"That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet." *

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

After last year’s elaborate space pirates fsmas theme – complete with canine Firefly cosplay and a tree full of handmade pirate ornaments – I decided to take it easy(ier) this time around. (At least with the decorating. The baking is another story!) So this year’s fsmas card theme was a little rushed and last-minute, but awesome just the same: Carl Sagan. More specifically, Carl Sagan quotes.

Truthfully I just really, really wanted to use the starstuff quote on a holiday card. It’s my favorite and I get choked up and leak strange, salty liquid from my eyes every time I think of it. To think that our bodies – hearts, hands, heads – are constructed of the remnants of long-dead alien stars. Such a strange and beautiful and wondrous idea. Yay science! (Adam’s rib or fallen stars? No contest!)

This year, Mags served as our coverdog, both because she’s never been and, perhaps more importantly, her pictures came out quite nicely. This main card is the one I sent to friends and family but, as per usual, I made “alternates” for each of the dogs (and Lemmy too!). I can’t stand to leave anyone out and besides, I welcome the thinnest of justifications for spending the day with Photoshop. For each of the animals, I chose a different Sagan quote – mainly for consistency, but also because he’s an eminently quotable guy.

As much as I love how the main card came out, I think Kaylee’s is my favorite of the bunch. There’s just something about her face and the way she’s addressing the camera. And the apples and the apron! It’s all just too perfect. Like she’s ready to bake a motherfucking apple pie and you’d better get the hell out of her way. NOW PASS THE EARTH BALANCE PLEASE! and thankyouverymuch.

Finnick was surprisingly well-behaved during the photo-taking; turns out his fear of the camera almost dissipates when there’s food around. We dressed him in a pirate tie that we originally bought for the cat (OH THE SHAME!); it was the only piece of clothing we thought he’d tolerate. And he did! I might make him wear it 24/7 now, just for my own amusement. His look is reminiscent of Cartman the fetus salesman, I think.

And for Lemmy, I couldn’t help but make an extra-snarky version of his card, just because. (By which I mean, just because he’s been snacking on the garland and batting my ornaments off the tree all month. CATS.)

Unfortunately, I forgot to include each dog’s name on the card (doh! me) – but if you hover over the image or click through to flickr, they’re right there in the file names. Easy peasy!

 

2012 Holiday Card - Mags (Main)

“The nitrogen in our DNA,
The calcium in our teeth,
The iron in our blood,
The carbon in our apple pies
Were made in the interiors
Of collapsing stars.
We are made of starstuff.”
——————————

2012 Message Label

(Against the backdrop of the aurora borealis:)

May your star shine bright this holiday season!
Best wishes from all of us in the Garbato-Brady Pack:
Kelly, Shane, Ralphie, Peedee, O-Ren Ishii, Kaylee, Jayne,
Mags, Finnick, and Lemmy (otherwise known as “The Cat”).

I printed these out on 4×6″ sticky labels and affixed them to the back of the main card.
Way easier than handwriting on 50+ cards!
——————————

(More below the fold…)

Shiny Happy Spaghetti (It’s FSMas decorating time!)

Monday, December 24th, 2012

2012-12-21 - FSMas Decorations - 0149

 

For several years now I’ve been meaning to do a “31 Days of FSMas” series, with tips and tutorials for giving your holiday festivities a flying spaghetti monster flair. (Two words: pasta and pirates!) Between Vegan MoFo and real life holiday chores, I always run out of time. Sigh. Maybe next year? (Famous last words.)

Instead of a series, a big old roundup featuring pictures of this year’s decorations. I didn’t go all out with a theme like last year, when I made all the holiday tree ornaments by hand (to match Kaylee and Jayne’s Firefly-inspired costumes) – but luckily I had enough existing decorations to deck the house in swag just the same. (…is the understatement of the year.) Lots of sparkle, but not much organization. Just glitter. EVERYWHERE.

So here are my principles of FSMas decorating, in no particular order:

 

1. You can never have too many flying spaghetti monsters.

2012-12-21 - FSMas Decorations - 0074

(More below the fold…)

Baked Chai Apples (use as a topping, or for straight-up snacking!)

Friday, December 14th, 2012

2012-12-07 - Baked Chai Apples - 0011

 

If you thought that I’d have become sick of baked apples by now, that makes two of us! But I found myself with eight juicy red apples on my hands after concluding this year’s Carl Sagan-inspired fsmas holiday card photo shoot

(To wit:

 

2012-11-30 - Kaylee Star - 0006

 

Kaylee!)

and decided to make some baked apples to use as a topping on bran flakes. I’m not real big on putting milk on my cereal – nondairy or otherwise – probably because I never did so growing up, owing in part to my galactosemia. (The only nondairy option I can remember from my childhood is rice milk, and thanks but no. I might as well put tap water on my cereal! I still love you though rice milk fans. No hate!)

Admittedly, many cereals – especially my go-to bran flakes – can be pretty dry, but save for the heartiest of cereals, putting liquid on ‘em just results in the opposite problem: a nasty, soggy mess. Baked apples, it just so happens, provide the perfect workaround: they add a little needed moisture without grossing out your cereal!

In chai flavor because Christmas! I almost went with pumpkin pie spice, but changed my mind at the last minute. Next time maybe?

 

Baked Chai Apples, Redux *

Ingredients

10 medium-sized apples (or 8 large ones), peeled and diced into bite-sized piecesVar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a 9″ x 13″ glass baking pan, combine the apples and spices; mix well, until all the apple slices are evenly coated.

2. Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes, or until the apples are tender (or not!) to your liking. Serve over your favorite cereal, topped with granola, mixed in with your morning oatmeal, or atop a bowl of ice cream. Store in an airtight container and use within a week.

Optional: For heartier servings, slice the apples instead of dicing them. Bake at 400F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the apples are baked to your liking.

 

2012-12-07 - Baked Chai Apples - 0014

 

* I totally forgot that I made a similar dish last year. Doh!

Deck the Casbah

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

2012-11-28 - Casbah Lemon Spinach CousCous - 0002

 

Enjoying a bowl of Casbah brand lemon spinach couscous in between my fsmas decorating. It’s been sitting in my cupboard forever, which is a mystery – it’s pretty tasty, and impossible to screw up, too. I’m well known ’round these parts for leaving things unattended to burn on the stove. But this? Just boil some water, add the contents of the box, bring to a boil again, and then remove from the heat and let sit, covered for five minutes. So easy my 24-year-old brother could do it! (Maybe.)

In other news, my house now looks like Santa Claus and a Bedazzler got hammered and threw up on all the things. The tree is up and strung with pasta, the counters are littered with gold coins, and every surface is sparkly with glitter. I can’t wait to see what the cat does with/to my decorations this year.

 

2012-11-25 - Lemmy - 0001

 

The penne garland has already taken quite a hit.

The Great CriFSMas Food Roundup!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Sure, so maybe the holidays are, like, SO LAST MONTH. But my house is still dressed to party, and besides, better late than never! Vegan foods never go out of style, yo.

Let me begin by saying that I didn’t do nearly as much baking this year as last. With the exception of some cookies for our neighbors, I didn’t make any gifts by hand. Mostly ’cause I was pressed for time, but also because I’m still trying to work off the ten pounds I gained by “taste testing” 2010′s handmade presents.

Instead I hit up Vegan Etsy: an assortment of vegan candies from NoWhey for my grandma Arnie; SuperFoxySweets vegan chocolate truffles for my grandma Vita; and a PB lover’s sampler box, along with peppermint patties, extra peanut butter cups, and a pumpkin roll (all from Sweet Vegan Delight) for my mum – all for less than $150! SUCH A STEAL!

Elsewhere on the internets, a box o’ vegan wine for my aunt Cindy and her BFF Hank (from Clos LaChance Winery, though I don’t see any vegan options at the moment) and a Ron Swanson mug for Shane.

2011-12-23 - Shane's Gift - 0008

2011-12-23 - Shane's Gift - 0009

“Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Wait … wait. I worry what you just heard was: Give me a lot of bacon and eggs. What I said was: Give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Do you understand?
——————————

(From Peachy Apricot on etsy, in case you want one for your own bad self.)

My sister Meesh was easy; her only wish was more fruit leather, so I sent her a few pounds of the stuff. (We have a huge container in the freezer. Great for distracting Ralphie from his allergy shots!)

My brother-in-law sent us a basket of vegan goodies from Marge’s Bakery in Northridge, CA. It’s not an exclusively vegan establishment, but it has a decent number of vegan options relative to its non-vegan offerings.

2011-12-20 - Treats from Marge's Bakery - 0006

The basket included four varieties of cookies: California Snowballs (melt-in-your mouth good!), Kiss of Lemon (thin and crispy and very lemon-y; my least favorite of the bunch), Ginger Snaps (soft, chewy, and surprisingly delicious, since I’m usually lukewarm on these) and Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies (crunchy, like most store-bought cookies, and super-delish – but also quite small). They were devoured in less than a week.

Also present: two loaves of sweet bread. Namely, zucchini bread and carrot cake. (The latter is technically a cake, I guess, but it had the look and feel of a sweet bread to me. It was remarkable similar in texture and sweetness to the zucchini bread, in any case.)

2011-12-20 - Zucchini Bread - 0002

The zucchini bread was at least as good as my own recipe, but not necessarily better. Sweet but not sickeningly so. I especially loved the sweet glaze on top of the bread, which added that little extra something to the bread. (Note to self: you simply must find that recipe!)

