Saturday, October 26, 2013

Of Bread and Tomatoes

Yes, you can grow tomatoes on the Northern Oregon coast! I just harvested my last and largest one. I took it in a little on the under ripe side because the plant is all but dead. The days are shorter and colder as well so I didn't think it would finish ripening on the vine. Here it is next to my keys to give an idea of scale:
Container grown, organic tomato. Grown on the Northern Oregon coast!
I have to confess, I gobbled all the cashew cheese I made in the previous post without taking pictures of the finished product. I will try to do better next time. The cheese was delicious!
I believe I have mentioned that I am gluten free too. I will have been gluten free for 2 years next month. I admit, going gluten free has not been easy for me. I didn't slip, but I did twice deliberately try to reintroduce gluten to see if I could eat bread again. Both times I had negative reactions not long after consuming the gluten product. I seem to be getting even more sensitive than before.
After failing the last gluten tolerance test, I resigned myself to the idea that I will have to get used to being gluten free. Fortunately, I have found a wonderful blog by Laurie Sadowski with a lot of yummy sounding recipes that are not only gluten free but vegan too! I have been so impressed with her recipes and blog that I have purchased her two books, The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, and The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies. I don't make or eat a lot of desserts but, the holidays are coming and I wanted to expand my gluten-free horizons. So far, I have tried three recipes from the AFC Bakes Bread book. I haven't tried the recipes in the other book yet but will soon.
The first recipe I tried was the Wholesome Flax Bread. It is delicious! Now, I am not going to lie, it doesn't taste exactly like homemade wheat bread but, like the cashew cheese, it satisfies all the same points that wheat bread and cheese from cows does. I sliced the bread up and put it in the freezer. I pull out what I need and pop it into the toaster oven. OK, I also acknowledge that I am not the best food photographer, I will have to work on that. I didn't use a flash on this and the light was low. I ran it through Photoshop to get the color looking like it should.The low-light picture is a bit blurry.
Wholesome Flax Bread

One wheat item I really and truly miss is flour tortillas. I always made my own. I was pleased to find a tortilla recipe using buckwheat, which in case you didn't know, is not a wheat and doesn't have gluten. They had just the right feel and taste! Yesterday I made chickpea bannock to accompany a veggie and GF noodle soup and salad. I made spicy maple baked tofu as well. The tofu recipe is my own riff on many such recipes. The Allergy-Free Cook recipes also use minimally processed sweeteners such as maple syrup, molasses, and dates.
To sum it all up, yum! I am going to enjoy these cookbooks. I am putting the links to her blog and website in and will state that I am in no way affiliated with The Allergy-Free Cook brand. I am just a new fan!
I am slowly finding my footing on the Northern Oregon Coast here as a gluten-free vegan. I think I will feel I have truly arrived when I am able to have my own garden to grow my own food. I am looking forward to that one day.
I will do my best to get pictures of the next batch of vegan cheese I make!

Do you have a favorite gluten-free, vegan bread recipe?

Happy eating,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Three Vegan Cheeses

"Are you vegan?"
I was recently asked this question by my surgeon during my initial appointment with her.
It is a good question. Fortunately, I could answer "Yes! I am a whole foods vegan." However, I know that just because one is vegan doesn't mean one eats healthily. I mean, Oreo cookies are vegan ( and no, I don't eat them)!  It did get me to thinking though so hang on tight, here we go...

Slowly, ever so slowly, I am climbing back into blogging. It has been a challenging past few months. I have posted some of the details on my art blog so will not go into them here. I will just say that I am here and I am on the road to healing body and heart. 
I have a bit of downtime on my healing journey and am re-evaluating several aspects of my life. One of those aspects is my eating. I do pretty well in the food department but, there is always room for improvement. I have decided to get a bit radical and cut out nearly all, if not all, processed or packaged food. Funny how that is a radical act these days, not so in the past when a household produced and made nearly all of their food.
So, what does cutting out package/process foods look like? It sounds so simple, just don't buy it! I suspect it will be more difficult than it sounds. I have to admit, I don't really have too far to go so it will not be a huge leap for me but, that last little bit might be challenging. The only processed food I currently eat is a handful of condiments, store bought tofu, organic brown rice cakes and rice noodles, and the occasional bit of chocolate.
I keep organic canned beans on hand for emergency/disaster preparedness. They are occasionally cycled into food prep to keep them up to date. We live in a rugged area on the Northern Oregon Coast and our town is big on being prepared for the inevitability of being cut off. 
I don't have my own garden yet. We currently rent and the yard is landscaped. I do have a few containers of herbs and veggies. I would like to find a way to grow more.
Living in a somewhat isolated area, much of my food is purchased in bulk at a food co-op about an hours drive away or by mail-order. A few things are purchased from our town's natural food store and veggies are purchased in the summer from a farmer's market and CSA.
So, I am going to be blogging about this journey. I am really not sure what it will look like yet but I am sure there will be surprises along the way. The first step will be to take an honest survey on what I currently use and have on hand and what I will need to make myself. That will be in my next post.
In the meantime, I  have three vegan nut cheeses in the process of being made. I am using the Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook as my guide. I have made some of these before and really loved them. I don't really like the packaged vegan cheeses available in the stores, they don't seem to agree with my digestion. I made a quinoa rejuvelac as a culturing agent. Here are the fermenting cheeses:
Top cheese, sharp cheddar, bottom right, gruyere, bottom left, cashew chevre.

