Monday, September 20, 2010

Brownies and back to school

Hello, fair interwebs! After a long summer hiatus from blogging, I am back and will be updating more frequently. The year is off to a really good start. For one thing, my school's dining hall, which has always been really vegan-friendly, now has one station that's entirely vegan and serves things like hazelnut pesto pasta and mock beef fajitas. I like being well-fed. And beyond food-related, it's just good to be back. Most of my classes are creative writing and it's good to have all my friends around again. And I have an internship with a reproductive rights organization and my roommate and I are going to have a radio show through the school...busy but good. Anyway, I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while. Over the summer I was staying at some friends' house for a week or so and wanted to bake something really awesome to thank them. After being frustrated that most of Vegweb's brownie recipes called for weird ingredients like tofu (okay, I understand that tofu is a very versatile food, but it should never go in baked goods. That just seems weird to me, and I wouldn't want anything I made to ever be able to be called 'tofu cookies'. Why. Ugh.) I finally found this recipe and modified it based on what ingredients were in the house. The result: amazing. When they came out of the oven, only two other people were in the house, but we ate about half the pan within an hour. Yum. The secret: self-rising flour! Halfway through measuring out the flour, I ran out, and self-rising was the only other option. I was worried they would explode in the pan, but they became incredibly light and fluffy, which works surprisingly well in a brownie.

Fluffy Brownies

  1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup self-rising flour    1/2 c. sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    3/4 cup cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine wet ingredients in one bowl, dry ingredients in another, and add the wet to the dry. Stir well, pour into greased 9 x 13 pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

i'm alive!

Hello interwebs. I am still alive and still blogging, but have been traveling a lot lately and have been somewhat low in time/Internet connection. But! Something really exciting and Generation V-related is happening soon. Yippee. You'll see. I am finally back home in Portland and have had a happy day being love-tackled by friends at airports, writing and walking with other friends, and generally feeling warm and fuzzy over the life I have in this beautiful, rainbow-making city. Something vegan related to make this an actual post: food pr0n from recently!

curry-coconut udon noodles from Herbivore in San Francisco

roasted chickpeas for a picnic in Kansas City: mix a can of chickpeas with enough oil to lightly coat, some salt and pepper and garlic, and bake at 450 for around 20 or 25 minutes. Delicious!

the breakfast of all breakfasts. yum. Grill veggies one night, throw the leftovers in tofu scrambler the next morning, enjoy.

I love food. I promised a good dinner recipe for the house tonight but we forgot to get most of the ingredients while we were at the grocery. I've no idea. Pasta!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rep. Jared Polis rewards veg school lunches

Usually when my local paper mentions the v-word, it's either talking about someone I know or something that's been done in KC's small-but-fervent activist population or meaning to poke fun at liberals, picky eaters, etc. But the other day it cropped up in the news section! What? There was a news brief similar to this article and I am so excited about it. Colorado rep Jared Polis introduced a bill back in March that increases vegetarian and vegan options in school lunches and rewards schools that offer such meals to at least 2/3 of its students. Polis isn't a vegan, but he's doing this for the obvious reasons - childhood obesity and its accompanying health problems are skyrocketing. I'm not optimistic about its passage, but the fact that it's even been introduced is telling. It's interesting how much of an impact the fact that Polis isn't vegan is having on the way the media is talking about this. Every article I've read on this is generally positive and coming at it from an entirely reasonable, health-based angle. I feel like that wouldn't be the case if Dennis Kucinich (who is vegan) were this bill's creator. Being vegan in itself makes (some) non-vegans skeptical of you, your motives, your legitimacy. You're "one of those." You're not an individual who happens to be vegan, just a vegan. A friend of mine, if he ever has to call a restaurant or company to ask about vegan options/products or lack thereof, pretends he's someone considering going vegan, just asking for future reference. He does this to show that there are people in the world who are considering going vegan, that vegans aren't a special breed of people destined from birth to be wackos. This is why all the articles about Polis' bill are so positive and focused on health: Polis sees that plant foods are healthy, which is all well and good, but isn't one of those crazies who only eats those things. I think I'm going to write more about this later, it just says so much about so many things. But regardless of all that other stuff, this is exciting! If nothing else, even if it doesn't get passed, I think it could pave the way for better regulations about what's in school meals. We shall see!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

pesto with Daiya!

