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Art + Design for The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter

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Art + Design for The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter

Vegan Praxis of BLM

About a year after consciously transitioning into a vegan lifestyle I read the book  "Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak"- a thoughtful collection of essays that bring to light the connection between human rights and animal rights. It was exactly what I needed to read. It offers stories of different women's journeys into veganism in a way that helped me to understand and articulate my own journey. The fact that there are so many different voices in this book freed it from any tone of judgement or "one size fits all" thought; so found it to be  a great social justice piece in general. I keep it on my shelf to reference and reread as needed. It also helped me commit to reading Majorie Spiegel's "The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery", a powerful book (with a fantastic foreword by Alice Walker) that I will also always have a copy of nearby. After reading the book, I started following the Sistah Vegan Blog. I would read it from Fiji, and make connections between what was happening in the states in comparison to what we were experiencing there. I was excited to read that Dr. A. Breeze Harper, the editor of "Sistah Vegan", was organizing an online conference- The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter that is happening this month. After connecting with Breeze I was thrilled to be able to do the artwork for the event.

Vegan Praxis of BLM sketch and watercolor

I did the sketch and watercolor images for conference, and Jack did the design magic. It was a fun challenge to find an image that represents the connection between the issues while honoring each one; and the challenge made me even more excited for the perspectives that will be offered during the conference.

veganpraxisblm flyer

Online registration is up for this Interactive Web Conference. Join to ask and learn how veganism and #blacklivesmatter intersect, as well as why race and whiteness matter within veganism and beyond. Like the book, this conference is taking a holistic approach to anti-oppression work, acknowledging that these politics cannot be single issue.

Visit the Sistah Vegan Conference website for the conference schedule and online registration!

 

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 Best Vegan Eats in Suva

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Best Vegan Eats in Suva

Dal, bitter melon, bhindi, jackfruit, vegetable Manchurian

We’re back in the Bay! First impressions are that it’s cold, crowded, and there are just not enough sunlight hours to keep us going. However, everyday is getting a little easier and our focus is becoming clearer. We’re staying with our parents in Livermore and we’ve both started working in Oakland leaving us with a bit of a commute. This brings us to the challenge of balancing our work days to find time to cook healthy meals. For the past 2 weeks, we’ve been spoiling ourselves eating out at Ethiopian and Vietnamese restaurants. We even found some amazing vegan South Indian dosas in Berkeley that made us think of Fiji.

We feel empowered by making delicious food at home that both saves money and is generally healthier. However, there are a few select restaurants that we like to treat ourselves to from time to time. When we're staying in or around Suva, our go-to restaurant is Govinda Vegetarian Restaurant in Sports City.

Govinda

Govinda has a cafeteria-style setup that allows you to pick a large variety of dishes. Each dish is about $2FJD or less, allowing you to choose a large variety. Many of the curries are vegan, though some to have dairy, so be sure to ask.

Dal, bitter melon, bhindi, jackfruit, Eggplant, vegetable Manchurian

We love that the selection varies from day to day, and we've never left feeling hungry or disappointed. Our favorites include:

Dal soup- They offer two types of dal lentil soups; a south Indian dal that is thick and savory, and a Gujarati dal that has complex sweet/sour taste we can’t get enough of.

Dosa with coconut chutney- On Thursdays and Fridays, Govinda offers made-to-order dosas. A dosa is a South Indian rice and lentil crepe that is filled with curry (potato/aloo) and served with an amazing spiced coconut chutney. Honestly we can’t get enough of these! A dosa can easily be split between two people and is served with dal.

Dosa

Jackfruit curry – We had jackfruit curry at our wedding because we absolutely love it. We laughed at how many people asked us if it was pulled pork or chicken; it's just a surprising texture for a fruit. The jackfruit curry at Govinda does not disappoint.

Okra/Bhindi curry – I could enjoy okra prepared just about any (vegan) way. I love the simple, bhindi curry offered at Govinda.

Eggplant/Baingnan curry – They offer a few different baignan curries at Govinda, and all are delicious.

Bitter melon/Karela curry – Bitter melon (bitter gourd) was new for both of us, and we found it to be, well….bitter. But in the sense that bitter is a necessary taste and balances and complements the sweetness of the dal or the tamarind chutney. It’s also highly nutritious.

