Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Exploring the Options and a Heartfelt Entreaty

Boxes of Vegan Lunch Box have been whisking their way around the country (and the globe!) There are now more and more locations to pick up your very own copy:
  • If you would like to pick up a copy of my book and give to an animal-friendly charity at the same time, check out the latest newsletter from Vegan Outreach. While supplies last, you can receive a free copy of VLB with your donation.

  • Speaking of animal-friendly charities, you can also buy a copy through the PETA Catalog and have part of your money benefit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

  • Other resellers include Herbivore Store in Portland, OR; Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe; Lunch Matters in Australia; Three Little Figs in Boulder, CO; and Laptop Lunches (who are also featuring an interview with me in their latest newsletter).

  • Finally, if none of those small, wonderful, independent resellers appeal, VLB is now available through that behemoth of ecommerce, We listed it ourselves earlier this morning, in order to make all you Amazon Lovers happy (I, myself, admit to a bit of an amazon addiction; the "one click" button, she is dangerous).

    And so here comes my Heartfelt Entreaty: please, please take a moment if you can to go to Amazon and say something nice about my book. Ratings and reviews on Amazon can make a huge difference, so I'm hoping some of you might take a moment to put in a friendly word. (Update: Amazon's search engine is working now. Thank you all so much for your kind words and wonderful reviews!!)

Book Signing this Saturday

For those of you who are lucky (yes, lucky) enough to reside in eastern Washington state, I will be doing a Vegan Lunch Box Book Signing this Saturday, December 2nd, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm at the Kennewick Library (1620 S. Union St.).

Come say hi, buy a copy of Vegan Lunch Box and have it signed in person. If that's not enough incentive to leave your cozy house and face the brutal Mid-Columbia cold, note that this book signing will be powered by FREE VEGAN DONUTS.

That's right, we will be sampling some recipes from the cookbook along with a whole heap of vegan donuts and cookies from Nutrilicious Natural Bakery, who made me the happiest person in the world yesterday by sending us an entire box filled with vegan, donutty love.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Petite Pasta Salad

I found some charming little pasta shapes at my local grocery store and knew I wanted to feature them in something other than soup, where they tend to sink to the bottom and get lost. So I made up this Petite Pasta Salad, filled with big chunky pieces of cucumber, tomato, sugar snap peas, and olives and teeny weeny pasta stars. Shmoo usually doesn't like pasta salad; he says it is "too sour"; I think the amount of vinegar in most commercial dressings is too strong for his taste. So I took it easy and added just a touch of white vinegar mixed with white balsamic vinegar, which is mellower and sweeter.

Next to the pasta are lightly blanched cauliflower and carrots with what surely must be the Fastest Dip in the West: toss a spoonful of Vegenaise with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of pepper, and a pinch of dried dill weed.

Above the veggies are fresh kiwi fruit and Fuyu persimmon, a fruit we've been enjoying for the first time this fall.

As a very special treat I also tucked in a Kidz Dream Orange Cream Smoothie. I never realized how nicely a juice box fits inside his lunch box.

Verdict: Shmoo really likes these new soy smoothies and was excited to have a juice box in his lunch. He ate the vegetables with dip first and insists that this is the very best dip I've ever made. Gee, I wonder if I could simplify it even more and just pack him a scoop of Vegenaise! That stuff is so good! Shmoo grumped about having to pick bell pepper out of the pasta salad, which I had added to make my husband happy. I think shmoo is right; I've never gotten a taste for peppers, either. 4 stars.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Thanksgiving Lunch Box

Save the turkeys! Here's a turkey-free feast in celebration of Thanksgiving.

This year, instead of Tofurky, I made a large version of the Mini-Wellingtons recipe from Vegan Lunch Box. I made a small Wellington for this lunch, then formed the rest into a single large loaf wrapped in puff pastry and decorated with pastry leaves and berries. I'll be baking it for us and all our veggie relatives this Thursday (Hey, Mom! Hey, Zach! Hey, Rachel and gorgeous vegan Bambina! Be seeing you all soon!). I'll serve it along with some vegan gravy and mashed potatoes.

To the right is a serving of Carmelized Squash and Apples: Peel a small butternut squash and two apples and cut into ½-inch cubes; toss with 3 tablespoons melted margarine, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and a grind or two of black pepper; roast at 400ºF for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Above the squash is my vegan version of an old family favorite: Glorified Rice. Follow the link for the recipe; I'm delighted that my vegan version came out so like the traditional dish.

And finally, a green salad topped with dried cranberries and toasted pecans, with a little cranberry viniagrette on the side.

Verdict: Glorified Rice and Wellington were both big hits. Squash isn't so bad when sweetened and eaten with bites of apples, but still is not a favorite. Shmoo is sad that he's going to have to share the big Wellington with all of us on Thanksgiving -- he wants it all to himself! 5 gobble- gobbles.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Here's a live-action shot of the Herbivore Store during my book signing last weekend. I had so much fun meeting and talking with everyone! Michelle and Josh are fantastic, and little Ruby the toddler-about-town is highly, highly adorable.

I also signed a handsome stack of extra books for the store after the event ended. So if you're in the Portland area, stop by the Herbivore Store and take one home!

In other news...

  • The podcast segment I recorded recently for Erik's Diner has been written down and is now a guest in Nava Atlas' Vegetarian Kitchen: Vegan Kids and Lunch at School: Helping your Child Fit In. While you're there, be sure to check out all the other great guest articles from a wide range of veg experts, as well as her wonderful collection of kid-friendly recipes.

  • Speaking of kids, Vegan Outreach has just added a page featuring pictures and stories of Real Honest-to-Goodness Vegan Kids, in response to the worries that many have regarding raising healthy babies and children on a vegan diet.

