Monday, September 28, 2009

The VET makes it vegan for you!

As a vegan, you sometimes hear people say the most ridiculous thing: "Oh, I guess you can't have that, since you're vegan." Well, first of all, it's not can't, it's won't. But second, are you kidding? Anything you can do we can do better, and recently we proved it. We had a little contest among the Vegan Etsy Team members to see who could come up with the best "veganized" version of a traditionally very un-vegan meal, and the results will blow your mind, for reals. The recipes and accompanying directions and advice come directly from these fabulous expert vegans - from their brilliant culinary imaginations straight to your kitchens! Are you excited yet? Behold...

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Holistically Heather's Radical Reuben!

This recipe is super duper easy and delicious! You can find this recipe and others in my vegan cooking zines!


1 1/2 c. wheat gluten
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 c. COLD water
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp. braggs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
dash of salt
Can of saurkraut

Knead it all together, add up to 3 Tbsp. more COLD water, if necessary. Roll in fresh ground black pepper, until lightly coated. Make into a loaf, place in tin foil, and wrap like you would a piece of candy, by twisting the ends. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove from oven, let cool to room temperature before slicing.

I like to pan fry my slices of loaf, no oil, just really low heat, so it gets a little crunchy on the outside. While you are doing this you can make your sauce and warm up your sauerkraut. To make the sauce mix 2:1 ratio of vegenaise and ketchup, then mix in some sweet relish, to taste. Makes the perfect vegan thousand island dressing for your sandwich. Now you can either toast your rye bread or not, up to you. Scoop some kraut on there, drizzle with 1000 island, top it with the loaf slices and viola! Delicious, and cruelty free! What did we have with ours tonight? None other than my Famous Potato Salad!

(Editor's Note: The team members who have tried out this recipe have given it VERY good reviews...)

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Sierra Pelona Crochet's Magical Mock Tuna!

1 tablespoon dried hijiki
boiling water
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo or cannellini beans, drained [I use cannellinis]
3 tablespoons Vegannaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced onion
salt and pepper to taste

Place hijiki in small bowl and pour boiling water over it to cover. Cover the bowl with a plate and let the hijiki sit for about 15 minutes.

While that's sitting, mash the garbanzos or cannellinis in a large bowl with a potato masher until all the beans are smushed. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. When the hijiki is ready, drain and combine it with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

(Editor's note: the fishes will thank you.)

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The Awesomest Possum's Victoriously Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo!

1. In a small-medium saucepan (mine is 1.5 quarts) over low-medium heat, saute 4 big cloves of garlic (or more or less to your taste) in 1 1/2 tbsp vegan margarine for about 2 min, or until garlic turns golden.
2. Whisk in one can of coconut milk (none of that light stuff!), 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, 1 tsp white miso (other miso varieties would probably work too), 1 tsp salt, a few shakes/grinds of black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
3. Let simmer 20-30 min, whisking regularly. As the sauce cooks, it will gradually thicken and begin to bubble. Keep whisking every couple minutes.
4. In the meantime, cook 1 lb fettuccine noodles. What I do is put a stockpot of water on for the noodles, start the sauce, and then by the time the water has boiled and the noodles are al dente (don't let them get too soft, it's nowhere near as good that way!), the sauce is ready to go. The sauce may not seem as thick as you'd expect it to be if you have a history of making dairy cream sauces, but that's ok--it kinda thickens as it coats the noodles.
5. After draining the noodles, put them back into their pot, pour in the sauce, and toss to combine.

This serves 4-6 people, depending on how many of them want seconds. :P You should feel free to play with it--change quantities of nutritional yeast, miso, etc to suit your taste. The sauce is pretty much delicious as soon as it's warm, so don't hesitate to sample and tweak as you cook. (If it seems a little too salty when you taste it, that actually means it's about right--the saltiness thins out a lot when the sauce is mixed with the noodles.) Also, you may need to experiment a little to find a variety of coconut milk you like for this--my fave so far is the Chaokoh brand that I get at the Asian grocery or in the international aisle at Meijer. The ingredients are a little less pure than some others, but the taste and the texture is better than any other I've tried. My second choice would probably be Native Forest, which is more expensive and doesn't have quite as good a texture but has the advantage of being organic. My least favorite so far is Thai Kitchen--works fine for other things like ice cream, but in this it's too watery and has too pronounced a coconut flavor.

Okay, enough of my foodie ramblings--let's have pictures! Here's the finished product, our most recent Alfredo meal...

(Editor's note: and you're coming over to cook this for me when?)

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Vegan Mama of Uber Duper Creations' Friend of the Sheep's Pie!

This is my version of the original, which is usually just a "meaty" saucy stew with root veggies like carrots, onion, and garlic topped with mashed spuds and baked.
I use a pie crust and add more than just "meat" to the pie filling. The recipe should make approximately 2 small pies, or one large pie.

1. Pie Dough:
My husband taught me how to make pie dough. He learned from his mom who learned from Julia Child (not personally, but you know what I mean). He has since veganized it! I love him! He advises that the trick to a good pie dough is to not touch it while mixing it & then touch it as little as possible at the end.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (or corn flour)
1 cup cold Earth Balance
1/4 tsp baking powder

Use two butter knives and "cut" these ingredients into each other until well mixed and the size of marbles.
Then add:

3/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp vinegar

Use a fork to mix this together gently, until all ingredients are mostly combined. You will still have some marble sized chunks of Earth Balance, but you will resolve this in the next step. If you have a pastry/dough scraper, then use it for this step, otherwise a spatula (or metal spoon of some sort) will work. Scoop out 1/3 to 1/2 of the dough onto a floured surface (counter top) and press it down with the palm of your hand while kind of smearing it at the same time to press out any chunks of the Earth Balance, do this with the remaining dough in as many chunks is comfortable to work with. Scrape it up into a dough ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Will last for about a week in there if well wrapped.

2. Mashed Potatoes:
You can do it your way, but here is a general run down on how to make them.

6 medium (I like to use red) potatoes
1 Tbsp of earth balance
1/4 cup of unsweetened soy milk (or milk version of your choice)

Peel and dice the potatoes into large chunks. Boil them until they fall apart when you poke them. Drain the water from the pan.
I usually use a hand whisk to mash them but you can use an electronic mixer if you want. Add the Earth Balance & milk and mix & mash. Set aside.

3. Pie Filling:
The beauty of this version of sheep's friend pie is that you can do it your way. Use whatever veggies sound good, or whatever is in season or hanging around the house.
The ground (crumbles) is pretty standard, but you use what you like to substitute for that, like seitan crumbles or something like that. Here is what I used tonight:

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 small carrots, sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
3/4 cup peas
1 12oz package light life "smart ground"
1 cups veggie broth
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp or to taste black pepper (or if you are like me, then use the grinder and give it a good few twists. I like mine coarse ground)

In a skillet (I prefer my large cast iron pan), add the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrots, mushrooms & zucchini and saute just a little on medium low. Ingredients will cook more in the baking part of the recipe, so don't worry too much about getting everything well done in this step. Add the ground, peas, broth and seasonings, bring to a simmer. Remove from burner. Let cool. The filling will be brothy. This is a good thing as the potatoes will soak up a good portion of the "juice" while cooking and you will not be left with a dry pie.

After the filling has cooled, roll the pie dough into a thin layer approx. 1/8-1/4" thick. Place into a pie dish, and trim the edges of the dough off the edge of the pan. If you know how to crimp the edges, go ahead and do this, otherwise, just leave the edges laying flat on the edge of the pan, just do not leave edges hanging down off the edge of the pan.

Scoop the filling into the pie crusts, and gently top the pies with the mashed potatoes. I found that the best way to do this is by adding thin scoops of potatoes a little bit at a time and sort of "piecing" the potatoes together on the top of the filling.

Place into a preheated 420 degree oven for approximately 35 minutes. Or until the pie dough crust is a golden brown and filling is bubbling. Can be frozen for later reheating, which is what I'm doing with my pies for a post birth meal! (that is why I slightly undercooked them) When I reheat them, I will wrap with foil and bake the thawed pie in a 400 degree oven for approx 30 minutes and then unwrap for approximately 10 more minutes.

(Editor's note: you can come over after Miss Possum. Well, maybe a couple of days after - I'm gonna be full for a minute.)

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So there you have it folks. Four fabulous recipes to help foster you through the fall. If you try them out, let us know! Send pictures! Remember, everyone wants to see pictures of your vegan dinner.

Until next Monday,

Melissa Bastian

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome new members!

This week we have three new members to welcome! Please take the time to check out their shop and give them some hearts!



Friday, September 25, 2009

Vegan Bath-tastic

I love bath products and the Vegan Etsy Team is a great source for getting clean the cruelty free way! Bath goodies also make great holiday gifts (the holidays are creeping up!) Here are some of my favorite picks:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nature's Bounty.

Well, here it is, the last day of summer. It was an odd season this year here in New York; it took forever to get really warm, and then when it did it passed very quickly. I myself didn't manage to do any summery things - didn't get down to Coney Island, or go swimming or bike riding or have a bar-b-q. But I did get to enjoy the wonderful fruits and vegetables of summer, thanks to my landlady.

