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.
What is an HSP? I first heard the term Highly Sensitive Person some dozen years ago. It is used to describe someone who is very sensitive and emotional. Words such as empath have come forth, but there are differences. An empath is someone who feels others’ emotions and feels empathy for them. My husband is an empath, but he is not an HSP.
I wish that more parents knew the traits of a highly sensitive person. They might recognize their own child and know better how to raise them. The HSP is generally the black sheep of the family because they are not easy to live with. They are emotional, anxious, and not like other kids.
HSPs are highly sensitive to artificial lights. Fluorescents can nearly take us out! (Or so it feels.) HSP’s are sensitive to sound. They are generally born with heightened sensory. So very loud voices, yelling, loud music, and crowds can leave an HSP in tears. School is usually very difficult for an HSP, as they would rather be anywhere but sitting still. They are also usually the targets for bullying. And not just as children. It is hard to be an HSP in the world today.
There are many great traits of highly sensitive people. HSP’s are wonderfully mesmerized by beauty and that rubs off on the people around them. They notice every bird, every color, every sound, the tastes of food, the moment in which they live. They are loyal friends and sensitive family members. Their empathy is beyond an average empath, because they physically feel what they see or what they are around. For instance, I cannot watch the news, because I physically will feel what someone who was beaten or raped or lost felt. That can be exhausting. An HSP has to be wary of what they see and what they read and who they are around. Highly Sensitive People are often psychic, because all of their senses are heightened. It isn’t far fetched to believe that hermits are all highly sensitive people! Maybe we don’t want to become hermits, but that is where living an old fashioned life comes in.
Last night, my husband and I sat in our rocking chairs listening to records by the light of oil lamps and candles. The calm of evening resets my senses and helps me to breathe. My friends and I joke that I become a pumpkin after nine. A kind way of saying I straight fall apart and end up crying after ten! I honor my circadian rhythms and that helps me to stay happy and relaxed.
To incorporate old fashioned living for a HSP is simple, here are some ideas:
Highly sensitive people need softer light. Oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights all fit the bill.
I am overjoyed that I inherited my Great Aunt Donna’s record player the other day! Soft music is better than blasting music.
Highly sensitive people cannot deal with anger problems and fighting. Soft voices, sweet words, this is more important than I can describe.
Turn off electronics. The television overstimulates highly sensitive people. (We won’t get into video games.) The sound, the light, (the fact that there is nothing good on except The Voice…) it is often too much. Books and creative outlets are better. LED lights can be switched off. Unplug anything with a light shining from it.
Highly Sensitive People are better homeschooled and as entrepreneurs. Home should be a respite so decorate with comforting pieces, like quilts, musical instruments, books, soft lighting, and old fashioned items from a relatives’ house. My house is filled with memories since I use things that were once my grandma’s, my chosen mama’s, my aunt’s, etc.
Spend lots of time outdoors! HSP’s do better outdoors. Grow a garden, have chickens, and chairs that face the sun. Animals are important.
From scratch cooking and herbal remedies are important for health. HSP’s don’t do well with conventional medicines or vaccines. You will find that many HSP’s are vegetarian.
Highly Sensitive People do not have a disease or a disability and it is not something they can just get over or toughen up. All of the HSP’s I have met have been truly loving, extraordinary people. I think the lifestyle that we can create to accommodate an HSP is one that could benefit everyone! Being present, being positive, avoiding hysteria in the news and on social media, filling time with creative pursuits and great books, spending time with ones we love, honoring our circadian rhythm, improving health, slowing down, being easy on our senses; all these things make life a million times more meaningful.
The last two homesteading books that I have read were great to read because they outlined clear and practical guides to subsistence farming and homesteading without the use of animals. In the books, Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self Reliant Gardening and Helen and Scott Nearing’s The Good Life, the authors are/were all vegan and I appreciated reading books where the authors were successful and offered approaches that I have, and will continue, to utilize on my own homestead. To continue taking the cruelty out of agriculture.
