Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I do. Because he bought me this. Yes, that. A Kitchen Aid Mixer. I screamed like a contestant on The Price is Right when I saw it. I have dreamed of owning one for years and now I have one! The mixer is in addition to all the DVDs (My So-Called Life and Twin Peaks) and music (Challengers by the New Pornographers and the Into the Wild soundtrack by Eddie Vedder) and freakin' Veganomicon and more cookbooks and a cute tote and too much. I am truly not worthy. And it's not all the stuff, it's all the thought, truly, that Brian put into everything. I'm so amazed and very grateful.
Now I have no excuse to not make a billion vegan cupcakes and sugar cookies.
I made this soup for Brian because he trekked from Philly to New Jersey with a cold (or "allergies" if you ask him) just to spend the day with me.
Brian's Quick Cold (or Allergy) Remedy Soup (vegan)
You can add any vegetables that will stand up to a few minutes of simmering to this soup. This was just what I had in the house yesterday. Other additions could be two generous handfuls of sliced onions (I'd lightly saute them in some olive oil before adding to the broth), sugar snap peas, a cup of frozen baby peas and corn, green beans, button mushrooms, or dried mushrooms. To avoid oversalting, be sure to use low sodium broth and then add your own salt to taste. Luckily, Brian likes his salt so we were ok but lesson learned. Also, a smaller pasta, such as macaroni, ditalini, orzo, and even leftoever rice, might work even better than the linguini but again, this is what I had. Use the broth, water, and pasta sauce measurements as a rough guide and feel free to add anything else on hand.
1 cup organic, low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup canned cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup sliced carrots
4 tablespoons pasta sauce (I used Newman's Own Marinara)
3 broccoli spears, finely chopped
2 ounces cooked linguini
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a small pot and over high heat, combine broth, water, and seasoning. Stir well and bring to a boil.
2. Lower heat and add beans and carrots. Simmer for about five minutes.
3. Add pasta sauce and broccoli (or any other delicate veggies, such as frozen peas, that don't need as much cooking time), stir everything together, and allow to simmer for an additional three minutes.
4. Serves two, or one sick and sweet boy.
Friday, December 21, 2007
2. Hello Hummus: Vegans are notorious for loving hummus. I never even really ate much hummus until I started dating Brian and I am now addicted to it to. Hummus is also one of those "naturally" vegan foods, meaning that meat-eaters don’t give much thought to whether or not it is vegetarian as they might with, say, tofu. They just know it tastes good. Hummus is a wonderfully nutty, creamy dip can be made in classic form-just tahini, chickpeas, and olive oil-or enhanced with red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, fresh garlic cloves, or kalamata olives. The possibilities are endless. Hummus complements cut up, raw vegetables, crackers, pita wedges, bagel chips, sliced and toasted baguette, anything you can dip. Mixing up a batch at home is not difficult but there are many quality brands you can pick up at your local market. I like Sabra, as it is the creamiest and most vibrant-tasting store-bought brand I’ve come across and is sprinkled with fresh parsley or paprika.
3. The Grapes of [Having a] Blast: I’d consider this option no matter what drink you choose to highlight, but a plentiful bunch of plump black grapes draped onto a simple white dish is a no-brainer choice for the wine party. Sumptuous on its own or with cheese, grapes signify abundance, sweetness, and a true party. Bacchus, often depicted as surrounded by grapes, was not the god of wine and getting down for nothing.
4. Cheese-One Word Says It All: Cheese is not vegan. Unfortunately, I cannot yet endorse an edible vegan cheese substitute, particularly ones that can be eaten without having to melt it and hide into other ingredients first. Certainly you can have a cocktail party without cheese and no one will notice but if you choose to include it along with myriad other plant-based options, I don’t see a problem. If you want a truly vegetarian cheese-meaning it is made with microbial rennet rather than with the stomach lining of baby cows-there are plenty that are easy to find. I just found a great one, Andes Panqueche Cheese with Chive for less than three dollars at Stop and Shop . Cabot, Organic Valley, Horizon, and kosher cheeses have varieties that do not contain animal rennet. Alouette, makers of herby cheese spread, do not use any enzymes so it’s entirely lacto-vegetarian, no cow tummies whatsoever.
5. Put the Vegetable Back into Vegetarian: Meat-eaters often think of tofu, veggie burgers, and oddly formed Tofurky when they envision a life without eating animal flesh. They forget that there are no vegetables that are off limits. There are hundreds and thousands of vegetable varieties that are all for the taking. They are delicious raw, steamed, grilled, roasted, stir-fried, or spiked with garlic, lemon juice, oil, and sea salt. For a cocktail party, stick to varieties that are naturally finger food-sized or can be easily cut and served raw, like crudite standards carrots, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and celery. But don’t discount other less obvious choices such as sliced radishes; sugar snap peas; olives brined in gin and stuffed with whole garlic cloves; glistening platters of ruby-red and savory peppadews; caramelized red onions; blanched asparagus turned in a small amount of balsamic vinegar and tamari; peppers roasted into sweet, charred blackness and seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and olive oil (you can buy them frozen and just reheat according to package directions if you don’t have the time or wherewithal to torch them yourself); fried green beans; even fried onion rings. The options are as infinite as your imagination or recipe library. The salty, savory notes of these dishes go great with alcohol. Besides, these are guaranteed to go so much faster than any half-hearted vegetarian cocktail sausage that just ain’t gonna cut muster with avowed meat-eaters (believe me, I tried and failed at tricking one with mock meat).