  • Next week I'll be posting a fun Thanksgiving lunch box. In the meantime, I hope you're all busy planning spectacular vegan feasts of your own! If you're looking for recipes, check out Nava's Thanksgiving Favorites and the Thanksgiving collection at VegCooking. And remember, it's never too late to Adopt-A-Turkey.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Like-a-Lunchable Pizzas

This year Pizza Lunchables seem to be The Big Thing everyone at school is eating; kids build their own little pizzas out of small, flat rounds of prebaked pizza crust, a squeeze tube of pizza sauce, shredded "cheese product" and "pepperoni flavored sausage". Then, they sprinkle their pizza creations with a special "Poppin' Packet" filled with what appear to be Pop Rocks. Wowee!

Okay, so here's a veganized version: I made a batch of my Pizza Shop Breadstick dough (yes, from Vegan Lunch Box), shaping it into little rounds instead of sticks. I poked them full of holes before baking to avoid any big bubbles, then baked them on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375ºF for just 5 minutes or so.

I filled a ziplock bag with tomato sauce, cut a very small hole in one corner, and sealed it with a little sticker. (The bag of sauce sits right on top of the pizza rounds when packing.) At lunch, peel back the sticker and squeeze out the sauce, then top the pizza with cut-outs of vegan cheese and pepperoni.

Oh, and what about the "Poppin' Packet"? I draw the line at food that explodes in your mouth, but I did pack a little container of the same topping I use in my breadstick recipe -- a blend of yummy nutritional yeast and sesame seeds that we sprinkle on foods à la parmesan cheese.

For the rest of lunch: three Brussels sprouts, a blackberry applesauce cup, and a dark chocolate Bug Bite.

Verdict: The ziplock bag worked well, with no troubles getting the sticker off the cut corner and squeezing sauce out onto the pizza rounds. Making his own pizzas was messy but fun! Of course, he didn't notice the new polka-dot baggie with adorable matching polka-dot napkin. Some of these things I do just for me. 5 stars.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hittin' the Road

We have been completely blown away by the hundreds of preorders for Vegan Lunch Box we are receiving! Thanks so much to all of you!! Although the "official" release date was set for November 15th, we decided to start shipping some of the orders early so the poor clerks at the post office wouldn't see us coming and lock the door.

That means that a few hundred copies have already shipped and are now winging their way across America and around the world, on their way to you!

And now the shmoo family is packed up as well, ready to ship ourselves off to Portland for a book signing tomorrow! Hope to see some of you there! Shmoo thinks this book business is a bore, but is very excited to check out the Star Wars exhibit at OMSI.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cupcakes, Tofurky, and ME!

I will be in Portland this Saturday at 4pm at the Herbivore Store, 5519 NE 30th Avenue, signing copies of Vegan Lunch Box. (That's right, it's not "officially" out until the 15th but they get theirs early. Why? Because I love them more!)

The fine folks at Herbivore will also be hosting cupcake decorating and a "turkey-free tasting" that day, so everyone in the Portland area should come hang out with me and help them eat up the Field Roast.

Foods of the Southwest

Shmoo and I have been working on a Unit Study of the First Americans. I was inspired by our study of the Pueblo and Anasazi, and wanted to create a lunch around foods native to the American Southwest. (Although I didn't use any of her recipes, much of the imagery here was inspired by the gorgeous photographs in Lois Ellen Frank's book Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations.)

I used the recipe for Sweet Cornbread in Vegan Lunch Box and baked the batter in a corn cob muffin pan for about 25 minutes. I wrapped the sweet corn cobs in "husks" of freshly made corn tortillas from the local market. Above the corn is a mixture of lightly steamed baby squash, carrot "arrowheads", and sunflower seeds. Next to the veggies is a container of Anasazi and pinto beans. The tiniest container holds Prickly Pear Syrup. I also shaped a bit of cactus pad (nopale) into a decorative garnish.

At lunchtime, the tortilla "husks" were used to scoop up flavorful beans, and the sweet cornbreads were dipped in the syrup for dessert.

The beans and tortillas were his favorite part. He took a bite out of each baby pattypan, but was disappointed that they they tasted the same as regular squash. Although the garnishes here were just for decoration, shmoo wondered what cactus tasted like, so I cooked the rest for dinner. I cut the pads into strips and boiled until tender, then rinsed well with cold water to remove the okra-ish slime. It tasted like green beans! 4 stars.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Home Sick Soup #2

My last Home Sick Soup post featured hot, soothing Tomato Rasam, a quick and spicy Indian soup just right for a day stuck at home with the sniffles.

Today I made another favorite Sick Day Soup of mine, Dr. Fuhrman's Famous Soup. I love the Big Production Number that is the making of this soup. I set aside an hour or two, pull out all the fancy equipment (a juicer and Vita-Mix or other strong blender are required) and whip up an absolutely enormous pot of the stuff. It freezes well, so you can have it on hand in case of emergencies.

Speaking of emergencies, lately it seems that too many of the older people in our parish and family have been spending time in the hospital, dealing with surgeries, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Many of them are coming home feeling fragile, with small appetites and instructions to lower their fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

I wanted to offer them something that was easy to eat and digest, and wouldn't do any harm by being high in salt or fat. This soup is just the thing: creamy smooth, made with split peas and veggies cooked in fresh carrot and celery juice. The soup is easy to eat and flavorful enough that you don't miss the salt. It's great on its own for those with little appetite, or served with baked winter squash, steam-fried mushrooms, and fruit for dessert.

If you have a juicer, a blender, and a great, big, huuuge soup pot, this is the perfect potage to share with those who are feelin' poorly.