23 September 2010

It's A Beautiful Day

I went outside to check on the post today and as I approached my front gate a little white package with a flower drawn on it was waiting quietly for my attention. I ran inside and ripped it open (as it was adressed to me) and it to my surprise were all sorts of goodies from my most favorite British Vegan, Mr. Kiki! What a dear! He sent to me a wonderful tea towel that says, "It's a beautiful day!" some adorable cupcake wrappers, a kitty cookie cutter, a magnet of a map of the Underground, an adorable hand written card and to top it all off...cookies! Yes, Keith made and mailed homemade cookies. In the card it says his friend were traveling to the States and would mail it as soon as they landed, and quite possibly will stop in to Pomegranate at some time to visit and check out my baked goods. If that is the case, I will be sending some cakes his way. Keith you are the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas and one of my most cherished people. I heart you! Thank you so much, you made my day a little bit brighter. (:

This is my second wonderful gift from an internet friend through the mail. Last month Courtney sent me some amazing body scrubs that make it hard for me not to try and eat my own limbs because they smell like cake. I am so very happy to have met such a wonderful group of people all through blogging about vegan food. Hooray!

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 25

What one would find in my bag.

Since I ride a bicycle I carry a Paul Frank backpack and in it one would find my mp3 player with panda headphones, my notebook with recipes, bike gloves, water bottle, box cutter (for work), name tag (also for work) a spare t-shirt, debit card, driver's license, bamboo chopstick and fokr set, some piece of fruit, deodorant, house keys, phone, a book, my u-lock, and pain pills for when my knee starts hurting from cycling. Not very exciting, I used to carry toys and random things found on the street but I need my pack to be as lightweight as possible and with the water, books and u-lock it is already pretty heavy.

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 24

A letter to your parents.

As mentioned before I do not have parents, I mean I had parents but have not seen either one since I was three years old. It is not something I like to talk about or usually talk about with those that I don't know very well. Just yesterday I was thinking how weird it is for people to have families. I work with a a mom and daughter duo and it is odd to me to see them interact. It is like they speak in a different language and it makes me uneasy. It is strange how I find it so uncomfortable people have parents, but it is even more uncomfortable to those people when they discover I am without.

19 September 2010

Maple Bacon Donuts

I made these just to show it could be done. These donuts were delicious and I brought some in for my new coworkers at Pomegranate and they all seemed genuinely pleased.
Vegan donuts=fucking awesome!

18 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 23

Something I have cravings for...A LOT!

I used to have my three C's, chocolate, coffee and cigarettes. It has been almost three years since I quit smoking so now I am down to my 2 C's and I don't plan on quitting those anytime soon.

17 September 2010

Ask A Vegan Pt. 17

I didn't do my weekly Vegan interview last week and I apologize. I will hopefully redeem myself with this next interview from a young girl living in a not so Vegan friendly environment. How she does it is beyond me, but she has the will and compassion to succeed in her beliefs. Ksenia was just about to move to begin college but was kind enough to fill out my questionnaire and email it back before her great departure. I wish you all of the best Ksenia, you are a bright woman, not to mention highly talented and I see no end to your success.

Name: Ksenia
Age: 19
Location: Cunit (Barcelona, Spain)
Website: Tales of a Spoon

How long have you been Vegan?
For almost three years (since December 2007)

What made you decide to go Vegan?
I had the idea in my head for years. I ate meat and fish, but sometimes I couldn't avoid thinking that what I had in front of me was before alive and breathing. I bought tofu once and while I was looking for a recipe, I accidentally found a photo of a slaughterhouse. It shocked me so much that I almost cried: it was worse than a horror movie. I started to look for information and two days later I decided I didn't want to be part of all that cruelty. I gave up all animal products overnight.

