Archive: November 2010

veganmofo iv leftovers: frozen feasts, hot chocolate, criFSMas fun & assorted mofo miscellany

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I had hoped to feature reviews of Sistah Vegan, Eaarth and Diet for a Hot Planet in the final days of VeganMoFo IV, but…no such luck! Between holiday decorating, dog pampering and workworkwork, I didn’t quite accomplish all of my mofo goals. That’s okay, though; there’s always tomorrow, yes?

Until then, I have plenty of “leftovers” to share. Cue: all the mofo miscellany that passed under the radar…until now!

  • Frozen Thanksgiving Feasts

    Yes, the husband and I really did have frozen Tofurky pizza and apple pie for Thanksgiving! Neither of us was in the mood to cook, so this plan worked out nicely. Instead of spending the day toiling in the kitchen, I slept in, did some yoga, hung out with the dogs and read a few chapters of The Vegan Revolution… with Zombies. At night, we caught up on The Walking Dead (awesomeness!) and finished off the last three episodes of Battlestar Galactica (waaaay better than Lost‘s final, convoluted season!).

    2010-11-25 - Tofurky Pizza - 0004

    A Tofurky Cheese Pizza with extra toppings, namely Lightlife Smart Pepperoni, black olives and sundried tomatoes. One pizza is roughly the size of my dinner plate.
    ——————————

    I’ve seen a number of vegan bloggers review the newish frozen Tofurky pizzas this month, with mixed results. Personally, I like ‘em; so far I’ve tried both the plain cheese and sausage varieties, and I’d nom on either of them again. The crust, though definitely on the thin side, crisps up nicely when baked. Eaten on its own, I found the sausage to be a little spicy for my tastes, but this is tempered by the crust, sauce and cheese. And of course you can’t go wrong with Daiya!

    On the downside, these pizzas are definitely pricey. I’m trapped under a dog at the moment and thus unable to dig up the necessary receipts, but I think they cost upwards of $7 each at Whole Foods. According to the packaging, each pizza is supposed to serve two people, but, um, not so much. The husband and I can easily polish off a pizza apiece, with plenty of room left for dessert.

    2010-11-25 - Apple Pie - 0002

    For dessert: apple pie topped with a copious amount of vanilla So Delicious ice cream.
    Quoth the husband: “You gonna have some pie with that ice cream?”
    ——————————

    (Apple pie with vanilla So delicious, can I get a hells yes!)

    At best, they make for a nice luxury purchase – but unless it’s a special occasion, I’ll stick to my homemade pita pizzas, thankyouverymuch.

    (More below the fold…)

  • "Spicy" Three Bean Soup,* Redux

    Monday, November 29th, 2010

    On Friday, I cooked up a massive, steaming pot of my all-time favorite soup – “Spicy” Three Bean Soup* – letting it simmer and marinate throughout the day, checking in occasionally during the start of my weekend-long CriFSMas decorating marathon. (Pictures of the deliciousness thus far!) After a long day spent cursing the x-mas tree lights (3 out of 4 strands were on the fritz, each dying in the exact same place – imagine that!), a warm bowl of comfort food was, well, comforting. Bonus: the dishes were the husband’s problem.

    Looking back on the original recipe – which I blogged almost three years ago to the day! – I realized what a frakking mess it is. Like, why on earth did I feel the need to write a novella-length backstory – in the body of the recipe itself? 2007 Kelly boggles 2010 Kelly’s mind. It’s no wonder I never make this soup the same way twice. No more! What follows is a cleaned-up version of the recipe, complete with suggested modifications listed separately at the end.

    Feel free to share your own, mkay?

    “Spicy” Three Bean Soup,* Redux

    2010-11-26 - Three Bean Soup - 0026

    “Spicy” Three Bean Soup: with a deep red, tomato-vegetable broth, and lots of veggies chunks, including four types of beans, Italian cut green beans, white potatoes and carrots. In the background: a bag of extremely nom-worthy, store-bought VEGAN breadsticks. Now that I’m hooked, it’ll be a few short months before they add whey or honey, just you wait and see!
    ——————————

    (More below the fold…)

    What Vegan Kids Eat

    Sunday, November 28th, 2010

    Fun for Kids: Quickie Quesadillas: On this week’s Food for Life TV episode, Emily Richard prepares Quickie Quesadillas – a favorite recipe from PCRM’s new Food for Life Kids Nutrition and Cooking Classes. These quesadillas are loaded with nutrients, and they’re delicious as a meal or a snack. And the name doesn’t lie – they only take a few minutes to make!
    ——————————

    There’s Vegan Dad and (Your) Vegan Mom – not to mention Red Hot Vegan Momma, Mom’s Vegan Kitchen, Busy Vegan Mama, et al. – but what about vegan kids? Have you ever wondered where all the pint-sized vegan foodies are at?

    Granted, most kids – even “kids these days” – are too busy with school and sports and friends and other assorted forms of child’s play to worry about boring adult stuff like baking and blogging and blogging about one’s baking. Nope, that’s what the ‘rents are for. (Cue: childhood nostalgia.) Still, there are a few intrepid activists-in-the-making on the interwebs – and they’re the subject of today’s veganmofo post.

  • Vegan Kid: http://vegankid.blogspot.com

    Vegan Kid is Shae, who was inspired to start blogging nearly five years ago by a certain vegan lunchbox:

    This Vegan Kid is fascinated by another vegan kid (or his lunchbox…ha) and decided he needed his own little space on the web to share his various adventures… stay tuned.

