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 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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Small-Bite Sundays: June 25, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

June in Maryland: hot, humid, and heavenly. Does anyone else actually enjoy humidity? As someone who is nearly always cold, I view humidity as a promise of warmth, a muggy blanket enveloping me in comfort. Alas, Steven disagrees, and we have to turn on the air conditioning occasionally to dry out the house and cool it down a bit. But he was in Denver for three days this week, and I took full advantage of the solitude — just me and Moria in my swampy house. Perfection!

Anyway. This week’s post features a mixed bag of small bites, some light, some heavy, some to sink your teeth into and chew on. Enjoy, and let me know what you’ve been reading, watching, and eating this week!

Small bites: to read

An intriguing — if surface-level — look at the “social aspects” of veganism, based on Harvard sociology grad student Nina Gheihman’s ongoing research. Gheihman (herself an ethical vegan) wants to explore how veganism has become a so-called lifestyle movement and is focusing on that evolution in both France and Israel. I’m of two minds on this trend. I’m glad when anybody reduces their animal product intake, because at a basic level, that means that fewer animals will be harmed. But I also rankle at the description of veganism as a trend, a lifestyle to be adopted for a certain amount of time before being set aside as it becomes passe. That’s why I find the term “plant-based” helpful as a differentiator… but at the same time, I know it can be confusing to have two terms for what mainstream culture views as the same thing. Basically, it’s complicated. :)

This raw, personal account of what it’s like to fly while fat broke my heart — and strengthened my commitment to love and support my fat sisters. The anonymous author (writing under the poignant pseudonym of “Your Fat Friend”) makes it impossible not to empathize with her, and I felt nervous and on edge the whole time. It reminded me, yet again, of the crucial importance of empathy in breaking down the walls that keep us from caring about one another.

Small bites: to watch

The Keepers, Netflix’s new(ish) documentary series that delves into a particularly grim sexual abuse scandal at a Catholic high school in Baltimore and the unsolved murder of a nun who worked there. I’m only two episodes in and I’m both fascinated and horrified. This is true crime told through the perspectives of the women who experienced the abuse and through two other women who are investigating the cold case murder. Keep in mind that it’s not exactly a breezy, binge-y, summery series before  you settle in with the popcorn for a night of Netflix. (I found the second episode so disturbing that I needed to distract myself while I watched.)

On a lighter note, a video of five toy poodles jumping rope. It’s exactly what it sounds like and is exactly as wonderful as you’re imagining.

Small bites: to eat

Panzanella! This bread salad is the epitome of fresh summer eating. I made mine with cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market, basil and parsley from the garden, and a gorgeous herby sourdough bread from a friend. I can’t find the exact recipe that inspired me, but for this particular panzanella I tossed the bread cubes with melted butter and sauteed garlic before toasting them. Super indulgent and, of course, super delicious… especially when served alongside a jalapeño-lime margarita.

Summery panzanella

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Small-Bite Sundays: June 18, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Hello, all — I hope you’re well. Today I’m introducing a new feature on the blog, one that will let me share things that don’t merit a full blog post, but that I’d like to pass along anyway. (And, #realtalk, one that will hopefully encourage me to post a little more often.) I’m calling them “small bites” — small bites to read, to watch, to eat. Some of my favorite bloggers have a similar sort of weekly link-sharing post, and I always enjoy seeing what caught their eyes that week. Let me know what you think and whether there’s anything else you’d like to see.

But first, thank you all from the bottom of my sore heart for your kind words about Luna. It’s been two and a half weeks and, while we’ve certainly had time to take it in and grow a little more accustomed to her absence, I still have not-uncommon unthinking moments when I expect to see or hear her. When I pull into the driveway after work and head indoors to greet Steven, sometimes I briefly wonder, “Is she on the couch, or will she be waiting for me at the sliding door? Will I find any mukes on the floor?” before reality hits again. Reality has gotten a little less crushing, but still painful, and still a bit teary.

Luna lying in her cousin's bed

How could you not love this tiny face?

That said, we’ve been so touched by the memories shared by friends and family. One of the (major) perks of working at an animal-welfare organization is that nearly everybody understands the deep bond that exists between us and our beloved pets. On my first day back in the office (I worked from home for three days after Luna died and then was on vacation), I walked in to find three condolence cards jam-packed with messages from coworkers, a photo book with dozens of shots of sweet Tunie, and a note saying that they’d donated $250 to our local shelter’s senior dog fund in Luna’s honor. More tears.

Phew. Not all my Sunday posts will be quite so heavy, I promise. :) On to the small bites. I hope you enjoy.

Small bites: to read

This list of tips for solo travel, from one of my favorite travel bloggers. Have you ever traveled 100% alone? I just got back from my first wholly solo trip: nine days in Holland and Belgium (more on that soon). I took off for the trip just two days after losing Luna, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself. But the chance to grieve in private, on my own terms and in my own way, was so worthwhile, and I loved being accountable to nobody but myself for how I spent my time. If you’re considering solo travel, I really recommend it. Amanda’s article is a great introduction to the concept, with some practical suggestions for how to plan your first solo jaunt.

This article about the tension between what tourists want when they visit Cuba and what actual Cubans want in their home country is a poignant reminder that enjoying a place because it’s rustic or gritty often comes at the expense of those who live there. Although tourists might lament the loss of classic cars and other markers of “authenticity” in Havana, actual Habaneros welcome and want change.

Small bites: to watch

This Daily Show interview with author Roxane Gay about her just-released memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Trevor Noah approaches the writer (and the book’s loaded and painful subject matter) with compassion, thoughtfulness, and not a trace of condescension. That’s a far cry from other outlets, including one that thought it was OK to reveal behind-the-scenes requests Gay made for her appearance on their podcast, and to talk about them in oddly precise detail. Anyway, I’m so looking forward to this book.

Small bites: to eat

This flavor-packed creamy garlic pasta with roasted cauliflower from Vegan Richa. I haven’t been very inspired to cook lately, but this recipe actually tempted me into the kitchen — and I’m so glad it did. The creamy, garlicky sauce sets off the spicy cauliflower to perfection. I didn’t have time to roast a whole head of garlic, so I just sautéed a few extra cloves and threw in a few shakes of Penzeys Roasted Garlic. I also used a pre-made Creole spice blend. Don’t neglect the lemon and parsley at the end, though! This recipe is going on my regular rotation for sure. I didn’t even mind blasting the oven on a 90˚ day for this one.

This blueprint for a killer bean salad from Hannah Kaminsky is just the thing to help you avoid a limp, watery, bland salad during your next cookout or picnic. Although Hannah also includes a few themed mixes (Mideast Feast; Spicy Southwestern), her basic version sounds like a no-fail option to please any palate.

This tofu fried egg sandwich (see photo below) served on carbolicious buttery Texas toast from Glory Doughnuts, a wonderful vegan doughnut and all-day-breakfast shop in quaint Frederick, Maryland. This small business often sells out of doughnuts by 11:00 AM on weekends, so when I woke up early this morning and felt like getting out of the house, we high-tailed it up to Frederick for brekkie. We also snagged three doughnuts (see below, again!) to munch later today: maple bourbon, the coconutty Chewbacca, and key lime pie.

Finally, happy Father’s Day to my wonderful and supportive dad — I know you’re reading! Love you.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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