Curry

Pumpkin curry – We feel that pumpkin is the most undervalued vegetable in the States, and we love the variety of dishes that feature pumpkin in Fiji. Govinda makes a simple pumpkin curry that hits the spot.

Chana Masala- A classic chickpea curry with potato. It can serve as a main to balance the lighter, greener curries.

Spinach Bhaji – We can’t resist ordering this one when we see that a fresh batch has just come out. The fresher or hotter this is, the better it tastes.

Green Bean Curry- A really simply, yet tasty bean curry.

Vegetable Manchurian - This Indian Chinese dish is hard to describe. It features grated cabbage and carrot in a textured ball- imagine sweet/sour flavor and a crumbly texture- yum!

Jack preparing his plate

And don’t forget to order:

Roti- Their roti is superb- round, soft, and breaks apart perfectly to scoop up the curry.

Samosas- I tried really hard to not eat too many samosas in Fiji, just in an effort to limit fried floury foods. But on the rare occasion I did eat a Govinda’s samosa, I enjoyed every bite.

Tamarind Chutney- A nice sweet chutney that brings out the flavor in everything.

Roti, salad and tamarind chutney

We tend to eat a lot and $20FJD gets the both of us a filling lunch. The lunch rush brings in a diverse group including USP students and local professionals. The earlier you can make it for lunch, the better, as the variety narrows throughout the afternoon. The ownership and staff are amazing and make visits here even more enjoyable. They even fill large to-go orders if you ever have an event to cater in Suva.

So next time you’re in Suva, go to Govinda- if we’re in town, we’ll probably see you there!

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Fiji Kumquat Juice

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Fiji Kumquat Juice

Kumquats

On our parents’ property in Naitasiri, there are many kumquat trees. They make use of the beautiful fruit by processing them into a juice. kumquat tree

Kumquats are a citrus fruit, high in Vitamin C. The fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals, including those that weed out carcinogens and prevent cancer. Unlike other citrus fruits, kumquats are usually eaten whole, peel and all. The peel is packed with essential oils, anti-oxidants and fiber.

Bags of kumquats

Kumquats have been filling the trees since we’ve been here; so we’ve been collecting them on our walks (usually 4-5 bags at a time) and making the juice ourselves.

Kumquats

Processing Kumquats

After picking the kumquats, we wash them all. Then we cut them in half to make them easier to process. We put them in the food processor, skin and all, and they make a thick pulpy liquid. We then strain that using mesh, putting the pulp aside to save for later. We transfer the strained juice concentrate into bottles. Our 4-5 bags of kumquats make about 6 liters of juice, and a comparable amount of pulp. We store the pulp in the refrigerator, and the juice bottles in the freezer until we’re ready to drink them.

Jack processing kumquats

To make our daily kumquat juice, we use about 1/4 cup of the concentrate and ¾ cup of water. We then sweeten it with the liquid sweetener of choice- either1 tsp of honey, maple syrup, or coconut nectar.

kumquat juice

 

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Best Place to Eat on the Coral Coast

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Best Place to Eat on the Coral Coast

EcoCafe menu
Our first (and second!) meal for the new year was at EcoCafe on the Coral Coast, just past Votua village.  We stayed at the Beachouse for New Years, so it was easy access for us to visit for lunch.
EcoCafe sign
Eco Cafe is a family operation run by Degei and Fabianna. The couple has brilliantly blended his Fijian and her Italian traditions of food and beverage. The setup is an open-air building made from bamboo thatching and natural materials.
cafe owners, Degei and Fabianna
EcoCafe
EcoCafe
The cafe sits on a beautiful beach, so while waiting for our food, we walked down to the water and watched the kids take their surfboards out.
Surfing
EcoCafe

We love the fact that they do not offer or allow soft drinks in their restaurant; this is a rarity in Fiji. Instead, they make to order a variety of fresh fruit juices, coffee and teas. Our favorite was the ginger and lemongrass tea. We also really enjoyed the lemon juice and mixed fruit juice.

