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!
Ever since I was a small child, I always had the innate sense that time here on this earth is limited. That each day is anew with experiences and exhilarating breath. I feel like I blink and my husband is kissing me goodnight again. These days go fast. Better be living in a way that brings about joy! How do we balance living in the present, moving towards a future that we dream of, and learning from the past?
Let’s start with the past. Okay, great- now let that go. Seriously, the past is filled with learning lessons and decisions that got you where you are now, of bittersweet memories of when the children were little and of people past, and traumatic experiences. Tip your hat at it, close the door on it when things pop up, and then look around you in the here and now. Breathe. Look up. There is simply no time to waste on it.
Present. No time like the present. Several times today, just look up. Look around. Smile. No matter what is going on. Gratitude can get you through anything. It can fortify the best days. Notice the details. There is a breeze kicking up. The mountains look bright against the deep blue sky and the horse across the street is running circles around his house- all muscle and brilliance- to wake his dad, who has apparently forgotten breakfast. I am writing- my favorite occupation and pastime- and, I am afraid, I made my coffee too weak. The kittens are running around the house. All these moments make up a life here. Seemingly minute details of everyday life, each decision we make, moves us towards a life well lived, and affects the future of the next generations. How do you want to live?
In my lowest moments I have often wondered what is the point? If we are just going to be struck down dead at any given time, what is the point of pursuing a new career, or completing a dream, or dreaming at all? We are painting a picture of the new world to come, of life for future generations, for- depending on your beliefs- our own future when we come back to try again.
Each one of us are given a set of lessons to learn here. Every circumstance and coincidence in your life is a means of learning and mastering the lesson. Every passion, every talent, every dream is there on purpose to move you towards and through the lesson and gives you an opportunity to paint a brighter world and future. We are always one step into the future. Already, everything I just wrote is in the past. Let us live moving forward.
I tend to get stuck in the status quo, what always has been done, how things have always been, and figure they are the way to be. But we change, things change, our dreams change, we must morph with it. Even if it doesn’t make sense, or if it doesn’t seem possible, if you have it in your heart, and it feels right to you, then it is good. If you lead with kindness, and lead with love, you cannot go wrong.
My last post prompted me to reanalyze how I am living my life. I do that often, particularly this time of year, as Autumn always seems a good time for contemplating. Ask yourselves the same questions and see where they take you:
How do you feel physically? How do you feel mentally/emotionally? How do you feel spiritually?
Does your work bring you joy? How does it serve others? How does it serve you? (It has to go both ways.)
What are your dreams right now? What are your goals? If you could do anything and not fail, and had ample money to do it, what would you do for work? What would you do for play? What experiences do you want?
What is heavy on your heart?
What are you passionate about?
I tend to look at the past to govern my future, but the things that made me happy before do not do so now. The ways I have lived in the past do not serve me now. So, even if it is difficult, not socially acceptable, or risky, answering these questions helped me paint in my mind what I do want my life to look like. When you paint that in your mind, the universe goes straight to work painting it with you. (So, watch your thoughts and words!)
Using bullet words helps it all come together. Animals. Farming. Herbs. Writing. Health. Homesteading. Family. Vitality. Life. Kindness. In my life now, I don’t feel the need to be a professional herbalist in the ways that I have been. I don’t feel the need to do a lot of things I used to do. My job and life desires have changed, as I have.
Create a new mantra. I do this every year and it really helps me make decisions and move myself to where I want to be. “Never make a decision based on fear” was one year’s. I think my new one will be, “Lead with love and promote life.”
My daughter and I are now working as Doulas. (http://SacredHeartbeatDoulas.com) A new way to use my herbs and my expertise but very different from what I have been doing. I have a great desire to farm, and I can visualize my herb gardens, my vegetables gardens, the orchard, the wild land left untouched so the wild life have a place to be and the wild herbs can flourish, and the animals. But the animals are not going to be for meat and milk. We will rescue some furry farm kids and allow them a life of fun and ease and love. That feels tremendously right to us. I will eat plant based, because I am spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthier when I do. I will continue to write to inspire. My family is the most important aspect of my life. Everything else will be filed under, the past. All of that matches my new year’s mantra;
This is the story of a wishy-washy writer (therefore all her business is out there confusing the world) and her battles with what is right, and what makes us well, and what serves the most people and animals, yet finding what is beneficial to us (because if we aren’t happy then we can’t inspire others).
