Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Tofu Whisperer

Image courtesy of vegansoiree.com
So I signed up to take part in the vegan month of food AKA MoFo blog roll. Essentially you have to post every day. Instead of dwelling on my short comings here, I'm just going to do better :). Today I'm going to blog about Tofu, specifically my friend Sienna who I call "The tofu whisperer" behind her back. I randomly met Sienna at a downtown playgroup, and her epic awesomeness and lifelong vegetarian status makes her one of the coolest people I know. I have always liked tofu, and my children are weirdly obsessed with it. If they see me cooking it, I'm hounded until I give it up. I suppose the bland, whiteness appeals to kids-but adult usually have more discerning palates. Tofu is kind of like flour, not much until you do something with it. Sienna always has some tasty tofu snack at playgroup and has really revitalized my love for the stuff. Her fried tofu was an instant favorite( we looove fried anything!) and is super easy to do.

Sienna's Fried Tofu
1 block firm or extra firm organic tofu
Soy sauce, tamari or Braggs liquid aminos
Nutritional yeast for rolling (probably about half a cup)

Cut tofu first in threes horozontally. This will give you three rectangular shaped slabs-keep them stacked though. Next, cut end to end about 1/4-1/2 inches apart (so your slices look somewhat like french fries.) Have a bowl ready and put a few tablespoons of soy sauce for the tofu to rest in and soak up. Place nutritional yeast in a flat bottomed plate or pan for easy rolling. For each piece, drenge in soy sauce, then roll to coat in nooch (bad ass name for nutritional yeast :). In the meantime, about 1/4 cup cooking oil to med-high heat. Cook tofu in batches, turning to cook each side to golden brown. Be careful, as the water in tofu can make the oil splatter and hurt when turned. Remove from oil when golden on all sides and drain on a plate with cloth or paper towel. This is great cut up and used in fried rice, stir fries, on it's own or in pretty much anything. We like it best with sweet/hot mustard for dipping.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanksliving!

Holidays are without a doubt one of the most challenging times to be vegan. Loved ones comfortable enough with you to say whatever they're thinking, practicing your "grin and bear it" face, and everyone sitting around the table to celebrate around a dead body. You can expect to hear such classic quips as "what about killing the vegetables? You don't think they feel pain", "I'd rather die than give up X", "I tried being a vegetarian, and it didn't work", "I love meat", "what other purpose do they have", and "mmmm, xyzzzzzzzzzzzzz". I feel like it's a disservice to people trying out this lifestyle to claim that it's always a piece of cake. Saying "no" to your grandma's famous X, or sister in law's delicious y can be sucky. But even suckier would be ignoring your moral and ethical feelings just to appease others. Over time, loved ones will(hopefully) accept your choices, learn how to veganize foods with a little guidance, and maybe even like some of it themselves. So this brings me to "Thanksliving" at our house. Not bound by tradition and the same old, I can try out fancy recipes each year to my heart's content. This year's comes courtesy of vegnews.com (a great source for just about everything) and the Vegan Dad blog. Check out the recipe here!

As you can see, mine turned out almost identical to the fancy photo-which means it's pretty easy to do. It was paired with a really decadent sweet potato casserole topped with walnuts/brown sugar/veg butter topping, additional stuffing because that's my favorite part and pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream frosting for dessert. Yum, I wish every day was Thanksliving!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I changed my mind, there will be soup for you.


This recipe comes to you from my friend Anna's blog in good ole San Antonio. This soup is THE BOMB. No piddly "I'm still hungry after my soup dinner" nonsense. You may in fact feel so full you want to vomit just a little bit. Here is the recipe:
http://carrotandpotatotime.blogspot.com/search?q=tortilla+soup
Above is the picture of what mine looked like. Mmmm...I want it right now!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hear me roar.

Feminism is stalking me. Since this is a food blog, I don't really want to bring in too many other issues and muddle up my focus-but I just have to talk about this. Since I've been talking to everyone IRL(in real life) about it, I'm going to try to articulate it here. I just can't get it off my mind. It kind of started with all these suicides recently of kids that were literally bullied to death. They have really been hitting home for me both because I'm a parent, and because I had suicidal thoughts at 11 thanks to bullying. I always felt (and was made to feel) like an ugly ducking-I had bad teeth and a hereditary double chin. Add to that being socially awkward and frequently the new kid and it was a recipe for school day hell. As I got older, I settled into my looks and really began to love myself damn it! Even still, there is a long list of things that I would fix about myself given the opportunity. I've always considered myself a feminist (hey, if you're going to be counter culture you might as well go all out-right?) minus, though not always, the hairy legs, bra burning and whatever other stereotype you'd like to insert here. Please start the first video while you read on. One of my best Texas girls, Frank, put this as the first song on my "Bye-ya" mixed cd and it never fails to make me laugh.



Enter this next video. It popped up on my facebook feed, and I've pretty much been obsessed with it since. It's made me do a few things. First, want to learn how to poetry slam because it looks bad ass. Second, reevaluate the language I use and way I see my role in raising my daughter. It's titled "Pretty" and as most of us with little girls know, it's a word we use quite often. Please watch, and I'll elaborate below.


I've watched it a few times now, and each time it's made me cry like a baby. What am I teaching my children about women? About how we look? About loving ourselves? About the importance of being "pretty"? I do know this. I've recently had a drastic shift in thinking and can confidently say I will never have plastic surgery. My tummy may have skin and marks that will never go away. I earned those bad boys turning two cells into the most amazing human beings I've ever met. My once fabulous rack, that while still pretty fabulous is a lot less perkilated? They took two newborn babies and fed them(well), grew them, comforted them, lowered their risk of cancer, obesity, asthma, allergies and more. My double chin? Well, I can't honestly give it many redeeming attributes-but it ties me to my family and I could have it a lot worse. And if I *did* change those things, I would no longer be exactly as I'm meant to be. What kind of message am I sending to my kids, specifically my sweet little daughter. What if I died getting new boobs?