    Shae is joined by his mom Kelly and younger brother Silas; the trio have participated in several Vegan MoFos in the past. In one of the most recent entries, Kelly shares an article she penned for a vegetarian magazine when Shae was just 4; it’s totally adorable, to wit:

    He’s been known to ask people, especially his many grandparents, “Why are you eating that animal?” and follows up with “Don’t you want that little cow to live with its mommy and daddy instead of getting dead and going into your tummy?” This has led to many a meal abruptly turning at least vegetarian to please him.

    Check it: Veganism for the Four Year Old.

  • Vegan Kids: http://www.vegankids.org/blog/

    Vegan Kids is a family-run website/blog of mostly-vegans. There’s veganmama, vegangirl (age 12), veganfrog (age 9), veganpanda (age 6), and little guy (age 3). Dad is the only non-vegan in the household, but reportedly consumes a vegan diet while at home, and is otherwise supportive of his wife’s and children’s veganism.

    On the site’s about page, veganmama writes,

    Besides these family members, though, the kids feel alone in their choice to be vegan. And often friends and acquaintances misunderstand what being vegan is all about. We are hopeful these pages will help encourage other vegan kids and inform those who are not vegan or vegetarian what it means to be vegan and why it is a healthy and humane choice for children and their families.

    Go show ‘em some mofo love, okay?

    (More below the fold…)

  • A Dozen Ways to Serve a Sweet Potato (A Photo Essay)

    Saturday, November 27th, 2010

    Fry's Vegetarian - Sweet potato

    Regular readers know that I’m no stranger to pop culture analysis. (In fact, I watch so much television that it’s only a matter of time before I start to resemble the potato above. But at least it’s sweet!) Well, for my next VeganMoFo trick, watch while I dissect the above advertisement – and then refute it with some super-hot vegan food (not-)porn action. Shall we?

    A large, rather symmetrical sweet potato (Seriously, when’s the last time you’ve seen such a beautifully proportioned sweet potato? I would love to peel the hell out of that baby!) occupies most of the real estate in the ad above. The potato is dissected into six discrete pieces by a cartoon-like, white dotted line that’s been superimposed over it, thus evoking the look and feel of old-timey butchers’ posters. You know the kind: hanging in Sam the Butcher’s storefront, such posters helpfully illustrate the different “cuts” of meat one can obtain from the body of a murdered and dismembered nonhuman animal. (Google, for example, “cuts of beef”. This is an image that PETA seems fond of mimicking/parodying, with debatable success. But I digress, and dangerously so!) Other images in the series depict a zucchini and eggplant carved up similarly.

    Because every “cut” of the sweet potato is identical to the others, the ad seems to be suggesting that such visual analogies are ridiculous; humorous, even. Compared to “meat,” plant-based foods are boring. Monotonous. Lacking in variety or diversity. Undifferentiated masses of blah. In other words, being a vegan/vegetarian sucks balls.

    The most interesting aspect of this ad series is that it’s promoting – wait for it! – vegetarian food (!). Specifically, Fry’s Vegetarian Foods, which specializes in meals heavy in mock “meat.” Though I’m disappointed to see a vegetarian company engage in the negative stereotyping of plant-based foods, I can’t exactly say that I’m shocked, given the context.

    I know, I know; it’s all in good fun, right? Except when it’s not. The consumption of animal flesh and secretions is largely a choice in Western cultures – and one category of “reasons” (excuses, really) that carnists commonly use to justify their dietary choices involves societal mythconceptions and prejudices concerning cruelty-free options, i.e., that any foodstuffs that do not contain animal by-/products are necessarily boring, bland and monotonous. Rather than cater to these harmful stereotypes, we should actively challenge them.

    Which brings me to the VeganMoFo Photo Essay portion of this post. What follows are twelve gorgeous, creative, yummy dishes that incorporate sweet potatoes as a primary ingredient. (I might have just as easily executed this project with zucchini or eggplant, but hey, ’tis the season, am I right?) The tip of the proverbial iceberg, these photos and recipes demonstrate that vegan foods are anything but boring.

    Now grab a knife, fork and potato peeler and dig in, MoFo-ers!

    1. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing:

    sweet potato salad

    (More below the fold…)

    a very vegan mofo wishlist

    Friday, November 26th, 2010

    As the day after Thanksgiving, today begins the annual FSMas decorating marathon at the Garbato-Brady house! The primary goal is to assemble and decorate the tree as quickly as possible, so we can get the holiday cards shot, designed and printed ASAP. Then comes all the other festive stuff: stockings, garland, lights, gold doubloons, pirate gear – and sparkly red, green, gold and silver monsters as far as the eye can see. Beyond this, you’re likely to find me making extra pipe cleaner flying spaghetti monsters right up ’til the 24th (which is when the husband and I celebrate FSMas).

    Anyhow, since today also marks the first day of the x-mas shopping season, I thought it might be fitting to post my own holiday wish list. You know, just in case an anonymous admirer/fairy dogmother is out there, lurking and looking to unload some gifts on a certain lucky vegan blogger. (Me, me, me, pick me! ETA: I also accept cash and PayPal transfers. For your convenience, of course.)

    A (Stainless Steel?) Cookware Set:

    null

    Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set.
    Image via Cuisineart.
    ——————————

    I’m still cooking with the same set of pots and pans that I bought when I moved out of my parents’ house. Ten years ago. I’d say that the peeling Teflon – or whatever that gunk is, who can tell anymore? – was the first indication that the set needed to be replaced…only I can’t remember a time when the set wasn’t flake-free. I know, healthy right?

