Category Archives: VEGAN

How was your Thanksgiving?

JT and I tried to get some volunteers hours in Thanksgiving AM with the first annual Lost Our Home Pet Foundation’s Turkey Trot.  First we walked two min-pin looking chihuahua mixes, Simon and Minnie and then took a short spin with Shadow (who had already been on a mile and half walk but was still so wound up that we were afraid he might get away from us – that boy was strong!)  When we got home, Shenanigan could smell we had been visiting other dogs, so we took him on a nice long turkey trot too.


Once we had our good deeds behind us, we lazed around the house and did some of our cooking prep.  JT was in charge of the  turkey and I had tasked myself with some vegan side dishes.  The stuffing was easy – Stovetop (cornbread version) from the box made with vegan margarine (no different from real margarine – super processed and pretty gross to eat plain but at least they offer a soy free version), a veggie dish and the cranberries.

For my veggies side, I made a roasted brussels sprouts and cinnamon butternut squash dish with walnuts and dried cranberries (recipe here).  I’m usually not a fan of sweet and savory together but this really works and I’ve made it a few times now, all to good reviews.  The cranberries were something my dad would always make for family gatherings in Iowa.  I remember packing the food processor, bag of cranberries and oranges in the minivan for the schlep.  I don’t know that he had a written recipe he followed and I’m also pretty sure his had gelatin in it, so I’ve found a veganized recipe that still holds on to what I liked best about his version – the freshly grated cranberries and whole oranges (even the peel – recipe here).  In place of the gelatin, this recipe simply uses sugar (I toned that way done if favor of a more tart recipe) and raspberry jam.  I had an organic superfruit jam blend that also had cherry in it, really good.  My mother-in-law and her husband brought the rest of the feast with them, including a “wacky” cake for dessert and we were all set.

I love setting the table for nice meals.  This year I used a white flannel sheet I had bought at Goodwill’s half off day.  It was much less stress of worrying about wine or cranberry or anything else that might get on the table.  The napkins are the embroidered “T” napkins we used at the head table at our wedding, almost twelve years ago now.  The table runner was an impulse buy at Target and I think it is a Nate Berkus design.  It had a really ugly black tassel on the ends that I removed as it was too harsh of a contrast between the white, light grey and silvers.

I am thankful for a lot in my life but I do have to say how very thankful I am for our old dog Shenanigan.  He is so sweet and calm and sometimes silly and he brings so much comfort to our lives.  He was happy to see his grandma but also happy to lay on his “pillow cloud” in the corner and hang out with us all evening (one of the dog beds is usually under the table but since we had the tablecloth on, I added it to his pile.)  His face is almost all the way white now and his fatty tumor is so big that people ask if he is pregnant and I know our time with him is growing shorter every day.  We’re trying to enjoy every last drop.

JT and I just had a nice lunch of leftovers and are enjoying one of the few gloomy days in Phoenix to lounge around and relax.  I’ll be back later with our #opt outside events from yesterday and some gift ideas for the new-to-the-outdoors people like me.  I hope you all had a great time gathering and feasting with your friends and families.  Cheers – CT


Black Pepper Game Changer and My First Recipe!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it (too) much but vegan cooking can tend towards the bland if you’re not careful.  Without dairy and meat fats and oils to “beef up” a dish, you really have to consider where your flavor is going to come from.  And I have to tell you guys, Black Pepper Sauce by My Crazy Vegan Kitchen changed the game.

I was Pinterest searching the other night for some veg burgers to make for a work camp outing (always interesting to camp with your co-workers …), I traveled down the rabbit hole and found the recipe in the link above.  I didn’t even end up putting it on a burger, but I’ve been putting it on Everything Else I Can Get My Hands On.  Case in point, the portabella cap and polenta in the image below.  Mouthwatering.  It would be great on any vegetable – broccoli, cauliflower, squash (zoodles …. mmmm!)  and paired with a black pepper sauced rice, you’re talking a Foodie Award.  (Is that a thing?  It is now.)