Friday, December 14, 2007
Anyways, the delight of my morning today wasn't my cup of lemon tea or my lovely commute through ice and traffic. It was the half-sandwich I ate and I can't get enough of it. It's been my obsession of the week. I go through these phases where everything I eat for a week or two is centered around one ingredient.
A few weeks ago it was ricotta cheese cooked a la Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe--stir-frying it in some olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and some dried Italian seasoning, like a creamier, more delicate scrambled egg.
This week it's been sun dried tomatoes packed in garlicky, herby, red-hued olive oil. Before my last cookbook writing class on Monday, I stopped into Whole Foods' Fresh and Wild and got the Grilled Salmon Omega Salad: grilled salmon, dried cranberries, walnuts, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigerette over a bed of greens. Much more delicious (and cheaper!) than the so greasy they were slimy sugar snap peas and rubbery tofu I kept eating from the $8.99 a pound buffet before. That started my sun dried fixation.
I've been eating sun dried tomatoes at home mostly as a sandwich filling to tide me over before workouts or before bed when I'm feeling the stirs of hunger but have already had dinner. This morning, it was my pre-breakfast breakfast (I usually have either two breakfasts or two dinners with a few snacks throughout the day because I'm hungry pretty much every two hours. And this is one of reasons I have to workout). You should have it for breakfast, lunch, a snack, or light supper too. It's delicious anytime. The well-seasoned and pleasantly chewy sun dried tomatoes pack a surprisingly meaty flavor and texture that will please meateaters and veggies alike. The recipe below could be replicated on several slices of baguette or on one large focaccia loaf and serve as a very nice appetizer for a few folks. This is how I make it for me.
Sun Dried Tomato and Avocado Toast
2 slices of whole-grain bread
1 ounce (basically one chunk, about the size of two dominoes) of Monterey Jack cheese or 1 tablespoon of garlic herb Alouette spread, optional
1/4 to 1/2 of Haas avocado
3 slivers of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (you can use completely dry ones if you're watching your fat intake but I'm not going to lie and say it will taste as luscious)
1) Toast bread. If using Monterey Jack cheese, add to bread before toasting so it can melt. If using Alouette, add after bread has toasted. If omitting cheese, just toast the bread.
2) Add avocado and tomatoes to one slice of toast. Top with other slice and smoosh down to break up and spread the avocado. Eat.
Serves one, happily.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Anyways, when I opened a window to create this post, I intended to write a sentence or two about the class and just share this letter from Kristin Hersh about how being a culture of either producer or consumer is completely outmoded and how blogging and blogging about food in particular is really an enterprise of community, sharing, blurring, if not obliterating, the lines between reader and writer. But then I just had a whole bunch I wanted to say. It's always cool to be surprised as you're writing. It happens to me all the time. I really never know what I'll say until I do, no matter how sure I am of a point as it sits in my head. That's the funnest part. So, this isn't about food per se, but it is about sharing and art and that's all a part, a huge part, of food. So here are parts of Kristin's letter, which you can read in its entirety here. Then please listen to, share, and play around with her song "Slippershell."
As many of you may already know, CASH is an acronym -- it stands for the Coalition of Artists & Stake Holders. The name indicates just what we're all hoping to build here -- a coalition through which we blur the line that's traditionally stood between creators of content and the consumers of that content...
We're all stake holders here. We all stand to gain from a productive relationship. Maybe it will help to think of this relationship as a conversation...
Art is by nature a conversation. I'd like us to make it a community. Think about what you have to offer. Read-only culture is not enough anymore. We'd like you to treat this stuff as read-write...
What does read-write mean? Maybe as you're listening to "Slippershell", you're inspired to DO something: paint a picture, write an essay, make a video, remix, or even re-record the song. Please do so.
Friday, November 16, 2007
When I arrived, the line was already quite long. All I wanted to do was sit and eat one of the many vegetarianorganicfreetradeglutenfree power bars I was standing by, or at least one of the scented candles, which might have tasted better. I was so hungry and tired. But I had a mission to get a book signed and knew I could hit up the food bars afterwards.
I've met a few celebrities, or at least people who are somewhat well known and do work I admire. But I never really want to sit and talk with them. What will I say that isn't incredibly dorky? And by the time I think of something great to say, my 30 seconds with the sharpie will be up. I'm over my adolescent celebrity worship, that feeling that I just know someone, that they're actually heroic. We're all just people. But some are extradordinary and get some attention for it and it would be disingenuous to say I haven't been shaped by that.
I don't think I'd be interested in food writing or even doing this blog if I hadn't come across Nigella Lawson's books a few years back. Yeah, I've always loved to eat (too much so) so it's not like I was uninterested in food before dipping my toe, just a little, in the foodie world. I've always been really aware of food. It wasn't, however, until I started cooking more than pancakes and scrambled eggs for myself, learned to read and follow recipes, and referred to various food magazines and cookbooks, that I actually brokered some sort of peace with my relationship with food. I stopped feeling as guilty about sometimes being a glutton and saw it as both a new hobby and a way to sustain my body, just as we all do. Prior to that, food was some weird, painful punishing reward. Now I'm not as controlled by food and I enjoy it more. I have to eat and I'm lucky I can afford to eat everyday and have access to such an amazing variety of food so I might as well lose the guilt trip. Funny, the seemingly two extremes of foodieness and doing Weight Watchers taught me that.
