Blueberry Chutney

Blueberry season is one of my favorite parts of summer (well that and watermelon!), so naturally I now have a large bag of berries in my freezer waiting to be devoured.  I usually add frozen berries to my breakfast cereal, or sometimes bake with them.  As much as I love pie, and other desserts, I wanted to find a way to use the berries with savory dishes. This led me to make my own homemade chutney.  I have been using this sauce in every place I can think of, such as chickpea cutlets, inside wraps, or on veggie burgers. I am not sure I have ever made a chutney like this before so I started with this Tangy Blueberry Chutney recipe. I decided to leave out the raisins, and added fresh ginger and mint.

Recipe

  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbl. minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, and vinegar, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.  Next add 1/2 of the berries, and simmer until mixture has a sauce-like consistency.  Add the remaining blueberries, and mint allow to cook for about 1 minute.

chutney

vegan cheese

So recently my friend over at, Meaty Vegan offered me some new vegan cheese to try.  This product is made by a Greek based company, Violife.  They offer a variety of different sliced cheese flavors, as well as creamy spreads.  The first thing that impressed me about this product was the short ingredient list.  It even used the words “vegan flavors”  instead of natural.  All of their products are soy, palm oil, and gluten free!violife

I was lucky enough to receive two packages, mozzarella, and herb.  Both where quite good uncooked in sandwiches.  I really enjoyed the herb variety with slices of tomato, and balsamic vinegar.

Since they come in convenient slices I decided the first thing I wanted to make with them was grilled cheese.  I also added some mushrooms, and onions that I had on hand.  This cheese melts very well.  It was absolutely delicious, and had a very nice creamy texture.grilled cheese

Sadly this product is only available in Europe at the moment.  Hopefully it will find its way over here soon!

 

 

 

 

Trip to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard

 hyannis1

It is now early August, the perfect time for a quick road trip to Cape Cod, and Martha’s vineyard before summer ends. After a long drive through Western Massachusetts, Mr. EastHill Vegan, and I found our way to Hyannis, just in time to meet up with family for dinner.jfk

While wandering around main street, visiting some of the shops, we chose to eat at a Mexican style restaurant called Beech Tree Cantina, with outdoor seating.  I had the vegetable burrito with sweet potato fries, and shared freshly made guacamole.burrito

Given more time I would love to explore this part of Cape Cod more.  If you are ever here check out the vegetarian/vegan restaurant called the Green Lotus Cafe.  Unfortunately, they where not open while we where there, but it looks like a good place for breakfast, or lunch.

We spent the night in a classic New England house, turned B&B. If you are visiting Cape Cod as a vegan I recommend checking out the Shady Hollow Inn. The inn has a quiet relaxing feel, but the best part was probably the delicious vegan breakfast!  They are very accommodating when creating delicious dishes for any dietary needs.

muffins  waffle

After breakfast we boarded a ferry headed for Martha’s vineyard.  The weather was perfect for viewing the cliffs in Aquinnah, owned by the Wampanoag Indians.  The site had a places to eat as well as some huts showing the history of the native people that live there.  You may recognize the lighthouse from the movie Jaws, which you can climb to the top of.

lighthouseFor lunch we stopped at Bee Dee’s in Oak Bluffs. All vegan items had a green v next to them.  The cafe has some seating available, but we took advantage of the hot summer day to eat by the water.  My wrap consisted of, black beans, corn, zucchini, and guacamole.  It also came with a bag of Cape Cod potato chips.  You can take a self-guided tour at the factory located in Hyannis.

mv_wrap dock

Before boarding the boat for our return trip we visited the famous ginger bread homes.  These adorable cottages where part of the camp – meeting movement during the 19th century.  At first people set up canvas tents on the site, bringing with them everything they would need.  Over time it become more permanent, and people stayed longer.  The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association maintains one of the cottages as a museum.  The houses are passed down through generations, however some of them can be rented, or occasionally purchased.

 houses1 house2

 Once back in Hyannis we found a South American restaurant called Vista De Mare.  The menu had a small vegetarian section, including a vegan option of Quinoa, and vegetables.  The next day we packed up, and returned to Ithaca, but not without one more stop at the Buzzards Bay canal walk.

Cape_Cod 062 canal

Summer update

nasturtium   I can hardly believe that so much time pass since my last blog post.  This past spring I began working toward a Masters in library science.  Suffice to say it has kept me very busy with reading and writing research papers.  I am however very hopeful that this is only the beginning toward a truly fulfilling career.  So far I have been enjoying my classes, and have begun making connections with others in the field.

Summer has been going by very quickly as usual.  My veggie garden is doingYellow tomatoes very well this year, it may be the best year yet. I planted dragon lingerie beans, snap peas, kale, cucumbers, two small blueberry bushes, and a gooseberry bush.  Additionally, I have some tomato plants in pots.  Unfortunately for me though, someone has stolen all of the berries.  I blame the adorable chipmunk that has been spotted  around our house lately.  I did manage to get some of the blueberries before they disappeared.

This year we are members of a CSA collective that gives us veggies, as well as fruit, and shiitake mushrooms.  I highly recommend joining one.  It is the best way to enjoy seasonal vegetables, and fruits.  This website Local Harvest will help you find one.  Thanks to the fresh strawberries and rhubarb we received early in the season I was able to make a delicious pie!  strawberry rhubarb pie

 

 

 

 

 

better know a vegan

Summer 2014 053

As a vegan I am often faced with the same questions about protein, health, calcium, etc. with regularity.  I have also heard many comments made that all vegans are tree hugging hippies, or militant and only have one interest.  In reality as human beings we are actually very diverse.  I hope to dispel some of the many stereotypes out there with this section I like to call better know a vegan.  In case you are wondering this idea was inspired by the Colbert Report segment called better know a district.

To start off I decided to interview one of the first vegans I ever met, Jennifer Greene.  Jennifer is a compassionate and highly driven individual.  She was an inspiration to me early in my vegan transition and continues to be today.

1. I know you have been vegan for a long time, how has your experience changed over time?

Vegan living has gotten easier and easier. In terms of food, for instance, I remember the puzzled reaction I’d get when I would ask my local grocery store to consider stocking soy milk. People had never heard of it. (This was over fifteen years ago.) Today, they carry soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, too—so much has changed, in such a short time. Vegan pioneers are doing vegan outreach that’s effective, making vegan cheese that wins people over, producing vegan cooking shows for the Cooking Channel.

1. Have you experienced any challenges in becoming and staying vegan?  If so what were they?

No, nothing major. For years, however, I thought it wasn’t possible to make a rich, dense brownie without eggs! Fortunately, I was wrong:vegan brownie recipe!

3. I know that you are working on a program to help people understand ethical eating.  What can you tell us about DOVE?

Demonstrating Our Values through Eating (DOVE) is a new food education curriculum for Unitarian Universalist congregations, available online for free at http://dovecurriculum.blogspot.com/. I’m sure non-UUs would enjoy using it, too.
DOVE tackles food-related issues that affect us all, such as: why do some foods seem almost addictive? How can we fight global warming with our fork? What really happens to the workers and animals, and what can we do to help?

5.  Do you have any other interesting projects in the works?

I’m glad to be serving as the Director of Task Forces for CAAN (Carnism Awareness & Action Network). Carnism is the belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. In our society, the consumption of flesh, milk and eggs is often just a given, rather than recognized as unnecessary and in conflict with our core values. There is an ideology driving this, and we call this ideology carnism. Carnism leads humane people to support the violence inherent in animal agriculture, by blocking our awareness of what really happens to the animals whose parts and products are used for food.
Carnism Awareness Task Forces (CATFs) are groups of professionals who are organizing to raise carnism awareness within their respective fields. There are currently over twenty different CATFs (mental health professionals, legal professionals, social scientists, yoga practitioners, and so on). More information about the CATFs is available here: http://www.carnism.org/taskforces/about-task-forces

6.  I remember when you started the Long Island vegan meetup group (is that the right name?). How is that going?

Vegan Long Island’s membership is over 1,000 and growing!  We have created a spin-off group, too—Long Island Vegan Family Network (inspired by the Chicago Vegan Family Network).

7. Do you have any pointers for people who want to start their own social group

If I can do it, anyone can. Others are welcome to steal ideas, content, inspiration from my meetup site, which is here: http://www.meetup.com/Vegan-Long-Island/

8. With the holiday season upon us, can you offer any advice for vegans and their families having meals together?

Although the holiday season is now over*, I’m happy to share the following advice, which I think vegans may find helpful any time of year…
 *And my apologies to you, Stephanie, and to your readers, for taking longer than I expected to do this interview!
1) I recommend this talk, by psychologist Melanie Joy, on effective vegan advocacy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnQSP6f9iAY  She understands how frustrating it can be, having friends or family who aren’t vegan, and she gives wise advice.
2) Here’s a short column I love to share with others who seek guidance on being more effective (it incorporates the “common ground” advice from Dr. Joy’s advocacy talk): http://ccc.farmsanctuary.org/compassionate-selling-feel-felt-found/
3) Check out this column (especially the bell curve graph) from Ruby Roth. It reminds me that as time goes on, more and more people will become more comfortable adopting these changes. The majority of people you know may not be vegan today, but ten years from now, it’s going to be a whole different ballgame. http://www.wedonteatanimals.com/blog/why-being-lone-vegan-makes-you-power-player
4) Something else that’s comforting: scientists from the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute conducted a study in 2011 to determine the threshold where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. When they ran their computational models, the threshold was 10 percent of the population. In other words, once the percentage holding the idea exceeded 10%, the idea spread quickly. So the tipping point for social change may be much closer than you thought.
5) LiveVegan.org provides some nice tips and pep talk for handling social situations: http://www.livevegan.org/index.php/social-situations2
6) I discovered a constructive way to deal with the frustration of social situations: I leaflet!  In the past, I used to spend a lot of time & emotional energy fretting that family members still haven’t joined me in going vegan. Now, instead of fretting, I make a commitment to leaflet a certain number of days each semester at nearby college campuses. I take heart from the knowledge that I am reaching hundreds of other potential vegans this way.
7) Another form of activism is “bake-tivism.” Don’t underestimate the power of delicious vegan food to win people over! (See “ultimate vegan brownies,” above.)