As far back as I can remember, everyone told me I looked just like my mother. Just.Like.Her. And guess what, my mother hates the way she looks. She constantly talks about how ugly she is. Constantly. So what does that say to the little girl that looks Just.Like.Her? I'm using my "I'm seriously angry voice" now. I will NOT lay that burned on my child. Real women are not like the ones in magazines. The women pictured in magazines aren't like the women pictured in magazines. Women come in all shapes and sizes and are good at a hell of a lot of things other than having great tits or a tight ass. Perfection is completely unattainable and frankly really stupid. Be proud of who YOU are. Yes YOU. You're fucking awesome.

This is to my daughter. I promise you that I will do my best to help you see that. I won't alter my body to make it look more suitable to our cultural preferences. I won't cut myself down in front of you (and I'll try my hardest to not to do it all) so that you can love yourself no matter what you look like. To my most beautiful 12 year old cousin who thinks she's ugly. Not only is she about as far from ugly as you can get, but you are worth infinitely more than what you look like. You are pretty talented, pretty kind and pretty freakin amazing. I can't wait to see who you grow to become and the life force you will unleash on the universe!
To all the women out there who start picking themselves apart every time they open a magazine, turn on the tv or look in the mirror. STOP. Right now. Individuality is where it's at. I'm full of piss, vinegar, feminism, opinions, optimism, LOVE, nurturing, excitement, sometimes farts and I AM AWESOME just the way I am. I love you, and I want you to love you just as much. So be brave, show yourself some love in the comments below! I want all the women you know to get angry about this too-share me with your friends :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Electronics and lunch

I hate to put it out there, but I am an electronics murderer. Let me time line for you what has happened to all electronic purchases over $250 that I have made since 2006.

Summer 2006- New laptop. Met it's end 1.5 years later after repeated toddler assaults. Floor to cord connection injury. Fatal.
Fall 2007-Fabo Canon camera. Smashed. Lens stuck on open. (though for the record, after spending two years as a child's toy it was spontaneously fixed by another blow to the floor)
Winter 2007-Stationary computer terminal. Fatal virus. No longer connects to internet.
Christmas 2007-New more expensive Canon. Lost at a birthday party 6 months later.
Spring 2008-New Toshiba laptop. Same floor to cable connector injury as predecessor. Occasionally works with screen completely flat, balanced on a book and looked at through a magic mirror.
Christmas 2008-Olympus smash proof, waterproof camera. Still with us! I'm dying for a fancier camera that takes better close ups with nicer features-but am worried about investing for obvious reasons.
Summer 2009-New Laptop (again). Two days in an entire glass of red wine was poured on the keyboard. Still works (ish). Also dropped numerous times and sometimes will hold a charge.

So, the suck part of this (ignoring how much all of that junk costs and wastes) is that all my data and photos are on random computers that don't have the corresponding editing softwear or have the wrong XYZ. I've got food porn EVERYWHERE, but can't access it off my camera, my computer, edit it properly, etc. So today I had a break through and now have TONS of stuff to write about-woot! So get ready for posting overload, squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So without further ado, here is a little afternoon delight! This is Astroboy's Goodbyn lunch fun. He is one picky dude, so I'm trying to up my game.


On the menu today from top to bottom:
Chickpea salad sandwiches. (No dolphins were harmed in the making of this sandwich :) Made with chickpeas, vegan mayo, relish, some dijon mustard. Blend in a food processor. Sandwich shapers are the best invention ever!
Bear graham crackers-Bulk Barn holla!
"Chocolate" milk-Every day they have chocolate milk at his school. Not on my watch! I make my own with molasses for iron, a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and rice milk. He loves it-who knew!
Grapes
Alphabet cereal
Pear-He's been obsessed lately with " The Fantastic Mr. Fox". A character in that movie invents some apples that have stars all over them, and every time he watches it he cries for apples with stars. I didn't have apples, but I was rather proud of my fabulous starred pear.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My veggie tales....

So bear with me dear reader, this will most certainly be the longest post to date. While most of you know me as the vegan I am today, there are plenty of you who remember me as the milk-chugging-contest participating, Rudy's BBQ loving, ham cooking, meat and dairy enthusiast I spent most of my life being. I started this blog with the sincere intention of sharing amazingly delicious veggie food with the world as my activism, without coming off as the stereotypical "preachy vegan". I feel that a delicious vegan cupcake or an incredibly sinful chocolate chip cookie will speak more than my words ever can. Recently though, I keep getting asked about the basics of my diet and how it got started-so that's what this post will be about. I've talked a lot about Bean, but not so much about my own journey. So here it is!

I know this might come as a surprise, but I am not an animal lover for the most part. In fact, I HATE dogs. Though I don't really want anything to suffer needlessly-I just don't get dogs (especially my neighbor's stupid dog who rushes me EVERY.FREAKIN.DAY when I'm taking my kids to school) The reason I initially considered a plant based diet was because it stalked me. Everywhere I looked, there it was in my face. It seemed like every new person I met, every event I went to, every article that came my way on the Internet was a big beacon shining on *Vegetarian*. When I had "Astroboy", I started to become obsessed with ways to lessen my carbon footprint. I actually had a reason to care about what goes on in the world after I was gone. I did everything in my power to make changes that would better the environment. Turns out that not eating animal products makes the biggest impact of anything you do. (For example, 2,500 gallons of water is needed to create one t bone steak. Or, a vegan can leave their shower on all day every day for an entire year-and still use less water than having a diet that features animal products) I kind of feel like if all the environmental doomsday stuff comes true and I leave this mess to my kids, I can at least say I did everything in my power to stop it.