For some reason, I have always felt like I am never good at making pesto. Which is strange, because isn't pesto always the same very few ingredients? Hummus is hummus and some is better than others, but it's almost almost always good. PBJ is PBJ. Spaghetti is spaghetti. Etc. Shouldn't the simple combination of basil and olive oil and pepper and pine nuts and maybe a little garlic be intrinsically good? I've made pesto countless times and never had it blow my mind.....until the other night. Everything went into the food processor as usual, but I also threw in some Daiya (mozzarella Daiya, which I had never had before) and woahmygod. Magic. Observe:

So delicious. It retained all the freshness and summery delight of the basil and spices with all the sheer om nom nom deliciousness of revolutionary cheese. It also got the Omni Friends stamp of approval. I didn't measure anything, so I don't really have a recipe to offer other than put all the above ingredients in a food processor until it becomes delicious pesto. 

Lessons learned:
1) Not making something successfully dozens of times does not mean you never will.
2) While sometimes it is wonderful for the natural goodness of herbs and pulses and spices and whatnot to shine through (Hi Dino), sometimes an omni sub is dish's saving grace.
2.5) Daiya is always an appropriate addition to a food
3) Fresh basil makes your whole kitchen smell good!

Yum. I had the leftovers for dinner tonight. What delicious things have you made or eaten recently?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

summertime is chocolate banana smoothie time

I know it's summer and I'm at home when I have one of these almost every morning. It's really pretty good for you but tastes decadent and is surprisingly filling. Basically, freeze a banana and throw it in the blender with some chocolate soymilk. The variations are endless: a little peanut butter, a little cinnamon, different kinds of milk, etc. If you've never frozen banana before, you are missing out. It tastes like vanilla ice cream! Pro tip: slice bananas before you freeze them. It's easier on the blender if you're making a smoothie, and more fun if you're eating them plain. Happy summer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

(Portland) vegan airport guide

Today I leave the land of ironic hipster mullets for the land of sincere ones, so what better time to post about eating vegan in the airport than while I'm actually in one? This post is primarily about the Portland airport, but as there are a lot of chains here that are in a lot of other airports as well, hopefully this can be helpful to you regardless of where you're flying.

PDX may be in Portland, but it is still an airport, not a promised land of vegan delights. Here are your best bets:
Jamba Juice was my saving grace this morning. In addition to a wide array of vegan smoothies (my favorite is the Five Fruit Frenzy), they have oatmeal made with soymilk (but the brown sugar crumbles contain milk, so order without). You can also get hot chocolate with soymilk, a wrap with hummus and quinoa and veggies, and an apple cinnamon pretzel. Their website is very helpful as it has an entire section listing everything on their menu that is vegan.
Flying Elephant Delicatessen is a recent addition to PDX. Other than the usual chips, fruit salad, etc. they have a sandwich with vegan cream cheese (WTF? In an airport?), eggplant, and arugula. They also sell Kettleman's bagels, if you don't mind a dry bagel. (Why do they only sell vegan cream cheese on the sandwich?)
Riverfront Cafe has hummus and pita!
Quizno's has a veggie sub that is vegan when you order it on white or wheat with no cheese and no dressing.
Big Town Hero has multiple veggie subs, including one with avocado, that are vegan if you order without various dairy nonsense.
Wendy's French fries are vegan.
Pizzicato's airport menu drops the v-word. You can order any of their pizzas without cheese, and they also have hummus and foccacia and peanut sauce.
I know Good Dog Bad Dog has a veggie sausage, but I don't know if it's vegan. Ask. Anyone reading this know one way or the other?

That's PDX. The key to being vegan in an airport, or anywhere, is being crafty (if you have time). All things considered, pack your own food if you can. A Luna bar or pack of trail mix doesn't take up much space in a bag, doesn't go bad, and can be the most delicious food on earth when you're tired and jet-lagged and starving. But beyond that, you might often be surprised. For example, Denver's airport sells Nana's vegan cookies (in the nondescript Hudson News places), Newark has a few little natural-themed kiosks with Odwalla bars and Naked juices and the like, Minneapolis has an Asian place with tofu noodle soup, Seattle has a cafe (Kathy Casey Dish D'Lish) with a couscous dish. Those are all just off the top of my head, and all were surprises to me. You never know what you might find, and often a quick Google search of the airport(s) you'll be at can lead you to a list of restaurants there, which, combined with the powers of the interwebs, can give you a head start on finding vegan food. Happy travels!

Monday, May 3, 2010

soymilk, bali shag!

It's finals week. My brain is dead. I saw this a few months ago and it is gold. 

That is a typical day in Portland, yes. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Silk almondmilk and vegan milk thoughts

So, the long-established standard of soymilk, Silk, now makes almond milk . I'm excited about trying it, but not being much of an almond milk person, I am more excited to see if Silk ever makes more non-dairy milks and what this does for overall perception of vegan milks.

