Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where are the Celebrations?

To all of the people I know who actively and proudly say they eat meat and will continue to eat meat no matter what they hear, especially in the name of celebrating a holiday, I can only say: Open your mind and hearts.

I once ate meat and I wish I had known then what I know now. I wish I had not been so indoctrinated and had supporters to show me there is another way. And that it is easy and so much better in so many ways.

I'm sharing this video taken in Austria (I believe). Basically some folks dressed as Santa visited these young pigs kept on a factory "farm" - much like what we do here in the US. You will see these poor pigs are kept crowded and in the dark on cement floors, totally unlike their natural environment. They've never experienced kindness from a human or seen hay, which pigs love to play in. These kind Santa's brought them some hay and apples and the pigs over came their fear to nestle up to their new friends.

Sadly these sweet animals are destined for more abuse and to be slaughtered for a meal.

You can't watch this and not be affected or feel a need to make a change. It's not right what we do. The information is clear. The evidence is here. There are tons of resources and other delicious foods available. I promise to be here to help if you need it.

Make the future and the new year better. You CAN make the change.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Full of Flavor

One of the concerns we hear a lot from people when they ask us about being vegans and the food we eat is that they thing the food is going to be boring, ascetic or bland.

Let me just say, this is SOOOO not the case.

We are major foodies. We love food and ingredients and cooking and baking. Heck, I have at least 10 kinds of salt alone. So, when we switched to eating vegan, you can be sure it was not at the expense of our tastebuds.

One thing that you may not consider when you eat a typical animal product-centric diet is that most of the flavors in foods come from plant-based ingredients. Spices, herbs, vinegars, nuts, oils, marinades, dressings, ketchups, mustards, etc. All plant based.

Think about your favorite meals. Personally, I like a good burger, but what I love is the mix of textures, the ketchup, the onion. Having a veggie burger (or even better one of Laughing Seed's Hempnut Burgers, sigh) with the same burger fixings is perfect. Plus no upset stomach that I always got from ground beef.

For Mexican meals, we make veggie fajitas, tacos or burritos or taco salads with Crumbles and my favorite Moe's Art Vandalay burrito too.

Italian is all about tomato sauces which you can add a Field Roast Italian Sausage to (or use for a sausage-pepper sandwich) or risotto which I just make with veggie broth and EarthBalance.

Our favorite meals are usually Indian - we love the spices, the textures and the balance of the dishes - rice, naan, samosas, etc. Yum!

And then there is Thai. Thai cuisine is considered one of the most complex and layered because almost every dish ties in the five main flavor components: hot, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. A meal we had recently at a local restaurant showcases this fundamental philosophy in the cooking.

The appetizer we started with was called a Healthy Plate and consisted of a leaf wrap (here it was kale) and then chopped red onions and ginger (hot), toasted coconut (sweet), peanuts (salty), lime (sour) and a tamarind sauce (bitter/sweet). You wrapped all of these in the leaf and popped them in your mouth. Amazing!

When we received our meals you could see the same flavors combined into the more integrated savory dishes. The hubby had a tofu dish but mine was all veggies.

We ended the meal with an amazingly decadent sliver of candied sweet potato topped with a rich and creamy coconut cream sauce that I could not get enough of.

Not one part of the meal had an animal product but yet it was complex, flavorful, delicious and satisfying.

It is easy to look at your favorite meals with a fresh eye. Don't get hung up on worrying that you will be "missing out" just think of it as cooking with a few ingredient substitutions and you will be surprised how easy and tasty cooking without meat, dairy and eggs can be.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Day Pics - The Animals

Just some random animal snow day pics

Jake came out, looked around, went back in. I think the chickens stayed in bed.

Tulip says "No to Snow"

This is Petal's first snow and she's all "What do I do with it???"

Stay warm!

