Friday, April 6, 2018

A Date with Cacao Nibs & Nut Butter

Sometimes you just need something sweet and creamy and crunchy and chocolatey all at the same time. Enter the date (Medjool pictured), raw cacao nibs, and some peanut butter or almond butter (or cashew butter - oooooh, yum). Really everything you need for a delicious snack. 

Just short and sweet.

You're welcome. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Homemade Matzah & The Feast of Unleavened Bread

We are in the season of the Feast of Unleavened bread. We had a lovely Passover Seder with friends of ours this past Shabbat. So in light of this season, I thought I would share a homemade matzah recipe, no matter how you spell it (matzo, etc).

 Whole Grain Matzah - Unleavened Bread

Move two oven racks to the top and near top positions. You will be baking these in the top 1/2 to 1/3 of your oven. Prepare cookie sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine in a bowl (or in a food processor):

3 cups whole grain flour (I used a combination of spelt, wheat, corn and einkorn flours, and a few whole seeds of millet, flax and sunflower)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well (if using food processor, use "s" blade or dough blade on pulse setting until combined well). Add flour as needed to get a dough that isn't sticky, but not too dry. Divide into 12 pieces (or for the size above, they were more like 14-16 pieces per batch). Roll out, adding flour as needed, to keep from sticking. You can roll out extra thin for a more cracker-like type of matzah or you can roll a little thicker to get a softer and thicker matzah. After rolling, make sure to pierce with a fork or dough docker to keep the matzah from rising. Bake on prepared sheets for 6 minutes per side, for a total of 12 minutes baking time. (The size of matzah in the photo above is about a larger hamburger bun size that is flat, but not as thin as cracker type.)

Variations: I added basil and sun-dried tomatoes to one batch. My son added honey to another batch. He also added basil and oregano to a batch that we eventually made into small matzah pizzas last evening. I want to try adding some garlic next. You can come up with variations just by adding favorite seasonings or add in finely chopped fruits or vegetables.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Preparing the Seder and Apple Walnut Charoset

This is a mixture on the Passover Seder plate symbolizing the mortar used by Hebrew slaves in Egypt. You may use a mixture of different kinds of apples. I used only Gala apples this year and it was delicious. This is Ashkenazic style charoset (or haroset, depending on how you spell it). 

Apple Walnut Charoset

Combine in a bowl:

3 large apples, cored and chopped
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped (black preferred, but English will work)
1/3 cup Concord grape juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
honey, optional - to taste

Cover and chill. This recipe may be prepared using a food processor on the pulse setting to desired consistency. I like mine a little more on the finely chopped side.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Reflections: Where we are in the journey...

Hello everyone! Can you believe it will be 10 years ago that I started this blog - next month, in fact!

I thought it would be good to write about where we are in our journey today. So many things swirling about in my mind as of late. I realize that I am not where I want to be in some things, and yet so much further along than I thought I would be in other things, at the same time. As in life, our choices greatly depend on what's available, our experiences, and more. Many things involve others along the way. I have always believed that if progress is made in a positive direction, it's better off than before. If you can make good big changes quickly, good for you, especially if it involves moving away from something destructive. I will speak up for the baby step idea though, it can't be overlooked as a more permanent option for most.

It might get a little long, so hang on!

While my family and I continue our vegan diet (as originally summarized in my "food philosophy" blog posts, we have changed things here and there. We have gone from using wheat (and other gluten grains) to gluten/wheat free for a few years, and now back again with an emphasis on organic whole grains and doing more of our own baking if we can. As you know, I really love making our own food from scratch. I still favor organic if I can. Local and sustainable food sources are important to me.

While at one time, we used to have daily green smoothies (I still love them!), it's not quite as often anymore. We now also balance our breakfast choices with some organic rolled oats (soaked or cooked) with nuts, seeds, and dried/fresh fruit, or even a breakfast of whole grain toast with some yummy avocados or even coconut butter. Leftovers should not be overlooked either, and we are known for checking out what's in the fridge to eat in the mornings.

We tend to eat out less than we did before, mostly for financial reasons (as of this month, we are debt free!). When we do go out, we try to choose a reasonably healthier version of cuisine to enjoy. Lately, we have been doing added oil free at our house, so eating out can be a challenge, but we also allow ourselves to have the vegan options at restaurants without a lot of requests for no added oil (we try to choose the best options we can without customizing our orders).

Regarding eating foods without added oils: I have found that we are adjusting quite well, in fact. My son, who will be turning twenty soon, embraced it from the get-go. He routinely now makes his stir-frys and sautés with water or broth, and we all still eat just fine. We don't have the greasy feeling in our mouths when having "fried" rice and such. Added oils contribute a lot of calories and not much else. We do routinely still use foods like nuts and nut butters, shredded coconut (what I make our coconut butter from), seeds, avocados, etc.

We prefer eating foods in their whole form, more or less. We have now adapted our diet to be what most people call a whole food, plant based diet.  I have always believed that eating real food, as close to it's original form, is best for everyone! The term vegan has almost become synonymous with no animal products, but vegan processed/junk food is welcome. That is not my philosophy here at Vegan Footprints! You can continue to find wholesome foods and recipes here!

We continue to adopt habits that help us not only save money, but are better for the environment. That means to us, using cloth napkins at mealtimes, cloth handkerchiefs (preferred by my family anyway!), reusable water bottles (stainless steel is our preference - I can't remember the last time I drank or even bought a one-time-use bottle of water),  recycling what we can (which is expanding all the time!), and buying things with less packaging (or none at all). Having said that, recycling isn't everything, and we are trying little by little to do low/zero waste instead. Our trash is considerably less, amounting to about 2-3 small kitchen size trash bags per month. We compost our food waste and recycle what we can otherwise.

When we do buy things, whether it be clothing, school/office supplies, furniture, kitchen misc., etc., we try to find it second hand first. There are so many things that are still useful out there. I look for yard/garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, antique places, flea markets, etc. Friends sometimes will offer things they don't need anymore. I tell them if I can't use it, I can donate it for them.

There are so many benefits to not buying disposable products! This goes for just about anything bought that is meant for one single use only. I will add here that we still buy toilet paper, so for those of you wondering, you can breathe a sigh of relief! Ha, ha! Seriously though, just think about bottled water (I have survived without), paper tissues/napkins/towels/plates (you can eliminate), plastic wrap/foil/plastic bags/utensils (I have not bought these for years), and the list goes on. I even have lined up a still-good-to-use antique safety razor. Just today, I realized that along with writing this blog for ten years, I have also used a reusable menstrual cup for even longer!

Cleaning products in my house now consist of an all purpose liquid soap (which we use for hands, body, hair and household cleaning purposes), vinegar, and baking soda, along with all kinds of brushes and rags. Along with a second hand acquired Rainbow vacuum (for a total of only $40, which includes a power head!), a few essential oils, and a feather duster, we can cover just about anything. We can't forget our small brush that cleans out our reusable stainless steel straws! Love those straws for our green smoothies!

For storage containers in our kitchen, we generally use glass or stainless steel. It might be canning jars, in all sorts of sizes, to glass storage which I can bake, freeze or use in my cupboards. I bake mostly using an assortment of stainless steel pans. Using silicone mats for easy cleaning and no added oil baking and roasting. To go shopping, I try to have reusable cloth bags for carrying groceries. Keeping them in the car helps tremendously!

My husband and I will celebrate 25 years married this year. So glad he is the one who has been by my side in our journey together. My children have grown to be taller than me - not a great feat since I am only 5' tall! My daughter is just now reaching that milestone, having passed my shoe size awhile ago! My son has graduated from our homeschool a couple of years ago now and will be moving out soon. My daughter is still in middle school, so we will continue for a good few years yet. I am happy to have found a good homeschool rhythm for us that's been working well for us this year! And it involves much less paper and textbooks than before, so I am happy about that for sure!

