Vegan Raspberry Shrub Syrup

A shrub syrup is made from berries or fruit, not your garden shrub, so put down those pruners!  Shrub syrups have been around since the 17th century, they're also known as drinking vinegars.  The reason vinegar was used in the 17th century was to preserve the fruit harvest during the winters.  You can mix the syrup with liquor, or as I prefer, with sparkling water.  By mixing the syrup with sparkling water you have just created your very own homemade soda.  Perfect for the hot summer days ahead.


2 cups organic fruit
16 oz. organic vinegar, (apple cider vinegar, wine vinegars, or balsamic)
1 1/2 cups organic pure cane sugar

Method for making syrup:

Place fruit into a sterilized glass jar that has a secure lid.

Pour vinegar into a small pot, over medium heat, bring vinegar to just boiling; remove from heat.

Pour the vinegar over the fruit and secure lid.

Let the mixture cool, and then place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Strain the vinegar through a sieve; keep doing this until the vinegar is no longer cloudy.  You can use the fruit for another purpose if you like (perhaps a salad dressing).

Place the vinegar in a saucepan, add the sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour the syrup into a clean jar and store in the refrigerator.

Method for making soda:

Mix 3 tablespoons of the syrup into a glass of sparkling water; taste, and if you prefer a stronger flavor add 1 tablespoon at a time.


Button Rings

Vintage buttons, that's what I collect.  Glass and plastic, small and large, I collect them all.  Years ago I hit pay dirt when I was at an antique market, a vendor had a HUGE bowl of buttons.  The cost was $1 for a large spoon's worth.  But I didn't want to risk getting buttons that I didn't like, so I hand-picked each button and placed them in the large spoon.  I love buttons, but not ugly ones; I guess I am a button snob.

I like to sort mine by color, a vintage baking pan is perfect for this.  It will keep all your buttons neat and organized, plus makes a lovely display.

I mostly make rings and pins using my buttons.  I receive many compliments when I wear my button jewelry.  People are surprised when I tell them the simple process of how I created the jewelry.  

What I love the most about making my own jewelry is that it's a one-of-a-kind.  Your friends and neighbors can't go to the store down the street and buy the same jewelry.  I say, make it yourself if you can.

Trust me, this is jewelry you can make.  All you need are several buttons, glue, and a ring blank.  So, raid your mother's or grandmother's sewing boxes, go to garage sales or flea markets.  You can also purchase new buttons from craft centers; you can also buy the ring blanks there also. Ring blanks usually come in adjustable sizes, so no need to know your ring size.

To make a ring I usually stack 2-3 buttons, or you may just want to use 1 button.  Choose your buttons based on the size, style, and colors that you like.  Maybe you want to make a ring to match your new summer sundress, or to give to your friend for her birthday.  If for a gift, I would choose the buttons in her favorite color(s). 

First step:  pick your buttons, if you are using 2 buttons you will want 2 different sizes.  The largest button will be on the bottom.  

2nd step: place glue on the entire top surface of your ring blank.  Some ring blanks have a flat disc on top, others just a flat surface.  Only put glue on those areas.

3rd step: place the largest button in the glue and hold for a few seconds.  Gently set the ring down, if you can prop it up against something, that would be good, or you can wear the ring this is the easiest for me.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let harden.

4th step: place glue on top of the first button, then gently lay your second button on top, press down for a few seconds.  Again, gently prop it up and let dry.

5th step: the most exciting part, try your new ring on!  Now go out and show it off!


Vanilla Salt

Kick your ordinary table salt to the curb.  Vanilla salt will be taking over from now on.  The uses for vanilla salt are endless.  The obvious use is for baking, but how about on freshly popped pop corn? Fresh fruit? Or, better yet, how about on freshly boiled corn on the cob??!!

The aroma of the vanilla bean will linger in your kitchen as you prepare this salt.  You won't be able to restrain yourself from baking a cake and starting to sing like Doris Day!

Also, this salt makes a lovely gift for that person who thinks they have everything they need to make their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.


3 organic vanilla beans (any variety will work)
1/2 cup coarse salt


In a small bowl add salt.

On a cutting board, split each vanilla bean down the entire length of the bean; try not to split through to the other side.

Using a small knife, scrape the seeds out by running the blade down the entire length of the bean.  Scrape the seeds into the salt; repeat with remaining beans.  Do not discard the beans when you are done scraping.

Using your hands, gently mix the seeds into the salt.  The seeds will be clumpy, so separate with your fingers as you mix.

Cut up the scraped beans into 2" inch pieces.   I like to layer the salt with the cut up beans.  Leaving the beans in with the finished salt will give an extra boost of flavor and aroma.

Vanilla beans do have a fair amount of moisture, so your salt may become clumpy.  If this happens, shake the jar before using.


Vegan and Gluten Free Italian Flat Bread

Even if you do not have to follow a gluten free lifestyle, you'll enjoy this flat bread.  This bread can be used in place of your regular sandwich bread, or you can make individual pizzas with it, even enjoy it with your favorite jam or jelly.

Tonight, I will be enjoying mine with olives and cubed cheddar Dayia cheese.