    Problem is, there are so many options out there, and I’m not really sure which is right for me. I’m leaning toward stainless steel because of its durability, but am worried that some foods will stick to it. Copper sounds ideal, but is way over my budget. Thoughts?

    (More below the fold…)

    tweeting thanksgiving

    Friday, November 26th, 2010

    someecards - tofurkey

    In this someecard, a woman sits at a dining table, seemingly ashamed as two older men berate her. The remnants of the night’s meal, including what looks like a bird corpse, scatter the tabletop. The caption reads, “Your Tufurkey has brought shame to this family.”
    ——————————

    As with several holidays past (most notably, Mother’s Day), I spent some of yesterday sending out Thanksgiving-related tweets. Most of these focused on the 45-48 million turkeys who were enslaved, slaughtered, dismembered and consumed in order to “show thanks” for [insert your irony here: friends? family? freedom? life?]. A few also addressed the racist and colonialist origins of the holiday. (Such a Debbie Downer, I am. Errr, make that Kelly Killjoy.)

    For those of you who don’t follow me on twitter, I’ve included a digest of yesterday’s tweets. There’s lots of interesting reading there – some of which I linked to in yesterday’s edition of Friday Food – so enjoy!

    Perhaps you’ll join me in tweeting the next problematic holiday or observance? It’s a surprisingly satisfying – and relatively simple – form of protest, though I’m not sure whether it has any practical effect beyond the personal. But hey, it made me feel a teensy bit better. That counts for something, right?

    Oh, and at the end of the digest is a snarky little video from Sarah Silverman and the folks at Funny or Die: Sarah Silverman’s ThanksKILLING Special. “God bless America, and its greedy, self-righteous heritage.” Definitely check it out, even if you’re already familiar with the story of how Silverman became a vegetarian.

    (More below the fold…)

    Friday Food (on a Thursday Holiday): Season Finale!

    Thursday, November 25th, 2010

    Friday Food…on a Thursday, you ask? Yes, ma’am! I shall be too busy chowing down on frozen pizza and pie – not to mention catching up on The Walking Dead – to bother with a “real” post today. And it’s the veganmofo Friday Food Season Finale, at that. How exciting!

    (Seriously, the husband and I are opting/lazing out of the traditional Tofurky and mashed potato feast this year. But feel free to visit ghosts of meals past, mkay? See, e.g., 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.)

    Whether you choose to observe the holiday or not, may your Thanksgiving day be a gentle one, friends.

     

    Feed the Turkeys ceremony at Animal Acres Thanksgiving!
    They got pies, salad, and stuffed squash!
    CC image via Flickr user prideandvegudice.
    ——————————

    Food, delicious food!

    Caramel Apple Pie from Apryl Knight @ Vegan Etsy

    Vegan Lemon Bars from I Eat Trees

    Chocolate Chestnut Tart from The New Vegan Table

    Chocolate Covered Potato Chips from Manifest Vegan

    Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers from Cooking at the Pacific Outpost

    Cornbread Casserole, Dirty Dumpling Soup and Coconut Fudge from bite me, I’m vegan.

    Smokey Maple BBQ Beans from Vegan Guinea Pig

    Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes from Sweet Treats and Vegan Eats

    Hindbærsnitter from Seglare in Copenhagen

    Lentil Walnut Pate Lettuce Wraps from thefrenchvegan

    Garlic-Glazed Green Beans and Candied Sweet Potatoes from the vegan crew

    Thousand Island Dressing from Our Veggie Kitchen

    (More below the fold…)

    Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs (Karen Davis, 2009): A vegan feminist book review, with recipes!

    Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

    Bizarro - Thanksgiving-Christmas

    Two holiday-themed Bizarro strips.
    In the first, a group of turkeys looks on in horror and disgust as a farmer, clad in the requisite red flannel, hauls two of their terrified brethren from the barn, seemingly for slaughter. Two turkeys in the foreground discuss this all-too-predictable turn of events: “This is all about ‘thanks.’ Next month, the massacre starts all over again in the name of ‘peace on Earth.’”
    The second strip shows a turkey angel visiting with a reindeer, who looks a little mopey despite the festive bells slung around his neck. The wizened turkey advises, “I’m just saying, WATCH YOUR BACK. I was a holiday icon too, & look what happened to me.
    Images copyright Dan Piraro.
    ——————————

    I realize that a review of an animal rights book isn’t wholly in keeping with the theme of veganmofo; so, to compensate, I’ve included a number of yummy, egg- and bird-free recipes at the bottom of this post. Hopefully this will help drive home that point that the atrocities described in Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs are 1000% unnecessary while also placating the veganmofo goddesses! (No smiting of my person, mkay? Nevermind that I also have a blog named Smite Me!)

    Out of respect for my fellow mofo’ers, I’ve purposefully omitted any visual representations of animal exploitation from this post, so you can scroll through without worry.

    Or, if you’d rather not read the review, you can jump straight to the recipes!

    Book Review: Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An inside look at the modern poultry industry by Karen Davis (1996; revised 2009)

    (Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

    [FYI: you can download a pdf copy of the first edition here. Also, by way of disclaimer, I received a free review copy of this book from the the publisher, The Book Publishing Company. As in, nearly a year ago. Slow, who me?]

    Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs by Karen Davis (2009)

    In the United States, nearly 10 billion chickens are slaughtered every year; worldwide, the number is 40 billion and growing, as agribiz continues to export America’s extremely unhealthy, meat-laden diet – as well as its industrialized method of animal “farming” – to developing nations. At any given time, 5 billion hens “live” in battery cages on American “farms,” so that their bodies may be exploited for eggs. Because male chicks are an unwanted byproduct of this system, 250 million of them are discarded – suffocated, gassed, ground up or merely thrown out, alive – annually.

