Tag Archive | vegan

A little vegan giftie for you!

Back in the day when I was baking at a cafe, I developed a recipe for vegan (tofu-based) quiche. I’d been hunting it down for the pastry part of it recently and finally found it, so I figure why not share it with you lovely folks.

To start with, the crust!

Ingredients:

212g flour
113g Earth Balance
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp ice water

How to:

Cut together the flour, salt and Earth Balance until well combined. Add ice water and mix until well combined. Roll out and par-bake for 15 minutes at 350F in a non-stick or well-greased quiche pan. (I like the ones with the removable bottom, makes it all easier to deal with once the whole thing is finished.) When you’re par-baking, make sure to weight down your pastry with baking balls/pie weights – or if you’re cheap like me, pour some dried legumes in there (onto parchment paper!).

Next, the filling!

Ingredients:

One packet of Mori-Nu silken firm tofu (12.3oz/349g)

15g arrowroot starch

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

45g soy mik

8g Nutritional Yeast flakes

35g Daiya mozzarella vegan cheese

18g almond meal

Half a dozen large basil leaves, washed (plus fresh basil to taste for the final step)

2 – 2 ½ cups of diced vegetables (whatever mix!)

Two diced shallots

2 Tbsp Lemon juice

2 Tbsp seasonings/herbs/spices (whatever mix!)

 

How to:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the tofu, arrowroot, salt & pepper, soy milk, Nutritional Yeast, Daiya, almond meal and basil leaves in the food processor and blend well until completely smooth.

Saute your vegetables, shallots, lemon juice and other seasonings until everything is just cooked. Fold into the tofu mixture, along with the fresh basil to taste, and pour into a par-baked quiche crust.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Check the quiche and if the crust and top are nicely browned (not too brown!) then remove for the oven and let cool at room temperature before slicing.

 

Flavour suggestions – Tomato/Olive/Spinach, Red Pepper/Broccoli, Roasted Sweet Potato & Arugula, Spicy Zucchini & Tomato.

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Roasted sweet potato and arugula quiche

Seattle #vegan eats!! Warning: contains delicious, don’t read while super hungry.

One of my favourite travel things is seeking out and eating new and delicious vegan foods in cities I go to. My friend Susan had been to Seattle last year and raved about the eats there, so I was pretty excited, and armed with a great list of recommendations. I didn’t get everywhere I wanted to (it’s time consuming bussing around Seattle), but what I tried I was overall very pleased with!

I’d like to get my couple of sad experiences out of the way… Flying Apron gluten free bakery. I had my suspicions, considering everything Adam & I had tried making from their cookbook was not great. But yeah. Sad gluten free goodies. When you know how light, moist & amazing GF can be, rock hard scones & sad crumbly donuts/cookies are such a disappointment. I didn’t try any of their savoury stuff, so can’t speak to that. The brew was a nice one, from a local roast. Sorry, Flying Apron 😦

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My other less than enthusiastic experience was Cyber Dogs – a veggie hot dog place/internet cafe. It may have been that I was in a rush, or that I really just picked the wrong dog for me, but I wasn’t impressed with the quality or the taste. This is the Chicago-style dog. Maybe I’d try them again next time if someone can recommend something not so overwhelming.

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I missed out on Violet Sweet Shoppe, which I hear is a great Seattle bakery – it was just a bit too out of my way for the time I had to get there! I did make my way to Cinnamon Works in Pike Place market the afternoon I was wandering around there. I marvelled at the GIANT vegan cookies they had, and then scoffed this wonderful cinnamon bun (which they slightly warmed for me!). They also have GF goodies.

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I also grabbed a bag of these when I spotted them in Pike Place market. Tasty and spicy, but not salty enough!

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By far and away the most amazing sweet treats I had while in town were Mighty-O donuts. I made a mad dash my last morning in town to make sure I didn’t miss out on trying them, and I’m so glad I did!! I had these beauties for breakfast (i’m still thinking about the incredible apple fritter…), and took a box to go for a little Seattle taste on the plane & work the next day. Such a delicious place with classic, amazing donuts.

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I went to Cafe Flora for a nice team dinner with my gaming team & supporters (we took part in the Gauntlet board game fundraiser at Mox Boarding House!), and it was a great evening! A wonderful little restaurant with friendly service, and flavourful food plus a nice wine list  – but also lovely local cider for folks like me! Everything from the starters to dessert was a hit, and I would go back there in a heartbeat because there’s so much more I wanted to try – it’s a vegetarian restaurant, but they have lots of vegan options and GF is well marked too.

