How to Make Cooking Videos – The Basics

I’m often asked what equipment I use and how I make my videos. My father was a professional photographer during one of his lifetimes and taught me the basics. The rest of what I know was gleaned on the interwebz. The only issue is sorting through all of the information out there to find the mentors that will help craft your videos into quality content people want to watch.

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Food Art :: Rudolph the Rice Cake Reindeer

My friends with kidlets are always asking for easy food art tutorials, so here’s one to get you in the holiday spirit. I made Rudolph the Rice cake Reindeer out of simple ingredients I had in my kitchen. Cut the rice cakes and bananas for the little people and they can put the rest of this festive vegan snack together…easy peasy.

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How to Make Tomato Jam

When life gives you wonky tomatoes, make this easy tomato jam! This rustic recipe does not require peeling, de-seeding or any of that nonsense.

Enjoy this sweet and savory tomato spread with crackers and cream cheese, take a BLT to the next level or as a delicious glaze for tempeh.

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DIY:: Mandarin Tea Lights

A trip to Costco last night had me shaking my head and muttering “bah humbug”. There are already rows and rows of tacky gift baskets, lawn reindeer and holiday lights. Lots and lots and lots of lights. Retailers are trying to separate me from my money “get in the spirit of the season” and I’m not buying it. I will not even think about Christmas when I have not yet savored Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, Dios de los Muertos or Good Ole’ American Thanksgiving. I want fall to tiptoe in with all of its color, aroma and flavor.

I need to be seduced into the season with mood lighting. Instead of buying a new candle, I love this festive DIY. One of my hippie-dippy-granola friends showed me how to do this years ago but I was only reminded of it after seeing this on YouTube and something similar on Pinterest. All you need is a mandarin orange or clementine, vegetable oil, cloves and a sharp knife.

Slice the mandarin around the skin’s equator. Gently remove the fruit ( you may need to use a spoon to separate it from the skin). Try to keep the center pith attached to one half of the mandarin, this will be your wick.

Add 2 tablespoon vegetable oil to the mandarin half with the pith wick. I used some olive oil that was already past its prime. No need to use anything fancy.

If you break the pith because you’re a brute like me, don’t worry. Open the fruit and pull out a piece of the center pith. Dip the pith in the oil and finesse the pith to stand up in the oil, you may have to bend it . Cut a vent in the top half of the mandarin. Cut the vent large enough so that the flame does not burn the top. Stud the mandarin with cloves to increase the yumminess of the fragrance as the tea light burns.

My tea lights burned for about an hour and a half with a 1 inch wick and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If your wick is difficult to light, you may need to dip the tip in a little more oil. Or you can try letting the skin/pith air dry for several hours before adding the oil for a quicker light. Place the mandarin tea light on a heat safe plate. Do not leave tea lights unattended while burning.

DIY: Grow a Garden from Kitchen Scraps

Organic food can be really expensive, right? I saw a post on Pinterest about growing a garden with kitchen scraps and wondered if it could really be done. Basically, you can double your money if you use the trimmings you’d normally throw away to grow more food. Is your thumb brown instead of green? No worries, you can do this.

I’m not a gardening expert and I don’t use anything particularly fancy. The only thing I am picky about is my soil. Composting and making your own soil is best (leave me a comment if you want to know what my method is and I’ll do a separate post). If I have to buy a bag, I choose organic potting soil and steer clear of brands like Miracle Grow. I mix in my favorite fertilizer Down To Earth 6-Pound Vegan Mix 3-2-2  and follow-up with a chemical-free soil conditioner EM-1 Microbial Inoculant . The EM-1 can also be used weekly to help the plants absorb more nutrients. My little patch of garden only gets partial sun, about 4-5 hours a day. Even if your growing conditions are not ideal, you should be successful with the varieties listed below.

*Always start with organic, non-GMO fruit or vegetables*

Pineapple– Remove all of the fruit flesh or it will rot. Peel back the lower leaves from the crown to expose the root nodes. Place in a glass of water near sunlight and you will see roots begin to form in 5-10 days. I like to let the roots get really long so that I get a super strong and healthy plant when I put it in the soil.You can grow them in a large pot, raised bed, or put them straight in the ground. Pineapples are part of the bromeliad family and hold water in the space between the leaves. I water from the top a few times a week and have them planted in full sun to partial shade.It takes a full 18 months for the plant to fruit, but it will be the most delicious pineapple you ever tasted!