Mrs. R is 80 years old and as full of moxy as ever, and keeps the entire backyard of our little duplex as a vegetable garden. From it over the past three months has sprung more raddiccio and arugula than you can shake a stick at, not to mention some mighty fine tomatoes and cucumbers. With these we cooked, garnished sandwiches, and enjoyed them on their lonesome in simple salads dressed only with salt, pepper, fine olive oil, and lemon juice.

But the real jewel of it all has been the figs, from the tree that her relatives brought over from Europe as a wee sapling, that has now grown up into a 15 foot tall beauty. Until she began to bring them to us by the plateful, I had never had fresh figs before - only dry. What a surprise!They have a flavor and texture all their own, not at all that comparable to any other fruit I've tasted. The flesh and skin are so delicate that they are impossible to ship or store - this is why you never see them in the grocery. It's also why you can eat the entire fruit, skin and all, right up to the stem.

There is nothing more nourishing and satisfying than food grown in your own backyard. I hope that one day, when I have a backyard to call my own, I'll remember it and have such a beautiful garden as this one!

Until next Monday,

Melissa Bastian

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Todays Interview is with Dkany

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start
creating them?

I started making jewelry with animal rights messages 2 years ago. I was sick of wearing message T- Shirts . I wanted something pretty, but felt guilty not sending the Vegan message out everyday. I started looking at craft sites for different ideas, bought books on how to make jewelry, and started from there. I made my first Vegan necklace and wore it to work. I am a registered nurse, and while I was caring for a patient she asked, "What does Vegan mean?" I was wondering how she knew I am Vegan, then remembered about my necklace. I then proceeded to educate her on Veganism. I realized that jewelry is a great way to spread the Vegan message all the time and to be fashionable doing it.

How long have you been a member of Etsy?

I have been on Etsy since 2007, and YES I am an addict. Whenever I need or want something I always check Etsy first. I love the craft supplies on Etsy... oh, its so addicting. I love to surf around Etsy and get inspired by all the super talented people in the world.

Do you sell your items outside of etsy, either online or in retail shops?

Etsy is my only online store. I also attend animal rights conferences to promote my sanctuary and sell jewelry. I sell tons of stuff at the conferences.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
Do you have any animal companions?

I always dreamed of starting an animal sanctuary, and my dream has come true. I am the president of For the Animals Sanctuary, a not-for-profit organization. We have Herbie and Kevina, our bovines, eight goats, two roosters, two hens, six dogs, and nine cats. We have eight acres of land, and lots of love for our babies.

Herbie, our steer, is famous. He jumped off of a slaughter truck in December of 2006, and his escape was on CBS News (watch it on our sanctuary website). I found out that Woodstock Farm Animal sanctuary (WFAS) was rescuing him and needed help finding him a home. We adopted Herbie, and then WFAS told me about Kevina. On December 16th, she was born on a dairy farm, who thought she was a boy- a male bovine's fate is either veal or death. They were drowning the baby boys that day, but lucky for Kevina, she was saved by a worker at the farm. We thought Kevina was a boy, too, so we named her Kevin (namesake of Kevin Kjonaas). The farm thought the umbilical cord was a penis- DUH- so Kevin became Kevina! :)
Herbie and Kevina will be celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary on May 31st. Yes, they got married, and they LOVE each other very much (watch the videos).

Do you have any websites besides your shop that you would like to tell us
Oh yes my sanctuary website

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I have been Vegan for 6 years, and before that I was a Vegetarian for 20 years. Veganism is my life. When I was Vegetarian, I thought I was really saving animals, and then I read about the milk and egg industry. I realized I was supporting an industry that tortures and murders Animals. It was like a light switch that flipped on, and at that moment I went Vegan.

What do vegans eat anyway? What is your favorite Vegan food?

I make a killer Vegan potpie. The pot pie is made with crescent roll crust and filled with Morning Star Farm's crumbles mixed with brown gravy, mushrooms, Tofutti sour cream, and potatoes. Its super yummy.

I LOVE Veganaise, Campbell's and mushroom gravy. I love to tweak recipes and make them Vegan. I love making fruit pies. I love to make Rhubarb and strawberry pie that's so easy- you just need a frozen Vegan pie-crust, fruit, sugar, and instant tapioca. The recipe is on the back of the instant tapioca box. You will be amazed!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Welcome Alfredo!

This week we have a new member: Alfredo! Please take the time to go check out their store and heart them!

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's coming...

Halloween is almost here (of course, I start saying that in August) and the Vegan Etsy team is a great place to stock up on all sorts of Spooky Goodies! Here are some of my faves:

Halloween Vegan Lip Sauce by Kenny Coop - I actually ordered a set for myself and I love it, it's very moisturizing and the scents are nice and subtle.

Handmade Vegan Candy Corn by Sweet Fritsy - Want Want Want!!!!

Halloween Fabric Patchwork Ball by Crafty Panties - so cute!

Ghost Stores by My Zoetrope - so adorable.

And from my own shop, Vegancraftastic, Candy Corn Babies - a different kind of vegan candy corn :)

-Kala (Vegancraftastic)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's All In The Bag- Holiday Promotion at It's Finest

The sample bags are quickly filling and looking AMAZING for this holiday season. We are still taking handmade artisans for our holiday bag, and would love to have more Vegan Etsy Team Members!

What is It's All In The Bag?

We help promote handmade artisans by collecting samples of their work and placing them into handmade reusable totes and selling them worldwide. 100% of the profits from these bags go to an animal sanctuary, which I am still decided whether to have a vote on, or just go with Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary again. (all ideas will be considered!)

It's All In The Bag- Vegan Craft Samples

Our Blog, where we review many of the contributors and other etsy shops!

Our Etsy

Our Facebook, please be our fan, we love fans, we are pretty much rockstars!

Our Myspace

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's almost cool enough to bake...

And when it's cool enough to bake, I think of cupcakes!

Thus, here is my fave recipe for red velvet cupcakes - stolen and slightly tweaked from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World". If you're a vegan cupcake lover - and you should be - this book is a necessity.


1 cup soy milk or almond milk (I prefer almond)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola or other mild flavored veg oil
2 tablespoons red food coloring (that's a whole big bottle!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 F and put cupcake liners in muffin/cupcake pans.
2. Whisk together the soy (or almond) milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle. (seems weird, right? but it actually does curdle, and this takes the place of buttermilk in the traditional recipe.)
3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.
4. Add the oil, food coloring, chocolate extract, and almond extract to the curdled soy milk. (I'm usually all for adding extra extract, but be careful with almond - it's powerful stuff! Also, if you can't find real chocolate extract sub with more vanilla and measure generously with your cocoa.) Whisk well to combine.
5. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until large lumps disappear.
6. Fill cupcake liners about two thirds full (I use a quarter cup measure to do this - it works out just about right. they really do rise a lot!). Place in hot oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

For the icing, I use a vegan variation of my mom's buttercream. You're just gonna dump all of this into a good sturdy bowl and go at it with a hand mixer - it's super easy. It's one stick of softened (not melted) margarine - Fleischman's unsalted is vegan - to three cups powdered sugar. Add two teaspoons of whatever extract you want; there's classic vanilla, and I love to do one vanilla and then one something else like peppermint, lemon, orange, rum, whatever. (You can add food coloring to it too of course to make it pretty.) You'll need a little liquid - any "milk" will do, I use almond - start with 1/8 of a cup and keep adding by splashes as you mix until you've reached the consistency you want. You can also add a bit more liquid and add some cocoa to make a chocolate icing. Just play with it! Icing is fun.

Now for the cupcake porn! A gallery of cupcakes past...

The red velvets I made in my mother-in-law-to-be's kitchen for Christmas 2007.

Gingerbread cupcakes...

with Halloween flare, for the office.

I made these for my own birthday the other year, which isn't nearly as depressing as it sounds: more ginger. Or were they? These may have had the rum frosting, and I can't remember what cake I paired that with.

And yes, more red velvet, made for A winter holiday bash. Pink! With silver dragees! They were so shiny. If you were there, you probably drank a martini or three. We had a fairly dazzling array of vegan foodstuffs, and I will never stop mourning the fact that I didn't manage to photograph any of it. Maybe one day I'll tell you about it, and then you'll go to bed with visions of individual mini-lasagnas dancing in your head...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mbember Interview-The Awesomest Possum

Todays interview is with The Awesomest Possum

How did you choose the name of your shop and how long have you been a member of

I joined Etsy at the beginning of July 2009, after a month or so of lurking on etsy, planning, and crafting. At the time, my husband, Brian, and I were in a phase of calling each other the awesomest, the possumest, or the awesomest possum when we appreciated something the other had done ("Thanks, you're the possumest!"), so it has a cute personal significance. Also, I find possums really amusing animals because of how oblivious and overwhelmed they always seem to be (maybe I identify with them a bit...). And as an added bonus, it sounds catchy! :)

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start
creating them?

