Monday, November 29, 2010

In which I get bitten by a horse and eat lots of dessert.

Last weekend, Red and I trekked on down to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary for their annual Thanksgiving with the Turkeys. This is our third year, and it’s easily one of the best days of the year for me. I always feel so awesome at Poplar Spring, like I’m in a safe place. I think the animals who live there must feel that way too. I wish we lived closer, because then we could visit more often.

And yes, I got nipped by a horse. Keep reading for that nugget of awesome.

Anyway, food! And animals! And new friends! The weather was so gorgeous—warm enough for me to shed my sweater and walk around with my jacket over my “Save a Turkey, Eat Tofu” t-shirt. We were expecting a huge crowd, because the Washington Post had run an article about Thanksgiving with the Turkeys. Way to go, mainstream press! We later found out that at least 800 people showed up, and possibly closer to 1,000.

When we arrived, earlier rather than later, the crowds weren’t yet huge. We walked up to visit with the goats and sheep, and I received sweet kisses from Malcolm, a baby goat. He’s such a little love bug! Then a bigger goat named Lenny jealously head-butted him away from me, no doubt thinking that would earn my affection. I reproached him for his rudeness, then scratched his ears anyway.

Malcolm seeks sanctuary in the goat barn.

Red and I spent a few minutes with Chelsea, a sweetheart who was happy to stand by the fence and be petted and nuzzled as long as we wanted.

Kiss me!

Random pastoral images:

Next, we visited with the pigs. Izzy and Morty are massive compared to the tiny eight-week-olds they were last year! The sanctuary has new piglets, though:

I can’t remember their names, but as you can see, they are very cute. The big pigs were happy to see us as well.

Telling secrets.

The geese and ducks couldn’t have cared less.

Then, I had some people-finding to do. I was hoping to run into Deb of Invisible Voices (read her recap!), who volunteers at Poplar Spring, and Jennie and Alex of That Vegan Girl and City Pittie. We had all agreed to try and find each other, but with lots of animals and a huge crowd of people, it wasn’t exactly a sure thing. Deb is pretty much the Annie Leibowitz of Poplar Spring, so I sort of wandered around the chicken yard, looking for someone official-looking with a camera while trying not to give off Internet-stalker vibes.

On our way, we spotted this bunpile:

There are three of ’em in there. Poor light + hiding buns = crap photo.

We found Deb! And she didn’t think I was creepy! We found Jennie and Alex, too. Here’s Jennie holding Horatio. He and his brother Jethro are Japanese silkie chickens.

Jethro and Horatio treated us to an impromptu cockfight, which in no way resembles the brutality of a human-engineered cockfight. They squared off, puffed up, and rushed at each other, flapping. The whole thing lasted maybe five seconds. Deb explained that in nature, squabbles between chickens are more about dominance and posturing than causing injury. A few moments later, Horatio and Jethro were buds again.

As you see, Poplar Spring is home to lots of other birds:

Me ‘n Opal.

Gratuitous peacock shots:

Edward displays for Angie, his guinea hen lady love, who cruelly rebuffs him.


Lunch was great, as always. We ran into Linnea, who I’ve mentioned a few times. We filled our plates with tasty noms, and I was pleased to see that the cornbread we’d brought was almost entirely gone. People love cornbread. There was no decadent mint-chocolate pie this year, but I nibbled on lots of other desserts. After lunch, we visited with Deb a little more, then realized that it was getting late and we needed to go home and take care of Lucy.

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for—the horse-biting.

As we neared the pig barn on our way back to the car, we saw that the horses and mules had come in from their pasture for some attention. I noticed a new horse, and went over to say hello across the fence. I rode horses as a kid, and I’m not nervous around them. I offered my hand, and he sniffed it and let me rub his muzzle. We were getting along famously when I felt a chomp on my forearm. It was very high indeed on the novel-sensation scale, but relatively low on the this-hurts-so-bad-I-want-to-die scale. Until he hung on. That part wasn’t so fun, and I found myself wondering what I’d do if he didn’t let go. Smack his nose and bark, “No!”?

Anyway, Bitey McChomperhorse let go, and I pulled up the sleeve of my jacket to survey the damage. It didn’t look like much, but I knew it would soon. We were an hour and a half away from any ice to prevent bruising (La Burnout’s first rule of injury care is to sit down and put some damn ice on it, whatever it is—unless it’s bleeding, then you need to grab a towel, but not one of the good ones), so I sucked it up, bid the horse a hands-free farewell, and headed for the car.

Later, I learned that His Biteyness is named Dexter, and that he is by turns sweet and mouthy, so I shouldn’t take it personally. The bruise looked very impressive a day or so later, and while I tried like hell to get a good photo for y’all, it was not to be. Next time Dexter and I meet, I will come bearing apples and carrots so he gets his nibbles out of the way before he spies my fingers.

And that, darlings, was Thanksgiving with the Turkeys.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ye olde Thanksgiving post.

