Monday, March 13, 2017

The First Mess: Cookbook Review and Giveaway

Wow! When the publishers at Avery offered me a copy of The First Mess Cookbook, by Laura Wright, I had never heard of Laura's blog (The First Mess), so I went to check it out. What a lovely surprise! After checking out her blog for a while, I was pretty sure that I would enjoy her cookbook, and I was right! As you'll see, I've already made so many dishes from this gorgeous book, and I look forward to making many more.

The book is beautifully designed and laid out. The fonts are easy to read, and the ingredients and instructions are listed side-by-side in a very user-friendly way. Each and every recipe has a beautiful color picture (almost always full-page). There is a great index (I appreciate this so much, why is it so hard for so many cookbooks?!), and a great list of every chapter and recipe at the beginning of the book.

The First Mess Cookbook isn't gluten-free, but many many of the recipes are gf. Each recipe also features a series of icons at the top for nut-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc. The recipes are healthy, but not in an oppressive way! ha ha. If you know what I mean. I also didn't find the recipes to be overly fussy or difficult to make - it's quite practical and appealing in that way.

Tofu Noodle Soup with Coconut Lemongrass Broth
from Soups & Stews chapter

Yum! We loved this beautiful soup - visually enticing, and full with a great array of flavors and textures. The broth is stewed with the lemongrass in it (and is later strained out), which was a great technique to give the soup a great hit of lemongrass flavor and aroma. It's also got some heat and pungency from ginger and a hot pepper... plus the fresh flavors of broccoli & snow peas. I roasted my tofu cubes in the oven while I was preparing everything else, so that they would have a little more crunch and chew. I loved this soup and how good I felt after eating it too. In fact, that's true for everything I've made from this book, which is pretty cool.
perfect moment with perfect bowl of soup is perfect

Smoky Saffron Chickpea, Chard, and Rice Soup
from Soups & Stews chapter

Another beautiful dish full of colors and veggies and goodness. This nutritious soup gets its smokiness from a hearty dose of smoked paprika (yum!), and is packed with chickpeas, rice, chard, and a few other veggies. We've had a cold, wet, and rainy winter and this soup was a perfect dinner during those dark nights. It was robust, but not heavy -- and warming, but not overbearing. It was also simple to make and provided great leftovers, a feature I always appreciate in a recipe!!

Broccoli Caesar with Smoky Tempeh
from Salads & Dressings chapter

This was a fun spin on combining familiar flavors in unfamiliar ways! Steamed broccoli is drizzled with caesar dressing and some smokey tempeh crumbles... such a fun lunch. I tried it also with roasted broccoli, but I found the roasted broccoli to be a little too dry for my tastes. I like the caesar dressing in this book - but be warned, it is *super garlicky.* I had garlicky dragon breath all afternoon! ha ha. Even though I am a devout garlic fan, next time I'll dial it back a little, just for the sake of my poor yoga students.

watch out for garlic breath!

Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls
from Hearty Mains & Big Plates chapter

I love how "bowl" meals combine all the parts of a complete meal into one dish: protein, veggie, sauce, and starches. This bowl is a great example: roasted marinated tofus and broccoli, with some rice and fresh sunflower sprouts and a sprinkle of roasted sunflower seeds. It comes together easily and the component parts compliment each other nicely. I really loved the simple marinade and wished there was even more of it, so I think next time I'll double it! More is usually better, right? Ha ha.

Vegetable and Bean Pot Pies with Potato Crusts
from Hearty Mains & Big Plates chapter

I loved this idea! I had been thinking about pot pies for a few weeks, but didn't feel like dealing with making crusts and all that. These "crusts" made with thinly sliced potatoes &/or sweet potatoes were fun and beautiful. It always looks so cute when people prepare things in individual ramekins, but I don't own any (note to self!), so I used mini pie pans and mini loaf pans. That worked pretty well actually! The beany stew in these little pies was just lovely, perfectly seasoned enough to enhance the beans and veggies without overpowering them. The potato crusts are significantly "lighter" than a bready crust, so these feel lighter than traditional pot pies. I loved making these and eating them and how they were easy to create but also felt special and festive.

Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini
from Vegetables & a Couple of Grains chapter

This is technically listed as more of a side dish, but we had it as a light dinner on a night when we had already eaten a lot during the day and didn't need a big dinner. The cauliflower florets are lightly seasoned with za'atar (one of my favorite and under-used spice mixes!), and then roasted. The Green Tahini sauce is a great blend of tahini, fresh herbs, and seasoning. It calls for agave nectar, which I reduced, and will probably omit entirely next time, just because I don't generally like sweet flavors mixed with savory flavors. But this is purely personal taste, and not a fault of the recipe in any way. In fact, every recipe I made was absolutely clear to follow, behaved just as described, and held no confusion or unexpected surprises. It seems that these recipes were well-tested and are well-written, which really helps me build confidence in trying more and more recipes.

this recipe makes extra Green Tahini Sauce, which is excellent because then you can put it in a squeeze bottle and put it on salads and veggies and toast and other good things! 

Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies 
from Desserts & Small Treats chapter

I made these cookies for dessert when we had some special pals over for dinner. Our friends E&M had been in town for six months, and were about to head home to the Netherlands. We had such a nice good-bye dinner and I knew that cookies would be necessary. They look dark, so it's easy to think that they are chocolate cookies, but actually, they're dark with molasses and full of ginger and warming spices, as well as chocolate chips and chopped up candied ginger. What a great combo! I love candied ginger, and I love chocolate-covered candied ginger, so I guess it's no surprise that these are also great. The whole recipe also only has 2 tablespoons of oil, which is a nice feature. These cookies call for whole spelt flour, an ingredient used in several recipes throughout the book. We had 6-7 cookies left after our dinner party, and so I packed them up in a ziplock baggie for our pals to enjoy on their flight home. 

sharing cookies with your pals is the best!

As you can see, I've already made (and loved!) lots of recipes from The First Mess Cookbook
and I have so many more that I still want to explore and make:

Savory Ginger Green Onion Crepes
Toasty French Toast Bake
Meyer Lemon Romanesco Salad
Brussels Sprouts with Lime & Miso
Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowls with Lime Peanut Sauce
Creamy Winter Vegetable Stew with Mustard and Lemon
Thanksgiving Panzanella Salad with Delicata Squash
French Onion Lentil Pots with Onion Cream Toasts
Cauliflower & Pine Nut "Ricotta" Toasts
Mustard-Roasted Broccoli Pate'

The First Mess Cookbook Giveaway
Great news! The publishers (Avery / Penguin Random House) have also offered to let me host a giveaway for a copy of The First Mess Cookbook to one lucky reader in the U.S. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this blog post and include an email address or blogger contact so I can notify you. Tell me a story about something yummy you ate this week, which recipes in this post caught your eye, or your favorite way to make a big mess! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Raisin' Hell & Eating Well in DC

As soon as I heard the faintest suggestion that there would be a march in Washington DC after the election, I raced to my computer and bought two plane tickets. The march wasn't a well-formed concept yet, but I was pretty confident that if everyone else felt the way I felt -- the march was gonna happen. And boy-o-boy, did it happen!

Immediately after booking our tickets, I reached out to the International Society of Awesome Vegans (aka my FB page) and asked "Who lives in DC? Anyone willing to host us for a few nights if we come for the march?" And just like that, an excellent pal from the PPK and her husband (we'll call them Ms. A and Mr. Z) offered to host us. That really made our trip so much more fun since we got to make new friends - plus it was way more affordable too!

We got into DC the night before the march, and our wonderful hostess made us a delicious dinner (the Pumpkin Ziti from Veganomicon, a vegan classic!). We spent the evening organizing our plan for getting to the march, making sure we all had each other's phone numbers, and gathering up our snacks...


I know this is a food blog and not a political activism blog - so I won't go on forever. You can skip down a little if you just want to read about the food!

We got an early start in the morning, and by the time we got to the metro station, we had to park on the very top floor of the parking garage. From the top of the parking structure we could see a crowded sea of pink pussy hats trying to (politely) cram themselves into the tunnel to get on the Metro. Wowsers! We started to have a feeling that this might be pretty big. We did get on the train eventually (helped greatly by Ms. A who had procured our metro passes in advance!)... by the time our train was about half way to our destination, it was packed full with marchers and pink hats about about 95% women. The announcer came on to say that more empty trains would be coming. Now we were getting even more of an idea that this was going to be a big event.

After we exited the train, the streets were filled with marchers and pink hats and lots of signs. We had no signs, and when we saw a woman selling some nice American flags for just $5 each, Ms A and I each bought one. In fact, I don't think we saw anyone else all day with an American flag - and marching felt like a surprisingly civic and patriotic act. I was glad to have my flag to wave. We were also glad to have our flags because they made it super easy to find each other every time we'd get caught up in a swamp of people - we'd just stick our flags up high until we found our way toward one another again. Perfect!

the four of us 

"We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!"

