Thursday, October 22, 2009

Books & Bakes

I've been a busy little beaver today. Washed and folded 2 loads of laundry, did 2 loads of dishes, cleaned the toilets (hurray!), ran out to the post office, made some cookies, tidied my room... and I'm not even done yet! I know to a lot of women out there that probably doesn't seem like that tiring of a day, but hey, I'm a beginner and I am BEAT! lol. So much so, in fact, that I'm going to keep this post short and sweet.

My trip to the post office was to pick up these 2 books, which I have been eagerly awaiting for several weeks (I think. It definitely felt like several.)

I am super excited to get started on them!!

Next order of business, aside from laundry and dishes: I felt the itch to bake something. And Lord knows, when I get this itch, there's only one way to scratch it... I gotta bake.

So I decided to throw together some Multigrain Cocoa-Peanut Butter cookie mounds. I had no recipe for the kind of cookie I wanted to bake, so I just winged it (wang it?).

Here's what I used:

2 cups multigrain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic peanut butter
Almond milk to moisten
Raw agave nectar to taste (though you'll see in a minute that my taste was a bit off)
1 tsp vanilla (which I forgot but would definitely be good :P) 
and the reason I didn't add the "vegan mofo" pic to this post, 3 tbsp butter. I simply didn't have anything else. Margarine, Oil, Apple sauce, nada.

I first mixed the dry ingredients, then mixed the peanut butter with the agave. I mixed the two, then began to add the almond milk. Once the mixture was combined, I transferred the mixture in globs to a lightly greased (ie buttered ;\). I was only able to fit 9 at a time on my cookie sheet (in hindsight I could have squeezed more on but I didn't know whether or not they'd spread since I'd never made them before)

The lack of sheet-space actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because as I somehow didn't realize until this batch was done, was that I had grossly under-sweetened the mixture. It was tasty, what with the chocolate and peanut butter, it just wasn't sweet enough at all. So I added some more agave nectar to the second batch. I still couldn't fit all the remaining dough onto my cookie sheet, so the tiny bit I had leftover, I just added some plain white sugar to. Just in case.

I also added a little more decoration to the first batch, to sweeten it up a little =P

When in doubt, add more chocolate :)

And that's all for me today. Tonight I'll be making some more roasted acorn pepper squash for the squash-hating boyfriend. I'll let you know how it goes, lol.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roasted Squash and BSPCPS!!!

Happy Wednesday!

Today I made Broccoli, Spinach, Potato and Chick Pea soup! (or BSPCPS, for short). It started out as a variation of the Broccoli & Arugula soup I posted about at the beginning of the month - the variation being that I was going to simply substitute the arugula for spinach.

I then decided that I'd add some potatoes (canned) to add a little extra creaminess and hopefully taste something like Caldo Verde, a Portuguese potato & kale soup that I absolutely adore.

Then, thinking of my Dad and his obsession with "a protein" - "this needs a protein" "is there a protein in this?" - I chucked a can of chick peas in as well. :)

Here is the basic recipe, keep in mind everything is an estimation and this is one of those "just throw everything together and see what happens" recipes, which is why I love it :)

1 container vegetable stock (I used campbell's organic)
3 or 4 tbsp olive oil
2 large canfuls of water
1 can whole white potatoes
1 can chick peas
1 head broccoli (leaves included)
3 or 4 large handfuls baby spinach (could substitue regular spinach or any leafy green)
I also threw in about 1/3 of a cup of chopped up green and yellow peppers, because they were sitting in my fridge.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp or so of ground oregano
1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and chopped in half
1 green onion
dash of salt
few grinds of pepper

1. Put first 3 ingredients together in a pot along with oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
2. Bring to a boil then add garlic. Boil another minute then add potatoes and chick peas.
3. Cook until heated through, then add broccoli & peppers.
4. Cook until bright green and just fork-tender, then remove from heat and add spinach & green onion.
5. Pour into a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender (this is what I used) and blend until smooth. (this soup came out a little more watery than I intended. but I also didn't have a full head of broccoli, maybe a half. so you can either add a half a can less water or just give it a try with a full head of broccoli)

This soup literally took me less than 20 minutes to make. I know this because at 3:40 I was thinking "I should get started on that soup." and at 4:01 I took this picture.


Oh, and a couple of days ago I made some roasted squash. Too simple to warrant an entire blog post but delicious enough to demand a picture!

Just an acorn pepper squash, cut in quarters then rubbed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and baked at 400 (I think) until irresistable. Notice the pools of garlic and olive oil in the centre? yummmmmm. I also roasted the seeds with salt and oil, just like pumpkin seeds, and they were insanely good also. I've got another one so I'm going to make it again tomorrow for my squash-hating man in hopes of conversion ;) Taaaaa

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Easy Vegan Choco-Banana-oatmeal muffins & a borscht variation ♥ plus baby peppers and baby raccoons!

Happy continued Vegan MoFo to you all! Here are a few things I made today.

Veggie, Root Veggie & Chickpea soup (aka A Borscht Kinda Thing)!

(I apologize for the god-awful photography. My camera screen is broken, so I can't view the pictures I've taken until I plug the camera into my computer. It's...a pain. lol.)

1/2 a large white or yellow onion (you could use a whole one, I just had a half :P)
1 pkg. (2-3 cups) vegetable broth (I used campbell's organic)
1/4 cup white wine (cooking wine or regular. I used cooking)
As much garlic as you want (I used like half a head, lol)
1 540mL can chick peas/garbanzo beans
1 796mL can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 680g bag mini red potatoes
2 large carrots
2 zucchinis
3 medium-large beets, including as much of the greens as possible (sidenote: raw beets are DELICIOUS. I almost reconsidered using them in the soup and just snacking on them. they're so much less beety than cooked beets, if that makes sense :P and speaking of Raw Beets ;) just thought I'd throw that in there)
1 container button mushrooms
1 each red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers

1. Dice onion and saute with olive oil, salt and pepper. When softened, add garlic, stir for a few moments, then add wine. Continue to saute about 30 seconds, then add tomatoes and broth.
2. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Chop up your veggies to whatever size you want, keeping them as uniform in size as possible. When the soup comes to a boil, add the potatoes. You can either add the beets (not including greens) now or wait. I like to wait because I prefer them not fully cooked.
3. When potatoes are half-cooked, add beets.
4. Add chick peas and zucchini. Wait a few minutes then add everything else besides the beet greens and cook until desired "doneness" is reached. I like my veggies half-raw and crunchy so I only cooked them for 5 minutes or so. Add greens in last minute of cooking.

Easy Vegan Choco-Banana-Oatmeal Muffins!!
Like the inside of my oven? Refer to disclaimer below previous picture :P

1 box oatmeal muffin mix (I used PC (a canadian brand) organic because the mix itself doesn't contain milk ingredients or egg)
1 Large overripe banana
1 tbsp flax meal or ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp warm water and left to sit 10 mins or so (to replace the egg)
1/2 cup (eye it. use more or less depending on your taste.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (such as PC's 'The Decadent' chips. yes, they're vegan! mm-mmm. Thanks to Lindsay Hutton over at Gone Vegan for that little tipsky)
2 tbsp oil or apple sauce (I used apple sauce)
1 scant (short) cup water. The recipe calls for 1 cup but I kept it short because of the extra moisture I added with the banana.

1. Mash the banana
2. Add dry muffin mix and chocolate chips. Coat the chips in powder, that way they won't sink to the bottom of the batter.
3. Add flax mixture, apple sauce and water. Mix until combined.
4. Follow the cooking instructions on the box and enjoy! These are ridiculicious. I've eaten 2 since I started writing this =P

Here are a couple more pictures I'm too lazy to write a whole blog entry for :)

The smallest green bell pepper in existence =P
I plucked it just before the plant died. It wasn't getting any bigger.

It was delicious. Very flavourful :)

A young raccoon that found its way onto our property today. My GSP (German Shepherd Puppy :P) is still out there barking at it up in this tree as we speak. Poor little guy :(

Anyway, Happy Thursday! Hope you're having a scrumptious-vegan-food-packed day, I know I am!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lentil Burgers

A hearty, delicious source of protein that will ensure you aren't the odd vegan out at the bbq :)

Lentil Burgers

1 can lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ burger buns to make breadcrumbs
oil for frying
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
toppings of choice

1.Saute onions and garlic
2.Toast buns until brown
3.Tear up toasted buns and put in food processor, chop into crumbs
4.When onions are soft, add spices
5.Rinse lentils and add to onion mixture, add breadcrumbs
6.Return everything to food processor
7.pulse until ball forms
8.Fry burgers in small amount of oil on medium heat, flip when browned and eat when heated through!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegan MoFo Survey

1.Favorite non-dairy milk?
Almond (vanilla)

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Any vegan cupcakes or cakes, Rawzagna (lasagne made with layers of tomato and zucchini with nut cheese [lol] instead of pasta and cheese), and Zucchini Noodles

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Used to be butter... the last time I got it I admittedly just got butter (I'm new, okay?!) so not really sure yet. I'm really want to try Earth balance margarine but I've only ever found it in one place >_<

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Almond Alfredo Sauce. I waaaaay over-salted it and ended up just making plain tomato sauce instead.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Plain old pickles (so, cucumbers I guess)

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I have a giant, extremely organized binder full of recipes, and a bunch on Word that I have yet to copy.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
I have a garbage, a recycling bin, and I just chuck most of my food garbage over the fence (I live in the country have no neighbours on one side)

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook or store them)?
Bananas, almond butter, and coconuts (it would really suck if there were already bananas and coconuts on the island...) Let's say, assuming this is an island where Bananas, coconuts, mangos & pineapples grow wild: Almonds or Almond butter, Raspberries & broccoli

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Creating dozens of disgusting, completely inedible concoctions & mixtures of random food in the fridge and cupboards. Frozen peanut butter, ketchup and parsley sludge, anyone? I eventually got better at it =P

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
There is this one soy one (I forget the name) that was really good, it came in drumstick-like cones too. But now that I'm off the soy, I don't really have one :(. There is also a rice one that I have barely seen anywhere. I need an ice cream maker.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Knife. Juicer. Immersion blender. Couldn't just choose one =P

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Non-vegan cookbook? No idea, I have a lot of old ones. Vegan? Raw Food, Real World by Sarma Melngailis and Matthew Kenney

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Raspberry <3

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
No thank you. Actually, I am kind of curious to try homemade Seitan. Looks wierd.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Bunch of random crap.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Mangos, Cauliflower, Peas

20. What's on your grocery list?
Butter (I live with my dad, you know :P)

21. Favorite grocery store?
Fortino's. They have the best health food section I've found in my surrounding area, by far.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcakes <3
And Portuguese Pasteis de Natas (Custard Tarts). Good luck to me on the latter, lol.

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
Vegan Family Inc, Choosing Raw & Kristen's Raw

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Green & Black's makes a good dark vegan chocolate. Also, did you know PC's The Decadent chocolate chips are vegan? Mmmmmmm. Just the chips, not the cookies, but you can buy the chips separately and make your own. mmmmmmmm.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I bought a mango and some kiwis yesterday?

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Yeast. I've made bread. It turned out well. I'm still intimidated. I think it's the bread-making process in general.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vegan MoFo 2009

So, October is the official Vegan Month of Food, meaning that all vegans are encouraged to stretch their cooking muscle, spread the word about the glory of veganism, etc, and vegan bloggers are encouraged to post as many vegan recipes and tips as possible, aiming for 1 a day, or at least 20 in the month.

I am anxious -- as this is my first october as a budding vegan -- to participate in this event, so here is my first vegan recipe!

This is a favourite soup of mine and one of the first really healthy, vegan dishes I ever prepared, using the nifty little immersion blender I got for either my 19th birthday or the subsequent Christmas, I forget :P

Broccoli & Arugula Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
½ yellow onion, roughly diced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2/3lb)
2 ½ cups water
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
¾ cup arugula or watercress
½ lemon

1.Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for just a minute or until fragrant. Add the broccoli and cook for four minutes or until bright green.
2.Add water and salt/pepper, bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover.
3.Cook 8 mins or until broccoli is just tender, then pour soup into a food processor/blender with arugula (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth, or until desired consistency is reached (really you can make this soup as smooth or chunky as you like! I've had it a few ways and I promise, it's just as delicious any way you blend it :P)
4.Serve with a bit of fresh lemon.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My (very) Lengthy Opinion Piece on Feminism and the Modern Family

ˈfɛməˌnɪzəm/ [fem-uh-niz-uhm]

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.

If only this was all feminism meant today.

There is no doubt that, at the time of the Women's Rights Movement, the cause was a very just one, and the movement was necessary. Women's Rights were, and are, worth fighting for. However, over time, the definitions have changed, as has the approach of Feminists themselves. In my opinion, they have largely lost sight of what “freedom”, “rights” & “choice” really mean.

I feel that Feminism (in the form of Feminists) enforces the idea of equality and liberation to the extent that they are actually impeding women from making any choice at all. The choice is: Work. Period.

Feminists (and in most cases, even women who don't consider themselves feminists in any way) will scoff at a woman who has decided (key word being DECIDED) to work in the home instead of outside it, as some ignorant, uneducated, barbariess. They ignore the CHOICE that was made, because in their mind, that wasn't the choice that was fought for. The Women's Rights movement fought for the female's ability to work, drive, vote, etc, so now any woman not taking FULL advantage of ALL of those “rights” is looked down upon, and any woman that vocally expresses a feeling or belief that women actually “belong” in the home is considered offensive, or at the least, “old-fashioned”. Furthermore, if a woman feels the call to stay home and raise her family, that choice is often a burden on the family because our society is now set up so that you need 2 incomes to survive (or at least thrive).

What these women are forgetting, or perhaps never realized, is that the liberation is in the CHOICE ITSELF, not the notion that one choice is more liberated than the other.

I find it extremely upsetting and ridiculous that it is now commonly believed that the role of a homemaker is not important; That raising your children yourself & directly influencing their minds, ethics and ideals, making sure they eat healthfully everyday, that they have a well-maintained and peaceful place to call home (and to establish their view of what a home should be), is somehow outdated and unnecessary. I am here to tell you, that I (and many others) DISAGREE with this notion. Greatly.

I believe both sexes take pleasure and pride from doing something that their spouse/partner is not naturally good at. A man feels proud when he opens a jar his wife can't (as a small scale example) or explains to her something about his work, his car, something she doesn't understand. If you can't lift a heavy box, does he get angry or frustrated with you? Of course not, he doesn't mind. Because he wants to be only person in the house that can lift that heavy box, he wants to sweat for you and show you he's a man (I know this seems primal, but we are more primal than we like to think).Just as a woman (admit it) feels pride in the fact that her man doesn't even know where to begin in the kitchen, or 'oohs' and 'aahs' at a meal she's prepared from scratch, or when she calms the baby when her husband can only make it scream louder. This system of mutual pride and respect for eachother's unique skills, in my opinion, breeds fulfillment and, believe it or not, happiness. Yes, people actually can be happy in a “traditional” home setting. In fact, from what I've seen, it's much more common than in what is considered the “conventional” family of today.

Does anyone really wonder why the divorce rates are so high? In my opinion, it can be largely attributed to the deterioration of traditional gender roles and of the family unit.

Now, I know to many this may seem like a contradiction of what we've all come to associate with the “traditional” family that existed up until the early 60s or so: happy husband, unhappy wife. We also seem to associate the fact that these women were unhappy with their roles as wives and mothers, the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, etc. This is a misconception.
Back in the days of the Women's Rights Movement, women actually had something to fight against. They were unhappy because they were oppressed, their opinions didn't matter, and they felt their husbands and the men in power wouldn't listen and didn't care. Their discontent (at least for some) was as a result of that oppression, the inability to choose, not the horribly drudgerous task of caring for their homes and their children. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. We are no longer oppressed, and thanks to those women, we now have the right to choose what path we want to take. Does that automatically mean I should want to be the CEO of a company or I'm somehow less of a liberated woman? Hell no. I take my right to drive and vote just as seriously as anyone else. That being said, I feel much more fulfilled in preparing a wholesome meal, cleaning an entire house in under 2 hours, or, silly as it may sound to some, having a drink and a kind ear ready for Dan when he walks in the door, than I ever could sitting behind a desk, or doing whatever else someone would consider fulfilling work.

The result of this deterioration is a society full of immasculated, unmotivated, purposeless men and over-stretched, exhausted & equally purposeless women who can't get through the day without Prozac or Paxil, and thank God for day-care and Mcdonald's. We have forced ourselves into a world where we do not belong, where we have to work 10x as hard to thrive, where (sorry) we can actually be a burden (many in the law enforcement and military fields have expressed this), and as a result, we've alienated the men and left them without purpose, without a role. After all, anything they can do, we can do better, right? Yeah, right. You won't catch me chopping wood anytime soon :P

And we haven't only alienated the men, but ourselves, by eliminating any and all of the unique skills we have that men do not instinctively have. How many girls do you know who claim, almost braggingly, that they “can't cook” or “don't clean”? I find this pathetic, not to mention imeasurably sad.

Ladies, ask yourself this. Think of the last time you found yourself performing a traditional gender role. Maybe you were at the cottage, and all the guys got up early to go fishing, and you and the other girls decided to go ahead and make breakfast. Now picture the moment when they walked through the door, saw the feast you prepared, and sat down to gorge with grunts of appreciation. Didn't it feel natural? Didn't you feel good about doing it? About yourself?

Think of the last time you took an interest in something your man is good at, really listened to him and then expressed how interesting and complicated it all seemed (teehee!). Didn't he glow with pride? Think of the last time he planted a big kiss on you between bites of something delicious. Didn't YOU glow with pride?

Now, think of the last time you both dragged yourselves in from work, paid the babysitter, and planted your work-weary asses on the couch to watch tv, exhausted and barely saying a word to eachother. Who takes the pride here? Who is taking care of whom in this particular situation? For those of us for whom fast-food isn't an option, who is making dinner? (Funnily enough, in most cases it would usually still be the woman making dinner. Interesting how we tend to fall back into natural gender roles even when we're “equal”, no?) That is one of the main positive dynamics of the “traditional” family unit. At the time of day that he is wilting, you can take care of him, and vice versa.

Maybe we're so wrapped up in our false pride, our need to portray ourselves as less submissive and more assertive, less feminine and more authoratative, less gentle and more professional, that we've lost sight of how to attain REAL pride, the pride that let's you sail through life, fulfilled, instead of constantly waiting for fulfillment to surface (which we all basically accept doesn't happen until after retirement anyway).

Today, we feel that as couples, we are more independant, we are able to have our own lives and not be “dependant” on eachother... but is that so? Or is it the opposite? Are you really both independant if you're leading the same lives? To me, when a man works and a woman stays at home, it gives them much more time and room to have their own hobbies and interests, and lead their own lives apart from eachother, then uniting at the end of the day to share their stories, thus creating a greater sense of love and unity overall. How can that happen if you both have the same lives, the same stories? I don't know, maybe I'm stretching now.

I guess my point is, while men and women are equal, we are not THE SAME. And, in my opinion, we're fooling ourselves to try to be the same, and have the same roles & goals in the world.

If you have an honest boyfriend, ask him one of these days (without guiding him towards a particular response), if he had the money, how would he feel about you staying home and performing the traditional woman's role? Really listen to his response, his body language, etc (most guys these days are probably a little scared to admit their true feelings on the subject). Then ask yourself the same question. You may be surprised at what you actually think and feel about the issue. Then again, you may not, but however you personally feel, please realize that other women may not feel the same way, and they deserve respect for their personal interpretation of womanhood.