Non-Dairy Veganish Quiche

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K and I had a hankering for quiche the other day and decided to experiment with using non-dairy products. We swapped out cow’s milk and cheese for almond milk & daiya. We also tried our luck with vegan pie shells from Whole Foods.

We modified this recipe and ended up with this gorgeous masterpiece:

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Now, granted, we still used eggs & pancetta, but the end result was a mostly vegan & totally dairy free, ahhhmazingly delicious quiche.

Ingredients:

- 1 prepared vegan pie shell
– 5 eggs
– 1 cup daiya cheddar
– 1 and 1/4 cup almond milk
– 1 small container of pancetta or chopped ham (optional)
– 1 cup of frozen spinach
– 1/2 chopped onion
– minced garlic
– sea salt
– black pepper
– garlic powder
– parsley
– hot sauce (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, whip 5 eggs and combine with almond milk, daiya cheese and spices.

3. Cook pancetta along with chopped onion in a small pan. Drain and set aside.

4. Cook spinach with garlic.

5. Stir spinach, pancetta & onion into the egg / milk / cheese mixture.

6. Pour everything into the pie crust, sprinkle with another handful of cheese and bake for 25 minutes.

7. Increase temperature to 375 and cook for another 15 minutes (check frequently to prevent over-cooking).

We found that we had to cook this longer and at a higher temp than in the original recipe. Frankly, I was surprised with how good this was. It was right up there with the quiche I had at Café Un Deux Trois last week. In particular, I was impressed with the vegan pie shell. A little Louisiana hot sauce really set it off, too.

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Enjoy! Let me know if you try this out!

Portland & Ogunquit ME

Although we got a bit sick, ran into some technical problems with the car and had to drive through the remnants of a hurricane, we nonetheless had a wonderful time visiting my mom in Portland, ME.  She was an extraordinary host, whipping up delicious, healing, gourmet dishes and nursing us back to health.

Yes, that’s my mom — not my younger sister..!

Fireworks in Portland

Fireworks in Portland

Now you see where I get it from.

Now you see where I get it from.

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Photo Jul 08, 8 36 57 AM

Mom’s cantakerous cat, Samantha

We had a synchronicity/matrix-moment during this trip that was pretty cool.  When K and I decided we wanted to see the coast, we looked up a list of “Maine’s best beaches” and settled on Ogunquit, not knowing anything about it other than the fact that the name supposedly means “beautiful place by the sea” in the Abenaki Native Americans.  (Others suggest that it actually means “coastal lagoon”). By the way, trying to look up any information about the indigenous population that lived in Ogunquit before European colonization was a lesson in cultural erasure. Most of the websites we found were awful, celebratory portraits of the colonial “encounter” that provided very little information about the original people living there.

Just as just as we were sort of wondering “Hmm, will this place be lesbian-couple-friendly”,  I came across this line in the town’s Wikipedia page: “Over the past 100 years, Ogunquit has become a destination for LGBT tourists, and features numerous LGBT-owned and -operated hotels,restaurants, bars, theaters, and other businesses.”  Basically, unbeknownst to us, the Universe had led us to the gayest, most beautiful beach town in Maine!

   

We had a delicious, inexpensive lunch (burger, lobster roll and strawberry mojitos) at Frills–an easy, breezy, beautiful beach shack nestled away under umbrellas and trees.   Then we went a few doors up the street for frozen yogurt and ice cream. Yummmm.

Sand on my face.

sand

Mindfulness Writing Retreat in Yosemite

All together, now!

All together, now!

The best, best, best thing I’ve ever done in my professional career was attend the week-long Creative Connections Mindfulness Retreat in Yosemite last month. This beautifully conceived retreat was organized by colleagues/super-women Tanya Golash-Boza and Zulema Valdez at UC-Merced and France Winddance Twine at UC-Santa Barbara. Words cannot express how life-changing and life-affirming this experience was.. but I’ll try anyway :)

Working on the deck.

Working on the deck.

Our schedule included everything from workshops, yoga, hiking, swimming, professional massage and meditation. Every morning, we got up around 6 AM for breakfast.  We were writing, in silence, by 7:30.  We prepared and ate healthy meals together, supported each other’s work and laughed incessantly — all in an incredibly gorgeous environment surrounded by natural, rustic beauty.

One thing I know for sure is that I would not have been invited to participate in such an auspicious gathering if I had not “come out” about my spiritual practice and commitment to holistic well-being via this blog two years ago.  Writing about my experience integrating mindfulness, self-care and meditation into my everyday life allowed me to build community with other scholars with similar perspectives. Those friendships, in turn, have fostered connections and opportunities I could have never imagined when I first sat down to pen this post.

One of the things that made this retreat such an incredible and unique academic environment is that it was a completely bullshit-free zone.  Amazingly, I was the only junior scholar in attendance (someone actually got tenure during the retreat!)  While everyone else there (with the exception of yours truly :)) was a senior scholar/rockstar, we all left our professional identities at the door.  There was no sense of “you should know who I am”, no “Dr. this” or “professor that”.  There was simply an assumed knowledge that everyone in attendance was valued and valuable on multiple levels.

This attention to creating a holistic space for creativity and productivity was evident in details big and small.  The conveners of the retreat selected participants with overlapping interests and areas of expertise.  Our small-groups were organized around specific themes pertaining to our research.  Every morning, we discussed issues of wellness, self-care and handling professional dilemmas. We worked together to cook delicious meals and keep our cabin clean.  The space we created was fun, productive, friendly and nurturing.  I wrote everyday, had breakthroughs with my book project and left feeling refreshed, invigorated, cared for, inspired and encouraged.   Most importantly? I left with new and renewed friendships as well as a sense of community unlike anything I’ve ever seen in academia before.

Here are some of the highlights…

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Vegan tofu scramble with gluten free toast

Learned this ridiculously delicious and easy recipe from my mom during our trip to Maine earlier this month.

Ingredients:

  • Silken tofu (firm)
  • Tumeric
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Coconut oil
  • Onion
  • Spinach or kale

Directions:

1. Chop up tofu, set aside.

2. In a pan, sautee onion and kale (or spinach) in coconut oil.

3. Add tofu to pan. “Scramble” as you would with eggs.

4. Sprinkle with tumeric, sea salt and papper.

5. You’re work is done, my friend.

I really hate the idea of eggs, but, being a hypocrite, I like the taste on occasion.  I was shocked — shocked — at how delicious this was. It’s just as good as eggs – except better, because, you know, it’s not.. eggs.  You can even use this to make egg sandwiches. Thank me later!  Better yet, thank my mom!

Healthy Canapés

When I first started dating K, I found myself making her elaborate cocktails, tapas and canapés.  It was so much fun coming up with delectable, relatively healthy, bite-sized, fanciful dishes for us to nibble on over candlelight and jazz. Four seasons later, and we’re still nibbling.

Vegan "tuna" salad on gluten free crostini, garnished with capers.

Vegan “tuna” salad on gluten free crostini, garnished with capers.

Drinks

Basil sangria sparklers

Tapas

On the left: spinach cashew cheese, kalamata olives & marinated tomatoes. On the right: yam, cinnamon apple jam & crushed black pepper.

For me, the key to producing cute, delish appetizers is working creatively with whatever you have on hand while also paying attention to color, taste and presentation. What are some of your favorite healthy(ish) small-plates?