Starters – and coconut tofu

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My main – a delicious portabello mushroom french dip with side salad.

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And a couple of the many desserts we tried!

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Once upon a time way back in the day, I visited a Veggie Grill in Los Angeles, and was in love. The chain’s expansion into Seattle is a little less fast food-y, more a mix of burgers and proper meals and sides than I recall. I ate at two seperate locations in one day because it was so great  – but I forgot to snap a pic of my 2nd meal which was an incredible Crispy Chikin’ plate – with mash and greens and gravy nom. Below is my lunch burger, a grillin’ chikin’ and also my face.

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In a quite hungover state one day, and in need of some really filling comfort food, I made my way to the Wayward Vegan cafe. I wish I’d been staying closer to Wayward so I could’ve tried their breakfast and lunches too! It was amazing. Their massive ‘chicken fried’ seitan smothered in gravy, with greens and hash. Plus a bottle of nooch & a sprayer of Bragg’s on every table! Yaassss.

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I really liked the decor there! Nifty painted plates, plus my table which was made of part of a bowling alley lane!

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On my last full day in Seattle I was in dire need of refuelling between museum-hopping. Not far from the EMP Museum (plus the Space Needle, etc) is Bamboo Garden vegetarian restaurant. They have a huge selection on their menu, but I decided to go for a lunch combo so I could have a little of a few things. It was great value for money, tasty and filling. I had the hot & sour soup, and the plate with spring rolls, ‘chicken’ fried rice, sauteed green beans and broccoli, and sweet and sour ‘chicken’. I don’t get out much for Chinese food here in Toronto, and I think this would be the kind of place I’d want to have anyhow.

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As a refreshing way to end my last full day in town, I had some bar time with friends! I met them at Capitol Cider where I had this really delicious cider flight. I would drink this again and again.

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Then we walked up to the Highline, a vegan bar in Capitol Hill. They had a really nice canned cider I hadn’t tried so far in my trip, plus bingo! Plus AMAZING tacos. Seriously, incredible. We got the ‘fish’ tacos. Oh my god. A crumbed and fried soy protein with some nori for flavour, plus a cool slaw and fresh cilantro. They have a great range on their vegan menu (almost everything had a drink pairing suggestion, too!), and I’d go back for the not-so-divey dive bar food any day.

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I’m bummed to have missed out on Violet Sweet Shoppe, like I said. I also didn’t make it to Plum Bistro which I’d heard both good & bad things about. Next time. There’s also the pie truck (High 5) and the vegan food truck (No Bones About It) that I missed. Plus loads of coffee shops, and a couple of other bars that I wanted to visit.. so yeah, Seattle will be seeing me and my appetite again sometime!!

Apiecalypse Now Pizza & Snack Bar – review!

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A while back, the Apiecalypse Now! bakery storefront on Markham Street shut down to refocus. At a new location, the Apiecalypse Now Pizza & Snack Bar had its grand opening on May 30th. I braved the lineup and grabbed a couple of slices as I was briefly in the ‘hood, but decided to drop back in yesterday for their first regular day of business and sit down for a quiet slice.

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I am so pleased this new space has a little seating, in the front window nook (this picture was taken from there). It’s nice to have a sit and watch Bloor Street go by, with Christie Pitts park in the distance. The store is counter service, and it’s almost impossible to make a decision considering the amazing offerings of treats like donuts/cupcakes etc, plus the range of pizza slices. Throw the option of a Grains Grains Grains sub into the mix and it’s paralyzing. Deliciously paralyzing.

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I have tried the BBQ Buffalobotomy, the Slayer & the Mac & Charlie. Not only do they have some of the best names ever for their slices (I am quite fond of the Weakerthans nod with ‘Reunion Tour’), they’re filling, flavourful and fantastic. All but the Reunion Tour use Daiya cheese, which I’m okay with – but some folks aren’t partial to it. I wish I’d gotten to try the ‘meaty’ Pig Destroyer Destroyer, but the slices I’ve had have used soy curls to my tastebuds’ pleasure. Below, the BBQ Buffalobotomy (L) and Slayer (R).

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And, um, best condiments ever? I put hot sauce and nooch on almost everything, so I’m the #1 fan of this.

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Not only are there terrific pizza slices and treats, but you can grab merch (buttons, mugs), Go Max Go candy bars and jars of the wonderous Magic Vegan Bacon Grease, there’s also a soft serve machine, with vanilla and chocolate available!

