Vegan MoFo #21: Chickpea-Mixed Veggie Curry & Brown Rice

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Though the title of this post may suggest an inconsequential dinner (curry…been there, done that), Ferry cooks Gabe and Franny revolutionized last night’s dinner from humble curry to multilayered, complex deliciousness. Beginning as a stir fry of generous chunks of eggplant, carrots, green beans, and boldly flavored leafy greens, the curry received a smartly portioned helping of curry powder and whole allspice berries before realizing its full potential of scrumptiousness with a dash of coconut milk, a couple tablespoons of coconut sugar, and a big ol’ batch of home-simmered chickpeas. The finished curry provided a satisfying, flavorful, and quite comforting meal, especially on a rather gloomy, blustery day.

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Up for the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) this week: a volunteer orientation session at the Duchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DCSPCA) and Carol Adams’ lecture!

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #19: Ferry Kitchen Charts, Comics, & Songs

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While clearly the abundance and variety of vegan food enjoyed in Ferry House could provide enough incentive to tempt any Vassar student to join our 21-person co-op, the house’s supportive and playful community serves as my favorite aspect of living in Ferry. Together, we nourish our bodies and souls, challenge each other’s assumptions, celebrate the full moon by dressing in costume and playing Cards Against Humanity, read on the roof while watching the sun set, cry at Meeting when discussing heavy issues, and give lots and lots of hugs.

Ferry also plays hosts to an influx of posters, notes, signs, and artwork. Post-it notes on housemates doors serve as legitimate means of communication, while a bulletin board in the living room plastered with job charts denotes who cleans which room, cooks dinner on which day, picks up our farm share, etc. Recently, three more poster-y forms of correspondence appeared in the Ferry Kitchen, all of which prove extremely adorable and only contribute to the sense of camaraderie that we seek to foster in this house.

The first chart, crafted by Job Wrangler Tamsin, denotes the schedule for the “goodie makers” and “protein makers” in the house to follow. For example, on Tuesday, Gabe D. should bake bread (as symbolized by the precious slice of bread that exclaims, “I’m the best thing since me!), while on Wednesday, Andrew should provide the house with some sort of protein (hummus, a batch of lentils, homemade seitan, etc.).

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The second poster comes in the form of a comic, drawn by my dearest Gabe, that narrates the life of a Ferry House Bowl. Attesting to leading an “overall pretty good life,” the bowl reveals the deep sadness he experiences when, after a Ferry member washes him and leaves him right-side-up in the drying rack, he cannot adequately dry…until, of course, “a nice person turns him upside-down.” Thanks to this heart-wrenching comic, no Ferry member can leave bowls right-side-up in the drying rack without feeling a profound sense of (most adorably provoked) guilt.

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The final poster features the lyrics to “The Kitchen Song,” composed also by Tamsin. It reminds house members to put away two dishes from the drying rack when they put one in to dry, to retire washed knives directly to their drawer so that fellow Ferries don’t cut themselves when removing them from the drying rack, to mind the sponge-corner-washing-code system, to take special care of cast iron pans, to use only wooden and plastic implements on non-stick pans, and to clean up after oneself. Yay for an effectively functioning kitchen!

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Not only do these posters play an important role in reminding house members to maintain kitchen protocol, they also brighten and provide an air of conviviality to the Ferry Kitchen.

Do you have any posters in your kitchen?

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #18: Dinner on Empty & Dinner on Full

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Every month, Ferry House experiences a complete reversal of our food supply levels. As the weeks after our most recent bulk food order wear on; as our stock of dried chickpeas, brown rice, and peanut butter wanes; as the 21 house members clean out the refrigerator’s veggie-laden shelves within mere hours of grocery shopping, Ferry members must employ their utmost culinary intuition in order to adequately nourish themselves on the lone eggplant, bag of sweet potatoes, and dregs of lentils left in the house.