    While chickens – hens, roosters and chicks; mothers, fathers and children – represent the single most exploited species of farmed animals, they receive perhaps the least consideration. More chickens are enslaved and slaughtered per year than cows, pigs, sheeps and goats combined – and yet, along with cold-blooded mammals such as reptiles, chickens and other birds are not even considered “animals” under the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. (Granted, animals farmed for food and fiber are also not covered under the AWA, but this is perhaps small consolation, as they still fall under the rubric of “animals.”) Perhaps it’s their “alien” faces, what with rigid beaks where expressive mouths “should” be, but humans seem to have more trouble empathizing with chickens and birds than other farmed animal species, such as pigs and cows (who, of course, receive less consideration than “pet” species, such as dogs and cats).

    In the intro to Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, Karen Davis – founder and director of United Poultry Concerns (UPC) – reports that, when she first became involved in advocating on behalf of chickens in the late 1980s, these beautiful and abused creatures were largely overlooked in animal welfare and rights campaigns:

    I was told by some that people weren’t “ready” for chickens. This proved to be false. The point, in any case, was to make people ready.

    Thanks to the tireless efforts of folks like Davis, chickens are now central to the vegan and anti-factory farming movements. Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs – first published in 1996 and revised in 2009 – provides an accessible and compressive, if horrifying and hard-to-read, overview of industrialized chicken egg and “meat” production. (Something similar is sorely needed for fishes and other “seafood,” who seem to be the chickens and birds of this decade. But I digress.)

    What with a 19-page reference list and copious quotations culled from industry publications and decades-old news clippings, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs is meticulously researched and brimming with information. I’d hoped to include a list of talking points or key facts, but the sheer breadth and detail makes this nearly impossible. (That, and I’m not exactly about brevity, as regular readers well know!) Instead, let’s take this summary chapter by chapter, shall we?

    (More below the fold…)

    Frugal vegans invest in sharing.

    Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

    Invest in Sharing / People Walking

    In this black and white double exposure, we see a photo of some sidewalk graffiti juxtaposed with the image of two people walking together, arm in arm, along a city street. The graffiti is a stencil of the bespectacled, top-hatted Monopoly millionaire – now bearing wings as well – flying out of an opened bird cage; freedom! Underneath this image is the slogan “Invest in Sharing.” A lovely pairing of words, I think. CC image via Flickr user beeteeoh.
    ——————————

    I admit it; I so did not come up with the title of this week’s “frugal vegans” post by my lonesome. Prior to finding multiple examples of the totally awesome “Invest in Sharing” stencil (pictured above) on Flickr, this tip was to be called “frugal vegans share with others.” Meh, how boring. I don’t even think such a title is fit to grace a Sesame Street skit.

    So what, pray tell, do I mean by “invest in sharing” in the context of frugality? Well, it’s simple, really. If you’re anything like me, you own multiple kitchen appliances, utensils and assorted gadgets that rarely, if ever, see the light of day. Possibly you purchased them new – or even second-hand – and with every intention of getting your money’s worth. Perhaps you do use some of these items as often as is reasonable – but reason only requires occasional or seasonal use. Whatever the case, your kitchen – indeed, your entire house – is most likely packed with consumer goods that are not in use 99% of the time.

    Why not save money – and the environment – by splitting the cost and custody of these items with like-minded friends?

    By way of illustration, let’s say that both you and your BFF are jonesing for a shiny new ice cream maker. Neither of you can afford to buy a nice electric model on your own. But if you pool your resources, what was an out-of-reach luxury purchase suddenly becomes do-able (albeit possibly still a luxury). At most, you might churn a batch or two of ice cream a month; the rest of the time, the machine would sit on a shelf in your pantry, unused and totally bored. Rotating the ice cream maker between two households on a weekly basis, then, won’t really affect the amount of use and enjoyment that each party can get out of it. Just plan ahead and make a little extra ice cream for your “off” week when it is your turn to use the ice cream maker.

    This “shared cost, shared custody” arrangement could work with a number of kitchen items – depending, of course, on personal use and preferences:

    (More below the fold…)

    Chocolate Almond Banana Bread: A Delicious Coupling of Desserts

    Monday, November 22nd, 2010

    2008-02-03 - Vegan Banana Bread - 0009

    Shane’s Super Awesome Vegan Bananer Bread

    +

    Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

    2010-10-15 - Cookie Stack! - 0008

    =

    2010-10-01 - Chocolate Almond Banana Bread - 0004

    Chocolate Almond Banana Bread

    Need I say more?

    Nah, I didn’t think so. Recipe after the jump.

    (More below the fold…)

    Flax seeds: Go on, hug your colon!

    Sunday, November 21st, 2010

    tablespoon of flax seeds - _MG_8879

    tablespoon of flax seeds” – CC-licensed image via Flickr user sean dreilinger.
    ——————————

    I’ve been using flax seed oil in dog food recipes – peanut butter balls, mostly – for several years now. The stink of the stuff has never appealed to; it’s always made me gag, in fact.

    Which is why, when I read that flax seeds are helpful for those who suffer from IBS, I cringed a little. As some of you may know, I’ve been struggling with (what I suspect is) IBS for about five years. Mostly it’s under control, but when I eat the wrong foods or stray from my routine, I’m basically thumbing my nose at the digestive gods.

