Monday, October 30, 2017

Should I Buy a Vitamix?

Yes, you need a Vitamix, to varying degrees.  What the heck does that mean?  Read ahead.

If I'm being completely honest, if you eat the standard American diet, then you could probably live without this.  How much liquifying of things are you really doing?  Maybe soup?  Chances are, people eating the standard American diet tend to eat more soup out of cans than homemade soup, not being an ass, but have you seen the millions of casserole recipes using canned soup?  Yeesh.  So, yeah, you probably won't get your money's worth.

If you're in between the standard American diet and trying to be healthy, then yes, you could get some real use.  Other than soups you could use them for the smoothest smoothies, nut milk and sorbets or banana based ice creams.  When I dump in whole chia and flax seeds in my smoothies, they get ground up so fine, you wouldn't know they were in my smoothie.

If you're vegan, then unequivocally, yes.  You have to have a Vitamix. You can obviously make all the above, but you really need a high powered blender for making vegan sour cream or cheese sauces.  You're never going to get the perfectly grain-free and luxuriously rich mouth-free without a high-speed blender. Maybe you'll get close but I am betting, not as good.

Let me add, if you're gluten-sensitive, this would also be a great investment piece because you could grind all your own flours.  Gluten-free stuff is hella expensive, so this would certainly pay for itself.

I use my Vitamix literally every day to make everything from smoothies to snack, cheese sauces, nice cream and soy milk.  Is it expensive?  Hell yes, but it's an investment.  You can buy a $20 blender every other year for your life, none that will work as well as this.  Or save up and just buy it once and probably have it for a lifetime.

I used to always buy cheaper stuff until I realized how dumb that was.  Especially since most of the people saying it's too expensive spent...what? $600 on an iPhone...and pay probably close to, if not more than, $100 a month for service.  You will always find the money for the things you want...this Vitamix is something you want.  Believe me.

On a final note, there are a lot of options model-wise.  I chose the wider, shorter container over the tall skinny one.  I thought it would be easier to clean, but I don't know if that's true.  I have, use and love this OXO Good Grips Jar Spatula, so far it works to best to get almost all of my smoothie out.

There are ones with fancy pre-sets and that are computerized or whatever...not my thing.  I bought the Vitamix 5200 because of the wider container, plus this package came with the grain container.  I also liked the pulse option and not all of them have it.

Vegan Mayo

Make the investment.  Stop researching whether you should buy it, and just do it. 

Yes, the links are affiliate links for which I get paid some nominal something if you buy something.  Read my disclosure on my blog's sidebar.  I'm sure there's some more official way I'm supposed to say this, but since everyone's using affiliate links now, I'm sure you know the deal.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

My CSA box came with a butternut squash, and I had no desire to make soup...which it seems is the most popular recipe for butternut squash.  It's fine, it's just not my thing.  I started looking around for recipes online when I realized I could just substitute out the squash for the veggies in my go-to vegan mac n cheese recipe.  For the record, I hate when people don't give you specific amounts and say a small/medium/large whatever.  In this case, I have no choice because 1. I didn't measure it 2.  It's not that serious, just wing it, it'll be fine.


1 pound of cooked elbow macaroni
1 cup of reserved pasta water
1 cup-ish of frozen peas

1 butternut squash
1/2 a medium onion (again, not that serious) roughly chopped
2 cloved garlic, whole
1-2 TBS of olive oil

1/2 cup of cashews
3-4 tsp of salt (I use kosher, but use what you like)
5 TBS of vegan butter
1/2 tsp dijon mustard (whatever you have will be fine)
2 TBS lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle)
black pepper to taste (I crank my pepper grinder 10-20 times)
1/2 tsp paprika


Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and cube a butternut squash.  Put squash, onions and garlic on a baking tray with a silpat or parchment liner.  Coat lightly with olive oil (or whatever oil you like).  Put the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for approximately a half hour.  Flip everything around half way through.

While that's baking, put pasta in a pot of salted water.  Yes, put it in before it boils.  Pasta in cold water is pasta that doesn't stick together.  Don't waste time waiting for it to boil

Now that you're waiting on things to bake and boil, put everything from the last set of ingredients (cashews down to the paprika) into blender.  And...wait.

Okay, you're pasta should be boiling...don't forget to flip around the veggies in the oven.  They should be more or less cooked through and starting to brown a little.  Carefully take a cup of pasta water  (I dip my pyrex measuring cup in, do what you want, just don't burn yourself.)  Pour that hot water into the blender.  (Since I don't pre-soak the cashews, I feel like this helps to soften everything up.)

