No-new groceries check-in

I’m still three days away from pay day and I have bought zero new groceries, true to my goal.

Gotta say, I’m quite impressed with my own pantry-stocking skills. And the beginning of CSA season was admittedly a great help.

I cheated financially and went to dinner with a friend and got drinks with more friends last Friday night, but those were plans made before I knew I’d be strapped for cash. But because I’m using some creativity in the kitchen, I’ve still been spending very little.

Here are some highlights: More

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The no-new-grocery challenge

Budget- and mental health-wise, I hope the days are behind me of eating chips and leftover s’mores ingredients from an old camping trip for dinner.

But I’m still a writer trying to make rent in Seattle, where the cost of living and taxes are high (I love you so much Seattle, but you hurt me sometimes).

I got paid on Friday, but after going over my budget, I realized that I’d still have near-nothing left by the time my checks for rent, my CSA and a health insurance thing clear.

Not wanting to swim in more credit card debt (which is where I put my car repairs and birthday presents to loved ones), I challenged myself to not buy any more groceries until I get paid again June 13. More

What are you doing not buying this book?

In the past year or so, I’ve had a beautiful culinary experience.

I mean, I love cooking just about all of the time, but I got to do something really special.

I recipe tested for Vegan Richa, a vegan recipe author you need to follow right now if you don’t already. She assembled her first cookbook full of Indian delights, pushing out recipes to the testers, copy editing, taking our feedback and committing the most beautiful acts of food photography.

And, now that her book is out, I can tell you about it!

All of the drool.

All of the drool.

It was excruciatingly hard to keep it a secret on this blog. I was blowing my own mind with the dishes I was able to churn out in my tiny Seattle kitchen with Richa’s guidance. I never thought I would be able to make authentic homemade Indian food, but now I can! I wanted to post my crappy cell phone pictures up here every time I cranked out a Richa dish.

But now you’re going to make them, because you’re going to buy this book.

Admittedly, you’ll probably have to acquire some Indian staples over time, like fenugreek leaves, mustard and cumin seeds and mung dal if you don’t have those on hand already. But once you pick them up, you’ll be able to create Richa goodness forever. (Who knew I’d ever keep nigella seeds in my spice cabinet?) More

A very vegan Christmas party

I hosted a party on Saturday.

My bestest friend who lives in D.C. was visiting Seattle and I needed to show her how many awesome people are in Seattle so she can move back here. Also I hadn’t thrown a boy-girl party in awhile.

Said bestest friend, Johanna, helped me calm down by reducing my planned menu in half. I tend to get carried away.

This was a great help, but even then I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to clean and I cut my pinky on a can of artichokes, causing a great gushing forth of blood, so there was enough stress.

Regardless! I threw together awesome food with the help of my friends and everyone loved it and none of my omnivore friends made a big deal about how everything was vegan.

This particular bash was a Happy Herbivore affair. Her recipes are sans bullshit and delicious.

Because of my gushing finger that delayed the food-making process, I didn’t have time to take any photos, but I can show you evidence of the demolishing of the food:

My menu:

From the new Happy Herbivore Holidays and Gatherings

Spinach and artichoke dip (with home baked tortilla chips)

White bean dill dip (with veggies)

Mac and cheese bites (which got rave reviews from the guest of honor)

From Happy Herbivore Abroad

Decadent brownies

Hot chocolate (with vanilla vodka on hand for spiking)

Then from Nigella, the mulled cider I make every fall and winter.

One friend brought pesto. Others brought chocolate-covered almonds, salt and vinegar chips (DROOL) and other snacky items that went great. More friends brought pastries and Rice Krispies treats that probably weren’t vegan, but I was happy that my friends cleaned those up, too.

Cooking is one way I show love, so I’m glad my friends enjoyed everything and had a great time. Just more proof that you, too, can fool your friends with wonderful plant-based goodies.

Thanksgiving!

Doesn’t matter that I no longer eat turkey. Thanksgiving is still a fantastic holiday, perhaps even more so because my approach to it is so new and wonderful and I have more ownership and pride in my feast than ever before.

This was my second plant-based Thanksgiving, so a few things remained the same as last year as I dined with my omnivorous family in Olympia. Mom set aside some potatoes and stuffing for me to load with veggie broth instead of chicken broth and cream. I also brought my own pie, made my own gravy and threw together an appetizer and salad to share.

However, I tried a few new things. Whereas I drew most of my inspiration from Isa last year, this year I turned to the newest Happy Herbivore book, Holidays and Gatherings.

I had been paging through my H&G book for a few weeks now, but this was my first time using it. It is so great! It collects a lot of recipes from books past, so there aren’t tons of surprises for someone like me who has all of Lindsay’s recipe books. However, it organizes the recipes into the perfect holidays and occasions to cook them (even though I took from other chapters to work into my Thanksgiving) and also brings in some new delights.

When all was done, I was so pleased with the results. Check out the highlights:

What were some of your Thanksgiving revelations/highlights this year?

Store-bought natural peanut butter? RIP-OFF. Make your own, boss!

In recent years, of course, I got into eating natural, no-crazy-sugar-or-other-bullshit-added peanut butter.

But have you seen straight up peanut butter in the store?! Freaking $6, $7, $8 – who has that kind of cash for luxury peanut butter?! I don’t live near a Grocery Outlet anymore, so I’ve paid crap prices for peanut butter a few times. Luckily I don’t go through peanut butter that quickly.

My baller friend Ashley, one of my high school besties, posted about making her own peanut butter over at her blog.

ZOMG I HAD TO DO THIS.

More

#protip

xoJane is not exactly a great source of culinary advice, but I really enjoyed this tipsheet on what to do with veggie scraps. Usually I compost or collect them for veggie stock. Now I want broccoli slaw.

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