Archive for the 'Seasonal Variations' Category

New Year, New Attitude


January 30th, 2014

pettles
Hello out there! It’s been so long since I posted. Does anyone even read this thing anymore? I mean…it’s kinda fun for me to look back sometimes and see what I was thinking way back when. So that’s mostly what it is for me. I feel like my attitude about things has shifted so much since I started this blog. Your inner life changes. And then your outer life changes too. It’s pretty fun to watch how things unfold. Well, it’s a lot more fun looking back. When you see the accomplishment. Instead of the obstacles. But I’m feeling pretty optimistic about 2014.

seward demo
Business has been nothing short of crazy this year. I mean really. Who woulda thought that dairy free cheese would take off so well. It’s really hard to believe most of the time. I keep thinking I’m gonna wake up and it’s all gonna disappear. But it doesn’t. It just keeps getting crazier. I’ve been managing to keep up. But there have DEFINITELY BEEN MOMENTS when I’ve wondered to myself WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?

karyns
But mostly, I’ve been too busy to really spend very much time second guessing myself.

cheese
These little cheeses keep me in line. They have really made me stay focused. Just because I know that this is my destiny on this little planet. I know that this is what I’m supposed to put back. People have always thought I was a bit of an aimless soul. I’m not gonna lie. But I’ve always felt like I stayed true to my path. Not one that was already out there. Not the one I was supposed to stay on. But my path. And this is it.

ms market
So when I feel like giving up. These little tins of goodness make me remember what it’s all about. I mean after all, we are all just visitors here. Passing through. No matter how burned out I get. Or how discouraged. Or how inadequate I feel. Or how overwhelmed by my health. Or whatever obstacle is in my way. I have learned. Stay focused. Breathe. Keep pushing ahead. Stay positive. This is what change looks like. Don’t give up!

valley
I have been meeting so many amazing people on this journey. Like Katy here. Find her at MN VEG. Passionate folks. Who want to make a difference in the world. It is so inspiring to be around that. It can change your world. A little attitude adjustment can change everything.

mike demark
So many magical things have been happening. This is a little pic I snapped when THE CURRENT (our local radio station) came to the shop and FILMED THIS AWESOME VIDEO featuring CAROLINE SMITH.

oyasumi
I just want to say, it’s always hardest right before something magical happens. When you feel like giving up. When you can’t see a path forward. When you are completely anxietal because you can’t understand how in the hell you are gonna get to the other side of whatever is in your way. That’s when it’s really important to keep the faith. It’s always darkest before the dawn. I’ve been working through a bunch of darkness lately. Which is hard to see past. But I feel like I’m on the verge of something. Not sure what yet. But something big is shifting. I can’t wait to see how it manifests…

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Veganmania Aftermath


September 27th, 2013

packedup
We did it! Last weekend, KATY and I packed up a whole lotta cheese in the back of my car and took off down the road to Chicago for our first expo! It was exciting! It was high drama! It was a whole lotta folks! Good times!

earlybirds
We got there early and were all jacked up on juice. My boyfriend and I made 5 quarts of juice the night before for the trip. Here I am guzzling juice while setting up our booth.

buttonsOur NEW PARTNER, HEIDI, made these awesome buttons for our table. Pretty punk rock, right? I thought so anyway.
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level apparelOur booth was situated right next to LEVEL APPAREL, a Chicago based company that makes vegan apparel. I got a really cute onesie for Sonny. And Katy got a cool shirt. Here’s a pic of her HANGING OUT WITH UPTON IN IT. The crowd got pretty crazy pretty much right away. You could barely walk through the room at times. It was so busy! I kinda looked over at my neighbor from Level Apparel with a look of desperation around noon. He said, ‘Don’t worry. It’ll die down by 2. At least it did last year.’ Well, I’m here to tell you, it didn’t die down ever. It was a total mob scene. The whole time. In a good way. But I was wiped afterwards.

north coast organics
Across the way from us was NORTH COAST ORGANICS. They make the best body care products! I got the most amazing deodorant and chapstick. Just in time for the cold weather. It’s funny. They were right across the aisle from us. But I didn’t really see them until the crowd dispersed at the end.

