Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Planning

I keep hearing it is cheaper to eat vegan. Not the way I cook. It has been nothing short of a fiesta every day. So this week, I sat down with two of my simpler cookbooks: Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein and Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I also came to the conclusion that cruise ship quantities with Bon Appetite intricacies does not mean I'm going to lose the last few pounds any time soon.

So down I sit and pick out a week's worth of recipes and make my shopping list. Granted, doing 90% of our shopping at our locally-owned health market, Cid's is not a recipe for frugality either. However, as most of what we eat is organic produce, it is what it is.

In the spirit of "Eat dessert first, life is uncertain" I'll start with the cake. Ah yes, chocolate raspberry cake. Now in full disclosure, I have up until recently been a pretty crappy baker. But I am slowly mastering the quirkiness of baking at altitude without a net.

I've been burned before with non-hydrogenated based frosting. Last time it destabilized and became watery. Looking back, I think the directions had me overmix it. This time I would go with what I saw in my mixing bowl. What I saw was very, very yummy: Earth balance, powdered sugar and melted dark chocolate.
Batter, batter, batter
Raspberry preserves on one layer. Hint: use the good stuff.
Frosting on the other layer 
The finished cake - best damn cake I've ever had

For lunch yesterday, we had the Mexican Salad from Supermarket Vegan. It contains black beans, corn, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, red pepper, cilantro and a fabulous Lime Dressing. Best to let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge for optimum taste.

Mexican Salad

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's a cookbook!

It's hard to articulate why I have taken what some people view as an extreme stance with my dietary choice and I can't help thinking about one of my favorite TwiZone episodes. I wonder, in some far distant future, if we will be the meal du jour for a more powerful life form. Will we be farmed and fattened? Would we be treated with more compassion than how we treat our food?

It is fantastical, of course, but pertinent in my world. I really do think about this. I'm not the only one thinking about this:

From one species eating another species is there a short hop to cannibalism? Ground farmed animals are now being fed to their own species. Who knows? In 1729, Jonathon Swift's A Modest Proposal satirically recommends eating the young of the poor as a way to prevent them from being a burden to their parents.

Thank you, Charlton~

So when I tell people that my bottom line is compassion for all sentient beings, that includes people.

Ready to see how your food is brought to your table? Click here (caution, this is not for the kiddies).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Didi's prognosis: The good news and the bad news

This is my little girl, Didi. She will be 4 in July. She is an American Bulldog. I rescued her right after my beloved Dakota died. She was living in a garage with 2 dogs that tried to rip her throat out. When I first saw her, her entire face was swollen from a bite wound abscess. She was a mess. It was love at first sight. To this day, she doesn't trust anyone  outside the family and the only dogs she loves are her brothers, Rio & Bobo. 

The pic to the right was taken right after the three dogs got hold of a lace shawl I was knitting and ran it through the sage brush over about 1 acre of property. Notice how they don't look the least bit remorseful. Anyway, the other day I notice a large lump on her wrist.  I took her into work and had Ted, the vet, look at her. He wasn't happy either and we did radiographs on both her front wrists. The good news: it wasn't bone cancer. However, the bad news is that due to inbreeding and improper nutrition when she was a puppy, her bones did not grow correctly, resulting in what is called 'bad conformation.' 

So what does this mean? It means that she is already in the process of developing arthritis. It means there is no surgical cure. It means she will be on Dasauqin (a chondroitin/glucosamine supplement) for life and will have to go on some sort of canine NSAID eventually. And, ultimately, it will probably take some years off her life.
It means no long hikes, ever, for Didi. I am so sad and feel even more protective over her than ever.

If you have a puppy that is destined to be a "large breed" dog (over 60#), it is imperative that you feed her "large breed" puppy food so her bones do not grow too quickly. This is also a perfect example of why backyard breeders should not be encouraged.

Didi will be getting a lot of bedtime snuggle privileges in the foreseeable future.

Friday, February 4, 2011

State of Emergency

I didn't turn on the internet radio or look up our local news before jumping in the truck to go into town for supplies. It was -26F Wednesday night and we woke up to no water on Thursday. As my whole day was planned around what I was going to do after my shower, plans had changed. We needed water to drink, water the dogs, brush our teeth, make some tea, you get the idea. Also, this week, my pamphlets from Vegan Outreach arrived:

I was going to leaflet at UNM-Taos, but being that after jumping in the truck to get supplies we found out that Gov. Martinez had declared a state of emergency in NM, and that our fellow Taosenos were without natural gas, i.e. heat, and UNM was closed, I headed to the Cid's to buy water. Then off to Albertson's for a couple of last minute items (yes, baking parchment paper is an essential if one is to be trapped in the kitchen with limited human contact).

This is what the line looked like at the supermarket:

What you can't see is that the lines go all around the perimeter of the store. I had about a 1 hour wait. So, I pulled out two of my pamphlets and held them face-out for all to see. I had just finished reading The Animal Activist's Handbook by Matt Ball, founder of Vegan Outreach. It's not what I thought it would be about. It focuses on listening skills and how to maintain equanimity in the face of the absurd.

Well, being that life is such a nifty little teacher, I stood behind a gent, long hair in a pony tail, about 65 years old, clutching a carton of eggs, a half gallon of milk and a package of brats like they were a life raft. He was talking to anyone who would listen about the conspiracy of the government (which is not unusual for one in Taos), and the benefits of the Tea Party (which is highly unusual for one in Taos). This was my guy, I thought. 

I turned towards him and without skipping a beat, he started his rhetoric in my direction. I listened and asked questions, hell, I had an hour to kill. I finally found a way to artfully insert a few well placed comments about compassionate eating and off we went.

Now, I knew that this was just a test in listening, not getting emotional, and keeping my balance. He was a wonderful teacher. By the end of the hour, he actually accepted a pamphlet, and headed off to his own cashier. To my amazement however, as he was leaving the store, and I was still checking out, he came up to me and thanked me for our conversation!

Score. It was the hugest success I could have imagined. I spoke at length with an individual who was as difficult as could be, and we left on friendly terms, him clutching a pamphlet in his hand. My very first pamphlet recipient.

The rest of the day seemed rather peaceful. Oh, and the baking parchment did come in handy - Coconut Lemon Bundt: