Category Archives: books

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life

When I was a kid I sometimes wished I had a little sister. We would have watched Star Trek and the Smurfs together and she would have been really nice to me. If I had a kid sister I would buy her “The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life” for Christmas because it is the perfect book for someone newly interested in veganism and my kid sister would be so into it because she would also be vegan.

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life was written by Melisser Eliott, the blogger behind “The Urban Housewife” and world traveler.  It honestly answers every question that a person has about veganism in an informative and relatively upbeat way. Most books about animal rights are really depressing, as they can’t help but be, but Melisser keeps a positive attitude by showing you what you can do to make things better. She touches on everything from animal cruelty to why you should avoid wool, how you can find vegan make up, where to get vegan shoes, and what vegans eat for regular meals. She even talks about very common things that you might think are vegan at first (because they are called non-dairy creamer or soy cheese) that turn out not to be. The book is really well researched and since it just came out it is amazingly up to date. She has sections about how to answer questions that you will constantly get asked (whether you want to talk about it or not) like “where do you get your protein” and how to answer these questions with grace.

My favorite part about the book is that Melisser highlights different vegan women from all over the world and has recipes from many of them including some of her own. She also has a section on vegan gardening and different crafts. Basics, really,  that every vegan girl must know like how to ice a cupcake and beginner instructions on knitting.

There aren’t a ton of recipes but it seems that the ones included with the book were all chosen for a reason because they each sound amazing. I think keeping the number of recipes low is a great idea because new vegans can often get overwhelmed by a ton of recipes. That doesn’t mean that they are boring or standard. Most of the recipes have a delightful twist. When I saw “Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Tempeh over creamy Polenta” I knew we would be trying that first because it features our most favorite fall ingredients.

It was so good. There were a lot of little extras in the recipe, like adding almond butter to the polenta and maple syrup to the tempeh that really elevated the whole dish into something special. It would even be a good easy thanksgiving meal if you are keeping things simple but she has Thanksgiving covered too.

Also the book is all in color and has the most fabulous illustrations by Michelle Cavigliano. Truly it is a great guide and I am so happy to have it. I already found some new shoes!

Summer Reading; in case you feel like an epic

I haven’t been cooking or eating out lately so there has been a dearth of posts of LS’sG2L. What can I say, I have just been too lazy. In fact, the sleepy days of summer have kind of made it impossible to do anything besides read so I thought I would post about some of my favorite books in case you are looking for something curl up with.

First, some of my favorites from

Epic Fiction

The Brother’s K by David James Duncan

In some ways this book does remind me of Russian Literature but it couldn’t be more of an American story with baseball, the 60s, and 7th day Adventists all featured quite prominently. I can’t think of anyone that I have given a copy to that didn’t love it, unless they didn’t read it because it is really long. It is just a beautiful book about a family in Washington that struggles through life. I even enjoyed the parts about baseball which I couldn’t possibly be less interested in which is a testament to the fabulous writing.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

If you ever read the Mahabharata or are interested in ancient India or epics retold from the woman’s point of view than check out this novel, plus the cover is sparkley because that is what women really want. It is a story about a woman who ends up marrying five brothers that eventually are part of the most important war myth in ancient India.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A beautifully written account of the Biafran War for Independence told through the eyes of a family and multiple points of view. The characters are all substantive and how they relate to the whole political situation was enthralling.

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

This is the first of the Mars Trilogy. The US and Russia decide that they should use all of their space technology for something and send a hundred scientists to live on Mars. Over the course of the book the planet is colonized and there is increasing trouble between Mars and Earth. Like the best sci-fi he takes all of our current problems like the destruction of the environment, unrestrained capitalism, and overpopulation and extrapolates. If you don’t like reading about science or politics skip this one for sure.

