Sunshine In a Bowl Vegan Corn Chowder

I am beginning to feel like winter is going to last, gee, forever, and that we’ll never have three straight days of sunshine again. I realize we need the rain, but it is so depressing sometimes to just see gray outside all the time. I often find myself longing for the Arizona sunshine, the dry, toasty-warm desert…bring me back to the baked pueblo!!

So, if you can’t change the weather, what can you do? I have the answer my friends, you must bring the sunshine inside, and in your soup bowls even. How? With my all time favorite soup recipe, “Sunshine In A Bowl” as I named it with my daughter, our take on vegan corn chowder.

This stuff is so good! Thick, creamy and very satisfying, even soup haters (or disdain-ers) will be won-over by the delicious sweet yet substantial delectability. Mr. Fish does not like soup, but he flew through two bowls last night. Little did he know in addition to the corn he was taking in broccoli and butternut squash, two vegetables which he says he ‘prefers not to eat’.

Sunshine In a Bowl Vegan Corn Chower

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • enough olive oil to cover the bottom of stock pot
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, diced (or sweet ones if you can get them)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 1 table spoon dried thyme
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced thin or cut into matchsticks, your call
  • 24oz/about 1 litre vegetable stock, or water with vegan bouillon cubes
  • about half of a butternut squash, or one very small one, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • Aprox. 700g/1.5lbs potatoes, peeled in non-organic and chopped (I have used pretty much all types of potatoes, it doesn’t change much, just more or less starchy.)
  • about 2 cups (maybe 300g) broccoli florettes, cut into small pieces
  • 500g/1lb fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups plain vegan milk
  • fresh chopped parsley or green onion

Begin by warming up your oil and adding the diced onion, garlic & celery. Sauté over medium-high flame for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots. Grind the dried thyme between your thumb & forefinger and add that to the mix, stirring well. Your onion will start to stick a bit to the bottom of your pot, so now add your vegetable stock or water, then add the rest of the veggies. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least a half hour, maybe longer, depending on what other million things you are doing! This is also a good time to whip up some Vegan Baking Powder Biscuits.

When all the veggies are tender and your once clear broth is nice & cloudy, add your milk. I let this simmer for about 5 minutes, then I very carefully remove about a third of the soup and put it in my blender making sure to let it cool before putting the top on to mix. Mixing steaming-hot liquids is a very, very dangerous idea, so trust me, wait a few minutes. Mix the soup well, then pour back into the pot. Give everything a good stir. Now you can decide what to do. I usually take out another third of the soup and re-mix. Mixing is also a great strategy when you’re trying to help your family to eat more veggies, but they turn up their noses if they know what they are eating (like Mr. Fish who had no idea there was broccoli in his bowl). It gives the soup a really creamy texture, thickens it up, too. Sprinkle on your parsley or onion for garnish if you’re feeling garnishy.


Toasty Toes!

Now, the way we feel (or endure) various temperatures is entirely relative to what the norms are for the season, the climate, etc. It’s also very subjective from person to person. Me, I really like warm, sunny, dry weather. I thrive. I joke with my favorite Auntie that our batteries run sunshine.

Thing is, lucky Aunt Jan, well, she lives just outside of L.A. Me, I live next to the largest forest in France, and while we have what is generally considered a temperate climate, it is a bit cold & wet for my tastes (if only I could teleport Southern Arizona to France…). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cream puff, and last time I was in Northern Michigan in the winter I went out for my runs in very negative wind-chills and came in with my eyelashes and eyebrows frozen, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

My biggest complaint when it dips below freezing (-1c, 32f) is my feet. My ballet dancer-past has made them a bit sensitive (and annoying) and I find that if it is below zero Celsius my feet really ache until at least two miles into my run. Now, pain is no biggie, but I find I change my stride because I am sub-consciously bracing myself, and that my dear friends, is not a good thing at all.

Now I have tried layering socks, and that does work with some temps and shoes, but not always, and when things get a bit too crowded in the running shoe it’s not very comfortable for a myriad of reasons (blisters, callouses, poor circulation defeating purpose of three pair of socks). I also know that there are fancy keep-your-tootises-warm socks out there on the market, but I just can’t spend money on ‘me’ right now.