Tea and fresh fruit

Their Italian menu includes wood fired pizzas and pastas, and their Fijian menu has a variety which includes  a vegetarian section. They require advance notice on all Fijian dishes, as all of their ingredients are fresh, including the coconut milk which takes a bit of time and work. We hope they continue to offer the Fijian menu as it's a big part of what makes this place so special.
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EcoCafe menu
We ordered the Steak Baignani (eggplant) in miti (coconut milk with onions, tomatoes and chili) and Ota (Fijian wild fern) in miti along with a variety of root crops including dalo, tivoli, and kumala. All of the food was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.
Steak Baingani and Ota Steak Baingani
The family lives on the property, and the restaurant is open from 11am-9pm everyday except Wednesdays.  EcoCafe
We have been driving between Nadi and Suva a bit lately, and we have found this to be a great place to stop in for tea or coffee and a beautiful beach view to break up our trip. This is such an inspiring place and we would love to see more like it in Fiji!

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Vegan Holiday Dishes

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Vegan Holiday Dishes

vegan holiday dish collage

Holidays are always an interesting time for us, as traditional meals and desserts usually center around meat and animal products. Time This year we rose to the opportunity to opted to make several plant based dishes to share with the family. Timing couldn't have been better as just a couple of weeks ago, our cousin gifted our Mom the Revive Cafe Cookbook from New Zealand. This was perfect as most ingredients from New Zealand can also be found in Fiji, whereas some of our favorite American dishes can be challenging to substitute.

Since Christmas in Fiji brings high temperatures and humidity, we wanted a refreshing menu so we chose with more raw dishes than cooked.

Vegan Christmas Meal

Our menu included: -Lemon + Garlic Hummus -Roasted Beetroot Hummus -4 C Salad (Carrots, Coconut, Cashews, Cilantro + Lemon Garlic Dressing) -Revive Raw Salad (Beetroot, Carrot, Raisins, Sunflower Seeds, Mint + Orange Balsamic dressing) -Curry Black Eyed Pea Salad -Moroccan Chickpea and Date Dahl Soup (+ pumpkin!) -Lettuce + Red Cabbage + Tomato Salad -Caramel Coffee Pudding made with Cashews and Dates

We were also gifted the Fijian dishes of Rourou (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) and Dalo (taro root) which were the perfect additions.

We sourced most of the recipes from the Revive Cafe Cookbook 2, and the cake recipe is from This Rawsome Vegan Life.

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Weekend in Qamea

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Weekend in Qamea

This is our last month on Taveuni and we're trying to do and see as much as possible. The first few months flew by so now we're trying to make every second count! We spent this past weekend on the nearby island of Qamea.

We stayed at Maqai Beach Eco Resort. The resort offers a dormitory as well as private tent-like bures on the beach. The room cost ranges from $30 FJD/night to $180 FJD/night. A meal plan is mandatory as there are no shops or restaurants on the island and that runs an additional $85 FJD/night. The trip was a bit of a splurge for us, but ended up being totally worth it!
Breakfast was continental and featured a range of fresh fruits and muesli. The lunches were amazing and our favorites. On Saturday, we had pumpkin soup, cassava, and charred eggplant in coconut milk with peppers and onions. On Sunday we had dahl soup, poori and vegetable curry.

In between meals, Jack prepped coconut for us. We had both fresh coconut and coconut cooked in the sand.
The surroundings were beautiful- a pristine beach that catches beautiful sunsets on, and a tropical rainforest behind it. There are parrots, doves, wild pigeons and other winged beauties flying around.
We spent the days surfing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, and doing handstands on the beach. They offer surf lesson and I would have definitely taken one had we had more time. Jack gave me a quick lesson instead; I didn't manage to stand up but I had alot of fun trying! Jack caught some nice waves. Jack also taught me to skim board on a paddle-board which was awesome.

Snorkeling gear and kayaks can be borrowed free of charge, so we went out for both a few times. We don't have a beach at Paradise Taveuni, so it was exciting to spend the weekend running around in the sand. It was a trade-off though, as the snorkeling is much better at Paradise, where you jump right into a tropical aquarium.
On Saturday night, we sat around the kava basin, and enjoyed some Qamea yaqona (kava). We really enjoyed sitting with the staff and the other guests. Una, Bale and Vili were fantastic hosts and they made our stay extra special. Jack and Vili drank from a giant bilo that could hold 5 regular bilos. While having the mix, we also enjoyed music- they shared some original songs which were beautiful to hear.
Overall, we can't say enough good things about Qamea and Maqai Beach, so we'll add this to our list of places to come back to!

