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

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, 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 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!