Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cel-e-brate Good Times...Come On!

Once upon a time there was a cake:

It was a cake I made for my friend Rachel and her husband Robert who have graciously asked My Beloved and I over for dinner tonight. And - despite being meat-eaters - they're going to cook vegan for us! They are truly nice people! And so to honour that, and to celebrate the fact that they are 'expecting', I made a vegan chocolate-spice cake with vanilla 'buttercream' and fresh blueberries.

I figure that the antioxidant health benefits of the blueberries coupled with the vitamins in the prunes (used instead of eggs) will offset the whole 'oooohhh, I shouldn't be eating chocolate!' thing.....OK, so pregnancy is a time for watching what goes into the mouth, but the lack of eggs and cows' milk makes this treat sooooooooo much better for all concerned!

Anyways, I am also celebrating.








More on that later, but for now, some more food porn!



and also some homemade vegan doggie cookies (pumpkin pie) for the 'mountain curr', Bert, who lives with our hosts!

Bone appetit!

(OK, it's an oldie but goldie!!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Getting It Off My Chest...

As you may remember, my organization is hosting a conference in Dallas, Texas, in March this year. One of the proposed 'entertainments' is a trip to a rodeo, against which I spoke when the idea first surfaced. I really thought I had quashed it, but today it resurfaced with a post to our social networking site that read as follows:

"On the contrary, rodeos - just like hunting - actually have a net positive effect on the animal species involved. Think of it like a land animal aquarium. Unless we are going to kill and eat the actual animals while at the rodeo, I am fine with it. A bit of two-stepping with a genuine Texas swing band might also be fun."

So there you have it folks - animal torture for spectator 'entertainment' or the's all the same!

My response read as follows:

"I'm trying to understand this point of view. But I just can't see though how the tactics used to terrorize rodeo animals can be equated to those used in an aquarium. If you check into the facts behind rodeos, you will see that the level of physical violence used to manipulate the bulls' behaviour is horrifying and includes tail and neck twisting, beatings to the body and face and the use of anal electrocution to make them bolt out of the pens in that dramatic, crowd-pleasing way. Bulls used for rodeos frequently suffer from broken ribs, torn ligaments and muscles, punctured lungs, bone fractures and internal bruising and bleeding.

Moreover, the calves used in roping events are often slammed to the ground while running at high speed. This causes neck and spinal cord injuries, including paralysis, as well as broken legs and injuries to the calves stomachs when the lasso misses the neck.    

The horses used in riding events wear 'bucking straps' which are pulled tightly across the abdomen and/or genitals and are designed to irritate and hurt the horse until it bucks. This can cause injury to the rider, the horse itself and to anyone in the vicinity as it struggles to free itself from the device.     

I could go on but I think you might be getting the idea now. Unlike the animals often housed in an aquarium, bulls, calves, horses and goats are not endangered animals whose species benefits from their being bred for rodeos. In fact, within the industry they are considered to be 'disposable' and are simply used until they're sent for slaughter. This does not benefit the species nor the individual creatures themselves.

Please let's opt for a more compassionate entertainment?!?!"

Call me a bleeding heart liberal vegan if you like, but I believe I am right.

To read the whole thread, head on over to here and click on 'Forum' then 'TNO Dallas'.

On a positive note: I believe I have now made history. This HAS to be the first time that someone at my organization has ever used the words 'anal' and 'electrocution' in a sentence together.

Let's see if I have a job to go back to next week....

Stay Vegan (and away from rodeos), Friends!


While the rest of the country spent the evening in a fever of excitement about the Super-Tuesday primaries, My Beloved and I spent our time flipping pancakes and swigging Cointreau. The reason? Well, Super-Tuesday here also happens to coincide with Shrove Tuesday, which is a tradition where we're from. And Shrove Tuesday is colloquially known as 'Pancake Day'.

Preceding Ash Wednesday - today in fact - which is the first day of Lent, Shrove Tuesday is the day to use up all perishables such as eggs and milk ahead of the 'fasting time'. Of course, in our house, the question of using up the milk and eggs is somewhat moot as we don't have any, but we got in the spirit of it anyhow. We made a double batch of the silky, thin wrappers known here by their more exotic, continental moniker of 'crepes' and enjoyed the first lot stuffed with sweetcorn, black beans, onions and red peppers all in a thyme-scented mushroom sauce. A heaping spoonful of softly simmered mixed rice made for a chewy side dish which was as wholesome as it was toothsome!

See here:

And then, just to be truly decadent, we folded the remaining pancakes into small parcels of orange-infused vegan cream cheese and mandarins, baked them gently in a simple Cointreau syrup, and served them dusted with icing sugar and topped with 'cream'.

My Beloved was almost licking the plate!

Stay Vegan, Friends!

Monday, February 4, 2008

You Know You're Vegan When...#2

A few days ago, I heard from a friend about a restaurant in Hadley with an extensive 'vegetarian meats' section to their menu. I was intrigued: no-chicken chicken? shrimpless-shrimp? bovine-free beef???? How could this be? I determined to see - and taste - it for myself.

Butterfly is a fairly non-traditional Chinese/Japanese fusion sort of place. A new restaurant on the site of the old, and short-lived, 'All Fired Up' (a wok bar type establishment that just didn't seem to take off, even with the student crowd), it is obviously well-liked by the chinese community. This is always a good sign.

The menu was huge. I mean, enormous! And, to my absolute joy, there was a complete second menu of vegetarian and vegan options. Yes, you read that correctly - an entire second menu! I went to work with gusto!

We ordered the vegan chicken drumsticks, vegan fishsticks, hot and sour soup and vegan potstickers. Yes, yes, we over ordered, but I was excited to see soooooo many options, and My Beloved simply could not do without his favoourite soup....say no more! I wish, I wish, I wish, I'd had the mental wherewithall to bring the camera, but I was a fool and so no evidence of the feast survives. (Next time, I promise to fully document the meal!) However, suffice to say, the 'chicken' and 'fish' (made from chinese mushrooms, gluten, tofu and herbs/spices) were outstanding. They were almost perfect analogs of the 'real thing'....the chicken drumsticks, for instance, even had a sort of 'skin' on them which gave a disquieting snap as I bit into it. Although they tasted incredible, it was perhaps all a little close for vegan comfort....

Possibly because of this, I had a bizarrely hard time ordering a main course. I scanned the menu more than several times, trying to decide what to get. They offered around 15-20 different options for each of the 'meats' - 'chicken' in black bean sauce, orange 'beef' with sesame, 'shrimp' with green beans and water chestnuts...that kind of thing. But, even knowing full well that nothing more sentient than a mushroom was harmed in the making of these delicacies, I could not raise any enthusiasm for ordering a dish. I started to glance hopefully at the tofu dishes and experienced a palpable sense of relief until I remembered that the reason we'd come was specifically to sample the meat analogs.

Eventually, I chose the shrimp with broccoli - as I adore that cheeky green number! - and its significance was not lost on me. Seafood was the very last thing I gave up when I became vegan, and shrimp were definitely the last creatures with which I felt any kind of connection. So I guess it was probably understandable that I would opt for them over the beef analog or faux chicken. It has been only a short four months since my transition and yet avoiding eating animals and their secretions is already so very ingrained, so natural to me, that I find even the idea of eating 'flesh' unpalatable. Even when I know it is 'fake'.

You know you're vegan when....!

Stay Vegan, friends!