Saffron Cantaloupe Butter | The Importance of Calling Each Other Out

***I want to make it perfectly clear to my readers that individuals’ names previously listed in this post were included in error. I was writing from limited information, and inadvertently confused individual names in this post. I apologize for any confusion or harm that this has caused. In the future, before posting about sensitive issues, I will make sure to fact-check more thoroughly. If readers ever catch an error in my writing–whether mundane or otherwise–I would hugely appreciate it if you brought those errors to my attention, as I operate without a team of fact-checkers behind me. If you have any questions or concerns about this incident, please feel free to contact me using my blog’s Contact page.


Before launching into today’s post and recipe, I’d like to congratulate Renee McEneany, the winner of my giveaway for a copy of the Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats cookbook!

In late August, I had the pleasure of attending the New York City premiere of the hugely important new documentary Cowspiracy, which investigates why the vast majority of major environmental organizations fail to acknowledge animal agriculture despite the plethora of information that suggests that the industry constitutes the top contributor to global climate change. Active members of NYC’s vegan scene comprised most of the audience, and all seemed to share an air of understanding and camaraderie that occurs when like-minded folk congregate. The audience laughed, groaned, and cried at largely the same moments throughout the film, united under the cause of animal activism.

One interview in the film features a woman from the Animal Agriculture Alliance – a common enemy, if you will, for the audience. First focusing on her face, the camera then pans out for a wide shot…at which point the entire theater began to titter. “Of course she’s fat! She sits around eating animal products all day! Tee hee! Fat people are morally inferior!” I suddenly experienced a very strong urge to flee from my seat and far away from that AMC.

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 Fat-shaming abounds throughout the animal rights movement, evinced in cartoons and advertisements that focus on vegan diets as tools of weight loss, thus equating thinness with health. Though I could devote an entire post any beyond to this topic, I want to instead use it as a jumping-off point for exploring another issue: calling each other out(For thoughtful, critical discussions of fat-shaming within the animal rights movement, check out The Thinking Vegan and Choosing Raw).

Speaking out against the multiple forms of human oppression that exist within the animal rights movement – such as ableism in the form of fat-shaming – won’t make anyone comfortable, and certainly won’t win anyone friends among the higher-ups of mainstream animal advocacy organizations. But I would sincerely like to see a greater willingness among animal rights activists to critique problematic behavior within our own movement. Developing such a willingness first involves educating oneself about intra-movement oppressions like racism, sexism, ableism, and classism, reminding oneself not to become defensive while doing so. From there, that willingness to engage in constructive critique requires an understanding that building social consciousness is an uncomfortable process, since it demands a questioning of default behaviors and beliefs, and that even if speaking out means adversary feelings now, it has the powerful potential to translate into a more equitable movement in the future.

Since we as ethical vegans have already undergone the process of questioning default behaviors and beliefs by living a vegan lifestyle to the extent possible in our very non-vegan world, it seems to me that we find ourselves in a more experienced position than most to apply that same level of self-reflexivity to our positions of privilege as a largely white, economically well-off, fit-focused movement with men in most leadership positions.

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Though I see this intra-movement critique happening in regards to our tactics of animal activism – such as the infamous liberation vs. welfare debate or the recent backlash against HSUS’ sponsorship of a meat-eating festival – I see much less critical engagement with the marginalization of women, people of color, and differently abled folks involved in the vegan movement. For example, few individuals or groups speak out against the sexual abuse perpetrated by males in movement positions of power, even though such abuse unfortunately proves a common occurrence (please see the redaction at the top of this post). *** Similarly, only a handful of folks voice the problems of asserting that “being vegan is so easy!” and “you can get vegan food anywhere nowadays!,” pointing out the lack of understanding of racialized food access that these statements suggest.