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We’ve been spoilt with it at Bunners in Kensington Market for a while, but I do really like the option of all sorts of great sauces and sprinkley things. I got a sundae rather than a cone, so I could have peanut and fudge sauce with Oreo crumbles on mine. I’d like the soft serve to be creamier, but it was great all the same. I should’ve gotten vanilla/choc swirl!

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I’m looking forward to seeing how this great little place develops, and if they will integrate any of the bakery’s cooler offerings (like the great sauces, dressings etc especially) in the near future. I have also heard talk of testing a gluten free crust, so I hope that appears soon – I love gluten, but would like to eat there with my vegan allergy-ridden pals.

Make sure to stop by and grab a slice/treat/sundae to take to the park, or order a whole pizza even. I think I will, next time.. Basically, just say FUCK YES to this amazing new vegan place.

Hours for the store are:

Monday — Closed.
Tuesday–Saturday 1200-23:30
Sunday 1200-20:00

Accepts debit and cash. (And possibly credit? I didn’t check.) And no delivery – yet? 🙂

Things I Love Thursday

As a lovely coincidence, today is my 13th vegan anniversary! Being vegan is one of the things I love most, and I never look back or question it. By now it’d be kinda weird to be any other way, it feels. For me, for the planet, for the animals, for the delicious food. And yes, for the super powers.

Hat tip to Scott Pilgrim VS the World

I mentioned it earlier in the week, but my love for Sleater-Kinney is all-encompassing right now and especially for this animated Bob’s Burgers video for A New Wave.

 

Trivia and related things are something I really love, and also museums – recently I got to combine going to a museum and a scavenger hunt, and it was super fun! We did the “Murder at the ROM” scavenger hunt organized by Urban Capers (not associated with the museum). It was great. I knew my way around pretty well which helped, but we ended up tying for 2nd place! Sigh. Here’s a couple of pics I Instagrammed on the day.

 

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Are there clues here? #urbancapers

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I love becoming more active and being a contributor to the board game community! I’m hoping to keep it up and get to BGGcon to meet some of the folks I am chatting with online a lot too. For now, I’ve been writing a bit for the Daily Worker Placement, and also chiming in for the Spooning Meeples round tables and it’s been good fun.

 

I don’t love that Parks & Recreation is over, but I did like the way it all wrapped up. A nice send-off. The cast was on Late Night with Seth Meyers which was pretty fun, and they had a little singalong (below) along with some general chats about the finale (here and here).

Simple Gluten Free Vegan Pancake Recipe

I’ve had weird pancake cravings lately. All of a sudden all I want is a syrupy plate of them. Adam made me some wonderful buttermilk pancakes from the Bunners cookbook on the weekend, and we put chocolate chips in them & slathered them with peanut butter! Perhaps a little too desserty for breakfast?

My recipe is one I’ve tinkered with to make vegan, and then subsequently gluten free. They’re fluffy without being ridiculously thick, and they’re really easy to amend to include spices (a dash of cinnamon, or perhaps some pumpkin spice mix?), throw in a nice half cup of blueberries, or even a little lemon juice & zest for freshness. These are great just with syrup, or as a side to a killer full breakfast of tofu scramble, home fries and tempeh bacon!

Gluten-Free & Vegan Pancakes  (makes approximately 6 pancakes 5 inches/12cm in diameter)

Ingredients:

1.5 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/4 tsp Xanthan gum

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1.5 cups soy or almond milk (or any dairy-free milk, really)

2 tbs vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder together. Add the milk and mix well. Then add the oil and mix well until there are few lumps left.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat; pour batter and let it spread to desired diameter. When bubbles start to appear, flip the pancake and let it cook for another 30-60 seconds (I usually let it go 30 seconds then check it doesn’t overcook and is nicely brown).

When they’re done, flip ’em out on a plate and devour with maple syrup, or however you dig it.

TILTing

Alright friends. Let’s think happy thoughts. First up, because Craig on the show and his anger management tactic of listing things he loves is totally relevant..

We spent much of our anniversary evening last night catching up on the latest season.. It’s gonna be over soon 😦 So sad. This is really the only comedy/sitcom I’ve legit laughed out loud at in forever. That and maybe Bob’s Burgers.

I’m still loving where I work and my new job! It’s been a great couple of months settling in and starting to get to know people. I love the spaces, the places, the people, the programs, the objects. It’s just great being here, y’now?

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Good morning, Currelly.

