Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blizzard Time!

Snow Snow Snow.  We got crushed in Maine on Tuesday.  At our house we got just shy of 2 feet of snow.  Fortunately, it was light and fluffy, I despite the really wet, heavy snow.  Sadly, as I got the snow blower out and ready for action on Tuesday morning, the augers were not working.  I tinkered, called my dad, but nothing seemed to work.  We were in a jam.

The snow kept piling up, drifting into our yard, and blowing off the roof.  In some spots in the yard we had well over 3 foot snow drifts.  They following morning, Ashley and I got the snow blower to work!  Four hours later, the driveway was clear and I come in to have some hot chocolate!  There is nothing like being cold from the snow and having a hot cup of chocolate.

This was the girls first serious Maine snow storm.  They were a little overwhelmed but handled it well. With both of the girls off, it was a few days of typical Maine snow storm: snow castles, shoveling, eating, and board games.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My 900th post! Celebrate with me!

Too often I miss these types of blogger milestones, not this one, not today.  This is my 900th post.  I have been writing his blog since 2008.  What started as a random thought has turned into a montage of my life.  Cooking, traveling, punk rock, the growth of Kaleigh, a major move, and so much more.

My readership has fluctuated and at times my content has suffered but both are on the upswing again.  I have more dedication and time to cook, write, and live than I have in years.  There are some big things coming in the next few months and I really appreciate the opportunity to share them with the blog world.

Let's all eat some vegan cupcakes and write another 900 posts!  Thanks for reading!

Below are a few links to my most popular posts:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Coincidentally,the day after Kaleigh's 8th birthday party we went up the road to the snow tubing place with some family.  It was Kaleigh's first time tubing.  Honestly, aside from a little local sledding, it was her first real fun Maine winter event.  She loved it.

To my surprise, we jumped right in the tube and went down without hesitation.  Then it was off to the races.  She, Ashley and the rest of the family went down the track for well over 2 hours straight.  Kaleigh went down non-stop.  She went down connected to other tubes, went solo, went on her belly, she did it all.

I hope this is a place we can go more often, I think this made some great memories for Kaleigh.  Ashley, although sore at the end, had a great time as well.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kaleigh turned 8!!!

Friday, Kaleigh had her 8th birthday.  We had a plan to take her out to eat but since it was just going to be Ashley, Kaleigh and I, we gave her the option and she said she wanted to rent a movie and have our usual pizza friday.  She wanted "salsa" pizza with fresh avocado on top.  We have a unique 8 year old.

We let her stay up late, eat popcorn and watch a movie,  She had a great time.  The following day was her party.  It was snowing and we were concerned that folks might not show due to weather but it all worked out.  They had a wonderful time bowling, opening presents, and eating the treats I made.  Kaleigh requested my double chocolate cupcakes, my peanut butter balls, and my peppermints.

Then it was a relaxing evening home with another movie she wanted to see.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Deep Fry Friday!

Today is Kaleigh's 8th birthday.  I am really excited to be able to share another birthday celebration with her.  She is really looking forward to her special day/weekend.

In her honor, today's post is based on an idea she came up with shortly after I got my deep fryer.  Its Deep Fry Friday!  Here we go!

I made seitan chickin nuggets.  It is something I make fairly often in the house.  I make a basic chickin seitan then marinade the nuggets in sauce, usually BBQ.  Then bread them up and drop them in the fryer!  Delicious.  Kaleigh has been really into kale chips recently so we added some to the plate with another favorite of hers, mashed potatoes.  The tossed some green peas on the plate to top it off.

It has been a crazy few weeks with what seems like disaster after disaster but I hope this weekend will be a nice reprieve for Kaleigh to celebrate her 8th birthday!

Happy Birthday Kaleigh!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bar-B Que rubs me the right way

I am a huge Bar-B Que guy.  Other than mustard, it might be my favorite condiment.  I use it often when making seitan.  Recently, I have been using a lot of "rubs" to add directly into my seitan recipes.

Since I am not a Bar-B Que connoisseur I have been getting rubs from the store and trying them out.  The ones I enjoy, I have been studying the ingredients,  Last night I made my first rub.  It was surprisingly easy to make and simple to store as well.

I am not sure I have perfected my recipe for it yet and will share when I do.  However, for now, this rub is quite good.  Now to make some foods to experiment with it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Belated holiday get-together

Due to vacations, work, illness, etc. the Robinson extended holiday get-together was nearly a month after the big christian holiday.  It was fine with us though as it is always just nice to get together and spend time with family.  The gift giving was just a bonus.