Makes 2 servings

3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon chive salt
1/2 teaspoon Non-GMO, non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 teaspoon organic garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon organic onion powder
1/2 teaspoon organic dried rosemary
3/4 Tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add the oil and water; combine thoroughly.  If mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until a dough forms.

To a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.  I am not fancy with the preparation of the bread here; I just divide the dough, roll each piece into a ball and flatten with my hands and place in the skillet.  Fry each side until browned.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Vegan Chicken Salad

I am crossing my fingers that this summer I will be able to make these delicious stuffed tomatoes with my own-grown, red beauties.  I started my plants from seed this year instead of buying starter plants.  I know I will regret this; I do not have the best of luck growing tomato plants from seed.  When I shop at my Whole Foods Market, organic veggie starter plants greet me at the entrance.  I stop and glance at the plants, but I restrain myself from purchasing any.  I hope I hold out!

Either way, with tomatoes that were purchased, or grown in your garden, this is a perfect warm weather meal.


Organic Tomatoes
Vegan Chicken Salad
Ranch Dressing
Organic Lettuce

Method for preparing Ranch dressing:

1 cup non-dairy mayonnaise
2 T organic dried parsley
2 T organic dried dill
2 T organic onion powder
2 T organic garlic powder
1 t organic lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients thoroughly.  Store unused dressing in a sealed container for 2 weeks.

Method for preparing Vegan Chicken Salad:

Using Beyond Meat Chicken Strips, chop strips into bite size pieces.  Depending on how many tomatoes you are making, I would use 2-3 cups.  Place cubed chicken into a medium sized bowl, add 1/2 cup non-dairy mayonnaise, organic relish, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly.

On each plate make a bed of lettuce, set aside.

Method for preparing tomato's:

Wash and dry tomatoes; using a serrated knife, cut around the tops of the tomato's just deep enough to remove the very top.  Scoop out any seeds.  Using the serrated knife, make 4 slits down the tomatoes; you just want to open up the tomatoes so you can stuff them with the chicken salad.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the chicken salad into the tomato, and top with the ranch dressing.


Neem and Citronella Soap

This soap is suitable for both human and dog.  Fleas, ticks, and mosquitos don't discriminate.
The citronella, eucalyptus, and neem oils are excellent for repelling pesky insects.

This is a whipped soap; you can spoon the soap into molds or hand mold into balls.  The soap mixture will harden fairly quickly, so fill your prepared molds as soon as the soap has been mixed with an electric beater.  I prefer molding the soap with my hands. To do this, let the soap mixture sit in the bowl for 5-10 minutes to let it harden, then shape into balls.

I have used this soap on my furry family member for years.  It truly works, leaving Kipper's coat shiny and soft also.

Make a few and give as gifts to all furry friends; hey'll lick you for it!  Or, give to any outdoor enthusiast for a bug-free outdoor adventure.

**Caution: do not use on human or dog if they have irritated skin, or open sores; keep away from eyes and mouth.**


1 cup grated Castile Soap
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon organic Neem Oil
10 drops organic Citronella Oil
5 drops organic Eucalyptus Oil

Melt grated soap and water.  Once melted, pour into a large bowl.  Add oils and mix with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes.  The mixture should become very foamy.

Spoon soap into molds or let sit to harden and shape into balls; place soap balls onto plastic wrap and leave to harden.


Vegan Chocolate Almond Granola

This granola recipe is sure to become your favorite.  It's chocolaty, sweet, and nutty.  Enjoy this as a granola cereal, or for a tasty afternoon snack, even on top of your favorite vegan ice cream.

I have made granola before, this time I added a bit of this and that to make it flavorful.  Never before had I been won over by any granola recipe in particular, until I tried this one.

Make a batch this holiday weekend to bring to your Memorial Day celebration.

This recipe is adapted from One Degree Organic Foods.   I added chocolate chips, because I believe chocolate should be in everything we eat!  Also, I swapped out the pecans for almonds.  Lastly, I used agave syrup instead of the original maple syrup.


2 cups organic One Degree quick oats
1 cup organic almonds
1 cup organic shredded coconut
1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup organic agave nectar
1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 organic pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic pure almond extract
1/2 cup One Degree sunflower seeds


Preheat oven to 325 degrees; line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In another bowl combine the wet ingredients.  Combine the wet with the dry.  If the mixture is too dry, add extra water or agave nectar.

Spread granola evenly onto the baking sheet.

Bake until granola is dry (approximately1 hour).


Veagn Sriracha Salt

Do you like to spice up your tofu or your veggies?  Are you one of the many people that are hooked on Sriracha Sauce?  Well, today's your day!  I stumbled upon a Sriracha Salt recipe from; the recipe is from The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens.  Now you can spice up your popcorn, mixed nuts, or even your homemade granola, if you dare.

For my Sriracha sauce I used Sky Valley brand.

This salt would make a wonderful hostess gift to bring to your next vegan burger cookout.


1/2 cup kosher salt
5 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce


Line a small baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper, set aside.

