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

Reading I missed earlier this month

UGHHHHHH

COOOOOOOL

YAAAAYYYY

Vegan vanity: Liquid eyeliner

When I first became vegan, the only transition that really occurred to me was the dietary one.

Then when people started asking me if that meant I would start to do away with non-vegan clothing and makeup and all the rest, I didn’t really know what to say except that I was in the process of evaluating that issue.

So part of my plant-based journey is an effort to more consciously understand what’s in the products I use, even the non-food ones. A big part of that includes my beauty products.

For about five years my attention my decision-making on the personal care and beauty product front has focused on finding naturally-based and paraben- and phthalate-free goods. Most of the new cosmetics I use are from Burt’s Bees* and Physicians Formula because of they’re good to my sensitive skin, cruelty-free and they seemed to lack nasty fragrances and irritants.

But I was surprised to learn that so-called “natural” and “allergen-free” and even non-animal-tested products aren’t necessarily vegan. Ugh, so much to worry about! What the hell!

Now that I have this new consideration to inform my choices, several assumptions have been turned on their head and I still have my budget to worry about. As much as I would love to shop exclusively at Petit Vour and Arbonne and not have to worry about the contents and quality of my products, the reality is that most of my products will come from the drug store. And testing out budget items has meant trying products that are vegan, but contain many of the synthetic ingredients I once eschewed (though my thoughts on parabens have shifted, thanks to posts such as this one).

Anyway, come on this cosmetic journey with me as I try to jazz up my amateur makeup routine and find affordable vegan products to love. As with every post on this blog, my efforts are exploratory and educational and aren’t meant to be authoritative.

Today: Liquid eyeliner!

I’ve futzed with liquid eyeliner a bit, namely trying to look schmancy on special occasions with a black line on the lid (possibly a cat eye if I have 15 minutes to kill on eyeliner), but I want to experiment with different colors and brands.

A few months ago I purchased two liners from the ultimate budget brand, Wet n Wild. I mean, it’s a cruelty-free brand and I’d heard its quality is improving, so why not check it out? The brand’s website also makes vegan shopping easy with this list, which I kept open on my phone while shopping at a Seattle Bartell Drugs.

Mega Liner Liquid Liner in Indigo and H20 Proof Liquid Liner in black

Mega Liner Liquid Liner in Indigo and H20 Proof Liquid Liner in black

More

Trader Joe’s needs an intervention

Anyone else get the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer that came in the mail a week or two ago?

I get that it’s pumpkin and pumpkin spice season. I don’t have a huge [plant-based] beef with them (mmm pie), but I’m glad about the current backlash because it’s been getting out of hand. And I don’t appreciate the two loves of my life, beer and coffee, getting tainted with pumpkin spice everywhere. (The Starbucks PSL isn’t even vegan with soy and it tastes like vomit, so.)

Trader Joe’s clearly doesn’t give a shit.

No, it’s ride or die for Trader Joe’s on the pumpkin train. YOLO.

For your pleasure and horror, all of the pumpkin-related items on sale (and allegedly exist) at Trader Joe’s: 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.

Dispatch from the CSA rabbit hole

Well hello there. I hope you’ve had a lovely summer. I’ve continued to cook away in a constant struggle to keep up with all the beautiful goods coming through my kitchen via CSA.

Let’s review what I’ve come up with in the past several weeks.

First: Pickling!

I’m a pickle whore, no joke. My whole life. So it’s been fun to work up some quick pickles with the pickling cucumbers that I’ve received and especially the radishes when I don’t have time or ideas for anything special for them. The radishes are perfect to have on hand for salad fixins.

Next: Pastas! More

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