Thanksgiving FAIL

This year was my first all vegan Thanksgiving. I was so excited to find new recipes and to try all the dishes that everyone else was bringing.

I’ve found so many awesome vegan blogs over the past few months that my recipes bookmark folder is practically overflowing. Yet somehow I hadn’t even glanced at Pinterest. I’ve avoided that site because I don’t need one more site to get sucked into but it won me over with it’s fantastic groupings of fall vegan food. The pictures were all so well lit and fabulous that I wanted to eat my computer.

After drooling over butternut squash and sausage stuffed phyllo cups and pumpkin bread pudding with maple caramel sauce (oh sweet mother of god, WANT!), I decided on chocolate chip cookie cheesecake bars and good ol’ fashioned mac and cheese.

That sounds great, right?

Well, it wasn’t.

Perhaps I read the recipes wrong. Perhaps my taste buds aren’t vegan enough. Perhaps the cookie bars were supposed to look like someone had spermed inside of them. Yes, spermed. It’s a word now.

The cookie bar recipe I found here. I don’t blame that blog. They obviously worked for her. They did not work for me. They were supposed to look like this:

They did not look like that. Though it looked delicious when it came out of the oven. Once we cut into at the Thanksgiving feast though….yeeesh. The cream cheese/cheesecake filling had turned into a clearish liquid that looked like jizz. Straight up. That’s the truth. It looked like someone had cookie fucked my dessert. The boyfriend pointed out that this was an issue with the cream cheese chocolate cupcakes that I so adore. They do look jizzed in but they’re delicious. I could have forgiven the cookie bars for being sluts if they had been delicious sluts. But they were not. I was embarrassed that people ate it. It was a sugary mass of FAIL.

Moving on to the “blue box” style mac and cheese. I found the recipe for this here. Her pictures were gorgeous. I could almost taste the creamy goodness (ew, too soon after all the jizz talk, yes?).

I haven’t made mac and cheese without the help of Daiya yet. Knowing my Thanksgiving hosts were trying to stay away from fake cheese, I wanted to go the extra mile and make my own sauce from scratch. Well, tits. It did not work.

I was wary of a recipe calling for tahini, white beans, mustard and agave but since I know nothing about making fake cheese sauce, I went with it. If the intent was to make a sauce that smelled like peanut butter and tasted like foot stink, then I win the prize. There was nothing even remotely cheese like in the flavor and it looked nothing like the photos. It was sweet, an upsetting texture and even the boyfriend, who loves almost everything, made a horrible face after tasting it.

I’m not sure where I went wrong. Next time I’ll try a cashew cream recipe and see if I get better results. If anyone has a bomb mac and cheese recipe that doesn’t involve Daiya, I would love to have it.

I ended up making my old stand-by mac and cheese with a roux and some of the new Daiya wedges. The host said she liked it but to me it tasted off and plastic like.

All in all : FAIL. 

Dirty Secret

Holy shit, kids. It’s been a while.

I got distracted starting my other blog, Tell Me So, Monroe. It focuses on self betterment, relationships and not letting people piss on the wall instead of in the toilet. Check it out.

There’s another deep, dark, terrible reason that I stopped posting here.

I’m not really being vegan right now.

Oh, the shaaaaaame.

As I mention in my bio here, I drunkenly agreed to veganism a few years ago when the boyfriend and I decided to shack up. Before meeting him, dating a vegan was so far out of the question that you would have been more likely to catch me on a date an unemployed chose your own adventure writer who was 5’3″. I openly despised veganism because every vegan I met was a raging douche. Ranting and raving, judging and snarking. No better than religious zealots or republicans barking about legitimate rape. Of course, I didn’t understand the concept fully at the time. I just knew that I was apparently an asshole for eating cheese.

Education is key when switching to a vegan diet. You can’t give up so much without knowing why you’re doing it. I never met a vegan who could explain why they lived that way without getting smug and superior. I HATE condescension. I will fold my wee little ears and start rapping Salt N’ Peppa in my head while you drone on and on.

The boyfriend is far from calm and is almost always a little superior when it comes to discussing veganism. He’s taken a tremendous amount of shit from people over the years and it’s left his fuse incredibly short. Luckily, we fell in love pretty damn hard and incredibly quick so I had very little time to think about what he was putting in his pie hole when we went to dinner.