 I think it's safe to say that everybody knows what soymilk is. But few people (few non-vegan people, that is) know that there is a whole world of vegan food and drink - even among those vegan foods and drinks that explicitly try to replicate or replace non-vegan foods - beyond soy. Soy is a versatile thing, but it's not the pinnacle of vegan food science (e.g. the only vegan cheese that strings, Daiya, is soy-free) and, speaking for this vegan, I wouldn't call it a staple of my diet. And especially in vegan milks are there so many options beyond soy - rice, hemp, almond, coconut, oat and more. I do love soymilk, but I never cook with it because ricemilk has a cleaner taste (though ricemilk tastes too much like cow's milk to me, so I don't drink it), and chocolate almond milk is practically dessert. One question - why has no one made a cashew milk? Cashew is the magical ingredient of so much good vegan dairy, so it surprises me that there isn't one. What is your favorite vegan milk?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1.5 tons more carbon per year

Happy Earth Day! It's cheesy but true to say that every day is Earth day. It's Earth Day if you're on Earth and getting anything - e.g. food, water, air, a place to live - from her. If you live on Earth, you have an obligation to take care of her as she cares for you. And there is simply no way that eating animals fits into that. According to New Scientist and researchers at the University of Chicago,going from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one does more for the environment than going from a gas-guzzler to a Prius. "The typical US diet, about 28 per cent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories." 3000 pounds per year! The bottom line is that the animal agriculture industry is wasteful and inefficient. The majority of grain grown in the US is not fed to humans but to animals, and because it takes around 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat, this is a really wasteful use of land, water, and fossil fuel. Think about it: you could grow plants, send them to a processor (if you must), and then to the grocery. Or you could grow plants, send them to feed mills, send the feed to factory farms, send the animals from the factory farms to slaughter, send the slaughtered animals to processing plants, and then send the meat to the grocery. Each of those additional steps requires enormously more amounts of fossil fuel, land, and water, not to mention the fact that animals produce methane and "the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2." (source)

If you are serious about climate change and protecting the Earth, you have to stop eating animal products. This is not about superiority. I am a vegan and I am not the savior of all the earth. But the science is there. To ignore it is selfishness. Yeah, you want to eat meat. But don't you also want to take long showers? And wouldn't it be more convenient to drive somewhere than bike or walk? Local food is sometimes harder to find than non-local, right? If you're reading this, chances are you're already making other sacrifices in your life to protect the Earth. Giving up meat is no different.

If you want more info, I encourage you to check out the UN's report "Livestock's Long Shadow."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Starbucks to offer vegan frappucinos!

What an exciting year to be vegan! Starting May 5, Starbucks will offer a soymilk-based blend for their frappucinos. Apparently it's already being offered in LA and I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case in other major cities as well.

Now, inevitably there will be some noise about whether this is really a good thing, since it's Starbucks, after all. But as I see it, pretty much every food you eat can eventually be traced back to some evil corporation. Obviously it would be ideal to only eat local, organic food that's 100% ethically sound, but I think it's the lesser evil to buy something vegan from a huge corporation than to just give up. But this is a post about the excitement of a giant corporation responding to demand for vegan items and being able to have a delightful vegan frappucino at any Starbucks in the land, so I'll stop there for today. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but hey, the more (vegan stuff) the merrier (the world).

Thanks to Quarrygirl for the news and the picture.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

oysters & consistency

A friend of mine recently shared this article from Slate with me. The author, Christopher Cox, says that he doesn't eat meat, dairy, or eggs, but that he does eat oysters. His reasoning is that oyster farming is environmentally friendly and there's much question about what oysters can feel, as they have no central nervous system the way we and other animals do. Cox seems to believe that any vegan who wouldn't eat oysters is just being nitpicky. "Eating ethically is not a purity pissing contest, and the more vegans or vegetarians pretend that it is, the more their diets start to resemble mere fashion - and thus risk being dismissed as such." I agree wholeheartedly. Being vegan isn't about a checklist of foods you can and can't eat, and you don't get a gold star for thinking you're the purest of the pure. But Cox implies that all vegans who don't eat oysters (which, sorry Cox, is all vegans) are taking part in this "purity pissing contest", and that is where I find real fault. To be vegan, you have to embrace the fact that it simply isn't possible to never, ever, ever use animal products in some way (however indirect). There are animal products in tires (yes, really), and even harvesting plants is going to kill some worms or mice. Such is life. Veganism is not being pure or obeying a set of dietary laws, it's about doing what is possible and practical to end oppression. It isn't really possible in our world today to not use tires somehow, it's not possible to not use medications tested on animals, it's not possible to harvest plants without killing some insects, and that's just how it is.

