Small-Bite Sundays: February 18, 2018

Small-Bite Sundays -- winter

Happy Sunday, all. I know I’ve been pretty silent lately, but for once I have reasons beyond personal laziness. If you follow the (American) animal welfare world at all, you might be familiar with the massive sexual-harassment-related upheaval in the past month. Much of it has to do with my own organization. It feels disingenuous to me not to acknowledge it at all, but I also don’t feel right using a personal platform to air my own opinions when much of the turmoil is (1) still ongoing and (2) extremely sensitive.

I know, I know, that’s cryptic and unfair, but the bottom line is that I and my other social-justice-minded colleagues in the AR/AW world have been really freaking upset by what’s come out, how it happened, and what’s going on now, and it’s been hard to focus on much more than the bare minimum. So, as usual, my poor blog is the first thing to drop off.

But, here I am. Trying to get back into the swing of things and trying to remind myself that my organization is so much more than the actions of a few. Trying to remember the way our work serves the greater good. Trying to be circumspect when talking about this right now. Ahem.

There’s been all sorts of fallout from this series of events, but one unexpected piece was the way my recently reformed Facebook habits took a nosedive.  Because a national newspaper broke the story about what was happening, people were sharing info (and their own personal opinions) via social media. So I found myself scrolling through my feed, devouring all the long-winded screeds and strong opinions on both sides. Getting knee-deep into the comment threads that you should never, ever read if you value your mental health. That kind of thing. But at least that temporary dipping back into Facebook did remind me why I took a break in the first place: Because NO GOOD CAN COME OF IT. I remain committed to consuming it in healthy amounts only. :)

So! On to this weekend’s reads, and may your work life be much less turbulent than mine has been for the last month.

Small bites to read, winter edition

A moment of honesty: I spent many years of my life thinking that being colorblind was the ideal. I didn’t understand why Black History Month needed to be a thing. As an adult, I’ve chosen to educate myself on race, racism, and the ways we as a society continue to fail our brothers and sisters of color. It’s not easy to do educate yourself; it requires challenging long-held assumptions and being introspective and acknowledging the way damaging cultural portrayals of race have buried themselves deep in your subconscious. As an individual I know I can always do better, learn more, try harder, but I’m trying to make the effort.

All this is to say that I really enjoyed this piece on why the misuse of the term “racism” among kids is dangerous. Well, “enjoyed” isn’t the right word; I appreciated it. The piece also drove home to me the way we as a culture are so ill-equipped to discuss challenging, nuanced issues like this. I was reminded of a recent post in my neighborhood’s online forum, where a man posted to “warn” neighbors of a “stranger” who was walking back and forth down his street and checking her phone. She was black, which he noted. Many people responded, thanking him for the “warning” and urging him to call the police. When anyone tried to gently challenge him on exactly why he felt so threatened by someone who was literally just walking down the street and checking her phone, and whether perhaps he would have felt less concerned if she were white, others jumped in to immediately defend the guy and to say he was just being a good neighbor and to attack the commenters for immediately “crying racism.”

What’s interesting (and really telling) was that none of the commenters called the guy racist. None of them made ad hominem attacks. They were just trying to call out what might’ve been a case of unconscious bias, where he saw a black woman he didn’t know and thought she might’ve been a threat. If she were white, her presence probably wouldn’t even have registered. Yet many people (deliberately?) refused to see the nuance of the comments, and just wanted it to be a yes-racist or no-not-racist situation.

Anyway, this is all to say that we need to be having conversations about race with our kids as early as we can. No, it’s not easy, and no, I’m not a parent so maybe I have no say here, but exposing our kids to nuances in ways that they can relate to and understand seems like one of the only ways we as a society can tackle these challenging issues. (And, of course, parents of black children are already having these conversations. Parents of white kids need to do more.)

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Coincidentally, another piece about kids — this one about a teacher telling a little girl that “only girls wear lipstick.” Even those of you who might be uncomfortable with the changing nature of gender roles — and even the changing nature of gender as a concept! — can hopefully accept that prescriptive comments like that one are harmful. This piece explains why and offers solutions for parents hoping to raise inclusive, accepting children who can (gently) challenge authority figures who make these kinds of comments.

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On another topic, this achingly bittersweet piece about finding love after loss struck me for its honesty and its gentle handling of something we do really badly as a society: talking about and preparing for death. Nobody wants to have to tell a partner what he or she should do after they’ve died, but I think it would be a gift to know that someone I loved wanted me to find someone else after they were gone.

 

Small bites to watch, winter edition

The Olympics! Seriously, this is just about all we’ve watched lately. (Shout-out to NBC for streaming it.) The only downside? As a stereotypical cord-cutting #millennial, I rarely watch commercials — so having to watch the same ones over and over during the streaming Olympics is grating. But we’ve been enjoying it anyway, and I’ve loved all the skiing events in particular. As someone who has never skied, I am in awe of the things people can do while strapped to two long sticks and holding two other long sticks. (That’s the terminology, right?!)

Small bites to eat, winter edition

I love pierogies, and I want to bury my face in this pierogi casserole (not really). This is cold-weather comfort food at its finest!

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A solid — and blessedly quick — recipe for easy homemade ramen from The Vegan 8. This partially inspired me to make a big pot of ramen last night, although my off-the-cuff recipe was a little more involved and included veggies and tofu for added nutrients. (To those of you following along on my “I REFUSE TO COOK” strike, yes, I made a somewhat-involved dinner! Steven is laid up with back issues so I wanted to relieve him of his kitchen duties. It’s going OK.)

