Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Disaster

This year Becca and I joined my family in Whistler BC.  My parents have owned a condo there for the better part of two decades but Becca's never been.  I was never super fond of Canada as I'm not a big snow person.  However, once I turned 19 (legal Canadian drinking age) I was a lot happier to make the long drive up north.  This year Becca and I flew into Bellingham, Washington where we met up with my Dad.  Then we made the three hour drive to Whistler.  Pretty uneventful, which was good as there was some worry about my eligibility to get into the country. (Yes, I got a reckless driving charge when I was 21 years old, something Canadians do not tolerate in their country.)

Before we left, I packed up a Tofurkey vegan feast as well as Earth Balance, Gardein chicken tenders and Daiya cheese.   Luckily the frozen Tofurkey acted as a coolant for the other foods and everything made it intact and cold.  As soon as we got in, we ate the chicken tenders because all I'd had to eat all day was a Cliff Bar.  Sadly, LAX Terminal 3 is the worst terminal in the entire airport.  All they offer is a Starbucks, Burger King and Gladstones, which is way too pricy for what they offer.  No bar, no nothing.

The trip was going well.  My sister recently had a baby so I have a new niece to accompany my nephew.  Then the man she's dating brought his three daughters as well.  There haven't been that many kids in my parents' house in a long time.  Then my sorta adopted brother brought his girlfriend to round out my siblings.  (Only my baby brother couldn't attend because he didn't get a passport in time.)  My father doesn't understand veganism.  In fact, he finds it hilarious.  I know this because he couldn't help but throw some barbed comments my direction.  My mother tries, or at least likes to seem like she's trying.  For instance, she bought "vegan" soy cheese, although one of the first ingredients on the label was casein (aka milk protein), not to mention the fact that I told her I was bringing my own.  She also bought gluten-free (both my brothers and nephew have a gluten allergy) vegan crackers and hummus.  On first glance, this seems great until I looked and saw that the crackers are made of corn.  I am allergic to corn, along with my big sister.  My mother knows that I'm allergic but somewhere in her head, the vegan beat out the fact that my body can't actually digest the food.  However, I don't want to sound like some ungrateful brat. I appreciate that my mother tried to make concessions for my diet.

However, I knew that Christmas dinner would be entirely up to me, at least for our part.  My sister made steamed green beans and brussel sprouts, both of which she overcooked so much that they just fell apart.  I doubt there was any significant nutrients left but hey, they taste good.  My mother made turkey, instant corn stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes (these actually ended up being vegan because the boys drank all the milk) and gravy from a mix.  I, on the other hand, slept waaaay too late so our Tofurkey only made it into the oven about 45 minutes before dinner was served.  Blach.  But Becca and I were cool to eat a little after everyone else.  Against my better judgement, I also started the gravy on super low heat since it was still a frozen brick.

Meanwhile, everyone else started serving themselves.  My dad sliced up that poor bird, most of which would end up in the garbage disposal (SUCH a waste!) and everyone ate.  Becca and I worked on our wedding list.  When I got up to check on my gravy, I discovered a couple of things.  One everyone ate basically all the veggies.  There was one sprout left and a handful of green beans.  This pissed me off because everyone knew that those vegetables were to be the staple of my meal.  Now I only had Tofurkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and maybe a roll if I could salvage it.  That's when I noticed that the thick gelatinous pan of meat gravy sat untouched while my beautiful vegan gravy was scraped almost entirely clean from the pan.  My fury amped up.  I mean, what the fuck?  I get that the other gravy looked nasty, mostly because it friggin is!, but why would people go out of their way to eat my food?  If I arrived and served nothing but vegan food, you know damn well my family would revolt.

I tried really hard to keep my shit together, especially since there was another hour and a half wait time on the Tofurkey, but I was really angry.  Like bordering on crying, I was so mad.  Becca was upset with me and we went up to my room so I could cry without looking like a brat.  No one in my family understood what my problem was.  I think a few jokes were made about the sensitive vegan, blah blah blah.

Finally, Becca and I put on all of our heavy clothes and plodded out into the village in search of anything warm and vegan.  We went to a pub where I got a mediocre lentil burger and salad.  Becca opted for fish and chips.  Merry effing Christmas.

In the end, my sister did scrape what gravy was left, mixed it with almond milk, salt and pepper.  It was okay but I won't know what real Tofurkey gravy tastes like.  All in all, I guess what upsets me the most is that my family disrespected me in that manner.  I had already dealt with plenty of quips about veganism.  How I must feel superior or some such nonsense.  I made every effort to keep my mouth shut when it came to food.  I didn't want to seem preachy or make anyone uncomfortable.  However, my family had no problem doing that to me!  Every time I ordered food, there was laughter and mockery, like somehow I was doing something wrong.  I wanted to scream that they were the ones eating a turkey that a few days ago was probably dipped in ammonia to kill all the festering diseases in it then injected with "flavor" so that it tastes the way they think turkey should.  Or that all that meat and dairy was probably choking their hearts from the moment they shoveled it into their mouths.  It's just so frustrating that the double standard exists.  It's the same frustration I feel over gay marriage because people somehow think that my relationship with Becca is inferior to their own.  AHHHHH!  Alright I have to stop this blog post because it's upsetting.  Suffice to say that this wasn't the best Christmas I've ever had.  On the plus side, I got a goat from Animal Acres and a Vitamix!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Doomies Home Cooking

On Sunday night, I joined a couple of my fellow sporkies for dinner at Doomies, which just opened this weekend in Hollywood.  Let me just start by saying that this is not food for people on diets.  Instead it is full blown, delicious, savory comfort food.  In fact, it was so delicious that I didn't get a single picture!  There were five of us. Because the waiter recommended the chicken fried steak so heavily, four out of five of us (I was odd man out) got the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and salad with ranch dressing.  I went with the pot roast with mashed potatoes and salad with ranch.  I figured that I was getting more vegetables. However, those veggies turned out to be potatoes and carrots, that's it.  However, the pot roast was excellent.  I wish there had been some broccoli or maybe some kale thrown in but hey, beggars can't be choosers.  The chicken fried steak was insane.  Crunchy on the outside and delicious on the inside, it was hit right out of the park.  While we were eating, the owner/chef came out to make sure we liked everything.  Our mouths were so full we could barely answer.

