Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fly Me to the Moon???

At last...a bad vegan meal!

It's an odd thing but, since becoming vegan, I had been waiting for the time when I was met with resistance or ignorance in a restaurant. It was almost like a rite of passage - according to the wider community, it is to be expected that meal requests or questions will be met with a blank stare and vague confusion on the part of the waitstaff.

Here in Massachusetts, however, I had not had this experience.

Until last night.

My Beloved and I met with our friends, R&R, to catch up and see what was new in each other's lives. We opted for the Apollo Grill in Easthampton, a small restaurant of which we'd all heard good things. And My Beloved - having looked online at the menu - was 100% confident that I was in for a treat there, so I was quite excited at the prospect in general.

However, upon arrival it quickly became apparent that the menu had changed. So I explained that I'm vegan and that I don't eat meat, fishes, eggs, diary or anything that had a face or its mother loved it, and asked whether the kitchen could prepare the advertised vegan dish? I was met with a blank refusal: 'if it's not on the menu, it's not on the menu'...I was told.

We all nodded sagely and looked hard at the menu again.

'What about the vegetable spring rolls?' we asked.

'Oh yes, no meat, no dairy, all good!', we were told.

'Excellent,' I said and was turning to the question of an entree when I was brought up sharp by the caveat '...oh, except for the egg-white wash'.

'Hmm...' I pondered out loud, 'not vegan....I'll pass on the spring rolls after all. Erm, so what can you recommend for an entree?'

I hoped that throwing it into the hands of the waitress would let her take charge and show me what this place could do. I mean - several months ago - I had an experience in a steakhouse of all places where the chef was more than happy to create something off-menu for me and I ended up having a waaaaaaay better meal than My Beloved's regular menu choice! So I assumed that this experience could be replicated.

'Erm...well, we could make you a plate of roasted vegetables, I guess', she said, uncertainly.

'Awesome' I replied, with a conviction that I did not feel, eyeing the beer menu and mentally adding up how many pints of beer equal a full meal.....

'How about this,' I suggested....'I'll take the burger but instead of having some cow in there, I'll have a portabella mushroom instead? And if you hold the cheese and mayo, I'll be wicked happy......could we do that?'

'Oh, yes, OK, I guess...' she said.

'Awesome', I said, this time with a tad more conviction.

Suffice to say, the meal was OK, passable and was eaten - except for the side of coleslaw that I was sure contained mayo - but was not good. I was disappointed and hungry, but in a perverse way I was also relieved to have finally joined the club and experienced - indeed survived - what others in the community put up with every time they try to dine out.

Of course, fundamentally the evening was a success as the point really was to see our friends. And we very much enjoyed the opportunity of spending an evening with them. Indeed, I would have hung out in a McDonald's in order to spend time with them.....but I wouldn't have got much to eat there either!

Stay Vegan, friends!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Belated Easter Egg...

OK, I missed the boat on the whole Easter thing, but I stumbled across this video and couldn't resist adding it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring is sprung...

The Grass is ris...I wonder where...the birdies is???

An old rhyme my Dad used to say, on occasion.

And today I thought of that as I watched a cardinal in the bushes around our house. And so, in honour perhaps of Easter or Earth Day (yesterday!) or whatever, My Beloved and I decided to tackle the spring clean-up of the garden. It is usually a really big job against which we steele ourselves, but this year it was just no big deal. I didn't resent having to rake leaves nearly as much as I usually do, and we managed to get the whole thing done without so much as one cross word between us!

And this is part of what we had to tackle....

- this is the herb garden - covered, strangled even - by leaves from the fall, rediscovered by the melting of the snow!

And here it is now!:

And this is how it was achieved:

Action shot: My Beloved trimming the 'burning bush'....

Me with the leaf blower/vac - one of the best devices known to wo/man!


So, the job is the same, but the outcome this year was different - no temper tantrums, no frustration and no need for apologies for (my) outbursts. So what's different this year?

Attitude, I guess. As I was in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and lack of snow - raking, leaf vacuuming, pruning etc - I was thinking about Easter (it being Easter Sunday today) and about the traditional way of spending the day: gorging on the hind quarters of a pig and littering the garden with plastic eggs. And it occured to me that it was an odd way of expressing joy for God's world - God, however you perceive Him to be.

Caveat! Caveat!!: neither My Beloved nor I have any particularly strong religious conviction, although we were both raised in the 'embrace' of Christianity, and we don't have children, so the whole plastic egg thing is a mystery to us! And it must be admitted that if we were religious, or if we had children, it's possible that we'd see the whole thing through a different lens but, as it is, it remains inexplicable.

I watched our neighbor's grandchildren collecting the Easter eggs fom her garden and, in my mind's eye, all I could see was the kids in a sweatshop probably in China somewhere, making these bits of plastic tat for pennies a day, so that kids over here can collect them to throw in the trash later tonight. And then they can sit in a landfill for an eternity, not biodegrading, or can find their way to the oceans to be swallowed by a sea creature who'll then die of intestinal complications.

I don't know, perhaps I am a kill-joy, but this seems to be a 'bass-ackwards' (as my associate David is fond of saying) way of celebrating resurrection or Earth Day.

And yes, I know that ham is the traditional way of celebrating Easter. But this is anathema to me too. God - however you perceive Him to be - created this amazing creature - the pig - whose intelligence rivals and even surpasses that of our beloved companions, dogs - and what do we do? We bleed the poor creature to death, dissemble him on a production line and then eat his body parts.

God, in His infinite wisdom, must be weeping.

So what's the alternative? Well, this year we are having 'roasted turkey' seitan (vital-wheat gluten, flour, water, ketchup, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, soy sauce - mix, knead and bake!) with lemon/red onion roast potatoes, maple carrots, asparagus, and a mushroom gravy. And I am thrilled at the absence of the pig on our table. :-D

For dessert, we have a triple-chocolate tart I made on Friday from a non-vegan recipe. I converted it rather successfully, so will post the recipe as soon as I manage to type it all out. Try it - you will love it! :)

OK, I have, have, have to email my darling sister, so I will finish here.
But...Stay Vegan, Friends!