The shelves are still empty. Yes, at the store, but I am talking about my own pantry. I slacked the last two years canning and it shows! Not a tomato jar in sight. The pasta sauces at the store are sub-par, in my opinion, and my own are gone. This pasta sauce is fast and delicious. So much so that I think I will stop canning spaghetti sauce and start canning crushed tomatoes!
Just Like You Been Cookin’ All Day Pasta Sauce
Pour a few tablespoons of great olive into a pan.
Saute two or three cloves of minced garlic for a few minutes.
Pour in a 28 ounce jar of crushed tomatoes (I typically love Muir Glen tomatoes plain, but this is all that was on the shelf and it works just fine.)
Pour in a splash of good red wine.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer while the pasta cooks, stirring often.
This sauce is delicious topped with Violife “Parmesan.” If you haven’t tried it, it’s a game changer. Never a better time to go vegan.
In the wee hours of night, she fought on. She was very brave. All mothers are very brave, but she was weary to her very core. Little strength left in her tired eyes. She was then wheeled in for a Cesarean. I held her hand as the doctors violently freed the little boy from her womb. And in the early hours of a new day, a child’s cry filled the space between hope and fear.
In other rooms of the hospital, and in places all over the world, souls gave up their spot on this precious earth to give space for these new souls. It is their honor to do so. They do not complain, for we all honor our time here and we honor the next generations to take our place. And we send the world our blessings as we go back home.
We fight awfully hard not to die. We fear it. It is our natural instinct. But the natural order of things says that we will die. That we are here for an allotted time. I truly believe that we have an already determined amount of time here and nothing will stop death from coming once it is time. On the other hand, if it is not your time to die, nothing can take your breath from you. No one wants to die, and no one wants their friends and family to die either. Those things we cannot stop. One cannot determine the hours of another person’s life. We cannot trick death into not coming.
Fear makes humankind rather ugly. Fear is the very face of greed (fear of loss), hate (fear of the unknown), and anger (fear of powerlessness). The flip side of fear is love. The love in a mother’s eyes as she holds her new life to her breast.
People need each other. People need to be social. It is written in our genetics. Loneliness causes disease and depression. They need to feel love. Love is our medicine, you know. Not fear.
There is a ratio of consequence and natural order in everything that happens on the earth. There will always be population control through natural disasters and disease. We assist these things with our actions. We drill for oil and earthquakes follow in their wake. We pollute, cut down trees, and steal our own oxygen. We give up our own abilities to grow our own food and hand our very life to corporations to care for us, not seeing the folly in depending on foreign material items, lab food, and faulty pharmaceuticals. We assure ourselves that the lights will always be on if we pay our bills, water always there, grocery store shelves always stocked. The worst diseases in the last dozen years have come from places where animals are grown for meat. The swine flu, the bird flu, and Covid-19 would not have existed if the world had embraced love over animal flesh. (Just a note- autoimmune issues generally go away once someone goes vegan.)
In the end, we learn, like our grandparents did, to reuse foil. To bake our own bread. To plant seeds. To love our loved ones with all our hearts, as we never know their time of death. We prepare and have grocery stores in our root cellars (and maybe a stash of toilet paper for next time!) and we will all get through this. We will make better choices. Hopefully.
But do not fear for those who give up their places here. It is how it has always been and always will be. Trust and have faith. Do not let fear guide your heart. Appreciate your moments and breaths here. And next time you see a newborn baby, smile and welcome the little soul to our planet. Hope is in their message. We are all going to be alright.
Welcome Bode Jace Griffin, born 1:54 am on March 23, 2020. 7 lbs 14 oz, 20 inches long, adorable and a ray of hope. My friend/his mama, Savanna and her baby are doing wonderful.
Over 86,000 people have survived Coronavirus. Most of them had a mild cold. Over 80% of elders over 80 years old survived Coronavirus. 98% of people who get Coronavirus will be just fine. Focus on love of all creatures. It is our medicine.
