It has been a really long time since I have posted anything. I don’t feel burnt out from blogging anymore, so I suppose it’s time to get started again. Overall, not much has changed since I stopped writing, but I am going to restructure my blog quite a bit. Instead of posting weekly tips, product reviews, and updates, I am going to combine most of that into one weekly review. I also won’t be sharing people’s vegan stories for now. It was a lot of work and became a huge stressor. Instead, I will be doing a once monthly Q&A, where I focus on a question as a topic. That way, people can actually get to know me better, and I can work from a topic. I will also be doing a “Things I Love” post every month that will cover everything from vegan food to lifestyle products.
To back track a little, in December 2018, I finished my first calendar year of doing Vegan in Wyoming full time. It was a really great year, but there were definitely challenges. I think I bit off more than I could chew between the blogging, planning a wedding, dealing with people who wanted me to do wholesale, farmer’s markets, and weekly dinners. By the end of the year, I ended up dropping almost everything and was only doing the dinners and dessert orders on the side. Although the year was busy, and somewhat overwhelming, the most important thing was that I got to create relationships with people in the community. At the end of the year, I was going through pages of orders remembering all of the deliveries I made, and all of the people I had the privilege of meeting. Even the people who ordered once, made an impact on me. The fact that it was one more order and someone was willing to try something different was a success for me! That’s really when I realized that all of these talks and ideas of expanding weren’t for me. To me, it didn’t matter if it was just having my desserts in other businesses around town, it wasn’t something I wanted.
For 2019, I have refocused my attention, and found out what matters most to me: having real relationships with each person who tries my food, and bringing a reasonable option for people who don’t want to eat dead animals or put junk into their bodies. That’s why I originally began doing this. It wasn’t to be all things to all people, or to create a large profitable business. I’m here to bring change to the community. Anyone in Casper can sell a piece piece of meat or a sandwich, but not everyone can make a self proclaimed “carnivore” swoon over shiitake bacon and almond ricotta! Really, it’s my form of vegan activism. I used to think that I had to protest or sport the “vegan” and “PETA” bumper stickers to get my point across, but people are much less defensive when it comes to food. If someone around here is even willing to try one dinner or dessert, then its one small step for me, but an even bigger step toward the vegan movement as a whole. Long story short, this year, I am focusing on personally bringing better options through hands on education, sponsoring and partnering with non-profits that I’m passionate about, and not giving in to other people’s ideas of how I should expand.
That being said, the first part of 2019 has gone really well. There have already been a lot of new things happening and I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring. There are still slow days and weeks, but there have also been weeks busier than last year already! I have cut back on doing the Farmer’s Markets, due to prior commitments. It has been good though. I get to spend the off weekends volunteering with a local run club and have the opportunity to tell people about veganism while giving away free dinners. I have found that a lot of runners are excited about it between people wanting to eat healthier, and the increase of professional athletes making the switch to veganism.
Currently, I have been working on testing a lot of recipes and figuring out ways to better incorporate the community into what I am doing. Towards the end of last year, I began working with an application developer and was introduced to an all vegan app called Veats. It allows people to host vegan dinners and classes from their homes. It is one of the very few things that was presented to me in 2018 that I was actually excited about. The app went live at the end of November in 2018, and I finally got around to hosting my first event on February 17th. It was an Italian cooking class, and I had five people register. It may not seem like a lot, but I typically don’t do well with a lot of people, so it was just right. I was surprised how well it went! I had never done anything like it on my own. The only experience I had prior to this was when I helped with a class while in culinary school. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I really enjoyed getting to share some of my experience with others.
So far, this year is off to a busy start. I think the only weekend I have had off was the first week of the year. The Monday and Thursday dinners have been going well. I haven’t had some of the crazy busy days like I had last year, but it has been much more consistent and steady with other orders on the side. I also upgraded my delivery vehicle, which was long overdue. All of the doors actually open, so that’s pretty useful. I also don’t have the immense fear of dying in the snow, which has made the winter deliveries much less stressful. Honestly, buying a car as a vegan was one of the most difficult and frustrating things. Almost every car I looked at had a leather interior, and cloth was out of the question because of the chance of spilling food. I was able to find something with a faux leather interior and went with it because at that point nothing else really mattered to me. I am happy with my choice, and I am really excited for summer deliveries so I can actually have air conditioning.
Over the past few weeks, I have been working on quite a few recipes. I am usually working on recipes constantly, or at least experimenting every week, but there have been a few things that I have been trying to master for a while now. I have been experimenting with croissants, and am slowly perfecting the art of French macarons. I don’t plan on making those things part of the permanent menu anytime soon, but they are definitely in the works. It has taken about a year, but I have finally figured out a method for the macarons that works, but the croissants are still a struggle. When I started making them, I also started making my own butter, which turned out to be a huge success! I really like the flavor of cultured European butter, so I have been making it with a homemade cultured coconut milk. I have also been spending some time on gluten-free cookies. There is a pretty high demand for gluten-free items, and I really only make a few options. I think that has been the one of the more successful tests. By far the most successful and delicious test has to be the brownie cookie bars I made. I already put them on the dessert page because they turned out so well! In my opinion, they are the best thing I have made so far this year!
One last exciting thing that has happened in the last few weeks involves Violife, a vegan cheese alternative. Last year, the company reached out to me and wanted me to test their product. They ended up wanting me to be a brand ambassador, which I thought was pretty awesome and I really liked what they had. On and off over the last year, I have been trying to get it into local groceries and restaurants. At first there were a lot of skeptics, but Grant Street Grocery here in Casper finally carries it! I went to talk with them about a year ago, so it took a while, but it’s nice to see that there is progress being made.
All of that being said, I didn’t think much had changed since the last time I wrote. Nothing monumental has really happened, but there have been a lot of little changes. I am really looking forward to getting back into writing and sharing my successes and struggles as I continue this journey!