    So it was with more than a little trepidation that I decided to add a few tablespoons of flax seeds to my nightly routine. Or try, anyhow; based on my aversion to the oil, I remained doubtful that I’d be able to choke the actual seeds down. I started with the ground stuff, purchased relatively inexpensively at a certain evil box store, and…they were okay. No, not just okay; good. Kind of yummy, actually! Cue: pleasant surprise.

    They made a noticeable difference with my IBS symptoms, too: no more bloating! (Well, assuming I stay away from problem foods; I’m not brave/foolhardy enough to test flax seeds’ efficacy under such risky conditions.) And girl, does that shit keep you regular! Way more effective in that arena than anything I’ve tried, fiber supplements included.

    When visiting my parents, I switched to whole, roasted flax seeds because – luck of luck – they just happened to have a bag on hand. (Two, actually; I brought the other home with me in my second suitcase – i.e., the one I use to collect and carry “my haul.”) Super, super yummy.

    And great in recipes, too!:

  • Blueberry Flax Seed Muffins @ (Vegan) What’s for Dinner?
  • Blueberry, carrot, and flaxseed muffins @ veggieburgh
  • High Fiber, Lower Carb Maple Morning Muffins @ Goodbaker.com
  • Hermit Cookies with Flax Seed @ Fatfree Vegan Recipes
  • Vegan Oatmeal-Flax-Spelt Cookies and Vegan Blueberry-Flax Granola @ No Meat Athelete
  • Ruth’s Flax Seed Balls @ Food.com
  • Raw Flax Seed Crackers @ About.com
  • Olive Oil Flax Seed Vegan Challah Bread @ Cookies and Candids

    Of course, either kind is helpful to have on hand, as ground flax seeds mixed with soy milk is commonly used as an egg substitute in baking!

    (More below the fold…)

  • Smart BLT Love (& a Veganmofo Bonus: "Bacon" Franken-pancakes!)

    Saturday, November 20th, 2010

    Even though I wrote this post several weeks ago, I’m eating yet another Smart BLT right this very moment. Crazy addictive, I’m telling you!

    After reviewing The Owl House at veganmofo’s opening – or, more to the point, kvetching about the chef’s choice of vegan meats with which to fill out the vegan BLT – I found myself craving a BLT made with Lightlife’s Smart Bacon. In my 14+ years as a vegetarian/vegan, I’d never made a BLT sandwich. Crazy, right? Bacon – whether vegan or not – has always struck me as more of a breakfast food, certainly not the main filling in a lunch- or dinner-time sandwich. Too thin and wimpy!

    (Cue: that annoying “Where’s the beef?” lady from the ’80s. Speaking of, I wonder whether my parents still have that “Where’s the beef?” dinnerware set I remember them trying to unload at a family garage sale waaaay back in the day? Note to self: must ask mom about it the next time you phone home.
    / inexplicable digression)

    Or that was my convoluted thinking, anyhow. Well, no more. Enter: the Smart BLT!

    2010-10-28 - Smart BLT - 0007

    My precious.
    ——————————

    We’re looking at:

  • Six to eight slices of Lightlife Smart Bacon (I usually bake ‘em in a toaster oven, but they’re even better fried);
  • A variety of lettuce and shredded veggies (from a bag of pre-made salad);
  • My Super Secret Special Sauce (Kidding! It’s mustard mixed with Nayonaise);
  • And – here’s the kicker – a sprinkling of sundried tomatoes (I was all out of fresh tomatoes, and happily so; the sundried tomatoes are much more flavorful, and don’t spray sog-inducing juice onto the bread when you bite into them!)
  • All on an everything Ciabata roll. Can I get a nomnom?

    I am seriously hooked on this sammie, y’all. It’s yummy, it’s filling, it never disappoints. Piggy love, all around.

    (More below the fold…)

  • Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (Friday Food)

    Friday, November 19th, 2010

    Another week, another veganmofo wrap-up! Entering the home stretch, I cannot adequately express the sense of relief that comes from having started my mofo blogging a month in advance. Because, lemme tell you something – I’m 26.5 posts down with 3.5 left to go (the .5 being a book review that’s 99% finished, but just needs a quick spit & shine before publication), and I am forking exhausted. As in, ready for an 18-hour nap followed by a week-long vacation. And I haven’t even done that much cooking!

    mashed cauliflower

    “mashed cauliflower: This Mashed Cauliflower recipe (which I make in place of mashed potatoes) is perfect for a gluten free, Paleo Thanksgiving.”
    CC image via Flickr user elena’s pantry.
    ——————————

    Food, delicious food!

    Mashed Cauliflower, Carrot French Fries and Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream from Elena’s Pantry (pictured above and below)

    Vegan Butterflake Rolls from Inspired Eats

    Best Vegan Pecan Pie from My Vegan Cookbook

    Twice-Baked Colcannon from Miso for Breakfast

    Thanksgiving “Pie” with Variations and Spiced Two-Apple Tart with Cider Crème from Vegan Planet

    Vegan Green Bean Casserole from Vegan Etsy

    Vanilla Bean Cupcakes With Chocolate Ganache from Isa @ the PPK

    Tasty cream horns from vegalicious

    Graham Crackers from VeganYumYum

    VEGAN Battleship Chocolate Bundt Cake with Sour Cherry Compote! from Terry Hope Romero @ vegansaurus!

    Quick(er) Pierogies from Vegan Nom Noms

    Vegan Peppermint Stick Ice Cream from I Eat Trees

    Chocolate Hazelnut Spread from Musings From The Fishbowl

    Buckeye Candy (with a Hint of Cardamom) from Manifest Vegan

    Beer Breaded Garlic Mushrooms from Lustrous Musings

    (More below the fold…)

    Frugal vegans throw the most productive – err, "awesomest" – garden parties.

