Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A whole lotta excitement!
This is the way I wanted it to be: photos first, words later. Then again, who is to say that any of you will actually bother to scroll down to read my comments on the above photos (and how could I possibly blame you if you don't?). Anyway, I guess a greeting is in order--HELLO! How are you! I am fine. I haven't been baking or cooking as much as I would like to, considering that I'm slaving away at my summer course and trying to keep up some semblance of a social life and working and spending time with family and staying in shape (working out to counter the baking). But here is evidence that I've managed to squeeze in some quality baking time. First, there is vegan spanakopita. The recipe is by Robin Robertson, and I modified it slightly, with the inclusion of sun-dried tomatoes in the mushroom, spinach, and tofu filling. I was commissioned by my aunt to make them for my cousin Alex's 21st birthday, and they disappeared so quickly, I was stunned. No one was told, however, that they were vegan, for I made sure that only a select few people know.
Let it be known that, in many families as well as my own extended Italian family, vegan foods are somewhat taboo. Surprisingly (or maybe not so), people get freaked out when you label a food "vegan;" they automatically assume that it's covered in tofu and all types of "freaky" ingredients, like egg replacer or vegan mayonnaise or tempeh. Little do some people realize, but many foods that omnivores eat all the time are inherently vegan. Hummus? Yeah, that's vegan. What about minestrone soup? Most of the time, it's made with vegetable broth. Oreos? OREOS ARE VEGAN! Yet if I were to prance around telling people that Oreos were vegan, they might actually get grossed out. Here's the news: the "vegan" label doesn't mean that something odd has been added to a certain food product; rather, it means simply that it is devoid of any animal products.
Back to Alex's birthday party: I made sure not to make it explicitly known that the spanakopita was vegan. And so it disappeared and everyone was impressed and, sadly, no one knew it was made by me (for if they were to know, it'd get the vegan label [refer to preceding paragraph]); however, a great compliment was that one person thought that they'd originated from the store.
It seems that May, like November, is the month of birthdays. So, only six days later, I found myself baking once again, for my darling friend Irene. On the 23rd was her 22nd birthday, so I decided to make her cupcakes. Isa Chandra Moskowitz wrote a cookbook called Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World; well, I do honestly think that cupcakes could solve many of the world's problems. Think about it (and Isa talks about this in the book, too): Can you honestly picture anyone being presented with a cupcake and not grinning? Picture yourself not grinning, or can you. See, it's impossible! Cupcakes = smiles = world peace. Got it? Done. So I made a dozen cupcakes, as pictured above (actually, those I made tonight, mostly inspired by 1) a simple desire to make cupcakes, 2) complaints from various family members [namely my previously-mentioned Zia Mary] who either hadn't had the opportunity to taste the cupcakes I'd made for Irene or hadn't had enough of said cupcakes, and 3) my best friend's boyfriend who recently had a car accident. Cupcakes alleviate suffering [her boyfriend is fine, by the way, and thank goodness that he is]). Today's cupcakes, two dozen, were distributed many ways: Zia Mary and family get four; Maritsa and co. (boyfriend included) get five; I already ate two; Maritsa had two, too (haha!); Mom and Jess each had one; four remain, with one being picked at as it is the only one without icing... and it's 1 a.m. and it's sitting in front of me. Three hours to make twenty-four cupcakes, put icing on them, and wash the dishes. Phew!
Today, I spent a big chunk of the day doing work for school. It was time for lunch and although I didn't want to make anything elaborate, I also didn't want to settle for just a sandwich or a salad. So I decided to whip up a stir-fry, a meal I'd long abandoned after truly tiring it out as a staple meal for months on end a few years ago. Nevertheless, I managed to cook up something rather pleasant, and the peanut butter sauce that I put together turned out to be the best I have ever made. It was simple enough, too: organic peanut butter, organic soy milk, cayenne, stevia, organic tamari, and toasted sesame oil. Dee-lish!
Cooking news aside, over the last few days, things have been a bit hectic chez moi. Ma petite chienne, Brandy the Dog, seems to have injured herself somehow and the vet assumes it is a herniated disc. Ugh. On Monday night, at around 21:30, my sister, mum, and I noticed that Bijou (oh, god, don't get me started on how many names this dog of mine has!) was walking funny. And it wasn't an unfamiliar thing; we'd taken her to the vet twice before for the same ailment. Sadly enough, it returned. So Monday night, we took her to the animal hospital. Of course we got lost on the way there, but luckily the poor thing was calm in the back seat, which is evidence of how much pain she was in, as she normally is very jumpy and nervous and whiny in the car. We spent three hours at the animal hospital, and the final decision--among leaving her there overnight for blood tests and a subsequent $3000-dollar MRI, giving her pain meds, and giving her anti-inflammatory meds--was to give her pain meds, since the vet opted to not give her anti-inflammatory medication for some reason I didn't really understand. The Dr. was awesome, though, and really honest. We opted out of the MRI because of the cost, but also because we didn't want to subject Brandy to all the pokes and pains involved, especially since the MRI would tell us only what her ailment was and, afterward, because Brandy is old (she's 12), the surgeon would likely opt not to operate. That would be $3000 down the drain, not to mention the torture they'd put Brandy through. So now she is on pain medication, twice to thrice a day, mostly confined to her cage, and getting lots of rest. It's really sad that her age has manifested itself in this way, and I hope and pray that her health will be fully restored, and that her pain and awkward walking aren't manifestations of something more serious--after all, the vet said it's probably a herniated disc, though it could also be a tumour. Great.
And, to conclude, I'm reading a book on Vipassana meditation. It's called Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante H. Gunaratana. It's great, very insightful, and positive. It fills me with hope, cheesy as it sounds. I'm only on page 40 now, but I'm really learning a lot from it. I'm also reading Dispatches from Hell, by Daniel Peyser. It's a vegan dating and relationship book. It is absolutely hilarious. I have some issues with the editing, but other than that, it's awesome. GO GET BOTH OF THESE BOOKS! I'm still expecting another book by the aforementioned meditation author. Oh! I also got vegan shoes from ragazzivegan.com. They are totally not my style, as they are wedges (wtf is a wedge?) and bright green and BEAUTIFUL! My only beef (whoa, unvegan term) with them and the entire site, really, is that, as far as I know, their products are not sweatshop-free! What the hell! The shoes are made in China.... I should have researched the products further, ascertaining their vegan and sweatshop-free origin. I lose.
... for now, though, I WIN! I have VEGAN CUPCAKES!
Ok. 1:14. Time for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Oh, and this was hilarious, courtesy of my darling vegan boyfriend:
matt: mmmmm better SAVE ME SOME [cupcakes] OR DEATH
me: lol dude, there are four put aside. Four! Specifically so that there's one for jess, one for momma, and TWO for you. Ass.
1 for matt
1 for matt
1 for matt
ONE FOR MATT
Vegan in Suburbia