This is the story of a wishy-washy writer who was vegetarian for twenty-seven years, vegan for two, then on-and-off again meat eater-then-vegan since. It is about this time each year that I become fiercely ill. My body absolutely rebels against its half a year of animal products. One year it felt like I had a hole in my stomach. One year the gout was terrible. Then there was the chronic swelling of my lymph nodes for over a year. Then the intense stomach issues. This year I am on my third week of hives and stomach issues. Every year in my journal I write, “Next time I want to start eating meat again…read this!” But alas, we inevitably go on vacation, go to a friend’s house, read a book about being a locavore or the poisons of processed food and we are back to a freezer full of meat, pretending to be pioneers until I get sick again and neither of us are feeling so hot.
Every year, I frantically erase all of the posts from the six months before. When I am vegan, I erase the posts about raising animals for meat and recipes. When I am a meat eater, I erase all the animal sanctuary posts. Vegans (even the word, vegan) can sound annoying and frantic and extreme. I have inspired a lot of people to become vegan over the years and those folks are adamant and heartfelt in their work. I feel the same but then I think it may be so hypocritical. We simply cannot go through this life without causing death to other species. From petroleum use to clearing farm fields, every time you pop an Advil, or buy plastic, we aide in the death of others.
It is easier to just consume animal products. Then you don’t have to be the annoying one at the holiday dinner or the irritated one at a restaurant. You don’t have to get creative trying to make goat cheese out of almonds. I want goats. I don’t necessarily look forward to milking. And in my heart I know that taking the baby away and then sending it to slaughter if it is a boy, and drinking the milk after my own mother’s breast milk has many decades past dried up, is probably weird, if not wrong, and probably not that healthy. I don’t know y’all. Does anyone else have these dilemmas constantly bantering in their heads and hearts?
After I get sick each year, after I take on a plant based diet again, I always get better. Every ailment that ails me heals itself on a plant-based diet. Every time I have meat on my plate, I have less room for antioxidant-rich grains, vegetables, proteins, and fruit. Can you be a locavore and eat a plant-based diet? (And if we are honest, are any of us really eating that local?)
Here is the thing, I don’t even like the feeling of eating gooey, greasy cheese and I don’t even like meat! But it is so easy in our society. On this farm, am I really going to look in the eyes of an infant or old farm animal and decide they are going to die? I don’t think it is right to kill elephants or horses or cats for food….in other places it is acceptable….why do I think some animals are just destined for the plate? I could never look in the eyes of a moose or or deer and pull the trigger to end its beautiful life. I don’t know. These are real battles in my heart and mind and the way a writer delves into those recesses of questioning is to write.
I wonder how many people have chronic illnesses that can be blamed on their food choices, but because it is so hard to change them in our society, they will never make that change or get well.
And wouldn’t I rather be an example of kindness to all?
(If you leave a comment, please make sure it is respectful. There are probably no right or wrong answers here!)
It is a good idea to try and be self sufficient enough that you feel secure. You have water in empty jars in case the water gets turned off. You have candles, oil lamps, and matches. You have food preserved and a bustling garden. You have firewood. You have some cash in a coffee can. Going further, it is really satisfying to raise your own food, preserve all of your own food and drinks, and make steps to be more eco-friendly and simple. We can get pretty darn self sufficient, but really it not likely to be completely self sufficient. Mainly because we need people. We also cannot possibly do everything ourselves. Supporting small, local farms in your state- as close to you as possible- is a great way to build each other up, create community, eat well, ensure humane treatment of animals, and support a more environmentally friendly path.
