Sunday, January 29, 2017

Taking It Back

Today I begin again. It's not a New Year's resolution easily left behind in the detritus of every day but an actual beginning.

Here's where I start:
1.  Calm your mind. In order to not be overwhelmed by the world or life one must sit and breathe for a few moments after waking. No thoughts, just breathe.
2.  Plan of Action. Set out the things you are going to accomplish today and only today in order of priority.
3.  Workout. Every day without fail finish the workout of the day.
4.  Fix It. If you see something that needs to be taken care of or fixed then either do it right away or make an exact plan and time it will be done.
5.  Weather. Now this is a hard one for me. Don't let the weather dictate your life. Of course, there are always things you can or cannot do dependent upon the season such as climbing a mountain or swimming in the lake but for the rest of the mundane ordinary things like grocery shopping or going to the library one shouldn't let the weather "get you down".
6.  The World. Stay away from the newspaper, the news on television, and the stupidity of Facebook. It is important to touch base with your friends that you won't see all the time so Instagram is a nice alternative. You can avoid the hatred and ignorance and share the love and happiness instead.
7.  Service. Do something for at least one person regardless of how long it takes or what it is every day. Try to remain anonymous if possible.
8.  Be Healthy. Vegan. No processed products. Organic. Drink your apple cider vinegar honey tea every day.
9.  Be Positive.  If there is something you really don't want to do but need to, try to find the positive side of the situation. Look for the good things and enjoy any and all things life throws at you. If life hits you with a 2x4 then be happy it didn't kill you.
10. Create. Take the time each day to either create something, begin to create something, or plan to create something (not just dreaming but an actual plan).

Ready. Steady. Go!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake by Tiffani Dustin

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
1 prepared graham cracker pie crust (9inch)
2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
whipped topping

