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Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Pig Winnie

This year we adopted a pig from the Farm Sanctuary in NY (in previous years we have adopted chickens). By adopting, I mean that we pay a donation to the Farm Sanctuary to provide for her care. My pig is Winnie. You can see a pic of her if you click on her name. Here is a link to Winnie's story. We plan to go visit the Farm Sanctuary this summer and meet her (if anyone else is interested in a summer trip to the Finger Lakes region this summer, let me know).

Anyway, we adopted a pig because we felt so bad about the horrible cruely that pigs endure in factory farms. Pigs are very intelligent creatures and are even smarter than dogs. This peta fact sheet says that they can even play video games. Pigs are kept in very crowded conditions and most never see the light of day. Female pigs are kept in crates too small for them even to turn around. Babies are taken from mothers when they are days old and kept in such crowded conditions that they would bite each others tails (except that they cut off their tails and break off their teeth without painkillers). In addition to all of this the conditions in which they are transported and slaughtered are just as horrendous... no,worse. Please read the fact sheet that I linked to above and make an informed decision.

If you eat pork, why do you think it is ok to eat pigs? Why not dogs? What is the difference? Is one more cuddly than the other? Why do we (humans) have these artificial lines in our heads about which animals are ok to eat?

Consider sponsoring an animal at the Farm Sanctuary this year. The number of animals that they can help depends on the number of sponsors in a given year. They do really good work and deserve any support you can give them.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Soft Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

1 Tbs ground flax seed
3 Tbs water

2 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup carob chips
1/4 cup chopped dried turkish apricots (can substitute other dried fruit)
1/2 cup really good raisins
2/3 cup chopped pecans

2 medium bananas, mashed
1/4 cup safflower oil (or canola oil)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

Mix the 1 Tbs flax seed and water in a bowl and set aside for about a minute. Stir again just before mixing with other ingredients.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix the mashed bananas with oil, almond butter, maple syrup and the flax/water mixture. Stir well to mix in the almond butter. Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well. Press the mixure in the baking dish. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into 12 bars.

These would be really good served with some vanilla soy yogurt.

A Holiday meal

On holidays we make something different. We have never been much of traditionalists. Holidays just give us an excuse to make something a little fancier than usual. Last night we had Butternut Vindaloo stuffed in Kabocha Squash. We threw some brown basmati rice in the bottom of the squash.

Butternut Vindaloo stuffed in a Kabocha Squash

We also made some vegan sugar cookies. I think these might be the best sugar cookies we have ever made. We decided to forgo the food coloring.

Vegan Sugar Cookies

I put the sugar cookie recipe in the extended entry. I didn't just link to it because (a) I didn't want to lose it if they ever take their web site down and (b) their frosting recipe was awful. I added my own frosting recipe below.

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Last week we made Red Velvet Cupcakes out of the cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World. They were really good. I like this cookbook, with one reservation. I do not like the frosting recipes because they contain shortening which gives the frosting a slick feel. I have found that replacing the shortening/margerine mixture called for in the frosting recipes with all margerine fixes the problem. We also made the Chocolate cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream frosting. I think the Chocolate ones were better than the Red Velvet (and didn't contain red food coloring), but I forgot to take a picture of those. Here are some pics of the Red Velvet cupcakes:

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Vegan Pot Roast

I made this a few weeks ago and just finally downloaded the pics from my camera. This is a vegan Pot Roast from a recipe in The Vegan LunchBox. The roast is made from a homemade seitan (wheat gluten) of sorts. It was really good and definitely worth the effort. The Vegan LunchBox cookbook is really good. We haven't made anything out of it that wasn't fantastic.

Vegan Pot Roast

I brought the leftovers to work for lunch the next day and 2 of my co-workers looked at me with disbelief and one of them said "but I thought you were a vegan". Ha.


Prep pics are in the extended entry.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Vegan Wine List

Trying to find vegan wine is well, trying. I have started making my own list by emailing vineyards that are common in liquor stores in my area and by searching the web. Here is my list which I will keep adding to and revising. Email responses are in the extended entry.

Rosenblum
Cline (Reds are vegan, not sure about white) *
Bonterra (White only) *
Frey (All)
Fetzer (White Wines are vegan)
Yellow Tail (Reds are vegan, Whites are not)
Beringer (White)
Thumbprint Cellars *
Louis Jadot Beaujalais Village
Penfolds Clare Valley Cabernet Merlot Shiraz *
Penfolds Clare Valley Chardonnay *

NOT VEGAN:
BonnyDoon *
Fat Bastard *
Bogle *

------- Notes ------

Bonterra:

Dear Kristin,

Thank you for visiting our web site and for writing. We sincerely appreciate your interest in Bonterra Wines.

We use egg whites in the fining process of our red wines. However, our white wines are free of any animal products and are vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Ages ago, it was discovered that egg whites added to wine would aid in removing unwanted tannins. This 'tannin fining' process is used to improve the flavor of red wines by limiting the astringency caused by the tannins. The egg whites settle to the bottom and are then filtered out. All residue of the egg whites is removed from the wine.

Thanks again for writing.

Best regards,

Elaine
Bonterra Vineyards
Wines of Distinction

------------
Penfolds:

Dear Kristin,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Penfolds Wines.

Penfolds produces two completely organic wines. These are the Penfolds
Clare Valley Chardonnay and the Penfolds Clare Valley Cabernet Merlot
Shiraz. These are available in Australia through the Penfolds cellar
door and are widely available in the UK.

