30 June 2010

Taking on the V-Con Pt. 3

I know, today is Wednesday, which means I was supposed to post my Veganomicon recipe challenge yesterday. The funny thing about yesterday, it was bloody hot as hell outside and after my bike ride home from work I turned into a liquid puddle on the couch. I have said it before but Arizona in the summer is horribly cruel. For anyone who hasn't been to Arizona in the summer months try placing your head in a hot oven and see why no one in their right mind lives here in June or July. Which reminds me, yesterday I saw a bumper sticker on an extremely large truck that read, "...but it is a dry hate." I laughed so hard I almost peed. I am sure many of you know about the new immigration bill that passed a few months ago here in AZ and unlike our governor and sheriff, not ALL of us agree with the SB1070 bill. So even though the person drove a horrible gas guzzling vehicle I gave them a nod of approval when passing by.

Anywho...this weeks V-Con challenge was Braised Seitan with brussels sprouts, kale and sun-dried tomatoes. I am not going to lie, I wouldn't have picked this recipe myself, even though kale and brussels sprouts are my most favorite of the green veggies it is just (once again) way too hot to be making anything in the kitchen. Luckily nothing had to go into the oven but cooking anything in the summer months here is asking for some sweaty under garments. I know, I am a big baby, I hate being hot, I dislike being stinky but I powered through it. I let the steam fog up my glasses and I ate a warm fall meal in summer. It was tasty, Timmy had two bowls but I think I would have appreciated more if I were eating it in November. I think my taster palette is broken, Courtney said hers had an overwhelming taste from the red wine, whereas I barely tasted the wine in my version. I also thought it could have used more seasonings. I served mine with wild rice but I think in November I will serve it with butternut or spaghetti squash. Hmmmm squash.. om nom nom nom.

So here is the ingredient list and here are my photos...

2 T Olive Oil
6 Shallots
2 C Seitan
1/2 Pound of Brussels Sprouts, quartered
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 t Dried Thyme
1/2 t Dried Basil
1/2 t Dried Tarragon
1/2 C Sun-Dried Tomatoes
2 C Vegetable Broth
1/4 C Red Wine
4 C Kale

chop up your prepared seitan and saute in olive oil with shallots, saute until golden brown

after that add in the brussels, garlic, the seasonings and saute a few more minutes, then add sun-dried tomatoes

then add in the broth and red wine

let the kale simmer down now, simma down naw!

eat it up, yum!

28 June 2010

Ask A Vegan! Pt. 8

I cannot believe this is the eighth Ask A Vegan! I have been having so much fun with this and I love all of the different responses, photos and delicious recipes submitted. Everyone who has participated thus far has really impressed me with their honest answers and their willingness to share their Vegan stories with me and those who visit my little blog. This week is no different. Kenike (not her real names but has asked to remain semi-anonymous) is quite a resource for those new to Veganism, or seasoned veterans and she is especially helpful for residents of Arizona like myself. She lists hot spots in the valley to check out for Vegan grub, she posts recipes, links, articles regarding a plant-based diet and she even has her Fashion Fridays where she finds animal rights clothing and shares the images with her followers. I had the pleasure of meeting Kenike in May at the Vegan bake sale hosted by Kim (who will be featured on here too) and myself. I talked with Kenike, ate her peanut butter cups and stood next to her for almost three hours without realising that she was who she is. I had seen her blog and loved it, and there she was next to me and I was clueless! (: I know better now, and I look forward to more chatting and sharing of yummy foods at our next bake sale in July. And now...Kenike

Name: Kenike [keh-nee-keh]
Age: 34
Location: Mesa
Website: Chicos and Beans: A Desert Vegan Survival Guide

How long have you been Vegan?
4 years and 3 months. I went vegan on April 1st, 2006. Before that I was lacto-ovo vegetarian for 5 years. But I first wanted to go vegan when I was 14. It was a long journey.

