Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vegans gotta Vege

Things are going pretty well for me with my continued commitment to a vegan lifestyle.  I've added more meat and dairy products into my diet, which helps a lot.  I'd say that I'm still about 75% vegan/vegetarian.  I've also stopped making the kind of vegan food where you try and make it look and taste like real food but it's vegan.

This means lots of salads.  Fortunately, salads are basically just a bunch of crap thrown on a bed of lettuce with some dressing.  Even I can make them.  In fact, I invented one.  If you were to make this salad at the Whole Foods salad bar, it would cost you $478.  However, if you just bought the same ingredients at Whole Foods and assembled them yourself at home, it's more like $25 for a week of lunches.  Capitalism, amirite?

Anywho, I used tofu as the main source of protein for this salad.  Tofu is just like real food but it's vegan.  It also takes on the flavor of whatever you're making, so it works well with basically any kind of dish.  Tofu is a high self-monitor food for all you Psych101 enthusiasts our there.  You can also fry it.  To fry tofu, just put it on a hot pan for a while:

Later, flip it:

And that's fried tofu!

Next, add a bunch of veggies and stuff:

What a poorly staged picture! (I also added black beans, which I don't think are a "vegetable," per se).  But you can still put them in a salad.

Add all the ingredients in a bowl:

Except, if you add all the ingredients as you finish frying/chopping/dumping them out of the can, as I did here, you end up with all the ingredients layered on top of each other, which makes it really hard to get the ingredients on the bottom out when trying to dig them out and put them on the lettuce.  I've seen it a hundred times.  Many ingredients were spilled.  So, I initiated a sophisticated "dump-the-ingredients-into-a-different-bowl-and-then-back-into-the-main-bowl-a-few-times operation, and the results were spectacular:

You can see the ingredients in the picture, but since no food blog (even a crappy food blog like this one) is complete without a recipe, here you go:
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped;
  • 1 handful of shredded carrots, bought in a bag already shredded;
  • 1 can of corn, drained;
  • 1 can of black beans, drained;
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped;
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into those little circles cucumbers are always cut into for salads;
  • 1 package of tofu, fried and roughly chopped.
(I am a big proponent of the "rough chop" because it's the easiest for people who suck at cooking to pull off)

Then, I made some balsamic vinaigrette thusly:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil;
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette;
  • some honey;
  • some garlic;
  • some mustard; and
  • whisk everything.
(really, you can't go too wrong here as long as you keep the oil/balsamic amounts to "significant percentages of cups" and the honey/garlic/mustard amounts to "about a large spoonful")

It's just that easy!  I feel like I should name this salad since I invented it.  However, as there is nothing particularly inventive about this salad, and also because I found the balsamic vinaigrette recipe online and didn't really "invent" it, I think I will pass.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Very Vegan Fair

Around the end of August, a faint fried food/animal manure/human sweat smell blankets the 32nd state of America as the Minnesota State Fair drops like an asteroid-on-a-stick on an otherwise healthy population.

So, check your diet at the door and let's head on in!

About 11 yards past the gate, you find deep-fried pickles.  So, shit gets real on the quick at the Fair.

I'm pretty sure this is probably low-cal ranch dressing, though, so it ends up being mostly a wash.

Somewhat against expectations, ranch dressing-drenched fried pickles at 9:30 in the morning sort of dampened our appetites, so we decided to hit the animal barns for some good old-fashioned looking-at-animals-we-usually-eat-except-for-me-because-I'm-selectively-vegan-now time.

We started off at the Swine Barn, where we donned traditional clothing so as to blend in with the others and not seem like such City-folk:

After that, we were free to roam around and do high-falutin' things like take pictures of the balls of the State's largest boar:

This is Butch.  He weighs 1,200 lbs (544.3108 kg for the rest of the world who uses the metric system).  Most of that weight is in his balls.  We laughed and pointed at them.  Then we looked at some other balls:

I mean, those things are just liabilities.  Explain THAT, Darwin.