Ashley made me a vat of vegan french onion dip!  It was really good.  We ate nearly the entire thing with a big bag of chips!  I feel like it would have been an incredible sandwich spread as well.

For Kaleigh, I made her a plaque with reclaimed wood that was ripped from the side of our house in the remodel.  I cut, smashed, burned a "K" into the plaque for her.  I thought it came out pretty cool and she hung it up in her room right away.

I used the same wood (former siding on the house) to build Ashley a dining room table.  My father helped with the building as well but I did most of the cuts and labor.  He has immense wood working knowledge and guided me through the process.  It took a few weeks to completed but came out looking nice!

It was a great evening, I got to see my uncle whom I had not seen in about 16 years, I got to eat 6 slices of pie, and got to see a lot of family.  It is always nice to have these get-togethers, something I did not appreciate when I was younger.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cooking with Kaleigh; Part 18: Veggie Broth!

It has been a long time since we filmed an episode of Cooking with Kaleigh.  We had not given up on the videos, life had simply caught up with us.  A move across the country, a new kitchen, and many more changes put the web series on the back burner (so to speak).

Not anymore!  Veggie broth has been something I have been making with Kaleigh for years now.  It has always been a fun afternoon and is a great way to reuse food that would often otherwise go to waste.  It is great for her to see how many time we can use a vegetable before it goes back into the earth.  It is wonderful for her to have such an appreciation for food at such a young age; considering most first world adults do not have it.

Well, here it is: Veggie Broth!  Cooking with Kaleigh episode 18!

For the first time, we opted to can/jar our broth.  In the past Kaleigh and I had simply put it in the freezer but we wanted to see how well this would work out.  We will let the world know when we see a shelf life.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Curry tofu!

I have been working on making my own Asian sauces to keep in the fridge.  Sometimes it is a pain to have to go out to the store each time I need more chilies, lime, or some other ingredient that I use less often in the kitchen.

I recently made a green curry.  It actually came out more yellow when added to the actual sauce but the curry paste itself is more certainly green.  My first dish with my stored homemade curry was a curry and veggie dish with cashews and fried tofu.

It amazes me how much Kaleigh's palate has developed over the years.  She really liked this dish which was extremely layered in different flavors and textures.  She has come a long way with tofu as well.  A year ago she would not eat it unless it was in a scramble.  Not she likes it just about any way I choose to make it.

Having a kid that is such a good eater with such a developed palate makes cooking in the house (and preparing her lunch the following day) so much easier.  We are lucky.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

(more) Wordless Wednesday!

fried apple chips

beans and rice

baked potato soup


fried tofu, salad, and mac and cheeze

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kaleigh and her mints...

Recently, Kaleigh asked for some peppermint chocolates at the store.  Not only do we go out of our way to not buy her non-vegan items but I have an issue with buying anything from an impulse rack.  They are a pet peeve of mine.

Instead, I took it upon myself to make some at home.  They were surprisingly easy.  I even used a recipe (mostly).  Kaleigh loved them.  She said they were better than the name brand.

She packed a mint in her lunch the following day.  One of her school friends noted to her that her dad makes some pretty good stuff for her lunch.  Kaleigh responded with "yup.  He is good at it".  Kaleigh is quite a character.  I am just glad she got a nice mint.

Monday, January 12, 2015

No good - rotten - Friday

Friday was about the worst day I can recall in a long time.  It seemed that everything that could go wrong, did.

First we woke up in the morning with our water pump frozen which meant no water.  I set up the space heater in the basement in front of the pump to thaw it out.  I knew it would take hours but it had to be done.

I made some calls to try and get a cord of wood delivered.  With our new pellet stove, we are fine with heat but it seems we will need to put some heat into the basement to keep the water pump from freezing.  Fortunately, we have a massive wood stove furnace in the basement, just no wood to burn.

The "wood guy" was supposed to deliver the wood about 11am.  Ashley had left to get some errands done and pick up cash for the "wood guy".  Just after getting off the phone with "wood guy" I got a call from Kaleigh's school.  She was running a fever and needed t be picked up.  Unfortunately, it had just started snowing, the roads had not been plowed yet and the visibility was awful.  I set out to get Kaleigh regardless.  Sliding all over the road I made it there and back safely.