This year, I didn’t have the energy to rant about all the shitty aspects of Thanksgiving that usually chap my vegan ass. That’s okay, because I checked that box last year. My outlook hasn’t mellowed, but the day itself was less dramatic since Red and I had only one family observance to attend. (No, I haven’t been disowned—my folks went down South to visit my sister and her significant other.) Once we figured out where to go and when, all that was left was to hash out what psycho-delicious foodstuffs to make.

And make them we did, readers.

Here we have Vegan with a Vengeance’s Ginger Roasted Winter Vegetables—specifically, butternut squash, delicata squash, sweet potatoes, and multicolored carrots. Did you know that carrots come in purple? Well, now you do. I even had some fresh ginger hanging around, and it added a brightness that powdered ginger doesn’t always have. Everyone loved these.

Garlic-roasted broccoli! It never fails. Red and I haggled over the amount of garlic to add, because while neither of us is happy until we’ve ingested enough garlic to render us unkissable, not everyone feels the same. We compromised, and ended up with broccoli that was just garlicky enough.

Green bean casserole. Every year I make this to take to my granddad’s house at Christmas, and every year my aunt complains that it’s all gone before she gets any. Red says that’s because half of it immediately ends up on my plate. I first made it the first and only time I ever hosted Thanksgiving, a few months after I moved to Boulder. Now, it’s become a tradition. I can’t find the recipe online, but this one is pretty close. Skip the diced onion and instead of those stupid French-fried onions, sprinkle sliced or slivered almonds on top. Also, use fresh or frozen green beans, not canned. Canned veggies are gross (except for tomatoes and legumes). I used fresh because I had Red to trim and slice them. He reports that kitchen scissors are very good for this.

This will give you an idea of what the recipe I have looks like:

I was so poor I didn’t want to waste printer paper or ink by printing it out.

Sweet potato biscuits:

Since our CSA is over, we bought sweet potatoes and were surprised to be reminded that most sweet potatoes are orange. Our CSA ones were always yellow.

Once it was established that the biscuits contained sweet potato and not cheese (WTF?), they were a hit. I ate the last four all by myself, but three of those were for breakfast the next day.

Here’s my plate, with all that yumminess piled on it:

Of course, I couldn’t show up without dessert. Red’s parents had given us a bag of Granny Smith apples (my favorite), so an apple pie or crumble of some sort was the logical choice. I went with Gingerbread Apple Pie from Vegan with a Vengeance, and it was an excellent decision. Make this pie! Now! Even if you skip peeling the apples like we did, it’ll rock your socks off. It is awesome for breakfast, as well.

And that was pretty much it. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, happy Thursday, and happy day in general.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CSA Week 22: Fennelicious.

These last few CSA recaps are gonna be kind of weird, kids, because we did some random things with our produce. (Minds. Out of the gutter. Now!) So, here we go:

Our first fennel! What an odd vegetable. It took me a little Internetting to figure out what to do with it, but eventually I put the feathery little leaves in a baggie in the freezer (to flavor a soup or something later) and roasted the bulb with the broccoli and purple cauliflower. It was yummy! The cauliflower wasn’t nearly as purple once it was cooked, though, which was a disappointment.

Another pointy cabbage! Half of this one went into a tofu stir-fry. The other half…is still in the fridge. I know, I know. It’s still hanging in there, though. Cabbage seems pretty resilient.

By this time, we had so many goddamn sweet potatoes I couldn’t tell you when we’d accumulated all of them. I think they multiplied, like mogwai. Red baked three of them, one of which went into biscuits and the other two we ate straight up. After that, we still had six pounds of sweet potatoes left. I know, because I weighed them. Rather, I weighed myself, then hopped back on the scale holding the bag o’ tubers. I gave half to my parents and half to my friend Kelly, and sweetened the deal with Sparkled Ginger Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance. If you have unwanted veggies you need to unload, I highly recommend making them part of a package deal with delicious baked goods.

I was tired of thinking about what to do with all our veggies, so the green peppers and spinach went into a skillet with some garlic, then into some pasta, then into my belly. That, darlings, is my fallback. I could probably live on pasta with sautéed vegetables.

Oh, and we got a butternut squash too. That’s still hanging out, waiting for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CSA Weeks 20 & 21: Pizza!

Here’s Week 20’s festival of greenery:

Pizza was easily the best thing we made during these two weeks, so I’ll tell you all about it. We bought a crust and can of sauce, because figuring out what to do with all these random vegetables week after week has made us lazy. We did sweeten up the sauce with some extra garlic, mind you. As you see, we chopped some spinach and arugula, then added sliced tomatoes and Daiya mozzarella. I believe some fresh thyme and oregano were involved, too. Props go to our new salad spinner for being the awesomest use of plastic since, I don’t know, plastic isn’t used for very many awesome things, but the salad spinner is one of them. See below for delicious pizza noms:

Oh, it was tasty. I think we finished it off the next day. The tomatoes made it a little soggy on the bottom, but so what. Soggy pizza beats no pizza at all.

Umm, what else did we have this week? Thyme. We froze it. Cilantro. We tossed it, because we have a ton of it and it’s tough to give away cilantro. Try it if you don’t believe me.