beanfields
There were so many people, in fact, that we ran out of crackers toward the end. We must have given out around 3000 samples. I’m not even kidding. Lucky for us, the good folks at BEANFIELD’S gave us some chips to sample on when we ran out. You should try these. They are yum, for sure.

samples
We did samples of cheese on crackers. And we also made some fancy caprese salads (which I am hooked on right now). My boyfriend just filmed a video of this recipe yesterday which I hope to have up by next week. It’s a good one!

caprese cup
The mini caprese cups were a huge hit. Guaranteed mob scene while we were sampling those. It was pretty hard to keep up even.

sample table
It was so lovely to meet so many people and hear so much positive feedback. It really was a great day. We even got a shout out on NATIVE FOODS CAFE’S BLOG! How cool is that? They’re pretty big time!

booth
My one fatal error was that we didn’t bring any way to accept credit card payments! Doh! Not sure why I didn’t think of that. But if definitely came up A LOT! I was a little bummed with myself over that at the end. Lesson learned, I suppose. All in all, it was a super fun day. Met lots of people. Learned lots of lessons. Met lots of cool vegan vendors. And I am still in recovery mode. Looking forward to the next one!

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Holiday Recipe Series


December 13th, 2011

holiday cheese platter
Hello out there! Lots of exciting developments over here. I just FINISHED PHYSICAL THERAPY. And to celebrate, I am planning PUNK RAWK LABS official launch! Finally! We are kicking off the celebration with a HOLIDAY RECIPE SERIES on PUNK RAWK LABS TV. There is a video for how to make this lovely holiday cheese party platter there waiting for you.

flatbread
The cheese platter goes perfectly with this RUSTIC HOLIDAY FLATBREAD (whose recipe can also be found there).

mint nib
But we didn’t stop there! There is also a recipe for these mint nib macaroons using homegrown mint.

date cheese bites
These date cheese bites also pair nicely with the cheese platter…

truffles
And these chocolate truffles are always a crowd pleaser! Videos demoing all of these recipes can be found at PUNK RAWK LABS TV.

Last but not least, I have a Christmas carol for you. It’s me playing the piano! Truth be told, I posted it last year too. But our piano has been in storage for way too long. So alas, I don’t have a new one this year…

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Anti-Nuclear Meltdown


December 8th, 2011

snow
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you realize it’s a little cold for your taste. Isn’t that how it always goes? Well, I’ve been having this kind of ongoing discussion with my doctor ever since my LAST MEDICAL MELTDOWN.

eye drama
Remember this one? When my eye swelled up for no reason. Again. They were going to send me back to rheumatology when I had a meltdown. Long story short, I’ve already been there TWICE. It was awful. Really expensive, really emotionally draining, really unproductive, frustrating, and negative. Basically, a step in the wrong direction on multiple levels. So I had a MELTDOWN.

mosquito bite
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you will know of my struggle with a MYSTERIOUS AUTOIMMUNE ILLNESS. Despite years of BIZARRE UNEXPLAINED SYMPTOMS and HOSPITALIZATIONS following a TOXIC EXPOSURE. It’s kind of a long story. (An epic saga, if you will).

wheatgrass
In any event, I got the news last week that I tested positive for ANA (anti-nuclear antibody) again. This has actually happened a COUPLE TIMES already. And each time, I went through the testing process and was worked into a tizzy only to be told that it was all in my head. Apparently, this is a pretty common occurrence for people with autoimmune disease. Having a meltdown from being run through the ringer when asking for help is par for the course. According to my doctor, people (who are clearly sick) can go through this process for up to twenty years! And doctors recommend anti-depressants. To help patients get through it. Really? Seriously?! I need to go on drugs to tolerate an unacceptable situation. Two words. NO THANKS!! I’ve done my time. After that, it becomes the recipe for insanity.