Here's a little video that doesn't show graphic images of animals dying-so give it a shot :)








Another huge reason is the high risk of food contamination in animal products. While it does sometimes happen for vegetables, animal business is usually still at fault. It's gross, it's incredibly shocking and really really scary because it's so common.






In order to keep this at any reasonable length I'll recommend picking up "The Food Revolution" and also "Diet for new America" by John Robbins which has many things more accurately than I'll be able to type out without hours of interwebular searching.

Another motivation was health. My family has their lives seriously cut short or impacted by diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease and strokes. Each one of these is directly caused by diets heavy in animal products. Even the "good" white meat ones aren't really good at all. I don't want to die in this way if I know how to prevent it. Others that thankfully aren't in my family but are related to diet are breast cancer (note the irony that KFC has a breast cancer campaign), cervical and ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.

So when I first went vegetarian, loosing weight wasn't a motivator. Within 4 months however, 25 lbs literally fell off. When I went vegan, I was at a plateau with my weight loss after baby number two. I was doing two hours of hard cardio 6 days a week with almost no results. Going vegan jump started my weight loss process again. Not only that, but I noticed that I had more energy, had better breathing, less skin rashes/breakouts and could eat an insane amount and never see an ounce gained. I'm not kidding, there are days when I scarf 12 cookies. ( I can't verify that this is good for your health, but it's good for my mental health).
So I'm going to address some of the questions that I get frequently. If you have any more, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

How did you decide to get started?
When I first started thinking about it, it made my stomach hurt to think of how "final" it felt. What about thanksgiving? Dinner parties? Every social interaction people have? I love all kinds of food and didn't want to be a picky eater. So instead of saying "I'm a vegetarian" and confronting this huge scary thing, I just decided to try if for a week and if I hated it, no biggie. During that week, it wasn't super hard to do- it just required choosing different things. And you know what? Most of the time I didn't even feel like I was missing out. I was eating delicious, healthy meals that I probably wouldn't have tried before. I think the key to success is that for everything you don't eat, find two new things that you do eat and LOVE. I don't eat less now, I eat WAY more. Like wtf is kale? Same with vegan, it was WAY too scary to commit to, but after a while it was no big thing. I'm not going to lie and say it's super easy. My husband wasn't thrilled-he was a freakin hunter! But the more I learned, the less *I* could keep eating it, even less so feed it to my kids and then touching it grossed me out.
Everything certainly didn't happen at once. I always said if there was something that was totally going to break me if I didn't eat it-I would, and wouldn't feel guilty and do my best the next day. I started off liking lots of vegetarian foods, so that made it easier (falafel, eggplant Parmesan, Alfredo) but I also loved meat. The longer I didn't eat it though, the more light I felt in my body of course, but in my impact on the planet and on my conscience. Watching "Earthlings" and reading "Diet for a new America" and "Food Revolution" sealed the deal. My key with Bean was essentially making things that were similar to things he already liked and things that taste good. I pan fry things to win his heart, roast vegetables and make delicious treats. We don't eat low fat, first because fat is important for my precious little growing brains, but also because I straight up don't need to. I eat whatever I want and as much as I want and never worry about my weight. I can't promise that each person's body reacts the same way-but it's been like magic for me.


I try to avoid soy products, is it possible to still eat this way?
I actually try very hard not to eat many processed soy foods, just for the sake of health. There are however some really great fake cream cheeses that I buy on occasion when I'm craving something traditional or taking to a party (cheesecake, pink dip) though it's expensive so I don't buy it on the regular. My kids really love enriched rice milk (though I don't), so that is what they drink. It is fortified with b12, which is the only vitamin not available through a plant food. (Technically it is, b12 is a bacteria that grows on plants but modern processing removes almost all of it) The reason it's in animal foods is that animals would eat grass etc right from the source so it's concentrated in their products. I take a supplement, though in my opinion, everyone eating any kind of diet should take a vitamin as our growing processes, soil and cooking void many vitamins we expect we're getting.

What the hell do vegans eat?
Here is a quick run down of some of the substitutions I use for foods you currently enjoy.
Cow milk: Rice milk, organic silk soy milk, hemp milk
Cheese: Nut cheeses, daiya shreds(non soy and delish) or no cheese. Many things taste great with a mashed avocado or something else like a chipotle mayo that is creamy and fatty in it's stead.
Sour cream/whipped cream: I make a super easy version of both of these with cashews.
Eggs: For baking-oil, ground flax seed, bananas or applesauce, Ener-g egg replacer, silken tofu
For quiche/omelet/scrambled eggs: various firmness of tofu. Organic tofu is the way to go, as has less of the plant estrogens as per my understanding.
Beef: Wheat gluten product called "Seitan". Can purchase or make at home.
Sausage: Field roast is my absolute favorite and has pleased even the most discerning carnivores in my life. I can't get it here, so I make my own with wheat gluten (recipes are from "vegan brunch")
Meatloaf and roasts: Field roast makes a good one, or lentils/beans are a great replacement.
Bacon: The best bacon so far is made with a fermented soybean (sounds gross I know) product called "tempeh". It's fermenting process kills much of the plant estrogens, and leaves it with a much firmer consistency than tofu. Recipe for this is also from Vegan brunch.
Burgers: Portebello mushrooms are the bomb, as well as many recipes available online for burgers made with veggies/lentils/beans you name it.
Fajitas: Portobello mushrooms make AMAZING fajitas and are stupid low in fat. Using wine in your cooking process gives them an incredibly complex taste.
Mayo: There are many fake mayos out there, grapeseed oil veganaise is my fave and never notice a difference.
Sandwiches: I eat all kinds of "salad sandwiches" made just like a tuna/egg sandwich, but either using crumbled tofu or mashed chickpeas in place of the meat protein.