Individuals and organizations like pattrice jones at VINE Sanctuary, A. Breeze Harper at The Sistah Vegan Project, lauren Ornelas at the Food Empowerment Project, Corey Lee Wrenn and Cheryl Abbate at Vegan Feminist Network, and more that you can find on my Resource page have done fantastic work in critically engaging the animal rights movement in dialogue about the oppressions our movement currently perpetuates. I want to see more of this. We need to see more of this, otherwise our goal of animal liberation will fail miserably as we continue to demean the marginalized groups that comprise integral aspects of our struggle, and as non-vegans continue to correctly view the mainstream animal rights movement as racist, sexist, classist, and ableist.

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So let’s talk, write, and engage more with each other about the fat-shaming that happens in AR, the sexual abuse that happens in AR, the white supremacy that happens in AR. Because we can’t combat those problems without recognizing them.

There also comes a point when one must recognize that a cantaloupe is too ripe to eat fresh. One can either deny the cantaloupe’s over-ripeness and suffer through forkfuls of mealy melon, or critically engage with that cantaloupe to turn it into something beautiful. The recipe you’ll find below is that something beautiful. Because saffron is cost-prohibitive for many of us (I only had some on-hand from a gift I received), you can most certainly substitute cardamom or even cinnamon for the saffron. Your tastebuds won’t know the difference, though the hue of your final butter won’t prove as vibrant (OH NO!!!).

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Saffron Cantaloupe Butter

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups cubed very ripe cantaloupe

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Juice of 1 orange

1/2 tsp saffron (or cardamom)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-large, non-reactive saucepan. Let the mixture macerate for 1-2 hours, allowing the juices to release.

After the cantaloupe has macerated, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and boil for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, keeping an eye on the mixture to ensure that it doesn’t boil over.

Blend the mixture until smooth either with an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a standing blender. Return the puree to the saucepan, set it over medium heat, and allow to simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until it becomes very thick.

The butter will keep well in an airtight container in a refrigerator, or you could multiply the size of this recipe and use proper canning procedures for long-term storage.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-29-14}

A quick note before today’s #NewsandChews post: be sure to enter my current giveaway for your chance to win a copy of the cookbook Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery!

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the last summer edition of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! In honor of the final days of August, I’ve got a meal-sized salad recipe ideal for highlighting all of that late-summer produce calling your tastebuds, plus a sandwich that has inspired disappointment in every moment that I’ve not yet eaten it, and some finger food that provides a tasty way to use up those puzzling broccoli stems. For news, I’m pointing you toward an article that reminds us that poverty need not serve as a default mode in our society, a video that offers a striking and truly consciousness-raising alternative to the Ice Bucket Challenge, and a book that deeply explores the fact – recently erupting with the public outcry against the murder of Black teenager Michael Brown – that racism and white supremacy reign in the U.S.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Smashed Potato Salad with Seed Pesto & Charred Sweet Corn
via Our Four Forks

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Yesterday, I relocated from my summer apartment in Brooklyn to my vegan living cooperative on the Vassar College campus. While I’m thrilled to recommence my formal education (WRITING PAPERS!!! But actually, I live to write papers), it’s recipes like the one pictured above that cause my heart to pine for the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket that I’ve left behind. Currently bursting will all of the ripe summer produce featured in this meal-sized salad and beyond, the market provided me with vibrant, fragrant, and nourishing produce (and good conversation) each week from Greg at Willow Wisp Organic Farm, the heirloom tomato lady at Evolutionary Organics, the Divine Brine pickle folks, and more. Another aspect to love about the market concerns its EBT program, which allows low-income New Yorkers access to this top-notch produce. Comprising 25%-50% of many farmers’ total income, EBT sales clearly prove substantial, suggesting that the market welcomes a wide array of individuals, not just rich white locavore foodies. Anywho, this hearty salad – crispy, crunchy, sweet, nutty, herby, succulent – provides an ideal dish for featuring that summer produce that won’t hang around much longer.

