DIY Laundry Detergent

afterlight (1)I never in a million years would have thought l’d like to be the stay at home kind of girl.  But with the little vegan bun so close to arriving (!), I find myself ‘nesting’, with so many DIY projects on my list!

Becoming domestic is always something I’ve wanted to explore more.  Though its hard with the everyday work schedule.  Now with just one week of work left, I have time to dive in.  First on my list was making my own laundry detergent.  Wait, let me be honest;  first on my list, for years, has been to make my own dog food.  And that will come in time, as my excuse of now is needing more storage space.  So laundry detergent…. a totally simple-money saving task that would prove to be easy as pie to work into anyone’s lifestyle.  I have had a couple friends that have been doing this for so long, with far busier schedules than me, so I knew I had no excuse.  And along with the cloth diapers about to start rolling in daily, I knew this was the time.  Method adapted from Wellness Mama!

Materials / Ingredients

  • BoraxA natural laundry booster that lifts stains and odors from your clothes.  You can find this at just about any grocery store.  
  • Washing SodaA natural water softener and stain remover.  Also found in the detergent aisle at many grocery stores.
  • Bar SoapI prefer to use an all natural, less perfume-y style soap.  Dr. Bronners makes bar soaps, and if whole foods happens to have a sale going on- even better.
  • Container – You will need something to store the detergent in, preferably something that has a large opening, so you can easily use your scoop. 
  • Cheese GraterYour standard, handheld grater.
  • 1/4 cup scoop Any measuring cup will do!

Now to start:

In a large bowl, using cheese grater, shred the bar soap.  I use the medium sized teeth.  Once you have finished, mix in 2 cups borax, and 2 cups washing soda.  The proportions should be 1 cup bar soap, 2 cups borax, and 2 cups washing soda.  Gently stir together till fully incorporated.  Make sure you get to see little specs of your bar soap squiggles throughout the batch!  Transfer to your storing container.

And Voila!  You just made Laundry Detergent!
To use:  1/8 of a cup for smaller loads, and 1/4 cup for large loads.

Our first trial run just happened to be the day Erik brought all of his soccer clothes home.  And boy were they stinky!  The detergent proved to work!  I am still accessing my math on how mush this will save us, but I think it cuts the price in half (possibly more) of what we’d spend on liquid detergent.  Not to mention we cut back on contributing more to the plastic take over of the world.  This article was posted last week about plastic in our oceans, and the effects it has on whales, and various animals around the globe.

Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Cups

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Blame it on fall, but I am loving the dates surrounding me lately.  I often think figs are my favorite fruit.  Figs have such a great texture, and are not too sweet.  I used to love eating them fresh off the trees in San Diego.  They are just so beautifully unique.

As far as dates go, they taste like nature’s caramel.  Creamy, rich in dietary fiber, potassium, and Manganese (Manganese is good for your bones, anemia, and premenstrual  symptoms) dates can be used in so many different ways.  Smoothies, salads, oatmeal, savory dishes, brownies, or just as is.  I’ve been using them to sweeten my 2 minute hemp mylk…recipe to come soon.

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Dates!  And yes, that is a huge Kohlrabi in the background!

There are endless varieties of dates grown in the Middle East, but from California the two most common are the Medjool and Deglet.  My roommates just brought back a bag of plump Medjool dates from this great little place called Sun and Earth.  I have yet to venture there, but they sell an assortment of bulk organic herbs, spices, and other random organic grocer products.  The dates they brought back are out of this world!  Its like they reached their peak of plumpness as they entered our kitchen, and hadn’t dried out too much where you’d want to re-hydrate them.  They are just perfect.

With all this date hype, I wanted to share a recipe I used for Erik’s birthday.  My husband doesn’t like cake, he’s not big on pie, so I opted to try for Caramel sea salted chocolate cups…. no biggie  🙂

Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Cups

Ingredients

  • For the caramel filling:

  • 2 cups pitted dates, soaked for at least 2 hours. Save date water...see below 🙂
  • 1/4 cup soaked date water
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • For the chocolate:

  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbl almond milk
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil

Instructions

    For the Chocolate:
  1. Melt chocolate chips in a small heavy bottomed sauce pan.
  2. Stir in coconut oil, and almond milk. You may want to use a small whisk to help make sure the coconut oil is well mixed in.
  3. Line about 15 mini cups with melted chocolate, bottom layer!
  4. Place in fridge.
  5. For the Caramel:
  6. Drain soaked dates, but save the date water!
  7. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, thick, and creamy. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides as necessary, making sure all gets incorporated.
  8. Set aside.
  9. To assemble:
  10. After bottom layer of chocolate has firmed up in fridge, layer with a caramel dollop, then top off with more melted chocolate mixture. Garnish with cacao nibs, and some course salt flakes.
  11. Place back into fridge to solidify. They should be ready to eat in 15 minutes.
http://vegpod.com/caramel-sea-salt-chocolate-cups/

Some side notes:
I was a little concerned that the melted chocolate wouldn’t surround the ‘caramel’, so I added more than I should have.  Not that I’m complaining, I mean ANY amount of chocolate is fine by me.  But because of this, they did turn out a tad rich.

