Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sabjimata’s Booty

Our Family spent a lovely weekend at my in-law’s in DC. We left Florida late Thursday afternoon and arrived 13 hours later in the early morning hours of the Washington cold.

She is so damn tiny she makes my head look so damn big.

The Cousins, in DC

Our first morning there, we hung out with the relatives visiting from Brooklyn. In the cool morning chill we walked down to the Lowell School playground, where, for the most part, I was the only one freezing.

Anniversary Flowers

My son’s birthday is also my in-laws marriage anniversary. Every year Larry buys Betsy a flower shop’s worth of flora, which she then arranges in pots and vases throughout the house.

My in-law’s generosity does not end with flowers. I scored some pretty good finds from the basement on my visit.

It's a start.

Did I mention the directions are in Italian?

I was hoping this ancient waffle maker would be the cure for my waffle making blues. My mother-in-law is still using her aunt’s ancient blender…which must have been one of the first models ever produced. Yes, it is still going strong, unlike the crappy blender I bought at Walmart a few years ago.

I cleaned up the waffle iron and it sure heats up. Only problem is, my waffle skills still suck, despite finding this really cute site dedicated to vegan waffles.

Yes, it seems like the problem is not you, waffle iron. It’s me.

My GE Old School Waffle Iron

Danish Botanical Prints + Small Cherries

Rescued from the basement are these absolutely lovely Danish botanical prints, which totally remind my husband of his mother. Hmmm….maybe that is why they didn’t “fit” into the car. Hopefully they will find their way into a shipping container and meet their destiny in Alachua: my dining room wall.

Damaged

The Husband's Art/My Heart

And did I mention how absolutely adorable my husband is? We went through his art portfolio from high school. Awww…..

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Post-Thanksgiving Blog Catch Up: Lame-o Croissants & Then Some

My son’s birthday party (over a week ago) took a while to recover from. The clean up. The post-party sick boy. The doctor appointment. The prep for his birthday celebration at school, which he missed and will be rescheduled for a date in the future (I think).

For his Birthday Walk (that’s Montessori jargon), Vm requested croissants and jam to be served to his class. I was super late getting the dough made because I was still working on cleaning up from the party. I should have started Monday for Tuesday afternoon croissants but instead, I started very early Tuesday morning.

And realized that I had just a smidge of yeast in the fridge. A smidge wasn’t going to do it. Not that late in the game. There would be no time to run to the store. I was making four recipes of dough so there would be enough for the 20 something kids in my boy’s class.

So I just went ahead with the smidge, warmed up my oven to 200 for some serious dough proofing and crossed my fingers. All of them. After kneading out the dough, I offed the oven, covered the bowl of dough with a towel and put it in the warm oven, hoping the micro-organisms would be spurred to life and get all hungry, eating their way to a sizable carbon dioxide output.

About an hour later I checked in on my dough and would have given those yeast cells a pat on the back if such a thing was possible. The dough had risen. Not obscenely, by any means, but I could tell that the yeast were active and I would not have to pardon my French over dead dough.

And then my son woke up and it was clear he would not be going to school that day for his Birthday Walk. The dough was wrapped in the fridge for a slow rise and I got on with my day of tending to my little coughing patient.

Usually after 20 minutes of dough rising, I roll the butter into the dough and refrigerate a few hours, laminate, refrigerate, repeat. But this time, it was an hour rising outside the fridge, in the warm oven and then many hours in the fridge before I even made the introduction between dough and butter.

And what great results. It seems that all bread dough does better with as little yeast as possible and ample resting time. Without lots of yeast and a fast rise, the flavor of the bread develops depth and subtleness that is absent from the wham, bam, thank you ma’am taste of a big spoonful of yeast. In this case, size does matter. Smaller amounts of yeast compensate for their slower rise by allowing a romance of flavors to develop.

croissant dough: little bit of yeast, lots of bubbles!

I so liked this batch of dough.

I made a quadruple recipe of dough, but used hardly any butter. I was just tired and lazy and figured I would add more after the first go at laminating the dough.

Butter wrapped up tightly.

Rolled, wrapped and ready to go in the fridge.

Cheater's croissants. I only rolled these out twice. I know I can do better than that. And use more butter while I'm at it.

Simply good.

I ended up making a small, lazy batch of croissants for my family, at my son’s request. He really loves them. I only rolled the dough out two times, so, needless to say, the croissants could have been flakier with more laminating (and butter!).

