For me, frugality is about becoming more aware of my spending habits, and prioritizing where and how I want to spend my money. If I’ve bought something expensive, I still might consider it being frugal. What I mean is this: I bought something worthy of the cost, and even though it might be considered expensive, it was worth every penny. I know it’s not what most people think of when they hear the word frugal, but it works for me.

The great thing about being frugal (in the normal sense of the word) is that you (obviously!) save a lot of moolah. If you take all the money saved and use it to support small businesses, you can effectively put your money where your mouth is (or where your feet are!). I’m always on the hunt for great independently run stores with great inventory.
Enter Cow Jones Industrials.
Upstate NY’s very own vegan boutique! The owner Donna is one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met, and her store is fabulous! My mother and I had the pleasure of stopping by a few months ago and we got some great stuff!

I got these awesome Cri de Coeur booties:

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I didn’t think they’d be too comfortable after being worn for a few hours, but they are actually super duper comfortable. I am in love with them!

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When I saw these beauties I knew I had to get them to wear swing dancing. They aren’t as comfortable as the Cri de Coeur ones, but I still love them.

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If you know me, you know I never wear makeup, but I’ve been obsessed for a long time with the idea of bright red lips, so I scooped up some Zuzu luxe lip gloss in Caliente.

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I can’t stop having mini photo shoots with myself!

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For my dad, for his birthday meal.
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The pierogies came out so great! I added some buckwheat into the beet/sauerkraut filling and some kale and baby spinach to the onion topping.
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Seriously, make them!
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For the cake, I veganized the recipe for mai tai chocolate cake from Death By Chocolate Cake, by Marcel Desaulniers.
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It had a lot of components going on (pineapple-almond layer cake, chocolate rum mousse, orange buttercream, chocolate orange ganache, and last but not least chocolate dipped/almond covered dried pineapple slices), but I made them all over a few days, and it came together quite easily.

There were a lot of textures going on, but I mean that in the best way possible. It was extremely satisfying and rich.

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I made the orange buttercream with coconut oil, and I was super happy with how it came out. Also, the orange zest flecked throughout looked so adorable.
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Both are going into my “Absolutely must make again!!!” file.

Going through my baking stuff a few months ago (my god, I’m so behind on blogging about everything!) I remembered about the precious cocoa butter waiting to be used.

First up on my agenda was white chocolate mousse from The Millennium Cookbook.

I was planning on making the white chocolate mousse, then using half of it to make the peanut butter mousse recipe in the cookbook, but I didn’t really read the part where you have to blend the peanut butter in before the mousse sets up. Oops.

Making do with my mistake, I blended in some peanut butter after it had set up overnight. Unfortunately, there were some noticeable gobs of peanut butter that my sister Susan objected to, but it definitely could have been worse. Besides, it added some more texture, ya know?

Speaking of texture, the mousse texture itself was pretty frickin’ fabulous, even if the flavor was a little too cloying. I’m really excited to experiment with the recipe, I think it would be great in tiramisu, among other things.
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I plated the mousse with chocolate sauce, strawberry coulis, and toasted cacao nibs ground with turbinado sugar (I’m not a huge fan of cacao nibs, but we always seem to have a ton lying around, and I thought their bitterness would go nice against the sweetness of the mousse – it did). The peanut butter mousse is the middle scoop, the two outer ones are plain. Not the greatest presentation or picture, but whatevs.

Next was getting over my fear of making white chocolate. I used the recipe on BitterSweet, but it didn’t come out quite as I had hoped. The powdered sugar sort of clumped together in the center of my mold (aka shallow glass dish), so I put it in the back of the fridge to forget about it for a while. When I was finally ready to do something with it I made white chocolate macadamia cookies, like any sane person would.

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I used the VwaV chocolate chip cookie recipe as a loose guide, and went from there. I’m a sucker for anything sweet and salty, so for a couple of the cookies I sprinkled on some fleur de sel. I wish I had added salt to more cookies, because they were a little sweet for my taste and the salt really helped balance the sweetness, but everyone else seemed to like them.

I am going to try making the white chocolate again soon, I’ll tell you all about it when I do….

What better a day than Earth Day ’09 to talk a little about weirdo hippies?

Dear Blog: Today I saw a guy wearing a tie dyed t-shirt over a tie dyed long sleeve shirt, a cowboy fringe vest over that, cargo shorts, and a cowboy hat. Just as I was thinking to myself WTF, I remembered it was Earth Day. Unfortunately, I got the feeling that his outfit was something he wears all the time.
Please note that I have nothing against tie dye, but I thought I was seriously going to have a seizure when I saw the combo. Wow.

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I always pass this place on my walk into town (and choke on the greasy smells that fill up the air surrounding the plaza it’s in), and of course when they put up their “Hippie specials” I had to see what all the fuss was about. It was kind of about….nothing.
Here’s how my conversation with the waitress went:

“Hi, um, what are your hippie specials?”

“Well, right now it’s an omelet with feta, spinach, and tomato, but it’s normally just any kind of small bit of food.”

Right.

My housemate informs me the owner/cook has thrown people out before for being Republican, which I have to say is quite amusing.

You know what else I find amusing? When people come up with food and drink ideas that are just so completely horrific, you have to laugh.
Case in point:
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Yes, quinoa gold. A blend of quinoa, water, agave, and natural flavors. In a pina colada flavor, nonetheless! (Please note the quinoa sludge at the bottom of the bottle.) I don’t normally go for pina colada flavor, so I had a bad feeling about it.
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It got worse when I smelled it.

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It was so revolting. Ugh ugh ugh. I hate wasting food, but I just couldn’t make myself drink it. Luckily, it was a free sample, so that makes it a little better, but not much.

But I mean, who else but a weirdo hippie comes up with a quinoa drink? Please don’t make millet milk next, that’s all I ask.

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Sorry for the hiatus, that last bit of winter was really killing me with lack of inspiration. But now the weather is getting warmer and I’m not afraid to leave my house for fear of ice or snow or cold wind whipping at me.
I can leave my house and wander around my yard and get inspiration and brainstorm about my blog.

Yes, good old Cheap Thrills. It annoys me that it’s so random; I have a couple of ideas on how I can make it more coherent, so stay tuned.

Also stay tuned for exciting posts on vegan shoes, hippies, white chocolate, and much more.

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*Fun Fact: There’s an old cement mine on the property my house is on and my housemate collects old bottles she finds by it.
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If you’re like me, you can never have enough cookbooks in your collection.
The Best of Bloodroot (note: there are two volumes, I haven’t made anything from vol. 1 yet, so this post is only about vol. 2) is now up there in my favorites (along with The Passionate Vegetarian and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, if you were wondering), but I’m sorry to say that until my friend/boss Lagusta gave me a copy of the book, I had never even heard of Bloodroot. As a vegetarian feminist collective, they blend politics and food together seamlessly, and they’re an inspiration to all.
What I especially love about this cookbook is the fact that there is a conscious decision to move away from Earth Balance and other unsustainable products we sometimes become accustomed to.
The majority of the recipes are also soymilk free, replacing soy with coconut, which leads to amazing texture and richness, and is also very nice for people looking to cut down on their consumption of soy. (Lagusta has an amazing essay on coconut in the beginning of the book, definitely check it out!!!)

But enough of the raving, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Winter Miso Soup

Winter Miso Soup

Chinese Steamed Buns

Chinese Steamed Buns

Seaweed and Bean Thread Noodle Salad with Avocado

Seaweed and Bean Thread Noodle Salad with Avocado

Shiitake Soup

Shiitake Soup

Estofado Con Chochoyotes

Estofado Con Chochoyotes

Parsnip (in place of pumpkin) Tofu Custard with Caramelized Pears

Parsnip (in place of pumpkin) Tofu Custard with Caramelized Pears

Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Fudge Sauce

Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Fudge Sauce

Banana Cream Pie!

Banana Cream Pie!

Half-Eaten Banana Cream Pie

Half-Eaten Banana Cream Pie

Slice of Banana Cream Pie

Slice of Banana Cream Pie

Go buy it!

Sorry for the hiatus, I hope you’ll forgive me once you’ve ogled the backlogged pictures of sweets I’ve been baking up…..

Pomegranate Bar

Pomegranate Bar

Banana Chocolate Walnut Cake

Banana Chocolate Walnut Cake

Basically this is just banana bread with a struesel-like concoction in the middle and on top. I used the banana bread recipe from The Passionate Vegetarian, omitting the dates from it. Here’s the original recipe from Gourmet.

Slice o' Cake

Slice o' Cake

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Adapted from a Veganomicon recipe.

Token Cherry Dot Cookie Amongst The Others

Token Cherry Dot Cookie Amongst The Others

Walnut Brownie

Walnut Brownie

These brownies were from a botched attempt to veganize these cookies. After the cookie dough didn’t turn out to my liking, I added a bit of this and that, threw it in the oven, and whaddya know, these brownies were awesome.
Don’t ask me what I did, because I have no idea.

Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

These scones are from The Joy Of Vegan Baking (the first thing I’ve made from the book, but it looks a bit blah), and I forgot to add the coconut oil (that I was using in place of EB), so they weren’t as good as they could have been. Note: That didn’t stop them from being devoured.

Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coffee Coconut Buttercream

Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coffee Coconut Buttercream

The cake and frosting recipes are adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. The icing was an experiment to see if buttercream can be made using coconut oil. (The answer is: YES!)
I was worried about the coconut oil becoming too solid once it was in the fridge, but it was fine! Awesome!

My sister Susan ate some of the cake and asked if it was flourless.
It’s not, but it does have a great fudgy, moist texture, so I think I’ll experiment with it and see if I can make it flourless.

Yum

Yum

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