Sweet

Grilled Almond Butter Mango Sandwich
via Connoisseurs Veg

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

There exist few food types that satisfy me more than sandwiches, especially when those toasty, bready slabs of scrumptiousness involve nut butters and the fruit of culinary royalty (aka mango). Though I choose to avoid purchasing tropical fruit on a regular basis since I don’t think that the working conditions and monoculture rates in their countries of origin warrant my support (especially when those issues arise primarily from Western demand), sometimes I’ll treat myself to a mango if I can find a fair-trade and organic one (and OH, what a treat it is). My next mango will certainly contribute to the recreation of this sumptuous sandwich.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Broccoli Stem Fries with Spicy Sunflower-Pumpkin Seed Dipping Sauce
adapted from What’s Cooking Good Looking

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Impressed by the ingenuity and no-waste mentality represented by this use for broccoli stems, I experimented with Jodi’s original recipe, coating the green batons in coconut oil, corn flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, and black sesame seeds. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these fun finger foods married well with a simple “peanut” sauce made with homemade sunflower-pumpkin seed butter, brown rice syrup, tamari, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and sriracha.

Must-Read News Article

Poverty is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do to Turn Things Around
via Dean Paton at Yes! Magazine

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reminding folks that the status quo need not serve as the default – need not exist at all, even. For example, though most individuals cannot (or do not wish to) envision an alternative to our current dominant economic mode of neoliberal patriarchal imperial capitalism, the industrial-based capitalist system originated pretty darn recently in relative terms, around 1750 according to Marks in The Origins of the Modern World. Before that, non-Western civilizations thrived on trade-based, non-war-inducing economies of subsistence rather than of accumulation. This article from Yes! Magazine follows the same path of debunking what we’ve been conditioned to believe must exist – in this case, poverty – and suggests a number of  potential solutions. It’s stories like these that give me hope.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

The Rubble Bucket Challenge
via Ayman al Aloul at AlterNet

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

In the midst of the sweeping popularity of the multiply problematic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, many folks have found alternative, more productive methods of consciousness-raising around social issues. For example, a number of my friends within the animal rights movement have taken on the #HydrateDonate challenge launched by Vegan Outreach Executive Vice President Jon Camp, in which one drinks a glass of ice water and donates to a number of organizations of their choice (learn why the Ice Bucket Challenge proves greatly harmful to non-human animals and humans who use drugs tested on animals here). The alternative challenge presented by Gaza-based journalist Ayman al Aloul in this video strikes me as especially profound, employing the rubble pervasive in an Israeli-ravaged Palestine instead of the area’s scarce water to encourage folks to speak out against Israel’s devastating bombardment and occupation of Palestine.

Book Recommendation

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

I’ve found myself seeking out a ton of critical race theory for reading material this summer, which seems fitting amidst the murder of Black teenager Michael Brown by white cop Darren Wilson. Of course, since racism and white supremacy run rampant in the U.S., this reading material would prove relevant even if Michael Brown’s murder had not sparked such public outcry. Indeed, Michelle Alexander illustrates this point well with her argument that the War on Drugs – launched under Reagan but still thriving – has sparked the rebirth of a racial caste system that treats Black people as second-class citizens by throwing them behind bars for the most minor of offenses. Targeting young Black individuals for drug-related arrest even though statistics show that white people tend to use drugs at rates equal to or above the drug use of Black people, today’s criminal justice system functions as clear evidence that the racial biases so obvious in the civil rights era run rampant even in the age of our first Black president, only now they prove more difficult to identify. The hidden nature of this discrimination demands systemic change, and Alexander’s book provides a thorough, compelling analysis of where we should focus such changemaking efforts.

In solidarity, Ali.

Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Review, Recipe, & GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

Before getting into today’s giveaway, I’d like to point you all toward Episode 241 of the Our Hen House podcast, on which I provide a review of my three favorite vegan mayonnaise brands. Also check out this post for a backstory of how my passion for vegan mayo began. 

