Mark Bittman explored the world of Fake Meats and according to a Friend’s facebook page the whole world is going to go Veg some day.
Here’s my perspective: I don’t think the whole world is going to go veg today, tomorrow, or next year. Just as I don’t think we’re going to someday reach peak oil and all of the sudden we will stop using cars just like that.

Change sucks, particularly when it happens too fast. But you know…it really doesn’t often happen overnight. When I was born some 23 years ago, there were no gay, out, celebrities. Today there are, even on network television. 23 years ago, there was no facebook, no youtube, no internet, no cell phone, heck most people you met didn’t know how to use a floppy disk. Things changed fast. But not overnight. There are still homophobic bigots and you know I think a lot of them are going to be here for a long time. Just as there are folks at my work who still don’t understand the concept of spell check or how to save a word file, but some of them have ipads…go figure.

Similarly, I think there will come a time (possibly in my lifetime,) where the type of meat we WANT to eat will be so expensive and hard to find that we won’t eat it everyday the way we do now (about 1/2 lb per day). Instead we might eat some more tofu, some more veggies, some more weird fake meat. At some point our processed meats will become more plant than animal, and at first that will shock us and then we’ll say “whatever” the shit tastes good and is probably just as bad or slightly better (anyone remember this Buffy episode?)

Will that be Human, Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?

More doctors will advise less meat, and our cholesterol will be so out of whack from years of super-sizing that we’ll either have heart-attacks or adapt. We’ll eat meat once a week, more of us will skip the whole thing entirely. We’ll have to choose between desecrating rivers that we live near with animal sewage or eating less meat. Sometimes we’ll choose eating the meat and saving our rivers, and sometimes we won’t (to be honest it will probably be determined by how wealthy and powerful the folks near the rivers are). Our oceans will be so overfished that fish costs will skyrocket and fishsticks will be replaced by fish-ishsticks. And gradually meat will get less popular. And fake meat will become less weird.

I think the smart ones will realize this change is coming and not freak out. We’ll learn to cook vegetarian dishes that don’t suck. Some of us might try going cold-tofurkey. But most of us will buy what is cheap and tastes decent, and someday the market will win out because we live in a finite system, and eventually eating meat at the levels we do will just not be possible, desirable, or marketabl. In fact most of us probably won’t really realize it. We will probably still think of ourselves as omniverous, and just complain about the price of meat, and eat meat that is mostly plant.

But it won’t be overnight, it might not even be in my lifetime. But I imagine by the time my children have children we will definitely be eating a substantially different meal on a different plate. When my grandma was 23, no one ate “cheese product.” And now we eat it all the time, I was raised on this crap. Also it should be noted that this change will probably affect poor folks first. Because there will always be someone who can raise some free-range chickens sustainably in the backyard of their mcmansion, but if that’s the only game in town those chickens will cost you a pretty penny, meaning that those who can not afford will be changing first and fastest.

Since change sucks so much, this self-righteous young folk is here to tell you let’s start it now. You’re heart will thank you almost immediately, and to be honest it probably buys us a little more time to adjust to this change, making it easier on all involved.

I’m not a huge fake meat lover. I usually let the experts at vegan restaurants try to impress me with their fake meats, and leave the veggies, legumes, and grains to be my turf.

But sometimes I dabble so here are my thoughts on a few for those new to the whole thing:

Tofu: I don’t even think of this as a fake meat. It really is it’s own category. It tastes like whatever you cook it as, and it grows on you. Haven’t liked it in the past? Fry it up, and get a lot of seasoning. Order a General Tso’s Bean Curd at a chinese restaurant. It won’t taste or texturize like chicken, but you know it feeds that protein desire pretty good. (Please note that this isn’t necessarily healthy, but I think it’s a good starting point for tofu if you’re coming from the Standard American Diet). Or if you’re into health, consider marinated or baked tofu. It’s easy to do yourself on the cheap or you can buy it premade.

Seitan: If you’ve had seitan before and not been a fan, I wouldn’t right it off. (Unless you have trouble digesting gluten, in which case avoid it like the plague!) Seitan is basically gluten. And gluten is the stuff that makes your pizza dough sticky. It’s like a protein-packed bread that depending on how you make it could be a bit heartier and chewier than tofu, more like steak or chicken. Most commercial fake meats have some relation to gluten/seitan. You can make it from scratch, and the recipes and results vary so much it’s crazy. Some I find disgusting, others delicious. I like this one from Real Food Daily, after I make it I like to fry it like crazy and put it in a burrito. Healthy? Probably not, but you know neither are most things we put in a burrito, this is probably not less healthy than that stuff.

Tempeh: This is made of fermented soy, which sounds gross, and in my opinion sometimes is. But other times its super delicious and adds a nutty depth of flavor to a dish (reminds me of some sort of peanut or something). I never cook with it because I’ve had some bad experiences, but I’ve had others cook it for me and loved it so maybe one of these days I’ll get over my fears. I do love a commercial variety however of Fakin Bacon. This stuff does not necessarily taste like Bacon, but I think it tastes REALLY GOOD. And overall I think it’s pretty healthful too, which unfortunately bacon not so much. I’ve also had folks make this from scratch and the shit is delicious. And piggies are so cute, I couldn’t eat them even if I sometimes want to.

Better than eating Babe

Gardien: I think they get the texture of meat right, but I think it tastes bland and boring. Personally it’s too expensive for me to have much of an interest, but I know others love the stuff.

Veggie Burgers: Ok. Not burgers. I prefer homemade ones, ones that are not trying to be burgers, but trying to be their own thing. I’m a fan of Chickpea Patties (again you’ll see good old gluten in there).When I want something burger like, I’ll sometimes go for Morningstar’s breakfast sausage patties. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a McDonald’s sausage, but they seem the same to me (which might say more about McDonald’s Sausage than it does about Morningstar…but so is life).

 

For those who think they might want to start experimenting with vegetarian stuff, I encourage you to be open and explore these things. If one doesn’t work for you ditch the thing and move on. There are so many recipes, so many other fake meats out there, this is just what I’ve encountered. Just because you hated one of these in 1972, doesn’t mean you’ll hate it now. And just because you sometimes eat fakin bacon doesn’t mean you’ll never eat real bacon again. (although if that’s the route you go, more power to you, welcome to the club).

And of course, there’s so much more to vegetarianism besides fake meat. Again I probably don’t eat fake meat more than once a month. What do I eat? Here’s what I’m having today (notice this is not a health recommendation, this is just an example of how easy this stuff is):

Breakfast: Dunkin Doughnuts Coffee and Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese

Lunch:”Vegetarian Wrap” from the deli (aka Breaded Eggplant, Mozzerella Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, Lettuce, Tomato on a flour tortilla)

Dinner: Maybe some leftover pizza, or maybe some blackbean soup and nachos or maybe some stirfried veggies, some rice, and a bean.

 

No fake meat there, nothing weird, nothing you can’t get from a regular grocery store, nothing that costs some crazy amount of money. And don’t freak out but it might be the future of food.

 

 

 

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So here’s some stuff that gets me excited:

  • Seattle’s growing a public food forest. What’s a food forest you ask? Basically it’s all about permaculture, sustainability. In a nutshell growing a little bit of a lot of different things that all work together well because they are designed to live together in the local area that you’re planting. It’s a bit more hands off, a bit more harmonious, sustainable, etc. But also dude just on a deliciousness level, how great would it be if all the spaces around us instead of having dumb lawns that required chemicals and shit we just grew some blueberry bushes here and there. It’d be like living in that scene from Willy Wonka but with fruit and veggies so that we don’t have to look like Augustus Gloop.

