Thursday, December 16, 2010

Antibiotic Overload

As if raising and slaughtering billions and billions of animals a year just because we ( well, not all of us ! ) like the way they taste ,  poisoning the environment and ourselves along the way, weren't bad enough , we are also creating  'super bugs'  by overuse of antibiotics. Not breaking news really, but here's a post by Tom Philpott at Grist with some recent findings.   Grist can be annoyingly clever,  light on animal issues, and promoters of Happy Meat, but I follow them because they usually keep up with what's going on in the industrial meat industry, especially through Philpott's Meat Wagon articles.   I keep hoping Mr. Philpott will see the light ( in the animals' eyes ) connect the dots and go vegan, but he clings to the humane meat, dairy and egg myths as a way to lessen the impact and keep eating animals.   Sigh.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More Poultry Farms On The Delmarva Peninsula ?

More chicken "houses" closer to the processing plants if there werent too many already ??? 

See how Tom Philpott uses some of the vast information provided by new tool created by Food & Water Watch  right here.

I've driven through some of the  Delmarva Peninsula, and seen some of the surreally  massive processing plants where, every year, millions and millions of birds end their short pain-filled lives.   Hard to forget.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Tool To Explore

This website,, offers an incredible amount of information in easily digestible bites.  And while it does not advocate veganism ( far from it ) it ought to be an eye-opener for everyone.     The figures used are from a five-year survey done by the USDA.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan Nutrition

I should have listed this blog, VeganRD  a long time ago.   She brings thorough, level-headed knowledge about  vegan nutrition to the table from a registered dietitian's perspective, as well as an advocate for the animals.
Great discussion on vegan sources of DHA here :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Turkey Abuse

This video was posted by a fellow animal person, Joan Ozelis Calpin on Facebook, and I offer it here :
                                                        Turkey "farm" abuse.

                                                       No excuse.   Seriously.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan Potluck at Poplar Springs

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary, in Poolsville, MD is having their annual Thanksgiving With The Turkeys Saturday the 20th of November, from 12 -4pm.  It's a great way to meet some of the animals that would have been food, and share a gigantic totally vegan potluck with hundreds of other like-minded people.. The Washington Post had a nice little write-up on the event, even :)
  Now, let's see what to bring ?   Well, I'll just have to browse some of the many sites that are featuring vegan Thanksgiving dishes !   Here are a few:
From the NY Times, Chef Chloe Coscarelli dishes up more than cupcakes.
Vegweb, is of course THE place to go to not only find recipes, but read reviews of them !
Here's a list of more vegan menu sites from VeganSoapbox.    United Poultry Concerns  has a nice recipe section and then be sure to take a look at their homepage and the writings of the Karen Davis, who works tirelessly to educate people on all things fowl :) many recipes and great ideas to choose from !

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hobos and New Friends

My hubby of 32 years and I spent our anniversary weekend in Delaware.  Birding was the main attraction ( besides ourselves : > ) out at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Reserve for Saturday, but first we needed o find a restaurant for Friday night. I honestly figured we'd have the usual issues trying to find decent vegan dinner fare.   But a last minute look on the web brought up this wonderfully independent-minded , mostly vegan restaurant called Hobos in Rehoboth Beach.  And as it happens we were staying in a hotel not far from it.   AND, it also happened that they were celebrating World Vegan Day that evening with an all vegan buffe !  As soon as Jamie and I walked in the door we were very warmly greeted by Leslie and Patricia from the VegDelaware group, who insisted we sit with them and their group.  I'm so glad we did !   The instant bond that happens between people who advocate for animals was very much alive and well that night. They really made our evening special, and now we have friends in Delaware!  I want to meet with them on one of heir outings soon, it sounds like they have a lot of fun.  Patricia is promoting Meatless Mondays, the program developed by Johns Hopkins Hospital, that encourages people to explore going meatless one day a week as a way to reduce meat's impact on human health and the environment.   It's getting a lot of attention in the media and will hopefully lead to opening people's eyes and hearts to all the animals that suffer needlessly at our hands, as well as seeing how fantastic vegan food really is :)
  Gretchen Hanson is the genius behind the restaurant's  sustainable ethos and creative menu.   Make sure to check out her bio on the website, she's a very interesting, dynamic person on a mission !
Oh, and what's with the picture of lotions, shampoo and toothpaste ?  It's the loot we won at the raffle held at  Hobo's that Friday night...what a night !   And the birding the next day was really great.   Lots of ducks, geese, peeps and American Avocets stopping over to rest and feed while on their way South.   Then we had dinner again at Hobos...couldnt resist !   And thank you Patricia and Leslie for a perfect night.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

