Thursday, June 29, 2017

Music City Elf

Anyone on the planet lately KNOWS that your Elf went to a Book Convention the weekend of June 22-25 in Nashville TN. The convention was titled UtoPiAcon and featured authors from all over the country. The featured genres were Young Adult/New Adult, Paranormal Fiction, Fantasy and Supernatural. We primarily went to see one author in particular whose books we love and who we’ve always wanted to meet…Amy Harmon. She is as lovely and sweet as she is beautiful; she delivered the keynote address on Friday morning.
We were so excited to meet her!!
More about ‘Amy and The Elf’ a bit later on, as we had a most excellent adventure.
Now, as most vegans know, sometimes traveling, especially in the South, can be a challenge so we packed up a cooler of food stuffs we knew we’d need…such as non-dairy creamer for coffee, avocados and tomatoes for breakfast, our lemon/ginger/turmeric tonic, and hibiscus tea. On the way through Memphis, we HAD to stop at Raw Girls Food Truck (WE LOVE RAW GIRLS) to stock up on some pre-packaged meals to sustain us in the event we could not find vegan options close to the convention or where we were staying.
We bought some of their wonderful Watermelon Gazpacho, Black Bean Pasta and Pesto with Fresh Corn and Tomato/Jalapeño, a Raw Burger, and Chocolate Ganache. UtoPiAcon was held at the airport Marriott in Nashville and we were staying about 10 miles east. Your Elf spent much of her life in this area so there were relatives and friends to see and we needed to be close to both. Plus, the Elf’s Little Mama is buried in the area as well and it’s been a while since we’ve paid our respects in the form of a yellow tomato (Mama's favorite).
Thursday evening was spent with family and we had a lovely meal at the Olive Garden in Mt. Juliet TN. Did you know that Olive Garden now has online identification of vegan and vegetarian options? Your Elf had a HUGE salad and a breadstick or three. AND, we had one piece of the Chocolate Ganache from RAW GIRLS for dessert…it was yummy!! A planned lunch Friday with a friend and former work colleague fell prey to the rains/storms of Tropical Storm Cindy, so we decided to eat-in at the Marriott. And BOY HOWDY, are we glad we did! They have a Rice Bowl on their menu that was easily veganized by omitting the jack cheese. So, that’s what we ordered. OMG! What a delicious meal! We selected the Brown rice (white optional) with sweet peppers, roasted corn, onions black beans, avocado, ‘housemade’ pico de gallo. It was wonderful! Friday evening, we opted to stay in our room and eat from our Raw Girls selections. We had the Black Bean pasta and it was yummy!! And yes, we did get quite a few 'worm' responses when we posted on Facebook.
And we polished off the Chocolate Ganache. Slept like a log—which is rare for The Elf.
Saturday was a MOST SPECIAL DAY!! We had a lunch date with Amy Harmon!! We were like a teenager we were so excited! We had decided on Ethiopian and Amy, being a food adventurer, was game for it, having never eaten Ethiopian cuisine before. We thought it smart to ‘pre-drive’ to the restaurant JUST to be on the safe side, as we are not that familiar with Nashville. AND IT’S A GOOD THING WE DID!! The first selection turned out to be a dud. The second selection was a bit farther away but we were assured it was quite good. After an initial failed attempt to find it, we did get there and it was quite nice. The place is name GOHA and the food is authentic Ethiopian.
Amy ordered a sampler with a beef stew and your Elf ordered the vegan sampler.
Amy was quite the good sport, eating by scooping up her food with a piece of Ethiopian bread called injera.
The food was delicious and the owner, Dawit Lema was very helpful to Amy about what to order and how to eat. We LOVED our experience there and hope that Amy had a story to share with her family when she got home to Utah on Sunday. So, if you are in the Nashville area and have a hankerin’ for great Ethiopian food, by all means go to GOHA…it IS hard to find so it might be a good idea to have your phone handy to call. We almost missed it. Also, Amy won two awards at the Banquet on Saturday night for her Supernatural series The Bird and the Sword Chronicles. Well deserved because she is a brilliant author.
So, this is a short blog about a food/life adventure and meeting someone we never thought we would! Stay tuned as we catch up this weekend with some great recipes from How to Eat Vegan on $4 a Day! And Other Assorted Good Food Stuffs!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Daddy's Little Elf

