Y2 – Day 158 – Frustration

What to do with vain attempts, what is disappointment and how do I proceed through frustration?

When you can’t change it, are stymied at every turn or feel attacked, you get frustrated.

Who hasn’t been frustrated with themselves for not being able to accomplish a new or difficult task – whether it be changing out a filter or learning a dance routine?

When you are doing everything in your power to do the right thing, find solution or help, sometimes indecision, life, circumstance, others or yourself thwart you.  It is confounding and disheartening.

In tears, in shouts, in anger, in silent scorn and disbelief we try to dislodge the load of discouragement.  But the only thing we can really do, is accept and find the positive.

How I turn the displeasure inside myself or outwardly, determines the level of pain I endure.  To be sure, we seek only to find peace and resolution but when we get to that place, is a matter of how long we want to stay in the castigation or punishment stage.  Crippling all efforts of reconciliation, restoration or restitution, we remain plagued in our own excrement.

We move forward when we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. When we find it in our hearts to forgive ourselves for being flawed, we can forgive others for the same human attribute.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  –  Jung

How many times have you had the occasion to forgive, empathize or soothe another person whom is steeped in utter desperate frustration, humiliation or remorse?  You cannot even believe they are so distraught over such a mistake, misstep or lack of judgment.  To you, it is not the end of the world and you see clearly beyond the trouble with objectivity.  And when our views are distorted, we need to be reminded to correct them.

But when it comes to ourselves, we wallow in the muck, mortified, whipping our own behinds and beating ourselves over the head with a huge bat.  What kind of compassion is that?  It isn’t love at all.

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. – Mahatma Gandhi

Depression is long term anger directed towards self and harshly judges the past.  Anxiety is future based fear.  Both places exclude the present.  Both states lose sight of forgiveness.

It is never about the other person or situation.  We want to get rid of our guilt and pain so we project it onto someone or something else.  Yet, we always have a choice what we put into our minds.  Lack of forgiveness blocks the presence of love.  It blinds and deafens us.  Angry, fearful thoughts are based on ego.  Ego separates.  Love unites.  Fear and all its forms is ego based.  Love is in the field of potentiality – positive, wise, unconditional and eternal.

“In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein


Y2 – Day 157 – Vegan Desserts

Store bought Vegan desserts have quadrupled in the last five years.  Vegan eateries and bakeries have sprung up even in small towns and suburbia. There’s increased interest in new and established vegan cafes in metropolitan areas.  The word is out.

Here is a sampling from NYC my NY family had the pleasure of partaking in:

Peanut Butter Brownies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Baked Apple Cider Donut with pieces of real apple, Vanilla Frosted Chocolate Cupcake and a Berry Muffin

Strawberry, Banana, Green Tea and Blueberry Macarons I just found at Mother’s Market.

They were delectable.

Whether home made, store or bakery bought, vegan delicacies await us!!

Y2 – Day 156 – Tools of the Trade

Here are the implements I often use for prepping:A butcher block or bamboo cutting board.  Essential to keep my counters safe and clean and knives sharp.  I place a small terry towel under the board for stability.  I clean them with good ole soap and water.  Sometimes I use half a lemon to expunge odors (because you don’t want garlic on your mango slice) after heavy use.  Every now and again, I wipe them down with mineral oil to keep them hydrated.

A sharp knife.  I have many knives and they all serve a purpose but really only one good large, one small knife and one serrated one is all you need, initially.  I am addicted to the facility of cutting with a fine blade.

A rasp grater.  Urban legend says a wood worker who also liked to cook brought this tool out of his workshop and into his kitchen and the rest is history.  It is ideal for grating cheese, nutmeg, ginger, garlic and quickly obtaining the zest of citrus.  Once you hold it and use it, you never let go and guard it protectively.

A garlic press.  Just stick a clove in and press.  Minced garlic squeezes out the teeny holes side and the inedible skin is glued to the inside.

A baking scraper.  Initially this was used only in bakeries to scoop up flour and dry goods but I use it to gather, separate and sweep up everything on my cutting board.  It is handy for chopping and slicing soft fruits and vegetables too, like bananas, steamed carrots or avocados.  It is perfect for chopped or minced small items like fresh herbs.

Measuring instruments:  Probably the most accurate way to share or scribe your own recipes so others can duplicate it as close as possible.  I am not always a stickler but it is also useful when counting calories.

Nothing can surpass the love, attention and care you put into cooking so these tools are just clever and basic. The time and energy you put into discerning the best produce, scouring out pans and experimenting like a chemist is well rewarded on the plate after much practice, whatever method or instruments you use as long as you do it with passion!

Y2 – Day 155 – Seitan Veggie Curry

Another recipe I played with this long weekend, adapted and inspired by Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz.

Indian Spiced Seitan Dish

Coconut oil spray

2 tsps. Mustard seeds

2 tsps. Coriander seeds

8 oz. chopped onion

8 – 10 oz. seitan

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated

½ cup veggie broth

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 Tbs. curry spice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

2 cardamom pods

1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 cup light coconut milk

8 cups baby kale or spinach

½ lb. steamed sweet potatoes

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained

2 green onions, chopped

¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

½ cup veggie broth

1-2 serrano peppers, chopped (optional)

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Heat up a large pot over medium heat and spray with oil.  Add the seeds, cover and let them pop for about 45 seconds or so.