We don’t have too many flour mills here in Colorado (do we have any?), and I know no one is growing coffee and sugar, so I do need to buy those. I can choose organic or small operations to purchase from. I grow most of our vegetables for the summer and fall here on my urban farm, but it is always nice to head to the farmer’s market and buy some fruit or unique vegetables from the organic farmers there. We talk about bugs, weather, family, recipes. I can also get extra produce to preserve if I didn’t grow enough. The money stays in the community, amongst friends.
Most of the homestead authors I enjoy reading started out as vegetarians. Many of us have felt strongly about vegetarianism before. Many of my farmer friends were vegetarians. We care about the environment. We care about animals. So, once we see that tofu and bananas wreck the ozone as much as anything with all the fuel and deforestation required, and that GMO crops (the basis of many a veggie burger), and factory farming are what are destroying our health and our beautiful planet, it makes a farmgirl step back and reassess.
There are lovely, caring farms and ranches, many around you, that lovingly grow animals for meat and gently send them off into the night. A world away from the pain and stench of factory farming. My meat chickens got lots of kisses and lots of sunshine and were dead in less time than it takes to blink. No pain.
The key to curing many of our environmental, social, and health problems can be found in our food choices. By purchasing as much local as possible, from real people in your community, who don’t use pesticides and herbicides, who have bills to pay, and a smile to offer you, and authentic conversation, we can reverse disease, destruction, and separation. Local is where our food should come from. As close as possible. Your back yard is even better. It is possible to eat primarily local, it just takes some planning and networking on social media and at farmer’s markets to find everything you need.
I despise the dairy industry and do not want to support them. Yesterday I visited a small farm thirty minutes from mine where a gorgeous, tanned farmgirl showed me around. She loves each and every one of the newly hatched chicks that ran by chirping, the bucks who got out and created a lot of babies this year, the old goats, the babies frolicking with their mothers, the pigs, the dogs, the land, that life. I packed three gallons of delicious, fresh milk into my car. Today I am making cheese and ice cream.
Local is not more expensive. Creating a good network of fellow farmers and ranchers is imperative to becoming a successful homesteader.
Petunia is still rather plump, even after having babies last autumn. She is very fluffy and so cute I wish she would come in the house to live, but of course squirrels don’t typically enjoy living in the house. She sits next to me on the porch as I eat my lunch on warm days. I just watched her from the picture window jump from limb to limb. I need to put more bird seed and peanuts out. The Blue Jays are making such a racket. They do despise when I am late.
Hundreds of lovely, chirping sparrows reside here. As do many doves and starlings. Crows fly over. Owls can be heard in the night. Hawks stop to rest. Sea gulls and geese fly over towards the lake. A third of an acre in the city sure can be a wild life haven. I love it here.
The chickens from the factory farm that we rescued are plump and quite loud. They run towards me bow legged and squat, hollering like miniature geese. They love to eat and are firmly against being on a diet. “We are not broilers here, Dears,” I remind them, “You do not need to get so fat!” Dixie is still tiny. My granddaughter renamed the infant rooster, Bob.
I am fervently manifesting and saving for a greenhouse. The ducks come April 20th.
My classes are chosen for the autumn session of college.
I am quite sore from teaching dance last night. I am teaching two herbalist classes. Just keeping busy until I can be in my gardens full time!
I leave in three weeks for ten days in Arizona and New Mexico for my birthday. Such wonderful blog posts I will write!
The seedlings are doing well. The ground is softening. I am teaching a gardening class Sunday to plant potatoes that have taken over the cupboard.
My friends are here visiting for the weekend. I have so many dear friends. I am so lucky.
Such a slow, lovely, blessed, ordinary, extraordinary life I lead. And that, my friends, is what is going on at Pumpkin Hollow Farm on the verge of Ostara and the equinox. Spring is next week! Here it is quietly arriving.
What is happening on your homestead this week? I am honestly interested!