Another week, another giveaway here on Farmers Market Vegan. As I prepare to journey from Brooklyn to Poughkeepsie to begin my junior year of undergrad, I’d encourage you, dear readers, to prepare your cookbook senses for a tingling and your allergy-free treat desires for a sparking.

With the recently increasing incidence of food allergies, celiac disease, and diabetes in children and adults alike – as well as an allergy-heavy son herself – Debbie Adler felt called to create wholesome, nourishing baked goods free of dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, wheat, nuts, and refined sugars. And create she did, launching a Los Angeles-based vegan and allergy-free bakery known as Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes that specializes in gourmet baked goods including cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins.

Debbie Adler.

Debbie Adler.

Though Debbie ships her creative and allergy-friendly treats nationwide, seven years after opening her bakery she sought to spread her culinary love even further and published her cookbook, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery. Chosen as a “Best Gluten-free Cookbook of 2013″ by Delicious Living Magazine, a “Best Vegan Cookbook of 2013″ by Green Vegan Living and a “Favorite Book” by Living Without Magazine, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats features over 50 recipes for truly unique muffins, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, energy bars, donut holes, and breads.

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Guiding you through such mouthwatering recipes as Salted Caramel Apple Muffins, Quinoa Cranberry Cookies, Coconut Crunch Donut Holes, and Krispy Kale ‘n Cheese Soft Pretzel Rods, Debbie provides fun, upbeat, and snarky commentary on every page to inform readers about particular ingredients and the story behind the treat (including a very harried excursion to a neighborhood pumpkin patch).

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Though some of the ingredients Debbie recommends – like coconut nectar, certain gluten-free flours, and powdered erythriol – cost a bit more than is accessible for many of us not beholden to food allergies, substitutions for these ingredients abound, and I can vouch for the fact that smart, budget-friendly ingredient subs still yield delectable goodies.

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The first of  the Sweet Debbie’s recipes with which I experimented caught my attention with its promise of summery, refreshing flavors. The Basil-Lemonade Cookies feature a moist crumb and chewy texture to provide the dessert version of a cooling waterside beverage, complete with a sticky glaze that abounds with citrus flavor. Clearly, Debbie sees the powerful wisdom in accentuating sweet treats with herbs (Rosemary-Plum Ice Cream, anyone?).

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Eager to try out Debbie’s baked version of fried dough balls, I grabbed the saffron gifted to me by my aunt who recently traveled to Morocco and recreated a batch of Saffron and Cardamom Donut Holes. With the sophisticated flavor of saffron infused into both the dough and the glaze, these donut holes boast a gorgeously pink hue. Of course, considering saffron’s exorbitantly high price point, I certainly wouldn’t have made this recipe without my aunt’s herby gift, and I’m confident that the donut holes would taste just as complexly spiced with only the cardamom. Cakey and dense, these bite-sized donut holes provide a fun dessert or snack easy for popping right into one’s mouth.

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An avowed chocolate fanatic, Debbie also includes plenty of cocoa-filled recipes in her cookbook, and she’s graciously agreed to share one such recipe here on Farmers Market Vegan! Debbie’s Caramel-Glazed Fakin’ Bacon Brownies offer an animal-friendly way to participate in the recent bacon-chocolate phenomenon, employing the versatile shiitake mushroom for a vegan meaty topping. Given the rampant worker exploitation in the chocolate industry, I would highly recommend using either carob powder or a cacao powder approved by the Food Empowerment Project in the recipe, which you can find at the bottom of this post.

Photo via "Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats."

Photo via “Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats.”

I’m sure that many of you are eager to enter today’s giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats, so don’t wait any longer and click the links at the top and bottom of this post! Also don’t forget to connect with Debbie and her bakery on Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 31, and I will announce the winner on the following day.

Caramel-Glazed Fakin’ Bacon Brownies

Makes 16 brownies.