Having poorly parented our kids through the animals' balls barns, we headed back out to see what the rest of the Fair had to offer.  Next up was the Dairy Barn.  This is a perennial favorite as it features not only some kick-a$$ shakes:

but also, Princess Kay of the Milky Way!

Princess Kay of the Milky Way is chosen from among 100+ contestants in an annual competition sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Association.  Candidates are judged based on their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and its products, and their commitment to dairy promotion.  What Princess Kay is not judged on is her commitment to not wasting dairy products because each of the 12 finalists have their likeness carved into a 90-lb (40.8233 kg for the rest of the world) block of butter.  They make them sit in this display case wearing a parka while the whole thing slowly rotates.  It's kind of awkward, tbh.  But, they signed up for it, so whatevs.

Next up was the Agriculture/Horticulture Building, notable for the Honey Lemonade that you can only take two sips of before you start to hallucinate about being in some sort of Hansel-and-Gretel-evil-witch-trying-to-sweeten-you-up-with-sugar scenario and throw the rest into the trash:

and, CROP ART!  In ancient times, cave-people drew their art on cave walls because all they had was caves.  In Minnesota, we make our art out of crops because all we have is crops.  And we rise to the challenge.  Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel, which he used to create the Last Judgment, a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity.  In Minnesota, we have excess grains, which we use to depict Taylor Swift:

There were also several nice tributes to Minnesota's own, Prince:

as well as our State's strong commitment to equality, as shown by both this symbolic piece:

as well as this somewhat odd tribute to local NBC affiliate weatherman/fitness enthusiast, Sven Sundgaard:

(honestly, this looks a bit more like President Obama than Sven Sundgaard to me, but it's still a nice piece of crop art).

As we were leaving the exhibit, I said to my family, "This art is total crop."  They chuckled a bit and KC pointed out that I say the same thing every year.  That is true.  It's a classic pun.

Next, I invented a new classic pun when I said "Oh my gourd!" after seeing these guys:

Most people don't like me all that much.

Anywho, having learned all there is to know about agriculture/horticulture, we headed out to Ye Old Mill, my favorite Fair tradition:

If you're thinking the water looks unnaturally blue, it is!  But, we didn't pay $13 to ride a hundred year old boat through a dark tunnel with shitty cartoon scenes every once in a while on non-artificially blue-colored water. Duh.

Naturally, after Ye Old Mill, we hit the mini-donuts stand for some, ummm, mini-donuts:

Scalding-hot cinnamon-sprinkled goodness.  And if there's a better chaser for a mini-donut than a Pronto Pup, I have yet to hear about it:

There are other stands that sell "corn dogs," but, much like Mac with the other goalie on his hockey team last Winter, I do not recognize their existence.  Given the fact that they look like large turds, you have to respect the bravery of the first person who tried one:


Here's a healthy snack:

Up next, the iconic Minnesota State Fair Giant Slide (inexplicably painted in Green Bay Packers colors):

8-second rides are great if you're at the rodeo.  Rides you pay $5 for your kids to go on?  Not so much.

We were nearing the end of our journey, which meant it was time for the Mighty Midway - a vile collection of rides, games, excessive noise and filth.  The kids love it, though.  My $40 purchased about 20 minutes of precious memories for them.  The adults chose to hang back and enjoy some fries:

Rumor has it that the dude who started these fry booths clears more than $300k in the 12 days of the Fair.  Based on the lines at each location, I believe it.  But he's small potatoes (DO YOU GET IT, YOU GUYS?!?!?!) compared to the woman, whose name I assume is Martha, who started Sweet Martha's Cookies.  They're basically printing money.  Because who could resist something as glorious as this?

Not me, that's who.

And that's the Fair!  All you need is several hundred dollars and an elastic waistband.