For desert we went with deep fried Oreos a la mode, which I gotta say everyone should try once.  They were tasty but mostly just warm, squishy Oreos.  The only negative about this place was the mashed potatoes.  They tasted very bland and almost like powdered mashed potatoes that you find at KFC.  They also did not reheat very well.  So next time I will get the baby red potatoes instead because lemme tell you, there WILL be a next time.

Oh and the place is currently cash only and they don't have beer or wine yet.  However, we were assured that credit cards machines and booze were happily on the way!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

President Clinton wows us all

By Dr. T. Colin Campbell on December 6, 2010

President Clinton’s Momentous Intervention in the Health Debate

Bill Clinton
These are momentous times for sharing with the public the exceptional benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. By now, many people have seen President Clinton’s comments on CNN and elsewhere about the dramatic turnaround in his personal health when he adopted this dietary lifestyle. Some of us have been doing research, clinical practice and writing about this dietary lifestyle for many years, sometimes having to overcome considerable skepticism (my own experience in experimental research and public policy making on food and health goes back a half-century). We all are indebted to President Clinton for his candor, indeed courage, in sharing his personal experience with the public.
Those of us in the professions have seen many times what this dietary lifestyle does – and I confess that sometimes we have been discouraged in not being able to penetrate the public mindset. But in the last two to three years the idea is definitely growing, mostly because people simply try it and see dramatic benefits for themselves. For myself, I have presented more than 300 lectures since the 2005 publication of our book, “The China Study” (co-authored with Thomas Campbell, MD), and the majority of my more recent lectures have been at medical venues and conferences. I personally have seen a very welcome adoption of this idea by an increasing number of medical practitioners, many wondering why they had not received nutrition training in medical school.
President Clinton has turned on a flashlight that will cast a very long ray of light.
One of the truly remarkable benefits of this dietary lifestyle is its ability not only to prevent future disease events, but even to treat already diagnosed diseases, an incredible opportunity to avoid expensive medical interventions, drugs and most dietary supplements. Reliable evidence exists to support this view both from the laboratory and from the clinic.
Even though the biology is complex, the message is simple. Choose a whole foods plant based diet – vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereal grains of your preference, but include lots of antioxidant-rich colored vegetables. Minimize added oil (no frying in oil), sugar and fat – none is best. Animal based foods (including dairy) and processed foods are a no-no. Use some of your favorite herbs and spices to befriend your palate and you’re on your way. Find great recipes on the Internet and in many cookbooks. After a month or two, you will eliminate your addiction for fat and, presto! – a whole new world of tastes!
The benefits of this dietary lifestyle are unusually broad, going beyond the prevention of most diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, certain autoimmune diseases and nuisance diseases (colds, flu, acne, headaches, etc.). This dietary strategy has a remarkable ability to act fast to reverse already diagnosed diseases. This is food as medicine, at its best.
President Clinton specifically named our book, “The China Study,” and I applaud his forthright mention of his not using dairy. I came from a dairy farm and started my career strongly believing in the nutritional value of this food, especially for its protein content. But, in our experiments, we documented multiple times a remarkable ability of the main protein of cow’s milk, casein, to promote cancer growth and to do so by a plethora of mechanisms. For many years, animal-based protein, like casein, has been known to increase blood cholesterol and encourage early stages of heart disease.
This is a very old story, with some of its most relevant parts beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers and medical caretakers. Important elements of this story also have been published in the scientific literature for at least the past century then, too often, left unnoticed.
But there is much yet to do, not the least of which is figuring out how best to inform the public in a way that offers a convenient, efficacious and affordable way to sustain behavior change, if they wish. This is one instance where government could help, simply informing its citizens of important information that comes into their possession, while letting them decide whether to take advantage of it. I get an equally enthusiastic response for this message from either side of the political spectrum. The last time I checked, I recall almost everyone wanting personal health. Could this be a bridge to span the political divide?
On March 11, 2011, a professionally produced documentary film, “Forks Over Knives,” will be released in theaters and offers further insight into this story. These are exciting times because this message offers an opportunity for all to benefit, regardless of political persuasions. It’s a great bridge to help resolve these contentious times.
Originally posted at HuffingtonPost.com.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pure Luck

Last night Becca and I went to Pure Luck, a vegan restaurant on our side of town.  Pure Luck happens to be the first vegan restaurant that we ever went to way back in oh January maybe (?) with our friends, John and Lillian.  (This was before they embarked on the cave man diet, which basically means all they eat is meat -- sooo gross.)  Now I've never gotten anything bad here; in fact I'd say that everything on the menu is pretty scrumptious.  This is the only place where Becca can get carne asada without having to butcher some poor animal.  Now I try not to judge or preach with her as it hasn't panned out so far.  I want to be a good vegan like the Spork Sisters!  But it does make me a little sick to watch Becca consume beef.  I usually avert my eyes and refuse to kiss her until the memory of what she's done has left my mind.

So last night I got the spicy fried spring rolls, which are gigantic and yummy, and the Todd's BBQ sandwich, which is their pulled "pork" sandwich made out of jackfruit.  Both are pretty unbelievable.  However, I'm not sure if our waitress was new or just feeling overwhelmed but the service was god awful. The wait between sitting and getting our drink order in was about 20 minutes.  She didn't bring us water for about 40 mins and our food took about an hour.  Meanwhile, others that trickled in way after us were served while we looked on stomachs gurgling.  Finally our food arrived and it was excellent.  Becca decided to order another Soju Cape Cod right away even though she had half her cocktail left because we knew chances were it was going to take awhile.  The waitress smiled, said sure, then grabbed her HALF FULL COCKTAIL!  She brought a new drink about 10 minutes later but we were both stunned.  She wanted a second drink, not one and a half.  Luckily we weren't charged for the second drink, though I think that had more to do with the waitress' incompetence rather than any kindness.  We left a mediocre tip and took off.

We thought our crappy night ended there but alas, Becca and I both had parking tickets when we returned for $60 apiece.  I checked the sign, which was nearly an entire block away) and realized that it said No Parking 6 pm to 11 am.  However, there were a ton of cars on the street, none of which appeared to have any sort of permits, so how in the fuck did Becca and I get singled out?  I may never know but I do know it will take my pride awhile before I return to Pure Luck, which is really too bad since the food truly is amazing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sooo much has happened

I've decided that I can't start every post with a I'm sorry I'm such a bad blogger post so I will not apologize for such a long break in my blogging.  Instead I will say that I've started planning a lesbian wedding, which includes a new bout of bootcamp to lose weight for my pictures!  I'm a busy girl. Throw in Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping, well...you know.

First of all, and completely out of order, I finally got to see BOLD NATIVE.  It is amazingly well done. The production value and acting are all there.  As a vegan, I am in love with this movie because it points out some hard truths that many people are unaware of.  As a Hollywood assistant, I cannot FATHOM why this movie hasn't found more press.  As mentioned, it is truly well done.  This feels like a totally legit, moderately budgeted indie so where's the Spirit Award nomination?  I am aware that the meat and dairy industries are huge business but seriously?  This is a real film with merit so why hasn't the industry gotten ahold of it yet?  This will continue to be something that miffs me.  I took Becca with me to the screening after assuring her it wasn't violent.  I would break that promise through no real fault of my own.  The filmmakers add stock footage of animal experiments, de-beaking birds, etc.  I forgot that in my quest to learn more about this lifestyle, I watched all those images. Becca has purposefully chosen not to.  While I would never advocate tricking non-veggies into seeing this movie, I was excited by the result. Becca who, God bless her, has rolled with my veganism has not wholly embraced it for herself.  This film made her decide she wanted to live a more vegan lifestyle. She still doesn't think she can completely abstain from animal foods, she wants to at least make sure to get vegan shampoo, conditioner, etc. She even asked me if she should throw out her leather jacket.  This brings up an interesting question, one that I've posed myself as well.  Is it better to throw out everything non-vegan in your life? House?  I told her that I didn't think it was necessary. After all, ridding herself of the jacket would not save the cow whose hide it came from.  Also, that's wasteful. I told her being vegan isn't about being perfect; it's about making the best, most informed choices you can.  So I'm a vegan but I wear leather shoes. I've had said shoes since 6th grade.  Reuse and recycle right?  So here it is: I am a huge Bold Native fan.  Go see the movie, buy the DVD, or just wear the adorable shirt!

Now for some of the food, especially Thanksgiving!  First of all, I made a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to practice some of the recipes that I would endeavor.  I made Gardein stuffed turkey breasts (look a bit like chicken nuggets), mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato biscuits and green beans with hazelnuts.  It turned out amazingly.  The sweet potato biscuits turned out more cakey but hey who doesn't like cake?  Becca ended up eating pretty much the entire tray of these in one night!

As for real Thanksgiving, I used all of the same recipes, but added some as well.  The biscuits turned out more biscuit-y this time around.  Not sure why but I think it had something to do with super cool new potato masher that I got from IKEA so the sweet potatoes were broken down much more this time.  I also added an entire tray of roasted vegetables: beets, onions, garlic, carrots, etc.    There was also pie.  It was AMAZING!  The silken tofu really made the consistency perfect. No one could believe it was vegan at all.


The other night I picked up my CSA and got a huge butternut squash.  My mother's idea of squash was zucchini drowned in butter so I have zero experience cooking one of these suckers.  I went on one of my favorite websites www.vegweb.com and looked up some recipes.  I found this one.  It turned out so delicious.  I used less cheese than recommended but only because it seemed like a lot.  Sooo frickin good. I take my hat off to The Divine Miss Em.



So I guess that's it for now.  I finished Season 4 of Dexter so I'm waiting until the new season comes out on DVD already!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pizza Purses

So the other night I followed Vegan Yum Yum's recipe for Pizza Purses, only I used Soy Mozzerella instead of Sheese.  I would have used Daiya but my Nature Mart ran out. They turned out lovely. Then I made some spicy roasted kale by just adding some lemon juice, sea salt and red pepper flakes.  Yes, I finally feel like I'm starting to get the hang of this whole vegan cooking on the go thing.  Most of the time I don't have hours to prepare meals. Becca and I work such long hours that we want to eat as soon as we get home, which sometimes isn't until 8:30 or 9 pm.  It helps to have some recipes in my back pocket, although I will say the phylo dough is a pain in the ass to work with. It dries out easily and is sooo big that us little cramped kitchen cooks can run into some troubles.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I am a bad blogger

So it's been waaaay too long since my last blog and there have been so many amazing things happen in my life.  The first and most important of which is that I got ENGAGED! Becca asked me on my birthday weekend in Catalina Island!  She was soo nervous and it made her proposal all the sweeter.  Of course, as lesbians, we have discussed marriage since pretty much day one but it still threw me off guard a bit when she got down on one knee and pulled out a gorgeous ring.  I am so in love and happy.  Now I've just got to make her vegan!

So for my actual b-day dinner I went to Hugo's in West Hollywood. I've heard that the Valley location is better but hey, it was a Thursday and on my way home. We ordered the Asian spring rolls, which were amazingly delicious.  For dinner I ordered the Very Green Casserole.  It was good to mediocre.  The vegan cheese on top was a little overwhelming and the sauce was kind of bland.  However, it was still good enough to take as left overs!

Next, last weekend I attended another Spork Foods class.  This one was a Brunch class and believe me when I say that it was YUMMY!  We made bacon stuffed tater tots, asparagus hollandaise, quiche and ginger maple scones.  From start to finish, it was unbelievable, but then again it always is with the Sporkies!  Jenny and Heather have also started Spork Online, which is (you guessed it) an online version of their classes.  I just signed up for a year membership and look forward to starting soon.  Plus, I can download recipes, search archives and everything.  Much love to Jenny and Heather!!! I hope Spork Online is a smashing success :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vegan catch up

I am a bad blogger. I fully admit this.  I don't update my blog nearly enough. However, there is some yummy catch up to be had. First off, I tried the Whole Foods avocado balsamic sandwich. I gotta say there were some really delicious elements and some that were off.  First of all, my sandwich was drowned in balsamic vinaigrette, like I seriously had to mop up the mess. This struck me as funny since I always have to beg for extra vegan pesto spread on both sides but maybe the balsamic is runnier and just squirts easier. I don't know. I can't hold it against them.  The avocado was delicious but I think I will ask for sauce on the side.  Oh and I didn't have the cheese obviously.

Next, Becca broke me down and I ate sushi. Shame on me I know but it was her birthday. Baby wants and baby gets.

Then we tried out Masa of Echo Park. I've meant to get there sooner but like all things, it takes me awhile to get around to anything.  Becca and I went there with our friend Jim and his girlfriend.  I ordered the deep dish pizza because Quarry Girl raves so much about it.  Now I will make this caveat: I did know going into it that they use corn meal in their crust, which means I am allergic to it.  I can't digest corn (tears for me I know.) However, I have never tried Teese Cheese and I love love love pizza so I figured what the hell.  We had a couple of beers and waited for 45 minutes for the pizza. I got the California veggie which had sundried tomatoes and spinach.  The Teese was great but I wasn't in love with the pizza. Part of this prolly stems from the fact that I realized even as I ate it that I would have an impending skin inflammation at any time.  But there was something too sweet about the sauce. I've never had Chicago pizza either so it confused me a little. I won't lie.  However, the bread they brought out was delicious even without butter and I really enjoyed the ambiance. I will definitely be going back.

Finally, we had brunch at Flore and tried a couple of the new items. I ordered the fritata with fruit.  Now this is a gluten free recipe as well as vegan. It was a tad dry but this is the gluten free of it all.  I will say the kale and onions on top were really what sold me on the dish. It was so flavorful and awesome.
Becca ordered the biscuits and gravy. She is a big fan of the meaty dish so she didn't love this.  However, she admitted that it was good for being vegan. What can I say? As hard as I try, she just refuses to being converted lol.  However, the gravy was a little on the sweet side. I would have preferred a more savory flavor. The potatoes (with kale underneath) were divine. Again I realize more and more that I am powerless over kale. I would swim in it if I could





So there you have it. This was the week or so in wrap-up. Becca and I also ate some Mexican (beans rice for me) and went to a tequila tasting which was pretty sweet.  This week I'm hoping to get my Veggie Grill on because I have a coupon for a free meal for my birthday. Muwah haha!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Native Reuben

Oh my gosh!  I just had the pleasant experience of taste-testing one of Chef Tanya's newest creations at Native Foods: the Reuben.  Please don't let the picture fool you. My silly iPhone camera does not do this masterpiece justice.  Seriously ever since the Meet Market closed, I've wondered where I could find a decent Reuben (although I will admit I make a pretty decent one myself).  The trick is the seitan, which I've never been a huge fan of.  However, I don't know what voodoo magic Chef Tanya has done, but it most certainly tastes amazing.  See for yourself.

Now my only (minor) criticisms are that this bad boy was a supremely messy eat.  Because there was so much Russian dressing, it was difficult managing to get it in my mouth and not on my skirt.  So remember that this is a minimum three-napkin kind of sandwich.  Next, there wasn't as much sauerkraut as I would have liked. However, I will just share that I am in love with sour foods so I usually overdo the sauerkraut at home.  So with this being said, next time -- and believe me there WILL  be a next time -- I will ask for the dressing on the side and extra sauerkraut.

I teamed the reuben with the dill potato salad.  It was good but not Flore good.  The potatoes were a little bit harder than I like so it felt sort of borderline raw to me.  But hey, I still ate nearly all of it so it wasn't all bad.

So there you have it. I have nothing but love for Native Foods.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Animal Acres!


This weekend I went to Animal Acres, which is a sanctuary for farmed animals.  Suffice to say, it was INCREDIBLE! I've added some pics of the most darling animals you've ever seen with horrific stories.  The rooster we called Bellbottoms because he looked like he was wearing bellbottom jeans.  Pinto is the big cow.  I fell in love with a white donkey named Tonk and there were the sweetest goats, Jenko and Kirby.  It was incredible see see how these people care for all these animals and how much love there was at the farm.  I'm sooo happy that a place like Animal Acres exists and plead for EVERYONE to donate today.