 

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What have you been reading/watching/eating?

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Small-Bite Sundays: January 21, 2018

Small-Bite Sundays -- winter

As I thought about what I wanted to include on this week’s Small-Bite Sundays installment, I knew that I was having trouble sourcing content to share, but I wasn’t sure why. Yesterday, I figured it out: It’s because I rarely use Facebook anymore. I deactivated my account late last year in an attempt to break myself of the scroll-through-my-feed-whenever-I’m-bored habit, and it worked. After about three weeks totally off the ‘book, I no longer found myself compulsively clicking Command-T to open a new tab, then typing an F and letting auto-fill do the rest. (I’d also deleted the Facebook app from my phone ages ago, which certainly helped.) So now, although I still do technically have a Facebook account, I rarely use it. I scroll through my organization’s employee page every day or so, and if someone tags me I’ll usually check it out, but I spend probably 15 minutes total on the site over the course of a week.

I’m glad I made the change. The catalyst for my original deactivation (besides just wanting to waste less time there) was a misogynist post by an acquaintance that sent me into a rage spiral. I realized that I would never change his mind just by getting into a Facebook fight, and that seeing posts like that were more harmful to my mental health than anything else. So now, rather than spending hours scrolling through hundreds of ill-informed opinions and idiotic comments and barely-read shared articles, I can pick and choose the news I want to read and not have to deal with commentary that only makes my blood boil.

But there’s a downside. The converse to not seeing all those dumb, super partisan “news” stories is that I’m also not seeing the informed, well-written think pieces that don’t get traction on major news sites. I’m not seeing what my thoughtful, plugged-in, social-justice-minded Facebook friends are sharing. And I do miss that. Instagram has become my social media break of choice these days; I’m appreciating the focus on imagery and enjoying finding new ethical brands and companies. But there’s really no good sharing component. I also use Twitter more frequently, and that medium is definitely more sharing-oriented, but I also find it a bit anxiety-inducing and cluttered.

So I think I need some kind of happy medium in my Facebooking. Maybe I just need to curate my friends list more closely, or just unfollow folks whose posts I have no interest in seeing. If you have a strategy for using Facebook in a productive and positive manner, I’d love to hear it!

Small bites to read, winter edition

A prime example of something I would’ve missed entirely had I not spent about three minutes scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday: This piece on the way “bro culture” harms the animal protection movement. It is, of course, applicable to many other movements and organizations, but as someone who has now worked in animal protection for nearly five years, it hit home. I’ve often wished I could throw out a casual “Hey, man” in the hallway, but… it would be weird. This is a well-written, straightforward, non-confrontational (sigh) explanation of why this kind of language needs to go if we want to build a truly inclusive movement.

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Switching topics entirely, check out this article about airplane toilets! No, really! As a somewhat-closeted aviation geek and a similarly closeted fan of poo talk, I enjoyed this light read. I was especially surprised to learn that the modern airplane vacuum toilet has only been in use since 1982!

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If you haven’t read Geraldine’s gut-punchingly good account of making the pizza cinnamon rolls from Mario Batali’s misguided “apology” letter, do so now. Then read her follow-up, detailing how her Twitter account was hacked after the original post went viral. Then silently scream about how horrible internet men are. Then give a  virtual nod to all your internet sisters in solidarity. Then maybe make some better cinnamon rolls and eat them with one big middle finger pointed at Mario Batali and his ilk.

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This Serious Eats piece on the alchemy of novelty potato chip flavors made me smile. Although I can’t say I’m particularly tempted to try, say, taco-flavored chips, I enjoyed the underlying theme: that sometimes perfection (i.e., the exact replica of a taco’s flavor) isn’t as satisfying as a simulacrum. The latter is emotionally and sensorily evocative in the way an exact replica never can be.

Small bites to watch, winter edition

Do you follow Goats of Anarchy on Instagram? If not, give the page a look. GOA is a sanctuary for special-needs goats, and it is exactly as cute as it sounds. This throwback video of Poppy and Frankie boppin’ around on the couch made me melt.

Small bites to eat, winter edition

A veganized version of this creamy mapletini has been my go-to cocktail of choice over the past few weeks. You could easily sub in a thinned-out homemade cashew cream for the half-and-half, but I used Ripple’s unsweetened plant milk with great success. Steven (who knows me far too well) gave me a bottle of this amaaazing bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup for Christmas, so I’ve enjoyed letting it shine in a cocktail. If you are similarly maple-inclined, you too will revel in the possibility of literally drinking maple syrup.

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Joey’s vegan oatcakes look mighty simple and mighty versatile. I try to incorporate zero-waste habits when possible, so I appreciate recipes that negate the purchase of plastic-wrapped snacks. Plus, that photo at the top of the post makes me salivate every time I see it.

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Thanks for reading, and send your Facebook strategies my way!

Note: This post contains an affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Small-Bite Sundays: January 7, 2018

Small-Bite Sundays -- winter

Hello, friends! I’m dusting off the Small-Bite Sundays series after letting it fall by the wayside during Vegan MoFo and the holiday madness. I’ve also given it a mini makeover, with more winter-appropriate images. Winter weekends are particularly appropriate for snuggling and reading, watching, and eating, aren’t they?

Neil nose

How has your 2018 been thus far? Frankly, ours has been a little rough. My Grammy was hospitalized for a few days; luckily they think it was just an extreme bout of vertigo and she’s been discharged. But it’s difficult being hundreds of miles from family when these kinds of things happen. Closer to home, we lost a member of our extended canine family — Neil, who was essentially our nephew-dog. Our friends Beth and Derek raised him after his mom was hit by a car, so he was quite literally their baby. Neil was a near-daily part of my own life for about three years when Beth worked with me; we both brought our dogs into the office and had all sorts of routines for them, mostly treat-based. Puppy Playtime was a crucial part of every day, and in later years we would throw handfuls of Cheerios on the ground and stand back as Moria and Neil snuffled them all up like tiny vacuum cleaners. Neil had an outsized personality for such a little guy, and there’s a rat terrier-dachshund-shaped hole in all our hearts right about now. I haven’t done him justice with this brief mention, but his story isn’t mine to tell, and quite frankly I’m still in shock that I’ll never get another extremely thorough — and extremely wet — hand-cleaning from this loud, opinionated, ridiculous, and loving doggo’s long Doxie tongue.

So, 2018. Time to pick up, y’hear? No more of this. Only smooth sailing ahead.

On that forward-looking note, I’ve been musing about the future of the blog. As you’ll read in this post, I have still not recovered my cooking mojo. While I have prepared sweets and savories for various holiday gatherings, the nightly meal is still exclusively Steven’s to prepare, and he’s been shouldering the task with admirable fortitude. (He’s even continuing to do most of the cleaning, which is an unexpected and lovely bonus.) The other night, however, I decided I wanted some nacho sauce to accompany a bag of tortilla chips we’d brought home from a gathering. I pulled up a recipe for that ubiquitous vegan cheesy sauce, the kind based on boiled potatoes, carrots, and cashews. I didn’t follow it to the letter, not bothering with measurements or anything finicky or fussy. And yet this relatively simple preparation left me irritated and quite glad I’m no longer the one in charge of our meals. I guess I’m not ready for a return to the kitchen just yet.

So, in the months to come, I’ll be sharing fewer original recipes and more general lifestyle-related content. Frankly, that’s where the blog has been headed for a while. There are thousands of fantastic recipe developers out there, and I will gladly leave the original recipe creation to them. It’s never been my passion, especially in the past few years. These days, I get more excited about finding amazing vegan food while traveling, about helping others discover that a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to be a challenge, and about sharing tips for making that lifestyle as fulfilling and fun as it can be. I hope you’ll still read along as I make this shift, and I welcome ideas for topics you’d like to see covered.

And now, on to this week’s small bites.

Small bites to read, winter edition

Jenny Marie’s tips for easy, sustainable, and inclusive veganism had me nodding my head nonstop as I read. This is an all-around inspiring read for new vegans and old-timers alike. She’s pegged it to Veganuary, which isn’t as much of a trend here in the States as it is in the UK, but it’s also more broadly applicable for the new year. I think it’s beneficial to sit back every so often and evaluate whether you’re aligning your animal ethics with the larger social justice movement, and Jenny’s post is a great reminder to do just that. The piece also includes plenty of practical knowledge, including tips on dining in public, transitioning to cruelty-free and vegan household products, and more.

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This is an older read, and probably most relevant for those of us in the U.S., but I wanted to share it because it articulated something that had been bothering me. In essence, this piece reminds us to be careful and considered in our language — especially when we use the term “pedophile” to describe a man who had a known history of pursuing younger (much younger) women. He’s pretty darn disgusting, but not a pedophile, and calling him one is simplistic and problematic. (Folks outside the States, this is related to Roy Moore, a nasty senate candidate in Alabama who was widely predicted to win despite a consistent stream of allegations that he pursued and may have molested girls/women as young as 14. He lost in an upset, but no thanks to white voters. 63% of white women voters preferred this pathetic creep, whereas 98% of black women voters threw their support behind Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate. There is a freaking LOT to unpack in this senate race, but I’m digressing.)

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I quite enjoyed Gigi Griffis’ summary of how she and her partner chose their travel destinations for 2017 and how those places did or didn’t live up to expectations. Gigi is a travel-independent writer and blogger who brings her dog Luna (!) everywhere, and her slow-travel lifestyle is quite appealing. (How could you NOT want to spend a month in the Slovenian Alps?!) I probably read more travel blogs than food blogs these days, and Gigi’s down-to-earth approach always appeals. I appreciated this behind-the-scenes look at her past year.

Small bites to watch, winter edition

As usual, this is the shortest of my small bites sections! Steven and I just started the third season of Broadchurch. We loved the first season, would rather forget the second, and so far are enjoying the third. This one seems a return to the mood and style of the first season, and I’m down for the slow-burn pacing and clever way the original characters are finding their way into this new storyline. Crossing my fingers the rest of this season is as strong as the first couple episodes! (And yes, I know it aired last spring; we’re behind the times.)

Small bites to eat, winter edition

Last night a fair few of my local friends got together for a belated friend gift exchange, which we morphed into a bit of an Irish funeral for Neil. Our friend Rachel made the hot caramelized onion-bacon dip that’s become a staple at all our gatherings, so I wanted to contribute something a little healthier. I brought along this buffalo chickpea dip and it was a smash hit. It’s a lighter take on a super rich and super creamy version another friend brought to our holiday party; this one relies on an ingenious hummus base and incorporates vegan mozz to temper the buffalo kick. I negated the healthiness somewhat by adding about 1/4 cup Earth Balance — I wanted to elevate it from a hot hummus dip into something a bit creamier. I might tinker with this recipe further and share my own version down the line, because it was a winner.