A common question to vegans is, If you don’t eat meat, why do you look for things that look and taste like meat? The best answer I saw to this was a response on Instagram, “Because I don’t want to harm animals!” There sure is a lot of false accusations going on on social media regarding meat alternatives in fast food restaurants. All we have to say is, no one gets fast food to be healthy. It is nice to have an alternative in a pinch. The reason the unhealthy meat doesn’t get attacked is because it is illegal to say anything against the meat industry.
So why do we want meat lookalikes? We were born into a society of meat and potatoes, animal laden mealtimes, and comfort food. We weren’t raised with lentils or beautiful ethnic spices or vegetarian fare- save for canned vegetables. Meat alternatives give us a place to rest. To give us the tastes of home without causing harm. They make meal planning easier. We can still whip up old recipes. Chicken fried chick’n with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans is comfort food. Chick’n nuggets with french fries and a big salad with homemade ranch dressing is delish. Pot roast over potatoes and kale or on sandwiches. Ground meat in casseroles or spaghetti sauce.
For me, I never really liked meat, even growing up, so it’s no big thing for me, though it is fun to create these things. My husband is a big meat eater (or was) and he feels more satiated with familiar looking dishes and enjoys a big plate of food. Made healthier and inexpensively, these dishes are fun to prepare and taste amazing. We love cooking together and much of our life is based around growing and preparing our own food. We both love animals as well and have no desire to harm other creatures. And we don’t have to. It is easy to make your own meat alternatives.
I made an easy, healthy ground that tastes amazing and is very versatile. It is high in Omega 3’s, protein, iron, Vitamin D, and many trace minerals. Use equal parts walnuts and mushrooms. I soaked the walnuts for a few hours then drained and rinsed. Place the walnuts and minced mushrooms into a food processor and blend well. Freeze on a cookie sheet and then break up crumbles and place in freezer bag. Scoop out what you need for meals!
For “sausage” I took a cup of frozen crumbles and added in a little olive oil (which made it clump up into sausage-looking crumbles), fennel, paprika, garlic powder, smoked salt, and pepper. I smothered a homemade pizza crust topped with sauce with the sausage and added our favorite combination of black olives, green and red peppers, and pineapple!
For veggie chick’n, we use a recipe from The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester. If cutting it up and putting it in meals, I use as is, but our real treat is to batter it again by dipping it in almond milk then a flavorful blend of bread crumbs and frying it in coconut oil. Chick’n fried chick’n!
For pot roast, roast beast, french dip, etc., Doug uses a recipe from J.L. Fields, a local vegan chef. Go to http://JLGoesVegan.com and look up french dip. We took that basic recipe and altered seasonings and broth and it has become a delicious staple in our house.
Three other must have books to handmake many more alternatives like sausage, hot dogs, chick’n nuggets, ribs, burgers and more are Gaz Oakley’s Vegan 100, Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry, and VBQ- The Ultimate Vegan Barbeque Cookbook by Horn and Mayer. You will also learn to make dairy alternatives and sauces with these books as well.
A full page advertisement caught my eye in one of my magazines. I went to walnuts.org and found some delicious plant based recipes to make chorizo and ground meat with mouth watering recipes. More and more people are realizing that instead of crazy fad diets like Keto and Paleo, and weird ways to lose weight, veganism offers a way to easily go down to your perfect weight, clear your skin, reverse medical ailments, erase anxiety and depression, boost energy, and it’s just easier than ever! Try some of these alternatives and enjoy cooking and eating!
My home seemed too small to host a baby shower for my friend, but I know after all these years of gathering people, that somehow it all works out perfectly. So my daughter, Emily, and I started planning. In my small space, we amazingly, and comfortably fit eighteen people, laughing and wishing the new mama well.
Parties needn’t be elaborate or expensive. When an RSVP came in, if they asked if they could bring something, I said yes! Many parties can be potlucks. No one minds. I always loved to throw great, large dinner parties, until I realized how crazy I was getting trying to get everything cleaned, then everything cooked, and I never ended up having time for my guests and relaxation.
