Monday, June 27, 2016

Father's Day treats (mostly for me)

We usually spend our Father's Days barbecuing by the pool, but this year the pool was giving my dad a run for his money, so we rather indignantly stayed inside. I chose this exceedingly warm card from 89 and I, because that's how we do.

Without poolside fun & frolic, there wasn't much to do but to hang out in stripes and play endless games of rummikub.

Then VM made her famous sauce and we dined on piles of pasta.

Of course there was some of my signature cheesy, roasted garlic bread on the side.


And, dessert.

Three new to us cakes were the main event: chocolate speculoos, white chocolate blueberry cheesecake, and coconut caramel cheesecake.

Full disclosure: because we went to pick up the these cakes in person from Vegan Treats, we also picked up some donuts. Boston creme, powdered jelly, s'mores, triple chocolate, and chocolate-encased angel's food cake. You know what they say, "If they all fit one one plate they count as one serving." Or maybe that's just me.

And ice cream. Did I mention ice cream? I mean, none for my dad; I just got some for myself when we were picking up the cakes: cotton candy and blue raspberry with rainbow sprinkles. Pretty spectacular!

 It's always a party when you include Vegan Treats. How much of a party depends on you. ;-)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue

You may have already read my introduction to Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue over on Vegansaurus; if not, that's an excellent place to acquaint yourself with this extraordinary operation.

I recently  had an opportunity to return for a visit with VM and it was another glorious day filled with amazing animals against a stunning backdrop, with the inimitable Mike Stura masterfully directing our tour.


Currently running weekend tours at 11:45 and 2:15 on both Saturday and Sunday; follow Skylands on Facebook to keep up with their rescues, as well any updates to their schedule. If you're near enough to visit, know that it's worth the trip; theirs is a tour to end all tours. Bring your friends, neighbors, and families to meet these animals as companions and to hear about why using them for food, textile, and entertainment is a stunning disservice to these and all sentient beings. Mike is incredibly engaging, respectful, and frank; please do be reciprocal if you attend and you will learn a lot. I know I did, and I thought I knew everything already!

This was our view right before the tour was about to start...

VM has been vegetarian for about 7 years now and she was immediately in awe of Mike: the way he treated the animals, spoke of them as part of his family, and explained the horrors of animal "industries."

Mr. Mom

These guys were newbies, so we weren't within petting distance.


These various, synchronized birds (duck, duck, goose) were a crowd pleaser: so majestic.

Unexpectedly, there were more than a few small children on our tour. As a result, many of the animals seemed to purposefully keep their distance from the group. Can't say we blamed them. Both VM and I are generally child-averse too. Luckily, I was born an adult.


Mike has eyes everywhere; it's obvious that he doesn't miss a thing, as he wouldn't want any single animal or human to be hurt under any circumstance. If you participate in this or any sanctuary tour, please remember to be respectful of your tour leader. As Judge Judy would say, "Put on your listening ears!" Not only is Mike a wealth of information, but safety instructions are also an important part of the presentation that are not to be missed or disregarded. PLEASE, especially if you're going to visit with children, be mindful of the few, but necessary rules of the tour. It's highly nerve-wracking to watch toddlers grabbing at an electric fence when the definition has been explained to the group numerous times.

 Nobody here but us chickens.


What's better than a sleeping piggie? Not much, I tell you. This one was on a cool bed of sand and gracefully excused herself from the tour when she had to use the restroom.

Animals with manners are one of my favorite things in all the land.

And a special shout-out to the sweet Emma the momma cow who joined us on our tour midway. Nothing like ambling through a sanctuary tour with a cow by your side.

UPDATE 6/19/16: Thanks to a pal for pointing out that I was terribly remiss not to mention that the amazing volunteers at Skylands also put out an incredible vegan spread after each tour. An astounding amount of cookout-type foods lovingly prepared and displayed under a tent surrounded by picnic tables that overlook the pond. Please remember to contribute in the adorable donation jar located amidst the dishes to keep this food activism going.

I cannot recommend a visit to Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue enough. Visit, volunteer, donate...just get involved!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

NoMoo VEGAN Cookies

NoMoo is a traditionally dairy-free company that recently added EIGHT vegan cookies to their repertoire! They were kind enough to send me a box of their vegan assortment for review; each cookie comes individually wrapped.

Since I was reviewing along with the esteemed tasting panel (one vegan, one vegetarian, one omnivore), I decided to start with what seemed to be the more classic flavors.


In order:

vanilla bean dream: "Every vanilla lover's dream! Made with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste blended in a sweet sugar batter generously topped with dark, rich vanilla bean."
The (vanilla bean) dust was really unappetizing looking and didn't seem to add any significant vanilla flavor. The prominent flavor and texture was buttery with an extremely light and pleasant vanilla taste.

sugah cinnayum: "A sweet sugar cookie made with pure vanilla bean and sprinkled with sugar and spice and everything nice. It will make you say Yum."
I love cinnamon sugar more than is appropriate, but I have no idea why it was necessary to insult this stellar combination with intentional misspelling. To add to the insult, it was neither sugary or cinnamony enough. I can't be the only one that wants the sweet taste of cinnamon toast out of a cinnamon sugar cookie. Sadly, I didn't get it.

classic chipper: "Dark Belgian chocolate chips and real vanilla bean, a classic chocolate chip cookie gone vegan."
Thank goodness this cookie was very chippy and therefore most redeeming. I really liked it, which was a relief. I don't like not liking cookies!

loco for coco: "A soft, decadent cookie made with real cocoa and rich Belgium chocolate chips topped with flakes of sea salt. It's guaranteed to drive you crazy.....good!"
Hold up, I liked this one even more. As much as I love chocolate, double chocolate cookies don't usually do it for me. But, this one was my jam: really rich and really chocolatey.

Next up:
oatmeal choco-chip: "Dark Belgium chocolate chunks, tangy orange zest and rich molasses make up this spicy vegan oatmeal cookie."
While most of the cookies were thin and medium palm-size, the oatmeal was somewhat thicker, significantly denser, and quite a bit smaller in diameter. Normally I wouldn't touch an oatmeal cookie with a 99 1/2-foot pole, but since this cookie wisely substituted chocolate chips for raisins, I made an exception. It was still an oatmeal cookie, but the chips made it palatable.

citrus appeal: "A buttery citrus cookie topped with a sweet almond glaze and decorated with a fresh candied orange peel. It's bound to appeal to your taste buds."
I don't know how one goes about adhering candied orange pieces to a pre-packaged cookie, but NoMoo did and it WORKED! I would not normally reach for an orange cookie, but this was the

chocolate chills: "Dark, decadent French cocoa with a cool hit of peppermint."
The photo of this cookie on the website and packaging shows crushed candy canes atop, but this cookie was naked. Not only would the canes add pleasant crunch to an otherwise mushy cookie, but the added appeal would have gone a long way. Definitely nowhere near as yummy as the loco for coco.

raspberry bliss: "A blissfully sweet cookie blended with fresh, dried raspberries topped with raspberry powder."
This cookie was possibly more unappealing looking than the vanilla- perhaps because of the red dust. Unlike the vanilla cookie, there was no discernible raspberry taste whatsoever.

Overall, I'm always happy for more vegan cookies on the market, but- in my opinion, NoMoo has a little more work to do with aesthetic and flavor in many cases. To recap, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up my favorites: classic chipper, loco for coco, and citrus appeal. Let me know if you agree/disagree...go eat some cookies!!