We had a veritable roasted vegetable orgy: beets, white radishes, acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and broccoli! Not all in the same pan, but close enough for an orgy. Here’s my plate, sans beets and radishes because I don’t really swing that way:

You’ll notice some parsnips and carrots among all the squash and sweet potatoes, because we used Vegan with a Vengeance’s Ginger Roasted Winter Vegetables recipe and they really do add to it. I love that flavor combo so much.

In this week’s biggest fail—and really, we haven’t had all that many fails since this CSA experiment began—we tried to reinterpret Vegan Soul Kitchen’s Yam and Mustard Greens soup using escarole. Oh, sweet merciful kittens, I did not like it. Sweet potatoes work fine in this soup, but mustard greens have a je ne sais quoi that is really essential. Escarole is just too…lettuce-y? I made Red eat it. He’s the best.

Onto Week 21 (or rather a continuation of the above, as both weeks really just smushed together):

I think we were still eating the roasted root veggies and broccoli, so not much new on that front.

See that weird-looking cabbage? Okay, maybe it’s hidden behind more of that goddamn escarole. Anyway, we got this cabbage that looked like it had come out of the cabbage mold all funny. It didn’t look sick, just misshapen. Pointy, like this:

Ripped from Hub UK. Don't sue!

As you will no doubt be unsurprised to learn, it is a pointed cabbage. Or sweetheart cabbage, if you want to be romantic like that. It behaves just like a normal, round cabbage, so don’t let its looks deter you. Red made coleslaw with half of it, and the rest was once more smothered with mustard seeds à la Vegan Soul Kitchen. That really is a delicious way to eat cabbage, and I recommend you try it.

It was pizza time again, this time with lovely green peppers and kalamata olives:

This pizza was even better, with the notable exception that I threw up right after eating the last piece for Sunday breakfast. I don’t know if the spinach or arugula got poisonous or what, but I was seriously pissed that our toilet got to enjoy the pizza longer than I did.

This, on the other hand, was a triumph. Veganomicon’s Sautéed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach is really delicious, but Red wanted tofu instead, so tofu he got. I crisped it up, then went ahead with the recipe. We had it over rice, and it was amazing.

You’d think we’d have been happy to get mustard greens given the disaster with that escarole soup, right? Well, we were, until we forgot about them in the back of the fridge and they got too wilty to salvage. I hang my head in shame. As for the new batch of escarole, I pawned that and the radishes off on my parents. Papa Burnout loves radishes, and Mom is always willing to try a new vegetable.

After that, we still had some green peppers and mushrooms left, so we thawed some spaghetti sauce (made back in the summer when we got tomatoes every week!) added the veggies, and voila! Super-quick weeknight meal. Sometimes simple really is best.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or treat, Burnout-style.

Did you celebrate Halloween or Samhain, my darlings? I hope so, if only because dressing up and eating candy every now and again is good for the soul.

Red and Lucy and I had a pretty average Sunday. Laundry, dishes, naps—you get the point. Samhain is one of those holidays I always intend to celebrate grandly, but the mundanities of life tend to get in the way. So I’ve been contenting myself with simple observances, which leave me less stressed-out and just as connected with the divine.

Once the sun set, we built a fire in the front yard:

I arranged a few seasonal accoutrements on our front steps:

As you see, we didn’t get around to carving or even painting the pumpkin. That’s okay, though. It will last longer this way. The skull is my friend Horatio. I found him in a shopping cart near the Dumpster outside my apartment a few days before I left Boulder. I had sworn not to accumulate anything else, but I made Horatio a deal: If he was still there the next day, he could come with me. He was, and he did. Red bought me the cauldron at the Maryland Renaissance Festival a few years ago. Every witch needs a cauldron, and this witch has a man kind enough to find her the perfect one.

With the fire burning well, Red and I cracked open a few hard ciders and handed out Skittles to the neighborhood kids. (Yes, Skittles are vegan now! So are Swedish Fish, but Red kept those in the house because he loves them.) Lucy stayed inside with her Kong, because even though she wouldn’t bother the fire, I could easily see her knocking over a wee princess or Spider-Man in her quest for affection. I wore my panda ears. Actually, I wore them all weekend, which is not as uncommon as you might think. Here we are in New York, the day I bought them at the Rubin Museum:

We had fixings for s’mores, but didn’t get around to making them. Rest assured, there will be s’more action in the near future: We have a fresh box of graham crackers, plenty of chocolate, and a container of Sweet & Sara’s coconut marshmallows at the ready. We did share an ABC Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie—I love you, ABC, but you gotta stop with that “each cookie is two servings” bullshit. No one eats half the cookie now and the other half later. Okay, maybe I’ve done it once or twice when trying to be virtuous, but it just feels wrong.

Once the trick-or-treaters tapered off, we spent a few minutes talking about the changing of the year (Samhain is the pagan New Year), then I dropped into the fire pieces of paper on which I’d written things I’d like to banish from my life. I poured a little cider out for the ancestors, then we covered the fire and went inside to warm up. Lucy was very glad to see us.

Happy November, everyone. (It’s World Vegan Day, in case you were wondering!) Tell me all about your Halloween/Samhain/Día de Los Muertos/Secular Day of Candy and Costumes festivities!