So what about protein?
This is almost completely a myth. Protein has been sold to us in a way to sell product and it's killing us. On average, a woman needs 52-65 grams per day, a 29 lb toddler needs 16. My breakfast of soy milk chai, pb on toast and fruit is around 27, which means at the end of the day-I could still be getting too much without one bit of animal protein. Too much protein leeches calcium from your bones, and can cause an increase in allergies and impacted kidney function. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are found in vegetables, grains, beans etc. So for example "two tablespoons of peanut butter or one-half cup of beans provide six to eight grams of protein each, which is about the same amount in each ounce of lean meat, fish and poultry. There are also two to four grams of protein in each serving of breads and cereals and one to three grams in a serving of most vegetables. "

Do you eat food that tastes good?
Not at all. I decided on becoming a vegan that I no longer would use my tastebuds. :D Ok, non assinine comments aside-some things like alternative cheeses took me not eating cow milk cheese to enjoy. And just like we don't like things as kids, our tastes change and evolve. Some things I didn't like at the beginning are favorites now.

So, now what do I do?
Well, that's up to you. Do you want to look better? Help the planet and save almost 100 animals a year from dying? Not have to worry about meat and egg recalls? Take the most proactive approach to preventing cancer and heart disease? Then try it. That's it. You can try it for one meal, you can try it for a week or you can try it forever.
If you've made it to the end of this, I want to thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and for choosing to know. I welcome your questions and comments!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kale Chips!



So this is a little something called "lazy blogging". I'm currently whipping up a delicious batch of Lychee cupcakes from "Vegan cupcakes take over the world" as tomorrow I'm helping out with 'Food not bombs' (if you've never heard of it, go check it here: http://www.foodnotbombs.net/) and bringing some fab-o cupcakes to the masses. In light of this, I'm way too lazy to write out how to make Kale chips when some other more awesome blogger has already done it for me. Check out her 'Save the Kales' blog, it rocks my socks and is one of my faves! (http://savethekales.wordpress.com/) Heck, she even has a video! Today's trip to the farmer's market yeilded me the most alarmingly huge bunch of kale for $3, so I had to do something with it!



Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's mother pumpkin muffin time!

Yay, fall! All the cliched fall things are here, and after 4 years in Texas everything is new and exciting again. Changing leaves! Meals from a crock pot! Pumpkin in a can! No wait, pumpkin in a can isn't very exciting. Until now! *cue high temp Euro pop music and imagine me dancing* I am going to impart to you what is promised to be "The best pumpkin muffin" recipe, and so far the hype has legit. I got this book from "Vegan with a Vengeance", which in my humble opinion is the very first book you should add to your vegan cookbook collection. This recipe is at least marginally healthy, and if you swap the white flour for whole wheat, half the sugar and use apple sauce instead of oil- you can eat it for breakfast guilt free. Or just make it as is and eat 4 for breakfast because you deserve it :)

The Best Pumpkin Muffins
From Vegan with a Vengeance
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/4 TSP salt
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1/2 TSP ground nutmeg
1/2 TSP ground ginger
1/4 TSP ground allspice
1/8 TSP ground cloves
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 TBS molasses
Preheat oven to 400f. Lightly grease or line a twelve muffin (or mini muffin but reduce cooking time accordingly) tin. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, oil and molasses. Pour the wet and dry together and mix. Fold in a cup of chopped walnut/fresh or dried cranberries/combo/or not. Fill cups and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick or knife in the center comes out clean.
Enjoy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What the Kale?

This post was supposed to be a chronicle of the most amazing veg themed road trip of all time, but instead I'm following through on a promise to my awesome cousin Leslie. (Recipe at bottom as promised :)

Carol J Adams wrote a book titled "Living Among Meat Eaters" that revolutionized the way I functioned in a very non vegetarian culture. It came to me at a time when I desperately wanted to change my life to align with my values, but couldn't wrap my head around how on earth to function in social situations-they all focus on food! This book was invaluable, but I'll gush more about Carol J Adams in another post as we happened to meet her on our epic trip. So to make a point here, the book she wrote had lots of great tips for decreasing the awkwardness of social situations. Things like: don't discuss why you don't eat meat when people are currently eating a piece of meat. Along the way, I've come up with my own unofficial rules-most of which pertain to the kinds of food I serve omnis. There are a few on the no fly list. For people not used to vegan cuisine-no tempeh, tofu, leafy greens and for the love of god no nutritional yeast. This summer, during a big family reunion I broke one of my own rules. I was introduced earlier this year to the most amazing, fantastical, flavor bursting Kale salad. Kale? What the hell is that? Kale is a dark leafy green (you know that crap they always tell you to eat more of but you never do?) that is bursting with nutritive properties. Most of the time when I eat leafy greens, I saute it with my old buddies garlic, lemon, sesame oil and soy sauce to mask the healthy taste-so I was sure that I would hate this salad. Moral of the story is don't be afraid to try new things! This is about as healthy as it gets, and I could eat it for every meal! I'll probably talk more about why raw fooding is awesome at a later date-we're currently still getting acquinted. I can't claim this recipe as my own, but after countless interwebular searches I can't find the origin. So you can credit "random poster X" on www.vegweb.com if you feel the need to thank someone!

Rawsome Kale Salad

2 Bunches of organic Kale

1 Ripe Avacado

1/2 Red Onion Chopped

1 Apple Chopped

2 Tsp Minced Ginger

2 Tsp Minced Garlic

2 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tsp Soy Sauce/Tamari/Braggs Liquid Aminos

1/2 Cup Raw Cashews, roughly chopped

To prepare Kale, wash well and use a pairing knife to cut the leaves away from the tough stem. This often leaves them in nicely sized pieces, but if they are larger than bite sized-feel free to take care of that. Cut your avocado and scoop the fruit(meat, green part, flesh, whatever you want to call it) into the bowl with your kale. At this point you want to love up your kale and avocado, and you're going to do this by giving the kale a nice deep tissue massage. Get your hands in there and make sure the avocado gets into all the nooks and crannies of the greens. In a separate bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, oil, lemon and soy sauce together. You can now add that to your loved up salad, and love it up just a little bit more to coat everything. At this point, add all your other chopped ingredients. Mix and serve. Voila! Now you can sit back and let the compliment start a comin!