2011-12-25 - Carrot Cake - 0003

The highlight of the carrot cake was most def the frosting, which was delightfully spicy (Not in a hot way! I detected hints of Pumpkin Spice – but then my palate’s not all that sophisticated, so who knows?) and stood a good inch in height. Maybe this is what transforms a humble carrot loaf into a cake? Either way, NOM.

(More below the fold…)

"I got heathens aplenty right here!"* Merry CriFSMas from our crew to yours!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

2011 FSMas Card MAIN

May your holiday be bright and shiny,
and your ‘verse, filled with shindigs and thrilling heroics.
- Kaylee and Jayne
——————————

Happy holidays, y’all! As I said the other day, I’ve been dying to do some holiday cosplay with Kaylee and Jayne ever since we adopted them five years ago, and this year I finally got to it! I decorated the entire tree with pirates in their honor (The crew of Serenity? Space pirates! Totally relevant to Pastafarianism, since doctrine holds that the decline in pirates is correlated with global warming – and thus in order to avert the apocalypse, we have to bring back piracy. Check and mate.), which was no small feat seeing as I made most of the ornaments by hand over a two-month period. I also hired someone to custom-make Kaylee Frye and Jayne Cobb outfits way back in August. Oh, the planning that went into this holiday card!

Unfortunately, my seamstress totally flaked (Updated to add: full story here!), leaving me to cobble together costumes from off-the-rack pieces at the last minute. Instead of a green mechanic’s jumpsuit and floral blouse, Kaylee is wearing her shindig dress – that is, a Cotton Candy Dog Dress by East Side Collection. And while Jayne isn’t sporting a trademark brown Jayne Cobb ringer tee, she does look pretty badass in a green army jacket – really an Army Green Utility Jacket by Zack & Zoey.

Of course, the Jayne hat is the star of the ensemble; I actually had three custom-made for me by two different etsians: Sam’s Crochet (that would be the adorably floppy, Rasta-style hat Jayne and Peedee are wearing) and Whitaker Knits (the smaller hats with the orange tie, as seen on Ralphie and O-Ren, below). Rounding out Jayne’s look is a Browncoats logo pin I scored on Amazon. (It’s on her chest and not clearly visible in all the photos.) I also picked up some cute ID badges on eBay, but couldn’t find a place for them in the final outfits. Instead, they became ornaments for the tree.

Here’s a little character collage I put together for my family, who are not Firefly fans (THE HORRA!) and thus didn’t get the reference. Side-by-side comparison time! How do you think I did?

2011 FSMas Card - Kaylee-Jayne Comparison Collage

All’s shiny that ends shiny, I say.

Outtakes and extras after the jump!

(More below the fold…)

"Ha HA! Mine is an evil laugh!" (i.e., the shiny-yet-sacrilegious CriFSMas finery post)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

This year I’d really hoped to do a “31 Days of CriFSMas” series. There was to be tutorials for making ornaments by hand, decorating tips, diy greeting card ideas, menu suggestions – even a list of festive viewing options. (Actually, I’ve planned on doing this for several years now, but veganmofo always leaves me exhausted and burnt out.) This year seemed an especially opportune time, seeing as I’ve been planning it since July and created many of the ornaments on the tree from scratch. But since time cannot be rewritten – that is, unless you are a Timelord or happen to know one – I’ll just have to cram it all into one ginormous megapost. Sound good?

The Pirate Tree

2011-12-05 - Pirate Tree - 0001

What better place to start than the tree? Whereas in years past I’ve gone heavy on the pasta-themed ornaments, this year I decided to do a full-on pirate theme – with a special focus on Firefly. Space pirates are totally relevant when you’re a Pastafarian, yo! Also when you’re the guardian of two dogs who are named after characters on the show! I’ve been dying to do some holiday cosplay with Kaylee and Jayne ever since we adopted them five years ago, but this year I actually took the initiative and did it! (Hence the early planning.) I’ll post photos of the dogs later this week, but suffice to say that their costumes directly influenced the look of the tree. Since I’ve never done a pirate tree before, almost all of the ornaments and decorations are new this season.

The decorations are mix of re-purposed items (pirate toys from the Dollar Store; some cool and inexpensive pirate and nautical wood party favors from Jo-Anne Fabric; glass bottles that look as though they might hold messages from castaways, also from J-Anne Fabric; “gold” skull & crossbones metal charms found on eBay), Firefly merch (ID badges for Kaylee Frye and Jayne Cobb; a Serenity keychain), and diy ornaments made by gluing pirate stickers and photos onto bottle caps and card stock.

