We Are Alive!

No excuses this time, just the typical line that everyone’s heard before, we have been busy. Good news, Miranda and I are still vegan having just celebrated 1 year anniversaries a few months apart in March and May. Mendal is still vegetarian (like she has been for the last 23 years), she has made big strides in consuming less dairy, now only eating it primarily from candy bars and at Mexican and Italian restaurants, because we keep a vegan home. Happily, she has experienced horrible belly pains after eating dairy ice cream a few times and now only eats vegan ice creams! She has not yet watch any of the vegan documentaries or read any of the books I have laying around. Needless to say her path to awakening is going to be slow, and at her own pace (as it should be), something that has been a great lesson in patience for me. The most important thing is that Mendal goes vegan for herself and the animals, not because I want her to or because she feels pressured to.

Quick update on the happenings In The CatHouse!

We found our dream house in October and closed on December 20th. There was some work to be done before we could live there, so we didn’t finish moving in until February 1st. We are sadly still unpacking. Why have things taken so long, you ask?

We bought and built an IKEA kitchen! A total dream come true…and a bit of a nightmare truth be told, but more on that in a series of kitchen posts coming up.

So after all that excitement Mendal and I decided to add getting married to the craziness which we slotted in on March 17th!

The latest awesomely fun and life changing things to happen at the cat house is my sister Miranda graduated from college and moving back into the cat house. And we have extended our volunteering with AARF (a local animal rescue)  to fostering a mama cat and her four kittens…something I have wanted to do since adopting a cat from AARF 6 years ago. These foster babies mean the cat house is now home to a nice even number of 10 cats!

With all the crazy and mundane things going on, I hope to get back to regular posts here to document our progress in making this house of ours a home. Of course there will also be a scattering of awesome vegan food posts and a few review posts for both home projects and recipes we make from other blogs. There will also be an increase in cat posts featuring our babies and the foster kittens, be warned we call them calendar kittens for a reason!

I have dreams of perfect pictures, but Tracy from shutterbean.com I am not! I have a point and shoot canon and my loverly Samsung cell…which I favor due to ease of use…none the less I will be attempting to up the caliber of photos along with a more dedicated posting schedule.

I would like to create a post schedule following something like this:

Monday: sweet something’s, featuring a sweet food recipe and something I love or am thankful for.

Tuesday: tough luck, featuring a project or recipe that didn’t go as planned but ended up awesome or close to it.

Wednesday: whiskers galore, featuring kitten posts pictures and foster updates and a link to Aarf and petfinder

Thursday: homemaking, featuring posts of decor, craft projects, gardening, and house tour pic posts

Friday: five things, featuring 5 things we have completed or love that we did or saw that week.


I hope you Stay Tuned there are lots of things to catch up on!

CatHouse Classic Chicken Style Seitan Recipe

Seitan has become a regular visitor to the CatHouse. It’s just so dang yummy we can’t help ourselves. The first time I made it following Honey LaBronx’s seitan recipe on her hilarious and informative vegan cooking show, you should go and watch! But I would love it if you came back and tried my Chicken style Seitan recipe as well. :)

Seitan Sandwich

This recipe comes together pretty fast, but the cooking part is longer and is best as a two step situation!

CatHouse Classic Chicken Style Seitan

Seitan Dough

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 box Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

 

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Cooking Broth

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, set aside.  In a smaller bowl or 2 cup measuring pitcher mix the liquid ingredients together then pour on top the dry. Using a wooden spoon stir to combine. Once there is no liquid or dry ingredients visible use your hand to punch and knead the gluten dough. Now here is where you need to decide if you want “patties/steaks/tenders” or if you would rather have random “chunks”. For the patty version you want to stop kneading before the gluten strands are fully formed (gluten strands mean the dough will stretch instead of ripping when pulled apart).

To make patties pull apart 1/4 cup (roughly) size balls and knead until gluten strands are formed and flatten as thin as possible, continue making patties finishing the kneading process individually. To make chunks keep kneading the entire gluten dough ball until it is very hard to pull apart, then take a clean pair of kitchen scissors and snip off pieces about 1/2 to 1 inch across, they will swell up during cooking!

The initial cooking method is the same for patties and chunks. Pour cooking broth ingredients into large pot (bigger than a 2 quart sauce pan) bring to a boil, then toss the patties or chunks into the broth cover with a lid and lower the temperature to medium/low cook for 45 minutes. Once done you may have a little cooking broth left over this makes great gravy, or you may not…sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t and I have no idea why! :) Either way the seitan cooks perfectly.

