Friday, July 31, 2015

Where We've Been

I'm not talking much about food in this post, although most of what I ate on vacation did turn out to be vegan. I just have some pretty photos I want to share of one of the most beautiful spots I've seen -- St. John. For several years now our family has been regrouping on this tiny island. There are only a couple of hotels on the island and thus far we have opted to rent villas. We go on the off-season to make it affordable (hot) so being on top of a mountain makes it much more pleasant -- there's plenty of cooling breeze up there! This first photo is sort of an artsy shot through the funky spindles of the lower terrace of our villa. The Westin complex and it's dock in Great Cruz Bay is below. We rent a dinghy from the Westin each year so we can check out isolated beaches and coves which have no other access.
My favorite time of day on the island is the early morning, before the sun has risen over the hills when it's still quiet except for a few cockadoodledos. This is a shot from our upper terrace next to our pool. All the tilework and blown glass in our villa, The Sapphire Breeze, was created by the professional artists who own the house. Not much of it is featured in these photos, but it's stunning.


The island is in a drought currently, so you can see that the verdant tropical isle of years past features more shades of brown. Still, the more muted palette reveals some interesting things I may have otherwise missed. This tree is seriously struggling -- appearing basically dead, but yet . . . it blooms! This immediately reminded me of [spoiler] the white tree of Gondor in the "Return of the King" LOTR fans will understand. I am rooting for this stalwart little tree which, while fighting for its life, also plays host to AIR PLANTS! This is a real world, full grown version of my own fairly recent obsession -- see this old photo of one on my kitchen table:

This healthy little guy is what the wild tilisandria would look like if not enduring a drought. I know this because my little house plant looked like the wild one after I'd been away a week.

Back to the villa -- sometimes it really was too hot to hang outside, but look at the view from my bed! That's the infinity pool right outside the french doors, and Great Cruz Bay beyond.

Finally, my week in paradise was not all play and no work (though my work is actually a form of play too!) I brought supplies for a few prayer beads that I made for InspireDesigns, the wonderful company where I work. I noticed how pretty the beads looked draped around a conch shell up on our veranda. What do you think? I love my job!



Oh -- I almost forgot to follow up on the food I mentioned earlier, and with good reason. Life on St. John is very active with snorkeling and hiking and boating and jeeping all over steep and narrow mountain roads. By the time we returned to our villa each day we normally just boiled a batch of pasta  and ate it with a bunch of vegetables -- vegan but not gluten-free. The gluten does not bother me as much as cheese would have, but I'm back on the gluten-free plan at home now, no worse for the wear.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Inspired by a Harvest

We've just returned from a week-long trip so my garden was full of surprises. There were gobs of Chinese longbeans, the sugar snap peas had died, there were a couple of cucumbers and, for the first time ever, there were okra. There were two of them.

Since I'm unfamiliar with the okra plant, I decided to start small with only one organic plant. Wondering about the best use of two little okra pods, I opened Veganomicon to the gumbo page! The gumbo I made was only very loosely based upon Isa and Chandra's recipe, as I utilized what was on hand, but it was DELICIOUS served over wild rice -- rich, slippery, smoky and warm.

My daughter has been vegetarian for a couple of months now so I'm sharing my experience with veggies, including vegan dishes like this. This meal was a HUGE hit with the kid. My husband liked it too, but there wasn't much left for him by the time he came down to eat. I'm hoping for a bumper crop of okra and looking forward to the next batch of vegan gumbo!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Little Vegan Food Porn

Though no longer vegan, I'm still mostly eating vegan foods. I'm careful to select organic and unprocessed foods, for the most part, unless I find myself in a circumstance where they're unavailable.

This gorgeous photo of a recent indulgence represents my straying from those clean, unprocessed standards (but only a little bit). This is coconut milk ice cream in chocolate. It was so good with the tart/sweet berries! I've found I can't really have this stuff in my house because I can't stop thinking about it, so I'm thankful it comes in pints. I had two days of decadence, and now it's over. . . . 'til the next time!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Spring Rolls!

My friend, Liat, showed me how to make these a while back. I'm still perfecting the technique since these get pretty messy, but I'm always looking for ways to make healthy food interesting and new for my family. Besides these fresh raw veggies, I prepared a little bit of rice cellophane noodles, mixed them with some tamari and a little fish sauce and then rolled them all into a moistened brown rice paper:

I saw Nigella Lawson rolling spring rolls like sushi and then slicing them thus, but you can see how they'd fall apart, and they did, which didn't detract from their flavor. Next time I'll stick to a burrito-style roll. These can be enjoyed with plum sauce, tamari, hot mustard, sriracha, whatever you like. They were a hit in my household, mess and all!