August 23, 2013

All But The Kitchen Sink is moving ...

As of September 2013, All But The Kitchen Sink has moved ... 

I'm following a whim, a few whims actually.  And, as is the nature of whims, I'm not sure how they'll end up, but here goes anyway.

One of these whims is to resuscitate this poor, abandoned blog by migrating to Wordpress: .  

I'll see you there! 

October 24, 2012

Apple Squares Part II

Well, here it is, my last finished drawing for VeganMOFO, and I still have a week left.  You might see three simple cherry tomatoes in tomorrow's post. 

I had a lot of fun with this drawing.  I love the shapes and colors.  Plus, I love apples, but I am very picky.  For most of my life, Golden or Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples were about the only variety offered in stores, and they all seemed waxy and thick-skinned, mealy, and bland. 

Then, about ten years ago, I read The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan and learned that there used to be something like 25,000 varieties of apples.  (I've since learned the same thing about mangoes, bananas, and avocados, not 25,000 varieties but hundreds). 

The rest of the world must have read the book around the same time because ten years later, enough new apple orchards, even limiting myself to relatively local orchards, are mature and provide six, seven, ten different varieties at the store. 

Now I can be a picky apple picker, easily finding the crisp-bordering-on-downright-hard-fleshed apples with lots of juice and tart taffy flavor.  I haven't bothered to learn which ones make the best pies, etc., I'm happy to keep bumping into varieties I haven't tried and eating them as-is. 

I can't even remember the name of my favorite apple.  It's large and sea-foam-green and crisp only when fresh, so I buy one at a time and eat it right away because I can't stand mushy apples.  I found it first in Washington while visiting C&H.  Anyhoo, other ones I love:  Jazz apples, honey crisp, my mom's gravensteins, ...

Oh my gosh -- while making a meager attempt to figure out the name of my favorite apple, I came across this website.  There really must be 25,000 types of apples -- all edible apparently, not destined for the cider press.  (Do you remember tales of Johnny Appleseed?  Did you know he planted apple trees for hard cider?  Not the rosy-cheeked innocent we learned about in preschool, eh?) 

All right.  I must start the day.  Thanks for reading.  We'll see if I've got anything left for the rest of the month.  VeganMOFO is kicking my rear this year.  Still, I'm happy to know you're all out there. 

October 23, 2012

Apple Squares Part One

It's been a few days since I've posted.  I've been busy.  Every now and then, all my commitments and obligations knock on the front door at once.  Poor little VeganMOFO had to sit and wait outside for a few days.  Student essays came first, presentations came first, laundry (at least the bare necessities) came first. 

For this reason, I'm milking one drawing for two posts.  ("Milking."  How can I veganize that colloquialism?  I'm stretching one drawing for two posts?) 

I saw this stack of apple cores at New Seasons grocery store and asked if I could take a picture.  Something about the square shape of normally robustly round apples captured my attention.  I thought it would be fun to try to draw the not-quite-square shapes and the overall square-ish shape the stack makes.  

The top image is in the beginning stages.  I'll post the final tomorrow.  It took me about five days to do this little drawing.  --That sounds more dramatic than I mean. I try to set aside five or ten minutes to draw each day, so ultimately, this must have taken me about an hour; although, it felt like more.

Here is the photo of the display:  

October 16, 2012

Brown Rice Morning ... Genius!

My man's a genius.  

I have an all-or-nothing attitude and get overwhelmed when I think I can't "do it all" and do it all well.  Yesterday, I had a ton of things to do, and I fretted that we had nothing figured out for dinner, I'd be home late, and we'd end up with take-out.  

My husband, even though he is a strong take-out proponent, said we could make brown rice in the morning so it would be ready for dinner. Genius!  

While I graded essays hours before "sun"-up, the brown rice steamed away on the stove making the dark, cool morning feel warm and smell like fresh, toasted bread.  

I made it through the day, mostly by staying supremely focused on the moment and trying not to get ahead of myself**, came home to the warm-smelling house, and continued to work until my guy got home.  Then:  scoops of rice into two bowls, scoop of beans from Better Bean, scoop of salsa, some cherry tomatoes from the garden, some chili powder, some n-yeast for me, and microwave.  