The march was a sea of people - so many people that it wasn't even really possible to find the "official starting point" of the designated route. It seemed like several streets had official marches and they all converged at some point. It was amazing to be marching and look over and see the office building for the EPA... and then to march past the White House and see all the streets for several blocks in every direction completely shut down with swarms of protest signs, chanting marchers, and pink hats -- and to know that this action simply could not be ignored.  

I found the crowd to be pretty diverse -- older people, mostly women but also lots of men, families, children, college students, babies, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinax people... but I also followed with humility and great interest the online conversations about the march. These conversations were around the inclusivity of the march - and the degrees to which women of color and transgendered people felt welcome or not welcome to participate. I have a lot to learn about intersectionality and feminism, and I am eager to expand and improve my understanding. For me, the march was a meaningful civic action, and also a very engaging learning experience. I am so glad that we were able to be a part of it.


Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats *insisted* on sticking his finger over the word "finger."
Get it?! It was driving me nuts, and yet he cleverly snuck that little finger into every picture I took!

After a long day of marching and chanting and walking and carefully managing our position amongst hundreds of thousands of people, we were ready to eat! We had brought some snacks with us... but we had accidentally left 3 of our carefully prepared PB&Js at home. So we shared what we had, ate our snack bars, and bought some pretzels from a vendor at the march (smart fella). If there's one place every vegan told me to find in DC, it is without question Sticky Fingers. Sticky Fingers is practically a vegan legend! So we all four made our way there, tired but buoyed by our big day.

So much yum!
I definitely could have tried harder to take pretty pictures, but I was quite focused on eating.
sorry / not-sorry.

When you walk into Sticky Fingers, you're greeted with a huge bakery display case FULL of goodies and with a big menu up above offering an array of savory food. So many choices! 

We were *so lucky* that it didn't rain or snow on us marchers, but it was still a pretty chilly day, and I was eager to warm up. After some debate, I ordered myself a big almond latte, a chocolate chip cookie (never even had a chance to have its picture taken), a blueberry muffin, a Tempeh Reuben, and a side of spicy chickpea soup came with the sandwich. Let's just say, there were no leftovers. Ha ha. It felt so good to sit down and eat and talk and rest our feet. We also got straight to work posting pictures and stories on social media! ha ha. 

The food was great! Mr. VE&T got some chili that he said was really incredible too. The inside is casual and cozy. There aren't tons of chairs and tables (we were lucky to score a spot!), but it has a congenial and friendly low-key atmosphere. After you order at the counter, they will bring the food to your table. Even on a busy day, the food came quickly, which was much appreciated! 

I accidentally booked our plane tickets for one day more than I intended to... but our wonderful hosts were gracious enough to let us stay another night, and we also got to spend a couple days exploring the culinary and cultural sights of DC.

The day after the march, we all 4 headed into DC for a fun day together. Our lunch spot that day was an Middle Eastern spot called Shouk -- it's 100% "plant-based" (aka "vegan"), and the food there was outstanding! You can select from a variety of interesting fillings and either have it in a Pita bread or in a rice and lentil bowl. They also have several salads and some side dishes.

I ordered the Cauliflower Pita (bottom left) - with roasted cauliflower, tomato, scallion, tahini and parsley. It was so damned good. Kind of my idea of a perfect food. First of all, I must comment on the outstanding quality of their whole grain pita bread. Holy Moly it is so fresh and perfect. And the filling inside was a perfect harmony of seasoning, textures, sauce, veggies, flavors... so good. In fact it was so good that Mr VE&T took one bite of mine and had to go order himself one too.

Mr. VE&T and Mr. Z both chose the Fennel Pita (fennel, potato, red pepper, pistachio pepper), and Ms. A had the Chickpea Pita (chickpeas, preserved lemon, olive, seaweed, potato, tomato, cucumber, and tahini). We aren't dummies so of course we ordered some sides too: an order of the Cashew Labneh with Pita -- so creamy and topped with olive oil and delicious zaatar, and a few of their *outstanding* cardamom chocolate chip cookies. I must remember to try adding some cardamom to a future batch of choc-chip cookies! Honestly, pretty much every single item on the menu here sounds so good, I wish I could go back again and again.