USDA's Dual Dairy Role

Has it seemed to you  that cheese was in everything and dairy products in general were everywhere ?   Ever wonder why ?    The USDA has the job of promoting dairy products, while ( kind of ) warning us about the health issues involved in eating the stuff.   Ever wonder how that can work ?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rich Celery Soup For World Vegan Day !

I grew up loving Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup.   Looking back I am now amazed how easily we were  duped into accepting anemic, condensed, canned soups as the standard.   With little more than cheap fats, salt, sugar and modern industrial flavorings and thickeners, coupled with comforting advertising ( Mm, mm Good ! ) an entire generation grew to associate "soup" with the iconic red and white can.   So is it any wonder that when I felt a craving for some celery soup, my taste buds wander way back to the '60's ?   But now I not only wanted it vegan, but thick, creamy and nourishing as well.   Here's what I came up with yesterday. The kale adds depth of flavor without overwhelming.    It hit the spot so well, I am going to make it again today, and this time get a picture !   This recipe is meant as a could toss in garlic and onions if you want, maybe carrots as well.  Or maybe  leeks and celery...hmmm...I'll have to try that !  Today I added almost 2 cups of minced up kale, and it still mostly tasted like a thick, creamy celery soup.
Rich Celery Soup
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped kale ( stems removed )
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups broth, bullion or water
1 teaspoon Spike, or other seasoning salt
1 cup vegan milk ( I used soy this time )
2 tablespoons flour ( I used wheat, but rice flour, garbanzo bean flour, and others would work ,too )
Finely chopped parsley or cilantro
Toss the celery, kale and cashews into a medium saucepan with the Spike.   Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and then cover loosely for about 15 minutes, or till the veggies are very soft.  Remove from the heat. Mix the flour with the milk and set aside.   Using a  hand-held immersion type blender, buzz the veggies, cashews and broth till very smooth.   You may be able to do it in the depends on your immersion blender and the softness of the veggies in the soup... (or pour the soup into a real blender ).   Add the milk and flour mixture and blend a little more.   Return the soup to the heat and cook on medium high until thick and bubbly...about 5 minutes or so.   Serve up and sprinkle with the parsley.   Or cilantro.   I love cilantro :)
Makes about 5 cups of soup.

Monday, October 25, 2010

World Vegan Week ! And a recipe !

These next 7 days, from Oct. 24th through the 31st  is World Vegan Week !   A great time to explore how going vegan can alleviate so much suffering, help heal the planet and ourselves, and enjoy fantastic food at the same time :)
I had a special treat today.   A Brandywine tomato from the garden...a big surprise, since I had abandoned the plants weeks ago, and assumed any remaining tomatoes were not going to be worth harvesting.   Boy was I wrong !  I picked about 70 little Sungolds, and a nice big Brandywine and a few decent Celebrities.   So, to celebrate I made up a big batch of Tofu Salad, spread some on seeded rye bread, sliced up the Brandywine and had a feast.  Nice way to start the week !
Tofu Salad, aka Eggless Egg Salad or Happy Hen goes by many names, but the recipe generally goes like this:
1 Block firm tofu (the refrigerated kind, packed in water )
2 Tablespoons each minced red bell pepper, celery and onion
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup vegan mayo

Remove the block of tofu from it's water, break in half and gently squeeze and wring the water out of each half.  Crumble the squeezed-out tofu in a medium bowl.  Add all the rest and mix with a fork, lightly mashing the tofu against the sides of the bowl.   Refrigerate for an hour or so before using as a sandwich spread, a chip dip or a filling for a warp.   Curry powder is really great in this, as is fresh herbs like dill or basil.

Friday, October 22, 2010


This article, in the New York Times, is a poster child for the what is wrong with the welfarist branch of the  animal rights movement.   Why ?   Because it perpetuates the welfarist notion that using the animals is not the problem, it's how we use them.   Because it promotes shielding people from the reality that many billions of animals are brought into the world as commodities and slaughtered for our pleasure.  Because it ignores the fact that we do not need to eat animals, no matter how they were slaughtered.   It's still slaughter to the animals themselves.
“People don’t want to know too much,” said Marc Cooper, a senior scientific manager in the farm animals department of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in London. “It’s hard to sell humane killing as a concept.”

Check out the abolitionist way of viewing animal rights ( and wrongs ) at Abolitionist Approach dot com.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BBQ Ribz for World Farm Animals Day


October 2nd is World Farm Animals Day.   A day to reflect on the lives of billions of animals bought into existence only to be slaughtered for our pleasure.   In our modern societies, with so many options, choosing a humane way to feed ourselves is not only the right thing to's getting easier and easier.  This recipe for Ribz is a great example...really easy to toss together, very tasty  and nutritious, AND does not include the unnecessary suffering of another being.   We love these ribz with coleslaw, lots of extra BBQ sauce and serve it up on big buns or rice.  Try this recipe for barbeque ribz, you'll love it and the pigs will love you !
                     A warning :   this is very very good...I recommend making a double recipe :)
                                                          SUSAN'S RIBZ WITH A Z

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Peaceful Prairie dot Org

I sometimes forget how wonderful this organization is, and have to go to it now and then to remind myself. Lots of information, links, recipes, awesome photography and beautiful heartfelt stories of the lives of some of the animals at their sanctuary out in Colorado. This site is worth visiting for the stories alone.   So check them out at :

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pawfest in Winchester , Va !

Here are some kids ( and an adorable Boston Terrier pup ! ) sampling cookies that Jocelyn and I made to show people that fantastic baked goodies can easily be made without animal products. Totally cruelty-free, delicious AND easy...what's not to love ?

The event, Pawfest is an annual fundraiser and is held on the grounds of the Winchester ASPCA. There were all kinds of games for kids to play, a playground for dogs and a dog wash as well ! Cats and dogs were available for adoption, and I think several found new homes that day. It was a gorgeous late summer day and a perfect event to introduce animal lovers to animal-free baking. We had lots of free literature on hand ( some with recipes )as well as the recipes for the cookie samples. A free drawing for Robin Robertson's great Vegan Planet cookbook created a nice opportunity to show off all the vegan cookbooks out there now.
Lots of curiosity, questions and surprise..." you made THAT without eggs or butter ???? " seemed to be the most common question, much to our delight ! Jocelyn's Chocolate Chip Cookies and my Orange Chocolate Brownies were the hits, and both recipes can be found on her blog, Vegan Family Values. Her husband Mike and their two fun kids were there to help as well. Jocelyn heard many people asking if we'll be there again next year...let's hope so !

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Animal Counter

Below is a pretty incredible graphic put together by the folks at Animal Visuals. I wish there could be one of these posted up on a big screen in every grocery store, just to get people thinking about the individual animals involved, as well as the sheer numbers. Something about seeing them squirming while hanging from their neck or leg tendons, even though I know it's just a cartoon, really makes the point.

Monday, September 6, 2010

DC Vegfest and Cat Food Woes

The DC Vegfest is coming up soon, September 11th.   I have missed them in previous years, but definitely plan on getting there this year !    Looks like a good line up of speakers and food sampling.

The organization ( and fantastic podcast ! ), Our Hen House, continues to amaze me with their broad coverage of vegan issues and their fabulous website.   