Dinner served by 8pm, the two of us tucked in at the dinner table scooping up the rice, one of us barely able to keep her eyes open long enough to eat.  

This drawing was done earlier, but it's almost the same meal.  My husband has mastered making what he calls "dirty rice," and we serve it with beans, corn, sometimes avocado and shredded carrots.  

How can you go wrong with beans and rice?  It's such a hearty combo, affordable, super healthy, and quick -- if you make the rice ahead of time.  Genius I tell you.  I married a genius!


 **Just in case you think I'm anywhere near being a together person, you should know that while we ate dinner and talked about our days, it became increasingly clear I held some frustrations from the day.  My husband encouraged me to "get it out," and next thing I know, I'm cussing up a storm while he's comically patting me on the back saying "there, there" until we're both laughing so hard I feared I'd lose the nourishing dinner I'd just eaten.  

October 15, 2012

Sundae Blizzard

This drawing is based on a photo my husband took last winter.  In the original photo, situated next to the sundae is a phone displaying the temperature outside: thirty degrees Fahrenheit.  That's cold for Portland.  And, as is typical of me, I crave ice cream when it gets that cold. 

Once, shortly after graduating from college, I was living with my good friend in a tiny basement apartment on a hill out in the country.  It snowed heavy, thick, wet flakes and then froze on top.  What did we do late that night in the frigid dark?  We walked to a Plaid Pantry near the bottom of the hill, maybe 3/4 miles away, to buy ice cream.  It was dark in spite of the white glow of the snow.  Wind blew icy sheets of sharp cold in our faces.  At least the treats stayed frozen until we got to our burrow of a basement to zone out to sugary sweets and a movie.  

The sundae sketched here is from Back to Eden Bakery, which I describe as a vegan Willy Wonka shop.  I still can't get over that EVERYTHING in the store is vegan, and a lot of it is gluten free.  You name it:  quiche, brownies, whoopee pies, gummy bears, shakes and ice cream, sundaes WITH MARSHMALLOWS!!!  I didn't even like marshmallows much before I became veg, but I tried them in one of their make-your-own sundaes and now it's not a sundae without vegan marshmallows. 

This drawing was my first vegan sundae, not only at the bakery, but ever.  I didn't yet know of the magic of vegan marshmallows, so I had chocolate chips with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce and chunks of "Oreo"-like cookies.  Wow.  Super soft.  Super sweet.  Lulled me into a nice, warm, deep winter sleep as soon as I got home.  


October 12, 2012

From Raisin to Grape

It's been sunny and dry in Portland for three months.  A record.  And it's been beautiful, especially the last few days when the wind brought brown and red leaves down to the street for them to rattle on the pavement and make crackling sounds.  And yet, a few of us longed for the rain and most of us felt it coming over a week ago (whether we listened to any meteorologist or not). 

I felt it creeping closer, but I wasn't sure what day it would start.  This morning, I rode my bike to yoga and thought I felt a drop but dismissed the notion until a car crossed the intersection with its windshield wipers going. By the time I arrived to class, a steady mist had started.  By the time I rode home, my bike seat was soaked and the mist thick enough to have created puddles, making that lush sound of car tires whooshing through shallow water and covering my glasses in so many dots it became debatable whether wearing the lenses was helping my vision or making it worse.

As I rode home, I felt my lips and face soak in the water.  My lips, chapped for the last two weeks, soaked in the moisture and became smooth and soft.  My face plumped out any room for sag or wrinkles.  I've been re-hydrated!  From raisin to grape!  A metamorphosis only possible in humans, since we know re-hydrated raisins are just re-hydrated raisins, there's no returning to the grape.  For me, at least for this moment in the rain, my skin felt renewed and plumped up after a long, slow wilt. 

Had I chosen not to go to yoga, had I chosen a different class to attend, had I decided to sleep in instead, I would not have been outside in the exact moment it rained in my neighborhood for the first time in three months.

Of course, I started writing this in the morning.  It's now after 9pm and still raining, and this is pretty much the weather until June or July, but for now it feels special.