Obviously, these so-called “food shortages” don’t actually prove dire, seeing as all of us Ferries can easily access campus dining and off-campus grocery stores. I would never even fathom suggesting that any house member actually faces a danger in the kind-of-lack-ish of food in Ferry that occurs every so often, for to do so would essentially crap privilege all over the groups of people who live in food deserts and harbor legitimate worry regarding the origins of their next meal.

In any case, I thought that comparing Ferry meals made from an abundance of supplies with those made with a dwindled stock would prove fairly interesting. Ooh! Let’s play a game: guess which meal came from empty, and which came from full.

Meal #1: Vinegar-brined roasted potatoes, curried cauliflower casserole, tamari-ginger green beans, millet, and baby kale, all sprinkled with nutritional yeast (courtesy of darlings Gabe and Tim).

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Meal #2: Gluten-free flatbread, farmers’ market cherry tomatoes, curried lentil stew with garlic and carrots, and roasted brussels sprouts (provided by the always fabulous Noah and Lanbo).

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And here’s where you contemplate.

And here’s where you guess.

And the reveal…

Meal #1 came from a largely empty pantry and fridge, while Meal #2 came from a house stuffed full of newly purchased groceries and bulk supplies. If you’re so inclined, be sure to leave a comment professing your guess.

If perhaps you’re curious to know what sort of food sustains a 21-person vegan co-op for a month, below I’ve listed a number of the supplies included in our most recent bulk order:

1.) 24 packages of tempeh
2.) 25 lbs each of brown rice, quinoa, navy beans, and black beans
3.) 64 cartons of non-dairy milk (a mix of almond and soy)
4.) A 9-lb container of crunchy peanut butter
5.) 12 jars of tahini
6.) 12 cans of coconut milk
7.) 5 lbs each of almonds and dried figs
8.) 6 bottles each of balsamic vinegar and agave nectar

Quite understandably, house excitement surrounding bulk delivery parallels that of a house member’s birthday. Ah, bulk. How I love you so.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #17: Easy as Rosemary Apple Pie

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I’ve gained a reputation on the Vassar campus as a sort of “expert vegan” thanks to the ol’ blog, my articles and cooking videos for the campus news paper, my co-presidency with the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC), and my residency in Ferry House. From this inherited role, I’ve fielded such questions as, “But what exactly is tofu? Can you elaborate upon the intersectionalities between veganism and Judaism? Will you show me how to use the stir-fry station in the Deece (Vassar’s dining hall)?” Not only do these inquiries come from housemates and close friends, but also from random classmates with whom I’ve never before spoken, over Vassar Gmail, and through Facebook. Recently, my VARC co-president and I have decided to expand this role of “expert vegan” to encompass VARC’s most devoted members as a whole with the launch of the Veggie Buddy System. A blurb about the program follows:

“VARC’s Veggie Buddy System pairs veg-curious folk and aspiring vegans/vegetarians with experienced vegans in an effort to ease the transition to a more compassionate, environmentally friendly lifestyle, and thereby render veganism/vegetarianism more accessible to a larger number of Vassar students. Providing an immersive and guided experience through the first month of your veg journey, the Veggie Buddy System ensures you a knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and friendly companion available 24/7 to answer any and all of your veg-related inquiries.”

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The first round of the System begins on Sunday, October 6, and I find myself nearly exploding with kale in excitement, especially considering that I’ve envisioned the birth of this program since my senior year of high school. For the next few weeks, however, I’ll have to satisfy my yearning to provide vegan mentorship by continuing to respond to my campus’ various veg-related requests. The latest of these I received from my fellow Miscellany News staff member, who asked if I could whip up some allergy-free goodies to celebrate the birthday of another staff member with gluten and soy intolerances. Pff, just gluten- and soy-free? Give me a challenge.

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I would have created a more elaborate dessert if not for the lack of coconut milk, agave nectar, peanut butter, and gluten-free oats in the Ferry pantry (we’ve reached the dregs of our monthly bulk order—thank goodness I pick up the next one tonight). Thus, I produced a simple yet flaky, naturally sweet, uniquely herby, and all-around scrumptious Rosemary Apple Pie in less than 30 minutes. How’s that for “easy as pie”?

Simple Rosemary Apple Pie

Makes one 9″ pie.

Ingredients:

5 medium-sized, sweet apples, cored and diced
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like the one from Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
5 tbsp coconut oil, solid
5 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the apples, rosemary, and lemon juice. Set over medium-high heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring periodically until the apples have broken down.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, and coconut sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Add the coconut oil, water, and lemon juice, then cut the wet ingredients into the dry using either a pastry cutter, a fork, or your hands (I much prefer the latter) until a uniform dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie pan, then bake the crust for 10 minutes.

When the apples have broken down, pour them into the prebaked crust and bake for another 20 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown.

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Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Wellness Weekend.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #16: Pinto Beans n’ Greens Stew, Rosemary-Sage Roasted Root Veggies, & Seasoned Millet

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Last night I once again assumed the role of Ferry Dinner Cook, along with my dear housemate Allie. I began my culinary task with the goal of employing in our meal as many of the fast wilting green leafies, as well as the underused root vegetables, in the refrigerator as possible. It seemed to me that the greens (an amalgamation of kale, collards, and leaves from carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes) would marry well in a stew with the pinto beans that I had set to soak that morning, while the roots (a mix of turnips, butternut and kabocha squash, beets, and sweet potatoes) would best showcase their comforting succulence in caramelized, roasted form, accentuated by fresh rosemary and sage.

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Though I intended to recreate this recipe for Garlicky White Bean Stew with Kale, a couple of unexpected factors complicated this task:
1.) I discovered a surprising lack of garlic in the Ferry kitchen last night.
2.) The Ferry pantry currently houses only pinto beans, garbanzos, and lentils, with no mention of white beans (though this will soon change with the bulk order delivered this Thursday).
3.) I mistook the jar of cayenne for that of paprika, thus imparting a spicier kick to the stew than I had originally intended (darn Ferry’s unlabeled spice rack!).

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Despite these setbacks, the stew turned out as a hearty, comforting, and immensely nourishing dish that harbored a nice depth of flavor thanks to the caramelized onions that simmered with the beans, as well as the multiplicity of bold greens. Since one would have to either tremendously undercook or burn to a crisp roasted root vegetables in order to detract from their deliciousness, that aspect of dinner proved predictably perfect (points for alliteration). The millet provided a bit of a surprise for my diners, who did not expect the punch of umami that pervaded the unassuming side dish, thanks to the generous sprinklings of nutritional yeast, cumin, and tamari that I mixed into the creamy cooked grain.

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As I always do when I cook Ferry dinner, last night I felt honored to provide a scrumptious and satisfying meal to the 21 thoughtful, generous, kind, and vivacious individuals with whom I live. I’ve recently realized that aiding others serves to improve my own mood, as showcased when I sought advice from my Ferry room neighbor, ended up working through his own difficulties, and left his room sharing a sense of complete uplift. Once again, Ferry offered its constant reminder of the strong power of community, especially a community largely revolving around wholesome food that minimizes harm to all beings.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #15: Raw Blueberry-Lavender Birthday Cupcakes

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Raw cupcakes with blueberry-cashew frosting and filled with blueberry jam.

Raw cupcakes with blueberry-cashew frosting and filled with blueberry jam.