Must Have (Faux Bacon):

15 x 10-inch sheet of parchment paper
1 cup 1/4-inch-thick sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Must Have (Caramel Sauce):

1/2 cup coconut nectar
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Must Have (Brownies):

Grapeseed oil, for greasing the pan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 cup cacao or carob powder (make sure to use Food Empowerment Project-approved chocolate if using cacao)
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp guar gum
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 tsp stevia powder
10 tbsp warm water

Must Do

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

To make the faux bacon, spread the shiitakes on the prepared pan. Drizzle the grapeseed oil on the mushrooms, toss them gently with your hand to coat, and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the mushrooms are slightly crisp. Set aside.

Reduce the heat of he oven to 325°F.

To make the caramel sauce, mix together the coconut nectar, sunflower seed butter, and salt in a small bowl until well-combined.

To make the brownies, grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan with grapeseed oil.

Whisk together the flour, cacao or carob powder, baking soda, guar gum, salt, and cayenne (if using) in a large bowl.

Add the grapeseed oil, coconut nectar, vanilla, and stevia and stir to combine. Next add the warm water and stir until it is absorbed and the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smooth down with a wet baking spatula or the back of a wet spoon, and drizzle with caramel sauce. With a swirling motion, run a pointy knife in and out of the caramel sauce so some of it seeps into the brownie. Top evenly with the “bacon” bits.

Bake the brownies for 11 to 12 minutes, or until the batter starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Rotate the pan from front to back after 9 minutes of baking.

Transfer the pan from the oven to a wire rack and let rest for about 20 minutes before cutting the brownies into 16 squares. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with a free copy of the cookbook. All opinions are completely my own.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-22-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the 12th installment of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! Coconut milk abounds in today’s featured recipes, as well as a culinary gift from the Mediterranean. For stories, we’re touching on global hunger, Ferguson and the murder of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson, and the U.S. surveillance state. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Zucchini Mac & Cheese
via VeganSandra

Photo via VeganSandra.

Photo via VeganSandra.

Contrary to popular belief, vegans can with relative ease enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness of mac & cheese, all without directly exploiting mother cows or the babies dragged away from them at birth. Animal-free mac & cheese recipes abound on the blogosphere, but this particular one caught my eye due to its use of succulent and summery zucchini, its kick of richness from coconut cream, and its photos of ooey-gooey caramelized yumminess. An easy, frugal, and spectacular entree.

Sweet

Thai Peanut Popsicles
via Dula Notes

Photo via Dula Notes.

Photo via Dula Notes.

If you haven’t gathered from the multiple ice cream giveaways I’ve recently hosted on my blog, vegan ice cream has comprised the bulk of my diet this summe(not complaining). Okay, I exaggerate a teeny bit, but my deep fondness for frozen non-dairy treats has certainly intensified over the past three months. As a shift away from enjoying spoonfuls straight from the pint, these popsicles look like they’d provide ideal scrumptious diversity to my ice cream-eating routine. An enormous fan of employing herbs in sweet applications, I’m really cheering on the cilantro in this recipe, which surely would provide a fresh contrast to the peanut butter’s richness. If you, like me, don’t own the single-utility gadget of a popsicle mold, I bet an ice cube tray would play the part.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Socca with Za’atar, Caramelized Onions, and Roasted Red Peppers
Adapted from My Name is Yeh

socca w za'atar

Oh my. I know I featured a za’atar-y recipe on a past #NewsandChews post, but this dish truly deserves a mention…or a billboard…or its own podcast. Few culinary creations can match the creamy-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside perfection of socca (what the French call it) or cecina (what the Italians call it), a traditional, naturally vegan Mediterranean chickpea flour pancake that practically begs for succulent toppings. In this case, those toppings involve the inimitable simplicity and full-bodied flavor of caramelized onions and roasted red peppers, brightened with a generous sprinkling of lemon-thymey za’atar seasoning. Chickpea flour does come with a relatively high price tag, and while you can certainly try making your own, I’ve experimented with using all sorts of less expensive whole-grain flours – from buckwheat to brown rice to spelt – in socca recipes and experienced tasty (if inauthentic) results each time.