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ibsen's Realism


Ibsen wrote of realism and in doing so brought to the attention of his audience the many dilemmas found in modern society.  He wrote of the mind’s tumultuous battles and bared the ugliness that society sought so much to hide.  The feminism portrayed in his plays was just one of those battles – a battle of the inequalities between men and women in society along with the confines and constraints afflicted upon women at that day and age.
Susan Torrey Barstow stated in her article "Hedda is all of us: Late-Victorian Women at the Matinee, “the contemporary, middle-class heroines of Ibsen and his followers seemed to live not in a fantasy realm, but in the spectators' own world. Ibsen's heroines do not face starvation, shipwreck, or attack by wild animals; instead, they struggle against the thralls of domesticity and the confines of traditional femininity. Their trials are the ordinary, familiar trials of pregnancy, childbirth, the double standard, sexual frustration, and, perhaps above all, boredom. When strong men appear, they tend to threaten the Ibsen heroine rather than offering her rescue and security.”
Hedda from Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, perceives herself to be a victim.  Her choices appear to stem from desperation not unlike an animal backed into a corner.  This is evident in her agreeing to marry not because she is in love but because she was approaching the age of thirty.  "I had really danced until I was tired, my dear Judge. My time was over..." (Ibsen 202).  Women in the 1800s, like Hedda, having only been trained in the domestic arts and told always that they were only suited to marriage and birthing children were thus forced to marry or be a burden upon their families in the 1800s.  The societal expectancy that a woman be married by a certain age forced Hedda to choose before she was ready, her contempt being evident in almost every conversation with her husband, “Love? No, that is a joke.” (Ibsen 120)   
Nora (from A Doll’s House) is quite the opposite of Hedda.  She isn’t anything other than what people tell her to be and can be perceived by others as the victim but not acting the victim’s part.  She realizes only later that she has chosen to let others guide her and states, “What I mean is: I passed out of Daddy's hands into yours. You arranged everything to your tastes, and I acquire the same tastes. Or I pretended to... I don't really know... I think it was a bit of both, sometimes one thing and sometimes the other. When I look back, it seems to me I have been living here like a beggar, hand to mouth. I lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald. But that's the way you wanted it. You and Daddy did me a great wrong. It's your fault that I've never made anything of my life.” (Ibsen 80)  One could argue that Nora is blaming Torvald and her father for not allowing her to make choices.  However, she is actually blaming them for shaping her into someone that never accomplished anything.  She could actually be something more than what she is, but doesn’t know how because Torvald and her father never asked her what she wanted.  She was instead pushed into roles that best suited them (Torvald and her father).  This is a presentation of another of Ibsen’s quandaries – should men force women into roles and then blame them for not doing them effectually?  Ibsen also asked whether this was men’s fault, did they realize that by taking control and “being the man” that they may have been causing harm without intent?
Nora rebels against these norms.  She is courageous in her setting out to find herself, whereas Hedda is cowardly in her wishing to do something but lacking the courage to do it even to the point of taking the easy way out with suicide.  Ejlert states, “Yes Hedda, you are a coward at heart,” while praising Mrs. Elvsted, ”And then the courage in action that she has.” (Ibsen 126; 131) 
Hedda lashes out at those around her and seeks to control them with dubious chicanery as she feels she has lost all control with what she sees as a forced marriage compounded by a pregnancy which she refuses to acknowledge or talk about.  She is jealous of Mrs. Elvsted for her ability to leave her husband and seeks to destroy Mrs. Elvsted’s happiness by taking away ‘her child’ – the burning of the manuscript Ejlert Lovberg created with Mrs. Elvsted’s help.  Ibsen very cleverly foreshadows this event by having Hedda state, “Well!  Now we have killed two birds with one stone,” in Act I.  (Ibsen 44)  The diabolical act of goading Ejlert to go out and commit some lechery and her tormenting of Mrs. Elvsted allows Hedda to feel some control.  “Yes, there it is.  I wish for once in my life to have power over the fate of a human being.”  (Ibsen 143)  Ibsen helps us understand that Hedda forced into an egregious expectation of who she should be lead her to angrily strike out at those around her and then wondering ‘who is to blame?’  Is it the environment and social climate that makes Hedda who she is or does she truly have a choice?
Nora and Hedda are two extreme heroines shaped by Ibsen.  There is another less celebrated heroine from Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea, Ellida.  Ellida being left by her lover who was forced to flee but swears he will return, finds herself facing poverty when he fails to come back and springs at the first opportunity of marriage given.  However, when her first love comes up from the sea she must choose between the life she has built with a man she didn’t truly love and the love of her life.  Society dictates that she must fulfill her duty to her husband and his children.  In this Ibsen puts forth ‘is it right to remain with a man you do not love or return to the man you love?’  Ellida truly teaches the observer that in order to make a choice she needs the support of those around her to ‘allow’ her to choose.  “I must make the choice of my own free will.”  (Ibsen 101)  While her annoyingly cloying husband, Wangel, demands, “Ellida, you have no choice.”  (Ibsen 101)  Through Ellida’s persistence she is finally given this freedom, “There is no single thing here to withhold me.  Nothing in the world which holds or binds me.  I have taken no root in your house, Wangel.  Your children are not mine – their hearts are not mine, I mean, and never have been.”  This allows Wangel to relent and declare, “you shall have your liberty again.  Henceforth, you shall live your own life.”  (Ibsen 102) This enables Ellida to choose of her own free will unlike Nora’s predicament where everyone decides for her.  Ellida then chooses to remain with Wangel.  This always puts the feminists in an uproar.  (R. Zaller, Broadstreet Review, 1 Jan 2006)  One must ask, why should Ellida forgo comfort and security with a man that has had a change of heart and children that are now willing to love her for a man that is at odds with the law and can offer her nothing but himself?  Ibsen serves up to women ‘choice’ and thereby empowers them to choose something that the audience may not find acceptable.  Yet this truly depends on the audience.  An audience of Wangels would undoubtedly cheer her decision.  It is not Ibsen’s way to offer a happy ending though and upon considering which would make the audience happy, he obviously chose the opposite, preferring to leave them squirming in their seats.
Ibsen’s plays are the femme fatale of modern day film.  Nora leaving her husband to be her own person, Hedda choosing suicide over enslavement to a lecherous knave, and the freedom granted to Ellida were a strong empowerment to women.  They were realistic characters that stepped out of the engrained roles set out by men and said, “No not me.”  One can well imagine how a couple’s visit to the theater in 1879 would result in the husband hating the play and the wife privately dreaming of escape.  That would explain that even though critics (mostly men) went to great lengths to revile the plays they were outvoted by the public (being mostly women) and were ultimately successful. 
Ibsen may not have realized the affect of his plays, feeling them a failure by not enacting great change within his lifetime but he was the planter of the seed from which many feminist roots sprang, even if unintentional.  The empowerment bestowed by himself and others like him aided women in the conquering of oppression.  His work readily applies to our world today, empowering the underdog, giving hope to many that are subject to abuse and servitude to stand up and say, “No, not me.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pumpkin Custard - Vegan & Sugar Free

Dessert is always a challenge for me on Thanksgiving. Most of the time I just sit around watching other people eat theirs. I was determined this year to add a little enjoyment to the day by making a homemade custard using pumpkin. This was an adventure since normal recipes call for not only eggs but milk and sugar as well. This is what I came up with.

