Rufus gets a play castle! Yay Rufus. This video is super-sweet. Rufus’ owner felt bad for having to give lil’ Ru ear drops for a painful ear infection so he wanted to do something to make it up to him. As any cat lover knows, cats love boxes! And so I present Rufus’ cardboard tower. 


DIY! Natural, homemade household cleaners!   »

Ever since Mark mentioned the Alicia Silverstone video in which she feeds her baby chewed-up food from her own mouth, I have been unable to contain my curiosity over it! I thought that today was the day I could finally muster up the courage to watch it.; BUT NO! I turned it off before I could get to the feeding. I just can’t. By the way, I would be so pissed if my name were Bear I found out my mom did this (my mom licking a finger or napkin to wipe my face as a kid was bad enough)!

Now the feeding is forever on the internet for Bear to be plagued with; why wasn’t Alicia thinking about the 12-plus years of schooling he’ll have to endure?! Maybe he’ll be home-schooled? OH NO, WHAT IS LUNCH GOING TO LOOK LIKE?

Can you make it through? I just cannot. Can’t see the clip? View it on!

Anyway, I get Alicia’s Kind Life blog updates in my inbox, ever since I became a member when she named Food For Lover’s queso an awesome vegan snack! Over the weekend I got an update I though you crafty, hippies beautiful people would love: how to make your own laundry detergent! It’s kind of a process (though it doesn’t look difficult) so click here to see how to do it! All you need is washing soda, borax, three gallons of water, a bar of soap, a large bucket, and time! And because I know you like a second opinion on matters concerning your clothing, here’s another detergent recipe from Bonzai Aphrodiate.

The only time I’ve made my own household cleaner is when I used baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain. It works! Maybe this will be my new thing — making all my cleaners, along with my dinners, from scratch. Then I’ll start sewing all my own clothes, sell all my possessions and move to a hippie commune! I did need some new life goals.


Guest post: Adventures in DIY ice cream! Plus, a recipe!  »

You know those types of friends that you bond with specifically over one thing? Maybe it’s a particular TV show or a band that you secretly love? That’s the type of friendship that my buddy, Jack Shirley, and I have, except we bond over food, or more specifically: desserts.

Jack owns his own recording studio, The Atomic Garden Recording Studio in East Palo Alto, Calif., but he is also on a covert mission to single-handedly take down the ice cream industry and give all of his friends diabetes. Jack has been making his own vegan ice cream for about a year now, after getting an ice cream maker for a gift.

“I love ice cream, and when I went vegan, I realized that there is no good vegan ice cream,” explained Jack. He’s right; there’s always something off about it, and it never quite tastes like the real thing. Ask anyone who’s tried his ice cream, and they’ll tell you that he’s definitely on to something. “It’s way easier than anyone could imagine,” he said.

About a year ago, Jack and I started creating a master list of possible flavors, just in time for summer. Since then, the list has grown, and he’s still eagerly taking suggestions. He even offers it as a perk to bands who record with him. The first flavor he ever made was Orange Chocolate Chip, which he got out of the vegan ice cream cook book Vice Cream.

Vice Cream focuses on making dairy-free ice cream from a cashew- or a coconut base. “Cashew–based ice cream is pretty rare,” Jack said, as he explained why he thinks his ice cream is different from the other vegan ones sold in stores. “Cashew is a very neutral base, so I try to only use a coconut base when I want the flavor to taste like coconut.”

Jack told me that it wasn’t the easiest in the beginning because he didn’t follow the instructions very well. But, with constant practice, creativity with flavors, and a little bit of trial and error, he’s got it down. So here we are, a year later, and Jack doesn’t even bother to greet me at the door anymore. “Try this,” is what he usually says to me as he forces a spoon towards my unfortunately large mouth, knowing I won’t refuse. Little does he know, I’ve used our food-dependent friendship in order to get exclusive ice-cream-making tips!

Tip 1: Let the base sit in the fridge overnight.
Vice Cream claims that you can also stick it in the freezer for a short amount of time, but apparently overnight in the fridge is the way to go. Jack says this helps the cashew taste to dissipate, leaving an even more neutral base.

Tip 2: Use alcohol-free extracts.
The book calls for alcohol-free extracts for a reason! When you use alcohol when cooking, the strong taste of alcohol burns off. When you’re making ice cream, the lack of heat leaves the alcohol in, and it can change the flavor of your ice cream.

Tip 3: Use real vanilla bean!
Using real vanilla beans instead of extract actually tastes better, and will help overpower any residual cashew taste.