There was only one thing missing from the books. Because the authors did not use animals on their homestead and were vegan themselves, they saw no reason to keep animals at all, not even dogs and cats. Valuable resources wasted on animals and keeping animals just to do so seemed unnecessary. Have you ever walked into someone’s home and it’s really eerily quiet and clean? And then you notice what’s missing? No dogs, no cats, not even a parakeet? To us, animals make a homestead a home as much as each other’s company. Animals add so much joy to our lives.
Each year that we tick off as another that we have homesteaded, we make our own way. We learn from others, we experiment, we make lots of mistakes, we make heartbreaking decisions, and we move forward creating the life that is best for us. I considered starting a non-profit animal sanctuary but I decided against it for a few reasons. I have many friends that have sanctuaries. 1) They have a lot more land than I do and I would be very limited as to whom I could take. 2) My friends have to hustle for donations constantly. 3) People are really cruel. They call these sanctuaries and make threats about what will happen to the animals if the sanctuary doesn’t take them. No thanks. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. And 4) These are pets to us. Our past goats and sheep followed us around our farm just like little puppies. We enjoyed them so much and will not be giving up ones to come. We want to adopt a few bottle babies. Raise a few chicks and ducklings from birth. Just as we go to the shelter and choose kittens that need us most. We bring in animals young and slowly so that everyone adapts well. And then they live here their whole life and are loved ridiculously well. That is our sanctuary.
The farm animals might contribute by donating their wool (they are getting sheared anyway), their eggs (they just walk away from them anyway), and their antics. We make sure we make enough money to take care of them, just like our indoor animals. But there is no cruelty here, no using animals for meat or dairy. Some people watch cable television, some people like fancy cars, we like to watch animals play. It is worth the money.
The other animals that we welcome are of the wild sort. I have a good bird guide near the office window and provide bird seed for the many wild birds that visit. We see traces of deer that came through in the night. Foxes live over the hill. Hawks float above the trees. Our Great Pyrenees keeps everyone safe on the ground from behind his fences. I enjoy the world so much better surrounded with animals.
A homestead does not have to use animals for food. A homestead is more of a home with animals as family. There is more than one way to homestead and farm successfully. Find your path and find your joy.
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!
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!
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!
We particularly love Thrive magazine, which can be found at places like Vitamin Cottage or Whole Foods. It is a thick, colorful, book-like magazine filled with beautiful synopses of bloggers, Instagrammers, and vegans who share tidbits of recipes. The food photography and the visual inspiration is astounding. Since I rarely follow a recipe word for word, this type of “recipe” book is perfect for me. We look for it when we get to the health food store. We have missed several issues along the way, but when we see it, it is like we have won a great scavenger hunt.
Years ago, we came across a recipe in Volume 9 for fabulous looking Carno-Asada Fries by Chris Petrellese @consciouschris if you are on Instagram. I am not sure why this is, but when we go vegan, we have so much more fun cooking at home. We typically cook more often together and have a good time ad libbing recipes and enjoying the plates of vibrant, delicious food that result. We save all our Thrive magazines, and this recipe is one we come back to time and again. This is our variation of it (which changes each time we make it!):
At least 2 hours before you make dinner, put 1 cup of raw cashews into a bowl of water to soak!
4 large russet potatoes- peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch fries. Place potatoes in a bowl and drizzle well with olive oil and mix.
Spread out onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until crisp, flipping fries over half way through.
Heat up some veggie ground meat. You can purchase already seasoned chipotle or taco meat-style, or buy plain and season it yourself with cumin, chipotle, taco seasoning, salt, pepper, etc. (Another fun idea that we used to do in the past for veggie meat was to soak walnuts in a bowl of water for a few hours, strain, run through the food processor with taco seasoning and wallah! Taco meat!)
Make the queso- (Let me just real quick tell you how much I love queso. Real queso is made from some pretty sketchy ingredients and it usually makes me feel pretty gross, so I LOVE cashew queso. Same addictive taste but ever so much better for me!)
Strain the cashews and add them to a Vitamix or other powerful blender.
1 Tablespoon or more Sriracha
4 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 cup of hot water
Blend completely. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve crispy fries with loads of veggie taco meat, queso, shredded ice berg or romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, cilantro, and guacamole for a delicious, healthy, fun supper!