I don’t believe that we as human entities can ever “have” time. Time constitutes the atmosphere surrounding us, the realm in which we live. Just as one cannot manipulate the air, the sunlight, or the temperature (individually and without profound consequences, at least), one cannot employ time to serve one’s own purposes. Rather than viewing life as a medium in which I either “have” or do not “have” time to engage in tasks and activities, I prefer to think of life as a series of continual actions and contemplations that affect each other interconnectedly. An action does not end while another begins, for all of our past actions contribute to our current states of being. We cannot govern the time in which we participate in these actions, for we cannot foresee the entirety of our lives in which all of these actions continuously interact and build upon one another. Time provides the culture in the petri dish of life and we grow within it, rather than functioning as the scientists manipulating it. Time happens. We happen. Yes, we must abide by deadlines and due dates in the goal-driven society that we have constructed, but we do not “have” the time in which to do so—time merely allows us the space and possibility of doing so.

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I say all of this in the context of having not created birthday treats on my actual birthday. Many would claim that I simply didn’t “have” the time on my birthday to bake a batch of goodies, but I posit that time constituted a pretty major presence on that particular day, and on every other day. The beauty of time’s omnipresence, however, showcases itself in the fact that I made some darn fabulous raw cupcakes yesterday. Time continued past my birthday. I continued past my birthday. Cupcakes continued past my birthday (though not for long thanks to my hungry housemates).

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Transitioning from the realm of philosophy to the realm of kitchen antics, I’d like to share with you, dear readers the Raw Blueberry-Lavender Cupcakes that I made to celebrate my 19 years on this planet. Inspired by this recipe from Fragrant Vanilla Cake, I crafted the cupcakes with the following recipe modifications:

1.) Substituted 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, soaked overnight and drained, for the young coconut meat in the cake base.
2.) Substituted another cup of soaked cashews for the coconut meat in the frosting.
3.) Used coconut oil where the recipe called for coconut butter and maple syrup where the recipe called for coconut nectar.
4.) Included the lavender in the frosting rather than in the cake base.

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As my Ferry housemates assured me throughout the day, the cupcakes turned out phenomenally, and offered me a legitimate excuse to break out the House’s dehydrator for which I had longed all summer. Mounds of dehydrated kale chips will soon fill the living room if no one restrains me.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #14: Chickpea-Tomato Curry w/ Cauliflower, Corn & Heirloom Tomato Salad, and Brown Rice

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I enjoyed last night’s dinner in the setting of Ferry House Meeting. Every week, we 21 members of Ferry congregate on the mismatched couches of the House living room to discuss House practices, intentions, and general feelings of members so as to ensure the most mindful, safe, and enjoyable living experience for all Ferries. Our House Meetings used to take place on late Wednesday evening, but they’ve recently relocated to Sunday at dinnertime, a context that has contributed to a sense of joviality surrounding an often rather serious atmosphere. While the specificities of Ferry Meeting remains confidential, I can relay that each Meeting provides a supportive venue in which to reflect upon the meaning of living in an intentional community….

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…and now in which to munch upon scrumptious vegan meals. Provided by dear Ferries Wanda and Layla, last night’s Ferry dinner consisted of a wonderfully aromatic stew of chickpeas, tomatoes, and cauliflower lightly spiced with curry powder; a late summer salad of sweet corn, hefty chunks of juicy heirloom tomatoes, bright and crunchy bell peppers, and bitter beet greens; and the standard pot of simple (yet always satisfying) brown rice. I left Ferry Meeting verily impressed by the dinnertime offerings of well-crafted food and thoughtful discussion.

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In Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) news, Carol Adams will visit the Vassar campus to present her Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show on Sunday, September 29 at 5:00 pm with a book signing and reception of vegan hors d’oeuvres to follow. The Slide Show employs images of women and animals in contemporary popular culture to discuss interconnected oppressive attitudes toward both groups, showcasing images in popular culture that animalize women and sexualize animals. Vegan blogger and Vassar alum Sarah E. Brown of Queer Vegan Food brought Carol Adams to campus a couple years back, and I’m thrilled to once again welcome Carol to campus. If any of you, dear readers, live in the New York area, I would love to see you at the event. Here is the Facebook event for more details.

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Until next time, Ali.