Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tales from the Road: South Florida and Gainesville

Another crazy week of traveling across the state. From Wednesday - Friday we were in South Florida, doing yet more packing, cleaning and preparing the house for sale.

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We signed the contract with the realtor, then went out to celebrate. Unfortunately, the restaurant/bar we chose wasn't very veg-friendly, but I made do with a baked potato and some steamed veggies.

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Since the house is cleared out of most furniture, we were really "ruffin' it" for a couple of days!

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On Saturday morning we loaded up the trailer and made another trip to Gainesville to donate some furniture and appliances to the kids.

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It was another quickie trip, but we did squeeze in lunch at El Indio Real Mexican Restaurant. Our first time here, so I let Kristyn order for me. The Bean Taco was good but the Tempeh Burrito stole the show! Beans & Rice on the side was a nice addition. A very filling lunch, some of it was packed up for later enjoyment.

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After all of the labor & driving, I thought Chip deserved a nice dinner but I didn't have the energy to make it. His parents sent him a gift card for his Outback Steakhouse. *groan* Prior experience has proven that this is one of the least vegan-friendly restaurants ever, but I was sure I could find something to eat. I ended up with a plain baked potato and some steamed broccoli. The tater was the saddest looking thing, tiny & overcooked, but, once again, I made do.

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We managed to squeeze a couple of other fun moments into the past week, best was the mid-week happy hour at one of my favorite local spots, Grind Gastro Pub & Tiki Bar. There we were treated to the wonderful music by Ms. Ariel Hill, while sipping cocktails and dining on a delicious cheese-free veggie pizza. Yum!

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Today we'll clear out the "old" Ormond house (are you confused yet?) to prepare it for rental, then hopefully will have tonight & tomorrow off to rest & recuperate!

Have a wonderful Sunday,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tales from the Road: A Quickie in Gainesville

After months of transition, we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in this whole moving business. The South FL house is almost cleared out and ready to list, and the "old" Ormond place is the same. There are several pieces of furniture that are being donated to the kids, so we decided to hook up the trailer and take a Sunday drive to Gainesville. It truly was a whirlwind trip - 2 hours over, a few minutes unloading into a storage facility, quickie lunch and visit, then 2 hours back home. Well worth it, though, especially since my dad was able to meet us as well.

Knowing how much Dad loves his Southern food, we took him to one of the best local spots, Southern Charm Kitchen. I don't know what everyone else ate, was too busy chowing down on my BBQ tempeh, mac & "cheez," and okra. Soooo good but definitely not something I could eat on a regular basis. Very rich and filling, I was looking for a place to nap afterward!

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Taylor, Lindsey & Dad

So, I have an update on my Lyme Disease scare; I called the doc yesterday and got good news: blood test negative. It appears that I just had a severe reaction to whatever bit me, but nothing more serious. Big sigh of relief! I decided to celebrate with a new-to-me bottle of wine, appropriately named I thought! Organic, Fair Trade, and Vegan-friendly, this looked like a winner.

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I wish I could say I enjoyed the taste as much as the label but, alas, this vino just isn't for me. A simple white wine, it just didn't have the deep dry oak-ey flavor of my favorite Chardonnay. Oh, well, it was worth a try!

Of course, woman can't live by wine alone (darn it!) so I also made dinner: Quick Lasagna Rolls, recipe by Jazzy Vegetarian but now a family favorite.

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Chip and I are going out tonight so I will likely make dinner in advance and keep it warming in the Crock-Pot.

Have a great day,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Menu Planning, Week of May 19

We'll be traveling again this week, back down south for hopefully, finally the last time for a while. My amazing contractors have been working their butts off for 3 weeks now, sending photo updates of the home improvements; I can't wait to see it in person! The plan is to get the house listed this week, hope to sell by the end of summer. Wish us luck!

So, my eating plan will be a bit unpredictable but here's what I plan on cooking:

Have a great day,

Tales from the Road: Lake Bueva Vista, Florida (Epcot!)

So, to continue on with my story...after our little jaunt to Gainesville, we returned home and started packing for another overnight getaway. This time: Epcot. Chip had requested this trip as a birthday gift, but with moving and his crazy work schedule, we had to wait a couple of months. Finally, the day was here!

Since he loves pirates so much, I booked him a fancy themed room at the Caribbean Beach Resort. I'm pretty sure these are geared toward kids..grin..but who cares?

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After settling in, we went in search of fun..and some lunch! I'd done my research in advance and knew that while vegetarian options are rather plentiful in Epcot, vegan choices are a little more challenging. I was lucky to find this veggie wrap in the Sunshine Seasons Food Court.

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Chip had his own version of a healthy meal: Pasta Salad, Pretzels, and Beer!

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We had a wonderful day, exploring and enjoying the various attractions. When dinner time rolled around, we were grateful that I'd made a reservation at Chip's favorite restaurant: The Rose & Crown Pub.

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Being a traditional British pub, the menu options were meat-laden and not particularly healthy. However, the chef was kind enough to make up a fresh Cottage Pie for me, sans cheese. Much appreciated, and so yummy! Because I neglected to call ahead and request a vegan meal, it's possible that this dish contains a trace of dairy (in the potatoes) but I did the best I could under the circumstances.

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After a long day of fun, we headed back to our hotel room to change clothes and head to the pool. At this point I took a glance at my Fitbit: over 17,000 steps, more than 7 miles walked! Woo-hoo! I am pretty sure I worked off my wine that day!

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We took a little stroll...

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Then headed to the poolside bar for a nightcap.

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Skinny Coconut Mojito

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The next morning we got up early and hit the road. We're so lucky that Disney is only an hour and 15 minutes from our house!

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By now you might be thinking, "Wow, all of this trip looks great, where's the bad part she mentioned?!" Well, that didn't happen until we got back home. You see, apparently I got bitten by something in Paynes Prairie. A bad bite. A very red, very swollen, very scary-looking bite. I honestly didn't think much of it, am used to my sensitive skin reacting strongly to just about anything, so I just treated with Benadryl and Neosporin. However, Kristyn took one look at it, hopped on the internet and started worrying..enough to get me up off the couch and over to the Urgent Care center. After a thorough exam, the doctor handed me prescriptions for antibiotics, steroids, a topical cream..and an order for a blood test to rule out Lyme Disease. Yeah, at this point I was a little bit nervous! The test results haven't come back yet, and so far I'm symptom-free so that's a good sign. Supposedly, even worst case scenario, we caught it in time and I should be fine. *crossing fingers*

So, other than the threat of a serious illness..grin..I'm doing okay! We ended up back in Gainesville yesterday, will write more about that later. In the meantime, here's a tasty soup I made the other night. Summer Minestrone, cooked in my Instant Pot, recipe courtesy of Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen. I don't see the recipe posted online, but for a few dollars you can purchase her e-book, worth every penny if you love pressure cooking as much as I do!
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That's about it for now. I've got some house chores to tend to and then I'll be making this week's menu plan, hope to post that later on. Have a great day!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tales from the Road: Mother's Day in Gainesville

What a crazy week it has been! A mix of (mostly) good and just a little bit bad, I'll try to catch up in photos. We decided to take the RV over to Gainesville for Mother's Day, sparing the kids the drive and the inconvenience. They all have such different schedules, it's really hard for all three to have a couple days off together. So, Sunday morning we loaded up the motorhome and made a leisurely drive across the state. Once again we stayed at Paynes Prairie.

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We met Lindsey & Taylor for lunch at a wonderful local restaurant called Reggae Shack Cafe. There are so many vegan options here, it's hard to choose! I discovered on the last visit that they aren't messing around with their spice level, one of the dishes was too hot even for me heat-loving me! This time I choose the Tempeh Curry, which despite it's "brown-ness" was absolutely delicious. I ate way too much but I just couldn't help myself.