    Thursday, November 18th, 2010

    Oneida Square Community Garden

    Families gather in the Oneida Square Community Garden –
    complete with a popcorn machine! Story here.
    CC image via Flickr user The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Cos.
    ——————————

    The seeds of this week’s frugal vegan tip were planted several years ago, when I read a piece written by Lauren of the (seemingly) now-defunct blog Faux Real Tho. If memory serves correctly, Lauren described a sort of “work party,” wherein a group of friends and family members descended upon her backyard in order to help her and her husband create a garden space in their new home. In return for food and alcohol – naturally. The ultimate garden party, if you will.

    Work + wine = a work party
    Work + wine + dirt + produce = a garden party

    Of course, bribing and plying your friends with alcohol and shiny happy vegan cupcakes is a great way to procure a little extra help when needed. But let’s take this concept a step further, shall we? Why split only the work when you can share it all: monetary expenses, land, labor, knowledge, materials and yield?

    Let’s say, for example, that you want to start growing some of your own (VEGAN!) food in order to save money and become more self-sufficient (the apocalypse, it’s coming!). You have the space to establish a good-sized garden and the funds to cover any start-up costs – but are lacking the know-how and expertise to make it a rousing success. Or perhaps you’re an experienced gardener but are currently living in an apartment space which only affords room for a small window garden. Maybe you have the time to devote to weeding, watering, harvesting and preserving, but no money with which to buy the supplies. By pooling your resources with friends, family members and/or acquaintances, all of these potential pitfalls can be overcome.

    (More below the fold…)

    Book Review: Between the Fences: Before Guantanamo, there was the Port Isabel Service Processing Center, Tony Hefner (2010)

    Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

    An engaging, if frustrating, story of government corruption & abuse

    three out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

    In BETWEEN THE FENCES, Tony Hefner tells a harrowing tale of corruption and human rights abuses, committed by both the United States government as well as contractors tasked with fulfilling governmental responsibilities (in this case, caring for detained, undocumented immigrants). Employed as a prison guard at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center – an immigrant detention center in the South Texas’s Rio Grande Valley – from 1983 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 1990, Hefner either witnessed personally or was privy to first-hand accounts of various crimes that took place at Port Isabel, including the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of detainees, both male and female (and sometimes, children); the sexual harassment, assault and rape of female guards; the physical and emotional abuse of male employees; drug trafficking; blackmail; nepotism and racism in hiring and firing decisions; and countless other illegal and immoral activities, including repeated cover-ups of these incidents, and the protection of those involved.

    Hefner’s account of these human rights abuses is both engaging and enraging, but his constant digression into his own life history detracts from the story. For example, as a child Hefner himself endured physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his stepfather, who thought him worthless because of his Mexican parentage. Although I sympathize with his plight – no child should be bullied, hit, or made to feel worthless, and certainly not by adults – Hefner repeatedly points to this abuse as one reason (“excuse,” you might say) for his relative inaction on behalf of abused inmates. While Hefner’s power to intervene directly was no doubt limited, he also didn’t do much behind the scenes; for example, he might have clandestinely collected hard evidence in order to build a case against his superiors, and/or anonymously leaked this information to the media, thus remaining an inside whistleblower at Port Isabel – but he didn’t. While Hefner did record those abuses that took place out in the open (in a notebook, after the fact – not exactly irrefutable proof), he also didn’t go out of his way to uncover the hidden, more egregious cruelties that were kept from him and others. Too often, he seemed content to go about his own work, nose down, ears closed – see no evil, hear no evil.

    Many guards and employees tolerated the abuse of both prisoners and, not uncommonly, their own persons because of financial hardship. In the 1980s, at least, Port Isabel was one of the largest employers in an economically strapped area. Far removed from the situation, it’s easy to sit in judgment of guards who refused to speak up in the interest of self-preservation. But this unfair at best; no one can really know how he or she would react in a similar situation without actually living it. Here, though, Hefner makes frustrating excuses as well; if he had simply chalked his lack of action up to poverty, I might be able to understand. But he claims to have stayed on at Port Isabel in order to keep his ministry, the Bearing Precious Seed Ranch, viable. In other words, he was content to proselytize to vulnerable children on the one hand, while utterly and spectacularly failing to live the actual tenets of his religious teachings on the other. “Do as I say, not as I do.” In the name of “caring for” some people’s children, he ignored the abuse of other people’s children (some of them, it’s worth noting, actual children – minor boys raped by fellow inmates while indifferent guards looked on, or underage girls forced to dance naked for the possibility of clemency).

    The many, many pages Hefner devoted to writing his own autobiography would have been better spent, I think, placing the abuse at Port Isabel in context. According to the book’s promotional materials, 400,000 immigrants are detained by the U.S. government every year; these individuals are held in a number of jails across the country. How do the conditions at Port Isabel compare to those at other centers? What steps, if any, are the INS and the U.S. government taking to ensure that the individuals detained in these facilities – and the guards employed therein – are treated humanely and respectfully? How does the government justify its lack of action on the complaints lodged against Port Isabel officials? What steps do Hefner and his allies plan to take next? And how does our broken immigration policy, too often marred by racism, sexism and xenophobia, contribute to these horrific conditions?