What does this have to do with VeganMOFO?  I'm not sure yet.  My husband's taking a photo of one of my sketches right now, and I don't know which image he'll choose.  There are only a few left, and the one I drew today turned out so weird I drew a big black permanent-ink X over it just in case I felt desperate enough to post it.  

Scallions.  On one of my exhausted nights, I drew scallions that we sprinkled on top of sweet and sour noodles from the Vegan Vittles cookbook.  They're very pretty when you look at them up close.  I guess you could picture them falling and scattering like rain.  Or you could picture them wrinkled and dehydrated like when they've been sitting on top of something left under a heat lamp.  That was me until this morning.

Well, off to bed to rest in the dark and listen to the rain drip on the awning below our window, a sound I'll stop hearing in a few weeks, but for now feels novel and romantic.   

October 11, 2012

Wouldn't you like to be a pepper too?

 Still no scanner, and bad-8:30pm-lighting, but ... one more little drawing to color your life vegan.  

I used to not like bell peppers.  They tasted bitter to me and felt dry and chewy.  Then, I ate a a fresh one from the farmers market -- whole other vegetable!  Couldn't even be related to whatever re-hydrated green slices I'd had before.  Now, when in season, I'll eat green, orange, yellow, or red sliced raw, fresh, as juicy as an orange, and so vitamin-packed they stain the counter with their color.  

Alas.  It's finally fall here; the rain is supposed to return soon, and tomorrow is supposed to be below 60 degrees.  I don't mind, but it means no more fresh, local bell peppers, my sign that summer is over.  They're such a fleeting freshness here in Portland, but the abundance of long-living, super-crisp apples fills in the gap.

Here are the original peppers modeling for my drawing.  I think they got to show off their best sides.  

Tomorrow's Friday.  I hope to be back with a more exciting post.  Not that I have any ideas yet.  I'm just trusting I'll have some time and energy.  For now, it's off to bed.  Thanks for reading! 

PS:  the title of this post -- isn't that an old Dr. Pepper jingle?  Wait ... I'll go look it up.  ACK!  It is!  It is!  And it just transformed me into a tiny tot sitting on the kitchen floor watching TV while my mom makes dinner.  Wow.  I wish commercials (especially political campaign commercials) would go back to this groovy-friendly style. 

October 10, 2012

Vegan Treats and Locavoracious Reading

One Saturday, when I was supposed to be catching up on grading and email, these distractions pulled me away:  Dora by Lidia Yuknavitich, 100 Tricks by Kim Stafford, and Under Wildwood by the Decemberists musician Meloy Ellis -- all Portland authors, all purchased at a local, independent bookstore, which just happened to stock Seattle's "Theo" chocolates with plenty of vegan options. I put it all in the trunk of my car then took a picture of how these temptations fanned out, knowing no work other than reading and munching dark dairy-free chocolate would get done that day.  Bliss. 

October 9, 2012

Vampire Food ...

I know this drawing is weird, but the story that goes with it is even weirder.  

This is an image of "apple-berry grunt," a dessert in one of Dreena Burton's books.  You put two cups of berries and two chopped apples in a frying pan with maple syrup and lemon juice, heat that to boiling, and then dollop big scoops of biscuit mix made from spelt and oats on top.  Put the lid on and basically steam-bake the biscuits.  The house ends up smelling like the very best berry-scented candle, and the dessert is warm, sweet, and soothing.  

Unless ...

You're an idiot like me.

Okay, I'm not an idiot, but I am busy, and I was proud that I managed to make a healthy dessert, but I was so focused on getting stuff done that I didn't pause to think.  

Health Inspector Alert:  While baking "grunt" in a cast iron pan may be okay, the lemon juice and acidic berries will leach out the iron, so do NOT let the dessert sit in the pan after it's baked.  Don't even consider letting it sit in that pan for an entire day and then eat the dessert the next night.  


It will taste delicious.  Only your husband will notice a "metallicy taste" when he sips water after taking a bite of the re-heated grunt. But, when you turn to each other to talk, he will over-react (you think at first) to your stained teeth and tongue.  

"Why is it staining your teeth so much tonight?  It doesn't normally do that," he'll say.  But, you'll be so focused on finally relaxing at the end of the day that you'll brush it aside ... that is until you go to brush your teeth:

Horror!!!!  Horror!!!