It is, however,

Friday, April 9, 2010

wtf PETA, vol. 48459375

Last week, PETA wanted to advertise on teeter-totters at a playground at a public elementary school in Frankfort, Kentucky. The proposed advertisements would read "Tot teetering on obesity? Go vegan!" and have the PETA logo. In addition to the ads, the school would also get thousands of free veggie burgers in their cafeteria. Not surprisingly, the school turned the offer down on the grounds that the students are too young to understand or interpret such direct advertising. Good for them. Why does everything PETA does still surprise me? I mean, PETA does have a lot of great resources and they are very well-connected. But why do they stoop to such ridiculous levels? (Or kill animals? Or promote welfarism? Or focus on winnable campaigns that don't really effect change? Different posts for different days...) This is an organization that has literally made coffins emblazoned with their logo and an animal-rights message. Classy, classy folks. But even beyond the laughability of such a campaign, it just doesn't make sense. If a kid is young enough to be using a teeter-totter, and if that kid is already anywhere near obese, there are way more problems in his/her life than can be untangled by their/their parents' seeing an advertisement like that. Thanks for continuing to make all vegans look utterly ridiculous, PETA.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

quick hit: Whole Foods carrying Daiya starting tomorrow!

BIG NEWS, vegans! Starting April 1st (that's tomorrow!), Whole Foods stores nationwide will carry Daiya. Daiya is the best vegan cheese I have ever eaten, hands down. It tastes delicious, melts, and even strings the way dairy cheese does. If you haven't had the chance to try it, you are in for a treat. I am so excited to be able to get it when I'm home this summer! Look at the fancy new packaging, too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

camp for vegan/activist kids

If you're in Portland you've probably heard about this already, but did you know that there is a summer camp for young activists? How awesome is that? Youth Empowered Action camp is in the Portland and Santa Cruz areas this summer and kids 11-15 will get to go and learn how to change the world and continue being awesome. I wish this had been around when I was that age. I went vegetarian when I was fourteen, vegan at fifteen, and let me be the first to tell you, it can get lonely at that age being the "weird" kid who actually cares about something other than themselves. I can't imagine how it must be to be eleven years old and be an activist, about veganism or anything else. It doesn't look like YEA has been around for long, but I hope it keeps going and keeps letting kids know "No, you aren't weird, you are on the path to becoming an awesome person and making the world more awesome as well." The environment of any summer camp can be so nurturing and reassuring. I was raised in the Christian church and went to church camp for several summers in elementary/middle school, and when I was sixteen I went to a summer writing workshop for high schoolers that was the best time of my life. In both cases it was like "WOAHMYGOD there are others?? This is okay?!?" So good. Summer is such a potent time, and the opportunity to live, for once in your life, surrounded by people who get you and support you is just amazing. YEA's website has a page with testimonials from kids who went last year, and they warm the cockles of my heart. "This camp is about being yourself and being who you are." "You can't usually talk about these things in schools. This camp is really peaceful and beautiful; just amazing." Winner: "Everyone was super happy and laughing and that's what our world could be." If that doesn't make you hopeful about the next generation I don't know what will!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ingenuity in cheese and chips

Food science, especially when something vegan is involved, will never cease to amaze me. They can make mock snails from wheat (seitan) and ice cream from hemp and that's all well and good, but now they can make cheese out of oatmeal! OATMEAL. WTF. It's made of oatmeal and it's really good and tastes cheesy! My parents didn't raise a liar.

I heard about We Can't Say It's Cheese a few months ago, but, honestly, there are so many brands of vegan cheese out there, a name like that just doesn't cause one to drop the Daiya/Cheezly/etc. The other night I was at the grocery, planning to make quesadillas and not being able to find vegan sour cream (boo Market of Choice, boo). Near the regular sour cream was this fine product. Oh! Recognition! Intrigue! "Mexi-Cheddar"! Sounded like it would go equally well with quesadillas, so that was that. 

This stuff is really good! It is a little thicker and milder than non-vegan jarred queso dip, but overall it's very similar and has a good flavor. It reminded me of a queso-style dip someone made at a vegan potluck a few years ago from Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, if that means anything to you. Overall I can't think of any way to improve it without veering too far into territory of "This tastes so much like what it's a vegan version of, it's kinda gross" (e.g. ricemilk tastes too much like cow's milk to me, so I hate the taste). Hooray oatmeal cheese!

WCSIC (oh, name it something else) in the bowl, being tasty

yum! A segway into the other part of this post.....make your own tortilla chips! You don't need a deep fryer or anything fancy (other than yourself). Cut a tortilla into eighths, spray a cookie sheet with baking spray, and put it in a 350F oven for ten minutes or so. So much healthier than fried, probably cheaper than buying bagged tortilla chips, and they have better flavor. DO IT. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

quick tip: makeshift salad dressing

This is something I learned a few years ago, and it can be a lifesaver: salad dressing doesn't have to be from a bottle, nor does it have to have more than two ingredients. Oil & balsamic vinegar is the obvious go-to when you either have no "real" salad dressing, are at the house of someone who doesn't have any vegan, or are feeling too lazy to make one more complex than that. But my favorite makeshift dressing is...hummus! Hummus is the food of the gods and goes with almost everything. I mean, breathe if you love hummus. Exactly. But did you know that you can easily make hummus into salad dressing? Just put a few globs of hummus in a small dish and add a few spoonfuls of water. Use either a small whisk or the back of a spoon to stir until the water is fully incorporated and it has a dressing-like consistency. Feast. So yummy and easy and good for you!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

abortion and veganism

and a whole lot more, too...