How do you feel health wise with this diet choice?
I never felt better in my life. My mother was afraid I would lose weight because I was skinny, but I gained more than 10 kg since then. For me that is a good thing because I really needed it. I have been a runner since I was ten (as a hobby though, not professionally) and I've been in a volleyball team for five years, so sport is an important part of my life and I immediately notice when a diet is working for me or not: veganism does.

petit fours

Are you open about your Veganism?
I never hide it and I don't understand why I should. It's true that in some situations you just don't feel like shouting it too loud. I try to not be too annoying with the animal suffering part because people tend to go on the defensive because they don't want to feel guilty: truth can be uncomfortable. But I don't miss the opportunity to talk about my decision if I have the opportunity and somebody asks.

If so, are you involved in any activism i.e. protests, leafleting etc…
At this moment not because I live 40 km from Barcelona, not in Barcelona city, where all that things take place. I'd like to participate, but while I was in school it was just impossible. But I am moving to Barcelona in a few days to start college, so maybe it will change! Anyway, I have been in a demonstration against bullfighting (which by the way, was officially banned in Catalonia some weeks ago) and I met more vegan and vegetarian people for the first time there. I still see from time to time with some of them.

What do your family, friends, co-workers think about your diet? When I first told my mother about my decision, she even cried. She said I'd finish in the hospital! But I suppose she just needed time and see that it really wasn't dangerous. Now she is the first who worries if I have all I need in the pantry and even began to drink soy milk herself. My father still don't understand how I can live without animal products, but resigned himself because he understood I'd not change my mind. But it doesn't bother me because it's the normal reaction. Most of people don't understand my decision. At the beginning they thought it was some kind of teenager's rebellion. Now they just think I'm crazy, but as my father my friends just avoid the topic.

What advice would you give those interested in becoming Vegan?
If you are sure about your decision, don't let anybody change your mind. Unless you have a really vegan friendly environment (which wasn't my case), you will have to face a lack of understanding and uncomfortable situations. It doesn't have to discourage you: people around you need time too. I'm not in favor of the vegans/the rest of the world separation, but meeting people who have a similar point of view really helps. Look for people like you in your town, join a forum, participate in vegan blogs or create one yourself....but do something!

Would you eat at Mc Donald’s if they carried a Vegan burger?
I don't think so. I'm sure they would use the same frying pans and oil for the vegan and non-vegan burgers, but that wouldn't be the main reason. When I think about Mc Donald's, I think about the meat industry and the cruelty behind it. It would go against my ideals. A vegan burger for them it's only a business opportunity.

banana pancakes

Do you have a Vegan celebrity that you find particularly dashing?
I don't care too much about celebrities (vegan or not), so it's a difficult question.

Do you have a favorite Vegan blog or website that you follow?
One of the first vegan blog I found was FatFree Vegan Kitchen and Vegan Yum Yum. I still look for recipes and inspiration in both of them, but not as much as I used to due the lack of time. Have Cake, Will Travel! is one of my favorites too. Heidi's 101 cookbooks is a vegetarian blog, but most of her recipes are easy to veganize.

What is your least favorite question that you are asked about your diet?
“But if you don't eat meat....what do eat then??” I have been asked that so many times that I'm tired of answering: do you only eat meat and fish? There are so many other foods! The difference is that for you it's a side dish; for me not. But I try to be always polite and answer patiently, even when people think that eating fish (or just not eating chicken) means being vegetarian.

What is your favorite dish?
I don't think I could chose one favorite dish, especially because it changes depending on the season, the weather or even my mood: soups and stews during winter, green smoothies and salads during summer.

What do you typically eat at Thanksgiving?
Since I am not American, I don't celebrate it. But I don't think I'd make some faux turkey or something similar. I'm completely happy with my beans stews, steamed veggies, marinated tofu or whatever: I don't need them to taste like meat (which is what some vegans want)

Please share your favorite Vegan recipe.
Bufff! There are many, but a stew called Gypsy Pot will be always one of them. I hardly ever repeat recipe, but this is an exception: chickpeas, pumpkin, potatoes, pears and a “sofrito” I even eat it in summer, cold!