Seriously.  I should've taken a picture, but I was too panicked.  My lips were black, my teeth, especially my bottom teeth, were purple-black as if I'd devoured a bowl full of calligraphy ink, and my tongue ... oh my tongue ... streaks of vivid iris-purple and black.  I looked like a really bad movie make up job for someone playing a rotten-toothed street urchin-turned-zombie in Charles Dickens's London.

I brushed twice, flossed, and was relieved when most of the stain went away, but as of this morning, there is a pale blueberry hue to my teeth.  

Worse ... far worse ...

My husband researched how this happened.  Basically, the acid leaches out the iron in the cast iron pan, which when cooking pasta sauce is nice because it adds iron to your meal, but when leaving it to sit in that iron for 24 hours turns into an iron-rich stew that can actually lead to iron toxicity and even liver failure.  

We finally called the advice nurse to make sure we hadn't sickened ourselves, and it sounds like we would have had to eat a lot more of the "grunt" to do real damage, but my husband joked this morning that when he walked by the radio it changed frequency and picked up stations in Japan.  I keep waiting for the refrigerator magnets to leap out and stick to me. 

In my darkest moment, tired late last night, I thought about how I see cooking food as something sustaining, nourishing, loving, generous, strengthening, but that it can also sicken and harm and even kill ... I feel lighter this morning, but at one point last night I felt like a royal idiot, a dangerous idiot.  Plus ... in my rush of chores and accomplishment the night I made the grunt, a tiny voice in the back of my mind, pushed out by my need to mop the kitchen floor, studied the cast iron pan and thought two things -- it would make a nice drawing, and:  we don't normally leave anything in this pan, should it be scooped out into Tupperware?  


Blue teeth and some chagrin are thankfully all that resulted in my black maiden dessert.  


October 8, 2012

Coming Home to Chop ...

My husband and I never think soup is going to satisfy us for dinner because we're always hungry on weeknights and craving hearty, savory meals for sustenance and comfort.  However we both agreed this recipe from Dreena Burton looked good, simple, and I think my guy liked it because it had pasta in it.

Turns out, we were right.  Totally easy recipe that ends up almost stew-like it's so thick. I wasn't sure about the garbanzo beans, but they simmered into soft, rich little things strewn throughout the tomato-veggie broth, and I loved the thick rounds of carrots.  We added whole wheat bread from the bakery as a side but hardly needed it because the soup was so satisfying.

There's another thing I like about soup -- after a full day, especially Monday when we wake up to face the entire week looming ahead of us, it's nice to come home and chop vegetables:  the colors, the sounds, the heft and density of the vegetables, the somewhat rhythmic action of the knife, the smell of onion and garlic (even before it's cooking), and the feeling of completion -- a bunch of veg piled by color and type slipped into the pot one at a time, counter wiped clean, done.   

I usually listen to NPR while I chop.  The authors of Laurels' Kitchen say to turn off the news so meal-making is a true mindful meditation.  I do that too sometimes, but the news is part of it; even though it's often distressing information, it's good for me to remember that after focusing on my job and my life all day, there are all kinds of people around the world facing their days, some more challenging or refined than others.  

It's a strange comfort to remember that what has felt so huge and important to me during the day is really pretty small, just one person amongst billions going about her day and coming home to make dinner. 

I guess it brings me back to the basics, which, when I think about it, matter more than what consumes my emotions all day long:  healthy nourishing food, noticing the view out the kitchen window, the smell of soup steaming up the house, the click of the furnace wondering if it's cold enough to turn on yet, the closing of car doors as the last few neighbors get home, and eventually me and my husband at the kitchen table enjoying our soup, talking about our days, and mending all the frayed pieces to start whole and fresh tomorrow.

October 5, 2012

Hemp, Scandalous Hemp! And Roasted Broccoli.

Still no way to scan, so I hope this photo of my little drawing comes through okay.  VeganMOFO is hard for me this year.  I missed yesterday, and it's only week one.  Plus, I see all the blog photos on the "round ups" (at the VeganMOFO website) and feel a little childish compared to the elegant photos of professional-chef-worthy cuisine.  