Later that night - after a long day of DC fun together, we had dinner at one of DC's many great Ethiopian restaurants: Dukem. I've heard about all the good vegan Ethiopian food in DC from several people, but especially from my friend Kittee. Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats ordered his own non-vegan dish, but the rest of us split two huge platters of delicious food. So many flavors and spices and textures all in one meal! We don't have any Ethiopian restaurants in Santa Cruz, so it was a fun and special treat to go out and not have to cook it all myself if I wanted to eat Ethiopian food. Plus, when there are 3 vegans eating together, you can order a metric ton of food and you get to try so many things!

Another fun spot we hit up was Hip City Veg, a 100% vegan mini-chain with 3 spots in Philadelphia and 1 in DC. They offer a pretty big menu of vegan "fast food" -- burgers, salads, fries, wraps, and drinks. They also carry a few baked desserts from Sticky Fingers, with different ones every day. It was hard to pick something from the menu -- so many choices! -- but we actually ended up both ordering a Massaman Tofu Wrap - "curried organic & local tofu, sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, cilantro-white bean puree, and cucumber raita." Just thinking about it makes me wish I was eating it again - I thought it was super well seasoned, and I loved the combo of the warm, cooked tofu and sauce with the fresh veggies inside. Also the warming curry flavors were great since it was a cold and rainy day that day. This is another spot I would love to go back to and try more items off their menu! 

The infamous Peanut Chew!
plus me with morning bed head.
I may or may not have eaten a peanut chew with my breakfast 

Here is another special thing we got to eat while we were in DC: the famous Peanut Chew! I've heard about this accidentally vegan candy from my east coast vegan pals for years now, but I had never had one. After the march, Ms. A took us to the HUGE super grocery store (Wegmans') near their house. Holy selection, Batman! I couldn't believe the huge vegan cheese selection! They had more choices at their "mainstream" grocery store than we have at our health food store. Wow! Plus, importantly, they had Peanut Chews in the bulk bin. Let's just say that we went back for more before we flew home, and they are, *cough* already long gone. Those little suckers are good! They're a lot like how I remember Snicker's tasting... but vegan and with dark chocolate. 

Ms. A with her yummy latte and a vegan cupcake

One more cute spot of note: a locally-owned cafe in downtown DC called Bakers and Baristas. They had great coffee and a sea of baked goods, including two different vegan cupcake flavors. How cool! We all got something hot and toasty to drink, and then Mr. Z and Ms A cooled their heels for a little while, and us two took off for some evening explorations of the many remarkable monuments in DC. 


The day after the march, we visited this relatively little-known museum dedicated to the Suffrage Movement. The museum is housed in the actual house where the suffragettes gathered, planned, built community, and worked together. The displays inside the museum were quite moving and inspiring, and I was touched by the perseverance and vision of the (white) women who worked so hard for the (white) women's right to vote. I was bothered by the conspicuous lack of transparency about the connections between the suffrage movement and racist ideology. Many (most?) of the suffragettes held racist and exclusionary views towards women of color and certainly were not concerned with their rights. In fact, I got in contact with them and learned that they are very aware of this issue and working to address it. Even with those issues in my mind, the museum felt relevant on the day after such a huge Women's March on Washington, with hundreds of thousands of women marching and chanting through the streets of Washington, demanding visibilty and rights. 

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is quite a visual landmark. On a drizzly evening walk, we got to explore it (from the outside). Of course I did a headstand! Can you see my little Chesire Cat smile down at the bottom of the picture?

this is what it looked like as we tried to take that picture!
ha ha

The Memorial that I wanted to see most of all was the MLK Jr. Memorial. Last time I went to DC was about 30 years ago, when I was only 14 years old... and this memorial did not yet exist at that time. I had seen pictures of the memorial online, and didn't really know what to expect, but I found it quite moving and powerful in person. I also found the memorial particularly poignant and solemn since we visited it (and several others) at night - there was an extra sense of quiet, very few people, and time and space to reflect. 

I didn't get a good picture of the beautiful sweeping walls at the MLK Memorial, but on either side of the big statue are walls containing many quotes from him - many of which are famous quotes, and others less so. It was particularly inspiring and challenging to read his words on race and activism and social justice and social upheaval while we held the experience of the march (and the conversations about the march) so freshly. 

top left: MLK Jr. Memorial
top right: US Capitol Building
bottom left: Jefferson Memorial
bottom right: Lincoln Memorial

Besides the MLK Memorial, the other thing I really wanted to see was the relatively new African American Museum. I woke up at 6:30 am to get in the online lottery for same-day tickets and managed to get some! That museum is extremely impressive: moving, expertly curated, poignant, powerful, upsetting, empathizing, humanizing, and I could go on and on. I cannot recommend it strongly enough, and I wish we could have had much more time there. I look forward to an opportunity to return again. There is so much to see and learn and reflect upon.