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Easy Vegan Vakalolo

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Easy Vegan Vakalolo

vakalolo

This is a favorite Fiji-inspired dessert that our auntie taught us in the states. Vakalolo is a Fijian sweet that is usually steamed in banana leaf and served with fresh warm coconut milk. Since we like to make this in the states, we worked without the banana leaf and coconut milk and made a baked version. Grated cassava (aka tapioca) and grated coconut can both be found in the frozen section of many Asian grocers. The recipe calls for equal parts cassava and grated coconut, plus sweetener and ginger. This is usually made with brown sugar, but we tried it with dates and enjoyed the results.

What you'll need: 2 cups coconut, grated 2 cups cassava (aka tapioca), peeled and grated 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped 2 inches fresh ginger, grated  (add more or less depending on how much you like ginger)
How it's done:
Process the cassava, 1 cup of the coconut and dates. Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in the remaining coconut and ginger.
Press into pan or muffin tray. I used a mini-muffin tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, give or take. Use a toothpick to test for readiness- the result should be moist!
Drizzle with warm coconut milk or serve as-is!
vakalolo

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Views from Matei

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Views from Matei

Taveuni view

Taveuni, the third largest island in Fiji, has a total land area of just 169 square miles (434 square kilometers). Yet, the challenges of transportation (untimely buses, rocky roads, work schedules, etc) keep us on the south side of the island, usually at the resort.One weekend we did manage to get out for a lovely getaway to the north side. We went to see our friends, Keni and TC in Matei. It was only about an hour’s drive from the resort, and well worth it.

Keni, Jack and TC

We met Keni and TC in the states- he is Fijian and she is American. Jack first met them about 10 years ago, when Jack was working at Peet’s Coffee in Oakland. Jack was wearing his sulu vataga to work, and Keni was waiting in line. Keni spotted the sulu vataga and yelled “BULA!!!” The rest is history!

Keni is from Taveuni and this is where he and TC met. They currently live in Oakland but still have their home on the northern side of Taveuni. When they came to Taveuni, they invited us up to see their beautiful home and the surrounding area.

Keni and Jack

Even though it's relatively close, the north side of the island has a very different coast. It was actually our first time stepping on a sandy beach since we’d been in Fiji! Down where we are, there are volcanic rocks, but no sand.

Matei Beach

Keni and TC took us out kayaking to a nearby island. The views were absolutely breathtaking!

Kayaking Taveuni

They also hooked us up with a supply of some of our favorites: uto (breadfruit), jina (bananas), papaya and bu (coconut)!

Fruit

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Lovo, Music and Yaqona

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Lovo, Music and Yaqona

Once a week, Paradise puts on a Fiji Night. On Fiji night a lovo, or feast cooked in the earth, is prepared for the resort guests. Guests are also entertained with Fijian music and dancing. The night ends with music, storytelling and yaqona (yah-ngo-nah) also known as kava. Nico and the love

The lovo tradition is common in the Pacific islands; it is known as a hangi in New Zealand, imu in Hawaii, and umu in Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands. The lovo is a pit that is about a foot and a half deep. Kindling and wood are stacked into a platform where rocks are piled on top. A fire is lit and left to burn for a couple of hours. Then the leftover wood and embers are removed from the pit, leaving only the hot rocks. Slivers of coconut frond stems are then placed on top of the hot rocks, leaving a surface for the food. The food is added and covered with large, heart shaped Via (Samaon taro) leaves.  Our lovo favorites are dalo (taro) and cassava (tapioca). We also love uvi and tivoli, which are both wild yams. All of these root vegetables are placed at the top of the lovo. Everything is covered and left to cook for about an hour. Preparing the love

After dinner, yaqona is served. This is the drink made from the root of the kava plant, native to the Western Pacific. It is commonly known by the Tongan and Marquesan name kava and also as ‘awa in Hawaii and ava in Samoa. It has sedative and anesthetic properties, so it fits in perfectly with the laid back culture of the islands. Its key properties are relaxing without disrupting mental clarity- quite different from the effects of alcohol.

Yaqona is a huge part of culture and is used in medicine, ceremony, politics, religion and general socializing so it’s a must try for visitors to Fiji. Yaqona is shared in a communal carved bowl, called a tanoa and passed around in a half-shell of a coconut, called a bilo.

We love sitting around the kava bowl and hearing funny stories and beautiful music. We also love the good night's sleep we get after an evening of mixing yaqona!