  I've been in an awful quandary about what to feed our 3 cats since one of them developed a urinary tract issue from crystals in his urine.   It did not require surgery, but lab tests revealed that his urine was not acidic enough, there were crystals present and even a little blood from the crystals scraping his urethra on the way out...and that meat needed to be added to his vegan diet.   Ugh.   I had had them on Evolution cat food, the kibbles and the canned for well over a year and had no problems...better than that really...they all were doing very well, including our 15 year old cat who had just joined the ranks of Indoor Kittydom last December.  He had been an indoor/outdoor ( mostly outdoor ) most of his life, but was just becoming too slow to escape what ever other critters were out there, that might to do a kitty harm.   And the wildlife needed a break from his predation, as well.  I am WELL acquainted with the whole "cats are obligate carnivores " issue,  and I'm sick of the "how can you press your vegan values, choices on your pet...that's animal abuse, etc....".   But at the end of the day I keep coming back to this:   Yes, cats are carnivores.  But is it right to feed our pets other animals we've dredged from the seas or bred into existence just to be killed and processed into food for us and the scraps as food for our pets ?   No.    So what to do ?   Not keep cats is one answer.   But I've already got them ( or do they have me ? ).   Find the most ethical way to feed them ?   Still working on that.    So far, once the one kitty's ( Tomsky )  urinary issue cleared up, we're back to 1/2 cup Evolution kibble, soaked in lots of warm water for about 15 minutes, and about 1/2 a can of various animal meats stirred in.  All three cats eat this.  I cringe every time i open a can and am researching finding a better alternative.   I got an "acidifier" for the vegan cat food, but a little late...Tomsky was having issue with the crystals and needed tests, and the vets answer was "meat".  And how much acidifier to add to the vegan food...?  And why isnt the vegan cat food already acidified ?  This is a very complicated, loaded issue,  and I am pretty confident that an ethical answer for feeding pet felines is on the horizon....but for now, we'll just have to keep experimenting with what is the least worst choice. A website for vegan wades into these waters and offers some suggestions.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How to contact New Leaf Vegan !

Email Dale Ball at with questions or comments, and recipes from events.   I'm working on setting the blog up to be a little more user-friendly  :)
Thank you for your patience!
Dale Ball

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Portland, Oregon and the Let Live Conference

I flew West from Virginia to Portland , Oregon on the 24th of June to attend a weekend of  animal rights and vegan advocacy workshops and meetings.   The Let Live Conference was organized by Student Animal Liberation Coalition, with support from Let Live Foundation as well as local area businesses such as Herbivore Clothing, and Food Fight Grocery. Total immersion  in animal exploitation issues for a several days in a row could be very difficult, but the organizers kept things mixed-up to keep the optimism and spirits high.   There was an animal rights themed spelling bee the first evening.....a  lot of fun, a little educational, and a great ice-breaker to relax everyone.   We came from all over the country and from many different perspectives, but advocating for the voiceless unified us all.
Jasmin Singer from Our Hen House guided several of the workshops and discussions, providing both framework and humor to the topics.     Gary Lowenthal from Compassion For Animals shared his experiences with animal rescue and tips and in developing the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale .   Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of many great cookbooks, sat on several panels and offered her take on food activism.

Pictured below are , from the left : Glenn Gaetz, Lauren Ornelas, and  Christopher Greenslate in one of the workshops.   And some neat cast cement gigantic diatoms as sculpture on the streets of Portland....nice !

A strong showing of  very active, very brave activists who were hosting this event  implored us all to dig deeper and work beyond our comfort zones to be more effective advocates.   I am inspired by their dedication and applaud their work.  Check out the Let Live link for the list of speakers and exhibitors.
It's really hard to pick just a few favorite speakers, so I will close with two new-to-me people and their grassroots organizations that are working for positive change: Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project and Glenn Gaetz Liberation BC.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Off To Portland June 24 !