15 oz. pumpkin puree
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup almond milk
1/4 applesauce
1 Tbs honey
Egg replacer for 2 eggs (4 Tbs water + 4 Tbs cornstarch)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.
Pour into greased ramekins until ramekin is a little more than half full.
Place ramekins in a cake pan. Fill cake pan with water until water is half way up the outside of the ramekin. Be careful not to water in the inside of the ramekins.
Bake for 1 hour.
Remove from cake pan and cool.

Egg Substitutes

Here is some help in using replacements for eggs.

Replacement for

Replacement recommended


BrowniesSilken Tofu/ Tofu( 1/4 cup blended silken tofu = 1 egg )Process in a blender until completely smooth and creamy, leaving no graininess
or chunks. You will want to attach other wet ingredients to this mixture to
return with it to blend properly.
Applesauce(1/3 cup applesauce = 1 egg or ¼ cup Applesauce + 1 tsp Baking Powder )If chocolate in the brownies overpowers the flavor of applesauce so it can be safely used, and is in fact, one of the
best egg substitute in brownie mix.
Soy Yogurt/Plain Yogurt( ¼ cup Yogurt= 1 EGG )If you are a vegan, you may opt for soy yogurt. Otherwise plain yogurt will do
the trick. Just beat it well and add it to the brownie mix.
Flax seeds(1 tbsp ground Flax seeds +3 tbsp Water =1 eggGrind the flax seeds in a coffee grinder, and mix with water. Allow it to rest till it becomes gelatinous, then use.
Bananas(½ pureed Banana, abt 1/4 cup = 1 egg)Just mash it smooth, and use it but the addition of banana will alter the flavor of the brownies
Commercial Egg SubstituteUse
as per instructions on pack. Many people who have used this find it to leave behind a peculiar taste. However, there have been exceptions to this case.
(½ pureed Banana, abt 1/4 cup = 1 egg)
Recipes: Banana Blueberry Bread
Soy yogurt(1/4 cup soy yogurt = 1egg)Soy yogurt works deeply like whiz tofu as an egg replacer.Helps to make it moist
Water(one egg with 1/4 cup water.Recipe:Vegan Banana Nut Bread
Flax seeds(1 tbsp ground Flax seeds +3 tbsp Water =1 eggAdding ground flax seeds to any recipe add Omega-3′s to the recipe! You can buy ground flax seeds in the health section of most grocery stores.
Recipe: Whole Wheat Honey Walnut Pumpkin Bread
Check out all Eggless Bread Recipes
(eggs mostly serve as leavening agents in cakes, helping to make the end product light and fluffy)
(1/3 cup applesauce = 1 egg or ¼ cup Applesauce + 1 tsp Baking Powder )
(½ pureed Banana, abt 1/4 cup = 1 egg)
Recipe: Wholegrain Banana Cake
Soy yogurt/Yogurt(1/4 cup soy yogurt = 1 egg)Soy yogurt works deeply like whiz tofu as an egg replacer. It makes things moist.
Recipes: Blueberry Boy Bait; Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Water(one egg with 1/4 cup water.)
Vegetable Oil(1/4 cup = 1 egg)Recipes: Banana Cupcake
ButtermilkButtermilk is one of the preferred egg substitute used for eggless cake recipes. What you need to do is add half a cup of buttermilk (instead of one egg) and follow the same directions as you did for baking regular cakes. The only thing is to add less amount of water for making the dough. With buttermilk, the resultant cake will be very soft and tasty.
Pureed Fruits(3 tablespoons of pureed fruit = one egg )In cases when you don’t like using eggs and buttermilk in cakes then a good egg substitute for baking cakes is, adding pureed fruits. Use 3 tablespoons of pureed banana (for one egg) and follow the same tips for baking cake. Even
without eggs, you will surely serve a soft and delicious cake with pureed fruits.
Gelatin (Non Vegetarian)(1 tablespoon gelatin + 3 tablespoons lukewarm water = 1 egg)Another popularly used egg substitute in baking is unsweetened and unflavored gelatin. Most vegetarians prefer adding Agar Agar instead of Gelatin as a substitute in cake, instead of the other options. For using gelatin in baking cake, mix together one tablespoon gelatin with three tablespoons lukewarm water. Add this mixture for making the cake dough.
Flaxseed(1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil+ 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg)Stir the flaxseed mixture well and allow it to thicken for a few minutes. Strain the seeds by using a muslin cloth and use the filtrate for baking cake.
Vinegar and Baking PowderUse this egg substitute in cake, only when you require more than one egg for baking. Mix one tablespoon each of white vinegar and water in a glass. To this, add one teaspoon of baking powder and stir well until