Penfolds other wines are made with the regular winemaking process and
this includes the process called fining & filtration. During fining
small amounts of protein elements are added to the wine and whilst they
are removed from the wine during racking and filtrations some traces of
these elements may remain. The amount that remains in the wine is so
small that it is measured in parts per million. There are many fining
agents used however only a few are made from animal products so you will
need to check the labels on wines to check which contain animal
products. The agents containing animal products are:

- Fish products - Isinlgass
- Milk products - Casein
- Egg products - Albumen
- Animal products - Gelatin

I hope this is of some assistance to you.

Kind Regards,

Kiel Smith
Consumer Relations Coordinator (Australia)
Penfolds Wines

--------------
Bonny Doon:

Thanks for your interest in our wines!

Even though we try to be as ethical as viticultually possible, our wines
are for the most part not vegan.

Some of our red wines may be vegan as we normally do not filter or fine
our reds. However, there are instances when we use either skim milk or
egg whites as fining agents to remove microscopic particles that could
cloud the wines. But to be on the safe side, our wines overall cannot be
guaranteed vegan.

Please let me know if you need any more information.

Cheers,

Patrice Riley
Office Assistant
Bonny Doon Vineyard
PO Box 8376
Santa Cruz, CA 95061
831-425-6740 (Phone)
831-425-3856 (Fax)

--------------
Fat Bastard

Thank you for your Fat bastard inquiry.
Our wines are fined with egg whites, so they are not vegan.
Kind regards,
H. Wallace
Click Wine Group
Seattle, WA

---------------
Rosenblum

From: kane@rosenblumcellars.com
Subject: Vegan
Date: December 26, 2006 1:06:19 PM EST
To: kristin
Reply-To: kane@rosenblumcellars.com

None of our wines are have been fined.
Sent from my BlackBerryĂ‚® wireless device

--------------
From: Kelly@RosenblumCellars.com
Subject: RE: Vegan wine?
Date: December 26, 2006 1:11:59 PM EST
To: kristin

Yes, our wines are vegan.

--------------------------------

Cline

Hi Kristin - I do not "fine" the wines using any animal products. We
manage the fermentation such that the wines are not overly tannic when
produced.

Best regards,
Charles Tsegeletos
Winemaker
Cline Cellars

-----------------------------

Thumbprint Cellars

Hi Kristin,
Thank you for your interest in Thumbprint Wines. All of our wines are vegan. In fact, very few of our wines are filtered or fined at all; that just removes the good flavor!
If any of our wines are fined, betanite, a diatanaceous earth, is used.
Hope that answers your question; if you would like to order wine or become a wine club member, feel free to emai this address or call the tasting room at 707-433-2393.
Have a Happy New Year!
Byron

----------------------------

Bogle

Thank you for your email. Bogle winemakers use several products in the
production of our wines, including gelatin and egg whites. These are
classic and standard materials used in the making of most wines in
California today.

Hope this information is helpful to you.
Best wishes,

Jody Bogle VanDePol
Customer Relations/Wine Club/Export

Friday, December 22, 2006

Favorite vegan products

This list will continue to grow over time.

Food
Coffee Creamer - Silk Plain Creamer
Tofu - Nasoya
Milk replacement - Eden Soy Milk, or Enriched Rice Dream (tastes like skim milk)
Butter replacement - Earth Balance
Egg replacement - Ground Flax Seeds and water for hearty baked goods, Ener-G for desserts, Tofu for quiches and scrambles
Bread - Vermont Bread Company Organic Bread
Wine - Frey Zinfindel
Honey replacement - Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar
Nutrional Yeast Brand - Red Star
Vitamins - Chewable Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Formula by Pioneer
Energy Bar - Cliff Bar - Peanut Crunch
Sugar - Hain Organic Cane Sugar
Powdered Sugar - Hain - Organic Powdered Sugar
Brown Sugar - Hain - Organic Brown Sugar
Cookie - Liz Lovely Cowgirl cookies

Make-up
Lipstick - Zu Zu Luxe
Concealer - Clinique All About Eyes Concealer (works well for blemishes too)
Makeup - Clinique Soft Finish Makeup
Eyeliner - Clinique Quickliner for Eyes
Blush - Clinique Blushing Blush Powder Blush
Mascara - Aveda Mosscara

Skin Care
Deodorent - Lush Aromacreme
Shampoo - Lush shampoo bars, Aveda Sap Moss, or Aveda Shampure
Conditioner - Aveda Sap Moss
Lotion - Jason Unscented Vitamin E, Lush Sympathy for the Skin
Face Moisturizer - Lush Almond Kisses
Lip balm - Lush Eggsnog
Hand Soap - Kiss My Face Self-Foaming hand soap
Soap - Lush Sexy Peel, Lush Karma

Clothing
Socks - tdb
T-shirt - Food Fight grocery, or Vegan Freak
Purse - tbd
Wallets - Matt & Nat

Web Sites
Vegan store - Food Fight Grocery, Cosmos Vegan Shoppe, or Vegan Essentials.
Vegan Freak
Podcast - Vegan Freak Radio

Vegan - pronounced Vee-Gan, not Vay-Gan

I just wanted to mention that I am not from the star Vega. I am not a "vay-gun" and I don't "vay-gunize" recipes and I don't eat "vay-gun" food. I am not an alien.

It is pronounced "vee-gan".

Saturday, December 16, 2006

But, I could never live without cheese...

People often come up to me and say things like "I could go vegan except for {insert favorite food here}". If you have ever thought this then you should do just that. Go vegan except for that one thing. You'd still be making a difference. You'd still be killing less animals and causing less suffering. If you've thought I could go vegetarian, but never vegan. Do that. You'd still be making a difference.

