Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No-Fuss Lunch

I have a shelf full of vegan cookbooks. I love them. I'll keep buying them. I'll keep writing them. And... confession of a real-life hungry girl here... I hardly ever use them. While I technically have the time to make all the fancy food I want, my choice is usually to do other things, like write and make things and share whatever wants to be shared on any given day.

When I'm at home, cooking just for me, or for both Rick and myself, I really don't love to spend endless hours in the kitchen. Most of the time, I want to eat something that's really good, really good for me, and really easy to make.

Lunch seems to kerbobble people more than other meals. Entire books are dedicated to lunch, for sandwichsakes, but honestly, there's just no need to fuss about it so. Especially when you're vegan. Bring your own, and make it something you can practically throw together in your sleep.

Leftovers from the night before are always good for lunch. Favorite stand-by sandwiches, like my Baked Tofu Birthday Sandwich, or Chickpea Tuna Salad take a little more effort, but you can usually get at least a couple of lunches out of a batch.

My current favorite grab-it-fast lunch is even faster than going out for take-out. Behold the Salad Roll! A whole salad's worth of green goodness, all wrapped up in a lovely, humble tortilla. It takes about two seconds (ok, maybe 15) to make, it's infinitely variable, it's easy to stuff in your face, and it's good for you.


Ready?
Spread hummus or vegan cream cheese (or both, half on each side) all the way to the edges of a flour tortilla.
Pile on a big handful of fluffy baby salad greens.
Add other veggies (chopped small) if you want to.
Drizzle with a little salad dressing and maybe some hot sauce.


Roll it all up, nice and tight, squeezing the greens in as you go.
Leave an inch or so at the edge so the hummus/cream cheese can act like glue and hold the whole thing together.
Cut the roll in half.
Eat it!
You don't need a dipping sauce, but nobody's going to tell you you're wrong if you cozy up next to a little bowl of extra dressing.

That's it. Keep it simple. Keep it good and full of goodness.
Vegan life is easy if we let it be.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Changes. Change is.

Notice anything different around here? (No, not my new dress.) It was time to change things up, in order to make way for other changes that I'm not quite yet clear about. You know how that is? Making anything different has the potential to make everything different. And I'm ready for some differentness.

The old PV logo was fine and lovely, but it was never what I really wanted. I just kept it because I had it, and because a friend designed it for me, but those are both really lame reasons. So poof! Gone are the cute vegetables and the colors I never got comfortable with. If you loved it, well, sorry. I'll send you a picture.

Part of the shift I'm instigating here is a merging of my blogs and my website. I have one site now, which offers links to all the stuff I do. I do a lot and the fragmentation was making me feel all energetically scattered and queasy.

If I can figure out a way of merging this blog in with LongWayHome I'll do it.  For now, it feels like they still need to each be their own thing. Go ahead and subscribe to both. There might be some cross-blogging now and then, but mostly, PV is food related, while LWH is more personal. Having said that, I might even post the very same thing on both of them when it applies.

Like this.
It's going on both, with only minor changes.

You know, it's really like one blog in two different rooms. It's all me and my stuff. Hang out in which ever room you feel the most comfortable, or in both, if you like. I'd like that.

So here are the links. If you get lost or confused, and you remember my name, just go to KimMiles.com. It's the hub, with links to everything else, including blogs, books, beads, and handmade finery from my very own fingers.



KimMiles.com
PositivelyVegan
TakingTheLongWayHome

See you out there. Somewhere.
Here's to changes!
Change.
Is.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mom's Kitchen

As I write this, I'm in San Jose, in the backyard of the house I grew up in. My parents' house, my family home, most recently just my dad's house, and now, the house that belongs to my sisters and me. My father passed away in June of this year, after living here alone for the last 26 years. Mom passed in 1990, leaving us all, but mostly Daddy, to wonder how in the world we could ever be normal again.

He never quite recovered from losing the love of his life, but staying in his beloved home, his mansion, he called it, meant more to him than anything else in the world he might have wished for. We were somehow miraculously able to grant him the only thing he ever asked us for. He got to live to the very tippy-tail end of his life in his own house. My sisters and I, just the three of us and nobody else, were here with him when he left us. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and maybe the most honorable. I wouldn't recommend it, but I'm so grateful we were able to be here for him.