I had a long talk with my doctor about it. She seems to understand where I’m coming from. And sympathize. At this point, it appears that it’s one of two things. It’s either lupus. Or it’s some other disease that’s closely related to lupus that doesn’t have a name. So, basically I have lupus. Lupus basically means that you’re immune system is miscalibrated (which mine definitely is). Your immune system attacks normal cells in your body causing disease. I personally think that my immune system is attacking toxic stuff that has become part of my body since my exposure. And the reason I think this is because I have these violent seizure-like episodes (called MYOCLONIC JERKING) at times. It’s always centered on my diaphragm. And it literally feels like my body is trying to kick something out. In the end though, a name is just a name. It’s not going to change my symptoms. It’s not going to make me feel better. Why do I care? I am already self-medicating with my anti-inflammation diet. I’m not interested in going on the drugs. So why put myself through all this? Truly. What is the point? The medical testing and wild goose chase are literally going to bankrupt me. I’m not doing this anymore. I want my life back! And I don’t want to spend the remaining precious energy that I have on pointless dysfunction. I think that as long as patients tolerate this situation, it will be perpetuated.

kits
There are more important things in life. Like, look how cute my kitty is? OK. Technically, she’s my boyfriend’s kitty. But she snuggles with me more (probably because I’m ALLERGIC TO HER).

twin town
Oh yeah. And I love to play guitar. And I used to be in a band. And do all kinds of interesting things. And those things have been passing me by. It’s time to reclaim them.


So that’s what I’m doing. Check it out. I just played a recital with my GUITAR TEACHER, Jeremy, last weekend. And I am getting ready to officially launch my business (stay tuned for details coming soon)! I’m on a mission to rebuild my life on my terms.

flatbread
And it all starts here. Check out my latest video for this RUSTIC HOLIDAY FLATBREAD. My boyfriend says it’s my most creative recipe yet. Not only does it not exacerbate inflammation. Like normal bread. It’s actually anti-inflammatory! I’m filming the companion video for this today. A holiday cheese platter. Check back soon…

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Gearing Up For The Holidays


November 20th, 2011

mint nib macaroonsThis week, I kicked off my mini-series of HOLIDAY RECIPE VIDEOS with this lovely ditty, a MINT NIB MACAROON recipe.

ecoThe holidays can be a tricky time for people with IMMUNE SYSTEM ISSUES. Admittedly, working through this problem has definitely contributed to tensions in my family. Things have evolved over time. The perception has changed from the weird food that she eats to deal with her hypochondria to an annoying inconvenience that everyone else has to deal with to trying to find things that THEY eat that don’t make me sick to not being invited for the holidays to that’s some weird liberal political thing that’s not real to now. I think the fact that people are starting to take an interest in my work has started to legitimize it somewhat to some members of my family. So I guess I am going home this holiday. I’m not sure if I should make the attempt to bring some of my creations with me. In the past, I have sent samples of my work home only to find them uneaten in the pantry six to nine months later. It’s hard. On the one hand, you don’t want to inconvenience people. But on the other hand, the last time I went home I literally developed a bad ULCER IN THE BACK OF MY THROAT that made it painful to eat. So while I respect and understand the reasons why people don’t necessarily get it, it doesn’t make it less hurtful for me to deal with. This has got to be (for me) the most difficult aspect of AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE. Nobody understands. Not even the doctors. And unfortunately, this more often than not leads to situations where the patient is made fun of, de-legitimized, disrespected, not included, and generally made to feel like it’s their fault (all in their head or not really happening). Over time, I’ve learned to just not engage such negativity. I’d like to present a three minute video explaining how to easily resolve the issue and create a NORMAN ROCKWELL OUTCOME. But I would be lying if I actually believed it were that easy.

truffles
That said, I think the best strategy for approaching this conundrum is probably to try to make things that are good by anyone’s standards. I’ve slowly been collecting some recipes. These HOLIDAY TRUFFLES have been a big hit for me.

date cheese apps
These DATE CHEESE BITES have also been surprisingly well received for me at holiday parties.

flatbread
The next installment in this series if going to be this rustic holiday flatbread. The is a really flavorful cracker with a nice texture that’s surprisingly light on the digestive system for a flatbread. Then, we’ll follow up with our coup de grace for this season, a holiday cheese platter featuring the flatbread and some raw vegan cheeses. Stay tuned to our HOLIDAY CHANNEL for updates!