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to widespread acceptance of abolitionist veganism is the rift between progressive vegans and progressive omnivores (yes, conservative vegans exist, but that's the shortest story ever written). The fact of the matter is that welfarism, "happy meat" and cage-free free-range hoof-massaged bedtime-storied animal agriculture are en vogue in a major way. Walk into any grocery store, be it Wal-Mart or the mom & pop hippie co-op, and there's going to be a laser beam show around a display of "free-range" crap and a picture book you can buy to show your children where your eggs, wanting factory farms, actually come from and blah blah blah.

This is not news to anyone reading this, and I think it should be easily understandable why this is the case. It's shiny! It's trendy! It's meat! It doesn't actually require ethics! I have no problems with laser beams. I have no problems with picture books. While I do have very serious problems with welfarism/"happy meat"/etc., that is another topic for another day, and believe you me, on that day, it's gonna be long. But briefly, both welfarism and abolitionism seek to answer the problem of animal oppression. Welfarism calls for regulation of animal agriculture, while abolitionism calls to end it entirely. Bigger cages versus no cages. With me? (For more, Gary Francione's outline)

Welfarism has taken over the hearts and wallets of many a progressive soul. At this point, I'm not sure if more progressives eat happy meat than are simply happy to eat any meat, regardless of how it was produced, but either way, I believe and will argue that consumption of animal products is directly at odds with the values and ideals of the progressive movement. I do not think you can call yourself progressive if you eat any kind of animal product, be it a McDonald's hamburger or the milk of your pet goat. Likewise, I do not think you can call yourself vegan if you are not progressive.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Daiya love and Sweetpea love

I had heard the rumors. The myths. The, dare I say, legend.
Of Daiya.
If you haven't, Daiya is a vegan cheese that not only melts and tastes amazing (which some, if not all, vegan cheeses do) but it's the only vegan cheese that STRINGS the way cow's milk cheese does. And it is a thing of beauty.

The other weekend I was at Sweetpea Vegan Bakery with friends and simply wanted a grilled cheese. I had no idea that Sweetpea used Daiya. When my sandwich came, I took a bite and tasted the deepest richest most cheddary flavor I've tasted in years. Like Cheezly but more American-tasting. All well and good, but when that bite was done and I looked at it...

Look at that! Look how stringy and perfect! And it's vegan! Food science, I love you.

Because here's the thing about vegan cheese:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

sweet chile tofu

my roommate and i are addicted to sweet chile sauce. At our dining hall, it seems they have something Asian at nearly every meal, which is where our addiction started, but we have discovered that it's good on everything from pizza to sandwiches. As such, she bought a bottle of the stuff the other week and we marinated tofu in it. Because we live such Busy College Lives it ended up marinating for....several days. Oh well! The result was delicious and so simple I feel it's almost overkill to actually post the recipe, but..

Sweet Chile Tofu
One block extra-firm tofu
Around half a bottle of sweet chile sauce
A little oil for cooking

Press the water out of the tofu and cut into bite-size pieces. Put in a bowl or a flat baking-style dish and pour over enough sweet chile sauce to cover. Marinate for at least an hour. Coat a saute pan in a few tsp. or so of oil and heat on medium. Cook the tofu until it's golden-brown and crispy. Feel free to pour the leftover sauce from marinating over the tofu as you're cooking it, but be warned that if you use too much in cooking you will get little black chunks of cooked sauce because it won't all be able to be on the tofu, so save a little for serving. EAT. Serves 2-3.

it has been sauced.

my happy tofu friends

Also, do any Portland people know of local tofu? Surely some exists. The tofu local to my hometown was always so much better and firmer than any big brand.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

a few of my favorite things

Lately, I've been enjoying:

1) Clif Kids fruit twist things

I had never seen these before first semester, but my roommate loves them and always has them around. She loves them because the three-year-old she babysits back home loves them, but this is a case of all paths to enlightenment being valid. They are like beef jerky, if beef jerky tasted like fruit instead of dead animal, if it had a texture between fresh and candy instead of greasy, if it were associated with the children of food-conscious parents and not fourteen-year-old boys.
It's shaped like beef jerky. Anyway, they are really good and come in flavors from Strawberry to Tropical and apparently one is a full serving of fruit. These have been tossed into my backpack many a time this semester.