I sell jewelry involving beads, chain, and wire wrapping. I began creating jewelry last year when, as a new member of my bellydance troupe, I needed to make myself a performance costume (I included a pic of me, with my friend/troupemate Tripta in the background, dancing at an outdoor arts festival to show the results). The more time I spent finding yarn, chains, charms, etc. to adorn my costume with and planning how it all would look, the more I grew to love finding unique ways to combine textures and colors in jewelry materials. So I pretty much decided to teach myself how to make jewelry. It was just for me and gifts for friends/family for awhile, but I grew to really, really love designing jewelry and always wanted to try new things. I and my friends couldn't wear it all, and I couldn't reasonably justify buying so many supplies and making so much stuff without trying to make the hobby just a little self-supporting, so I decided to try selling some of my work.

I should also note that I've been a PhD student in the process of writing a dissertation for the whole time I've been making jewelry. Based on conversations I've had with friends, I've come to believe that everybody acquires at least one new hobby while writing a diss. I'm not sure if it's procrastination or just a desperate need to have something in your life that regularly produces a finished product, when everything else is constantly in process. :)

Do you donate to any charities or do any volunteer work?

I recently became a member of EFA Artists Helping Animals, so I donate a percentage of my sales to the team charity of the month. My husband and I like to donate to animal charities when we have the opportunity and funds to do so--these have included the Humane Society and local animal rescues here in Champaign, IL, and in Phoenix, AZ, where we're originally from. I also work at our local food co-op (I get a discount, so it's not strictly volunteer, but close) as a vegan baker; I make cookies, scones, and frozen pizza dough for the store to sell. Our deli manager is vegan too, so a lot of the food we make and sell in-store is vegan. It's been great showing co-op shoppers how tasty veganism can be!

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?

More than anything, I love the community! I've befriended some really nice people in my teams (Veganetsy, Etsyveg, EFA, and CFE) and also just through forums and shopping. There are so many incredibly helpful and kind people on etsy--and not to mention extremely talented! The teams, especially, are such a great way to meet people who share interests--everyone I meet in Veganetsy pretty much automatically shares my interest in crafting, diy/handmade/local stuff, animals, and veganism! Woohoo!

Also, of course, I love the opportunity to share my work and see the amazing stuff others are doing. I'm fast coming to prefer Etsy to other shopping venues for a variety of things; I've switched to using all mineral makeup with the guidance of the Etsy seller I buy it from, and the monsters I got from Lisa at pandawithcookie easily kicked the ass of any other baby shower gift I've ever bought! ;)

Do you have any animal companions?

My husband and I have three cats and two birds. (Yes, there is some delicate juggling that goes on to make sure everyone gets frequent chances to roam the house freely!) Our parakeet, Spud, is 34 adorable grams of fun and mischief, and I'm very thankful to my husband for all his hard work in hand-training her so we can hold, pet, and play with her. Our white-front Amazon parrot, Patty, is a rescue; she's 20 but they can easily live to be 60 or more! Our cats are all recent additions to the household; after our beloved original kitty, Priscilla, passed away, we just had birds for a little while, but one day on a birdy checkup at the vet we were introduced to Bill, who had been found abandoned and injured outside and brought to our vet. He was on the mend, friendly, and adorable, and he had nowhere to, he became ours. We quickly realized that he needed a friend, since he's young (estimated at about a year old) and we weren't quite fitting the bill as run-around-and-roughhouse buddies for him. We went to the Humane Society and found Pete, who seemed to be an exact personality twin to Bill, and we were about ready to go put in an application for him when over walked Monkey--14, tailless, offering purr and headbutts and all sorts of senior kitty fabulosity. So he came home too. :) All three of them adore each other--we couldn't be happier about how it worked out.

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I was raised vegetarian, my parents having gone veggie a couple years before I was born, for ethical and health reasons. My husband became vegetarian while we were dating. A couple years after we were married, we made the decision together to go vegan. As we learned more and more about the horrors of commercial egg and milk production, we realized that, if we were vegetarian largely because we were opposed to the unnecessary cruelty and suffering caused by eating meat, then we needed to go all the way vegan because the treatment of dairy cows and egg-laying hens was at least as bad if not worse.

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?

I am an avid cook and baker, so I love vegan cookbooks. My first vegan cookbook, and still one of my favorites, was The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak. It's great for making vegan versions of staples like sour cream, and it's the source of my favorite vegan quiche and cheesecake recipes. My very favorite cookbook author is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World fame. I have all her cookbooks and find her to be just outstanding when it comes to accessible vegan cooking; her recipes are made from affordable and easy-to-find ingredients, and they all come out delicious enough to impress even meat eaters. For someone who likes cooking for others and isn't rolling in money, it's nice to be able to afford to make stuff and not have it scream "THIS IS VEGAN HEALTH FOOD!" to people I share it with. :) I also love VegWeb for recipes.