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Eleven-Eleven-Eleven


November 11th, 2011

full moon
11/11/11. An auspicious day. With a full moon. This is supposed to be the day when everything reboots. It definitely feels that way for me. Lots of big changes going down this week. According to my horoscope, I’m supposed to start coming up with some big revelations. I’m not sure if that’s really happening yet. I’m not sure if reality has fully sunk in. I haven’t really processed it all.

necklace
Check out this necklace I made for my physical therapist. I had my last session this week. It seemed so surreal. I’ve been going for almost a year and a half. Ever since my BIG CRASH. I’ve come a long way.

walker
From using a walker…to being able to flip myself over…to standing…and walking…and rebuilding muscles…fixing my alignment…and headaches…and nerve damage…and MRIs…and neurosurgeons. It’s been an interesting journey. My physical therapist has seen me through a lot. So, it was kind of sad in a way. It’s sad to say goodbye. It’s also a little scary. Physical therapy is like the warm, fuzzy, security blanket where you can work out issues.

My neurosurgery appointment was good. Good and bad. It was good because I was not really FEELING THE SURGERY idea. (I was having a pretty strong intuition against it, in fact). And luckily, neither was the neurosurgeon. He said I probably do have nerve damage in my neck and shoulder. But they can’t fix it with surgery because I have arthritis! Who knew? I guess I have spondylosis in my spine. Apparently, people who have that respond really badly to surgery. Well, I tell you what…I have never been so happy to be told I have arthritis. :)

century
In another bizarre twist of fate/harbinger of change, I was invited to speak to a class of college students about raw food/healthcare. I took one picture. And I think I had the camera on a really low light setting in a really high tungsten kind of lighting. It looks kind of cool. The students were great. I was really surprised at their questions. They were really on the ball. And curious about what I ate the day before. And what I ate when I was in the HOSPITAL. And they asked really smart questions. Good vibes.

charlie brownAnd in case that isn’t enough evidence that things are starting to shift, the weather changed this week. We’ve been flirting with the colder weather. But this week was the first real freeze. Time to bring in the plants. Look at this little habanero plant. It’s so cute. It looks just like CHARLIE BROWN’S CHRISTMAS. Winter is definitely on the way. So here we go. Head first into an uncertain future. But one with limitless possibilities. And good karma. Wish me luck! I’m not necessarily seeing the answer right at this moment. But I trust that it’s there.

nettle latte
Oh and PS! I posted a new video this week featuring my dear friend, HEIDI (who I never would have made it through this health debacle without). We made a NETTLE LATTE. Check it out…

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Last Farmer’s Market of the Season


October 12th, 2011

seedling avatar
Well, the time has come. It’s hard to believe. It all flew by so fast. This weekend is the last FARMER’S MARKET of the season. It has been an amazing season. I wasn’t even sure at the beginning if I was even UP FOR IT. But I stuck it out. And for that, I was rewarded handsomely. I LOVE THE FARMER’S MARKET! It is a beautiful community of people.

market av
So beautiful in fact that I dedicated an ENTIRE EPISODE OF PRL TV talking to some of my fellow vendors so that you could meet them too! I have gotten so much out of this experience that it is sad to let it go. But alas, winter is fast approaching.

cheeses
The good news is that although kale is going out of season, I will be participating in the Winter Market at the EASTSIDE COOP. Here I will be showcasing my NUT MILK CHEESES (which incidentally SHANNON MARIE, one of my oldest blogging buddies, of RAWDORABLE wrote the most WONDERFUL REVIEW for on her blog last week. I especially love the video featuring her daughter, Hayden. Shannon Marie has the most creative and down to earth blog. I love it! If you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should!).