Must-Read News Article

Is Producing More Food to Feed the World Beside the Point?
by Nathanael Johnson at Grist

Image via Shutterstock.

Image via Shutterstock.

In this insightful article, Nathanael Johnson asks the question, “We currently have plenty of food, and yet we still have hunger, even in the U.S. So how will increasing yields further help?” An important inquiry, especially considering that, according to author Gordon Conway, “If we were to add up all of the world’s production of food and then divide it equally among the world’s population, each man, woman, and child would receive a daily average of over 2,800 calories — enough for a healthy lifestyle.” Like so many other social issues, hunger stems from a lack of access – to food, in this case – caused by government policies that embolden white supremacy, favor the rich, and repress dissent. Thus, instead of delegating the reformation of agriculture to attempts of alliances between transnational agribusiness and government to increase crop yields, we – the people “from below” – must organize for a more egalitarian society.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Coverage of Ferguson
via Democracy Now!

Photo via DemocracyNow.com.

Photo via DemocracyNow.com.

The murder of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri and the events that subsequently ensued will undoubtedly go down in history (as it rightly should), at least if the amount of media coverage it’s received provides any indication. Predictably, though, mainstream coverage has all but completely obscured what matters most in Ferguson – the killing of yet another unarmed black teenager – by focusing on the “riots” and looting that occurred in the days following Michael Brown’s killing (and jeez, who are these privileged white journalists who have probably never dealt with racist police brutality to tell the citizens of Ferguson how to assert their humanity?).

Thankfully, media outlets like Democracy Now! exist to provide independent, accurate, and fair coverage of current events in a manner that doesn’t victim-blame and allows the people involved in struggle to make their voices heard. As I’m not a resident of Ferguson and therefore cannot speak for the folks valiantly demanding some sort of justice in a supremely unjust societal structure, I think that Democracy Now! has done a great job of maintaining focus on Michael Brown’s murder and the systemic racism responsible for it. Check out episodes from August 18, August 19, and August 20 for progressive coverage of Ferguson.

Book Recommendation

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
by Glenn Greenwald

Photo via GlennGreenwald.net.

Photo via GlennGreenwald.net.

Recounting his experiences being contacted by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, providing adversarial reporting on Snowden’s leaked documents, and finding himself as the target of intense backlash from the government and corporate media, journalist Glenn Greenwald ingeniously employs his own story to demonstrate just how much of a surveillance state that silences even socially sanctioned forms of dissent (i.e., journalism) the U.S. has become. This book is a page-turner unlike any other social critique I’ve read in recent memory, reading almost like a novel in its first chapter, and took me all of three days to read in its entirety. If you’re interested in the full story behind the Snowden revelations, as well as much of what they illuminate, I’d highly recommend rushing to your local library and picking up Mr. Greenwald’s latest work.

In solidarity, Ali.

Cashew Cheese-Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms | Restaurant (Review) Closing

Before launching into today’s post and recipe, I’d like to congratulate Melissa Kallick, the winner of my giveaway for a pack of savory, vegan, gluten-free snack bars from Slow Food for Fast Lives!

Back in mid-June, shortly after I had set myself up in Brooklyn for the summer, I published a review of a restaurant in my new neighborhood and promised many more over the course of the next three months. However, on the next occasion I sat down to type up a Brooklyn restaurant review, I stopped myself mid-paragraph and questioned, “Do I really want to post this review on my blog?”

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Why, after offering my take on dozens of vegan-friendly eateries around the world, did I suddenly decide not to do so? I don’t feel comfortable publishing restaurant reviews anymore. Dining at fabulous eateries on a regular basis (or at all) constitutes an enormous privilege afforded to me by my family’s well-off background and my social standing as a non-marginalized individual.

