Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I love you, John Robbins.

One of the perks of working a summer camp job is that by the end of the summer, you get tips from parents. One of my tips was a $20 Barnes and Nobles giftcard, which I gloriously brought to the Union Square Barnes and Nobles tonight.

I proceeded to walk straight up to the third floor, where the "Vegan Cookbook" section was (yes, they have a "Vegan Cookbook" section!), and as I rode the elevator, thoughts of delicious new recipes happily swirled in my head. Until I passed by the "Diet" section and saw a few books worth taking a second glance at. One of them was a book that has been recommended to me for some time now - John Robbins' "Diet for a New America".

If you don't know John Robbins, you should - he was the heir to the Baskin Robbins dynasty. The interesting twist in Robbins' story is that when finally given the chance to take over the family job, he respectfully declined. Because Robbins' had another pursuit in mind - finding a way to create a healthier, more humane, more loving world. And "Diet for a New America" was born out of that pursuit.

I'm only past the introduction, and I am totally enamored by this book. Below is a quote that really spoke to me:

" The suffering [farm] animals undergo has become so extreme that to partake of food from these creatures is to partake unknowingly of the abject misery that has been their lives. Millions upon millions of Americans are merrily eating away, unaware of the pain and disease they are taking into thier bodies with every bite. We are ingesting nightmares for breakfast, lunch, and dinner."

As much as I love to devote my blog to cooking and baking and food lovin' in general, I am also interested in my own pursuit: promoting ethical eating. It's a credo I live by, and one that has become a spiritual guide for me as I learn more and more about the connection between our environment and what we put into our bodies. John Robbins wrote "Diet for a New America" in 1987, and if I hadn't known that, I would have thought it was written this year. The words are timeless in a way, because it's twenty-two years later, and we are still dealing with these issues. For better or worse, I'm thankful that I at least get to be a part of it all - and tonight, that's enough for me to want to keep reading this book.

Food for thought, I guess. (Pun intended.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Sundays. I love them.

Especially when they involve sleeping in, brunch, and making wedding invitations...

I'm spending mine with Steve - we just finished a lovely brunch of tofu scramble (my first time making it!) and Autumn-spiced Buckwheat Pancakes.

The scramble was so much easier than I thought it would be. I just took a package of Extra Firm Tofu, pressed it for 10-15 minutes, and then crumbled it in a bowl. For the spices, I used about a teaspoon each of turmeric, onion powder, and garlic powder, about 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and a dash of salt and pepper. I added oil to a pan, got it nice and warm, and then added the crumbled tofu and the spices. Once the tofu was cooked through, I decided to add a dash of thyme and all-purpose seasoning. And once I plated it, I splashed a little paprika on it for color. It was simply delicious!

The buckwheat pancakes were so yummy. I was in a fall/holiday sort of mood, so I decided to combine a few of my absolute favorite spices - Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, and Ginger - and just added it to the pancake recipe. The result was exactly what I wanted - a rich, delightful autumn treat. Next time, I think I'll try adding some pumpkin.

Yesterday, Steve and I were planning on taking a ZipCar to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary upstate, but we lost our ZipCard (which is basically the key you need to get into the car). With no card, we had no way of getting to use the car, which bummed me out thoroughly. But, being the positive people we are, we decided to make a whole new plan, which ended up being really fun. The high point of the day was lunch at Blossom Cafe uptown ( I tried their Fettucini Alfredo with Soy Cutlets, and it was quite possibly the most delicious vegan meal I've ever had.

Yesterday and today have been a running theme for me of trying out new ways of eating and cooking. I had never made tofu scramble, but with some creativity, I came up with a version that Steve and I really loved (and was actually better than any scrambled eggs I've had prior to going vegan). Trying a non-dairy Fettucini Alfredo for the first time since going vegan was a huge thrill as well. Both experiences showed me that you really don't need dairy and eggs to make a meal delicious. It reminded me of a meal I made a few weeks ago.

I was jonesing for some tofu curry, so I sauteed some tofu cubes, chickpeas, and spinach in a mixture of Coconut Milk and Indian spices (I found a pack of mixed spices at my corner deli), threw in some capers and lemon juice, and topped it with some chopped almonds. The result was a creamy, comforting dish that really hit the spot. And the best part? I just made it up based on what I was craving for dinner.

It's always nice to get imaginitive in the kitchen and take risks with making something new. Sometimes you end up with a complete mess, but sometimes it can be the best thing you've ever created. It's what I love about cooking and baking.

A few nights ago, Steve and I had taco night. In the past, we had always used soy-beef crumbles for the taco filling, which tasted good every time. But recently, I'd learned about yeast extract and how it could be connected to MSG, and I started checking my processed vegan products for the ingredient. Turns out, a lot of vegan processed food has the stuff in it. Now, I've never had a reaction to the stuff, but just as a precaution, I tried a new way of doing the tacos that night- using beans instead of soy crumbles (not a huge leap, but something new for me). I followed the directions on the taco spice packet, but used beans in the place of meat. It turned out so much better than I could have expected.

I'll end my post with a quote from one of my favorite Vegan Bakers, Mrs. Colleen Patrick Goudreau:

"Don't do nothing because you can't do everything.
Do something, anything!"