I was reminiscing about my childhood, playing the the snow for hours with my sibs in our back yard, coming in with frostbite on my cheeks but not caring because of having fun, and then it hit me: plastic bags!

When I was little in the late 70s we didn’t have all these high-faloutin fabrics & plastics that we use for boots now. Or maybe we did, but my parents didn’t know. Or maybe because our shoe size changed every 5 minutes they opted for the less fancy boots. Anyway, I remembered my dad sitting me up on the washing machine and getting my feet ready for action- one layer socks (or two), a plastic bread bag, then another pair of socks. Pure genius! The bag kept in the heat, but also kept out the snow, which was a great plus in my non-goretexish world.

It also occurred to me that when I was dancing I would often don a pair of plastic bags and in turn cover them with bulky leg warmers if I had a wait before going on stage or during rehearsals. BINGO!

I am thrilled to say that my little experiment worked wonders this morning. When I woke up at 5 a.m. it was a balmy -5c and raining, so, perfect plastic weather. I put on two pair of thin socks, nylon first, cotton second, then slipped on two very thin freezer bags and then my shoes. It was fantastic! My feet were warm from the start, no jarring joint pain reminding me it was cold outside. Plus, they were dry (well, they were sweaty, but that’s just life), I mean from the rain! My shoes were pretty wet after my hour-long tromp, but the plastic bags saved the day.

I suppose some folks might need to be careful for rubbing or other issues, depending on shoes and plastic bag and socks used, but this solution worked more than well for me!

Chewy Almond Peanut-Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love Sesame Street. I always have. My adorable mono-lingual mother proudly smiles as she boasts that I could count to 10 in French before I could count to 10 in English thanks to Sesame Street (growing up on the Canadian border, I watched the Canadian version which featured French as its second language). Now this is before Dora and her super-bi-lingual powers folks, so bear with us…

We dig on Sesame Street here at the Fish residence for, gee, a billion different reasons (have you checked out their new Video Player feature on their web site? You can watch hundreds of clips, even the super-cool retro ones! “A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.” Need I say more?) Anyway, we love all the characters, but of course one of our very favourites is Cookie Monster. What’s not to love? He’s blue, isn’t pretentious, nor does he apologize for his grammatical handicaps or his gourmandise.

We are all admitted cookie monsters in this house, and I come from a very long and distinguished line of cookie monsters. I have fabulous memories of making oatmeal raisin cookies with my dad, of sneaking still-too-hot-to-eat Grandma Mary’s Ice Box Cookies my mom slid onto the cooling rack, decorating holiday sugar cookies (and ourselves) with my younger sibs… cookies have been and always will be a part of my life. This has not changed through my many transformations from vegetarian to vegan, though I sometimes find myself playing with recipes to make them work, and to make them more healthy without tasting healthy for the Guppy, Mr. Fish, and yours truly.

The following is a mélange of a few of my favorite cookie recipes. I made them yesterday afternoon, and I can tell you they were hands down the most amazing cookies I have ever had in my entire life, and that, my friends, is saying something! They were so super-chewy and delicious…I’m rather proud of myself (for the recipe, not for having eaten like 5 of them!) Warning- the measurements are slightly approximate because I kept going back and forth between metric and Imperial to have them both for you! They are very, very close, though.

  • 225g/8oz flour
  • 180g/7oz rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt (on dit une cuillère à café aussi)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (attention, c’est pas du bicarbonade de soudre)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 150ml/about 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 200g/15 tablespoons non-sweetened natural peanut butter
  • 100g/3.5 oz granulated sugar
  • 100g/3.5 oz xylitol
  • 225g/8 oz brown sugar
  • 125ml/4fl oz non-dairy milk (I used plain soy)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix up the dry stuff so it’s all combined and in a large bowl use a mixer to combine the wet stuff along with the sugar. Once the wet stuff is a nice, thick soupy peanut-buttery thing, add the dry, and mix. It’s totally normal that it be all thick and sticky- that’s the good part!

