Author Archives: Anne

Crockpot Tofurky

Aunt Anne’s Crockpot Tofurky w/ Gravy

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share my recipe for Crockpot Tofurky.  I’ll add more pictures when the big day comes =)

I started using the crockpot to roast my Tofurky a few years ago because it frees up the oven for other things and it’s perfect for keep the Tofurky moist.  If you don’t have, or don’t want to use a crockpot, you can achieve basically the same results by roasting in a pan and covering with foil in the oven at 300˚F for the same amount of time.


Aunt Anne’s Crockpot Tofurky Roast


Prep Time: 30 mins.

Cook Time: 2 hours (thawed), 3 hours (frozen)



1 Tofurky Roast

1 Vidalia Onion

1 or 2 Carrots

1 stalk Celery

3 or 4 Red Potatoes

1 Purple Turnip

1 sprigs each: Thyme, Rosemary, Sage

3 Tbs. Olive Oil

3 Tbs. Fresh Orange Juice

1 Tbs. Tamari

Approximately 16 oz. Vegetable Stock

2 Tbs. Butter

3 Tbs. Flour



Chop all veggies into medium to large chunks.  Place in bottom of crockpot.  Place Tofurky Roast on top of veggies.  Put sprigs of herbs around the roast.  In a separate container whisk together Oil, Orange Juice, and Tamari.  Pour over roast.  Add enough stock to the crockpot to cover the veggies and about 1” of the roast.  Reserve remaining stock to add as needed to prevent drying out.  Roast in crockpot on high heat for 2 – 3 hours depending on thawed vs. frozen.  Scoop up liquid to baste Tofurky Roast every half hour, adding broth as needed.  Rotate the roast every hour before basting.  Probe with thermometer to ensure internal temperature is at least 120F.  After this temperature is reached, you can turn down the temperature to low to keep warm until serving, continuing to baste as needed.


Gravy from baste:

Drain excess liquid, strain out solids, and set aside.  Turn off heat and keep roast with vegetables in crockpot to preserve heat.  In a saucepan, melt 2 tbs. butter over medium heat.  Whisk in 3 tbs. flour to form a paste.   Slowly whisk in baste liquid until gravy thickens, add additional broth if needed.



Arrange roast on platter surrounded by veggies.  Discard herbs, replace with fresh ones if desired for presentation.  Tofurky is best when thinly sliced.  Serve with gravy on the side.

Vegetarian Skyline

Cincinnati Chili – Skyline (Vegetarian Recipe)

To be honest, I have not eaten real Skyline in at least 20 years.  When they began serving Black Beans and Rice as an alternative to their beef chili, I switched to that and have never looked back. This recipe is pretty close to how Skyline smells and I’ve had some carnivores taste test it.  The only thing not duplicated is the fine texture of the beef.  I prefer the chunkier chili, however I suppose you could pulse it through a food processor if you really wanted to duplicate the fine grind of Skyline.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is measuring all of the spices.  That is why I mix a big batch and measure it out for each preparation.  This reduces the prep time significantly.  For me from about 1 hour to 15 minutes (plus time to simmer).  A bonus of this method is the ability to adjust the spiciness of each batch of chili (ie. add more or less to your personal preference).  When measuring the spices for one batch of chili, it creates just about 4 tablespoons.  So multiply the spice mix recipe by how ever many batches of chili you want and then measure out 3 1/2 – 4 tbsp for each preparation. has a handy calculator to easily multiply measurements.  However, there are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon (in case you didn’t know).


Skyline Spice Mix

*for one batch of chili*

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder (baking variety)

Mix all dry spices together.  Use immediately in chili recipe or store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.