I think I also have my first recipe!  Our usual go-to recipe for weekend mornings or when there’s no other options for dinner goes something like this: Tofu + Can of Beans + Can of Rotel + Anything else in the kitchen + Wrapped in a tortilla.  We eat this a lot.  I was putting together a batch the other day but we didn’t have the usual suspects … and so I think I may have invented my first recipe.  I’m calling it Saucy Taco Salad.   However I didn’t know I was inventing greatness and so I took no photographs to document my culinary experience.  So here’s a recap:
CT’s Saucy Taco Salad:

For the Saucy Part:

1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 can fire roasted and diced tomatoes
1 cup or less of corn (I have been using more white or shoepeg corn lately for a little variety)
2 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp brown sugar

1. Combine all the above items in a pan on medium heat.  Stir thoroughly and heat through.  Simple!

2.  To make the taco salad bowl, use an oven safe bowl (I used our enamelware camping bowls), lightly grease the bottom of the bowl and drape a tortilla over the bowl.  Bake/toast in the oven at 350 degrees until it seems crispy to your liking.  I think ours took about 5-7 minutes.

3.  Serve!  Fill the taco bowl with lettuce or some form of greens, fill with heaping spoonfuls of the saucy mix and top with whatever you have – we used raw onion and guacamole (the little single serve guacamole cups from Costco are the best.)  Cilantro and a sour cream replacement could work (I’ve make a cashew crema before that was pretty yummy).

Also, has anyone tried charcoal water?  One of our reps for work brought it in (he’s a super buff, marathon and yoga type guy and knows better than to bring donuts thank goodness).  It looks scary and you feel like your teeth will turn out India ink colored but it’s actually pretty good.

Cheers! CT

Vegan Eats, Tiny Kitchen Edition

When I mentioned in the last post that our kitchen is so tiny, we would just keep getting take out until we renovated it, I was only halfway kidding.  Both JT and I work four (more than) ten-hour days and healthy, from-scratch cooking at the end of those days (in a tiny kitchen) just wasn’t always happening.  Add on top of that my study schedule for the NCIDQ (still no results yet — arrggh!) and I was happy that we found someone to cook for us.  That’s right folks, we have a personal chef…. sort of.  I convinced JT to accompany me to the 4th Annual Vegetarian Festival a while back in Scottsdale and learned of a local company called “The Vegan Taste


Every other Monday a cooler arrives at our front door with fully cooked all-vegan meals in individual portions.  I just stick the menu on the fridge and pick out a labeled Tupperware to reheat for my dinner.  JT does the same and we can even have different things for dinner on the same night (gasp!).  It’s been great.

On the non-delivery weeks we cook.  I try to do a lot of the prep work on the weekends to make it easier on the weeknights.  Here’s a few of our favorite tried and true recipes we love:

Eggplant Meatballs (with pasta and a spicy red sauce) from SkinnyTaste
Creamy Coconut Garlic Mushrooms (also could be with pasta or  spiralized squash … yep, we’ve been spiralizing and it’s great!) from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
Chipotle Mac and Cheese (I guess we have a pasta theme going on … I swear we eat more than just pasta!) from the Post Punk Kitchen
Deconstructed Falafel Bowl from Vegan Yack Attack
Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash from Leelalicious
Pesto Tortilla Round-Ups from Vegan in the Freezer (great for lunches)

For more ideas and to see what we’ve tried out, check out my Pinterest board here.

In other vegan news, eggs!

I tend to steer clear of the meat and cheese replacers – the fake products are often very processed and I don’t really like the taste of meat anyway so I’m not too interested in a fake meat.  However I saw a vegan egg product at our local Sprouts store that I thought I might try …

It came in a cute little 4 pack egg cardboard carton but what was actually in the carton was the bag of powder … When mixed with cold water as directed, it did actually have that sulfurous smell of eggs but more the consistency of a cornbread batter.  I mixed it up into a kind of huevos rancheros breakfast burritos but at the end of the day I think my opinion of replacement products holds up.  This is not something you could probably ever convince a non-vegan to eat and there are so many yummy other ingredients you could mix in with the beans (rice, avocado, roasted corn, chipotle salsa …) that I don’t think the fake eggs make the cut.  I did however use them as an egg substitute in a cookie that I made for work (Gooey butter cookies also with vegan cream cheese and pea protein margarine) and they were a hit – no one realized they were secretly vegan.  Probably because they were covered in sugar.

So that’ s what’s going on in our tiny kitchen.  Any other must try vegan recipes I need to know about?  Cheers – CT






Thompson Thrift Comes to Life

Happy Tofurkey Day to all!

I think I’ve mentioned it here on the blog before but JT and I have always dreamed of one day doddering away our time in a joint venture, “Thompson Guitar and Thrift” – a store full of amazing guitars and vintage furniture and objects – kind of just a place you would want to hang out in all day.  Add in Sophie and Shenanigan as two lazy shop dogs and you’re painting my dream picture.

At any rate, a brick and mortar store isn’t something we’re ready to commit to at this point in our lives.  We both have full time day jobs and frankly like the security and 401ks those bring.  But we still dream of the shop and so we’ve both taken (online) steps to make our dream a reality.

JT has been doing the guitar thing for a while now, first on eBay and now on Reverb.  Reverb has been great for him – the percent they take from your sale is way less than eBay and Reverb is geared right at him and his fellow musicians.

Reverb Store

JT has his very own Black Friday sale running until Sunday evening.

Reverb Store Inventory

He’s got some good stuff squirreled away — the ’78 Fender Telecaster, a whole Strat or just a Strat body and pickguards galore.  You can see his store here.  He has 24 reviews right now and I think they’re all five star – he’s a responsive seller and he knows his guitar stuff.

Etsy Homepage Screenshot

Not to be left behind, I decided to open my own store on Etsy, focusing on the vintage goods side of things.  It kind of grew out of necessity as I was bringing so much stuff home that the house began to feel like it was overflowing.  The online shop became a reality last week and I already made my first sale – you can find me at Thompson Thrift!Shop Inventory To DateBoth JT and I have the same philosophy when it comes to curating our shops – we make it a point to only offer items that we would buy for ourselves.  In fact I keep making side eyes at the copper colander I have up right now … maybe I will set it out as part of my Tofurkey Day table setting.


I made a little photo shoot spot in the breakfast nook window as it faces north and gets nice diffuse light.  The Ikea faux sheepskin has been working hard as a nice wintery neutral background for my photos.  I’ve actually been photographing everything with my iPhone using the Camera+ app – it has great controls for focus and brightness along with handy little grid lines to help center things up.  I also started using the Google photo drive to quickly send all my photos to the computer where I can edit and upload them.  I don’t think this Etsy venture is going to be a path to quick riches but it’s a fun hobby and helps justify my weekends spent at the thrifts.

Have a great holiday all.  Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  Food, family and relaxation can’t be beat.  And I’m going to try out this vegan Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe for dessert.  Cheers!  CT



Like a Vegan

(Sorry for the cheezy post title.  And apparently being a vegan means you spell cheese with a “z”.  Or at least the “cheeze” vegans eat.)

So, this change/upheaval in my diet has also wreaked a little havoc on our kitchen.  Every dinner begins with chopping broccoli (cue Dana Carvey) and ends with a load of dishes.  Our kitchen is TINY! and only has one 8′-6″ run of counter top (with a sink in it).  So, cooking is fun.  I feel like putting up a sign that says “lather, rinse, repeat” because the chopping, washing, dish-putting-away cycle seems endless sometimes.

E:CT HOUSE3341 JAN 2011 Model (1)

I’ve been looking for ways to streamline/simplify/organize and stumbled on a few.  #1 – Pot Lid racks from the Container Store.  This is one major base cabinet we have for cooking pan storage stuff.  In a perfect world the racks should have been mounted a tad lower on the door but I just centered them and hung them before I fully conceptualized how the dang things actually worked.  But all in all, this is a great space saver and makes the lids a lot easier to grab since they’re not all jumbled up like they were before.


#2 – Cookbooks!  Right now I have been checking out a lot of cookbooks from the library to see which ones I would like to purchase for long-term use.  And of course I print out recipes from Pinterest or the interwebs in general and just stick those on the fridge with a magnet.  I started pinning a bunch of ideas for cookbook storage and then happened across this little rack for $1.81 at Value Village and figured I’d give it a spin.


The biggest, bestest change we have made is in the pantry.  Now just understand that our pantry is a wreck and this change only involves the spices.  The rest is a work in progress.  Okay — remember – spices.  Here’s the pics:


The Elfa Over-the-Door system (also from the Container Store, are we sensing a trend?)  has made cooking SO. MUCH. BETTER.  Before all our spices were haphazardly placed in a pull out bin (see asterisk on the before picture).  In order to get at said spices, you had to pull out the whole bin, search for some precious space on the counter and hunt until you found the right spice (they’re not all labeled on the top).  Thanks to a gift card from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas we took advantage of the January Elfa sale and splurged on this puppy a little.  But not to despair – it clamps to the top and bottom of the door and tightens down with a screw so we can take it with us forever and ever wherever we go (and we will).  The baskets easily lift off the track for quick spice access.  I could go on and on but let’s just say this thing is the bee’s knees and I love it and want to add a few more baskets.  (Also I just noticed the random black cloth on the sofa in the after picture – I was photographing a guitar for JT’s eBay endeavor and I could see the tan sofa reflecting on the nice shiny black guitar so presto – magical invisibility cloak cloth.)

