215′ Waterfall, Knows it’s Awesome!

IMG_1259Unlike the hundreds of other waterfalls I’ve visited before her, which have had spirits ranging from calm and tranquil to hurried and forceful.  Taughannock Falls is detached yet vibrant and focused. 
IMG_1277She doesn’t need anyone to define her or even to acknowledge her.  She’s quite happy tucked away in the forest working on her stone-carving project.  So fitting that her name, which is a combination of Iroquois & Algonquin, means ‘the great fall in the woods’.


The surrounding rock walls reach up 400′ from the basin. Do you see the people at the bottom?


Here’s a close-up to give you perspective.

Taughannock resides in the middle of New York’s Finger Lakes Region and is the tallest waterfall, east of the Mississippi.  Yes, even taller than Niagara — by 33′ actually.

She’s a celebrity and protected within the 783 acre New York State Park, which bears her name. (Pronounced – tah-GAH-nick)


Here’s an aerial view.

IMG_1257I love the almost heart shaped framing from this angle.  No wonder it’s such a popular location for weddings.


(Photo courtesy of jeeheoncho.com)


(Photo courtesy of fingerlakes1.com)



Taughannock Falls State Park

1740 Taughannock Blvd.

Trumansburg, NY 14886


(Screenshot of map courtesy of nysparks.com)

Once you reach the main entrance of the park, which is on NYS Rte 89, drive past the main entrance and over the stone bridge.  You’ll begin seeing signs for the “Falls Overlook” at this point.  Take your first left on Taughannock Park Rd and drive up the hill.


Parking area.


Currently, there is no fee for the overlook parking lot.  It appears a very nice visitor center is going in.  So you may soon need to purchase the NYSP vehicle pass which is $7 and will give you full access to the park.



After you park, walk to these stone stairs and descend. (You can’t miss them.)

IMG_1263It’s a bit steep but, as you can see in the upper left corner, the falls are viewable without descending the stairs.

IMG_1264First flight of stairs.


Second flight of stairs.IMG_1270The landing at the overlook.



Taughannock is one of the most photographed waterfalls of the Eastern US.  Just Google it and you’ll get pages and pages of stunning photos.  Here are a few of my favorites.


I love this photo of the falls in Autumn from wandrlymagazine.com


Amazing winter view from tripadvisor.com


(Photo courtesy of ashnatkodesigns.com)


(Photo courtesy of stevekluge.com)


This photo may be my favorite of all. (Photo courtesy of ithacafingerlakes.com)


Taughannock’s waters make their way through the gorge as they carve through the hillside to Cayuga Lake.

(Photo courtesy of warrior481.blogspot.com)


(Photo courtesy of ithacafingerlakes.com)

There is a trail that goes through the gorge that you can hike.  Along the way you’ll see other waterfalls and even get a chance to walk on one.



The best place to see where Taughannock’s waters end up is at the State Park’s North Point Area.

IMG_1237Old growth trees, empty picnic areas and charming historic post-and-beam pavilions.



Taughannock is just a few miles away from Ithaca, NY which has an abundance of vegan options.  Check out the Essential Guide for Being Vegan in Ithaca

(Photos by C.A. Moss, unless otherwise specified.)

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Vegan Product Review: Crabcakes – Sophie’s Kitchen vs. Gardein









The graphics on the packaging are remarkably similar for each product in terms of colors and layout.

Gardein – Inside the resealable bag are ten mini-cakes.  They are frozen individually and are loose in the bag.


Sophie’s – A cardboard box contains four large Crab Cakes, vacuum sealed and frozen together.  They require thawing in the fridge prior to cooking.



Gardein – Two bites each

Sophie’s – Five bites each


Both companies suggest pan frying with oil for best results. Disclaimer: We baked them on parchment and did not add oil.

Gardein – Light, thin, crumbly breading similar to their Crispy Chick’n Patty.  The breading stayed soft.


Sophie’s – Hearty, thick and crispy without being overpowering.  They crisped up on their own and surpassed expectations.



Gardein – Small short strings.  Not chewy but pleasantly moist and dense.  If you’ve had Gardein’s Crispy Chick’n Tenders you’ll see a texture comparison.


Sophie’s – Chewier and stringier.  Sophie’s has the texture of seafood mastered.  The strings are large and tear away with a light snap as you bite and pull the cake from your mouth.  (If you enjoy the authentic seafood texture, I recommend their Breaded Vegan Scallops. Amazing!)