I understand the fewer possessions I have, the easier it is to clean, move and generally take care of what we call "our stuff".  My house is less cluttered. And less clutters my mind when I have things in order. And the fewer things I have to put in order, the better. Currently we live in a nice rental, so if and when we do own a home, I know we will have to have a few more things. Currently though, because we do not need to mow a yard, we enjoy the space we gain from not having any kind of mowing equipment whatsoever! With only one garage, which we do use for our car, it can get tight in there! We actually sold our oil changing equipment, in favor of getting our oil changed in our town, where it's done quickly and with a car wash as well!

Recently, my husband and I repainted our antique secretary desk. I held off for so long, because I really love wood, but I am so glad we did it. It really brightens things up and doesn't look nearly as worn. I polished up the metal pulls and realized how nice they really are! This is one of only two pieces of furniture we have owned from even before we were married when someone gifted it to my husband just shortly before we were engaged.

I have found that decluttering as found in Marie Kondo's books, has been a game changer for me. The way she categorizes things in a home has made my life easier and more organized than ever, without all the unnecessary things in the way. I continue to remember things from reading her books that still aid my efforts. And I tell others about it too. I really like helping others to come to a place of satisfaction in their own homes using Kondo's methods.

In the last three years, I have enjoyed being part of the stage again. I haven't acted on stage since my high school and college days, so it is challenging me! About five years ago, my son wanted to be part of the community theater in town, so that's how it started. It wasn't until I saw an advertisement in the local paper for auditions for a favorite musical of mine, that I realized it was something I thought I wanted to do. I didn't want to regret not doing it. So I auditioned, along with my daughter. I got a nice part to come back to the stage! And because of my love for singing, being part of The Sound of Music musical was really an honor (role of Sister Margaretta). Both my son and daughter also were in that production as well. Since then we have participated together in two other plays, Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden (Mrs. Sowerby). Last year, it was an honor to be part of Cheaper by the Dozen, my biggest part yet (Mrs. Gilbreth)!

I am still a music lover and a couple years ago, we chose to acquire a bigger piano. We found it second hand from the first owner (now in her eighties), who has owned it new since she was my daughter's age. I love my antique baby grand! My children also play and we all enjoy the sound. And yes, it does bring me joy. I play to relax and could use even more time on it. Along with some piano books people gifted us, some hymnbooks we have, and a good metronome, we are all set to play for years to come. Our musical collection also includes a recorder, ukulele, a couple of Djembe drums, and guitar in this house. You can never have enough music in the house! As homeschoolers, I feel it has been well worth our time to learn music. For anyone really, it adds so much to life!

The Lord has been good all along the way. He remains faithful. May God bless you and yours today! Shalom!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fire Cider - Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.

I waited six weeks to strain my Fire Cider. I guess because I wanted it good and strong!

Before and after...
October 10, 2017 - Day one
November 28, 2017 - Six weeks later

I had another gallon jar to put my strainer bag in so I could transfer it all over.

I squeezed out as much as I could from the strainer bag. The next photo shows the bulk of vegetables I had after six weeks.

And here is the unsweetened amount of liquid I got today below. The straight Fire Cider, to which I added honey to taste. I would've used maple syrup, but I am out at present. Honey is a good soother when dealing with sickness. 

These are quart jars. After I added honey, I netted about 2 ¾ quarts total of Fire Cider. The leftover strained vegetables are in my freezer, because I figure it can give good flavor to other recipes. Today we used some in a dressing to add some zing to a cabbage and zucchini slaw we made for lunch. I can add them straight from the freezer/partially thawed to blended salad dressings, hummus and other sauces and blended soups to add flavor. Nothing goes to waste if I can help it! 

Freezing the vegetables for other uses. 

