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2016: Last Crumbs

As we bid adieu to 2016 (don’t let the door hit you on the way out, stupid year), I’m doing a bit of housekeeping here in the Ovenbird kitchen. No crazy resolutions to proclaim, just a promise to myself to be kind, eat well and wisely, and amble more. So tonight I’m sharing a few random edibles I threw together since my last post, just to clear the decks–out with the old, in with the new, and all that.

First, there were muffins (there are always muffins)–sweet, cakey, melt-in-your-mouth, mixed berry muffins from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch:


And maple-sweetened, no oil banana chocolate chip muffins from Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Families:


There were oven fries (sliced russets tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper) and gravy with mixed greens, leftover from Thanksgiving, an almost poutine:


There was first-day-of-winter-break braided pizza, made with Immaculate Baking Company’s crescent roll dough and Follow Your Heart mozzarella shreds:


There was a lot of soup:


And, in this last week of December, a lot of sweets. For New Year’s Eve I picked up a beautiful raspberry-peach cobbler from Sweet to Lick Vegan Bakery in Williston Park, NY, and my mother-in-law picked up some tasty vegan strawberry cheesecake from The Health Nuts in Bayside, NY. Of course I had both. It would have been impolite not to.


As midnight draws nigh, I am looking ahead to a greener, less sugar-filled, and hopefully fitter 2017. I begin a three-month running clinic in January and I’m signed up for a couple of trail runs (including a 12-miler in April), and I’m determined to fuel my body more wisely. (Notice how I evaded any crazy resolution-making there.)

Very recently, a friend started me knitting for the resistance. I can now knit and purl, and I’m diligently working on my very first pussyhat (my very first hat, period, for that matter) for the Women’s March on Washington. Hat #1 is, shall we say, one of a kind. It’s supposed to look like this. The next hat will be better.


That is one jacked-up hat.

Did you know it’s possible to knit while you run?

Lastly, I wanted to share my new favorite vegan nail polish with you. I discovered Pacifica polish the day after the election when I wanted to scrub an I’m-with-her manicure that was bumming me out every time I caught a glimpse of my hands. Pacifica makes an array of wonderful colors, but I particularly like the shade called “Luxe Interior,” black and glittery–just like my soul.


I think that just about does it for 2016. May 2017 bring comfort and peace to all beings. And may you have a very happy New Year. Catch you on the flip side.

I Cooked Food!

I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. People cook food all the time. But, to be frank, the past two weeks have been a struggle. I’ve all but forgotten VeganMoFo; honestly, I haven’t felt like cooking or eating, let alone photographing my food and writing about it.

In an overall really sucky year, November has excelled. First, of course, there was the election and the attendant rise in hateful speech and acts. Two days later, Leonard Cohen, my most beloved musical artist, shuffled off this mortal coil. While most folks might see the Thanksgiving holiday as a welcome respite, I can’t take much joy in a holiday for which the centerpiece of most American tables is a dead bird, who in all likelihood lived a brutal, tortured existence. Add to the that the violent oppression of Native Americans that’s ongoing as I write this, and you have the ingredients for a major funk.

As with most situations, there’s a Leonard Cohen lyric (in this case, co-written with Sharon Robinson) that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling since November 9.

Looked through the paper
Makes you wanna cry
Nobody cares if the people
Live or die
And the dealer wants you thinking
That it’s either black or white
Thank God it’s not that simple
In my secret life

Little by little, though, I’ve been pulling myself out of it. Resistance requires nourishment, and that means caring enough about myself and others to choose food that promotes good health and mental and physical stamina, not anesthetizing myself with sugary treats. Last weekend I kept a promise to myself to make a big pot of soup or stew. I chose this Forks Over Knives recipe for Mixed Beans and Root Vegetable Stew, featuring rutabaga and parsnips, two vegetables I don’t often use. The rutabaga was a bit bitter for my tastes, but had mellowed considerably by the time we ate leftovers on day two. The stew was hearty and delicious, a perfect meal in and of itself.

So much rutabaga.

So much rutabaga.

Pretty parsnips.

Pretty parsnips.


The whole shebang.

On Tuesday, I made another stew featured on the Forks Over Knives app, this one a white bean cassoulet recipe contributed by the Happy Herbivore. I really loved this mild, easy to throw together stew, made even simpler by subbing dried herbs (cut the amounts by half) and canned diced tomatoes for fresh (not in season this time of year anyway). The quickness and simplicity of this comforting and delicious recipe make it a perfect weekday meal. (The recipe yields a relatively small batch–just three servings–and we had already polished it off by the time I thought to take pictures.)

Ready-to-go staples make for a variety of quick soups and stews.

Ready-to-go staples make for for a variety of quick soups and stews.

Getting back to cooking has improved my mood, not to mention my digestion–the ultimate comfort. With the holiday there have still been plenty of sweets afoot, including a fantastic apple streusel pie from our local co-op, but I find I crave sugar less when I fill up on wholesome fall soups and stews. And eating less sugar also improves my mood and physical well-being (running is a lot harder when I’m all sugared up).

Along with making more healthful meals, I’ve made a promise to myself to do something every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to support my running and my mental health, inspired by the Runner’s World holiday run streak. It may not be in the form of a daily run–I might walk at lunch or do interval training or strength training at the gym instead, as long as it contributes to my overall well-being. (If I feel an overuse injury coming on, I won’t hesitate to back off a bit.) How about you? Do you have plan for staying sane and healthy this season?

Post-Election Comfort

Do I even have to explain? Above, vegan vanilla/vanilla cupcakes from The Cupcake Bar. Truly elegant and toothsome treats. Below, lunch at the Durham Food Co-op, all vegan: seitan mac and cheese, cabbage dumplings, fiesta corn, creamed spinach, and vegetable soup.

I’m not proud. Tomorrow I may be all brown rice and kale, but today, this is where I’m at:

What’s your comfort food?