Tall Tails

Not one to dwell on the negative, there are still countless happier things to share. It’s the first of December after all, prime time for merriment and holiday spirit, no conditions required. Normally, I’d be the first to snark about the rampant consumerism that hollows out these events into shallow dates that only manufacturers can celebrate. This year, however, it all feels different. Homemade gifts are great, still the best choice, but if you want to buy shiny new toys for every last person on your list? More power to you. If retailers want to tempt shoppers with deep discounts? Fantastic, grab those deals while they’re hot. If that’s what makes the holidays real, if that’s what feels right, then what on earth is so bad about that?

So in the spirit of gift-giving, I’m delighted to share these adorable MugTails by Korin. This sweet set of two bushy-tailed squirrels arrived on my doorstep as an early Hanukkah gift, but it would seem greedy to keep both matching cups. That’s why I’m giving one away, no strings attached. Anyone can enter since I’m able to ship it directly, no matter where you live. Just be sure to leave me a comment before midnight EST on December 8th with a valid email address in the appropriate box. Anything goes, but if you’re feeling short on words, tell me what’s at the top of your wishlist.

UPDATE: And the winner is…

Commenter behind door number #38! That means that andrea, you’ve scored yourself one adorable little squirrely mug! Congrats, and keep your eyes peeled for an email from me shortly.

In case you haven’t figured out your entire shopping list yet, I do have an additional suggestion: A cookbook! Yes, one of my cookbooks would be particularly lovely. In fact, to further sweeten the deal, I’ll send you a free signed bookplate if you purchase any one of my books (My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, or Vegan a la Mode) through the month of December, 2012. This one I must unfortunately restrict to residents of the US only. Once you’ve purchased your book, email me at hannah @ mysweetvegan . com (no spaces) with either a screenshot for online purchases or an image of a scanned receipt.

Hungry for the Holidays

As much as I want to tell myself that Thanksgiving is still months away, and I still become alarmed when the subject of Christmas comes up, the truth is that I’ve actually had a head start on the holidays. In fact, all things considered, I’ve already eaten more than one Thanksgiving dinner! No, it wasn’t because I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, but because I was tasked with the weighty duty of preparing and photographing a number of dishes for the VegNews Holiday E-Cookbook. Come mid October, I had quite the harvest feast on my hands; all vegan, all incredibly delicious, and all to myself. Open up this handy guide to holiday cooking and you can expect to find mains, desserts, and everything in between, such as…

Pumpkin Seed Battered “Chicken” with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce

Seitan Roulade with Oyster Mushroom Stuffing

Dark Forest Trifle with Coconut Custard

Plus many more, of course.  Additionally, you can find my White Gingerbread recipe in the dessert section as well, in case you missed it two years ago! Just having that lovely loaf baking away in the oven, filling your whole house with the scent of sweet spices, is sure to get you in a festive mood.

So, do you have the menu for your grand vegan thanksgiving banquet planned out yet?

Not Just For Girls

Despite the limited audience that the title might imply, The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is a book for all genders, ages, and walks of life.  Though the self-help section of the bookstore isn’t somewhere I would start looking for delicious, tried-and-true recipes, crafts, or inspirational profiles on kick-ass, successful vegan women, that’s exactly the category Melisser Elliott‘s debut work of writing is filed under.  Far more than just another cookbook, the pages of this slim text are positively crammed with DIY projects for those with crafty inclinations, help on selecting cosmetics free of animal products, and general advice on living vegan, presented in an exciting and approachable way. Melisser has a fresh, fun style all her own, so you can bet this won’t be a dry, monotonous read. Heck, she could make a computer manual sound like fun!

Melisser has been a dear blog buddy and long-distance confidante for years now, so of course, my opinion is highly biased. However, I know a good vegan quiche when I taste one, and Melisser’s definitely ranks up on the very top of my list. Those leftover slices were so tempting, the wait I would have had to endure while reheating them in the toaster oven was entirely unbearable; Sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night for a little late nibble, I ended up skarfing down almost the whole thing cold.

Naturally, I skim straight to the recipes first, and there are quite a few keepers to bookmark. Happily, I had the incredible fortune to photograph a few select entries, so I feel confident that I sampled a good cross section of the overall offerings found in The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life.

Flip over to the dessert section, and you’ll find a sweet recipe from me! Simple but unique cupcakes, again pushing the limits of natural coloring with Purple Cow Cupcakes. …Hate to tease, but you just have to check out the book to see what they’re all about.

For those with a sweet tooth and a penchant for brunch, the Banana Bread French Toast is another must-make. Combining the best of tender banana bread and custard-like yet crispy french toast, it’s the kind of meal that you dream about waking up to.

And those craving heartier fair will not be disappointed, because there are plenty of meaty, spicy, and salty offerings to go around! In particular, the Jackfruit Carnitas could woo the most staunch carnivore- Even the texture is eerily “realistic.”

Graciously, Skyhorse Publishing has offered an additional book for one of you to ogle and enjoy! If you’d like to win a free copy of The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, please leave me only one comment on this post with your name and a correct email address, answering the following question: What piece of advice (or vital recipe, tip, or trick) would you give to a new vegan?  [Open to those with mailing addresses within the continental US only; Sorry!]

The contest will close at midnight on November 8th, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Win or lose, you’ve got to check Melisser’s listing of tour dates, because you may be able to meet the brains behind the whole operation and even snag yourself a signed book!