What made you decide to go Vegan?
Originally, River Phoenix inspired me to go Vegan when I was 14 years old. I loved that boy. (You can read the whole story on my blog.) The sum-up is I never really lost that desire to go vegan, but I suppressed it because my family pressured me and then I didn’t think I could do it. Years later, I went vegetarian after making chicken a few times and being completely grossed out by the meat. Then I read an article (I don’t even remember what I read) that stated dairy and egg animals are often treated worse than animals used for meat. Then it didn’t seem to be enough to just stop eating meat. There were still millions of animals being tortured to death as a result of choosing dairy and eggs. I had to give myself a month-long trial to see if I could do it, because I didn’t think I could. But I totally did it, and it was easy, and I never looked back.

How do you feel health wise with this diet choice?
I feel great. I eat much healthier, less processed foods, than I did as an omnivore and even as a vegetarian. However, I still tend to be a junk food vegan and will indulge in chips, cookies, and fried foods. When I eat closer to a macrobiotic vegan diet, I feel the best I have ever felt in my life.

Are you open about your Veganism?
Absolutely. I usually only bring it up when I will be sharing a meal with someone or if someone else brings up veganism or the conversation provides a gentle opportunity for me to share information about veganism or animal rights. I try to be a vegan role model for the people I encounter in life, so I am always willing to talk about it and answer questions. Tho don’t ask me for facts, I never remember those. And I try to avoid talking about it at the dinner table because that always gets a little dicey, but that’s usually when I get asked the most about it. I usually say, you know, I’d be happy to talk about that with you a little later.

My family talks about my veganism with other people though, and they often call me up and say things like, so-and-so at work has a question or wants a recipe or needs a restaurant recommendation. I love being asked those things. I didn’t have any experienced vegan mentors when I started out and I pretty much had to learn by trial and error. Now that I have 4 years under my belt, I have answers to most vegan needs, which is why I started the Chicos and Beans blog. It gives my family and friends a place to go to learn more about my diet/lifestyle, or they can refer others, and most importantly, it’s there for new and current vegans to find what they need, especially local vegans.

with Gabriel

If so, are you involved in any activism i.e. protests, leafleting etc…
My activism is very low-key. I have participated in Vegan Voices (via AZVegan.org) a few times, that’s where vegans and activists get together and hand write letters to companies for various animal/vegan causes. I’ve done a few Farm Sanctuary walks and the fundraiser dinner. I stick animal rights stickers on the envelopes to all my paper bills that I mail. I have a vegan bumper sticker (though I am just waiting for the day where my car suffers some trauma because of it). I actively promote vegan food by baking and cooking for friends. Probably my favorite activism is my tradition of having a vegan thanksgiving every year, I call it the Thankful Veg-head Dinner. Approximately 2 weeks before Thanksgiving I make this huge vegan feast and invite my family and friends; omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. It gets a little crazy but it is the most awesome time with some of the best vegan food. Everyone, including the omnivores, goes home with a full, happy belly.

What does your family, friends, co-workers think about your diet?
This is a mixed bag. My sister and brother-in-law are especially awesome at making me vegan treats all the time. My family and friends usually compromise with restaurants, aiming for vegan-friendly ones when we are together. And for home-made meals, my family and friends usually check in with me to make sure they have something for me or that I am taking care of my own food needs depending on the situation. I almost always bring something to share as part of my vegan activism, as well as to prevent my starvation. That doesn’t mean some of them don’t shake their head at me or completely mock my food choices or grumble about “catering” to my food needs, because it still happens. But it’s not some crazy kind of food/family war zone, just the occasional insensitive comment here and there. I’ve had plenty food victories as well. My meat and potatoes dad liked this pesto tapenade I made so much that he made it to take to a work potluck. And he couldn’t tell the difference when I veganized the family’s carrot cake recipe. SCORE!

What advice would you give those interested in becoming Vegan?
Network with other vegans! You need these vegan friends to commiserate with, and for tips and recipe ideas. Join a vegan meet-up group and go out to eat with them or participate in one of their potlucks. Read tons of vegan blogs. Buy VegNews Magazine. Focus on doing what you can and on being consistent, but not on being a “perfect vegan”, there’s no such thing.