Veggie Heaven – Austin Vegetarian Restaurant

One of the cookbooks I got for Christmas is Brian Yarvin’s A World of Dumplings. So far it seems like a great book although I have only made one recipe so I can’t say for sure. It is broken into sections by region and every area of the world is covered. Best of all, it is really vegan friendly for a non-veg cookbook. Although a lot of the wrappers have eggs in them Yarvin usually points out what vegan wrappers would work instead and offers many vegetable fillings.  The downside to the book is that I have been reading it a lot and I get so hungry for dumplings that it is hard to be pleased by non-stuffed-in-dough food. It is time consuming to make dumplings every day so sometimes you have to go to Veggie Heaven where they will make one for you. We had a steamed bun and pot stickers!

Veggie Heaven is a restaurant that has reached near mythical status with some of its devotees. It is a tiny place by UT campus with maybe 15 tables all scrunched together and a menu that has probably a hundred options on its numerous pages. Although the service isn’t their strong suit if you are looking for numerous options from Protein 2000 to Hawaii taro to the lucky seven Veggie Heaven is the way to go. You can even get a T-shirt. It could take years to try everything. They even have vegan Bubble Tea and Thai Iced Tea!

This time I tried the “Beef” bowl and it was really good. I have never had noodles from there before but I will seek them out from now on. The bowl included udon noodles in a brothy sauce with many different kinds of vegetables and a very unusual but really tasty beef substitute in addition to some fried tofu. It was so good and dare I say; somewhat healthy for restaurant food. 

Christmas Presents!

So I thought I would share some things on my wish list so that people searching around the internet with the question of what to get the vegan foodie in their life. My wish list is an ongoing list that I use whenever I have the urge to buy something, I put it on the list and then hope I get it from someone for Christmas. I go through it every so often and weed out the stuff that I don’t want any more. It is like clearing out the clutter without actually having anything. Virtual Clutter. Hopefully, none of these items will become clutter.

First, lets admire this shiny red lunch pail

I like it because it is not plastic, has a spot for silverware and has multiple containers while being the perfect container for soup. I have a bento box most of the time but it doesn’t work for soup.

Another Japanese item that I looked through at Book People was this book

called Japanese Foods That Heal, I have been having some imbalances in my system and learning all about miso and other Japanese fermented foods seems like a good idea since they are some of the healthiest people on the planet.

I wouldn’t mind a cool Japanese style teapot or plates either, I love that style

I love reading cookbooks and making new recipes and these are some that have been on my list, used books are always appreciated!

Get It Ripe

Get It Ripe

I love cute kitchen toys like this spoon

or different fun timers. You can never have too many timers, they are really a life saver when you have 10 things going on at once

But the kitchen toy I have coveted the longest is the R2-D2 Peppermill

A new stock pot would be really nice since someone burned the beans in my old one, we are lucky everyone made it out alive.

I would also love one of these butcher’s blocks even though all I really butcher is coconuts and squash. I would love a good one preferably made from something like bamboo.

Finally, I am interested in this hand blender from  Bruan. I really like it because it is 400 watts and it has an attachment for whipping things. Since I don’t have any beaters I thought this attachement might be pretty hand and it got good reviews.

A review of “The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur”

I was a little hesitant at first to read “The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur” because I thought it was going to be a really difficult read that would leave me emotionally tapped and hopeless. I ended up having a very different reaction. The author Daoud Hari has such a great outlook on life that I couldn’t help but love him and enjoy his story. The book starts with a little about what it is like to be a translator in Darfur but it quickly moves into an autobiography of Mr. Hari giving the reader a little background information about how he got to where he is in life. He moved around the region quite a bit before the conflict started and he hadn’t been back to his village in a few years when the war starts. We follow him as he goes to see his family in the village and flees with them and goes to refugee camps where he starts helping different reporters cross back over into Darfur and interview people.

Some of the scenes were very chilling and disturbing but what was great about the book is the tone of the author and his sense of hope in spite of so much destruction. The pages seemed so full of life and love although in a subtle way. It was easy to see how Mr. Hari earned so many friends among all sides of the conflict but it is hard to believe that he could keep such a positive attitude despite his many ordeals. His sense of humor was so enjoyable. When I finished the book I didn’t feel at all despondent but instead ready to help the people in Darfur which is exactly what his point was in witting the book. I would recommend this book to any one. It was a fast easy read and totally engaging and I learned about another place in the world. I highly recommend it. ( )