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL  DADDIES EVERYWHERE!! And to the children that look up to them with wide eyes, a full heart and not a small bit of respect. If you are lucky enough to still have your Dad, your are indeed blessed. Your Elf’s Daddy has been gone a while now but there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and wish we had ‘just one more day’. Daddy was a P-51 instructor during WWII at the ripe old age of 22, pictured below!
This remains one of our MOST favorite pictures of Daddy getting ready for a flight in his beloved P-51 Mustang at age 84. When he found out there was a Mustang at Bruce Campbell Field in Madison in 2005, he could hardly be still until he got to see it. And, not only did he get to see it, but he got to fly in it, thanks to Stan Musack, the pilot, seen helping Daddy into the plane.

It’s been a slow writing time for your Elf but we are working to get back on track. So, let’s get on with what’s been happening in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. First off, we have purchased yet another cookbook. This is actually a cookbook we have purchased a number of times but wind up giving it away to folks who say that eating plant-based is too expensive. Over the next few weeks, we intend to prepare several of these recipes to disabuse folks of that notion. It’s expensive if you WANT it to be, just like any eating regimen. BUT, this cookbook by Ellen Jaffe Jones details not only great recipes but also some terrific tips on how to buy smart and economically.

So stay tuned next week as we try out a couple of recipes…we have several picked out, so we’ll see which ones get the green light. And FYI, not only does Ms Jones have a FB page that offers information, but also a website. We hope you’ll give her a looksee!
As we mentioned in a recent post to our Elf page, since Big Solid (our elfin hubs aka Larry) read The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall, he has been very easy to prepare supper for…yep, a baked potato with all kinds of foodie extras. Shredded Daiya vegan cheese (not the pre-shredded kind but the block cheese you shred yourowns-elf), steamed broccoli, and sautéed mushrooms. Please forgive the paper plate!!
He could eat this every night and sometimes when the hours get away from us, it’s an easy mealtime solution. We have also discovered, thanks to Consumer reports magazine, new pastas made with alternative flours (gluten free-ish). We actually found some of these pastas at, of all places, Wal-Mart. The first one, and our Elfin favorite, is Red Lentil Pasta. It’s really tasty and quite beautiful, to boot. We made a nice supper dish by cooking the pasta and stirring in some sautéed mushrooms and lightly steamed broccoli. No heavy sauce, just a nice squeeze of Meyer Lemon and a wee bit of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Here’s what the box looks like. Take a look at the protein count for those who feel vegans are always protein deficient. And, by the way, this pasta would probably not fall into the inexpensive vegan eating category!
And then the pasta cooked with the mushrooms added.
As a quick aside, we love to buy our mushrooms at Mr. Chen’s Chinese Grocery. They have great oyster and shiitake ‘shrooms by the bagsful/prepackaged at a very reasonable price…much more reasonable that some of the grocery stores in town. Shiitatkes and then Oyster.

And last, the full meal deal with the broccoli added. Not only was it quite delicious but also really pretty!! It did not last long at the ElfinHaus.
The next pasta we tried was the Chickpea Pasta.
Although a different shape than we are used to, this pasta does not cook up as nicely as the red lentil, and we are very careful not to overcook!! It’s a bit on the gummy side but has a decent taste. We added mushrooms, some chopped Plant-based Andouille sausage and Swiss Chard, again with the Meyer Lemon and EVOO.
It was good but we’ll opt for the Red Lentil from here on out. Another quick meal is ‘burger night’ using Gardein Meatless Burgers. This time we topped with Vegan Pimento Cheese (thank goodness for that block Daiya cheese and Just Mayo) and a home ‘growed’ tomato!!
We purchased one of those screen looking thingies to over fry our potatoes in and it works pretty darn good.
Last night, we went to one of our old Friday night pre-vegan ‘haunts’, Kathryn’s Steakhouse. Now that we are both vegan, we were still able to have quite a meal there and see some old friends. Big Solid had a HUMONGOUS baked potato with our own cheese/‘chicken’ and mushrooms. Your Elf had a great salad with our cheese and ‘chicken’ shreds with balsamic vinaigrette on the side.
You’ll notice the croutons piled up outside the place…we are not fans of croutons of any kind, ‘CEPTIN’ Pumpernickel croutons for gazpacho or split pea soup. We have learned the fine art of eating anywhere and making it plant-based. And, finally, this morning, we had our usual slice of pumpernickel toast, mashed half-avocado and freshly picked and sliced Cherokee Purple tomato. As you can see, we almost forgot to take a picture of it before snagging a bite!
To round out this week’s blog, we are anticipating a really fun week ahead both foodiness-wise and personally. Your Elf is heading for Nashville TN to attend a book convention (UtopiaCon) where her favorite author (Amy Harmon) will be delivering the keynote. We’ve long been fans of this talented writer who does not often get to this part of the country, so we are throwing ours-elf into the Element and hitting the trail to Nashville. AND, even better, it’s close to where the Elf grew up, so we get to see some friends and relatives as well. Nashville is quite the food mecca with ethnic restaurants galore and LOTS of vegan options. Not only will be have at least one recipe from our new cookbook (Vegan on $4 a Day) to share with you but also some great Nashville stories and vegan eating as well. Lastly, we've talked about the Elf's Daddy but we would be remiss not to mention what a great Dad Big Solid is. The kids are all grown up for sure but still rely on him for advice and support. He's never led them wrong yet--he has such a knack for helping people see both sides of a decision and choosing the most appropriate one. So, Happy Father's Day to Big are the best! Shown here on his 70th birthday with daughter Lindsey Taylor and Granddaughter, Sara Powell. Son Powell and Grandson Benton were there but not pictured.
So, until we meet again, always remember to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!

