This morning, Zander and I squeezed in a brisk one-hour walk, during which Zander snoozed in his stroller. We then continued to brave the cold with a group of friends at the playground and had a fabulous time romping and rolling in piles of fallen leaves.
When we got home from the playground, there was just enough time before lunch to do a quick and simple craft project. We decided to make a cardboard ramp for Zander’s little wooden cars. For the base, we used the shipping box from the beautiful wilderness advent calendar sent by his Great Aunt Julie earlier this week, and to decorate, we used some colored electrical tape and cute little snowflake stickers sent by his Grandma.
As always, step one was to gather the materials on Zander’s little table.
Next, we cut open the cardboard box and lined it up with the bookshelf that will serve as the base for our ramp.
We used a black marker to draw the lines indicating where to cut our box.
Then we cut the top of the cardboard and slid it into the bookshelf, using a wooden stacking toy as the anchor.
We folded up the outer edges near the top, to keep our cars from sliding off the sides.
Next, we went back to the table so that Zander could add his decorations.
I helped him add the racing stripes, after he chose red and green — how fitting, for both the holiday season and also the “stop” and “go” connotations!
Zander then used a very minimalist approach to add a few carefully placed snowflakes.
Finally, we assembled the ramp, placing a large block underneath for support. For a special touch, we added the Christmas tree ornament Zander made in town last Friday at the tree lighting ceremony.
We then spent our last few minutes before lunch experimenting and racing cars down at various speeds and angles — so much fun!
For dinner tonight, I made homemade vegan Italian sausages, using a recipe that was adapted slightly from the amazing one created by our friend, Shelby. In particular, we enjoyed the addition of sun-dried tomatoes in tonight’s batch. These sausages are so flavorful, inexpensive, and easy to make that I don’t know why anyone would bother buying the pre-packaged ones from a store. I also love being able to completely customize them (shape, size, flavor) to suit our current mood.
Anyhow, tonight is movie night with Alex and he is waiting for me downstairs, so without further ado, below is the recipe. Thank you, Shelby! You are my hero!
VEGAN ITALIAN SAUSAGES
*makes approximately 8 sausages
2¼ cups vital wheat gluten
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ cup chickpea flour
2 tbsp vegetable broth powder
2 tbsp chopped onion
2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried Italian seasonings
1 tsp smoked sea salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp fennel seed (optional) (I didn’t use this, because I’m not a big fennel fan)
1 tsp dried chili flakes (optional) (I didn’t use this, because Zander is not a big chili fan)
2¼ cups cool water (this keeps the gluten from activating and getting tough to work with)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes (minced) (I used the kind that come in a glass jar in olive oil)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk together the water, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and tamari.
Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until mixed. If dough mixture is too dry, you can add another tablespoon or so of water as needed.
Scoop about ½ cup of dough at a time and shape into sausages. Alternatively, you could slice the ball of dough in half and then slice each half into four pieces before shaping them into sausages, like I did (see below). (Funny how they sort of look like cranberry almond biscotti in this picture — haha!)
Place the sausages onto pieces of aluminum foil and roll them up, twisting the ends.
Then place them in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Once sausages have cooked, remove the foil and refrigerate.
The sausages can be used for just about anything at this point. For example, they can be sliced and used as pepperoni for a pizza, chopped for a ground meat substitute, or eaten on a bun as hotdogs. That’s what we did tonight, and we piled our “hot dogs” high with fresh baby spinach, diced tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and raw onion (for Alex). We each had a small bowl of broccoli “cheese” soup (left over from lunch) on the side. Yum!
Final comment: You owe it to yourself to make these sausages… Trust me!