If you throw a celebration between mealtimes, you can just provide a few snacks and drinks. The idea is to get folks together. In an era of social media, loneliness, and disconnect, we must go out of our way to gather people together. Invite neighbors over for a neighborhood potluck. Invite a few couples over for cocktails and a card game.
Or invite several people you don’t know to a baby shower! It was really great fun. Gifts, chips and dips, vegetables trays, cupcakes, and my own vegan cake filled tables. A few different people brought sodas and Emily brought paper ware and index cards. We had the guests write their advice for the new mama. As she read each one aloud, I could tell she was touched by the support that she may not have realized she had as a single mom. It takes a village to raise a child, and a small part of the village came together to show her that.
Let us promote the idea of village once again and invite folks over to celebrate anything…celebrate life!
I like to make an easy one pot cake for gatherings. This recipe can have infinite possibilities. Use all flour or use hazelnut flour instead of almond. Change the spices. Use water or almond milk instead of coffee. Just keep the basic numbers right and you will end up with a delicious, moist, plant based cake every time!
Amaretto and Coffee Cake
2 1/2 cups of unbleached, organic flour
1 cup almond flour
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of ground coffee
1 Tablespoon homemade cinnamon extract (or 1 teaspoon of store bought vanilla extract)
2/3 cup of olive oil
1 cup of coffee
2 Tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar
Quickly stir it all together (the baking soda and vinegar is what makes it rise) and pour into a 9×11 greased pan, 2 greased round pans, or a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
For the baby shower cake, I just used regular frosting. I made the same cake the evening before for a gathering with friends and make an amaretto frosting to top the cake with. Amaretto and Coffee cake is delicious.
In a bowl combine 1 cup of powdered sugar with 3 Tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur. Drizzle over cake.
When Doug and I were vegetarian (still eating dairy), folks would us, “So do you eat cheese?”
“Well of course! (What moron would give up cheese?) It doesn’t hurt the animal!” was our automatic response.
We took the children to a sustainability fair downtown at the Convention Center a little over ten years ago. A table that held PETA brochures and sweet looking young people was there. We smiled and said we were vegetarian too! They gave us vegan ice cream and a brochure. No lecturing, no horror stricken faces. In that brochure I saw outlined the horrors that sweet, docile animals endure. Standing chained most of the day. Babies whisked away from them. Babies as veal. Three year old dairy cows becoming meat. We had to rethink our cheese not hurting anyone.
We went vegan for a few years after that. Did you know that cheese has the same chemical reaction in your brain as heroin? That explains a lot, doesn’t it? I could never give up cheese! is such a common phrase. Now we know why.
So we started our own dairy farm. Goats frolicked around the back yard and Doug went out to milk twice a day, our granddaughter by his side. It was all idealistic and wonderful. Until we had to snatch the babies away. They cry for each other a hundred yards away, hidden from each other. The females will become milkers, the males? They go in the freezer. Elsa got mastitis so bad she vaulted me over her back to keep me from milking her. We won’t talk about trying to get them bred! No one can call me a naive vegan.
The health problems from dairy most specifically are respiratory. Asthma, upper respiratory infections, and coughs are caused or worsened by dairy. Brain fog, inflammation, and skin problems are caused by dairy because our body produces mucous and other defenses against milk created for the strength of a new born baby of a different species.
Okay, well that is all well and good and disheartening, but what about my cheese addiction, right? I have three cheeze sauces with variations that are going to make you forget about greasy cheese. These are made from cashews, and with the addition of seasonings, we are going to create three amazing sauces that can be poured over pizza, fries, nachos, baguettes, or used as dip at the Superbowl party.
First, soak 1 cup of cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse.
Mexican Cheeze Sauce
In a high powered blender combine:
1 cup of soaked cashews
1/4 cup of enchilada sauce
4 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of New Mexican red chile powder (optional: you know me and my New Mexican chile!)