Gypsy Pot recipe (Olla gitana)

You will find as many versions of gypsy pot as food blogs on the net, so it’s a matter of trying and finding the version you like the most. The recipe of the food blog where I saw it for the first time, is slightly different from that. The first times, I used green beans as it was told, but one they I was run out of them, so I didn’t add beans. And I loved the result. I changed the white potatoes for sweet potatoes, as well. Elena’s recipe didn’t use carrot, but I saw that all the other recipes use carrots. I tried to add them once too (the Traveler’s Lunchbox Gypsy Pot recipe), but I didn’t like the result either.
Sofrito is translated by the Oxford dictionary as "tomato, onion, etc. fried lightly in oil" (what in fact, is) but it doesn’t have a name in English. Is used as a base for most of the Spanish and Catalan dishes (for example, paella, fideuĂ ….)
Serves: 4-6 depending if a main course or a side dish.

-3 cups of cooked chickpeas (although you can add a little more or a little less)
-2 medium sweet potatoes
-2 cups of roughly chopped pumpkin
-2 medium pears
-a handful of green beans *optional* I didn’t use them. If using, add them along with the pumpkin and the pears.
-raisins *optional
-stock or water to cover
-1 onion
-1 red bell pepper
-2 medium tomatoes
-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
-3 cloves garlic
-1 tablespoon of oil
-1/2- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (depending on your taste)
-1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
-a few saffron threats
1. If using non canned chickpeas, soak them the night before and cook until tender (about 1 1/2 hour)
2. Put the chickpeas in a pot with the stock or water. It must just cover it. Chop the sweet potatoes in cubes and add them. Bring it to boil and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the sofrito. Put the olive oil in a sauce pan, and when it’s hot add the chopped onion, cook for a few minutes, and add all the other vegetables (the red bell pepper and the tomatoes) finely chopped. The tomatoes must be peeled. Add the tomato past too. Cook on a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring from time to time to don’t burn it. A few minutes before finishing, add the cumin, the Spanish paprika and the saffron threats.
4. After 10 minutes, add to the pot with chickpeas the other ingredients: the pumpkin in cubes, the pear in quarters (although if you don’t like the chunks too big, you can cut in smaller pieces) and the raisins. Cook on low heat another 10 or 15 minutes.
5. After that 15 minutes, add the sofrito to the pot with chickpeas and cook 5 minutes to leave the flavors develop. If it’s too watery, you can puree one cup of the strew with a blender and return it to the pot. In that case, simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Serve very hot, with a couple of slices of lemon and ground almond on top.

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 22

What makes me different from everyone else?

I really do not think I am different from everyone else. Some members of my family think I am strange as well as some people who do not know me very well, but I am just like any other person really. I like to jump on my trampoline while singing to my cats, I like to cut out colorful paper images and stick them on my walls, name my plants and cry when they die, count to 100 every morning before getting out of bed and rub my dog's belly with my face just like everyone else. Really what is so odd about that?

This one is for my veg friends

Ellen may have offered Lady Gaga a bikini made out of vegetables, but I found floating on the internets a better option for her...

Lady G said she was wearing the meat to bring attention to gay rights, which is great, I am pro gay marriage. I have many friends who are bi, queer and over the top flamboyant and I love every single one of them. They deserve every right that others are awarded with daily. My only problem, why the meat Gaga? Whether it was real or not, it was disgusting. Couldn't you have worn a rainbow flag, or marched in with a bunch of hot gay dudes in Marine outfits? You could have just worn a McDonald's frock and looked just as discusting and cruel. The outfit was completely ridiculous and instead of getting her point across she just ended up looking like Cruella Deville. Sick! Next time she should strap a pile of dog poo on to let everyone know how much she stinks at getting her message across.

Yes this was written a bit out of contempt, but seriously she didn't help a single person with her shenanigans, except herself.