2011-11-17 - Making Pirate Ornaments - 0003

2011-11-20 - Making Pirate Ornaments - 0003

2011-11-20 - Making Pirate Ornaments - 0004

2011-11-22 - Pirate Ornaments - 0013

It’s this last group that I wanted to make a tutorial for but really, it’s all very simple. Throughout the summer I saved up whatever bottle caps and lids I could (the flatter, the better) and when I had a pretty good collection going, I laid them all out on the floor of the barn (on top of a drop cloth, natch) and spray-painted them black. Since you’re likely to have collected lids made of variety of materials – plastic and metal, mostly – make sure you buy a spray paint that’s suitable for each.

Then hit the internets and gather up as many pirate-y pictures as you can: google Firefly/Serenity (the art produced by this fandom is both plentiful and delightful!), Pirates of the Caribbean, pirate Amy Pond, women pirates (girl power!), etc. (Though that last search term turns up some rather depressing results. To cut down on the number of sexy pirates, search for historical woman pirates. You won’t get many results, but the hits you do get will be awesome!) Next, resize ‘em so that the portions of the photos that you’d like to use are similar in size to your caps and lids, then copy and paste them onto 4×6, 5×7, and/or 8×10 canvases (depending on the size, you’ll be able to fit between one and five images on each), and either print them up at home or order them online at Sam’s Club or similar.

The hardest part is cutting the images to fit snugly inside the lids. Cutting a circle freehand is pretty much impossible, as I quickly learned. Instead, try to find a circular item – a cup or bottle, for example, or even another, slightly smaller lid – and use it to trace a circle on the image. Though still difficult, the guide will help you to cut a much rounder circle. (Just go slowly!) When done, simply glue the photo into the lid. (A heavy-duty, acid-free glue stick works well for this.)

If you can find circular stickers – I happened to have some 1.5″ round skull & crossbones stickers left over from last year – these are a nice option too. While they don’t offer a whole lot of variety, they do come pre-cut. Score!

For hanging, you can either glue a jump ring (used in jewelry making and available at craft stores) to the back of the lid or, if it’s made of plastic and thick enough, drill a small hole into the “lip” of the lid. Either way, string some curling ribbon or a pipe cleaner through the ring or hole to make a loop that can then be used to hang the ornament from the tree. (Curling ribbon is much easier to work with, imho.) We stuck with black to match the tree’s color scheme (namely, black and gold).

(More below the fold…)

Merry criFSMas, y’all!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

The beauty of a made-up holiday? You can celebrate it any old damn time you want! Traditionally (as in, for the past four years), the husband and I have observed criFSMas on December 24th. Given that I spend much of Christmas Day proper on the phone with far-flung loved ones, it’s just more practical that way. My criFSMas lasagna and mozzarella sticks will wait for no one! (Don’t worry, plenty of food blogging forthcoming.)

For this year’s criFSMas cards, we decided to go with a “pasta and peace” theme. (We aim to put the PASTA back in PASTAfarian here at the Garbato-Brady house, yo! That, and my “domestic terrorist” idea didn’t quite pan out.) Because he’s had a rough year, Ralphie was the obvious choice of cover model. Not to mention, one eye? Totally fits with the pirate side of flying spaghetti monsterism. As per usual, I couldn’t resist creating “outtakes” for each of the dogs. They’re all just so freaking cute, you know? (Rhetorical question; you best say yes!)

 

2010 FSMas Card - Ralphie (shot his eye out)

The “official” 2010 Garbato-Brady criFSMas card.
- Ralphie -
Wishing you peace & pasta this holiday season!
——————————

2010 FSMas Card Message Labels (single panel)

Because years spent on the internets have forever ruined my penmanship,
I design and print message labels to affix to the back of each card.
This year’s greeting reads:
Happy Holidays! With love (& lasagna),
The Garbato-Bradys:
Kelly, Shane, Peedee, O-Ren, Kaylee, Jayne, Ozzy & Ralphie
“you’ll shoot your eye out, kid,” the one-eyed cover dog
——————————

2010 FSMas Card Outtakes - Peedee

Outtakes!
- Peedee -
May your plate overflow with compassion & campanelle.
——————————

2010 FSMas Card Outtakes - O-Ren

- O-Ren -
May love & lasagna warm your belly on a cold winter’s night.
——————————

2010 FSMas Card Outtakes - Kaylee

- Kaylee -
May your heart be filled with joy & gemelli, today and always.
——————————

2010 FSMas Card Outtakes - Jayne

- Jayne -
May you find friendship & fusilli this criFSMas season!
——————————

Whatever you celebrate, season’s greetings and wishes of peace from all of us to you and yours!

I’ll leave you with this Christmas Manger / Vegan Silent Night video from Bea Elliott. While I’m not exactly a religious person (in the understatement of the year), I find it a bittersweet description of the conflicting feelings I – and many vegans, no doubt – oftentimes experience around the holiday season.

