Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It has been 3 months!

It has been 3 months since I changed my life.  No boss, no job to hate, no customer service, no more neon lights, no more windowless offices, no more.  With some intelligent planning, investing and a great parent in Ashley, I have been making swinging improvements with my life.  I am happier, more relaxed, friendlier, and less hateful.

It has been a long road and the road ahead is longer still but it is all for the betterment of myself and the benefit of my supportive and understanding family.  Big changes are in the past and even bigger ones in the future.

I have been able to spend more time doing the things I enjoy.  Cooking has been at the top of the list.  I have been diligently working on new recipes and new ideas.  In the meantime, I have been hitting home runs with old favorites.

Seitan Steaks
Mashed Potatoes topped with Fried Tofu and "Turkey" Gravy
Vanilla and Coconut Ice Cream
Fried Mushrooms with Tofu and BBQ sauce

Pan fried Summer Squash

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Failure turned win

Over and over, like a broken record, I have stated I am not a baker.  Yet I try.  Often.  To the detriment of my baking esteem.  I am not sure I would call this another fail but a stumble onto success!

Since moving to Maine, the whoopie pie capital of the world, I have felt the desire to make some pies.  Whoopie pies.  As a child they were a staple of the sweets in Maine.  I have to master the whoopie, to re-gain respect as a Mainer.

Attempt number one left me with cake pieces that we too thins and stick the the pan.  I was able to salvage enough for 5 whoopie pies.  The rest end up sitting in a vintage dish, crumbled.

The icing came out wonderful.  I made a Maine maple syrup icing to tag along with the hazelnut chocolate cake.  The flavor combination was excellent and I assembled my 5 pies.  They came out decent, not perfect but certainly acceptable.

With an abundance of icing and a dish of crumbled whoopie cake, I knew what had to be done.  Maybe we can call it "whoopie pie deconstructed" I thought as I began to unload the icing into the cake crumbles.  After mixing it and giving it a taste test I knew it did not matter what I called it as long as I got to eat it for a bedtime snack!

Failure turned win!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday Funday

Sunday was a good day.  We lounged around the house for much of the morning and afternoon.  Ashley made an outstanding brunch with brown sugar pancakes topped with vegan whipped cream, tempeh bacon, with biscuits and gravy.  The feast was perfect Sunday morning fare.  Sweet and savory with lots of starch.  Ashley makes great biscuits!

My dad and Sue stopped by to drop some chairs off and we got to show them the parts of the house that have been changing.  I think they were impressed with the progress and how well the house is coming together.  I also got to have a nice phone call with my mum.

After a quick dinner, we dropped Kaleigh off at my sister/niece/nephew's house and Ashley and I took off to Portland to see one of our favorite bands, Days N Daze.  They may not have been on their A game but it was still a lot of fun to watch them play again.

Sometimes the best days are those that are relaxing.  Too often I look for the adventurous or memorable moments.  Slowly, I am learning to appreciate the smaller things and enjoy the day for what it is.  It is a long process but I can feel myself making headway.

Picking up vegan cupcakes in Portland did not hurt either...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

First Maine punk show in years...

Recently, I packed Kaleigh up and headed to Skowhegan to a punk show with some local Maine bands.  Growing up in Maine I have a real affinity for the local towns bands.  It is also a lot of fun for me to see Kaleigh experience punk rock for herself and see what she gets from it.

Nostalgia was in full effect as I run into some of the old Maine punk heads that have been in the trenches on Maine punk rock for decades.  It is fun to be part of the old folks.  In punk years, 34 is ancient and I am a dinosaur.

Thankfully, the new wave of Maine punk rock is alive and well.  I really felt inspired and excited to be back and began to wonder what roll I can fill now with my grey hairs and more than 2 decades of punk experience.

The folks that ran the show were in a band called Uncle Spudd.  I also got to see my old friend Brett's new acoustic set as well has Gardiner legends, Hogan's Alley.  There is another Skowhegan show coming up soon that I am looking forward to taking Kaleigh to as well!

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.