  • For more on this idea of delicious fresh food everywhere I’m pretty into the vision captured in Food Not Lawns. Each year I try to explain to the folks the importance of compost and gardening and how we should totally turn our rocky tiny patch of grass into some sort of permaculture fantasy. Each year I tend to fail in making this come true. To be fair we have more deer per square foot then should be humanly possible. Now that I’m in the city I’m starting to dream about growing stuff in our lovely windows. Right now I’m pretty hung up on how beautiful these hydroponic plants are. No really! So cool! If this whole me gardening thing ever happens, I’ll be sure to post all my growings on. Although with my not so green thumb I will most likely be documenting me killing plants. Sorry plants.
  • Speaking of Food not Lawns. Once I had this cool idea for an organization which would connect people who like to grow shit with people who have land who live in urban/suburban areas. So if I am an avid gardener or urban farmer I could use your roof or your small backyard and then I either pay you or you donate it or I just give you some of the food I grow. It could be like an urban CSA or just a group dedicated toward making these connections. WELL GUESS WHAT SOMEONE INVENTED IT! It’s pretty awesome, it’s called Landshare. But of course right now it’s not in the US just yet. Somebody do this please? Thnx.
  • Also Community Gardens… aren’t they awesome? If you think so I encourage you to watch the documentary, The Garden. It’s pretty rad. As someone interested in Community Organizing and Sustainability and a bunch of other things… well I like it. Go watch it now please, last I checked it was a Netflix instant.

 

 

 


pizza!

20Feb12

It’s easy. It’s yummy. First you make the dough. I’ve been following this recipe. Pretty easy! I used to think making pizza dough was incredibly long and boring as a process and so I would rely on the premade pizza dough in a lot of stores. But dude it takes like 15 minutes at tops to mix some stuff together, and then as you wait for it to rise you can just start cutting up your veggies and preheating your oven. It really only adds maybe 20 minutes more to your whole pizza making process and you save a fair amount of dough (hahaha pun intended, I meant $). For real mixing some flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt, and oil in a bowl is not rocket science.

Then you cut up stuff. Here in no particular order are some of my favorite toppings for pizzas.

PLANTS: Garlic, Onions, Broccoli, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Olives, Artichoke Hearts, Kale, Spinach, Eggplant, Zuchinni, ANYTHING.

SAUCE: Tomato Sauce, Pesto Sauce, No Sauce!

CHEESE: FRESH Mozzarella, Manchego, Parmesan, Ricotta, ANYTHING. Those who want a vegan cheese option, I recommend daiya! It definitely works.

Really I’m sort of a fan of anything on a pizza crust. Once during a failed attempt to make chana masala (I used diced tomatoes that had basil and oregano in it…) I put it on a pizza…. GENIUS.

Then I put corn meal on a cookie sheet, spread out the dough as much as Ican (I’m pretty bad at this bit, but you know it really works no matter how ugly your pizza shape.) and put those topics on!

20 min in the oven and you’re good to go!


So I’m trying to blog at least one recipe a week. At the moment though I’ve been sick and haven’t been able to muster up anything too delicious besides the occasional batch of leftovers. So instead I’m just giving you some random tidbits and ramblings of interesting things I’ve seen:

  1. My dad and cat, Anna have become one… And I think they are now reading this blog… haha hey dad!Hi Dad
  2. I just read that Jack in the Box is going to have bacon milkshakes which sounds truly disgusting to me. People always ask me if I miss meat. And you know what…sometimes I do (especially after watching advertisements for cheeseburgers). But then something like this comes out and I’m reminded that meat–the way most of us eat it that is–is pretty disgusting. I dunno, maybe you disagree…
  3. During my week of sickness I knew I wanted to make some sort of Chicken Noodle Soup substitute. My only previous attempts were to use Veganomicon’s Chickpea Noodle Soup…which is ok, but not my favorite. It calls for Miso and Soba noodles, which if you’re into that sort of thing is probably 100% better for you than actual chicken noodle soup. But you know I’ve just never really been a miso soup fan. It just isn’t my thing at the moment. So I was just going to make it up, with some sort of tomatoey broth with noodles, and chickpeas. But then! The lazy sick part of me rejoiced at seeing Amy’s No Chicken Noodle! What’s the verdict? It works. It definitely reminds me of campbells or something but with little tofu bits instead of chicken. But it’s got that canned soup thing going for it which is simultaneously comforting, easy, and kind of boring. But when you’re too sick to want to cook it works.
  4. A bit of Valentine’s Day humor for ya:

