Monday, August 30, 2010

Dancing Rabbit pt. 1 - Welcome to the Milkweed Mercantile

Milkweed Mercantile
This weekend was amazing!  We hit the road Friday morning for Dancing Rabbit, an ecovillage in Northeastern Missouri.  We stayed at the Milkweed Mercantile (pictured above), a bed and breakfast that just opened this year.  After we unloaded, Alline gave us a quick overview of the neighborhood, we had a few beers and relaxed.  Alline and Kurt were wonderful hosts!  
Alline has a point...haha, ok maybe that was corny
Jessica, Tina, Ann and Bobbie try to focus in the sun
Kurt and Alline behind the counter busy with dinner prep. and serving beers ;)

A fuzzy pic, but doesn't Kurt look so happy to serve?  haha ;)

Fancy dinner arrangement
Ann and Jessica enjoying the amazing hammock chairs

Bobbie and I having an intense discussion (evidently) over beers

Want to find an Intentional Community near you?:  Check out the Fellowship for Intentional Communities.

Credit:  Thanks to Ann for allowing me to use a few of her photos!  (The first one of the Mercantile and the last photo)

Next up: Photos from the canning seminar!

Still to come:  Dancing Rabbit tour, more book reviews and a cookbook give away, garden pics, food and projects.

FYI:  Some changes are on the way!  I'm hoping to make some long desired changes in appearance to this blog.  For awhile I considered starting a second blog for projects and inspiration, but I have decided to integrate those ideas with this blog.  Exciting for some and not to others, but you have the power to choose what you read ;)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Almond Tangerine Balls

Chocolate-Covered Almond Tangerine Balls
from Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik

4 small tangerines
2 c. sugar
1 lb. raw or lightly toasted slivered almonds
1 c. choc. chips or 6 oz. semisweet choc. (melted)

Squeeze the juice from 1 of the tangerines and strain it through a fine-mesh strainer.  Combine the juice with the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat, stiffing often.  Lower the heat slightly and simmer for 10 minutes.  Let cool.

Rinse and peel the remaining tangerines.  Place the peels in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them completely and bring to a boil.  (Save the fruit to eat at another time.)  Boil the peels for 5 minutes *start timing after the water boils).  Drain and rinse the peels under cold water.  Drain again and pat them dry thoroughly with paper towels so there is minimal moisture on the peels.  Remove any black spots.

Combine the peels and the almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container as necessary.  You may need to process them in 2 batches, depending on the size of your food processor.  Do not let the mixture become a paste.  Transfer to a bowl, add the juice mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined.

Shape into 1-inch balls using wet hands.  Let the balls rest uncovered at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours to dry out a bit.

Dip the balls in the melted chocolate until evenly coated all over.  Arrange the coated balls in a single layer on waxed paper and refrigerate to allow the chocolate to harden.  Store layers of balls between waxed paper in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Don't these sound delicious?  The pic. is from the book because I still have yet to try them.  But if any of you do soon, feel free to send me the pic and I'll put it up ;)

More from Sweet Utopia:
Chocolate Chip and Nut Streusel Coffee Cake
Book Review

This weekend I am headed up to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage with a few girlfriends.  And I'm psyched!  We're staying at the Milkweed Mercantile  and attending a canning seminar.  I will try to take some photos, but sometimes I get a bit carried away and forget to use my camera.  Regardless, you WILL hear about the adventure ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday News

Cameron ponders the backyard

This week I would just like to encourage you to check out  (if you don't already).  This is an awesome place to get a good dose of vegan related news stories, books and a variety of good information.
Some recent entries to check out:

Egg Recall Increases to Half a BILLION - You've got to be kidding me!  But guess what, they're not kidding...

Humane Society Calls to Abolish Battery Cages - Perhaps Salmonella is good for something.

Beef, the Tenth Healthiest Food - Served up with a side of heart disease, yum!

Hog Farmer Goes Vegan
As recommended at, check out Jack Norris RD.  This blog is, also, really impressive.  As it mentions on the site, it's intentions are to provide: summaries of recent research related to veg. diets and notifications of VeganHealth,.org updates. 

Something else:
Animal Rescue Stamps:  This is actually from Vegan Etsy, but it was too sweet to not share with you ;)

Stay tuned...
More book reviews and a give away to come!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip and Nut Streusel Coffee Cake

Maybe your taste buds are aching to have a go at a recipe from Sweet Utopia after reading my last entry.  Here's the first promised recipe.  Of everything I tasted, this was by far my favorite and I hope that you enjoy it, too!  As I mentioned, you can replace the granulated sugar with date sugar and it tastes great.  Everything else we kept the same.  For the vegan butter substitute I think we used Coconut Oil.  We did not have a springform pan and just used a 9 in. square pan, which worked just fine.  Also, we do not have an electric mixer and did not find it necessary.