Would you eat at Mc Donald’s if they carried a Vegan burger?
While I go out of my way to avoid McDonalds because they lie about their ingredients and even their fries aren’t vegan, I have to say “possibly” on this. The thing is, I’ve travelled enough to know that sometimes there are very few options available to a vegan. Say I am driving across country and starving and I am short on time and not familiar with the area and there’s a McDonalds in this small town I am driving through, so maybe I stop for a vegan burger. Now, hopefully, I have planned my trip a helluva lot better than that and have no need to stop at McDonalds, but I can’t say never. And travelling internationally, especially where I don’t speak the language, there are some situations where an international chain with a reliable menu is a lifesaver, and the McDonalds vegan burger would be a viable option for me. Again, hopefully I’ve planned better and actually try to enjoy the native vegan fare, but the plan doesn’t always come together. And there is something to be said for the idea that if vegans boycott all of the companies that aren’t completely vegan, then the mainstream folks will never be exposed to the vegan products because the vegan population is not a big enough cash flow for most companies to grow, compete, and succeed. So, to some degree we should support the good vegan products of the less-than-perfect companies, or they will never make any changes, and the demand for more vegan products will not grow.

What is your least favorite question that you are asked about your diet?
I hate when I specifically say, “I do not eat animal products,” and then I am asked, “So, do you eat fish?” Uh, no. Fish is an animal too! I hate that people do not make the connection that certain animals are indeed animals. I have to wonder if they failed Biology. And I actually blame the bible and Catholicism for training people to think that fish is not meat. The flesh from a fish IS meat, it’s the same deal as with cows and chickens and pigs. Argh.

What is your favorite dish?
Pizza is probably my all-time favorite food. And peanut butter smoothies. And sweet and sour seitan. And carrot cake. I should probably stop there.

What do you typically eat at Thanksgiving?
At my Thankful Veg-head Dinner, the hands-down biggest crowd pleaser for both omnivores and veg-heads is the Sage- and Pumpkin Seed-Encrusted Seitan With Roasted Garlic-Pumpkin Sauce from VegCooking.com. I only make it once a year because it is slightly labor-intensive but it is worth it. (Hint: If you decide to make this, the only place I have been able to find pumpkin seed oil is AJ’s Fine Foods.)

If I could make you any flavor cupcake in the world what would it be?
Carrot cake…but you’d have to use my carrot cake recipe because I am notoriously picky about carrot cake. Or zucchini cake or something with peanut butter or creamy coconut.

Please share your favorite Vegan recipe.
I suppose I should share my carrot cake recipe after all that grandiose talk above.

Kenike's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups flour
2 cups grated carrots
2 cups vegan sugar
1 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup firm tofu (blended)
3 tablespoons applesauce (plain, natural)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda

Blend tofu in food processor until creamy and lump-free. Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl until well-combined. Pour into lightly greased 9x13 rectangle cake pan (typical size).

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely and then frost.

Tip: Ovens vary the cooking time. Use a toothpick to check it periodically after about 30 minutes to see if it is done in the middle. If it still needs cooking in the middle but the top is looking done, put a piece of foil over the cake so it doesn’t burn and let cook until finished. Do not overcook…the edges will become dried out. If you are making cupcakes, decrease the cook time appropriately.

1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan margarine
1 package (8 oz) vegan cream cheese
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound (16 oz) powdered sugar

Blend the vegan cream cheese and vegan margarine in a mixing bowl. A hand mixer or standing mixer work best for this. Then add vanilla and powdered sugar. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. This should make plenty of frosting for the entire cake, and maybe a little extra. If you are simply frosting cupcakes, you can cut this recipe in half.

26 June 2010

Chickpea burgers

There is this super sweet and funny woman Marcy that shops at my Trader Joe's and over the last four years of working there Marcy and I have become friends. We email, share our pet stories and even poke fun at out crazy up tight neighbors. Marcy is so fun to speak with that often I find myself not working while at work but just chit chatting. Recently Marcy has gotten into the habit of bringing old magazines to my store for the employees to read on our lunch breaks. The magazines vary from Ode, O Magazine and Healthy Living to some I have never seen or hear before like Mother Earth News and Experience Life. Some of these magazines are absolutely uplifting and are great to read on a lunch break giving a fresh perspective to the rest of the work day. For me, one of the perks of these magazines is the recipes, though not all Vegan a lot are very easy to alter and make Vegan friendly. Experience Life just had a recipe for Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers and I made them last night for dinner, they were FANTASTIC! The best part, Timmy and I figured you could really replace the garbanzo beans with any bean and make all kinds of delicious and healthy veggie burgers. I followed the recipe as is, but next time I am going to use black beans with corn, jalapenos and tomatoes for a spicy South Western burger. Yum!

Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers

served along side with lightly friend and seasoned cauliflower

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger
3 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
3 T. diced red bell peppers
1/4 cup fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine garbanzo beans through lemon juice in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add rice, bell peppers and parsley. Mix with your hands then shape into burgers. Place on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.


22 June 2010

Taking on the V-Con Pt. 2

Ah, the trials and tribulations of cooking. Today I had a quite simple recipe to follow and yet I managed to goof it up. The recipe, Snobby Joes from the Veganomicon.

The reason as to the less than satisfactory outcome? Lentils. The recipe calls for lentils and I assume that means regular lentils, but I used red lentils because I already had some in my pantry. Red lentils cook up faster than regular lentils and even though I cut the cook time almost in half I still had a mushy texture I was not too thrilled with. The Snobby Joes were a tad on the bland side, which I noticed Courtney mentioned in her blog, but she was more creative than I and spiced things up a bit. I however, have been in a funk and my creative side was sulking somewhere in the recesses of my brain. I followed the recipe step by step, ate my dinner then sighed. Blah. Blah day, blah dinner, blah blah blah. I am not going to give up on this recipe, I will buy the correct lentils and try try try again damnit! Until that day comes this is the result of my take on the Veganomicon's Snobby Joes.

ingredients, minus the maple syrup and mustard

soaking in its juices

it was a bit spicy from the chipotle pepper, and a bit smokey too

Don't forget to check out Courtney and Katie's blogs to see their results also!

21 June 2010

Ask A Vegan! Pt. 7

About two and a half years ago I went Vegan, I had been vegetarian for almost ten years and I decided it was time to take the step, take the plunge, go all of the way, do or die. At first I was scared, I only ate beans and rice with spinach. I had dreams about cookies and cheesecakes that floated around me, all out of arms' reach. I didn't know what to do, I was happy with my decision, but I was hungry. I purchased my first cookbook VWAV and learned how to make pancakes and tofu scrambles. They were all delicious but the cake demon inside of me howled for more. "More treats, sweets and delectable eats," it shouted. On a very cool day in Tempeh, Arizona my stomach lured me into Changing Hands bookstore and demanded I buy the prettiest and most scrumptious recipe filled book on the shelf, that book changed my life. It was My Sweet Vegan. I have made almost every recipe in there, and not one is a dud.

Because of this book I have kept the wiggle in my booty and a cavity or two in my mouth, but I honestly can say I would not have it any other way. The author is a mere mortal human, but don't let that fool you as she wields the culinary gifts of the gods. Her name (you already know it) is Hannah Kaminsky. She is bright, talented, adorable and she is my featured Vegan of the week.

Without further ado...

Name: Hannah Kaminsky
Website: bittersweetblog.wordpress.com

How long have you been Vegan?
I decided to go vegan in my freshman year of high school, so that’s about 7 years now.

What made you decide to go Vegan?
At first, I just went vegetarian because I made a number of friends that had veggie-inclinations, and it seemed like a generally good idea. After all, I’ve always loved animals, and had been concerned with how unhealthy my diet had been up until that point. Only after I gave up meat did I actually start doing serious research, and upon discovering the cruelty that was still being perpetuated in the dairy, egg, and all other animal industries, I just went “cold turkey” and became vegan. I haven’t regretted it or second-guessed that decision to this day.