15 September 2010

Spicy Black-eyed Pea Soup

Living in the Southwest definitely changes ones taste buds towards the love of all things spicy. The food I enjoy the most is usually so spicy it makes me a bit weepy. Tim on the other hand doesn't like the spice quite as much as I do so we compromised on this spicy black-eyed pea soup that was hot, but not too hot. Timmy liked it so much he had two bowls! I am not really a soup person, but our friends gave us a whole cache of vegetables and I had to use them quickly and the best thing I could think of was to make a hearty soup dish. I hope you try it and tell me what you think, as I enjoyed it very much.

Now, when it comes to soup I am not really one to measure, so I hope when listing these ingredients I list them as accurately as possible.

2 cups dried black-eyed peas
4 cups water or veggie broth (I used water and added Bragg's Liquid Aminos, about 2 T. )
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
3 jalapenos (you can use less if you are afraid of heat)
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 medium tomatoes (I used heirlooms)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

4 strips vegan bacon, cooked until crispy and cut into small pieces.

we get our bacon from Loving Hut

Soak your beans overnight and begin making soup in the morning and let it cook all day to get the best flavor.

Put 1 T. olive oil in the bottom of soup pot and saute onion for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for two more minutes. Add in carrots, celery and jalapenos and cook for one minute more. Add water (or broth) beans and seasonings and turn to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling turn soup down to low and add tomatoes. Allow to cook for at least 4 hours. Trust me the longer it cooks, the better the flavor, we actually allowed ours to cook for 24 hours. When ready to serve top with vegan bacon of your choice, and enjoy!

after about 12 hours, doesn't look like much...yet.

ready to enjoy

This would also be tasty with some southern greens added in. Yum!

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 21

Pictures of stuff that makes me happy.

I want this tattoo

teeny tiny hand held bunny

kitties pretending to be bunnies are cute too

fuzzy brown bunnies. squeeeee

orange bikes

pretty city bike

There is nothing that makes me more giddy than bunnies or bicycles

14 September 2010

Vegan Bake Sale re-cap

The bake sale on Saturday was fantastic. We raised $900 for the Arizona Adoption and Foster Care and made many new friends. There were new bakes that contributed this time plus a raffle of some extremely cool items. There were also tons of fresh faces of those who haven't been to one of our bake sales before and they were astonished at the amount of items to choose from, cookies, apple pie, raw crackers, donuts and banana muffins. There were great quantities of gluten free items and a few low or no sugar goodies too! Here are some photos of the fun and goodies:

pecan shortbread bars


peppermint fudge


more cookies

Tracy and her bake sale buddies

painting donated for raffle by Mike Maas

painting donated by Jodi Maas

Thirty Days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 20

Someone I see myself marrying or being with in the future

uh this guy right here:

Timmy is awesome, he is my best friend and I have more fun with him than anyone else. He also draws really great zombie pictures of himself.

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 19

Nicknames I have and why:

Growing up my sister and cousin called me Goober and then eventually just Goob. I have a deep love for Goober Grape that peanut butter and jelly swirled condiment. I thought it was the tastiest thing in the world, now thinking about it makes me gag. (:

I also have gone by Rikkidiculous, Rickster and Rikkidocious.

10 September 2010

Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary

I just opened up an email from my most favorite book stores Changing Hands in Tempe and I was overjoyed to see that Gene Baur, President of Farm Sanctuary will be there speaking and signing books for free on September 30th. Whether you are veg or you just care about animals you should check this out. He is a smart well spoken man that has made a difference in the lives of thousands of animals. Farm Sanctuary rescues and revives down farmed animals who some of them were literally left on the side of the road to die. Why? Because they weren't "good enough" to eat, nor were they good enough to deserve to live. The factory farms in our country may want you to think all of their animals live happy full lives but the sad truth is these animals suffer pains that you can not possibly begin to imagine. I will get off my soapbox, because that is not what this blog is about, but if you have the time, I suggest going to either one of these speaking engagements and learn the truth behind modern "farming".