New Leaf Vegan Society is going to Portland ,Oregon !   Well, at least I, Dale Ball, will be going....!
I'll be attending the upcoming Let Live Conference from June 25-the 27th...check it out !   Looks to be mostly local folks as speakers, but Portland is now such a vegan mecca,  it's  natural that it should be there.  There will be speakers coming from the East coast as well....Jasmin Singer from Our Hen House, and Gary Loewenthal of  Compassion For Animals and the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale are flying out.   I myself am coming from Northern Virginia, and am looking forward to a few days of vegan immersion.  Can't wait to visit the Vegan Mini Mall and eat at some of the vegan restaurants in the area !
This year's  conference ( the 3rd ) is...." focusing on creative activism, expanding activist skills, and building relationships in the movement and beyond".   Sounds great.
Oh, what does the stink bug in the Coreopsis have to do with anything ?   Nothing  !   I just liked his ( or her...who can tell ??? )  position on the flower in my window sill.  I set it free outside a few minutes later.   We were "visited" by hundreds and hundreds of them over the last 8 months.   It is kind of hard to get too worked up about them.   the worst they do is sometimes go off and set up a stink, but they don't destroy anything or sting or bite.   Mostly they just die.   In the window sills, behind the plants, in the plants' pot, in the cabinets, under the bed.....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cinnamon Buns

The need to make these came as a surprise.  After all, Winter baking is behind us, and the flurry of baking for a tabling event with Jocelyn for Valley Earthfest in Berryville, Va ( see her nice coverage of that on her blog Vegan Family Values ) and a few contributions to Gary Lowenthal's World Wide Vegan Bake Sale in Falls Church ( with help from my daughter ,Libby ! ) had me up to my elbows in flour and sugar and nose buried in recipes online and in cookbooks.  I thought I'd had enough for a while.  The outside calls......tomato plants needing planting and staking and caging.  Lettuce and beets need thinning.  And  the  weeding never ends, of course.  But thoughts of  soft warm, yeasty cinnamon buns kept creeping into my brain.   Then I was at Vegan, and saw this recipe, and figured it was meant to be !    I had a few alterations in mind, since I have a Bob's Red Mill bag of coconut flour  (a by-product of making coconut milk )  and have been curious about using it.   I ended up only using 3 Tablespoons, along with an equal extra amount of liquid ( as recommended ) because this stuff really sops up liquids !   And instead of using margarine in the dough, I used some avocado oil I had.    I also subbed half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour....replacing 3 tablespoons of the wwpf with the coconut flour.  I used oatmilk in place of water.    The dough was pretty soft, but boy did it rise and stay risen !  I had left out any raisins or nuts, since this was my first time using that recipe, and didnt want to waste any more ingredients than necessary ....if they didnt turn out !
The filling is great....brown sugar, maple syrup, margarine and cinnamon...mix it all up and spread it on the rolled out rectangle just before rolling up and cutting into 8-12 pieces.   Thank you Mattie, over at for continuing the research and development of vegan baked goodies !   Next up :   Mattie's fudgy brownies...he sez they are the Ultimate !  

Monday, April 5, 2010

Earth Day Events Coming Up!

Even though New Leaf thinks every day is  "Earth Day"  (of course !) we  do like to participate in festivals that highlight our connections to the planet, and spread the good vegan word :)   We will be at  two awesome celebrations this month.   The first one is Valley Earthfest, in Berryville , Va. on the 18th, organized by the indefatigable  Cheryl Ash.  In it's 3rd year, this event combines heart felt , grassroots exhibits and vendors with fantastic music and a small town, family-oriented feeling.  Jocelyn, of Vegan Family Values fame, will be there with her family to help reassure folks that, yes, you can raise awesome, healthy vegan children !
We are also planning to join in on  the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale that day with yummy vegan baked goods !

The other event, Earthday@Loudoun is happening the following weekend on Sunday the 25th, outside of Leesburg , Va.  This will be its second year, and if it is anything like it's first year, they should expect several thousand enthusiastic people to visit and learn what they can do to lighten our footprint on the planet while having fun.  Lori Seidmeyer and Oya Simpson team up and bring together lots of diverse vendors and exhibitors to satisfy just about everyone...and New Leaf is honored to be one of them!

Look for our tent at both events, it'll be packed with free information on how easy, delicious and Earth-friendly going vegan is, as well as nice people to answer questions, and a chance to win a free vegan cookbook  !

