Monday, March 29, 2010

Namaste, howdy, heya!

Welcome and namaste to everyone who’s found their way over here from EcoYogini (or anywhere else!) lately. I’ve loved reading your comments and exploring your beautiful blogs. I’ve been working on cultivating a regular, stable yoga practice, so it’s wonderful to have your experiences and perspectives to encourage me. I’ve written a bit about my practice, and I do hope to write more about it, especially as it aligns with my practices of ahimsa and veganism. If there’s anything you’d like me to tackle, just ask!

Photo by Meghan Arts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For those about to rock: TofuPalooza!

It’s no secret that I enjoy cooking for omnis. The food I make is damn fine, and I like getting compliments on it! Okay, that’s not the only reason. I also love helping people realize that vegan food is not the bland, sad-face-making stuff they might think it is. Sticky pasta, salad-bar rejects, or—Goddess forbid!—health food? Not at my table!

My sister and her boyfriend had wanted to come over for dinner for some time. She is quite adventurous in her palate, and he is…not so much. When I realized that he had had but one tofu experience, and that it had been bad, I knew I had to remedy this tragedy. (For what it’s worth, his ill-fated introduction to tofu had been in miso soup. ‘Nuff said.) My sister requested my special tofu with mushrooms in mustard sauce, a no-fail recipe that she loved when we lived together. With that in mind, I set about preparing a menu. On Friday, we rocked out vegan-style.

I’ll spare you the boring details of how very badly our house needed cleaning, but thanks to Red, we were able to seat our guests at a functional dining-room table, complete with candles and tablecloth. I forgot to take a picture, and it’s all messy again now, but please admire my adorable sister and her man instead:

Because I cannot do anything without making an unholy production of it, we had a spiffy menu:

TofuPalooza 2010

Backstage Pass Biscuits
With sweet potato and a hint of nutmeg. They only look innocent.

Mosh Pit Tofu and Mushrooms
With savory mustard sauce on a bed of quinoa. It’ll rock your ass off.

Glam Rock Green Beans
Steamed and brightened with dill. David Bowie says, “Eat your veggies!”

VIP Lounge Chocolate Mousse
The secret ingredient? We’ll never tell.

Let there be soy!

It may sound healthy, but don’t be fooled. I followed the Golden Rule of Feeding Omnis: fat = love. And this meal had plenty of it. I fried that tofu to within an inch of its life, made sure there was plenty of Earth Balance for the biscuits, and topped the mousse with soy whipped cream. Ironically, the mousse was actually pretty healthy, since I made it with silken tofu. (Seriously, that mousse? Stupid-easy. Melt some chocolate chips, blend with the tofu, and chill. You’re welcome.)

Our guests loved their meals, and I loved the wine they brought. After dinner, we played Clue and drank coffee with Kahlua and extra whipped cream. It was a lovely evening, and I thank my sister and her S.O. for sharing it with us. There are no plans yet for TofuPalooza 2011, but I’ll be ready!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My first guest post!

I’m so pleased to be able to present my very first guest post! Kelly of easyVegan and now Pop! goes the Vegan (she’s such an overachiever with her two blogs) has published my vegan-feminist analysis of Penelope, a sweet little movie about a pig-nosed girl and the pursuit of true love. When Red and I watched it during February’s blizzard, I knew I had to write about it. Happily, Kelly agreed! Sure, I had to watch it again and take notes, but James McAvoy’s handsome Scottish presence and the opportunity to flex my thinking muscles made it easy. I’d love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I do not want to live in a little house on the prairie.

I had hoped to have some momentous event to chronicle for my 100th post. Alas, I do not. But the very fact that I’ve made it to 100 posts at all is reason enough to celebrate. In fact, Red and I celebrated last night by swigging some soy White Russians. We toasted the Dude and vowed to keep achieving.