Since I live a little over 2 hours from Chicago, my favorite vegan destinations are the Chicago Diner (omg peanut butter cookie dough milkshake) and Veggie Bite (omg chili cheese fries). We also have an awesome little vegan restaurant on the UIUC campus called the Red Herring and a local vegan Meetup group, and I love my food co-op (Common Ground) for vegan ingredients.

What are your favorite foods?

As the above clearly proves, I am obsessed with food, so this is a very hard question. Aside from the aforementioned milkshake and fries, many of my favorite foods are homemade. Things I especially love to make and eat include red and green salsa, marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, ice cream, and layer cake. And I love to talk food and swap recipes!

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I love, love, love the veganetsy team. I would like to make everyone in the world vegan, but in the meantime, it's great to have this community of talented vegans who are also just incredibly good people. Big hugs to all! :D

Welcome Pepperberryandco!

We have a new member to welcome: Pepperberryandco! Please go check out their shp when you get the chance, and give them some hearts!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Our World Veg Day Project is Just Around the Corner!

October is Vegetarian Month, meaning it is just a few weeks until World Vegetarian Day on October 1st, World Farm Animals Day on Octber 2nd, and the World Vegetarian Day Awareness Project with EtsyVeg! What would you like to share with the world about becoming vegan? How can you help spread awareness being vegan and the huge impact of choosing a vegan lifestyle? What would you like to do to honor the lives of the millions of farm animals who suffer and die for food every day?

Here are some ideas: Post an original recipe on your blog, write an article, or submit one for the ebook the teams will create together. Hold a special promotion in your shop to celebrate Veg Day/Month, share resources that have helped you on your vegan journey, or promote our event and Going Vegan! You’re also invited to volunteer to help make the Veg Day Project happen. Let’s take this perfect opportunity to make some big noise about Vegan Living, why it's important to Go Vegan, and how easy it is! Let the countdown begin!

post from Kylie at SilentLotus

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is the FDA finally waking up to problems in packaged food labeling? Help them along!

It seems that someone over at the FDA has noticed that consumers might not realize what packages do and do not tell them about processed foods. The agency may have even caught on to the fact that some consumers are being mislead by health claims on packages of foodstuffs that are really better left on the shelf. While all packages are required to have the nutritional data chart somewhere on them, most consumers are much more likely to read the prominently placed, boldly colored logos on the fronts of packages rather than the boring chart in a tiny font on the side, back, or bottom with all of its numbers and percentages - aren't they?

Well, the gov'ment wants to find out. Badly enough that they're conducting an internet study of approximately 43,000 people, in fact! As per the FDA's statement, the goals of the study are as follows:

(1) identify attitudes and beliefs among consumers toward health, diet and label usage; (2) determine relationships between those attitudes and beliefs, as well as demographics, with food label use and non-use; and (3) evaluate the relative importance of these attitudes between consumers of various age groups to determine whether barriers to label use differ between younger consumers and older consumers. The information collected from the study is necessary to inform the agency's efforts to improve consumer understanding and use of the food label.

This sounds like a worthwhile venture to me, and I truly, truly hope that it leads to some kind of real change in what kinds of health claims food companies are allowed to make on their packages. If you care about these things (and you should), head on over to the internet listing for the study and leave a comment showing your support!

(For you more conventional types, you can also send snail mail to Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Just don't forget to include the docket number: FDA-2009-N-0345. Happy writing!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Two vegans, two years, one wedding - The Saga, part 4.

This is the fourth installment of an as of yet unknown quantity of posts about Melissa Bastian's wedding nonsense, to be posted monthly.

A wedding should be a fun time for one and all, but I think most guests look forward to one thing in particular: drinking! Ha ha, kidding... sort of. What I really meant was, the food! Food becomes a focal point of many weddings, and every bride fears the dreaded "rubber chicken": food that has apparently been frozen and/or sat under heat lamps for too long so as to become an entirely wrong texture, which is basically edible but unappealing. (In the vegan world would this become rubber tofu?)

