Recipe from TBP Featured in FARM’s "Meatout Monday" eNewsletter

Much to my complete surprise and delight, I was contacted by Cindi Saadi of FARM (there is also a link under “Important Platters” in my sidebar) for permission to feature recipes from The Blooming Platter in their Meatout Mondays e-newsletter. As you can imagine, my answer to her generous request was a resounding “YES!” First up, my

Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Vegan Cranberry-Walnut Streusel

I encourage you to visit their site and read about/support their good work. I hope you’ll also follow the link to their Meatout Mondays newsletter and subscribe as I just did.

Best wishes Cindi and FARM!

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Vegan Heritage Press: "Created by Vegans for Vegans and Those Who Want to Be"

I am proud to give a plug to a relatively new vegan publishing company right here in my home state of Virginia.

The folks at Vegan Heritage Press describe themselves as “an independent book publishing company founded in 2007 to publish quality vegan cookbooks and other publications that promote healthful living and respect for all life.”

To that end they “publish books that bring to vegan cooking new and inventive ideas that can delight longtime vegans, inspire newcomers, and intrigue the curious who want to improve their health and the world in general by cooking great vegan food.”

Check out their first two titles: Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson and American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes. In the fall of 2010, look for Vegan Unplugged by Jon Robertson with recipes by Robin.

Here’s to the “little company with big ideas”–The Blooming Platter wishes you perennial success!

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Vegan Home Decor: My New "Glen Livet" Line

A couple of days ago, I went into my husband’s man cave to retrieve some brandy for cooking (I have to do it when he’s not home because I always go for the good stuff). There I discovered a solid wood four-sided Glenlivet box on the floor to be discarded. Not! It was crying out to become a shadow box. So, in about 5 minutes, a shadow box it was.

I’m home on Spring Break this week and tending to lots of household projects. Yesterday, I had three different sets of workman in and out, so I decided to make good use of my home-bound status.

The box had a circular depression in the bottom, perfect for a bud vase. I chose to use an empty Franglica bottle with the label removed. The box also had a circular hole cut in the top through which flowers or bamboo or whatever could extend. I don’t keep faux flowers around, but I had one stem with sentimental value: they were left over from a headband I’d had to make for a recent special occasion. (I’ve hinted at this previously and more on it soon when I receive the disk of photos.)

All I did was pop a sawtooth hanger on the top back of the box, a couple of wall protectors on the bottom back corners, and a picture hook in the wall above our *new bar. Then, I set the bottle in place, inserted the flowers and hung it. That’s it. Done!

Now that’s my kind of project.

*The new bar was one of those projects with which some of you will hopefully identify: I woke up last Friday at 5 a.m., with house guests coming that night, thinking that I simply couldn’t stand it another minute if I didn’t convert our breakfast bar into a bar-bar. Don’t ask me why, that’s just how my motivation comes: with a vengeance.

Pieces of this plan had been brewing for a while, but absent specifics. So I got up, crept downstairs, emptied out the breakfast bar cabinets and cleared the counter; transferred bar ware, tools, bottles and such from one cabinet and a metal cart to the new bar; and found new homes for the cart and everything I had removed from the breakfast bar. I love the look and I loved being able to move that cart out of the kitchen and into my new (wo)man cave (more on that later)–really opened up the space at the end of the kitchen peninsula. This week, thinking that some of the items on the bar would look more cohesive collected on a tray, I found the perfect simple, modern white platter with integrated handles at Bed, Bath and Beyond (or Bed, Bath and B— S—, as my husband calls it).

So, now, my bar project, too, is done and though it took longer than 5 minutes, it was pretty quick–I had to be at school at 7 the day I did the bulk of it–and resulted in several spaces looking and functioning just how I want them…I’ll drink to that! (The funny thing about all of this is that I’m not a big drinker at all. I enjoy wine with a meal and the occasional holiday soymilk punch, but that’s about it.)

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Vegan on a Vespa: Going Green in Sky Blue

Besides eating a vegan diet, there’s no more fun or stylish way to be eco-friendly than on the seat of a scooter. I love the classic quasi-retro lines of the Vespa (and with a name like DiJulio, I love all things Italian), but I’ve never met a scooter I didn’t like. Have you seen the mod flowered ones that Honda makes?

We bought mine in the fall of 2008 when I switched from a gas guzzler to a Prius. I have to confess that while one of my main motivations was a greener approach to transportation, high gas prices and a car that was expensive to maintain were also motivating factors. But it was my dad who suggested in response to my lament about the latter, “Why don’t you get yourself one of those scooters like the Italian girls ride?” (My husband’s and my families had all been on a trip to Italy together and we were taken with the stylish women, dressed for work, zipping down the cobblestone streets. So, alas, a fun, sporty European ride was also a motivating factor.) My response was, “You know, I just saw a sign that a local dealership is selling them, so I think I will.” And I did; that weekend.