Celery– Cut off the bottom root end leaving about 3-4 inches of the stalk. Place the root end in water and place near a sunlit window. I removed more of the outer ribs after about 5 days to encourage more root growth. Once the roots are established, plant the celery in soil, covering the roots and base with about 2 inches  of soil. I have mine in a large pot in full sun. Keep the soil evenly moist but do not over water. Harvest in about 120 days.

Ginger– Choose a piece of ginger root that does not look dried out or shriveled up. I select pieces that have lots of “nubs” since this is where the ginger will sprout. Cover the root with soil, nubs facing up. I like to plant ginger in a large pot to keep it from spreading out too much in the garden. Keep the soil well-drained and evenly moist. Do not over water or the roots will rot. Harvest in about 4-6 months.

Garlic– Select larger cloves and peel back the paper from the sprout end ( the pointy side of the clove).Push the clove into well-drained soil, sprout side up.Garlic tends to favor full-sun. The green tops or garlic “scapes” will appear in about two weeks. The scapes are edible and can be used in pesto or other dishes. It takes about 9-12 months for the garlic to mature. A good indicator will be when the scapes turn brown and start to die back. Cut the tops off, do not water for about five days and then harvest.

Green Onions– The easiest thing to grow! Choose green onions with healthy looking roots at the market. Cut off the tops, leaving about 3 inches above the roots. Place in a glass of water near a sunlit window. Green onions will regrow in about 10 days and can be cut again. Leave them in growing in water ( change the water once a week) or plant them in soil outside.

Round Onions -Cut off the root end and leave about 1/2 inch of the onion flesh. Place the roots into a large pot or directly into well-drained soil. Leave most of the onion flesh exposed above the soil, it will sprout from the center onion ring.Do not over water or the bulbs will rot. Onions are ready to harvest in about 60-70 days. A good indicator of when they are ready is when the tops start to fall over and die, similar to the garlic.You can use the green tops in cooking.

Growing my own fruits and veggies helps me to feel more connected to my food. How does your garden grow? Let me know if you have any great tips for easy planting.


Ruh-roh, it’s officially cold season

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Ruh-roh, it’s officially cold season. Checked the feeds this morning and all I’m seeing is a bunch of sickie-poos! I used to suffer from a yearly visit from the  flu fairy, but have managed to avoid a cold since I started drinking my homemade sage tea recipe here and taking Astragalus when I’m feeling worn down. The tea will soothe your throat and calm a cough, while the astragalus helps boost your immune system. Combine these tricks with a plant based diet, stay hydrated and you’ve got a great defense against the common cold and flu.

DIY Build your own Solar Oven

How to Build Your Own Cheap, Simple Solar Oven
I’ve always wanted to give cooking in a solar oven a try and now I have the instructions to build one! Isn’t the internet machine incredible? Solar cooking can be useful in many situations like camping or if you live on an island (like me) that is prone to power outages. Or maybe you’re going to take the big leap and live off the grid. Whatever the reason, you’re lowering your carbon footprint and saving money by going solar. The first thing I’m going to try to bake is…cookies! What would you bake in your solar oven?

How To Make Your Home Smell Like the Holidays

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Do you spend money on store bought home fragrance? Why bother?! That stuff is full of chemicals and smells terribly fake. To some noses, it’s downright offensive! Create your own stove top potpourri by using fruit and spices.

I use fruit peelings and rinds leftover from a smoothie. In a small pot over high heat, I stir the orange, lime, cinnamon, nutmeg for about 45 seconds so that the oils are released. Cover the mixture with water and simmer over med heat. Keep your eye on the mixture and add water as it evaporates.I check on mine every 30 minutes to make sure I’m not scorching the pot. Your kitchen will smell sweet and delicious,as if you’d been baking all day! I love the aroma of citrus…it’s such a mood booster.

My other top secret trick…if you prefer savory smells, slice a 1/2 inch off a bulb of garlic to expose the cloves. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil,sprinkle salt and pepper.Wrap in foil or parchment and bake at 400 degrees for 45 min. Enjoy the aroma and the bulb of garlic you just roasted can be spread on toast, used in sauces, etc. Mangia!



Uh oh, feeling that scratchy throat? Have a hacking cough? Fix yourself right up with this DIY herba

Uh oh, feeling that scratchy throat? Have a hacking cough? Fix yourself right up with this DIY herba