    Thanks xkcd for being awesome

    Stay tuned later this week to see whatever ends up getting cooked for Valentine’s Day!


Without a real income, I’m usually pretty limited in my food explorations. I tend to keep it to my own kitchen, and some junky veggie burger take out here and there. But every once in a while I like to explore! Here in no sort of order are some of my latest favorites:

1. Hot Chocolate at the City Bakery. I don’t know how to convey just how damn good this hot chocolate is. Hands down the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life, possibly the most decadent dessert/drink I’ve ever had. All this February they are having a hot chocolate festival with a new flavor every day. I’m pretty sure we just had the regular one with a GIGANTIC homemade marshmallow on top. I couldn’t bare to ask if the marshmallow was vegetarian. This is the stuff of the gods. Seriously, that’s the only way to describe it.

2. FBLT at Penelope. It’s nothing so crazy, but finding a comfortable and cheapish dinning venue with vegetarian and vegan options is great and I always like to keep track. And call me crazy but I had a hankering for some fakin’ bacon. An FBLT is your vegan version of a BLT but mine came with avocados and delicious homemade sourdough, so take that! Vegans reading should take note that it also came with some yummy homemade honey mustard for the fries, which I’m sure you could request ketchup or something more vegany instead. 🙂 The place has a nice atmosphere and good wine selection though I didn’t partake.

3. Everything at Doughnut Plant. Every time I go there’s a line, but it’s always been worth it. Creme Brule doughnuts. That’s all I had to say, right? No seriously, it’s not even the best flavor there…. imagine the possibilities!

4. Hot Fudge at Lula’s Sweet Apothecary. VEGANS TAKE NOTE. YOU MUST GO HERE. OTHERFOLKS (except those allergic to nuts) YOU MUST GO HERE TOO! Everything is vegan. everything is amazing. Homemade cashew icecream! And no! It doesn’t taste like cashews or like “vegan” it just tastes like amazing home made icecream.  Everything is the right texture the right flavor it’s great. Only downsides are that they have very limited seating and have weird hours.

5. Butterfinger Shakes at Terri. A quick yummy vegan restaurant. I sampled one of their chicken sandwiches which hit the spot but their vegan butterfinger shake was really something to write home about. There’s not much seating but it’s pretty delicious.

What are your favorite foodie adventures?!


Ever hear of Twin Oaks? It’s this awesome income sharing intentional community over in Virginia. Err yeah, you know, a commune. I’m into that sort of thing, judge me if you’d like. Anyway I know for many of us there are a lot of words that might come to mind at the word commune, but one that you might not have thought of is business. Well you think wrong! The funny thing about Twin Oaks is that while it’s members do really live a sort of socialist/communist life style it’s funded through good old capitalism. Maybe it’s a good mixing of the radical and the practical. I’m never quite sure, but what I can tell you is that it is truly delicious!

Twin Oaks makes tofu and hammocks and some other stuff. I almost went to visit last summer but then life happened and my plans changed. One of these days I’d like to go visit. While I had sat in some of their comfy hammocks while wexing at Dancing Rabbit. I had never tried their tofu until I saw it my local “Fine Foods.” I was so surprised to see it! Here it is, the tofu I had heard about in my local Harlem grocery store. Nifty!

But back to the food. TO makes a brand of firm tofu that is all organic, non gmo soy, and many come in cool flavorings. I decided to try the italian variety since I wanted to experiment to try to make an italian stirfry and to make it more fun we made some homemade focaccia too. Super delicious, very easy, we’ve made it twice!

Italian Tofu Stirfry

  • 1/2 white onion
  • carrot
  • some string beans or another veggie of your choice
  • Garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable/Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Basil, Oregano, Sage
  • Panko Bread crumbs
  • Firm Tofu, cut up into cubes

Get a pot, heat your oil, add your onion, carrot, and veggies. Add some garlic and your tofu, add spices and salt. When it’s fried up to your liking sprinkle in some bread crumbs, and you’re ready to go!

I also made focaccia, which sounds time consuming but isn’t. This particular recipe comes from this website. It doesn’t really puff up the way I’d like it too but that’s the tradeoff for having bread ready to eat in an hour. I’ve tried other focaccia recipes that are easy and better but more time consuming, which at the moment I don’t have 😦 But this works!

Quick and ridiculously easy focaccia

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 rosemary
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • minced garlic (1 or 2 cloves)
  • optional cheese (I like to throw some Manchego cheese on top at the last minute)

Mix everything in a bowl. Kneed a bit. Put some oil in your bowl, and let it rest, covered with a damp dishtowel for 20 min. Preheat oven to 450, put your dough onto a well oiled baking sheet and stretch into a sort of rectangular shape. Throw the garlic on top along with cheese if you’re into that. Stick it in the oven for 15 min. Let it cool or burn yourself by eating the deliciousness too early.


Back again

31Jan12

I want to get back into blogging again. And I want to get back into veganism, just a bit anyway. The truth is I haven’t been doing the vegan thing for a while, and at the moment I’m not into that. Blame it on grad school, blame it on the deliciousness of cheese, blame it on me and my lack of willpower 🙂

That said, just because you don’t do something 100% doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I’ve moved in with a special someone and we now have a kitchen, I’m hoping to demonstrate what I’ve been cooking up for us. Again the goal is plants-based, whole foods. But due to my wallet and laziness I don’t always get there.

Check back every Monday, to see what I’ve got cooking up.


Well I have some surprising news for a vegan food blog…I don’t identify as a vegan anymore! It’s true the vegan police have taken away my vegan license. 🙂 Truthfully everyone seems neutral or positive, my vegan friends haven’t beat me up about it, the most I’ve gotten has been a sigh, maybe they always knew this day would come, I haven’t been vegan for very long, maybe it’s not so surprising.

Why I’m not vegan:

1. Will power. Being 100% vegan is hard to impossible, for me anyway. Others might feel differently and that’s cool. Some find the very idea of being vegan uncomprehensible, others find it easy as pie, and don’t really see the big deal. Maybe it’s because I live with my parents, or maybe it’s because I’m a fattie who loves cheese, either way I just didn’t stick with it. I kept going out with friends and eating things I knew weren’t really vegan, but were closer than not. Which eventually lead to just straight up nonvegan stuff. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and I know lots of hardcore vegans get upset when “vegans” go out and eat things that are very obviously not. So I’m coming out, I’m not closely adhering to a vegan diet anymore.

2. Doubts. Three of my former vegan friends have gone on to eating meat. Which leads me to questions stuff. Is this the most ethical way to eat? My primary concern has always been with the environment. I think avoiding meat is a great way to make a difference with the environment. But I was always concerned that maybe a strict vegan diet isn’t the best way to deal with that. Earth Balance? Soy Milk? It’s not to say that vegans can’t eat locally, or that they can’t eat in a way that is environmentally friendly. But it wasn’t the way I was doing it. Maybe a local egg is in some ways more ethical, than a far off avocado which traveled here via oil from a war that hurt humans, animals, and land. Maybe local milk from local farmers could be more compassionate than soy milk from a big agriculture company which sued local farmers and exploited migrant workers. Or maybe my instincts were right the first time, that maybe tofu beats a slice of cheese regardless of who made it, how it got here, who knows. Maybe someday I’ll go back, and I’ll manage to find a way to eat locally, sustainably, affordably, and compassionately. But at the moment, I’m letting go of any such claims. I haven’t figured it out, I’m going to stop pretending I have, or that I follow any such diet. I’m working in on it, but working on it isn’t a label.

Which brings me to my next thought. One of the nice things about being a vegan is to be able to say it. It’s clear, it’s short, and it says a lot. Sometimes it says things you don’t intend, but ultimately it was nice to have a community, to have a definition. But labels can also exclude people, can isolate people, and can be off putting. So I’m no longer a vegan…maybe I’m more of a shmegan. While I find it really hard to be a strict vegan, I find it pretty easy to be a vegetarian who doesn’t eat much dairy or eggs. And that’s where I’m at. I still mostly believe in all of the vegan propaganda I’ve posted, so please consider eating less meat, or less dairy, or less eggs, maybe like me you’ll find it’s easier than you expect, and unlike me you don’t worry what it means, or what you’re going to call yourself. Maybe you’re a shmegan, a vegan, or just a person who like everyone else is trying to figure it out 🙂

This blog is going in a new direction. It’s still going to have the occasional delicious vegan recipe, but maybe some general thoughts of a shmegan.


This is a slight variation from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, a wonderful book for anyone who loves vegans and/or loves cupcakes. This recipe calls for some perhaps more unusual (and expensive) ingredients like agave nectar. For other delicious recipes that call for stuff you might already have in your pantry I would definitely recommend checking out her book from your local library or checking out her website. The reason I’m using this one is because with a mother who is diabetic it’s always good to find desserts that don’t completely depend upon traditional sugar (though obviously the frosting kills it, oh well).

Ingredients

2/3 cup coconut milk (I used the Vanilla So Delicious variety, not the stuff that comes from a can)

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2/3 agave nectar (I actually ran out and was short about a tablespoon or so, and added about two tablespoons or so of cinnamon sugar–super delicious)

1/3 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 and 1/3 cups of all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Line your muffin pans with cupcake liners and preheat oven to 320 F. Mix together the coconut milk and the vinegar and let it curdle a bit (this sounds gross, but it actually is awesome at making your cupcakes absolutely moist and tender and beautiful, trust me). Then mix everything else together and fill your cupcake liners until it’s about 2/3 full. It should make about 12 cupcakes. Then pop ’em in the oven for 20 minutes and let them cool. when they’re cool you’re ready to pop on the buttercream:

Ingredients

1/4 margarine (softened–or in my case melted a little bit in the microwave)

1/4 cup non hydrogenated shortening

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons of coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Beat it all together and pipe it on (or in my case be ultra lazy and put on with a spoon).

Just so you know I didn’t really taste coconut flavor in any of the cupcake or the icing, but it somehow added a little somethin’somethin, if I do say so myself. It seems moister, creamier, but maybe a little denser (though maybe that’s because I mixed it a bit too much). I find baking to be so finicky that I give up on perfection, but even if things aren’t perfect, you know it’ll be delicious.


Lasagne!

13Feb10

My housemates love this one.

It’s based heavily on this recipe, thanks fat free vegan!

Get your favorite baking dish and preheat your oven to 375 F.

Then chop up some mushrooms and saute them with some olive oil. Then pour in a jar or two of my favorite tomato sauce, and let the mushrooms simmer around a bit.

Then in a bowl take some defrosted frozen (or fresh) chopped spinach (or Kale!) and mix it around with some firm tofu which has been squished with your hands. Then add some adobo and oregano.

Then put a layer of tomato sauce, and then a layer of uncooked lasagne noodles (trust me uncooked is ok in this particular recipe), and then a layer of your tofu spinach mixture, repeat till you’re all out of materials!

Then pop in your lasagne and cook for 30 minutes covered with some aluminum foil and then cook for another 30 minutes uncovered. Voila!




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