Carefully blend everything.  Drain your pasta (assuming it's done) and put it back in the pot.  Pour in the peas and mix it up.  Take your veggies out of the oven (also assuming it's done) and dump everything into the blender.  Blend again until everything is creamy and super smooth.  Now pour this mix in with the pasta and give it a stir.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA Review

Do you see this crappily-staged photo of our box?  Did you notice I haven't been posting about the CSA?  I know it's too early to write a review, but clearly, I'm not going to post about my CSA boxed share anymore, so now is as good of a time as any.

When we started, I was very excited about being in a CSA.  I had talked about joining one for a long time, searched through all the farms in our area, and was happy to find one that sounded good (despite not great Yelp reviews) and that was both organic and vegan-friendly.  After taking the tour, I was excited at the prospect of not only the fruit and veggies it appeared we were getting, but by the idea of helping support a farmer.  No farms, no food, right?

I posted religiously so I could keep track of what we got to make sure this was a worthwhile endeavor.  As the weeks went by, I realized I haven't wanted to post about each weeks box because I've become so disillusioned with the whole process.  Here are the reasons I won't be rejoining the Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA:

1.  Both Chesterfield and Pennington are about an hour away.  Had they been more transparent about the differences between the farms (i.e. Chesterfield gets figs, Pennington does not, etc.) I would have joined Chesterfield instead since you seem to get a larger variety of items from there.  

2.  Chesterfield's season started sooner, due to weather issues which I understood.  But then they were going to allow on-farm pickup people to start PYO at Pennington earlier than the off-site, boxed share is that fair?  I think if people hadn't started emailing about it, the boxed share people would have gotten a week or two less produce than the on-farm pickup people.  They don't seem to understand that they should treat all CSA members equally.

3.  I am STILL annoyed with the PYO program.  I don't like that if you do the PYO during the week, you get more than on the weekends.  I especially don't like that the amount they post online is about less than what they actually let you pick; and that when I questioned it, they acted like I was crazy.  It literally happened every single time.  And I'm saying they posted it, and I was there a half hour later...not five hours later...

4.  People picking up at the farm seemed to pay less, yet get more produce as well as more of a variety of produce.   By my perception from when we were there and there were a lot of on-farm pick up people picking up their shares.  I don't know that for a fact.

5.  The amount of greens I got was unmanageable for us, and unless I remembered to freeze it, a lot went to waste.

6.  They started having some man sell honey and beeswax products at the farm.  I know people are all like yay honey!  But honey doesn't have the beneficial properties it used to.  It did when it was seasonal and the bees weren't being fed fast food (aka sugar water).  Sorry, but I'm not interested in animal agriculture of any kind.

7.  Not a direct issue with the farm, but someone from my pick up location was rifling through the boxes and either swapping stuff or outright taking things.  So I had to switch from going after work to going on my lunch break which was very annoying.

8.  It didn't feel like a community coming together as much as I'm a customer who didn't really matter to such a large scale CSA. I think they cater more to their local community, which is a more high-end crowd, who I'm sure care more concerned with telling their friends they're in a CSA than they actually care about how the CSA is run.  I could be totally off about that, but based on some of the people on the tour, and the kinds of cars in the parking lot...I don't think I'm totally off base.

It wasn't the right CSA for me, but maybe it is for you.  If you live close to the farm and can get your CSA pickups from there and do the PYO during the week, then you are definitely going to get more bang for your buck than I did.  The produce was really good, fresh and crisp. I enjoyed the newsletters. The corn was phenomenal.  There was also a convenience factor to picking up a box of veggies without having to go search around the grocery store trying to figure out what was fresh that week.  Since the items weren't necessarily things I would buy on a regular basis, I had to think outside the box in using everything up.  Follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I've made.

I am on the fence about taking part in a CSA next year.  We did find some really great farmers markets near us.  Well, actually the ones near us, like Rutgers, does it during the week during work hours...perhaps they also want to cater to higher-income folks that don't work, who knows.  I mean, why make organic, locally grown produce easily accessible to middle and lower-middle-class folks...but that's a different discussion for another time.  But further away from us, there are great ones, selling produce from local, organic farms on the weekends.  We were thinking about going to a farmer's market on the weekend, put aside the same amount we were spending to be part of this CSA and buy our own produce.  Let's see if that works out better or not.  If not, then I'll try to find a CSA.

I'm not disappointed that we joined this CSA.  It was an interesting experience, and I am still very pro-CSAs.  I would recommend that everyone look into CSAs in their area.  Try it out for a season and see what you think.