Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hump Day Round Up

Really, it's just too easy with that kind of title. Here are some links from the abolitionist vegan communities across the web:

Did you read Aaron Sorkin's op-ed about Sarah Palin's defense of her own televised caribou-hunt? Just another example of how we condemn some animal use but don't reflect on the horrors of our own. Gary L. Francione has this response that's definitely worth the read (we all have to cringe, but Sarah Palin IS right about this one).

Ex-vegans have been in the news lately, suddenly experts on vegan nutrition and are spreading misinformation about the healthfulness of vegan living. Unpopular Vegan Essays weighs in on different arguments used by ex-vegans, while Ginny Messina over at The Vegan RD debunks the fake science used to discredit vegan diets.

Looking for something to do, insomniac? Come join our Abolitionist Approach forum discussions for theoretical explorations of animal rights, ideas for non-violent vegan education, and recipes/living tips from seasoned vegan veterans. Click here to check it out!

Going vegan means rejecting all consumption of animals, including food, clothing, personal care, and entertainment. It's easier than you think; more importantly, it's morally the right thing to do.Learn more about veganism here, here, and here.

Personal note:

Finals are almost over and the holiday break is nigh. My mom found a food processor in her cabinet from 1987 that has never been used (no one was surprised) and she also gave me her old bread maker as an early-I-don't-want-this-shit-so-you-can-have-it Christmas present. Get ready for compulsive, vegansexual self-pleasure.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mashed Potatoes: An Ode to Roots

Mashed potatoes have been the pinnacle of my existence from an early age. It was always the requested food for birthdays and special occasions. It was the food I pestered my mom the most to make. I ordered it when I went out and compared flavors. I even had an embarrassing stint where I insisted on drizzling ranch on every serving, which I'd rather forget. I learned how to make my own and did so often like it was going out of (missionary) style.

Becoming vegan did not change my long-term passion for my mashed root vegetable delight. I grew upset at first, thinking there was no way I could recreate this dish without it tasting to soy-like, or not buttery enough. I avoided making them for months, exiling it from my memory as best I could.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I could deny myself no longer. I had to try, at the very least, to conjure a suitable recipe that tasted enough like the mashed potatoes I was used to eating at home. So here it is, in all its creamy whipped glory:

Jen's Vegan Mashed Potatoes (serves two, or 1 with a gluttonous appetite like myself)

4-6 big russet potatoes (washed)
Vegan sour cream (I like Tofutti Sour Supreme)
soy milk
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 pinch turmeric
Optional: 1 pinch cayenne,  cracked black pepper, or other fun savory spice on hand

**You'll notice I don't have many measurements listed for this recipe, and it's because I learned from my mother and grandmother by feel and sight rather than measuring cups and spoons. It's okay to get a little messy with the vegansexual kitchen: start with a little, taste along the way. I CAN say it takes quite a bit of vegan sour cream, so budget accordingly.

1.Wash and peel your potatoes. Bring a salted pot of water to boil (I don't know, two, three quarts?). Cut into even chunks so that they cook evenly. After reaching a rolling boil, dump potatoes in and give a quick stir.

2.Cook for about 10-13 minutes. Check on the potatoes every few minutes, giving a stir when necessary. You don't really have to mess with potatoes too much, they take care of themselves. Cook till fork tender.
3.When you've reached the right consistency, drain potatoes thoroughly. Transfer back to your original pot and ready your hand mixer (you could use a potato-masher, but I'm from Oklahoma: we whip our potatoes and call them mashed; just doing my part to queer New England dishes!)

4.Add three heaping dollops of sour cream, about 1/4 cup of Earth Balance, and a couple splashes of soy milk. Add a few shakes of salt for good measure. Set your mixer to low and start whipping. Scrape the sides with a spatula. When everything looks blended, taste a bit to check it out. If the consistency is too dry, or you taste too much potato (I know, ironic), then add a bit more of all of the above. Add the rest of the Earth Balance either way to get that butter taste.

5. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with turmeric and any another sexy spice. Serve with a pat of Earth Balance.

The result is a creamy, not-too-starchy mashed potato DE-LISH dish that functions well as a companion to Tofurkey/vegan gravy, or your savory mushroom dishes. Although if your family is anything like mine, you'll eat it all the time with completely inappropriate combos. Like pasta or sandwiches.

I ate about a quarter of these before my mom picked me up for Thanksgiving (washed down with a pre-family vodka cocktail) and I was already in heaven. The consistency of mashed potatoes is serious and weight-y: it's not one to fuck around. You're forced to confront it filling your entire mouth and throat with true potato taste and thickness. It goes down warm and slowly and draws your consciousness to the entire line of your esophagus down to your stomach where it rests and fills you before your next bite. The sensations were just as I remember. Sans cruelty, I had courted a former lover with new persistence. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Make Vegan Buttercream Frosting, Fall In Love

I had a dilemma a couple of weeks ago that I'm sure crops up for many vegans. You're committed to cooking something for someone (mine was cupcakes for a birthday party) and you're wondering if you should make said item vegan or not. I was sure there was no way I was going to include dairy in my recipe until a friend asked me what my plans were. I had mentioned a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World looked good and her mouth dropped open a bit. Our conversation went something like this...

"Wait, you're making these vegan? But [person celebrating birthday]'s not vegan"
"Yeah I know. But these are delicious and there's no way I'm buying eggs or milk"
"Jen. You're being ridiculous. I WILL BUY the eggs and milk and bring them to your house. I'll even crack them open for you"
"Hmm...I get what you're saying but no thanks. I'll surprise you with how good they are!"
**skeptical stare from friend**

So I left that conversation feeling guilty when I shouldn't have. I make good vegan cupcakes!I'm indignant about it! But I'm also not compromising my ethics 1 day a year. Anxiety sets in and that's not the best frame of mind to approach the vegansexual kitchen. So I cleaned, fixed a fancy drink, put on some Beach House, and went to work.

The cupcake batter itself was easy to make and looked fine. Consistency was practically identical to cupcakes with dairy and it smelled delicious and chocolate-y. I could quickly see this was not the problem. My performance anxiety really rested in the whipped buttercream frosting.

The recipe called for vegetable shortening, which I didn't have on hand. My bank account was quite low (I even bummed some soy milk off a friend, thanks Chris!) so I just used extra Earth Balance. Add mountains of powdered sugar, vanilla, and soy milk and blend for 5 minutes.

This five minutes is longer than it sounds. During this my mind is wandering and racing to all its usual haunts: relationships with multiple people, bills, homework I'm currently not doing. As with eating, I think cooking deserves your full attention if you can give it, so I snapped out of it and worked the bowl, turning it under my electric tool.

I came to a place of patience that then hosted a new level of concern. The consistency of the buttercream wasn't looking so whipped and fluffy quite yet, but I persisted and waited until it started to transform. Just a hint at first, but then high towers of billowing whipped sugar erupted in my bowl, practically calling my name right then and there.

I was apprehensive...would it live up to my expectations? I nicked a little off the beaters and quickly tasted the frosting. It. Was. HEAVEN! I immediately ejected the beaters and licked one nearly clean, letting the powdered sugar-y whipped-ness dissolve slowly on my tongue. I'd be lying if I said I didn't audibly moan from how delicious and sinfully sweet this confection had turned out to be. As is the case with lovers, assumptions are useless and it's wonderful to be surprised by the risks you take.

Then things got really crazy. I broke out the sprinkles, quickly made dark chocolate ganache, and went to town. Behold, the leftover beauty of this creation:

You'll be happy to know that vegan cupcakes are excellent drunk and hangover food (see 4loko cans, my other other mistress, pictured on the left).

Everyone at work loved the cupcakes. I didn't say they were vegan until most folks had finished theirs, and they were all shocked. The favorites were the dark chocolate ganache covered cupcakes, which hardened into a nice shell that rested on the buttercream. Not unlike a chic hostess cupcake.

I strongly encourage your decision to add vegan buttercream frosting to your life. And ganache. And all things cupcake.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why Brussels Sprouts Are My New Main Squeeze

First, a little background: My parents raised a processed household and my meals typically consisted of deep fried meats, corn dogs, and other easily microwaveable fare. It's not that I was really a picky eater, just one unexposed to many of the fruits of the earth (literally). I could list the different kinds of vegetables and fruits I had consumed during my childhood on two hands.There's really nothing sexy, or all that satisfying, about frozen-battered-corn syrup-infused cardboard.

This changed in high school with an adventurous boyfriend with a foodie dad; now there was broccoli, spinach, onions, bamboo shoots, strawberries, dates, etc. Salad! Sorbet! Chutney! My erotic relationship with food had begun.

These days, I experiment with the fun veggies I never had a chance to cook with before. I have casual flings and persistent interests and the occasional torrid affair (see: kale, red cabbage). Last week I made fancy soft tacos with broccolini and stir fried sliced turnip. Then I made a raspberry vinaigrette drizzle Swiss chard and raw cashew pita inspired from a creation by my friend, Alex. But then I saw this on one of my favorite blogs, Vegan Good Things. Click here for the recipe.

Vanderbilt-Inspired Brussels Sprouts (courtesy of Leinana Two Moons)

 All I had was a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts (THAT I GOT FOR A DOLLAR) but decided to give the marinade a try. I simply threw a couple handfuls of sprouts in a microwaveable bowl, filled it with a half inch of water, covered with plastic wrap, and microwaved for 2 1/2 minutes.

I was hungry so I didn't even really wait for the sprouts to cool. I didn't even bother to use a fork. I quickly drenched one in the Sriracha-syrup-citrus dressing with the addition of cracked black pepper and bit into it.

The perfect green orb of leafy goodness was firm but gave way to my sinking teeth at my bite. I passed through the concentric layers and delicate folds to the golden center. The spiciness of the pepper and Sriracha caught the back of my throat and activated my gag reflex just as the hot juice from the sprout drizzled down my hand, all the way down my forearm. I stood there in my kitchen hovering over the bowl in my underwear reveling in sensation and awareness. Bliss, y'all. Bliss.

I savored the rest of the bowl with a whole grain english muffin (totes random). After an off day with an off migraine, this experience made me feel whole again. Needless to say, I highly recommend this method of consuming a food that's good for you and good to you.

Up next: Queering the kitchen!

Welcome to VeganSexual

Welcome! This is the new home for my new blog: VeganSexual. I am absolutely in love with the pleasure and sensuality I experience when I eat practically any meal. You can have that sensation on the go, sitting down to a meal with a lover, or blissfully sitting by yourself in your favorite chair with dim lights and a glass of wine. Making you hot? Join me.

For those of you wondering what the hell I could possibly talk about in a blog like this, refer only to my public radio muse, Lynn Rosetto Kasper:

From Mother Jones:

Gastrosexuals, we know (thanks Urban Dictionary), are foodies who use their culinary skills to impress friends and woo the opposite sex. Splendid Table host Lynne Rossetto Kasper, of course, is the ultimate gastrosexual: that sultry voice, that Midwestern perkiness, all that experimentation with raddichio. Grrr, and winners get to join the original saucy dish on the air.

I think it's important to note that you not only can use your skills to seduce lovers, but also to give yourself the ultimate in culinary self-pleasure; cooking for oneself can be another intense, erotic experience in your repertoire.

EDIT: Also, just noticed the heterosexism in the quote above. Now inspired to write about queering the kitchen and that ridiculous quote, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". 

So here you can expect me to talk about my experiences as a gastrosexual, how being vegan amplifies that pleasure, and tasty recipes you can try to maximize your pleasure and ethical living AT THE SAME TIME. Without the whole PeTA-objectifying-women-in-advertising-that-does-nothing-to-help-animals-bullshit.

Stay tuned!