    (This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

    Cookies, muffins and cakes, oh my! The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek (2009)

    Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

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    Book cover, The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes: Amazing Cookies, Cakes, Muffins, Pies, Brownies and Breads by Kris Holechek (2009)
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    Earlier in the year, I happened upon a giveaway of The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes; publisher Ulysses Press was offering up a few copies of the recently-released book for review. Since I was already a fan of author Kris Holechek through her NOM! NOM! NOM! BLOG (and, perhaps more to the point, am unable to pass up a vegan freebie!), I jumped at the chance. Six+ months later, and I think I’ve finally tried enough of the recipes to offer up a review.

    The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes features recipes for a variety of baked goods, grouped into the following categories: cookies; bars; muffins; quick breads; cakes; pies and tarts; pastries; yeasted treats; frostings, icings and toppings; and children’s recipes (“Kids in the Kitchen”). The recipes include some standards (Shorbread; Best Banana Bread; Basic Pie Crust; Rosemary Focacia; Going, Going, Gone! Gingerbread) as well as a number of more creative concoctions (Strawberry Lemonade Cheespie; Gas Station Pie; Garden Muffins; Mocha-damia Bars; Blackest Forest Cake). Each recipe is rated for difficulty and prep time, with one “whisk” being the simplest and five “whisks,” the most challenging.

    In addition to ten sections listed above, Holechek begins the book with a handy introductory chapter. Particularly useful for novices such as myself, this “vegan baking 101″ guide covers the fundamentals, such as the ups and downs and when-to’s of various egg replacers, sugars and sweeteners, and leaveners; the best way to melt chocolate; essential ingredients; and must-have kitchen utensils and gadgets. (Whereas I’d been resistant to buying cooling racks for quite some time, Holecheck – with no small help from Shane! – finally convinced me of the need.)

    Over time, I tried a number of recipes, including….

    The Lemon Almond Bling Muffins (page 66), which are flavored with almond extract and topped off with a delicious mix of lemon, sugar and raw almonds:

    2010-04-29 - Lemon Almond Muffins - 0003

    (More below the fold…)

    Vegan S’mores Brownies FTmofoW!

    Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

    For veganmofo iv, I’d like to try my hand at veganizing a few non-veg recipes…but, seeing as I’m no domestic diva, my ambitions are somewhat, shall we say, modest. Instead of going all Project Just Desserts on your asses, I’m sticking to recipes that require only a few modifications and substitutions.

    Such as these S’more Brownies I found on NabiscoWorld.com ages ago. To say that I veganized this recipe is a little generous, actually, since I mostly just swapped out non-vegan products for cruelty-free ones: Dandies for Jet-Puffed minis, Honey Maid Grahams for vegan crackers, eggs for NRG, etc. But still, yum!

    As good as these s’mores are warm and freshly baked, they’re even tastier (if harder to slice) the next day. The “brownie” portion of this dessert is more fudge-like than crumbly, and leaving it out overnight gives it a chance to firm up a bit.

    Happy noming!

    (Vegan) S’mores Brownies

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    Ingredients

    10-15 vegan graham crackers
    3/4 cup margarine
    4 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
    2 cups sugar
    A vegan egg substitute, equivalent to 3 chicken eggs (I used NRG Egg Replacer)
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup flour
    2 1/2 cups Dandies (or the vegan marshmallows of your choice)
    1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks

    (More below the fold…)

    Preserving Produce Like a Frugal Vegan Mofo: A Review of the Nesco Gardenmaster FD-1020 Food Dehydrator

    Monday, November 15th, 2010

    The first summer after moving into our new home, the husband and I found ourselves buried under a deluge of fresh produce. Some of it, such as the watermelons, cantaloupes, green and yellow zucchini, jalapenos, green and yellow peppers, and tomatoes (oh, the tomatoes!: Roma, Beefsteak, cherry and grape) came as no surprise, since they were planned, planted and grown in our very own garden. Most of the fruit, on the other hand, was wholly unexpected; when we purchased the house the previous spring, we had no idea that many of the trees in our front yard were of the fruit-bearing variety. The apricots, pears and apples (120 grocery bags full, for reals!), then, came as a shock. A happy shock, but a shock nonetheless.

    With the threat of an overabundance of fruit and veggies looming, I hurriedly began researching methods of preserving the extras for winter. Canning struck me as intriguing, if a bit risky for a newbie like myself. Freezing, while quick and easy, brings with it the obvious space and energy limitations. Eventually, I decided that dehydrating the excess food was my best option: safe, uncomplicated and requiring the minimal upfront investment.

    2008-09-18 - Dehydrator - 0010

    My (then-) newly-purchased Nesco American Harvest Gardenmaster FD-1020 Digital Pro Food Dehydrator, still in the box.
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    Enter: the Nesco American Harvest Gardenmaster FD-1020 Digital Pro Food Dehydrator. After quite a bit of online window-shopping, I finally opted for this make and model. A mid-range dehydrator, the Gardenmaster FD-1020 is one of the pricier models offered by Nesco, and yet it’s still less expensive than those made by Excalibur (which, if the Amazon listings are any indication, is the Lexus of food dehydrators). Currently, the Gardenmaster FD-1020 retails for $154.99 on Amazon, but is on sale for $116.95.

    All things considered – e.g., price, customer reviews, expandability, accessories – the Gardenmaster FD-1020 struck me as the wisest choice: suitable for my needs, without going over the top. Plus, it only cost me $30 after I applied my existing gift certificate balance. Score!