Peace to all; and to all, a good life.

dolphin nom!

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: googly eyes make everything awesomer. Everything.*

* Which begs the obvious question: why didn’t I think to glue a googly eye on Ralphie’s sewn-up eye socket for our criFSMas card photo shoot? Ah well, there’s always next year.

domestic terraist doggehs selebrate crifsmas wit toefoo nog (like duh!)

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

2010-12-05 - Mean Girls - 0003

domestic terraist bear is one of teh kewl girls.
Left to right: Kaylee, Jayne, O-Ren and the pirate-polar-vegan-terrorist criFSMas bear.
——————————

Initially, I’d planned on doing a sort of “domestic terrorist” theme for this year’s holiday (read: criFSMas) cards, using the “domestic terrorist” apron from Green is the New Red as the centerpiece. (Product description: “‘Domestic.’ Terrorist. Get it? There’s nothing funny about the FBI labeling environmental and animal advocates the ‘number one domestic terrorism threat.’ But with the Feds attempting to infiltrate vegan potlucks, why not accessorize? [...] Happy ‘terrorizing’! But be careful in the kitchen. Did you know tofu makes you gay?” Vegan chefs are scary, yo! Also: my dog-kids consume a fair amount of tofu. Additionally, they are super-psyched about today’s repeal of DADT. Draw your own conclusions, mkay.)

While my idea was solid, its execution was not: the apron proved way too large for the dogs (which was to be expected, even though it looks super-tiny – not to mention satiny – on the model), so at first I tried putting it on our pirate polar bear.

I think you’ll agree that she looks super-snazzy in it

2010-12-04 - O criFSMas Tree - 0011

but she’s also, well, kind of a big girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you; she’s vegan and totes in shape. But it proved next to impossible to fit both her and a dog in the camera frame. And so I re-staged the set, hanging the apron from the tree and surrounding it with fake fruits and veggies and a vase filled with pasta-related kitchen utensils.

2010-12-04 - Domestic Terrorist Celebrates - 0012

(Ignore the white fur on the black apron. Living with four white dogs and a mostly-white cat, it cannot be helped.)

Better, but once I went back and examined the photos on my computer monitor, I realized that the paddles looked really odd and stupid. Tremendously so. Plus, there was still a lot of floor and wall showing. Dislike.

So on day #2 of shooting, I ditched the setup and instead opted for a sea of book piles, coupled with a vase filled with angel hair pasta, and complemented with a sparkly “peace” ornament and baby flying spaghetti monster. The new theme? Peace and pasta.

2010-12-05 - Tree Backdrop - 0008

2010-12-05 - Tree Backdrop - 0018

2010-12-05 - Tree Backdrop - 0005

That taste? Perfection!

Not wanting the domestic terrorist photos to go to waste, I decided to make a series of (VEGAN!) lol dogs out of them. And so I give you: domestic terraist doggehs! (And one kitteh, who barely sat still long enough for me to take three pictures of him. His caption is most fitting.)

lol ozzy - is a terror allrite

title: lol ozzy – is a terror allright
caption: “domestic terraist kitteh” is a redundancy
——————————

lol ralphie - thot u said petdown

title: lol ralphie – thot u said petdown
caption: domestic terraist doggeh will take that patdown now, mkay
——————————

lol peedee - go boom

title: lol peedee – go boom
caption: domestic terraist doggeh be a walkin’ thyme bomb
(idea shameless borrowed from a blog of the same name)
——————————

lol rennie - be happy 2 show u her mitts

title: lol rennie – be happy 2 show u her mitts
caption: domestic terraist doggeh be hostin a v-gun potluck next week
(u bring teh loaded taters kay?)
——————————

lol kaylee - kills wit spiceness

title: lol kaylee – kills wit spiceness
caption: domestic terraist doggeh is about 2 es’splode ur taste budz
——————————

lol jayne - is be busted

title: lol jayne – is be busted
caption: domestic terraist doggeh pleads deh lish
(hint: if you don’t get it, sound it out loud!)
——————————

In many ways, I think I like this series better than the “real” card I ended up with (and the outtakes I made for each dog; yes, I’ve been a busy bee). But hey, there’s always next year. Well, not really. I’ve already got plans for 2011, and they involve Kaylee, Jayne and Joss Fucking Whedon. (One hint: SPACE PIRATES!) 2012, perhaps. I’m sure the theme will still be relevant then, unfortunately.

your annual criFSMas update

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Even though I rarely blog here anymore – V for Vegan is my main space now – I’d planned on posting a few more FSMas tutorials in the days leading up to December 25th. Alas, exhaustion and burnout from veganmofo iv, coupled with the foolhardy decision to make many of my gifts by hand this year, have pretty much blown that plan out of the water. (Oh, the boiling, pasta-filled water. FSMas NOM!)

