Friday, February 17, 2012

I was Made for This

February brought in a whirlwind of excitement and busyness.  My days have been quite full, but it's all been good.  There's so much to tell, but lets start with some art!  A couple weeks back I started some art workshops for follow up of kids who attended our camps that we hold.  It's been a learning process, but I'm having fun figuring it out.
I have a partner named Ann, who has been a great help!  With still trying to learn the language, it's nice having her around to make sure we all know what's going on. 
Making art and teaching art are two totally different things.  I've had to think back to all of my days of schooling to figure out where to start and where to go.  One thing that we always did though, was still life drawing, so I figured that would be a great place to start and figure out just what these kids are capable of. 
I got some supplies for the students, which has been hard to come I could really use a Hobby Lobby.  I miss that place so much!  I definitely took my almost weekly visits there for granted.
 And I brought in some random objects to set up for them to draw.
The kids mostly sat in silence concentrating on the task at hand, but answered me when I asked random questions.  I remembered back to those days trying to complete the task assigned before the bell rang.  I loved my art classes, from high school to college.  And I always had the best teachers and professors.  They all impacted my life greatly.  They made me want to use art to impact others.  
I felt really great being there.  Doing this thing.  And I'm excited for what the next weeks and months will bring.  I'm so glad to be using my talents in a way that I hope will make a lasting impact on these kids I find myself with week after week.
 They all smiled so much and thanked me when they left, hardly wanting to leave.  I think we're beginning to get somewhere.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Trade Off

I've always been someone who loves a good home cooked meal.  I would choose eating at home over eating out any day of the week.  I grew up with a Mom who cooked a lot from scratch, and the more I've been around other people, the more I see how spoiled I was.  Ever since I went vegan, I've had to do more preparation and more making of homemade stuff than I did before.  And I love it!  I feel like all of those adjustments I made has made cooking in a foreign country so much easier to adjust to.  I feel very lucky to live in a city where I can find most of what I'm looking for and still cook really yummy and healthy meals for us!  And I've said it before, there are some new things I never had in my life that are totally rockin my world!  But alas there are some things I miss.

Kale would be at the top of the list!
There's just no other green like it.  I can't believe I spent so much of my life without it.  I only discovered it 2010.

Then would come Daiya Cheese.  But I've been looking up some recipes to make my own cheese, so hopefully this won't be one I miss for too much longer.
Everything has just been a little naked without the creamy goodness of Daiya Cheese on top.

And Tempeh.  Who would have thought I'd be missing fermented soy beans...but it's true!  I do!  I mean look at this sandwich...
My mouth is just watering thinking about every bite!

There is one thing that would have been on the list, but like I said; I'm expanding my horizons even more and if I can't find it...I'll learn to make it myself.

I absolutely love this recipe!  It's flavor is just right.  It's consistency is so smooth.  It bakes and spreads.  And it's quite easy to make.  When I was in the States, I always used Earth Balance.  A 100% natural spread, rich in Omega 3's, free of GMO's, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and artificial ingredients of any kind! (taken from their website)  It was one thing I didn't know how I was going to live without.

Until I came across a recipe to make my own butter at home from VeganBaking.Net! It's funny to me how people get so scared of the word vegan.  But eating healthy and cleaning up recipes isn't scary at all!  I'm so glad to have opened up my life to a whole new world of cooking.  I know I'm better for it too!

Check out the whole post on how to make vegan butter variations, but for the basic vegan butter here's the recipe!

Regular Vegan Butter

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ + 1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin -or- liquid sunflower lecithin -or- 2 ¼ teaspoons  soy lecithin granules
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Directions:1)Place the soy milk, apple cider vinegar and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.

2)Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the canola oil to a food processor. Making smooth vegan butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3)Add the soy milk mixture, soy lecithin and xanthan gum to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration. Pour the mixture into a mold and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. The vegan butter should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 year. Makes 1 cup, 215 grams, or the equivalent of 2 sticks vegan butter.

I actually think I might prefer the flavor of this butter over others.  It adds to the food without overpowering it.  And it works fantastically in baking!  I love it.  So versatile!