Gardein – Very fragrant with strong notes of mayonnaise and bell peppers.  It almost smells like seafood mixed with a veggie cream cheese.  Sweet and tangy.  Craby flavor.  Reminiscent of a Crab Puff appetizer or a Crabmeat Rangoon hors d’oeuvre.

Sophie’s – Straight forward very passable substitute for a non-vegan crab cake.  A light general seafood scent and crabby flavor.  The breading has a hearty, malty, seven-grain bread fragrance.


Gardein –  Excellent as an hors d’oeuvre or part of a platter.  Delicious with the traditional squeeze of lemon, Follow Your Heart Tartar Sauce and cocktail sauce.  I also tried them as a sandwich on toasted French peasant bread, with FYH Tartar and lettuce — so good!

IMG_1299Sophie’s – Perfect as a meal or as part of a platter.  Also, delicious with the traditional squeeze of lemon, Follow Your Heart Tartar Sauce and cocktail sauce.  I feature them in my Crab Stuffed Mushroom recipe, a holiday favorite.  I’ve even topped a Beyond Meat Beast Burger (read my review) with them to create a “Crabby Patty”.


IMG_1143Sophie’s Coconut Shrimp or Calamari

Steak Fries (chips in the UK)

Gardein Golden Fishless Filet (has an incredible batter, think Long John Silver’s)

Wedge of Lemon

Follow Your Heart Tartar Sauce

Cocktail Sauce



To find out just how convincing both products are, we asked our cat Thoreau.  His brother Annyong was sleeping, so he missed out on the fun, and don’t think Thor didn’t rub it in.

Upon first licks, he immediately approved and demanded more.  He spent time sniffing the air with a puzzled look of contemplation.  Fingers were nearly lost as his taste test supply dwindled and eventually he had to be removed from the room so we could eat in peace.  We interpret the numerous lunges at our plates as his full endorsement of each.


Order from VeganEssentials.com 


Use VeganStore.com

Show Me More Vegan Product Reviews 

No, I Want Recipes to Drool Over

(Photos by C.A. Moss)


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Visiting the Mysterious Grave of Parcella Post



Nancy Andrews, Professional Photographer


Although the large cemetery is congested, she has an ideal spot under the trees to shade her, and open space to sit for a visit.  Despite the nearby road, it is very quiet and peaceful.  It was a hot late-July day, but sitting in her shady spot was comfy.

After a few minutes of resting with Parcella, a baby woodchuck came out from the woods — probably, about 20 feet from me.  I had just begun to admire his cuteness when he went back into the woods.

I would speak to Parcella, and each time I said something, the wind picked up a little, as if she was acknowledging me being there.  There’s a spinning pinwheel at her grave that someone left as a remembrance, and it was spinning in the wind.  I sat with her for a good 10 to 15 minutes.  As I was leaving, I saw a butterfly, which hopefully was a sign of her thanking me for the visit.

I spent some time trying to figure out what her grave marker said.  Sadly, time has eroded it away — a little bit.  It took some time but I was able to translate it.  I may go back and do a rubbing sometime.​


“Parcella Post

An infant

whose unknown parents

sent the little body by

mail to an Albany undertaker

Nov. 20, 1922

buried here through the

kindness of individuals

Nov. 27, 1922″

Excerpt from the August 9, 1960 remembrance article (below), by Dick Weber:

“On the Monday afternoon of Nov. 20, 1922, a mailman came to the front door of the A.B. Kiernan Funeral Home…and delivered a package.  [An] employee pulled the end off the package…inside was the nude body of a tiny girl.  On the body lay a $5 bill.

The Police and a physician were called.

Finger marks on the baby’s mouth indicated someone had pressed a hand over her nose and mouth.  Police began an intensive search.  The detectives considered the date on a particular  piece of newspaper…[that] had the brown mark of a flat iron on it, indicating it had been used around the house for a day before it was used as wrapping [for the baby’s body].

On the third day of the investigation, they learned the parcel had been sent from a subpost office…just three blocks away from the…funeral parlor.

[A witness at the subpost office] said he had overheard a conversation between an American girl with light hair and the…postmaster.

…the girl…said…”It is a package of laundry.”

The discovery led nowhere.

The coroner gave her a name, Parcella Post because the way she was sent to the undertaker was the only clue to her origin.

Mr. Kiernan announced he would hold funeral services for the baby.

By the week’s end, more than 200 women had filed into the parlors to view the tiny dead child.

…Mr. Kiernan himself provided a little white, glass-covered casket.  Mrs. Kiernan sewed a white dress for the infant.

Neighborhood women gathered funds for funeral sprays of flowers.  The superintendent of Graceland Cemetery provided a plot in a far corner of the infant’s section.