If you are on the fence about going vegan, then I challenge you to try it for 3 weeks. Just try it. You'll see how easy it can actually be. Going cold "tofu" is the only way to do it. A lot of foods like cheese are addictive and once you get them out of your system for a couple of weeks you may find that you no longer crave them.

There is a great book to help you make that final step towards veganism called "Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World" by Bob and Jenna Torres. I highly recommend it for anyone considering going vegan.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Is kosher meat more humane than other meat?

I was asked by a co-worker is kosher meat was humanely slaughtered meat and I promised I would investigate and report back. I'll warn you ahead of time, this one might get a bit gross. My co-worker told me that she thinks that when something is labeled kosher that it means that the animal was humanely killed. I didn't know anything about this so I did some internet research.

Personally I don't think it is possible to "humanely" slaughter an animal. Think about it. How humane would you find it if someone slit your throat? or your pet's throat? I never find killing to be humane. But, is it MORE humane than other slaughterhouse methods? The answer is unclear. It depends on which slaughterhouse (more about that later) and whether you care about how humanely the animal is raised.

Kosher Slaughterhouse procedure vs other slaughterhouse procedure - According to Judaism 101, "Ritual slaughter is known as shechitah, and the person who performs the slaughter is called a shochet, both from the Hebrew root Shin-Chet-Tav, meaning to destroy or kill. The method of slaughter is a quick, deep stroke across the throat with a perfectly sharp blade with no nicks or unevenness. This method is painless, causes unconsciousness within two seconds, and is widely recognized as the most humane method of slaughter possible". In a traditional slaughterhouse cows "are shot in the head with a bolt gun, hung up by their legs, and taken onto the killing floor, where their throats are cut and they are skinned. Some cows remain fully conscious throughout the entire process" (link).

Jewish Beliefs on Compassion - "Whether we look at modern Jewish social justice work or ancient rabbinic rulings, Jews have always insisted on the importance of having compassion for animals and reducing unnecessary animal suffering—tsa'ar ba'alei chayim in Hebrew" (link).

Is it really more humane?

Unfortunatly, PETA has undercover video which shows that not all kosher slaughterhouses are as humane as they claim. "PETA’s undercover investigator videotaped workers at the plant who were ripping the tracheas and esophagi out of the throats of fully conscious cows and improperly slaughtering them with the result that many were still attempting to stand three minutes after their throats were slit." (link, and Washington Post article). The USDA did find that Agriprocessors violated the humane kosher laws, and even worse that USDA Inspectors took gifts as bribes to keep quiet.

Even if Kosher meat is more humanely killed, the meat generally comes from the same inhumane factory farms as all other meat. "Cattle raised for kosher meat are castrated, their horns are ripped from their heads, and third-degree burns (branding) are inflicted on them—all without any painkillers" - (link). Since it is important to Jews to have compassion for animals and reduce animal suffering, I cannot see any alternatives other than to stop eating meat (cows, chickens, pigs, and all other animals).

And if you have managed to read this far, I encourage you to check out JewishVeg.org for more information about how eating meat fits in with the commandments of the Torah.

Hopefully, since I am not Jewish, I didn't manage to incorrectly use terms or say something offensive. If I did, I apologize.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

A poll for ye

I love polls. While I think I only have about 2 readers on this site (I really hope there are more than 2), I thought a poll would be fun. Please vote in the poll. You'll be anonymous, and I won't even know who you are... so go ahead and vote. :)






Oh, and no peeking at the answer before you vote. The answer is in the extended entry.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Friday, December 1, 2006

Are you man enough to watch?

Here is a video which shows why I am vegan. I am going to warn you that it is not easy to look at. You may not be able to get through it. You may not even be able to bring yourself to look at it. It's heartbreaking. If you can't bring yourself to look at it, I understand, but I'd like you to think a bit about why you don't want to see it.

http://meat.org/
Meet.org, The website the meat industry does not want you to see

I admit, that I could not watch the whole video.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yay, vegan tattoos

I did some research into the inks that my tattoo artist uses and found that one of the three brands of ink he uses is vegan: Starbrite. I am now happy in the knowledge that my January tattoo will be vegan!

Oh, you probably want to know why most inks aren't vegan. The liquid that the ink is suspended in (the transport mechanism) is often animal based glycerin rather than vegetable based. Some inks use crushed insects to get color, and some use bone char.

Which Clinique items are vegan?

I emailed Clinique to find out which of their cosmetics contain animal ingredients. Their initial reply was encouraging:

"Very few animal derived raw materials are found in Clinique products. Animal ingredients are used only when their efficacy cannot be duplicated by any other source of ingredients. When an ingredient can be obtained from either animals or plants, we use the plant derived material. "

But, they asked me to provide a specific list of items I was interested in to get more information. I sent them a list of every item of theirs that I have ever used. Their reply is below:

Not Vegan:

Different Lipstick - acetylated lanolin alcohol & lanolin oil (wool grease) and beeswax

Colour Surge Bare Brilliance Lipstick - does contain beeswax

Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo - does contain beeswax

Pair of Shades Eye Shadow Duo - zinc stearate (bovine)

High Impact Mascara - contains melanin from a marine animal's ink sac. (sepia officina) and for extreme inquiries, also contains sodium
hyaluronate (from yeast or bacterial fermentation)

Lash Doubling Mascara - beeswax

Vegan (no animal products):
Quickliner for Lips
Blushing Blush Powder Blush
All about Eyes Concealer
Quickliner for Eyes
Soft Finish Makeup - cholesterol (wool grease) animal ingredients replaced. The Soft Finish Makeup ingredients no longer contain animal ingredients.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is honey vegan? No.