Your Elf
(portrait by her Daddy in 1951 when she was 5)

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Day Late and An Elf Short

Well! We sure had a great visit in Memphis with our friend Wilma Davis. We ate some great vegan food at a couple of vegan friendly restaurants and paid a visit to our FAVORITE food truck EVER, Raw Girls. Came home with a cooler FULL of great Raw Girls stuffs!! So, let’s get on with all our foodstuffs and beyond.
Our trip had several purposes…first to visit Wilma, a dear friend who opened a Wild Birds, Unlimited here (our first and only) in 1991. Your Elf was working next door and dropped in during lunch most days. The intrigue of bird watching caught and fairly soon, we were working weekends at Wilma’s store. The friendship has lasted through the sale of the store and Wilma moving to Memphis to be close to her daughter and grandkids. So first and foremost, the trip was to honor that friendship. Second, Wilma generously GAVE your Elf a chaise lounge that we have coveted since we first lounged on it. No amount of insisting on payment would do…it was a gift. We had doubts whether it would fit into the Element…oh ye of little faith. It did.

Next up was always to visit Raw Girls Food Truck…it’s just an experience waiting to happen with tastes and deliciousness found in ‘raw’ foods. AND, to visit newly opened restaurants that are vegan friendly. We also went to a great seminar at the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs MS
on,YEP, SNAKES!! It was really very well spent two hours! More later. And finally, we went to the Memphis Italian Festival where your Elf found a vegan offering AND a friendly lion. And NO trip to Memphis is complete without a visit to Penzy’s Spices where we found something we didn’t have! So, without further ado, let’s talk food. For our first evening meal (we brought ‘daytime’ food), we went to Lyfe Kitchen…a fairly new and sleek cafe with outdoor seating not far from Wilma’s home. We had the Spicy Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps and Wilma had the Black Bean Burger. Note—Wilma is not a plant-based eater but is working to add more and more plants to her diet. She is always a good sport about trying new plant-based/vegan friendly restaurants with us. Since the weather was cooperating with a cool breeze and cloudy skies, we chose to eat outside. It was quite lovely and our Vietnamese Lettuce wrap was quite tasty.
That being said, it’s a bit dicey to wrap the Romaine leaves so we just piled the leaves full of the tofu based filling and ate away. It would also have been easier to load the leaves with the filling a bit less soupy.
The flavors were delicious. Wilma said she loved her Black Bean Burger and could not tell the difference between it and a regular meat burger. Another plus for Lyfe Kitchen is the dog-friendly patio. Very nice. For those of you interested in looking at this restaurant further, they have a Facebook page (under Lyfe Kitchen Memphis or just Lyfe Kitchen) and here is a link to their website.
OK—that was Thursday. On Friday, we were up and at ‘em with some nice mornin’ coffee time in Wilma’s wonderful back yard. As a Master Gardener, Wilma has made her backyard a haven for birds and people alike. And, she doesn’t have to MOW!
After our nice beginning, we shifted into ‘GO’ after Wilma completed some necessary errands. We went to the Memphis Italian Fest, ever-so thankful for the cooler temps and continued cloudy skies. After visiting all the booths, we found a place to have lunch that even offered a vegan option! Pasta and home made marinara sauce!! It was delicious…Wilma had Italian Spinach. It looked wonderful but has eggs and cheese, so not on our plate. Then we got a chance to sit with some friends in their food cooking booth and enjoy some sangria and people watch WHEN…we spotted a LION!! Your Elf got a s-elfie with the lion who is the mascot for nearby Cedar Hill Wild Animal Sanctuary.
They had a booth there to call attention to their mission of providing a lifetime home for abused wild animals.
We also enjoyed looking at some of the highly decorated booths the cooking teams have…they get really serious about the theme and the food!
Soon it was time for SUPPER and we went to City Silo…we think the most recent arrival on the vegan-friendly restaurant scene in the area.
It’s a terrific little place that also has a small pantry to purchase some good healthy stuffs.