Our household now and for as long as we’ve lived together is vegan. We cook only vegan. When my parents come to visit and my mom wants to make vegetarian dishes that include dairy, I don’t tell her no. She would cook nothing but pasta otherwise. I know that for some people that’s a big no-no and it probably pisses off the boyfriend. But it’s not something I want to make a big deal out of.

After two years of struggling with it. I decided to relax. For the sake of my relationship and my sanity. I’m dealing with so many issues in myself. My relationship with food and health is one of many things that I need to work on. When I look at the whole picture though, I get overwhelmed. I need to start with one thing  and work my way down the list.

It’s also a lifestyle change that I need to make for myself, not for the boyfriend. I don’t eat meat ever, yes that includes fish too, mom! But when dining out I’m eating some dairy.

This all goes back to how I wish the vegan community was more supportive of people making changes, however small they might be to start. Instead of shitting on people when they decide to do Meatless Mondays, why not support it and be thrilled that they’re trying. Maybe that will lead to Meatless Tuesday or Meatless Month! Quick trying to force people into making huge changes all at once. If someone is eating vegan 50% of the time or 25% of the time that’s better than nothing at all so quit being such a dick.

I believe in the cause. I believe it’s the right thing to do. I’m sure that the more I learn to cook and the more I learn about healthy eating, the more I will go back into full time veganism.

This blog was started to document my journey. It’s never been about being perfect. It’s about being honest.

Potato Skins with Avocado and Corn Salsa

I found this recipe on One Happy Table. I love her site. She has some of the tastiest recipes and  they’re all pretty darn easy, even for a dork like me. She makes things I actually want to eat that just happen to be vegan.

I made these last night for the boyfriend along with some cous cous and “chicken”.

Here’s what you’ll need for the Skins:

  • 10 small (2-inch diameter) potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Salsa:

  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1 ear of corn, raw
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.

 In a large mixing bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil, salt and pepper. The put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for one hour or until they’re tender enough to pierce with a fork.
When they potatoes are cool to the touch, cut them in half and scoop out the centers. Leave about 1/8″ of potato in each skin and save the innards for something tasty the next night.
Now turn the oven up to 400 degrees and stick those babies back in their for fifteen minutes or until the edges are crispy.
Make the avocado salsa by gently mixing the avocado, tomato, raw corn kernels from an ear of fresh corn, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Spoon the salsa into each skin, plate and garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve.
These are sooooo tasty! The acidity of the lemon and tomatoe, the salt and the sweetness of the corn all combine to make a really refreshing and interesting flavor combination. They’re a perfect summer time snack and I fully plan to make them for guests soon.

Chocolate Sour Cream Banana Bread

The other day at a wedding a friend of mine looked at me awkwardly for a minute before blurting, “So what are you baking lately?”. I thought that it was hilarious because I’ve come a long way from the hard dating, hard partying head case I used to be. So much so that my friends apparently have no idea what to say to me sometimes. I am the girl that bakes somewhat edible, sometimes terrifying things.

After a few 100 degree days here in Portland, I decided it was time to get back on the baking wagon. Sure it was still 90 degrees in my kitchen but I had a bowl full of rotting bananas that were either headed to their grave or to a loaf of banana bread.

I’m not sure if I buy bananas in the hopes that I will not eat them so I can make bread, or if I just suck at eating them. The banana above had been in the freezer. It’s not covered in creepy blue mold.

Did everyone else grow up with black bananas in their freezer? My mom always had some in there. Probably because her children wouldn’t eat them unless she chopped them up, threw some brown sugar on top and then stared down at us while we miserably chewed and gagged down every last piece. Bananas and I have a tortured past.

Now that I’m an adult (with the taste buds of a child) I have my own black bananas and in an ode to my mother, I often make banana bread. I make it multiple ways, switching up ingredients a fair amount. It’s an easy recipe that gives you room to play.

Yesterday I found this one and I had to try it. I had the dead bananas and all the other ingredients already in my kitchen. I’m such a grown up! I own baking powder, people. I am a motherfucking adult.

I found this recipe on Savory Sweet Life. It’s not a vegan website, I just have a habit of taking normal recipes and substituting things. I do this because a lot of the time the vegan versions call for all sorts of things that I don’t own and have no desire to search out. I don’t have soy flour or wheat flour or spelt. I’m not in this for the health, I’m in it for the cows, man.

Ingredients
  • 1 stick of Earth Balance, softened to room temp.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Egg replacer equal to one egg
  • 2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tbl. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of Tofutti sour cream
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips work too, make them vegan, duh)
  • optional 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan, or 2 mini pans with non-stick spray.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg replacer, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Add baking soda, cocoa, and flour.
  5. Mix everything until well incorporated (about 3 minutes in a Kitchenaid mixer).
  6. Add chocolate chips and nuts (if applicable).
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hr.
  8. Insert a tooth pick into the center of the loaf and check to see if it comes out clean when you pull it out.
  9. Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
  10. Invert the loaf pans onto a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or cold.
 My mom recently gifted me with a Kitchenaid. Squeeeee!
I adore it. It makes kneading bread so farkin’ easy. A bread hook?? Who knew. If only she would have gotten me the swarovski crystal one.
I kid, I kid…..a little.
My bread came out like brownies since I took them out a bit too early. The toothpick came out clean though! So I took it out, went on a walk with the dog and came back only to find that when I cut into it, it was a bit gooey. But delicious! Super rich and magical. Especially when spread with butter. Yeah that’s right. That’s how I roll.
Go take your sad bananas and make them into happy, unhealthy treats!

About those chickens…

After ranting (eloquently and thoughtfully) about chickens and goats being “slaves” I went to visit my friend who owns the chickens. Since the last time I had been there, the chicken area had been extended to more than twice it’s originally size. Two of the ladies were out in the yard with the dogs, poking around in the garden and enjoying the rare Portland sunshine.

My heart has been officially stolen by Freddie. The young chicken that my friends found wandering the streets of their neighborhood. After putting up found signs and asking around to their neighbors yielded no results, they decided she should join their family. I have never met a more charming bird in my life. She wants to be near people at all times. She kept hopping up into the hammock we were all sitting in with the dogs. I have never seen a chicken jump. It was hilarious.

This photo was taken after Kaitlin fled the hammock because Freddie was trying to get into her lap.

I invited her to hang out with me instead.

Her favorite place to hang out is on your shoulder.

The minute that Zach got home, both girls ran up to him and jumped into his lap. Freddie, of course, scrambled for his shoulder.

Even Kaitlin was eventually won over by her. 

It was such an awesome afternoon. Lazing in the hammock with two of my favorite ladies with five dogs and four chickens running all over the yard. I understand the idea that animals cannot be owned, should not be owned. But as was pointed out in the comments on the last post, we live in a society that has been domesticating animals for years and years. I don’t see that changing any time soon. For me, that’s the last place my focus needs to be. Educating people on factory farming, animal abuse and what’s in our food is so much more important than caring if someone owns chickens. I’m thrilled that Freddie was found by an amazing family that is giving her a great life. If she was left wandering the streets, she wouldn’t have survived.

Also, on the owning animals front, anyone that knows my dog knows that he owns me.

Poor Chicken Slaves

Hot on the heels of me saying I can’t be bothered to blog, I’m blogging three times in one day. 

I need the chiming in of vegans and non-vegans alike. Seriously, some feedback/discussion would be greatly appreciated. 

One of my dear lady friends owns chickens. She owns them because it seems like everyone in Portland wants to own some chickens these days. God knows why. I grew up with chickens and they smell terrible and wouldn’t stop getting eaten by raccoons.

She also owns four dogs. The chickens, to her, are more like pets. Her boyfriend is in love with them. He built them a temperature adjustable coop and fenced off a large portion of the yard for them. Though a fair amount of the time they’re out running free with the dogs. One chicken (found wandering the streets of their neighborhood and unclaimed by anyone) is now convinced that she IS a dog, preferring the company of canines rather than the her own kind.

At several points my friend has offered me eggs because her family can’t eat all that the chickens produce. She doesn’t want to waste them by throwing them away. She knows that I attempt to maintain a vegan diet.

Her question to me was this: if the idea behind my personal veganism is that I don’t want to hurt animals then what’s the problem with eating eggs from chickens who are simply pets in a loving home?

I had no good answer.

(Keeping this strictly ethical. I know all about the health aspects and general grossness of eggs. I’m asking this in a strictly moral way because that’s why I want to be vegan. Healthy is great but I’m mostly in it so that I’m not hurting anything.)

I posed her question to several vegan friends. An answer given several times is that animals should not be pets. That just owning the chickens is going against vegan ideals.

You know where I’m going with this….

Where do you draw the line? Dogs and cats are acceptable pets but chickens are not? If my dog happened to shit vegan cupcakes every day that I happened to eat (ew, I know) then would my dog be a “slave”? Would it then be unethical for me to own my dog after saving him from a shelter and giving him a better life?

Another one: I know a girl who lives in Canada on a ton of acres with her family and a bunch of animals. Included are a small herd of goats. The goats are treasured family members, the kids adore them. They’re given names, documented in numerous photos and given a good life. Occasionally, when a goat becomes pregnant, this girl takes some of the mother’s milk and makes goat cheese.

(Pausing here to say I also grew up with goats and I adore them even though one of them used to kick the shit out of me on the daily. Their milk is disgusting though. I find goat cheese to be repulsive because it tastes exactly like goats smell. Perhaps I associate it’s flavor with getting my ass handed to me by a goat but either way, I never liked the stuff.)

My problem with milk and dairy products is the way that we get the milk. Keeping animals in a constant state of milk production is horrifying. Everything we do to cattle is horrifying.

So then, if she’s making cheese from goats who are naturally producing milk for a short period of time, goats who are well treated and loved, who prance about on acres and acres of gorgeous farm land, why am I supposed to be upset?

I’m not asking to be an asshole. I might be genuinely blind to a terrible truth. Please enlighten me.

Before I decided to give vegan life a go, I questioned the boyfriend about vegan ethics. I asked would it be okay to get cheese from small, local farms where the animals weren’t being mistreated. Due to his massive irritation at answering stupid questions like that for the last 7 years, his answer was not as detailed as I would have liked. Suffice to say, in his opinion, it was still wrong.

I understand that is naive to think that just because I buy local cheese at a farmer’s market from a kindly looking gentleman, does not mean that his animals are well treated. It’s like the Portlandia episode where they drive all the way to a farm to see where their chicken dinner has been raised to make sure he’s had a good life. I want to do that sometimes.

All this is not because I’m trying to justify eating dairy. It’s because I want answers that aren’t ridiculous.

Because of veganism I will never go horseback riding again because it’s apparently horse slavery (no matter if you love and cherish that horse and treat it like a queen), I feel guilty for wanting to have goats someday because god damn it I really like goats because then I’m keeping goats captive. If someday I get to run my sanctuary farm, will I be an asshole for loving and feeding cows and pigs and sheep? Should I rescue them and then send them off into the big world with a knapsack full of grass and a love note?

Okay, I’m getting ridiculous.

Sometimes I want to make my own rules. I want to decide what’s right and wrong morally for me as far as veganism goes. But there’s no wiggle room. There’s judgement and snark and elitism. If I were single and had no vegan friends I would feel free to adjust my life according to what I felt was important.

Like enjoy your chickens and love your goats. You’re not evil.

Now tell me why I’m a raging asshole.

 

Help A Bitch

I’m going to let you in a secret.

I’m a shitty vegan. 

I would say that 85% of the time I’m really good about it. Maybe even 90%. Then I go on vacation. Or I’m cranky. It’s not like I slip up and eat a steak topped with bacon. I haven’t had meat in a damn long time and don’t miss it at all. But yeah, on vacation I ate cheese and other random dairy items. I felt guilty about it. But I also really enjoyed what I was eating.

Normally when I get to this point in frustration with veganism (lack of convenience, lack of options while out to eat, questioning myself) I sit down and watch a documentary about food and how we treat animals and I feel reinvigorated and motivated to make it work.

Trouble is, I’ve always been an emotional eater. I’ve never eaten for health or to fuel my body. Even into my 30’s I’ve been lucky enough that no matter how much crap I shove into my gaping maw, I don’t get fat. Chub comes and goes but exercise brings it down. I realize though,  that eating for pleasure is not going to keep me alive and spring chickeny.

So making the transition to veganism plus trying to teach myself how to eat properly is enough to make me tear my hair out. My body feels terrible lately, even when eating strictly vegan, because I’m not eating the right things. I can read all the cookbooks in the world that tell me how to make squash and quinoa dinners but my heart and my stomach give the middle finger to such food.

That. Is. Terrible. And wrong, I know.

My body is addicted to bad food. Even if it’s vegan bad food (vegan frozen yogurt, mac and cheez and bbq pulled “pork”), it’s still horrible for me. I have no will power when it comes to food and a complete lack of knowledge on how to prepare anything other than enchiladas and cupcakes.

So what do I do to break this cycle, fellow vegans? How do I learn to eat for fuel and not simply for pleasure? Do you have tips or advice from when you transitioned?

I know I can still enjoy food. Healthy can be tasty. But I’m at a loss and my motivation is shrinking.

Help a bitch out.