I'm by no means totally resolved. I still want chocolate, bread, and cheese, and lots of it, when I feel stressed or depressed (only really, really high levels of panic can still my appetite). I've gained some "love" pounds, as people say, since being with Brian but it's really just because I stopped running and started eating out a lot more. I, like most women, regularly plan and scheme about what I can do to be thinner. But I'm a lot happier now, and more realistic, than say, 10 years ago in the food department. Everyone has their thing. One of mine happens to be food and eating it. There are worse vices, and lesser joys.
So, here's how it went.
Me: [dorkily, really, really dorkily] Hello. I'm such a huge fan so it's really great to meet you.
Nigella: Thank you. [reading the post-it of my name one of the organizers put on my book so she'd know how to sign it] You have such a beautiful name.
Me: [beaming] Oh, thank you!
[silence and then someone tells me to get behind the table if I want my picture taken. Nigella tells her she's getting very good at taking pictures. The girl takes our picture].
Me: Thank you very much. Have a good night.
Nigella: Thank you. You too.
She is so gorgeous in person. Incredibly porcelain skin, great posture, lovely smile, very gracious. Brian asked if she'd really be as hot in person as she is on TV with all the lighting and yes, she was. When I told him about the signing and I said, "She's so beautiful." He said, "Should I be jealous?" Um....
Monday, November 12, 2007
By the way, Brian and I made a black bean, corn, and avocado lasagna and blueberry carob pancakes with spelt flour from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan and the German apple cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking this weekend! More on those dishes soon.
Friday, November 9, 2007
* I got PJ Harvey's new album, White Chalk, a few weeks back and I just couldn't get into it on first listen. I love PJ most when she's bugged out and sexual. But I popped the CD in on my drive to work today and it complemented the early morning, underwater, slightly disgruntled grog I'm usually in when fighting traffic. Sad but peaceful. Repetitious but hauntingly melodic, deceptively simple, songs like mantras. I just trust and believe that Polly Jean knows what she's doing more than I do.
* It was, however, love at first scent for Marc Jacobs' Daisy and me. It's perfectly floral and sweet but not treacly so. The mild citrus notes give it a tiny bit of bite. It's my favorite scent in a long time. I'm very picky about fragrances and can't wear strong, musky ones because they give me headaches just like espresso and really dark chocolate do.
I love Sephora's descriptions of fragrances, which is appropriate to post on a food blog since they read like wine descriptions (you know, crisp, buttery, like dew upon a baby platypus' buttocks--crap like that): Notes--Strawberry, Violet Leaves, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Gardenia, Violet Petals, Jasmine Petals, Musk, Vanilla, White Woods. Style--Bright. Alluring. Eternal.
Here's how they describe the Prada fragrance, which I got a sample of when I purchased Daisy: Notes--Bergamot Oil Italian, Orange Oil, Bitter Orange Oil, Mandarin Flower, Mimosa India, Rose Absolute ABS, Schinus Molle ABS LMR, Peru Balsam, Patchouli Oil LMR, Raspberry Flower, Labdanum Resinoide LMR, Tonka Bean ABS LMR, Vanilla Absolute, Musk, Sandalwood Oil. Style--Classic. Pure. Addictive. I like this one too and I am wearing it today.
I also received samples of Chance by Chanel and Lolita Lempicka (an old favorite) and L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani. I want to like L.A.M.B., which is full of yummy notes such as frangipani, jasmine, and violet, but also musk, which makes it smell, for lack of a better term, slightly ass-y. Brian detested it and pretty much said that the sweater I sprayed it on was now ass-y and therefore, I was too.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I finally got around to the sweet potatoes last night. This is so easy, it’s not even cooking. If you can turn a knob and use a spoon, you can make these potatoes. They’re great on their own (that’s how I ate them last night) but would also be even more fantastic dipped in some strong, strained Greek yogurt or some sour cream (dairy or soy-based but I can’t yet endorse any edible plain soy yogurts) spiked with minced garlic or shallots that have been quickly turned in a hot pan of olive oil. These potatoes complement savory barbequed protein sources, like teriyaki tofu or blackened salmon. You could even refrigerate what you don’t eat and have the reheated potatoes with an egg or tofu scramble for a breakfast packed with protein, fiber, and hearty tastiness.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roughly cube one medium, washed, and unpeeled sweet potato and place in a large bowl. To the bowl of potatoes, add 2 teaspoons (tsp) walnut oil (or olive oil), 1 tsp. maple syrup (or brown sugar), 1 tsp. cinnamon, a scant ¼ tsp. nutmeg, ½ tsp. curry powder, and pinch of sea salt (or two pinches of kosher salt). Toss well. Add potatoes to baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil coated with cooking spray and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, until your kitchen is filled with a yummy, autumn scent of strong spices and the potatoes are browned and, if you’re like me, just a little charred.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Girl with a Satchel (GWAS) is my new favorite blog. It is the blog I would have started had I went on to indulge my magazine obsession rather than my food one. Each day, deputy editor of the Australian teen magazine, Girlfriend, Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) reviews a different magazine, rating it anywhere between a 1 (“To the recycling bin!”) to a 10 (“I’m going to laminate every page and archive it.”). She revels in all things girly, shiny, and pretty but a very sharp, smart, feminist perspective informs the reviews. The only bad thing to come of this new find is, I can’t locate the Aussie magazine Frankie in any local bookstores. From the sound it, Frankie might be a wonderful replacement for my now-deceased Jane subscription (Glamour is nice--she tries hard, means well, does the right thing, always irons her blouse, indulges in a cocktail or two--but doesn’t have the staying power through multiple reads that a subscription-worthy magazine should have). GWAS also shouts out Judy Blume’s BLOG, which I didn’t even know existed. And GWAS calls breasts "boozies!" Yay!