The incredible tour was followed by a delicious vegan meal of spaghetti squash with pesto, pesto and/or sundried tomato bread, green beans, watermelon and amazing brownies.  It was fantastic eating and really only added to a great day for Becca and me.

After Animal Acres, we decided Sunday Funday and went for a drink at Tony Darts Away, which was on our way home. This is a fun bar that has a decent vegan menu, although I'm not a huge fan of their vegan sausages. However, kudos to them for even providing them.  Tony's is great because they offer many vegan beers and will do flights of four for cheap.  Also, they will let you sample any beer you're curious about.  Now it can't get any better, right? Wrong!  What really separates Tony's from anywhere else is the fact that they have a ton of board games!  Everything from Uno to Yahtzee to Sorry to Clue.  It's fabulous.  Becca and I played a few rounds of Candyland, some Clue and practiced our beer trivia.  Ah such a good Sunday.  Unfortunately I had too much fun and spent much of the afternoon napping on my couch.  When I got hungry I ordered Cruzer's Pizza, which is right down the street.  They make the most delicious bbq chicken pizza and cheesy breadsticks with Daiya. Mmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

So we had a long weekend and oh how I already miss it. Sigh.  Every year at this time,  my family migrates back to Seattle, Washington for Bumbershoot, a three day musical festival with hundreds of acts, games, rides, comedy, films and more.  It is utterly divine and I enjoy myself every year.  I have gone consistently since I was in the womb, that's how much my family loves this.  Also, this year I got the added bonus of meeting my 9 day-old niece Jasmine, who is adorable and sweet. I so enjoyed meeting her. However, what I quickly noticed was that for a city that boasts being vegan-friendly, it was actually pretty difficult to find food, especially inside the festival.  I mean, Coachella has vegan options!  Why is it so hard for Bumbershoot to keep from cooking veggies in butter.  Even the Indian and Thai choices were usually either a. bland or b. cooked with meat or on the same grill.  It was a little crazy so I was forced to visit the QVC grocery store quite a bit and/or eat a ton of french fries.

However, one restaurant close to my hotel was Bamboo Garden Vegetarian.  This was a tacky-looking joint that served up the real deal.  All protein in this place was vegetarian wheatmeat.  This made me very happy and I ordered that hot and spicy chicken. It was pretty good, though a bit skimpy on the portion especially since my brother ordered the hot and spicy tofu, which came in a pie pan of goodness.

For the other two days of the festival, I mostly just ate fries and fruit along with some cotton candy (sometimes I just can't help myself.)  But this made me wonder why a vegan diet isn't more thoroughly represented here, especially since Washingtonians believe themselves to be on the hippy liberal side of things.  For next year, I'm gonna beg that they get some vegan vendors in the house.

I was ecstatic to get back home to LA.  I missed my cats and just the feeling of being home. Plus, I knew that I would have a disgusting litter box to clean so I'd rather just get it over with.  Sadly, the cold I picked up in Washington is lingering so today I had some vegetable soup from Whole Foods.  In Brentwood, they also feature a vegan curried chicken salad sandwich.  It comes on ciabatta bread with vegan chicken curry, spinach, shredded carrots and Veganiase.  I also threw on some cucumbers because I believe cucumbers and avocado make every sandwich special.  I had them heat it up in the panini press and gotta say it came out nicely.  Yes, the fake meat is a little chewy and I'm not a huge fan of the sporadicly placed raisins in the curry but overall it was a satisfying little meal and one I hope helps kick this cold's ass.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cupcakes!

I decided to finally make Chef Chloe's winning Cupcake Wars recipe.  I had some strawberries that will go bad if I don't eat through them quickly enough.  Though they did not turn out as beautifully as hers (I apparently didn't fill the cupcake wrappers up enough so they didn't rise as high.  Here's the recipe:


Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Secret Winning Recipe!

(Makes 12 Cupcakes)
Ingredients:
 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar    
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk 
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder 
Frosting, recipe below
1 ½ cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Procedure:
1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners. 
2.    Sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and espresso powder until smooth. 
3.    Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a fork or small whisk. 
4.    Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners until each cup is 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
5.    Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, slice off the top 1/3 of each cupcake and slather with frosting and sliced strawberries. Place the top of the cupcake back on top and add an additional bit of frosting and sliced strawberries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Frosting
Ingredients:
4 cups confectioners' sugar, preferably organic
1/2 cup refined coconut oil at room temperature OR margarine (recommended: Earth Balance Organic Soy-Free Non-Hydrogenated Buttery Spread)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water

Procedure:
1.    Combine the confectioners' sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
2.    Beat on medium-high speed until combined. With the mixer running, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the desired buttercream consistency.



Here's what mine ultimately looked like.  And they were YUUUUUUUUUUUM!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Very Vegan Weekend

This weekend was kickass on the friend and vegan front.  On Friday night, Becca and I were housesitting at her old boss's house.  They have a washer and dryer so we literally washed the mountain of laundry that we had accumulated, including but not limited to a dozen towels and blankets. My friends, Beth and Cathy came over and drank while we watched Cooking Network and Entourage.  It was a rocking good time even as I constantly swapped wet clothes for dry.

On Saturday I attended a Comfort Food cooking class with the Spork sisters.  It was literally THE BEST MEAL I'VE EVER HAD!!!!  If the Cooking Network called and asked me to describe the best thing I've ever eaten, I would most definitely point to this meal.  Here's a pic of what we made. First, we had a salad with homemade "bacon" ranch dressing then beer battered tempeh nuggets with chipotle ketchup.  The most amazing part of the meal, however, was the twice baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese. I've tried to make these before and though they turned out great but they were NOTHING compared to these bad boys.  Even though I was stuffed full I still had a second spud because they were simply too good to ignore.

