Simple, Spiritual, Outdated Living in a Vintage New England Home on the Southern Coast of Maine

Monday, October 31, 2016

Gluten-Free Vegan Groovy Chickpea Burger Recipe

Wayne and I decided (well, I decided and told Wayne, ha) in an effort to further reduce our consumption of animals we're going vegetarian until Thanksgiving. After the holidays our goal is to be vegetarian for three weeks each month, maybe more. Rather than see that as limiting, I'm seeing an opportunity to create and play in the kitchen all winter to come up with new recipes. Of course I'll post some of the fun here!

Although I have some intriguing vintage vegetarian recipes and cookbooks for inspiration I kicked off our new diet with my own veggie burger creation. In the spirit of frugal housewives from the first part of the 20th Century I made use of what I already had in the house: Can of chickpeas, tahini, onion, oats and leftover mashed sweet potatoes. I bought some mushrooms and organic sunflower seeds because I was looking at my nutrition stats on fitday and realized I need more vitamin E in my diet. Although I used all organic ingredients which is pricier than not, the cost is still less than buying meat!

Groovy Chickpea Burger Recipe


1 15.5 oz BPA-free can organic chickpeas (420 calories)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (205 calories)
2 tbsp tahini (180 calories)
1 chopped white onion (60 calories)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (8 calories)
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (500 calories)
2 cups rolled oats (300 calories)
6 tbsp peanut oil (720 calories)
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dill
1 tsp celery salt

Drain the can of chickpeas, place in a large bowl, add the tahini and mash together. Add the sweet potatoes and herbs and blend with a mixing spoon before adding the oats. Mix again. In a skillet on medium sautee the onion and mushrooms with two tbsp of the oil, then add to the bowl and mix once more until well blended. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cooled, then form into eight patties. Heat an iron skillet on medium with two tablespoons of oil. Once hot place four of the patties in the skillet. Flip after a few minutes. You can flip them a few times until they are cooked to your idea of perfection. Repeat with adding the remaining two tablespoons of oil and four burgers. If you want a less moist lower fat version you can bake them in a greased iron skillet at 350 for about forty minutes, turning them over halfway through.

Makes 8 burgers with 300 calories each.

I served the burgers on gluten-free rolls with lettuce and one of the last ripened tomatoes from our summer garden. (Yesterday I picked the remaining green tomatoes and placed them in a paper bag hoping they will ripen!) To add to the charade we had ours with a little ketchup. They are delicious!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Decluttering My Career: From Busy Production Design Studio to Serene Writer's Den

My home office has served me very well, but it was time for a major change.

From 2001 through last year I ran a brisk and busy business from my home office. I've provided vintage imagery, research and design services to businesses; had been selling my vintage finds on ebay, many years with PowerSeller status; designed and manufactured my own retro greeting card line that I sold online and wholesaled locally. During that time I also blogged while I wrote my first book.

After my divorce I realized that I wanted to spin down some of my business so I could dedicate more time to my writing. My ebay inventory that was piled on my production table in the middle of my office, my card making supplies, the research source materials (old papers, magazines, etc) and the multiple storage bins they were in placed beneath and around the table began to feel like clutter closing in on me.

I discontinued my retro Christmas card line after the holiday season last year and spent this past year selling off and donating my remaining ebay inventory so that the top of the work table was cleared. I relocated the plastic bins that were stored underneath that table which contain research materials I no longer need to reference (but may again someday) and unused card stock into my basement. I sold my L.L.Bean oak desk on craigslist and that work table I mentioned?

As you can see in the above photos, it's now my desk!

It's a wonderful large 1950s turquoise Formica table with wrought iron ivy legs that I bought at an antique shop for only $100 in Ogunquit about seven years ago. It even came with the original chairs which I'm storing in my basement.

Since my new desk doesn't have drawers I'm using this 1935 (the date is imprinted on the base) flatware chest that I bought at a church rummage sale for $12.

The desk in the corner, no longer covered with stuff, is now my writing desk.

The old typewriter for which I paid $3 is for inspiration. The matching lamps here and on my other desk were yard sale finds for fifty cents each. The 1950s wood banker's chair was a $5 find.

It's so nice to have the space back and see the floor in my office where the table used to be!

I needed more space for my books. In addition to using antique wood crates I bought a new-to-me upcycled bookshelf.

These Maple bookshelves were gifted to me in grad school by the artisan who made them. His wife, a friend, took pity on my sad plastic crates I had been using. The paintings are flea and yard sale finds. You can see them when I first got them when I lived in a tiny house in Burlington, Vermont.

A very modern painting signed by an unknown artist.

The tintype and guitar pick. :)

My "new" bookshelf is made with reclaimed wood from an 1800s stage coach! I was at an antique shop and happened to be there when the seller was stocking her section with this along with some of the antique wood crates and cabinet a few pics below. She gave me a great deal! I spent less on all of those pieces than I would have if I bought faux wood shelving from Target.

I really like old crates with advertising and listening to the one remaining oldies a.m. station.

Cool old lettering.

I am now using an 1800s primitive farmhouse jelly cabinet/cupboard as storage shelves along with more wood crates for some of my boots and shoes. The modern painting was a $12 yard sale find. The cuckoo clock came with my house!