I put loony or half-dollar or two euro sized globs of batter on my baking sheets and had the oven at about 180c/350f, and I took them out when they were just barely done- not wiggly any more when I shook the cookie sheet, but just browning a little. I let them cool a tiny bit on the pan (maybe the minute it took me to get the next batch in) and then spatulaed them onto the cooling rack. They hardened up while cooling. I think the only thing I would change is to maybe add a little nutmeg next time & a little more oats, but that may be the beginnings of another cookie recipe.

It’s a darn good thing I run so much with all this cookie eating!

If you try this recipe out, let me know what you think!

Groovy Granola

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a bit… I was just blown away by the horrible end of vacation blues. It’s never hit me so hard before, but with Guppy being so little and so into the festivities and being able to spend time doing fun things like coloring pictures with her, baking, stitching groovy ornaments for our solstice tree, and snuggling with Mr. Fish in front of a DVD, well, it was hard to give up. Not to mention the fact that with Back to School often comes back to bacteria and the Guppy & I have been swapping microbes much of the month of January. So much for “I never get sick!”

I have no transition at all here folks, so here’s what you’re here for: The Shellyfish Groovy Granola recipe. Last night I whipped up a batch to keep on hand for mornings when I just haven’t the time to think of something healthy to put into the Shellybelly- especially after a run where it’s oh-so-important to eat a good, balanced something within the hour after your run (and often it’s more like an hour and a half to two hours because life gets between me and my breakfast).

This is totally my recipe because in addition to inventing the wheel, I invented granola, of course! No, seriously, this is my recipe, but feel free to add, subtract & multiply your ingredients however you see fit. I don’t know how many servings it makes because an arbitrary serving size is pointless unless you’re measuring your granola in the morning with a scale or measuring cup. This recipe made about 1 kilo/2 lbs ish of super yummy goodness that you can sprinkle over your soy yogurt or enjoy with some non-dairy milk of your choice. I also love it over applesauce, but hey, what you do with your granola is your business!

(The measurements are Imperial- sorry- next time I’ll do it in grams promise!)

  1. 4 cups oat flakes
  2. 1 cup almond slivers or chopped almonds
  3. 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  4. 3/4 cup flax seeds
  5. 1 cup wheat germ
  6. 1/2 to 3/4 cups shredded coconut- it’s your call, dude
  7. 1tbsp (or more) each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice yourself happy
  8. 1tbsp (or more) vanilla
  9. 3/4 cups agave syrup
  10. 1/2 cup (or less) vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350f

Put all the dry ingredients in a big bowl & mix around to be sure that the spices are mixed about. I mix the wet stuff in a smaller bowl first before adding it to the dry because I find it works better, but I can’t make you do that, so just mix it all up till everything is wet and pour it out onto two cookie sheets or two lasagna-type pans (I find this works better for the stirring later). You’ll bake for a total of about 30-35mins, but you need to take out your granola & stir it up every 10 minutes to get it all nice & evenly baked. Let it cool & put it in an airtight container. You can also stir in some dried fruit if you want at this point, but I just add it directly to my bowl if I’m feeling fruity. I find that adding the dried fruit to the granola now dries it out a bit.

This is my basic recipe, and I play with it all the time. I think I’m going to use brown rice syrup next time to see how that works out- I also use maple syrup when I’m out of agave or if I’m doing more of a pumpkin-pie flavoured granola.

Carniverous Poney Riders or Veeling Very Lonley in Veganland

Mr. Fish and I got in a bit of a row the other evening while dining with some friends chez eux. Ok, not really a row, but I felt a bit attacked, and singled out, and it made me feel rather glum.

We’d had a really lovely outing with our friends and their two little girls and earlier in the day. Pony rides for everyone! Seriously, pony rides, and being someone who did most of her growing up in rural Michigan where there are cows and horses growing on trees, or at least grazing under many of them, one would think this to be rather un-exciting, but I was a ‘city kid’ (oh my dog what a laugh that is!) and I only ever rode a horse twice in my life. The ponies were for the kids, but we got to groom them before our hour-long promenade through the forest and it was all very exciting, especially for the Guppy who is still just a wee lass of 32 months.

After our Mutual of Omaha adventure, we went back to our friends’ place for the ritual apéo & dinner, and this is when I began to feel a bit, well, different.

I decided to become a vegetarian when I was 16 years-old. Half my life ago. The decision was made for several reasons which I just won’t take the time to delve into now, though I’d like to send a special thank-you to the sheep farmers who were striking at Bastille in the late summer of 1990 and the terrifying industrial-agriculture practices complete with growth hormones and environmental damage (rivaling Hummers and Third-World chemical factories) in the U.S. I’ve had my less proud vegetarian moments (the leather jacket, a gift, worn many times and still collecting dust in my closet), but generally I fight my war with integrity and as much dignity as I can muster. I have also learned over the years to pick my battles as they say. Many of the people I love are carnivores, and while it saddens me for many reasons (like, uh, for their cholesterol & their colons) I don’t preach at them like some ranting religious fanatic trying to convert the damned.

The dinner was a French raclette, a sort of inside-out fondue for the un-initiated. There are little dishes on a sort of hot-plate where you place slices of cheese to melt, and on top there is a sort of skillet where you can sear veggies, and more often meat. The dish is most usually served with boiled potatoes. This isn’t a vegan-hostile meal because you could bring along some vegan cheese, have fresh veggies (which my hostess did have beautifully displayed on a platter for me), and bring along a bottle of organic wine.

I was the D.D., so I didn’t bring any wine, but because every one else was indulging, the conversation because more and more lively, and inevitably the question of ‘so, why are you a total freak and shun meat and dairy products?’ came up between mouthfuls of ham and cured meats completely hidden by artery-clogging cheese.  As I said before, I pick my battles, so recognizing that I was totally out numbered, and about to embark upon reasoning with three wine-infused carnivores who were orgasmic on their heart-stopping feast, well, I tried to play it cool.

I gave the most basic points, then quickly said, ‘you know, I prefer to have these sorts of conversations either before or after dining, because much of what I have to say isn’t terribly appetizing’ (well, it was in French, but you get the picture). I tried to get them to see the connection between the cute, adorable, not for dinner-ponies we’d been sharing company with earlier in the day and the intelligent and affectionate pigs they were eating, but they just refused to see that it was the same thing. “Would you eat a dog or a horse?” “Of course not, how barbaric!” “Well, pigs are just as intelligent…cultural norms…blah, blah…” Yeah, that sunk in. They continued to push the subject, and what really made me bitter was Mr. Fish was the most annoying of them all. Now, yes, he was enjoying the wine because he knew I was sober and so in charge of the Guppy and driving and all that, but it’s no excuse.

As is often the case, when wooing me, Mr. Fish was all about animal rights, tolling the dangers of unleashed carnivorous practices on the environment and our individual health, extolling the virtues of how we would raise our child vegetarian. Uh-huh. Yeah, that lasted about as long as a big mac in the hands of the deranged. He’d never known a vegan or vegetarian before meeting me, but gave up meat illico presto once we were together. Sadly, like many- dare I say backsliders – his sinning is worse now than before. While he doesn’t eat red-meat here at the house, he does eat fish & dairy, and has become more and more aggressive about it over the past few months. I wish I could join a support group for vegan wives & mothers who feel nutritionally-separated from the ones they love.

(Amazing) Sourdough Biscuits

Yummy! Biscuits for all!

I confess upfront that I love biscuits, so sort of simple and peasant-y, flaking everywhere, steam rising up when you break them in two…(this is where I would insert an image of a drooling Homer Simpson if I felt like finding one). They are most definitely comfort food, and I have happy memories from my childhood of my mom making baking powder biscuits at the last minute to have them still hot when she put them on the table (this Hallmark Hall of Fame memory is not, however, in the repetoire of my younger sibs who unlike me, did much more fast-fooding, and so, much less biscuit eating).

I digress.

After our little scuffle concerning veggies and healthy eating, I wanted to cushion the dreaded healthy meal I was preparing for Mr. Fish, so I thought some biscuits would do the trick. The problem though, is that I have found many pathetic simulacra in the vegan world, but they just never get all light and crumbly and flaky and buttery-tasting and can’t-stop-eating-them delicious like the biscuits of my pre-vegan days…

Until now…

I have tried the “Easy Biscuits” recipe in my copy of How it all Vegan! by Tanya Bernard and Sarah Kramer more than once, and they were indeed easy, and quick, and they were ok, but never more than ok if you know what I mean. Just under that recipe, however, is the “Sourdough Biscuits” recipe which until last night I had ignored. See, I’m a sourdough starter-neophyte, and while my mason-looking jar of starter has been taking up room in my fridge for about six months now, I have only attempted sourdough bread, maybe once a month, and am nearly-always disappointed by my loaves. But then last night it dawned on me, my starter jar was nearly full and I had before me the perfect opportunity to try something new.

I am so so so glad I did!

I really was in a pinch for time, so I didn’t even knead the dough (though according to the recipe I was supposed to), I just mixed the ingredients, added the starter and kept stirring with a fork until really just barely mixed. With vegan baked goods I know you’re supposed to do a minimum of mixing, but since most of my favorite cookbooks failed to come with photos of barely mixed dough to show the cooking-newbie what that looks like, well, it is a foreign concept darn it. Being pressed for time last night, though, I believe helped me in this department because after just mixing with the fork I didn’t even roll them out & cut them into shapes, I just spooned them into lightly-oiled muffin tins and popped them in the oven for aprox. 12 minutes and wow they were the most aesthetically-pleasing little nuggets of love out of my oven this year (he he). They were just perfectly browned, flecked with various hues of beige, tan, honey, and brown, and they rose magically like no other vegan baked item I have ever made. They were so light, and so fluffy, I was shocked. I so wish I had a photo to show. The other real surprise was their buttery taste. I thought they would have a very over-powering sourdough taste, but on the contrary, they had such a butter taste that Mr. Fish smugly suggested that I used butter rather than vegan margarine (I of course reminded him we didn’t have any butter).

I paired these four-star biscuits with a slightly-altered version of “Curried Split Pea Soup” from Vegan with a Vengeance and a mix of wild & jasmine rice and it was divine.

Super Soup & Roasted Garlic!

Still toying with my Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook, I opted for a soup recipe yesterday, going for the ”White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup”. It’s rainy and cold, and there is something so comforting about piping hot soup, steam rising up from the bowl, warms you up just looking at it. Plus, with a bean soup, you know you’re going to get something hearty and meal-like, which is also a good thing when you’re feeling lazy and not particularly interested in making multiple dishes for your meal.

I really like soup. I love soup even. Some folks are just not soup folks, and Mr. Fish is not, helas, a fan of soup. Because we are just a family of three, and the Guppy not having a huge appetite, if I do venture to add some soupiness to our lives, I often end up being solely responsible for the eating of said soup, which is ok, but because many recipes make enough for small villages, it gets old, even if you do like it.

Well guess what? He liked it, Mr. Fish really liked it. Seriously, this soup was so darn easy & quick, and it would have been even less ‘work’ had I used canned beans rather than dried- but even with the cooking of the cannellini beans, frankly, it was a breeze, and as an added bonus my soup-disdaining husband said ‘yum!’ more than once while dining. The neat thing for me about this recipe was that it called for roasted garlic (hence the name), something totally basic but entirely undiscovered as of yet by the Shellyfish. How easy! And how delish! Now, it did take up about 25 minutes of my day (during which time you can do, gee, I don’t know, about a billion things), and it added so much dimension and flavour, I was really pleasantly surprised. I don’t know why, but roasted garlic seemed so mysterious, so ‘grown-up cooking-esque’ to me. One of my past favorite haunts in the U.S., The Cup Café in Tucson, used to serve a lovely dish with roasted veggies & I would lavishly spread the roasted garlic cloves which were just bursting from the bulb on a lightly-toasted baguette tartine. It was so sensual. I know I’ll be roasting more garlic in the future.

I do admit to fudging on the spices, not out of any sort of free-spirited creativity, just simply because I used my last bay leaf the other day and had none left, and didn’t have any fennel seeds. I tossed in some thyme, rosemary, and I honestly don’t remember what else, and it was just dandy.

Sleep Deprevation & Simple Sassy Soda Bread

During the holidays Mr. Fish & I decided to let the Guppy stay up to ‘enjoy’ her extended family that she nearly never sees (despite their relatively close geographical proximity). You see, the Guppy is generally on a pretty fixed sleep schedule, because that’s just the kind of kid she is. Some kids, well, you can put them to bed whenever, they nap whenever, and that just works great. The Guppy, on the other hand, tells us when she wants to go to bed, which is generally around 8pm. This annoys some (usually parents whose kids never, ever want to go to bed and need to be lassoed and tied down to their beds) because it can be a bit of a hindrance to our social lives. So in an attempt to make good on our easy-going, flexible parenting we let Guppy stay up rather late (9 and 10 p.m.) one more than one occasion during the week of Solstice & Christmas, till after midnight a few nights back when her aunt & uncle were here for dinner, and she was up until after 3 a.m. dancing up a storm at her cousin’s New Year’s party. ‘How nice you stayed so late’ mused the family members. Uh huh. How nice indeed.

She seemed to have slipped back into her pre-fête schedule without too much difficulty, was in bed at 8 p.m. last night, and all seemed just fine. Until 1:30 a.m. when she decided that her sleeping was over for the evening and she was ready for a snack. I tucked her back in, and continued to do so until after 4:30 a.m. When my alarm went of at 5:30 a.m. for my run, I thought I was going to be sick. I’m still on vacation, so Mr. Fish just slept through the revolving door between our two bedrooms. Needless to say I didn’t go run, and had to gather all the strength I had to get out of bed at 8:30 in an attempt to get Guppy up to re-calibrate her schedule. There are times when I really, really don’t get why people have more than once child.

At all.

So, despite all my lofty plans of running & baking & cleaning & shopping for today, there is just a lot of staring off into space going on. I did, however, manage to try a recipe from La Dolce Vegan! : ‘Simple Sassy Soda Bread’. This wasn’t actually my first choice, I wanted to make the ‘Sassy Sandwich Bread’, but as I began the recipe I was devastated to find that my baking yeast was DOA, so I needed a non-yeast bread.

The pluses of this recipe are that it was really quick to throw together and didn’t require anything to fancy or complicated from the cupboard.  It cooked up nice & fluffy, which is sometimes not the case with vegan ‘quick’ breads. My only real disappointment is from the bland taste of the bread. The toasted sesame seeds to add some dimension, but I think that next time I will add some rosemary or coriander or curry or something to give it a little zam.
So far my biggest complaint about this cookbook is that there is just way too much stuff, but no substance, no grit. The majority of the recipes are things you just sort of throw together yourself in your kitchen & you don’t really need a cookbook to tell you what to do. There is also a great deal of repetition which is tedious. I am sure, though, there there are some jem recipes in there, I just need a little more sleep & motivation to find them.

Thanks, Timmy!

Don’t you just love it when you’re waiting for a package to arrive? You find yourself peeking into the mail box at bizarre hours, listening when you hear someone in the stairwell, thinking that perhaps it’s the letter carrier with a little something for you? Well, my super box of holiday-gift-love arrived today! Yippie!

See, Shellyfish (that would be moi) is from a very large school ‘o fish, and since there are so many of us we swap names around the holidays (or there would be entirely too much gift buying/making/wrapping/sending, etc). My little bro Timmy got my name this year, and that is always a good thing. He had my name 10 years ago and got me the coolest lava lamp EVER. Seriously. I loved it so much I lugged it back and forth across the United States three times during various moves. This year, well, we’re a little older Timmy & I, and less zany (thought I would so dig a lava lamp), so I sent him a list of books I wanted because they are a little easier to deal with when it comes to shipping.

