Wednesday, November 25, 2015

10 Questions: Vegan Foodie with Alan Roettinger...


I feel pretty blessed to be someone who gets sent vegan cookbooks on the regular. I have to say, as someone who remembers when bookstore shelves in the vegetarian cooking section were pretty sparse aside from the Moosewood machine, we are living at a time when an abundance of excellent titles seem to be released every week, each one more enticing than the previous. From comforting casserole recipes to Indian ones, tacos galore to artisan chocolate, there is a cookbook for every taste bud, craving and skill level. Chef and cookbook author Alan Roettinger is someone who has helped to raise the bar for what vegan food means with his accessible but exquisite recipes that elevate plant-based cuisine to its rightful status: luscious and flavorful, complex but not complicated, Alan shows us that vegan food is anything but bland, especially when we focus on the stars of the show, which are the plants themselves. With his new cookbook, The Almond Milk Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious Recipes, Alan explores the seemingly simple concept of preparing foods with almond milk and comes up with some fascinating results. I appreciate Alan’s engagement with the world (I'm lucky enough to be a Facebook friend so I know we share some political views) as well as his unabashed ability to enjoy the simple but rich pleasures of life

1. How did you start down this path of creating delicious food? Was a love for food nurtured into you? Did you have any special relatives or mentors who helped to instill this passion?

I grew up in Mexico, and the contrast between what my unadventurous American parents ate and what the Mexicans ate in itself was enough to start me down this path. I should qualify that; my father was very adventurous and fun-loving, but when it came to that exotic food, he wouldn’t even try it. He was, to his dying day, a pretty bland eater. When I was around ten or twelve, my older sister took me to a Danish delicatessen in Mexico City, called Konditori, and introduced me to something called cappuccino. It was not generally known in America yet, but a few continental cafés in Mexico served it. Just the sound of a cappuccino being made excited me. Then, the pastries! I had never had such fine confections. I was instantly hooked, on all of it—the elegance of the food, the miraculous coffee drink, that first hint of European eating style, and (for life) on caffeine. My sister was really cool.

Later, the day after I graduated from high school, a wonderful thing happened. On their way to divorce court, my parents drove me to the airport, where I boarded a plane and flew to Europe. The very first meal I had there, in a little restaurant in Luxembourg, pretty much sealed it for me. I was destined to not only eat marvelous food, but to participate in the creation of it.

I’d say that a love for food was definitely nurtured in me, not so much by a mentor as by events and random people. Mexico City was a major melting pot of cultures back then, and because my father was in the foreign service (C.I.A.), my parents knew people from all over the world. I remember going to the home of some Russians where I tasted a real chocolate charlotte for the first time. The deep, dark, rich flavor and amazing cloudlike texture stayed with me for twenty years, until I figured out how to make it myself. The passion was in me from birth, and all I really needed was exposure to truly fine food to catapult me on my way.

2. What was your diet like when you were growing up? Did you have any favorite meals or meal traditions? Do you carry them over today?

My parents ate pretty standard American food—fried chicken, breaded with that corn flake stuff, mashed potatoes, spaghetti with meat sauce (I can’t bring myself to call it “Bolognese”), pork chops, meatloaf, boiled-to-death vegetables with butter and salt. My mother had taught the maids how to make it, and they did a great job of reproducing the gringo food, day in, day out.

We had our big meal at lunchtime, when I got home from school. Then we’d all get up from the table, and I would go into the kitchen and watch the maids make their food, which was a universe away from what the gringos ate. Serious flavor. Spicy, delicious, exciting food. And the process was thrilling to watch—pounding fresh ingredients to a pulp in a volcanic stone mortar, flames leaping around pans as they slid it in, incredible smells! It was pure alchemy.

I think Thanksgiving stands out among my favorite family meals as a kid, probably because it was only once a year. Looking back, now that I know how to cook, it was pathetic food, starting with the pale, greasy pan gravy. Over the years, I’ve taken the essence of what we ate, found the roots—both the elegant and the rustic—and created a style of presenting those foods that is much truer to the foods themselves than anything I had as a child. Brussels sprouts are a quick example. As a child, I hated them, and could only choke down the minimum requirement insisted on by my mother. They were mushy to the point of being slimy and the flavor strongly evoked the smell of dirty socks. As I later realized, what made them so odious was simply that they had been systematically overcooked. Done properly with a little love and imagination, they’re quite good. So yes, I have carried most of that food over to the present, but not in their original, sadly unimaginative forms. What kind of chef would I be if I didn’t leave a dish better than I found it?

3. What is the best vegan meal you've ever had? Give us all the details!

I haven’t had it yet! Sorry—bad dodge (even if I do believe it’s absolutely true). The problem with this is, it’s like making Sophie’s choice, but with dozens to choose from. Maybe I’ll just pick one I had at a restaurant and one I made, and see what happens.

A few years ago, my publisher took me and a couple of other authors to dinner at an Ethiopian Restaurant in Toronto called Rendezvous. We had been to several Ethiopian restaurants in various cities before, as they reliably offer very good vegan food. This one was unforgettable. The waiter brought out the largest platter I’d ever seen, with what must have been fifteen or more different dishes, neatly piled around the bed of injera. It was spectacularly exquisite food, and as we were leaving, I went to pay my respects to the cooks. To my utter amazement, there was just one woman at the stove, and no one else but a young girl in the back washing dishes. I started to tell the cook how much I loved her food, but it was clear she didn’t understand English. So I put both hands to my mouth and blew her a big kiss. She answered with a radiant smile. Cooks have a way of communicating.

Now one of my own favorites. When I entertain guests, I like to create a degustation, a series of small tastes with different flavors, textures and temperatures. This gives me a chance to be inventive (which I like), surprise and delight my guests (which we all like), and serially bring the conversation to a sudden standstill, as overwhelmed palates find themselves far too busy absorbing layers of flavor to participate in making words (a phenomenon every cook knows and loves).

I started with a simple canapé: crostini toasted with garlic olive oil, covered with an oval strip of roasted red pepper, topped with a small quenelle of pistachio cream and garnished with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.

As a formal starter, I served an asparagus-fava bean soup, sweetened slightly by sweating about two cups of finely diced shallots for half an hour before adding the cut asparagus and vegetable broth, and cooking just five minutes, to preserve flavor and color. Then I puréed the mixture with a cup of chopped Italian parsley and two cups of peeled fava beans. I served it in small bowls, garnished with a large asparagus tip, cut in half lengthwise, one piece cut side up and the other across it, cut side down, forming an X, with a fresh fava bean on each side, surrounded by a flourish of Spanish Hojiblanca EVOO.

For the second course, I experimented with some cute little orange pumpkin shaped pasta I found called “zucchette” (pumpkinettes). I hadn’t used them before, but the shopkeeper assured me they would keep their shape when cooked, so I took the plunge. I made a “pumpkin” sauce with a hubbard squash harvested from my wife’s garden, a rich-tasting delight with a deep rusty orange color. Very simple, it was just sautéed onion and garlic, the squash, vegetable broth, a few sprigs of fresh sage and bay leaves. When I puréed it, I added some soaked cashews to give it a little creaminess. I presented the dish garnished with quarter-inch lengths of chive (thankfully, my wife keeps us well-supplied with all the fresh herbs we need, even in the winter). I kept this one especially small—just a few spoonfuls—because I didn’t want the pasta to satiate anyone (I was the only one at the table with Italian blood).

Next, I went back to asparagus, which no one seemed to mind. I made a simple version of “grilled asparagus with romesco sauce,” by blanching four-inch spears in vegetable broth with just enough EVOO to leave them silky, and barely tender. I arranged them side by side on small square salad plates, piped the romesco across them generously in a tight zig zag pattern, and garnished them with shichimi togarashi (a Japanese “seven flavor chile” mixture of sesame seeds, orange peel, poppy seeds, hot paprika, red chile, Szechuan pepper, ground ginger and nori flakes). The gently assertive heat from the sauce and spice mixture helped perk appetites after the pasta course.

There were nonvegans present, so to assuage the protein deficiency paranoia (which I knew would be there, even if no one mentioned it), I served beluga lentils with sautéed escarole. This is a very simple dish, but thoroughly gratifying. The combination of lentils and greens is a popular one throughout the Middle East and many Mediterranean cuisines, and for good reason (it’s freaking delicious). I live at around 7400 feet, so I always start lentils and beans separately, in a pressure cooker. While they were cooking, I stewed finely diced onion, celery and carrot in a small amount of EVOO for about 40 minutes. Then I added the lentils, a little smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, salt and a bay leaf, and cooked it all until the lentils were tender and the juices had formed a rich sauce. Separately, I simmered 12 cloves of garlic, sliced about a quarter-inch thick, in a few tablespoons of EVOO until they turned a light tan color, then poured them, oil and all, into a small bowl to cool (they continue cooking for a few minutes as they cool). I reheated a couple of tablespoons of the garlic-infused oil in a large pot and added a large head of escarole, washed and very coarsely chopped. Escarole cooks fairly quickly, so I pulled it off the heat when it was still slightly chewy and added it to the lentils. After that, I let it rest until serving time, so all I needed to do was reheat it. I served the lentils and escarole in low bowls, garnished with the lightly caramelized sliced garlic and oil, and made sure everyone knew that the origin of both the black lentils and Aleppo pepper was northern Syria, and this was my tribute to our suffering brethren over there.

Second to last, as a palate cleanser, I served a simple salad of frisée lettuce and watercress, dressed in a vinaigrette made with fresh lime juice, brown rice vinegar, freshly ground black, white, pink and green peppercorns, and vanilla bean-infused walnut oil. I garnished this with cacao nibs and a few roasted cashews, as a subtle liaison between dinner and dessert.

For the final course, I served three small (but decent size) quenelles of Abate Fetel pear sorbet, radiating out from the center of the plate, with a cardamom-spiked dark chocolate sauce, pooled between them, and tall oven-dried pear chips planted in each quenelle. The sorbet is very simple. I just poached five Abate Fetel pears, cut into chunks with the skin on, in a light organic cane sugar syrup with a split vanilla bean, until very tender. Then I removed the vanilla bean and puréed the pears with some of the syrup and stirred in a spoonful of fresh Meyer lemon juice. I chilled it for a few hours and then froze it in an ice cream maker. I reheated some of the remaining poaching syrup and whisked in an ounce and a half of chopped dark chocolate and a quarter-cup of fine Dutch process cocoa. When it was smooth, I poured it into a bowl, stirred in a little freshly crushed cardamom seed, and set it in the refrigerator until serving time. To make the pear chips, I cut three pears in half lengthwise and then used a mandoline to cut thin cross-sections, about 2 mm thick. I brushed them with the remaining vanilla-pear syrup and set them on baking pans, lined with parchment, lightly greased with coconut oil. I baked them at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they were lightly browned. As they cooled, they became firm and crisp, with slightly frilly edges. There were plenty left over after assembling the dessert, so the next day I brushed these on both sides with melted and tempered chocolate for a crunchy (heavenly) treat. [Ed. note: That was all, Alan? Slacker!]

4. If you could prepare one meal or dessert for anyone living or dead, who would it be for and what would you create?

What a great question! The answer may be disappointing. There is one person I always look forward to cooking for, with both excitement and trepidation. As I mentioned in the acknowledgements page in Extraordinary Vegan, “He is a man who truly understands what perfection is and why it’s so important to reach for it. Trying to hit that spot, to gratify his discerning palate, is what launched my entire career. For this, and for the kindness and respect he has always shown me, I owe a debt I can never repay.” There is a love and great respect, which is ample reason to want to prepare a meal for him, but then there also is that very high standard, which challenges me to the core, pulling out the very best I have in me. There has been nothing in my life to match that feeling.

I’m sorry to tell you, however, that I have no idea what I would make, because one thing that never works with him is to come with preconceived ideas. It has to come from a pure inspiration (the purer and more inspired the better). I can say, though, that I will do my best to go beyond myself. Who is this person? Again, sorry, but the operative word in “private chef” is not “chef,” but “private.” C’est la vie.

5. What do you think are common mistakes in vegan cooking and how do you avoid them?

I think there are two possible mistakes in some vegan cooking. The first is when people try to cook without understanding the fundamentals. In this, vegans are no different from nonvegans. It’s important to learn how to do something if you want it to come out right. You can always bend or even break the rules, but if you want to be successful, first you have to know what they are. It may seem arbitrary or rigid, but people have been cooking for as long as human beings have existed (indeed, it’s what originally made us different from all other animals), and they’ve passed down some serious learning.

The other is that many vegans try to bring the very food they’ve come to reject into their new paradigm. When I decided to stop eating animal products, I turned my back on them, said goodbye, and never tried to imitate them. I know this is unorthodox in the vegan world, but that’s the way I am. I knew there was never going to be a plant-based foie gras, gorgonzola, tallegio, venison Wellington, osso buco, salmon with sorrel cream sauce, or any of the hundreds of my other favorite delights from the animal exploitation world. And I knew that none of the imitations would ever fool my palate, so why insult my standards with them? Better to simply close the chapter, and the door, and move on.

My cuisine has always been vegetable-driven, because I understood from an early age that all the nuance and brilliance of flavor comes from the plant kingdom. People get all moony over “grass-fed” meat for a reason (and it’s not compassion for the animal). So my advice to vegan cooks is to make a clean break. Forget and forsake the meat and dairy paradigm once and for all. Think like an herbivore—someone who has never even had a thought about eating anything but plants. Humans are omnivorous, but that only means we can eat all kinds of food; it doesn’t mean we must or that we should. The plant kingdom has infinitely more variety, subtlety and deliciousness to offer than the animal kingdom—not to mention fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Why remain addicted to the animal kingdom, which represents more a culture of death and decay than anything genuinely delightful? Get me started.

6. What ingredients are you especially excited about at the moment?

Well, it’s fall heading into winter, so top of the list would be pomegranates, fuyu persimmons, satsuma tangerines, Buddha hand citron, pears, apples, chestnuts, and (if I’m lucky) the sexiest fruit on the planet, figs! Also, the last of the artichokes, fennel (always better in winter), Jerusalem artichokes and kohlrabi. Then there are the year-round spices, of which my current favorites are Spanish smoked hot paprika, Aleppo pepper, cardamom and saffron. Oh—and chocolate (duh!), always. That said, I’m always open to finding totally new ingredients—the kind I’ve never even heard of before, which even after over 30 years of cooking almost every day, is a relatively frequent experience. Diversity is one of nature’s most divine attributes.

7. What are your top three cuisines from around the world?

Ooh, that’s hard to narrow down (and I do dislike narrow). I keep discovering new ones. But number one is easy; Mexican will always be like coming home for me. What a lot of people outside Mexico don’t know is that even though it has a lot of animal products associated with it, the real Mesoamerican diet is primarily plant-based. One of my favorite comfort foods is calabacita con jitomate (zucchini stewed with tomato and cinnamon) Okay, so the cinnamon is an import from Asia, post-conquest, but then so is cilantro. Again, all the variety and subtlety of flavor comes from the plant foods. Second, in dearness to my heart, would be Indian. It is one of the most varied, complex and sophisticated cuisines I know, with very ancient roots and techniques, joining health and sublime pleasure together seamlessly. Sadly, it’s literally impossible to get the taste exactly right without using ghee, but I’ve gotten close enough for vegan with coconut oil. As far as number three, I’m truly stumped. I love French, Italian, Moroccan, Japanese and all Middle Eastern cuisines almost equally. But then, I love food, period.

8. Who or what has been most influential to you on your vegan path? Individuals, groups, books, films, etc. included.

In order of appearance: (1) The people at Book Publishing Company, who impressed me very much when we worked together on my first book, Omega 3 Cuisine (vegetarian, not vegan). (2) My second book, Speed Vegan, which was a project I was given, from which I never quite escaped (it’s what inspired me to go vegan). (3) Jonathan Safran Foer’s beautifully written book, Eating Animals, which I read while I was working on Speed Vegan. (4) Summerfest. My first exposure to a no-holds-barred vegan extravaganza. (5) The heartfelt enthusiasm and sweetness I encountered in most vegans I met, many of whom were eager to help me promote my books and succeed. They reminded me of the late sixties and seventies, when revolution was in the air and there was a palpable sense that we were on the cusp of a new age of enlightenment (we were, and we are). (6) Being in an all-vegan audience at the premiere of “Vegucated," at a theater in Toronto. Like a giant happy family. Great fun, massive energy boost. (7) People, too many to list, but some who made an indelible impression (for different reasons): Gene Baur, Victoria Moran, Brenda Davis, Jo Stepaniak, Caryn Hartglass, Donna Benjamin, Robert Cheeke, Lisa Shapiro (blessings and peace be upon her sweet, ever-giving soul), and, well, you, Marla! There are others, and if any of them are reading this, no slight intended or implied. You know who you are!

9. What issue is nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like people to know more about?

Peace. The possibility (and the necessity) of experiencing peace. Of all the things I’m sure about, I’m absolutely certain that the future of our species—indeed the planet and every species on it—depends on our ability to transform from self-centered, ignorant beings to self-actualized conscious beings. Peace is possible.

We all have the inherent capability to turn our focus within and find the source of peace at the core of our being. Our longing for it is expressed in everything we do, however contrary or unrelated to peace our activities may be. Another, perhaps more appealing word for it is bliss—the state of completion where peace, love, happiness, consciousness, contentment, joy, fulfillment are all happening at the same time. Every creature seeks this, consciously or unconsciously, and the only way for all of us to live together in harmony is for each of us to attain it. It is entirely doable. I’ve spent the last 43 years practicing the art of peace, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I will openly admit that I’m still not very good at it, but even on my worst days, it remains possible for me. If I can do it, anyone can (seriously).

I hope everyone who reads this will agree, or at the very least become curious about the possibility of finding the peace within themselves. Life is short. I used to say this back when I was in my early twenties (what did I know about it, right?), but when I hit 60, it became all too real for me. I’m turning 63 in a week, and that means that, best case scenario (I live to be 100), I’ve only got 13,505 days left. And the older I get, the faster days fly by. I didn’t come here to write books. I came here to get something, and I got it. Now I have to make sure I still have it when I leave, so the whole thing will not have been a waste of time. Self-knowledge is the prize, guys. Seek it, find it, feel it, keep it close. If you get frustrated in your search, don’t give up; ask for help, and know that help will come. Nothing is dearer to my heart.

10. Last, please finish this sentence. "To me, veganism is…"

To me, veganism is one very natural step in human evolution, as crucial in our development as picking our knuckles up and straightening our spine. But I have to say, I’m uncomfortable with anything that ends with “ism.” To me, it’s more about becoming conscious and taking responsibility for it. No ism to follow, no rules to keep me on the straight and narrow. It’s just a matter of staying with the constantly opening and elevating of my awareness and following the desire of my own heart. Being vegan is not a goal or even an activity for me. It’s the natural outcome of being aware. I can feel it in my body, because my health and vitality are improved (and as I age, this becomes increasingly important, believe me). I can see it in the eyes of all creatures; that “golden rule” is not just for humans. I can see it in the environment; filth and degradation are not nature’s way, and if we don’t get with the program, nature will turn on us like the plague our species is fast becoming.

The more I practice the inner experience I mentioned in my answer to question #9, the more I’m compelled to seek kindness and compassion, to try to convert my baser instincts of competition and accumulation to my higher ones of cooperation and giving. It’s not an “ism” to me. It’s a necessity. I’m not there yet, but I’m well on my way.

Alan was generous enough to share some of the recipes he mentioned for his epic answer to #3. Here you go! (Thanks, Alan!)

Romesco Sauce (from Extraordinary Vegan)
Makes 5 cups

A staple of the cuisine of Catalonia, in Northeastern Spain, romesco sauce is a profoundly gratifying condiment. It is traditionally served with grilled foods, where indeed it excels, and it goes very well with boiled or baked potatoes. It also makes a compelling dip, an assertive sandwich spread, and an irresistible thing to lick off one’s fingers. The quantity may seem excessive, and you should feel free to cut it in half. However, I’ve learned that with exquisite dishes that require a little work, you might as well make a lot while you’re at it. You won’t be sorry, believe me.

6 red peppers
2 cups hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup flax oil
24 cloves roasted garlic
3 tablespoons Spanish smoked hot paprika
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon hot red chile powder
1 teaspoon salt (plus more as needed)

Preheat the broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Quarter the peppers lengthwise and remove the stems and membranes. Don’t worry about any seeds that may adhere—they will actually add flavor. Trim the pointed tips so they will lie flat, cut side down. Put the peppers on the prepared baking sheet and broil until the skins are evenly blackened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately put the peppers in a small bowl and cover tightly with a pot lid, a plate, or aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining peppers. Let steam in the bowl until barely warm, about 15 minutes. Uncover and pour cold water into the bowl to loosen the skins. Remove and discard the skins.

Put the peppers in a blender. Add the hazelnuts, vinegar, olive oil, flax oil, garlic, paprika, tomato paste, chile powder, and salt. Process until smooth, stopping from time to time, to scrape down the sides.

Stored in jars in the refrigerator, the romesco sauce will keep for two weeks. It will be long gone by then, of course.

Pistachio Cream (from The Almond Milk Cookbook)
Makes about 1½ cups

Mildly sweet, this is like the spirit of pistachios, in cloud form. It can swing from sweet to savory, too, so keep that in mind. I made a Middle Eastern sort of hors d’oeuvre with roasted red pepper, pistachio cream and pomegranate seeds once that was scary-good.

1 cup raw shelled pistachios
½ cup almond milk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon pistachio extract (optional)

Put the pistachios in a ceramic bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit 2 hours, and then drain. Slip off the skins and discard.

Put the pistachios, almond milk, powdered sugar and optional pistachio extract in a blender and process until smooth. Use at once, or scrape into a small clean jar, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Abate Fetel Pear Sorbet with Chocolate Sauce and Pear Chips
Makes 6 servings

8 Abate Fetel pears (yes, you can make it with Bartlett or d’Anjou)
3 cups water
1 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
1 vanilla bean, preferably Tahitian
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
pinch of unrefined sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
2 or 3 green cardamom pods
Set aside 3 of the best-looking pears with the thickest necks. Quarter the remaining 5 lengthwise and cut out the cores, including the tough strip leading up to the stem end. Cut them into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks and put them in a medium saucepan. Add the water and cane sugar. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the saucepan. Add the two halves of the bean and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a rambunctious simmer, and cook until the pears are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the vanilla bean. Drain the pears in a sieve set over a bowl to collect the syrup. Put the pears in a blender and add 1 1/4 cups of the syrup. Process until smooth. Pour the puree into a medium bowl and stir in the lemon juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
While the puree is cooling, prepare the pear chips. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Very lightly grease a sheet of parchment paper with the coconut oil and set it on a baking sheet.
Cut the remaining 3 pears in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, slice the cut sides of the pears into thin cross-sections, no more than 2 mm (3/32 inch) thick. You will need at least 18 good-looking slices for 6 servings, but it's wise to make a few extras, if you can. Feel free to eat the parts that don't make handsome slices. Lay the slices out on the prepared parchment and brush them very lightly with a little of the remaining syrup. Bake until they have turned a rich golden color and are curling slightly at the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting and bake until very dry, another 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the chips to a dry baking sheet and allow them to cool completely. If they are not crisp at this point, you may return them to the oven at the lowest setting and dry them further. Let them cool again to see if they have dried sufficiently (they will be slightly soft when warm).

To make the chocolate sauce, put 3/4 cup of the remaining syrup in a small saucepan and add the chocolate and cocoa. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and stir gently with a whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat. Crack open the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Crush the seeds in a mortar, leaving some coarse pieces, and stir into the sauce. If you don't have a mortar, you can crush the seeds on a cutting board with the back of a wooden spoon. Let the sauce cool completely. Do not refrigerate, or it will become too thick.
When the pear puree is cold, pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a container and set in the freezer to firm up for about 30 minutes. You may prepare the sorbet in advance up to this point, but bear in mind that you will need to remove it from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving, in order to shape it into quenelles (oval shapes).

At least 15 minutes before serving, put the dessert plates in the freezer. Using two large spoons, scoop out about 1/3 cup of the sorbet and form oval shapes by pushing it back and forth between them. If you haven't done this before, there will be a bit of a learning curve, but you'll manage. Working as quickly as you can, set 3 quenelles on each plate, with tips touching in the center and radiating out. Pour a little of the sauce between the quenelles and let it spread. Stick a pear chip into each quenelle, with the stem end pointing straight up. Serve at once! Invite your guests to use their hands to pick up the pear chips and use them along with their spoons to eat the dessert.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Spectacular Vegan Failure


I tried to fail at being vegan successfully, I really did. Somewhere along the line, though, I did not triumph with my failure and as a result, I’ve got no book deals to speak for, I do not have a thriving yoga clothing line sporting pithy quotes and my student loans are still not freaking paid off. The lack of perks from quitting veganism successfully has been really disappointing. I expected more from veganism. Somebody should really answer as to why I failed so spectacularly to quit at quitting my veganism more profitably.

I started out with the best of intentions. I created the most green smoothie-saturated Instagram page that I could. I posted Ball jar after Ball jar of all the juice cleanses I was supposedly on. I had memes with inspirational quotes. I posted pictures of myself doing the Warrior and Tree poses in beach-y settings, like, a million times. It’s November and the soles of my feet are still burned from the sand. I made sure that the world knew that I was juicing until my stomach sloshed. It was working.  

Every time I got 20 new followers, I’d spritz myself with an organic hydrating facial mist sent to me by one of the companies that was mailing me packages and I’d post a Mayfair-filtered picture of my smiling, radiant profile. I’d hashtag it “blessed,” “love,” or something similarly vegan-aspirational. “You’re glowing,” my followers gushed. “You look ah-may-zing!” they wrote. That’s all fine and good but we know that the real attention – and money – is with quitting and everything seemed to be shaping up just right for my eventual triumphant public break-up with veganism.  

The narrative of the particular success trajectory I was on dictates that I could only expect a financial windfall of a failure if, after capturing enough followers, I then went through a period of deep internal struggle. Within a few months, I had amassed 25,000 followers and my numbers were steadily climbing. It was time to nurture some serious tension between my public persona and my private life in my story arc. I was game.

The big schism was supposed to be around the development of mysterious ailments brought on by my vegan diet. I had ‘em all figured out. Vague things. Disagreeable things. Psychological things. The plan was to say that they were stomach-related. Headaches. Inflammation. Anxiety. I could have had carpal tunnel, too. The idea was to drop hints like an invisible trail of breadcrumbs that would eventually lead to my bank account. My smile had a twinge of sadness to it now, one that you would only really notice in retrospect. I found the perfect filter for subtle melancholia. My posts became a little disjointed and lacked that spark of a few weeks prior; my photos became more haphazard and less inspiring.  I kept this going for a few weeks. My followers still loved me. I was still “radiant.” I was still “OMG beautiful.” But what was going on behind closed doors, hmm??? My plan was humming along perfectly. Like my success coach advised, I’d fall asleep each night with visions of lucrative book deals and Today show interviews dancing through my head.

Finally, it was time to come clean about the challenges I’d concocted and this was when I could get really creative and dramatic.

The morning that I took down my Instagram account still gives me chills to remember. I did my best at being eerily silent for a day or two. Then I reemerged. I had a new account that was a play off my old name but it was scrubbed of veganism. I posted that I was so scared but I needed to be honest. I had broken up with veganism. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done but I needed to be honest with my friends, my followers, the people who trusted me. I posted a picture of my feet in the sand with a vintage-y filter that I’d taken over the summer. I struck an exquisite balance between being mysterious and giving just enough information so as to maintain intrigue and not lose too many future brand affiliation opportunities. I wanted to be vegan, I told my followers, but I created permanent damage after six months of my very strict animal-free lifestyle that included all kinds of random restrictions that had nothing to do with veganism. Please understand, I implored. This is very hard.

I waited. And waited. A few people expressed disappointment. A few people cheered me on. I hadn’t broken the Internet yet, though. That was okay, I reassured myself. I hadn’t brought out the big guns yet. Success at pretending to fail to thrive as a vegan doesn’t happen overnight.

I posted more. I said that my skin had turned orange-y, pink-y, green like a nuclear sunset and it was really gross and sad and I couldn’t take selfies for a whole week. My eyebrows became sparse. My stomach was weird. I hardly recognized my hair anymore. My fingers tingled. I became allergic to air and afraid of birds. My toes suddenly became double-jointed. I’d loved being vegan and then this happened. I was living a dangerous double-life in a way that people are supposed to love to read about. I hit all the right notes, especially when I wrote about The Cravings. I was building momentum to the juicy/lucrative part like a steam engine going up a money mountain but…

It didn’t go anywhere.

I wrote about a cleanse that made me accidentally flush my liver down the toilet. Was it too gross? I wrote about the time, in a juice-fueled moment of mania, I almost put my own thumb down the juicer chute, mistaking it for a piece of ginger and it went nowhere. No bites. I would have killed for just one death threat. That was going to be the big news hook, too. I posted pensive portraits on the rooftop of my building, the clouds looking appropriately moody. Other than my mother telling me I should smile more often, there were virtual tumbleweeds rolling around after each of my stunning revelations. Where the hell was everybody?! Didn’t they care about my financial well-being and my plans for the future? I was led to believe that 98% of the population was going to eat this sh*t up with a spoon. I was deceived.  

I expected a windfall. I expected an adoring fan-base. I did everything by the rule book. I presented a clear case of not thriving as a non-vegan: Why wasn’t my failure succeeding??? Where were my seventy million Instagram followers? Where were the marriage proposals from swarthy Saudi princes? Where were the messages from the Dr. Oz producer? Where was my book-turned-into-movie deal and where was my fame, damn it?!

I still have no answers for why I failed to thrive as a failed vegan. It was not for a lack of effort, though, I can assure you. Ultimately, this endeavor wasn't about book deals or paying off my student loans: it was about fame, attention and building a better future for myself. Veganism was a huge mistake and waste of my time in that regard and I’m still paying for my naiveté. Speaking of, I’ll be having a big sale on my super-cute OmniMORE, Namasteak and #MeatyGirl yoga tops next week. Check back. 

P.S. - I am still available for brand affiliations, interviews, guest blog posts, etc.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

10 Questions: Vegan Rockstar with Lani Muelrath...


When I met Lani Muelrath two years ago at Vegetarian Summerfest, I was immediately impressed by her vibrant, positive energy and friendliness. I was not surprised when she told me that she was working on a book – who isn’t these days? – but I was happy to hear it because I thought that she would be such a great ambassador with her warm and approachable nature. Well, the book is out now and Lani is making a difference by combining her welcoming communication style with solid information that breaks down barriers.

The Plant-Based Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide To Transition To A Healthy Lifestyle and Achieving Your Ideal Weight, Lani shines at what she does best as a longtime educator, speaker and content creator: helping people to make the transition to thriving, vegan living as easily and successfully as possible. As a winner of the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Instruction as an instructor of kinesiology and environmental studies, she has applied her background in education to offer engaging presentations on behalf of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Complete Health Improvement Project. With The Plant-Based Journey, Lani offers practical but smart and effective tips, recipes and tools for reaching optimal wellness in five stages, from just starting out, which she calls Awakening, to the final stage of refinement, which she calls Champion. Lots of well-researched bits from her 40-plus-year wellness journey are interwoven throughout, from fitness advice to helping people incorporate plant-based diets while traveling and communicating with family members who are not quite there yet and this helps readers find their way to their best health. The Plant-Based Journey looks like a great book for anyone from someone who is already vegan but wanting to improve their health to those who still pretty new to some of these concepts. I appreciate Lani’s friendly and pragmatic approach to shifting away from eating animals and I am honored that I am able to shine a little spotlight on her as this week’s Vegan Rockstar.

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?

When I was a teen, my mother inspired me to start learning yoga as she was studying and practicing yoga herself.  The yoga literature was infused with vegetarian-speak, which first awakened the idea for me. In college I started teaching yoga, furthered study of meditation, and encountered ‘ahimsa’ –a Sanskrit term meaning 'not to injure' and 'compassion' – as an important companion.  This led me to give up meat, fish, and eggs, though not dairy products. In retrospect I marvel at that, the schools of thought that teach ahimsa but disregard the dairy channel. That came (went?) for me at a later time.

2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?

When I look back, every change that I’ve endeavored to achieve has come via the inspiration of someone having something that I wanted.  I’m not talking about physical possessions, I’m talking about embodiment of style and lifestyle. Being attracted to a lifestyle change due to positive modeling and influence is far more compelling to me. This is then underscored by more reasons to make changes. 

The research tells us that we make decisions for what we want and want to achieve based on emotion, and then look for reasons to support our choice.  Those of us who are teaching and sharing the word about the benefits and joys of eating and living animal-product-free need to remember this. When we start with an argumentative, negative voice, it creates barriers. Think about it. If we confront someone who has been eating a standard, animal-product filled plate for their entire life, when we come down hard with the negatives, under the surface the receiver gets the message that all their life they’ve been doing something wrong. And none of us wants to hear that. It is far too threatening, and creates a reactive resistance that may create polarization simply for self-protective reasons. Think about what you would feel like if someone came up to you and told you everything you had been doing about xyz your whole life was a mistake. What would your first response be?

With this in mind, the strongest pro-active influence for me would having someone modeling the benefits of living vegan – by how they live, how they act, the difference it makes – by attraction. Thinking back, that’s exactly what drew me in.

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?

Focusing on the positives, modeling consistency over time, being present without pointing fingers, always humor, and always – share good food. It still behooves us to counter the vegans-eat-twigs-and-bark imagery. If you post pictures of your food – which is great for modeling meals and bringing inspiration to the plates of others – post pictures that are appealing. Like it or not, how we act, speak, and how our food looks are important elements of making impressions and changing hearts. Nick Cooney speaks about this quite a bit in How to Be Great at Doing Good.  Everyone seeking to be an agent for positive change would do well to read it.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?

The fact that the environmental factor is finally getting bigger play on the stage. For years – decades, as a matter of fact – I marveled that people who called themselves environmentalists were chowing down on beef, chicken and cheese. It’s a huge disconnect that is slowly getting some gap closure.

5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?

Picking at the non-essentials. These are divisive, send the wrong message, and are completely unnecessary. Vegans criticizing each other. For example, I recently read a review of a vegan cookbook where the reviewer (vegan) was all over the author for not addressing everything from GMOs to grain allergies. Every book of education, transition, and recipes can’t be inclusive of every single aspect that dietary shift might touch upon. This is an offshoot of the same problem we have pretty much all experienced, where we are expected, as aspiring conscious eaters, to be expert dietitians, nutritionists, environmentalists, and psychologists. It shows up in other conversations such as raw vs. cooked, for example. These are personal choices within the bigger umbrella of simply eating plants instead of animals. Elitism rubs the wrong way yet vegans can be perceived as such – sometimes highly unfairly. But being aware of this judgment can help inform our language and approach.  Being inclusive, compassionate, friendly, and encouraging with your language is more effective at moving people in the direction you’d like to see them go, big picture.

6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.

If you could eat in a way that is delicious and satisfying and has more variety than you ever imagined and that improves your health, vitality, and the lives of everyone around you, wouldn’t you want to find out more about that?

Yet to be honest, better than that has been the few minutes of opening with the presentations I’ve had the privilege to deliver on book tour with The Plant-Based Journey. I’m still working on how to compress this into elevator style. It has been so effective at bringing skeptics to the point of being becoming visibly more relaxed and engaged over the course of the presentation to buying a book at the end and using words like “so inclusive!” and “sounds like something I could do!”. Maybe elevators aren’t the best venue for this cause anyway. For some, yes – I know some vegans who are very skilled at putting it all out there, quickly, and making a difference. My approach is a little different.

7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?

I became vegetarian in 1972 - far before all the films and other connections we now have. John Robbins, early on, of course with Diet for a New America. John has always been very generous to me and supportive of my work. More recently, T. Colin Campbell.  Neal Barnard and PCRM I have the highest regard for as they get it on all fronts – the healthy, the animals, and the environment. Dr. Barnard has generously given me lots of opportunities to reach out and add to the education in the vegan world. Farm Sanctuary has had a big impact on me. Dr. John McDougall. I hate to start listing because it’s too easy to leave someone important out. 

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?

Nature is the great rejuvenator. Physical activity. Travel to wild places where the wild animals are. Meditation. Solitude. We live in the woods in northern California. It’s a place where I can run, bike, walk, and write for literally days at a time in quiet.

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?

In the past couple of years we have taken two trips to Africa. The elephants are a cause deeply representative of so many issues for the animals and the planet everywhere. Poaching has escalated as the demand for ivory trinkets and gadgets in China and the U.S. has increased. Having seen how community-oriented, social, and caring for their own the elephants are in the wild, the pain of seeing the elephants hacked-up for their tusks and stranding grieving babies and families is unbearable. The orphanages are getting more and more crowded.

It’s a complete disconnect in my mind as to why an ivory decoration would inspire anyone to participate in this horrendous industry. And even with regulations, there is so much corruption at government levels, that it can be hard to get any traction on improvement. The orphanage where our elephant adoptees are – the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – is perhaps the strongest presence for protecting orphaned animals and poacher intervention.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with so many issues of wildlife, animals, land, environment, sustainability – it overwhelms me when I think about it.  It helps to stay focused on specific issues that you can try to do something about.

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...”

…being in cognitive harmony and physical and emotional peace with what you eat. When I was teaching school full time, during the years I was still consuming dairy products, every day I drove past the dairy farms in the valley and when I would see the cows out grazing, I would feel as if I was slumping down a bit in my seat. It’s possible to live in wonderful harmony with what you put on your plate and your highest ideals.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It Takes a Village to Find a Cat (Or: Where to Look for a Kitten When You’ve Lost All Hope)…

Last week, we lost our kitten. Because I cannot bear causing you worry, gentle reader, I am going to break a key storytelling rule - one that Nabokov broke, so I am in good company - and tell you right at the beginning that Clara Bow was found the next day and that she is safe and sound and back to waging an endlessly-amusing-to-her battle against our other cat’s tail. From when we noticed that she wasn’t around at approximately 9:00 Wednesday night until 12:30 Thursday afternoon when I received the breathlessly relieved message from my husband, though, I had every dark thought my apparently twisted mind could conjure about what could have happened to our five-month-old kitten: she was in a couch that we’d thoughtlessly flopped on; she was drowned at the bottom of a sink where that night’s dishes were soaking; she was trapped in a wall or a pipe and she wasn’t able to get out. And territorial rats were chasing her, though I am pretty sure that we don’t have any, but they were after her. Or, if Clara had gotten out of the house, my worries were even more catastrophic because that is a vast realm and it is outside of my control: she was in the dark outdoors, darting between cars, chased by sadistic kids; she was being attacked by a rabid opossum; she was carried off by a hawk. Every couch cushion I overturned, every parked car I peered under, I did with great trepidation, terrified of what I might find but unable to not check. There is a quote from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer that I kept returning to as I grew ever more frantic: “When you squeeze an orange, you'll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what's inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what's inside.” Apparently when my orange is being squeezed, I turn into the reincarnation of Edward Gorey.

At about 1:30 in the morning when she was missing, after hours of fruitlessly shaking her treats and calling her name in our back yard – and watching my husband’s flashlight wobble around outside like a feverish Fox Mulder – I posted about Clara being missing on Facebook. I was desperately looking for comfort, for reassurance, and support. I got that, heaps of it, from people who really should have been asleep. What I didn’t expect, though, was the profusion of excellent guidance for locating a missing kitty. I should have expected it, though, as most of my friends are “animal people” who have a great deal more experience with tracking down vanished felines than I do. A couple of things that I learned from all this: never underestimate how many strange and creative places there are for a cat (and especially a small kitten) to disappear into. Oh, and that cats really, really like box springs, apparently. Between tears, I read stories of long separations and reunions that gave me goose bumps, of improbable “hidey-holes” and cats who have seemingly found portals to disappear into in two-bedroom apartments (Look in the box springs, my cat detective coaches would advise). I also heard stories of heartbreaking loss.

 After sleeping two hours that night, I woke up bleary-eyed and desperate and sobbing from a fragment of dream; Clara still hadn’t materialized. I found myself regretting every time I didn’t kiss her when I could have, when I was annoyed by her picture frames off our shelves, when I reprimanded her for attacking Skylar’s tail yet again. (She really has a thing about that.) What kind of monster was I? Still, there were more messages, texts, comments, prayers, words of reassurance and wisdom. Later that morning, I had a commitment I nearly cancelled but I had unintentionally missed the week before and I didn’t want to do it again. I was reluctant about leaving the house but something told me that she wouldn’t be found when I was home and that I would be getting a text from my husband when I was out. Even though my gut told me this, I thought that maybe I was misleading myself out of desperate hope. I reluctantly left, making sure to check under the car first, of course.

About 1½ hours later, I got a text from my husband: Found her!!! She’s happy and safe and crawling all over me! He’d tried to call but I didn’t hear the phone. I re-read the message five times to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me, burst into grateful tears and called him as soon as I could. It turned out that John was trying to get some work done but he just couldn’t get his mind off Clara Bow. Something made him look back over the thread on my Facebook page to see if there was a tip that he’d missed when he saw this, posted by my friend Linda*, “
One of our indoor cats got out once, and we looked in the yard, the woods, the neighbors' yards, etc. only to find him smashed up against the front of the house.” John realized that there was one part of the outside of the house he hadn’t explored and he went to look. He moved some discarded wood trim from our porch renovation that are piled against our house and peered inside. He saw a small dark mass inside that he thought was dirt but, shining his flashlight at it (even in the middle of a sunny day, it was dark), suddenly the mass blinked at him: those were eyes. It was Clara Bow, huddled in a ball. She must have darted out the night before when he was taking the dog out on a walk. He moved the pieces of wood and she came out toward him, tentative and stiff at first after a night in the cold, and then he picked her up. She nestled against him and kissed his hand. By the time I got home a short time later, she was running around the house like there had been no interruption. Holding her warm little purring body, the one I was so desperate to see just an hour before, I was deliriously, wildly happy and relieved, my grateful tears on her soft fur.

My community is like family to me, family that – in many cases – I’ve not met and may never meet but I still love. People who I’ve never met were praying for us, kept awake worrying about Clara, searching their minds for more helpful words of advice, texting me support and so on. That is real family to me. I am so grateful to everyone who cared and helped. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve compiled the various and assorted bits of advice and helpful quotes that I was given for finding Clara Bow. Any number of these could have been the magic ticket to finding her. If you have found this while you are in your most frightened state in trying to find a lost kitty, I hope that this list helps you as it did me. Please know that I am sending my best to you and reach out: may you get the guidance that you need to be reunited.

These recommendations range from the obvious to the outright bizarre. What can I say? Cats are mysterious creatures.

Tips for finding a missing cat or kitten

* Shake a cat treat container while calling her name.

* Run an electric can opener or open a can your usual way. Just do whatever your cat associates with food. Do it in several different rooms to increase the likelihood of the kitty hearing.

* Look inside couches, underneath chairs, couches, inside mattress linings, under and inside pillows. With even a tiny tear, cats can wedge their way into these spaces. If your kitty is missing, especially if he’s very small, be mindful to check box springs before sitting down.

* Put wet food in multiple areas inside the house.

* Look in clothes hampers or laundry baskets. If it has a lid and it’s shut, look inside, too.

* Look in all cabinets, cupboards, drawers, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. One cat was found hiding behind a partially open drawer.
Check the top of cabinets as well.

* Check under or behind a stove: You may have to pull the stove out to look. Also, look in and around the dishwasher.

* Look inside the washer and dryer – and the hose – as well as underneath and behind. 

“I've been through this more times than I can remember and know very well the awful, helpless feeling. I think it's highly likely that she is in the house. The only thing I know to do is to grab a flashlight and search the house square foot by square foot, leaving not one inch uncovered. It means removing every item from the linen closet, looking on top of curtain rods, at the back of top shelves in closets, inside every boot, shoe and dresser drawer, inside the back of the clothes dryer. Little cats find their ways into the strangest places!” Ginny M.
"Also, if an indoor cat gets out, make it very easy for her to get back in via her escape route. It is usually the only entry she will know. When my cat Piper (same age as Clara but semi feral) escaped through a window we put a tall stool outside the window. Sure enough she climbed back in 8 hours later."

* Look behind the refrigerator. If you have a kitten or a petite cat, look inside the refrigerator and drawers. It wouldn’t hurt to check the freezer as well.

* Do you have a hole under a sink that leads to the outside? Check that (and then seal it!).

* Look on the beams of the basement.

“We left our cats with a friend once while we left town with the dogs (while having the floors in our house refinished). Our friend called and said she couldn't find one of our cats. We left the beach a day early. Long story short, he was in the basement, hiding under the bathtub (there was a cat-sized hidey-hole there that one of our friend's cats showed him). They were hanging out together there. Harold just wasn't coming out for meals. Once he heard my husband’s voice, he poked his head out.” – Lisa B.

* Check behind and above books on a bookshelf.

* Make sure that all air vents are properly covered. (If your cat got outside via this route, it is obviously too late for now but a protective measure to be mindful of for the future.)

* Check the drywall and under the sink for holes or gaps, especially around pipes. If you suspect that your cat is in the wall, shining a flashlight up it can help a frightened or disoriented kitty find his way back down. Put stinky food at the hole. If you know that your cat is trapped in the walls and she is not coming out, firefighters may be able to help cut a hole in the wall and release her.

 “Our cat Pippin found a way into the ceiling of the basement!! He was gone for hours then I went downstairs and realized he was above my head in the ceiling. You must channel your inner kitty when looking for her.” – Adrienne H

* One friend reported finding a missing kitty hanging out in a tear in a soft shell suitcase.

* You’d be surprised how many people frantically searched their homes for hours only to find the cat napping contentedly in a closet. Linen closets are especially popular for missing cats.

“I've had to crawl on my hands and knees to see the perspective of a kitten. She may have tucked in underneath a sofa or chair. Or behind a seat cushion. Is there room by your refrigerator? She may have been able to go forward but not backwards. I'd go room by room with both you and John taking each room apart.” Molly D.

* Put the litter box outside right away and it is especially helpful if it is not scooped: the scent can help to guide them back home. If the box is scooped but the garbage with waste hadn’t been thrown out yet, empty some back into the box. Waiting by the litter box can also help.

* Email her picture and description to all the local shelters and veterinarians. Also, visit the shelters: don’t just look online.

* Post your missing cat information on Craigslist and local and national lost cat registries.

“In the event she did get outside, cats are very territorial and rarely venture farther than a few houses in any direction. Leaving a food dish on the porch might help draw her out in the morning.” Laurie S.

* Put out a humane trap – check with friends or they can be borrowed from animal shelters – with an article of clothing from home and stinky wet cat food.

* Talk to your neighbors, print lost flyers and put them in all the neighbor’s mailboxes, ask them to look in their garages, sheds, under porches and under their cars. Look under the cars that might be parked on your street as well.

If she slipped out, indoor only cats are terrified and will find the nearest safe place. Their safety is paramount and so they usually don't respond. If this happened she will be close by and the best thing is to look in the wee hours of the morning but I hope that she is safely hiding indoors.” – Melanie B.

* Make big lost signs on colorful poster board with a clear picture and as much detail as possible.

* Use a flashlight day or night.

* Check out this helpful advice.

*If you feel inspired by Linda’s words of guidance that helped us to find our Clara Bow, please consider donating to the wonderful animal sanctuary she works with, Triangle Chance for All. Thank you to Linda and her beloved house-clinger, Aky.