After our time at the African American Museum, we walked over to see the Jefferson Memorial. When I had visited DC as a teenager, this was the memorial that I found most moving and powerful. I particularly remember memorizing the quote that goes around the inside of the building in huge letters: "I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." That's still a pretty amazing declaration, but it's a *whole* lot more uncomfortable, upsetting, complicated, hypocritical, and compartmentalized after considering the 600 slaves that Jefferson owned (and the 1 he had several children with.) 

The Lincoln Memorial is quite stunning - and it's beautiful at night. It has a sense of majesty and presence, and it was powerful to think of Martin Luther King Jr standing on those very stairs and addressing a sea of people with his famous speech. 

Other fun things we saw: The International Spy Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Gallery. Guess what, almost all the museums and attractions in DC are also free! How cool is that? 

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

On our last day, Mr Z & Ms A took us to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Virginia, right next to the Dulles Airport. I'm not at all a plane nerd, but - wow! - this was quite a remarkable place. We took a free tour and our docent was wonderful - he had so much knowledge about every single plane or space craft we saw, and was able to talk with decency and delicacy about some of the more challenging parts of the tour. We spent the most time looking at the Space Shuttle Discovery, which I thought was pretty cool. (far left and far right) It's just pretty trippy to look at it and think how many times that very contraption has been up in space!! There's a lot more I could say, but planes aren't vegan food, so I'll keep it short. I definitely recommend this as a stop though, even if you don't think it's up your alley. It might surprise you, like it did for me.

Beautiful Lola

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a picture of our beautiful and friendly hostess kitty, Miss Lola. Apparently Ms. A and Mr. Z have a second cat, but she is very shy and even though we stayed with them for 4 nights, we never saw her or heard a peep from her (!). I believe them though. Lola made up for her reclusive sister by sleeping on our guest bed and looking beautiful all the time. 
mystery cat

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jambu Sparrow Vegan Shoes: Product Review

in grey / stone blue

Recently the folks at Jambu Shoes sent me a pair of their new vegan Sparrow shoes to try out and to review. I am a long time fan of Jambu shoes and I've reviewed other shoes from them in the past (here, and here.) Over the years I have had and loved many, many pairs of Jambus!

As soon as I opened the box, I was happy to see a little tag on the shoes saying that they were vegan. Don't you just love that? Jambu (and their sister brands JBU and JSport) make a lot of styles that are not vegan, but they also all make several styles of vegan shoes for women, everything from winter boots to sandals and sporty shoes. And the vegan styles are clearly labeled, and advertised as such! That makes my vegan heart so happy!

view from above of my cute shoes, and of Snoopy's cute toes

The Sparrow shoes come in 4 different colors and I selected the grey / stone blue. These shoes are "Water Ready" -- so you can wear them in the water and they're made of materials that dry out quickly. The only water sports we've had around here lately is dashing through pouring rain and jumping over puddles (not that I'm complaining!) So, I haven't had a chance to do any summery water hikes or beach days in my shoes, but even in lieu of that, I still appreciate the fabric and the super-breathable feeling of these shoes.

Since I teach yoga and practice yoga so often, I'm always taking my shoes off and putting them back on, and then off again, and then on again. I feel like I usually just end up wearing flip flops because it's so easy to kick 'em on and off. These new Jambu shoes are a great new option for me and I have been wearing them non-stop. It's easy to pull them on and off, and I really like how light they are. My feel feel so light and sporty when I have them on! It's like walking on little clouds!

As you can see, Snoopy was very excited about our shoe time photo shoot.
Footie was less interested in shoes, and more interested in sun bathing.

I think the Sparrows run a bit on the big side. I usually wear a 9 or a 9.5 and I selected a 9 in these. The laces are actually just decorative, so you can't make them any more snug. It took me a little getting used to at first, but now I am into it. They fit me a little more loosely if I wear them with no socks and more snuggly if I wear them with socks. Happily, I find them quite comfortable both ways! When it's wintry and cold out, I like to wear them with socks - and if I'm just dashing out for a few errands or if it's sunny and warm out, I like to wear them au naturale.

Sometimes when I wear shoes with no socks, they get all stinky and yucky... but since these shoes are designed specifically to be breathable and aerated, my feet feel super comfortable without socks - even after a long dog walk. The information that came with the shoes says that the footbed is even antibacterial! Hopefully this means that only Snoopy will be sniffing at my shoes! They also have a nice grippy sole, which I always appreciate.