After a month at home to catch our breath, trying not to deal with any more than we absolutely had to, we're back now, sorting through our family-specific mountain of things that accumulate in a house over 54 years. We've emptied every drawer, every closet, every box, every cabinet, every shelf. We've touched thousands of pieces of paper and countless assembled objects, housewares, and photographs. We've claimed what we want to keep, and given our kids and a few family members mementos and heirlooms. Next on the list is an estate sale, for the furniture and daunting pile of things that will all be treasures to someone who hasn't found them yet.

The paper sorting was torturous for me, and the gear and tools didn't interest me much. My father interested me greatly, but his things were man things. Our husbands and sons happily went through every bit of all that, while I wandered off to the kitchen. Mom's kitchen, where I first learned to cook, and where she worked her magic to the delight of anyone lucky enough to be invited to our table. Over the years, we began referring to the house as Dad's, but it will always be Mom's kitchen.


This time though, I wasn't there to cook, but to clean and sort and discard. It was kind of terrible, and kind of fun. It was whatever I wanted to decide it was, and I flip-flopped back and forth a lot until I decided to just quiet my head and enjoy the process. Very little had been brought in since Mom passed, and very little had been tossed out.

My little stack of take-homes is still growing. I keep plucking things from the sale pile and smuggling them down the hall to my room. The little copper bottomed Revereware saucepan needs me. The banged up mixing bowls are dimpled like steel drums, and are so much heavier than any I've had in my own adult life. I actually spoke to the white and pink (once red) Pyrex casserole dish, saying, I've known you my whole life. You're coming home with me. And the gently stained 1970's aprons, in my opinion, are simply not give-up-able.


The sorting continues, things leave for their new homes, papers are shredded, trash is tossed, and memories bubble to the surface like a lake full of champagne. I'm not the first one to go through this, but for me this is new territory. Dad was a hiker, an outdoorsman, a reader of maps, a carrier of a good compass, both in his heart and in his pocket. He guided us through life in his strong and certain way. But he couldn't leave trail markers to help us with what we're doing now.

Every so often, one of my sisters or I will notice what feels absolutely like a message from our parents. We all feel them both sticking near us right now, as we tidy up for them this one last time. I like to think we're doing all this in a way they're happy with. On the other hand, they might be off romping around Eternity, caring not a hoot about their earthly goods. Either way is OK with me. And I know we're doing the best we can on an unmarked trail.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Art of Pieology in Portland

Although Portland is famous for its abundance of vegan eateries (which Rick and I support at every opportunity), I get especially giddy over finding intentionally vegan options in non-veg restaurants.

Take, for instance, the popular pizza chain, Pieology. I first tried them in California on a recent trip, and was pleased as punch to learn that we have a location here in Portland, right downtown, in easy walking distance from us!

Pieology offers totally customized, built-to-order pizzas at a fixed price, no matter how you top them. Their house-made 11.5 inch crusts are available in white or whole wheat, and they also offer a gluten free crust. Choose from their inventive combinations, or just walk down the line and tell your friendly pieologist what you want as you go. Add a little more of this or that or all of it. And when you're finished co-creating the perfect pizza, it goes into a big open oven and comes out in just a few quick minutes.

They offer salads too. As with the pizzas, choose from their signature creations, or have one built to perfection, just the way you like it.

Best of all, they offer vegan Daiya cheese! Our pie guy happened to be knowledgeable about what what would be vegan or not as far as sauces and toppings, so we didn't have to ask too many questions. The red sauce is a little spicy and a lot delicious. We topped it with spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, Daiya (of course!), and a sprinkle of sunflowers seeds and oregano.

Our pizza was great! Remember, we used to own a pizza shop in Seattle, and we know what's good! We sat by the window, watched the early summer rain fall on the busy city street, and sipped beer and wine while totally enjoying our "snack", which turned out to be generous and filling enough that we called it dinner.


Whether you want a quick lunch on the run, or prefer to take your time and enjoy a more leisurely, casual dinner, keep Pieology on your list of possibilities. It's one of those places you can enjoy with your non-veg friends, and still have exactly what you want. Everybody wins, and I'll bet your friends will want to try what you're having. Make 'em get their own!