Friday, September 17, 2010

Vegtacular road trip!

I've been meaning to write this up since September-it's Feb now, so I think I'm still on schedule LOL! By now, I've probably forgotten all the important details and won't do it any justice at all-but I have to put the pictures somewhere so here goes! I got wind through VegNews (my favorite vegetarian lifestyle magazine) that the biggest vegetarian event in North America (The Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair) was going to be within two hours of me! Road trip! Now I just had to find someone who would share my enthusiasm for a vegan themed road trip, ha! It happened to be right around my birthday, so I was able to guilt my best friend Jules into going with me. Jules is a DJ, so she mixed us a great road trip mix and we were off. After getting lost three times, and paying $20 for parking-we arrived in downtown Toronto. The event was huge, live music, vendors, samples and FOOD!

Vegan food the likes of which I had never dreamed of. I am chronically indecisive, so often only having one or two options on a menu is actually a benefit to me. Not here, and making choices took forever! We finally decided on an amazing Asian bonanza. Faux shrimp, "pork" skewers, curry buns and on and on. In addition to glutinous sampling, we had chocolate churros, vegan baking.There were all kids of cool things to check out-the country's only vegetarian food bank, vegan grocer, farm sanctuaries, charities, bed and breakfasts, b12 shots, books, clothing, and a farmers market!
One of the hardest things was choosing what to spend your money on!

They also had things like people in chicken costumes-it's how you know it's a party!

First up was a cooking demo with Terry Hope Romero, who co-wrote some of my most worshiped cookbooks! Her newest "Viva Vegan" is full of Latin lovelies, and we got to sample coconut pumpkin soup. She did autographing after her demo, but I was too yellow bellied to go up and talk to her. I was worried I might cry, barf, pee, get verbal diarrhea or some other stupid thing that one does when meeting one of their heroes. Next, we sat in on a lecture by Harold Brown-once a farm boy and now a vegan advocate. To be honest, we initially went in because we were hoping to get good seats for the next talk, but he was awesome! I have roots in cattle farming too, so it was great to hear from another who was even more involved. More info on him is here!
Next up was a talk by Carol J Adams, the author of the groundbreaking work "The Sexual Politics of Meat" and a vegan since way before it was cool. Carol was wonderful, intelligent, and brought up so many issues that I hadn't even thought of. She is amazing and inspirational and I'm so thrilled we got the chance to meet her. As the night wore down, we kept seeing people walking by with these amazing looking ears of grilled corn and knew it was our destiny. We stood in line, and enjoyed the ambiance of the tent-Reggae music, Rastafarians and corn chowder-it doesn't get any better than that. Grilled corn, earth balance vegan butter and "love spice"-perfection! Here's where I'll end it-full tummies, soft breeze over the harbor, surrounded by beautiful people who share my passion, twinkling lights and the big city skyline.

Best.roadtrip.ever!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Earthlings-perhaps the most powerful animal rights video ever made

I realize I just posted a video in relation to veganism, but Earthlings is totally different. Without building it up to much (ha) I would say it's the most life changing movie I've ever seen. An honest warning that it can be very hard to watch in parts, and if it doesn't make you cry-I'll buy you a coffee (or at least have you over for dinner).
.

http://www.earthlings.com/earthlings/video-full.php

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why would *I* want to be a dirty hippie too?

I thought this summed it up quite nicely! It always blows my mind about water consumption....

VEGANISM: A TRUTH WHOSE TIME HAS COME: A Life Connected - Short Film - Reasons to be Vega...: "A Life Connected: VEGAN from NonviolenceUnited.org on Vimeo."

Curried Carrot Bisque

Have you been searching for dish that tells people you're both wordly and sophisticated? Your mullet and neck tattoo may have thrown them off before-but no more! Curried carrot bisque to the rescue. This fancy soup has it all-cheap to make but high on looks and mass appeal. Chock full of carroty goodness, this soup is a perfect way to welcome fall! It also comes from one of the most bad ass chef's around, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Make sure to bookmark the Post Punk Kitchen website, these dishes are the bomb! I like to garnish with cashew creme and cilantro.



Prep time: 10 cooking time: 30

Equipment: Large soup pot

Ingredients:3 pounds carrots (about 6 large), peeled and cut into a little small than 1/2 inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped 2 tbsp peanut oil (vegetable oil will do)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp curry powder

3 cups vegetable broth or water and 1 bullion cube

1/2 tsp salt

1 13 oz can coconut milk

1 tbsp maple syrup

fresh black pepper to taste


Directions:

In a large soup pan over low-medium heat, cook the onions and carrots in the peanut oil for 7-10 minutes, cover and stir occasionally. You want the onions to get brown, but not to burn, although if they burn a little bit it's not the end of the world. Add garlic and curry and salt, saute 1 more minute. Add 3 cups water, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, 10-12 minutes, or until carrots are tender.Add the coconut mik and bring to a low boil. Turn the heat off. Use a submersion blender to puree half of the soup, if you don't have a submersion blender then puree half the soup in a blender and add it back to the soup pot. Add the maple syrup and stir, serve hot.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Peanut Noodles, and other things the government doesn't want you to know.

