“But I Could Never Go Vegan!” Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

Can you feel it? The twinge in the air? The rumbling in the distance? It’s coming…it’s…another cookbook giveaway!!!

If ya’ll caught my late-December post about some changes I intend to make very soon on the blog, then you’ll remember the dilemma I’ve been grappling with concerning product reviews and giveaways. To sum up, I’m trying to navigate challenging the consumerism that has overshadowed the anti-speciesism at the heart of veganism, and worry that product reviews and giveaways re-center the materialistic focus of the capitalist system in which we as Westerners are so indoctrinated.

Two fabulous readers, however, offered up some super helpful advice in response to my concerns. Here’s what Elizabeth and Raechel have to say:

“I appreciate your dilemma – as Zizek is fond of saying, it’s easier for most people to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism, that’s the extent to which neoliberalism has captured our very capacity to think. So those of us engaged in imagining alternatives have our work cut out for us. The problem is, we anti-capitalists (or vegans, or Christians, or whatever epistemological designation we prefer) inhabit a capitalist world, in which we have to survive somehow. Etienne Balibar distinguishes between “communism” (which doesn’t exist, and has never existed) and “communists” (of which there are many) and the impossibility of extrapolating between the two, because every communist will make different compromises with capitalism. We can extricate ourselves only so much – the more conscious we are, the more we succeed, in avoiding the language of the marketplace in describing social relations, for example – but we won’t succeed completely, so it doesn’t diminish your message if you support your local farmers’ market or a [vegan] company.” ~ Elizabeth A.

“Although it is admirable to not participate in gross consumer habits and although it is super important to make clear that real ethical consumption doesn’t exist in global capitalism, the real struggle rests in the labor and production, not the consumption. Even outside of my politics, by both choice and necessity, I am not a very material person […] but I have come to realize that it doesn’t actually matter that much. […] [A]ssuming our individual consumption habits can do anything to challenge capitalism is a neoliberal idea. I don’t think it’s useless to buy fair trade products, nor do I think it’s meaningless that I don’t buy animal products, but as you know, what those buying habits do is invite more products, not less. What I’ve come to realize now, as a Marxist, [is that] it only really matters to not buy things if there is a call to not buy it/support it/shop at it/etc. *from the workers.* I support worker-led boycotts, and other than that, I buy things that are good on my conscience, while fully knowing it doesn’t make much difference outside of me feeling good. So […]*not* doing product reviews won’t challenge capitalism. And doing product reviews doesn’t make you a bad activist, at least not from a Marxist perspective.” ~ Raechel.

So there we are. We all get some fantastic food for thought, and ya’ll get your chance to win a cookbook. Win-win. Just don’t let it threaten your commitment to anti-capitalism, ya hear? ;)

Photo via The Experiment Publishing.

Photo via The Experiment Publishing.

I do also have an inkling that highlighting the work of those who envision a more just world for all beings has the potential to contribute to fostering the very community that capitalism’s individualistic rhetoric stifles. For example, I’m overjoyed to share with ya’ll the latest project of Kristy Turner, a committed animal activist and talented vegan blogger with whom I’ve had the privilege to connect during my time in the blogosphere. Her just-released book, But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes that Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over For Dinner, is an absolute masterpiece, and I’m thrilled that one of ya’ll will win a copy!

Author Kristy Turner / Photo via The Experiment Publishing.

Author Kristy Turner / Photo via The Experiment Publishing.

With a bright and inviting layout, mouthwatering photographs by Kristy’s husband Chris Miller, and charming text from Kristy herself, But I Could Never Go Vegan! serves as one of the most innovative cookbooks I’ve come across in a long while. Organized into sections by the excuses one often hears for not adopting a vegan diet, But I Could Never Go Vegan! playfully and deliciously refutes such justifications as “I could never give up cheese!” (how about after a bite of Tempeh Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Pecan Parmesan?), “It’s all rabbit food” (I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over my enormous pile of Jackfruit Nachos Supreme), “Just thinking about salad makes me yawn” (even this BBQ Cauliflower Salad with Zesty Ranch Dressing?), “You can’t bake without butter or eggs!” (then what on earth is this Rosemary-Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze doing here?), and beyond.