2) Tao of Tea Moroccan Mint

Tao of Tea is a tea house here in Portland, and my school's dining hall has two of their teas. This is my go-to beverage when the soymilk machine is broken. It is a green tea with a full body and a very mellow, refreshing, not overwhelming mint flavor. I've not yet made it out to the tea house itself, but I want to. Now I am thirsty.

3) the banjo
So this isn't vegan-related, but being vegan makes me happy, as does the banjo. Connection made. More and more people who play the banjo have been coming into my life lately. I love the instrument! I have been realizing over the past year or so how much I really do like music with twang. More from the folk end (e.g. early Dar Williams) than country, but twang nonetheless. Last night I was hanging out with my friend Leah, who is teaching herself the banjo, and she taught me a few cords. 1) Playing the open strings is a chord on the banjo. 2) It's so much smaller than the guitar and you don't feel like you have this massive block of wood demanding that beautiful noises be produced from it immediately when you play it. 3) It's so much fun just to pick. I love music but my brain is just formatted to be literary. I am amazed at people who can jam, who can just flow into things that they make up and that sound good. But it's fun just to mess around and to sing. When I had a car in high school I would sing all the time, but now that I don't I've been realizing how little I do and how I wish I did more. An old friend had a bumper sticker on his car that said 'The more I sing, the better I feel' - very true. I think this summer when I have more time to learn I'm going to try to find a used banjo on craigslist and see what comes of it.

4) Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

I've blogged before about the pumpkin brownies from this book, but last night I used the sugar cookie recipe in it to make cookies for the Vagina Monologues here on campus. Finally! A vegan sugar cutout cookie recipe that works! One Christmas my mom was making holiday cookies and I just gave her the first sugar cookie recipe I found from VegWeb. Now, I adore VegWeb and some of my favorite recipes are there, but for some reason these were just - weird. But Isa&Terry's were, as everything from their cookbooks, reliably delicious.

What have you been eating/drinking/using/reading/enjoying lately?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

quick hit: grilling pita

There, doesn't that look delicious? One of my favorite tips: always grill your pita bread. The effort to deliciousness ratio is ridiculous. Pita bread on its own is just fine, but when you grill it it stands out as a food on its own, not just a vehicle for hummus, and it's so quick and easy. Brush both sides of a pita with olive oil - I've found it easiest to put a little in a pan (which you need to do anyway) and then dip a paper towel (before turning on the stove, mind you) in it and use that to spread the oil more evenly/directly on the pita. Cook on medium-high heat, flipping often enough to keep good watch on both sides, until it's golden brown with little brown patches of crisp deliciousness, should take around five minutes. So much better than dry, cold pita. So little effort. Never underestimate the value of proper food presentation and little steps that make a big difference.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

vegan bake sale for Haiti / I love Portland

This Sunday was Portland's vegan bake sale for Haiti and it was awesome! Portland's alone made $3000 for MercyCorps, which brings the national total to $25K. Twenty-five THOUSAND dollars! Vegan treats are a force to be reckoned with. I wasn't there for long, but it was a madhouse, cookies and money just flying around everywhere.

Some of the people

one of four tables, and that's Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who organized everything, on the right.

monkey bread! I had never had vegan monkey bread before.

made with real monkeys

everything my friend Erin got...some cookie dough bites, green tea cupcake, blueberry muffin, some other cupcake, pumpkin muffin, pumpkin bread

Erin eats a cookie pop

Red pepper/tofu/Teese quiche. Oh my god, so good. I want to find who made this and do their taxes.....or something.

I love Portland so much. I love that there are people here who DO things like this, that there are people enough for things like this to be amazing successes. I was talking to a vegan friend of mine at the bake sale who has lived here for a while, and she said she always expects to know everyone at events like these and never does. There are too many vegans here for one person to know! And everyone here is so friendly. The last two times I have been off-campus (the bake sale and today having lunch at a food cart) random people have just struck up conversations with me to the tune of "Isn't Portland awesome? Isn't being vegan awesome?" Yes, kind stranger, yes. Such things do not occur in my hometown. It tickles me. Portland, I'm yours.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

vegan sloppy joes!

Finally, a recipe that's actually mine! This is one of my favorites. I made these over winter break and my omni dad was so cute about them. "What else do you use this vegetable texture protein stuff in?" "If I ate this and didn't know what it was, I'd think they were the real thing!" Heehee. If I ever do a second edition of Generation V, I want to add a lot more recipes, but this is one that's in the book already. If you've never cooked with! It looks like gerbil food when you buy it and sounds like a disease, but fear not. It's pure protein so it has a very meaty texture, and like tofu, it just absorbs the flavor of whatever you cook it with. It's also good for chili, burger patties...I bet it would be good on nachos, too. But this is my favorite. Enjoy!

Sloppy Joes
1 c. TVP
1 ½ c. water
2 T. liquid smoke
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
1 T. apple juice and/or 1 T. brown sugar (optional, but so good)
3 T. ketchup (or tomato paste/sauce)
½ c. barbeque sauce

Combine TVP and water in a medium-sized pan. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cook until the TVP has absorbed almost all of the liquid and is tender and reddish-brown. Feel free to add more of any ingredient to taste; as long as you have enough water for the TVP and aren't using 20 parts barbeque sauce per 1 part TVP you can't screw these up. Serves 4 or so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

vegan yum yum doughnut adventures

As I said in my previous post, I just got Lauren Ulm's cookbook _Vegan Yum Yum_ and can't get enough of it. It has a recipe for vegan doughnuts...that you bake! All the deliciousness of a doughnut, but so much easier and less unhealthy (I don't think any doughnut, vegan or non, can really be said to be 'better' for you than something else...) than you'd expect. Recipe originally here. I didn't have a doughnut pan (why would I) before I found this recipe, but it was around $15 and so worth it for how fun these were to make and share and eat.

Vegan Yum Yum Mini Doughnuts

Dry Ingredients:
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp (scant) Nutmeg
1 tiny pinch or shake Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Soymilk
1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
Egg Replacer for 1 Egg
4 Tbs Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk. Combine the wet ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the EB is just melted. The wet mixture should be just slightly warm, not hot. If it gets too hot while the EB is melting let it sit for a minute or two, stir, and see if you can stick a finger in it comfortably. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just mixed. It should form something that's too thick to be a batter and too thin/soft to be a dough. Spray your doughnut pan with nonstick spray (the original recipe said not to, but I had better luck when I did) and drop in by the tablespoonful. Use your finger to spread it around evenly and err on the side of underfilling or else you'll have doughnuts with little muffin tops. Bake for 12-14 minutes until they just barely start to (golden)brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert on a wire cooling rack or plate and then decorate to your heart's content. If you are going to roll any in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, do so when they're still hot, for anything else wait until they've cooled off. Makes 20.

doughnuts hot out of the oven

cinnamon sugar, chocolate sprinkle, white chocolate (yes, vegan white chocolate exists) coconut, powdered sugar

vegan yum yum tomato alfredo

I am in love with Vegan Yum Yum. I tend to enjoy cookbooks more the more pictures there are, and not only does this have a picture for every recipe, but the recipes themselves are beautiful, creative, and delicious. The other night I couldn't decide between Hurry Up Alfredo and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce so I combined the two. The original Alfredo recipe is here. This sauce has all the wonderful creaminess provided by raw cashews, without the planning and time commitment required in most other cashew cream recipes where you have to soak them overnight. Great texture, delicious flavor, really easy. I'll be making this again.

Vegan Yum Yum Tomato Alfredo (serves 2-3)

1 Cup Soymilk
1/3 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
3 Tbs Low-Sodium Tamari or Soy Sauce
2 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine
1 Tbs Tahini
1 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Paprika (smoked is awesome)
1 Pinch Nutmeg
2-4 Cloves of Garlic, optional
Black pepper, to taste
3 T. tomato paste
Small handful grape tomatoes (probably half a regular tomato, seeds and skin and all)
Basil to taste (I probably used 1/2 Tbsp)

Combine everything in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth, though with the raw cashews it's kind of impossible for it to be completely smooth. Some bits of cashew are fine and won't detract from the overall quality. Pour the sauce into a....saucepan and heat on medium, stirring, until warm and thickened.

Friday, January 15, 2010

an open letter to natalie angier

(note: Natalie Angier is the author of “Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too”, which recently appeared in the NYT)

Dear Ms. Angier,
As a lover of nature, I enjoyed your article. The natural world always seems to be far more complex – and far more beautiful – than we can ever really know. But as a longtime vegan, I had a lot of problems with it. For one thing, you present this information as worthy of ethical consideration without ever really stating why, or what this – if it’s so important – means in practical terms for ethical eating. I’m not being facetious. Obviously, I understand that you’re saying that plants are more sentient than we assume, and that this implies that they are worthy of our ethical consideration, since the sentience of the beings we eat is a major factor in ethical eating, for some, the biggest factor. But judging by the title and your hurry to not “cede the entire moral penthouse” to vegetarians and vegans, your article – at least in its practical impacts on ethics – is directed towards vegans only. Are ethics all or nothing? Should we either eat in a way that harms no one and no thing or not try at all? No, and this is not the view your article itself presents. Food choices are indeed complex, and there is no way to be a perfect eater.