    This is my third autumnal season with the Gardenmaster; in this time, I’ve used it to dry a variety of fruits and veggies, including tomatoes:

    2008-09-23 - Tomatoes - 0005

    (More below the fold…)

    Decadent Delight Muffins for a One-eyed Wiener Dog (Also: A Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole for His Humans)

    Sunday, November 14th, 2010

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    A freshly baked (quarter-) batch of Molly’s Decadent Delight Muffins sits on a small plate, behind which lurks two identical, plush reddish-brown wiener dogs. Only, the dog on the right is missing one eye (his right one, even!), along with the tip of his nose. One of the first three adopted dog-kids – Ralphie, Peedee or O-Ren – chewed them off years ago. Do we have a psychic in the pack, perchance?
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    Friday night, I made a batch of Decadent Delight Muffins (recipe via Molly @ It’s a Vegan Dog’s Life – the meeter of at least 75% of my dog treat recipe needs!) for the dog-kids. I wanted to pamper them a little bit, since we had an especially rough week. But first treats, then kvetching!

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    Perched on the back of the couch, Rennie stares into the kitchen, entranced by the unbaked muffins sitting on the countertop.
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    Packed with flax seeds, shredded carrots, natural peanut butter and freshly made (somewhat fortuitously, as I just so happened to be brewing the final batch of the season) applesauce, these muffins are both healthy and delicious. (And vegan!) I much prefer baking my own dog treats over buying commercial brands because I know exactly what goes into each batch. Plus, they’re really very easy to make and store well in the freezer, if need be. (With five dogs, treats are eaten up pretty quickly round these parts!) Of course, the dogs also enjoy licking the spoons and bowls. And what better way to a dog’s heart than through her stomach? Five paws up!

    Okay, so enough of the muffins. Let’s move on to the one-eyed wiener dog, shall we?

    To Ralphie

    Ralphie mosaic!
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    Ralphie.

    (More below the fold…)

    Sweet Vegan, Etsy!

    Saturday, November 13th, 2010

    About this time last year, I was singing the praises of EtsyEtsyVeg and Vegan Etsy in particular – as part of the October VeganMoFo’ing madness. A few months prior, I’d purchased some yummy vegan cookies and cinnamon rolls from The Cupcake Mint and sent them to my mom for Mother’s Day; since they were a big hit, I decided to go the vegan baked goods route for Christmas, as well.

    After some searching, I stumbled upon Sweet V Confections, an all-vegan bakery (baker, singular?) located in North Carolina. Sweet V makes a variety of, um, vegan confections, ranging from candies and cupcakes to brownies and cookies. Can I get a nomnom?

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    Sitting at the kitchen table, a cordless phone in one hand, my grandmother Arnie shows off a basket of vegan goodies from Sweet V Confections. In keeping with the Christmas season, the basket is striped red and green, and the wrapped cookies all sport festive white, green and red ribbons. The lights of a Christmas tree glow faintly in the background.
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    While all the vegan bakers on Etsy make my mouth drool, I chose Sweet V because the seller offers customizable gift baskets – and with holiday decor, to boot! Score! I decided to purchase a basket each for my grandmothers Arnie and Vita, as well as my great-uncle Ken (who’s still alive and kickin’ it at 101 years young; my grandmothers clock in at an unimpressive-by-comparison 94 and 84, respectively).

    In each basket comes three dozen cookies (nom-er’s choice!), along with six peanut butter cups, six peanut butter and jelly cups, and nine peppermint patties. For Arnie, I chose chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and butterscotch chocolate chip cookies; for Vita, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and gingerbread cookies; and for Ken, chocolate chip, butterscotch chocolate chip, and gingerbread cookies. Yummy, festive and cruelty-free!

    Sweet V Confections on Etsy

    A screenshot of Etsy seller Sweet V Confections’s storefront. Taken on October 7, 2010.
    (Yes, I planned my mofo’ing well in advance this year!)
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    Of course, like many Etsy sellers, Sweet V will also consider custom requests. At the time of this writing, the shop features 33 creations, all of which sound heavenly: Fudge Filled Sandwich Cookies. Cherry Walnut Fudge. Cookies n’ Cream Cupcakes, Jumbo size. Orange Cream Chocolates. Pecan Bourbon Balls. S’more Fudge. Let me repeat: S’more. Fudge. (Oh yes she did!) Conceivably, one could create a custom basket containing any variety of these chocolaty, sugary miracles. (If you do, please send it my way, mkay?)

    Naturally, I can’t really offer a review of Sweet V Confection’s products, since I wasn’t lucky enough to sample any. But. I can say that the recipients had nothing but good things to say about the cookies and chocolates. This won’t really come as a shock to the vegans in the audience, but no one even suspected that the items were egg- and dairy-free, and were (pleasantly?) surprised and more than a little impressed when I broke the news. (Pffft, who says vegan foods are gross and boring? As if!)

    On my end, Kristen was very nice and easy to work with. She responded to all my questions and updates quickly and with nary a hint of Christmas frazzle. I placed the order on December 16th – a little later than I would have liked – and she had the baskets assembled and shipped within a few days. Extremely pleasant, hassle-free and reasonably priced, too.

    Come to think of it…I might gift myself a basket of goodies from Sweet V Confections this holiday season!

    What about you, mofo’ers? Which vegan Etsy shops get you all hot and bothered?

    Update, 4/9/12: Due to a recent negative experience on the site, I’m afraid that I can no longer recommend etsy to my friends, family, and readers (and ESPECIALLY not for expensive and/or custom orders!). While the majority of transactions do go smoothly, don’t expect any help from etsy’s customer service on those rare occasions when you have a problem with a seller. Seriously, they were a nightmare to work with – worse even than the seller who never delivered on my custom order, even after six months of haggling.

    That said, I still love and support the many vegan storefronts on etsy, and will continue patronizing those that have a presence elsewhere on the web.

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