I also ended up with some of the date-caramel sauce leftover, which was great to eat with fresh apple slices!  Or a spoon.  That stuff is amazing, and definitely a danger to have just lying around the kitchen.

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The first layer of chocolate goes in… did I mention that should you happen to make a mess, this is the best finger licking recipe to have that happen?!

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The caramel layer.  

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Happy 30th Erik!  This is definitely a big boy dessert!  Who needs cake anyway?!

Birdie Granola aka ‘Nola’

photo (23) Its been almost 2 months ago since we left Wisconsin.  And as much as I do miss it, I am whole heartedly enjoying Annapolis, Maryland.  What a great city.  A charming brick laid downtown, overly dog friendly, bike friendly, and I love living in a city that thrives off of the water.  And have I mentioned yet how nice it is to be able to smell the salt water!  Its lovely. Back in Sheboygan, we were making a plethora of granola bi-weekly.  Vegpod sold two flavors at the farmers market, and two flavors to Goodside Grocery for resale.  It always had a tendency to sell like crazy, and we never ran out at the house.  Win-win.  Annapolis is proving to be similar.  Though we are not wholesaling anywhere, and though we don’t run a booth here, we do live with the cutest two-and-three-quarter-year old, who loves to eat granola, or ‘nola’ as she calls it.  Lailah like to eat her nola just as is with a spoon, or out of her hand.  How kid friendly is that? photo (22) The other great things about this granola is that its super easy to make.  And homemade always tastes better anyway, so why out source?  Thats no reason to stop buying Vegpod’s granola, but I encourage everyone to try it out!  I promise you will feel amazing and your kitchen will smell fabulous for hours!  Did I mention its gluten free as well?

Birdie Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour (scoop and shake to level)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or any kind of nut
  • 2/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tea. pinch sea salt
  • 2 tea. cinnamon
  • 1 tea. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup (the good stuff) or agave nectar
  • 1.5 tea. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins, cranberries or any other chopped dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix first set of ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Then mix second set of ingredients in separate bowl.
  3. Pour wet into dry ingredients, combine until well coated. spread evenly on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, stir. bake for another 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on the stuff, both agave & maple syrup can brown quick!
  5. Remove from oven, stirring again.
  6. Once its cool, stir in the dried fruit.
http://vegpod.com/birdie-granola-aka-nola/

There you have it!  I told you it was easy.  You don’t have to be precise with any of the nuts or fruits, really anything to your liking will work.  Sometimes I like to stir in toasted coconut, then sometimes cherries are great for a little tartness.  You can be like Lailah and eat it as is, or have it over your favorite yogurt or milk with some berries.  I have been obsessed with the Trader Joe’s brand soy yogurt, but they have been out of stock for months!  Such a bummer.  Since then I’ve opted for the so-delicious coconut milk based yogurt.  Its not bad, but nothing compared to Trader Joe’s.  Once the weather cools, I will pull out the dehydrator and start making my own again.  Oh fall, how I am ready for you!

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Lentil Wheat berry Cakes

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I have to say, anything in the form of a patty, cake, croquette, or once was a ball- then got squished, I am a fan of.  Maybe its the versatility.  Maybe its the fun of forming the shape.

These cakes were incredibly easy to make, but did require a lot of pots and pans.  I started with three pans.  One to cook the lentils, one for the wheat berries, and one for the couscous, which was going to be my ‘binder’ for the cakes.  Needless to say, I made a HUGE amount!  We now have a freezer full of these yummies, which Im told, will be great for those first weeks of our babies arrival.

The texture was great, credit to the wheat berry, and lentil combination.  All in all there are two types of wheat berries, the hard, and soft.  The hard wheat berries tend to keep there nice chewy texture, great for whole grain salads.  The soft I tend to favorite more for stuffed squash, and a wheat berry breakfast oatmeal.  I bet some cooked soft wheat berries would be insanely good in a spin off of an oatmeal cookie (note to self!)  There are red and white varieties, as well as spring and winter.  I’ve heard that the red wheat berries can be a tad more bitter, due to the extra proteins, but I can barely tell the difference.  I think depending on what you choose to use them for, the color can play an important role.

Other ingredients in these cakes included porcini mushrooms, onion, shredded carrot, lemon zest and juice, dijon, and some herbs and spices.  I served them above with some sauteed arugula, basil, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.  We then had them as a quick lunch the next day with some ketchup.  Both we great.  I am thinking a nice tart cranberry sauce would be lovely served along side.  And I have a freezer full to experiment!