I promised on my Instagram (@katiesanders0223) that I would share a super easy meal to get on the table in 30 minutes or less, Flautas!
Oh my, these delicious, savory, crisp at the edges, smothered in Spicy Cashew Queso sure taste like a lot more time went into them.
You can start with leftovers if you wish, any roasted vegetables, beans, veggie meats, etc. Blend them together with some taco seasoning. Or grab a bag of Beyond Meat or other veggie crumbles and sauté with onions and garlic, or simply put in refried beans spiced up with taco seasoning. All depends on what you have on hand.
Now put a layer down the middle of a flour tortilla and roll it up. Place side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil. Repeat with the rest and leave a little space between flautas so they get nice and crisp. Spray tops with a little oil spray.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flip and bake another 5-10 minutes until nice and toasted.
Top with guacamole, vegan sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, cilantro, and queso!
Spicy Cashew Queso
Meanwhile make the vegan queso (which is plant based and so good for you!) This recipe was adapted from a recipe by a blogger @ConsciousChris in Thrive magazine.
Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in a doubled the water for a few hours. (So you will have to plan ahead) Strain and put in good blender.
Add 4 Tb of sriracha or favorite hot sauce
4 Tb nutritional yeast (cheesy and very high in B12)
1/2 ts sea salt
1/2 ts of smoked salt (opt.)
1/2 ts of cumin
1/2 ts pepper
1/2 ts garlic
1 cup of hot water
Doug is the master of the vegan queso so he adds more of this or that to our liking. I like a little bit of hot garlic chili in mine. It is savory and delicious on nachos or poured over flautas!
Three Juice Margarita
One can’t seriously have Mexican food without a margarita, can they?
Fill a beer glass 1/3 of the way with orange juice, 1/3 apple juice, and a good splash of cranberry juice (let’s all get 100% juice, not from concentrate, shall we?) and a shot of tequila.
Green tomatoes are piled up in a basket, each turning red one by one. There are spices in the cupboard. We have piles of retrieved peppers before frost.
Curries are so versatile and very easy. For this one, I chopped up a head of cauliflower and rinsed a can of chickpeas. I spread them out on a cookie sheet and drizzled generously with olive oil, and sprinkled on salt and pepper. That went into a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes.
If I had been thinking straight, I would have added one of the three dozen peppers waiting to be eaten.
Now for the sauce. In a good blender combine 5 red tomatoes, 1 Tb of your favorite curry powder, 2 Tb of cashews, 1 Tb tomato powder, 1 ts salt, 1 ts agave. Blend well then taste and perfect. Pour into a saucepan and warm slowly while vegetables are roasting. Add 1 Tb butter or coconut oil and let that melt in.
Get a big pot of rice made because you can use it all week!
Alright, you are done! Top rice with veggies and sauce and enjoy with a cold pumpkin beer!
Fried Eggs Over Greens and Potatoes with Hot Sauce
I got out of the car after a long day of visiting relatives in Denver. On my way to the porch I gathered the collard greens and picked some chives still in the garden.
I had read that morning in a magazine to smash parboiled potatoes and roast them, then top them with eggs and hot sauce. It sounded so good to me. But I always like to add a bit more.
Doug had boiled the potatoes before I got home just past parboiled. This was a triumph because they came out of the oven creamy and crisp. He transferred them to a cookie sheet smashed them with a saucer. They had been in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes when I got home. He then added a dollop of butter and salt and pepper to each one and I went straight to work on the greens.
Wash and chiffonade a good handful of greens. Heat a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and add greens. I sprinkled on Cajun seasoning and garlic powder, along with salt and pepper and cooked them just past wilted. Transfer to a plate.
Sprinkle bread crumbs on potatoes and keep baking.
No need to wipe out the skillet. Add a touch more olive oil and cook four fresh eggs to over medium.
Split greens and potatoes on two plates and top with eggs and chives. Serve with hot sauce. Oh my, people, I cannot tell you how incredible this flavor combination is. We grew all of the vegetables and our chickens laid the eggs. A true farm meal. And delicious. And fast. Also good with pumpkin beer.
Why is it so hard to eat healthy? I often have wondered this. I believe it is because as Americans we do not have our own food culture. If we were from India we would crave curries and lentils and coconut. If we were Japanese we would crave the tastes of sea weed and fresh vegetables. We would crave the tastes of our genetic history, of fresh, local produce. For someone like me, whose family has been in this country for over four hundred years (seriously, according to Ancestry.com no one in my family has come over since the 1700’s!) I have McDonalds and meatloaf to hold dear. Monsanto lives here. If it doesn’t have artificial flavors then it isn’t savory or sustaining enough. It is just bland. We crave the tastes of our youth! American tacos, and steak, and canned vegetables! Just kidding, I never crave canned vegetables. But I can tell you that the folks that frequent the farmers markets have no clue what vegetables are local.
Sure, we have regional specialties; fried chicken in the south, and clam chowder in the east, and we have adopted the cuisines of every other nation. But we haven’t a clue about our own food history because a lot of times folks were just starving. People of the world just started eating every animal in sight. We have a genetic disposition for fear of starving or not having enough.
People that come to America are always surprised at what our serving sizes look like. One meal at a restaurant could feed a whole family!
That is why it is hard to eat healthy. We don’t know what that looks like.
We don’t have our own food history. We have let big companies take over our food system. But can we rewire our brains to crave certain foods? Is it too late to simplify our palates? I wonder.
It seems to me that a plate full of whole grains; farro, buckwheat, rice, barley, rye, topped with in-season vegetables of varying colors, and topped with a savory sauce of some sort; tomato based or smoked cashew or asian or red chile, would be amazing at every meal. Inevitably we start craving restaurant food. It is never as good as what we make at home yet there must be artificial ingredients and flavorings that our bodies crave. Like it’s the taste of home, or something.
The gardening season is coming up and I intend to retrain our taste buds! We are now on a rather strict budget (time to practice what I preach) and we will not be gallivanting around restaurants anymore. Eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, seeds, legumes, and nuts help us to avoid the more expensive, processed, nutritionally deplete foods and save A LOT on the grocery bill. Pastas (homemade or not), homemade sourdough, whole grains, fresh, sauteed, or roasted vegetables from the gardens or market, fresh fruits, roasted nuts as toppings for meals, or made into sauces, or eaten as snacks, seeds added to delicious, crisp salads, and beans and other legumes seasoned and added to meals. We will create our own food history. The Garden Food Movement! Not a diet, but a lifestyle. The new food history of America. One household at a time…
All of the above dishes are plant based. It’s time we take back our health and our food.
At a bed and breakfast in Taos, New Mexico in December we sat before a roaring fire in the kiva, a table was set for two. The first course was so delicious and simple. Yogurt topped with granola and drizzled with honey. I don’t know if was the Christmas lights all around or the fire or the vacation but that tasted so good to me and I have been eating it nearly every morning since.
I have written three vegan cookbooks and I am going to re-release one of the them soon. I have been cooking my way through the book to make sure they are still great and came across my old recipe for granola. It is so easy to make and makes a great big bag of it. Add a few big handfuls to a bowl of yogurt. I like So Delicious brand Cashew yogurt with vanilla. There are many amazing non-dairy yogurts out there.
Drizzle with local honey or agave or maple syrup. Delicious, nutritious, and your own bed and breakfast treat!
6 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup of nuts, such as slivered almonds, pecans, almonds
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 T of spices, such as pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, etc
1/2 t salt
Mix all ingredients with 3/4 cup of organic olive, sunflower, or canola oil
Spread out on a large cookie sheet or broiler pan sprayed with non-stick oil spray. Drizzle with maple syrup. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Fold in 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit of your choice, such as currants, raisins, acai, apple, etc.
Continue baking for 20 more minutes.
Stir often as it’s cooling to prevent it from clumping or sticking to the pan. When it is completely cool store it in a gallon freezer bag.