly brown.

Once onions are ready add chili , garlic, and onion powder, cayenne, oregano, paprika, ans cumin.
Stir to coat onion.

Add tomatoes. I just use whatever is in my pantry, usually diced tomatoes, and add to taste. The tomatoes add juiciness and flavor but could be omitted all together, in which case add a little extra water when adding tvp to onion mixture.

Add tvp and stir until combined. Let sit simmer for 5 minutes for flavors to soak in.

Prepare your toppings. Below and clockwise I have lime chive sour "cream" (I prefer Follow Your Heart), spinach, avocado, tomatoes, olives, and salsa.

Assemble tacos and enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

9 simple vegan substitutions

One of the most common questions I am asked as a vegan baker is, "and this is vegan?", which always makes me smile because I try very hard to change the way people think vegan food should taste. Vegan food is not all dry and cardboard-textured and it never has to be. Likewise, there is no need to eat super-processed food if you have a craving for something cheesy or meat-like. There are many things that can be done right at home.
Here's a quick list of my favorite substitutions:

1. Because Coconut Milk is so rich and fatty, it makes an excellent substitution for heavy cream. The most basic components for a pastry cook, ganache, caramel, or whipped cream are all improved with coconut milk.

2. Also creamy and fatty, Cashews can be ground and used for many types of non-dairy custards and cheeses. Follow these links to find recipes for hard cheese, ricotta cheese and nacho cheese. And check next week when I attempt a cashew pastry cream.

3. The great nutty and cheese flavor of Nutritional Yeast makes it a good substitute for
soft cheeses, creamy Alfredo-like sauces, or vegetable gravy. Also a very good source of B12 so vegans, sprinkle that on everything!

4. It would be hard (not impossible) to be a vegan without Tofu as I so easily substitutes for such a variety of foods. Depending on the type, tofu can be the invisible firming base in chocolate mousse, the spongy egg in frittata, the meaty substance of a TLT (tofu, lettuce, and tomato), and so so much more. I love you, tofu.

5. Flax seeds makes a wonderful egg replacement when baking. For each egg blend 1 tablespoon flax seed with 3 tablespoons water until the mixture is thick with an egg-y consistency. Also a great way to sneak a little health into some chocolate chip pecan cookies.

6. How many types of Non-dairy milk are there? Soy, hemp, oat, hazelnut, almond, rice, I forgetting any? No matter the allergies, preferences, or dietary limitations, there is a milk out for everyone. I found a quick, simplified overview of different non-dairy milks and their uses here.

7. Try Texture Vegetable Protein in lieu of ground beef. It tastes so much better (says my meat-eating friends). My favorite way to use TVP is for tacos. Check back later this week when I have my full taco recipe up.

8. For a soy-free, high protein meat substitute try Seitan. There are all kinds of ways to prepare this mock-meat. In fact I found an online cookbook dedicating to the making of and cooking with seitan. Next Thanksgiving I'm making this.

9. Made from fermented brown rice, Brown Rice Syrup is a healthful alternative for sugar and honey. It can be replaced for both sweet and savory but must be adjusted in the recipe as it is about two thirds as sweet as white sugar and one third as sweet as honey.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Turning Thirty


Faux Turkey Florentine at Vita Cafe

Family Nap

Present from Jason

Family walk to:

for a

visit from Rae and Junie with flowers and

many surprise birthday wishes from friends and family.

mushroom gnocchi and

and the best vegan tiramisu from Portobello

Thanks everyone for making my day special!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

a gift for me

In the rare moments when both hands are free I have created
a little space for creativity. Among my different crafting boards on Pinterest,
I pulled up this 'someday' project:

I would place the pattern on an intermediate skill level.
The project is fast, versatile, and for five dollars you can buy the pattern here.

I currently have a goal to finish all my yarn before buying anything new,
so I am crocheting with Rowan Cotton Glace, 4 ply.

The whole cowl/scarf can be done with two skeins of this yarn.

Uninterrupted this project could be done during a two night "Breaking Bad" marathon or one rainy day. With infant child, it takes longer. I still have a few rows to crochet before I put on the finishing touches. At this point I feel pretty good about my gift to myself.

I am only one more Blazers loss away from completion.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

9 hopes for my 30s

If I've learned anything from my twenties it is that life is unpredictable. But it doesn't hurt to have dreams, right?

1. Have a second child. It is a bit crazy that I'm already thinking about this, but I do want one more chance to grow and birth a child.

2. International travel. With Jason's job we will have several opportunities for travel in Africa. I also plan on traveling around the U.K. this decade as it is where most my roots begin.

3. Publish my cookbook. I am hoping that a decade is long enough to teach me enough discipline so that I can translate my love for food and photography into a tangible collection.

4. Write a memoir. My story of the last 15 months is one I will never to forget. I was changed so dramatically in the most unexpected and unplanned ways. For nothing other than a written record, I must find the time to put it down in words.

5. Read my classics list. At one book a year, I will be finished
with a year to spare.

6. Piano lessons. For years I have played around on the piano, refining the few songs I know and for years I have wished I was better.

7. U.S. road trip. I dream that someday Jason and I will take Swede and Eden across the country, visiting our friends along the way as we explore this expansive and eclectic country.

8. Play poker in Vegas. I have never been to Vegas and although I would be horrified in many different ways, there would be a part of me that just might love it.

9. Learn the art of gardening. After two unsuccessful years, I think the time has come to read some books and change my technique.

Monday, March 12, 2012

9 events of my twenties

The decade of my twenties is almost over. The last ten years were full of pain and challenges but more importantly wisdom, joy, and faith, ultimately becoming a very remarkable decade.

1.Central America. In college I spent four months living and traveling around Honduras. The time spent studying the culture, politics, and history of Central America became pivotal in shaping who I am as a global citizen of this world.

2. Marriage. Almost six years ago I entered into a marriage partnership with Jason. Marriage, more than anything else, has grown and shaped me into the person I want to be.

3. Kizzy and Oscar. As our first two members of the Fileta/McMinn clan, our cats have taught me how extremely rewarding sharing life with animals can be. Click here if you need proof.

4. Veganism. Among the best decisions I have made in my twenties, veganism allows me to live a life full of compassion, health, and tofu.

5. Egypt. Jason and I spent almost a month exploring his roots while walking the streets of Cairo, visiting wonders of the world, and climbing Mount Sinai in the middle of the night.

6. Tattoos. Not necessarily life changing,
but three permanent reminders of my twenties.

7. Culinary School. Perhaps not the right choice, but I did it nonetheless and as I grow into my thirties I am interested to see if and how this decision shapes my career.

8. Swede. As the fifth member to the Fileta/McMinn family, Swede has added joy, companionship,and love while fulfilling my life long dream of living with and caring for a dog.

9. Eden. The 6th member of our family and showing up just two months before this decade came to an end, Eden has been the greatest accomplishment of my young life.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

9 entrepreneurial ventures

While raising Eden has so far been very fulfilling, I have found my mind actively awakened to developing dreams and goals for future work. In any future endeavor I aim for creativity, ownership, and flexibility.

1. Bed and Breakfast. The day I can buy some property in the Columbia River Gorge or Willamette Valley will begin my bed and breakfast business. Book a stay...I'm thinking around 203o.

2. Cake Decorator. After many years of decorating cakes for other people's businesses, I think I would enjoy venturing out on my own.

3. Candy Maker. Every year around the holidays I make an assortment of vegan truffles and every year I think I ought to try and market them.

4. Cookbook Writer. There is a half written cookbook on my computer I have been talking about for years. Time to make something happen.

5. Crafter. I've thought about opening up an Etsy account or contacting local boutiques but really I think my crafting is primarily for gift-giving.

6. Doula. Ever since my birth experience I've been very fascinated with finding work around childbirth. Doulas have many options from prenatal care and attending births to teaching classes to placenta encapsulation.

7. Writer. I'm not sure if I have a story worth telling, but I will keep asking that question and hopefully one day I will discover the story and share it through writing.

8. At-home day care. I can't quite believe I would suggest this but this pursuit would allow me to stay with Eden while surrounding her with other children. Like two other children, at most.

9. Newborn photographer. Most people don't know that I have a photography degree because I usually think it's too worthless to mention. There is nothing like a new baby, however, to get me re-fired up about photography.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse Cake

This is a delicious and decadent chocolate cake recipe that was inspired
by a recipe I found in Hannah Kaminsky's "My Sweet Vegan".
This cake is not only a super easy, no bake dessert.
It is also vegan, gluten-free and without refined sugars.

Chocolate Mousse Cake


1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
3 tbsp canola oil

Combine all ingredients for crust until well combined and dough-like.
Press firmly into a lightly oiled 9 inch spring form pan.

Chill crust while preparing the filing.

Mousse Filling
2 12 ounce packages extra firm silken tofu
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 tsp almond extract
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Drain tofu and blend well in food processor. Scrape down sides and add cocoa powder, brown rice syrup and almond extract. Blend again.
Meanwhile melt the chocolate chips in a double broiler and
add to tofu mixture. Scrape down and blend for several minutes
until mixture is smooth.

Pour mousse into chilled crust and smooth with offset spatula.

Chill in refrigerator for at least four hours.
Top with raspberries and chocolate shaving.