Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Humphrey!

This weekend marks the anniversary (aka 'birthday') of Humphrey, the Min-Pin/Dachshund doglet, coming to live with us - My Beloved, Darwin the Beagle - his older brother - and myself. Rescued from a kill shelter in Tennessee and brought up north by the incredible volunteers who make up the FACES network, 'Gus' as he was called then was always a happy-go-lucky little guy. No-one is too sure about his real background, but the official story was that a woman turned him in to the shelter after seeing him hanging around her apartment for a week. He is now a whole 15lbs - and that's after 3 years with us - so you can imagine what kind of shape he was in after living alone on the unforgiving Tennessee streets...

These days, however, he is a very contented and loving little guy and this year - although he does not yet know it - he is going to have a birthday cake. And a vegan doggie cake at that! I have a recipe that I'm going to have a crack at veganizing tomorrow, using mainly a base carrot cake with Gimme Lean 'sausage-style meat'. The original calls for ground up turkeys - and that ain't going to happen! - so let's see how the soy-meat performs....

I'll definitely post some pix and the recipe (in the 'Eat Me!' section) but in the meantime why not try out the Pumpkin Spice Dog Cookies...for your own four-legged bundle of love!

Stay vegan, Friends! :)

On Being The Vegan in the Room

You may, or may not, know that I am a member of Curves. Well, our club recently changed ownership and the new owner, Bonnie, held a potluck today as a way of getting the members together and celebrating our new start. So, accompanied by My Beloved (yes, spouses were specifically invited), I went armed with some great vegan offerings. The general theme, being so close to Valentine's Day, was Romance - with a capital 'R'!

So, having taken this to heart - ho ho! , we sped up to Northampton with a vegan heart-shaped pizza, topped with heart-shaped peppers of various colours, egglant, tomoatoes ('love apples'!) and no cheese...well, that's heart-healthy! And three trays of quinoa with eggplant, peppers, onions, green and yellow squash, corn and edamame. OK, I'll hold my hand up and admit that I somewhat overdid it on the amount of quinoa, but I hate worrying about there not being enough. Especially when I'm being 'the vegan in the room' if you know what I mean! Oh, the pressure to perform....!

Anyway, to finish it all off, there was also a blueberry and orange bundt cake - the second one I've made this week, as it happens and it met the self-same fate as its predecessor. Of course, this was from The Joy of Vegan Baking and was - without any shadow of a doubt - the very highlight of the potluck. If I was asked once, I was asked a couple of dozen times what was in it and how the heck it could be so good if it was 'vee-gun'.

I just smiled and explained how the silken tofu took the place of the eggs, bypassing all of the cholesterol and battery chicken hell. The sweetly seductive scent of freshly squeezed oranges, 
the still warm pop of the whole blueberries, the lightly moist crumb, the fine dusting of powdered sugar....Suffice to say, not a single slice came home with us! 

Naturally, having spent so much time baking and cooking (I was at it at 08:30 this morning, and as you know I am not a 'morning person' - especially not at the weekend!!!!), no photos exist of this bacchanalia. I left My Beloved in charge of the camera and he was waaaaay more interested in slicing the pizza than in performing his 'documentary' duties. So I guess you'll simply have to take my word that these wonderous things happened.

But they did. Oh yes, indeedy!

Stay Vegan, Friends!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Veganism Means Saying Yes!

As I was driving up to work today, I was listening to a podcast by my favourite vegan activist, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, on 'Defining Vegan'. Although I would love everyone to check out her work directly, the synopsis is as follows....In essence, she seeks to reposition emphasis on the expansiveness of the vegan lifestyle, rather than upon perceived restrictions. Her basic tenet is that - from the outside - veganism is seen as a way of life that revolves around the word 'No'. 

'No' to meat, 'no' to milk, 'no' to eggs...etc etc etc. Whereas those of us who are fortunate enough to be living the vegan life see it as quite the opposite. It's a way to say 'Yes' to everything we believe and everything for which we stand. 'Yes' to compassion; 'yes' to living our own truth in the world; 'yes' to standing up for our principles, and 'yes' to living free from hypocrisy. Plus, of course, saying yes to the myriad new foods that do not center around the mutilated body parts of animals.

And, as I was listening, I reflected on how this manifests daily in my own life. Last night, for dinner for example, we made a risotto. In my pre-vegan days, I would have sauteed off some chicken's breast and grated a ton of cheese into the mix. OK, so there would have been onions and mushrooms in there too, but the main point would have been the chicken, or maybe some shrimp. Last night, however, the feast included leeks, onions, garlic, eggplant, fire-roasted red pepper (which I roasted myself!), sun-dried tomatoes (which I assuredly did not dry myself!!), portabello mushrooms, zuccini and a handful of mixed herbs. The result was a feast for the eyes, the nose and the tastebuds!

And the really incredible thing is how much stronger and more individual these vegetables taste. How I can pick out the salty tang of the tomatoes, the dusky smoke of the eggplant lightly dredged with Hungarian paprika, the basil-scented olive oil...The textures are different too - the still-crisp snap of the zuccini skin, the soft melt of the diced eggplant, the silky ribbons of roasted red pepper, and the pop and chew of the barley I used instead of rice.

Everything felt like it was in a perfect balance with no single element dominating another. Which is, of course, the very definition of harmony.

And, as you see, harmony tastes awfully good!