Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A vegan who sins

Well, new job means no time, as evidenced by the two-month hiatus. Two months isn't that long.

Day 17 and on: Success. Mostly.

I had a conversation at happy hour a few weeks ago about how flexible you can be with a very strictly defined diet like veganism, and how realistic those strict definitions are. Maybe it's just because I'm more conscious of what I'm eating, but it seems that's the trend among everyone else, too. Everyone is thinking about not just animal products and processed foods, but gluten and GMOs and local and live/raw. It gets really complicated as you try to do more of the right things, and it gets darn near impossible to do all the right things. You could make a part-time job of your diet without even trying very hard. That's not real life.

So, here's the analogy we came up with. You can be a good Catholic and still miss Mass sometimes and covet things. You can be a good Muslim and have a tattoo and alcohol.  
It's not really about the sins. It's about the good things you do. It's the intent.
The person I talked this all out with eats meat on the weekends only, which is awesome. Even my die-hard omnivorous friends are celebrating Meatless Mondays. It's about being mindful.

So, I'm perfectly happy and confident being a vegan who sins. I love eating less cheese... but I like eating a little cheese once in a while.
We had a cute date night yesterday and ended up at the Sugar Bowl. What beats coffee and ice cream (and pink) after a cute date?

It's about keeping it real and having your heart in the right place. That feels good.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 2 and Day 1: The First 48

My meat/egg/dairy-free diet debuted yesterday for Sunday football at the boyfriend's favorite bar (just a few hours in, vegan diet inspires me to peacemaking and compromise).  My lumberjack of a man who loved bacon when I met him and secretly still does (don't we all?) has been mostly vegetarian for a year and started testing the waters of this experiment a few days before I did.

Whenever the vegan (or vegetarian, for that matter) topic comes up, there's always the "But what about..." conversation.  Is there dairy/egg in the dough of your cheeseless pizza?  Is there any non-vegan hot sauce?  Can you still eat honey? (The consensus was no one better dare take away my honey.)

There may have been milk or egg in the dough of our cheeseless pizza, but if there was, it was a long shot and unnecessary.  My beer may have been not vegan.  How does this work; do I ask for a list of ingredients for everything that might have animal somewhere along on its path to my plate?  I'd rather not.

"When it comes down to it, you're cutting out 99.9% of what you should, and the rest is kind of inevitable."

I've shied away from the word "vegetarian" for the past year or so because then you launch into the lacto-ovo-pesca-convo, which is exhausting.  I just quietly order the meatless option and call myself a "I don't really eat meat."  With vegan, it's a little harder.  I want to talk about it, but I don't want to invite contention.  I want to make a lifestyle choice and be proud of it, but I don't want to make a statement.  When I see groups leafleting the horrors of factory farms, I'm reinforced in my decision because it really is an awful industry, but I also find the whole scene a little amusing.  Like giving small plastic fetuses to kids at my Catholic high school or picketing Planned Parenthood with graphic posters.  It's either proof or propaganda; awful or amusing.

Today I ate...
Cocoa vegan overnight oats
Wrap with hummus + tomato + roasted green chile
Wee hmong cucumber (cute, crispy, sweet)
Tortilla with almond butter and agave nectar (not because I can't eat honey, because I CAN and I WILL... anyway...)
Daiya quesadilla (lots of tortillas today)

I didn't feel like mid-morning and post-lunch naps, and I didn't feel hungry.  I feel ready for bed but not exhausted,  despite having woken up at 5:10 for Ultimate Booty Body Camp.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

So Good and No Good

Made vegan "brownies" yesterday night.  I use the term "brownies" loosely here, since what they ended up as would be more accurately described as "goop".  Goop that turned rock hard overnight and is still soaking in my sink, after a day of sporadic scrubbing.  I have experienced my first vegan baking epic failure, which, considering the perils of the "V" word in one's own kitchen and that I've been playing with fire for a couple months now, ain't so bad.

While my brownies soak in the sink, I overindulge in delicious vegan strawberry cupcakes.

They're based on this recipe and this recipe, which together, produced one delicious offspring.

Strawberry Redemption Cupcakes

Makes 24 regular and 12 mini cupcakes

2 1/8 c white flour
1 c unrefined sugar
1 tsp salt
2.5 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 c strawberry puree
1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c oil
1.5 c faux milk (I don't plan very well, so I used both soy and almond)

Mix the dry stuff.  Throw in the wet stuff and mix with a mixer.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the tops have fallen (I can't get my cupcakes tops to convex like non-vegan ones do.  Though delicious, all of my precious cakes have ended up looking deflated, drawing skepticism from my test subjects family and friends. Working on it.)

For the top, I made a thick, simple powdered sugar glaze (about 1/2 c sugar to 1 tsp soy milk with a bit of vanilla), and hid the aforementioned awkward dimple with some strawberry for looks.

These may be my favorite yet (don't tell the carrot cakes).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mac Daddy and Cupcake

The Lemon Fairy Godmother brought AMAZING lemon bread to work today, so I was inspired to forgo a day of my month of hot yoga (thank you, Groupon) in favor of baking and consuming a bunch of stuff.  I'll sweat it all out tomorrow.

I came home determined to make mac and cheese... from scratch: a task often attempted and never succeeded.  Bechamel, why didn't anyone tell me about you before now?  You're the answer to so many prayers.

First things first.
Pour a glass of red wine.  Add 2 OJ ice cubes.  Instant sangria.

Shred an 8 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese.  Coarsely chop 1 Anaheim pepper and 1 medium jalapeno (removing as much of the rind as you want), a little more finely for the jalapeno. Start cooking 2.5 c your favorite shaped pasta (I used some whole wheat small shells I had in the pantry).

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in 2 tbsp flour until incorporated.  Cook it for a bit, until all bubbly.  Add 1 c milk (or heavy cream; nobody's looking) and about 2 tbsp hot sauce of choice. Incorporate.  Add most of the cheese, taking into account how much you've snacked on (tilting your head back and dropping handfuls into your wide-open mouth; crumbles of cheese falling onto the floor, salivary glands bursting, and face turned to an expression of bliss, forgetting where and who you are for that moment of cheese ecstasy... where was I?) and reserving some to sprinkle on top when baking.  Once that's smooth, mix the cheese sauce with the finished pasta and the peppers in a casserole (I'd say mine's about 1.5 qt).  Sprinkle remaining cheese (if any) and bread crumbs on top, and cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

The only thing I would have done differently is saute the peppers a bit before adding to the pasta, just enough to soften them up.

Doused in more of aforementioned hot sauce, this is stupid good.

Part two of this double feature was "Carrot Cupcake, Part 2: This Time... It's Vegan."  A little burned, but it was vegan all the way, with Tofutti and Earth Balance "cream cheese" frosting... and not so charred that I didn't eat 2.5 of them before going to bed.  I mean, 1.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I've been vegetarian for a little over a year now.

People always say* "Be careful, vegetarianism is the gateway drug.  It just makes it easier to start the harder stuff."
*I have never heard anyone say this

Well, it turns out it's true.

And it turns out I am a vegan baking prodigy.

It all started two weeks ago when I made brownies for a Cinco de Mayo party.  I had read online that 1 tbsp ground flax seed, mixed with 3 tbsp water was an option for eggless baked goods, so I thought I'd give it a shot on a pan of brownies (then added 2 tbsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of chili powder... no margaritas were harmed in the making of these brownies).  Though technically not vegan (the base was a non-vegan, boxed mix), those gooey, chocolatey squares got rave reviews for the brief period before they had all been nom'ed.  Friends who perpetually turn their nose up at any mention of less meat, faux meat, or vegan options scarfed my brownies faster than my roommate's boyfriend's (by all accounts delicious) queso con carne.

Emboldened, I attempted carrot cupcakes (based on a recipe on my bag of flour).

And they were awesome.

1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tbsp ground flax seed... coffee grinder works great... mixed with 3 tbsp water until viscous)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Then add:
1 c flour
1 c grated carrot
1/2 c chopped walnuts
10 oz crushed pineapple, drained (I was really surprised by the pineapple, but it made a great addition)
1/2 c raisins (I hydrated the raisins a bit in warm water first)
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Bake @ 350 about 15 minutes, or until done.

I cheated on the cream cheese frosting, but even without, these were pretty delicious.

I made some oatmeal raisin cookies tonight, and they're good, but I wouldn't be able to trick my vegan non-believer friends into trying them without coercion.  After the brownies on Cinco were all gone, I was like "It's vegan, SUCKAS." The revelation was followed by shock and awe.  And those cupcakes... damn.  Cookies require legit margarine, none of this straight vegetable oil (as in today's attempt), and none of this "50% vegetable oil" stuff at the Food City.