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Coco-nutty Date Treats

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Coco-nutty Date Treats

Date rolls

Today in school, we tried this recipe for healthy date balls. In the classroom, I explained the meanings of the words “zest,” “fine,” and “ground,” and we reviewed the abbreviations for grams, teaspoon and tablespoon.date rollsThe recipe is straightforward and the kids did everything on their own except operate the blender!

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Joey, the Fijian fruit bat

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Joey, the Fijian fruit bat

Joey the fruit bat

Joey the fruit bat Last week, Jack found a small fruit bat (aka flying fox) hanging near our room. He was on a dead coconut branch with his head touching the ground. Jack moved him to a higher branch and fed him some mango using a Fijian sasa (bristle used for a  broom). The next day, he was still there, so we checked on him and Jack fed him again. On the third day, we didn’t see him so we’d hoped he flew away to safety. Later that evening, we heard him chirping and followed the sound to a low branch in the Mango tree. We’re not sure if he flew or if someone kindly moved him there. Now, he chirps when he hears our voices and we’ve been feeding him with mango and water. We’re calling him Joey, since he resembles our Zoey. We think he’s very young, and are hoping that he’s flying independently soon.

Jack feeding Joey Mango

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Vegan + Paleo Coconut Cookies

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Vegan + Paleo Coconut Cookies

Cropped Cookies

Jack and I are in our third week of living and working in Fiji, and we’re getting into the swing of things. Teaching only two students presents so many opportunities and I love coming up with creative activities for them. This week, we made cookies as an end of the week treat. It’s a nice way to get the kids to voluntarily read, write, and measure while working as a team.

Kids and cookies

We managed to successfully make three types of cookies without using any eggs, butter, flour, processed sugar, or grains.  We have access to fresh coconut and coconut oil so this inspired our ingredient lists.

I didn’t make cookies often in the States, because I usually found eggless recipes failed to stick together, but all three of the recipes we made today stuck together nicely! And the steps were easy. Enjoy!

Kids and cookies

Vegan/Paleo Coco-nutty Cookies (10-12 cookies)

2 cups Almond Flour 1 cup Desiccated Coconut ¼ Cup Almonds ¼ Cup Macadamia Nuts ¼ Cup Coconut oil ¼ Cup Agave (or Maple Syrup) 1 Tbs water 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (optional) ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and preparing our baking sheet with coconut oil.

2. In a food processor or blender, process the almonds and macadamia nuts into small, coarse pieces.

3. Combine the processed nuts, Almond flour, desiccated coconut, baking soda and sea salt into a large bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, agave and vanilla extract.

5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing well.

6. Roll the mixture into golf-sized balls and space them evenly on a baking sheet.

7. Bake for 15 minutes.

Kids and cookies

Vegan/Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup Almond Flour 1 Cup Coconut Flour ¼ Cup Coconut oil ¼ Cup dark chocolate chips 3 Tbs Agave (or Maple Syrup) 2 Tbs Cocoa Powder (or Cacao Powder) 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and preparing our baking sheet with coconut oil.

2. Combine the Almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt into a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, agave and vanilla extract.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing well.

5. Mix in the chocolate chips.

6. Roll the mixture into golf-sized balls and space them evenly on a baking sheet.

7. Bake for 15 minutes.

Kids and cookies

Vegan Paleo Cocoa Cookies

1 Cup Almond Flour 1 Cup Coconut Flour ¼ Cup Coconut oil 3 Tbs Agave (or Maple Syrup) 2 Tbs Cocoa Powder (or Cacao Powder) 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and preparing our baking sheet with coconut oil.

2. Combine the Almond flour, coconut flour, cacao powder, baking soda and sea salt into a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, agave and vanilla extract.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing well.

5. Roll the mixture into golf-sized balls and space them evenly on a baking sheet.

6. Bake for 15 minutes.

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Travel Week

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Travel Week

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Bula from Taveuni, Fiji! This week was a long one, full of travel. Sunday, we flew from San Francisco (SFO) to Los Angeles (LAX) then to Nadi, Fiji (NAN). Packing food is always a challenge for us, but luckily we’ve found a go-to gem in LAX. It’s called “Real Food Daily: Organic Plant-Based Cuisine” and it’s in Terminal 4, where American Airlines is. Real Food Daily

We stumbled upon it when we were coming back from Fiji last December. They serve large portions of fresh organic vegan meals with toppings like cashew cheese and avocado.