This is a tough question. Even some vegans debate this amongst themselves. But, in the end, honey is an animal product and vegans believe that animals are not here for our use. We don't need their products to live and therefore we just don't use them. This includes honey.

Here is a link to a great article about whether honey is vegan or not. All quotes below are from this article.

According to the article above, most honey doesn't come from the backyard honeybee farmer that we all picture in our heads, but rather it comes from honeybee factory farms. Bees are killed. A lot of people think that bees are not killed by the process of humans collecting bee honey. Bees are often killed by being stepped on by the beekeeper or crushed by the frames while the beekeeper is taking the honey. Beekeepers control the hives and keep them from swarming so that they can't just leave if they are unhappy.

The hive dynamics are regulated by the beekeeper, not the bees themselves.

"A successor queen is selected by a human instead of the reigning queen--both of whom may have been "artificially inseminated." "Queens can live for as long as five years but most commercial beekeepers replace them every two years" (Shimanuki & Sheppard, 181) (and often yearly). Yes, "replace" is a euphemism for killing the old queen. Backyard beekeepers also regularly kill their queens. This is done for numerous reasons that all boil down to exerting control over the hive."

Queen Bees often die in transit:
"Queens come from commercial queen suppliers. The image is hundreds of queens with a few nursing bees in individual cages waiting to be flown around the country (Beekeeping). Travel can be rough on the queens; according to Eric Mussen, a UC Davis Extension Apiculturist, "Once at the post office or shipping depot, nearly anything can happen. Queens can be over heated, chilled, left out in the sun for hours (desiccated), banged around in baggage compartments, and exposed to insecticides. Often, the post office or shipping hub fails to contact the customer when the queens arrive and they may sit in storage for days. It is surprising that the queens come through as well as they do" (Mussen). Finally, colonies (hives) are routinely split in half according to what the keeper wants, not the queen."

So basically, when in doubt, leave it out.

Substitutes:
Agave Nectar (easily found at Whole Foods or on the web)
Suzanne’s Specialities’ Just Like Honey Rice Nectar
Maple Syrup

Here are some other good articles to read on the subject:
http://www.friendsofanimals.org/actionline/fall-2004/is-honey-vegan.html
http://www.vegansociety.com/html/animals/exploitation/bees.php

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A holiday quote...

"Our turkey is so big that it must have been growing for about 8 years"

Yes, even though I am vegan, my family still says things like this to me. So, let me clear up any delusions that people may have about how long their turkeys actually got to live before going to be killed at the slaughterhouse: 14 to 18 weeks. Yep, that's it.

Read more.

Turkey Cruelty

A New Compassion Over Killing Investigation Uncovers Cruelty at a North Carolina Turkey Hatchery that Supplies Butterball and includes video footage.

From the Charlotte Observer article that covers this investigation:

"The videos involve turkeys being hatched for this week's holiday. Since October, the company has been a corporate affiliate of Butterball LLC, and its turkeys are sold under the Butterball name."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Tale of Two Turkeys

I was going to post about honey today, but Turkey seems more appropriate.  I read several articles in Satya Magazine this week about Turkeys and honestly it broke my heart.  Turkeys are intelligent, curious, social creatures and they are treated horribly.  

Turkeys have been genetically modified to grow very large breasts, because that is what people like to eat the most.  The result of this is that their breasts are so heavy that they can no longer breed normally.  Turkeys have to be artificially inseminated.  And really, it is not as nice as it sounds.  Once or twice a week, the male turkeys are held down and manipulated or "milked" and their sperm is collected.  Someone actually has a job where they do this to turkeys all day long.  Meghan Beeby in a Satya Magazine article wrote:

"In describing the milking process a worker explained, “It’s totally different than what people imagine. I can tell you right now—you’re gonna be shocked… Basically I’ll give you the short run down of it. We got a tom bench in the barn. The guys pick the toms up and put them on the bench and they rub them up, squeeze them, and it ejaculates the tom. The semen is sucked up through the filtration system and sent through a valve...” "

The females are held down and inseminated.  The workers who do this often injure the turkeys.  They are essentially raping turkeys.  Beeby also wrote:  

"Each laborer inseminates an average of 1,200-1,400 hens within two hours."

The other side effect of the extra large turkey breast is that the turkeys have a lot of problems walking.  

Turkeys, like chickens, also have their beaks "trimmed" to prevent them from pecking each other in their overcrowded pens.

Turkeys are slaughtered inhumanely.  Peta says "At the slaughterhouse,turkeys are hung upside down by their weak and crippled legs. Their heads are dragged through an electrified stunning tank, which immobilizes them but does not render them unconscious.Many dodge the tank,meaning that they are fully conscious when their throats are slit. If the knife,too,misses its mark,birds are boiled alive in the tank of scalding water used for feather removal."

For more information, see this Satya Magazine article or this Peta brochure.

And if you think that your turkey was humanely raised, read this Satya article.

This Thanksgiving, I ask that you consider not eating turkey.  Serve something else.  Consider serving a vegetarian main course instead.  Consider adopting a turkey from the Farm Sanctuary.  Your $20 adoption fee provides the funds for the Farm Sanctuary to care for one of the lucky turkeys for the year.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Go see Fast Food Nation, the Movie

Fast Food Nation (the Movie - there is a book too) starts Nov. 17. Go see it. Here is a flash animation called Backwards Hamburger that promotes the movie and shows a hamburger deconstructed in reverse. The dog un-pooping is funny.

Here is a trailer for the movie.

The movie stars: Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, Avril Lagine...

