Archive for the ‘Vegan MoFo 2009’ Category

Vegan MoFo Day 5: Mainstream Monday

October 6, 2009

This is a perfect day for Mainstream Monday, because as it happens, everything I ate today was mainstream.  So, instead of recipes or reviews or anything fancy like that, why don’t I just list my meals for the day?




oat milk

oat milk

camerons coffee

cameron's coffee


healthy choice bread

healthy choice bread

sandwich vegetables: tomato, spinach, cucumber, peppers

sandwich vegetables: tomato, spinach, cucumber, peppers

McCain Trax

McCain Trax


hy-vee whole wheat penne

hy-vee whole wheat penne

hunts pasta sauce

hunt's pasta sauce


halloween oreos

halloween oreos

capn crunch!

cap'n crunch!

Note: Clicking images brings you to where I got them from, not necessarily the product’s website.

As you can see, I wasn’t the healthiest of vegans today, but we all have our ups and downs.  Mondays are usually a down for me.  Also as you can see, vegans do not only eat lettuce.  Far from it; in fact, I don’t even really like lettuce.   My diet is usually much more balanced than this, but it so happened that I didn’t have many groceries in the house today, nor a lot of time with which to cook from scratch.

Anyway, the point isn’t that I ate a lot of junk today.  The point is that I fed myself for an entire day with nothing but foods that can be found in any grocery store (except maybe the oat milk, but that can be easily made at home or substituted with any non-dairy milk).  And I was full and happy and had plenty of calories.

PS:  Please don’t give me crap for using canned pasta sauce.  It is my dirty little secret and you should be honored that I trust you enough to share it with you.  I promise I only use it once in a while.

Reason #5 for being vegan: cruelty-free clothing materials–polyester, faux leather, cotton and more–are often less expensive than coats and shoes made of wool, fur, or leather.  These items last as long as the non-vegetarian versions and are just as comfortable and stylish!


Vegan MoFo Day 4: Serene Sunday

October 4, 2009

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”



Nothing is worth more than this day.

– Goethe

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.

– Leo Tolstoy


It isn’t enough to talk about peace, one must believe it.

And it isn’t enough to to believe in it, one must work for it.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

memorialday 054

harvestparty 018

Ours was never a religious family, but we did always try to get all our chores and errands done on Saturday so that Sunday could be nothing but fun and relaxation.  I’d wake up and hear the radio playing in the kitchen while my parents sipped coffee and read the mammoth newspaper; they’d set aside the comics for me when I joined them with my bowl of cereal, and together we’d waste away the early hours of the day.  That relaxing morning, so simple and short, set us up for a fantastic day of…nothing.  We’d play, we’d see a museum, we’d drive around with no destination.  No matter how we spent the day it was with nothing but pure leisure in mind.

These days I try to keep up that tradition.  Life should never be so busy that your work needs to bleed into all seven days of the week.  Maybe you need to do chores every day; that’s fine, but make one day dedicated to work you at least enjoy.  The dishes can wait another 24 hours.


I think this philosophy translates well to animal activism too.  It seems that most of us work day and night for what we believe in, fostering dogs and feeding strays, handing out fliers and talking to friends, going to events, asking for more vegan options at restaurants and grocery stores, writing on blogs just like this one, contacting legislators, organizing demonstrations…you get the idea.  The work is never done and probably won’t be for a very very long time, and there’s so much to do to help animals that there are simply not enough activists to do it all.  As a result we often end up taking the world on our shoulders, not only adding activist work on top of our already busy schedules, but weaving it through our daily actions as well.

And it continues to add up.  Every time someone asks us what we can eat.  Every time someone hints that we are bad parents for raising our kids vegan.  Every time some misinformed person tells us we need to milk cows for their own good, and every time another unwanted bunny/chicken/pig/dog/cat/ferret is brought to the shelter and put on a euth list for being too old or not cute enough.  Each time we see another milk industry-sponsored “study” or hear about a CAFO investigation, we add it on to our lists.  We won’t stop until we can fix it.

But what happens to us?  Our hearts are in the right place, but somewhere deep down I think we all suffer from a tiny little misled belief that we can do it all.  We can’t, and our conscious mind knows it, but our inner engines keep running 24 hours a day anyway (I know I’m not the only one who has woken up at 3 a.m. and hopped online to write a letter or post something about animals).  All of the negativity, disappointment, anger and sadness we undoubtedly encounter as vegans and as activists builds up, because we are afraid to acknowledge that our work can be draining.

You heard it.  Sometimes being vegan just plain sucks.  Once in a while I just reach a tipping point where seeing one more photo of a pig makes me burst into tears.  Inevitably, we occasionally are faced with the feeling we’re running in place, because no matter how hard we work it seems we’re getting nowhere fast.  Most of us are ingrained with the fix-it gene:  when we feel this way, we stop crying and suck it up and tell ourselves we just need to work harder.  Our solution to being overwhelmed is to plunge our hands in the muck even deeper.

I’m telling you different.  Take a day off.

Reserve one day a week as your oasis.  Turn off the computer, turn off the television, hell, go somewhere where you can’t even see electronic devices, much less let them beep and yell at you all day.  Spend time with family, make yourself a nice home-cooked dinner, or if you don’t like to cook, order take-out and play board games on the living room floor.  Wear sweat pants.  Put on some David Bowie and dance around with your hairbrush.  Find something that relaxes you, rejuvenates you, makes you smile.  Find something that helps you remember you–not you-the-parent, not the whatever-you-do-for-a-job, not you-the-activist or you-the-vegan.  Under the Urban Decay makeup and organic cotton t-shirt you are still a person who needs a little time to love yourself.  For one day, forget about the world and do what you want to do, not what you need to do.  Step off the bullet train that is your life, if only for a few hours.

In the end, it’s not the sheer hours we put in for animals, or the amount of sweat and tears we shed.  It’s the heart we put into our work and our passion and compassion for animals that makes the difference.  Letting ourselves get beaten down and stressed out only makes us bitter.  We are activists because we want peace for all creatures–yes, that includes farm animals, but it also includes ourselves.

So sit down and have a cup of coffee and a cookie.  Baker’s orders.

all photos from personal collection; please do not re-post without permission.  text is open for personal use.

Vegan MoFo: Farmer’s Market Friday

October 3, 2009

Welcome to day 2 of Vegan MoFo (though it’s almost over, it still counts!).  I’m posting late because my original idea didn’t work out:  I got done roasting the butternut squash for my cheezy potato boats and realized I didn’t have any potatoes, which are, um, sort of necessary for making potato boats*.  But then I started feeling ill and decided not to leave the house to buy more.  So, the potato boats will have to wait.

*You may ask why I would fail to realize my lack of potatoes if I had the intention of making potato skins.  I bought a 5 pound bag of potatoes earlier this week…no joke, probably Tuesday.  So any logical person would not expect them to be gone already.  I guess I underestimated how much we like potatoes in our household.

I’ll post as soon as I get more potatoes.  In the meantime, you can still enjoy Farmer’s Market Friday!

Today’s Secret Ingredient: Parsley


I was recently invited to a Minnesota School Nutrition Association chapter meeting about the Farm-to-School program.  We were asked to bring a dish made using one of the recipes on the Farm-to-School website.

I made the Tabouli (tabbouli, tabbouleh, taboulli) recipe.  But then I changed it, because I know what real tabbouleh tastes like, and their recipe is nothing near correct (to their credit, the recipes are made with school kids in mind, and most grade school kids would not eat real tabbouleh).

Go ahead and make their recipe; it’s a nice base.  Then drizzle in some olive oil and lemon juice, and add more parsley and garlic.  Then add more parsley again.  When you’re done, add some more parsley.  Do you have any parsley left?  Toss it in for good measure.

Ah, that’s better.  Make sure to do a mirror check after you’re done eating as your teeth will most likely be full of parsley.

The tabouleh was really fun to make because it was all local save for the olive oil, the lemon juice and the bulgur, and those were all purchased in bulk from the co-op.  I got the tomatoes, parsley, cucumber, garlic, and onion from a local farmer, and paid about $4 total for it.  With the other ingredients, this recipe comes to about $6 total, or a mere 60 cents per serving.

So did the people at the meeting enjoy it?  I wouldn’t know, because my dear fiance ate all of the tabbouleh while I was out of the house, and it never made it to the potluck at all.  I did manage to get a bite and thought it was pretty good (after my additions, of course).  Give it a try; parsley is actually a pretty decent food despite its bad rap as a garnish.

Reason #2 for going vegan:  You’ve got an excuse to avoid your grandma’s fruitcake!

Vegan MoFo Day 1: Applesauce

October 1, 2009

Today’s Secret Ingredient: Applesauce

Applesauce has a variety of uses in vegan cooking and baking.  It can be used to replace eggs in cookies and muffins (use 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg), it can thicken and moisten dry cake recipes, or it can star as an ingredient.  Here, applesauce helps the apple slices retain moisture and flavor during baking.  It also thickens the maple sauce.

Apple Maple Hazelnut Tart

Apple Maple Hazelnut Tart

I could not decide which ingredient is the star in this successful kitchen experiment:  the tart apples, the crunchy hazelnuts, or the indulgent maple caramel spooned Jackson Pollock-style over the whole dessert.  Apples and hazelnuts are not often seen together, but the result is a surprising burst of bold flavor.  These little tarts can be whipped up rather quickly and the recipe lends itself well to adaptation (I know, because I didn’t even measure the ingredients the first time).  Served with a hot cup of coffee, they are the perfect creation for a chilly autumn day.  I only have four mini tart pans, so that’s how many I planned for in the recipe.  If you have more tart pans, or yours are bigger or deeper than mine, you’ll need to adjust.

Apple Hazelnut Tartlets with Maple Caramel Drizzle

1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (plain are also acceptable)

1/2 cup hazelnut meal (I made my own by chopping a small handful of nuts, then pulsing them in a processor)

Hazelnut Meal (pre food-processor)

Hazelnut Meal (pre food-processor)

3 Tb canola oil

1 Tb soy milk or other non-dairy milk

3 Tb brown rice syrup, divided (see directions)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp maple flavoring, divided (see directions)

2 tsp maple syrup

1 small tart, crisp apple, such as SweeTango or Granny Smith, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tb Earth Balance

pinch each nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup applesauce + 2 Tb (for caramel)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly spray four mini tart pans with vegetable oil.  In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and hazelnuts.  Add oil, soy milk, and 1 Tb brown rice syrup, stirring thoroughly.  Add more oil or soy milk if needed–the mixture should not be too wet, but should stick together when pressed.  Stir in vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp maple flavoring.  Divide into fourths and press into tart pans.  Spread applesauce over the crusts (leaving an edge).  Set aside.

Place apples in a bowl and add granulated sugar, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon and ginger.  Drizzle a tiny bit of maple syrup or canola oil and toss.  Cover each tartlet with apples.

Microwave Earth Balance until melted.  Add remaining brown rice syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar, applesauce, and maple flavoring.  Stir until well combined.  If runny, add more applesauce and/or sugar.  The sauce should taste strongly of maple, but not too overwhelming.  Pour half the sauce over the tartlets and reserve the rest.

Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet (some liquid will leak out of them).  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until apples are soft, the crust is crunchy and the applesauce has firmed a bit.  Allow to cool 15 minutes, then drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the tartlets (if saving for a later time, you may also reserve the sauce to drizzle just before serving).

Fresh From the Oven!

Fresh From the Oven!

Reason for Being Vegan #31: You’ll undoubtedly learn to cook.  Eventually.