Monday, January 31, 2011

Vegan Munchies

Ever get tired of the usual chip and dip routine? A bowl of peanuts or pretzels? I know I do. Ugh. I like those things just fine, but sometimes an occasion calls for something more thrilling to the taste buds. For me, that's actually just about any occasion where snack and finger foods are on the menu.

The last family party we went to the offerings consisted of cheese, cheese, cheese, oh, and cheese, and bacon wrapped something. Did I mention there was cheese? Not much there for the conscientious vegan to nosh on. Luckily, I did bring a couple of things, knowing all too well the likelihood of yummy snack availability was low.

Fortunately, I like to entertain. Low key, come as you are, no frills. I much prefer enjoyable, chatty visits than full scale parties where I barely get to see much less talk to anyone. Those have there place, don't get me wrong, and hey, I'm planning one such in a few months to celebrate my birthday. But mostly I like things on a smaller scale.

Take New Years Eve, for example. Hubby and I make up a batch of munchies, the kids invite friends over. Small, yes, but a big way to bring in the new year!  A childhood friend of my son was so enamored of my snacks, he said he could almost convert to veganism. Hey, it's at least a step in the right direction. Winning converts through their stomach!

Cajun Crunchies

Extra firm tofu, frozen in container, boiled to thaw, drained, pressed and cut into 1/4" slices
2 T. olive oil
1 t. Cajun seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Toss the tofu strips with the remaining ingredients. Arrange in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, turning over once. When done, let cool before serving.

Make sure you don't cut these slices too thin or they get more crunchy than you want!


1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. minced green onions
1 minced garlic clove
3 T. vital wheat gluten
3 T. unseasoned bread crumbs
4 T. Tabasco
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. cayenne
1/4 c. vegan butter

Press beans to remove any excess liquid. Put beans in food processor with pecans, green onions, garlic, vital wheat gluten, bread crumbs, 2 T. Tabasco, salt and cayenne. Pulse until mix well, but leaving some texture. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls. Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350, turning about half way through.
In a small saucepan, combine 2 T. Tabasco with the vegan butter and melt over low. Pour over the fireballs and bake 10 minutes longer. Serve.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

My First Award!

I'm so excited! I got my first award today!

I feel so honored and greatly appreciate that people have been reading my blog!

Thank you to Lanie for so graciously giving the award to me!

Apparently, In order to accept this award you must….

1.Thank and link back to the person who awarded this to you. (Check)
2.Share 7 things about yourself. (Check)
3.Pay it forward to 9 recently discovered great blogs. (Check)
4.Contact those bloggers and let them know about their award. (Check)

So, 7 things about me...

1. I couldn't have asked for better kids! Mine are definitely the greatest!
2. I am a complete and total tea drinker - to the point that I can't pass up the tea aisle in the grocery store EVER.
3. For therapy, for pleasure, for because I just want to, I garden or do crafts. Cross stitch is my favorite.
4. If a show is about UFOs or ghosts or anything supernatural, I am probably watching it.
5. I was a radical unschooling mom until my kids all became adults.
6. I was also a radical breastfeeding mom and counselor for many years. Don't mess!
7. I have an unusual shade of blue eyes - they are dark blue.

Now the blogs that I am passing this award to, that more than deserve it!

Vegan Hippie Witch

The Hidden Witch

Mind Awakening Soul

Vegan Peace

The Crafty Cauldron

Heart of Goddesses

Evolution 2 Green

Hell and Handbaskets

The Vegan Truth

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today is 1-1-11. Doreen Virtue says the calendar date of 1/1/11 in Angel Numbers means: "Keep your thoughts positive, as this is a gate opening of energy for the fruition and manifestation of your dreams. Only think about what you desire and intend." You can call upon the angel of beauty and beautiful thoughts, Archangel Jophiel, to elevate your thoughts to Love.

What better way to keep your thoughts positive than to go vegan! And one of the best ways to start off your new vegan year is with some Hoppin' John!

Hoppin' John

3 c. cooked rice
1 T. olive oil
dash of Liquid Smoke
One green pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 c. cooked or 3 cans black eyed peas, drained
2 T. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1/2 t. onion powder
2 T. Braggs aminos
10 oz. box frozen chopped collards

Saute green pepper, red onion and black eyed peas in olive oil and Liquid Smoke. Add seasonings and collards. Heat through. Add rice and Braggs. Let heat on low - medium until everything is nicely mixed and hot. Top with some Bacos for a smoky crunch. Serve with some good old fashioned, homemade cornbread. Enjoy!

Throughout the coastal South, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of money. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny," and further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year. During the late Middle Ages, there was a tradition of eating beans on New Year's Day for good luck in parts of France and Spain. The European tradition mixed with an African food item to become a New World tradition.

One tradition common in the Southern USA is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to assure that the New Year will be filled with Luck, Fortune and Romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year.

Where does the name come from? There are almost as many theories as to how Hoppin' John got its name as there are ways to cook the dish. One story attributes the name to the custom of inviting guests to eat with, "Hop in, John." Another suggestion is that it is derived from an old ritual on New Year's Day in which the children of the house hopped once around the table before eating the dish. Whatever its origin, it was definitely a staple for many in the early South, and remains an important dish today. Etymologists suggest the name comes from a Caribbean dish of rice and peas and salt pork called (in French) pois a pigeon, which is pronounced something like "pwahahpeejawng." 

The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted's 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. "The greatest luxury with which they are acquainted is a stew of bacon and peas, with red pepper, which they call ‘Hopping John’." There is also a recipe for Hopping John in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847.

One suggestion as to why people eat Hoppin' John on New Years Day is the thought that the black-eyed pea is lucky originated in the Jewish Talmud, and has been believed by some that Jewish settlers in the South spread their beliefs to the locals. Some scholars identify it as a strictly West African dish carried to the colonies by slaves from the Congo.

Whatever the origins of the name or how it came to be associated with New Years Day, the dish quite definately was a staple of the African slaves who populated southern plantations, especially those of the Gulla country of South Carolina. And regardless of who or how or why, it is still an New Years Day tradition for m any, including my family. We eat it every New Years Day and continue to love it and look forward to it!

I hope it becomes a tradition for your family!
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