A volunteer subscription was started to raise money for a grave marker.

Two men offered to loan large cars to carry the mourners to the graveside.

At the grave, city detectives hovered in the background, keeping close watch on all visitors with the hope that…the identity of the mother [would be revealed].  There were no women at the grave.”

The Knickerbocker News – Albany, NY – Tuesday, August 9, 1960 (Courtesy of fultonhistory.com)

Excerpt from a 2011 article by Ann Lawton, Albany Times Union:

“In 1965 a car drove into the Graceland and asked where her stone was. They left flowers on the grave site, but no one thought to question the occupants in the car until after they were gone. People still adorn her grave site with toys, flowers and notes. …If she were alive today, she would be 89 years old. What would she have done with her life?”


Graceland Cemetery

643 Delaware Avenue

Albany, NY 12209

cemetery map


I went to the cemetery’s office to get a map so that I could find the grave of Parcella Post.  The staff were kind of unprofessional about it.  They kept saying to each other “oh she’s trying to find the ghost”.  I replied “No, I’m not.  I just want to visit her.”

Reviewing Graceland Cemetery’s directory reveals pages upon pages of infants buried throughout the cemetery.  Most during the Victorian era, 1920s and 30s.  Parcella is buried in the special infant section where there are many other babies who lack names.  It’s quite heartbreaking and if you stop by to visit Parcella, please consider some kind words and thoughts for the others.

11781884_701359458770_6839190706066056309_nNancy lives in NY’s Capital District with her partner, Dave, and their toy-hoarding rescue pup, Macy.

When she isn’t behind the camera, she’s competing in obstacle races, playing roller derby and befriending squirrels.

She is a frequent, and valued, contributor to The Dreamy Idealist.

Follow Nancy on 


Macy and Nancy (Photo by Times Union Photographer, Lori Van Buren)

(Photos by Nancy Andrews, unless otherwise noted.)

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Gourmet Vegan Cavatappi and Cheese


Mmmmm…Don’t you just love homemade baked Macaroni & Cheese?

I’ve been tweaking this recipe for years.  You’ll notice that I prefer Cavatappi to the traditional noodle choice of Macaroni Elbows but you can use any noodle in your pantry.  I find that Cavatappi inter-locks together and has more surface area to hold on to the cheese.


Cavatappi noodle (Photo courtesy of PastaFarrera.com)


1 lb. – Cavatappi (Boiled for half the time listed on the box.  It will continue to cook in the oven and absorb the cheese.)

6 Tblsp. – Earth Balance Buttery Spread (I prefer the soy-free version)

1/4 c. –  Flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill 100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour but you can use the flour of your choice.)

4 c. – Almond Milk (You can use the plant milk of your choice.)

1/8 tsp. – Cayenne or Chili Powder (You may be tempted to skip this.  I promise you won’t taste it and it won’t result in a spicy dish.)

1/8 tsp. – Ground Nutmeg (Again, don’t skip this even though you may be tempted too.  You won’t taste it but like the Cayenne, it’s necessary.)

2 tsp. – Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (optional)

3 c. – Shredded Daiya Cheeses (I blend Cheddar and Mozzarella.  Sometimes I add in the Jack Style.)

1 c. – Go Veggie! Grated Parmesan Style Topping

1 c. – Panko Breadcrumbs (I prefer Kikkoman)


~ Boil your pasta according to the box’s directions for half the time indicated.  Drain and transfer to your casserole dish.  Set aside.

~ In your empty (but still warm) pasta pot, heat 4 Tblsp. Earth Balance until melted — use the lowest setting on your stovetop.  Once melted, add your flour and whisk together.  You’ll have a very thick paste.

~ Now add the milk, cayenne, nutmeg and sea salt.  Whisk together well.  Turn the heat up a bit and bring to a simmer – 2 to 3 minutes.  The mixture is ready when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

~ Keep your pot on the burner.  Quickly whisk in the shredded cheese and parm, until smooth.  Remove from heat and pour over your pasta, which should be in a casserole baking dish.  Gently fold, as needed, so you don’t break any cavatappi. (You can also add the pasta to the pot of cheese and mix there, if you’re concerned about the dish getting messy.)

~ Now sprinkle the top with Panko.  (TIP: Adding some dots of Earth Balance Buttery Spread to the top will result in more of a crust on top.)

~ Bake @ 375° for 40 to 60 minutes, or until bubbly & golden.


This is how it should look before it goes in the oven.


Here’s how it should look when you remove it from the oven.