We were pretty tired from a long day, so we opted to order ‘to-go’. Wilma ordered one of their great little salads. One of the cool things about this place is that you can order from their breakfast menu all day, so your Elf had a WONDERFUL dish called ‘The Hippie Scramble’, vegan version. O.M.G! Was this ever GOOD!! And there was enough left to have for ‘real’ breakfast the next day. Instead of eggs, the vegan version offered tempeh which was not only plentiful but also very well seasoned. A MOST tasty dish!!
City Silo WILL be on the rotation from here on out. They also have a Facebook page (City Silo, duh) and here is the link to their website.
As we left City Silo, staff there mentioned that we could find really good vegan desserts at a local bakery that was about 3 doors down. Well, we made a beeline for Muddy’s Bake Shop.
Wilma indulged in a piece of chocolate chess pie (not vegan) and your Elf got a vegan chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing AND a vegan chocolate peanut butter bar. They had a vegan vanilla cupcake as well.
We LOVE when the baking community can make delicious plant based desserts!!
Saturday morning, we were up early to help Wilma’s daughter at a garage sale and then on to Holly Springs MS and the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center for our snake seminar. It was really a great learning experience for your Elf and was led by Shannon McGee who is has a veterinary practice in Collierville TN and is a highly respected herpetologist. Here he is holding a live corn snake for us to see and to understand that the snake is harmless.
In this next picture, he is holding another live snake for us to touch and see but the scene stealer is his daughter who is absolutely fearless when it comes to snakes.
Our favorite stop of the day was Raw Girls Food Truck…WE LOVE THIS FOOD!!
And we even brought a cooler to stock up! Here’s what we walked away with.Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Basil

Chopped Thai Salad
Live Burger
Vegan Indian Curry Vegetable Dalh
Famous Taco Salad
Mung Bean Pasta
and finally, Blackberry, Blueberry and Raspberry cobbler.
And, we might add, we got two of each to bring home and enjoy this week!
We had supper Saturday night at a local Mongolian stir-fry spot called Genghis Grill. Not even close to vegan, they do have vegan options for your stir-fry. We had a tofu stir fry with udon noodles. Wilma had shrimp with her stir-fry. It was close, we were tired and that was that! Other places we went were Aldi’s grocery store…not much there to interest a vegan. They have purportedly gone all organic for their produce; glad for that but we don’t particularly care for pre-wrapped produce.
And finally, we went to Penzey’s Spices where we found some interesting spices…Turkish Blend (sounds like tobacco; hope it doesn't taste like tobacco), Galangal powder and Berbere, which we have but always like to try different brands to see who has the best.
Early Sunday morning, your Elf busily loaded her cooler with the take from Raw Girls Food Truck.
Once fully packed, we piled into our chaise lounge loaded Element and barreled our way home. Today, we plowed into the Gazpacho for a mid-morning treat.
This stuff is so good, it makes you weep; we could have eaten the entire container. And for lunch, we had the Falafel. This is the pre-wrap version and much easier to wrap than Romaine.
The flavors of these raw and raw-ish foods are unbelievably good! It’s no wonder that Raw Girls now has two trucks at two locations!! The Elf needs to learn how to make some of these. Raw Girls also has a Facebook page and the link to their website is
Well, this blog was quite the adventure!! We so enjoyed writing it.

So, until we meet again, always remember to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!

Your Elf