the mixture blends well. Now, use this egg substitute for your cake recipe.
Potato Starch(2 heaped tbsp potato starch = 1 egg)
Arrowroot Powder(2 heaped tbsp arrowroot powder  = 1 egg)
Soy flour(1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour + 2 tbsp water = 1egg)
Soda PopA regular-sized (12 oz.) can of soda pop can be used as a substitution for 3 eggs in your baking recipes. Additionally, one regular-sized (12 oz.) can of soda pop can be substituted for the oil/egg combo
required by most boxed cake mixes.
Check out all Eggless Cake Recipes
Check out all Eggless Cupcakes Recipes
(eggs mostly act as binding agents in cookies and adding moisture)
Vegetable Oil(1/4 cup = 1 egg)
Cornstarch(1 tablespoon of Cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons of Water = 1 egg)
Soy flour(1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg)
Ener-G Egg Replacer(follow package instructions)It seems to work best surrounded by cookies, or things that are supposed to be a little crispy.Otherwise, there have been complaints that it tends to add certain aftertaste noticeable more in other bakes like a chalky taste.
Check out all Eggless Cookies Recipes
(eggs mostly act as binding agents in Muffins and adding moisture )
Applesauce(1/3 cup applesauce = 1 egg or ¼ cup Applesauce + 1 tsp Baking Powder )
Pumpkin(1/3 cup of cooked pumpkin = 1 egg)This works almost for all baked goods but especially for muffins leaving a subtle Pumpkin flavor in the muffins (depending upon the eggs substituted)
Soy yogurt/Yogurt(1/4 cup soy yogurt = 1 egg)Soy yogurt works deeply like whiz tofu as an egg replacer. It makes things moist
Recipes: Cranberry Walnut Muffins
Water(one egg with 1/4 cup water.
Vegetable Oil(1/4 cup = 1 egg)
Soy flour
(1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg)
Banana(½ pureed Banana, abt 1/4 cup = 1 egg)Recipe:Strawberry Banana Quinoa Muffins
Flaxseed(1 tbsp ground Flax seeds + 3 tbsp Water = 1 egg)Recipes: Vegan Pear Walnut Muffins
Check out all Eggless Muffins Recipes
PancakesFlax seeds(1 tbsp ground Flax seeds + 3 tbsp Water = 1 eggAdding ground flax seeds to any recipe add Omega-3′s to the recipe! You can buy ground flax seeds in the health section of most grocery stores.
Soy flour
(1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg)
Banana(½ pureed Banana, abt 1/4 cup = 1 egg)
Savory Dishes(as binders/ coating)Mashed PotatoesWhen a recipe in any savory dish like Vegetable Loaves or
Burgers calls for eggs as a binding agent, then any of these will work as an substitute for eggs. When used for Frying (as an coating of eggs and flour), you can use a mix of all purpose flour + water to form into a paste and apply that as coating instead of beaten eggs.
Bread Crumbs
Cooked Oatmeal
Cooked Rice
Tomato Paste
Chocolate pies, Quiches, pudding TofuTofu is great for egg substitutions in recipes that call for a lot of egg. To substitute for only one egg in a recipe, whip or blend 1/4 cup soft tofu and add to your cooking.
CornstarchThis especially works great for puddings. 1 egg = 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water
Recipes: Chocolate Tapioca Pudding
Salads/ Sandwiches/OmeletTofuDiced or mashed tofu can replace chopped hard-boiled eggs in some salad and sandwich recipes. Scrambled tofu makes a delicious alternative to scrambled eggs.

Savory Pumpkin Soup (vegan)

Every recipe for pumpkin soup I found was full of animal products. Luckily, being a vegan is all about replacement, replacement, replacement in order to obtain the same great taste but maintaining your standards.

  • Prep/Total Time: 20 min.
  • Yield: 6 Servings
10 20


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter (earth balance)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 16 oz. vegetable broth (1/2 box of Pacific organic brand)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
In a large saucepan, melt better. Add chopped onion and sauté for 2 minutes on medium-high heat. Add carrots and celery. Sauté  until onions are beginning to brown. Stir in flour until vegetables are coated. Add broth and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add spices, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes on medium heat.
Add milk and frozen corn. Cook until corn is warmed. Serve or store until later.
Top with Tofutti Sour cream, pistachios, and chives (optional).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Best Vegan Brownie Recipe