But seeing as I’ve already taken and uploaded a number of photos, it’d be a shame not to at least throw up a photo essay. So here’s a sampling of this year’s decorations. You can view the entire set on Flickr, along with those from years past. The dogs’ annual criFSMas humiliation is forthcoming – they deserve their own post, dontchathink?

2010-11-28 - FSMas Decorations - 0003

The “pirate altar” in our front window features a mix of relevant books, framed flying spaghetti monster photos, pirate accessories, pasta decor, gold tinsel and doubloons, and sparkly flying spaghetti monsters.
——————————

2010-11-29 - FSMas Decorations - 0004

2010-11-29 - FSMas Decorations - 0034

A closer look at book collection #1, which consists of vegan/vegetarian/Italian cookbooks (including Cathe Olson’s Lick It!, which I snagged in a veganmofo contest) and – of course – a copy of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
——————————

(More below the fold…)

veganmofo iv leftovers: frozen feasts, hot chocolate, criFSMas fun & assorted mofo miscellany

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I had hoped to feature reviews of Sistah Vegan, Eaarth and Diet for a Hot Planet in the final days of VeganMoFo IV, but…no such luck! Between holiday decorating, dog pampering and workworkwork, I didn’t quite accomplish all of my mofo goals. That’s okay, though; there’s always tomorrow, yes?

Until then, I have plenty of “leftovers” to share. Cue: all the mofo miscellany that passed under the radar…until now!

  • Frozen Thanksgiving Feasts

    Yes, the husband and I really did have frozen Tofurky pizza and apple pie for Thanksgiving! Neither of us was in the mood to cook, so this plan worked out nicely. Instead of spending the day toiling in the kitchen, I slept in, did some yoga, hung out with the dogs and read a few chapters of The Vegan Revolution… with Zombies. At night, we caught up on The Walking Dead (awesomeness!) and finished off the last three episodes of Battlestar Galactica (waaaay better than Lost‘s final, convoluted season!).

    2010-11-25 - Tofurky Pizza - 0004

    A Tofurky Cheese Pizza with extra toppings, namely Lightlife Smart Pepperoni, black olives and sundried tomatoes. One pizza is roughly the size of my dinner plate.
    ——————————

    I’ve seen a number of vegan bloggers review the newish frozen Tofurky pizzas this month, with mixed results. Personally, I like ‘em; so far I’ve tried both the plain cheese and sausage varieties, and I’d nom on either of them again. The crust, though definitely on the thin side, crisps up nicely when baked. Eaten on its own, I found the sausage to be a little spicy for my tastes, but this is tempered by the crust, sauce and cheese. And of course you can’t go wrong with Daiya!

    On the downside, these pizzas are definitely pricey. I’m trapped under a dog at the moment and thus unable to dig up the necessary receipts, but I think they cost upwards of $7 each at Whole Foods. According to the packaging, each pizza is supposed to serve two people, but, um, not so much. The husband and I can easily polish off a pizza apiece, with plenty of room left for dessert.

    2010-11-25 - Apple Pie - 0002

    For dessert: apple pie topped with a copious amount of vanilla So Delicious ice cream.
    Quoth the husband: “You gonna have some pie with that ice cream?”
    ——————————

    (Apple pie with vanilla So delicious, can I get a hells yes!)

    At best, they make for a nice luxury purchase – but unless it’s a special occasion, I’ll stick to my homemade pita pizzas, thankyouverymuch.

    (More below the fold…)

  • Wishing you a delicious (vegan!) holiday season.

    Thursday, December 24th, 2009

    Since I’m a grumpy, grinchy atheist, the husband (also an atheist, though not as grumpy and grinchy as yours truly) and I celebrate as different kind of winter holiday. Based on the teachings of her Noodleleyness, FSMas is all about pasta and pirates. Which goes a long way towards explaining the cards below.

    We’ve been sending out custom holiday cards 2002. For the first few years, we included every animal companion in the photo; easy when you’ve one cat and one dog, right? Once we added Peedee to the family, Ozzy got bumped from the card; and, with the adoption of Kaylee and Jayne, group shots became an impossibility. So we’ve been rotating ever since. (So sad!)

    While every dog-kid got his or her due in 2009, Ralphie & Rennie took center stage: they were our cover-doggies, complete with a fierce “Booty & The Beast” theme. I’ll let y’all figure out who is supposed to be “Booty” and who is “The Beast.”

    FSMas 2009 - O-Ren & Ralphie are Booty & The Beast

    Ignore the glaring age disparity, mkay? Normally I don’t like pairing a young little lassie with a much older gent – seeing as how it’s a reflection of our sexist societal norms – but there’s, like, zero chemistry between the two oldest dogs, Kaylee and Ralphie. Seriously, I could not get the two to sit next to one another for more than 30 seconds at a time. And yes, I might have bucked the hetero trend with a same-sex pairing, but I thought that might have come off as homophobic and/or mockingly emasculating, given the theme. (Yes, holidays are political for me; what of it?)