With chunks you can now simply eat them up, toss them in barbecue sauce and eat them on a bun or eat them like chicken nuggets or add them to a casserole its all up to you. With the patties, I like to bake them in my toaster oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes per side, this dries out the outside and gives the patties a nice golden crusted exterior, you could bake the chunks as well if you wanted to. The patties make a great “chicken” seitan sandwich topped with tomato and lettuce with a bit of eggless mayo or you can serve them with spaghetti and tomato sauce with some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top for a Seitan “Parmesan”.

I believe this seitan would keep for 5 days or so in the fridge in an airtight container without a problem, but I have yet to test that because it has only made it 3 days in our CatHouse before it was all eaten up! If you are worried I’m betting the patties would freeze well, though I would advice wrapping each one separately. I hope someone will try this quick and simple recipe, if you do please let me know how you liked it!

Lentil Sloppy Joes

I made this and it was awesome! Sadly, my house was bunless and it was too hot to turn on the oven to make some, so whole wheat bread had to do.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

I followed a great recipe from Vegan Dad, the only things I changed was using a canned organic tomato sauce in a little agave and more apple cider vinegar instead of ketchup and using a red pepper instead of green. I remember like the sauce in Sloppy Joes as a kid, but hating how greasy it was, all the animal fat and protein was not yummy to me. Like many vegetarians, cows were the first animal I stopped eating. I have used Boca crumbles to make Sloppy Joes, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the two whole foods versions I have made. I have recently created my own version using 2 cups pinto beans, 2 cups shredded carrots, and 1 cup oatmeal and it is now our favorite in texture! I think next time I will use Lentils again instead of pinto beans, since the beans were so obvious, I think the taste and size of lentils allow them to hide more in this dish!

Am I the only one who loves the look of veggies in a cast iron skillet?

Lentil Sloppy Joes 3

Just gaze upon that bubbling yumminess! Nothing compares to creating a delicious and nutritious meal for the family! Go by Vegan Dad’s website and make this, also check out his other recipes there are tons of delicious looking foods there!

Lentil Sloppy Joes 2

 

Snickerdoodles!

Finally! I had planned to do this Snickerdoodle Cookie post weeks ago. I had a bit of a memory issue with my labtop, her memory was so full she couldn’t show the pictures I had saved! With the little help of an external hard drive I’m back and ready to post!

Snickerdoodles

I found this Snickerdoodle recipe search Pinterest for vegan cookies. I found my self on Vibrant Wanderings blog, looking at a simple recipe. This recipe is so quick to put together and seems to bake up perfectly every time…even with a temperature challenged oven like mine! Recently my oven was set on 200 degrees F, but my two oven thermometers showed 350 degrees F in the front and 400 degrees F in the back. Typically it is only 50 degrees too hot so this was shocking! I was trying to make granola at the time, so I was very upset that the temp had spiked so high. But I digress, back to these cookies!

Snickerdoodles 5

 

Snickerdoodles 4

 

Before I knew what happened I had the first pan of cinnamon and sugar covered cook dough balls were in the oven.

Snickerdoodles 3

These cookies are so delicious. They are now one of Mendal’s favorite things I make. She told me that if I kept making them, she would have to keep me around. So I happily made 3 batches in 10 days! :)

Snickerdoodles 6

The only thing I changed from Melissa’s recipe is that I used White Whole Wheat flour instead of regular Whole Wheat, this allowed the flavor of the cinnamon to be the star of the cookie!

You guys should most definitely go visit Vibrant Wanderings and make these Snickerdoodles!

A Pear of Smoothies!

Yup pear…hehe…Okay, So!

I’m back, I’m not dead, but I have been justifiably and needlessly busy. Buying a house is a giant time suck. We have seen over 20 houses over the last few weekends. I have looked at hundreds online with listingbook, trulia, and zillow. I have lost countless project, crafting, cooking, and hanging out with friends and family hours to looking up houses and learning about mortgages and loans and down payments and closing costs and escrow. We still haven’t found that perfect home yet, but we have 11 more to look at tomorrow so here’s hoping!

