Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Visit From Family

I have mentioned before that I love being an Aunt, but I'll say it again. I love being an Aunt! We currently have five nephews and one niece. They are all such wonderful kids and we enjoy spending time with them. We are in the great position of getting to have all of the fun without all of the work!

It is a true delight any time we get to spend time with them. This Thanksgiving my brother David, his wife Rhea, and our niece Helena came for a visit. We were fortunate enough to have a full week with with them.

Every time I see Helena, I amazed by her ability to make everyone smile. She greeted us all with a hug and kiss. It had been a year since she had seen us, but she acted as though we saw her everyday. She warmed my heart. The whole week of the visit she passed herself back and forth to all of us to be held and hugged.

The sweet echo of her voice pronouncing my name will forever be ingrained in my memory...."Minda."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vegan Thanksgiving 2010

For the past three years, John and I have attended the Triangle Vegetarian Society vegan Thanksgiving at Cafe' Parizade in Durham, NC. It is the largest vegan Thanksgiving celebration in the country. This year, we welcomed over 800 guests.

We had the pleasure of sitting with 12 of our friends, including three omnivores! To my delight, the three loved the food. It was proof that one can have a cruelty free gourmet meal and truly enjoy the experience. This event didn't turn them into vegetarians, but I know that it raised their awareness of vegan food and compassion towards animals.

This Thanksgiving marked the first year that I would attend as a gluten freer. I contacted the organizer several months beforehand and learned that they planned to have many GF dishes. As luck would have it, they were also going to mark the dishes that were GF. I was touched by the care and concern that was put into the preparation and the marking of the food. I am truly thankful to Dilip Barman and Cafe' Parizade. Check out the lovely menu that they put together. As usual, the food was amazing and I had so many tasty options. I enjoyed everything that I tried and even went back for seconds. My favorite item this year was the collard chips. They were crispy, simple, and delicious! My second favorite dish was the quinoa stuffed mushroom caps.

We always follow up this meal with a trip to see my parents and sometimes other family and friends. The emphasis becomes less about a dead turkey carcass and more about family and giving thanks. Which is, after all, the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

This year I am thankful for living in a community that is open enough to have a cruelty free Thanksgiving, a family that supports me and John in our veganism and my gluten free journey, great friendships, my family, strong support system of vegan friends, many evenings of laughter and smiles, and a wonderful husband.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Food To Celebrate A Jewish Heritage

It is the time of year where I am cold and I want something comforting. We have been on a potato kick lately eating sweet, white, and yellow potatoes. Since white potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list we buy them organic. If we can also get them from a local farmer, it is a major plus!

My Dad's side of the family is Jewish and while I was not raised religiously Jewish, I still consider it an important part of my heritage. I spent years trying to hide this because I went to an extremely bigoted school as a child. For many years, I cringed at the sound of my last name-
Newman. I was so afraid the kids in my school would find out and I would be teased like the other "different kids."

If you were not anglo or catholic white, you were made fun of. While I was picked on non-stop in middle school, I seemed to escaped the Jewish ribbing- probably because my classmates saw me in church each Sunday. It didn't stop with religion, it also went to race. This blog, however, is not to talk about the racist classmates I went to school with, but to point out that I am proud of my heritage. It was one of the reasons I kept my birth last name when I got married and why I named my blog Newman Improved.

One of the traditionally Jewish foods that I loved as a child was latkes and homemade applesauce. John and I don't celebrate Hanukkah, but thought it would be a nice way to honor the holiday season. I came across a post by Hannah at
BitterSweet and decided to try her recipe for latkes. Her recipe was for baked latkes and since we don't fry anything, we thought this was a much better option for a favorite comfort food.

Along with the latkes, we made homemade applesauce. We like to make foods like this from scratch because it is so much healthier and not processed! Unlike many store brands, we made ours without sugar and used organic apples. Here is my recipe.

  • 4 granny smith, organic apples
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • splash of lemon juice

Wash the apples. Peel two of the apples and leave the skin on the other two. Cut all of the apples into one inch cubes. Place the apples and remaining ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 20 to 30 minutes. The sauce can be left as it is or mashed. We served the applesauce with the latkes and a side of sauteed kale.

Here is to celebrating and being proud of your heritage! I am proud to be an Italian and Jewish American!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Etsy Listing- Recycled Bag

I recently came across an extra large breast cancer awareness shirt that reads "I support healthy hooters." I thought about turning it into many things, but the idea of a reusable tote/grocery bag stuck out the most. The shirt seemed like it would make a great bag because of its size and material. I saw the potential of being able to carry around many pounds of groceries or goods. To top that, it would send a sassy and fun message!

My favorite part is that this piece is recycled! The shirt was in perfect condition and made from 100% sturdy cotton. While this was great as a tee shirt, I thought it would make an even better bag. The material allows for many groceries and other goods to be stored and toted around. There is no worry that this bag will break if something spills as it isn't fragile like a paper bag. One also needn't worry about the bag ripping or tearing from sharp edges like with a plastic bag. If the bags stains, just throw it in the washing machine. The best part is that you can treat it like you would any tee shirt!

If you want to support breast cancer awareness or know someone else that would, come on over to my Etsy store and purchase this recycled bag!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Evolving Blog

The Vegan MoFo challenge is over and I had so much fun, but also realized that I have been delinquent in blogging. I enjoyed reading posts of other MoFo bloggers and I even made some blog friends along the way.

The challenge made me also see that my blog requires a vocalized change. It started with a different purpose and it has evolved and it is evolving. I am now almost three months into my gluten free journey. If it wasn't for the blogging communities that I am a part of, I might have been lost in this journey. I feel extreme support from other bloggers who are going through something similar.

Sure, there are a lot of people out there that also have Celiacs and everyone seems to know
someone who has this. The difference is that the gluten free industry is catered toward the meat eating Celiac. That isn't me. I want my food to be cruelty free. I am finding more support for gluten free vegans. I am glad that they are out there. The more vocal we are, the more products that will be catered to us and the more information that will be available to us.

The point of this post is to say that my blog is changing and I want to be a support to other vegans, vegetarians, and Celiacs, in addition to my involvement on Etsy. The title of my blog is Newman Improved, after all, and it would only be natural that my blog would evolve with my life.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Look Forward to Greeny Etsy Treasury

I am included in a treasury on Etsy! Thank you to Tinarosa, who created the "Look forward to greeny" treasury and included me! Please visit the treasury and click on my listing. I am the "Vintage 1970's Picardo Knits Mint Green Dress." I am currently in the third row.

Consider buying a handmade, recycled, and vintage item for your holiday gifts this year! Happy Holidays!