My two gifts say so much about me: La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer and Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels, PhD. I’m jazzed about both of them, because I love running, I love vegan cookbooks, and I love books plain & simple.

I have nare had time to do much reading of either, but I did do some serious flipping through La Dolce Vegan!, the third of Kramer’s cookbooks (How it all Vegan & In the Garden of Vegan she co-authored with Tanya Barnard). I have How it all Vegan, and think it’s a great sort of primer-vegan cookbook with lots of neat advice on DIY vegany things for around the house & home, good fake-cheese ideas, and general conversions of carnivore comfort foods that we find ourselves longing for when we are looking for something that reminds us (in a good way) of our pasts. There are lots of skillfully-penned reviews of La Dolce Vegan! out there so I won’t spend too much time writing about a cookbook I haven’t kitchen-tested yet, but a cursory look has given me time to agree with much of the criticism I’ve stumbled upon- it’s filled with pictures of Kramer herself, but not of the food. Now, I’m a firm believer in free-agency: it’s her book and if she wants to cram it with pictures of herself flitting about in retro-garb and flashing her garter belt at us, well, that is her trip to take. I will say, however, that it is a little distracting, and too bad that she didn’t think of holding up the dishes featured in the book to pose with her in the shot. Once I’ve had a chance to sample a few of the recipes I’ll have more interesting things to say.

As for my Daniels’ Running Formula, well, I think that Dr. Daniels is one of the most phenomenal coaches ever. In the world. That I know of. I’m sure there are tons of amazing, cutting-edge coaches out there, but not all of them have had the platform that Dr. D (if you don’t mind, sir) has had, training world-class athletes & being oft quoted in Runner’s World magazine, and locker rooms, and running club meetings, and in net forums, and all over everywhere runners convene. I am a newbie runner. I’ll talk more about running another time, but I am just so excited about starting this book that I’m ending my post right now to go see what it’s all about!

So thanks, Timmy, for the most excellent books and holiday love. And for JFTR (just for the record) I love that they came ‘late’- stretching out the holiday goodness is always a good thing.


The Guppy is, of course, the cutest thing in existence, and when I told her to say ‘Happy New Year’ she called out to everyone ‘Happy Reindeer!’ and I thought it was the cutest thing in the world. (Sorry, I’m having a gushing-mom moment, please be patient). Over the course of our New Year’s festivities chez Mr. Fish’s niece, the Guppy also called out ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Happy Halloween’ and ‘Merry Christmas’- in addition to their French equivalents.

The dinner was a bit difficult for me, not because I don’t like my in-laws, but rather because of the menu. I give snaps to my belle-famille because they try to understand me and why on earth I don’t eat meat, and I know that my dietary decisions are cause for much eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling, but they do try. Mostly. Sometimes. Our New Year’s dinner was catered, and was far from even being a little vegetarian, but they thought they were doing well because there was no red meat involved. Well, there was red meat involved, at least the duck livers they were eating looked red to me, but I digress…

There is an excellent t-shirt on the Peta Store web site that says ‘Fish are not vegetables’. I really need to get that t-shirt.

In their defense I’m not complaining about the non-vegan wine or champagne which I did consume (in moderately large volume, helps make the in-laws seem less like out-laws), so there.

I’m excited about 2008. I love starting over, making fresh-starts and re-dedicating myself to past projects left to the wayside. I feel like I have so many things to do. I was born three weeks early, and once you get to know me it just seems to have been a logical thing. See, I was in such a darn hurry to get out here and get stuff done, I just had to arrive before the bell.

While I still feel very, very driven (to do a zillion things at once) I think my biggest task for 2008 is to be more gentle with myself, and not get so upset when I don’t get it all done. Perfectly. Before everyone else. And still have time to start three new projects. I think this year might be *The* marathon year, and I would really like to learn to knit & crochet. I think those are some good goals. I would also like to get a better handle on our little camera to add some pizazz to my little blog.

So a very happy new year to everyone, bonne année, bonne santé, & une bonne dose de prospérité to boot.