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Minimalist Baker's ramenWe had Minimalist Baker’s ramen for dinner this past Friday, and holy smokes. I was blown away. The flavors are incredible! Steven rocked this recipe, using Better Than Bouillon’s No-Beef bouillon as the broth base and layering it with lots of umami flavors. Topped with miso-glazed baby carrots, baby bok choy, and tofu, this ramen currently sits atop my Best Eats of 2018 list… a list I literally just invented and that, let’s be honest, is quite short at this point. But that’s not to diminish the deliciousness of this recipe, because it is delicious! Make it!

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Another Steven production, this artichoke and red bean étouffée from Meet the Shannons hit the spot during a painfully cold week. Super flavorful and packed full of veggies, this recipe also yielded quite a lot. More leftovers for me!

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Phew. That’s about it for now. I’ll be back later this week with a long-overdue roundup of my brief sojourn in Rotterdam last year. Happy second week of 2018, y’all.

Note: This post contains an affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Small-Bite Sundays: September 17, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Friends, apologies for the radio silence! VeganMoFo begins in October (!), and I’ve been prepping for that. Steven and I will be out of the country during the first few days, so I’ve been getting my mock ducks in a row before we leave. (That aphorism doesn’t quite hold up to veganization, does it?) I’ve also gotten back into freelancing after the summer lull, leaving me less time for blogging. Expect a little more quiet on the blog front until October, when I’ll be posting every darn day, just as I have done for the past eight MoFos. Yeehaw.

In the meantime, I’ve had a frustrating weekend. I’m 0.5 for 2 with the recipes I’ve been working on for VeganMoFo, leaving me frustrated and disappointed. Oh well. Onward!

Small bites: to read

Wow. I was unfamiliar with the Michelle Jones story until a college acquaintance shared this article on Facebook. (If you are equally unfamiliar, I really suggest reading the story — any summary I could give wouldn’t do it justice.) There’s so much to unpack here, and the question of where we as a society draw the line when it comes to redemption is something I haven’t thought much about.

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A poignant read from the perspective of a physician who has to share heartbreaking, devastating news with the families of patients who pass away. What stood out to me here was how incredibly important empathy is in situations like this. It’s a core principle of my own life (or at least, I aspire for it to be), and it serves this doctor well.

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As someone who grew up with Deaf family members, I really enjoyed this piece about how the sign language used by black Americans differs from that used by white Americans. In my experience, folks tend to think of “sign language” as a monolith, but it’s so very not. American Sign Language and Signed English are very different, and as this article points out, Black American Sign Language is another dialect entirely — one that’s historically been ignored and downplayed. It’s fascinating but not surprising that people who are deaf code-switch just like their hearing counterparts.

Small bites: to watch

Profanity ahead, but holy smokes — this video of an Irish family dealing with a bat in the kitchen is pure gold. Stuff like this usually doesn’t appeal to me, but I could not handle this video! And I’m glad the batty got out safe. :)

Small bites: to eat

Thes berbere-spiced jackfruit tacos feature finely chopped jackfruit, which is… an embarrassingly obvious preparation method that I somehow haven’t used! Leave it to Vegan Richa to come up with this fantastic idea.

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Garden tomato haulTOMATOES FOREVER. Here is my haul from a single day this week. My cherry tomatoes just won’t stop producing, and my larger slicers are finally ripening. I think those are Mikados on the right, but I’m not entirely sure… my labeling fell by the wayside at some point this summer. Last year I had tomatoes well into October; I’m crossing my fingers for that to happen again!

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Speaking of tomatoes… I saw a recipe for roasted tomato pasta recently and it has been a weeknight staple ever since (and a great way to use up my massive supply of cherry tomatoes!). You simply halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil, add salt/pepper/vegan parm/nooch/whatever, and roast in a high-walled pan or casserole dish for about 20 minutes at 425˚F, until they’re juicy and falling apart and a saucy mess. In the meantime, boil pasta. When it’s done, just mix the drained pasta into the dish with the roasted tomatoes. Add more spices/nooch/vegan parm to taste and enjoy!

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If you’ve got a little cash to spare, here are two crowd-funded projects that look neat. The first is a Spain-based startup that’s creating vegan “leather” bags out of biodegradable cork bark. They’re committed to sustainability, ethical production, and vegan products… the trifecta of conscious consumerism, perhaps?

The second is closer to home (for me, at least): a vegan burger joint in Baltimore. Maybe it’s just because I’m hungry for dinner right now, but their food looks great.

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Let me know if you’ve read/watched/eaten anything noteworthy this week!

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Small-Bite Sundays: August 27, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

First things first: Have you entered my giveaway yet? Win a handmade vegan-emblazoned mug here! (And if you have a recommendation for another vegan small-business interview, drop me a line.)

I spent last weekend in Rhode Island, visiting with family, meeting my sister-in-law’s family (they’re visiting the U.S. from their home in Thailand), and celebrating my mom’s 60th a bit belatedly. All visits to RI give me the chance to spend lots of time with my two little nephews… meaning all visits to RI include about a 50/50 percent chance of me coming home with some kind of terrible kid-transmitted illness. This time, I ended up with a killer cold and spent about three days glued to the couch with my trusty tissue box by my side.

Luckily, though, the cold didn’t strike until later in the week, or else Steven’s and my eight-hour drive home on Monday would have been pretty miserable. During our drive, we stopped in a state park to watch the eclipse — what we could see from northern Maryland, at least. We had about 83% coverage, and I was (naively) surprised at how little change there was in the light. At least we had eclipse glasses to see what was happening, and we were able to share them with a family who was taking a mid-day hike but didn’t have any glasses. Anyway, the experience left me wishing we’d driven somewhere to see totality, and I think we’ll attempt to do so during the next one — just seven years from now. :)

Small bites: to read

Fellow vegan blogger Jenny has a brief piece on Medium about how a nasty vegan weight-loss site stole an image of her and used it to promote their vegan diet program. Ironically, the image was originally used on another piece she wrote… about the intersections (or frequent lack thereof) between veganism and fat acceptance.