Myra Kornfeld’s blog, Myra’s Table, offers cooking tips and thoughts. She even writes about the class I took with her in September and recounts us all nearly passing out from all the delicious carbs we created and ingested late into the evening.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
If you've never made a cake from scratch, you have to try it! What a rush!
Joselle walked me through my first, full-fledged lesson in cake baking this past Saturday. It was a real high; something we both needed after a two-hour literal walk along the trails of Center City Philly (i.e., the relatively new and forward-thinking Schuykill River Park and City staple Boathouse Row, along a sculpted Kelly Drive and Fairmount Park). We felt winded from rock climbing at the Water Works, and made our way over to the nearby Whole Foods before nightfall. Joselle and I sought out some dinner comestibles (as she would say) and a bunch of ingredients for a cake recipe selected from How It All Vegan, one of the two whole entries in my dusty collection of cookbooks. It was kind of like we were squirrels in search of sweet treats. And sweet treats we did uncover!
After a simple dinner experiment of pasta elbows slathered with Aldi tomato sauce and carmelized onions mingling among Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs---accompanied by fresh salad and cooked broccoli blanketed in a layer of Earth Balance and salt---the Mutual Menu was prepared to bake. We were all set with utensils in hand, when Joselle shocked this cookie rookie with a single blunt statement: "We forgot the baking powder." I quickly replied with obvious naivete that there was a box of some in the back of my fridge. A few things I neglected to mention to my culinary queen: 1.) This box had been in the back of my fridge for more than two years; 2.) This box had been open for an equal amount of time; and 3.) This box contained baking soda, not baking powder! Neither of us was entirely sure of the difference, but Joselle's experience suggested there's a method to all this madness.
Off came the slippers as she and I put on our hiking sneakers to trek all the way across the street from my building to the Quick Stop, a cigarette-smoke infused former 7-11; the frequent rest stop for neighborhood vagabonds and junkies-with-the-munchies. Case in point, Joselle noticed that you can actually buy a pancake-sausage breakfast sandwich there for $.99. What a steal, I suppose, if you're not in the market for a vegan cake's missing baking powder like we were. And, although we never found said baking powder, we stumbled upon a fresh box of baking soda from said Quick Stop. The fact that the trusty Arm & Hammer logo was defending other nearby bakery sale items on the shelf sustained our optimism. The plan would proceed!
The next hour or two invited new experiences for me and increasing yawns for my instructor. A bleary-eyed Joselle advised her student on the importance of fresh ingredients and a gentle mixing form. And, since I consider myself a gentleman, I mixed the select contents of my retro-pink ceramic bowl, and we heated things up! We also licked all of the utensils in sheer abandon, considering there seems to be less of a threat of salmonella poisoning with vegan recipes. As for the vanilla cake with maple walnut fosting...it's all good! The baking soda didn't kill us. Instead, it just gave the candy-sweet cake a dense flavor similar to a soft pretzel. Since I'm from Philly, I guess that should taste like home, right?
Joselle later researched this arcane difference between baking soda and baking powder. It seems that baking soda---although a considerable subsitute for the similar powder format---has a unique quality that helps to neutralize the acidity of traditional baking ingredients like buttermilk or citrus additives to make a recipe come together cohesively. Baking powder, on the other hand, is self-reliant in this regard. As a hypothetical solution to Saturday evening's dilemma, Joselle suggests adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the mixture to give baking soda something to neutralize; just a little source of satisfaction that we're all looking for in this world. If you find yourself in a similar scenario, give it a shot!
I've already managed to enjoy quite a few voluptuous slices of our creation since Joselle headed back to New Jersey on Sunday evening---but I tend to eat when I get depressed. And I get sad because---even more upsetting than watching such a sweet treat disappear with each passing meal---it makes me feel downright blue to see a woman so sweet suddenly retreat to her seemingly distant life once again. One day, the Mutual Menu's members will be able to be together without having to say goodbye to each other for another week every single Sunday night of the year. I just wish there were a way to eternalize such a great-tasting cake like the one we made together. Well, I guess it's back to the old mixing bowl and oven mitts!
For the Mutual Menu's take on this recipe, please get in touch---or pick up a copy of How It All Vegan to add to your own dusty collection!
