Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recipes: Holiday Menu

I am so looking forward to having two of my favorite people fly all the way out here from San Francisco to spend xmas with me and my husband (and all our animals)! They fly in Xmas day, and leave after new year's so we're sure to have a great week together! And what kind of southern housewife would I be if I didn't cook for them every night? I'm trying to put together a week-long dinner menu in preparation (money's tight so its easier to stay in rather than eat out, though I'm sure we'll be doing some of that too). Here's what I'm thinking...

-Enchiladas - corn tortillas rolled with chick peas, corn, beans, rice, vcheesev, and lots of green sauce
-Chili Boats - hollowed bread bowls filled with chili and topped with fresh veggies
-Taco Plates - soyrizo and black beans, quinoa baked with tomatoes, and fresh veggies on top
-vBurgersv - & Fingerling potato [baked] fries (my husband's specialty)
-Pasta - whole wheat noodles for added protein, sauteed jalapenos and onions, red sauce and toast
-Potato Leek Soup - blended creamy potato base with diced leeks, onions, garlic and parsley
-Orzo with Pesto - I love orzo pasta, great in soups too, but with pesto its great, w/side salad
-Gnocchi - my new favorite homemade recipe, as test-driven for thanksgiving. yum! (and last but not least... my favorite:)
-Salads & sweets- load up on a lot of homemade sweet treats (mousse, fudge, brownies, cookies, or vice creamsv) and chase them with a hearty big bowl of fresh veggies and berries.

I'll try to take pictures as I cook! We're sure to have a feast! I can't wait to welcome my California BFFs to Texas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recipes: Santa's Coming to Town


I baked and decorated vegan sugar cookies the other night with one of my BFFs and it was so much fun!
Cookie recipe found HERE (along with frosting recipe).
Sprinkles were clear, and pink (dyed with beets).

I also attempted my first vegan version of rumballs, which are alright, but next time I will try to make more of a fudge/hybrid... because though they are delicious, they are more cookie than the truffle texture I was hoping for.

Another tradition that I have finally revived, is the christmas clove ball. I used to make these with my mom as a kid and they smell so good. I made mine with a small satsuma orange and a bottle of whole cloves. And of course, what Xmas is complete without Silk Nog and Cheap rum?

I'm ready for you Santa... three more days.

Philosophy: It always comes in Waves

Lately I've been feeling bombarded by more omnivore's pushing their dilemmas my way and try to either budge me from my vegan views as an attempt to shatter a lifestyle (my own), that makes them feel guilty for not being strong enough to also adhere to, or to make me explode with vegan vengeance. All vegans are different, and for me I've found the most productive way to help others learn about cruelty-free living is to do just that- be cruelty-free. Be kind, and sometimes that means suffering through pretending to feel comfortable around meat eaters, to assimilate into their "norms" rather than trying to push them to assimilate into mine. And I generalize, apologies, this is indeed a rant. Letting off steam, not everyone who is a carne is like this.

Growing up with all omni's as I trekked through life holding true to my believe system (I was lucky enough to have a liberal open-minded family who let me pursue my own way of life- re: veganism), and moral codes of respect for animals, and later to learn the benefits of a vegan lifestyle also for the planet, and for not just animal but human health... I've learned to keep my lips sealed. To stay quiet and be the "nice" vegan who can get along with everyone. So often I've felt like the black sheep surrounded by otherness, and whenever I speak up those others seem to jump on the chance to test the fact that I am different, I am vegan. An incredibly small number of people who I am friends with are vegan (though I hope to meet more!) and none of them are apart of my daily life. I'm lucky to hang out with another vegan once every 6 months or so (I need to change this), and so time and again I feel like its just "easier" to shut up and be thankful I at least have friends,  meat-eating people, who graciously go along with eating the vegan meals I cook for diner parties. Its not like my meat-eating friends eat ribs and steaks around me, so I'm not offended by corpses and smelly death meat on their plates and breaths when we hang out... but I really hope to find more vegans to spend more time with. Its just not the same.

As I've grown older and more independent I have felt more confident in sharing my beliefs, knowledge in my cruelty-free lifestyle, and constantly search for better ways to improve my life by lessening my global footprint, and not inflicting harm on others. I have learned to say what's on my mind more, though its not always received well, and even those voiced opinions seem to be censored out of respects for offending omnis.

And why do omni's feel the need to defend their meat consumption to me? Or to guiltily confess that they just can't give up meat, or that they can't be healthy as vegetarians/vegans? Does it make them feel better to talk to a real, true vegan and explain why they are suffering through their moral dilemma of what they know is wrong, and yet what "tastes so good" to them? It all seems to come in waves, and pile up like a bad car accident on the freeway. One of my husband's work friends was laughing as I told the story of how we adopted our dog, (she's a rescue we found on craigslist, heart worm positive, and was found on the side of the road, almost dead weighing only 40lbs... now she's healthy at 90lbs, heartworm free and part of our forever family). As he laughed in my face, he told me, "I just don't like animals."

I am more than happy to help educate people willing to learn more about how I go about my daily life, by not consuming meat or animal products, why I chose and choose to live the way that I do, and how I feel about the planet and why its important to respect her and all her life forms. But if you feel bad about how you live your life, don't come making up excuses to me, or acting all shocked when I open my mouth and start up the conversations that you asked for.

Vegan friends... where are you? Can't anyone relate to me???

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dining: Movie Concessions

I love going to the movies! And as a vegan my experience may be different than those who associate buttery popcorn, milk chocolate candies and bon bons with movie theaters... or so you may think. Most theaters do offer vegan popcorn (as long as you hold the butter topping-which many times  contains no real butter or animal products either). I like to eat mine covered in Nutritional Yeast, so unless I remember to stash a plastic bag full in my purse, I usually don't order any- even though I can.

Depending on what kind of vegan you are, you may or may not consume artificial colors (Red 40 is rumored to be derived from beetles, though I'm not entirely sure how true that is), hydrogenated oils (that most theater popcorns are drenched and cooked in), or artificial sweeteners and refined sugars (which many times are filtered through bone char, though no animal products are IN the sugar, they are used to process them).

Though I try to steer clear of all of the above due to health reasons (rather than vegan ones), I will indulge on the occasional conventional candy treat. Especially for the nostalgic sake of only eating them when I'm at the movie theater. The following are offered at most theaters and [depending on what kind of vegan you are] vegan friendly:

Mike & Ikes, Hot Tamales, Red Vines, Dots, Lemonheads, Airheads, Mambas, Jujy Fruits, Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, Black Licorice, Sour Patch Kids, And of course Sodas, Slushees, Juices, Black Coffee, Teas... to name the ones off the top of my head.

The article below also claims that Skittles have dropped their gelatin ingredient and gone vegan as of this year (2009) making them movie-snack friendly for vegans, but I'm unsure of the validity. It would be exciting to find the truth in it though, since I haven't had skittles since before I was vegetarian (over 18 years ago). I used to love skittles! Here's the article I found on VegNews with the Skittles mention and their info on vegan-movie theater food.

My local favorite, is The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. It is an amazing cinematic experience for anyone who loves movies, beer on tap, and eating in comfy theater chairs in almost complete darkness (if you're like me, remember not to wear a white shirt). They also screen many old favorites and cult classics for sing & quote-along nights, along with screening new releases. Its my all time favorite place to see movies in Austin.

Going to the movies wouldn't be complete without snacks, and their full-menu would agree. Their menu offers french fries (that are vegan), a falafel plate, salads, hummus and veggies with pita wedges, chips and salsa, and a few other items that are or can be made vegan upon request. For nights I don't feel like a beer I highly recommend their homemade brown sugar lemonade. So good! Their menu also offers movie-themed specials, and my all-time favorite was the Plomeek soup they served while Star Trek was in theaters (and as we all know Volcans are Vegan! just like their delicious version of Plomeek soup. mmm good).

They also offer regular theater candy- Mike & Ikes being the only vegan option, though they buy in bulk and fill up take-out boxes that are easy to eat out of and give you your money's worth. Everything I've mentioned above is brought to you while you remain seated. Just write your order on a piece a paper and slip it in the slot in front of you to alert their waiters to server you- its brilliant!


Lastly for the health-nuts out there who prefer not to indulge in the movie junk food, stashing a zip lock bag of dried fruit, nuts, organic dark chocolate (which is sold at some theaters), or panda licorice is a healthier (and vegan) alternative for satisfying your movie-munchie needs. Now I want to go to the movies!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Philosophy: Holiday Gift-Giving

Cruelty-Free Gifts for everyone this year! Here is a link with suggestions, passed along to me, via Thought I'd share it here too: Compassion Over Killing

And one of my ABSOLUTE favorite places to shop for gifts is through Etsy. handmade original crafty gifts abound on, and here is the link to their: vegan etsy team of sellers

You can also just search, "vegan" on etsy's home page and find tons of vegan goodies that way too!
 here's that link: Etsy search results for "vegan"

Get crafty this year. Make your own gifts and/or support independent artists & artisans while supporting animal welfare too!

 Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Recipes: Our Vegan Thanksgiving In Pictures

*Links lead you to recipes that I started with, though many are modified to suit my tastes/added flavors. 

This year I only cooked but two, but it was lovely and cozy. I decided against the Tufurky, turns out you're supposed to "baste" it! I have no idea how to do that. I've never cooked anything resembling meat in my life haha, so... Instead of that, I stuck to my tried and true favorites. It goes without saying that my husband and I were stuffed, and our meal left us feeling extremely satisfied and thankful. Another year of gratitude, and another absolutely delicious cruelty-free feast! We are definitely looking forward to this coming week of leftovers.

There are endless blessings that I am thankful to have in my life, for all my wonderful, beautiful family and friends who constantly inspire and surround me with love no matter how close or how far they are geographically. I am grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly, and the love that is in my house every day & night. I think its important to not only celebrate these fortunes on one day out of the year, but its important to remember to appreciate what we have daily, while also being mindful of others, and those who are not as lucky as we are (no matter how hard we think we have it). I also would like to share in a moment of silence, to mourn the millions of lives lost in the building of this country, and the billions of animals who have been slaughtered to nourish American families. Every life is meaningful and every life deserves respect. Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recipes: Thanksgiving Menu 2009

  • Purple Mashed Potatoes
  • Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing
  • Blueberry & Raspberry Muffins
  • Jalapeno Cornbread
  • Green Salad with lots of fresh veggies and walnuts
  • Tofurky (my first year ever trying one, we'll see if the dog will like it if we don't)
  • Cranberry Sauce from Scratch (my first time, I have some organic canned sauce for back up)
  • Organic Local Corn on the Cob
  • Mint-Chocolate Vegan Mousse
  • Silk's Non-Egg Nog with Rum
  • Lots of Love, Gratitude, and Phone Calls to Family!
Recipes and photos to come... 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Philosophy: Instead of buying a corpse this year...

...Save a life! No time like the present to start a new tradition of love and compassion for this year of giving thanks.

"But Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without the flesh of a Turkey to murder and consume," or so you say... Did you know that the tradition of carving a Thanksgiving Turkey is a fairly new 20th century marketing ploy, funded and encouraged by the Poultry Industry? There is in fact no evidence of the Pilgrims and Native Americans consuming Turkey at all.

Along with the mass murder, and celebratory consumption of innocent turkey corpses, I would like to acknowledge not just the animal lives lost on this American holiday, but to also remember and bring awareness to the human lives lost when the Pilgrims came to the Americas with blankets infested with Small Pox, and the violence and massacres that went on all to steal land from those who rightly were living here before us. **For more information, please take the time to read The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (most of which can be read online in that link).

A moment of silence and respect, for the people before us, who lost their lives in the building of what we now know as The Untied States, what we now know as "home" and take for granted as being rightfully ours. Remember those before us, to bring forth awareness, and erase the cultural amnesia that this country continues to promote by continually urging us, the people, to forget its violent beginnings. Be aware, and be thankful not just on this one holiday in November, but year-round. History only has the potential to repeat itself when we don't take the time to learn from our mistakes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recipes: Vegans can be lazy too!

So you don't have loads of cash to eat out at pricey vegan restaurants, or the money to buy a fridge full of expensive prepared frozen vegan meals either? What if you additionally don't feel like cooking? That's how things have been for me lately, and guess what, you don't have to say being vegan is impossilbe, "Off to fast food chains we go!" No sirree. I've been such a lazy cook these past few weeks, so I haven't been posting my regular cooking posts. But in case you're curious out there, what do I eat when I don't have a half-hour+ to cook here it goes, my simple meals:

-Cereal and soy milk (organic raisin bran from Costco is vegan, so are Cheerios, Grapenuts and I also like whole wheat Chex, or old fashioned oat meal).

-Baked potatoes, with earth balance butter, dried parsley, chives, lots of salt and pepper, and tufutti sour cream if I have some. Easily blended into mashed potatoes, adding a little bit of soy milk.

-Nachos, with homemade bean dip (blend a can of black beans into a paste), melt Follow Your Heart gourmet vegan cheese into the beans, add hot sauce, diced pickled jalapenos, diced fresh tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes), avocado slices, tufutti sour cream if I have it, olives, and/or hummous too if I have it.

-Canned Soup with toast, Amy's soups are all (if not ALL then mostly all) vegan. Sometimes I sautee onions in the pot first then add a can till heated. I butter my toast with Earth Balance and dust some Nutritional yeast on top.

-Rice and beans,  I use our rice cooker to cook brown rice, and to cook quinoa. Minimal effort, and super filling/good for you. Add some canned beans or chili, and perhaps a few microwaved tortillas on the side. Yummy.

-Homemade Snack Fix- Trail mix- Frozen Dark Chocolate Chips (most dark chocolate is vegan- but check labels, none of Hershey's is) and salted mixed nuts (I buy a big tub from Costco).

-Simple Salad- Leafy Greens with whatever veggies I have on hand, bell peppers, grated carrots, tomatoes, avocado slices, and also strawberries, diced apple, nuts and seeds are good on there too. Flax seed oil and Balsalmic vinegar dressing- whipped together with spicy mustard so they don't separate.

-Ramen Noodles- I buy several different kinds at an Asian Market near my house, also Nissin brand, "oriental" is vegan (but Maruchan is not... so read the labels). The Asian Market also has just the noodles (which are vegan) without any flavor packets, so I can add a vegan bouillon cube for flavor. Also while water/noodles are boiling, I like to add some frozen veggies/broccoli into the water along with some dried parsley and siracha hot sauce. Also good to dip toast in.

-Pasta- I prefer Whole Wheat Noodles for added protein and fiber, but most are vegan (just not the egg noodles which are usually clearly advertised as such). There are several jarred and canned vegan tomato sauces that are delicious. I sautee some onions, throw in a jar of sauce with fresh garlic, jalapenos, frozen broccoli, soy rizo, and/or soy protein (substitute for ground meat)- whatever I happen to have, and that's about it.

-Artichokes- Steamed. I whip together a dipping sauce with mostly Veganese and some Siracha hot sauce and its so good! A classic.

-PB&J- You can't go wrong with that! Extra good with a tall, super cold glass of soy, rice or almond milk.

-Fruits! Grapefruits and Apples have been my favorites lately, and Satsumas, but also all fruits, melons, berries and veggies are always good snack foods. Fresh and dried.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Philosophy: "But Animals Aren't as Important as People..." RANT.

I really don't understand why people don't feel the same way about dead and/or abused human babies v. dead and/or abused animals. Why not? They are both innocent, pain-feeling beings. Only the babies consume and accumulate SO MUCH more environmentally damaging waste (diapers, out grown clothes if they're bought new, bottles, toys, pacifiers, water, energy etc...), and grow up to harm the planet further and threaten everyone's life with over-population as our numbers continue to exponentially reach a critical number to sustain ANYone's life. Also most likely they'll grow up to be just another hateful, harmful, cruel person like so many humans turn out to be whether they know it or not, whether they accept it or not. Don't get me wrong, I love kids, they are amazing and breath-taking, inspiring and should be listened to more than most people give them credit for.

But along those lines, why not also love and appreciate our animal brothers and sisters? If we can love babies who continue to harm our planet, why can't we love our truly innocent wild and domesticated neighbors? And I'm not talking about the frat boys next door. Animals live amongst the land, don't negatively impact the planet with pollution and toxins, bio-hazardous and further radioactive wastes, and unnecessary cruelty and meanness to their families, friends, & acquaintances because they 'feel like it' or because they're having a 'bad day' or face it, because they're selfish little shits like most people and just don't care. Why do people think they are so much "better" or "smarter" than animals, when its the humans who are so stupid as to disregard all life around them, and the dying planet that we continue to inflict harm upon. If we all want to live so bad, why do we keep smoking cigarettes (in cars and at home with our kids!), and turn a blind eye to all the small things we could do to make less of a global impact. I know animals use aggression to dominate territory, and such but its not an emotionally charged way to make others just feel bad about themselves, like people do- ALL the TIME. This point right here, might even make people feel bad, but sometimes you have to speak the human language to get the message across it seems.

Humans are so selfish! Sometimes I wish I just lived in the bottom of the sea, or no because of all the water pollution-- better... Sometimes I wish I was just a volcano out in the ocean, building new, isolated islands for no humans- only animals to live on and respect their ecosystems as they innately know how to do, and live harmoniously within their circle of life and not be a dip shit like all these effing douche bag people. Animals are so much more innocent than human babies, but for some reason that doesn't equate to most people. Every time I see a slab of meat, or an animal being mistreated or teased or made fun of their pain- think of your own damn baby, being eaten, and beaten, teased till they cry while you sit and laugh at their pain or ignore or worse- eat them. If you don't have a baby, think of your future children, a child you babysat, your nieces, nephews, friends kids, or heck, just a random baby. And those images that you think are gruesome, and horrible and unnecessary, the images that make you mad and upset, that's what I go through all the time. Why doesn't any one else seem to care? I really don't understand.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat animals. Who do you what to be?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recipes: Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta with Okra and Veggies

 I started with THIS recipe found on

-also added jalepenos to onions/garlics while sauteeing
-added fresh diced okra (into saute mix)
-added organic frozen veggie mix (green beans, carots and corn)
-used 1 12oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies instead of fresh (its what I had)
-and mixed in a 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast at the end to thicken the dish and add flavor.

-put raw green bell peppers and some lettuce salad straight on top
-my staple homemade dressing: mustard whipped with balsamic vinegar and flax seed oil.