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why Not to Use the V-Word

I was sitting with one of my favorite people (my daughter) the other night, on the floor of her living room, sharing a picnic dinner procured from the local natural foods market. We had little tubs of wonderfulness spread out on a dishtowel, a bottle of wine, and a lovely pair of glittery gold shoes to add opulence to the scene.

IMG 2992

Although my daughter is not vegan (she's sort of a vegetarian who can't resist bacon), she's always supportive of my vegan work in the world, and super considerate when it comes to feeding me. I've noticed though, that there's an invisible line I sometimes cross in my enthusiasm over amazing vegan food, and my assumption that she will share my excitement.

For example, the other night, when I was all giddy over finally sampling (OK, stuffing my face with) some delightfully rich Fauxmage, smeared in great big blobs on tiny crackers, and offered to share a taste, she shook her head in a tense little way and refused to try it. 

Huh...
Really? 

Confusing behavior is not uncommon in a mother/daughter relationship, but I think we've both long outgrown any use for habitual stubbornness. We like each other. We get along. We respect each other's separateness. We know we're different, and a lot the same, and it's all OK. So I really couldn't sort out how this simple offering of cheese had instantly pushed my girl from comfortable to suspicious.

She took a sniff, and said, It smells like butter. Are you sure it’s vegan? She read the ingredients. Yep. Vegan. But she still wouldn’t taste it.

I asked her why, and the best explanation I can piece together, after some discussion, is that my openness and excitement about “faux” foods like dairy and meat alternatives can come across as a sort of "neener-neener" wave-it-in-your-face attitude that says, See??? This is good! You should like it! You don't need the "real" thing. Just be like me already!!!

Yeah, that one never works, does it?

It's tricky though, because some people feel duped if we don’t point out that those hot dogs are made of soy, not pig, or that that the wonderful herbed cheese is made from nuts, not dairy. Some folks want full disclosure about the "weird" vegan stuff we feed them - like it's fair warning, so they can brace themselves. Others, like my daughter, prefer to come to it from a neutral place of simply tasting something new, not caring whether it’s vegan or dairy, or some sort of imaginary holographic fairy dust cheese, and then deciding if they like it or not, with no expectations from the over-eager vegan across the table.

I think I get it. We sometimes put a lot of pressure on our loved ones to love what we love. But the truth is, if we love them, we have to let them be who they are, eat what they eat, and find their own happy way down their own life path in any way that suits them. We have to stop expecting people - even our nearest and dearest - to be like us just because we think we've found a better way. Maybe we have. But it's not productive or useful or even kind to say things that insinuate that our way is "better," because that automatically makes their way "worse."

What we're really doing here is trying to change the world, and that always gets a lot of resistance. We have to go slow. What we need to remember is that we can never change anyone else. We can only change ourselves. And in this sort of situation, that means to adapt the way we speak, inform, and share to each person we deal with. It doesn’t mean we have to be untrue to our values as vegans. It does mean that we can get further with some folks, and maintain happier relationships, if we do our best to make them feel comfortable rather than confronted. We need to be sensitive to our friends' and families' individual ways of seeing the world, "meet them where they are," as the saying goes, and proceed with our loving food sharing cautiously and non-judgementally.

The people closest to us already know that we’re vegan. They know we’re not going to buy or make or serve animal-based foods. Maybe it’s best to just hush up about it and let the food speak for itself. A lot of terrific vegan restaurants are doing just that. The v-word is never mentioned in their signage or menus, but happy patrons flock to them because the food is wonderful - and just happens to be vegan.

I’m going to leave that lovely cheese in my daughter’s refrigerator when I go home. My guess is, in her own sweet time, she’ll sidle up to it, give it another sniff, and taste it while I’m not there with a silly, expectant look on my face. I think she’ll like it. And I think she’ll eat it all up. Not because it’s vegan, and not because I want her to, but because it tastes absolutely delicious. And that, my friends, is good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Flying Elephants on the Bridge


The Elephants Delicatessen chain is pretty big around Portland, and we have a new location to love now, in the South Waterfront, on the west end of the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge. After a liesurely walk across what's been dubbed "the Bridge of the People," we stopped for a snack at the new Flying Elephants, which is right next door to Starbucks in the gorgeously modern new Collaborative Life Sciences Building and Skourtes Tower. It's a perfect place to sit outside on a nice day, sip a beer, glass of wine, coffee, or tea, have a bite to eat, and watch the world go by.