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Compassionate Easter Candy Ideas

Here's a link to a post I came across this morning for some great looking Easter goodies
Even though our kids are 31 and 27, I am going to give the Cadbury Creme Eggs a try...I think I even have some little eggs molds somewhere. I'll post a picture when I get them made.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vegan Irish!

Here's some fun things to cook and drink ( of course! ) for St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, from Vegweb!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lazy Samoas ( rushed along )

I had given up on Girl Scout cookies...Samoas were my favorite...they were good but stubbornly not vegan, year after year. I hadnt even thought of Samoas for a good while. And I had thought after making and baking vegan for going on 4 years, that I had seen most of the ideas out there about baking vegan cookies. I even resisted checking out Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new( ish) book...Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. After all...what more could one possibly say/do about making vegan cookies? It had already been proven that not only was it possible to have great ( often superior ) animal-free baked goodies, so why bother? Well, luckily I happened to see VCTOYCJ at our local library, which in itself was a happy moment, and figured i had better see what it's all about ! A quick flip-through revealed a veganized version of ...of...Samoas!!!! I have to buy this book very soon ( and so should you :) ) , since the library would not appreciate me marking up their book, and I can take my time trying all the great looking recipes. Have a look at Vegwebs review of the cookbook, with lots of people chiming in with their experience making the recipes...a fantastic resource if you are wondering about how some recipes worked for others. Also check out this take on Lazy Samoas at The Bad Vegan.
Pictured above are some Lazy Samoas I made yesterday and took to a talk on Animal Behavior. A fellow compassionate cook ( who also organized the talk ) made some fantastic Peanutbutter Cookies too...maybe she'll post her recipe here for us...Meggin ? I ran out of time and so had to rush the drizzle on top, so they are not real pretty... but man, do they taste fantastic! Perfect blend of coconut and chocolate. Don't let the recipe's lengthy instructions scare you off...they come together very easily once you have things lined up. I toasted my coconut the night before. [My comments are in brackets]. Happy baking!
Here's the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
Lazy Samoas
2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil [ I used's what I had]
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup nondairy milk [will try coconut milk next time!]
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Decorating:
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper [do not be tempted to skip this step...they will stick]
2. Pour the grated coconut into a large heavy skillet and toast over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and toast coconut to a light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Promptly remove the coconut from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. If the coconut continues to turn overly brown [mine did!]promptly pour from the skillet into a large dish and spread around to hasten cooling and stop cooking.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil [warm a bit if it's too solid], brown sugar, nondairy milk, ground flax seeds, and the vanilla until well blended [i let it beat for a few minutes on low on my stand mixer] and smooth. Sift in the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt and mix to form a batter [note: it'll be fairly soft...a batter, not a dough]. Fold in the coconut.
4. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with the back of a measuring cup and use your fingers to work a small hole into each center. Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden.
5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Transfer the cooled cookies onto waxed paper, then place them on the onto a cutting board or other firm surface that can be easily slid onto a refrigerator shelf.
6. while cookies are cooling, melt chocolate chips in a microwave or double-boiler, then stir in the coconut oil into the melted chocolate [blend very well]. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for about 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Dip cookie bottom into the chocolate and return them to the waxed paper. Now drizzle the remaining chocolate over the cookies, either by dipping a fork into the melted chocolate [ did not work for me] or by pouring the chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with a very small round tip [ i ran out of time and sloppily drizzled with a spoon ]. Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes to completely firm up the chocolate. Store the cookies in a loosely covered container in a very cool place.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Almonds on the Brain and the Road

Almonds have been on my mind a lot lately...whole unblanched or blanched, slivered or sliced and toasted, they are perfect to toss into a bowl of cereal, on top of a casserole or pilaf or just eaten out of hand,their flavor and nutritional profile are hard to beat. Lots of protein, calcium, iron and vitamin E. I like to keep some in a jar with other seeds and nuts in a jar as high energy road food.