Combine well until smooth and creamy and ready to pour over noodles with mushrooms, or toast, or fried potatoes, or dip crackers into it or make it a dip or pour over Barbecued veggie meats! Oh my, I’m starving!
We just don’t need the milk from another creature and I feel strongly that our food comes with its own karma. There is a reason so many illnesses are caused or exasperated by animal products. Save a cow, calf, and have your cheeze too!
A fellow blogger and friend of mine used to write about butchering deer on her kitchen table. She was the quintessential farmer’s wife. She wrote often about her life with autoimmune issues. It practically paralyzed her. She was very ill. One day she got upset about something she read and set out to prove that veganism was not healthy, but the more she researched, the more she became intrigued. She went vegan. I would have never expected it! She lost forty pounds and all of her autoimmune and health issues went away. She now writes about healthy living and promotes a plant based diet. She also appreciated that she could look at her animals with a new compassion.
There are thousands of stories like Eileen’s. A plant based diet reverses and heals disease and illness. There are many athletes who prove that a vegan diet builds muscle and improves stamina. When one incorporates a plant based diet in their life, a lot changes. It changes one’s perception about the creatures we share this planet with. That maybe they are not all here for us to kill and consume. And maybe just because that is how it has always been, doesn’t mean it needs to be like that in the future.
Okay, so perhaps you are interested in ditching Diabetes, skin issues, heart problems, anxiety, autoimmune issues, cancer cells, and brain fog, but there are questions!
These are the top five questions I get from folks:
Where do you get your protein? One slice of whole wheat bread contains 5 grams of protein! You will not be lacking in protein. Greens, grains, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and many other foods contain protein.
But aren’t grains bad? Only if you work for a marketing campaign trying to sell you gluten free stuff. It’s incredibly rare for folks to be Celiac. Grains are filled with fiber, protein, and anti-cancer antioxidants. Obviously pastries and Wonder bread aren’t filled with healthy stuff, so stick with whole grains and as unprocessed as you can.
We have incisors, so we were meant to be carnivores, right? If you look at road kill on the side of the road and start salivating or can catch a rabbit and bite into it, sure. But no, our systems resemble herbivores biologically.
But what about all the stuff being shipped in from all over the world? Vegans are very hard on the environment. Is anyone eating truly local? That orange juice and banana weren’t grown in Denver! Our goal as a species is to begin eating closer to home. Not only eating closer to home, but growing our food at our home! It has nothing to do with being vegan.
But how will you get B12? That is only available in animal sources. False! Oh my, there is a lot of misleading information out there. There is B12 in kombucha, nutritional yeast, and traces on garden grown vegetables. And while we are at it, you get plenty of iron from greens and grains.
Oh and a bonus question. But soy is bad for you, right? Organic soy (along with herbs that help balance estrogen, like Black Cohosh) do not disrupt estrogen production, they balance it. Soy is used to help osteoporosis and strengthens bones. GMO, field grown soy is a different thing altogether.
It is not that hard. Just plan ahead. You will feel so good eating all those beautiful plant foods and you will not be hungry. There has never been an easier time to be vegan. So, today, pick up a vegan cookbook or look at some Instagram pages for inspiration. Health and compassion are a big part of living your best life.
Welcome 2020! You bring with it such promise and excitement for a new year! What are your dreams this year? What are your goals? One of my main goals this year is to up our food production. Not just gardening, though that is a big part of it. We also have a lofty goal of creating all of the processed food items that we typically purchase in our own kitchen.
Homesteaders always have crazy goals like that. This is my living. I am a housewife and I make the bulk of my money by not spending what I typically would if I had a full time job. I “make” money by growing most of our food and I “make” money by preparing and preserving it. I create my own grocery store. And it is lots of fun! I also “make” money because I create all of our own medicines and because we stay healthy eating homegrown and prepared food.
I received a very special Christmas gift from my husband. Jewelry, you might ask? Better. A chef’s knife. It is a beauty. And sharper than a lost sewing pin in the carpet. It will make cooking such a pleasure for me.
