All posts by Laurie Graves

I write about nature, food, the environment, home, family, community, and people.

Reinventing the Wheel with a Nutritional Yeast Veggie Broth Mix

For someone who cooks a lot—we eat nearly every meal at home—and for someone who eats a mostly plant-based diet, I can be a little on the slow side. (Occasionally, we do eat eggs and some dairy.) For example, I have just discovered the wonders of nutritional yeast, thanks to our daughter Dee and the vegan cookbook she bought Clif and me for our birthdays. (Yes, she bought us an instant pot, too, which we love.)

One of my absolute favorite recipes is a cabbage, potato soup that is finished with a half cup of nutritional yeast, giving the soup a rich, beefy taste without the beef. Holy cats, it’s good. Even on the third night, I’m not sick of the leftovers.

This is a preamble to my next burst of enlightenment. Recently, I was having tea with my friend Joan, and I was raving about the cabbage, potato soup with nutritional yeast.

“Sound good,” Joan said. “Reminds me of a bouillon mix a friend gave to me. It has nutritional yeast and spices.”

For a while, I didn’t say anything, blinking in astonishment as I thought of the wonders of a bouillon mix made with nutritional yeast and spices—delicious, nutritious, plant based, and frugal. Four of my favorite things.

As soon as I came home, I hit the Internet and immediately found a terrific recipe on a blog called My Plant- Based Family. The veggie broth is easy to make and jazzes up even the simplest meal, such as ramen noodles with soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix one tablespoon of the broth with a cup of hot water and  you have a tasty base that can be used in any soup that calls for chicken or veggie broth.

Recently, I made a batch to give to my friend Beth, and Clif, who has a flair with graphic arts, made a nifty label to go on the jar. As it turned out, the label was so nifty that at first Beth didn’t realize the broth had come from our very own kitchen.

Anyway, I can’t recommend this broth mix enough. Because I am not a fan of a strong onion taste, I don’t put as much onion powder as is suggested in the recipe. (I cut the amount in half.) But if onion is your thing, pile it in.

And say adieu to those expensive boxes of veggie or chicken broth, which—let’s face it—don’t taste all that good.

A Week in Two Acts

Act I

What’s Making Me Droopy

On Monday, Winter let us know it was not quite done with Maine by sending a storm that dropped five or six inches of snow. Once again, Clif had to take Little Green out for a spin, and once again,  the town’s snowplow left a tall, hard ridge of snow at the end of our driveway.

The week before, the backyard was free enough of snow that I had hopes of starting to pick up the many sticks that have fallen over the winter. But no, nature had other plans. No picking up sticks for me, no getting a whiff of spring.

Here is Snow-Gauge Clif in the backyard.

And here he is in the front yard. Despite the snow, Clif still looks perky.

However, I am not quite as perky. You might even describe me as  droopy, and I keep repeating, “Soon Spring will come. Soon Spring will come.”

Act II

What’s Making Me Happy

After moaning about Winter and its bony grip, I thought I would balance this post with something that’s making me oh so happy. It’s a picture of a junco—birder lovers, please correct me if I’m wrong—that I bought at a craft fair last week.

Clif and I were at the fair with our books—we did well!—and right across from us sat a talented photographer named Norma Warden. I chatted with her for a bit, and Norma told me she recently moved to Maine from California. She is unfamiliar with the Maine craft fair scene, and I gave her a few tips.

After spending the morning and part of the afternoon admiring Norma’s work, which blends photography with a painterly sensibility, I bought one of her pictures. Birds and art are two of my weaknesses, and when they are combined at a good price, who am I to resist?

The picture is hanging on the wall by my desk, and every time I look at that little bird, I smile.

Here is a link to Norma’s website, where you will find her lovely art selling for amazingly reasonable prices.

A Shining, Hopeful Example: Wind Power and Orkney Islands

When you are someone who cares about the environment the way I do—Clif and I refer to ourselves as green beans—it is easy to get discouraged. A focus on climate change, resource depletion, and overpopulation can lead to gloomy thoughts. And let’s face it—most of the news we read about the environment is not good, thus adding to the gloom.

Then in The Guardian comes Robin McKie’s piece: How Orkney Leads the Way for Sustainable Energy. (Thanks to Susanne’s Mom’s Blog for featuring this piece as well as providing the link to it.) According to Mckie, Orkney Islands—an archipelago to the northeast of Scotland—produces so much sustainable energy that they can’t use it all.

Holy cats!That news is enough to make this green bean snap with joy.

So how did Orkney Islands do it? First, because they are islands, all of their power came from the mainland, and their energy costs were expensive. Mckie writes, “Orkney was once utterly dependent on power that was produced by burning coal and gas on the Scottish mainland and then transmitted through an undersea cable.”

Second, Orkney Islands have wind and lots of it. “Low-lying and exposed to both the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, Orkney is battered by winds and gales throughout the year.”

Rather than gripe about how wind turbines spoil their view, the way we do here in Maine, the Orcadians decided to embrace the wind and use it to produce energy. How much energy? “Orkney…generates, on average over the year, electricity that fulfils 120% of its own needs.”

That’s right. Orkney Islands now have surplus energy that is clean and affordable. They are actually thinking of exporting that energy back to the mainland.

Anyway, McKie’s piece is well worth reading. On this sunny day where the snow from the last storm still hasn’t melted, Orkney’s  success with wind power gave me a much-needed lift.

Correction: I originally wrote that Orkney was between England and France. A couple of my blogging friends corrected that error, letting me know Orkney Islands were to the northeast of Scotland. Many thanks for letting me know.

Making Sugar Easter Eggs: A Day of Fun, Crafts, and Fellowship

Yesterday was warm and sunny, a finest kind of day to head an hour north to my friend Beth’s house. With two other friends in tow, off we went in my little red Honda Fit—a.k.a. Sparky. Beth had invited us over for a day of food, crafts, and fellowship. A perfect trio.

Courtesy of JoAnne, we started with appetizers and the best chai I have ever tasted. To guild the lily, there was even whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of the chai.

Then it was on to the craft. Since Easter is coming up, and Spring is supposedly right around the corner, Beth organized a sugar Easter egg craft for us. She made sugar eggs and provided all sorts of little items for us to decorate them.

Because I am always drawn to animals, I chose a dog and a cat to start with.  From there it was off to the icing, flowers, and other fun things.

Here is the finished egg, with a peek-a-boo kitty and a sweet dog on top.

The other eggs are just as sweet.

After making the eggs, we cleaned the dining room table and had lunch: an utterly delicious  chili; a tasty fruit and quinoa salad; and for dessert lemon cookies and bread as well as apple crisp.

What a wonderful afternoon! And yesterday we lucked out with the weather because this is what it looks like today from my office window. Yes, readers, it is snowing. Six inches are predicted. Sigh.

Never mind. My thoughts have turned to our next get together, which will be at my home in June. I’ve planned a Book Buddy Brunch, where we share a book that has moved us in some way and read a short passage from it.

Fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain so that we can eat on the patio.

But if it does rain, we’ll gather around the dining room table, eat, and talk. We’ll have a good time no matter the weather.