My new friend b over at Bitch directed me to this gem, courtesy of the New York Times Magazine. She’ll probably do a better job at taking it apart than I will, but that’s the Internet for you. Titled “The Femivore’s Dilemma” (Michael Pollan is going to haunt me until I die), it lauds these women who are doing the urban-homesteading thing, including raising animals for food, as an alternative to whatever unsatisfactory thing they were doing before. It hurt my head to read all the justifications, but I think the premise is that women who are burned out on working outside the home seem to find a renewed sense of purpose in growing (and presumably slaughtering) their own food. To wit: “The omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper.” While I think we can all agree that Betty Draper, though enviable for her wardrobe, is not exactly an aspirational figure, I submit that there is slightly more middle ground than is presented.

Why do I think this? Because I live it. I am a loud-and-proud feminist who works 40 hours a week and can’t grow herbs to save her life, but who happily repurposes old pillowcases into produce bags, buys organic from a locally-owned market, cleans with homemade potions her brilliant husband whipped up, and just this weekend learned to make her own seitan. I do all this without killing anybody, for food or any other unnecessary reason. I may not spend my days working at home—sometimes I wish I could—but I do my damnedest to spend them well. I am not interested in “transforming the definition of homemaker to one that’s more about soil than dirt, fresh air than air freshener.” To frame the choice between working a soulless 9-to-5 or building a backyard chicken coop and learning to can tomatoes as the only feminist options is reductive and insulting. But it gets better:
Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place. Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. Rather than embodying the limits of one movement, femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?
Earning a living wage, I would suggest. But that’s my 78 cents to my husband’s dollar talking again. Or perhaps my latent desire for instant legitimacy. Then I nearly blacked out:
Conventional feminist wisdom held that two incomes were necessary to provide a family’s basic needs — not to mention to guard against job loss, catastrophic illness, divorce or the death of a spouse. Femivores suggest that knowing how to feed and clothe yourself regardless of circumstance, to turn paucity into plenty, is an equal — possibly greater — safety net. After all, who is better equipped to weather this economy, the high-earning woman who loses her job or the frugal homemaker who can count her chickens?
BITCH, DID YOU JUST TELL ME TO GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN?! Ahem. I can unequivocally get behind the notion that knowing how to do for yourself is an invaluable set of skills. I’m glad to have a sewing machine and know my way around at least most of it. I’m thrilled I know how to cook. I love DIYing the hell out of anything I can. I can’t change a tire, but I know how to use a can of Fix-a-Flat, which I defy you to tell me isn’t the next best thing. I like to think that I can, as Red tells me the Marines say, improvise, adapt, and overcome. But we’d be shit out of luck if I didn’t have my job, and I won’t be guilted by pseudo-feminist, self-congratulating omnivores telling me their choices are more valid. Life does not guarantee you unlimited choices, and most of us are doing the best we’ve can with what we’ve got. I’m so sick of the false dichotomies being set up everywhere I turn—bad vegan, bad feminist, bad human. I realize I say this from a position of considerable privilege, but get off the cross and improve your own little corner of the planet without getting your half-assed agenda all over the rest of us.

Shit, I got so spun up I don’t have any energy left to talk about the awful irony of “femivores” exploiting the reproductive cycles of other female animals. Someone get on that for me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On not getting tear-gassed at the Ed Block Courage Awards.

I had a busy day yesterday. I got myself decent-looking, put in my hours at work, dashed home, laced up my sexiest black combat boots, snarfed some food, kissed Red and Lucy, grabbed my bag, and drove out to Martin’s West to protest the Ed Block Foundation’s decision to give Michael Vick a Courage Award.

It was super fun!

Because I spent a few weeks wishy-washily engaging in the type of self-sabotage that even we activists can fall prey to, it took me a while to actually commit to going. It was gonna be cold. It was on a Tuesday. I couldn’t get there until 6 anyway, and it started at 4. I didn’t have anyone to go with. Vick was going to get the stupid award anyway. I didn’t want to get into fights with anyone. Red would be worried crazy. All of those things happened, except the fights, and it was 100% worth it. You can check out the Sun’s coverage here and here. Jill, my favorite pet blogger, was there taking notes and making friends with a beautiful pit bull puppy named Dawny Girl. Later, she actually found herself sharing an elevator with Vick! Ack! What would you do?