LAX Bowl and Southwest Salad

We had the LAX Bowl, the Southwest Salad and a bottle of water and the total came to around $40. It’s definitely steep (airport prices!), but the portions were huge, and held us over through our 11 hour flight.

We arrived in Nadi on Tuesday morning. We caught a bus from Nadi to Suva and spent time with family on both sides. We spent Tuesday night on Jack’s parents’ farm in Naitasiri and then flew out of  Nausori (near Suva) airport on Wednesday afternoon. The plane had 7 rows, so we sat right behind the Captain and First officer.

Our plane

View from the plane

We arrived into Taveuni’s Matei airport late Wednesday afternoon and met our coworker who drove us to the resort. We arrived after dark so we weren’t able to do much exploring.

Matei airport

Thursday morning we woke up and were able to see the beauty of the resort. I’m pretty surprised at how cold it is. Luckily, Jack had me pack a hoodie and a cardigan; otherwise I’d be freezing! We've jumped right into work so we’ll be getting organized and posting more soon!

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Planning, Packing & Pup Portraits

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Planning, Packing & Pup Portraits

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Today marks two weeks until we fly to Fiji. I have one more week of work left, and Jack will be working until July 19th- the day before we fly! I’m making lists and brainstorming on things we’ll need and I’ll be in full-on packing mode next week. Purple peppers

This weekend we made many of our favorite dishes and spent time with family. Summertime markets in the Bay area bring a colorful, beautiful assortment of fruits and veggies, so we’re enjoying it all while we can. This weekend we had lots of fresh berries, apricots, peaches, plums, pluots, veggie skewers (mushrooms + pineapples +red onions + yellow, orange, green, and PURPLE bell peppers), coconut + mustard seed spicy cabbage, creamy red lentils, chickpea burgers, pea + potato curry, brown rice, cucumber salad, carrot salad, lettuce + kale + +tomato + sweet potato salad, roti, tamarind + date chutney, berry pie.

Chickpea patties, brown rice, and salads

Last week, my friend Brittany, asked me about pet portraits because she’d been looking around on Etsy and wanted a portrait of her adorable Westie, Fender. I love the concept and we’ve done many sketches and paintings of our pup, Zoey. We put our Etsy shop on vacation because we’re working on packing, storing and selling items locally as we prepare to head to Fiji. Pet portraits have been something we’d love to add to our East Rand repertoire.

Sketch of Fender

Detail of Fender

I’ve known Brittany since we were in first grade, and we were always creating together. She has always been an exceptional writer and story teller, so I thought it’d be great to portray her pup, Fender as a writer, with a typewriter and crumpled (in Fender’s case, half-eaten) paper.

Alise painting Cami

Brittany’s husband Andrew is a saxophone player, so I added a sax to Fender’s “office.” Brittany and Andrew have another dog, Cami who is a sweet and shy Shiba Inu, so I added her glamour shot to the wall. I’m excited to get the final product to them!

Fender portrait

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Our East Bay Garden

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Our East Bay Garden

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This weekend marks over one month in our new space and less than one month until we head to Fiji! We haven’t started packing just yet, and most of our focus is on what we’re doing and where we’re living now. We have been spending free time in the garden, getting it in good shape before we leave.

Jack planting Dalo

Our biggest challenges are low quality soil, water restrictions, and heat. Jack has been working in new soil and mulch, but we imagine it will take some time to become rich. Our compost heap is going, so this time next year, we’ll be able to harvest soil from our recycled fruits and veggies. We’re being water conscience- recycling the cold water from our shower and the rinse water from our dishes. Hopefully, as the plants grow, they can help shade each other from the intense valley sun.

We are growing rainbow chard, kale, eggplant, tomatoes, six different types of peppers, okra, spinach, string beans, fava beans, celery, arugula, bell peppers, beets, cilantro, rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano, thyme, basil, mint, fenugreek, lemon balm, parsley, strawberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe. We also have two pomegranate trees that were here when we moved in. Today, Jack added some dalo (taro) that our family gave us.

Our strawberries

Our tomatoes

Our dream is to one day be self-sufficient, knowing exactly where our food comes from and being a part of the process with intention and love.