Friday, October 26, 2007
Some people think that's weird. I mean, drinking lemon water and bean soup at the same time. Not the whole buying Chinese takeout for the dog.
Other animals around my house have been eating a lot of corn lately. We put out some ragged, dried out corn to make the front of the hearth look all autumnal. But this year, some very obese squirrels congregate in front of my house to dig up grass and, according to the dog sitter (uh huh. I said that), eat the corn. I just hope they don't get sick because those husks have been sitting around longer than I've been alive.
Lastly, many squirrels seem to be joining humans in the obesity epidemic. Brian and I noticed many obese squirrels while sitting in the park last weekend. In the beginning of the summer, we even saw one lugging around a bagel that was almost as large as its carrier.
What this all means is, most animals who live with or near me are eating better than me lately, which is why there is no picture of apple cake and no successful tempeh recipes (my one attempt failed miserably) this week.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Take a look around Philip and Dorcas Horst Landis's sustainability-focused farm. Visit their pasture-raised turkeys and chickens, grass-fed cows and lambs, and pastured pigs and learn about the benefits of a grass-based diet to animal health and happiness. As a special treat, our picnic lunch will include grilled burgers from their own cows!
From the White Dog Cafe Foundation.
'Cause, ya know, nothing makes a cow happier than being hung and slit open from top to bottom and then churned through a grinder. I mean, I'd take that over a bubble bath anyday!
Let's just get real here. If you're going to eat meat, it makes you, the human, happy. Not the confined, stunned (if they're "lucky"), slit open, and churned animal.
I'm going to make some vegan German apple cake for Brian and me this weekend and if my wonky camera decides to work, perhaps you'll even see it in its autumnal glory. And that will make us all happy...and fatter.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Like most couples, friends, neighbors, family members, or colleagues who share a good portion of their lives together, Joselle and I frequently adopt each other's sayings and thoughts. Some are cliche; some are just plain malicious; and others are suprisingly profound. I've taken to Joselle's This is a slow boat to China when I think about how far off a non-exploitative, animal-friendly world really seems---despite our modern, sophisticated, semantics-obssessed society. Joselle has also commented several times as to how everyone (including the carnivore) is a vegetarian in some capacity, whereas vegetarians will not and cannot be omnivores; something that's always struck me as insightful and poignant. Pretty much everyone eats vegetables, regardless of where people are from or what the hell they believe. Folks like their legumes (Beans, beans are good for the heart). They relish their fruit and pastas and breads and all sorts of treats, which can surely still be savory without all the animal ingredients that industries try to throw at us. If that's truly the case, why do so many omnivores get turned off by the word "vegetarian"?
Maybe it's the nature of the human beast to always want to be in control of everything. After all, A dog is [human]'s best friend---not the other way around. I mean, even the language of these cliches implies the domination of humans over the rest of the animal kingdom. Even more, there are the suggestions of our need for control in the lifestyle choices that every single one of us makes about who, what, when, where, and why we eat what we eat. Vegans choose not to consume animal flesh or byproducts out of respect for the lives of other animal species, as well as in an effort to make a statement of sociopolitical oppostition to an industry that will bleed us all dry for the right price. Contrastingly, Joselle and I can't really seem to grill-wrap our heads around why so many omnivores cringe at the thought of plant-based ingredients for vegetarian dishes; at the thought of stepping foot in a vegetarian restaurant that represents healthy living and, hopefully, environmental consciousness; at the thought of eating a Heart Thrive instead of a Snickers bar from the vending machine. Why is this? Maybe it's the nature of the beast to be selective, opinionated, obstinate, and apprehensive for no clear reason.
In order for a truly effective mutual menu to work, it seems to me that everyone involved needs to have a full understanding---not just a superficial tolerance---of why we all make the decisions that we make. Whether we do something for ethics, for self-preservation (i.e., oftentimes protecting our own individual health, rather than selflessly focusing on the health of our greater environment), or for the sheer fact that we don't really care about anything accept what feels good to us, we as humans have the special gift of verbal language; a tool set that should theoretically allow us to carefully communicate our commonalities and differences with one another. That would be the first step. Beyond that, it'd be nice if we could learn to utilize an intelligence of the "superior species" to figure out how we can all just get along.
If we don't learn to compromise, then I guess birds of a feather will continue to flock together---at least until there are no more birds to stone. In fact, if we could just be a smidgeon more thoughtful about the decisions we make, maybe humans wouldn't seem so stoned themselves.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Colleen has kindly allowed me to post the picture here as long as I place the disclaimer that she did not sleep much the night before. Well, she looks to be about the most adorable and cheerful of sleep-deprived people I have ever seen. But since she was gracious enough to create this message for me and always kind enough to answer my e-mails despite the fact that we have never met and I’m sure she gets a slew of e-mails daily, I will post the disclaimer, however unnecessary I think it is.