Tonight's dinner was epic. I know I over use this phrase but this time I really, really mean it. I also over use punctuation of all kinds-deal with it, it's my blog and I'll dash if I want to. Dinner was so awesome because it was yummy for mummy, uber picky child approved and didn't contain any 'weird' vegan additives like nutritional yeast, tofu or kelp-so I could serve it to sceptical omnis too. These spicy peanut noodles are what some new age cooks like to call "Asian Fusion". This really just means that it's not really from anywhere specifically, but it looks and smells Asian-ish. Then you add some of your own magic (which for me is always something spicy) and bam, you have yourself some fusion. This recipe is pretty much my own, so I can give it to you without a copyright lawsuit-awesome! This makes a huge batch, enough for 4 people, two lunches and leftovers-just how I likes it.


You'll need:

2 400 gram boxes whole wheat Spaghetti, cooked

3/4 cup natural peanut butter

2 tbs vegan sugar (plus a little extra for later)

1/2 cup rice vinegar

6 tbs soy sauce (tamari or Braggs liquid aminos work just fine)

1/4 cup water

1 tbs sesame oil

3 tbs chopped peeled ginger

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cucumber

large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

3 tbs olive oil

1 eggplant

2 bunches broccoli

salt

To make:
1.Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds and set out on a cutting board, lightly salt and set aside while oven preheats (400c). Salting eggplants helps to draw out bitter flavors. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets into bite sized pieces and place on baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and salt to taste. ( Broccoli and other veggies roasted in this manner are a staple in our household-absolutely perfect every time. Even a little burnt is still lovely) After having a few minutes to rest, dab the tops of your eggplant with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess salt and bitterness. Cut into bite sized pieces. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and brush with oil. You won't have to add salt to them as some will have been absorbed. Stick these bad boys in the oven for about 15 minutes but keep an eye on them as it isn't an exact science. Remove when they look brown and are cooked through. Set aside.

2. Cook and set aside spaghetti.

3. In a blender, throw in ginger, garlic and water- pulse for a few seconds. Add peanut butter, 2 tbs sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, 6 tbs vinegar.

4. In a large bowl, put roasted veggies, noodles and your fab peanut sauce.

5. In a separate smaller bowl, add cukes and cilantro, the remaining vinegar and a smidge of sugar.

6. To plate, top noodles with cilantro/cucumber mixture and garnish with lime and red chili flakes.

7. Enjoy and try not to lick your plate.

8. Write me a thank you note for the great recipe (if you feel the need to include cash as well, who am I to stop you?)

This is what it Little thinks of peanut noodles:


video

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vegan cupcakes take over this blog



This blog seems to be as good a time as any to profess my deep and obsessive love for all things Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If I had a vegan guru, Isa would be it. She authored a group of cookbooks that combined amazing vegan food, cooking lessons, sharp dialogue and general bad ass-ery. I first fell in love with "Vegan with a Vengeance" and have bought every cookbook of hers since (a tip for all you cookbook collectors-check Amazon first, amazing deals!). People often think that being a vegan must be very restrictive. Turns out that instead of eating less kinds of foods, I eat way more! Things like leeks, mustard greens, beets, tempeh and the list goes on and on.( I know that might not seem appealing AT ALL to the masses, but you don't know what you're missing!) I wouldn't know the first thing to do with them if it weren't for this creative cook. Plus, it all just tastes so freakin' good. Isa, if you are ever directed to this blog while randomly Googling your own name-you complete me (in the kitchen). Thank you for making me want many random food themed tattoos (which I won't get because I am too yellow bellied), for teaching me how to freestyle, for helping me not wreck my kid's birthday celebration with weird hippie food, and for Punk Rock chickpea gravy. Since this blog was supposed to be about cupcakes I won't go into the gravy today, but even writing about it means I must have it for dinner. So back to cupcakes. Who doesn't love a fancy, cakey, individual cups of perfection? Being a vegan doesn't mean having to give up decadence and treats, it just means finding other ingredients to get the job done. Vegan baking tends to have a bad rap, as one of my favorite people once said "That shit is dense." I've made three different kinds now from "Vegan Cupcakes take over the world" with mixed results. Vanilla agave with chocolate buttercream frosting were meh. The frosting was out of this world, but the cupcake part was no good. It all worked out though, since this kind was for the kids and I have yet to see a child eat the cakey part regardless of what it's made of. Red Velvet however were super-hyper-mega yum. I think the difference was that this kind used oil. I've said it before and since I'm a one trick pony I'll say it again, fat=taste. The last type were maple cupcakes with maple brown sugar glazed walnuts. The walnuts alone made me want to cry with happiness. That last batch weren't for an occasion like the birthday cupcakes, but cupcakes make any day celebratory. Since they were maple, they are automatically an old Canadian family recipe and needed flags. So, try your hand at vegan cupcakes and please invite me over!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Adventures in rolling (sushi that is)




So first off, I must apologize for my epic fail in blog updates. Turns out that people were actually reading my musings and missed me-so I'm back, with 17 albums of backlogged food porn! Today sushi, tomorrow cupcakes, the next day the world. I could blame it on real life, trips to the motherland (Canada represent!), general computer lameness or rampant venereal disease- but they are all just excuses for being lazy. So here I am, back with a dream in my heart and some wine in my hand. Today's blog brings you my first guest chef-Frank! Frank has been a very dear friend of mine for quite some time. We met through La Leche League and hypnobirthing classes and have seen each other almost weekly for going on years. While we let our kids rip the house apart and sword fight with plastic golf clubs, we often manage to accomplish both dinner and tete a tetes. On the menu tonight-vegan sushi! People often assume vegetarians eat fish, because fish are plants right? I can't think of many upsides, but recent activity in the Gulf of Mexico has made it easier for people to understand why one would want to abstain from eating oceanic life. In light of that, the menu was carrot, avocado (top 5 favorite food eva) and cucumber sushi.