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I still can’t believe how amazing Bunners is. That bakery is killin’ it, with amazing and delicious vegan & GF treats. I mean, I love gluten, but I will ALWAYS put Bunners in my mouth. Here’s a couple of recent, love-themed highlights. So delish.

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Mmm @bunner pop heart pastry *swoon*

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And finally, I love sending/receiving snail mail! I’ve probably mentioned it before. But I get so excited. This week I sent a little package off to a Twitter friend in the Seattle area, and also started on doing Postcrossing. It’s so neat just having people on tap to send postcards to! Postcards are my fave, I love their little snapshots and their sense of ephemera. If you, reader, ever want to exchange postcards, I’m more than willing to do so!

Recipe time! Chickpea Salad.

Every so often I’ll realise I have this weird little cache of recipes I’ve tinkered with stored in my Google Docs, and share one. So here’s my chickpea salad recipe, which I came up with back in my cafe days. It is a fab substitute for tuna salad which is super gross and I make a face just thinking about it. This is great for sammies (as pictured) and also to throw on top of a nice green salad. Or get fancy and make vegan salad Niçoise!

Chick Pea Salad Ala Nicole! (vegan, gluten free, soy free option)

Ingredients:

1 can (15oz) chick peas, drained

1.5 stalks celery (1 if you want it a little less crunchy)

½ green onion (only the white part)

4 small pickles (I love the Maille ones!)

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp pickle juice

4 Tbsp or ¼ cup dijon mustard

4 Tbsp or ¼ cup vegan mayo (for soy-free you could make your own mayo, or sub in something like avocado)

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Using a strainer, rinse chick peas well. Using food processor, process chick peas until no chick peas are left whole (approx 5-10 seconds). If you don’t have a food processor, you can go at this with a potato masher until mostly all of the chickpeas are smashed.

Empty mashed chick peas into a large bowl. Process the white part of the green onion, garlic, celery and pickles for a few seconds, until well chopped, but still chunky enough that the celery will offer some crunch. Add this to the chick peas. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Store in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container in the refrigerator. Use within 3-4 days. Nom on a sammie or a salad, or throw it in a bowl and scoop with some Crudités. Yeaaah!

Chickpea salad on a lovely big sandwich!

Things I Love Thursday time!

Tofurky pockets! Dude, they’re vegan hot pockets. Oh man, so good. I have these ones and they’re handy for a quick work lunch snack.

I got myself a new water bottle recently, and I’m finding it is actually helping me drink more throughout the day! It comes with me to work, and the gym, and if i’m out for the day too. Solid!

I’m very fond of Isa Does It, and we’ve still got so many things to try. Right now our constant go to is her “lentil-a-roni” dish, which I LOVE and is so freakin’ quick to put together and you can tinker it if you really like. We use GF pasta, and usually throw in some kale or spinach at the end. It’s a treat with some almond parm on top! I don’t want to link to the recipe where I’m not sure it’s reproduced with permission, so get your hands on the book! It’s worth it.

I’ve started rewatching Twin Peaks (my shiny blu-ray set!) in advance of a trivia night at the start of Feb. I love this show so damn much. And I about flew out of my seat when I heard the news Kyle McLachlan will be back for the new episodes. COOP.

Book club! My friend MeShell started up the Toronto Veg Book Club, and I love it because it (a) gives me a chance to read books I might not normally think to and (b) I get to get together and hang out with lovely vegan folks and eat delicious food while we chat about the books! This weekend we’ll be chatting about the Lucky Ones, which I just wrote about. And eating all the things at Bloomer’s. CANNOT WAIT.

How’s your Thursday, folks?

Book review – “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farmed Animals” by Jenny Brown

Cover of "The Lucky Ones"

Cover of “The Lucky Ones”

I’ve had a tough time getting through non-fiction of late. I attributed it to my overall lack of interest in reading due to general malaise etc, but really when I look at it, I just crave something that will pull me in and keep reading, and much of the non-fiction I’ve read of late (ie. the past year or so) hasn’t had a strong enough narrative to do that.

Jenny Brown’s book is a memoir as much as it is the story of getting the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS) up and running. She speaks about her experience with bone cancer as a young girl, her struggles with adapting to a prosthetic leg, and her gradual shift from typical American meat-eater (“We eat animals simply because it’s what we’ve always done”) to passionate advocate for animals, and vegan (“We can become prisoners of our earliest indoctrination or we can choose to look critically at our assumptions and align our lives with our values”). I really identified with much of what Brown went through in her ‘awakening’, let’s call it – and also her current approach of educating visitors about the marvels and personalities of farm animals, and what they also suffer through in the farming system.