Despite lots of clean up and sick boy and family croissants, the people in this family cannot live on pastry alone. Since we were going away for Thanksgiving, I wanted to use whatever was in the house, without any desire for pre-planning or special shopping. Pasta, tomatoes, eggplant, some cheese and pignolis (a present from my sweet neighbor friend) made a quick and delicious enough meal for us.

I roasted the eggplant in the oven on 500 for about 20 minutes with nothing but salt mixed in with them. When they came out of the oven, I drizzled some olive oil on top, threw a sprinkle of thyme and mozzarella on top, added sliced tomatoes and put the dish in the cooling oven to melt. Simple, light and delicious.

Light and roasty: eggplant drizzled with olive oil and topped with mozzarella and grape tomatoes.

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Japan’s Herbivore Man

This NPR report has little to do with food (although a men’s dessert tasting club is mentioned) but much to do with sexuality. It’s interesting how “herbivore” has become a synonym for girly man in Japanese culture just as “carnivore” now signifies the kind of woman who is competitive in the workplace. Without a hungry appetite for female flesh, these men are self-proclaimed herbivores, despite their actual food diets.

Somehow, I would have less of a problem with this effeminate stereotyping if the men were actually vegetarian. I guess “emo” doesn’t translate well into Japanese.

Plant based.

Real life herbivore, Yasushi Sano, tells it like it is, here in the Japan Times. Apparently, these guys are intimidated by the carnivorous women. It’s scary being young, cute, male and Japanese. At least in Japan. Life is easier being known as a herbivore than as a chikan.

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My Consummate Housewife Bliss

Today is the official sixth birthday of my son. After 18 hours in labor, six of which were stalled, my sweetie boy was born, with three undrugged pushes, sunny side up. And it’s been true love ever since.

His birthday, which annually falls right around Thanksgiving (and on the same day as my in-law’s wedding anniversary) requires a bit of forethought for booking the party date. This year, we chose the Sunday before his birthday, to avoid Thanksgiving weekend and a Vaisnava fast day from grains and beans. Mmmwah Grandma flew in for the event, which took a week of planning to pull off. The crowd was huge; I definitely could have started earlier, despite getting started a full seven days beforehand.

Venumadhava chose the menu, which included barbecue gluten kabobs (the kids ate a ridiculous amount of these the week before the party), vegetable barley soup (which my son requested I add beans to the night before), tossed salad (my choice) and homemade bread, which was supposed to be croissants but the guest list got out of control and I knew I would not be able to pull that off. For dessert there was pound cake, way strong herbal coffee cheesecake, decorate your own cupcakes and very berry shrikand.

As a tot, Vm would eat lots and lots of shrikand, because when we were just a family of three, I made lots and lots of shrikand. But try keeping a family of four in shrikand! It ain’t easy. When I asked the boy if he would like some at his party, he told me he didn’t know what it was. Oh, the foodie offspring horror. I assured him he would like it, put 7 gallons of milk up to boil and went in search of persimmon. Tis the season, after all.

Well, somehow I missed persimmon this year, not tasting a single fresh local fruit. Rather embarrassing, I know. Thankfully, I have my persimmon jam, which I happily have been gifting around town at kiddie birthday parties to very little appreciation and modest looks of parental confusion. No worries. I will continue to proselytize  using my small jam gospel and not be attached to the results. I am not looking for converts. I just want people’s tongues to be touched by the taste of divinity.

So, a day late and a dollar short for persimmon, I headed to the local food store for my shrikand standby–frozen berries. Blue, straw and black, to be precise. One and a half cups of sugar per gallon mixed with extremely well hung yogurt and voila, shrikand perfection.

I love the look of berry shrikand in jadeite bowls.

Cookie bags were the parting gifts for our beloved guests and the children, many of whom did not take a break to eat during the party, save for the chance to decorate their own cupcake with mocha or blueberry frosting and  a range of brightly colored, completely artificial crunchies and candies, were very happy to receive their bag of sugar face, chocolate chippie, jam print and ginger cookies. I made, all in all, approximately 350 cookies, which was, unsurprisingly, way too much. Thankfully, cookies freeze well and my family will be enjoying the effort of my baking well into the spring.

The same goes for the kabobs, although I definitely didn’t make 350. More like 115. A four step cooking process, the kabob making is a lot of work. Worth it though, since it brought great happiness to my kiddies, who dirtied their face with sweet and salty barbecue sauce two days in a row before school. If you are my kid and want to make me happy, eat my cooking.

The guest list was big, reflecting our local Alachua compadres as well as all Vm’s new friends from his new school. A variety of ages were represented, but the majority of kids were in the 4-6 year old range. Because of the youngness of the crowd, I encouraged parents to please stay and attend the party. Thankfully, most adults stuck around. This definitely helped with the crowd control.