On top of the cabinet is a $6 Art Deco box from a flea market that's holding more papers.

I love the old latch hardware and primitive look of the wood.

Ah, yes, Christmas is not far off!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mackworth Island, Falmouth, Maine

Last week Wayne and I took a walk around Mackworth Island in Falmouth.  The Island was donated to the State of Maine in 1946 by Governor Baxter to be used for public enjoyment and "a sanctuary for wild beasts and birds.'"

No bikes are allowed on the trail.

Peaceful field.

The view along the perimeter.

Colorful ledge.

This ivy is suffocating the tree!

A beautiful pet cemetery from 1921.

Governor Baxter loved his Irish Setters.

It's so peaceful and quiet here.

One of the benches along the trail.

The Fairy Village!

Well appointed fairy quarters. This one was my favorite.

Another bench, chained to a tree like the others. I guess they are a hot item?

This feels like a skinny mini version of the Redwoods forest. However, I've never been to the real Redwoods (yet), so I'm probably way off here.

I don't know what these are but they are cute.


The afternoon sunshine was warm and welcome.

Taking off my shades.

I love the shadows...

...and making them.

An unknown hardy plant with new dainty flowers.

It was a beautiful Indian Summer day unlike today which is high in the 40s!

Monday, October 24, 2016

My Le Creuset Crusade, Kittery, Maine

For over a decade I've stocked my kitchen with vintage essentials like Pyrex bowls, flatware, cooking utensils, pots and pans, sets of dishes, drinking glasses and linens mostly hand-picked from local yard and estate sales. I have purchased a few vintage cast iron pieces on ebay over the years like my 1920s Griswold cast iron waffle maker.

Overall I have invested a great deal of time but very little cash on high quality made-in-the-USA things. That's why the concept of buying BRAND NEW *and* expensive beautifully colored cast iron pieces by Le Creuset seemed extremely extravagant. I have never spent or budgeted hundreds of dollars for a single piece of cookware.

I added a Soleil Le Creuset 6.75 quart Dutch oven to my Amazon wish list sometime this spring. Last week I went ahead and ordered it! I was hoping it would be large enough for a small turkey based upon the measurements, not just a chicken, but realized once it arrived that it would be too small. Also, some of the yellow enamel over raised lettering was thin so that close up it looked like they had tiny black polka dots. I contacted Le Creuset and they said that is a normal variation since each piece is made by fifteen people. Thinking it would be better to shop for one in person, I looked online and discovered that there's a Le Creuset outlet less than an hour away in Kittery!

Wayne and I made a fun trip out of it and took the scenic route through coastal Maine. 

We watched waves crash at Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and soaked in the incredible views at Nubble Headlight in Cape Neddick. 

We arrived at the outlet in Kittery shortly after they opened. Wayne and I shared a cup of complimentary hot spiced local apple cider. Mmmmmmm

It's like a candy store for cooks at this place!


Pretty colors and lots of discounts!

Oh my.

So much to look at.

Le sigh.

I'm keeping cool. Haven't bought everything.

This was an outlet exclusive color--it's got glitter in the enamel.

How cool are those store cards??

So here's what happened. I bought two gorgeous pieces at an insane discount and returned the unused 6.75 QT Dutch oven from Amazon.

The numbers: 

The returned 6.75 QT oval Dutch oven from Amazon had cost me $349.95. I bought a brand new 9.5 QT Flame oval Dutch oven (priced at Amazon and Le Creuset for $425.95) at the outlet on sale for $180 because it has a tiny superficial scratch under the handle. That's a savings of $245.95! I also bought a brand new first quality discontinued 2.75 QT Flame saucepan for $170. That's TWO new pieces, one of which is WAY larger than the original and will fit a small turkey, for the price of the one I had originally purchased! They do come with the same lifetime warranty! At this point we're clearly making money. Yeah, OK. ; )

The outlet did not have any pieces in Soleil, and I still wanted something in that color that I could use often, so I ordered a new Soleil round 5.5 QT cast iron Dutch oven from Amazon for cooking large batches of tomato sauces, soups and stews. Although I have a 1950s cast iron Dutch oven I use for baked beans and popcorn, the bottom is warped (it was like that when I bought it second-hand) and tomatoes and cast iron don't always play well together because of the acidity. The biggest selling point is that the bright yellow is like sunshine and will certainly be color therapy as I cook my way thought the long Maine winters!

There is a very small "chip" near the rim of the oven I ordered from Amazon. It looks like a tiny place where the enamel didn't set. I contacted Le Creuset and again they said that can happen and doesn't affect the performance or warranty. I contacted Amazon and they offered me a 15% ($48) discount if I wanted to keep it instead of sending it back. Done! Last night I gave it its first test drive.

I made a pot roast stew with organic beef, chopped onions and the final harvest from our garden.

Compared to my stainless vintage Revere Ware Dutch oven, I was able to keep a steady simmering heat on a much lower setting. Shown above is what the pot looked like after a few hours of cooking and half of the stew served. See all of the tomato residue cooked on the sides?

It's shiny and bright after a one minute hand wash. (See the tiny chip?)

Fresh out of their boxes!

I'm really excited for Thanksgiving, now. My new Dutch oven is much sexier than the aluminum supermarket pans I had used for turkey in the past. I'm also looking forward to cooking more colorfully!