Dawny Girl was nervous in such a big crowd, but she soon warmed up and loved being loved on.

I chatted with people I knew from B-More Dog. Awesome ladies from the Humane League of Baltimore passed out leaflets and vegan cookies, which were delicious. Later, they handed out battery-operated candles for a mini-vigil. We got on really well and I look forward to hanging with them at future events. I’ve never been a leafletter, but who knows, maybe I’ll give it a try one of these days!

I didn’t have a sign, but lots of other people didn’t have them either. The people who did more than made up for us with beauties like these:

Pittie history lesson: Sergeant Stubby!

We got many supportive honks and cheers from passing motorists, and only a few hollers of “I love Mike Vick!” I made friends with a chef whose wife stayed home because she knew she wouldn't have been able to control her temper. During the protest, she sent him a video of their two pit bulls, Pork Chop and Mozzarella, shredding a Vick chew toy. A Philly delegation showed up, which was wonderful. These two badasses came all the way down from New York:

Their signs read, "Whose Dog Wants to Go #1 on #7?" and "Dog Fighting: How Men with Small Dicks Feel Macho."

They planned to catch a few hours’ sleep on a friend’s couch before heading home. One got into a friendly dispute about baseball with one of the cops working the event. Yankees fans—nothing for ‘em. Her friend, a Mets fan, seemed to know this well.

Programming note: The police ruled. I swear, these were some of the nicest cops I’ve ever met. They told me where to park and how to get back to the freeway. They accepted animal-abuse ribbons, even though they couldn’t wear them on duty. They joked with us and took care of a guy who got verbally abusive. Baltimore County, whatever you’re paying your officers, they deserve more.

Did we plant any seeds of compassion or change anyone’s mind? I have no idea. I do know that perhaps a hundred people came together with the goal of bearing witness to so many stolen lives and reminding others that even though our culture may reward cruelty, it doesn’t have to be that way. In that, I think we were successful.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Suck it down.

Because I am perpetually 12 years old inside, I am incapable of coming (HAH!) up with a non-pervy title for this post. Because it’s about (human) breast milk, and cheese made from the same, and the grossed-out-ness that predictably ensued when a New York restaurateur recently made said cheese from his wife’s extra milk.

Because I am a “don’t read the comments” kind of girl, I’m gonna take a wild guess at the responses:

1. Boobs are for SEX, not food! Anyone who says otherwise is either a degenerate or a hippie whackjob. (I think I might be both.)
2. Woe betide the heathen who thinks to steal a cherished food source meant for the most vulnerable among us!

To which I say: put down the moo juice, haters. (Unless it’s your own. I’m not gonna tell you what to do with your own breast milk. I mean, there’s a whole book on cooking with semen, for Chrissakes.) Are we really so skeeved out by breast milk? This is a simply beautiful demonstration of the cognitive dissonance our culture has around dairy products. Milk meant for baby cows: gimme gimme! Milk meant for baby humans: Ewwwww, gross!

[Dear parents: Please know that I have never actually seen the semen cookbook.]

When I posted the article on Facebook, a friend who has spent time in Switzerland countered the resultant histrionic flailing with the revelation that Switzerland has a breast milk café. Or perhaps it’s a café that simply offers breast-milk lattés. It’s a niche market, I’m sure, but what a refreshing idea. I’m pretty sure no one had her baby stolen in order to commandeer her milk supply. (Switzerland is also considering expanding animals’ rights by granting them the right to legal representation, but that’s another post.)

For a mature discussion, check out Kate Harding’s piece on Salon’s Broadsheet. I have a huge girl-crush on Kate Harding, and she neatly explores, from an omnivore’s point of view, why we should all stop grossing out over breast milk (and also stop thinking that we can tell women what to do with their bodies).

You didn't think you were getting out of this without some Tori Amos, did you?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Killing me softly: Hipsters and dead bunnies.

It doesn’t end, so why do I bother? Why does the New York Times bother? How the hell did it become très chic to kill your own animals and butcher them with knives you tote around in your Abercrombie & Fitch bag?