How do you feel health wise with this diet choice?
I think that there is truly no better way to improve your health dramatically than by just giving up animal products. I’m no expert, but it seems like every piece of advice we’re getting these days is against consuming such quantities of animal proteins as has been advocated in the past, if not eliminating them entirely. It kind of seems like common sense at this point.

matar paneer tofu dahl

Are you open about your Veganism?
Of course! Why wouldn’t everyone be? It’s not shameful, it’s not something to hide or be embarrassed of- It should be the exact opposite. I have a bunny with the word “VEGAN” on it tattooed on my right wrist, and I make sure it’s visible whenever dining out.

vegan tattoo

If so, are you involved in any activism i.e. protests, leafleting etc…I used to be much more active in leafleting around my local area, but I now consider myself more of a kitchen activist. If I can just convince a few more people that perhaps my recipes are tasty enough to forgo the traditional baking staples of eggs and dairy, and thus making the switch to cruelty-free alternatives, then I feel like that would make a much bigger impact than just forcing literature down peoples’ throats.

stuffed zuchinni bites

What does your family, friends, co-workers think about your diet?
Everyone I know that’s close to me is very supportive, especially my family. Although no one in my family is even vegetarian, there is always something prepared at every family dinner that I can eat. I feel that my parents have also become much more open to trying alternatives themselves, even without my prompting. I’m also very lucky to work at a primarily vegan restaurant, where my lifestyle choice is practically a given.

What advice would you give those interested in becoming Vegan?
My advice would be to just give it a shot; You never know until you try, and I’m willing to bet it will be a whole lot easier than you expect. There’s so much more support, online and in person, and mainstream grocery and dining options, than there had been just a decade ago, it’s almost easier to be vegan than vegetarian these days!

raspberry lime sheet cake, I (Rikki) made this last year for my birthday, yum!

Would you eat at Mc Donald’s if they carried a Vegan burger? Why/Why not?
No, and I’ve even stated to friends that I refuse to buy bottled water there. I simply will not support such a cruel conglomerate that cares only about profits, and not its consumers. Only if they dropped meat from the menu entirely would great progress be made, but simply adding a vegan burger to the menu would do nothing to improve the quality of life of the millions of cows and chickens they torture and slaughter every year.

What is your least favorite question that you are asked about your diet?“Where do you get your protein?” I swear, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that…

delicata panna cotta

What is your favorite dish?
Sushi! I love that it can be pretty much anything wrapped up in nori, too. I’m definitely open to all sorts of creative interpretations, with crazy fillings or even “raw” versions. We serve and awesome raw sushi at the restaurant (Health in a Hurry) with an almond pate, and it’s definitely changed the way I think about this simple staple!

What do you typically eat at Thanksgiving?
Every year is different, depending on how ambitious I’m feeling. Some years I make tofu shaped like turkeys, some years I just make a giant vat of pumpkin soup. As long as I can celebrate with my family and friends, it doesn’t really matter.

tofu turkeys

If I could make you any flavor cupcake in the world what would it be?
I think I do that on a regular basis! Just take a look at my blog and cookbook. ;)

Please share your favorite Vegan recipe.
Picking a favorite recipe is like picking a favorite child; I just can’t do it!

*This last statement is true, she has hundreds of original recipes, check out her site and I am sure you will find many new favorite recipes there.

Thanks Hannah!

17 June 2010


is my birthday!

16 June 2010

Happy Fun Times

Yesterday Timmy and I were very pleased to share our evening with Katie and Josh. This is our second dinner with them and we had copious amounts of good times. Josh helped Timmy with his broken arm cook tofu on the grill along with kebabs. Meanwhile Katie and I stayed inside where it was air conditioned and cut veggies and fruits. It was really great to spend time with them. Nothing beats good food and good friends. Here are some photos from our night o' fun!

Timmy, Josh an Katie

watermelon, strawberries and summer squash


bbq tofu sammies, roasted sweet potatoes, grilled yellow squash and kebabs

Apples to Apples!

their first time

Just waiting to put down that Oprah Winfrey card

Timmy after three glasses of wine

gifts from Katie

so darn cute!

15 June 2010

Taking on the V-Con

This is the first Tuesday of the rest of your culinary life...