Chocolate Chip and Nut Streusel Coffee Cake
from Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik

For Coffee Cake:
2 c. AP Flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. soy cream cheese
1/2 c. vegan butter substitute, room temp.
3/4 c. soymilk
2t. white vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. nondairy choc. chips

Streusel Topping:
1/3 c. granulated, brown or turbinado sugar
1 1/2 t. ground cinnammon
1/2 - 2/3c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven: 350 degrees.  Oil and flour a 9 in. springform pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  In a separate large bowl, combine sugar, cream cheese, and "butter."  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in soymilk, vinegar, and vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Pour half of the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan.

To make the streusel topping, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Add the nutes and toss until evenly mixed.  Sprinkle half of the streusel topping over the batter in the pan.  Pour the remaing batter evenly into the pan and sprinkle with the remaining streusel topping.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top.  Cool before removing from the pan and slicing.

chocolate chip and nut streusel coffee cake2

Thanks to the Book Publishing Company for allowing me to share this wonderful recipe with you!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Utopia

With a book like this, what's the first thing I do?  Flip through the pages and drool over the pictures.  And oh man, everything looks mouth-watering tasty! And believe me, I wanted to try everything.  (Check out this site for more images and recipes;)  So, I would like to take a moment to thank the Book Publishing Company for tempting me with such delicious things straight out of my mailbox and then giving me the opportunity to share such things with you!

A Little Education
Like many cookbooks on the shelves these days, Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik contains a "Stocking the Kitchen" section to inform you of anything you might need for the recipes.  Next, in "Succeed in Vegan Baking," Valencik shares a few tips on particular ingredients, including substitution and conversion charts.  Vegans with an assortment of cookbooks or experience will be able to skip this section, but these things are helpful for those new to vegan baking.  I am disappointed to see Nonvegan Alternatives listed in the substitution chart and, in general, find most of what this chart contains common sense.
The Sweets
What comes next?  What do you think?!  The good stuff, that's what.  All of the sweet treats are divided into five tasty chapters:  Decadent Cakes, Scrumptious Cookies, Creamy Cheesecakes and Pies, Velvety Mousses, Puddings and Cremes, AND Luscious Treats.  Most of the titles are pretty descriptive in their offerings, but let me clue you on what you can find in the last chapter.  Luscious Treats includes coconut tiramisu, chocolate-covered almond tangerine balls (I'm still dying to try these!), chocolate-rose halvah balls and more!  Over at Vegan Family Style, Debra has collected the whole contents page if you would like to check it out.

very berry corn muffinstahini coconut oatmeal cookies3

chocolate chip and nut streusel coffee cake3

Sweet Tastes
We tried the Chocolate Chip and Nut Streusel Coffee Cake, Very Berry Corn Muffins, Tahini-Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies, and the Cocoa-Berry Cake with Berry Cream Frosting :)  For the Tahini Cookies I basically followed the recipe and even with regular raw sugar these were subtly sweet, which suited them fine.  For the other three we used alternative sweeteners, date sugar for the most part.  The Very Berry Corn Muffins were about what you would expect and were a pleasant afternoon snack.  The Cocoa-Berry Cake was interesting.  I don't think that ours turned out very well because perhaps other changes needed to be made to accommodate the sweetener change.  I did, however, enjoy the texture of the cake, though the flavor wasn't exactly what I was hoping for.  Now, the Coffee Cake?!  This was my favorite!  It was amazing.  We used date sugar in the cake and in the streusel topping and this worked out just fine.  The texture and flavor were both quite desirable and it looked quite nice, too.  With a cup of the coffee on the side, well, what do you think?  AMAZING!

I think this is a worthy purchase.  Valencik has created some interesting, new spins on old favorites and made some gourmet-style treats seem quite obtainable from your home kitchen.  You may have to pick up some new ingredients that you wouldn't normally have on hand and put aside some extra time in the kitchen.  But I think you will find it all quite worth your while :)

***Stay tuned for a couple of sample recipes.  I will feature one that I made and one that I am dying to try.  You can also expect more cookbook reviews with a GIVEAWAY at the end.***

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to Business

So, I'm planning to get back to regular posts ;)  Last week was quite good, I got to spend time with good people and enjoyed every bit of it!  Over the weekend I headed to St. Louis, which was a fun venture.  Although I will admit that my van was probably too crowded with family members.  I have decided that traveling with 6 family members on a weekend excursion may not be the most ideal situation. 

Here's what's ahead:
Why Vegan?:  A new feature for Wednesdays to discuss the MANY reasons and benefits of being vegan, along with other related topics.
St. Louis Vegan Eats
Cookbook Reviews AND CONTEST!!  (at long last, eh?)