Knowing lots of kids would make my son happy but could also make things out of control, I put a lot of planning into the party. We had a wonderful teenage magician perform for the kids at the start of the party, which helped get everyone focused. I bought a 30 ft. parachute online and tried to recreated the fun of gym class with Mr. Lewis at Harry S. Truman School. Like I said earlier, we had a variety of ages represented amongst the kids so it made things a challenge, but the parachute was great fun and now we have it for future parties.

The party started with rain and a craft. Unfortunately I left the raw materials for the craft–pine cones–out overnite so they were soaked, making the pine cone avian a real challenge. Surprisingly, though, it was a great success with the older kids (8-12). We also played Steal the Beanbag (Steal the Bacon, but with a vegetarian name), but the kids had a difficult time remembering their number. They were into it though. Homemade pinata was a big success. It didn’t take too long to smash.

It took me less than five minutes the nite before the party to create the craft sample. After the pine cones were left out in the rain, the craft became all but impossible for a select few kids and the mommies patient enough to see it through. Even after I tried drying out the pine cones in the microwave the morning of.

My son was happy, guests were happy (note to self: need to put that we don’t wear our shoes in the house on Evite next time) and the day was a success. We didn’t get to play pass the orange, pin the tulasi leaf on Krsna’s foot or freeze dance during the main event, but me and a small group of hanger ons did during the after party. Pass the orange was way fun and I was shocked how much those kids were into dancing.

I don’t think everyone liked the eats, but I was okay with that. Maybe a bit sad, considering all the work, but I was expecting the non-vegetarians in the crowd to be a bit unfamiliar with our flavors.

Venumadhava wanted a terrarium for his birthday but all he got was this lousy vinaigrette (shown pre-blender whoooosh).

One of my favorite parts of the meal was the dinnerware. Paper plates NO MORE…I WON’T PARTICIPATE! From soup to salad, we used stoneware purchased from R.W. Beaty, the local restaurant supply shop in Gainesville. Really good prices on the stuff and lord knows we will continue to use it. I only wish we bought the stoneware 8 years ago. But then again, we would have had to pack it up and move it four times.

The party was a lot of work. The theme was “fun” and trying to create as little waste as possible. I managed to do go balloonless for the party, another feather in my imaginary cap (we did put two balloons on the mailbox to mark our house but that was it). Disposables were really at a minimum. Guests were requested to not spend more than five bucks on a gift and to keep it simple–legos, paperback books, bootleg cd’s, markers and colored pencils, etc.

Reusable stoneware dinnerware making it's way back to the cupboard. Clean up dragged on a bit because of the dishes but from an economic and environmental perspective, the minor inconvenience was worth it. Plus, real plates makes the dining experience more pleasurable. No weird taste transfer from the plates/bowls to the food.

I know spending a week on getting your kid’s birthday party together is not how most people envision celebrating turning six, but for me, a stay at home mom with two kids in school, what else am I going to do with my time? I see my job as giving my children the best childhood I can wrangle up, according to my abilities and our family values.

The party was so wonderful because we were able to share with our friends our love of simple pleasures in our life: home cooked food and home spun fun. Of course, doing things simply often involves more work, but the smiles on everyone’s faces is worth it.

The bread was very popular. Twenty-five cups of organic flour and still we ran out.

I didn't take many pics at the party because I was super busy blowing my whistle and directing the action. But here are a few pics of the start of the parachute. The kids went wild over it. In a good way.

birthday boy arriving on the scene

...showing off her climbing skills...

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PETA Turkey Ad Banned from Macy’s Parade

The headline says it all.  Check out the article @ NPR

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Obama State Dinner Mostly Vegetarian + Some Other Stuff

This morning I heard on the news that the Obamas would be having the Prime Minister of India as guest of honor for the first official Obama White House State Dinner. Immediately I wondered if the dinner was going to be vegetarian.

And then, I got on with my day.

Kulavira just posted on Facebook this NYTimes.com blog piece on the dinner, which is totally veg except for some jalphal…a shrimp course.

Obama State Dinner

Good for India! Too bad about the masoor dal, though.

Also, although not very vegetarian, check out The Food Issue of The New Yorker. I particularly enjoyed Raffi Khatchadourian’s article, “The Taste Makers. The link is for the abstract; I have a subscription to the print edition. Kickin’ it old skool. Having grown up 20 minutes from Rutgers University and their food science program, I was smitten at a young age by esters and artificial flavors. Fortunately and unfortunately for me, I sucked at regular chem. O-chem was always a few carbon chains out of my reach.

Anyway, if you are at all interested in processed foods and flavorings, it’s worth a trip to your library for a look at the entire article. A bunch of nuts, those scientists!

I’m going to try to corral all the fun foodie newsy news news I come across and dump it periodically on my blog instead of flashing it all on Facebook. The blog is way more accessible to me as an archive for my finds since it has a search feature and Facebook is a pain in the arse.

Blog 1, Facebook zilch.

 

Other stuff that has been in the media lately and of interest to vegetarians (and hopefully non-vegetarians, as well) is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which would make a nice birthday gift for me, hint hint. This book is getting a lot of attention. In one article earlier this week, Michiko Kakutani writes:

He asserts that “we have let the factory farm replace farming for the same reasons our cultures have relegated minorities to being second-class members of society and kept women under the power of men.” And in another section he talks about “the shame” he felt as an American tourist in Europe when “photos of Abu Ghraib proliferated” and then speaks in the very next sentence about the “shame in being human: the shame of knowing that 20 of the roughly 35 classified species of sea horse worldwide are threatened with extinction because they are killed ‘unintentionally’ in seafood production.”

Damn, Jonathan, you sexy with all that socio-political talk!! I totally agree and find vegetarianism to be a basic tenant of being human. Not that I’m judging anyone and everyone who eats meat. Okay, I am. But I try to keep it to myself.

Ahhh, this I just came across when looking up the link for Jon-Jon’s piece. Okay, maybe old news to most of you but I was grossed out to read that Mollie Katzen made the switch to the carnivorous side…years ago. Check out the link here. This Food & Wine article illustrates the whole “humane” meat thing that people have sold themselves, and uses Katzen as the not too shy poster child. Thankfully, I never owned one of her hippie cookbooks. It is just so Drew Barrymore of her. Apparently, 2002 was a very sketchy year for vegetarians.

Okay. I know I sound mean and judgmental. But it is just one side of my very complex personality. And besides, it’s my blog.

 


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Vegetarian Round-up

I post a lot of newsy things I come across on Facebook, so I thought I would try to, every so often, gather those things here on ye ol’ bloggo. I’ve done it with my kitchen hates a few posts back and have decided, in the spirit of hating Thanksgiving, to do it with food consciousness.

The first link I am depositing here is for a brilliant NYTimes.com Op-Ed by Gary Steiner.

Gary Steiner: Deeply Philosophical

The slow food movement has given way to a kill-your-own mentality as a feel good way to know your dinner, as if slaughtering the animal yourself somehow makes taking a life for your supper unproblematic. Steiner confronts this much neglected moral dilemma, which has fallen out of fashion amongst thinking eaters. His piece, Animal, Vegetable, Misserable, can be found here.

PETA serves up an impressive Thanksgiving grace in it’s current Thanksgiving ad campaign:

 

 

You may have noticed that I am still working on my sidebar links. Did you see the new blog linked under Edibles: Scott Winegard? Scott is a real life NYC veritable vegan chef and has lots of fun food stuff going on in his life.

scott winegard

How Very: Hubba Hubba

 

 

Jessica Claire Haney’s Washington Times Op-Ed had some Facebook friends all in a dither about the merits (or lack thereof) of processed vegetarian food touted as healthy alternatives to meaty school lunches. Sure, I get the point, but if one sees nutritious choices as a continuum of bad, good and better choices, as opposed to a dichotomy of good and bad, then I don’t see the problem with Michelle Obama’s soyburger idea. Again, check out Steiner’s piece and add ethics of eating to the discusson.

Finally, I want to clue you into two things that are not necessarily related to conscious vegetarian living/eating (wow, that sounds so hokie pokie!) but, in the way I live my life, totally related. Like, totally.

Stephen Bezruchka’s Health & Capitalism addresses not health care necessarily but rather the issue of taking car of one’s health. I especially appreciated his appraisal of the role of the stay at home parent: way important. Thanks, Stephen, for giving us SAHM’s props.

Taking that idea and Googling it, here is a link estimating the monetary value of stay at home mothers. Sure, depending on how you look at it, it can be either right wing Christian or post-feminist. Hey, whatever gets you through the day.

Lately, I have been basking in my stay at home mom-itude (yes, based on the word “servitude”), despite not having a new kitchen. Hopefully I will post soon on the sheer pleasure of my son’s recent birthday party and all the warm happy fuzzy mommy realizations the event spawned in me.

Feel free to add your vegetarian friendly news finds in the comments section below.

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