Sunday, November 15, 2009

keeping the R in Random

I have been thinking all day, and now I sit down to type (with my new red fingernails) and I cannot put everything into a logical sequence. Forgive me if I flit from one topic to another without a meaningful segue.

I guess I'll start with dinner, then briefly revisit yesterday's post before ambling through my newest ponderings relating to veganism and the upcoming holiday season.

Actually, I'll start with this week's menu, otherwise you'll be confused about dinner:

1. Two-Broccoli Stir-Fry on Soba Noodles
from Vegetarian Times Fast & Easy. It looks fun, and justifies the purchase of two relatively small and useless kitchen tools - a zester (yes, I really don't have one) and a citrus juicer. I don't actually need the juicer, but it would make the recipe easier/more authentic.

2. Penne with Broccoli and Creamy Tomato Sauce also from VTF&E. I am still in awe of blender sauces, so you know where this is going.

3. Moroccan "Meatballs" and Couscous also from VTF&E. My current method of menu planning, homogenous and boring though it may seem, is to grab one cookbook and try to get as many recipes as I can out of it. The next week I choose another one. Last week was so insanely busy that I think I only had time to blog twice. If I take too long cooking and cleaning up afterwards, there simply isn't time unless I want to be more of a zombie at work than I am already sometimes, so I skip it. I don't want to do that, and I foresee this week being at least as busy, so I chose the two cookbooks that could get it done. And so, on to....

4. Seitan & Polenta Skillet with Fresh Greens from Vegan Express, my dear standby. I have skipped over this recipe looking for specific other recipes the last few times I've looked through this book, so this week, I'm making it.

5. Valencian Rice and Red Beans also from Vegan Express. I am absolutely intrigued by this recipe. There is a part of me that thinks it could really suck, but Nava really hasn't let me down yet, so I think I'm wrong. I'm looking forward to finding out!

6. Pasta Jambalaya also from Vegan Express. I will admit it: I sought this recipe out specifically because I miss the Tofurky sausages. I was determined to finish my search with a recipe that would use them, and this one was the lucky winner.

So, then, tonight we had #2 and it was delightful. It was also remarkably fast and easy...which I suppose is how it got into the cookbook, but still! I have made recipes from that book that most assuredly did NOT take under 45 minutes to prepare. I don't think it even took the 30 minutes the book told me it would - it was really fast. The pasta only boils for 10 minutes, the broccoli steams for 7, and it takes about 30 seconds to cut open the Mori-Nu package and watch that ambiguous white brick slurp out and into my food processor, and another 5 seconds to add the marinara. Oh, but let me talk about that for a minute.

I don't make a lot of recipes that call for prepared marinara sauce, and when I make pasta, it's a little too easy to make my own sauce to invest $3-$9 in whatever's on the store shelves. Ordinarily, since I know it wouldn't be the star of the dish, I just get the generic America's Choice marinara (which, by the way, IS vegan). Today, they were all out since it was on sale. However, a lot of the pasta sauces were on sale, so I took advantage of the opportunity to try Bertolli at half the price. I got the Fire Roasted Tomato with Cabernet Sauvignon (also vegan) and combined it with firm silken tofu in my food processor and it was one of the most convincingly creamy concoctions I have made yet! The flavor of the tomato sauce was outstanding, and I am still trying to figure out how the tofu didn't taste like soy. There is obviously a substantial difference between silken tofu and regular, perishable tofu, but it is very difficult to describe. I do know that leftover silken tofu makes a killer sandwich, though.

Anyway, dinner was really tasty - Mister was thrilled - he loves broccoli.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went to a baby shower. After the week I had, being in a small house with nightmare acoustics was not the most relaxing way to spend my first "day off," but it was great to see loved ones, so I wanted to share a picture and a funny story.

I think it was a Friday afternoon in mid-July. I was off from work and had finished my food shopping, so I decided to pick up a bottle of Riesling. I had located my favored brand, Hogue Cellars, and was at the register when I heard a voice behind me say, "Hello, Mrs. K___!" I turned and with pleasant surprise responded to my cousin-in-law with another hearty "Why hello, Mrs. K___!" We laughed, the cashier was confused, and after we had each paid for our bottles of Riesling (great minds think alike), I walked her home. That was the day I let someone else in on my ideas about starting this blog, and she has been there to encourage me along the way, so here's some cousin-love!
The Mrs. K___s

So, then, let's hippity-hop back down the bunny trail as the winter holidays draw near. I had intended to devote a lot more time and attention to this list, but here it goes.

Reasons I don't call myself vegan (amended from, Why I'm not vegan)
1. I haven't reconciled my feelings about wool, silk, and leather yet.
2. I love make-up and nail polish.
3. I love Godiva.
4. It takes too much damn effort and I don't know if I care enough to commit to it.

The list used to be much longer. October/VeganMoFo really opened my eyes and took away a lot of the reasons I had previously thought were valid. I did my own research and soul-searching and do not wish to consume honey any longer. I have thus far refrained from replacing my winter coat because it would just be my luck to start caring about wool right after making that investment. I used to swear I couldn't live without cheese, but that's not so true anymore. I'm not so hot on eating eggs in any recognizable form, but I'm not completely ready to dissect each and every food in which they could be hiding.

I've already spent a lot of time on #1, so I'm going to leave that alone for now. Numbers 2, 3, and 4 are rapidly being deconstructed by one seemingly simple choice I made at Whole Foods today. You know how all stores that have lines have strategically placed "upsells" that you can look at while you wait your turn? Movie stores have candy, popcorn, soda; Pharmacies have mints, candy, and batteries; Grocery stores have candy and magazines - Whole Foods sometimes throws organic, soy, vegan, gluten-free candles in there, too (that was a joke). Anyway, I'm really good at falling for that stuff, and even better when Mister is there to help me. Today, as I waited for my groceries to make their way down the conveyor belt to my bag, I picked up a holiday copy of Vegetarian Times. I flipped through it, remembered how many of their recipes involve dairy and put it back on the rack, feeling very responsible and proud of myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied VegNews and it was over, especially since it was the 2009 Readers' Choice Awards issue. I picked up a copy, plopped it down beside my broccoli and continued waiting.

After dinner tonight, I was looking through it and I had an epiphany. As long as you stay in a relatively metropolitan area, living a vegan lifestyle is barely even challenging! Brilliant strides have been made since I last waded in the waters of veganism (2003). Innovators and revolutionaries have spawned from the fibers of society to provide viable alternatives to non-vegan things like cheese (Daiya), marshmallows (Dandies and Sweet & Sara), and so on. There is a plethora of meat substitutes in various forms, for those who are into that - I know Mister would be sad to live a life without Tofurky. There is soymilk, ricemilk, almond milk, and even cashew milk; soy and coconut milk coffee creamers; soy, rice, and coconut milk yogurts and ice creams...the list goes on and on...

But what about Godiva? All of their chocolate has dairy. SO sad. But it appears there are so many amazing vegan confections, giving up Godiva might not be as tragic as I once thought. So, it looks like I could commit myself to a vegan diet, but what about the other things, like make-up and nail polish? Where do I draw my line? Do I care about bunnies and guinea pigs being sprayed in their eyes and living out their miserable lives in cages with no comfort or loving touch, just living in fear of the next time the humans come to visit? Yes, I do - that's a horrible picture, isn't it? Have I generally pushed that out of my mind when shopping for beauty products? Sad to say, yes, I have. It's really a denial thing, though, because unless I have vastly underestimated human nature, who could remember those things when they're shopping and still buy things from companies who exploit animals - human or otherwise?

Once again, VegNews to the rescue! Granted, this is kind of a "best of" issue, but it has worked wonders in opening up my eyes to a world of quality vegan products that really could replace things I use now. I haven't seen anything about nail polish yet, but one of their cruelty-free companies is Aveda, who is the "mother" company of my make-up manufacturers. This is worth a second thought, after all!

Conclusion? I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and call myself a vegan. Everyday, though, I will examine my choices more thoughtfully and feel good about the baby steps I'm taking towards a better me.


  1. You will love the Seitan & Polenta Skillet with Fresh Greens from Vegan Express. I made it again this week. However, this time I used Field Roast Italian Sausage, instead of regular seitan. And that just jumped the flavors to another level.

  2. Thanks, snugglebunny! I have actually made this recipe once in the past and loved it - I made it tonight, though I won't share until tomorrow (didn't really follow the theme of tonight's post). I will have to try the Field Roast sausage - I saw it at WF yesterday, but opted for Ray's Seitan "Wheat Meat." That was a new experience that I'll talk about more tomorrow - keep checking back and thanks for the tip!