Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving. My Least Favorite Holiday.

Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite Holidays. In fact, I would have to say it IS my least favorite. There are many reasons that make me dislike Thanksgiving. Two reasons resonate with me the most. The first, and the reason I have disliked Thanksgiving the longest, is the slaughter of so many innocent turkeys. Approximately 45 million turkeys are killed for the holiday. It is hard for me to see the good in that. The only thing I can be thankful is for the birds that were spared.

I know people eat meat and I rarely say anything about it because I feel that "to each their own," but I just cannot condone this cruelty. This whole holiday is not based around its original roots. It has become a celebration that condones killing (of animals) and gluttony. Yeah, that sounds like fun! Where do I sign up?

The truth is that hundreds, if not thousands, of animals are killed on a daily basis and it makes my heart ache. To take a stand against this ridiculousness, I try to attend the nations largest vegan Thanksgiving celebration in Durham, NC. (I will post on this very soon!)

On to the second reason.....

Reason number two is that on Thanksgiving in 1999, my grandfather, affectionately known as Papa, passed away suddenly. We had moved to NC in August of 1998 and I got to see two more times. He died a month before I was set to see him again for Christmas in 1999. His death has impacted me more than any other death in my life. It has been 10 years and every time I think of him, my heart eyes tear up. I still dream of him often and think of his voice and his embrace.

He was tall and husky and looked like a tough guy, but had a soft heart. He came across as a bit gruff at times, but no one ever questioned the love he had for his family. When everyone else seemed like an enemy, he was a friend. We often debated about different topics, but it was in good fun. We had very different views on things and it did not matter. He decided to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays for spiritual reasons and on those days, he ate only vegetarian. After I became a vegetarian, I appreciated his special diet because we would eat together. Ma, my grandma, would make the same meal for the both of us. This seemingly small thing was actually very important to me.

I miss him more than I probably should, but he was very special to me. If you have been fortunate enough to know and be close with your grandparents, than you just might understand this feeling. I cherish his memories because that is how I can keep him alive in my memory and my heart.

So, now you see why Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Truly Natural Apple Pie

In an effort to make good on my goal, I am blogging on this rainy and dreary night. I am on the couch with a warm blanket and a hot cup of Silk's pumpkin spice drink. Mmmm! We recently discovered this seasonal drink and I have been indulging in a small warm mug each night. It makes me want autumn to last forever!

Since we have moved to our new home, we have been able to shop at Earth Fare. At first I was sad that we were about 15-20 minutes away from Whole Foods and then we realized the greatness of Earth Fare. It is North Carolina owned and I enjoy supporting "local" businesses. It is a lot like Whole Foods, only not as crowded. The store takes a strong stance on only selling good, healthy products. The store has a list that they call the "Boot List " and they do not sell products containing the ingredients on this list. Such as, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/sweeteners/flavors/preservatives, bleached or bromated flour, etc. I am very impressed by their commitment to health and to the environment. For example, if you don't bring your own bags when you shop, you are charged per bag to pay for the carbon offset. In addition, the bags that they carry are compostable.

HFCS, artificial ingredients, and hydrogenated oils have become commonplace by a many mainstream companies i because they are cheap. Earth Fare does not just stock products that are cheap, they stock what is right. They are a great example for the American food market, and the market could use an overhaul!

This blog is not intended to be a rant about our society and its declining health due to the chemicals in our food. It is really about an amazing vegan pie. You see, after we signed up for their mailing list, we got a coupon for a free pie from Earth Fare. We went to the store hoping that they had a vegan pie and that they would honor the coupon for one. To our luck, and surprise, they did!

That same evening, we cut two pieces and enjoyed them warmed. The pie was better than I expected and guilt free (not calorie wise)! No animal products, no artificial stuff, no hydrogenated oils, etc. Just pure, sweet delight!

Since then we have made Earth Fare part of our regular shopping experience. We do not buy all of our food there, but we buy what we can. I would rather spend a bit more money on good quality, healthy, and organic food than on anything else. In the end, I feel better. We do not have any products, or many, with HFCS and we now eat more organic foods. That gives me piece of mind. I cannot control much in my life, but I am really trying to make a difference and this is one way.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sushi, Miso, and Ginger Dinner

Ever since I heard of sushi, I was on board. Only the vegetable kind, of course. (Vegetarians don't eat fish.) About 10 years ago, I saw a demonstration about how to make sushi and I was sucked in. I bought a bamboo sushi set and tried it out. It was not hard! I put my own little twist on it, so it is not traditional, but we like it.

John and I were craving some of the ricey goodness, so we decided to have a sushi night. To go with the sushi, we made miso soup and a ginger salad. This is one of my favorite meals to get at a Japanese restaurant. Not all miso soups made are vegetarian, so sometimes I substitute the miso part of the meal with edamame.

Instead of white rice, we used brown rice. I know it is not traditional, but we prefer to eat brown rice. In the sushi we used avocado, carrot, cucumber, and pickled diakon. For the salad, we used red leaf lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. We bought a ginger dressing from the store and it we liked it. Nothing is better than the ginger dressing from my favorite Japanese/Thai restaurant, but this dressing was good enough (by the way, if you know of a way we can make ginger dressing from scratch like you would find in a Japanese place, please send me the recipe). For the miso soup, it was simple. Water, miso paste, tofu, wakame, and scallions.

I was less than impressed with the miso soup. I will keep trying. We loved the sushi and the salad though! We did not the sushi into slices, because we need to get our knives sharpened and it ends up turning into a mess. Since it was just the two of us eating, we kept it in form of a roll and ate it whole. It is a little challenging to dip it in soy this way, but it still tasted like we wanted it! Yummy!

Writing about this and thinking back to sushi night, makes me want sushi again. I think I see another sushi night in our future. Guess I better get out my chopsticks and bamboo sushi set.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vegan Dinner in Madison

In late September I went to Madison, WI for client work. This is only my second trip to Madison and I have nothing negative to say about the city. It is the capital of WI and is a college town. It is easy to walk around and from what I could tell, it is relatively safe. I have heard a lot about Madison and from what I could tell, they have a lot of vegetarian places in the city (or at least places with a substantial vegetarian/vegan menu).

I arrived into Madison and to my hotel a couple of hours before dinner and settled into my room to catch up on work email. When I was in Madison the year before, I had tried a place that I could not remember the name, but it had a lot of vegetarian options. I just remember it had Nepalese food. So, I searched and I came across a place called Himal Chulli. The name did not sound familiar but, I wanted the cuisine again.

As I read the menu, my mouth watered and knew I had found my place. So, I called in my order and walked downtown to pick it up. I ordered the "Seiten Buff." Which was described as "stir-fried organic seiten with onions, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, green pepper and mediterranean spices. Good in any season. Served with choices of rice or roti and dal or tossed salad." I love seitan, especially homade seitan and was excited to get back to my room and chow down.

The pictures do not do it justice, but the dish was just heavenly. The spices were perfect and it was some of the best seitan that I have ever had. The Dal (shown below) was also just lovely. The lentils were cooked perfectly and the broth was lemony, warm and plain delicious! I practically licked the container clean.

While walking back with my order, I noticed that there was another place that had Nepalease food (go figure!) called Chautara. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was the place that I had eaten the year before. In addition to Nepalease, it had Tibetan and Indian cuisine. I remember that my meal was also very good at that place.

When I travel for work, I so rarely get any time to explore. Even though I had a night ahead of me of work, it was nice to be able to take a walk downtown. It is even better when I have so many vegetarian choices!