Monday, October 20, 2014

Deli Slices in the works...

Since moving to Maine I have been working perfecting and developing a line of vegan deli slices.  My pepperoni slices have been posted as a recipe for awhile and have been a big hit with the folks I have served them too.

Ham Slices

Recently, I have come up with two new flavors.  Turkey and Ham.  The turkey needs to be a little more moist and ironically, the ham was a little too moist and not quite dense enough.  The flavor for both was very good and will just take a little tweaking for perfection.
Turkey Slices

Part of the plan is to try to get these slices into some local natural food stores in Maine as well as some other local business that are already vegan friendly or would like to be.  Step one is mastering the product, which means we will have to eat a lot of deli sandwiches!

Turkey Slices

I also need to find a good slicer to get consistent slices going as well as a good way to package them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A visitor from the south...

We had out first out of town visitor this past week.  Ashley's mother came all the way from Georgia to see how our family was adjusting to the Maine life, to see the house, and to see what Maine was all about.

We took the week and showed her around.  We hit all the hot spots, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Popham Beach, Acadia National Park, Lake Damariscotta, Portland, Camden/Rockland, etc.  It was a real what's what of Maine at peak foliage to boot.

Of course, I tagged along on a few of the trips and snapped some solid pictures for my collection.  Historically, Ashley and I try to make it to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park around the foliage season but since we are now in Maine, we will need to find a new favorite spot.

Acadia, Sand Beach

Acadia, Thunder Hole


The week was filled with lots of days off, long car rides, amazing scenery, and of course good eats!

Popham Beach State Park

Popham Beach State Park

Fort Popham

Kaleigh's Roasted Red Pepper Soup


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Trying to remember...

Floating around the internet I have seen a link to a peanut butter and chocolate vegan fudgy pop.  I briefly read it over one time and kept thinking about it for a few days afterward.  Of course, I could no longer find the link and had to brainstorm the recipe from what I remembered and what I wanted.

Then I went into create mode.  The next day, peanut butter chocolate fudgy pops.  I have no idea how lose I came to the original recipe and link I saw but these were a hit with the family, even in the chilly Maine autumn nights.

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's a Girl!

For some time now we have been throwing around the idea of inviting a dog to come live with us.  In fact, we had been looking at adoption sites online for months.  A couple of weeks ago we traveled two hours to visit a dog named Sammy.

Sammy was a lab mix and fit all of the qualifications we were looking for in a companion.  When we got to the facility, Sammy did not seem very interested in us.  There just did not seem to be a connection with him.  It was sad because we really wanted to make it work.  The woman who runs the adoption center mentioned that she had 4 other dogs coming from bad situations in Georgia arriving in about 30 minutes if we wanted to wait.

We opted to wait without thinking about it too much since we new nothing about the dogs that were arriving.  As soon as the dogs got to the house, stretched their legs, and went to the bathroom, one came over to Ashley and Kaleigh for attention.  Her name was Tessa, a boxer whippet mix with a super cute under bite.

We asked a few questions about Tessa but she was not house trained (only crate trained), they did not know if she would be good with cats, and she was a little younger than we were prepared for.  We stayed and played with the doggies for awhile longer and Tessa was showing what a great dog she was.

After some long discussion and careful consideration, we opted to foster Tessa for a week. During that week we would see if she was able to be house trained, and if she was good with cats.  We took her for the long car ride back to our home for her first night.

Since then, we have been working diligently on house training, she is getting used to the cat, and as it turns out she is slightly older than we thought.  We have decided to make her a permanent addition to our family, with her consent of course.  She can not stand to be away from us.

Meet Tessa!

One of the things that I really like about Tessa is that she does very well off a leash.  Around the yard she (pretty much) knows her boundaries and we have even taken her to our local state park for a swim.  It looks like she doesn't know how to swim yet but she will get there.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding Solutions!

There were many deep fried leftovers in the house since none of us were able to finish our plates.  I really was drawing a blank on what to do with them since left over fried food is often greasier than it was when it was freshly made.  Then it came to me.

Meatloaf.  I took the seitan nuggets, mushrooms, cauliflower, and onions and dropped them into the food processor.  Once they were "meaty", I added some oats, ketchup, bbq sauce and a few spices to perk it up and soak up some of the oil.  I glazed it with a bbq and mustard sauce and baked until it was beginning to brown.  It can out really well, help up together perfectly and tasted great!

It is really nice to stumble on something great off the end of something questionable.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deep Fry Friday Part 4: This may have been a mistake...

I had a brilliant idea.  I was going to make the ultimate deep fried dish.  I make my seitan chickin nuggets, battered mushrooms, french fries, battered cauliflower, and battered onion pieces.

I tossed them in a fresh herb encrusted breading and into the deep frier they went.  I was so excited.  I thought it might end up being the best meal of my life.  As I started plating I realized how heavy the dish was.