The wedding is now slated to be a fairly low key affair. The party, for which we need the food, is at my parents' house. And believe me people, it ain't a big house. We basically need platters of food spread out on my ma's dining room table, a (very) small staff to keep them full and looking pretty, and a bar out back - because people really do look forward to the drinking. OK fine, because I'M looking forward to the drinking. It's really not such a tall order. I could do it myself if I wasn't gonna be all busy getting married and everything. But I will, and taking on too many responsibilities for the big day is a sure recipe for disaster. Enter: the caterer.

Well, as I've mentioned before finding a vegan caterer even in New York City is a challenge. Now that we're having the wedding in New Orleans, we didn't even know if it would be possible. But that's just my defeatist inner child talking - anything is possible with a little determination.

I sent a few emails to various caterers in the NOLA area that I dug up on el internet, and got no response whatsoever - unprofessional much? I'll take a "sorry, we don't do vegan events" over dead silence any day. Thus, my hope was beginning to dwindle. But then along came Food Art. No, they hadn't done a vegan wedding or event before, but they were knowledgeable about what vegan meant which was a promising start, and more importantly they were willing to work with us to come up with a menu.

The first set of selections they sent us felt a little like a bunch of side dishes slapped together, and they had some novice questions such as "is pita bread vegan?" Well dear heaven I hope so - what the heck kind of pita bread are you buying if it isn't? But they were extremely communicative, great about answering our questions and listening to our suggestions, and in short time we'd worked out a menu that we found pleasing. So the communication was great - which is high on my list of importance with vendors - and the food sounded good, not to mention that the price was totally reasonable; all that was left was to taste it.

The week of August that we spent in New Orleans was busy, and the tasting with Food Art was probably the most important (and exciting) meeting on the list. Because food was only being prepared for the two of us we were only getting to taste about half of the items on our list, but that's fine; half is enough to give you an idea of whether a chef can cook. What we tasted went as follows:

*Tuscan grilled vegetables including zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant, served at room temperature: Very tasty, nicely seasoned with herbs and grilled to perfection.

*Eggplant Capanata and Artichoke Hummus served with grilled pita and roasted cloves of garlic: Exactly as delish as it sounds.

*Eggplant curry with a variety of toppings: this was the clincher. I've never had anything like it, and let me tell you that I've eaten some curry. It was a very thick curry, not the runny kind. Simultaneously sweet and savory, with just enough spice that you knew it was spicy but tons of real flavor. I could eat this stuff all day long.

*Dessert: vegan blondie squares, and dates stuffed with nuts and rolled in coconut: The chef was so proud of his vegan baking expedition that he had to come right into the tasting room and talk to us about it. They were a little odd, and not how I would make a blondie, but a nice little sweet bit anyway. The dates are a classic, with the right amount of nut to set off the oh so sweet dried fruit - my mom loves these so she'll be thrilled.

You want to see the whole menu don't you? Yeah, I thought you did.
*Tuscan Grilled Vegetables
Including asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, green onions, fennel, carrots, mushrooms & sweet peppers (based on seasonal availability) all brushed with an herbed infused olive oil & served room temperature
*Grilled Pita Served with a trio of chilled spreads
to include roasted garlic cloves, classic eggplant capanata & homemade artichoke hummus

*Fresh Fruit Salad
with cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew, strawberries & grapes (based on seasonal availability) tossed with a fresh mint & maple dressing

*Trio of Louisiana Tomatoes
Creole, yellow and pickled green served atop mixed greens finished with a Balsamic reduction and fresh basil

*Southern Style “Caviar”
Fresh black-eyed peas, green onion, sweet peppers, garlic & chopped jalapenos tossed with a maple syrup vinaigrette and served with tortilla chips for dipping

*Eggplant Curry
Made with coconut milk, green curry, Thai basil, and tender eggplant served with parslied rice and a selection of toppings to include crushed peanuts, shredded coconut, diced onion, mango salsa, diced pineapple and chopped cilantro

*Pasta Marigny with seared spinach, fresh artichokes, caramelized leeks and Roma tomatoes finished in a light tomato, olive oil and Chardonnay stock reduction accented with fresh basil and oregano
Hurrah! Tasting declared a success - we've found ourselves a caterer! As anyone who's planned an event knows, that is one major hurtle. There's still a long way to go between here and "finished", but at least the ducks are rowing. I can sleep a little more soundly knowing that my guests will get to eat!

Now, if we could just figure out a way to have a vegan wedding cake...

Until next Monday,

Melissa Bastian

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Interview-Art You Dream About

Todays interview is with Rebecca of Art You Dream About

How did you choose the name of your shop and how long have you been a member of Etsy?