So recently some extremely charming and beautiful women asked if I would like to be in a threesome, I blushed and politely declined but then was informed it was a cooking threesome in which I replied, "Hells yeah!" and then something along the line of, "Bitches get stitches," and I still have no idea why I said that. But seriously folks this is a serious matter, Katie, Courtney and I are taking on the V-con, the Veganomicon to you newbies. This is an amazing cookbook that was published in 2007 and though only three years old will go down in the annals of history. Penned by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (yeah both ladies have three names, not unlike John Wilkes Booth, except they are out to assassinate your taste buds with killer foods) this book is filled from cover to cover with vital information, mouth-watering recipes and seventh grade humour everyone can enjoy. Our goal is to post a new recipe every Tuesday and share our results, whether disastrous or brilliant.

This book is rather new to me and I am very excited to cook my way through every recipe along with giving reviews and feed back on the difficultly/easiness of each recipe, a comprehensive review of flavor, texture etc... and also any modifications I may make.

The first recipe was chosen by Katie, she decided on the Simple Seitan (my namesake) as the starter. The reason being that seitan (pronounced say-taan, not Satan) is a basic mock meat that is chewy in texture but like tofu can really be made to taste like anything. Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten, so not a good idea for any of you Celiacs out there. I have purchased pre-made seitan before and was very pleased and really had no desire to make my own. Timmy has been known to whip up a batch or two and surprise me with a wicked good lunch, but it is a bit of a process, mostly a sit down, pick up a book and wait process, but a process none the less.

Simple Seitan
1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used Braggs)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated

8 cups cold water plus 3 bouillon cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce

Mix together the gluten flour and yeast in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together veggie broth, soy sauce, olive oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and stir with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has been absorbed and the ingredients are clumped together. Knead the mixture for about 3 minutes until the dough is elastic. Divide into 3 pieces and then knead those in your hand to stretch them out a bit.

Prepare the broth: Fill a stockpot with the water, bouillon cubes, soy sauce and add the wheat gluten pieces. Cover and bring to a boil. Try to catch it as soon as it boils and then lower the heat to simmer. Partially cover the pot so that the steam can escape and let it simmer for 1 hour, turning the seitan occasionally. Turn off the heat and take the lid off; let it sit for 15 minutes.

Remove from the broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to touch. It is now ready to be sliced up and used.

I followed the recipe pretty much to a T but instead of bouillon cubes I used a condensed liquid vegetable broth from Trader Joe's. The recipe is pretty simple (as the name suggests) and easy to follow. I was a bit concerned at first when my seitan was done simmering because it was pretty spongy but once it cooled and dried a bit it was like the good ol' seitan I know and love. The flavor was mild, I was worried it would be a bit salty because of all of the Bragg's Liquid Aminos used but it was just right.

I decided to make chicken fried steaks with my seitan. I paired it with mashed sweet potatoes, cooked in the left over seitan broth and I also made lemony green beans. The dinner was amazing!

steaks up close and personal

Since there are only two of us we had a bit too much seitan so I was able to make spicy chicken wings as well. I paired the wings with sliced carrots, celery and home made vegan ranch dressing.

Timmy helped me make wing sauce even though his right wing is broken

should be called "kicken wings"

14 June 2010

Ask A Vegan! Pt. 6

I love Tracy! Really, I do. She is one of my most favorite people that I have met through the wonderful world of blogging. I was graced with a comment by Tracy in April asking me if I would like to partake in a Vegan Bake Sale she was doing at an event I was already catering and I thought, hey what is one more pan of cupcakes in the oven? I decided on brownies, blondies and the ever tasty monkey bars from 500 Vegan Recipes and I think that day when I delivered my baked goods Tracy and I became smitten like kittens for one another. She loved my goodies and I fell head over heels with her handmade soaps and her cute little smile. (: I have done two bake sales with her and we are going to do a third in about three weeks. (Post coming soon on bake sale details...) I could rant on about Tracy for day, but instead I will let you see her amazingness for yourself.

Name: Tracy Perkins
Age: 28
Location: Maricopa, AZ
Website: http://strawberryhedgehog.com

How long have you been Vegan? Since 2001.