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After lunch we hung out at the park for a little while and then met up with all of the kids at Kristyn's house. We were celebrating not only Mother's Day, but Jesus and Taylor's May birthdays as well. As always, Kristyn was the ultimate hostess! She cooked up an amazing vegan Manicotti, wish I'd taken a picture before gobbling it up! I did snap a quick shot of the cake, a (vegan, of course) marble cake w/salted caramel frosting. Oh, my goodness, so delicious! Provided by a local bakery, Sarkara Sweets, I'll definitely be ordering from them again!

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Puppy Love - Jack & Brynna

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So many presents!

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Lovebirds - Lindsey & Taylor
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Monday morning the girls met us for a little breakfast in our RV, then we headed back home. But not for long! Tuesday morning we were driving back across the Disney World! Well, Epcot, to be exact. Stay tuned for more of the story. *wink*

Have a great day,

Thursday, May 8, 2014


This time I went MIA for another reason: my computer crashed. The hard drive went bad, but fortunately it was still under warranty. Dell send a new one, Chip helped me install it, and the nice Dell technician spent two hours on the phone w/me making sure everything got up & running. Of course I lost a ton of data, but Glenn is going to attempt to restore that for me. Whew. I was still cooking, and eating, and started my new daily walk routine, followed by a couple hours of beach reading & relaxing.

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This morning I got up in time to watch the sunrise, did a 45 minute walk by the shore, then another 15 or 20 minutes around the 'hood with Loki. About 3.5 miles total, not bad!

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 Sans proper internet, my menu has been a bit hit & miss this week, am working on a new recipe that, if it turns out well, I'll share tomorrow.

Have a great day,

Thursday, May 1, 2014

On My Hearth: Red Bean Gumbo

Whenever I think about gumbo, I hear the Jimmy Buffet song playing in my head! Off course, I'm sure that Jimmy's is nothing like this one! Packed full of veggies and spice but no added fat nor animal products, this one is much healthier but just as delicious as the N'Orleans version. Once again, I turned to Robin Robertson's Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker. I'm copying this directly from her website, please pop over there for more of her fantastic recipes!

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Red Bean Gumbo

This recipe is from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson © 2012.
Slow Cooker Size: 4- to 6-quart
Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours on Low or 4 to 5  hours on High

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
One 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with their juices
3 cups cooked dark red kidney beans or other red beans or 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh or thawed frozen okra (or diced zucchini)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon file powder (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces vegan sausage links, sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
3 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

1. Combine the onion, celery, and garlic in a slow cooker. Add the broth, tomatoes and their juices, beans, bell pepper, okra, thyme, file powder (if using), and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.

2. Meanwhile, sauté the sausage, if using. Set aside.

3. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Just before serving, stir in the Tabasco and liquid smoke. If the gumbo isn’t thick enough, use a stick blender to puree some of the soup right in the cooker.  Add the sauteed sausage slices, if using. To serve, spoon some cooked rice into soup bowls and ladle the hot gumbo on top.

VeganGypsy says: I loved this gumbo! My only complaint was that it's a little thin, I ended up draining off some of the liquid before serving. While I did include the veggie sausage (Tofurky brand) to appease Chip, I think it would've been just as tasty without it.

OmniHunny says: This is some good gumbo, Babe!

Yesterday's dinner was not quite as successful. The North African Chickpea Soup was just..ok. It had a nice kick to it, enjoyed the spicy flavor, but something was missing. Maybe it was the consistency? There was a lot of broth, I ended up added a scoop of brown rice to each bowl. Don't take my word for it, though, I encourage you to try the recipe and let me know what you think.

Today I'll be making the Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers, always a favorite around here. I have to run to the grocery store for more peppers, though, as somebody used mine up on his salad. *wink* Hey, the man is eating vegetables, I can't complain!

Have a great day,