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Animal Empathy

December 10, 2011

I don’t think it is to much of a stretch to say that vegans hold a special place in their hearts for animals. Well, most vegans anyway.

I was reminded of that today when I had the chance to avert something that could have been potentially hazardous. My husband and I were on our way home from the pet store where we had just gotten our dog’s nails trimmed when, a quarter mile from our home, a tiny white dog darted in front of our car.

Before we were even stopped all the way (at a busy three way intersection), I was hopping out of the car. To our right was a field and some train tracks and to our left was an even busier road. There were about 3 other cars in the intersection, but when I got out of the car they (luckily) all stopped.

The tiny dog tried to run away from me at first, but when I crouched down to her level she came running right into my arms. Luckily, she had a name tag on and I was able to get a hold of her owner right away. The owner was out of town and the dog was staying at a friend’s house. When she got loose she panicked and didn’t know where to go.

If we hadn’t taken that way home, I shudder to think what would have become of her. It’s only 24 degrees Fahrenheit right now!

I only had her for about 15 minutes but immediately my mind started working. What if her owner doesn’t want her? What if she needs medication? What if, what if, what if?

When I placed her into the arms of her temporary owner he was so grateful. That just made my day.

I just… think that if something ever happened to my dog I would want someone to do everything they could to find me. But not only that, sometimes animals get overlooked in favor of other (worthy) causes around the holidays.

This recession doesn’t just have an effect on people. It has an effect on any animal that’s ever been dumped on the side of the road because they don’t have any money to feed them. Or any animal that’s been put to sleep because the owner can’t afford their vet care.

So… please, this holiday season, consider doing something for the animals. They don’t have a voice.

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Chicago Vegan Mania!

November 6, 2011

Party On!

Yesterday, I attended Chicago Vegan Mania with my dear friend Steve. I had never heard of this event before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. But it was awesome!

Chicago Vegan Mania has been around for a few years and is a place where vegans, vegetarians and omnis can come to learn about veganism. There is more food than you can possibly eat, exhibitors set on selling you their cruelty-free wares and helping to educate folks about the vegan way of life, cooking demos, presentations, a poetry jam, and so much more!

Steve and I wandered around for over 3 hours and I’m not even sure we saw all there was to see! If you’re ever in Chicago in the fall, definitely think about attending Chicago Vegan Mania. Next year they’ll be in an even bigger and better space!

Chicago Skyline as we drove into the city...

The event was held at the Pulaski Park Field House in Wicker Park. Steve and I drove into the city from the ‘burbs and I snapped a picture of the skyline. Not bad for a camera phone through the windshield!

Entrance

The ALWAYS packed Food Court

Chicago Vegan Mania isn’t only a vegan event, it’s a green event. Last year, nearly 90% of the waste from Chicago Vegan Mania was either recycled or composted.

Going Green

But of course, what would pictures be without FOOD! Steve and I ate ourselves silly. In a good way. It was so fun to be somewhere that I could eat ANYTHING in the entire place.

Chicago Style "Beef" Sandwich

Half of my Chicago Style 'Dog. No mustard!

Orange Chicken & Brown Rice

These were just some of the delicacies you munch on. There were vegan bakeries, there was bbq, there were all different types of vegan cheeses. I was so overwhelmed. I was like an ADHD kid in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. So much to see and do!

My cruelty free purse!

Of course I did some shopping. I came away with a new purse, 2 bags of Dandie’s marshmallows, and a bunch of new vegan cheeses that I plan on purchasing pretty soon. If I wasn’t so broke, I would have bought EVERYTHING.

We also attended a speaking event on vegan body building and met up with a few friends of Steve’s. Everyone was so nice and friendly. It was a wonderful place to spend the afternoon!

So there you go! Chicago is a great place to be vegan and I’m so glad I attended this event!

Sushi Bowls

November 2, 2011

So, I will preface this by saying that, once again, I am completely unoriginal and that I got this idea from someone else.

I love sushi. Like, love-love sushi. Like, I would marry it if I could. Avocado rolls are a gift from the gods that I could eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Sushi is also ungodly expensive. Urgh. Why are silly little avocado rolls so expensive?

I looked into making my own sushi. I bought a bamboo mat and everything. And yet? I’m freaked out by the thought of rolling my own sushi. I am not, however, freaked out by the thought of throwing all the yummy sushi ingredients that I love into a bowl and scarfing that down!

Deliciousness!
Hee! Dinner love!

Check me out! I took that picture and everything! So, if you love sushi but don’t love spending money, these bowls are for you!

The recipe is veganized from one found at The Way the Cookie Crumbles. I left out a few ingredients to make this a little more pantry friendly. I can get everything I need for it at the Super Target. Don’t judge.

Sushi Bowls 
(adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Ingredients
1 c. steamed rice (I use my rice cooker!)
~1 tbs seasoned rice vineger
big pinch of sugar
small pinch of salt
carrots shredded (I buy them in the bag already cut up!)
1/2 avocado diced (or more! There is no such thing as to much avocado)
pickeled ginger
vegan soy sauce to taste
1/8 c. sesame seeds toasted

Directions
1) Start your rice in the rice cooker. While that works it magic, toast your sesame seeds in a small sauce pan on the stove. Set aside

2) While still warm, drizzle rice with the vinegar, salt, sugar & sesame seeds. Mix together until all the rice is shiny (I just mix mine right in the bowl I’m going to eat out of)*

3) Top with carrots, avocado, pickled ginger, and soy sauce

4) Devour!!

*Note: you’ll quickly learn how much vinegar and sugar you like on your rice. Start with less and then you can always add more.

That’s it! This recipe is so simple. While the rice is steaming in the rice cooker, I toast the seeds, and chop the avocado. Then it’s just mixing it all together and eating. As long as you keep carrots and avocado in your fridge, you can eat this any day of the week.

I should mention that sushi rice doesn’t really taste good the next day, so I only make as much as I’m going to eat for dinner. My rice cooker has a minimum setting that makes 2 cups of cooked rice so I save the other cup for something later in the week.

Quick & Easy Dinners

October 31, 2011

Like so many folks, I lead a busy life. I work full time, and am finishing up my master’s degree, I volunteer, and I still like to make time for my family and friends. That means that sometimes I forgo things like a well balanced meal for things like thesis writing and dog transports.

Some of my favorite meals are super quick and easy “pantry dinners.” Things I almost always have on hand and that I can whip up in as small amount of time possible.

Tonight I made one of my favorites – “Cheater” Pad Thai from the Happy Herbivore. This is a fantastic dish. It barely takes any time to whip up and is filling and comforting and perfect for those nights when I don’t want to do anything but sit my butt on the couch.

The biggest bonus though? Is that the ingredients are things that I always have on hand. Rice noodles, peanut butter, and soy sauce with a few spices thrown in. Tonight, I fried up some tofu and threw that in there for some added protein. Sometimes I’ll steam some broccoli and toss that in. These are the best kind of recipes to keep on hand.

Today is my 30th day of veganism and the official end of the 30-day Vegan Challenge. I feel great, and I feel as if I’ve successfully veganized all my old standy-by recipes. I am very rarely searching for something to eat, and I feel confident in my abilities to continue on in a vegan way.

My husband and I chatted about it yesterday and he let me know that he was very impressed with my dedication and wanted to know what he could do to continue to support me. What a wonderful man!

So anyway, I’ll try to post my favorite pantry meals as I whip them up – especially since we’re heading into winter and I always crave the comfort of a home cooked meal when the nights start to turn frigid.

Recipe Review – A Success!

October 27, 2011
tags:

Well, I finally did it. I baked a vegan chocolate cake that did not suck.

In fact? It was delicious!

I cannot take credit for this culinary masterpiece (if I do say so myself). I found the recipe online, at a site called Instructables. I had never hears of the website before, but I figured over 300 reviews couldn’t be wrong. I’m so glad.


(picture credit goes here)

This is not my beautiful picture, but a picture from the recipe posted online. Mine looked just like it, though. Before I devoured it!!

I was so excited at finally baking something that came out tasty that I called my parents and my sister to brag about it. My husband, god bless him, doesn’t like sweets so he was not nearly excited about this cake as I am. (I think he might be an alien).

Anyway, I’m going to copy and paste the recipe here, but full credit goes to user aliciak at Instructables.com

The BEST Chocolate Cake Ever

Cake Ingredients

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 or 9″ round cake pan with vegetable oil or vegan margerine. In a small bowl mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend.

In a larger bowl, combine the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar.  Stir well. 

Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix well. Batter will be thin, but that’s OK.

Pour into cake pan and bake for around 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (DeliberateVegan’s note: don’t let this overcook, so check it a few minutes before you think it’s done. You want it to be moist and fluffy. If you bake to long it will dry out and be crumbly). 

Cool on wire wrack until completely cool – about 2 hours. 

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp vegan margarine
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring sugar, margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil. Stir frequently; then reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It’ll look gloppy, but it’s just the bubbles! Remove from heat and stir for another 5 minutes.

Add vanilla, stir, and immediately pour onto cake. Glaze dries really quickly, so spread it immediately and add any sprinkles now. Let this cool for an 1 hour, if you can wait that long

And that’s it! Enjoy! I plan on making this recipe for Thanksgiving. I’m going to double it and add some raspberry jam to the middle. I can’t wait!

Vegan Baking

October 26, 2011

Before I went vegan, I considered myself a really good baker. Not amazing or anything, but I could usually whip up something very tasty in a short amount of time.

Not so much anymore.

I have been trying to find vegan sweets in my local grocery stores, but that is very difficult. Instead, I figured I’d make my own.

Urgh. ARGH! #&!(*@!

I can handle the savory stuff okay. Bagels? Delicious. Biscuits? Yum! Bread? Pass the jam, please!

But every sweet thing I’ve tried to bake so far has come out TERRIBLE.

I tried my hand at some brownies – not good.

I attempted some chocolate chip cookies – inedible.

Scones? Uh? Well they look like a scone.

And yet, I persevere. Tonight, tonight will be it! I can do it. I’ve found what has to be a fool-proof recipe and it’s currently in the oven. The batter tasted great, so I have to hope the finished product will be just as delicious.

Please.

If it works, I’ll add the recipe. If it doesn’t… then I’ll just be over here, crying into my pillow and dreaming about chocolate cake.

Routine

October 25, 2011

I’m about to embark on my fourth week of veganism and am closing out my 30-day challenge. I’m super excited that this has been such a success and that I’m able to embark on this change to my lifestyle. It’s truly been a wonderful time and I’m amazed at how understanding my friends have been.

Saturday night we had some friends over for a game night, and everyone was super accommodating, agreeing easily to a Japanese restaurant. Woo!

Things are becoming routine for me and I am enjoying that. It’s easy for me to decline foods I once would have eaten and to enjoy new vegan foods. I’ve also been cooking quite a bit more and I LOVE that. At the beginning of 2011 I made a New Year’s resolution to try 1 one recipe a week– or 52 a year. I’m more than half-way there and am super excited to be trying something new all the time. My mother has even agreed to veganize quite a few of our “traditional” Thanksgiving Day recipes.

I’m so happy that I finally made this commitment and love the way I feel.