Stir in the onion and cook covered for @ 3 minutes.  Add the seitan and cook covered for another 3 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger, stir and cook uncovered for 1-2 minutes.

Add the next 8 ingredients and stir for about one more minute to combine fully.

Add tomatoes and milk, stir and cook covered for approximately 5 minutes.

Add fresh greens in batches, throwing in more as they wilt.

Add the next 6 ingredients, cover and simmer on lowest heat for 20 minutes.

Right before serving, stir in the lemon juice.  Adjust seasonings to taste. This might be too aromatic or spicy for some and there might be items you want to omit or substitute.  For example, if you don’t have cardamom pods, omit or use a dash of cardamom powder.  If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, use canned.  If you don’t like cilantro, use parsley or omit the fresh herbs all together.  If you don’t have mustard or coriander seeds, just skip it.

I served this atop a bowl of brown rice and lentils.  It is like a stew and very hearty.

Y2 – Day 154 – Vegan Pancakes

I am very proud of my adaptation of a vegan pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance!!  Incredibly delish and healthy!

Here are your ingredients:

Banana Pecan Chocolate Good 4 U Vegan Pancakes

Dry Ingredients:

1-cup flour

¼ cup oat bran

2 Tbs. milled (ground) chia seed

2 Tbs. hemp heart seeds

2 Tbs. sugar

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

2 over ripe bananas

1 ¼ cup almond/soy/coconut milk with 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (wait 5 minutes) to make vegan ’buttermilk’

1 tsp. vanilla


2 Tbs. vegan chocolate chips

½ cup raw pecans (broken and snapped into pieces with fingers)


Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Mash the bananas and add the ‘buttermilk’, extract, and stir – it will be lumpy.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix until no longer dry but don’t over mix.

Fold in the chips and nuts.  The batter will be fluffy and delicious.  There is no chance of getting salmonella so feel free to partake of the raw batter, as I do.

Spray coconut or canola oil on a nonstick skillet.

When hot, pour batter onto skillet to make 3’” rounds.

Turn over with a spatula when golden brown on one side and flip onto a platter when cooked through.

Spray pan for each batch.

Makes 12-15 3” pancakes.

Serve with fruit and/or maple syrup.

I love them hot and still mushy/raw in their centers.

Y2 – Day 153 – Seitanic Experiment #1

I have always wanted to make my own seitan.  I finally had the time and inclination.  I took the recipe from the package of Vital Wheat Gluten and Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan with a Vengeance and tweaked it to make it my own first experiment.  Here’s what you will need:and here is my experiment #1 recipe:

Cecilia’s Seitanic Experiment #1 

Dry ingredients:

1 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

½ tsp. dried sage

½ tsp. dried marjoram

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

Wet ingredients:

½ cup water

¼ cup Tamari

1 Tbs. chipotle paste

½ – ¾ tsp. lemon zest


6 cups vegetable broth

¼ cup kalamata olive juice


Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 

Stir wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl.

Pour wet into dry and combine with a wooden/bamboo spoon/spatula.

Knead dough till spongy.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Put broth in a large heavy saucepot.  Do not turn on heat yet.

Roll dough into a log and cut into 6 pieces.  Place them in the cold broth.  Cover pot and bring to a boil.

Once the broth boils, bring back to a simmer and gently cook for one hour.  Carefully turn or separate the pieces every once in a while cooking.

Take the pot off the burner, uncover and let cool for one hour.  Remove the seitan from the broth and cut into bite sized pieces.  Use immediately in any recipe or store in fridge for up to five days.

I decided to make a dish with it immediately.  Using half the recipe, I sautéed the seitan pieces in olive oil.  I added onions, broth from the seitan experiment, brown rice, chives, parsley, lemon juice, saffron and peas.  I stirred in some nutritional yeast, last minute to give it a cheesy flavor.  Yum.  Next time, I need to remember to add some rosemary and this recipe is not so far flung from my notorious Arrroz con Pollo.

On a bed of baby kale, it made for a fine and healthy meal.

Y2 – Day 151 – NY connection

My daughter is staying past her school year to work and intern till June and was actually able to enjoy how exciting and important commencement at Columbia is for Seniors and how proud all of NYC is of them!Grounds and view of festivities!  All of New York appreciates the Columbian Grads by lighting up the Empire State in Columbia Blue and White that night. – Go Lions!  My daughter had the opportunity to visit the UN to attend the open debate about President Bashar al Assad of Syria.  France proposed the hearing to the UN Security Council.  As the president of the International Humane Society, working at Columbia Law School, interning at the International Criminal Courts, editing and managing the Columbian Economic Review, majoring in PolySci and Economics with a concentration in Modern European Violence – I am not sure from where she actually got the invite, but it was her first time and the assembly room looks just as stately as when I visited many, many, many moons ago.  A young woman in this arena, finishing with a 4.0 in her Junior year at an Ivy league, is no small vittles and as a fellow woman who dreamed of becoming an international war correspondent,  I admire her.

Afterwards, she texted that the Argentinean female ambassador was feisty and made their position on future international law crystal clear while China and Russia vetoed.  She said the Russian rep “came across looking like a petulant child, personally attacking France.”  She further stated she witnessed the French ambassador handling everything brilliantly and with style (of course- probably was wearing a fashionable scarf too).   

Tulips and all sorts of pretty flowers and plants at the green market in NYC where she shopped today.  Imagine a real life ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ moment in NYC!  I am so honored, have great respect for and am genuinely happy for this young generation!

Y2 – Day 150 – Silver Anniversary

It took years, tears and squashing of fears to get us two to finally be hitched at the Santa Ana courthouse, 25 years ago, today.  We were basically heathens and eloped.

We sped up Highway 1 North in a rented convertible that we had to switch out because the top would not come up when it inevitably rained on our excursion.  How we reacted, handled and proceeded from that disappointment has set the tone for our journey.

We took off that day, headed for San Francisco, via Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo.  The Pacific Coast road lines the edge of California.  It skims by the beaches and climbs to the top of crags overlooking Big Sur. Like a roller coaster ride, the scene was set.

We have traveled together holding hands, heads leaning towards each other and touching,  occasionally banging into, thus far.

After many false starts, our ‘legal’ beginning, our ‘piece of paper’ became a commitment we were not about to take lightly and it led the way to a life filled with bliss.

With every setback, we trudged ahead and together.  With every turn, we changed course together, sometimes whining, always willing.  With every happy occurrence, we celebrated our good fortune, together.

Every tragedy helped us experience sorrow, grief, anger, remorse, surrender and acceptance in unison, touching each other’s hearts with care, carrying it lightly, while holding each other tight for dear life.  Every uplifting experience helped us experience joy, gratitude, forgiveness, empathy and compassion.  The moments in between have been held with a sense of humor, a sense of belonging and exquisite contentedness, I refer to as – bliss.

It has been our outlook together that has kept our sanity.  Having a mutual positive perspective of survival and hope brings two distrustful, negative and insecure people, at times, back into focus.  At any one or many points in time, we are all weak and flawed.  But to have someone next to you, who know you through and through, can lift and center you.  One spans the bridge for the other.  It has been our resolve and our luck, to face life on the same page, or at least in the same chapter.

Surely, the moments of despair, historical significance, time and physical changes have made us resilient but what deepened the meaning of life, and I speak for both of us I believe, has been our children.  To create a family and to have the product of your love continue beyond your existence is not praised or given worth enough.

We instinctively, humbly and sometimes clumsily (they don’t come with a reference manual and my husband wouldn’t read it anyway), welcomed, raised and support our offspring with love and some semblance of even-handedness between the two of us.  We became a family of five quickly and new challenges, decisions and discussions had to happen.  They are gifts to the world and creative, fruitful, heart-centered and interesting adults we admire, now.

Not every day has been spectacular but each day has been necessary.  There is a balance between difficult and smooth, up and down, the yin and the yang.  What remain true are the love and the need I have for and from my husband.

We have given 200% to ourselves, our lives, our home, our work, our play and our children.  We kept our pledge, through thick and thin.  I believe trust, respect, willingness, humor, flexibility and kindness are just as important as love in our intimate bonding of souls.  May the next 25 years be just as adventurous.

I could not have asked for a more decent, understanding or caring partner.

Happy Anniversary to Mr. Wonderful, the Duke of V.P., my Rock of Gibraltar, my hero, my angel and my tiger.  You have made me proud and more importantly you have made me laugh and feel like a woman who deserves to live life to the fullest.  Thank you.

I have known you forever and yet I have just met you.  I look forward to getting to know you even better, with all the endless facets in your prism that shine, color and enhance my world.

Happy Anniversary, Baby!

“There is only one happiness in life … to love and be loved.” – George Sand

Y2 – Day 149 – Vegan Lunches

At Macaroni Grill the other day, the choices to eat vegan were sparse but I settled on a Chicken Florentine Salad as an entree, asking them to please skip the chicken and any cheese they had any intention of possibly adding.  The spinach, capers, red cabbage, fresh tomatoes, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and orzo with a lemon vinaigrette was vegan and deliciously refreshing. Loving Hut take-out today for me!!!! Jackfruit salad with herbs, soy protein that looks like boiled shredded chicken, fried onions and peanuts with a sweet, lemon sauce, served with poppyseed baked rice papers and a slice of vegan carrot cake.  The entire menu is vegan.  Vegan Drumsticks and spring rolls with vegan shrimp are just some of the appetizers.  You can also get pho, a variety of soups, salads, noodle dishes like Pad Thai and Chow Mein, eight different types of rice dishes like curry or fried rice, as well as Gardein Soy burger dishes, sandwiches and wraps.  Desserts include cheesecakes, carrot, coffee, Pandan and chocolate cakes.  Their beverages run the gamut from fresh juices to smoothies to water to hot and cold teas.  The walls in the ultra clean dining establishment are bedecked with positive sayings and framed pictures of famous vegans.

Whether you are eating in, out or away from home – there are always better choices and occasionally just the right places.