IMG_0800 IMG_0801 IMG_0804


Looking for a healthier option?

fm-can-butternut~ Try replacing half of the pasta with blanched cauliflower.  Cut the cauliflower into small pasta sized bits (not florets) and toss them into the boiling water, with the pasta, 2 minutes before draining.

~ You could also stir in some canned butternut squash or pumpkin.  I always keep a few cans of Farmer’s Market organic in my pantry.



Obviously, make a vegan Mac and Cheese-burger!

~ Just heat a slab in the oven/toaster oven.  Then top your vegan burger.

~ Be sure to use the World’s Greatest Vegan Burger – The Beast Burger by Beyond Meat.  (Check out my review)





(Photos by C.A. Moss, unless otherwise indicated)

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TDI Vegan Product Review: Beyond Meat Beast Burger


The veggie burger is the biggest vegan cliché, next to the portabella sandwich.  It’s what non-vegans feed us and think we exist on.  We’ve all politely eaten our weight in them.  (That and the dreaded last-resort-middle-of-Standard-American-Diet-nowhere meal of an iceberg lettuce salad and “god-I-hope-they-don’t-have-tortured-cows-in-them” fries.)

Despite the overexposure, when glamping, or partaking in general summer merriment, I want a burger.  And I want it to be cruelty-free.  And taste delicious.  And require chewing.  Real chewing.


Just look at that dense, thick, chewy texture.

Beyond Meat has blessed us once again.  Beast Burgers are it!  They smell meaty (without that gross crematorium/poop smell cooked animal parts have). Continue reading

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Reclusive Kentuck Knob


The entrance to Kentuck Knob.


A visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob is very different from going to his more famous Fallingwater.


A view of the stunning Fallingwater at dusk, in summer. (Photo courtesy of Fallingwater.org)

Fallingwater is the extroverted older sibling with 5,000 Facebook friends and multiple daily Instagram posts.  Large and tall with splashing water sounds.  A full parking lot with loads of visitors and museum staff.  An enormous structure with giant cream-colored cantilevers.


Kentuck Knob is the introvert who prefers to hide behind her kindle.  A much smaller hexagonal house tucking itself into the mountainside, like an animal’s den.  The roof is low with a downward slope.  I found myself squinting as I looked at the house, as though I wasn’t sure I was seeing it. Continue reading

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Famous House Built Wright on a Waterfall

DSCN8181DSCN8212Fallingwater was designed with conscious intention to celebrate nature as an ally.  Although I’m not particularly taken with the interior decor, the minimalist philosophy of living only with the possessions one actually uses strongly resonates.

DSCN8166Wright’s brilliant, interactive art installation enhances the natural environment.  A rare achievement.


Crowds do my head in.  Never have I been in such a populated space that vibrated with such an intense peace and tranquility.


The Visitor Center at Fallingwater

The unique meandering design, of both the path through the forest to Fallingwater and the structure itself, prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by the numerous other bodies in the space.


The tranquil boardwalk path from the visitor’s center to the house.

Continue reading

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TDI Vegan Product Review: Field Roast Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage


Photo courtesy of FieldRoast.com

In my pre-veg days I never liked sausage but everything Field Roast touches manifests into Vegan Gold.  Since I love imagining myself as a Vermonter, I’m always one purchase away from buying something with maple in it.

Like all of Field Roast’s products, the texture is dense yet pillowy, crumbly yet hearty and chewy yet tender.

IMG_1014 (2)

Continue reading

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TDI Vegan Product Review: So Delicious CocoWhip


So Delicious has blessed us with Coco Whip, a whipped topping made of coconut, in the style of the mainstream non-vegan product “Cool Whip”.


Coco Whip is a significant boon for the vegan community.  Now we have a soy-free creamy product to use as an ingredient for mousse, tiramisu and a fluffing frosting.


A topping for ice cream, sundaes, cocoa, pies, strawberry shortcake, fruit tarts and pumpkin pie. Continue reading

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TDI Vegan Product Review: Soyatoo! Rice Whip

Soyatoo Rice Whip

I can’t say that I’ve fully missed “whipped cream” since going vegan 13 years ago but there have been times when I’ve purchased Soyatoo! Soy Whip, which is a vegan Whipped Soy Topping in a can.  We usually buy it for Christmas/Yule morning to top our traditional Cinnamon Poached Pears on Homemade Belgian Waffles (recipe coming soon).  Like for most people, soy doesn’t agree with my stomach so for the rest of the year I simply go without.

But today, my gorgeous and brilliant husband arrived home from the co-op with a can of Soyatoo! Rice Whip.  I immediately put it to use by making a Morning Mocha. Continue reading

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