Small-Bite Sundays: January 7, 2018

Small-Bite Sundays -- winter

Hello, friends! I’m dusting off the Small-Bite Sundays series after letting it fall by the wayside during Vegan MoFo and the holiday madness. I’ve also given it a mini makeover, with more winter-appropriate images. Winter weekends are particularly appropriate for snuggling and reading, watching, and eating, aren’t they?

Neil nose

How has your 2018 been thus far? Frankly, ours has been a little rough. My Grammy was hospitalized for a few days; luckily they think it was just an extreme bout of vertigo and she’s been discharged. But it’s difficult being hundreds of miles from family when these kinds of things happen. Closer to home, we lost a member of our extended canine family — Neil, who was essentially our nephew-dog. Our friends Beth and Derek raised him after his mom was hit by a car, so he was quite literally their baby. Neil was a near-daily part of my own life for about three years when Beth worked with me; we both brought our dogs into the office and had all sorts of routines for them, mostly treat-based. Puppy Playtime was a crucial part of every day, and in later years we would throw handfuls of Cheerios on the ground and stand back as Moria and Neil snuffled them all up like tiny vacuum cleaners. Neil had an outsized personality for such a little guy, and there’s a rat terrier-dachshund-shaped hole in all our hearts right about now. I haven’t done him justice with this brief mention, but his story isn’t mine to tell, and quite frankly I’m still in shock that I’ll never get another extremely thorough — and extremely wet — hand-cleaning from this loud, opinionated, ridiculous, and loving doggo’s long Doxie tongue.

So, 2018. Time to pick up, y’hear? No more of this. Only smooth sailing ahead.

On that forward-looking note, I’ve been musing about the future of the blog. As you’ll read in this post, I have still not recovered my cooking mojo. While I have prepared sweets and savories for various holiday gatherings, the nightly meal is still exclusively Steven’s to prepare, and he’s been shouldering the task with admirable fortitude. (He’s even continuing to do most of the cleaning, which is an unexpected and lovely bonus.) The other night, however, I decided I wanted some nacho sauce to accompany a bag of tortilla chips we’d brought home from a gathering. I pulled up a recipe for that ubiquitous vegan cheesy sauce, the kind based on boiled potatoes, carrots, and cashews. I didn’t follow it to the letter, not bothering with measurements or anything finicky or fussy. And yet this relatively simple preparation left me irritated and quite glad I’m no longer the one in charge of our meals. I guess I’m not ready for a return to the kitchen just yet.

So, in the months to come, I’ll be sharing fewer original recipes and more general lifestyle-related content. Frankly, that’s where the blog has been headed for a while. There are thousands of fantastic recipe developers out there, and I will gladly leave the original recipe creation to them. It’s never been my passion, especially in the past few years. These days, I get more excited about finding amazing vegan food while traveling, about helping others discover that a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to be a challenge, and about sharing tips for making that lifestyle as fulfilling and fun as it can be. I hope you’ll still read along as I make this shift, and I welcome ideas for topics you’d like to see covered.

And now, on to this week’s small bites.

Small bites to read, winter edition

Jenny Marie’s tips for easy, sustainable, and inclusive veganism had me nodding my head nonstop as I read. This is an all-around inspiring read for new vegans and old-timers alike. She’s pegged it to Veganuary, which isn’t as much of a trend here in the States as it is in the UK, but it’s also more broadly applicable for the new year. I think it’s beneficial to sit back every so often and evaluate whether you’re aligning your animal ethics with the larger social justice movement, and Jenny’s post is a great reminder to do just that. The piece also includes plenty of practical knowledge, including tips on dining in public, transitioning to cruelty-free and vegan household products, and more.


This is an older read, and probably most relevant for those of us in the U.S., but I wanted to share it because it articulated something that had been bothering me. In essence, this piece reminds us to be careful and considered in our language — especially when we use the term “pedophile” to describe a man who had a known history of pursuing younger (much younger) women. He’s pretty darn disgusting, but not a pedophile, and calling him one is simplistic and problematic. (Folks outside the States, this is related to Roy Moore, a nasty senate candidate in Alabama who was widely predicted to win despite a consistent stream of allegations that he pursued and may have molested girls/women as young as 14. He lost in an upset, but no thanks to white voters. 63% of white women voters preferred this pathetic creep, whereas 98% of black women voters threw their support behind Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate. There is a freaking LOT to unpack in this senate race, but I’m digressing.)


I quite enjoyed Gigi Griffis’ summary of how she and her partner chose their travel destinations for 2017 and how those places did or didn’t live up to expectations. Gigi is a travel-independent writer and blogger who brings her dog Luna (!) everywhere, and her slow-travel lifestyle is quite appealing. (How could you NOT want to spend a month in the Slovenian Alps?!) I probably read more travel blogs than food blogs these days, and Gigi’s down-to-earth approach always appeals. I appreciated this behind-the-scenes look at her past year.

Small bites to watch, winter edition

As usual, this is the shortest of my small bites sections! Steven and I just started the third season of Broadchurch. We loved the first season, would rather forget the second, and so far are enjoying the third. This one seems a return to the mood and style of the first season, and I’m down for the slow-burn pacing and clever way the original characters are finding their way into this new storyline. Crossing my fingers the rest of this season is as strong as the first couple episodes! (And yes, I know it aired last spring; we’re behind the times.)

Small bites to eat, winter edition

Last night a fair few of my local friends got together for a belated friend gift exchange, which we morphed into a bit of an Irish funeral for Neil. Our friend Rachel made the hot caramelized onion-bacon dip that’s become a staple at all our gatherings, so I wanted to contribute something a little healthier. I brought along this buffalo chickpea dip and it was a smash hit. It’s a lighter take on a super rich and super creamy version another friend brought to our holiday party; this one relies on an ingenious hummus base and incorporates vegan mozz to temper the buffalo kick. I negated the healthiness somewhat by adding about 1/4 cup Earth Balance — I wanted to elevate it from a hot hummus dip into something a bit creamier. I might tinker with this recipe further and share my own version down the line, because it was a winner.


Minimalist Baker's ramenWe had Minimalist Baker’s ramen for dinner this past Friday, and holy smokes. I was blown away. The flavors are incredible! Steven rocked this recipe, using Better Than Bouillon’s No-Beef bouillon as the broth base and layering it with lots of umami flavors. Topped with miso-glazed baby carrots, baby bok choy, and tofu, this ramen currently sits atop my Best Eats of 2018 list… a list I literally just invented and that, let’s be honest, is quite short at this point. But that’s not to diminish the deliciousness of this recipe, because it is delicious! Make it!


Another Steven production, this artichoke and red bean étouffée from Meet the Shannons hit the spot during a painfully cold week. Super flavorful and packed full of veggies, this recipe also yielded quite a lot. More leftovers for me!


Phew. That’s about it for now. I’ll be back later this week with a long-overdue roundup of my brief sojourn in Rotterdam last year. Happy second week of 2018, y’all.

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Lookin’ Back: Christmas 2012

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m really lucky to have such a veg-friendly family. This past Christmas, our dinner table was overflowing with a variety of delicious vegan options. They were supplemented by a cheesy lasagna and some sort of meat in sauce that my aunt brought, but we won’t talk about those. ;) Let’s focus on the animal-free stuff!

But first, our traditional Christmas morning breakfast: cinnamon buns and grapefruit (not pictured)! Mom used the same Vegan Yum Yum cinnamon bun recipe she’s used for the past three years, and these were as heart-stoppingly decadent as ever. This year, I could barely manage to eat a quarter of mine, it was that rich! Here’s the buns pre-eating on Christmas morning:

A glass pan of baked cinnamon rolls being topped with a cream cheese icing.


