Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

I think my photography is getting better. This is yesterday's lunch, made with water, soy milk, pureed (local) squash, spices, and lavender from the garden.


Vegan S'mores

Organic raspberry chocolate, Sweet & Sara marshmallows, and generic graham crackers.
Hell yes.


Autumn Sandwich, Breakfast, and Take Out

Inspired by Evan's post on Bjorkedoff, I sought to recreate some kind of Autumnal Sandwich. Jay made flat bread before I got home, sort of ciabatta style but with less air, from the Joy of Cooking recipe and added in some caramelized onions and herbs from our garden. We used a ton of local ingredients: red leaf lettuce, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, jonathan apples. We added soy nut butter and orange fig spread. It was exactly as good as it sounds ONLY BETTER.

Here are a couple of breakfast shots from the past week. One features local eggs, Gimme Lean sausage, homemade biscuits, and local muscadine jelly. The other is some mashed potato cakes with local BBQ sauce.

Finally, some take out from a Middle Eastern place called Ali Baba's. This is the vegetarian combo, which has two huge pitas, four dolmades, two falafel balls, some pickled salad, babaganoush, and hummus. It was more than enough for two people, and it was like $7. Kind of amazing.


Bean Burger, Shepherd's Pie, a Porch Party, and a Bento (sort of)

Okay, a few things to catch up on over the last ... however many months. New template with no dates makes me look like less of a slacker, I guess.

Here are some things I've made in the interim that I took pictures of. First, shepherd's pie with tempeh, local veggies, and local (dairy) cheese.

Nom. Next, homemade bean burgers. One shot of the patty cooking and one shot of the complete burger.

Finally, a shot of a few dishes from a big porch party we had this summer. Zatar bread, hummus, veggie roll ups, and a few other things I can't recall.

Not gonna lie, I love a potluck.

Now for something new. I've decided to try making a few bentos for lunch, and I attempted my first one last night. It's sort of a bento fail, but I'm posting it here hoping that the failure is at least a little bit endearing.

Steamed broccoli, veggie dog, baked tofu, sliced carrots, snow peas, prunes, a banana, and some graham crackers. Sauces and seasonings on the side, there.

We had a huge sushi party a couple of weeks ago, and made a big pot of chili this weekend. It's not that I'm not cooking, it's that I'm not taking pictures and, obviously, food posts without pictures are kind of like tits on a boar hog. But I am working on correcting this. I primrose.



So much food this weekend, and so much not going on this blog. I am going to fire up the crock pot tonight. Expect more blogging in November.


Vegan? Locavore? Both? Neither? A discussion on ethical eating.

I know, it's been a very, very long time. Here is the truth: I've started eating a few local nonvegan foods, and I've been a little nervous about posting. My friend Gene was in town last week. He was one of my friends from church, a fellow vegan who helped with the vegan cooking class. He prompted to me start thinking about why I don't post, since he always read and frequently commented on the blog back when it was active.

Taking the Menu for the Future class last year was a great experience. I encourage anyone who's interested to get involved with that or any of the other discussion courses offered by Northwest Earth Institute. The class did talk about the hazards of factory farming, the resources consumed by raising livestock, the pollution, etc, and the necessity of eating lower on the food chain. However, it also talked about the benefits of eating local. And that's kind of the rub for me.

I believe as strongly as ever that eating lower on the food chain is the more ethical choice for a lot of environmental reasons. I also believe that animals, even animals you keep for food purposes, even animals you kill and eat, should be treated with kindness and allowed plenty of space and healthy food. If a person kills an animal, it should be done as humanely as possible and with reverence for the sacrifice the animal is making.

When it comes down to it, which food is the more ethical choice: a pineapple or an egg? Let's say you're a girl living in Arkansas. The pineapple is grown using cheap borderline slave labor and flown halfway around the world using dirty oil. The egg is raised a few blocks away by a friend at a community garden that serves as an outdoor classroom, teaching urban kids about sustainable farming. That one is pretty easy.

Now which one is a more ethical choice, the pineapple or a locally raised chicken? The chicken was pasture raised and spent its life running around and eating bugs and grass and playing with other chickens. When it was killed, it was done in a way that minimized the animal's suffering. To me, the line is blurry. Who would I rather be? The chicken, who enjoys life and loses it prematurely, or the man working for pennies in the unrelenting heat growing the pineapple? The woman who died in the desert for the oil it took to transport the pineapple? Her children? It's way more complicated than just not eating or using animal products, for me.

Gene and I both agreed: in a sense, veganism is easy. (I know a lot of people who would be shocked to hear it!) You can make one choice, draw a line in the sand, and know that most of the time your choices will be the most ethical under the circumstances. In terms of Kohlberg's moral hierarchy, I think choosing veganism is akin to choosing a system of laws that already exists, like choosing a religion that most closely matches your beliefs and becoming an adherent of that faith. It's a great way to simplify the process, and I am absolutely not criticizing it. I admire and respect vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, locavores, anyone who takes the time to make a conscious choice about what they put in their body based on ethical concerns.

I just think for me the question has become more complex, for now. Jay is in the kitchen right now making breakfast: local eggs, local blueberry jam, and local 8 grain vegan bread. We still use the smart balance lightand the unsweetened silk. We still check the label for sneaky bits of whey. We still make our own ice cream with mimicreme. In fact, after Gene and I finished talking about this, we wandered into the kitchen and I heated up a meal of local purple hull peas (seasoned with vegan bacon salt and vegetable broth) and cornbread (veganomicon recipe). Most of the food I eat is still vegan.

I'm not going to lie, though. It's been nice to have eggs in the morning, or local raw milk colby on my pizza, or even meat, occasionally. And I guess that's the point. I've always been a vegan with a lot of exceptions, so I suppose this is one more. As to whether I have the right to the term vegan, my friends understand the complexity of my relationship with food, and understand that it's shorthand I use with strangers whom I don't feel need to know the depths of this issue.

It's not that I'm never going to eat another pineapple again, either. But when I do, it will be like meat: with as much concern as possible for how it got to my table, with the knowledge that it's a very occasional treat. For now, that's where I want to be and the choice with which I'm most comfortable.


Hot Soup and Rich Beer

It's one of those random cold days after it should be well into spring. Tomorrow I'll be lolling about on a sunny hillside, sprawling on blankets, laughing with friends, and snacking on hummus and flatbread. Today, however, it was seriously time for some soup. This is just water with some broth cubes dropped in, frozen spinach, frozen peas, penne, sauteed onions, and a few spices. I have also been loving the new Paradise Porter from Diamond Bear Brewing Company. It's a weird name, but a good beer.


Homemade Ginger Vanilla Ice Cream

Holy crap. Ever since little Evan did a post about ice cream made with Mimic-creme, I've been wanting to try it out. They have it here at the Drug Emporium, an enormous Walgreen's type store with a secret health food store in the back called Vitamins Plus. I always forget it's there until someone reminds me, but they have a ton of selection and better prices than Whole Foods and Kroger.

So I picked up some Mimiccreme thinking I would try Evan's method, only to discover than when your refrigerator has a ice maker, you don't own ice cube trays. On Monday, when it was supposed to be a state holiday, I stopped by work just to check my e-mail only to find out that we were supposed to be there anyway only no one told me. I felt like that imaginary time in jr. high, when everyone changed the time of the party and conveniently forgot to tell the smelly kid. I am the smelly kid.

So I was stuck at work, feeling sorry for myself, and decided to buy an ice cream maker. It's the grown up version of "fuck this, I want some ice cream." The feeling passed, and I didn't end up buying one, mainly because there were too many choices and I've never used one before. That night, however, we had a couple of Couchsurfers coming back to Vermont from California, and as we were pulling out of the driveway to hit the grocery store, Jay spied something in the back of their car. "Is that an ice cream maker?" It, indeed, was. After dinner, they brought it in and made ice cream. It was magical.

We put in about a cup of liquid per person, which ended up being some Mimiccreme and some soy milk. Then we added a little bit of vanilla, some ground ginger, and (in a stroke of brilliance) ground up chunks of candied ginger. We added some extra sugar, too, but the result came out too sweet, so I think in the future I'll taste it and keep it more creamy and less sweet. The ice cream maker the girls had was a Rival brand that one of them had picked up at a thrift store for $5. It had an inner container for the creamy mixture and an outer container for the ice and salt. They used a whole canister of table salt and layered it with the ice until it filled up, then plugged in the machine that magically made the ice cream.

I think the whole thing took about 45 minutes. I am buying an ice cream maker.