So just for kicks, I thought I would share with you guys what this kitchen is whipping up:


1. Red Quinoa with Zucchini and Corn from Speed Vegan By Alan Roettinger (this was our first time having quinoa and it was really good!)

2. Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach from the Post Punk Kitchen

3. Black Beans, Mushrooms and Bok Choy from Speed Vegan


4. Cornmeal-Crusted Tempeh with Carrots and Green Lentils from The Candle Cafe Cookbook by Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza (just the tempeh recipe, the roasted carrots are from Door Sixteen – here.  The lentils we had in the freezer . . . )

5. Hottie Black Eyed Peas with Ginger Sweet Potatoes & Apples from the Post Punk Kitchen

#6 Brownie in a Mug – Improvised from a recipe/segment I heard on NPR.  I can’t find it on the website anymore but here’s my version of the recipe:

Combine 1T vegan butter, 1T almond milk and a splash  of vanilla extract in a bowl or mug.  Microwave until the butter melts.  Then stir in 1T flour, 1T sugar and 1T dark cocoa powder.  I also added some  peanut butter, the recipe also suggests powdered espresso which I would like to try as well. Microwave for 1 more minute and voila – a brownie in a mug!  

This is great since I have a total sweet tooth and JT does not.  Plus there’s only one bowl to clean which is great!  Our dishwasher is about to go on strike.

She’s gone off the deep end . . .

Hi, interwebs, how have you been?  I have been hiding under my desk at work while a major deadline came and went.  And then at the chiropractor having all the kinks worked out for being crunched under my desk for so long . . . .

Also, I have some news to share and didn’t exactly know what to write so I’ve been hiding under my desk from the Interwebs as well.  How to start?  How about a little back story . . .

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this here on the blog but I am a LEED accredited professional.  What that means is I paid a lot of money for the opportunity to fail a test.  It was scary — scarier than gambling even though I was betting on myself and I studied my ass off.


(Image via US Green Building Council)

So, what is LEED?  It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  In short I’m a green freak.  I think that is  part of what drives my thrift store habit — I’m recycling!  On a scale of green-freakiness, I would call myself a 7 out of 10.  We don’t have solar panels on our roof (although that would be great) and we don’t have a composting toilet (although the next one we install will be a dual flush).

That’s the back story to tell you I’m part hippie, part practical radical.  Now for the next part . . .

For a long time, I’ve also been a vegetarian although really it was bordering on the edge of picky-eater — I was still eating fish, eggs and dairy.  The other night, while working on some little touches for our dinner party this weekend, I hit the Netflix for something to watch while my hands were busy.  I like to be mindful about my television choices and pick things that might make me smarter or at least not make me dumber and so I settled on “Vegucated”.


(Image via Get Vegucated)

Well I have to say it gave me a long overdue push over the edge . . . Internet, I’m going vegan.  No more dairy, eggs, salmon burgers or M&Ms . ..  It’s a big jump but I’m ready to do it.  I recommend this film to anyone who is interested in knowing where their food comes from and what happens to it before it reaches your plate.  (And veganism is good for the environment.  Double plus.  Oh yeah, and possibly my health.  Triple plus.)

So even though I don’t really get into Valentine’s Day, this February 14th I am proclaiming my love for animals.  Man animals like my husband (contrary to public belief, it’s not required to become a lesbian to become a vegan), furry dog animals like Sophie and Shenanigan and even bird animals like the one that defiled my window ledge and terrified my kitchen.

dogs in a heart

P.S. Sorry about the bleeding heart liberal left-wing crazy head nut post there.  After this things will go back to design.  I visited Warehouse of Stuff and Goodwill by the Pound over the weekend, OUR BATHROOM MIRROR AND LIGHT FIXTURE GOT INSTALLED and lots more good stuff coming your way.  Thanks for hanging in there.

P.P.S.  I am a practical radical and realize not everyone wants to be a vegan.  For the dinner party on Saturday we’re still serving meat.  I don’t want to pull a bait and switch on anyone.  After this public declaration though, it’s fair game.