After a morning of intimate immediate family present opening, our guests arrived and it was time for dinner. Mom had a bit of a panic because we were running late with our preparations, but my brother and I stepped in and made sure we were on track. We were a good team!

Our first course was a Mexicali Chopped Salad I prepared. My mom ended up whipping up the dressing based on an internet recipe I can no longer find, but rest assured that it was cilantro-y, lime-y, and absolutely delicious. The salad included romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, pinto beans, diced avocado, and homemade tortilla strips.

Small bowls of a choppe salad topped with thin tortilla strips.

Christmas salad!

Our next course was even greener than our salad. My brother took advantage of Mom’s Vitamix (oh how I covet it!) and created a spinach-y, spicy blended soup. I don’t know what he put in it, but I recall a curry spice blend and lots of flavor. It might not have been the prettiest soup, but it packed a tasty punch. My uncle described it as “like drinking a salad” – he meant it as a compliment, too!

A large ceramic tureen filled with a silky, olive-green soup.

Green soup.

And then – finally! – we set to work on the main course. My (non-vegan) aunt had an old paper copy of a recipe for something called African Rabat, a veggie-laden stew laced with all sorts of comforting, warming spices. (We started calling it “rabbit” eventually, a very non-vegan name for a very vegan dish!) The recipe made an insanely huge amount of stew, so we cut it down some – but still managed to fill my parents’ large wok precariously full. We ate leftover rabbit for days! To serve the stew on Christmas, though, Mom picked up some sourdough bread bowls from Panera for herself, my brother, and me, so our vegan main course was super filling. We managed to stuff ourselves with side dishes, too – I gently seasoned and then roasted three varieties of colorful cauliflower, and my sister made a vegan version of the classic sweet potato casserole dish. She used a liberal hand with the Earth Balance and brown sugar and then she topped it with a thick layer of Dandies, so it was a super sweet dish – really more of a dessert! I’ll excuse her, though – she is pregnant, after all! ;)

In the foreground is a small plate with roasted cauliflower and sweet potato casserole. In the background is a bowl filled with a bread bowl filled with stew!

The main event!

Needless to say, we were STUFFED after dinner! I barely ate a third of my bread bowl, and I was still full. (Don’t worry, I ate my leftovers the next day.) A few hours later, after the exertion of distributing and opening gifts, we were ready to fill our bellies with even more food – this time of the sweet variety! Besides the multitude of non-vegan desserts, we had three veg options. First up is my dad’s cheesecake. Apparently Dad has been quite the vegan cheesecake-maker; he’s experimented with both cashew-based and nut-free varieties because my sister is allergic to nuts. This particular cake was cashew-based, and it was fantastic. The bottom layer was a simple vanilla, and then he topped it with a sweet orange layer. Finally, he covered the whole thing in a sweet, tangy cranberry sauce. Delicious!

A tall, multi-layer cheesecake topped with cranberry sauce.

Non-cheesy cheesecake of deliciousness.

My contribution to the dessert table was this Candy Cane Bundt Cake from Meet the Shannons. Filled with more sugar and Earth Balance that I’ve cooked with in a long, long time, this pound cake was rich and dense, with a fun swirl of peppermint-y cake in the middle. The crushed candy cane topping finished it nicely.

A bundt cake with a slice or two cut out. In the middle of the cake you can see a pinkish colored layer.

Candy cane cake!

Our final vegan dessert (other than the vegan date balls and candied nuts my aunt brought) was a pumpkin-banana-chocolate-chip quick bread my brother made. You can’t go wrong with that combination, and this yummy bread was perfect with a hot caffeinated beverage.

A loaf of dense, dark orange-brown bread studded with chocolate chips.

Bread of many ingredients.

Whew! I’m full just looking at al this food (or maybe from the dinner I just finished). This was truly a wonderful Christmas, both thanks to the food and the company. I have a pretty great family. :)

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway before Sunday! I’ve got three gently used books up for grabs.