Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Masao's Kitchen in Waltham - Restaurant Review

A co-worker and I drove over to Waltham for lunch today to try out Masao's Kitchen, a vegan macrobiotic restaurant. Masao's has a buffet all the time with both hot and cold items plus a couple of other entrees and sandwiches to choose from. The buffet is definitely the way to go.

Today's buffet was full of good stuff: A breaded seitan appetizer, BBQ Tofu, brown rice, Adzuki bean stew, broccoli and kale mixed together, and mixed root vegetables (butternut squash, potatoes, onions...). The buffet also had a green salad, a potato salad, and a seaweed salad. There were roasted pumpkin seeds and roasted sunflower seeds for garnish. And, there is seasoning area that contains sesame seeds, soy sauce, and other goodies. The price is very reasonable. The buffet is about $8.00/lb. Both of our very full plates were under $10.

I finished all of this off with an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (sadly they were all out of the vanilla cake with chocolate frosting... I guess I'll just have to go back).

The food was all very good and I highly recommend this place. It is a tiny place with only 5 tables, but I have always been able to get a table when I've been there (despite the fact that they do get plenty of business). Parking is available on the street.

I give it many thumbs up.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Let's make biscuits! LET"S MAKE BISCUITS! [1]

Fwd: Fake Sausage and Biscuits

After trying a couple of other vegan biscuit recipes and finding them dry and brick-like, my husband started veganizing his favorite biscuit recipe. This was originally an Alton Brown recipe. We always have them with vegan sausage.

Mike's Vegan Southern Biscuits

2 1/4+ cups of flour (the last 1/4 cup is a judgement call. You will want them moist but workable)
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
2 Tbsp shortening (we use Earth Balance shortening)
1 cup chilled soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the soy milk and apple cider vinegar with a whisk or fork and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingertips, rub margarine and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.)

Make a well in the center and pour in the soy milk mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

[1] The title is an Invader Zim reference. I'm sorry, I just couldn't help it.

Why does my CSA need laying hens??

I joined a new CSA this year after careful research. I am getting very excited that my first pickup is coming up fast (June 7). As the date gets closer, I am starting to get email news from the CSA. Sadly, one of the first emails I got from them says "we're going to have laying hens at the farm this summer". This makes me sad. I obviously won't take any eggs, but now I feel like part of the money I paid them for my share of the vegetables is going to support some animal agriculture. One of the things that I liked about them was that they didn't have any eggs or meat as a part of the share like some CSAs do. I want to send them an email to express my displeasure about this development, but I can't figure out what to say. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I should write in the email to the CSA? Should I just ignore this development?

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's about the ethics, stupid!

This article and its comments, Vegetarian vs. Vegan? Some Sense 'Holier than Thou' Condescension, made me so mad this afternoon. There were various things they said that made me mad (which I will go into in the extended entry), but none of it is new. So, I was a bit confused about why this article got under my skin so much. Later this evening I realized, with great sadness, that this article concisely summed up the confusion that non-vegans have about vegans and made me realize how much people don't understand me, understand why I am vegan, and probably will never get it. I can explain it to friends, co-workers, etc. till I am blue in the face and most of them are just not going to get it.

The big problem, as I see it, is that a lot of people think vegan is a "diet". For me, being vegan is not at all about my diet. It is about my beliefs and ethics. I don't believe in killing other animals. Period. I don't believe in causing suffering to other beings. I don't distinguish or value one being over another. I don't think that a cow has less value as a being than a horse or a cat or a dog. To eat meat would go against everything I believe in. My veganism is about compassion and morals. I think it is morally wrong to kill another.

Am I "holier than thou" as the article proposes? Maybe. But it is not any different than a religious person believing that they are right about their morals. If I come across as holier than thou it is because I want others to see what I have seen and understand. People put on blinders about where their food comes from. They don't want to know [1]. They don't want you to even tell them about it. What are they afraid of? Are they afraid that if they found out the truth that they wouldn't be able to eat animals anymore? If that's true, then can they not see that their subconscious knows that eating animals is wrong?

[1] If anyone reading this, want to borrow my copy of Earthlings, I'd be happy to mail it to you. You can see for yourself.

More on this article in the extended entry...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mexican Salad on Grilled Totillas

Tonight we made a nice summer dinner: Mexican Salad with grilled corn and avocado served on a grilled tortilla with arugula and tomatoes. The recipe is from Jack Bishop's, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen (not much vegan in this book, but this recipe is really good). Here is a picture:


And because I knew you wouldn't be able to see the black bean salad under the arugula, here is a picture from before I added the arugula:


Wild and Woolly Pinenut beast

I was at a restaurant/bar with co-workers a few nights ago. It was a regular old (high-end) beer/burger/pizza kind of bar. I wanted some potatoes. I don't know why, just had a craving. So, I made sure the waitress knew that I didn't eat any animal products (and gave her the usual list) and asked for oil instead of butter for cooking the potatoes. I also ordered some Chard and a big salad. I was picking stuff from the side orders to make a meal. As she took down the order, I made sure that there was no cheese on the salad. She said there wasn't and wrote it down and then got look on her face, like she thought of something I wouldn't eat and wanted to warn me, and said "Oh, but the salad has pinenuts. I can have them leave those off". She looked confused when I said that pinenuts were absolutely fine.

I'm not exactly sure where she though pinenuts came from.

But aren't you worried about all the bugs you are killing (swallowing) when you eat your vegetables?

I was recently mis-quoted (mis-understood) on another blog where the person accused me of being a vegan who didn't care that I was harming bugs. This pissed me off to no end.[1] The whole question just seems stupid to me. Of course I don't want to harm bugs. Would I not be harming bugs if I ate meat instead? Should I quit eating all together? Ridiculous. If I ate meat, I'd be killing bugs for all the grain grown to support the animal agriculture (and tons of pesticides used for this) and I'd still be killing bugs eating vegetables along with the dead animal flesh.

As a vegan I want to do as little harm to other beings as possible. I can't be perfect. I can try though. If there is some tiny place where I can't be perfect, does it mean that I should give up trying and go back to not caring at all and join in with the rest of the humans in the United States in killing over ten billions animals a year? Of course not. I can kill as few beings as possible. I do carry bugs outside when I find them in my house. I can't stop eating, and I do need to wash my vegetables.

This question is just a stupid ignorant way to try and discredit "the vegan" in an attempt to find an inconsistency in logic - an attempt by a meat-eater to justify their own killing and moral inconsistencies. I don't usually even attempt to answer these types of questions and I guess this is what got me in trouble here.

I guess I am the "angry vegan" now.

[1] - This person had asked me this question at work in the public kitchen area. I don't like to talk about veganism at work too much and I thought the question was silly, so I kind of brushed it off to end the discussion about it. Grr.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vegan in San Francisco

I know it's been quiet over here, but boy have I been busy. This week I have been in San Francisco for the JavaOne developer conference. I'm actually in the airport at the moment, waiting for my red-eye home. Traveling with co-workers, as a vegan, is always a challenge for me, but I did ok. I managed to go to Greens one night with a co-worker and got all 6 to go to Millenium another night. Everyone loved Millenium. I had a really yummy smoked maple glazed tempeh served with mashed potatoes and grapefruit segments at Millenium and a Strawberry Spring Salad. At Greens I had a vegetable gratin (no cheese). They had to make it special for me to make it vegan. Last night I had some take out chinese from a vegetarian chinese place near Union Square. It was just ok so I won't bother to mention it's name.

I don't have much else to say, but I promise a decent blog entry in the next few days when I haven't been on the computer for 6 days straight. Any requests or questions that you want me to blog about? Otherwise, I will pick from a couple of co-worker questions about veganism that I have been saving up.