Originally, it started off as me wanting to find the perfect stationery. I failed. Then, I tried making my own, with no intent of ever selling it. Mine turned out really freaking awesome. I started thinking of tons of stationery, bookmarks, and cards that I could make using my photography. That's when I decided that I should start an Etsy shop (March of this year). Since my work came about, because I was searching for something I wished exist, but didn't, Art You Dream About seemed like the perfect choice. There was one glitch in the plan however. The first day I started taking pictures for the stationery, my camera broke! That forced me to come up with a plan b, which is what is currently in my shop. I decided just to use photos that I took in the past. I didn't want to make any stationery with those photos though, so everything took a very different turn. There are a variety of images of mine that I sell, which do have a dream-like quality (the Leaves photo, yellowjackets photo, graffiti wall photo, and the rain drop photo). The name also comes from the fact that I love anything bold, bright, and unique. I now do have a new camera, but I'm thinking carefully about how to proceed.

What do you sell in your shop?

I currently sell bookmarks, journals, and pendants.

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?

I love how creative some of the members are! Also, I think that seeing what others create, helps push me to create better work and to learn more skills. I also really love the Etsy community! I've made some real friend on there.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?

I love petting kitty cats (I have 2)! I love books so much that I am now in school getting my Master's of Library and Information Science degree. When I'm not swamped with school work or playing with my cats, I'm playing on the internet or watching DVDs.

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I was always very compassionate towards animals. In middle school, I wrote a story about a girl who worked at either a restaurant or butcher shop. One day she was in the meat locker, when she became locked inside of it. The meat became reanimated and started singing and dancing. I believe it was singing some line over and over again about getting revenge and killing her. Then in high school, I had to make a diorama in my photography class. Here again, animals getting revenge was the main theme. There were flying dogs (you could really make them fly across the sky! Not to brag, but I made an awesome diorama) with bloody human body parts in their mouths.

The interesting thing was that all of these thoughts were subconscious, and they only manifested themselves through my art. I started dating my husband in 2000, and he was a vegetarian. In 2003 he became vegan. EVENTUALLY, I became vegetarian, and then in 2006, I became vegan. I think it made perfect sense for me to be with a vegetarian, even if I thought I couldn't live without chicken for every meal. I probably do have to give props to my husband for setting an example for me to follow.

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?

I have to give a shoutout to! I also love the vegan mini mall in Portland, OR. Lula's Apothecary, Candle 79 and Blossom in NYC. Vegan Treats.... I could go on and on really.

What are your favorite foods?

Chocolate peanut butter ice cream, lasagna, Thai Chick-un Pizza (from the cookbook Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan), brownies, artichokes with garlic aioli.... hmm, maybe I need to start loving more healthy things.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

My favorite book is The Time Traveler's Wife. I seriously urge you all to read it. I'm also a fan of The Collector, The Stranger Beside Me, Intensity, and other books I'm too sleepy to remember. The book that has left the most lasting impression on me is Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn. For some reason, that book was so dark and powerful, that even though it took me a VERY long time to get through, I just can't get it out of my mind. I hate to admit that there are some pretty fluffy things that I read, but at least I pick the least fluffy of the fluffy books, if that makes sense. That would include the Sookie Stackhouse books, which the True Blood series is based on. My favorite guilty pleasure book is.... I'm so embarrassed to admit this.... here goes.... Fortune by Erica Spindler. I have re-read that book more times than I have read any other book.

Thanks for reading about me!
-Rebecca Schaffer

It's my birthday, Ill have a sale if I want to, sale it I want would too ....

You would too..... hahaha

today is my birthday
get 10% off in either of my shops and all you have to do is type happy birthday in the notes to seller...then wait for a revised invoice!
also my 250th sale in my holisticallyheather shop will get a special gift with their order!!!

So what is the plan for today? How will I be spending my birthday? Instead of the usual depressing, waiting by the phone for someone in my family to remember, I will be spending the day with Jessi's family. Who by the way are pretty much the best handful of people I have ever been in contact with. I don't exactly know what we are doing, its all hush hush and many secrets and whisperings on the phone...I hate secrets hahaha, I just want to know!

Though really knowing Jessi's mom, she will bake me some random cake that is my favorite, and make a feast of all my favorite foods she has learned to cook for us over the past couple years. Yes that's right, we broke her, the woman who refused to even acknowledge veganism not only makes vegan food every sunday for us, but now loves our vegan cheese sauce that we make from nutritional yeast! She who wouldnt even try anything because it was "cacky" is now not only trying things but making them when we aren't around!

***OK, I wont lie, I did hear Jessi's mom on the phone (she basically SCREAMS into the phone) and I heard a little something about vegan chickun parmasean, which is pretty much the most delicious thing she makes, EVER!!