Friday, February 29, 2008

of veganniversaries and revolutions

image courtesy:

Happy leap day, everybody! I'm so glad I have this extra day in February to quickly get in one more blog post. You see, the month of February represents my 4th veganniversary- woo! (You can read my long-winded vegan story in this post from last year)

Perhaps because of this occasion, I've been thinking a lot about veganism lately. I think that as a community, we've come a long way, and that both we and the culture at large are seeing our movement in new light. Just think back to all the spectacular publicity, both good and bad, that veganism has received in the past year alone- clearly, we are pushing some buttons. But I think it's important for us to think carefully about how we push those buttons- above all, I want veganism to be about inclusion and compassion. I think that even though change is slow, more people eventually come to share a view if it is presented to them intelligently- with wit, talent, and of course, deliciousness.

This is where Hezbollah Tofu comes in. Ok, I bet that's not what anyone thought I was going to say next, right? Let me explain a little bit! You might remember the big New York Times article 2 weeks ago (featuring Urban Vegan and her husband!) that discussed vegans and their relationships with non-vegans. Then you might also remember this choice quote from prick chef extraordinnaire Anthony Bourdain (pictured above), who wrote in his book Kitchen Confidential: "vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter factions, the vegans... are the enemy of everything that is good and decent in the human spirit." That quote might leave you scratching your heads a little- in addition to comparing us with a paramilitary group, Bourdain says that we are the enemy of goodness and decency! Seriously- the desire not to kill or participate in suffering makes us... indecent.

Well, as you might expect, this quote, and Bourdain's general vegan-bashing (surely he's seeking confrontation, right? Nobody really thinks that way...right?) has created a bit of a buzz in the vegan community. Over at the PPK, Equus a.k.a. Sara of the wonderful and ironically-titled Vegangelical blog had the genius idea of veganizing Bourdain's recipes. You see, he stereotypes vegans as wan, picky eaters, teetering in constant hunger, who wouldn't know how to cook or eat good food to save their lives. Well, I think most of you would agree that we are far from that caricature- I know so many talented vegans, who create, cook, and share food of the highest quality. So, why not put all this boundless talent to use to beat Bourdain at his own game and help out a good cause in the process?

Enter: Hezbollah Tofu. With zen-like serenity, we are going to turn Bourdain's epithet on its head. You want guerilla tactics? We'll give you guerilla tactics- everyone is hereby invited to help veganize Anthony Bourdain's recipes. We will collect the best ideas in a zine, which we can sell with the aim of donating all profits to an animal-rights charity... in Bourdain's name.

I love this idea, because it shows vegan activism in a very mature and confident light. We don't have to get hostile, we don't have to panic, all we have to do is what we do best- cook for people and spread the good word. Visit the blog. Read Sara's words. Brush up on your Escoffier and classic French techniques. Come up with ideas. Let's make this happen, people! Let's show vegan cuisine, once and for all, as the robust, expansive force that it can be!

I'm watching you, Bourdain. Do you see a pale, skinny, picky eater who survives on dandelion greens and dew drops here? Me neither. I'm off to see about veganizing demi-glace. Who's with me?


Monday, February 25, 2008

where to start?

Ok, I can't seem to blog or even be online as frequently as I used to, and as I want to! Does this ever happen to you guys? Ever since Daiku and I got back to Syracuse in January, we have been a little less than creative with food, photography, everything that would be blog-worthy.

I know that this happens to almost everyone from time to time, and that sooner or later I will be back to blogging at a quicker pace. But for now, I'm just checking in to let you know that I haven't gone anywhere!

If you are a member of the PPK, you might recognize the above image. For a few weeks now, I have been using my pictures of food to make photo mosaics, each in a different color. So far I'm up to 6: green, orange, red, pink, purple, and yellow. They are really fun to make, and a bit addictive. Also, they have helped me immensely as I struggle with winter depression- just looking at all these bright, fresh foods makes me happier! It is amazing the variety of colorful foods that vegans eat, no?

You can look at the individual mosaics posts on the PPK as follows:


And, thanks to some peer pressure encouragement, I have put the designs up on Cafe Press. If you want a food mosic journal, or t-shirt, or tile, or (my favorite!) clock, you can buy it here:

Please browse and tell me what you think! I've never done anything like this before, so all of you with more graphics and design experience and knowledge than me, please feel free to give me feedback! In any case, I hope the mosaics bring you guys some happiness, especially if like me, you are staring outside at a cloudy snowscape and wondering if spring will ever get here.