I love cooking and I love a challenge, so homesteading is a good job for me. I have an animal sanctuary here and for as long as I can remember, animals have been dearer to me and better friends to me than most humans. I have sworn off consuming them and their by-products. We are always healthier and happier when we are vegan and we save a lot of money. We have begun making our own veggie meats to supplement meals. It is a lot of fun, super easy, and we get more nutrition without the preservatives and unknown ingredients. I am experimenting with different cheeses as well. I was a cheesemaker for many years so I think I might be able to come up with a pretty sly alternative to smoked cheddar! It’s all a part of the fun. Lots of baking will ensue as well; granola bars, cereal, breads, desserts, tortillas.
But my main love is vegetables. I make a very good vegetarian because I crave vegetables more than anything. I will have my biggest garden yet on this new homestead. It will be nearly as big as my entire last homestead! Using roughly a third of our 1.1 acre, I will be able to grow nearly all of our vegetables and get many perennial fruit and nut trees and bushes put in. I am even going to experiment with grains, though I will count grains, some nuts, coffee, black tea, and chocolate as things that I will probably always need to purchase! But within a few years my goal is to growing, preserving, and preparing at least 90% of what we eat and have plenty for my grown family as well. Another way I “make” money is by growing my own farm.
We all have plenty of goals this time of year and mine will certainly be more fun with a chef’s knife! Let’s not forget to live in the moment. One never knows what tomorrow brings. (I do hope tomorrow brings Spring!) Happy New Year to you all.
One day when we were quite a young couple, snuggling and giggling, I said to my husband, “You cuddle well!” He said, “That will be our last name!” And so it was. Mama and Daddy Cuddlewell.
Our children were told that their actual, secret last name was Cuddlewell, as we would snuggle them. Andy, Shyanne, and Emily Cuddlewell. Even today, that is our name.
Our animals carried the same family name, Ichabod Cuddlewell, Clara Cuddlewell, and so on. I recently told my granddaughter about her secret last name too. She laughed and wondered if I was serious. Maryjane and Ayla Cuddlewell. And so it goes on. Our secret family name. We cuddle well.
Many years ago, when were trying to come up with a name for our own land, should we ever get it, Doug nonchalantly said, “Cuddlewell Mission, of course.”
In our hearts, everywhere we have lived has been Cuddlewell Mission. We tend to rescue the animals that need us. The cross-eyed cat with the spinal injury, who lived and played and cuddled for thirteen years, Clara. The retired racing hound, Bumble Bear. The tiny, Siamese kitten that we are still bringing back to health, Taos Mouse. The blind chicken, Heihei. This is a sanctuary. We have always had a sanctuary.
We got off track, somewhere along the way, with books and studies and farmer friends. We went from friends aren’t food, to maybe we were wrong and that is how it is supposed to be, then to regret and heartfelt wisdom. Just because it is how has always been, doesn’t mean that it is how it should be moving forward. We also used to keep slaves, beat our children, and ate cockroaches. We humans can move forward and do things better when we see the error of our ways! We can create a new normal. A new this-is-how-it-should-be. We would never allow an assembly line of shelter dogs, swinging from one leg, having their neck sliced, then being cut open before they were dead, cut up and packaged and put in the store….what are we thinking? Cows and pigs and even chickens are sentient beings. Look into the eyes of any creature and see the life there.
I’m not here to convince you one way or another, I just wanted to tell you about Cuddlewell Mission and how we have arrived here. With land and places for animals. A sanctuary for people and animals. A safe place to commune with nature and not fear for one’s life, and if you are human, maybe have a cup of tea. Yes, this is a mission. We are home.
Cooking on a wood stove is easier than one would think. Consider it a cook top. Add more wood to make it hotter, let it die down some to lower the heat. Use a trivet to adjust heat by raising up pot. Always use cast iron; other pots cannot handle the heat!