As I was reading through her ‘transition’ chapters, much of it hit me really hard. From her initial backlash against the system “I wore my impatience on my face and slathered my care and chest with bold messages: ‘Meat is Murder! Fur is Dead!’ I was a bitter proselytizer, which was neither pretty nor effective”, to the realization that no matter what, she’d never be able to take part in the system again after what she’d seen going undercover in farms/stockyards “I loved cheese omelets, but now I was haunted by the image of the critters I’d gotten to know, and I knew I’d feel complicit in the ruthless treatment of cows and chickens if I consumed their ‘products'”.

I have never gone undercover to see what factory farming is really like, because I’ve seen enough to know. I know that I don’t need to bear witness anymore, and it’s actually really upsetting for me (ask Adam, he’s seen me balled up on the couch in a crying jag after seeing just a few minutes of footage) – I’ve never watched anything like Earthlings, either. I just can’t. That’s why I really appreciate the approach that farm sanctuaries and animal advocates like Brown have – show what the animals are like, and capable of, and tie it implicitly to their treatment within the animal farming system to hopefully bring people to make a connection between their food/clothing/products and these animals. “For those of us who claim to love animals, we have an obligation to examine what they must endure for us to enjoy such products.”

It’s also why I appreciate that in the book, while there’s some tough information to swallow as far as how these animals can be treated, Brown talks a lot about these animals and their behaviours, personalities and quirks. There are some times where it can be tough to have people listen to tough information – “faced with uncomfort able truths that involve their participation on some level, people can become very defensive” – that can be a hard balance, getting your message across without scaring people off.

While it’s obviously preaching to the converted having a vegan like me read a book like this, I think it’s always important to remember the reasons why I make the choices I do, and not just for the awful truths, but for the wonderful reasons that Brown talks about a lot when she speaks generally of animals, and of the animals she cares for and is friends with (now at WFAS, and in her time at Farm Sanctuary). I think some of these quotes I picked out highlights that.

It makes me sad how so far removed people are from the reality that bacon came from a sentient animal who lived a life of deprivation, pain, frustration and fear, all for food we have no nutritional need for.”
“But amazing as these facts are, I wonder should they even matter? Must animals be intelligent for humans to have compassion and empathy toward them? To be spared misery?”
“Their faces may not express emotions the same way ours do, but it’s hard to miss bliss when you see it.”
“All of the animals I love with, from our dog Carli to our rooster Rod, want the same things: companionship, pleasure, good food, room to explore, and the freedom to spend their days as they wish.”

I really admire the work Brown’s done leading up to opening WFAS, and the passion and drive that she and her husband have to keep it going, especially constantly welcoming visitors to engage and inform them. That’s amazing. I’d love to visit WFAS myself, some day. Until then, I would encourage anyone to read this book! Omnivore, vegan, vegetarian – it’s a great and inspiring story about a person that has been through a lot, and used that to connect with her passions and values to do something fantastic. It’s a light read, with a very informal tone and some great anecdotes, and doesn’t get preachy too often. I’ll leave you with this quote from Brown:

“What will matter, what in fact always matters, are the values we uphold and the principles and possibilities we stand for. What will matter then, and what matters now, are the quality of the love we share with the world and the statements we make with our choices and our lives.”

Things I Love Thursday – long overdue!

Oh, hello there! It’s Thursday. I used to do this much more often, so it’s time to crack on and get back into it! Let’s start with..

Excellent socks. There’s now a sock-only shop here in Toronto which has awesome stuff. I gave and received many cool socks this holiday season, among them were these:

 

Next of all, I love museums! Now, shush. I know this is an obvious one, but my firey love has been stoked by my new job at the ROM and getting to visit the collections. I love museum collections so much! There’s a special feeling about them. Plus I get to see cool things:

 

All the delicious food I get to eat daily, weekly, yearly! Looking back over my Instagram feed is like a delicious feast. I’ve never been happier to be vegan and enthusiastic about cooking, and living in an amazingly vegan-friendly city. It’s why we get to enjoy delicious treats each Saturday when we visit Bunners in Kensington (who I LOVE LOVE LOVE) for a start:

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Pot pie puff excitement!

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Speaking of food, this soup! OMG. I love it. Southern style black eyed bean and collards, just for new years. Plus it’s hella cold here right now.

I love this new giant scarf I got at American Apparel cheap on Boxing Day. Keeps me so warm.

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And then.. this smushface pup. N’aw.