The menu offers an appealing range of what you might expect from a deli, including several items that are well marked as being vegan. Grab a fresh, ready-made wrap, sandwich, salad, or pastry from the well-stocked cold case, order a beverage or hot food at the counter, then settle in to enjoy some time in Portland's newest, fastest growing neighborhood.


We shared a Shelly Wrap, a side of Sweet Potato Tots, and a couple of beers. The wrap was fresh and tasty and packed with crisp vegetables. The tots were terrific, as I've come to expect of all tots in this city. And the beers were just the thing on an early fall day in sunny Portland.



I jokingly call the South Waterfront "Little Dubai," with it's towers of steel and glass, and the high rents that go along with it. But it's beautiful down there along the river, and with the new bridge, more people friendly than ever. It's only a ten minute streetcar ride from where we live, and I imagine we'll find our way over to Flying Elephants often. They're good people who care about what they do and how it impacts Portland and beyond in the bigger picture. I can support that, and I intend to!


Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Way It's Supposed To Be


This is an extra little side post this week, because the news lately is nothing but awful, politics embarrassing, and the general mood of folks I run into is kind of low-energy. I feel it too. Without going into detail, I'm struggling more than a little bit these days. Things are piling up. I feel... un-good. And I know from experience that the best way to feel better is to make someone else feel better. It works every time.

I was out with Rick yesterday, after an urban hike to the rose garden, a shopping expedition, lunch, and finally a little food gathering for dinner. Even though there was nothing really wrong, and it had been a lovely day, I was feeling sort of anxious and icky, and I couldn't shake it. I tend to gather up and collect the general vibe of the world around me, so I don't think most of what I was feeling was "mine." I have my own little issues to be sure, but empathy can suck the life out of a girl.

We hopped on a busy streetcar, loaded down with bags, and clearly in the "elder" demographic compared to the rest of the people getting on. Rick was about to settle into an empty seat that was closest to him, when a young woman cut him off and slipped into the seat, oblivious to everyone around her.  Her sense of entitlement flew around her like sparks. She was white. It shouldn't make a difference. But it's part of the story. I'll call her Uppity Princess.

As the streetcar started to roll, Rick found another seat, and motioned for me to take the one down the aisle. But just at that moment - and all this happened in about 15 seconds - the young man sitting behind Rick stood up, gave me his seat, and took the one farther away, just so I could sit by Rick. He glanced at the woman who cut Rick off, looked at me, shrugged, and shook his head in a WTF? sort of way. He was African American, which also shouldn't make a difference. I'll call him Nice Guy.

Common pre-conceptions would have us believe that the white lady would have better manners than the young man of color. Really? Many would trust her and fear him. Really? But in that instant, there was a flash of connection, of sweetness, of getting it between two humans, Nice Guy and me, just making our way home, and the color of our skin had nothing to do with it. Common courtesy and decency were what mattered. Gratitude mattered. Paying attention to something other than ourselves mattered.

As Nice Guy stood up to get off at his stop, I pulled a daisy out of the bunch I'd just bought, touched his arm to get his attention, and handed him the flower. He took it, thanked me, and turned away to leave. Then, just before jumping out into the world again, he turned back to me and said, "I almost broke a tear. Thank you. This is how it's supposed to be."

Yes it is. I smiled back, my eyes welled up, and my mood shifted for the better. I think maybe everyone who saw what happened was shifted a little bit. Maybe if we all did more of these tiny, spontaneous things, like offering a seat, saying thank you, smiling, giving daisies to strangers, maybe we'd all start feeling better enough to deflect all the not-good that's being fired at us daily. Maybe we'd create enough interpersonal goodness that our day to day lives would be easier and happier. Maybe we'd change the world. Maybe not. But at the very least, we'd make our own little part of it nicer to live in.