Skyline Chili Recipe

1 tbsp oil (I prefer ghee)

1 large Onion finely chopped (you may even prefer to chop in a food processor for a more authentic chili)

1 package veggie grounds (I prefer Quorn because they are soy-free) = 1 lb ground meat

15 oz. tomato sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (or soy sauce)

1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

3/4 cup water or veggie broth (more if needed)

3 1/2 – 4 tbsp spice mix (see above)


Remove grounds from freezer to begin to defrost.  Heat oil in large sauce pan on Med-low heat.  Saute onion for a few minutes.  Just before it begins to turn translucent add the grounds.  DO NOT COVER.  The trick to cooking veggie grounds is letting them dry out.  Otherwise they get mushy.  As the grounds cook, break apart the frozen chunks and stir with the onions.  Let the grounds brown and dry, but avoid burning.  This takes about 10 minutes.  Add tomato sauce, worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and spices.  Stir in water or broth.  Allow sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes on low heat.  Add more water as needed to reach the preferred consistency.

Serve over spaghetti noodles with lots of finely shredded mild cheddar cheese.  Chopped onions, kidney beans, oyster crackers and hot sauce are optional.

appetizers - Skyline Style

appetizers – Skyline Style









Banana Bread

Front Range Banana Bread w/ Hemp Seed

I live along the front range at about 5,000 feet.  When I moved to Colorado, I found that many of my previous baking recipes didn’t quite turn out the same way as they did back in Ohio.  Some may argue that I’m not at a high enough elevation to require any alterations to a recipe, however I will say that regardless of the “why” things bake different here than they do in the Mid-West.  While some recipes are just fine, others do require a bit of some adjustments.  Maybe it’s the dry air, or the 300+ days of sunshine.  Whatever the reason, my old banana bread recipe never turned out the way it should.  So here is one that works.


Front Range Banana Bread (“high-altitide”) w/ Hemp Seed

2 Medium size bananas, very ripe

4 tbsp oil or soft butter (I like coconut oil)

2 large egg

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup hulled hemp seeds + more for topping

1 1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips/ nuts/ etc. (optional)


Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Combine butter, eggs, sugar, and bananas,  Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and hemp seeds.  Use a hand mixer or an emulsion blender to combine all the ingredients.  I like the emulsion blender b/c it makes everything smooth and creamy (but don’t over blend).  Stir in flour with a spoon until moistened.  Fold in chocolate chips/ nuts/ etc. if using them. Grease a loaf pan (I use coconut oil) and lightly flour it.  Pour bread batter into pan.  Sprinkle hemp seeds on top.  Bake at 350˚F for 50 minutes.

I know it’s tempting, but let the loaf cool completely before trying to remove from the pan.  Otherwise you’ll end up with more than one loaf, and it won’t be pretty (if you know what I mean).


High Altitude Recipe

When I found the original recipe it was called a “High-Altitude” recipe.  I changed the name to Front Range since I don’t bake above a mile-high, also I altered the recipe a bit.  So if you live at a higher elevation, let me know in the comments if this works.


A Note on Hemp Seed

Hemp seed is a little powerhouse food.  It is high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids.  It is also a complete source of protein containing all essential amino acids.








Save the Ta-Tas

My Medical Choice vs. Health Care Reality


“My Medical Choice”, is a recent Opinion piece in the New York Times.  It is an article written by Angelina Jolie in which she shares her story about choosing to have a preventative mastectomy.1   Also called a prophylactic mastectomy, she chose to have this surgery because she was diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene.  She’s speaking out about this to spread her story in hopes that she may encourage other women be proactive.

“Today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”  -Angelina

Prophylactic mastectomy is a surgery that only women with a very high risk of breast cancer should consider.  Contributing factors to being high risk are women with a family or personal history of breast cancer, and women who carry the abnormal genes known as BRCA1 or BRACA2.According to Angelina’s article, her risk was an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer.

