Category Archives: Travel

♥ Veganism Is Deprivation

And if you believe that, I have only one thing to say to you: black forest cake. Oh, yes. Just look at this bad boy.

Vegan black forest cake.

 J and I stopped for lunch at the Dandelion Cafe in Reno, Nevada. We were expecting to find a veggie sandwich and a hummus plate, that sort of thing. We were delighted to find a menu full of options. And a cold case full of vegan desserts.

I don’t remember what we ordered for lunch. I don’t recall anything but this glorious slice of cake. Chocolate, cherry and whipped (non-dairy) cream slice o’ heaven on a plate.

This cake could convert Paula Deen herself.


♥ Imitation And Flattery

There are two vegan-friendly restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Now, when I say “vegan-friendly”, I mean that the wait staff are knowledgeable about their menu items and about veganism in general. Specifically, they don’t subject us to nonsense like “but you still eat fish, right?” Both restaurants offers a variety of tempeh and tofu alternatives in most of their entrees.

During the summer months, we love the rooftop dining at Freshies with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  And Barbie’s wedding, Tahoe style, on the roof itself.

But, it’s hard to get a table at Freshies with less than an hour wait during the summer months when tourist traffic is the heaviest. And they refuse to take a dinner order to go. I guess being a local repeat customer amounts to nothing in their eyes. Hmph.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe so, but flattery was the furthest thing from my mind when I came up with this copycat of my favorite meal at Freshies. It felt more like necessity, actually. I needed my big salad fix; and I needed it in less than an hour.

First, the appetizer: My Tri Fries. Yams, sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes fried up crisp and served with Caribbean spices. These babies are simply addictive. And, luckily, they were easy to replicate. Better still, my version is oven-fried, not deep-fried. The method is simple: toss 3 pounds of the cut potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (I used Walkerswood Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning). Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450F for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

My take on The Crunch, “the local’s favorite”: layered baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Freshies serves The Crunch with a creamy basil dressing, but it’s made with buttermilk so I always ordered a substitute vegan dressing. I liked the sound of a creamy basil dressing, so I played around and came up with my version, and it has fast become our favorite salad dressing.

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Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups


1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Vegenaise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil


Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender until smooth. I like to thin it with a bit of  water before serving.

♥ Breakfast On The Go

Weekends are busy; and we are usually on the go. Around here, running errands (beyond the grocery store basics), means a drive down from the mountain. That means a fast and easy breakfast is in order. No, not the drive through!

My standard travel breakfast of peanut butter on whole wheat toast was getting old. I’ve had “Oats In A Jar” in the back of my mind for a while now and, finally, I gave them a try. With our daily peanut butter habit, we produce a lot of (almost) empty peanut butter jars. Overnight Oats, or Oats In A Jar, makes use of the peanut butter jars and provides a yummy travel breakfast, too (travel is not required, though). Easy Peasy and better than plain old toast any day!

This recipe for Oats In A Jar is wonderful and it was the first that I tried, actually. Most days, however, I make my favorite go-to oatmeal recipe (below).

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Overnight Oats


1/4 cup organic thick rolled oats

1/2  to 3/4 cup coconut milk (depending upon how thick you like your oats)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons dried fruit (raisins, goji berries, cranberries, etc.)

2 Tablespoons nuts (sliced almonds, chopped almonds, chopped pecans, etc.)

1 small organic apple, peeled (optional) and diced

1 to 2 heaping Tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter


Place all the ingredients in an empty 16-ounce peanut butter jar (do not rinse!). If you don’t have an empty peanut butter jar handy, use a pint Mason jar with a secure lid. Shake well and store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, give the jar another shake or a good stir before eating*.

* On cold mornings, I microwave my jar of oats for about 60 seconds to take the chill off.

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I feel I should update this draft post from a month ago. My new favorite “to go” breakfast is now green juice!

I received a Champion juicer and a wheatgrass juicer for Mother’s Day and I have used them both every morning since. In fact, wheatgrass juice has replaced my morning cup of Joe. After 25 years, give or take, the monkey named “Joe” is finally off my back!

The juicer now sits on the kitchen counter where the coffeemaker once was and the coffeemaker is now collecting dust in the basement. And my Starbucks travel cup has been re-purposed. A higher and greener purpose, most definitely!

♥ So Long, Seattle

J and I spent our last week as Washington residents playing tourist and snapping photos of our favorite local vistas. Washington may call itself the “Evergreen State”; but the “evergreen” slogan doesn’t only pertain to Washington’s endless variety of coniferous trees. The unofficial state plant has to be moss – it grows on everything!

I heart Anacortes: I can see Canada from my house! Okay, not really.

As far as evergreens go, however, my personal favorite is the Madrona. This lovely tree resides in Washington Park, not far from our house. I miss it already!

Just another Fidalgo Island sunset. Ho hum.

La Conner is located practically in our backyard. The Skagit Tulip Festival every spring: nuff said!

J and I first met in Coupeville, said to be the oldest town in Washington (and the location of the movie Practical Magic, too). Life as J once knew it was forever changed that day. Oh yeah, he also went vegan!

Even when you drive across Deception Pass as often as we did, you cannot take it for granted: it requires a few extra moments to simply gaze and wonder. It was a frequent fly over for J, too.

Farewell, Whidbey Island.

We made one last trip to “the” tourist destination on the west side of the state: Pike Place Market! The construction project at the market got in the way of our photo-taking, so we borrowed a picture from the Market’s home page instead:

The very first Starbucks is across the street from the market and people were literally lined up out the door. After living in Washington for 14 years, J finally succumbed and ordered his first Starbucks. Ever.

Lastly, we stopped at Pizza Pi in Seattle’s University District for a couple of awesome vegan pies (and plenty of leftovers for road food, too).

Maximum Margherita

Ex-Meat Lovers

Two (plus) days in the car makes for a couple of very cranky girls!

At last, our first glimpse of Lake Tahoe:

We’re here, we’re here!!

And waiting for us at the end of our 900 mile journey is an all too familiar sight for us lately:

So, we are once again living in a “tunnel” house; the movers left us just enough  room between the furniture and the boxes for a pathway from the front door to the back door. I’m afraid to even look in the garage underneath the house!

Moving is hell on everyone.