    (More below the fold…)

    Comrade Kelly’s Communist Manipesto (Chapter 1)

    Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

    I started to think about this year’s FSMas feast well before November. Since we’re talking about a (spoof) religion which revolves around pasta and pirates, a noodle-based dish is basically a given. Last year, we had lasagna…the same as every x-mas before. What can I say? The pasta, I loves it. That, and I’m not especially adventurous in the kitch.

    But in the spirit of Vegan MoFo, I vowed to try out a new dish this year – but what?

    Stephen Colbert to the rescue! (@ 2.27):


    Communist Manipesto – that’s the ticket. Naturally, a “Communist Manipesto” dish must involve manicotti and pesto. And sundried tomato pesto is the shit! Blend a pesto recipe with a little tofu for bulk, stuff it in a package of manicotti, and there’s a FSMas dinner to (not) die for!

    So I started by Googling around the internets in search of sundried tomato pesto recipes, finally settling on this one from All Recipes:

    Ingredients

    * 4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
    * 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    * 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    * 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    * 1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
    * 3 tablespoons chopped onion
    * 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    * 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    * 1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
    * 1/4 cup red wine
    * 1/2 cup olive oil
    * 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    * salt to taste

    Directions

    1. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with warm water for 5 minutes, or until tender.

    2. In a food processor or blender combine sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts and onion; process until well blended. Add vinegar, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and red wine, and process. Stir in olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt to taste.

    Of course, this was only a starting point – I had to modify the recipe a bit to make it vegan. And, you know, adjust certain ingredients according to what I did and didn’t have in the pantry. And add a few extra steps.

    Here’s the final version of the recipe…well, the final version of Chapter 1, anyway. I’m not in love with it, so likely there will be additional “Chapters” forthcoming. More on that below!

    (More below the fold…)

    Step Inside My Noodle House (Take 1)

    Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

    2008-12-28 - Noodle House - 0004

    Last year, when I initially conceived of FSMas, one of the first diy craft ideas to pop into my head was that of building a Noodle House. (Think “gingerbread house,” but with uncooked pasta instead of cookies and icing…and not at all edible, natch.)

    I finally found some time this month to experiment with my first noodle house. Even though it turned out to be a bit of a flop – I spent a good half hour yesterday dismantling what I’d made, so I could at least recycle the cardboard frame – I’m going to blog the process anyway, share what worked and what didn’t, and hopefully hammer out some new ideas for the 2009 holiday season.

    OK, well, where to begin? I started with two smallish-medium square cardboard boxes. The larger box, the dimensions of which were slightly longer/wider than the length of a lasagna noodle, formed the base of the house. I taped the top and bottom closed so that all the surfaces were level.

    (More below the fold…)

    Doggeh Pirates & Noodle Monsters – It’s FSMas card time!

    Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

    I’d wanted to feature Ralphie and Rennie on this year’s holiday card, but they weren’t exactly cooperative during the photo shoot; Rennie wouldn’t sit still, while Ralphie, laying listlessly under the tree, resembled a piece of roadkill dressed in pirate gear.

    Luckily, Peedee saved the day! While we were taking pictures of Booty and the Beast, we had the office door closed so Peedee, Kaylee and Jayne couldn’t distract our would-be cover dogs. But as soon we finished up with Ralphie and O-Ren, I opened the door and in ran Peedee, who promptly plopped himself down right in front of the tree. First shot, and bam! Perfect. There was our FSMas card:

    2008 FSMas Cards - Peedee V.1 [5x7]

    Because I had so much fun making Peedee’s card – and I didn’t want to leave any of the dogs out – I created a few similar cards from the “outtakes.”

    (More below the fold…)

    A monster for every occasion.

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

    I’ve been trying to take a bit of a break from the internets lately – too many kerfluffles to suffer, I say! – so this week I’ve kept myself occupied with two of my favorite things: FSMas crafts and Lost. On Monday, I churned out a Duggar family’s worth of Flying Spaghetti Monsters – a bunch of festive holiday ones, mostly, but I also experimented with some other colors and holiday themes. Since I didn’t elaborate much on this in Sunday’s tutorial, I thought I might share some family snapshots to give y’all a better idea of how you might diversify your brood of FSMs.

    First, those festive FSMs.