Without losing hope, I heaped fried food on top of fried food.  I could barely contain myself as I started to dig in.  The seitan chickin nuggets were on par as my usual.  The fries were great, the mushrooms we juicy and succulent.  The cauliflower was extremely flavorful, but the onions stole the show.  They were incredible.

About half way through my plate of gorgeous gluttony, I started to feel like I had made a mistake.  I looked around the table at Ashley and Kaleigh who were tearing into their plates just has vigorously, and they had the same look.  We wanted to keep putting it away but it felt like we needed to stop.  We all ended up eating ourselves into a belly ache but still felt like it might have been worth it....maybe.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apples and Family!

We have been in Maine for nearly 2 months now and I am still trying to see everyone.  We have been very busy starting new jobs and school and getting projects done at the house.  Sadly, some visits have taken longer than others.

My sister, Nikki and her kids, invited us to go apple picking with them.  Ashley, Kaleigh and I have a long tradition of apple picking and we were going to be sure not to miss it this year so this invite was perfect.

The orchard we went to had lots of Macintosh trees, a corn maze, a pick your own flowers, and even a pick your own herb garden!  It was a pretty cool place, we got to ride in a huge wagon to the orchard.  We even found a cool frog bouncing around the orchard.

I wish was a good enough baker to make some pie but sadly, I will just try not to ruin an apple crisp and be happy.  There is nothing like Maine apples!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


My sister has about 4 blueberry bushes in her back yard.  She invited Ashley, Kaleigh and I to come pick them as she said there were too many.  We expected to get a quart or so of blueberries from the bushes.  We were wrong.

After about 25 minutes of picking blueberries by the fistful we had no more containers.  There were so many blueberries that we barely made a dent in her harvest.  It was amazing.  The three of us left my sisters house committed to planting our own bushes.

A few days later, Kaleigh and I made blueberry jam with our fresh picked, organic, local blueberries!  We were able to get about a dozen jars of jam before we ran our of berries.  A week later, we are being asked to come pick more as they are falling off the bushes!

I can not wait until next summer when we are able to grow our own food.  It is going to be so rewarding.  This is what we moved for, becoming more self sustaining, more financially free, and the fresh ocean air!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Holding on until the very end...

After nearly 12 years. I had forgotten how chilly September mornings in Maine can be.  The past few days, when Kaleigh and I go out to catch the bus, we have been able to see our breath.  It warms up nicely by the late morning but these early starts are cold.  I suppose it signifies the last hoorah of the Maine summer.

We took full advantage of the month that we had though.  We went to the beach several times.  It feels great to get out of landlocked Atlanta.  In Georgia, the beach is not a day trip by any means.  From our new house, the ocean is about 35 minutes away and the state park beaches are about 1 hour.  

We swam in water that was far to cold to swim in, we climbed rocks to explore the wldlife that lives in the tide pools, we had many a picnic in the sand, and even went bookie boarding.  I have really missed the ocean.

We will miss the summer as the colder weather begins to roll in but we are still holding out for a few warm weekends before we have to say goodbye officially.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Composting; Step One: The Bin

For weeks I have been searching for free pallets to build a cubic yard compost bin.  My Dad and Sue hit the jackpot!  The delivered about a dozen old pallets to our house the other day!

The next morning I got to work.  Recently, I have been watching a great web series by the folks at Garden Fork.  They have an awesome video on building a compost bin from old pallets that I have been eager to get into.  Everyone interested in these bins should watch their video.

I had to improvise a bit as I went but it was very easy.  It cost me a few hours labor, some screws, hinges, and a latch.  That is it.

Step 1: get your materials.  Find your pallets.  I used pallets that have already seen their best years so perfect pallets are not needed.  Get your drill, some scrap wood, screws, hinges, latch, and some gloves.

Step 2: set your pallets up on a relatively flat area of ground.  Then stand them up against each other so you can eyeball where your screws are going to go, which side will be your door/front.

Step 3: screw it together.  I did not use and extra brackets or anything.  I just screwed the pallets into themselves.  I had to use two pieces of scrap wood from a broken piece of pallet to make sure it was secure.

Step 4: attach the hinges.  For my, this was the tricky part.  You want to make sure your door side it off the ground by about an inch so that you can get it open and closed easily.  Then make sure the hinges are level and screw them in.

Step 5: install the latch.  This actually seemed like an optional step since my door seemed to stay closed fairly well without it but down the road I may be happy I have the latch.

That is it.  It was an easy task and I didn't even get a splinter (thanks to my gloves)!  Now we have a great use for food that begins to turn as well as a great place to put all the veggie scraps after Kaleigh and I make our special broth!

Check out the outstanding video that I used to help me build this great bin here: