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Happy Belated Earth Day!


So, my procrastinatory nature won out, and I’m not making my Earth Day post until, well, now. Earth Day is very special to me not only for the reason it’s special to all of you, but also because it’s my veganversary–my 2-year veganversary to be exact! Yes, April 22nd, 2008, I ditched dead animals, dairy, and eggs (man, I wish eggs started with a “d”) for good, and I’ve never looked back except to turn and laugh at the disgusting omnivorous world I left behind.

Of course, being an Environmental Analysis major (on the verge of graduation!) I also love Earth Day for its own wonderful sake, and look forward to Pomona’s annual Organic Dinner, put on by students. The food is catered by Pitzer College’s student-run café, The Shakedown, and supplemented by produce from Pomona’s organic farm. Oh, and there’s also organic dates donated by a nearby California date farm!

This was the second year I’ve helped out with the 200-person dinner (setting up, serving, baking, etc.), and it’s been a blast both times. After much deliberation, Steph and I decided to bake the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows and Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and my old standby chocolate chippers–the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vive Le Vegan!

Let me tell you, no matter how kick-ass of a baker you are, it is impossible–impossible, I say!–to make 400 plus cookies in under six hours if you only have one oven. Yes, you heard me right. Steph and I slaved over a hot oven from 9:00 pm to 3:30 am in order to bring Pomona students these stacks of organic vegan goodness!

It’s a good thing we did too, because we kind of ran out of food midway through the dinner (and to be honest the food we had this year was NOT as good as last year’s–overly salted teriyaki tofu in lieu of delicious tempeh curry). So, yeah, these cookies were kind of the saving grace of the dinner; and, if I don’t say so myself, they were pretty darn delicious and gorgeous to boot!

Be back soon with the rest of Nicole and I’s time in LA! :) This was just a scheduled interruption!


Los Animales de Costa Rica

Un poco más Costa Rica comin’ atcha today! This time in the form of animals.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m more of a food/people/pets/street photographer–landscapes and wildlife are NOT my forte. Partly because they generally don’t hold a lot of interest for me, and partly because I don’t have a telephoto lens. My Canon 50mm f/1.2 L prime lens hardly ever leaves me camera, and even when it does–as it did for the following wildlife pictures–I’m still only using my basic zoom lens at its maximum 75mm (with my crop sensor, 75mm equates to about 115mm). So that’s just my warning not to judge these photos too harshly; they’ve been majorly cropped, and the quality is, well, let’s just say I had trouble posting them and my photographic integrity suffered as a result. ;)

The majority of the animals we saw were on our guided tours. Whereas you, as a tourist, might walk two miles through the jungle and not see a thing, more practiced eyes can spot camouflaged wildlife 100 yards away in a treetop, so that’s what you’re paying for! My whole family did a canopy tour (which included zip-lining!), and my dad and I did a mangrove boat tour. My photos are from the latter tour because…would you bring your most treasured possession on a zip-line?!

On the mangrove tour, we saw a lot of camens, which are sort of like small crocodiles. In the water:

And out:

Also, toucans! It’s unreal how colorful they are.

Another bird we saw a lot of was the blue heron. I think I scared our tour guide, Oscar, when I started firing off 8 frames per second as this heron took flight. My camera sort of sounded like a machine gun. Photo poaching?

And my mom’s favorite (NOT): bats! The spotlight you see is our guide’s reflector, which he used to help point out animals.

The coolest animal sightings by far were the monkeys! From our boat, we saw three groups (tribes?) of monkeys swinging through the trees: howler, spider, and one I can’t remember! I couldn’t even tell you which kind this one is, but check out that epic jump!

Monkeys are one of my favorite animals (I feel like one every time I eat bananas and PB, which doesn’t really make sense now that I think about it…), so it was amazing getting to see them in the wild!

I know this sounds weird, but I’m not sure the following sloth is even real. This photo was taken in Manuel Antonio, one of Costa Rica’s national parks, and our tour guide was definitely a scam artist! He was really aggressive in getting us to purchase the tour despite our lack of real desire to do so, and everything he said was of doubtful veracity. He also “knew” in advance exactly where all the animals would be. My dad thinks I’m silly, but I almost suspect this sloth to be a fake–a sloth robot/replica, if you will. Fine, it probably isn’t, but look at how it’s “waving!” I just don’t know…

Of course, Costa Rica is know for its exotic wildlife, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of adorable pets hanging around, jonesing for their portraits to be taken! A.k.a. back to my photographic comfort zone…

This is Cockie! (Nice name, right?)

Immediately after we were shown to our room at the Margarita B & B in San José, Margarita’s dog Cockie plopped down on my pillow. Now that’s my kind of B&B: cuddly friends included!

Here’s one of Margarita’s other dogs! Look at those angel eyes.

Tito, Rancho Pacifico’s owners’ pup, was definitely our favorite though!

This guy’s ego was inversely proportional to his size. Yes, he had quite the attitude. We spent a lot of time with him poolside.

Instead of a tennis ball, Tito played with this spiky rain forest seed pod. These pods were everywhere. Man, this dog is livin’ the life, isn’t he? Organic dog toys falling from the sky, a mountain-top resort for a playground, a constant train of guests cooing over him!

Tito was our favorite, but he wasn’t the cutest. That award goes to these puppies, who belonged to Alex, one of the hotel staffers:

I think Alex is only going to keep the brown one, so unfortunately, they’re going to be separated. Still, I’m sure the black one will find a great casa! :)

Back to food next time!

Dorm Room Dinners: Raw Avocado Veggie Wrap

Hi, guys! Sorry I’ve been absent so long. I’ve just been eating boring dining hall food (thank God I’m graduating in…nine weeks!), and I didn’t want to bore you. But I think my lunch/dinner today were interesting enough that there shouldn’t be an upheaval of the blogging masses when I publish this post. :)

I’ve been eating a lot of raw food the past few days, which basically equates to green smoothies in my Magic Bullet blender and giant salads for lunch and dinner. Today, however, I felt like having something a little more interesting. To this end, I grabbed some veggies from the dining hall, and combined with a few ingredients from my own stores and a little creativity, I had me some delicious raw wraps!

Basically, I mashed half an avocado with some chopped up cherry tomatoes, a clove of minced garlic, some sea salt, and a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Then I just julienned some jicama, carrots, and cucumbers–and lightly steamed some broccoli in my microwave–and laid them all on some gorgeous collard leaves. I topped ’em with the “guacanoochy” and called it a burrito!

I ended up with two of these wraps, but only had time to eat one before my 1:15 class, so I had the other one for dinner (and I added some cubed TJ’s baked tofu to that one).

I’m not gonna lie; I’m pretty proud of myself for making this in my dorm room using all dining hall ingredients except collard greens, avocado, and nooch. Still…get me out of here, into my own kitchen, and off of this godforsaken meal plan!!!

Hello Rup!

Just because I’m too lazy and homework-overloaded to do a real post today. :)

Hummus English Muffin

Breakfast routines can get boring if you let them. So don’t!

Sure Earth Balance, peanut butter, and jam are all great on bread, but don’t restrict yourself to sweet. If bagels can have savory toppings, why not English muffins?

An Ezekiel English muffin topped with creamy hummus, spinach, tomatoes, and red onions really hits the spot in the morning! I’m sure hummus is great on toast and bagels too, but I have yet to have that pleasure!

I made my first mosaic. The centering of the plate isn’t quite consistent, but I like it anyways.

Happy Monday!


Truth: I kind of hate living in this part of California–in the endless sea of suburbia stretching out from the center of Los Angeles. Granted, the weather generally rocks, but I won’t be crushed in three months when it’s time to leave Claremont and start my life somewhere else. Nonetheless, as long as I am here, I sure as hell am going to hit up as many vegan restaurants in the city as I can.

This quest continued two weekends ago when my friends Stephanie and Tori and I almost effortlessly (Hey–have YOU tried driving on LA freeways?!) made our way into Little Ethiopia.

We were headed to Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine at the glowing recommendation of Quarry Girl. And we were happy we did!

Ethiopian. Good. Vegan Ethiopian. Very good. All-You Can-Eat Vegan Ethiopian for under seven dollars. Um, hello?!

For any of you who don’t know, Ethiopian food is by far the most fun cuisine to eat! It consists of various stews, a.k.a. wots, that you scoop up with pieces of injera, a spongy sourdough pancake-like bread made of fermented teff flour. No utensils are necessary. Isn’t that how we all really want to eat anyways?

My favorite wots are always the lentil ones. Rahel’s lentils weren’t as amazing as those at my local Tempe Ethiopian joint, Café Lalibela, but they did the trick. As you can see in the above photo, there were both red and yellow lentils, as well as cabbage and string beans dishes. Also, below: a carrot/potato stew, collards, and–my unexpected favorite–eggplant!

That green sauce was wayyy too spicy! But it sure was pretty.

Since the injera under our food got a bit soggy, we used additional rolls of it to scoop up the food as we ate, leaving a colorful collage at the end of our meal. I think it looks like a snowflake. An insanely delicious, savory snowflake.

I say no trip to LA is complete without a stop at Rahel. The service, atmosphere, prices, and food were all out of this world. Or at least this country. ;)

Babycakes NYC in…LA?!

My friends and I have been making as many vegan field trips into LA as possible the past few weeks because we figure, the deeper into the semester we get, the less feasible such trips will be. And, c’mon, second to New York City, LA definitely has the most vegan restaurants of any US city! (Obviously not talking about the number of vegan restaurants per capita…I think Portland would win that.)

First on our list was Babycakes NYC, which just opened their LA location a few weeks ago!

We went late in the day, so about half of their displays were empty. :( Even so, we didn’t exactly go hungry.

I got a vanilla spelt cupcake with chocolate frosting, but my first bite was a little unnerving. The frosting was sort of salty, and the cupcake was dry with a weird aftertaste. The staff at Babycakes was super sweet though, and immediately allowed me to replace it. I must have gotten a dud. Either way, I don’t mean this to be a negative review because they were so great about getting me a new one as soon as I expressed my discontent.

My second (and much more delicious!) cupcake was a gluten-free banana cupcake.

Although I generally prefer less sweet banana baked goods, like banana bread, this cupcake was still extremely yummy. The cupcake was moist and flavorful, and the frosting was perfect as well–just a little bit tart and cream cheese-y, but still sweet enough to qualify as a cupcake topper.

Still, not even my banana cupcake was as good as the gluten-free chocolate brownie cupcakes that my three friends got. I would definitely opt for that one next time!

Naturally, we had to take a bunch of baked goodies to go–who knows when we’ll be back next? I picked up a cinnamon bun and a chipwich.

Did I say cinnamon bun? I meant Skinny Bun! At least, that’s what Babycakes calls ’em! All I have to say about this spelt bun was that it rocked my breakfast world. A bit crumbly on the inside, but, hey–this was the next day, reheated in a microwave! It wasn’t overly sweet, the raisins were a nice touch, and I loved the buttery mouthfeel provided by the coconut oil!

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat my Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich for breakfast (even I have some discipline). But I did eat it as a snack!

Made with two gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and a gob of vanilla frosting, this guy was even better than its ice cream counterpart that I’ve had in the past. First of all, you don’t have to worry about meltage. Second, this chipwich was just plain good–no explanation needed. Super sweet frosting, check. Crunchy cookies with a bit of salt to complement sweet frosting, check.

Finally, I had a slice of GF Lemon Poppyseed bread that my friend James gave to me. I slathered it with some TJ’s Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam, and called it a morning.

Who knew lemon and strawberry went so well together? (Well, obviously I did, but whatever.)

Whether you’re in NYC or LA, I definitely recommend hitting up your local Babycakes. The worst that can happen is that you get a mediocre cupcake that you’re more than welcome to exchange for another (though I don’t think that’s likely), and the best that can happen is that you’re admitted into wheat-free dessert heaven. Your choice.

Next time, I’m going bright ‘n early though, so I can take my pick from a fully stocked display. I have a hankering for on of their “toasties,” and maybe that GF brownie cupcake. ;)