Vegan Apple Streusel Muffins

I took a recipe that my friend Liz likes and veganized it, added a topping, and used a lot more apple. They turned out really well. They are up in the top of the list of best muffins I have ever made. We can't decide if these are better than my hippy muffins or the pumpkin muffins we make a lot. Really really good. You must make them.

Apple Streusel Muffins

Vegan Apple Streusel Muffins

1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup soy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp safflower oil * (or canola oil)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Granny Smith Apple ***, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts **
4 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine, softened
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup natural granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Topping Ingredients
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp rolled oats
1 tsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine, softened
2 1/2 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with muffin papers. You might want to lightly spray the muffin papers with non-stick spray (I didn't and had 2 different types of paper liners and the muffins stuck to one kind, but not the other).

Add all topping ingredients to a small bowl. Mix them together by mashing with your fingers. It should create a crumbly topping. Set aside.

Mix the flax seeds and water in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside for about 3 minutes. Stir again just before adding to other ingredients.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the oat bran, applesauce, soy milk, flax seed/water mixture, safflower oil, and vanilla. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the walnuts, apple, brown sugar, margarine, and cinnamon. Stir in flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the liquids to the flour-apple mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin tins (you may have a little batter left over - this makes about 13 muffins). Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of topping over each one and lightly tap it down.

Bake for about 18 minutes. Let cool for about 3 minutes in the muffin tins. Then remove the muffins to a cooling rack.

------------------
* Safflower oil is a polyunsaturated fat containing omega-6 fatty acids. Safflower oil is also less processed and less refined that canola oil and is better nutritionally.
** Liz, don't skip the walnuts. They are yummy and good for you. You can also replace them with chopped pecans.
*** Granny smith apple is a must. Don't substitute another kind of apple. The tartness of the granny smith is really great in these muffins.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Is Domino white granulated sugar vegan? No.

I emailed Domino sugar to get clarification on whether their granulated sugar and brown sugar were vegan. The answer was a definite no and honestly was much more information than I really wanted. Here is my email to them, followed by their response:

From: kristin
Sent: Sat 11/4/2006 3:08 PM
To: Web Mail
Subject: Consumer Question or Comment

Consumer Question or Comment

Can you please tell me if your products are vegan? Do they contain any
animal products? Is the sugar bleached using any animal products?

Specifically I am wondering about the regular granulated sugar and the
confectioners sugar.

Thanks,
Kristin Thomas
---------------------------------------------------

Dear Kristin,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Domino Sugar Co. regarding our use of natural charcoal. Natural charcoal is a sterile material used to remove color, impurities and certain naturally occurring minerals from sugar during the refining process. It acts similarly to a coffee filter and is not in the sugar itself. There are no animal products in Domino Sugar. Domino sugars are certified kosher, pareve.
The safe and long-standing use of natural charcoal in the sugar refinement process is the best available in the sugar industry and is approved and certified safe by both the FDA and USDA. Consumers can be assured that all materials used in the Domino Sugar's refining process are fully approved as required by the federal government’s strict manufacturing standards.

The natural charcoal we use is made exclusively from the bones of non-European cattle. These healthy bones are incinerated for 12 hours at temperatures reaching over 700 degrees centigrade. This burning process destroys all organic matter (including viruses, bacteria and proteins), leaving only an inert granular substance called natural charcoal that is about 10% elemental carbon and about 90% calcium hydroxyapatite.

We take pride in the fact that our sugars are 100% pure cane and do not contain fillers of any kind. We do not bleach our sugar. Our brown sugars contain no added flavoring or coloring as the molasses flavor is derived naturally from cane, through crystallization.

We also produce a natural Demerara Sugar which is crystallized from pressed cane juice and is not filtered over natural charcoal. Many consumers enjoy this natural turbinado sugar for its crunchy texture and its rich, subtle molasses flavor. You may also prefer to purchase our Domino Pure Cane Certified Organic Sugar; this sugar also does not pass through the natural charcoal filter.

I sincerely hope that the foregoing answers your questions and addresses your concerns.

Sincerely,

Connie C. Hunter, Domino Foods, Inc.

---------------------------------

Note that cane sugars (they look light brown but taste the same) are a vegan alternative to white granulated sugar. Here are some cane sugars you can look for in your grocery: Florida Crystals, Domino organic cane. Florida Crystals also makes a powdered sugar. I think the Whole Foods store brand 365 also has a natural cane sugar.

Are Free Range Eggs OK? No.

I was recently asked whether free range eggs were "ok". I am not quite sure what the person meant by "ok", but I think they wanted to know whether I still considered it to be cruel to eat free range eggs. I do. There are many reasons that I will not eat any eggs and why I think you also should not eat eggs.

1) Free range is a crock of shit. The egg industry wants you to picture a nice little farmhouse where chickens come and go and nest in nice clean bundles of straw. In fact, I saw a Perdue commmerical today where they showed their chickens living in a nice little farm with lots of room. In the real world, free range just means that they are not living in cages. This is definitely better, but is still awful for the chickens. In general, they don't get to go outside. They are still overcrowded with very little room to move around. The standards for free range are so lax that if there is a little window in the barn or a little porch where chickens can go outside, farmers can call the chickens free range. No one is checking to see if the chickens ever do actually get to go outside. The conditions for these chickens are still horrific. Don't be fooled by commercials by companies like Perdue. Read this article for more information.

2) Debeaking. Because chickens live in such crowded conditions and they normally peck at each other to eastablish a pecking order (which would be fine if they had some space) chicken farms de-beak the chickens. This means that they slice off the beak of the chicken with a searing hot blade. This is extrememly painful for the chicken. Some even die from this procedure. They do not get any pain-killers. They do this to the chicks when they are still tiny babes. More on debeaking.

