Tuesday, September 18, 2007

quick meals and vegan wish fulfillment!

Daiku and I love making food from scratch - from grinding spices to baking bread, there is a definite satisfaction in seeing a meal come to fruition after some loving labor. However, life sometimes gets in the way for us, as I'm sure it does for many of you. On one busy night recently, we pulled out this "Naturally India" brand dehydrated simmer sauce to make a simple Indian-style meal.

It had everything we look for in convenience food: all-natural and vegan ingredients with no chemicals or preservatives, minimal and recyclable packaging, and a reasonable price.

We followed the recipe on the box, and voilà- an easy curried potato dish with tomatoes, onions, and peas, served over brown rice. We were pretty amazed by the tangy flavor- maybe from the green mango powder listed in the ingredients. Not bad at all for a meal out of a box. There were actually two sauce packets in the box- I look forward to the next time we pull this out for a quick and satisfying meal.

Another meal on the go, this time at the school cafeteria. I usually teach off-campus, so it's a rare occasion when I eat at school, but on this day, I couldn't resist- they were serving vegan grilled cheese sandwiches! I overheard a student in line behind me ask person behind the counter how you can make vegan grilled cheese. "What's in there?" he asked. The worker responded, "vegan cheese." The student was intrigued and picked up a sandwich to try, even though there was regular grilled cheese and even grilled cheese with ham also available. I hope he liked it- score another point for veganism!

My lunch was rounded out by some Tuscan roasted veggies (the black olives added a really nice flavor), a tossed salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar, a Silk soy yogurt, and an unsweetened raspberry iced tea. Who says cafeteria food has to suck?

Finally, some vegan wish fulfillment. While at the library doing research last week, I came across these medieval French illustrations in a journal. While I'm sure that at the time they represented a world order gone awry, they now strike me as pretty funny examples of wish fulfillment- not the wish for harm to come to humans, but the wish that humans would look seriously at how we treat animals and to think about our lack of empathy for their suffering.

In the first drawing, above, there is a mule whipping a human along as the human buckles under the enormous load on his back.

In the second drawing, a fish is fishing (humaning?) a person out of the water using a hook, while a small cat hunts a lion and a fish swoops in from the sky and snatches a bird out of the water.

The final, and most disturbing one, shows a cow butcher preparing to fillet a human, hung upside down by his feet to bleed.

I found these illustrations charming, and a tiny bit vindicating. Still, why must our relationships with others, human or animal, always hinge on power and dominance? Is there another way...?

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One year ago today: On 18 September 2006, I was blogging about our neighborhood street fair - that's coming up again very soon!



Mihl said...

You have e fantastic school cafeteria! And curried potatoes is my favourite preparing method for potatoes. What is the context of those drawings? The last picture is really disturbing especially if you consider that horses are vegans...

Vegan_Noodle said...

I am in awe of the cafeteria food. Although, yesterday I attended a meeting with some higher ups in my company, so I requested a vegan meal (didn't exactly want to get out the tupperware in front of a vp). Surprisingly enough, I had some excellent grilled veggies and a wild rice salad. Not a huge variety, but something!!

I think those drawings are awesome. Seems like everything is always about a power struggle.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

fascinating illustrations - wish I could read the captions. mmmm, your curried potato dish looks AWESOME!

bazu said...

Thank you for your comments, guys! I do not know the original context of these illustrations, only that they were published in the 1930's. (They are illustrations from some medieval fable, I think). They seem to be illustrating some long-ago "upside-down" world- for example, the caption on the second photo says something like "In the past, man got hooked by on the fish's line. Today, it is the fish that is hooked."
The last photo's caption reads "what a horrible sight- a cow that is proudly butchering a bleeding man."

Emilie said...

can't help but adore those pictures, though they are, truthfully, quite disturbing.

Ruthie said...

Oh my land! I love them. :- ) They are EXCELLENT pictures.

I like your school's cafeteria food. :)) Yum!

Nikk said...

I love LOVE that cow pic.

I would love a grilled cheeze right about now.

aTxVegn said...

Those drawings are very interesting and intriguing, and yes, a little disturbing. I don't quite know how I feel about them.

I have a couple of Indian spice mixes I really like. They are certainly a timesaver for weeknight meals.

Emmie said...

Those pictures are awesome, and disturbing. Nice to see them though. Bleh it's too early in the morning for me to say something smart. Hulk smash.

Emmie said...

and it's totally not 12:52 AM here, more like 6:52 and I just got out of bed. Damn Americans and your times :D

Monika K said...

I think the simplicity of the pictures (blue ink drawings) is charming - but I found the picture of the cow about to cut the upside man to be dark and disturbing. I think you're right about the need for proper balance between man and animals. For me, these pictures sort of miss the mark. But they're definitely provocative and I'd be interested in the background of the prints - like, what prompted the artist to create them and was he/she advocating a plant-based diet? Thanks, Bazu - I always enjoy reading your posts. (-;

Celine said...

waitwaitwait, they serve VEGAN grilled cheese sandwiches at you school?? that's amazing!

SaraJane said...

How awesome that there were vegan sandwiches at the cafeteria! I'm getting ready to start teaching soon, myself. I can only hope they'll have some semblance of decent food there like yours does.

Pink Theory said...

Wow! Vegan grilled cheese sandwiches...pretty progressive school. That's great!

laura jesser said...

I'm impressed with the vegan grilled cheeses--even our cafeteria at UGA never offered that, and they had a pretty nice vegan selection. As for the Indian curry packets, I will have to be on the look out for that--yes, as you say, life does get in the way all too often...

I like what you said about the cartoons--they are vindicating (and beautifully drawn, too). And I love the archaic French!

urban vegan said...

Hear, hear--I'm all for convenience on busy nites, That sauce sounds fab. and how cool that you can buy vegan grilled cheese--one of my all-time faves-- at your dining hall.

Those illustrations are priceless. That illustrator may have been Gary Larson's inspiration, eh?

springsandwells said...

I love this post... How wonderful to find something healthy & natural that you can whip together quickly. I usually end up settling for pasta on my busy nights.

Also the vegan grilled cheese - what fun! It's the perfect "cafeteria experience". :)

This pictures are cool. Those medieval drawings are always weird & I like their distinctive quality. It would be fun to do contemporary images with that look. I've seen "topsy turvy" world drawings from this time before... seems like it was a very imaginative period.


VeggieGirl said...

these are such wonderful, delicious ideas for quick meals - thank you for all the inspiration!! I'm always looking for simple dish ideas, since college classes prevent me from having tons of time to cook from scratch all the time.

Peggy the Veggie said...

Wow, vegan grilled cheese at a school cafeteria? That's pretty awesome!

Those pictures are great- such a strong message in those well-done illustrations. The butchering one is pretty disturbing indeed...

Kittee said...

i'm so intrigued by the drawings you found. i especially like the last one. you should make a t-shirt, that'd be a conversation starter.

say, do potatoes come in the ready made indian meal, or did you add them yourself?


Veganista said...

That curry looks yummy, Bazu! Think I need some of those convenience food boxes right now! Pretty impressive cafeteria lunch too; things aren't quite that far along in Australia yet. One day!

Those images...fascinating and disturbing.

Carrie™ said...

Wow! Cafeteria food has come a long way since I was in school. I found the pictures in the book quite interesting. And your "meal-in-a-box" dinner looks great!

bazu said...

Hi Kittee,
We provided the potatoes, the box provided the seasonings and the recipe! ;-)

Anonymous said...

There is another way. You and I and all of the other veg*ns know it. Actually most everyone knows it. They just don't care.

I agree with Kittee. A t-shirt with the cow butcher would be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and your t-shirt with the cow butcher could say "Where's the Revolution?" above or below the caption. Appropriate, no? Perhaps you and Amey could design it and sell it through cafepress or something and donate the money...

dreamy said...

Wow great illustrations! I wonder what was going on thru the minds of those who drew them.. what is the title of the journal do u know?

KathyF said...

Those are awfully sophisticated for medieval drawings. The ones I've seen are on par with the Bayeux tapestry. The perspective is always goofy.

But then, that says a lot!

Incidentally, some of the French medieval romances had a very enlightened attitude toward women as well! Wish that had survived.

iain said...

When the kid asked you what was in the vegan grilled cheese
you said 'vegan cheese'
perhaps the child could have been told that 'vegan cheese'
is made of soya, and not magic.
Soya is a plant, eating it does not cause pain to animals.
However, Brazil is the main producer of soya
and farmers there cut down irreplaceable primary rainforest
to supply rich westerners with their 'cruelty free' diet.

If you want better cheese,
keep your own goats and milk them yourself.
Don't assume that killing plants is a zero-cruelty option.
Killing mammals (other than apex predators)
never hurt nature.
Cutting down primary rainforest is putting a plastic bag over the world's head.

Hurting the world is more important
than hurting your feelings.

p&f :)

bazu said...

Thanks for your comment, Iain.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you'll know that I am very dedicated to the cause of environmentalism and that in fact I believe the vegan diet to be one of the best ways of removing "the plastic bag over the world's head" as you put it.
Yes, I know that Brazilian rainforests are being torn down as a result of soy production. But you should know that the soy and soy products, such as cheese, that most vegans eat is organic, non-GMO soy, quite a different case than the soy that is grown as a mono-crop and bringing destruction to much of the world. You could be a carnivore and consume much more rainforest soy (in the form of soybean oil, isolated soy protein, and other processed soy-based foods) in your everyday foods than a vegan would by eating organic tofu or soy cheese. It's all a matter of being informed, and I have yet to see a study or even a suggestion that vegan diets, overall, have a greater negative impact on the environment than standard meat-based diets.
How about we all try to live (and eat) in a way that causes the least bit of harm to the animals, to ourselves, and the environment? That is my goal, anyway.