People are calling her “brave” for speaking out.  I assure you, she is brave; it’s tough to share personal information such as this, even if you aren’t a celebrity.  Her message is one of great intention too, however I believe she has missed the mark.  The cost of testing alone for BRCA1 and BRCA2, is more than $3,000 (in the US) while the cost of the surgery is over $15,000 and this does not include the reconstructive breast augmentation.  And of course these costs “may or may not be covered by insurance”, most likely not since it would all be considered elective procedures from a “proactive” standpoint.3

I am glad Angelina is brave, and telling her story.  The downside is that she is most likely only reminding the majority of American women that we don’t have the same means to pay for health care as someone of her income does.  Her message will help a limited number of women who can afford to be proactive as she has.  However, most of us can barely afford our health insurance premium let alone elective genetic testing.  With our current health care system, the rest of us will have to sit and wait until we receive the cancer diagnosis to do anything about it.  It would be great if Angelina could direct her message to the insurance companies and health care providers to advocate the preventative screenings for cancer, including genes such as this to be covered by insurance.

I may be out on a limb here, but what we need are people of Angelina’s status to speak out about the health care system’s need for reform.  The Affordable Care Act is only the first step in a lengthy process of changing the system to catch up with the rest of the industrialized world’s health care systems.  With more advocates for reform from well known people, we may be able to rise from our current rank as 37th in the world for health care (in case you don’t know, that’s a terrible rank4.) As CNN’s contributing writing Arthur Caplan says it best, “Jolie’s story reminds us that we need to adjust our health care system from one that pays for treatment to one that also covers prevention.”5




1. Jolie, A. (2013) My Medical Choice. New York Times Opinion. Retrieved from


2. Mayo Clinic. (2011). Prophylactic mastectomy: Surgery to reduce breast cancer risk. Retrieved from


3. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. (1998-2013) PROPHYLACTIC MASTECTOMY. Retrieved from


4. WHO (2013) World Health Organization Assesses the World’s Health Systems. Retrieved from


5. Caplan, A. (2013) Angelina Jolie’s brave message. CNN Opinion. Retrieved from

sometimes quote

Stop Thinking! Right Now.

Whoever said the quote in the image above, was inadvertently encouraging people to meditate.  Sometimes when you focus on what you shouldn’t do, you do exactly that, like hit the tree with your frisbee.  So it seems counterproductive to tell someone, “don’t think”, “don’t wonder”, “don’t imagine”, and “don’t obsess”.  Won’t this cause them to do just those things?


What happens when you tell someone to “clear their mind”?

  • clear your mind
  • find the stillness within
  • focus on only love

Sometimes a reminder of what NOT to do, is just as important as what TO do.  If that someone you told to “clear their mind” is anything like me, they will try but then all the thoughts come in.  We need a guide to remind us of what we shouldn’t be doing.

If you are at all familiar with meditating, you will know that you can find hundreds of guided meditations.  Generally these are positive imagery, “Imagine a light radiating from your heart.”, sorts of things.  I’m all for this, but what about that little disconnect between imagining the light and every day life?  The moments when you are so overwhelmed and consumed by something frustrating, that focusing on “nothing” is nearly impossible?


How do you focus on the void between the trees, when those trees are in technicolor and smacking you with their branches?


It’s easy.  First we BREATHE, and then we must give these trees our attention.  In order to make peace with the trees we must acknowledge that they are there, and they are hurting us with their branches.  The trees won’t stop unless we tell them their behavior is annoying us, that their technicolor glow is blinding our eyes from seeing the path we should be on.   When we have done all we can to acknowledge the trees, we can tell our brains to stop thinking about them, to not wonder what the trees are doing, to not obsess over the trees, to not even imagine the trees exist.

That’s our “Aha” moment.

We’ve let the trees go.  They have vanished into the great beyond.  Now we can shift our perspective to the radiating light.  Now the “clear mind” seems possible, right?  Now we can focus our faith on manifesting the BEST!


hand tools

Adventures in Compost

My son has been begging me to plant seeds and grow our own food for years.  The problem was that we had just bought a house in Colorado and the yard was in horrendous shape.  I’m talking, nothing but dirt and river rock on the back yard.  The dirt was due to no one ever watering the grass, the river rock was a poor attempt at landscaping.  So I spent the first many years picking rocks out of where the lawn should be, and then moving tons (as in weight) of rock out from where I wanted to install a garden.  Then much labor was involved installing a retaining wall made of timbers, and concrete garden wall stones.  I even stress fractured my wrist chiseling away at the hard clay with a pick axe.  Talk about dedication! This post isn’t about the whole process of getting my yard in shape.  It is about my adventures in composting.

We’ve lived here for 5 years now, and I’m happy to report that I’m almost ready to plant a garden.  I even have seeds sprouted.  Before I can do that, I need soil in my garden.


Sprouted Seeds =)

Last fall, my garden area was finally ready to be filled with soil.  You see I’m from Ohio, where generally you can stick a seed in the ground and it will grow.  In Colorado, even if you are planting native plants, you will need to water them profusely to get them established.  This is why my garden is a raised bed, also it’s on a bit of an incline.

Last Fall

Garden Area before soil amending

Actually, in this picture, there are already some leaves in there for composting.  After pricing garden soil at about $500 to fill this area, I decided to make my own.  In comes the compost.  I started by filling the space with as many leaves as I could get my hands on.  All of them from my yard, and two of my neighbors’ yards.  The branches were of course moved out.

Siloh in the compost midwinter

My dog loves the compost like kids love ball pits.

Here it is mostly filled.  Actually at one point it was filled to the brim with leaves.  Here it is already compacting.  It sat like this over the winter, with the occasional turning on warm days.  I also watered it from time to time, because we had a really dry winter.  Come spring I realized that while my pile was composting, it kept shrinking!  I needed more soil.  So I purchased a few bags of organic garden soil and began chipping away at the slope by the fence and mixed it in.

Spring first amendment

Adding Organic Soil

And then I realized that this was still not enough. So my greenhouse farming friend gave me the leftover soil from a recent harvest.

Spring 2nd amendment

Amending compost the second time.

See it’s getting fuller, but now it needs to be mixed up.  I liked to think of this like baking cookies.  Only instead of using a hand mixer to combine the flour, sugar, butter, and chocolate chips… I used a pick axe and a shovel to blend wet leaves, food scraps, and dirt.  The difference being that baking cookies smells like vanilla, compost smells like decomposing wet leaves.  Oh, and cookies take about 15 minutes with minimal effort, this took 4 hours of manual labor!

hand tools

As I worked, I kept envisioning my baby kale, turnips, beans, corn, carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce that are anxiously awaiting to spread their roots in the earth.  Then when that wore off, I began envisioning the beer I would treat myself to when I was done.


Compost is wet and messy.

Compost is wet and messy.

And finally, my compost was like cookie dough only instead of chocolate chips it was full of worms.  Glorious, fat worms.  Worms are of course necessary for compost.  So fat worms in early spring show that my compost is working.  It’s full of nutrients, and it’s keeping warm enough for life even under 14″ of snow!

Compost after turning 4/21

In all it’s glory

It’s supposed to snow again tonight, yes in mid April.  Also, obviously my soil isn’t 100% ready for planting.  So keep your fingers crossed for me that by next month in mid May when the danger of frost has finally past, that this pile is glorious black gold (of the fertile earth kind).

See? Like a ball pit made of stinky wet leaves. Dog heaven.

Look for an update on my garden next month.  In the meantime, I may post about my adventure in xeriscaping the front yard.


love & light






Real happiness lies in that which never comes nor goes, but simply is.

Tea Time


What is your favorite way to recharge when you feel drained of energy? I like to enjoy a cup of tea.  I know some of you are thinking, “Yes! A caffeine pick me up.” This isn’t necessarily untrue, but how my energy is recharged through a cup of tea is more powerful than any drug.

Tea & Bag
It is the ritual of brewing tea that invokes all of the senses and forces you be present in the moment.  I enjoy looking over my collection of tea with the brightly colored wrappings or beautiful designs on the box or tins.  As I listen for my hot water kettle to reach a boil, I read the eloquent words the tea master uses to describe the flavors from the blend of tea leaves and herbs and dream about the far off places these plants came from.  Selecting my favorite tea cup can be as comforting as a favorite pair of slippers, or exotic like a new pair of shoes.  When the water is hot and poured over the tea the air is filled with steam and creates a moment of aromatherapy.  Then the cup is covered while it brews and I imagine all of the goodness of the healthy herbs inside and how they will soon heal my body.


Finally when it has cooled just enough to drink, I sit back, feel the cup warm my hands, breath in the scent, taste the fresh flavors, and for a few moments simply enjoy the simplicity of the world.  Tea is a rejuvenating experience like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.




love & light



Bee in Maine

We Need the Bees!

I’ve always found bees fascinating.  My son is terrified of them due to a freak bee sting many years ago during a daytime Halloween event in which a bee fell in his shoe and stung his foot.  So over the past years I’ve been explaining that despite that one sting, bees are actually very good creatures and are an integral part of our existence.  Also, he loves honey, so that helps =)
A Bee in Maine

A Bee in Maine

Facts about Honeybees:

>They are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.

>There is only one queen, which is the only fertile female. She mates with multiple males, and lays up to 2,000 eggs per day.

>They have control over the society of their hive. Unfertilized eggs are male, fertilized eggs are female. They choose with egg will be a new queen by feeding it royal jelly.

>Nearly all worker bees are female, they live all winter long, but only 4 – 6 weeks during summer. Worker jobs are assigned as housekeeper; nursemaid; construction worker; grocer; undertaker; guard; and finally, after 21 days they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. Becoming a forager is the equivalent of “putting a cow to pasture”. While an integral part of their society, this signifies the end of their life as the literally work themselves to death. Females only sting if provoked. Since they have a barbed stinger, using it will result in their death.

>Drones are male and kept in the hive on standby for mating. They have no stinger but their reproductive organ is barbed, so using it will result in their death. In winter, males drones are of no use and are kicked out of the hive (death).

>One hive collects about 66lbs of pollen per year. Without bees, our plants, trees, flowers etc. would not grow.

>In conclusion. Women rule among the honey bees, literally. Every time you eat honey, remember, this was brought to you by hard working women that died creating their sweet elixir that provides us with many medicinal benefits.

>No Bees = No Pollination = No Plants = No Food = No oxygen = Earth Dies = Humans Die

>A honey bees society is a lot like Wicker Man. Except instead of fire, they kill their men by letting them freeze in icy winter.

More about Bees:

“NOVA chronicles a year in the life of a bee colony with stunning images that take viewers inside the innermost secrets of the hive. The documentary team spent a year developing special macro lenses and a bee studio to deliver the film’s astonishing sequences. These include the “wedding flight” of the colony’s virgin queen as it mates in mid-air with a drone; the life-and-death battle between two rival queens for the colony’s throne; and the defeat and death of a thieving wasp at the entrance to the hive. The show also explores such mysteries as the famous “waggle dance” with which scout bees signal the exact direction and distance of nectar sources to the rest of the hive. A vivid picture emerges of the bee’s highly organized social life, revolving around the disciplined sharing of construction tasks, the collection of nectar, and warding off enemies.Original Broadcast Date: January 4, 2000″

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Bees =)
love & light



Volunteer Week ~ Soul Flower

The main garden classroom last fall

The main garden classroom last fall

April 14 – 20 is National Volunteer Week.  I happened to see that one of my favorite online clothing establishments was hosting a “Kindness Matters Giveaway for Volunteers“, with the prize being a coupon code.  All I had to do was submit a little bio about my volunteering with an image for a chance to earn the coupon.  Well let’s face it, who doesn’t like coupons, especially when it’s for some sweet threads?  Anyhow, my buds over at Soul Flower liked my submission so much that they included me as one of the volunteers featured in their blog.  How fun is that?!


Had I known my email was going to be published I might have written it a bit different.  But hey, what can you do? It’s written from the heart, and really explains all the work I do with the school garden.  I hope you enjoy =)

Soul Flower Buds: School Garden Program, Kindness Matters


love & light