As a sign of good faith and because I was hungry I whipped up two lovely green smoothies, I would have totally shared, but the second one was for Mendal, she was hungry too. :)

I love pears, raw, juiced, canned, and apparently in a smoothie! I made a smoothie for two…or a pair of smoothies for us this morning. They were delicious! I think this will be my new go to smoothie for a while, instead of blueberry, banana, kale. Just gaze at that pretty, pretty green color and those pretty fruits and that lovely bagged bag of Trader Joe’s Organic Kale…shoot! I need to buy whole leaf bunches just for photos… :) If you can tear your eyes away from my amazing smart phone picture skills (insert sarcastic tone here) scroll down for the super simple recipe!

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Pear/Kale Smoothies

serves 2

  • 2 Pears (I used Bijou)
  • 1/2 a frozen Banana
  • 2 cups Kale
  • 1 cup Almond milk (I used homemade sweetened with two dates and made using 3/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup cashews and 8 cups water)

Cut up your pears to get the seeds out, I left the peel on throw everything in the blender then blended and served! I was only able to get a hint of banana, the pears were front and center, and the kale flavor was a no show. Mendal could taste the banana but liked the combo, I might try a bananaless version of this next time. I do typically add a tablespoon of flax seed meal or chica seeds, but this time I wanted a smoother smoothie so I skipped them. In the future, I will be adding flax  for the health benefits.

So go forth and blend up some pears! You won’t be sorry you did. :)

Five Things Fri—Saturday

Ok, so this time my Five Things Friday post really is being posted on Saturday. My clock just hit 12:08 AM…This is what happens when I get so excited house hunting I forget to start my post writing! That’s right we are looking to buy a house. Something quaint and cottage with land and trees surrounding it, not street lights and neighbors separated by only a driveway.

Today the Five Things are Five things I have made this week.

1. Donuts.

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Yes! Finally! I found some donut (or doughnut) pans at HomeGoods and scooped them up at a fantastically low price of $3 each. I bought one regular donut pan and one twist long john pan…I have dreams of getting one more of both! For my first Vegan Baked Donut trial I used Chocolate Covered Katie’s “healthy” Kirspy Kreme Baked Doughnut recipe…I will be posting a more detailed post about these beauties soon!

2. Snack Time.

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I’m all about simple and quick snacks, and when they are healthful and yummy all the better! This came about when I was craving Ants on a Stick (Log? however you want to say it). You remember that snack from our childhood…or at least mine! Typically it involves smothering the channel of a celery stalk with peanut butter then topping with a neat row of raisins. This day, my celery was a little on the small side, very narrow…so I mixed raisins into my peanut butter and used it like a dip! I loved how easy (and less messy) this was and still tasted delicious. I have a feeling I will be making a tray with raisin and peanut butter dip at my next party! Uh, I wonder if I could add raisins to my peanuts the next time I make peanut butter!?!?! New idea…to me anyway! Yes, that is my copy of Whole Grain Vegan Baking sitting next to my snack. I was paging through it while chomping on celery, I can’t wait to start making the amazing foods in this book!

3. My Mom’s Yumzetti.

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This is my childhood. My mom hates cooking, so she loved all in one pot meals. Yumzetti in our house meant egg noodles, one can of tomato soup and one can of cream of mushroom soup and a punch of peas and a pound of hamburger cooked in the microwave then added to the finished dish. I loved this dish growing up. A few years ago I made it vegetarian by using Morning Star crumbles, this time I veganized and healthified (yes this is a word in my house) it! Instead of canned soups I made my own using cashews and portobella mushrooms and a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste and instead of “fake” meat I used steamed crumbled tempeh with a little soy sauce. It was yummy and totally filled the craving I had for my mom’s cooking. This recipe may make it onto the blog…but I didn’t really write things down so who knows!

4. Jewelry.

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I’m finally back at my bead table creating shiny, sparkly, pretty pieces of jewelry. I’m loving it! I made these earrings for myself, then loved them so much a made one more pair to sell…Coming to my etsy shop soon!

5. Mendal’s Knobs.

Drawer/Door Knobs that is. She is awesome, I know I have said that before. But really she is so creative and original! This woman has created some truly cool retro looking Star shaped knobs using ice/candy molds and epoxy and star sprinkles (yes edible sprinkles) I will hopefully remember to come back and post a picture…I can’t believe I didn’t snap one this evening when she unveiled them! She made these for her mom’s kitchen, which is yellow, green, blue and red…and her mom’s favorite shape is a Star. She is such a sweet daughter right?

So that is this weeks 5 things! There were other things made In The CatHouse this week…and maybe some will show up as a post before next weeks 5 things. I really need to start a few more themed posts to increase my blogging…maybe a Wednesday post? We shall see!

