Friday, June 19, 2009

Woodstock Trip, Part 1: Storm King Art Center

Last Friday, before Brian and I headed up to Woodstock, NY, we made a stop at Storm King Art Center. For years, Brian has wanted to visit Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall.

Although weather reports called for rain, it ended up being a gorgeously sunny day, with birds chirping and green mountains rolling on beside us. After checking out some of the sculptures and sitting on a bench made of nickels, Brian and I headed onto the art center’s tram and headed for the Wall.

We got off at Roy Lichtenstein’s Mermaid. We watched some turtles ducking in and out of the pond surrounding the sculpture.

Soon after that, he pulled a wrapped square box out of his pocket. The night before, he also surprised me with tickets to see Spring Awakening. It’s funny, although there was no holiday, anniversary, or other special occasion, I also gave him some gifts the night before: a printout promising to take him to Mama’s Vegetarian, site of our first date; a pin set from Herbivore that reads, “I’m vegan and I love you;” a bamboo cutlery set; and a card congratulating him on kicking ass during a very challenging term at school. I also told him I was ready to quit my job and move to Philly without other employment lined-up because the job search I’d been conducting while working full-time was not working and my shitty feelings about it were putting a serious strain on our relationship. We just need to be together. No more trains on the weekend and talking on the phone on weeknights even though we’re dead tired.

I opened the box Brian gave me to find a heart-shaped peridot charm on a silver chain. Simple and green-colored, my two favorite things. As I took the necklace out of the box, Brian got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

My initial reaction was disbelief. Not because I didn’t think I’d marry Brian. Who else would I ever want to spend my life with? And not because we hadn’t talked about this (he told me before our second date over two years ago that he wanted to marry me). But because I couldn’t actually believe I was being proposed to. Because a big part of me from long ago still finds it hard to believe someone could love me this much. After reassuring me that his proposal was indeed sincere, I just started crying. After a minute or so of just holding onto one another, Brian—still on one knee—asked, “So, is that a yes?” And I said yes.

Then he pulled out another small wrapped box and inside was a pair of peridot earrings. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry and never wear rings so Brian said he wasn’t sure what kind and size of ring to get me. But I didn’t care. He could have wrapped a blade of grass around my finger and I would have been just as ecstatic and surprised.

So, we’re getting married! And I’m quitting my job and moving in with Brian. I am really happy and a little scared but everything is less scary with Brian around.

Just in case you’re curious:

-- We don’t yet know when or where we’re getting married. We’d like to try living in the same state for a while before breaking out the wedding planner (although I did just purchase my first issue of Brides. Holy super ad pages!). I also really need to focus on finding another job so I should not indulge my bridal fantasies too much right now.

-- I don’t know what dress I’m going to wear. So far, I’m leaning towards a slinky, Grecian gown or a tea-length dress.

-- I think we will be one of the few people who say, “We want a small wedding,” who actually end up having a small wedding.

-- I’m not changing my last name and neither will Brian. And we won’t do a hybrid of names either (Kantorlacios? Ewww.). And I don’t like the idea of hyphenating any future children’s names (I was given a hyphenated name by my parents and it’s a pain in the ass).

-- Yes, the food will be vegan but don’t be scared if you end up coming to the wedding and aren’t vegan. I will take care of you. You will eat so well. Food is my top priority in life and in this wedding. You’ve eaten my cookies and muffins, right? They were good, right? Okay, don’t worry. Nothing weird—just simple, delicious, and amazing food.

-- Finally, at the wedding, I would like to acknowledge that if you’re not a heterosexual couple, you can’t get married and I do have mixed feelings about my choosing to get married in light of this. I like Jessica Valenti’s idea for her own upcoming wedding. I’d also like to acknowledge here that the idea of marriage is super-loaded, both socially and personally (Brian and I are children of divorce, after all). I’m incredibly happy, excited, and giddy but this is one of the most grown-up decisions I’ve ever had to make so I’d be remiss in not mentioning The Dark Side of Things. Why are online vegans so damn serious? Offline, I am usually so silly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Exclusive Recipe from Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream

The kind folks over at Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream contacted me a while back and offered to share a recipe on Mutual Menu to showcase the release of their new cookbook, The Vegan Scoop: 150 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream that Tastes Better Than the "Real" Thing by Wheeler del Torro. Wheeler also is the founder and owner of Wheeler's Frozen Desserts, a microcreamery based in Boston that produces vegan ice cream using soy, coconut, rice, and almond milks.