Friends Don't Let Friends: Eat Instant Oatmeal

I've decided to start a new series here on The Daily Coop, since the chickens aren't giving me a whole lot of news every day! One of the questions we get a lot is what do we eat (because we're vegan, dontcha know) and recipes for all the delicioso food that we make. And let me tell you, it is delicious, because I am a food snob and not afraid to admit it. Don't give me any crappy or fast food. I won't touch it. Never have, never will.

So, one thing I'm very snobby about is ingredients. As they say - garbage in, garbage out. That doesn't always mean pricey but it does mean good.

So let's start with a pretty traditional meal and a frequent breakfast in our house - oatmeal.

Now we are not talking about instant oatmeal in the packets. Yes, I ate those as a kid. Particularly apples and cinnamon. And I liked them at the time. Mainly because they were sugared to death covered up the gloopy mass of gluey oatmeal. These were better than the Quaker oats my mom would make and then add milk and butter too. I detested that... still do.

This oatmeal is so far from that it isn't even funny. We're talking tasty, hearty and 100% delicious... and it's all because of the oats.

You really have to start with good steel cut oats. This is crucial. I use the John McCann brand that comes in the tin. You will get at least 4 batches worth out of this. There are other brands but this is the one I use. This recipe is totally vegan but I made this before we were vegan. There has been zero change in flavor which these ingredient changes, but we have lost the cholesterol that comes with animal-based milk and butter. So, yeah, go vegan!

Okay, Ingredients:

1 Cup steel cut oats

1 - 2 Tbl Earth Balance butter (from the sticks)

3 Cups boiling water

1 Cup Almond Milk (you can use any non-dairy milk, we just like Almond Breeze)

Pinch of Salt

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

I made a video of the process a while back on my old camera. It crapped out in the middle so, you will have to forgive me, but I have pictures too!

Step 1: Get your ingredients. You will need a medium sized pot with a lid to cook this in.

EarthBalance sticks - you can use these JUST LIKE dairy butter. Perfect for baking, sauteing and cooking. I prefer the spread on toast, though.

Step 2: Boil the water

Step 3: Melt the EarthBalance

Step 4: While the water is boiling, toast the oats in the melted butter over low heat. Don't let them burn! And yes, I like to use a wooden spoon when I cook oatmeal.

Step 5: When the water boils, pour it over the oats and bring the the temperature down. My stove is pretty powerful so I have to put it on low. You then cover the pot and let the oats simmer and absorb the water for about 30 min. You can stir them every so often and check that they aren't boiling or bubbling over.

Step 6: When the water is absorbed, I add a few pinches of salt, sprinkle in cinnamon (optional) and pour in the last cup of liquid. This can be water but I like to use a cup of almond milk. Let that absorb in for a few minutes uncovered.

You are ready to serve and eat. Oatmeal is perfect to add stuff to. Options are:
- brown sugar
- chopped dates
- fresh blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.
- chocolate chips (yep!)
- chopped nuts of any kind
- toasted coconut

I serve mine in big cafe au lait bowls. This meal will fill you up most of the day. Plus you will have some left over. That is another great thing about this meal. Yes, it does take a bit more time, but you can make a batch on the weekend and then save it in portions and heat it up during the week. Just as simple as instant and a thousand times tastier and better for you.
More recipes to come!

Consider the Birds

I've mentioned this before, but whenever you have extremes in weather it is so important to remember the local wildlife. If you have a yard, keep the brush around and the bushes and trees as full as you can. These sheltered areas give birds and squirrels and chipmunks (and more) a place to hide and try and keep warm.

Even more important is to provide some fresh water and even some seed or crumbs if you can. We keep a low pan of water out for the local birds and are rewarded with visits of all kinds of cardinals, blue jays, crows, finches and more.

Last night we received our first snow - a sudden storm that dumped a lot of snow in a brief time. We saw birds picking up corn and chicken feed in the coop and made sure to spread some seed and fill up all the waters with fresh, non-icy water this morning.

Almost immediately we have seen flocks of birds come by to drink and eat.

We use the land, we can give back in this small measure to help ensure they survive.

Friday, December 18, 2009