Want to try it yourself? Here are two basic recipes, adapted from Vice Cream.

Vanilla—Makes about 1 quart (average home ice-cream-maker size)

2 vanilla beans
2 cups organic cashews or cashew pieces
2 cups water
1 cup maple syrup (Jack uses agave nectar and it works pretty darn well.) 

Cut the vanilla beans into small pieces, and grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder.
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high for about 1 minute, or until smooth.
Place the mix in the fridge overnight.
Pour the mix into your ice cream maker and use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Chocolate—Makes about 1 quart
1 3/4 cups organic cashews or cashew pieces
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
2 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. alcohol-free almond extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high for about 1 minute, or until smooth.
Place the mix in the fridge overnight.
Pour the mix into your ice cream maker and use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can serve it immediately (it has a nice soft-serve texture when it’s fresh out of the maker) or place it in the freezer to devour later.

If you’re bored with plain old vanilla and chocolate, get creative! Jack has made tons of different flavors. His favorites? Strawberry, blackberry vanilla chocolate chip, piña colada, key lime pie, and eggnog. If you’d like to suggest a flavor for Jack to attempt, go ahead and send him a friendly email.

Jack says it’s really a trial-and-error process, though. “Not every recipe in that book will give you amazing ice cream,” he said, but I think he was just being his usually cocky self.

There are two things that Jack knows really well in this world: music and ice cream. Now you know why I want a shirt that says “I visited Atomic Garden Recording Studio and all I got was this amazing album and some shitty love handles.”

Elysse Grossi is a scientist, a health educator, a vegan food fanatic and a co-owner of Sweet Cups, based in the East Bay. She grosses people out with her other blog, Under the Microscope. Laugh at her boring life on Twitter @glassheart.


From the place past depressed we believe is called “giving up,” it’s your weekend events, and some links that aren’t too upsetting!  »

[Adélie penguins at Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, via Google Street View]

Events and activities for you
Obviously you’ll be at VegFest XI sometime this weekend, but we’ve got a separate preview for that. Have you read it? Go read it.

Meanwhile on Saturday, MickaCoo Pigeon and Dove Rescue will hold a Feather Their Nests! fundraiser from noon to 4 p.m., which includes a silent auction, vegan snacks, and wine! Suggested donation is $20; see the invitation for location, directions, and details.

LGBT Compassion will protest the sale of live chickens and eggs at Heart of the City Farmers Market on Sunday, Oct. 3, from 9 to 11 a.m. The group will meet, as always, near the poultry vendor (who has a big trailer covered with blue tarps) in the northeast corner of the market, near the water fountains. More information available online.

A new SwapSF returns on Saturday, Oct. 16, which seems like forever away, but considering how popular and fun this event is, you should consider buying a $6 ticket now. What is SwapSF? What are you, new?

You might also want to register now for one of Animal Place’s chicken care classes. The next one will be held on Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Sacramento SPCA from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will cost $10 per person, which includes lunch.

A little light reading
How about some recipes! This one, for pickled green tomatoes, is already vegan. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but the spicy pickled crunch has a singular appeal. This is an easily veganizable recipe for panade from Tartine Bread, a book which I would most definitely like to own, oh yes. And these recipes from Project Just Desserts guest chef Janet Hudson for pumpkin moonshine and pumpkin moonshine cupcakes, are out of control. If the heat hasn’t put our hopes of pumpkins off until November, we are buying one this weekend and making our own bathtub pumpkgin (y/n?).

A pair of Australian scientists postulate that, based on historical record, up to one third of mammals considered extinct may still be living, and if we look hard enough, we’ll find them again. You guys I am holding out SO HARD for the ridiculous, peaceful flightless birds (despite their not being mammals, whatever) of New Zealand, you have no idea how sweet and innocent they were. Speaking of animal-crazy people, four of good ol’ Butterstick’s biggest fans recently spent a week volunteering at his new home at the Conservation Center in Sichuan Province. These ladies went to China exclusively to clean panda cages and feed pandas, which allowed them to touch ol’ Butterstick for the first time. It’s nuts, but it’s an adorable nuts, right?

Today in self-promotion, our raw food reporter Sarah E. Brown writes about spiritually motivated vegans; VegNews discusses vegan zines, like our pals Soyfucker and Susie Cagle, and naturally our own Laura and Jonas; and Laura tells the story of Dino Bike in The Bold Italic. And if you have the Cute Overload 2010 calendar, you may note that the photo for today, Friday Oct. 1, is of this dog with whom Meave presently lives. She calls him Bosie (as in Lord Alfred Douglas) and finds him incorrigible.

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