Even in a world where plants were as sentient as animals, a plant-based diet would still be the most ethical. Animals don’t grow themselves. They eat plants, too. According to a Cornell University study (, every year, 41 million tons of plant protein are fed to livestock, resulting in only 7 million tons of animal protein for human consumption. The commonly accepted ratio is that it takes sixteen pounds of plants to create one pound of meat. If humans just ate plants directly in a vegan diet, far fewer sentient beings – no animals, and drastically fewer plants (bearing in mind that this is a hypothetical world where plants are entirely sentient) – would be killed overall. As you say, “It’s a small daily tragedy that we animals must kill to stay alive.” We both agree that while it would be ethically ideal to self-sustain, this simply isn’t possible. However, this is no excuse to throw in the towel entirely. Just because we have to eat does not mean we can’t eat ethically, and just because it’s not possible to do absolutely no harm to any other being does not mean we aren’t obligated to minimize that harm as much as is possible and practical.

ooey gooey pumpkin pie brownies

YUM. I got Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero's new book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for Christmas and had such a hard time deciding which awesome recipe to make first. This is the holy book of vegan cookies. It has recipes for everything you'd expect (Blackstrap Gingersnaps, Peanut Butter Crisscrosses, Big Fat Crispy Rice Squares, etc.) but also creative and fancy things (Lazy Samoas, Frosted Grapefruit Icebox Cookies, Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, NYC Black and Whites, etc.). Being so fancy myself, I went for these. It is always time for pumpkin on my calendar. These are decadent but not gut-bustingly rich, and because pumpkin (like applesauce) can do the same job fat does in a recipe, they aren't horrible for you as brownies go.

Pumpkin Pie Brownies

For the brownie layer
4 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon tapioca flour (or arrowroot or corn starch)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the pumpkin pie layer
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons tapioca flour (or use arrowroot or cornstarch)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used Pumpkin Spice soy)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

To decorate:

A handful of chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan, or use a 9 inch square pan, preferably lined with parchment paper.
To make the brownie layer: Melt the chocolate. In a large mixing bowl mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and stir to combine, then mix in the melted chocolate.

To make the pumpkin layer:

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

To assemble:

Use a spatula to spread the brownie layer into the prepared baking pan, taking care to bring the batter to the edges of the pan. Pour the pumpkin layer over it, leaving a little room at the edges if you can. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm (a little jiggling is okay) and has cracked at the edges a bit. Let cool for 20 minutes and then transfer to the fridge to set for at least an hour and a half. Once set, decorate with chocolate chips and serve devour.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

quick hit: vegan teen

Today I did a Google search for 'vegan teen', and this was one of the first results. It's the strangest veg-related website I've seen, and enjoyable for that in itself. Just bizarre. I think this was somebody's final project for Computer Science in eighth grade. The site's design is ignore, but other than that, it offers the only vegan-themed online games I've seen. In addition to driving a hippie van around to pick up tofu, you can also shoot Ronald McDonald in the face with a swordfish. And who doesn't want that?

One question: WHY does Google assume that 'vegan' and 'vegetarian' are synonyms? They are not, O Google. Blah.

Friday, January 8, 2010

vegetable biryani

A delicious, fairly easy, completely non-authentic dish. I modified this from Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver, who is to my parents what Isa Chandra Moskowitz or Sarah Kramer is to me: deity of delicious, beautiful food and very directly responsible for their first forays into a new kind of cooking. Fair enough. The actual recipe had amounts, but this is one that you can eyeball and that you'll have to work to mess up. I just estimated what the dish I had would hold.

So, get an ovenproof dish that's more than an inch or so deep. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Make some rice. While the rice is cooking, make some curry - this is great if you have leftover curry you need to do something with, or you can be lazy like me and just make one quickly with curry paste and coconut milk and chickpeas. Rub the inside of the baking dish with Earth Balance and then sprinkle the whole thing with turmeric. Layer rice, curry, cashews (I bet raisins would also be good), and whatever other vegetables you want (or don't want - I bet it would work fine with tofu or even fake meat thrown in, but I can hear my friend Dino yelling at me already so just throw some vegetables in there. It's delicious no matter what) until you get to the top of the dish, but make sure the top layer is rice. Cut about a tablespoon of Earth Balance (cold) into bits and dot the top of the rice with it. Oil a big piece of foil and cover the dish, but leave a little lip so that it doesn't explode. Bake for about half an hour. NOM.

This was so good. The rice on top gets nice and crispy, the cashews get tender, and all the flavors just blend so well. And really, how hard is it to put some rice on the stove, throw some curry paste and coconut milk together in another pan, layer them, and let it bake? I made this with a friend over, while talking to her and watching TV. So easy and so good.