Monday, March 30, 2015

Learn about Jesus - in any Language

Icon of the Crucifixion from Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
 Would you like to learn about Jesus, but have trouble with English?

Watch this movie about the life of Jesus - simply choose your language at the top of the screen:

The Jesus Film - in Any Language.

 Or perhaps you speak English well - but you have a neighbor or friend who has English as a second language, but is curious about Christianity this Easter season?

The film is also available in English at this same site (link above), for those who would like to learn or remember this story during Holy Week : )

Here's a trailer for the movie - in English

If you want to share this story with English speaking children, I found this GREAT video on Youtube

Whether you celebrate the Resurrection of Christ this Sunday or Next - and whether you call it Easter or Pascha, have a Blessed Feast of the Resurrection!

This is being shared on
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Snickerdoodle Sunday 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Easy Veggie Spring Rolls (Vegan)

Veggie Spring Rolls (Easy, Freezer-Friendly)
I love Spring Rolls, but I have trouble finding any that  meet my requirements:
1) Reasonably priced,
2) Tasty,
3) Vegan, and
4) Not deep fried.

I love the convenience of the ones in the freezer section at the grocery, but unfortunately, although they're Vegan, they often don't meet ANY of my other requirements. The flavor of commercially produced Spring Rolls has really gone downhill in recent years (perhaps living in Asia spoiled me?) and I often find them a disappointment, and use the dip to cover up the flavor rather than enhance it!

I found a great recipe on Mom on a Mission, (I LOVE her blog!) but I tweaked it a little to meet my preferences. When I made the original recipe, I felt that the moisture in the veggies made the wrapper become soggy too quickly when serving, so I cooked the veggies before filling the wrappers to cook away the extra moisture. I also added mushrooms to give a nice savory flavor and chewier bite, and adjusted the seasonings a bit to my taste. But, I KEPT her great concept of quick and easy Spring Rolls that are Freezer-Friendly and can be made in bulk for when you need them : )

I found Vegan Spring Roll wrappers at more than one Asian or Specialty Grocery Store. This is the brand I used for this recipe:

For the filling, I shredded the carrots in a machine (yes, I actually HAVE a Salad Shooter - no Chia Pet yet, tho ; ). In contrast, I found that machine- slicing the cabbage made it too fine for my taste - I prefer the slightly coarser texture that comes from hand-chopping. I chopped the canned (tinned) mushrooms, and just added everything else into my huge skillet (actually a 14" Paella Pan) added the seasonings, and cooked it till the veggies were done and the moisture was gone.

Then, I rolled it up in the Spring Roll wrappers.

Wrap 'Em Up!

At that point, I baked some and froze the rest.  If you wish to use them later the same day, you can also keep them in the fridge at this point - before baking.

These are going in the Fridge. For the Freezer, I would put waxed paper between the layers.

This recipe makes about a dozen Spring Rolls. For efficiency sake, I recommend doubling it for your freezer, but you will probably have to cook the filling in two batches to fit in your pan - unless you have industrial-sized cookware to work with. I even made it in two batches with my extra large pan.

If you use frozen commercial wrappers, you will want to thaw them for 1/2 hour before using. Then, make sure that they're not drying out while you're wrapping up! Either keep them covered in plastic or in a damp towel. (or work really fast ; )

Here's the recipe

Veggie Spring Rolls
Cook in large non-stick pan till vegetables are done and liquid has all evaporated
1 cup Carrots, Shredded
1 small Head Cabbage (or 1/2 of a very large head) very coarsely shredded
1 Tablespoon Toasted (or "Dark") Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Ginger Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Allow filling to cool (so that you can easily handle it) then wrap it in Spring Roll wrappers as described on the package - burrito style. I use about 1/3 cup filling per wrapper.

At this point, they can be frozen, with layers of waxed paper between layers of Spring Rolls, or they can be baked.

To Bake, Place rolls on baking pan (preferably a pan that will crisp the bottoms*), Brush lightly with Oil, and Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

If you do not care to bake these, they can be browned in a generously oiled (1 to 2 Tablespoons Oil) nonstick skillet till crunchy on all sides, if you like. (I have not yet tried to pan-fry these without oil, but if you try it and it works, I'd love to hear! ) 

I use a silicone pastry brush for brushing on oil. If you do not have such a brush, you can simply dip a little corner of paper towel in oil and rub the oil on the Spring Rolls.  If you do not use oil, these can be made with no oil at all - they don't brown quite as nicely, but they still turn out pretty tasty.

*I bake these on my perforated, non-stick Pizza pan so that they will not get soggy on the bottom.

This is being shared on
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Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural

Monday, March 16, 2015

Real Raspberry Frosting

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting
This Frosting is so easy to make, and so vividly colored, and delicious. It can be made thick enough to pipe through a pastry tube, if you want a nice swirl - or you can spread it with a knife.

Whether you want to use it for a Valentine's Day treat, or for a Birthday - it's delightful!