The real reason for posting the picture is to provide more incentive for anyone reading this to run out and buy The Joy of Vegan Baking (besides Sky, our most devoted, and possibly only reader, who already has her copy). I would recommend it to the novice baker, as this book is chock full of excellent and sound advice on baking techniques. The more experienced baker, especially one who can’t imagine making a cake without eggs and butter, will expand their cooking repertoire as Colleen shows you that vegan baking is a) not some new-fangled fad but a technique that has been used throughout the ages for various reasons and b) delicious. You don’t need chicken’s eggs and cow’s butter to make cookies. Believe me. Try eating Liz Lovely or Alternative Baking Company cookies and tell me you miss the yolks. Then bake your own using Colleen’s recipes. Beyond the many cookie, bar, cake, and muffin recipes housed in this collection, Colleen also shares recipes for pancakes, crepes, waffles, breads, puddings, smoothies, and so much more. For starters, I am dying to make the mango sticky rice and German apple cake. Besides all of this, you get a chart on various baking apples, the deal behind baking soda and baking powder, easy and cruelty-free alternatives to using eggs, milk, cream, and butter for baking, and indices that are broken down by type of ingredient and occasion. At the heart of this book, however, is Colleen's clear and eloquent explanation on her journey of becoming a joyful vegan and her reasons for this choice. As a pretty hardcore cookbook fan, I can safely say that The Joy of Vegan Baking is easily one of my favorites and one I am sure to refer to quite often.
In Addicted to Race’s podcast episode number 82, host Carmen von Kerchove reads a comment I posted about a previous podcast, which focused on bloggers of color. Go check it out to hear what I said.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
The good thing about going on a junk food fast is that it makes your body crave the wholesome simplicity of a bed of fresh spinach drizzled with the tiniest hint of extra virgin olive oil. Or a crisp and tart pink lady apple. When all you want to eat is junk but feel like you should eat virtuously, I say pile on the french fries and then just wait. You'll want to eat produce again. Right now, I am so looking forward to the dinner I have planned for tonight: tofu stir-fry over a steaming pile of red quinoa alongside some kale with garlic and peppers. The following text and recipe is from the October 2005 "Inspired Vegetarian" column in Cooking Light.
Kale with Garlic and Peppers (vegan, which means it's good for
Although you can find kale in supermarkets year-round, this member of
the cabbage family is at its peak flavor in cool-weather months. Kale also
brings a good dose of protein and iron to this side dish, and the jalapeño
pepper adds a pleasant kick. You can substitute collard greens for kale, if you
2 teaspoons olive oil object
2 cups sliced red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeño pepper (about 1 small)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 cups chopped kale, stems removed (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified
1 garlic clove, minced
Lemon wedges (optional)
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper,
jalapeño, salt, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add chopped
kale and broth; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes or until
tender, stirring once. Stir in garlic; increase heat to medium. Cook, uncovered,
for 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup kale mixture)
Nutritional Information: CALORIES 157(24% from fat); FAT 4.1g (sat
0.6g,mono 1.8g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 8.4g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 323mg;
SODIUM 321mg; FIBER 4.9g; IRON 4.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 28.2g
Friday, September 28, 2007
* Jezebel is sorta old news but I just finally decided that I need to read them every day and I love their biting, feminist, silly, and serious commentary on such subjects as, "Is Amadinejad hot?" and "Does it suck standing next to Angelina Jolie at the Clinton Global Initiative?" It's like eating organic junk food. Somewhat naughty but oh so good.
* Brian and I are going to the Cloisters this weekend with his friends in Brooklyn. We'll also be stopping at Moo Shoes so I can buy winter shoes and, of course, eating vegan cupcakes of some sort.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
* Compassionate Cooks' Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has finally released her first book, The Joy of Vegan Baking. I ordered my copy yesterday and cannot wait to get my hands on it. Just the chocolate chip cookies featured on the cover alone seem worth the price of admission. I've tried out a few of Colleen's recipes already from her site (it was she who inspired the maple syrup and tamari combo I am now obsessed with) and they've all been tasty.
* On Monday I went to my very first cooking class. It was with vegetarian-friendly cookbook author, writer, and chef, Myra Kornfeld at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health in New York City. I had so much fun that I walked out of there convinced I should become a chef. For now I'm just going to take more classes. I will post more about the class when arm pain has subsided. The short version is Myra, the assistants, and all my classmates could not have been nicer; I ate a lot of macaroni cheese; I made yummy roasted curried sweet potatoes with shallot-yogurt dip and chickpea corn cakes with olive tapenade; and just about died eating the apple brown betty and ginger chocolate mousse (and I'm not even that big a fan of ginger!). Everything was so delicious. Don't tell Brian but I'm going to make him the potatoes this weekend. He'll die.
* I'm going to stretch now!
Friday, September 14, 2007
* This interview with Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist, the blog that rekindled my love of blogs. If only she would start podcasting...
* Speaking of podcasts, today was improved with the long overdue latest episode of Vegan Freaks Radio. The hosts, Bob and Jenna Torres wonder how non-vegetarians can stand the podcast. It's because they are so funny and good at podcasting that, for better or for worse, you can dismiss the whole animal rights stuff and just enjoy the quality of the show.
* I updated my profile here. Please read it.
* Getting together with my BFF, Darcy for some kind of retarded fun tonight and seeing my BBF (best boyfriend evah) tomorrow for some kind of retarded fun.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Reducing global red meat consumption by 10 percent, they said, would cut the gases emitted by cows, sheep and goats that contribute to global warming...