Heres a close up:

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In the voice of Lou Reed….’Sunday Morning’ Pancakes

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I do love Sunday mornings.  And countless times upon rising, the first thoughts that run through my head are:

1.  Finally a day without the alarm clock, including snuggles with the fam & pups.

2.  I am so incredibly thankful that I am not a brunch chef anymore.  I love cooking brunch.  I just like to leisurely sit and eat it too.

3.  Pancakes!!

As I lay in bed still sleepy eyed, The Velvet Undergrounds ‘Sunday morning’ lyrics pop into my head quite regularly.  Thus its time to flip on the tunes, and make some pancakes!  Not a bad way to start the day.

Since I became pregnant I haven’t had many odd cravings at all.  No pickles, non of the non vegan things people mentioned I would crave.  Except for one thing.  Pancakes.  I have always been more of a savory breakfast person, but the little one inside screams for fruit topped pancakes weekly.  And who am I to deny that.

So here is a pancake recipe I adapted from Candle Cafes recipe, and changed a bit to be a little more whole foodie.  We skipped out on the blueberry ‘butter’, and opted for just some fresh peaches, and maple syrup.

Sunday Morning Pancakes

  • 1 Cup Sprouted Spelt Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Unbleached Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Flax Seed
  • 2 Cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk or Alternative of Choice
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Fresh Fruit, for accompaniment, we had peaches that needed to be used.
  • Maple Syrup, for accompaniment
  1. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ground flax seed in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined.
  3. Spray a large nonstick sauté pan with canola oil cooking spray and heat the pan over medium heat.
  4. Drop large spoonfuls of batter into the pan, leaving room for the pancakes to expand.
  5. Cook until the bottoms are golden and bubbles are popping to the surface, 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Flip the pancakes and cook the second side until golden.
  7. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  8. Serve with fresh fruit, and maple syrup.

Here’s a close up of the finished cake stack topped with fresh peaches and syrup!

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They turned out wonderful, and I was glad I didn’t use all unbleached flour.  The sprouted spelt flour we used was from a new-to-me company called  One Degree Organic Foods. Every grower/farmer who helps make One Degree food products uses veganic growing methods only.  How cool is that?!  If you haven’t tried any of their products I urge you to.  It’s amazing being able to support a company that prides themselves on transparency.

Next weekend Erik wants banana walnut, and I’ll opt for blueberries, as Im sure any filling will be wonderful.  Maybe even chocolate or carob chips if you feel up to it!

Happy Autumn!

Watch out, the world’s behind you. There’s always someone around you who will call. It’s nothing at all.  Sunday morning….

Champs Family Bakery, Brooklyn


Champs-3Photo credit to keepinitkind.com

I could sit here and type a long list of reasons why it feels good to be on the east coast again, but I’ll start with one.   Food.  And by that I mean the vegan options.  And taking it one step further, I mean establishments that are ENTIRELY vegan!  Living so close to home, aka NY, feels so great.  I forget how easy it is to find every little vegan item you want. Taco truck?  “We got that.”  Ice cream in a cone?  “got it.”  Raw samosas?  “Yup.”  How bout a huge vegan breakfast menu, fresh juice, then pie for dessert, or maybe a slice of turtle cheesecake?  “You know it!”  Ah yes, New York is wonderful.  Especially if you are a 7 month pregnant vegan.

Another reason living so close to home is great is my friends.  I haven’t lived back here since 2004, when I swore that California would be it for me.  While there is something so special to me about Cali, it feels so nice to be around people I’ve known for over a decade of your life.

So mushiness aside, lets talk food!  It was Sunday, and I wanted breakfast (what else is new).  Thanks to my Happy Cow app, and va voom – we find Champs family bakery. Champs is everything you think it should be.  Retro diner atmosphere, and a nice variety of menu options for the naughty and healthy vegan.   We waited about 30 minutes for a table, as the place is small.  Fine by me.  After all, it was Sunday.

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Mac and Cheese Pancake

The special was mac and cheese pancakes- say what?! We ordered one for the table.  It was pretty darn good. As for the rest of brunch, we all tried to keep a variety.  I opted for the classic, tempeh bacon, ‘sausage’, tofu scramble, and a piece of french toast.  Oh yes, a side of whip cream please.  My breakfast, the French Toast Slam, wasn’t bad.   As I am a scramble snob, and I think my scramble is above all.  Erik had warned me of this… I should’ve listened.  The blueberry pancakes were to die for!  As was the whip cream (not sure if this was made in house).  The Monte crisco was, eh.  I think the french toast needed to be a bit more fried.  I just said that didn’t I?  Never ever had I imagined to recommend more frying of anything, (please never let those words leave my mouth/keyboard again!)