3) Male baby chicks are discarded or ground up for fertilizer. There are two type of chickens bred in this country. The chickens have been genetically modified to produce one type that grows really fast (broilers) and another type that lays lots of eggs and does not get very big (layers). When layers have chicks, half of them are male. The male baby chicks are useless to egg producers and they will not grow fast enough or big enough to make broilers so they are discarded. They are simply thown away in big black trash bags full of baby chicks (just born) or they are tossed live into a grinder and are ground up for fertilizer.

4) Hens are still sent to slaughter after their egg production drops off. They become pet food. Being a vegetarian is not enough here if your purpose is to prevent animals from being killed. These hens are still killed. They do not move to some nice farm in the country to live out the rest of their lives. They are sent to slaughter just like broiler chickens.

This is why I do not eat eggs and why free range eggs are not a suitable option. Most foods can be made with egg substitutes (enerG, or flax seeds). You do not need eggs.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Does anyone read this?

Do you read this? If so, drop me a comment. Consider this to be a roll call of sorts.

The reason that I want to know is that I plan to change the focus of this blog and I want to know who my audience is and whether anyone will care. I plan to make this a vegan web site with vegan recipes and information about what is and what is not vegan. I plan to address the questions that people ask me. For instance, the other night at dinner I was asked if "free range eggs are ok". I am not sure whether she wanted to know if I eat free range eggs or whether I thought that it was ok for others to eat free range eggs. So, my next post will address both of these questions.

I am hoping that my friends will read it to understand why I am vegan and I also hope to provide some information about web sites where non-vegans can find recipes to cook when their vegan friends are coming over for dinner. My friends indicated that this was a concern, so I hop I can help address that too.

You can feel free to let me know how you feel about this change. And, if you want to keep the blinders on, then you might want to unsubscribe to this blog.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Restaurant Review of Oba! in Portland, Or.

While visiting Portland, Oregon, I got the change to have dinner at Oba!, a cuban fusion restaurant. It was great. It was a really nice place and the decorations were dark and comfy. Our waiter was very knowledgeable. Oba! is veg*n friendly. The have a seperate vegetarian menu that you can get if you ask for it and on the menu it says "please notify your server if you are vegan".

We started with margaritas and spinach salads. I really wanted the butternut squash enchiladas but they came with a cream walnut sauce. The waiter walked to the back to confer with the chef. The chef said that he had just made a new pasilla chile sauce and would use that instead. Yay. The enchiladas came with a red quinoa salad. I was quite pleased with dinner and I think I need to figure out how to make red quinoa salad. That is the second time I have had something like that and I really like it.

I left full and felt like I had had some good nutrition for the day instead of all of the junk food vegan that I have been getting my sticky fingers onto here in Portland. My meat eater friends were also happy with the place. Jennifer also got the enchiladas, but with the walnut sauce (she thinks that shw might have like the pasilla sauce better, as it would have been less creamy), and Dave had the corn chowder with crab and crab cakes for dinner. If you live in Portland or are visiting, I highly recommend this place.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Review of TJ Scallywaggles

HP and I ate dinner at TJ Scallywaggles. It is a pizza and sub shop gone vegan. Everything on the menu is vegan. Imagine a typical Boston pizza place and you have TJs. The only difference is that meat and cheese have been replaced on their menu by vegan substitues. The staff behind the counter were extremely friendly. We asked them for suggestions since we aren't used to having any choices when we eat out. The person helping us suggested the "Chicken" Parm sub and also the buffalo "chicken" pizza.

We decided on a salad, the "chicken" parm sub, and a "meatball" calzone. HP had some lemonade and I had a vanilla soy milk. The food was exactly what you would expect from a pizza/sub shop. It was tasty, filling, and probably not really very good for you... but hey, you aren't generally looking for health food from a pizza shop.

We liked this place and I am sure we will be back. I am curious to try the pizza and I also want to try the "chicken" gyro.

Review of Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown - such a downer

We tried to have dinner tonight at Deluxe Town Diner. It is an odd place in that it really is an old style diner in one of those diner shaped buildings, but the food is upscale. They have salads with goat cheese and polenta jalepeno fries as an appetizer (we were going to try those). They have a 2 page tea menu. Sadly the service was really slow and the menu wasn't as fuill featured as it appeared. The menu shows quite a nice number of vegetarian entrees and we both came in with our hearts already set on the tofu loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.

The waitress finally came over after about 10 minutes after we sat down to get our drink order. We told her that we were ready to order and tried to order the tofu loaf. She told us that they were out of that (it was 5:30 in the afternoon, so it obviously wasn't because of the dinner rush) and that they were also out of the tofu burger. We ordered drinks (HP ordered coffee and I ordered a french herbal tea) and settled back in to stare at the menu some more.

After about another 10 minutes, the waitress brought our drinks and then walked away before we could order.

After another 5 minutes I managed to grab her to order. I ordered the Stir Fry Sesame Tofu with Spinach over quinoa. The waitress told me that they had no spinach and that they only had stir fry vegetables (their other stir fry option). I generally hate stir fry vegetables out at restaurants. It was really the spinach and tofu that was appealing to me. So now my 7 vegerarian choices had dwindled down to 3. I was pissed. They didn't even seem particularly concerned.

We left. We had been there 30 minutes and hadn't managed to order any food.

The waitress could have at least told me which other options I couldn't have the first time I tried to order. I really wonder if they EVER have tofu loaf.

I do plan to send them my comments. I would only go back if I could be satisfied that they ever have the tofu loaf and if I could believe that they were even remotely saddened by the bad experience I had at their restaurant.

Their email evidently did work and I got a response:

"sorry to hear about your visit to the diner, please tell which night and describe your waitress to me and I need to get to the bottom of this and I will answer you in the next day or so."

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Chocolate coconut balls

I made some really yummy and healthy snacks for lunch this week. They are chock full of oat bran and almond butter. The recipe is from the Vegan Lunchbx. Here is the recipe. I used more almond butter than it called for to help them come together (along with a tablespoon of water). I cut the recipe in half and it made about 12 balls (1.5 in). I used unsweetened coconut.

I didn't make them into honeybees, instead I made them into little bunnies by adding the slivered almonds as ears instead of wings.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

The Magical Loaf Studio (4 stars)

Jennifer at The Vegan Lunchbox created a web page called the Magical Loaf Studio which allows you to choose all the ingredients you want for your veggie loaf and generates a recipe for an "adventist style" loaf. My husband and I picked out all of our ingredients and then tried this last night. It came out really well. I made steamed broccoli/cauliflower and rosemary roasted potatoes to go along with it. I was afraid he was going to hate the loaf since I normally make a fat laden time consuming cheesy loaf that he loves. At the end of dinner I noticed that he had only potatoes left on his plate to finish last and I said, "I guess you liked the potatoes best, huh?". He replied that it was a tie between the potatoes and the loaf. I deem it a resounding success!

Depending on which ingredients you choose, this could even be a weeknight meal. I chose brown rice which takes a long time. Next time I will swap that ingredient for something quicker. My loaf had red crimson lentils (which cook in about 10 minutes), brown rice, walnuts, onion, garlic, carrot, veg broth, thyme, sage, basil, oregano, parsley, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, ketchup, pepper, flax seed meal, soy sauce, and olive oil.

I lined my loaf pan with foil (two pieces: one lengthwise, and one crosswise; overhanging the edges of the pan) and then sprayed the pan. Then when it was time to get the loaf out of the pan, we just lifted it out instead of flipping it onto the plate.

Is it possible to make a really good vegan cupcake? Yes! (5 star cupcakes)

I have seen many vegan cupcake recipes and all of them claim to be really good. Despite success that I have had with making some of my muffin recipes vegan, I was skeptical... especially about the frosting! As an experiment I made some white vegan cupcakes with white vegan frosting. They were really good and, ahem, gone. I even fed them to non-vegetetarian friends who also really liked them. The texture of the cake was dense and moist. It reminded me of the cupcakes I get at Whole Foods. The frosting was outstanding. I did have to use about a cup and a half more of the powdered sugar than it called for and I had to store them in the fridge because the frosting started to droop after an hour at room temp.

The cupcake recipe is from Jennifer at The Vegan Lunchbox. I replaced the coconut extract with almond extract because I could not find coconut extract.

The frosting recipe is from The Vegan Chef. I used Earth Balance brand soy margerine. I used regular powdered sugar. That was all they had at Whole Foods. They actually did have unbleached powdered sugar, but I think the frosting would have been light brown instead of white if I had used it (and it was wicked expensive).

These recipes are definitely keepers!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Muffin Mania - Part 2: Blueberry Almond Banana Muffins

This recipe is adapted from a Wild Oats recipe. I made a few mofications.

Blueberry Almond Banana Muffins

1/2 c. Earth Balance, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbs ground flax seed
6 Tbs water
1/2 c. Almond Butter (you can grind your own at Whole Foods)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. flour
1 c. frozen blueberries, thawed
2 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 325 °F. Line muffin pan with paper liners and spray with non-stick spray.

Mix flax seed and water together by stirring with a fork or whisk. Set aside.

Stir together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Put blueberries in a bowl and toss with 1 tsp flour. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir the flax/water mixture again and add to the butter and sugar; beat well. With mixer on low, stir in almond butter, bananas, and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture with a spoon. Gently stir in blueberries. Divide into 12 muffin cups and top with a sprinkling of sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Vive Le Vegan - Stir Fry Vegetables with Spicy Almond Sauce (4 out of 5)

Tonight's dinner was a stir fry with a almond sauce served over a brown basmati rice. It was quite tasty. The recipe is in Dreena Burton's cookbook, Vive le Vegan! : Simple, Delectable Recipes for the Everyday Vegan Family.

The stir fry contained marinated and browned tofu, broccoli, swiss chard, mushrooms, celery, bell pepper, onion, and zucchini. The sauce was made from Almond Butter mixed with soy milk, garlic, ginger, soy milk, and a few other tasty ingredients.

Modifications:

Both the marinade and sauce called for rice or apple cider vinegar. This seemed odd to me so I used mirin in the sauce, and a mixture of mirin and rice vinegar in the sauce (about a tablespoon of each).

Vive Le Vegan: Stir Fry Vegetables with Spicy Almond Sauce

Monday, June 26, 2006

Quinoa with Tofu and Asparagus (2.5 out of 5 stars)

Tonight I made a Whole Foods recipe: Quinoa with Tofu and Asparagus. It was just ok. Quinoa, pronounced Keen-Wah, is a really healthy grain and is one of the best sources of protien from the vegatable world. When cooked, it has a texture like cous-cous. One thing about quinoa: you must rinse it very well before cooking. It has a bitter coating which is basically a natual insect repellant to protect it. I usually put it in a bowl of water, rub the grains together, and then drain in a fine mesh strainer.

Here is the finished product:
served.JPG

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Muffin mania, Part 1: Pumpkin Carob Chip

I had intense urge to make muffins this weekend. Unfortunately, I found too many that I wanted to make and didn't have enough days in the weekend. This means that next weekend will be part two.

Pumpkin Carob Chip Muffin
Today I made pumpkin carob chip muffins. They were outstanding. The recipe comes from The Vegan Lunchbox. The muffins were not only healthy, but had a nice rich pumpkin flavor. I might have been a little heavy handed with the cinnamon sugar topping (as seen in the picture).

Pumpkin Carob Muffins

More blog entries

I thought it might be interesting if I blogged about good recipes here, even if they are not mine. This will give other vegans ideas about what to cook for dinner and will also answer the question, "So what do you eat anyway". I plan to take pictures of meals that I liked and post a link the recipe if there are no modifications, or indicate the source of the recipe. I'll post the recipe with modifications if I made any.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Candle Cafe - Paradise Casserole with modifications

I have a cookbook from the Candle Cafe (a vegan restaurant) in New York. One recipe in particular has been taunting me. It is called Paradise Casserole. The recipe says that not only is it really really good for you and full of complex carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins, but that is is also one of the most popular dishes that they have served over the years. I was intrigued because the combination of ingredients didn't appeal to me. I kept thinking "how could this be?" and that it looked odd. I finally sucked it up and made it and it was really good (and vegan!).

I made some modifications for flavor, ingredients in my home, and because I am lazy. Here is what I did:

Paradise Casserole

Servings - 6-8
Time - 2 hours

4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean and poked with a fork
1 tbsp barley miso
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
pinch crushed red pepper
kosher salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups millet
4 cups water
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet covered in foil and bake for 1 hr.

Meanwhile, put the millet, water, and some salt in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Set aside.

Meanwhile, when the potatoes have about 15 minutes left, heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the onions and cook until softended and slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook for about another 30 seconds. Add the black beans and cook for about 5 minutes until heated through. Taste the beans and make sure that they have enough salt. Set aside.

When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them open and scrape the cooked potatoes from their skins into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add the cinnamon, vinegar, and miso. Mash to mix together.

Lightly oil a 9x13 casserole. Spread the millet over the bottom and press it into the pan. Spread the black beans in an even layer over the millet. Top with the sweet potato mixture over the black beans in an even layer.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Cut into 6-8 pieces with a knife and serve.

Here is a a link to a copy of the original recipe.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pear Almond 8-Grain Cereal in a Rice Cooker

This has become one of my favorite weekend breakfasts. The 8-Grain cereal has a much nicer texture than oatmeal. It is easy to make and tastes great. You throw everything into the rice cooker and then sit on the couch drinking coffee while you wait.

Hot Cereal:
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Hot Cereal
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 1/4 cup water
1 ripe pear, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs slivered almonds

Topping:
2 Tbs light brown sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbs maple syrup (or to taste)

Place all the Hot Cereal ingredients into the rice cooker and cook according to your rice cooker's instructions for "porridge" (I use the porridge setting on my rice cooker).

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Vegan Banana Oatmeal Soy Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffin Ingredients
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped fine
1 cup packed light brown sugar
7 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
6 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
3 large mashed bananas
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup soy milk

Topping:
3 t brown sugar
3 t regular oats
1 t wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix topping ingredients. Set aside.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix with a whisk to combine. Add walnuts and chocolate chips. Set aside.

Mix flax seeds with water and set aside for about 3 minutes (while you work on getting the rest of the ingredients together).

Combine brown sugar, flax/water mixture, oil, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a mixer on medium speed until well combined.

Combine banana, oats, soy milk. Add to the sugar mixture. Mix with mixer on medium speed, and beat until combined. Make sure to give your dog a piece of banana at this point.

Fold flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined (don't over stir).

Spoon batter into 16-18 paper lined muffin tins. Top with topping mixture. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Daniela's Cantina - Worst Mexican Ever

A while back the Aegean (a greek restaurant) moved down the road in Framingham to a bigger and better location. I recently noticed that a Mexican restaurant moved into its place: Daniela's Cantina. Mike and I were tired tonight and didn't want to cook dinner so we decided we would drive by and look at the menu and then decide whether it looked good enough to risk going in. I expected it to be a Framingham dive that I would be afraid to go into. We drove up and noticed that they had nice big menus posted outside the door (with a vegetarian section) and when we peeked inside the decor looked ok. We went in. The decor was surprisingly pretty good. But the food was something else.

Bottom line on top: It was the worst Mexican food I have ever had and that is saying a lot. I have had some pretty bad mexican food, but this is the clear winner of the worst mexican food award. We started with Margaritas. I had a regular Margarita. I am pretty sure the ice had specks of dirt frozen into it. I kept holding my glass up to the light but I couldn't determine if this was a reflection or real dirt. Mike had a "Coco Loco" Margarita which had coconut flavor. I took a sip of his and my margarita tasted like coconut for about 3 sips later. Yuck.

The chips and salsa were passable at best and they were pre-made (not made there) which might be why they were passable.

I ordered vegetable enchiladas with rice and refried beans (this was listed in the vegetarian section). Mike had Refried Bean Tacos. The enchiladas were awful. The sauce tasted like plain tomato sauce and the vegetables inside the enchiladas included broccoli. I was surprised by this as I asked what vegetables would be in them and was told peppers, onions, stuff. The rice was clearly made with chicken stock (even though it was served with a vegetarian dish and listed in the vegetarian section of the menu). Mike's tacos were edible. They kept us from going away hungry. They had a ton of bland refried beans, a ton of lettuce.

Give this place wide berth and thank me later for taking that bullet for you. I repeat, do not eat at Daniela's Cantina. The Aztec has better margaritas, better food, and lower prices.