Other ways of reducing greenhouse gases from farming practices, like feeding animals higher-quality grains, would only have a limited impact on cutting emissions. Gases from animals destined for dinner plates account for nearly a quarter of all emissions worldwide…
"That leaves reducing demand for meat as the only real option," said Dr. John Powles, a public health expert at Cambridge University, one of the study's authors.
The amount of meat eaten varies considerably worldwide. In developed countries, people typically eat about 224 grams per day. But in Africa, most people only get about 31 grams a day.
Man, when I calculated how much protein I need (for healthy adults, multiply your weight in pounds times .4 or use this protein calculator), it was way, way less than freakin' 200 GRAMS! I need about 60 grams. 60, people. And that's from a nutritionist's stance, vegetarian or otherwise. We just don't need all this meat. Besides the harm it does to animals, it doesn't do human animals much better.
In an original contribution to the American Journal of Epidemiology, published online on September 4, researchers found a link between eating cured meats (such as bacon and hot dogs) and an increased risk for chronic pulmonary obstructive disease in men. Even after adjusting for age, smoking status habits, energy intake, race and ethnicity, geographic location, body mass index, and physical activity, the consumption of cured meats was positively associated with the risk of newly diagnosed COPD. The reason for this increased risk is probably due to the high amount of nitrites in cured meats. I remember trying to drink orange juice with my bacon after hearing the vitamin C could counteract the possible cancer causing effects of the nitrites. Now I just don't eat pigs (more to come on hanging out with live pigs at the Catskills Animal Sanctuary, which just further adds to my resolve to not eat animals).
But we do need protein and we do need to eat. So how? No matter your diet--vegan, vegetarian, omnivore--this next dish is super easy and tasty, chock full of protein, fiber, and flavor. I made it for dinner last night and the leftovers will be even tastier tonight, now that the ingredients have really melded all day. This is more a suggestion than a strict recipe. Just use whatever veggies you have handy:
Quick Tofu Stir Fry with Tamari and Maple Syrup, Serves about 4 (or two really hungry people)
Drain and press a block of extra-firm organic tofu (tofu and soy in general is one of those products worth springing a few extra cents for so you can have the organic. Nonorganic soybeans are otherwise highly pesticized). To press, after I've drained the water from the package, I just place the tofu on a plate, place another plate on top, and put a bottle of water atop the plate so all the water drains out. While the tofu is being drained, I cut up some of the veggies I have around--a red bell pepper, half a yellow onion, a whole bunch of broccolini. In a bowl, mix up about 1/4 cup of tamari (or soy sauce) with a few good plops of maple syrup (I'd say about no more than a tablespoon). Then add a teaspoon of canola oil and a teaspoon of sesame oil, a tiny sprinkle of kosher salt, and a good grinding of fresh pepper. Mix it all up. Use a paper towel to pat dry the pressed tofu. Cut it into smallish triangles (or cubes) and place in the tamari-maple syrup mixture, making sure to coat it well. Heat a teaspoon each of canola and sesame oil in a pan. I had some leftover recaito, an absolutely necessary flavor base in Puerto Rican cooking but only optional for this dish. Recaito is just mixed up onion, sweet chilis, a bell pepper, garlic, and cilantro. Not necessary but it's nice to have on hand (I freeze the remainder into an ice cube tray so I can use small amounts as needed). Otherwise, add your onions and red bell pepper to the oil and let them heat up and brown slightly, for about 5 minutes. Add broccolini, tofu mixture, and a handful of frozen peas. Stir-fry over medium high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, allowing tofu to brown slightly. Pour a serving over some brown rice, making sure to get that yummy tamari and syrup mixture over everything. Eat up.
There you go. Tons of protein and no extra flatulence from cows or cancer from bologna.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Soothing Tortellini-Broccolini Soup
Adapted from Serves One by Toni Lydecker, a very thorough cookbook with a warm, engaging tone about cooking for one. I usually cook only for myself and highly recommend it. I love broccolini, which comes in small batches, making it somehow seem more manageable at the end of a workday than does broccoli. So of course I would prefer it when cooking for a cold. For the broth, I use Pacific Natural Foods organic broth, which comes in handy 1 cup 4-packs, also perfect for cooking for one. Measurements are suggestions rather than hard and fast rules. Add more carrots if you like or omit them entirely. You could also add a large handful or two or frozen baby peas, asparagus, or onions that have been lightly sauteed in some olive oil.
1 clove garlic
1 cup canned lower-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cheese or vegan tortellini
1/2 cup chopped broccolini
1/4 cup thin carrot slices
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)
small handful of whole-grain crackers (optional)
1. Thinly slice the garlic clove lengthwise and then cut into slivers. Combine broth, water, and garlic in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes.
2. Add tortellini, broccolini, and carrot and cook a few minutes longer, until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese or cracker crumbles. Retire to bed or the couch. Serves 1.
My grandmother, Cuca, often made farina for me. She added a special touch by laying little blocks of cheese in a circle around my steaming bowl of farina. I would circle my spoon around the melted cheese and continue to circle around the bowl until it was empty. Since my grandmother left behind no written recipes, this is more my interpretation of a memory from long ago rather than a strict reenactment. I can assure you that hers was better but this isn't bad either. I must admit, 1% or 2%, if not regular, cow's milk works best here. The fat makes it ultra creamy. But vanilla soy milk doesn't hurt. It's just not quite as rich. I haven't had much luck heating rice or almond milk but if you do, go for it.