Then there was CAKE.  Vanilla cake with the sweetest most amazing vanilla frosting ever that makes me want a cake pedestal, cover and Kitchenaid soooooo badly. Absolutely yummy through and through.  If you've never taken a class at Spork Foods, sign up asap! The prices are competitive and the sisters never repeat a meal so it's always new!  So good and you feel good about yourself when you leave. Plus you take home your recipes to make yourself, which I will be doing with the twice baked potatoes tonight.

Then on Sunday, I blew off my sewing class (boo me) but Becca and I wanted some snuggle/hang out time.  We went to the Farmer's Market on Fairfax.  There is an Italian gourmet pizza place with VEGAN pizza! Score. It's called Deano's and although the vegan options are not listed on the menu, they will totally add Daiya to any pizza. I got a personal cheese pizza on whole wheat crust.  Though technically for one person, there was plenty of pizza. My only minor qualm is that they actually used too much Daiya (I know, I know I didn't think it possible either!)  However, I peeled some of it off and it was delish, especially the crust. In the picture below, you can totally see that I went a little crazy with the red pepper flakes, which had my mouth burning for more than 20 minutes.  Of course the beer helped immensely :).

To cap off the evening, Becca and I went to our favorite LA dive bar the Short Stop where we met up with my friend Alexis and played UNO.  Yes, in the bar. We had wanted to go to Barcade but recently learned it was closed (silent tear trickles down my cheek.)  However, in spite of a few missed appointments and some disappointing bar closures, this weekend was fantastic, vegan and just what I needed.

Now the rest of the week I will continue my fitness bootcamp (Lord have mercy) every day at 6:30 am in Griffith Park. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lasangna!

So the other night, I decided to make vegan lasagna. I made it once before for Becca and her friend, Brooke who was crashing on our couch. It was Brooke's last night in LA before she moved on to the wonderful world of Philly.  Now Brooke is a cool rock n roll mama that cares little about veganism in general. Her world revolves around Hollywood nightlife, dive bars, and late nights.  Food doesn't really come into it.  However, I was very pleased to see her eat my lasagna with gusto.  She said it was as good as the real thing, which I took as a huge compliment.

So now I've decided to do it again.  I looked up this recipe on Tami Transcends Tofu. I used more spinach than was called for (gotta hide my lady's vegetables somehow) and fresh basil that I received from my CSA.  Now I don't really know what the fresh to dry conversion is but I love basil so I just grabbed a couple of handfuls and threw them in with everything else. Of course my blender decided to suck and made me wish more than ever for this is in my life.  So I had to pull everything out of the blender and put together my mini-food processor.  This thing is good enough but soo small.  Anyway, it didn't matter. It did the trick and processed my food.

I always forget that although the recipe only calls for one jar of sauce, it's actually better to have at least 1 1/2 jars.  I need to remember this for next time. Anyway, this is what I turned out with. The picture honestly doesn't do the meal justice because it was super flavorful and yummy. However, scraping it out of the pan made it a little...well a little ugly.  I had planned to saute some veggies to accompany the lasagna but I got lazy so I opened the bag of spicy mixed greens, added some CSA radish sprouts (one of my new favorite things I learned) and voila.  A ready-made albeit a little lazy meal.  Take a look.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Diaya Mac and cheese

So last night I had planned to make vegan lasagna but the mozzarella Daiya is sold out everywhere.  After checking three stores I gave up. Instead I went with vegan mac and cheese. This is one of the first dishes I learned to make upon becoming vegan, mostly because I knew that if Becca liked it, I was golden about laying off the diary products. However, I had never quite stuck wholly to the recipe because I didn't always have all the ingredients. This time, however, I stuck to everything to a T. I used the recipe from To Live and Eat in LA.   The recipe is below:


ngredients-
16oz package of elbow macaroni or pasta of choice 
3 cups shredded Daiya Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons vegan butter (I used soy-free Earth Balance)
3 tablespoons flour 
2 to 2 1/2 cups* unsweetened soy milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Enough panko bread crumbs to liberally cover (I used an “Italian” flavored variety)
Red chili flakes to taste (optional)
Directions-
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta about 5 minutes until it’s just tender. Don’t cook all the way or it will fall apart when you bake it.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to greased baking dish. I packed it all into a smaller 8×10 dish so it would set up nice and thick.
4. Mix in about 2/3′s of the cheese into the pasta and set aside.
5. In a small pot melt the butter. Add the pepper, then whisk in the flour until combined. Stir in the milk. Keep stirring until it starts to boil, then keep stirring for about another minute until it thickens up. *(Start with 2 cups of milk but if sauce gets too thick just add a little bit more, you don’t want it to be like a paste, just a thickened liquid).
6. Pour the milk mixture into the pasta and mix everything well. Top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the bits of ham on top, then cover everything with a generous layer of breadcrumbs. Give the whole thing a light dusting of paprika.
7. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and top is starting to brown. If you like it spicy sprinkle some of the chili flakes on top when serving.

It turned out soo well. Here's the pic. Becca used her super sweet iPhone app Shake It in order to make it look so cool and Polaroid-y.  The best part of the mac and cheese was the TASTE.  I am so proud to stand by this meal, which also included garlic and onion Brussel sprouts. Delicious, really and truly. In fact, it was so good I will be enjoying some seconds for lunch along with mixed green salad, sliced cucumber and some Annie's Naturals dressing. So there it is. Vegan mac and cheese for everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lazy lazy

Sorry for the delay in posts.  Becca and I had an amazing weekend complete with vegan Rubens. They were so amazing it hurt! I used the recipe from meettheshannons.net.  AMAZING!!!

We also attempted yet again to go to Madeleine Bistro but it was closed AGAIN!  So we headed a few miles north to Canoga Park to Follow Your Heart. This is a grocery store with a restaurant in the back. First, as an appetizer we ordered the Lorenzo's Tofu Eggwich with a side of fruit. I have no idea why they call this an appetizer. It is totally a meal. I would show a picture but Becca and I ate that thing in about 10 seconds flat. I have never tasted such a delicious "egg" sandwich. I bought the pastrami wheatmeat in the store but still need to figure out how exactly to emulate that egg.  Soooo good. For our entrees, Becca went with nachos, as she is usually want to do. Here is a girl that doesn't like her vegetables so I must force feed them to her in stirfry but is another story entirely.

I went with the Organic Tofu Fillet Sandwich. I have no experience with mock fish. However, this didn't really taste at all like a fish sandwich. Instead it was a huge slab of tofu lightly fried on the outside with onion, lettuce, and tartar sauce on it. I got it with a side of well baked fries. I gotta say I was a little disappointed by my entree, except the tartar sauce was so delicious I started dipping my fries into it. To be honest, I was pretty stuffed from the Eggwich so this might have tainted my Fillet Sandwich experience.

All in all, I look forward to going to Follow Your Heart again whenever I'm in the Valley and/or attempt to do Madeleine Bistro again and they are closed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pantry tacos

Sorry it's been a minute since I last blogged. However, the other night I got home starving and completely unprepared for dinner.  However, upon a glance at my pantry and 'fridge, I quickly concocted cheap, pantry tacos.  First I threw a couple of Gardenburgers into the skillet.  Once they thawed a bit, I smashed them up a bit to resemble meat crumbles.  Then I opened a can of kidney beans and let them heat up. I tossed a couple of tortillas into the oven, opened a can of sliced olives and opened a fresh bag of Daiya cheese. Within about 15 minutes, I had this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dinner

Last night, I got home late only to remember that I was supposed to cook dinner for a friend. My little brother and girlfriend were also hungry. I've been wanting to try some squash recipes to get through the CSA squash in my crisper along with some swiss chard on the verge of going bad. I also had some potatoes and decided to attempt mashed potatoes. I've only made them once pre-vegan and I let the potatoes sit too long in water and they came out a pudding-like consistency that was no bueno.  And finally, yes I cooked some wild Alaskan cod. I know, I know...I'm still getting used to the vegan thing and wanted to get them out of my freezer. Here's the thing: Becca isn't totally sold on the vegan diet yet and I want to make the transition easy for her. I also knew that my friend eats meat as does my brother.  So yes, I cooked and ate fish, but only a little...excuses excuses I know.

I boiled the potatoes. Then I cut up the yellow squash and onions. I placed them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 400 degrees. Then I cut up more onion (tears streaming down my face at this point) and some garlic. I sauteed them in a little oil before tossing in some chard stems. I cooked those for a few minutes while I cut up the chard.  I then took the fish and added a little garlic salt before sliding them into the oven alongside the squash.  Then when the potatoes were done, I added some (ok lots) of Earth Balance soy butter and soy milk until it looked about the right consistency. I added salt and pepper.  I was surprised to how perfect they tasted. Now my mother doesn't really cook, as I've mentioned before, but one thing she could make was you guessed it: mashed potatoes. My little brother can seriously eat through pounds of mashed potatoes without breaking stride so I was under a little pressure here. Our beaters are from like the '80's and really don't beat anything that well. I made the best of it.  There were still some lumps but truth be told, I kinda like them that way.  Finally, with the potatoes done and the squash about finished, I added the chard leaves to the simmering stems.  I cooked that for a few minutes before pulling the fish out and calling everyone to dinner.

Everyone loved pretty much everything! I wasn't crazy about the squash. I think I waited too long to flip them over on to one side. Becca actually shied away from the chard, which is funny because I thought it was great. It really absorbed the garlic and onion flavors.  But what I loved about dinner was that my little brother complimented the mashed potatoes.  My brother's compliments do not come easily or in abundance so I take them where I can get them.  I wish I had a picture of the meal but we ate it too quickly.

After dinner, my brother read his screenplay treatment aloud. He and one of his friends at USC are working on a script together that is hilarious. It's so lovely seeing him actually writing and passionate about it.  Adorable. So there it is.  A night of good food and a little inspiration.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

High School Reunion aka Vegan No Man's Land

So I come from a very small town in the Pacific Northwest.  It's been 10 years since I graduated from high school and as much as I said that I would never go back, I couldn't really help myself. I missed the official reunion, which is actually too bad because there were apparently 100+ people there (my class only had about 200 students).  Nevertheless, I made it out on Saturday to the family picnic and then out to a round at the bars. Good times had at both events in spite of myself.

However, what this all meant was that I spent two days back in my hometown where vegetarianism is unheard of, let alone veganism.  For the first time, I had blank stares and questions like, "Vegan? You mean, no cheese? What do you eat then?" or "How do you get protein and calcium?" or "Why would you do something so harmful to yourself?"  I guess I should have been more prepared for these questions but it surprised me how little people knew about meat production. Of course, this probably shouldn't surprise me at all since it's a tiny town but still...