When I got home, I fiddle some more with the water pump and got it working but "wood guy" was no where to be seen.  Ashley returned with her completed errands, still no "wood guy".  After several calls, "wood guy" was on the way but now it was 3 in the afternoon.

The day seemed to be on the mend as "wood guy" arrived and deliver the 1st half of the cord of wood.  We paid for the half that "wood guy" (who actually turn out to be wood gal) delivered and stacked it.  Heading back upstairs to get ready for our usual pizza friday evening before "wood gal" returned with more wood and the pellet stove fan shuts down.

It was now about 430pm and the service place I know closes at 5pm.  I tried a few little things to get it fired back up before deciding I needed to call the service place and see if they could walk me though it.  They were flabbergasted at the issue.  They recommended that I shut it down.  Let it cool.  Clean it again and check to make sure it was sealed up well.  Then unplug it and let it complete a hard reset.  Then plug it in and fire it up.

As I was cleaning the stove, the filter for the vacuum failed and ash and smoke blew all over the house.  It was a mess.  I had to stop cleaning the stove to clean the vacuum.  Once I had cleaned the stove (for the 2nd time of the day) I unplugged it and let it rest.  Before I was able to fire it back up, the power went out.

We called the power company and they said it would be out for an hour and a half.  We had no idea when "wood gal" was arriving so we decided to leave and go for a ride.  Both Ashley and my phones were about to die and it would give us a chance to charge them in case of emergency.  Just as we are about to pull out of the driveway, "wood gal" shows up.  We unloaded the wood in the dark and paid her the remainder of the money.  Off to the store.

On the way back from the store we noticed that even more people had no power so we called the power company back.  It was now going to be off until 8pm.  We arrived at home, I started a fire in the wood stove for some heat and we broke out the candles and our new game of Sorry!  After a round of Sorry! we called the power company back.  Now the time was midnight.

Sadly, we now gave up on our usual pizza Friday and had peanut butter and jelly by candle light.  Not exciting.

We decided we would crank up the heat in the wood stove (without power all the heat is residual through the floors and what seeps though the ductwork since the blower will not kick on.  It was time to give up and go to bed.

I threw a bunch of wood into the stove and began to leave the basement when I realized that the stove pipe was cherry red!  I yelled to Ashley that we might be having a chimney fire and told her to go out and see if there were flames coming from the chimney.  No flames but billowing clouds of black smoke wafting through the neighborhood.

By now I had shut all the dampers and called the fire department.  I knew I did not know enough about chimneys to feel confident that I had contained the fire.  The fire department could not find the house since these rural areas are constantly changing street names.  The stove pipe had now gone black again and it the fire seemed to be out.  Finally the fire department arrived and check it all out.

They verified that I had in fact suffocated the fire and the fire never got into the chimney.  Which made me feel good because the contractor and I had inspected the chimney and it seemed safe.  The fire was in the actual pipe and had likely burned itself out.

With a smokey, chilly, powerless, house we went to bed.  About 1am we awoke to the power coming back on.  The house was about 50 degrees so I went to see if I could get the pellet stove to fire.  It fired up with no issue.  We cranked it up.  Checked to make sure the wood stove had gone out (it had) and put Kaleigh back in her own bed.  It had been a long day.

With it all behind us, the following day I found a great use for some clementines that were starting to get too soft to peel and eat.  Juice them!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Panini and veggie soup

roasted cabbage, corn bread, sweet potato mash and baked beans

balsamic noodles with veggies

tempeh with broccoli and cauliflower

chocolate chip cookies

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The girls are home, just in time for pilaf!

The girls are back!  The vacation to the south was a long one and left me and the four-legged animals home alone for weeks.  We made it through, albiet eating veggie dogs, vegan pizzas, and bbq tempeh.  Nothing blog worthy for sure.

Now that they are back I feel like I can cook decent food again.  Last night I made a shiitake mushroom rice pilaf, kale chips and some bbq vegan drumsticks.  The pilaf came out great.  About 10 years ago, pilaf was a common dish in my life. Looking back, I can not recall the last time I had it.  This was perfect though; savory and hearty.

It has been starting to get pretty cold here in Maine.  It has been over a decade since I experienced this type of weather and the girls never have.  While taking Kaleigh to the bus stop this morning my nose hairs froze shut.  I remember those days from my childhood.  Wind and ice, welcome to January.