Monday, October 19, 2009

a few of my favorite things

Raindrops on kittens and whiskers on roses...

I was thinking earlier today about the number of times I've posted about some new ingredient or kitchen toy and said it was my new favorite thing: polenta and miso come to mind. But trust me - for every time I've said something was my favorite thing, there were at least four other things I didn't say that about to prevent repetition (and the obvious fickleness of having a different favorite thing almost every night).

Because I don't really have any fun stories about dinner (other than more proof that I shouldn't ever take Mister food shopping with me, no matter how much I think I need his help), I will share a list of my current favorite things:

1. Blender sauces. Seriously - does it get easier? I don't think so. Grab some of this and some of that, throw it into a blender/food processor and press play. Within seconds you have a smooth or chunky, velvety or gritty, voluminous sauce. I love that.

2. My "new" kitchen. I have my happy place and to my great delight, it is organized and efficient just like the pictures in the IKEA catalog. Where are my Martha Stewart mixing bowls? Oh! They're right here, on the top shelf - I don't have to push anything aside or give myself a pinched nerve trying to pry them out of the dark corner they ended up in when I needed something else they were hiding. They're just there - out in the open and waiting to be filled with flour and spices and soymilk and turn them into tasty treats! Where is my chili powder? Did it get pushed over the edge of the counter by Tarragon and Rosemary? No! It's right here, neatly corralled in its little tray on the second shelf of my kitchen trolley! To say I've found bliss could very well be understating the situation.

3. Making cupcakes. This had to make the list, but it's funny, because until Isa and Terry had to go put out their silly cupcake book, I NEVER made cupcakes. Seriously - never. I don't like icing! But I have learned that a cupcake without icing is a muffin, and decorating my little sweet-treats is part of the fun!
So far:
Chocolate-Covered Banana
Chocolate Cream Cheese (not vegan, but easily veganized)
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Pineapple Right-Side-Upcakes
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip
and coming soon - Mint Chocolate and Chai Latte (saved the best for last - who am I kidding? It's only October!)

4. Angst, curled up on my dining chair because it's the only thing that hasn't moved. He's so cute, all snuggled up against my coat or scarf, leaving me fuzzy bits of kitty love (to pull out of my lipstick after I wrap my scarf around my neck, heedless of the fur flying).

I could probably keep going, or even divide into sub-favorites, like my favorite cookbook, favorite cooking tool, favorite thing to listen to while I'm cooking dinner or baking, favorite smells...but I don't want to bore you (or run out of things to write in future posts).

I did remember something today. Mister became a vegetarian about 8 months before I did. I didn't understand his crazy ways and one night, after a few unsuccessful attempts to go out for dinner ending in his apartment because there was nothing he could eat anywhere nearby, I asked him to help me understand why he was being so inconvenient. He shared with me all of the information he had come across that led to his decision and we even had the "how much difference can one person not eating meat make?" discussion. The end of it (I thought) was me saying "okay, well, that's great - you keep doing that and I will respect your decision... but it's not for me." About two months later was when I became a vegetarian. In those two months, my mind muddled through the seeds of thought Mister had planted there and as time passed, they began to germinate and take root and eventually, took over. There was one specific moment in time when everything came crystal clear to me and I said, "me, too."

The reason I thought of that is because I fear I've done it to myself again with this whole honey thing. I can't get it out of my mind. It's not like I think about it all the time, but I do think of it frequently, as though my mind's mouth is turning it over and tasting it from every angle. Just like my slow, thoughtful conversion to a meatless diet, the more I think of honey and bees and nature and exploitation and general thievery, the more I begin to understand the argument that honey is not vegan. I'm sorry if my harping on this is getting old, but I really want to understand where I stand on this. Here are my most recent thoughts:

Honey is bee food. It's not meant for us to eat. Honestly, that's the beginning and the end of any logical discussion. Bees collect what they need to to make the honey and they make it to feed themselves and the rest of their family. That is such a simple fact to overlook that it completely escaped me, I think. Because honey is so widely available with shelves full of different flavors (clover, orange blossom, wildflower, etc), we believe bees make honey for us to eat it without even realizing that we think so. Truth be told, though, even when you're talking about factory-farmed honey bees who technically ARE making the honey just so we can eat it, the bees don't know that - they are under the unfortunate impression that they are saving up food for the winter. There have been a lot of recent studies showing how beneficial honey-consumption can be for humans with health issues - eating local honey can alleviate allergy issues, for example. We never stop to think, though, that the same nutrients that make honey so good for us are what make it the only reliable food source for bees through the winter.

Another thing that struck me about honey comes from knowledge acquired through my workplace. Honey is a low glycemic food. For those who don't know, the glycemic index measures how quickly food is digested and how that digestion impacts insulin production. Food high on the glycemic index (candy, white bread, soda, etc) is digested quickly, sending a shock of sugar into the blood, causing a spike in insulin production - this is the "sugar rush" you get, but there is always that crash, leaving you feeling without energy and probably hungry again. On the other hand, foods low on the glycemic index digest more slowly, releasing sugar into the blood stream over time, resulting in a pretty steady level of insulin production. These foods stay with you longer, giving your body time to glean maximum nutrition from what you've eaten and helping you to actually feel satisfied for a longer time. Honey as food for bees to eat through the dead months + honey as a low glycemic food = lightbulb going off over my head about exactly how WRONG it is to replace carefully crafted honeycombs with a sugar-water mixture - it's not even close to the same nutritionally. Hopefully, you understood everything I wrote about the glycemic index. If not, just ask.

Anyway, this is the point where I remember that knowledge is dangerous. Once I research something and seek to understand it, it lodges itself in my brain and forces me to see the thought process through to its inevitable conclusion. It kind of worries me that I've only cracked the surface of topics related to veganism that I want to cover this month...


  1. You got there in your own time and at your own pace and came to your own conclusion.
    I call far too many things my favourite - but I do have a LOT of favourites. Right now my favourite things are:
    My mums blender
    The wood burning stove
    My cuppa tea


  2. Favorites are always fun and you can never have too many of them!