Of course, I would like to note that there are many legitimate reasons for not being able to adopt a vegan lifestyle that are not listed in this book, such as lack of access to plant foods because of geographic location (think “food deserts”) and/or socioeconomic status, desire to distance oneself from a movement made up primarily of people with whom you don’t identify (i.e., people of color looking at a movement where upper-middle-class white people dominate), and desire to preserve one’s heritage — threatened by Western forces of assimilation — through one’s diet. But that’s another post.

I had the pleasure of preparing four recipes from Kristy’s new book, but choosing among them proved a phenomenally difficult task – I don’t encounter recipes this well thought-out, creative, or clearly written very often (and I must have email subscriptions to over 30 different food blogs at this point…). Rest assured, I labored through this heroic effort to bring you a glimpse into But I Could Never Go Vegan! with the following four recipes.

My first foray into Kristy’s realm of culinary genius involved her Thai Seitan Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, housed in the book’s “Where’s the Beef?: ‘Meaty’ Food, Minus the Meat” section. Subbing tempeh for the seitan to test if the recipe would hold up to experimentation, I was verily impressed by the intense flavor lent to the tempeh by a bright marinade of lemongrass and curry powder. And who can argue with a creamy, spicy-sweet sauce chock full of the master of all nut butters?

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Next up on my recipe testing list: the Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Tacos, which emphatically answer the skeptical question, “What about brunch?” Showcasing a method for plant-based breakfast scrambling that fascinated me upon first read, Kristy first stirs up a polenta-like batter of chickpea flour and savory spices (including the infamous black salt that imparts a sulfurous, “eggy” flavor to foods) that she then chills until firm, cuts into cubes, and browns in a skillet to create a creamy-chewy-umami-super flavorful scramble. Honestly, what could you do with it except stuff it into crispy corn tortillas along with roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and avocado? And then finish it off with cilantro and hot sauce, of course.

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From the “Fake ‘Foods’ Freak Me Out: Solid Vegan Recipes That Aren’t Imitating Meat, Dairy, or Anything Else” section, the Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Sauce immediately caught my eye. My unquenchable enthusiasm for potatoes and green peas made it very difficult not to rave about these tenderly textured and generously spiced patties, and my tamarind fangirl-ing drew me even closer to the recipe. While I do wish that the colorful cakes cooked up a bit crispier and were perhaps a bit more delicately spiced, dipping them into that sweet-and-sour sauce made it difficult to focus on the ever-so-slightly negative.

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Finally, I tackled the “I’d Miss Pizza” excuse section with Kristy’s Seitan Reuben Pizza with Caraway Seed Crust. I’m sorry, allow me to repeat: SEITAN REUBEN PIZZA WITH CARAWAY SEED CRUST. A winning sandwich transformed into a defining food of my Italian heritage? Be still my beating heart. First, whip up a batch of Kristy’s simple yet juicy and oh-so flavorful homemade seitan, then “corn” it in a bright marinade of beet juice and characteristic spices. Next, get a ball of super easy pizza dough rising, rife with the fragrant savoriness of caraway seeds. An almond-based swiss cheese sauce and mayo-ketchup Russian dressing later, and you’ve got a flavor-drenched pie packed with that classic Reuben sandwich charm, ready for a generous forkful of sauerkraut. Yes.

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I’d feel cruel for tantalizing you with all this deliciousness without offering you the chance to taste it for yourself, so I’m excited that the folks over at The Experiment Publishing have graciously offered to let me share with you the full recipe for Kristy’s Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast! Enjoy, and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of But I Could Never Go Vegan! by following the links at the top and bottom of this post.

Photo via The Experiment Publishing.

Photo via The Experiment Publishing.

Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast

Serves 4 t0 6.

Nut-Free.

From Kristy:
French toast on its own is a normal weekend breakfast, and chickpea flour and non-dairy milk make for a simple vegan version. When you stuff a delicious filling inside, you’ve got more of a special-occasion meal on your hands (or plate)—especially when that filling is warm, caramelized apples tossed in a rich, date-based caramel sauce, and even more especially when the French toast is dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with extra sauce. One of my recipe testers made it for her husband on Valentine’s Day, and they thought it was the perfect celebration meal. Breakfast in bed, anyone?