When I am gone from the house for several hours, Dottie Bonkers likes to loving transport my shoes and bring them all to my bed and leave them on my bed. She used to chew them up, which was a bummer, but now she just likes to move them around. It is so cute. Of course my new Jambus have already found their way to the bed a few times! 

In addition to sending me a pair shoes to wear and review, 
the folks at Jambu also gave me a coupon code to share with any of my readers : VEGANEATS10 
This code will get you 10% off any of their full-price shoes until March 14th, from their website.
Let me know if you get some and we are shoe twinsies! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Pancakes & Cookies!

Happy Valentine's Day to you! 

 this morning's special breakfast! 

This year Valentine's Day lands on a Tuesday... which means I'll be busy teaching two back-to-back yoga classes tonight. But we didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to do something fun and special together... so of course we decided to eat pancakes! Special breakfast is pretty much my favorite way to celebrate almost any occasion, so I don't actually mind missing out on a dinner date. We've been looking forward to our Valentine pancakes for a while now, actually.

kitty love!

My favorite pancake recipe is the Puffy Pillow Pancakes from Isa Does It (or online here). They always turn out perfectly and puffy, just like the name promises. I like them plain, but I also love them with with bananas and walnuts added in. That's what we went for today... except, you can see from my bottom pancake and extra banana that I forgot to add the bananas to the first few pancakes. Ooops. (the truth is, I stepped in cat barf and got distracted. thanks, Yummers!) No worries, even the ones without bananas were perfectly delicious. We enjoyed our pancakes with coffee and fresh OJ (squeezed from oranges from our orange tree!). I put out lots of toppings - vegan butter, two kinds of peanut butter (his and hers - organic trader joes for me, Skippy for him), two kinds of syrup (natural maple syrup for me, artificial syrup for him), apricot jam, and applesauce. Yum. Pretty much the best way to start a day!

Stevie says Hi!

fancy cookies!

Like I said, I'll be teaching two evening classes tonight - and Valentine's Day isn't always a great turn out for evening classes. So I promised my students that I would bring some treats for them - and that the treats would definitely involve chocolate! That's just straight up bribery, and I'm not afraid to admit to it. Ha ha. I made a double batch of the Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Aquafaba Cookbook. This is by far my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe! I usually add in a few extra tablespoons of coconut flour, to get the batter to the consistency that I like. Wow, they are so perfect and soft and chewy and great. I also got a cookie scooper for Christmas, which makes me feel very fancy, and now I can easily make cookies that are uniform in size. The nerd in me is very pleased about this. 

Snoopy has a Valentine for you! 

After baking the cookies, I tempered a few of the remaining chocolate chips and used the melted chocolate as "glue" to attach the fancy vegan chocolate hearts to each cookie. One way to guarantee a huge class is to only bring 10 cookies. If you only bring 10 cookies, it is for sure that 15 people will show up. On the other hand, if you make 20 cookies, probably only 4 people will show up. And yet, you must play it safe. So, with any luck, we will have some left over cookies ourselves after dinner tonight! 

Dottie wants to shake your hand! 

gf cookies!

I also always like to have a gluten-free offering in case some of my students are gluten free. I actually made these first, so that I wouldn't contaminate any of my cooking utensils or surfaces with gluten. As you can see, my original "brilliant" idea was the bake the fancy vegan hearts right on top of the cookies, but that clearly didn't work out as planned. Ha ha. Sorry, gf students! Oh well, at least they still taste fantastic. And, I'm also glad this mishap occurred with my smaller half-batch of gf cookies, rather than with my big double batch of regular cookies. 

By the way, have you tried baking with this new Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour from Bob's Red Mill? I'd read good things about it online and I finally found it at our natural foods store. It really works so well in baked goods. I've used it so far for cookies and bars, and have had great success with it. If you don't do much gf baking, this would be the way to go, because you don't need to have separate bags of white rice flour, sorghum flour, xantham gum, tapioca starch, etc in your cupboard. Also, it doesn't have chickpea flour in it, which means it doesn't taste beany - a much appreciate improvement, especially for sweet baked goods! 

I hope you have a good day today - with some love from pets, pals, family, and yourself... and hopefully a little chocolate or a pancake too. 

Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats out delivering Valentines

**Giveaway Winner**

Here's a special Valentine for one of you...
Congratulations to comment #16: Affectioknit!
You won my giveaway for a copy of the Oh She Glows Everyday Cookbook
I'll send you an email