Having never made sushi before, I never realized what a pain in the ass it is to slice vegetables paper thin. In that moment, I was filled with nothing but regret over trading my fancy veggie slicer for a bag of used cloth diapers (if that's not hippie, I don't know what is :D). After slicing the world's thinnest veggies, we added secret recipe sushi rice and rolled those bitches in nori. The results were epic yum. We served 'em up with garlic tamari green beans and kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage heaven).



Thank you Frank for passing on your ancient Japanese-ish wisdom, and for being such a special person in my life.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Revolution is coming!

I had really planned to write my next blog about food, since I'm starting to get a backlog of food porn begging to be published. I've also promised quite a few people that I would get to resources, recipes and such *right away*. Hold please. Big dreams of the food blogging variety will have to wait until another day in favor of a different type of big dream. Jamie Oliver's.

It was recently brought to my attention thanks to vegan.com, that this was one show I needed to make time for. I've admittedly not watched much tv lately due to factors like a tyrannical three year old and his lack of sharing skills, business commitments and life in general. Thankfully, you can catch it on your computer whenever you are free. The first thing that really strikes you about this show is how freakishly lovable Jamie Oliver is. He's English, so he says all sorts of endearing things like "bloody hell, indeed and slagging off." That alone lends itself to a program I would enjoy. But really my favorite part of this show is Jamie Oliver's impossibly large dream, his belief in his purpose and his unwavering and absolute conviction. You see, Jamie has chosen to start the next phase of his "Food Revolution" in Huntington, West Virginia. Most unhealthy place in the universe based on death and disease rates. We learn about what they eat...and the results are shocking. Deep fried chocolate donuts for breakfast? Sure! Nuggets and fries for lunch each and every day? You betcha! Frozen pizza for dinner and maybe breakfast? Awesome! In a weeks worth of food, there was not one fresh fruit or vegetable to be found. For real. Since recent research has shown that our brain can respond to junk food in the same way it responds to heroine, these habits don't change without a fight. And let me tell you, there is a FIGHT. The amount of ignorance and hostility Jamie faces in changing food habits is incredible. Most seem oblivious to the fact that he's one of the most influential chefs in the world, though you would never hear "do you know who I AM?" come from him. One of the most appealing things about Jamie is that he is every person. He has lofty goals, but is so vulnerable and relate-able that you can't help but root for him. His message is simple-healthy, fresh foods and the importance of breaking bread with the people you love. Who can argue with that?
Give it a go, and watch it here

http://abc.go.com/watch/jamie-olivers-food-revolution/250784/254757/episode-101

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Postcard from Vitamix Heaven


It started off as a passing glance in a vegetarian magazine, right under the bitchin veggie cruise flier and above an ad for cloth menstrual pads. Then one day while perusing the isles at Costco, it happened. Love at first sight, a live Vitamix demonstration-available TODAY ONLY! Sorry for the shouty capitals, but they weren't kidding. The Vitamix train pulled out of the station before you could say "well researched decision", and thus started my obsessions with all things Vitamix. The reason for my obsession over a freakin blender? This isn't just a blender my friends (and at $350-$600, it better not be). This machine lets you make soup from scratch in 7 minutes (it's amazingly powerful motor makes things boiling hot!), ice cream (the salesman used raw cabbage in it, and my kid ate it up and screamed for more) sauerkraut, salsa, any sauce you can imagine, amazingly smooth smoothies, frozen drinks, commercial quality baby food and on and on. It does everything but watch your kids and give back massages. When I first told Bean that I wanted a Vitamix for Christmas, he thought it was a trick. I had to beg, plead and reassure that yes, I really, REALLY wanted a blender for Christmas. It didn't end up getting there on Christmas but the day it came in the mail is one of the top 10 days of my life. If there were a house fire, I can't promise I wouldn't run in to get her. In fact, at the mere thought of writing a blog about my Vitamix, I had to make a smoothie. I'm currently rocking cilantro, cucumber, melon, banana and strawberry fabulosity. You can almost tell who has a Vitamix at the grocery store. Their Vitamix syndrome gives them away. They almost always have a 312 lb bag of juicing carrots and possibly an assortment of mangy looking discount produce. Our first week with the Vitamix cost us 17 lbs in oranges-no joke. The beauty though is not wasting produce and actually getting your 5-12 servings of fruit and veggies-"look ma, I'm drinking a whole cucumber!" Vitamix syndrome also includes the impulse to blend up almost any crap you find in your fridge. Spinach/raisin/banana smoothie-you're on! I can't say they have all been edible, but experimenting is half the fun. Just this morning I made crepe batter in my Vitamix and it was perfect. Clean up is a huge reason that everyone loves this bad boy-no parts, just wash or blend some water and it's all clean.
In hindsight, this blog is nothing more than a glowing ad for Vitamix. I can't help myself-it is straight up hippie (or yuppie because of the price tag) street cred and other than my engagement ring, the best gift I've ever gotten. I love you baby (and by baby, I mean Vitamix)!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vegetarian Chilli: A food cliche


Is there anything more overdone in the vegetarian world than veggie chilli? Hellz yes, it's name is the veggie burger. The only thing though, is that chilli is warm, homey and easy to make. There is a reason it's repeated at nauseum. On the chopping block for this evening was Field Roast Chipotle Sausage. If you've never tried Field Roast, you haven't lived. It is way, waaaaaaaay better than any other fake meat I've ever tried (I'm looking at you Tofurkey-gag). It is in no way a diet food, with roughly 20 grams of fat per link. That's why it taste so delish, fat = taste. They come in Italian, apple sage and chipotle-all of which we tried and loved in a borderline obsessive way. I've been so congested lately that spicy was in order. For this little ditty, I used garlic, red pepper and frozen corn. I also cooked up a mixture of chickpeas, pinto and black beans. Making your own beans is easy peasy and cheap. They usually say to soak overnight, but it seems like every time I do that it's epic fail. So, just a rinse and then boil them until soft-usually a few hours. I added all of those things to a pan with two chipotle sausages, plus a can of organic tomato sauce and a can of water. I then added salt to taste and about 1-2 tbs chilli powder. I simmered for about 30 minutes while I whipped up a batch of Jalapeno cornbread biscuits. Costco has these dehydrated jalapeno pieces that are the bomb for cooking with. *swoon* The recipe for the biscuits came out of " Vegan Brunch" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa is my vegan superhero. I'll save my love fest for some other blog because I need more room, but if you need a good place to start your vegan cookbook collection-start with hers.
I added some lime to my chilli to replace the sour taste I once got from sour cream. A little cilantro and this bitch was dreamy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lunch, the meal that says "meh".