There still are a few steps to make to complete the cheeses once they have fermented but they won't take long. I have made the cheddar and chevre before. This is my first try with the gruyere. All are made with a cashew nut base. I will show the finished cheeses when they are done.
I have a shopping trip planned for Monday so I will need to get that pantry survey done tomorrow. I would be interested in hearing from any of  you who have taken steps, no matter how tiny, toward reducing your processed and packaged food intake. 
To your health!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Preparing for the Big One

It is no secret that living on the Northern Oregon coast has potential hazards. Japan's earthquake and tsunami highlighted one possibility rather starkly. Recently, new information has been released to the public on the potential catastrophes that can hit our little corner of the world one of which is a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. Unfortunately for any area along the Pacific Rim, it is really a matter of when, not if. In addition to the possible 9.0 earthquake and following tsunami, our area has the possibility of being cut off for weeks, months, and even a year!
I have mentioned the wonderful community we are fortunate to live in several times. Another of the strong points in this community is the active, and dare I say activist, participation of many of its members in emergency preparedness. Our little town is not only being used as a model for emergency preparedness but our community leaders in the field are actively reaching out and training others how to get their own towns ready. It is most impressive!
I recently attended the annual Nehalem Bay Emergency Volunteer Corps meeting. Now, I am not a huge fan of meetings but my mate is involved in C.E.R.T. (community emergency response team) and I appreciate what all these hard working people do and want to do my part in being prepared. When we arrived at the local community center where the meeting was held, every seat had a MRE (unfortunately too many of us know what these are but for those who don't: Meal:Ready-to-Eat) and a bottle of water. Mine was beef enchilada. Hmmm, are there vegan MRE's? Not at the meeting but I decided that I needed to look that up. Here is what they look like:

The Penne with Vegetable Sausage is vegetarian but not vegan. Quite honestly these would make me physically ill to eat them. There was a person or two who told me that if I was hungry enough I would eat them. I had to respond that I would only eat them if I was on the point of death. Why would I take a healthy body and deliberately eat something that would make me ill in a critical emergency survival situation? That could actually kill me faster than starving to death!
Well, the point of this post is not to criticize the lack of vegan MRE's in the world. I did do a little research, they make 12 vegetarian MRE's four of those are vegan and not all the components, such as the desserts, are vegan. As you can see from the ingredients list, they contain a lot of chemicals too.
This did make me think. Having ready to eat meals vs. meals one has to cook is a good thing to have in the emergency kit. It would be difficult to have enough instant meals for a year but we should have enough to see us through a week or two while we slowly get the basics of life together as we recover.
I have pretty much pared down any packaged foods in our daily diet to just a few cans of beans for quick meals and canned or jarred tomatoes. I buy tofu in bulk for the most part in addition to nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.. I need to figure out what we could store for emergencies that can actually be rotated into our daily diet. Not an easy task. So far, I have decided on aceptic packs of organic tofu (even though I wince at the waste), and instant dried soups, beans, and other meals that one can add water to. Not quite ready to eat I know but close. I will have some canned beans, tomatoes, and a few bottled condiments too.
I have a food dehydrator. I need to get it going on instant meals. I should also note that at this time, we do have enough emergency food to cook and eat for about a week but it isn't instant.
This will take a while but if I work steadily away, I should have a nice supply in over the next couple of months. Our house is barely outside of the tsunami inundation zone. If we are fortunate in an emergency, we will be able to shelter in place. There are ways to get water and our emergency preparedness people have put together some rather wonderful solutions utilizing "third world" technology. Both my mate and I have experience in living in conditions with no electricity, running water or sewage.
We do need to be prepared and, as a gluten-free vegan, it is up to me to make sure my vegan needs  are taken care of. I could go on about the wonderful solutions the folks of the EVC have put together to help our community get through the worst. I will place their link in "community resources". You can also look at the website here. They are in the process of updating it soon.
So what did I do about the MREs? Well, I took them home and put them with our emergency things. There will be people in need and they can either be given or traded if needed during a disaster.
I will post updates as I work my way through this necessity.
Do you have emergency supplies? Plans? I know it can be a pain and no one really likes to think about the possibility of actually having to rely on them. I am fortunate to live in a community that has a dedicated and enthusiastic emergency preparedness group.
Take a look at their website and definitely click on the blog link scroll down and read the post on Living Through Sandy too.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Quest for Cherry Pie