Looking back through the pictures, I estimate that 50% of the food we ate was vegan (assuming that cotton candy is vegan), so we'll consider it a win for sustainability as well.  Yay, Earth!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This is still a thing

So, in the last 23 days or so, I have been a fairly carnivorous vegan.  But, having made it through the Fourth of July and our family vacation to Vail, I am now fully re-committed to the bit, and was mostly vegan all day today (vegetarian at lunch, but whatevs).

This new re-commitment comes with a pretty substantial caveat:  My kids are exempt.  The fuckers just won't eat vegetables.  So that's just how that goes.

Still, though, we have discovered one vegan meal that they actually like and is actually quite easy to make - The One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta Recipe (courtesy of Apron Strings).  It's the bomb-dot-com.

You basically only have to do a couple of things:  Slice up a sweet onion, crack open a can of diced tomatoes (organic, of course, unless you love feeding your children poison), drop 12 oz. of linguine and 4.5 cups of vegetable broth, some minced garlic and oregano into a pot and turn on the heat:

It's just that easy!

Bring it to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes (LOL, J/K, Apron Strings totally lied about that one.  It's actually about 25 minutes) until the broth has cooked down to about an inch left in the pan.  Then, throw in some chopped basil:

I also added artichoke hearts because they rule and I rule so we're a perfect match.

Plate that crap up, toss on some Parmesan cheese and add some French bread (in France, they just call it bread! You know what? Screw you guys.) and you've got yourself a vegan meal that even your non-vegan kids will love!

[ed. note:  An astute reader pointed out that Parmesan cheese is not vegan.  The bread might not be vegan either, IDK.  Anywho, nobody reads this crappy food blog anyway]


Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's more of a guideline than a rule

Being a vegan is hard.

I mean, I'm totally committed to my new lifestyle choice.  But I think I need to reevaluate my identity.  Currently, I still identify as a "Vegan".  However, I have consumed approximately one metric shit-ton of meat and cheese since the Fourth-of-July weekend.  And, truth be told, I'm skewing heavily toward vegetarianism these days since being a vegan takes a lot of prep time, which I don't have.

So, identifying as a "Vegan" really doesn't seem fair to actual vegans.  As a result, I have created a new identity.  Well, more accurately, I have created a new title for my actual identity:  Internets, I stand before you, a proud "Vaguean".  A Vaguean is a vegan who is quick to abandon their veganism the moment it gets too hard to be a vegan.  Also, when there's a national holiday that calls for grilling meat.  Or on weekends.

Vagueans try their best to eat vegetables.  They don't let the fact that those vegetables might be covered in meat and dairy stop them.  I'm comfortable with it.

Anywho, my carbon footprint is supes small.  And my sense of superiority is intact.  Also, too, I'm heading out on vacation tomorrow and will eat a lot of meat and cheese.

Am I Vaguean or what?!?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Still Vegan After All These Weeks

So I'm still vegan. Just shy of two months into this thing and going (relatively) strong.

Do I have steak every now and then?  Yes.

Do I have cheese every now and then?  Yes.

Do I abandon my veganism at the drop of a hat when it becomes moderately inconvenient to be one (i.e., at virtually all restaurants)?  Yes.

But, I figure I'm still about 75% vegan and then another 10-15% vegetarian.  Maybe more.  So, that's pretty good.  Turns out, you can make a lot of good stuff with vegetables and shit like that, so it's really worked out well.  One good trick is to not read the ingredient lists on stuff all that closely.  That way, as long as there's no visible meat or obvious dairy, you can just eat it and maintain the haughty air of a vegan.  Ignorance is bliss (am I right, Republicans?)!

Also, too, you get to eat things you'd never have thought of if you were still an Earth-hating meat-eater.  Like the Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw I had last weekend.  This is another recipe from Thug Kitchen, and it kicked a$$.  Also, it was pretty easy even though it looked kind of hard.