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Caramel Sauce Ingredients:

10 Medjool dates, pitted
2⁄3 cup (160 ml) non-dairy milk
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) water
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Salt to taste

Apple Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegan butter
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or vegan brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

French Toast Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) non-dairy milk
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) canned coconut milk or vegan creamer
1⁄2 cup (55 g) chickpea flour
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of salt
1 large loaf of French bread, about 4 to 5 inches wide (not a baguette)
Vegan cream cheese
Cooking spray
Maple syrup, for drizzling
Vegan powdered sugar or powdered xylitol, for dusting, optional

In a food processor, combine the caramel sauce ingredients. Process until completely smooth, scraping the sides as necessary.

Melt the vegan butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices and coconut sugar; stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is gone and the apples are softened and golden. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce.

In a large shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the non-dairy milk, coconut milk, chickpea flour, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Slice the bread into four to six 2-inch (5 cm) slices. Use a bread knife to make a slit in the top of each slice, keeping the sides and bottom intact, creating a pocket.

Carefully spread the cream cheese inside one side of each pocket, then stuff it with about 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) of apples.

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Spray generously with cooking spray. Take one “sandwich” and soak in the milk mixture, 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Place the soaked sandwich on the heated pan and cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, spraying the pan again before each. Serve warm, topped with maple syrup, the remaining caramel sauce, or both. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Variations

Simplify the recipe by leaving out the caramel sauce and replacing the apples with uncooked strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or even mango!

Make plain French toast by slicing regular-size slices of bread and leaving out the fruit and caramel altogether.

Recipe from But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over Dinner, copyright © Kristy Turner, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. www.theexperimentpublishing.com

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, January 29, and I will announce the winner on the following day on #NewsandChews.

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with a free copy of the cookbook. All opinions are completely my own.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {12-26-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the holiday edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)! I mean, holiday in terms of the date of its publication, not at all in terms of its content. Instead, below you’ll find a fabulously jewel-toned winter salad, a mound of breakfast creativity, and an elaborate Christmas Eve feast. Then, on the News side, you’ll read about yet another white supremacist non-indictment (this time mere miles away from my hometown), an abbreviated history of U.S. imperialism, and a memoir written by one of my favorite human beings on the planet. Because ’tis the season, right?

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Roasted Vegetable & Farro Salad
Via Joe Yonan

Photo via Deb Lindsey.

Photo via Deb Lindsey.

I live with a perpetual craving for the caramelized tenderness of roasted vegetables, and this hearty winter salad would certainly satisfy (well, temporarily…). Tossed with the toothsome ancient Italian grain of farro, chewy and candy-sweet dried figs, crunchy almonds, and the master of all spice blends (helloooooo za’atar!), roasted vegetables never looked so good. Instead of the feta cheese called for in the recipe, some homemade cashew cheese or tofu feta would work wonders.

Sweet

Granola Pancakes
Via Connoisseurus Veg

Photo via Alissa Saenz.

Photo via Alissa Saenz.

Granola definitely constitutes a staple of my diet, but I never think beyond spooning it atop a green smoothie or stirring it into soy yogurt. Enter Alissa of the hilariously branded Connoisseurus Veg (there’s a t-rex on her blog! Get it?!?!?) to blow my previously held granola conceptions out of the water (or smoothie…?). But think about it: crunchy, nutty breakfast deliciousness enveloped by fluffy, cakey breakfast deliciousness. Sounds like a perfect match to me.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Christmas Eve Dinner
Inspired by Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

xmas dinner collage

Every year when I return home for the holidays, my mother and I like to craft rather elaborate dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This year, completely smitten with my recently procured copy of Plenty More by genius vegetable (though definitely not vegan) chef Yotam Ottolenghi, I decided to create an entirely Ottolenghi-inspired Christmas Eve dinner. Minimally altering three recipes from Plenty More, I enjoyed with my mother a wintertime cornucopia of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Garlic, Candied Lemon Peel, and Tarragon; Buckwheat Polenta with Orange Spice Roasted Butternut Squash and Tempura Lemon; and Smoked Beets with Caramelized Macadamia Nuts, (Soy) Yogurt, and Cilantro. Whoof. Very yummy whoof.

Must-Read News Story

Milwaukee Police Officer Won’t Face Charges for Shooting of Unarmed Black Man
by Nadia Prupis at Common Dreams

Photo via Light Brigading.

Photo via Light Brigading.

Yet another non-indictment to prove the pervasiveness of white supremacy in the criminal legal system (and everywhere else in American society…), this time very near my hometown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shot 14 times at a park by former Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney, 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton joins an ever-growing pool of unarmed Black individuals murdered at the hands of white police officers. Um, hi, #BlackLivesMatter, anyone?

The story to which I linked above doesn’t feature an extensive amount of details about the shooting, so be sure to check out Democracy Now!‘s coverage here.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

How the Iraq War Began in Panama: 1989 Invasion Set Path for Future U.S. Attacks
Via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Also on Democracy Now! this past week was an extended interview regarding the U.S.-led 1989 invasion of Panama, of which this month marks the 25th anniversary. Launched by President George H. W. Bush to execute an arrest warrant against Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, Operation Just Cause unleashed 24,000 troops in a bloody attack on the Panamanian people, and served as a template for future U.S. military interventions (including in Iraq). I find it immensely important as a U.S. citizen to know about the imperial history of my home country so as to begin to foster within myself a sort of radical humility that refuses to regard as inferior modes of being different from that which I inhabit myself. Because without that radical humility, imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and all other systems of oppression will live on.

Book Recommendation

Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir
by Alan Cumming

Photo via Harper Collins.

Photo via Harper Collins.

Ya’ll, I am unwaveringly and unapolagetically in love with Alan Cumming. I mean, have you seen him in Cabaret? Or followed his shit-ton of LGBTQ activism? Or heard about the vegan soups (because he’s vegan!!!) he makes in his slow cooker every night for cast parties? Perfection is a shitty and impossible ideal, but dammit, Alan Cumming is my idea of a near-perfect human being. And he has a fraught relationship with his father, just like me! Clearly, we’re meant to be best friends. So yeah, read his book, mmmk?

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {12-12-14}

***Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault in the body of this post.***

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

On this edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews), your blogger is supremely distracted by the fact that she will return to her hometown in less than a week due to the end of the college semester! WHOO HOO! And you, dear readers, should be equally as excitedly distracted by the fact that three of you will win two boxes of one of the most fragrant, full-bodied teas I’ve ever encountered – Cinnamon Plum from Rishi – if you enter my latest giveaway (which also features an intensely flavorful granola recipe).

But before all that happens, we simply must pay attention to a creamy risotto chock full of squash and mushrooms, a crumbly scone that features my favorite fruit of the moment, a crowd-pleasing and veggie-packed soup, a story that has released a torrent of rape apologist rhetoric surrounding the U.S.’s pervasive college campus rape culture, some A+ journalism on the recently released Senate Torture Report, and a Unicat. You read right.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

5-Spice Kabocha Squash Risotto with Oyster Mushrooms
via The Sexy Vegan

Photo via Brian L. Patton.

Photo via Brian L. Patton.

I haven’t enjoyed the sophisticated porridge of risotto and its supreme creaminess in far too long, and vegan cookbook author Brian Patton’s iteration featuring the king of all squashes (kabocha) and the meatiest of all mushrooms (oyster) seems like a prime recipe to remedy this risotto hiatus.

Sweet

Roasted Persimmon Scones
via Will Frolic for Food

Photo via Renee Byrd.

Photo via Renee Byrd.

If you couldn’t discern by my recent winter produce review on the Our Hen House podcast or my latest green smoothie recipe, allow me to inform you now that I am 100% smitten with persimmons. Sliced, pureed into smoothies, bruléed, or now baked into scones – it doesn’t matter as long as I can stuff as many as possible into my mouth.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Luxurious 7-Vegetable & “Cheese” Soup
via Oh She Glows

Photo via Angela Liddon.

Photo via Angela Liddon.

Playing on Angela’s veggie-packed and ever-so-noochy soup with a mixture of carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and celeriac, I served up an enormous pot of this golden puree for my 21-person living cooperative to resounding “Mmm’s” and “Yum’s!” I guarantee that smaller crowds will respond similarly. Don’t omit the smoked paprika – it provides an inexplicable undertone of flavor to the soup.