Photo from
Tomorrow is my birthday. I will officially be over 50. I decided I didn't want cake. I decided I want cherry pie to celebrate with instead. In fact, from the moment I thought about cherry pie for my birthday, I suddenly had an intense craving for cherry pie. Thinking back, I don't remember the last time I had a lovely piece of cherry pie! It has been a few years.
Today we set out up the coast to shop and do errands. We went all the way to Astoria and to the Astoria Food Co-op.
Alas, the cherry pie is not to be! I could not find organic frozen cherries, let alone canned anywhere between here and Astoria. We stopped at every grocery store. No cherries. As to finding a ready-made, gluten free, vegan, organic cherry pie...Well, that would be expecting a lot!
I knew that it isn't cherry season and therefore was not expecting fresh organic cherries but I had hoped to find frozen ones.
It looks like the cherry pie will have to wait. At the moment, I don't even want a birthday treat.
At the moment, I don't feel over 50 , I feel like a rather disappointed 5 year old!
Now, I know I will have an enjoyable day tomorrow. I have no worries there. When asked what I wanted for my birthday gift I chose a rather extravagant one for me. I will take a painting trip down the coast to enjoy and capture the natural beauty of this incredible area later this summer in honor of tomorrow. I will save up for it and I know a few special places I can stop and enjoy a meal.

 I will eventually enjoy a piece of cherry pie and will savor it all the more when that splendid day arrives.

Finally, given the sad news in the world and in my country at this time, being deprived of cherry pie on my date of birth is a small trifle. My heart hurts for the families who have recently lost loved ones.

I have to say though, cherry pie definitely makes the world a better place!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Our Natural Food Store

Natural Foods in Manzanita
Until I moved to the coast with my mate, I never realized how spoiled I was with easy access to a plentiful variety of vegan and organic food ingredients. Our little town is fortunate to have Mother Nature's Natural Foods.
I need to explain a bit. To get to another natural food store or a store that carries enough organic and natural food I have to drive anywhere from 22 to 40 miles north up a winding coast highway that occasionally closes due to floods and slides. I haven't found anything to the south closer than that. It is 22 miles to Seaside which has a tiny health food store with some bulk items and no produce. There is a Safeway that carries some organic produce and a very limited selection of so called natural convenience foods. To get to a place with a greater selection of the foods I need, I drive the 40 miles to Astoria and shop at the Astoria Food Coop. There I get my organic bulk supplies, including tofu in bulk, spices, etc.. I usually pick up some produce too but fresh produce needs to be replenished frequently. I don't make the trip to Astoria more than once a month. During the off seasons of the Farmer's Market, I rely on Mother Nature's for my produce and a few additional items. 
To be fair, there are two other little grocery stores in town. The one across the street from Mother Nature's is the only other one we have shopped at. My mate is the one who shops there for the odd item for himself as much of the merchandise is for the seasonal visitors, but they do have a few bits of organic produce too. I have only been in the other one (the third store) once and do not shop there for several reasons which I will not go into here.
There is a Costco up the coast but we choose not to have a membership there as they do not carry much of anything we need and we like to shop local as much as possible.
Finally, we also use online shopping for items that are harder to find such as cacao nibs and vegan vitamin supplements.
As I have mentioned in other, these limitations actually have been a blessing. They have forced us to simplify and streamline our eating habits which have resulted in even healthier eating. Vegan convenience and junk food is plentiful in more populated areas. I have found we could do just fine without all that.
To be honest, sometimes when time is tight and I am tired, I wouldn't mind being able to pop in someplace for something fast and convenient! Thankfully, with a little bit of organization, I can be prepared for those times.
So, if you ever find yourself in our little town looking for natural foods and a few vegan and gluten-free supplies, Mother Nature's Natural Food Store is the way to go. 
One of the wonderful things about living in a small town is that you get to know your people. Here are a few from Mother Nature's:
Left to right: Jan (owner), Thomas, and Syd.
Not the best picture as the batteries were going out in my camera. Here is a view down our main street with the store in the shingled building on the left:
Main street in Manzanita The ocean waves look like a white bar at the very end