    You can make a larger monster by twining two (or more) pipe cleaners together before assembling the monster. Or, you can birth a baby by cutting the pipe cleaners in half first. Here’s a “giant” monster I made, along with a wee little FSM:

    2008-12-16 - Festive FSMs - 0048

    It’s a little hard to see in that photo, but the giant FSM’s noodles are super-long and, well, kind of undulating and hypnotic:

    2008-12-16 - Giant Festive FSM - 0008

    I also gave her a set of extra-large googly eyes, and used faux cranberries for the soy balls; the cushy pom poms were just too small for this BBW.

    (More below the fold…)

    from Pipe Cleaners and Pom Poms to Noodles and (Soy) Balls

    Sunday, December 14th, 2008

    My favorite FSMas decoration by far is the festive Flying Spaghetti Monsters I created last year. They’re really easy to make, too; in fact, once you’ve got the process down, you’ll be birthing these babies like guppies. Recruit a friend or two, and y’all can get an assembly line going: a few Pastafarians to weave the noodles together, and another heathen to glue on the pom poms and googly eyes.

    2007-11-25 - FSMas Decorating - 0014

    Surely I jest, right?: If they’re soooo easy to make, you ask, why did I wait until today to blog the instructions? Well, because it’s a huge pain in the ass to take pictures for illustrative purposes while your living room floor is covered with pipe cleaners and pom poms, and there’s a glue gun smoking in the background, and your nosy doggehs are running off with half-finished monsters stuffed in their maws. In other words, please excuse the sub-par photo quality. The pictures I took on Friday didn’t come out quite as nicely as I’d hoped, but there’s no way I’m doing a reshoot. I have monsters to make, peoples!

    For this project, you’ll need:

    * “Chenille” pipe cleaners, preferably in sparkly shades of red, green, gold and silver (for the noodley appendages)
    * Pom poms (round, cushy balls), also with a metallic sparkle, preferably in matching colors (for the soya balls)
    * Googly eyes (um, for the eyes)
    * Either a hot glue gun or a very strong glue (to keep it all together)

    2008-12-12 - Festive FSMs - Supplies - 0018

    2008-12-12 - Festive FSMs - Supplies - 0001

    (More below the fold…)

    Spreading FSMas cheer.

    Thursday, December 11th, 2008

    While working on my FSMas cards this week, it occurred to me that this is the first year I’ve made “generic” cards – that is, photos with generic, non-personalized season’s greetings on the photo itself. Mostly, this departure is due to technical reasons (not enough horizontal white space on which to include text); however, a unexpected side effect is that this year’s cards – all four – are suitable for Pastafarians of all surnames, not just the Garbato-Brady’s.

    I’m not yet ready to unveil 2008′s cards – what would I post on FSMas day, then? – but today I did go back and rework my 2005 and 2007 FSMas cards, removing all the personal info and replacing it with non-specific FSMas holiday messages. Feel free to download and use these for your own (*cough* non-commercial *cough*) saucy CriFSMas purposes, especially proselytizing to and converting your non-believing friends and family members. (Click on each card to supersize it via Flickr.)

    2005 FSMas Card - Generic [5x7]

    2007 FSMas Card - Captain Kaylee [5x7] (Generic V. 3)

    (More below the fold…)

    Noodles on a cross.

    Monday, December 8th, 2008

    Last year, the Mr. and I started a new holiday tradition; rather than celebrate Festivus or x-mas, we decided to observe FSMas (or CriFSMas, if you prefer) instead. Whereas FSM = Flying Spaghetti Monster, the holiday basically revolves around two things: pasta and pirates.

    Since this is somewhat of a fringe (spoof) religion (for now, muahahahaha!), you can’t exactly go to the Buy More and purchase decorations off the shelves. So also last year, I started blogging my FSMas decorating ideas, if only to amuse myself, but also in hopes of giving all y’all other heathens out there a kick in the pants and away from traditional Christmas festivities. We’re in a War on Christmas, peoples – pick a side.

    I started out with the best of intentions in 2007, but didn’t get to blog many craft projects before the season was over. Given that it’s already December 8th, 2008 is shaping up to be a real world busy / internet sparse-y year as well, but I promise I’ll try to blog as much as time allows. (Suddenly, starting the season a week or so before Halloween doesn’t seem like such a buzzkill.)

    To recap last year’s FSMas yummyness, we had:

    * FSMas cards (two, yo!);

    * Magical FSMas Vaginas (for the tree, natch);

    * Pasta, pirate and FSM magnets for the fridge (i.e., Her Noodliness’s Tomb);

    * Community/college bulletin boards, lined with all manner of FSM propaganda;

    * Flags, flags and more flags;

    * Flying spaghetti monster photos, displayed in – what else? – macaroni-lined frames; and

    * Pirate booty galore.

    I’d intended to write about the most important of FSMas items (that would be the tree, silly!) tonight, but I ended up finishing the decorating instead. So here’s an easy one: Noodles on a cross.

    (More below the fold…)