Life + Kitchen – December

I hope you all enjoyed the Holidays and have many wonderful things to look forward to in 2015!

As for me, I am lucky to say that I certainly did/do.  December was a busy month but I was also able to squeeze in quite a bit of relaxation & sunshine visiting my family in Florida, where most of this month’s highlights took place.

Read on for the highlights in my Life + Kitchen this month…

Time in my South Florida hometown

Highlights included lots of time with my Sister’s family (I can’t get enough of my nieces!!!) and a boat ride and (gasp! – walk) through the alligator-filled Everglades.

I also always love spending time with my parents.  This time we took a walk through a small nature preserve in their neighborhood that we only recently discovered!  Look closely at the picture on the bottom right – can you spot the Iguana in the tree?

And as usual, my family spoils me with their home cooking, making vegan & vegetarian dishes in my honor and trying lots of new recipes – and always, always, always a different version of Dad’s famous oatmeal.

A very Foodie Christmas

I got soooo many amazing Christmas Gifts including:

  • Finally my own copy of Eat Drink & Be Vegan
  • An Epicurean Cutting Board (Dishwasher Safe!)
  • A classy Compost Pail for my kitchen counter – with a Carbon Filter to prevent smells
  • An in-drawer Knife Block
  • Yummy foods like Hemp Seeds & Dried Mushrooms (pictured below, top left) and Applewood Smoked Salt (pictured below, bottom left)
  • Plus some new clothes and SNOWSHOES!!!

My team at work also surprised me by sending the most amazing Vegan Gift Basket to our house!  How good does all of this look?

Wedding Anniversary

While in Florida, Mike and I also celebrated our 1-year Wedding Anniversary, with many of the same people, places, and eats from our wedding.

Mike’s parents treated us to a repeat of our Rehearsal Dinner, My Mom recreated our post-wedding Brunch, plus we visited the park we were married in – and ate year-old cake! 

The VegCookbook Club

December is always my favorite month of #TheVegCookbookClub since in December we cook from ALL of our cookbook selections of the year.

This month I made recipes from quite a few of the featured cookbooks including (pictured below, clockwise from upper left):

  • The Perfected Chickpea Salad from The Oh She Glows cookbook (truly a perfect Chickpea Salad)
  • The Broccoli Peanut Lemongrass Rice Bowl from Salad Samurai (not a bit of lettuce in this salad – the greens are Broccoli & Cilantro!)
  • Maple-Cinnamon Oatmeal from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet (simple & tasty)
  • and Hummus Soup from Robin Robertson’s More Quick Fix Vegan (our second time making this recipe!)

My Most “Liked” Photos of the Month {a countdown}

#4. Mushroom, Brussels & Barley Bowl from Salad Samurai 

A bowl of all things Fall (Mushrooms, Brussels, Cranberries, Thyme and Walnuts) over one of my favorite grains with a light Mustard-Maple dressing.  YUM!

#3Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles from Vegan Chocolate

A surprisingly simple yet impressive treat.

#2. African Groundnut Stew with Tofu from the Chicago Tribune

Made by my Mom, so of course it was delicious.

#1. Creamy Noodle Curry from One Dish Vegan

I made enough to feed an army yet my Husband and I somehow made our way through this huge pot over the course of a week. 

My Favorite Eats of the month

In addition to the delicious eats at our Holiday Appetizers & Desserts Potluck earlier this month, I especially enjoyed the following:

  • The Colombian Tofu Scramble Mom made for our anniversary brunch – it’s a surprisingly amazing combo of flavors including Maple Syrup, Curry Powder, and Basil.
  • Raw Chocolate Banana Pie (and old favorite) plus the most amazing “Salted Caramel Latte” made with Date Caramel & Homemade Almond Milk (not pictured) at Fort Lauderdale’s Green Wave Cafe.
  • The Smokehouse Chickpeas & Greens Salad from Salad Samurai – The BBQ Beans would also be amazing solo, but also were delicious in this salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette.

My Favorite Links of the month


OK, it’s not really a link, but it can be watched online, so it totally counts, right?  My family and I loved this movie so much that several of us watched it TWICE.

The movie, filmed over 12 years, truly captures boyhood, girlhood, and parenthood in a way I’ve never seen before.

Baby Maple

I’m completely in love with my cat, Maple.  Since we adopted her later in life, I’m sad that I missed out on her kittenhood.  Lately, I’ve been experiencing her kittenhood vicariously through Maple the Kitten on Instagram (hashtag #tullybanks), who, though shorter-haired, has very much the same coloring (and yes – the same name!) as my big baby.

Do you see the resemblance?  Or is it just me…?

Esther the Wonder Pig

She’s been making media waves for a while, but I’ve recently fallen in love myself with Esther the Wonder Pig.  Her owners bought her as a 4 pound baby, told she was a “micro pig” that wouldn’t get very big.  Much to their surprise, within 2 years, she blossomed into a 500 lb lady – revealing herself as the same type of pig in the commercial farming industry.

Esther’s love, humor and intelligence won over her parents who kept her and became vegan.  Now she’s winning over thousands on Social Media, and shedding light on how much factory farmed pigs can think & feel.

I think we need a family meeting to discuss your clothing selections. Camo? Really?

A photo posted by Esther The Wonder Pig (@estherthewonderpig) on

A new link between Red Meat & Cancer

My uncle sent me this article recapping a recent study that discovered a new link between Red Meat & Cancer – a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc that’s present in beef, pork, lamb, bison, whole milk, certain cheeses, and fish eggs.  It’s believed that these molecules incorporate into the human tissue which is then attacked by the immune system, leading to inflammation and a higher risk of cancer.

Grant Butler’s top Cookbooks of the Year

Grant Butler, popular Vegan Columnist for The Oregonian newspaper publishes an annual list of his favorite cookbooks of the year.

I fully agree with his top pick for 2014 (Salad Samurai) and his top pick for 2013 (Isa Does It).  

Since I clearly agree with his taste, now I’m especially eager to try the other books he recommended each year!


I’d love to hear from you!

Did you get any great Foodie Gifts over the Holidays?

What’s your favorite cookbook of the year?