First, you chop up some cauliflower and cook it for a while in some beer, vegetable broth, lime juice, tamari, chipotle hot sauce and garlic:

Then, drain the juice and toss the cauliflower with some olive oil, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt and chopped onion and bake it at 400 for 20 minutes:

While that's going on, chop up some cabbage and carrots and toss them with some lime juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and cilantro and you have yourself some slaw:

Throw the cauliflower and slaw on a tortilla with some chopped up avocado, and you're in business!

It's just that easy!  I am pretty sure nobody in my family but me would like this dish, but I had four helpings.  It was totes vegan.  I could literally feel the Earth healing as I ate it.  If you care about your children and your children's children, you should probably make this dish.  Before it's too late.

And that's Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Family Fun

[Recent conversation in the car]

*Rachel Platten song playing*
Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open, too
'Cause I'm gonna stand by you
Me:  That doesn't make any sense.

KC:  What?

Me:  If your wings were broken and I gave you my wings that wouldn't make it so your wings could open.

KC:  What?

Me:  In the song, she offers her wings to the guy with broken wings so that his wings "can open too."  But if his wings were broken, giving him a different set of wings wouldn't fix his broken wings, it would just give him a set of working wings that he could borrow.

Shef:  No, she is fixing his wings.

Me:  No.  She clearly says that she's going to give him her wings.  And then she suggests that once he has her wings, his wings would magically be able to open.  That doesn't make any sense.

Shef:  Yeah it does.  'Cause then he could fly.

KC:  Whatever.  Stop talking about this.

Me:  I don't disagree that he could fly, but he wouldn't be using his broken wings to fly.  Instead, he'd be using her unbroken wings but his actual wings would still be broken.  So it doesn't make any sense.

Shef:  What?

Me:  Think about it.  If your car was broken and I gave you my car, you could drive somewhere.  But your car wouldn't be fixed.  It would still be broken.  You'd just be borrowing my car.  Like with the wings.

Shef:  No.  She's helping him fly.

KC:  WHATEVER.  Let's talk about something else!

Me:  Yeah, but giving him her wings wouldn't make his wings open.  That's what she says would happen.  And it doesn't make any sense.

Shef:   Yes, it does.

Me:  No, it doesn't.  Giving someone working wings doesn't fix broken wings, it just means that he has a spare set of working wings.  So...


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A bump in the road

Against all odds, my kids have rejected our new-found vegan lifestyle.  It has been about five weeks since I began this journey.  And about five weeks since my kids ate anything.

It's the loss of dairy that really did them in.  The loss of meat as well.  Other than those two things, though, they more or less embraced veganism.

After my eighth or ninth failed dinner recipe in a row, I grumpily proclaimed my experiment in introducing my kids to sustainable eating to be over.  Tonight we made lasagna with actual, non-plant-based cheese.  They both had three helpings.  Mac basically ate his body weight in lasagna.  Shef had a Kind Bar (vegan!) after dinner.

So I was pretty much starving my children with my selfish desire to save the planet.

But never fear, I am not giving up on my new lifestyle.  I will just be more willing to abandon it when it becomes slightly inconvenient going forward.

Truth be told, I'm getting pretty good at being a vegan.  I actually invented two new dishes over the weekend.  First, I started with a dish I like to call:  Black Beans with Chopped Red Onion over Brown Rice.  The ingredients are mostly what you'd expect:

I bet you didn't expect the salsa and avocado, though, did you?  Now, some cultures might argue that they have been eating this dish for tens of thousands of years.  And they would be right.  But I didn't use their recipe.  I just happened to invent the same one tens of thousands of years later.

The next day, though, I really dialed up the creativity a notch with a little dish I like to call Black Beans with Chopped Red Onion over Kale:

You may have seen the salsa and avocado coming this time around.  This dish is a unique blend of flavors where you don't have rice and have kale instead.  Take THAT tens of thousands of years old cultures!

Beans, as it turns out, truly are the magic fruit.  I had forgotten that in the years I spent as a non-sustainable, Earth-hating, meat-eater.

Was that too much information?  It felt like that was too much information.

But that's just part of being a vegan.