As for me, I'm off to visit all of your blogs and see what you've been up to! Oh, and I'm looking forward to having my 100,000th blog hit in the next day or two. This is so amazing to me, and makes me more grateful than ever for all you visitors!


Friday, February 15, 2008

quite timely, actually

Ok, so in my last post I talked about how long it often takes me to try recipes, right? Well I take it back- today I bring you a case of a recipe that looked too good to delay making. And I am so glad we got to eat this!

Tofu Mom posted her recipe for tofu fish on her blog, and I made it and ate it on Wednesday. I needed a quick lunch because I was running off to class, and realized that I had all the ingredients called for, with a few exceptions. I replaced the almonds with an almond/pine nut/pepita mixture from Trader Joe's, used furikake (a mixture of nori strips, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar) instead of the kelp granules, oat bran and flax meal instead of wheat germ, panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) instead of cornflakes, and lime instead of lemon. These changes did not make any real difference to the awesomeness of this recipe, though! These tofu fish fillets were a breeze to whip up (adding lemon/lime juice to the soymilk is ingenious, because in addition to adding flavor, the acid thickens up the soymilk, thus making it coat the tofu very well, key for breading) and fry in the cast iron skillet. We ate these with some rice and a side salad- so tasty! Trust me, make these as soon as you can, you don't want to wait on this one!

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and Daiku and I celebrated by giving our love to ducks. Specifically, ducks whose tortured lives are given to the production of fois gras. These poor ducks are overfed by having metal rods shoved down their throats, to the extent that their livers expand under the weight of too much food. These diseased livers are the delicacy known as fois gras - 900 calories (per 1/2 cup serving) of cruelty. Fois gras is so beyond the realm of comprehension- and many people agree. Its production and sale are banned in several countries (including many that border France, where it originated), the state of California, and several cities including Chicago. In addition, many more cities are currently considering banning it, including Philadelphia and New York.

The Syracuse Animal Rights Organization decided to picket L'Adour, the only restaurant in Syracuse that still serves fois gras. Hundreds of restaurants, including ones run by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck have signed a pledge to stop serving fois gras, and we want L'Adour to follow suit.

Won't you consider writing L'Adour and letting them know your feelings about fois gras, the cruelty inherent in its production, and the folly of its consumption? You don't have to be vegetarian to be repulsed by this kind of culinary ignorance.

Attn: Yann Guigné and Alexia Falcone, chefs
L'Adour Restaurant
110 Montgomery St
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 475-7653


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

a few months late...

If there's anything I specialize in, it's taking entirely too long to try a dish, even when everyone raves over it, even when it's something I have been dying to try, even when the recipe and the ingredients are right there, staring me in the face.

Such was the case with Katie's buffalo wings from her 'zine "Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk." (You can find the recipe on her blog) I ordered the 'zine as soon as it came out, months ago. I gathered all the ingredients, weeks ago. I gazed lovingly at the recipe and at other bloggers' photos and raves, regularly.

And last week, we finally made them!

Here are the breaded tempeh pieces coming out of the oven, ready to be drenched in the tangy and spicy buffalo sauce.

And here is the finished product, with carrots and celery adding that essential contrasting crunch. Gorgeous, aren't they? Next time, I will make the sauce even hotter, because being a resident of upstate NY, I love me some HOT wings. Also, I'm working on a blue cheese recipe that would be the ideal accompaniment to these... stay tuned for that.

Daiku and I were invited to a dessert/wine party last week, and I decided to make the chai latte cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They were fun to make, and even funner to decorate:

Here's the stencil I made to decorate the cupcakes with. Notice I accidentally created little gingerbread men-looking cut-outs in the corners!

Unfortunately, the men didn't make it onto the cupcakes, since the stencil was too big. But these were fun little cuppers anyway! I made a mistake and put in too little flour into the batter, so it was very liquid - fortunately, this didn't affect the taste or texture of the finished result one bit.

So, I have all the ingredients I need to make the DEOTS buffalo wings again- I promise it won't be months before that happens!


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

super fat

Daiku, Mardi Gras, party store, 2006

Happy Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day / Carnivale / Super Tuesday everybody! I want to dedicate this post to the wonderful Kittee, a.k.a. Cake Maker to the Stars. As you know, she lives in New Orleans and when she heard me complain about not being able to find certain key ingredients for cooking a Mardi Gras feast, she sent me the most amazing care package! Behold:

  • Zapps potato chips (what other brand of chips do you know that makes a (vegan) flavor called 'Cajun crawtator'??)
  • Tony Chachere's seasoning (the flavor can't be duplicated)
  • Camellia field peas and red beans (for authentic New Orleans red beans and rice, of course)
  • Zatarain's crab boil seasoning (to make a nice vegan boil with potatoes, corn, what have you)
  • Zatarain's root beer extract (just, wow!)
With all these essentials in hand, I was able to do some holiday cooking today. I made Kittee gumbo and Kittee king cake. (sense a theme here?)

The gumbo called for Julie Hasson's Italian sausage recipe from Everyday Dish, which was wonderful, because after reading everyone rave about these on their blogs, this recipe was something I'd been wanting to try. And you know what? These sausages were really really good. Not only was the flavor wonderful, but more importantly, the texture was just right- chewy without being rubbery, tender without being spongy. Seitan success!

The gumbo came out great, chock full of Tony Chachere's and Tabasco sauce, bursting with flavor. It wasn't too thick, but because of the okra and the roux, it had real body. Daiku, who used to live in New Orleans, loved it as well.

The funnest part of today, however, was baking the king cake! Traditionally, a baby Jesus (king) figure is baked into the cake. Whoever gets the slice with the baby (or bean, as some people use) has to bake the king cake for next year's party. Since my baby is made of plastic, I couldn't bake it, and it didn't matter, since it was just the two of us tonight anyway. Instead, I let the baby hang out on top of the cake and check out the action.

Here's an inside shot - I added some bourbon-soaked raisins to the cream cheese / cinnamon sugar filling, and they complemented the orange zest and vanilla of the cake perfectly. You have got to try this recipe, I don't care that Mardi Gras is over!

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, here's a bonus: pumpkin bread pudding with bourbon sauce. This bread pudding recipe, from Fatfree Vegan, is one I'd been wanting to try for ages. This weekend, Daiku and I had to take dessert to a party we were going to, so I finally got the opportunity. The best part about this dish is that it's made in the crock pot, so we got to plug it in at our friends' house to ensure that it could be served warm. The bourbon sauce is an invention of Daiku's, veganizing something that usually calls for butter, cream, and egg yolk in addition to bourbon and sugar. He used soy cream, sugar, Earth Balance, vanilla, and bourbon, and thickened the sauce with a bit of cornstarch. This was a really addictive sauce, and perfect to bring out the mild flavors of the bread pudding.

Whether you were celebrating Fat Tuesday or Super Tuesday today (or both, like me) I hope you had a great time. And a delicious one, too.

Here's my Mardi Gras post from last year!


Monday, February 04, 2008

Wheeler's: vegan ice cream, anyone?

Last month, I was delighted when Wheeler's Black Label Ice Cream offered to send me some samples to taste-test. I had tasted their heavenly ice creams once, back at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival in October, and had become enamored immediately. Like many other bloggers who have reviewed this ice cream, I'm an unabashed fan. I have seen the future, and it is Wheeler's: decadent and creamy ice cream that comes in fabulous and tantalizing flavors that would make anyone's heart melt. This is the ice cream to serve to those picky and skeptical omnivores in your life.

This ice cream is enough to make me contemplate moving to Boston. It might have a similar effect on you. Until then, sit back, relax, and let the photos tide you over.

Here are the flavors I got: (clockwise from top left) Black Russian (yes! booze and ice cream - what more could you ask for?), chocolate coconut (an underutilized and awesome flavor combo), and peanut butter chocolate chip (made this non-PB-dessert-lover swoon). You might notice that my tower of ice cream had 4 containers, not the 3 you see here. Well you see, Daiku and I ate the 4th flavor, Mexican chocolate, faster than we could take pictures of it .

black Russian

chocolate coconut

peanut butter chocolate chip

x-treme ice cream close-ups!

taking tiny tastes in tiny spoons- the best way to savor the ice cream- and delay the inevitable sadness that will come when my temporary stash of this miracle from the vegan gods is depleted. Sigh.

I want to thank Wheeler's for letting me taste and review their ice creams, and humbly beg them to start making their products available in Syracuse ASAP.

Visit their blog!