(Taken directly from the email)
Gene Baur to Speak at Two Arizona Events

Meet Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur and hear him speak about his national best-seller, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food, at two events on Thursday, September 30. Both events are free and open to the public. Gene’s book will also be available for purchase at each of the talks, and he will be on hand to sign copies! One hundred percent of the author’s proceeds from book sales go to Farm Sanctuary.

First Talk
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ
3 - 4:30 p.m.

Second Talk
Global Institute of Sustainability Lecture Series
Arizona State University, West Campus
Kiva Auditorium, 13492 N. 47th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ
6 p.m.

Gene looks forward to seeing you there!

09 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 18


My plans are to bake cookies and bars today, then cupcakes tomorrow for Saturday's bake sale.

My dream is to not be too tired to make delish stuffed peppers, and to make over $2,000 dollars on Saturday to donate to the Arizona Adoption and Foster Care agency.

My goals are to lose some extra weight I have hanging around. I plan on keepin' mah ba-donk-a-donk but I want to whittle the thighs down a bit. I imagine my daily 25 mile bike rides will do just that.

Fat bottomed girls, get on your bikes and ride!

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 17

Someone I want to switch lives with for one day and why...

I have been thinking about this question and so far there hasn't been any person that really has stuck out in my mind as someone I am either envious of or someone I would want to emulate. I used to think it would be fun to be Bill Gates for a day only for the fact that I heard a rumour that he could start running his bath water from a button in his car. So when approaching his home he could have his bath drawn and waiting for him. I really like baths so that would be pretty cool. I suppose I could always build a button and add it to my bike? I wouldn't mind switching places with either one of my dogs so I could get belly rubs all day.

I don't want to be the president, or an astronaut or any of that because I really like who and where I am. For the first time in my life I feel truly happy and hopeful of all that awaits me. I have a beautiful fiance, four wonderful furry children, a large group of trustworthy and amazing friends and now a job that will only help me develop my skills as a vegan pastry chef. What more could I need or want?

A fun photo I took and altered from a recent hike with Tim and my friend Alyssa on her birthday.

06 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 16

Another photo of me

Taken yesterday in Jerome, AZ.

So some interesting and amazing things are coming my way, in 5 days I have my next Vegan bake sale, and then the following Tuesday I start my new job at Pomegranate Cafe as a pastry chef. I am excited, nervous and a little worried about my work load. I will be working at Pomegranate full time and Trader Joe's part time, so somewhere around 60 hours a week, plus over 100 miles per week on my bike. Yikes! So I may not be posting as frequently at first until I adapt to my new work schedule. Until then I will keep doing the thirty days and all of that other fun stuff.

Rikki Cupcake

05 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 15

Put my MP3 player on shuffle and list first 10 songs:

1. Yim Yames -Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll) Tribute to George Harrison
2. Quasi -Death is not the End (American Gong)
3. Tender Trap -Danger Overboard (Dansette Dansette)
4. Blonde Redhead -Everything is Wrong (Penny Sparkle)
5. Frankie Rose and the Outs -Memo (Frankie Rose and the Outs)
6. The Living Sisters -Hold Back (Love to Live)
7. Yeasayer- I Remember (OddBlood)
8. Murs and 9th Wonder -Vickie Veil (Fornever)
9. The Young Veins- Young Veins (Die Tonight), (Take a Vacation!)
10. Miniature Tigers - Giraffe (Tell it to the Volcano)

and 5 more for good measure

11. Dead Man's Bones -Young and Tragic (Dead Man's Bones)
12. AuRevoir Simone - Trace A Line (Still Night, Still Light)
13. Beach House -10 Mile Stereo (Teen Dream)
14. The Drums -Submarine
15. Murder City Devils -Johnny Thunders (Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts)

04 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 14

A picture of me and my family.

Um, ok. I don't have one, a photo that is. I have a family (albeit a very small one) but we don't really get together that often, nor do we take photos.

I do not have a mother, nor father but I do have an older sister, a nephew and grandparents. That is my immediate family and I love them. My grandma lives kinda far and can't drive to my side of town, and my sister has a pretty full schedule. Since I do not own a car, it pretty much leaves the bulk of the driving up to them. So we see each other on holidays mostly and they come out to my bake sales, because they love my goodies.