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Bossy Boots Urban Farm


July 23rd, 2011

bossy boots
Last weekend, I attended an open house at BOSSY BOOTS URBAN FARM. Bossy Boots is one of the local food businesses which also sells products on KRISTEN’S PORCH (a revolutionary concept in local food – or maybe a welcome return to the old fashioned ways).

green
I was so amazed at how much food they were able to grow in a small space. It wasn’t too small. A backyard. But it just goes to show how much unrealized opportunity there is out there.

vertical squash
Look at their amazing vertical squash. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

peter
Here is Peter (a fellow PORCH LOUNGER) checking out the farm.

sarah and megan
These lovely ladies are the proprietors of this amazing farm, Sarah and Megan. Kudos to them for being part of the new local food system. Way to go, ladies.

nullThis is Abby. She did her first ‘Cooking with Abby’ demo. She made a lovely quinoa, kale, cucumber salad featuring fresh farm vegetables. She whipped that up right on the farm. What a pleasant afternoon! You would have never know that we were having a heat wave. You would also never have known that this was her first cooking demo. She was a pro. Great job, Abby!

quinoa salad
YUM!

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Deja Vu


June 20th, 2011

cloudy
Well, the view is a little cloudy these days, but the light is still getting through. Though admittedly, there were a couple days last week when I wasn’t so sure. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am slowly recovering from a couple different accidents (a TOXIC EXPOSURE and a CAR CRASH). These have been inspiring a number of complications which I am discerning how to navigate. I haven’t figured out all the answers yet, but I can tell you that the outcome is destined to be something unusual. A lot of issues related to this struggle are climaxing right now. In a big way. It’s complicated. As such, I’m going to break them down over a few posts. As I try to digest them.

eyefb
One of my big dramas this week has been with my eye. I was sitting in my apartment, typing on my computer last week. Seemingly out of nowhere, I started to get this really dry feeling in my eye at the same time that it felt like there was a foreign object in it. At first, I thought I got an eyelash in my eye. But when I looked in the mirror, I found this…

eye
A big, ugly, growth on my eyeball. Attractive, right? Now before you get too freaked out, I should tell you that it’s not contagious. And on top of that, this EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED TWO YEARS AGO. It’s some IMMUNE SYSTEM MALFUNCTION, episcleritis. The last time this happened, I was freaked out. They referred me to an immunologist who I waited five months (on pins and needles) to see.

eye up
I went through all manner of testing (which I should add I am still paying off). And where did that get me? Pretty much nowhere. The doctor at the time told me that I didn’t have lupus…YET. Well, last week after this happened, my doctor told me I should go back to rheumatology and get checked (essentially exactly where I went two years ago…for the second time). This would have been my third trip to rheumatology. At this point, I had a meltdown. Seriously. What is the point? Every time I go, it’s this horribly expensive ordeal that’s really stressful, they never figure out anything, and at least half of the time someone (who shouldn’t even be licensed to practice medicine) tells me I’m a hypochondriac. NO WAY, JOSE. I’m not doing that AGAIN.

anomalies
At first, I demanded to get sent to the Mayo. I was really upset. The good news is that this spurred a heart to heart with my doctor that was long overdue. The bad news is that they don’t know what is wrong. It is likely some variation of autoimmune disease. This is completely NOT SHOCKING to me. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are hard to diagnose anyway. Especially weird ones. It could be that it’s lupus. Or it could be something else. Whatever it is, it’s not lighting up the classic profile of test results. So they basically just keep an eye on me. And watch out for more complications until they can figure it out. This conundrum has caused a number of complications in my life that also climaxed this week. Epic sagas which deserve their own post. But in essence, I’m not even sure if I want them to figure it out honestly. Because if they do, all they can do is put me on steroids for the rest of my life. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will also know that my LIVER IS NOT RIGHT. So while I would appreciate the validation, I don’t think that is ultimately a viable path for me. Not if I want to live anyway. Have I mentioned that this has been going on for five years? This is difficult enough for me to digest, and I’m a fairly open-minded, free spirit. My poor mother is about to tear her hair out. Yesterday, she hung up the phone on me because I decided to wait on the Mayo. Interestingly, this was my mild drama from last week. There’s a lot more of that coming down the pipe. Let me tell you…

kale bed
In other more inspiring news, my garden is looking great! Here is my KALE FOREST. On the end, we have a couple rows of dino kale. The rest is green curly kale. The two plants that are flowering are actually the two that survived the winter. Amazing! I have been munching off of this bed a lot this week. We had a few nice rainstorms that really perked up all my lettuces.

lettuce bed
Speaking of, check out my other lettuces. Looking good!! The swiss chard and the romaine are looking mighty fine! I filmed a video for PRL TV of me setting up my garden beds this year. I hope to have that ready soon.


I have some arugula and WILD SPINACH that is going to peak soon too. I love summertime! My grocery bill is going down, down, down.

berries
I also picked some perfect alpine strawberries the other day. These are the best berries I will eat all year. So good! They are red all the way through. Not like the big white in the middle ones you get at the store.

So all in all, I’m hangin’ pretty tough out here. I don’t think I have ever experienced such dramatic and rapid change in my life as I am currently experiencing. And I should add that I am a change embracing bohemian type of girl. But this. This is truly epic. More on that later…

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Head In The Clouds


June 2nd, 2011

clouds
Well, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had my head in the clouds lately while I contemplate my next move. If you’re just tuning in, I found out last week that I have a ‘FISSURE’ IN A DISC in my lower back. I just had a follow up with my doctor and learned some interesting things. It could be that there is just a rip in the disc OR it could be that it’s actually ruptured and the goo is leaking out. They can’t tell for sure until they do a discogram. Needless to say, my head is spinning with possibilities. Like, what does this mean for my nascent CHEF BUSINESS? Do I have time for this? Can’t they see that my business is taking off? I mean, don’t they know that I’m HUGE IN NEW YORK? :) (Kind of like the Tom Waits song. BIG IN JAPAN). Admittedly, this is not exactly how I planned things would go. But really, none of this has gone ACCORDING TO PLAN, and it hasn’t stopped me yet. It’s just a matter of unlocking the key to the silver lining. Right now, I’m still a bit puzzled…trying to make some sense of it. I just have to remember to stay open to the answers.

kale bed
In the meantime, gardening is a great way to keep your feet on the ground while you contemplate possibilities. This is my up and coming kale forest. I had one LAST YEAR too. Though last year, I didn’t get to tend to my garden as well as I would have liked because of the ACCIDENT. Actually, last year my garden was kind of a chaotic mess. This year is going to be better. I can tell. The weather is already being much more cooperative.

tomatos herbs lettuce
This bed is a little more heterogeneous than the kale forest. It’s got tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and several varieties of lettuce/greens. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE GARDENING? I filmed a video of me setting up my garden this year for PUNK RAWK LABS TV. It’s going to be a good one…

arugula sprouts
These cute little arugula sprouts that are just starting to see the light of day. This year, I think I timed things better. So that everything won’t come due at the same time. Hopefully this will help me eat things more efficiently.

wild spinach
This little guy is a wild spinach seedling sprouted from the BLACKBIRD NATURALS seeds I GOT IN THE MAIL recently. They are purple! The swiss chard behind it is also looking lovely. It’s just starting to perk up.

strawberries
The strawberry plant is starting to flower too. Soon, I will be enjoying the best strawberries I will have all year. I can’t wait.

straw lemonadeThis is a glass of raspberry lemonade I made for myself right before I took my bike ride to the garden. I just threw a couple raspberries in at the end and did a pulse. Mmm…so good! I highly recommend this. A very refreshing pre-bike ride delight for a hot summer day. Summer comes in short spurts up here in the NORTH COUNTRY. So you’ve got to appreciate it while you can.
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mississippi
Here is me riding my bike over the mighty Mississippi on my way home from the garden. I try to ride my bike there a few times a week as part of my physical therapy. I love having a reason to check in with her (the river). She has inspired so many great works of art.


One of my favorite songs about her is BIG RIVER by JOHNNY CASH. I love how he talks about meeting her accidentally in St. Paul, MN. Just like me. I live in St. Paul, but my garden is in Minneapolis (just across the river).

mpls skyline
Here’s a pic of the Minneapolis skyline from the Mississippi River bridge the other day. Part stormy. Part inspired. That’s pretty much me right now in a nutshell. :)

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