My mom was ready to “throttle” him for suggesting such a thing. But I’m a very safe driver; I even read the Vespa safety manual online before setting off on my maiden trek to school. Though my scooter is fully street legal, it only travels at about 39 mph (with the windscreen added)–I wanted a 50cc engine in order not to have to obtain a motorcycle license–so I try to stay off of main in-town streets where the speed limit is 45 to avoid annoying other drivers and, frankly, to stay out of the fray.

I’m also a very fair weather rider and, sadly, didn’t ride the scooter much this school year, as it seemed I always had a big load of materials to take in, an afternoon meeting that was far away, or inclimate weather–what a wet year we’ve had. In fact, when our niece was here for Thanksgiving, she wanted to go for a ride with me, but it wouldn’t start–carburetor issues, it turns out–so it has sat idle all winter. I finally had it towed to the dealership last Thursday, just getting it back yesterday, and I plan to make up for some lost time. Fortunately for me, my school, bank, shopping destinations, grocery store, gyms, recreation, restaurants and lots of friends are only a short ride away.

Here’s to going “the greenest mile.”

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The Art of the Vegan

The lovely Lauren Rogers Museum in my hometown of Laurel, MS, is holding an art auction for which they wanted artwork created by people with ties to the town. They asked my mom if I would be willing to make a piece and, of course, I was happy to. So they mailed me an 8 x 10″ canvas on which I could paint anything. I was stumped because I wanted it to be “pretty” enough to sell, but I’m not one to make merely decorative art. This image came to me, kind of all at once, but only after I’d been ruminating on an idea for a while. It’s an intentionally ambiguous statement about what we eat, what we don’t, what we protect and what we choose not to. I’d love to know what you think.

Art Credit: Untitled, by Betsy DiJulio, acrylic and mixed-media on canvas, 2010

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High School Students "Eat Up" Presentation on Veganism

I feel like Michelle Pfeiffer in “Dangerous Minds” when her colleague asked her why she had decided to stay at their inner city school and her reply about her students was, “They gave me candy and called me ‘The Light.'” Mind you, I certainly don’t look like Pfeiffer and I hardly teach at an inner city school but, “They made me a banner and decorated it with hummus and nutritional yeast.”

I was overwhelmed!

Last Tuesday, Denise O’Connell, an award winning coach and P.E. teacher at our school, invited me to speak to one of her health classes on veganism. (Our CRS videotaped my presentation so she could show it to her other classes.) I made vegan chocolate chip cookies and a power point for the kids about what I call the “Big 3” reasons to adopt a vegan diet: personal health, environmental health, and animal welfare. They were a wonderful audience, asking some great questions, and I felt privileged to spend a good hour with them.

Yesterday, as I was returning to my classroom during a planning bell, I caught representatives from the class in the act of hanging this fun banner outside the art department. I said, “Oh, you guys, I’m sorry; I’ll pretend I didn’t see it.” And one of them sweetly said, “But you’re supposed to see it!” So I asked if they would mind posing for a photo and, though embarrassed to be in their P.E. uniforms, they generously agreed. They shouldn’t have felt self-conscious as they would be adorable in paper bags.

During my presentation, I had passed around the small shaker of nutritional yeast that I keep in my backpack (especially for movie popcorn) so that they could get a good whiff of its nutty, cheesy aroma. Many of them thought it smelled as yummy as we vegans do. I was so touched that among the wonderful drawings of fruits, veggies and even hummus with pita chips on the banner, was movie popcorn and a shaker of nutritional yeast.

They made my day! I feel so fortunate to teach where I do, with whom I do, for whom I do.

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Three Dog Morning

Today was a rare three dog morning at our house. I had gotten up to make Vegan Banana-Walnut Pancakes, and my place was quickly taken by our 11-year old Auzzie mix, Miss Pyttle. The pair ‘o Danes are always on the bed (even if it means that Joe or I is in the guest room), but Pyttle is usually sleeping outside the door at the top of the stairs where she can keep an ear out in all directions. So, I couldn’t resist recording–and sharing–this photo.

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Miss P the Snow Bunny

I decided that, for a little puppy parity, I should post this lovely photo of Miss P, our aging Auzzie mix, in yesterday’s snow storm. At 11 with one hip replacement and one reconstruction, this former stray is the best old gal and she can still jump up on our bed.

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