03 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: day 13

Write a letter to someone who has hurt you recently:

This doesn't really apply because I don't let people hurt me so instead I share with you this!

my Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World avatar

If you haven't seen Scott Pilgrim yet, I suggest you do, and if you are Vegan there is a ten minute stretch in the film that will have you laughing so hard you wet yourself.

02 September 2010

Thirty days of Rikki Cupcake: Day 12

How I found out about Blogger and why I have one:

eh, this is pretty boring. I saw how every Vegan on the planet had a blog and I figured I should have one too. I started it to prompt myself to create more new foods and share my recipes, but I have strayed a bit from that and as soon as things settle down I plan on getting back to the recipe drawing board and creating new things for all to enjoy.

See, I said it was boring,

Rikki Cupcake

Pomegranate Cafe

I just realized that this my 108th post and it will be the first restaurant review I have written. I am not sure as to why this is. Tim and I eat out, not very often but often enough for us to have located or favorite Vegan and Vegan friendly restaurants in the valley. We have the special items we order and when feeling adventurous we step out of the mold and order something new and exotic to tantalize our tasters, but recently I feel as if I have been in a restaurant rut. I have my favorites, my go to places in a pinch, but I haven't a place that I crave; a food shoppe where all of the menu items look so good I take half an hour to decide. I haven't found the eatery to replace my beloved Mandala Tea Room. The best little place to lay your fork down in the valley, but it closed over two years ago and I am still in mourning.

This past Saturday my adorable and bookish friend Bonnie invited me to breakfast at a little place she just visited called Pomegranate Cafe. I had been meaning to check out Pomegranate, but it was too far a summer bike ride destination. It was Bonnie's birthday wish, so I agreed and was pleasantly surprised at the the little cafe that has now reserved a little nook in my heart. Bonnie ordered and egg sammie called the Avocado sandwich. The avo sammie has eggs, cheese and tomato on a spelt muffin. They had a vegan version too!

I ordered mine with tofu and Daiya cheese and the tofu was just right. The texture was perfect and it was very savory. The sammie came with a side of fruit that was fresh and tasty.

I also ordered an additional side of fruit because really, who doesn't like fruit for breakfast?

Along with my sammie I had the Cassie's Coconut Latte and it had to have been my favorite cup o' joe of the month! The subtle taste of the coconut milk really took the latte to a whole new level.

Bonnie opted for a fresh juice blend of beets, oranges, carrots and ginger. It was tart and spicy. We were full and happy when we left Pomegranate that day.

Fast forward to Tuesday, Timmy took the day off and around lunch time I took him by the arms and tossed him into the hipster mobile and drove off to Ahwatukee to get my Pomegranate fix.

Timmy ate the special of the day, the Philly Melt sandwich and it was gone in 3.5 seconds.

I was looking for something a bit healthier and went for the raw Arizona rolls. They consisted of Nori seaweed stuffed with almond spread and veggies, alongside cabbage salad with a tasty miso dressing. It has heavenly. The seaweed was a little chewy, but that didn't stop me from attacking my plate. I ate half and saved the other half for dinner. It's so nice, gotta' eat it twice!

I also ordered an elixir called Illumination to chase away melancholy and to uplift the spirit. It reminded me a bit of kambucha but without the vinegar taste. It was very effervescent and mildly sweet. I loved it!

Timmy and I could not refrain from having dessert so we ordered a slice of pomegranate cake to go, and as soon as we got home shoved it in our pie hole like piggies. It was moist, velvety and not too sweet.

And then the next day...I ate there AGAIN! This time with my lady friend Tracy, who also order the Philly melt and shared her love of it with Tim later that day. I tried something new, the Buddha's Delight Bowl with brown rice, tofu & kale. The server told me it was her favorite dish and I was in for a treat. Once again, Pomegranate was spot on with the tofu texture and taste and the veggies were incredibly fresh.