Some of our garden

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Pickled Watermelon Rinds

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Pickled Watermelon Rinds

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A few weeks ago, we went to Bryant Terry's book signing for his latest book, Afro-Vegan at Whole Foods in Oakland. We already had his book he The Inspired Vegan and we bought Dad Vegan Soul Kitchen; so we were collectively eyeing this latest book. Vegan Soul Kitchen inspired Dad to modify our New Year's collard greens and black eyed peas with delicious mustard seed and coconut flavors, and add Spicy Smothered Green Cabbage to our meal. It was fantastic, as were the other recipes we've tried from these books. Afro-VeganWe weren't sure what to expect from his talk and book signing, but we all left feeling really inspired. He spoke about his experience and food activism, and we related on so many levels. Also, we were able to sample his Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens recipe and it was phenomenal. Visually speaking, the book is stunning, with a clean  layout brightened with color and texture.

It's watermelon season in California so we picked up a beautiful one last week. We remembered that there were a few watermelon recipes in Afro-Vegan, including one for the rinds-Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rinds and Jalepeños. Normally we just toss our rinds in the compost so we were pleasantly surprised to find a use for them. His recipe for Pickled Watermelon Rinds seemed right up our alley.

Watermelon

We still have dozens of jars left from our wedding, even after putting many to use in our kitchen, for storing our legumes, nuts, seeds, spice mixes and salad dressings. Pickling has been on our to do list!

Sweet and Spicy slicesPhotobomb!

We followed the recipe in the book, except we substituted white vinegar for Apple Cider Vinegar and cane sugar for coconut sugar.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

After refrigerating them overnight, the result is delicious! We're going to enjoy some on the chickpea burgers that we'll make tonight.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

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Seasonal Fruit Pie

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Seasonal Fruit Pie

Seasonal Berry Pie

In preparation for the big move, we have moved in with our folks. We're working to find recipes that all four of us can enjoy. I've made this pie a few times, using different fruits, nuts and seeds and it's been a hit every time! I found the original recipe (along with a bunch of other delicious recipes) in Talya Lutzker's Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen.

I stopped by the Whole Foods near my office on Friday and was excited to see giant organic strawberries. I also found some beautiful organic pluots, apricots and peaches.

Fresh organic berries

I found the original recipe to be great, but here is my adapted version, based on what we had in the pantry.

Crust 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1/4 cup flaxseeds 1/2 cup raw almonds or walnuts 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 1/2 cup medjool dates (or dried figs, raisins, apricots, etc.) 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Crust Ingredients

Filling 1 apricot, diced 1 pluot, diced 1 peach, diced 1/2 cup strawberries, diced 1/2 cup blueberries 2 tablespoons coconut sugar 2 teaspoons brown rice flour Juice 1/2 lemon 1 teaspoon fresh cardamon seeds

Filling ingredients Coconut Sugar and Brown Rice Flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, combine the ingredients except the coconut oil and dried fruit in a food processor. Process until ground to a coarse meal. Add the coconut oil and fruit and process again. Transfer the crust mixture to a pie pan and press it evenly into the bottom and sides.

To make the filling, mix all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Transfer the filling mixture into the crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

Seasonal Berry PieSeasonal Berry Pie The book identifies this as a balancing recipe for all three doshas: vata pitta, and kapha. Try it out--it's easy to make and easy to eat!

 

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New adventures

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New adventures

Savu Mural

IMG_7950 Bula family and friends! We're excited to announce that we will temporarily be moving to the island of Taveuni in Fiji!

We will both be working and living at Paradise Taveuni, a resort on the Southern side of Taveuni. Taveuni is the third largest island in Fiji, known as the Garden Island for its flora. Jack will be working as a web developer, and Alise will be teaching the resort owners' children. We could not have dreamed up a more fitting opportunity!

In our free time, we plan to explore vegan food options and growing and composting in Taveuni. We plan to create art, inspired by our experiences. We also plan to do a good bit of exploring, swimming and diving. And of course, we will take heaps of photos and journal along the way so that we can keep this updated.

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We'll be taking a break from our Etsy shop but our art and jewelry will still be available in a few locations. Contact us for more details!

With new opportunities come uncertainty, and we’ve been consistently working to embrace the changes and transform our fears into loving situations. We’re blessed to have such a strong support system of family and friends. Alise’s parents are caring for our pup Zoey in California and Jack’s parents are looking out for us in Fiji.

We fly out in July. Until then, we are living and working in the East Bay, getting Zoey settled in with Alise's parents. Stay tuned for updates!

Love, light, and lolomas!

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