The incident stands out to me for a few reasons. One, it’s an example of the bizarre way folks seem to think images on the internet are fair game for reuse, even when they’re not marked as creative commons. Two, it highlights the continued problem of fat-shaming within the vegan community and the icky idea that veganism should be/is a weight-loss tool. Third, it’s actually heartening to see the way people responded to Jenny when she put a call out on social media for others to demand the site take her photo down. Thanks to the folks who mobilized on her behalf, not only did the site remove her photo, but they deleted the entire post in which it was used.

If you’re interested in reading more about vegan body positivity and weight inclusivity, check out Jenny’s Big Fat Vegan Zine Tumblr.

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I am so intrigued by the thought of cooking with so-called “roasted sugar,” sugar that’s been slowly, well, roasted in the oven until it develops a deeper and almost caramelized flavor. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it! (I contemplated putting this in the “To eat” section, but even I, a lover of sweets, would not sit down to a bowl of roasted sugar.)

 

Small bites: to watch

It’s a bit long, but I enjoyed this video demonstrating the absurdly long process of getting dressed as an 18th century Western woman. Fans of 18th century British novels in particular (guilty!) will likely appreciate this visual; female protagonists in these books frequently reference their dress.

Small bites: to eat

I am always on board for cashew cream, and these adorable creamy tomato-basil tartlets from Vegan Yack Attack feature a basil-infused cashew cream in spades. I’d sub in a gluten-full crust, and I’d probably make a full-size tart (alas, I have no tiny tart pans), but otherwise this recipe is a perfect way to do justice to your end-of-summer tomato stash.

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Aquafaba is a seriously versatile ingredient — not only has it revolutionized vegan meringues and macarons, but apparently it makes an amazing caramel. I love the inclusion of macadamia nuts, too; I can imagine them adding a perfectly rich and buttery element to this caramel sauce.

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As I mentioned earlier, we celebrated my mom’s 60th in RI last weekend. What I didn’t mention was that my dad basically catered a three-course fully vegan meal for 20+ guests all by himself. He’s always been the star cook of the family, but he really outdid himself here. We enjoyed appetizers (Texas caviar and a seriously incredible three-bean dip), a soup course (spicy sweet potato and kale), and a main course featuring twice-baked potatoes (augmented with mashed cauliflower!), a light salad, and grilled veg sausages and veggies. Plus, Dad made three original cocktails to order, including an incredible chocolate drink that was perfect for my chocoholic mom. Oh, also? Nearly everything was gluten-free so my celiac aunt could enjoy it. Yeah, my dad should probably go into the catering business.

We followed everything up with a vegan cake from a local bakery. They decorated it like a barbell weight as a nod to my bodybuilder mom’s favorite hobby. :)

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What was your eclipse experience, if you’re in the States? What have you  read/watched/eaten lately?

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Small-Bite Sundays: August 20, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Last weekend I was in Austin, spending a quick couple days with friends and spending less time on social media. It was like a little break from the news, which is almost universally shitty and painful. And then I saw something about what was going on in Charlottesville and realized how lucky and privileged I am to be able to disconnect like that.

I have so much to say (and so many feelings) about this, but who needs to read another white girl’s thoughts. Here are some other things to read instead.

Small bites: to read

Ijeoma Olua has some of the best, most provocative pieces on contemporary race issues in America. Her piece about fighting white supremacy is timely and well-worth your time. Anyone can make a Facebook post expressing outrage or shake their head at the water cooler and talk about how horrible the Charlottesville situation is, but we have to do more. White people have to do more. We’ve enabled and been complicit in perpetuating white supremacy, and we have to be the ones to take it down. Olua’s list gives concrete ways to start.

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I was planning to share Jaya Bhumitra’s “Celebrating the Globalization of Animal Advocacy — and Avoiding Imperialism” before Charlottesville, and it seems extra relevant now. This piece is a crucial reminder that as wonderful as it is to see many U.S.-based animal protection groups expanding internationally, we need to be mindful of how we work with  other nations. While her tips are geared towards organizations doing this kind of work, they’re also applicable to other endeavors that expand across the globe.

Bhumitra’s piece is hosted on the Encompass blog. If you haven’t heard of it, Encompass is a timely new organization dedicated to building a more racially inclusive animal welfare movement. While there are absolutely vegans of color doing amazing work, the movement as a whole has not prioritized diversity. Encompass wants to change that. As they say, “If we want our collective mission — to reduce suffering — to take hold, our movement must reflect the country we are trying to change. We must be the change.

What really excites me about Encompass’ work is that it’s not just rhetoric. Instead, they’re grounding their philosophy in concrete work. On an individual level, they plan to “empower advocates of color by cultivating leadership potential.” On an organization-wide level, they will “work with professional farmed animal protection organizations to maximize staff impact, recruit more people of color, and more authentically conduct outreach to communities of color.” Yes.

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On another topic… if you interact with any millennials, you’ve probably heard at least one of us complain about adulting. I’ve probably done it myself, but to be honest, I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable with the phrase — even if I couldn’t articulate why. This piece from Sian Ferguson at The Establishment shares one reason that resonated with me: The way we use the phrase is often classist.

Ferguson’s argument, in brief, is that many children (those who grow up in poverty; those who grow up with mentally or physically disabled parents) have to “adult” at a young age. Ferguson speaks poignantly about her own childhood and how she had to worry about adult things at a young age.

The idea of “adulting” also rubs me the wrong way because people seem to use it to tacitly beg for praise. “Look at me; I paid a bill! Hey, I did <a thing> on my own! #adulting!” Big deal. Maybe I’m revealing my own misanthropy here more than anything, but, yuck. It’s also bizarrely self-infantilizing phrase, one that exempts the speaker from responsibility in anything other than the single task they’ve managed to accomplish. Again, yuck.

Small bites: to watch

I both want to watch and dread watching the Vice News Tonight episode on Charlottesville.

Small bites: to eat

Vaishali’s carrot almond breakfast pudding. Maybe I just love the phrase “breakfast pudding,” but this date-sweetened dish has me salivating.

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Vegan Haagen-Dazs ice cream!The new vegan Häagen-Dazs ice cream — specifically, the chocolate salted fudge truffle flavor. This is really, really good. Absurdly creamy mouthfeel with a really wonderful, high-quality chocolate flavor. I did not expect to enjoy this ice cream as much as I did! And as far as I can tell, it’s a water-based gelato — pretty darn allergen-friendly. Available only at Target for now, but worth your while to seek out. I loved this ice cream so much that I ate it from the container, a practice I generally find distasteful. Here is a picture for proof (a rare selfie, and rarer to post it here!).

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Let me know if you’ve read/watched/eaten anything noteworthy lately.

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 30, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Hello, hello! I began writing this post at 11:30 this morning from my bed as I enjoyed a Lazy Sunday morning. I slept in (a rare treat), and then Steven brought me coffee (I’m spoiled) before he left to go see a movie. I read for a while, then got up to make myself some breakfast — coffee on an empty stomach never ends well. Although I’m pretty lukewarm on Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, I somehow always seem to have some in the pantry, so I made myself a scramble for breakfast. By itself, the “egg” is pretty bland, so I doctored it up with garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black beans, and some Daiya cheddar. Not bad!

Back to the Lazy Sunday concept. I often have difficulty accepting that I “deserve” a lazy day of doing almost nothing. It’s not like there are rules writ in stone for what a 30-year-old woman must do on the weekend, yet I feel guilty if I’m not spending time outside or accomplishing household tasks or working on one of my side projects. Overall, I keep a pretty healthy work-life-physical-activity-side-project balance, so there’s nothing inherently wrong with tipping the scales in favor of restfulness for a single day, right?  A week of indolence might be cause for concern; a single day (morning!) is not.

(And, for what it’s worth, I spent the early afternoon weeding the patio and then went thrifting with a friend. I couldn’t even allow myself a full day of laziness!)

Well. On to this week’s small bites, and here’s to taking time out of your day to read, watch, and eat the things that make you happy, even if you feel lazy while doing so!

Small bites: to read

First, a science-based review of What the Health from the incomparable Ginny Messina, aka the Vegan RD. It’s so crucial to have folks like Ginny in the movement, people who are willing to speak out against the frequently unfounded claims that veganism is the only way to eat, in terms of healthiness. I haven’t watched What the Health (and, to be honest, I don’t plan to do so), but many of my fellow vegans have been absolutely gushing about it all over social media. Ginny provides a rational, science-based counterpoint to the movie, arguing that it’s harmful for quite a few reasons: for the overblown claims about how veganism affects one’s health; for its reliance on cherry-picked and even willfully misunderstood data to support those claims; for presenting an unrealistic picture of veganism that ultimately hurts the movement.

I am vegan, first and foremost, for the animals. The health benefits are secondary for me, and I do not believe we can say that veganism is the “healthiest” diet with a good conscience. Nutrition is a complex and misunderstood science, and when folks try to simplify it and sway the data in favor of a single way of eating, it’s harmful in many ways. I appreciate Ginny’s review and wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments.

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Jennifer Weiner’s piece in the NYT Sunday Review section on the men who “never have to grow up” is a reminder of the ways in which our society makes excuses for (white) men and paints their misdeeds (criminal or otherwise) as “youthful indiscretions.” Pegged specifically to Donald Jr.’s dirt-gathering meeting with the Russians — and his dad’s attempt to excuse it by saying that Don Jr., a 39-year-old man, is “an honest kid” — the piece briefly covers other (white) men who benefit from this phenomenon before pointing out that women and black men never receive that benefit. It’s short and surface level, but if you’re unfamiliar with this concept or haven’t really thought about it much, it could be worth a read.

Small bites: to watch

Umm… I’ve got nothing. We just finished a Parks and Recreation rewatch and have started in on The Office. The latter is basically the television equivalent of comfort food for me. :)

Small bites: to eat

Doughnuts, always doughnuts. We have a fabulous vegan doughnut shop about 30 minutes away up in Frederick, but I’d been hearing about a Baltimore-based do[ugh]nut bakery for a while now. Donut Alliance had a booth at Baltimore VegFest this spring but were sold out by the time Steven and I realized it. So when I heard they’d be peddling their sweet, sweet wares at a small vegan marketplace event this weekend, I decided we had to check it out. We did! And we bought doughnuts!

Clockwise from top left, that’s strawberry margarita, birthday cake, Samoa, and maple bacon. YUM. These were super light and fluffy doughnuts, and I enjoyed them all. That lime-infused strawberry margarita might have been my favorite!

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Since we’re talking  vegan junk food, how about this cheesy pull-apart pizza bread from Vegan Richa? I feel like maybe I need a kid or two to come visit as an excuse to make this, but then again, I’m an adult! I can do what I want and eat what I want!