“Don’t Tell the Kids,” featured (of course) in my nemesis the Dining & Wine section, is a predictably self-congratulatory piece about the integrity of raising your own food, sustainability, and the cognitive dissonance people have about eating rabbits. There’s more to it, of course—if you order a dead rabbit from this one dude and the corpse doesn’t arrive with his or her head still attached, you got duped—but I can’t be bothered to care. Oh, all right, a few things:

1. Most rabbits aren’t raised intensively, so you can assuage all your factory-farm guilt. Hell, you can even raise ‘em at home.
2. Rabbits are easier to butcher than pigs, so they’re good to learn on. You know, for those of you who want to work your way up that ladder.
3. Killing a rabbit sucks, but you get to eat afterwards, so it’s all good.

What else can I say? I’d love it if killing animals stopped being cool. However, I will reproduce for you the best part of the article (spoiler alert!):
Angelina Lippert, the woman who took an Abercrombie & Fitch bag and her boyfriend to the class in Brooklyn, brought home the legs of the rabbit they killed and braised them with almonds, apples, Calvados and cream. The saddle, kidneys and heart went into a rolled roast with garlic, sage and rosemary.

The killing itself was a little more intense than she had expected, she said.

“When I was the first person to volunteer to break the neck, it all seemed so easy and emotionless that I didn’t realize until after I’d done it that I was shaking,” she said.

But she recovered quickly. After all, there was a rabbit to dress.

Ms. Lippert still has the pelt, the head and the feet. They’re in her freezer, awaiting the taxidermist. But she doesn’t have the boyfriend.

“He ended up leaving me for a vegetarian,” she said.

Well, there you go.

Photo of Niblet by Amber for SaveABunny, via Cute Overload.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chocolate-marshmallow granola bars.

Do you like chocolate? Of course you do. Marshmallows? I know you like those as well. Would you like to eat them both at the same time, without the messiness of s’mores, and be at least kind of convinced that they are healthy for you?

Once upon a time, Red and I found ourselves with too many Sweet & Sara’s marshmallows. Unbelievably, there is such a thing. I love s’mores, but I was getting tired of making them every. single. night. I needed help. Kelly @ easyVegan helped me. Her recipe for Chewy Chocolate Marshmallow Granola Bars is here, and you should hoard all the chocolate and marshmallows you can find so you can make a massive batch of these and eat nothing else ever ever again.

These granola bars are ridiculously easy to make, and because they contain four cups of oatmeal, they are totally healthy for you. (Well, okay, I suppose it depends on your definition of “totally,” but I’m not your nutritionist, so there.) The hardest part was chopping up the marshmallows. I used our kitchen scissors, but the marshmallows were sticky and gummed them up. Regardless, my hand got a workout and the marshmallows were eventually sliced into small little niblets of sugary awesome. To make sure they stayed that way and didn’t glom into one huge monster ‘mallow when I mixed them into the granola, I tossed them with a little flour first. This is an excellent baking tip that my mom taught me, and it works for suspending anything you don’t want to sink to the bottom of your dough or batter.

Then it was into the pan with everything, extra chocolate chips sprinkled on top, and into the oven at 425°.

Ahem. Did you click over to easyVegan for the recipe yet? Because if you did, you may have noticed that these little beauties are supposed to be baked at 325°, not 425°. I overshot the temperature by a hundred fuckin’ degrees.

Happily, this potential epic fail ended happily. After 20 minutes in the superheated oven (which, we have recently realized, runs about 50 degrees cool), the granola bars smelled like heaven and looked divine. It took our combined willpower to let them cool before slicing into them.

The verdict? We shouldn’t have given as many bars away to our friends and coworkers. (It was a particularly sneaky form of vegan advocacy.) Damn our generosity! They were so incredible that we easily could have eaten the entire pan. I should have pre-melted the chocolate chips that I scattered on top (they stayed pretty solid), but that was our only snafu. The marshmallows were a perfect addition, and the oatmeal made the bars so hearty that I was satisfied after only a few bites.

In conclusion: Make these. But don’t have me pre-heat your oven.