Must-Read News Story

This past week and that before featured a ridiculous onslaught of commentary by rape apologists and deniers of rape culture on Sabrina Erdely’s recent story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” at Rolling Stone. Most of this commentary has revolved around exposing discrepancies in the story of the victim featured in Erdely’s story and accusing Erdely of faulty journalism in her refusal to seek testimony from the accused rapists, and has thereby obscured the very real, very urgent problem of a pervasive college rape epidemic (just look at the recently published testimony from a survivor at my own college).

Thankfully, a couple non-victim-blaming writers have offered more responsible, progressive reporting on the controversy surrounding the Rolling Stone story, including Julia Horowitz at Politico and Salamishah Tillet at The Nation. It is these stories toward which I’d like to direct you today.

Photo via Boilerplate Magazine.

Photo via Boilerplate Magazine.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Marcy Wheeler on the Senate’s Scathing Torture Report
via Radio Dispatch

Photo via WarIsACrime.org.

Photo via WarIsACrime.org.

Garnering ample amounts of media attention, earlier this week the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released the executive summary – which we expected way back during the summer – of its 6,000-page classified report on the CIA’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program, otherwise known as its torture techniques. On this episode of the Radio Dispatch podcast, Marcy Wheeler, a mind-bogglingly intelligent and talented independent journalist who writes about national security (aka, the “deep state”) and civil liberties, discusses the report’s findings and implications. You won’t get a better summary of the Torture Report than this one from Marcy, folks.

Book Recommendation

In the midst of college finals, my head has found itself swirling in a wormhole of books for the past week and that to come…so I’d rather skip obsessing even more over books on the ol’ blog and instead bring you this winning photos of a Unicat (a unicorn + a cat…duh):

Photo via SuperPunch.

Photo via SuperPunch.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {12-5-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Whoof, it has been a week, ya’ll. Lack of indictments in the cases of both Mike Brown and Eric Garner, as well as a bunch of racism coming to the fore at my own college, has taken a toll on many folks’ physical and mental wellbeing. Before getting to all of that in today’s edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews), however, why not open on a light note with some mouthwatering vegan recipes? Because challenging rampant white supremacy gets easier with mango-glazed tofu and the thickest of milkshakes…right?

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Mango-Lemongrass Glazed Tofu
via Maikin Mokomin

Photo via Maikin Mokomin.

Photo via Maikin Mokomin.

A brightly flavored and vibrantly hued dish ideal for adding some much-needed color to the gray days of early winter.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Banana Cream Pie Blizzard
via Minimalist Baker

Photo via Dana Shultz.

Photo via Dana Shultz.

A milkshake to challenge all milkshakes, this thick glass of banana-ey goodness takes me back to the Dairy Queen Blizzards I often enjoyed in my non-vegan childhood days. Check out this past post for info on buying bananas.

Must-Read News Story

Though my liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, NY has long served as a microcosm of larger state issues, this past week has proved particularly intense in terms of the campus reflecting the white supremacy so obvious in the Grand Jury’s failure to indict both Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting unarmed Black teenager Mike Brown, and NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. Below are articles by two English professors that powerfully speak to their experiences as people of color on a college campus so imbued with the systemic white supremacy of U.S. society.

Who Really Burns: Quitting a Dean’s Job in the Age of Mike Brown
by Eve Dunbar at Jezebel

Photo via Shutterstock.

Photo via Shutterstock.

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK
via Kiese Laymon at Gawker

Photo via Kiese Laymon.

Photo via Kiese Laymon.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Seeing Red on Black Friday
via Belabored Podcast at Dissent Magazine

Photo via Belabored Podcast.

Photo via Belabored Podcast.

Race in the U.S. cannot be discussed, of course, without considering class (and vice versa), and this episode of the Belabored podcast does so well. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the amazing organizing of the #BlackOutBlackFriday protests, which simultaneously railed against racial oppression and consumerism –  a connection expanded upon by Color of Change representative Rashad Robinson:

“While it’s unacceptable that we live in a world where co-workers must band together to start charity food drives to feed themselves and where Black children can be left dead in the streets at the hands of the police… In this new age of participation, the movements for economic justice and police accountability are indivisible because they both exist in the lived experiences of Black people who are confronting the systems of power which have brutalized our communities.”