Five Things Friday

Okay! So Clearly this themed post thing is working to help me post. I have three draft posts waiting to be finished/edited/photos. I also have some posts I want to write but I forgot to take pictures of the food or project and now feel like the post would be pointless…in some cases it’s an excuse to remake them!

Well now, on to this weeks Five Things! Since I went on a mini vacation over the weekend, the 5 things are beach/vacation related. This is going to be a simple list of things I experienced this week, more like a journal entry to help me remember our 2013 beach visit.

1. Dolphins. I saw two of them barely 10 yards from the beach. One much smaller, I watched the mother and calf swim in the shallows near the beach while two others stayed farther out. It was beautiful and serine.

2. Sand. How can I love the feel of it between my toes so much, but hate the feel of it anywhere else! Also how do you get that pretty, lovely, sand out of the carpet in our new car!

3. Antique Malls. I love antiquing, but I wasn’t really impressed with the 2 antique shops and 2 antique malls we visited at our beach destination. Most of the booths and both shops had new items and handcrafted beach themed items. While I have no problem with this stuff, I don’t understand why it is in an antique shop…it seems better suited to a gift shop or farmers market. I was still able to find another wine glass for my set and a few vintage earrings for my collection.

4. Continental Breakfast. I am not one to complain about the lack of vegan cuisine at restaurant or even vegan establishments, but I truly wish that hotels would add more vegan items to their breakfast. Our options were fruit, regular oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, dry cereal (don’t know what its fortified with), and if were willing to risk it the white hard bagels that are most likely egg and dairy free. Since my sister Miranda and I are attempting to go refined sugar free for a month, we would have been left with only plain oatmeal and fruit…now I know there are millions of hungry people in the world, I should not complain about my lack of options when there is perfectly edible food to be had…but I just can’t help but to feel left out during breakfast at hotels. Which is why this time we packed whole wheat bagels and Trader Joe’s This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese vegan spread along with fresh kiwis and Trader Joe’s almond milk cartons and a few coconut and almond milk yogurts from Wholefoods. We were “the vegans in the room” at breakfast, making others look on with curiosity as we toasted our delicious bagels and cut up our bright green kiwi and poured our almondy creamy milk. So, yes, I wish hotels offered more non-animal product breakfast items, but by packing food myself, I ended up having a great time at breakfast. I felt satisfied and like I was setting an example or planting a seed simply by  being in the room and eating my vegan foods. It is the first time since going vegan that I didn’t complain or feel annoyed or negative at breakfast in a hotel (I stay at a hotel at least once a month), instead we had a very positive and enjoyable meal.  I had a very Colleen Patrick-Goudreau moment.

5. Nissan Cube. I love our new car. Last December Mendal and I bought a certified pre-owned 2011 Nissan Cube at a local Nissan dealership and we are in love with it! We have always had to rent cars for long trips because our other car is a small Hyundai Accent, Pugsley, without cruise. Now we have a spacious Cube, tons of room on the inside and cute little package on the outside. The day after we bought the Cube we drove all the way to Springfield, IL to see Mendal’s Mom. It was over a 16 hour drive due to stops for food and rest stops. We every hour depended our love for our little Cube and in the months since it has only grown. Now that we have taken her on our first family beach vacation she is truly part of the family. Some how though, she still doesn’t have a name. Pugsley was named when the Accent flipped over to 100,000 miles. We don’t want to wait that long for the Cube…she needs a name ASAP. Despite remaining nameless she made our 5+ hour road trip to the beach very nice, even with all over our clothes, beach chairs, giant beach umbrellas, and coolers of food. The four of us were comfortable and safe thanks to our Nissan Cube (and Mendal’s driving)!

So there you have it, five things from our 2013 family vacation! I had a great time with Mendal (my awesomely, loving and understanding partner), Miranda (my sweet and fun sister, I love seeing the beach/ocean through your eyes), and Patrick (Miranda’s adorable boyfriend who makes every outing that much more interesting and fun). This was our second summer vacation including Patrick and he has been a perfect addition to our family! :)

Note to anyone confused by the posting date. I am writing this at 10:30pm on Friday August 2nd. I truly need to start posting in the mornings, but as a hazzard of working 3rd shift this IS my morning as I wake up at 10pm on work days. For some reason my wordpress account has me in a different time zone and I don’t know how to fix it…any direction would be fantastic!