Let me tell you something. It's no secret, but it may be the most important thing you hear today. I LOVE sandwiches. (See, I told you in was monumental) Reubens, clubs, tuna, chicken salad and egg-I could go on for days. When I became vegetarian, my lunch routine changed from meat-tacular to cheese-tastic. Grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and various other dairy delights. When I became vegan, lunch left a vast wasteland in my repertoire and officially became my sworn enemies. I would ride into town on my trusty steed with a belly full of hunger and a dream in my heart. Lunch would stand there with guns drawn ready for a showdown. I couldn't figure out how to call a truce and fix this problem. I needed something fast, super easy and filling. Enter "T". It seems the vegan lunch is her specialty. She has been my vegan partner in crime, and can give a food orgasm like nobody's business. By this I mean "there's a party in my mouth and everyone is invited" vs. where ever your mind went first. T has taught me so much about how bad ass lunch can be, and it's now my favorite-ish( I can't let breakfast, brunch, dessert or second lunch hear me say that). Lunch is most fun with lots of options and delicious plating. Turns out 3/4 of how things taste is how they look-so put in an effort peeps! You'll find you can't help but want to take pictures of your own food porn!

The above bad ass vegan lunch is: Pita Pal organic hummus on whole wheat pita. Fresh pineapple salsa with cilantro and blue corn tortillas. Potassium rocket.

This glorious plate you see below contains: Pan fried pita breads (try it- omgeeeee), veggie sushi, tofu "egg salad" and red pepper hummus.
What is your favorite lunch?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dudes that do veggies and other perverse plays on words



Hey, did you hear that story about the girl that wanted to get a license plate reading "I heart TOFU" but was denied? When you read it on a license plate, it looked like"I heart TO-F-U". I think it's pretty freakin brilliant, but then that's probably why they don't let me approve license plates. That really has nothing to do with where I'm going with this particular blog entry, but I just love when tofu can be pervy, so get used to it. This blog is really the story of two veggies.
The first of which is my wonderful husband "Bean" (I know, clever right?) As I'm sure you guessed, Bean is not his real name. It seems that all the cool bloggers have fun monikers for their family, probably so that once your blog goes viral the stalkers won't know how to find you. Frankly, my friends are the ones most likely to participate in the obnoxious pranks that one would play on a vegan-so I'm not terribly afraid of stalker antics. Noelle, I'm looking in your direction. But I digress. Bean is what some would call "The reluctant Vegetarian". When I first announced my intentions three years ago, he was less than thrilled. And by less than thrilled I mean deadpan. Bean was a hunter, fisherman, Philly Cheese steak aficionado and person voted "most likely to write a love sonnet to cheese" in high school. Since I did most of the cooking, this change just meant that Bean would get his meaty kicks outside of our home. I was told "I will NEVER be a vegetarian" so I dropped it. He humored me though, attempting to read "Diet for a New America" and even watching "Earthlings" but still nothing changed. Fast forward two summers and Mr. Meatypants wants to do cage fighting-BADLY. He talks about it night and day, and day and night. My response is "over my dead body". He starts to get desperate and trying to make bargains to get my permission. Finally he brings out the big guns, he will go vegetarian. Ding ding ding, we have a winner! Now Bean will hate me for putting this out on the interwebs, but his one and only fight did not end in his favor. For some reason though, he didn't go back to eating meat. To this day I don't know why, as he maintains that he cares not for the environment, chemicals in our food or animal suffering. Maybe he saw how happy it made me, or that it avoided the awkward conversation with our yet-to-be-monikered 3 year old about why Daddy has cow on his plate. The real reason I think though, is that people told him he couldn't do it. Bean happens to be my soul mate in this regard-if someone says "you can't do it", his answer is "watch me." So big shout out to all those people that harassed Bean about it, you helped fund this epic vegetarian win.
On the other side of 'The Reluctant Vegetarian' is the Hegan. This article is actually pretty good, so ch-ch-check it out.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/03/24/men_leave_their_own_mark_on_veganism/?page=1

Bean is pretty far from a Hegan, but I still hold out hope that someday soon he'll want to take up Brazilian-ice-sword-slashing, Death wrestling or some sort of weird body mutilation. On that day my friends, it's Vegan time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Blog!

How exciting! I want to apologize right off the bat for excessive use of exclamation marks-though those that know me would probably agree that I'm easily excitable. I've started this blog because I want a place to put pictures of my food porn and share some meatless recipes with others. I know the vast majority of people have no clue what Vegans eat-believe it or not it's more than tofu and Universe juice(fans of Kung Fu Panda will get that one). A good friend once told me that every Vegan she had ever met smelled of vitamins and patchouli, which is the inspiration for my blog title. I like to think I more frequently smell of body odor and crepes thank you very much! Despite this, people still want to hang out with me-turns out I'm a pretty bad ass Vegan cook. So, I hope you'll hang out despite the hippie in my kitchen. She can be funny, opinionated, frequently Canadian and possibly reeking of patchouli. You've been warned.