Ultimately I would like to be able to grow the bulk of our food needs myself. Given that our area is at the mercy of Mother Nature (the entity, not the food store!) being self sufficient is really the best solution.
That is a whole 'nother post.
Well, the rain has moved in and is pounding the windows. The ocean is roaring above the sound of the rain and dark has fallen. Time to wrap up this post and get a good night's sleep. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Herbal Skills Share

Our local Herbal Skills share group thinning Arnica
I am so happy to have found a local Herbal Skills Share group. Tuesday afternoon we all converged on one of Vivi's (our local herbalist of Tallwoman Tonics) herb plots to thin her Arnica plants. I have only lived on the Northern Oregon Coast for just over two years so I am still learning what grows here and what is available in our local growing region.
We were all a bit surprised at how interwoven the Arnica roots were. They made a thick mat in the soil and thinning was no easy task. We all tackled it as you can see in the above photo and it got done. We all took home Arnica plants for our gardens. My personal garden is all in pots as the house we rent has its own lovely landscaping. I will take some a picture of the plants and report on how well they are doing.
Vivi started us out with a talk on the properties and uses of Arnica. She always has several cross-references on hand in addition to her own knowledge so we get a good bit of information. Everyone chips in any additional knowledge as well. She did mention which variety she is growing which I neglected to write down but I found it on her blog! It is Arnica chamissonis.  At the moment she has a picture of the plant and flower on her current post.
I personally have used Arnica as a topical lotion or oil to heal bumps and bruises and blunt trauma injuries. Being an outdoorswoman I usually collect my fair share of these type of injuries, mostly minor. Arnica speeds healing and reduces inflammation and pain.
I have also taken it homeopathically for trauma injuries. My dearest friend is a Naturopathic doctor and I learned about using the simple homeopathic remedies from her. Please use professional guidance before treating yourself with anything you are not familiar with internally.
I am hoping I will be able to grow enough of the Arnica to make my own oil and tinctures for injury. This is a great one to have in your basic herbal first aid kit.
Vivi also let us take some Dyers Camomile plants that were straying out of bounds in her garden. I am thrilled with this one too as I plan to do some natural dyeing this summer over on the Artful Stitch blog. 
It is very important to me to learn these skills. I have an underlying sense of urgency to learn to be as self/community sufficient as possible. This may just be my own response to the turmoil in our country and world these days or perhaps something else. I really don't know. I have a decent set of skills at the moment but need to add a lot more.
On the food front, I still haven't started the rejuvelac but will do that now. I am sending the payment for our Spring CSA today so well have a steady supply of great spring veggies starting next month until the Farmers Market opens. The pantry and refrigerator got stocked up yesterday as we have a few spring storms on their way today. Off to paint in the studio now!


Saturday, March 23, 2013


©2013 R.L. Delight, Neahkahnie Mist
As much as I would love to share a picture of the meal I am about to discuss, my food photography skills are not that great. Other's do a far better job so I won't attempt it but will post this one of where I live instead. I took this one while painting on the beach a few weeks ago.
It has been a bit of a stressful winter for me and my mate. These times come to all of us. While most of the time we eat very healthfully, occasionally a dose of comfort food is called for. Today was one of these occasions. I have been meaning to try out a new recipe I found for gluten free and vegan Tofu Popcorn Chick'n. The recipe is from a wonderful site I found called The Vedge. Shea's picture of her recipe is far nicer than one I could produce.
This was really easy to make. I pressed the tofu in my tofu press and broke it into chunks. I had to freeze it as I wasn't sure when I would be able to make the recipe. Since I already had the tofu prepared (after thawing)  it was a simple step to whisk up the rest of the ingredients and cook them up. I used Cajun spice seasoning to spice them up a bit and have to say, these were absolutely delicious. I made a batch of oven roasted garlic potato fries and a huge green salad served with a homemade lemon tahini dressing (recipe from the book Becoming Raw). Yum! A welcome break from beans.
The spring weather here on the coast has been cold and a bit stormy with sun breaks in between. We are starting to get spring break vacationers in our little town and there is Japan tsunami debris starting to wash ashore up and down the coast. I am waiting for the weather to settle just a tad before heading out to paint again. While I don't mind getting caught in occasional squalls and hail storms, deliberately heading out into the teeth of a series of hail storms is another thing altogether.
Walking the dog has become interesting too. We have had to run a few times to get undercover.
Go check out The Vedge. Shae has put together a wonderful site complete with great recipes and information for us gluten free vegans!