What made you decide to go Vegan?
I had been vegetarian since 1995 and the more I learned about factory farming practices and misinformation with regard to “cage free” and “free range” products the more my conscience drove me to omitting all animal products from my life.

How do you feel health wise with this diet choice?
In the past I had never been very interested in nutrition. I am very much an ethical vegan, any health benefits are entirely secondary. Since birth I have had unusual health so perhaps I am a special case but I did struggle to find the right balance of diet and supplements. Working closely with my naturopathic doctor, Dr. MaryK Geyer has helped tremendously and I recommend everyone interested in feeling better see her! :c)

Are you open about your Veganism?
This strikes me as a strange question, I do not keep my veganism a secret from anyone but at the same time I don’t like the idea of throwing it in anyone’s face. If I am declining foods with animal products, if I think it matters to the person in question, I will be clear to mention I am vegan.

If so, are you involved in any activism i.e. protests, leafleting etc… I feel like my vegan business and lifestyle are activism enough. I know many people may disagree with me but I think leading by example, showing it is easy, showing it is fun, showing how gross and cruel the alternative is when the time is right is the best way to actively change things.

Tracy with her hand crafted Vegan soaps

What do your family, friends, co-workers think about your diet?
I think my family has had enough years to adjust to it but it was rough at first and still is around holidays. They expect me to make exceptions for special occasions but that is not how it works for me and that unfortunately can cause loved ones to become offended. I am lucky to have a great group of friends who love my vegan cooking and who are quite wonderful cooks themselves so we have a great time!

What advice would you give those interested in becoming Vegan? Don’t get discouraged; don’t be too hard on yourself. I think many people get discouraged early on and give up. You make your own rules here and as long as you are true to those you are all good.

Would you eat at Mc Donald’s if they carried a Vegan burger? Not likely, while I do go to other fast food places on occasion I am particularly turned off by McD.

What is your least favorite question that you are asked about your diet? I’ve heard them all and don’t get too bothered by questions or comments generally but the most annoying, simply because people think they are so clever saying it and I’ve heard it a zillion times is “plants have feelings, too!”

What is your favorite dish?
I am a sucker for breakfast, I love a good tofu scramble with loads of colorful veg, really great toasted whole wheat sourdough, and a side of fried garlicky golden potatoes.

What do you typically eat at Thanksgiving?
I am a huge fan of the UnTurkey. I usually make mashed potatoes, a veganized version of my grandma’s rolls, and pumpkin spice cupcakes. It is a feast! My family and in-laws live out of town so it had been a pain in the past but my mother in law went vegan about a year ago so last Thanksgiving was a vegan-dream!

If I could make you any flavor cupcake in the world what would it be? This is a tough one, I love cupcakes and when a variety comes to mind I usually make them. One I haven’t done and would love would be a German Chocolate cupcake.

Please share your favorite Vegan recipe.
My favorite recipe is my summer harvest ratatouille: http://strawberryhedgehog.com/2009/06/18/summer-harvest-ratatouille/

11 June 2010

Tofu Salad Sammies

I love tofu, I know I have said it a million times before, but I would much rather eat some yummy tofu slab that a mock meat concoction. Not that seitan and all that stuff is bad, it is just I love the texture, taste and really the flexibility of tofu. You can make it taste like ANYTHING! I also love sammies, have I said that yet? Not sure, but it is true. Tofurkey, Pb & J, TLT's, eggless egg even potato salad sammies. I try not to eat too many for fear of a carb over load but damn, give this girl a sammich already!

Tofu Salad Sammie

1 block firm tofu, drained
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut tofu into slabs and place on well greased cookie sheet. Brush on 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 salt and 1/2 pepper and bake for 30 minutes. Pull out of oven, flip tofu and brush on remaining olive oil and sprinkle on remaining salt and pepper. Bake another 30 minutes. Let cool.

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup slivered raw almonds
1/4 cucumber (hothouse) 1 whole cucumber if Persian, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup Vegenaise

Once cooled,

cut tofu into 1 inch squares. Place into large bowl
and add all the fixens'

and mix well.

Chill in refrigerator for one hour, then enjoy!

weird horse-y, giraffe-y, metal thingy approves!