(taken with phone, sorry)
Tracy and I shared a slice of raw raspberry cheesecake that was divine. It came with fresh strawberries and a beautiful hand made chocolate design. Both Tracy and I made illicit "oh my gosh, oooooohhhhhh myyyy goshhhhh!" sounds. All three visits left me wanting to come back again and again. I have tomorrow off, who knows what will happen?

On an even more exciting note I met Cassie co-owner of Pomegranate and she donated gift certificates to the upcoming bake sale and her lovely sister is bringing desserts to donate. How sweet is that? This place gets a 9.0 rating in my book. I took a point off for the plates they used (cardboard) because this Pomegranate Cafe is beautiful and welcoming and I think ceramic dishes would add to their already wonderful ambiance.

01 September 2010

Ask A Vegan Pt. 16

Writing this blog has been so good for me, I have met so many interesting and wonderful people, made new friends and I hope, have helped those who aren't Vegan understand that Vegans aren't pretentious, judgemental, preachy people. We are regular people who see things from an all together different point of view. Our dietary choices are not decided by our growling stomachs but by our hearts. Every decision I make is a conscientious one. I often tell people I live my life as harm free as possible. I do not eat meat/dairy because it is cruel, I do not wear leather/fur because it is inhumane, I ride a bike because it is the right thing to do, I recycle/compost because it is what the Earth needs. Being Vegan isn't to prove a point to others, it is to prove a point to myself. I can live and survive with peace in my heart and mind. In writing this blog I have found so many others out there who live and think the way that I do it is outstanding! These people are so different from me in so many ways (religion, philosophies, hobbies, and even fashion) but we share this one precious thing that links us in a way greater than most, it is our compassion towards ALL living things.

The Vegan for this week is Bianca from Vegan Crunk. Some of you may already know her blog, because simply put, she is radtastic. Her blog has so many delicious recipes it is hard for me to know where to get started. She does a ton of Southern cooking, and if one knows me well enough, they know I harbor a special little spot in my soul for some delish Southern food. Give me greens or give me death! Bianca is funny, smart, a great writer and she is wickedly cute! Check her out!

Name: Bianca Phillips
Age: 29
Location: Memphis, TN
Website: Vegan Crunk

How long have you been Vegan?
It’ll be 6 years in November.

What made you decide to go Vegan?
I went vegetarian in 1994 when I was 14 years old, and 2004 was my 10-year vegetarian anniversary. At the time, I was very involved in a local animal rights group and PETA, and through those activities I’d made a few vegan friends. They really opened my eyes to the cruelty that affects dairy cows and hens. Before I thought that eating a vegetarian diet was cruelty-free because no one had to die. But I was very wrong. I felt like my 10th anniversary of vegetarianism was the right time to make the next step. It began as a 30-day experiment, but when I realized how freakin’ easy it was, it stuck.

How do you feel health wise with this diet choice?
Within a week or so of eating vegan, I immediately noticed feeling “lighter.” Not that I weighed any less, but I didn’t feel weighed down. I had more energy.

Are you open about your Veganism?
Oh yea. Veganism is the most important part of my identity and I let EVERYBODY know, whether they care or not.

If so, are you involved in any activism i.e. protests, leafleting etc…Our local animal rights group used to hold protests at KFC every month and we held monthly leafleting events, but everyone got a little burnt out and the group morphed into more of a social club. Now we get together once a month to eat at local restaurants and hold occasional potlucks and parties. I consider cooking and baking my activism these days. I always come armed to events (and often to work) with yummy vegan baked goods or savory dishes. I believe the way to most people’s hearts is through their stomachs. Also, I’m in the process of writing a cookbook that veganizes traditional Southern/soul food dishes.