9.  What is one of your favourite go to weekly meals?

Thai-inspired wraps.
Then I assemble the wraps:
1. whole wheat tortillas
2. hummus—spread over 1/3 of tortilla, with a dab to seal once rolled
3. grated carrot—sprinkle a layer over hummus
4. drizzle peanut sauce over the carrot bed
5. next: either Gardein chick’n scallopini, sautéed & cut into strips, or Beyond Meat lightly seasoned flavor chicken-free strips
6. next: lay down red bell pepper stripspurple cabbage shreds, & fresh spinach leaves
7. more peanut sauce over the vegetables
8. roll the wrap, cut in half with a diagonal slice to reveal the lovely cross-section.

10.  Many people believe vegans only have one interest, can you share some of your other interests not related to veganism?

Sure! I’m passionate about lots of things, not just vegan advocacy. I’ve led United for a Fair Economy’s popular education workshops for economic justice, campaigned to protect old growth forest in the Pacific NW, and advocated for voting methods reform.  When I’m working in the kitchen or out for a walk, I enjoy listening to episodes of Wait Wait, Don’t Tell MeSnap Judgment and The Moth. I love group party games, the musical satire of Roy Zimmerman, and making modular origami like this:
oragami copy

11.  Is there anything you would like to add that may help break the stereotypes related to veganism?

The other day, a Facebook friend posted this about his elderly mother. She loves sharing vegan food with her friends. And when they ask her what vegan food is, this is what she tells them:
“It’s regular food, just not from animals.”—Mrs. Loewenthal, age 78.
Exactly! I think that’s the best explanation, ever. 🙂
I think some people have the impression that vegan living is about deprivation. Quite the contrary, actually—it’s about abundance, and pleasure, and joy.
It’s not about getting on a high horse; it’s about staying humble & kind toward others, and recognizing that we’re all caught up in this current system. We need to show compassion to one another; after all, it’s not our fault if we’ve been conditioned to participate in these forms of exploitation. Carnism is a system that works VERY hard to block our awareness, and keep us from drawing these connections between our values and our choices. The message of veganism, however, is empowering: as carnism loses its grip on us, we gain freedom of choice, the freedom to live our own values more authentically.
So to me, vegan living is more than just my individual consumer choices—it’s participation in a movement to build a better world.
I’ll finish by sharing this quote from Victoria Moran, who reminds us in her 2012 book Main Street Vegan that being vegan is about conviction, not perfection: “Jay Dinshah, founder of the American Vegan Society, told me way back in my early 20s: ‘There is no perfect vegan.’ That’s because we live in a world that has depended on animal exploitation for so long that remnants of it are everywhere, no matter how careful you try to be. It’s about making the kindest choices you can, one day at a time, and not sweating the small stuff so much that we turn off potential vegans.”

pizza bowl

Image

The recipe for this delicious and filling pizza bowl came from Isa Does it.  Basically it is brown rice topped with kale, vegan sausage, onions and garlic.  For the sausage I used the Tofurky artisan, spinach pesto.  It is topped with a cashew based sauce, sliced olives and red pepper flakes.  The only thing I changed was I cooked the garlic for the cashew sauce. 

What I love about simple meal ideas like this is being able to recreate it and make sit your own.  For this meal I followed the recipe as it was written however, I think next time I will try it with some other pizza toppings.  Maybe a veggie lovers pizza with broccoli and peppers!  You could even create your own favorite ‘cheezy’ sauce to complete the dish.  The book also suggests trying it with polenta instead of rice for a more Italian style dish.

falafel and kale salad

On a recent visit to Trader Joe’s, I discovered pre-made frozen falafel.  Of course nothing beats freshly made falafel, however I knew this would be great for a quick weeknight meal.  I decided to include them in a to kale salad with tahini dressingkalesalad.

For the kale I used Lacinato, also called Dino kale.  De-stem and cut into thin ribbons.
falafel
pomegranate seeds
avocado
sliced black olives

 

 

For the tahini dressing.
1/4 cup tahini
3 roasted garlic cloves, minced
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp water
pepper to taste

Mix together the ingredients with the dressing.  Let the salad rest in the refrigerator for a few minutes to allow the kale to soften.

kalesalad2

I think this was a good use for the falafel.  Since there is no Trader Joe’s nearby I may use chickpeas next time.