So not only did people eye me like I may have an infectious disease, but I also realized that there are literally no plausible food choices. Nevermind that I couldn't remember where the hell anything was since I haven't been back to my hometown in about 6 years, and forget that plenty of businesses have changed, but there literally isn't one single restaurant that I could find that even catered to the vegetarian. Even the salads themselves were covered in meat and diary-based dressings. Even the local Safeway (Ralphs to you Southern Californians) didn't even carry half the products that regular grocery store does. No salad with the convenient tuna cup, which can be discarded or given away, no vegetable based entrees in their hot bar.  I spent the entire weekend eating fruit platters, veggie trays (no dressing) and french fries.  All I could think was Really??!!  No one in all of the county is familiar with the idea of refraining from meat if only for one meal???  Crazy.  So I just kept drinking $1.75 drinks to make up for the lack of nutritional calories.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anniversary and more

So I've really been slacking in my blog. The mothers survived their weekend together as did we. Dare I say it, everyone had a pretty good time. On Monday, Becca and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary together. We went to Cowboys and Turbans in Silverlake.  The vegetarian samosa was by far the hit of the night with a side of spicy masala sauce. We also ordered the Indian Dali, Tofu Masala, and Channa Saag.  All three were good but way too much food so we ended up taking most of it home. Sadly, none of these dishes heated up particularly well so my advice to anyone is to eat all they can while still at the restaurant. We also brought our own beer because the restaurant is still working on getting a liquor license.

Mostly all week I have stuck with my usual haunts, Native Foods and Whole Foods. I am currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, or rather listening to the book on tape for my long commute to work (about an hour each way).  While the narrator sounds pompous, there's a lot of interesting information in this book. Since I'm allergic to corn, it's amazing to learn all the other things derived from corn. No wonder I can never quite get rid of all my skin rashes! I am armed with more information to combat the factory farm/business as usual mentality.

This weekend I am heading back to my hometown for my 10 year high school reunion. I still can't believe it has been 10 years. I remember when that seemed old. I thought by 27 I would be an established screenwriter with perhaps a boyfriend. I was actually hoping to be dating Conor Oberst so that I could take him to my hometown and drive all the girls crazy that I dated such a sensitive musician. Alas, I return with my girlfriend, who actually does resemble Conor in that picture, and a job as an assistant albeit at a major production company. Here's the thing about my hometown, most of them don't even know what a prodco is or what we do. All they care about is if you work for Microsoft so this will be interesting. I look forward to seeing those that I haven't seen in awhile and maybe forgiving a few people that were awful to me.  Who knows? I'll prolly stay so drunk that I don't even notice half my class. All I know is that it will be nice to get out of LA for a bit and spend some time in a state full of green.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My two Moms

So Becca and I have gotten our mothers together.  This is their first meeting and they are both here all weekend long (Lord have mercy).  This is two very different bags of crazy, though I must say I love both women that gave us life. It's just that they are both very different personalities.  I would like to say at dinner they high-fived not once but twice.

So I took them to Cliff's Edge in Silverlake. This place looks so incredibly beautiful. The outdoor seating area was lovely with a huge tree in the center of the restaurant. I chose this place because there was a variety of different things on the menu from fish to steak to vegan stew and couscous.  My mother got fish, my brother the steak, Becca got pumpkin ravioli, Becca's mom got french fries with gorgonzola dipping sauce, and you guessed it I got the vegan stew and couscous.

I enjoyed my meal thoroughly. The veggies were stewed just right and although I usually don't love garbonzo beans, this time they were perfect. Maybe it's just that I prefer them warm rather than in salads.

This was the first time I'd gone out to eat with either of them since I committed to veganism. Becca's mom was good about it, although she did try to get me to eat the cheese sauce.  It's funny how difficult the idea of veganism is for many people. For whatever reason, they just don't think of cheese or butter as an animal product. My mother, on the other hand, worried that I don't get enough nutrients.  (I had mentioned that my skin is a little bad right now due to the toxins filtering out of my body.)  Now my mother is an RN.  She's in the medical profession and yet she still asked if I get enough calcium and protein, two things that I guarantee I am in no way deficient. When I told her that kale has more calcium than milk, she responded, "Well if you're eating 16 cups of it maybe." Oy vey.

Then at dinner the politics of food somehow got brought up.  The moms talked about genetically modified foods. See in my family, my sister and I are allergic to corn.  Both my brothers (and actually my sister as well) are allergic to gluten.  So basically the worst family ever to eat with.  However, this prompted the moms to talk about how genetically modified foods are altering the health of young people. The more they talked, the more I realized that neither one of them had a clue what they were actually talking about. Rather they were merely reiterating talking points that they had overheard somewhere.  Becca's mother mentioned that pesticides and genetically modified foods were to blame for the overdevelopment of youngsters (she works in a school) but then said, "I mean, it's just sad for them. It won't do anything to me because I'm old."  I had to bite my tongue super hard to keep from blurting out, "You've been eating this shit for over a decade too. It's equally as harmful no matter the age."  This is a woman that has suffered colon cancer that truly believes that buying Target brand organic milk somehow exempts her from any food-related issues.  Just like my mother truly believes that meat is a necessary part of a balanced diet.

As much as I wanted to fight and speak up, I realize that no one wants to be preached to or made to feel badly about their food choices. I also feel like although I've read a lot of books, I'm not so knowledgeable that I could really educate them. After all, I don't want to spout off factoids that I've read like they did with talking points. Becca has already gotten on my case a bit for sounding self-righteous and I don't want to be one of those bitchy vegans that feel superior to everyone. I want to educate myself further so that when this subject comes up again I can feel more prepared to explain my position.

How do other people deal with this?  Do you have family members who do not understand the basic principals of veganism?  If so, leave a comment and let me know.