Oh well.  Part of my reason for doing this was to get over myself and just draw and write and post and not fret about what I'm not.  

Without meaning to, I ended up drawing one day's meals in this image; although I'm sure I had some chocolate that got left out of the picture.  Do any of you ever go a day without chocolate?  When did this habit start for me?  Seriously ... it's like I've left the house with only one shoe on when I don't eat chocolate.  

I know "hemp" sounds scandalous to some folks, but my friend and I tried Sorta Sausage's hemp burgers at Portland's VegFest and thought they were the best thing we'd ever tasted, at least the best veggie burger we'd ever tasted.  I used a coupon to buy a box (they're kinda spendy at about $6 for four patties), and, well, I figured out the secret.  The ladies at VegFest were frying the burgers in way more oil than I'd ever use.  After basically toasting them in a barely-oiled pan on the stove, I made them into sandwiches for dinner, and they were good, but not the oh-my-gosh-I-must-have-more good that we experienced at VegFest.  My man and I decided we still prefer Dr. Praeger's, which seem a little healthier and are a little less spendy.  

My husband and I are working on thinking up healthy vegan meals that are really good at being two things:  savory-satisfying and QUICK.  The broccoli in this drawing was from Trader Joe's -- pre-cut and in a plastic bag (something I never do as you know, or if you don't you can read this about why [But, just in case it isn't obvious, the lady in the picture with the perky boobs is NOT me!]), but I figure some wasted plastic is better than getting take out.  Anyway, I roasted the broccoli:  super easy and super tasty.  Spray a little oil, sprinkle a little salt, roast, and eat like french fries.  Then, guess what-- a few days later, Food Day in The Oregonian runs a story about roasting broccoli like it's this big break through idea.  I swear our house is bugged.  

Happy Friday!  I hope you all had a good week.  See you Monday!

October 3, 2012

Vegans Find the Fountain of Youth

Have you seen Forks Over Knives?  I avoided it for years, I guess because of all the hype, and finally watched it just a few weeks ago. The film showcases Dr. Esselstyn (his son created the Engine 2 Diet) and Dr. Campbell (The China Study) to prove how an all-plant diet reverses and prevents numerous diseases.  

Right after watching the film, I volunteered at Portland's VegFest.  As I checked in volunteers, vendors, and guest speakers, who do I end up getting to chat with casually in spite of the trail of early-arrivers following him everywhere as if he were Michael Jackson?  Dr. Esselstyn -- kind of a superstar in the vegan world.  

As we studied the program together, Dr. E. said, "Oh, Ruth's speaking after me.  Which room is she in?"  At the time, I didn't know Ruth, but I explained the schedule and was impressed that the superstar wanted to hang out and listen to other speakers.  

Later, a woman looking much like the drawing above checked in at the table.  My friend helped her, but I joined in the conversation.  As the woman talked about how glad she is that her example inspires others to change their diets, I realized who she was -- she was in the film too, the woman who had breast cancer but she and Dr. McDougall managed to contain it using a vegan diet and no drugs, but to add to that, she ran the Ironman numerous times -- as a cancer patient-vegan-post-menopausal woman!

When I told her Dr. E. wanted to sit in on her talk, she got nervous and so humble, I found myself telling her how amazing she is.  She looks like a super-lean 80s aerobics instructor (it's the headband, I think), but she can run-bike-swim circles around islands in Hawaii and she's now 77 (I think that's what she said in her talk, but McDougall's website says 67).

Ruth's talk inspired me.  She's wacky in an endearing way and extremely passionate about her vegan lifestyle.  I won't be doing any Ironmans, no marathons, but I do want to be a bit like Ruth.  When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to live to be 100.  Later, in my 20s, after watching a a few people I loved die (it can take years), I revised my goal to living to be a happy, healthy 100.  

Ruth's not 100, but she started doing extremely hard things in her late 40s and continues near 80 (I think) to run, bike, swim, and exercise wherever she is.  She taught the audience how to do some butt exercises while sitting, and everyone started bouncing up and down in their seats.  Her point seemed to be -- always work at health and wellness, every bite every moment.  I am not that disciplined, but I figure if I can be like her 70% of the time, I'll make it to my happy, healthy 100.