So that is how things turned out. Now I am officially ready for the cold season that is now upon us. This week ends in December, so none too soon. I hope you stay warm this season. If not, make a little Fire Cider for your own house! Just an ounce or two will do, every day.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Main Dish Sauté - Thanksgiving 2017

This is what we enjoyed today as a main dish for our Thanksgiving meal. Everyone really liked it. I'm sorry to say I don't have exact measurements to give you, but I will try my best to tell you what went into the dish. This is one of those check-the-pantry-and-see-what-you-end-up-with dishes. Turned out wonderfully!

Thanksgiving Main Dish Sauté

Mix the following together in a bowl: 

about 2 cups cooked Kidney Beans, rinsed & drained, mashed some (or another dark bean)
1 can young Jackfruit in salty brine, drained & mashed
about 10 dried Shiitake Mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water, drained & chopped                  
    (save broth from soaking mushrooms for this recipe later)
about 10 halves Sun-Dried Tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water, drained & chopped
about 1/4 cup Gari (fermented cassava root, dried & granulated), or 1/4 cup rolled oats
about 1 Tablespoon Tamari/Soy Sauce 
1 teaspoon Porcini Mushroom powder (can be optional)
about 2 Tablespoons Dried Minced Onion

2 Tablespoons coconut oil (or similar)
2 cloves garlic, minced
(about 1/2 teaspoon sage would be lovely here, but I was out! )

Add in as much broth from the shiitake mushrooms as you need to make it somewhat dry, but still moist, as if you could make burgers/patties from it. If it's too dry, use a vegetable broth or water (be careful not to make this dish too salty). If it's too wet, opt to use more oats (or even breadcrumbs if not gluten free, or another starchy food that soaks up liquid). 

To a large skillet, add coconut oil, on medium heat. Add in garlic, minced. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the bean mixture to the pan and heat through, turning frequently, about 10 minutes until hot. 

Since we ate this a few hours later, I let the mixture cool and then put it into a loaf pan and refrigerated it until we went to my parent's home. I then reheated it in their oven while other things were baking. I didn't try to get it out in one loaf. Instead we spooned it onto our plates from the baking pan. 

Our menu for today's meal:

Vegan Main Dish Sauté (recipe above)
Homegrown creamed corn, baked
Shelled edamame 
Roasted garlic (one whole bulb per person!)
Roasted Roots (potatoes, onions, carrots), my chef son's specialty dish
Pumpkin spice cake with black walnuts

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fire Cider - Part 1

Today I was excited to receive a gift of horseradish! I know it might not be everyone's idea of a fun time, but I got chopping this evening to make something I have wanted to make for a long time - Fire Cider!

Looking up recipes, I found something very interesting about it's history. If you are curious about it all, you can go to and read it for yourself. The recipe can be found here.

So you know, this recipe is not my own. Recipes for Fire Cider, and it's various names, abound on the internet. I have made something very close to Rosemary Gladstar's recipe, found above. You can even watch her talking about Fire Cider and making it here in this video.

I put my prepared ingredients (varies from the recipe above) into a gallon size jar. It will need about 4-6 weeks of wait time. I used the following organic ingredients:

Fire Cider

1 cup chopped fresh organic ginger root, do not peel
1 1/2 cup peeled, chopped fresh local organic horseradish root
2 medium organic onions, chopped
1 small organic fresh turmeric root, chopped (about 2 Tablespoons), do not peel
approximately 10 cloves of fresh organic garlic, chopped
2 organic chili peppers, chopped (your preference, cayenne is common)
1 organic whole lemon, chopped, with peel on
2 quarts organic raw apple cider vinegar

And this is what my batch looked like before I added the apple cider vinegar... 

...Then I added the vinegar to cover. I will be shaking it a bit every day or two. Part 2 will include what I will do when the Fire Cider is done, around the 4-6 week mark. It will involve straining the mixture and adding honey for a sweeter and more palatable taste. 

I can't wait because it's both a great food and remedy. I know my sinuses feel better when I use this! Goodbye, colds!  =) And the taste is delicious!