What do your family, friends, co-workers think about your diet?
My family is super-supportive! Of course, I’ve been veg since age 14, so they’ve had plenty of time to get used to the idea. My mom has always cooked separate vegan dishes for me at family meals, and she even makes vegan desserts when she knows I’ll be visiting. My dad loves to pick out surprise vegan treats for me from Vegan Essentials, and my Granny (dad’s mom) has been an amazing help with my cookbook. She’s been veganizing all of her traditional family recipes for me to include in the book. Her vegan coconut pie is to die for!
Most of my friends are vegetarians and vegans, so that’s not an issue. My boyfriend eats meat, but he’s supportive of my veganism. My co-workers love the vegan baked goods I bring into the office at least once a week.

strawberry shortcake

What advice would you give those interested in becoming Vegan?
Move into veganism slowly. There’s a lot to learn, and most of it comes through trial and error. I’m still learning about some ingredients that I didn’t know weren’t vegan, and it’s been 6 years (I learned about l-cysteine a few months ago!). Also, take a month off from dairy cheese before trying vegan cheese to give your tastebuds time to adjust. Vegan cheese doesn’t taste like dairy cheese, but it is delicious. Think of it as a completely new food rather than a replacement.

Would you eat at Mc Donald’s if they carried a Vegan burger?
Hell yea! I typically avoid fast food most of the time. But when I’m traveling, I’ve been known to stop through Subway for a veggie sandwich or Taco Bell for a cheeseless, sour cream-less 7-Layer Burrito. I’d love a few more fast food options for desperate times.

Do you have a Vegan celebrity that you find particularly dashing?
I’m in love with Moby. I’ve always had a thing for skinny, shaved bald guys. In fact, my current boyfriend looks kind of like Moby. That’s why started dating him in the first place. Now if only I could get him to go vegan like Moby…

Do you have a favorite Vegan blog or website that you follow?
I love the PPK, but I’m not on as frequently as I should be. Favorite blogs include Get Sconed (which served as my inspiration for starting my own blog a few years back), the Urban Housewife, Vegansaurus, the Voracious Vegan, Chocolate Covered Katie, and Choosing Raw. Oh, and I love Seitanic Vegan Heathen of course!!!

What is your least favorite question that you are asked about your diet?
Where do you get your protein? Nothing irks me more than this dumb question.

country fried tempeh

What is your favorite dish?
I love vegan pizza with lots of Daiya cheese. And I’m a sucker for a good vegan mac & cheese.

What do you typically eat at Thanksgiving?
There’s always a Field Roast Celebration Roast on the table. And my mom makes some bomb-ass vegan cornbread dressin’. There’s also vegan hash brown casserole, my Granny’s delicious turnip greens, vegan mac & cheese, mashed taters, green beans, corn, homemade cranberry sauce. And I’m responsible for dessert every year. Last year, I made a Smlove Pie from the Veganomicon.

If I could make you any flavor cupcake in the world what would it be?
Any flavor? God, that’s a way hard question. I love all flavors of cupcake! Everything I’ve tried from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World has been stellar. I know that’s a crappy, unoriginal answer.  Hmmm…maybe a neopolitan cupcake ice cream cake with chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, and strawberry icing.

Please share your favorite Vegan recipe.
Vegan Crunk’s Country Potato Soup (Serves 4 to 6)

-4 cups cubed potatoes, skins removed (about 2 medium baking potatoes)
-1 large carrot, sliced
-2 stalks celery, sliced
-1 Tbsp. canola oil
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
-2 cups unsweetened soymilk
-2 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour
-1 tsp. sea salt
-1/4 tsp. black pepper
-5 slices cooked veggie bacon, crumbled (I use Light Life brand Smart Bacon strips)
-Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cover potatoes, carrot, and celery in a large stockpot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower to medium. Boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Transfer vegetables to a colander and allow to drain in the sink while you prepare the onions.
Heat oil in the same stockpot, and sauté onion for 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent. Add vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery.
In a measuring cup, mix flour thoroughly into soymilk. Add to soymilk mixture to stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in veggie bacon, salt, and pepper.

I was just thinking of how long it has been since I had potato soup and then here comes Bianca! Isn't she great?