You can get a peak into the book on the official Vegan Scoop site, but for now, I'm very pleased to share this recipe for Madagascar Rooibus Ice Cream. Did I ever luck out in getting this one. I love tea and rooibus is one of my favorites. I'm in the process of making the ice cream now. It's my first time making homemade ice cream so I'm sure I'll learn a lot in the process but, so far, it's much simpler than I ever thought it would be. I will post pictures and details of the finished project this week but I wanted to share this recipe right away. If you don't have an ice cream maker, check out these tips from Wheeler's blog for making homemade ice cream without one. Enjoy!

Madagascar Rooibus Ice Cream

1 cup (235 ml) soymilk, divided

2 tablespoons (16 g) arrowroot powder

2 cups (470 ml) soy creamer

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar

8 bags Madagascar Rooibus tea

1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) soymilk with arrowroot and set aside.

Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup (175 ml) soymilk, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Place teabags in mixture and steep for 20 minutes.

Remove teabags, then heat mixture over medium-low heat. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Yield: 1 quart (approximately 600 g)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Heading Up to Woodstock

Tomorrow, Brian and I are driving up to the Woodstock, NY-area for a long weekend getaway. The trip was spurred on so we could attend Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's June Jamboree. The event includes food by vegan cookbook author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz (I am in love with Vegan Brunch) and raw gelato and ice cream by Organic Nectars. There also will be kid-friendly activities like face-painting and a moon bounce, live music, and, of course, farm tours to meet the rescued animals.

The last time Brian and I were up this way was when we went to Saugerties, NY to visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) two years ago. I'm hoping we can visit CAS again, too, because Brian donated money for a memorial tile in Luckie's name at the farm and I'd love to see it in-person. We also plan on visiting Storm King Art Center, hiking, going on a scenic train ride, eating good food, and getting lots of sleep in our cozy cottage (no HoJo's this time). We'll see if we can pack it all in. I know Brian and I would both like this weekend to be about not packing anything but our bags. He has just completed a very challenging term at school and we've both been stressed out lately, so we need to rest.

Throughout the weekend, I'll post pictures of the animals and other happenings on my Twitpic page. I can't wait to go!

* Jamboree image courtesy of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Like a Vegan Consumer Reports

A bowl of oatmeal is how I start most work mornings (I usually start my total morning with tea and a banana with peanut butter as a pre-workout snack). What makes this bowl eventful is that I’m not eating it out of a Chinese takeout plastic container, the ones I typically use for leftovers and work meals. I am trying to phase out eating and drinking from plastic things, especially when coupled with microwave reheating.

The glass bowl is from a set I purchased at Crate and Barrel for a steal. Check out their outlet section for high-quality wares at more than a reasonable price.

A word about reheating a glass container in the microwave. Did you know that if you put it straight from the fridge and into the microwave, the glass will likely break? Maybe you do know this and are thinking, “Come on! Who doesn’t know this universal rule about glass and wavelengths?” But I didn’t know this. So, the first time I used one of my bowls, it cracked all the way around like the equator. Luckily, Crate and Barrel clued me into this glass tip and replaced the bowl for free, even though it was my fault for breaking it. I love Crate and Barrel. Buy stuff from them. They have nice things and good customer service. Do not, however, buy stuff from Birkenstock. They will charge you $10 just to return an item—even if you pay for your own shipping—and their customer service department sucks and does not answer emails. Besides, many of their shoes are ugly.

Back to my breakfast, the bamboo spoon is from a set by To-Go Ware, which also includes a fork, knife, and chopsticks. The container that holds the utensils is made from recycled plastic. I ordered it from Herbivore Clothing Company. For quite some time, I had my eye on a similar set recommended by Compassionate Cooks but I’m glad I held out for this one because it’s half the price of the one I originally saw.

I’ve recently come across three blogs I really enjoy. One is Quarrygirl, which focuses on vegan restaurants and food experiences in LA and beyond. Without this blog, I would not have been convinced to order Daiya cheese and dine on five or six grilled cheeses in a week.

The motto of Holy Cow! Recipes from a Vegan Kitchen says it all: “I love animals, and I love great food. But I don't care to mix the two.” The recipe for parottas with mushroom and peas korma says even more, like delicious. Thanks to for Brian finding this one and sending me the link. He was right when he said I’d love this site.

Finally, Vegan Nurse. I love vegans and I love nurses (my mom is one) so this was a no-brainer.