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The French Toast Slam

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The Drunken Cowgirl

Erik’s breakfast was the Drunken Cowgirl.  Chili, potatoes, scramble, daiya cheddar, avocado, and toast.  It was great, especially with some hot sauce.  Steve had the Awesome Bowl, a healthier option, which sounded delish.  Quinoa, scramble, greens, peppers, and potatoes.

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The dessert case

As I got up to go to the ladies, I couldn’t help but notice a lovely filled with vegan goodness dessert case!  And again, all vegan.  It was entirely too hard to make a decision.  Places like that should be fined.  I knew we had a 3 hour drive home, and I was the only one opting to not let dessert slip on by, so I went with the Turtle cheesecake.  When I got back to the table, the waitress had packed us up some ginger cream cookies as well.  Thank You Ma’am!

All in all I will definitely be back at Champs.  The Tofu Rancheros, Enchiladas, and more of the dessert case will be calling my name next month perhaps when we return.   Oh and the Turtle cheesecake… simply devine.

IMG_2203Happy 40th Steve, Happy 32nd Meg, and Happy back to school weekend everyone!

 

Are you ready?!

photo (8)No I didn’t harvest all these vegetables today…  Its been so cold and rainy here, one would never know its June.  But this is a picture from one of our harvests last summer to remind you, excite you, and get you stoked for the Sheboygan summer farmers market!!

Vegpod will be in full effect this summer, starting tomorrow (Saturday June 8th) at Fountain Park, from 8-1pm.  Though we have been known to sell out early, so don’t sleep in too late!  If you haven’t seen us, or stopped by to taste any of our goodies, we will be offering our normal shebangs of Muffins, granolas, assorted hummus’, wraps, and At least one entree and side, soup, as well as one salad.  Vegpod will also be testing out the raw food market in Sheboygan this year.  Raw crackers, pizzas, burgers, cakes, and other tids and bits.

So whats on the menu for tomorrow? Rhubarb muffins, Lentil loaf with mashers and gravy, Raw Italian herb crackers, Eggless egg salad wraps, Fruit & Nut Granola, Chocolate Cherry Hemp Granola, Three Sisters Stew, and 5 varieties of Hummus.  We are having a hard time getting local produce this early in the season, but we did manage some rhubarb, and lettuce!  Most everything else is Gluten Free, organic, and of course vegan.  I did hear the weather should be sunny and beautiful, so come have lunch, and soak up some vitamin D.

Heartland Farm Sanctuary

HFSPigs

One thing I miss most about being in California or New York, is my veg-head friends.  It is a really special thing to gather over food amongst your fellow vegans.  It is almost cult-like, the way us vegans can obsess over trying the new veggie place in town, organize events based around veganism, new cult cook books, lectures, and even cartoons.  But cultish tendencies aside, I love being vegan, and I love having vegan friends.

When I heard about Heartland Farm Sanctuary thru random google searching, I decided it would be the perfect veggie adventure for some of my new vegan, and non vegan friends. Who can say no to a visit with cute rescued animals?!

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Ready for our tour!

Heartland started in 2009, as a place to help homeless farm animals.  Their mission is “To provide care for farm animals in need, nurture people through the human-animal bond, and foster respect and kindness toward animals and each other.”  Sounds great.

When starting our tour it was nice to see that there were at least ten other people along with us to see the place.  Heartland is located in the mountains about 20 miles outside of Madison, WI.  Great location to get people involved.

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The Llamas.  And what a view they have!

At the start of our tour, we met some ducks, turkeys, chickens, and some smaller pigs residing in the barn. As we made our way outdoors we got to hang with the llamas.  Its so easy to see how any child can fall in love and want to hang out here.  Heartland says it not just about people helping animals, but animals helping people.  They want the animal to provide a sense of comfort for kids at risk.  Whether it be emotional or physical traumas, or children with a challenged home life.

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Cherish and Taylor!

Next to the Llamas was a huge space for Cherish.  When she was brought in, she couldn’t stand and was very malnourished.  They brought in a ‘friend’ to keep her company until they can find her a proper home.  What a beauty!

IMG_0868Darien and Amy!

Next to Cherish and her friend were perhaps my favorite of all…. the goats and sheep!  All were so super friendly.  You could tell they loved human interaction.  I also think when Erik and I have the chance to finally retire from city life, we can start a tiny commune of goats.

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Lily and Lucy

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Curtis and his new BFF.

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Heartland has summer camp programs for kids as well as the barn tours which seem to happen at least once a month.  Its such a fun and easy way for anyone to get involved more with our own community and to teach and understand more about the value of life.

For more info on finding an Animal sanctuary possibly near you check this site.  There is of course the big ones such as the Watkins Glen location or the two in California.  I call these the big guys, due to there focus on veganism, and activism.  The host all sorts of benefit shows, which have included one of my favorite musicians, John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.  Here’s a clip: