05 February 2011


Anyone squeamish from "Food, Inc." would do well to skip this movie altogether. There is little new information here, though it does give those new to activism, animal rights, vegetarianism, etc. a general overview of the role of animals in human society.

The tone of the film started out a bit grandiose and preachy,coining the word "specisist" to define anyone who puts the desires of their own species above any other and linking these people to Nazi's and rapists. This is the kind of talk that often turns the casual viewer (and I mean someone not already entrenched in the cause) off. While the juxtaposition between concentration camps and cattle ranches is a good one, it seems to be used for the soul purpose of horror. The facts are horrific enough and this is where "Food, Inc." was more successful.

The movie breaks the role of animals in human culture down into five categories:

1. Pets- The main focus here is the benefit to adoption and avoidance of pet stores and puppy mills. Footage of euthanasia is stunning in the cases where injection overlooked for the inexpensiveness of gas. I adopted my cat from a shelter and plan to do so for all future pets. I'm a bit torn now as to where is the best place to adopt from though. Should I continue supporting no-kill shelters even though they are unable to support a large number of animals or should I rescue from traditional kill shelters? Am I supporting their killing of thousands of animals or am I rescuing one? It's a tough thought.

"...fellow prisioners of the wonder and travail of Earth."

2. Food- More and more Americans are becoming aware of the meat industry and its shortcomings, thanks in part to films such as this and Oprah. [side note: I want to see a "where are they now" episode following her week long vegan challenge a year from now. How many stuck with it?] The footage is much the same as you have seen before with some exceptions. When I ate meat, I thought Kosher meant better. I was horrified by what was shown at the largest processing plant of Kosher meat in the U.S. How does anyone think this is okay? I have a dream where one day I live in a house and can keep chickens. I keep trying to convince my friends who already have goats to get some chickens and maybe a pig or two. I just want to play with them! Also, I find it difficult to refute eggs that I, essentially, produced. More food for thought.

3. Clothing- Since becoming vegetarian, I have avoided leather products. After reading a post on The Kind Life  about wool production, I am determined to decrease my consumption of animal fibers as well. What surprised me most in this segment was where most leather comes from. It always seemed weird to me that so many leather goods were made in India considering the Hindu belief that cows are sacred, and even more so to realize that it is these sacred animals that are being slaughtered for coats.

"Of all the creatures that were made, man is the most detestable... He is the only creature that has pain for sport, knowing it to be pain." -Mark Twain 

4. Entertainment- Hunting, racing/gambling, rodeos, circuses, bullfighting, and zoos are all profiled here.

5. Science- Focusing on medical testing, experimentation, etc. I try to avoid products that have been tested on animals mostly because I can't imagine what we still need to learn about shampoo. However, I am unsure how I feel about medical testing and am no less confused now. With a running time of only 90 minutes, it is not surprising that questions would go unanswered. However, when an accusation is made I expect a full argument.

"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields." -Leo Tolstoy

Should you see "Earthlings"? The short answer is yes. It is especially designed with the public in mind, however it is full of graphic images which may be unsuitable for younger viewers. Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

(all quotes as seen in the film)

12 January 2011

SVW: Single Vegetarian looking for Websites

I think I may OD on vegan blogs and websites soon and am desperate to find some great sites for vegetarians not just vegans. I've got to hand it to them, those vegans are super organized and love the Internet! I must be the prime example of a vegetarian blogger- too lazy to post consistently. Maybe, I'm too busy. I like the way that sounds a lot more and it's probably closer to accurate.

Have you found any great websites or blogs of the vegetarian persuasion? Shoot me a link in the comments section please!

01 December 2010

Viva Vegan!

I love getting cookbooks from the library. It seems impossible to judge the merits of a good cookbook online or in the few minutes you have to flip through it at the book store. I think the only time I buy cookbooks now is from Half Price Books because how can you go wrong with a $5 cookbook? I was excited to get Terry Hope Romero's "Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers" as it has gotten great reviews from a number of veggie and non-veggie sources alike. I was maybe half way through the second chapter of this book (Salsas and Condimentos) when I shut the book, put it down, and decided I just needed to buy it.

When I'm only checking out a cookbook, I usually write the page numbers for the recipes I like on the back of the rental due receipt. When I finally decided this was a book I just needed to own, I had already written down about 20 numbers!

The recipes are all vegan (duh!), but are easily adaptable to vegetarian palettes as well. Latin food has been friend to the vegetarian for a long time with it's dishes rich with beans and veggies. Who even misses the meat when you have Cuban Black Bean Soup, Fried Sweet Plantains, Arepas, Creamy Corn-Crusted Seitan Pot Pie, and Dulce Batata?

The book also includes some simple seitan recipes (can you ever have enough) and is conscious of what products are and are not readily available in your local supermarket. I'm lucky to live in Texas so I have easy access to things like plantains, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, yucca, and more. I cannot wait to make so many things from this book!

13 November 2010

Use Your Noodle!

I was never a fan of noodle dishes when I ate at Chinese restaurants. Why would I get lo mein when I could have sweet and sour chicken? I am also not the biggest fan of soup so would avoid those dishes like the plague. Now that I no longer delight in chicken, it was time to give serious thought to noodles. Right off the bat I love the look of udon noodles, like thicker, soft spaghetti. Second, the brand I bought was fully cooked and came in two packages so I didn't need to cook more than what I needed for myself. (I'm kicking myself right now because I can't find the picture of the package!) The finished product of this lightly fried dish was heaven and I was so happy to have some leftover for lunch the next day. It re-heated very well in the microwave.

I've adapted this recipe from "The Kind Diet" with my changes in green. [side note: the following pictures reflect the recipe as written with a few additions. I did not limit the paprika as I suggest you do]

Fried Udon Noodles
(serves 2)

1 8-oz package udon noodles
2 T olive oil
2 c sliced green cabbage
1 c half-moon onion slices
2 t finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 T sweet paprika (1 T or 2 t paprika, depending on your taste)
1 T low-sodium Tamari
salt & pepper to taste
chopped parsley to garnish

1. Cook udon noodles as per package directions and set aside. (This is where I used the Tamari. I think I will heat them in water first instead so they don't fry as long, then add the Tamari to the cabbage when I add the onions).

2. Heat 1 T oil in large skillet or wok over medium heat. (I'm so excited, I just got a wok at IKEA for $4!!! I can't wait to use it next time). Add cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add a teaspoon or so of water to the pan if the cabbage begins to stick or burn.

3. Heat the remaining oil over medium-high in a separate pan. Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook until onions are translucent, again add a teaspoon of water if the onions start to stick. (This may be hard to tell when the onions are ready. The paprika really coats those suckers! I would give it about 5-8 minutes). 

3. Add onion mixture to the cabbage and stir to combine. Add drained noodles and toss together until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

I really shouldn't have put this in a red bowl, but you get the idea. It was so delicious!! This is a great recipe for Meatless Monday or a quick dinner.

06 November 2010

Vegan MOFO

So, it's Vegan MOFO (Month of Food) and bloggers all around the world are participating. As a vegan flirt and lazy food blogger (really, I think I would post more if I had the internet at home, but it's a real pain in the tukus to upload, transfer, download, load, etc. etc. etc.). Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yea, so for the above reasons I am not participating. I am trying to eat more vegan meals this month and so far so good. I promise to post some of my delicious creations very soon!

One of my favorite bloggers, An Opera Singer in the Kitchen is participating and she posted a really cool survey that I am totally stealing. I changed some of the questions to reflect a vegetarian lifestyle and not just vegan. Thanks!!!

1. What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegetarian, but don’t?
Steak. I thought I would miss it more than anything but it's the weird things I miss, like hot dogs.

2. What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Anything with veggies! I only liked green beans, carrots, and ice berg lettuce. Period. Now, I eat all kinds of interesting things like asperegus (in small quantities), avocados, cabbage, radishes, parsnips, etc.
3. What vegan dish or food you feel like you should like, but don’t?
Vegan cheese, except Daiya but that's only good for pizzas or quesadillas or where ever it can be melted. This is one of the reasons I am not vegan.
4. What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?

Water or pomegranet cranberry juice

5. What dish are you famous for making or bringing to gatherings?

I don't know! I think I'm just famous for bringing something homemade.

6. Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?

Oh, I'm sure there are a lot I just can't think of. I am still nervous about a few veggies like beets and Brussel sprouts. I don't like nuts in desert (though the vegan brownies at Spiral Diner are amazing!)
7. What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?

Fudge. Or at least that's what I'm guilty of eating right now!

8. What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?

Pizza. I love homemade pizza!
9. What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get the good stuff?

10. Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?

I try not to keep a lot of snacks around but it's usually a piece of candy or something. Thankfully, I can easily eat just a few spoonfuls of ice cream or gelato, or just a couple pieces of fudge.
11. What are your favorite vegan/veggie pizza toppings?

Field Roast Italian Sausage. I am also in love with marinated artichoke hearts on pizza. yum!
12. What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?

Green Beans and apples.
13. What is the best salad dressing?

It changes. I eat a lot less Ranch dressing now that I'm vegetarian which is weird. Maybe it's just that I've grown up. I usually do a simple Balsamic with oil, or French dressing, or homemade Mustard Shallot dressing.
14. What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?

American Cheese! Honey is a close second.
15. What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?

Okay, I think I can answer one of the above questions better now. I am not a soup fan. Growing up soup always meant you were sick. Now, I like it every once and a while and I always keep some on hand, but I never really go for it. That being said, Whole Foods makes an amazing Roast Garlic Potato soup that I really like with crostini.

16. What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?

Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing.
17. What is your favorite kind of cookie?

Chocolate Chocolate Chip (vegan)

18. What is your most-loved weeknight meal?

Tempeh Piccatta (converted from "The Kind Diet")
19. What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?

It's just me so none! Though, I'm nervous about my birthday this year. Where can I go that my parents will also enjoy??
20. Favorite non-dairy milk?

So Delicious Coconut Milk Unsweetend. It is yummy in oatmeal, eggs, deserts, anything. I'm still having a problem drinking it straight, but what are you gonna do?
21. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

Disaster? Failure? I know none of these things! (Although, as much as I love to make curry, I don't like that my apartment smells like it for days afterward)
22. Favorite pickled item?

Pickles! I'm also on the hunt for an inexpensive Kimchi.
23. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?

Apples, eggs, and black bread
24. Fondest food memory from your childhood?

I loved watching my Dad cook. He and my mother had completely different styles. He never used a recipe and rarely measured anything. The whole house would smell great while he was concocting something new.
25. Favorite vegan ice cream?

I like gelato. So Delicious Coconut Water gelato in Lemonaid is wonderful!
26. Most loved kitchen appliance?

Is it lame to pick my rubber spatula? It's perfect for flipping and mixing and stirring. I heart it.
27. Spice/herb you would die without?

Shallots. I am obsessed.
28. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

Strawberry Rhubarb
29. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

Enchilada's with seitan and peppers. My best friend couldn't believe they were vegetarian!
30. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

Tempeh. I'll change my answer to seitan when I learn how to make it from scratch!

31. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

I love breakfast. I only really cook it on my days off so it's a real treat. I also love to make nibbly bits for parties.
32. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.

Frozen veggies and fruit, puff pastry, Quorn Turk'y Roast
33. What’s on your grocery list?

Food grade lavender blossoms. I think I'll have to special order them and it bums me out.
34. Favorite grocery store?

Whole Foods or Central Market
35. Name a recipe you’d love to make vegetarian, but haven’t yet.

City Chicken- a pan fried veal dish my Dad makes
36. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday).
Some days I feel like that's all I read! I like An Opera Singer in the Kitchen, C'est la Vegan, and Kirsten's Kitchen
37. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?

Vegan chocolate chips are awesome. Also, Oreo's are now vegan!

38. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

I bought this crazy salt that I still haven't used. It's a really pretty lavender colour and smells divine! I think I'll use it in my next egg dish. I also finally bought liquid smoke and my Boca burgers thank me!

03 November 2010

It's Pronounced Nj-okie

Is there something better than gnocchi on the planet? Okay, that may be a totally false statement but it doesn't detract for the fact that I love these little Italian potato dumplings. I've always wanted to make them at home but they seemed labor intensive, not to mention space intensive. Lucky me to discover you can by pre-made gnocchi at better food stores. These came from Central Market and were chosen for the soul reason that there were more ingredients I recognized and the Nutritional label was a bit better (in terms of salt, fat, etc).

They were also super simple to make, though if you are trying gnocchi for the first time it could be tricky. It's hard to tell when these suckers are ready! I topped mine with some sauteed garlic and homemade pesto. So yummy!

What to do with leftovers? I combined them with a bit more olive oil, cheese (Italian blend) and topped with breadcrumbs to bake at about 350 for about 10 minutes or until the cheese was melted and the bread crumbs crisp. Pretty yummy. I would have loved a bit more sauce in the baked version and will probably make a light, vegan white sauce next time. If only I had white wine on hand that night...

02 October 2010

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas is the largest state fair in the country. It's so grand and unique in nature that Oprah filmed an entire episode there. The Fair is also home to a fried food contest that brings the most innovative and often delicious treats to visitors. Past winners have included fried butter, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, fired short ribs, and fried peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwiches. This years treats (and tricks) were no different:
** Here I am sampling some fried green beans while the local news looks on. These are probably my favorite thing at the fair. Mostly because I can lie to myself that it's healthful (there's veggies in there yo!), but also because there are only so many treats for a vegetarian to enjoy. They are yummy and totally worth it!

** The food pavilion features food from around the world and so delicious! The carnivorous crew members indulged in turkey legs and fried short ribs, but we were on a more serious mission: Fried Beer. The winner of Most Original, it was hiding somewhere in the pavilion and we had to find it. While waiting in line, a fellow fair goer asked us if we wanted her fried beer. She said is was disgusting, put the basket in our hands, and walked away. She didn't even want any tickets for it! Of course, we couldn't take her word for it. Let me just say that if I never have to see, hear, or taste fried beer again it will be too soon. Imagine a salty ravioli filled with Shiner Bock, now imagine biting into said ravioli only to discover the beer is still in liquid state and now running down your shirt. Oh, and it's hot.

On a positive note, the Fried Green Tomatoes were great and they came with a zesty chipotle ranch dipping sauce!

** Deep Fried Oreos are so good. It's like when you hold an Oreo in milk for just the right length of time so it's soft but not soggy, then you batter and fry it. I also tried the fried chocolate (new this year) which was good but I think they were running out so I only got a small chunk. Still, that chunk had a nice cherry in it (fruit! healthy right?).

** The fried grilled cheese sandwich that debuted last year was back again. I was not impressed last year, it tasted like hot oil and no cheese. The best part was the side of tomato soup for dipping. This year, things were looking up for the sandwich though the soup was still the best part. I'm guessing this once again has something to do with being there on opening day before the fryers become disgusting.

** Word-of-the-day Jennie loved the fried Frito pie so much she was clamoring for seconds. I have to say, when I ate meat Frito pie was one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I must have eaten it at least once a month. I kinda wish this had come out last year so I could have tried it but I don't think it lessened anything for me not to. This won Best Taste at this years fair.

** I was kind of bummed when I heard about the Green Goblin. It's a pepper (pablano/habenero?) stuffed with shredded chicken, rice, cheese, and avocado. Why did they have to ruin it with chicken?!

**Fried Moonpie. Like the Oreo but with marshmallow. Pretty good, of course by this time I was fighting a nasty headache from all the sugar, oil, and beer I'd ingested.

** In an attempt to supplement my Fair beer diet, I also tried some fried Texas caviar (black-eyed peas) tossed with seasoning (including Old Bay). They come in regular and spicy, though as a lover of all things spicy I cannot imagine eating that one. The regular was so flavorful and spicy I'm pretty sure the hotter version would kill me.

** Of course, before you leave the Fair you need a little something for the ride home or to comfort you until you can come back again. Might I suggest some cotton candy or salt water taffy (my personal fav)?

I'm sure I forgot something deep fried and wondrous, but I can't remember anymore. It's a good thing I started the day with a small salad, just to keep me grounded. I also never want to see anything fried for a really long time.