Read more in this article by Belabored co-host Michelle Chen.

Book Recommendation

Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture
by Ytasha L. Womack

Photo via Chicago Review Press.

Photo via Chicago Review Press.

In light of…everything…I know I’ve found myself running from fleeting moments of despair (and I’m a white girl). However, this book by Afrofuturist Ytasha L. Womack outlines a framework for envisioning a future society of racial justice – a framework enacted through the world of Black sci-fi and geek culture. Fascinating and inspiring stuff, ya’ll.

In solidarity, Ali.

{UPDATED} How to Dehydrate without a Dehydrator

Since its publication way back in August of 2011, my “How to Dehydrate without a Dehydrator” post has continually surpassed any others in terms of page views. Since then, however, an ironic set of developments has occurred: I’ve become significantly less enamored of raw foodism, finding the culture rather militant and unhealthy for me considering my fraught history with food (Gena has more thoughts on approaching raw foods pragmatically); yet I’ve also honed my oven dehydration skills. Though I by no means dehydrate frequently or with fancy 3-day raw meal preparations, I do enjoy a batch of homemade banana chips or broccoli nibblers every so often, and experience greater success than ever with these recipes thanks to a more detailed process of oven-dehydration.

CIMG8152

Oven-dehydrated broccoli nibblers.

Before specifically outlining my oven-dehydration process, I’d like to share with you some helpful tidbits of dehydrating knowledge, courtesy of Dirt Candy Executive Chef Amanda Cohen in her phenomenal restaurant cookbook qua graphic novel.

Photo via Dirt Candy.

Photo via Dirt Candy.

–Tip #1: A dehydrator set at 120°F (an average dehydrating temperature) takes four times longer to dehydrate than an oven. That means that with any recipe whose directions specify dehydrating times with an actual dehydrator, you’ll need to divide that time by four if you’re dehydrating with your oven.
–Tip #2: Your oven needs to be on its lowest setting – 150°F or below – in order for it to function like a dehydrator. If this setting is not below 150°F on your oven, you can do the following: preheat your oven to 200°F, turn it off, place the food in the oven for an hour, then take out the food and repeat the process until dehydration has completed.
–Tip #3: Raw vegetables take 1-3 hours to dehydrate in the oven (4-12 hours in the dehydrator) since they are made up of mostly water. Oily foods like sauteed vegetables and nuts, on the other hand, require 6-12 hours of oven dehydration (24-48 hours in the dehydrator). I find that raw crackers, breads, desserts, and other raw food recipes that start as “batters” require 4-6 hours in he oven (16-24 hours in the dehydrator).
–Tip #4: Check out the Excalibur website for more specific tips and ideas regarding how to dehydrate fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts, and grains. You can apply most all of their tips to oven dehydrating.

Dehydrated sweet crackers.

Dehydrated sweet crackers.

With those tips in mind, here is an outline of my preferred oven-dehydration process:

How to Dehydrate without a Dehydrator {Updated}

You will need:

The food you’d like to dehydrate (raw cracker/bread batter, sliced fruit, cut veggies, fruit puree to make fruit leather, etc.)
Nonstick silicon baking mat such as a Silpat or parchment paper
Aluminum foil
Oven set at its lowest temperature (a toaster oven with a baking setting also works)

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. If this is above 150°F, see Tip #2 above.

Place a silicon baking mat or parchment paper on an oven-safe cooling rack. Place your to-be-dehydrated food on the mat/parchment. If you are dehydrating simple fruit or veggies, place them next to each other at even intervals. If you are dehydrating something that needs to be spread on the mat/parchment (such as raw cracker batter or fruit puree), spread it out as evenly as possible so that it doesn’t dehydrate more in some spots than in others.

 Take a large sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it into an elongated, snake-like shape. Place the cooling rack full of food into the oven, and prop the oven door open ever so slightly with the foil snake. For even more effective dehydration, place a fan in front of the small oven door opening to ensure air circulation.

Updated Makeshift Dehydrator

Keep the food in the oven until it reaches your desired texture, flipping as necessary (raw crackers and other spreaded items need to be flipped once halfway through). See Tip #3 above for estimates on how long specific foods take to dehydrate in the oven.

Ta-da! You’ve successfully dehydrated without a dehydrator. Now go out and celebrate with all that money you didn’t spend on buying an unnecessary piece of equipment (but that you’ll probably end up shelling out anyway thanks to your increased energy bill…).

Tutorial submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {11-28-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Howdy, folks! Hope you’re enjoying the first round of holidays in the winter season. I do urge you, though, to recognize the genocidal origins of Thanksgiving, which I expound upon in a recent post entitled “A Vegan Thanksgiving is Still Violent.”

In terms of today’s Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews), we’ve got two vibrant and creative interpretations of familiar autumnal ingredients, a round-up of stories and a podcast that highlight the systematized white supremacy behind Ferguson, and a book that will call into question everything you thought you knew about Gandhi.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Sorghum Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries, & Grapes
via Golubka Kitchen

Photo via Anya Kassoff.

Photo via Anya Kassoff.

The combination of chewy whole grains, candy-sweet dried fruit, and crunchy, earthy nuts will never fail to astound me. The equally phenomenal smoky flavor of roasted brussels sprouts takes that no-fail grain-fruit-nut combo to the next level.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Squash with Cardamom & Nigella Seeds
via Yotam Ottolenghi in “Plenty More

Photo within photo via Plenty More.

Photo within photo via Plenty More.

A succulent dish of slow-roasted squash with warming, sweet spices studded with crunchy pumpkin seeds, this recipes comes from my latest cookbook obsessionPlenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Though not a vegan cookbook by any means, Plenty More serves as a continuation of Ottolenghi’s celebration of the world of plant-food first documented in his book Plenty. With a little veganizing know-how and creativity, figuring out how to create animal-free versions of Ottolenghi’s masterfully crafted dishes serves as an entertaining (and scrumptious) endeavor.

Must-Read News Story

Photo via the LA Times.

Photo via the LA Times.

It feels wrong to me to highlight any stories this week unrelated to the systemic violence (psychological and physical) committed in the United States against Black bodies on a daily basis. The murder of Mike Brown serves as perhaps the most visible instances of this violence in the current moment. As such, today I want to spread around a number of articles that emphasize the structural failures integral to Ferguson, rather than miss the point by focusing on police brutality. I turn to a quote from Catalyst Project to highlight this distinction:

“What’s happening in Ferguson is not just about police brutality or the increased militarization of police departments. It is about a system of policing that uses daily violence on Black, Brown, and poor communities in order to protect the property, politics and profits of the rich. It is about a system of control and terror that teaches white people we should be afraid of Black people, then uses that fear to justify state violence.”

Here are the stories:

Being Black: The Real Indictment in Ferguson and the USA
by William C. Anderson at Truthout

A Response to Ferguson: Systemic Problems Require Systemic Solutions
by john a. powell at CommonDreams

Ferguson Isn’t About Black Rage Against Cops. It’s White Rage Against Progress.
by Carol Anderson at CommonDreams

Free Marissa and All Black People
by Mariame Kaba at Prison Culture

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Mychal Denzel Smith on Lack of Indictment in Ferguson
via Radio Dispatch

Photo via Popular Resistance.

Photo via Popular Resistance.

…continuing the Ferguson (and beyond) discussion. Features a detailed look into the problems behind the grand jury decision deliberations (and behind the criminal legal system, in general).

Book Recommendation

The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptation of Violence
by Faisal Devji

Photo via Harvard University Press.

Photo via Harvard University Press.

A fascinating look into the aspects of Gandhi’s politics that mainstream rhetoric surrounding him as a figure tend to obscure (did Gandhi really advocate unconditional nonviolence? What were his views on the caste system?). Also a formative resource for thinking about the potential for social change beyond the framework of the neoliberal state.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {9-26-14}

If you haven’t yet entered my giveaway for your chance to win a Vega prize pack, be sure to do so!

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Today’s edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (#NewsandChews) features a hearty soup for the fast-approaching cool fall days, a creamy tart studded with one of my personal favorite fruits, a multidimensional dish from a restaurant cookbook that required an entire day to prepare, a more collaborative notion of charity, a call for resistance against climate change to come from below, and an upcoming book that needs pre-order support!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Persian Lentil Soup
via Sweet Paul

Photo via Sweet Paul.

Photo via Sweet Paul.

When I return to my parents’ house for winter break from college, my mother puts soup on the dinner table nearly every night, much to the content and comforted bellies of my father and myself. I fully intend to ensure that this soup – rich with earthy lentils and brightened with Iranian flavors like mint, black lime, and sumac – weaves its way into our soup repertoire this January.

Sweet

Saffron Custard Tart with Figs & Blackberries
via Harmony a la Carte

Photo via Harmony a la Carte.

Photo via Harmony a la Carte.

I think that fresh figs will always seem like a huge treat to me, special and novelty no matter how often I purchase them (which proved pretty darn often this summer…). Though eating these perpetual personal delicacies right out-of-hand satisfies me to no end, I certainly wouldn’t pooh-pooh a dessert that incorporates figs – especially if that dessert also happened to involve a rich vegan custard in a sticky date-nut crust. With orange blossom water and saffron, this tart would provide a complementary ending to the soup above, now that I think about it. If saffron is out of your price range (aka, if you’re not swimming in a pool of dollar bills), turmeric will do the trick in imparting a deep yellow tone to this tart.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Stone-Ground Grits with Pickled Shiitakes and Tempura Watercress
via Dirt Candy: A Cookbook

corn polenta w shiitakes & tempura watercress (1)

Day before: make the shiitake pickles and allow their flavor to develop overnight. Morning: simmer the corn stock. Afternoon: blend the corn cream. Before dinner: cook the grits, fry the watercress, and assemble the dish. At dinner: marvel at the symphony of flavors you’ve created over the course of the last 24 hours. Yes, this dish may require a full day of preparation, but over my breaks from school I got time to kill and that means that I’m killin’ it in the kitchen. While I recreated this dish from Dirt Candy executive chef Amanda Cohen’s trailblazing cookbook/graphic novel last winter break rather than this week, my October break slowly approaches, bringing with it the ability to spend some good quality time with my pots and pans. Perhaps more grits are in their future…

Must-Read News Story

The Charitable Society or ‘How to Avoid the Poor and Perpetuate the Wealth Gap’
via Fred Guerin at Truthout

Photo via Shutterstock.

Photo via Shutterstock.

In the spirit of radically altering our socio-personal relationships with one another in order to cultivate a society based on respect and community, philosophy scholar Fred Guerin envisions a model of charity that drastically departs from the current self-interested, patronizing, paternal system of the 1% projecting themselves as altruistic while enabling their control over the institutions at which they throw vast sums of money. This article particularly speaks to me with its willingness to deeply investigate the implications of and propose viable solutions to a very real problem. A well-done piece of work.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

‘We Can’t Rely on Our Leaders': Inaction at Climate Summit Fuels Call for Movements to Take the Helm
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Time and time again, social movements throughout history have proven that for concrete and lasting change to take place, its driving force needs to come “from below,” from the people bearing the brunt of society’s burdens and their allies. On the September 24 (one day after my mother’s birthday!) edition of Democracy Now!, two prominent earth advocates invoke this wisdom in the context of climate change. Though the segment opens with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Leonardo Dicaprio – two voices often privileged within the environmental  movement – the broadcast focuses attention on the voices of two much less visible individuals, which I feel is important to note considering the tendency of media to prioritize advocates already receiving substantial coverage.

Book Recommendation

Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will
by Jamie Kilstein & Allison Kilkenny

Photo via Simon & Schuster.

Photo via Simon & Schuster.

While I haven’t actually read this book (it hasn’t even been published yet!), I’ve been listening to Allison and Jamie promote it every morning on Citizen Radio, and it sounds like a compelling, hard-hitting, and highly entertaining work (much like the duo’s daily podcast). Relaying the urgent news stories of our time accurately and fairly, Allison and Jamie provide a refreshing contrast to the corporate-controlled mainstream media. If you have the funds, I’d highly encourage you to pre-order the book in the hopes of generating popular attention for these groundbreaking journalists.

In solidarity, Ali.