Almond milk purchased in the tetra-paks at the grocery store are too sweet and weak...the homemade kind is so much better. Here's a great detailed tutorial at The Vegan Reader, and how I made almond milk earlier this week. It could not be easier : Pour 1 1/2 cups of whole unblanched or blanched almonds into a jar or bowl, cover with water and soak for 12 hours in the fridge, or up to 3 days ( if soaking longer than 12 hours, pour off the water after 12 hours and then rinse the almonds twice a day ). Toss the nuts into a blender along with 3 cups of filtered water and blend, blend, blend until it's ground up very fine. Pour the contents of the blender into a fine mesh sieve ( or colander ) that has been lined with several layers of cheese cloth and is straddling a bowl large enough to catch the milk. Let it drain for 10 minutes, then twist cheesecloth up so that you can wring out the almond pulp. Keep twisting and wringing until your hands cramp or you're not getting anymore milk. Save the pulp ( it's just enough! ) for the following cookie recipe, which btw, would also make great road food!

Almond Almond Cookies
Adapted from Christina Pirello's recipe for Pignoli Cookies in her wonderful "This Crazy Vegan Life" book. These are a soft, not too sweet cookie. Experiment with the kinds of flours and even the nuts that the cookies are rolled in.
Makes about 25 cookies. Preheat oven to 350.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 cup oil ( sunflower, safflower, avocado, canola...)
1 cup almond pulp
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup, or maple syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup almond milk ( see above !)
1 cup toasted, chopped almond slivers in a shallow bowl
Whisk together flours and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Combine oil, sugar, almond pulp and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until well combined and smooth...about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in almond extract and almond milk and let cool for 15 minutes or so. Stir the almond mixture into the flour mixture and combine to make a soft, sticky dough. If it looks dry add a little more milk, if it's too wet, add a little more flour. Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls , then roll in the chopped almond slivers and arrange on the ungreased cookie sheet. Press down a little to flatten them out somewhat and to set the slivers into the cookie. These dont spread out much, so you can space them about 1" apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove cookies from sheet immediately and cool on a cookie rack.
Try to save some for the road.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Polar Bear Plunge 2010

Chesapeake Climate Action Network held their 5th Annual Polar Bear Plunge on the Chesapeake Bay beachfront property of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis ,Maryland, the 23rd of January, 2010. New Leaf participated in several ways. I baked and brought along 100 muffins ( Apple Pecan and Carrot Cake Orange ) and 250 cookies ( Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip)to give away to the hungry Plungers and their support teams. New Leaf's own Jamie raised approximately 350.00 ( I say apprx, because I'm not sure how long the donation period stays open....we've had several come in after the actual dip! ) and put up with my non-stop bake-athon the few days leading up to the plunge....thanks, Hon!

Great hot coffee and tea were being given away by Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company. They are an awesome company that pledges 2% of their gross sales to community organizations that are making a positive impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. And they graciously shared their tent with us :)

Lori Hill, of Lori Hill Productions, is "committed to the belief that sustainable meetings and events should be the standard, not an option." Lori not only provided us with a gorgeous table and signs labeling the foods, but enthusiastically applauded New Leaf's efforts to introduce people to the joys and benefits of a vegan diet. AND she plunged in the frigid water, raising over $ 1,000.00 for CCAN....!

The recipes I had used for two of the three cookies are from the following cookbooks. The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe is from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's fantastic Joy Of Vegan Baking, and can be found on an earlier post on our blog. The Chocolate Chip Cookies are from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's venerable Vegan with a Vengeance. However, I am no longer going to use those recipes due to their dependence on Earth Balance margarine which, unfortunately, uses the really problematic palm oil. Check out this post on Vegan to see a good overview of the palm oil issues, and enjoy browsing the rest of their site. They are a very valuable vegan baking resource ( say that 5 times fast! ) And it's not that I won't ever use Earth Balance again, but baking hundreds of cookies to give away and essentially promoting the product, definitely does not feel right. So look for newer, more responsible recipes in the near future here. The third cookie was a soft Peanut Butter Oatmeal that used tofu as a secret ingredient...those were pretty darn addictive!