No Murders In The Rue Morgue


Selling Out!
June 30, 2009, 7:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

You should be aware of two things about me from your readings of this blog so far:

1. I’m broke;
2. I can and do make raised (yeasted) vegan donuts.

As such, I’m offering these bad boys up for sale by the dozen. $20 will get you a baker’s dozen beautiful, raised, vegan donuts in either vanilla, chocolate, or maple glaze. My target market is the San Francisco Bay Area right now, but if you’re from elsewhere and dying to give these a try, please send me an email (anti.speciesist@gmail.com), and we’ll see what the USPS and I can do for you.

To order, email me at anti.speciesist@gmail.com. Coffee not included.

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Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – San Francisco
June 29, 2009, 10:37 am
Filed under: Activism, Baking

Just in case you didn’t know, the last week of June has been official Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale week. The idea was to host vegan bake sales all over the globe, each one raising money for a local pro-animal cause. Here in San Francisco, we did two days worth of vegan bake sale-ing, and we raised $3,000 to be split between Animal Place and the East Bay Animal Advocates. Both organizations do great work for the animals, and we were all really stoked to be able to give them some cash!

While the activism and the camaraderie and the getting to meet new vegans you hadn’t met before was awesome and all, the real high point of the event was the baked goods themselves (well, okay, the activism was just as good, but it’s harder to photograph). Both days featured masses and masses of cupcakes, cookies, scones, exotic Swedish pastries, pies, loaves, donuts, and all manner of other amazingness, and both days sold out!

Not only was the sale a very successful fundraiser, but we also were able to really get the point across the vegan food does not equal healthy, boring rabbit food. It’s amazing how far a good chocolate chip cookie can go in helping people to see veganism in a different light. With one bite, a person who had never seriously considered veganism can have their heart and mind opened, and that tiny seed of “maybe this isn’t such a hard thing to do after all” can be planted. Not to get all sentimental, but it’s pretty amazing what the simple act of baking something with pride and with care can do. I guess that’s what got me thinking about what I was going to make for the sale myself: Donuts! Perfect – I was even able to decorate them to match up with the Pride theme (June 28, the second day of the bake sale was Gay Pride Day).

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty broke, and that means that I don’thave much money to spend on ingredients for baked goods that I’m not going to eat. I wanted to make something impressive that would draw people in and that people might not associate with vegan baking, but buying 3 tubs of Earth Balance was out of the question. I racked my brain and eventually settled on yeasted donuts. I’ve made them a couple of times before and have been working on perfecting my recipe, and I’m happy to say that on Day 2 of the bake sale (sorry Day 1), I think I finally got it! The donuts were cheap to make, totally bad for you (no vegan rabbit food here), and pretty tasty if I do say so myself. I made a couple dozen basic glazed, and then painted the tops using Wilton food colouring paste. The result was visually appealing and pleasing to the stomach. These bad boys required a couple hours’ worth of work, but I like to think that they’re a pretty good example of what you can do with good intentions, a bit of work, and not a lot of money.

Thanks to all who volunteered, baked, or bought at the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales all over the globe, and hopefully we’ll see you again next year!



Cheap and Easy
June 20, 2009, 10:17 am
Filed under: Cheapo, Easy | Tags: , , , , ,

I recently had my mom and little brother leave after a pretty epic visit, during which I more or less sucked my bank account dry. If I’m going to make my rent next month, I have to tighten my belt, but I refuse to survive on ramen and veggie dogs. I may only have $5 a day for the next little while, but I’m still going to cook… and bake! First up? Chard soba.

Noodles

My favorite cheap and easy go-to standard is soba noodles with greens. You can use whatever kind of greens you feel like, but on this day, I used rainbow chard. I love chard, but right now, I love it even more because it’s $1 for a big, leafy bunch of the organic stuff at my local farmer’s market. If kale or collards or spinach are cheaper wherever you are right now, use those! You may have to adjust the cooking times slightly, but you’re all big boys and girls and can totally handle it.

To make this dish, you’ll need a package of soba noodles (or enough of a package to feed two people), some sesame oil, tamari (regular soy sauce or even Braggs works too, but it tastes better with tamari), red pepper flakes, white pepper, and (if you feel fancy) some toasted sesame seeds. If you have some ginger on hand and are feeling feisty, you can grate some of that in too, but it’s good without it too.

First, wash off your greens and roughly chop them. Set the greens aside, and grab yourself a big pot of water. Bring it to a boil, and throw in your soba. Soba cook quickly (around 5 minutes, though I know my package says 3 – 5, which I think is a lie), so don’t leave the room or anything. After 2 or 3 minutes of cooking, toss your greens into the pot (unless you’re using spinach, then you only want it in the water for maybe 30 seconds), cover, and let cook for another 2 minutes or until both noodles and greens are tender. Strain everything and put back in the pot.

Now, I tend to not measure things very exactly, especially with dishes like this, so forgive me. Add to the noodles and greens in the pot about 1.5 tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of tamari. Shake on however many red pepper flakes you desire and some sesame seeds and some white pepper to taste. If you have grated ginger, now is the time to add it to the pot as well. Mix everything together well, dish up, and eat!

All told, this dish costs around $3-$5 to make, depending on what you’ve got on hand, and feeds two people (or one starving person).



To Palm Springs and Back!

I don’t know shit about film noir, but nevertheless, I accompanied my husband to his home town of Palm Springs this past weekend to take in some noir films and hang out with his family. I’d never been to the desert and didn’t know what to expect, but I had a great time and ate some awesome food on the way.

Our first stop once we hit the road was L.A. Mike lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years before coming to his senses and moving back to San Francisco. For a number of reasons, I had kind of a grudge against L.A. and wasn’t entirely stoked to be stopping there. Sure, I’d heard good things about some restaurants, but I’d always felt like it was a shallow, expensive, mean-spirited place. I am happy to report that I’m a total idiot and that I really liked what little I saw of L.A. on this trip. First up, Pure Luck.

Pure Luck is an all-vegan restaurant that serves lots of good beer, tacos, and some awesome-looking appetizers and salads. I’d heard nothing but good things about their jackfruit “carnitas” tacos, so I ordered one of those and a “fish” taco to go with it. I was worried about having to pee during the rest of our drive, so I abstained from beer and instead had a gigantic glass of house-made lemonade, which was a good call. The jackfruit definitely didn’t disappoint- the jackfruit mixture was perfectly seasoned and with just enough of a kick to be tasty but not so much spice that the flavour of the jackfruit was overpowered. It was the fish taco that was the real winner, however. The “fish” was a kind of fishy patty, grilled up and served in two corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, salsa fresca, and a kind of sour cream-ish tartar-ish sauce. With my mouth full, I described it as perfect, and I will be actively plotting my return to L.A. if for no other reason than to eat another couple thousand fish tacos from Pure Luck.

Right across from Pure Luck is one of L.A.’s vegan-friendly ice cream parlours, Scoops.

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Scoops, I hear, is the brainchild of owner and chief ice cream maker, Tai Kim. Scoops has gotten a bit of bad vegan press in the past for carrying foie gras ice cream (gross! Also, inexcusable, though I don’t know if I necessarily think foie gras is worse than, oh, dairy or any other kind of meat, but I’ll not ruin everyone’s food boner with that), but they have since mended their ways. All their ice cream (vegan and non) is made in house and flavours are often produced based on customer requests (evidently, this is how the foie gras variety came about – I hear that when Kim was approached about it by vegan customers, he felt bad and stopped making it right away). I don’ know what genius came up with the idea for banana oreo vegan ice cream, but whoever you are, I thank you! I don’t normally go in for banana-flavoured anything, but this stuff was perfect. Creamy, banany, a bit crunchy from the oreo pieces, and generally awesome and a perfect treat.

From Scoops (oh, which is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Pure Luck – can we say synchronicity?), we hit the road to Palm Springs with full bellies and drank gin and tonics while watching The Garment Jungle, which I highly recommend.

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The next day, we hit up Palm Springs’ vegan mainstay, Native Foods. My husband, who’s been vegan for almost 9 years and vegetarian for at least 11 before that, is a Native Foods devotee and was excited to take me there for the first time. We sat on the patio (which, amusingly, has fans! An outdoor patio with fans! Palm Springs is crazy!) and shared some Save The Chicken Fingers. These weren’t what I was expecting. The “chicken” is Chef Tanya’s (Native Foods’ founder and chief chef)  own creation and uses soy, gluten, and pea protein (incidentally, this stuff is also used by Gardein, the company that makes awesome fake chicken that isn’t yet widely available in the US, though is used in some of the new Trader Joe’s “chicken” products…). They weren’t spicy but instead were hot, battered oblongs of pure deliciousness served with ranch sauce. On the recommendation of Mike, I ordered the Baja Surf Tacos for lunch and was not disappointed. Two tacos stuffed full with shredded cabbage, salsa, “surfer sauce,” and battered, house-made tempeh with a generous dollop of bright green, perfect guacamole on top. I inhaled my first one and then was too full for my second, which I saved and shoved in my face later. My only beef with NF was that they aren’t open on Sundays, so I’m going to have to wait until my next visit to the desert (months!) for another helping.

After taking in Desert Fury and Riff Raff (both recommended, though Desert Fury was my favorite), we disappointedly hit up Del Taco for a couple of gross/good green burritos with no cheese (Mike lived on these as a teenager and young dude) and hit the sack because Palm Springs is HOT and TIRING.

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After saying our goodbyes the next day, we drove back to L.A. and hit up Follow Your Heart. FYH, many vegans are aware, are makers of vegan cheeses and other dairy-replacement products. What you may not be aware of is that they also operate a natural foods market (stuffed full of, among other things, FYH products that aren’t widely available anywhere else) and a cafe. Mike had a reuben and grabbed a pre-made club sandwich to go, and I had the “chicken” sandwich. I normally hate sauerkraut and haven’t had thousand island dressing since I was a kid (and hated it then!), but the reuben was awesome. I mean, it was super gross because it was full of sauerkraut and thousand island, but in a really delicious way. My sandwich was full of fake chicken, grilled onions, tomato, lettuce, fake cheese, and thousand island (my new favorite sandwich dressing). We also grabbed a small container of the smoky “chicken” pasta salad, which contained about 8,000 calories according to the container, but was tasty and awesome.

All in all, the trip was a delicious success, and I can’t wait to get back to SoCal for some more food!