Boil 1 cup of milk with a stick or two of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Watch very carefully as it boils, stirring frequently. Once cow's milk begins to boil, it takes only a second of turning away from it for the milk to boil over completely and then burn (although my grandmother did slightly burn the milk on purpose in preparation for adding it to her coffee since the brief scorching adding a caramel undertone to the milk). Add 3 tablespoons of farina/cream of wheat, stirring well. Add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of walnut oil (or butter or Earth Balance or no extra fat at all), and a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle boil again and lower heat, continuing to stir frequently for a few minutes or until the farina thickens. Add 1/4 cup of trail mix (walnuts, cashews, raisins, dates, sunflower seeds etc.) and stir before eating.
Friday, August 31, 2007
* I Blame the Patriarchy is an astute and altogether too funny blog. Highlight has to be an old post that lambasts Oprah's magazine by calling it a "bright yellow box of Empowerment Bonbons...but with Crispy Cockroach Centers." My co-worker had to look over my cube to check on why I was laughing so hard.
* Summer is, calendar-wise, over in the US after this upcoming Labor Day weekend. I'll be in Philly this weekend with Brian, where we will mostly be eating and seeing friends and family. Here are some pictures from earlier in the summer that I never got around to posting because my computer goes nuts when I try to upload pictures. Happy End of Summer, y'all.
Me at my most pescetarian. Trenton Ave. Arts Festival, Philly, PA.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Beyond just living in the same city and getting more frequent access to one of these here computers, we just want to create together. We'd like to follow in the footsteps of Compassionate Cooks and Vegan Freaks everywhere (Joselle is officially addicted to podcasts like I'm now addicted to the whimsical storytelling and television utopia of Northern Exposure). We also want to follow in the footsteps of people everywhere who pursue their passions and whatever brings them joy without inflicting pain on the rest of the world.
I find happiness in the solace of you, Joselle. I love the way you're here for me, even when you can't be here with me. And I'm so grateful for how you---as the evolving omnivore of this relationship---compel me toward an even greater personal commitment to the welfare of animals and environment.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Until then, here are some random things I have been poking into and loving this week:
* 120 Minutes Aggregator contains mostly You Tube videos from bands I used to watch at midnight every Sunday night on MTV's 120 Minutes when I was 15 years old: Hole, Throwing Muses, Belly, Velocity Girl, Liz Phair, PJ Harvey, the Smiths, Morrissey, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Shonen Knife, Juliana Hatfield. I have spent quite a few hours with my headsets on this week, listening to the songs while the videos play, wondering where my back issues of Sassy and Doc Martens are (note: anyone interested in back issues of Sassy should get in touch. I have two copies of each issue from years of Sassy because, in addition to my own collection, I found a mint-condition batch ready to be recycled. I've wanted to get rid of the extras for years but am too lazy to eBay. Any takers?).
* Podcasts: I know I'm about a century late but just this week was when I discovered how much I love them. Favorites include Food for Thought, Vegan Freaks (they'd hate me as I'm "NOT VEGAN! and they're snotty but funny), The Dawn and Drew Show, which is too hilarious to listen to at work. I guffaw about every two minutes. Please share any podcasts you like. I want more.
* Wendy Williams: This is an oldie but goodie for me but I've got to share the love. She is the only thing that makes my evening commute somewhat bearable. She's all about the gossip and giving out pretty solid advice to some often very stupid people ("I"m just a woman from the suburbs with an opinion. I'm not an expert.") As Wendy herself would say, she is a total friend in my head. When I saw her at a book signing last year, she wore a tight leopard print dress and a diamond-encrusted Hello Kitty necklace. Uh, yeah. Love her.
* Dried mango strips. The perfect afternoon pick me up for when energy is failing and hunger is winning. And wow, they're vegan and sweeten.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Veterans Stadium implosion photo courtesy of The Tribune.
The latest issue of the Philadelphia Weekly has brought to my attention some exciting news about PETA's impression of a veggie-friendly City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (courtesy of the author of the Philadelphia Will Do blog). No longer the general locale of the former architectural monstrosity that was once Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park offers a highly-social baseball institution with an old-fashioned feel and Philly neighborhood themes. Even better---as PETA noted---"The Bank" hosts eateries with actual vegetarian selections. Mock meat at a major Philadelphia cultural attraction like a sports venue is just plain rare.
I'm not a Phillies Phanatic like some. Actually, I'm not really into sports at all. I just enjoy going to ball games to celebrate the social summer element of gathering together with other people to yell and eat. Next Tuesday, I'll be joining my mom (sadly, not Joselle and my brother Johnny) for a work-sponsored event with the hometown team; something my mom, brother, and I've done for the past two years since The Bank opened. We get free food vouchers, which is the only reason I had any previous knowledge about the vegan burger options available. And Joselle can vouch for me that I'll certainly be seeking out the mock steak!
If you're at the game in Philly on Tuesday, keep an eye on the jumbotron to see me stuffing my face and immitating the renowned Harry Kalas: "That ball is outtttttaaaaaa here!!!"