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Let me know if you’ve read/watched/eaten anything noteworthy!

Editor’s note: This post includes an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs.

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 16, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Just popping in briefly tonight. I’ve been in Rhode Island visiting family for two days, and I’m heading out on a six-day work trip tomorrow. It’s a busy summer. And a busy past week — I haven’t spent too much time  on the ol’ interwebs, so I have just a few bites to share today.

Small bites: to read

From rock-star feminist Lindy West, this piece about how men can truly be there for women. It’s not exactly groundbreaking advice; in short, she’s telling men to stand up for us and use your voice to fight against sexism. But West also candidly acknowledges the risks men take when they do so: that they’ll be considered “a dorky, try-hard male feminist stereotype;” that they’ll “lose their spot in the club.” I think it’s always helpful to honestly acknowledge what’s at stake when you ask someone to use their privilege for you, and I appreciate West doing so. I’m also excited that this is just the first installment of West’s new weekly column on the New York Times’ Opinion Pages. Get it, Lindy.

(P.S. Her piece introduced me to the new (?) concept of the “dirtbag left,” which makes me sigh loudly and want to go to sleep for a million years.)

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Amey’s wrap-up of her time in Tallinn, Estonia, has me itching to book a flight! I’ve been reading great things about Estonia, and Amey’s post about the incredible vegan options in Tallinn just helped this country rocket up my travel bucket list.

Small bites: to watch

This clip has been making the rounds, but it’s too good not to share. The inimitable Andy Serkis brings back his Gollum voice to… read a few classic Trump tweets. He’s a great sport about it, too.

Small bites: to eat

Vaishali’s cauliflower makhani dosa crepes are going on my to-make shortlist. Creamy makhani gravy and a quick dosa recipe? I’m there.

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Colorful rainbow saladSalad days. I’m finally becoming a master of the kitchen-sink salad. Salads don’t need a theme; who knew? This one features mixed baby greens, tomatoes, roasted Turkish eggplant slices, sautéed paprika chickpeas, and a zesty lemon-turmeric-tahini dressing. I also added a crumbled veggie burger and hemp seeds for extra protein. Side note: those Turkish eggplants (also called scarlet or Ethiopian eggplants) are a new favorite. I spotted them at the farmer’s market and had to try them. They look like persimmons but taste like  a slightly milder version of the regular ol’ eggplants we all know and love (or tolerate).

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Right! Now to sleep. Expect some radio silence for the next week or so; I’ll be off the grid. :) Happy Sunday!

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 9, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

One thing I particularly enjoy about putting together these weekly posts is that they give me the chance to stop and reflect on what I’m reading, rather than finishing an article and moving on.

I say “reading” purposefully — I’ve noticed that I really don’t watch many videos and clips online. I prefer reading partially because I’m a pretty fast reader, whereas sometimes videos aren’t paced to my liking. It seems like more of an investment to stop and watch a video. When I’m reading, I can scan ahead and decide whether a story or article seems worth my time; it’s much harder to do that with a video. So if my posts tend to include videos only sparingly, that’s why!

Small bites: to read

When I think of media outlets that excel at investigative reporting, USA Today isn’t exactly top of mind. But maybe I’ve been doing them an injustice, because this piece on labor abuses in the trucking industry was really eye-opening. It’s a sadly familiar story: Large corporations exploit their employees — in this case, mostly immigrants — by taking advantage of the language barrier and their workers’ desperation for a job. In this case, the truckers sign on to purchase a truck through their companies, with installment payments coming out of their weekly paychecks. At the end of the week, one of the men interviewed for this piece took home just 67 cents. And if they get fired or quit, the workers’ stake in the truck — no matter how many tens of thousands of dollars they’ve contributed — is forfeited. On top of that, managers routinely coerce the drivers into working far more hours than the mandated maximum, after which drivers are required by law to rest. If the drivers say no, they’ll likely be fired… and lose that investment in the truck.

What’s extra disturbing is how many mainstream retailers rely on these companies to transport their goods from the port of Los Angeles to warehouses for further distribution. But because these retailers (Target, Walmart, Home Depot, various clothing brands, and even the usually-ethical Costco) don’t directly employ the shipping companies, instead outsourcing that work to logistics companies, they don’t feel responsible for these labor violations. It’s a grim read, but worth it. (There’s a second installment in the series, but I haven’t read that one yet.)

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From one of the few fashion bloggers I follow (thanks to her focus on ethical and sustainable fashion), this piece about why she doesn’t cover ethical men’s fashion. In a nutshell, it’s because her husband simply can’t find ethical options that fit him. He’s larger than an XL, and ethical men’s fashion companies just don’t stock those sizes. (Plus, ethical men’s fashion is less common than ethical women’s fashion in general.)

I completely understand why Leah takes this tack; she has no personal frame of reference to review men’s fashion because her husband literally can’t try on or evaluate the existing options. I appreciate that she mentions her own thin privilege in being able to fit into nearly every brand she finds, but I think there’s more to be said about women who can’t find ethical fashion that fits. At the end of the day, most ethical women’s clothing retailers are doing the exact same thing that she’s deriding the men’s brands for doing. We need to push companies to do better.

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For something lighter, this tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s Instagram feed. I lived in Wisconsin for three and a half years and developed a healthy dislike for this union-busting governor, so I found this piece particularly amusing.

Small bites: to watch

Season two of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None! We’re only three episodes in and so far, so good. This show is consistently enjoyable in so many ways. I loooved the episodes set in Italy in particular. Those shots of the Tuscan countryside made me want to book a flight!

