Monday, November 05, 2007

Maxine's Mexican casserole

A few weeks ago, I heard about Maxine, a cow that escaped slaughter in Queens, New York, and made news because she was found running through the streets of the city. Fortunately, this cow's story had a happy ending- she was captured by animal control, and sent to live out her days in Farm Sanctuary. Like the other animals there, many of whom have similarly escaped slaughter, she reminds us that animals are sentient creatures and have a strong will to live. They don't want to die, period.

Since VeganMoFo in a lot of ways is about getting back to basics, I want to make sure I visit the "why vegan" issue. Veganism is great for health, great for the budget, great for the environment, great for learning to cook, hell, it's even done wonders for my skin. But the real reason that I went vegan is because of animals like Maxine. One look in any animal's eye, one day spent with any animal, is enough proof that they don't want to be your dinner. They don't care if they're grass-fed, open-pasture, super duper happy humanely raised animals. They still don't want to be your dinner.

Today I saw this video about Maxine on the Luminous Vegans blog. It literally made me cry. This is the reason for going veg. This is the reason for VeganMoFo.

Of course because it's VeganMoFo, I will tie this back to food. Here's a dish that could easily have beef in it. But it can just as easily have no beef (or dairy, or any other animal products) in it. The taste is there, the texture, the nutrition, the looks. Why eat beef when you just plain don't have to?

Maxine's Mexican Casserole

serves 4 (I am not going to give a recipe with exact measurements, because this is flexible and actually a great way to use up what you have or what you prefer, so just mix it up as you see fit)

  • a bunch of corn tortillas (even better if they're stale, because smothering and baking them makes them delicious)
  • some leftover tomato sauce or enchilada sauce or any red sauce. or green sauce. just sauce, ok? (we used leftover pasta sauce, the flavor was just fine)
  • a bunch of black beans, or whatever beans you have in your kitchen
  • a bunch of tofu, tofu feta, tofu ricotta, or whatever seasoned tofu crumbles you have
  • some lightly steamed kale (or any greens, perhaps leftovers from last night's dinner?)
  • some chopped onions or scallions
  • other assorted goodies- we used pickled jalapenos, but you can use olives, corn, whatever sounds good for some added crunch and flavor
  • some hot sauce and/or chili paste
  • some seasonings- we used cumin, coriander, oregano, black pepper, chili powder, and dried jalapeno pieces
Then get to work layering them in a small, deep casserole dish while your oven pre-heats to 375 degrees. (Our dish was about 6 or 7 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep)
Start with the tortillas, then layer in beans, sauce, and greens to your liking. We made about 4 generous layers. Top your final layer with remaining tortillas, a bit of sauce, and some chunks of your tofu cheese.
Bake for about 45 minutes, covered with aluminum foil. Take the foil off for the last 5-10 minutes to the the top nice and crunchy.
Serve topped with tofu sour cream or whatever you like.
Eat, and raise your glass in honor of Maxine and all of her brothers and sisters who weren't as lucky.

P.S. I'm working on downloading and sorting NYC photos - I'll post about my trip soon, I promise!



KathyF said...

Thank you. I've got tears streaming down my face, and I can't help but think of "my" cows, who disappear about this time of year.

But thank you for posting this. It means so much to me to know that some cows, somewhere, are not going to suffer the same fate.

Kittee said...

I have an adopted sheep, named Grace that lives at Farm Sanctuary NY. I hope they get to meet.

Thanks for posting the video, it made me cry--especially listening to the woman talk about the fact that she would stop eating animals.


Pink Theory said...

wow! I miss so many posts on your blog if I'm not quick! :-) LOVE all the halloween photos...all the food looks amazing as always and I love your costume (I saw the documentary on him and it creeped me out). Maxine's casserole also looks very delectable, thanks for the instructions on that. and thanks for the heads up on vegan mofo!

Celine said...

Bazu? I hearts you.

Courtney said...

Great post! I had heard about Maxine in the news, but not seen that video--thanks for posting about this.


VeggieGirl said...

I too saw that video, on the Luminous Vegans blog - so powerful, and really proves that there's hope yet for a more compassionate society!!

wow, that Mexican Casserole looks MARVELOUS!! yum!!

Gaia said...

You are so right. It's really plain and simple, they don't want to be our dinner.
Very touching post, Bazu <3

P.S. I love your new photo on MySpace :))

Veganista said...

I'm at uni, about to get started on another day of thesis, so I haven't watched the video yet--will do so tonight. But I think the message is so good, and so appropriate to veganmofo. I'd been thinking about doing one on why vegetarian, why vegan myself--maybe this weekend. Anyway, thanks Bazu!

And gah...that Mexican casserole looks good. I might make this when Josh gets back!

Theresa said...

What a great way to combine ethics and food--veganism in a nutshell!

Rachel said...

yay nyc photos! <3 foof

meesh said...

Oh, Bazu this is so true. They do NOT want to be our dinner. And really, can we blame them? It's just not right.

Thank you for posting this. I love the 'thrown together' aspect of the resipe. A great reminder that we don't need to have exactly the perfect ingredients in the kitchen to make a tasty vegan meal.

Melody Polakow said...

I am so touched by the video post...
I really must get to the Farm Sancutary.. this coming summer, I will visit.

It is shocking to me that people at meat. I know it shouldn't be.. I was raised a vegetarian in a mostly vegetarian community, so it still horrifies me people consume animals.

.. of course, just being vegetarian is not enough... to stop the exploitation of animals... which is why I love this blogosphere... to take things to the next level.

textual bulldog said...

wow, ok, the best part of the maxine video, for me, was the animal control employee saying that she wasn't going to eat meat anymore, having made the connection between the gorgeous moo-er and ground beef. it's amazing to see people have those epiphanies, so, so beautiful and hopeful-making. i'm so glad you reposted this, bazu! and your casserole looks wonderful, too. :)

stonielove said...



... can i say "wow" one more time?

Vegan_Noodle said...

Very important to always remember the reason we went vegan. I wish every other animal destined for slaughter could escape like Maxine did.

I love Mexican casserole's like that. So free form. Just add whatever is lurking in the fridge or pantry and you're set!

Ashasarala said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Besides the healthy benefits and environmental issues, the core of my conviction is all for the animals. It breaks my heart to see any living being suffer.

That casserole looks so, so good- without any beef to boot! I think I really need to try it. :)

Rural Vegan said...

I got to meet Maxine last month at Farm Sanctuary. She's doing great now and I think she would most certainly approve of this casserole!

Judy said...

Sounds yummy.

The Little Vegan said...

I saw this video on Luminous Vegan's site, and happily watched it again on yours :o).

selina said...

another dish that looks absolutely heavenly. really, i shouldnt visit your blog before i eat dinner.

aTxVegn said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate Maxine, a perfect post Bazu!

Theresa said...

bazu, I know what you meant! I do feel better after 'getting away', more because of the new-ness. I wasn't really getting tired of the old-ness, but I feel invigorated after coming back!

urban vegan said...

Here's to Maxine and all her animal campadres--adn here's to Bazu for making a great, Maxine-free meal.

Amber said...

Wow, awesome video. I was really touched by the woman who is going to stop eating animals.

dreamy said...

Ah I have seen this video before, yes it's really touching and I can hear that the lady was really going to cry too... if only more people can realise what the lady realised

Vivacious Vegan said...

I couldn't watch this on your blog for some reason but I was able to pick it up on Luminous Vegan's. It made me cry also. I loved how she said the other cows would moo and greet the newcomer. I believe it too because about 1/4 mile from my house there is a small farm. One day we were riding our bikes and noticed a few of the cows were freaking out. Pacing, pawing, snorting, and mooing. The farmer walked around the corner and I asked him what was going on. He said that within the past week he had 5 cows give birth and they were rounding up the calfs to sell. Bazu, we could hear those mamas mooing all the way at our house for 2 days. It broke my heart.

vko said...

I love Maxine and I love that worker making the connection between the living creature and meat she eats.