Vegan Raspberry Frosting
Mix with Electric mixer, adding Powdered Sugar Gradually until desired thickness is reached
1/4 Cup Frozen Red Raspberries, thawed and mashed with a fork
1/4 Cup Earth Balance or other Vegan Buttery Spread
About 3 Cups Powdered Sugar (Also known as Confectioner's Sugar or XXXX Sugar)

My experience is that when I think it is thick enough, I should continue adding sugar for a bit longer to really get a piping consistency.

Decorate Cupcakes (or cake). If you want sprinkles or other decorations, add them while Frosting is wet. Allow to set/dry.

This Frosting Freezes well - you can decorate Cupcakes and wrap them airtight to freeze (in such a way that the frosting isn't damaged)  Thaw at room temperature, without unwrapping.

A Note about Confectioner's Sugar Frostings - often the Frosting might seem to have a gritty texture when freshly made, before the Frosting sets. It is my experience that this is fine, and the texture turns out perfect when the Frosting has set.

Need a cupcake to put this lovely frosting on?
Chocolate & Vanilla Cupcakes - Vegan

This is being shared at
Mix it Up Monday
Anti-Procrastination Tuesday
Try a New Recipe Tuesday

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why I (Finally) Bought a Canister Vacuum

Our new-to-us Canister Vac - with the thrift price still on - ready to work!
When I was a kid, Mom had two vacuums - a canister vacuum and an upright vacuum. She was a
very wise and sensible woman, which meant that chores like vacuuming generally belonged to us kids.

As a kid, I took a liking to the upright vacuum - it was an all-in-one contraption. It had a fancy headlight which made it even more kid-friendly. I didn't have to "drag that thing around the house" (which was how I perceived using the canister vacuum. It was an opinion that stayed with me for decades.)

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when I decided to rethink my long-held opinion. I have a severe back problem, and carrying a "light" (only 15 pounds!) upright vacuum around the house, and propelling it across the room was quickly proving to be a formula for infirmity. I could pretty much guarantee that if I vacuumed one day, I'd be in pain with limited movement the next. The upright vacuum was awfully big to keep on our ground floor, but at the same time, was heavy to carry up and down stairs. It was going to be needing new bags soon, and none of the local stores carried them.

I decided I was in the market for a new vacuum.

Our little "stick" vacuum was a dream - light - easy to use - but didn't have the suction power of a full sized machine. It was good for touch ups, but not for deep cleaning.(It's an apparently discontinued Eureka Multi Vac 166A)

I looked for a full power upright with a similar weight and design to the stick vacuum, and started reading reviews. The reviews were beyond bad. I really don't need a vacuum that is going to catch on fire when I use it (and LOTS of purchasers were reporting this little glitch). I also don't need one that will need an expensive new belt every couple of months - another common problem.

Then, I looked at the more expensive "light" uprights. Most of them were the same weight as the one I already had! I might be able to get one that weighed only 10 pounds - if I was willing to pay several hundred dollars for it, and gamble on whether it would still hurt my back! (those who know me well know  how laughably unlikely that is!). Manufacturers warned that these were carpet-only vacuums that might malfunction on hardwood floors.

Or, I could get one of the fancy robot vacuums. There seemed to be two categories of those in the reviews: the $400. model that didn't work, and the $600. model that might work. For that amount of money, I could HIRE someone to vacuum my floors!

Then I started thinking: virtually every professional cleaning person I have ever seen at work had a canister vacuum! Why would they use such an ungainly apparatus? Had I missed something?

I started reading reviews, and found lots of promising information about the newer canister vacuums. They have little wheels now, so the canister follows you around the house like a puppy - and the part you lift and propel is exceptionally light! At the touch of a button, many models retract their own cords - unlike most upright vacs. They easily go under furniture. They go from hardwood to carpet with absolutely no effort. Many models are comparatively inexpensive, and quite light - and, most importantly - they're strong and effective!

So, I started mulling over whether I should buy a new canister vacuum to replace my upright. The deal clincher came when I was at my favorite thrift store, and spotted  one like this  on sale for $8.99!   I plugged it in, only to discover that it ran, but had no suction. Bummer. Then, I opened the bin - and discovered that apparently the previous owner hadn't known that there were TWO compartments to empty. I emptied it properly - and voila! -it suddenly worked great! (Now that I have it, I consider it well worth the retail price : ) However, I cannot endorse this brand without reservation, as it is VERY difficult to get replacement filters & other customer service from the manufacturer.)

After I got it home, I discovered that it had several advantages that made it even better than I had expected. I can empty the bin easily every time I use it - rather than waiting for a bag to fill up - there is no bag. I never did like the idea of storing my old dirt in the vacuum (not to mention the possibility of old dust getting blown into the air when the thing was turned on). Emptying it every time means that I can see how incredibly effective it is - this thing picks up a LOT of dirt. Perhaps best of all, it doesn't have a moving brush with a belt - this means that when my daughter's Rapunzel-length hair is picked up (and it picks up hair very well) , it doesn't get wrapped around a brush and break a belt or burn out a motor.

And, as I hoped, my back likes it a lot!  : )

If you're in the market for a new vacuum - I'd encourage you to check out a canister vac!

This is being shared on:
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From the Farm