When I was a very young woman, my great-aunt Donna allowed me to take my children to her circa 1800’s log cabin in the woods. I loved cooking on her wood cook stove. Seventeen years later, in an 1800’s homestead on the prairie, Doug and I had a wood cook stove. We learned that it does not heat a home, but I did enjoy cooking on it. Seems food tastes better. Stirring chopped onions from the root cellar, or flipping eggs from the coop; it is all very satisfying.
When I am feeling old fashioned (or ornery), I will walk around our homestead and turn off the computer and unplug chargers and anything that has a damned light, and cook on the wood stove. (Of course the Christmas lights are all on…) Yesterday I made a fine mushroom risotto soup that was piping hot by the time my husband walked through the door. It was delicious! Served with garlic toast and a glass of wine, this homestead meal felt very fine indeed.
Mushroom Risotto Soup
Pour a good swirl of olive oil into cast iron Dutch oven. Place on stove.
Chop an onion and place in pan.
Give a stir with a wood spoon, then go chop 5 cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.
Chop up about 3 cups of shiitake mushrooms. Add to pan with 1/2 teaspoon of smoked salt (or sea salt) and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and stir well. Let that saute for a bit until onions are soft and everything is fragrant.
Add 1 teaspoon each oregano, thyme, paprika, and parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of red chili (or other hot chili). Saute a bit more.
Push vegetables to the side and add 1/4 cup of Arborio rice in a thin layer and let saute for a few minutes to toast rice.
Mix everything together and add five shakes of liquid smoke.
Give a good pour of Marsala wine to cover. It will fizzle real nice- stir, and let absorb.
Add 2 cups of vegetable broth. Once it begins to boil, it will be ready in about 20 minutes. You can take it off the stove until you are ready for it. Adjust seasonings.
Before serving, put in a tablespoon of butter and a splash of cream (I use Miyoko’s vegan butter and unsweetened organic soy milk). Place back on stove and heat through.
When my daughter and I were out wood stove shopping, we couldn’t resist running our fingers over a new, red, shiny model of a snazzy wood cookstove. Some day!
Before the popularity of my herb books, before Amazon gave the opportunity for small authors to publish their work, even before I had heard of blogs, I had written three books. There is one remaining copy of each here, created and bound at a copy store, their pages stained. I wrote three plant based cookbooks and sold them at farmer’s markets and at my little shop on Main street. They sold surprisingly well, I thought, considering I lived in a small town where the common occupation was rancher. But as more and more people began to seek out healthier ways of eating, ways to beat disease, and young people began cooking for themselves, folks around there were looking for ideas.
This recipe is in my first book, Gone Vegan; Hooked on Brilliant Health and Beauty and Deliriously Good Food! It is a basic formula for Quick Bread. We love banana bread, pumpkin bread, or even savory bread, like onion. This recipe easily changes to what you have on hand. It is nice to be able to use one bowl, whip up some bread, and have it done in an hour. Yesterday I made Cranberry Walnut Bread with a touch of rosemary. See what you come up with!
Basic Quick Bread Recipe
2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 T baking powder
1 ts of yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
1 cup of water or plant milk
1/3 cup of oil
1 cup of nuts
1/2 cup fruit
Mix everything together and pour into greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until bread is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
For the cranberry bread, I used 2 cups of white flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat. I used walnut oil. I did 1 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of frozen cranberries (the moisture content required the bread to cook a little longer), and added 1 teaspoon of minced rosemary.
You can decrease the sugar, use white sugar, honey, agave, or maple.
Add savory dried onion and chives or red chile powder.
You could use lemon oil and orange juice as the liquid to make a fruitier bread.
Add 1 teaspoon of spices.
Maybe combine raisins and pecans. Currants and pine nuts. Eliminate the nuts altogether and just add 2 bananas. Feel free to play with this recipe. Cooking is all about experimentation. Just try to stay with the basic formula and you will be alright!
I am seriously considering testing my way through the three books and creating one book of great plant based recipes!