Small bites: to eat

These chimichurri chickpeas from Food52. What a creative way to dress up chickpeas! And the salad recipe would be super easy to veganize — just sub your favorite tofu feta or use a cashew cheese spread. Mmm.

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Vegan burgersALL THE VEGGIE BURGERS! We’ve been digging the Amy’s quarter pounders lately. With 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in each burger, they’re super filling. (They do have 600 milligrams of sodium each, but you probably won’t need or want more than one!) We made these with the Daiya cheddar slices, but they don’t do much for me. I much prefer Chao. We’ve also been on a sparkling water kick. Spindrift’s grapefruit flavor is my personal favorite. No added sugar, no artificial flavors, just fizzy, fruity, deliciousness.

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I haven’t made them yet, but Mihl’s vegan brownies look absolutely killer. I’m always there for Mihl’s approach to desserts: Unlike many vegan bloggers, she’s not into healthifying treats that should be, well, treats. So she uses plenty of sugar and regular white flour in most of her dessert recipes. I mean, I like black bean brownies just fine, but sometimes I want to some regular ol’ sugar-laden brownies too, y’know?

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And that’s a wrap. Tonight Steven and I are going to see Neil Gaiman at Wolf Trap, a local indoor/outdoor venue. We bought the tickets today, pretty spontaneously, but I’m excited! I saw him once seven years ago (!) at an incredible weekend event at Wisconsin’s House on the Rock, a tourist attraction that defies description. You should visit, if you ever get the chance.

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 2, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Ugh. That’s all I can say about this week. I was beset by a mystery stomach ailment that manifested Wednesday night with terrible pain — I could barely walk straight! Since then it’s returned without warning a few times, although less acutely. I wasn’t exactly nauseated, but I didn’t feel much like eating. (Don’t worry, I forced myself to do so.) It was time for my physical anyway, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for later this month.

Neil the dogBoring illnesses aside, it’s been a relaxing Fourth of July weekend. Note that I didn’t say long weekend… I don’t have Monday (the third) off, alas. Kind of odd to have a Tuesday off for a holiday, but I’ll take it. We’re dogsitting sweet and spirited Neil (see left) till Wednesday — which we do every year while his parents hit the beach for the Fourth — and it’s nice to have two puppers in the house again. :) Mostly I’ve been spending the past few days embroidering fresh feminist and vegan-friendly designs for my Etsy shop and re(rererere)reading Harry Potter.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend, right? Anyway! On to the bites.

Small bites: to read

This long read on the comparisons between the Nixon and Trump presidencies, and why — in this writer’s view — the Trump administration will follow a similar path of self-destruction. As horrifying as this administration’s slide towards authoritarianism is, it’s also morbidly fascinating. In this New York Magazine story, Frank Rich draws parallels between both the two presidents’ White Houses and their actions, and suggests that Trump’s failure to learn (or care about) U.S. history means he’s doomed to repeat it. Rich also draws a parallel between the two presidents’ characters. The similarities are a bit uncanny:

“No matter what success he achieved, as Drew wrote, Nixon “never lost his resentments” or “his desire for revenge.” Success also failed to tame his kleptomaniacal tendencies; he was caught using government funds to pay for luxurious improvements to his private residences in Key Biscayne, Florida, and San Clemente, California, and manipulating his tax bill to near zero even as he became a millionaire in office. (Like Trump, he gave virtually nothing to charity.)”

This reminded me that not everything that’s happening now is quite as new and unprecedented as we think it is. So many of the tactics in Trump’s playbook (as much as he has one; I’m not convinced he’s strategic enough to plan all this in advance) seem taken directly from the Nixon era, from discrediting the “eastern media conspiracy,” as Nixon called it in the 70s, to his ridicule of public servants, to his updated (yet equally disgusting) Islam-centric version of the despicable southern strategy. Here’s hoping this administration implodes before it can do any (more) real and lasting damage, both in the States and abroad.

Small bites: to watch

Steven and I watched It Follows a few days ago, and we enjoyed this smart horror film with an indie aesthetic. I won’t give away the creep-o-riffic premise, but you’ll find yourself thinking up ways to outsmart the monster as you watch.

Small bites: to eat

Meh! My appetite is finally back after my mystery mid-week ailment, but I haven’t been eating too creatively. Trying to gorge myself on fresh summer veggies to temper the increased amounts of ice cream I’m also consuming. Speaking of which — did you see that Häagen-Dazs is now offering vegan ice cream?! I’m so fascinated by how quickly all these mainstream dairy brands (Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers) are jumping on the dairy-free train. I know that some vegans don’t want to buy anything from these companies, based on the argument that they’re still lining the pockets of an industry that is immensely cruel, and I respect that position. But we live in a capitalist society, and demand drives supply. So I’m going to buy these non-dairy options to show that the market is there, and to encourage these companies to reduce their dairy-based products in favor of more humane ones. (Don’t worry, I still support (and usually prefer) 100% vegan companies too!)

Watermelon basilTonight we hit up Paladar Latin Kitchen to grab drinks (plus chips and guac!) with a few friends. This watermelon-basil margarita hit the spot on a hot day, especially after my “I don’t want to eat or drink anything!” week. (The fact that we accidentally arrived during happy hour certainly didn’t hurt.) I followed it up with a white sangria, which featured lots of fresh mango. Summery perfection. Plus, we sat outdoors and got to see lots of adorable doggos hanging on the patio with their parents.

 

Well. Not the most exciting Sunday. :) Have you read, watched, or ate anything great lately?

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