Per-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a small bowl, mix the salt and Sriacha sauce together.  Spread the mixture out on the lined baking sheet.  Once the oven heats to 350, turn it off and place the baking sheet inside the warm oven.  The salt will dry out from the residual heat.  Leave in oven for 2-3 hours, no need to stir around the salt while drying.

Remove the salt from the oven, the salt will have dried into one large piece.  Break up into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.  I used my vintage nut chopper to break down the pieces; you can also use a large fork or a mortar and pestle.

Store in a covered container.

Vegan Double Frosted Donuts

Who doesn't love donuts?!  When I first became vegan, my donut intake decreased to nil.  I learned to live without them and found other desserts to fill the void.  Even to this day, I cannot find a vegan donut, although cupcakes, cakes and muffins abound.  But where are the donuts?

Well, I took matters into my own hands and started to bake my own donuts. I am happy to say donuts are back in my life again.

Donut making at home is one of the easiest desserts to make, but you will need a donut pan to make these baked donuts for yourself.

I have given the traditional donut a little makeover by slicing the donut in half and spreading one half with a thick frosting.  Sounds good doesn't it? Just imagine sinking your teeth into a moist donut then experiencing a mouthful of sweet frosting.  Yum!!

Ingredients for donut batter:

1 cup organic unbleached flour
1 teaspoon organic baking soda
1 teaspoon non-GMO, non-aluminum baking powder
1 Tablespoon organic cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk
1/3 cup unsweetened organic non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract
Non-dairy butter (melted) to grease the donut pan

Ingredients for frosting:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy butter
3 cups organic confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons organic pure vanilla extract
Organic sprinkles (optional)

Method for donuts batter:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees; grease each donut well with melted butter, set aside.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, creamer, applesauce, and vanilla.  Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and gently combine until moist.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter to each donut well.  Make sure to leave the center peg visible.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, let stand for 2 minutes.  Remove donuts, let cool before frosting.

Method for frosting:

In a large bowl, cream butter with hand mixer, add sugar and vanilla; mix until frosting is thick and smooth.

Method for assembling donuts:

Carefully slice each donut in half; using a pastry bag or a frosting spatula, frost the bottom half of each donut.  Place the top halves of each donut back on the bottoms.  Frost the tops and dip in sprinkles if using.


Vegan Homemade Baking Extracts

Vanilla, Chocolate, and Lavender extracts..
I use them all!  I love making extracts.  Nothing says homemade more than baking cookies or a cake with your very own extract that you created with your own hands.

I have not bought extract in years, and you shouldn't either.  Why? You may ask.  Well, first of all not all extracts are vegan.  The extract has to be made with a vegan vodka, rum, or brandy.  Also, organic and pure extracts are a must, but can be hard to find or expensive.  Additionally, your extract should be pure, containing very little (if any) water and it should not contain any sugar.

You bake only the best desserts, so why wouldn't you use only the best extracts?  So, how do you get the best?  You make them!  Being vegan has taught me many things, but one of the biggest has been to learn how to create and conquer the methods of traditional baking and cooking.  We shouldn't leave it up to the large food manufacturers to supply us with our vegan products, and I do not.  I simply adore the "true vegan" food companies that are serving us great food.  However, I wholeheartedly object to the major food brands cashing in on us vegans; creating products for us solely because we are part of a growing market.  Well, enough of that rant!  Let's get back back to happier thoughts!  By making your own extracts you can create custom flavors to suit your taste.  How about, cherry vanilla?  Or, chocolate coffee?  I've never seen those flavors on a store shelf.

Grab your bottles, fruit, vanilla beans, vodka and measuring cups!  It's time to brew extracts!

Lemon Extract


The yellow peels of 4 organic lemons (that were washed and dried thoroughly)
1 cup organic vodka, rum, or brandy

Place lemon peels in a clean jar, that has a tight fitting lid; add the alcohol of choice.  Seal tightly with the lid.  Make sure you label the extract with date started so you know when the 4 weeks is up. Let sit in a dark cool place for 4 weeks.  Shake the jar every few days.  After 4 weeks, drain the extract through a fine sieve and discard the peels.  Store your lemon extract, when not in use, in a dark place; you want to avoid sunlight hitting the bottle.  You can also decant your finished lemon extract into a amber colored bottle; this is best for storing to avoid sunlight.

Almond Extract


6 tablespoons coarsely crushed, organic almonds
1 cup organic vodka, rum, or brandy

Place crushed almonds in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid; add alcohol of choice.  Seal tightly with the lid.  Label the extract with the date started, and let sit in a dark cool place for 4 weeks.  Shake the jar every few days.  After 4 weeks, drain the extract through a fine sieve and discard the almonds.  Store your finished almond extract in a dark place when not in use.

Coffee Extract


4 tablespoons crushed, organic coffee beans
1 cup organic vodka, rum, or brandy

Place the crushed coffee beans in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid; add alcohol of choice.  Seal tightly with the lid.  Label the extract with the date started, and let sit in a dark cool place for 4 weeks.  Shake the jar every few days.  After 4 weeks, drain the extract through a fine sieve and discard the coffee beans.  Store your finished coffee extract in a dark place when not in use.


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