Indeed, if one considers that, after paying rent and taxes, someone who works full-time on the minimum wage enjoys only $77 per week to spend on food and transportation, a single dinner at an average restaurant in New York City would eat up (oh, puns!) about a third of the money that someone has to spend over the course of seven days (i.e., 20 more meals). I imagine that anyone who has experienced this skimpy weekly budget – 3.3 million workers, or 4.3 percent of all hourly paid workers – would not only feel completely unable to identify with me as a person, but would also feel rather offended that I was essentially rubbing in their face the class gap that allowed me to eat at a high-quality restaurant at least once a week while their food choices remained severely constrained.

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As someone who advocates veganism – a lifestyle often associated today with upper-middle-class white folks, and thereby regarded as classist – I seek not to perpetuate the frequently true stereotype of vegans as people focused solely on staying up-to-date on the latest animal-free food trends, waxing poetic about expensive specialty products, and acting in other ways that obscure the heart of veganism: saying no, wherever possible in the contemporary world, to consuming products that rely on animal exploitation (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, fur, leather, silk, animal-tested cosmetics, etc.). While I understand the importance of sharing with not-yet-vegans the wide variety of familiar, veganized foods – both packaged and in restaurants – that make many individual’s transition easier, I feel that relying on these aspects of one form of the vegan lifestyle contributes to the capitalist system that both oppresses marginalized groups everywhere and fuels the animal agriculture industry.

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Veganism is about so much more than the food we eat, no matter how ridiculously delicious it can be, and centering our (and thereby the general public’s) attention on the food to which we have ready access contributes to the perception of a vegan diet as viable only for the most privileged groups of people. I certainly don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t continue to share vegan food with others – I write a blog with plenty of recipes, for goodness sake – but that we should be careful to not present vegan specialty products and restaurant food as the only important aspects of a vegan lifestyle.

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Of course, in addition to this shift in attention, we should support measures to get nourishing food into communities damaged by systemic inequalities, such as community garden initiatives, efforts to minimize food waste, and the programs of such groups as the Food Empowerment Project. Lack of access to healthy food options is also intimately connected to structural racism against which we must unite, though these efforts prove much more complicated and multifaceted. Check out my Resources section to learn more about structural racism and how we might combat it.

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Obviously, my choice to no longer publish restaurant reviews on my blog will not fix the lack of access to nourishing food in low-income communities, nor does it mean that I’ve ceased to play into the classist rhetoric of the current vegan movement. However, I feel that it will comprise a small, semi-symbolic/semi-material step on the path to a less classist vegan movement. If you’re interested in vegan restaurant recommendations in a particular city, check out my Travel section or shoot me a message using my Contact form.

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And anyhow, why take up blog space writing about food I didn’t even make, especially when I and anyone with a bit of practice have the ability to create just as tasty fare? Indeed, it doesn’t take a culinary genius to blend up some cashews into creamy bliss, stuff it inside the flowers that grow on the end of summer’s bounty of zucchini, and fry it all intro crispy morsels of summery yumminess. This recipe represents Italian peasant food at its best – a reminder that the origins of plant-based food lay not with cost-prohibitive items, but with unpretentious produce-centric dishes. Pff, who needs restaurant reviews?

fried squash blossoms (7)

Cashew Cheese-Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms

Makes 15-20 blossoms.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight), drained, and rinsed
1 tbsp sweet white miso
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemons’ worth)
1/2 tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh tarragon leaves

15-20 fresh squash blossoms, gently rinsed
1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
Coconut or vegetable oil for frying

In the bowl of a food processor or the carafe of a high-speed blender, combine all of the cashew cheese ingredients except the tarragon (cashews through salt). Process/blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl/carafe as necessary to get everything blending nicely. Once the mixture is smooth, pulse in the tarragon so that it flecks the cheese, rather than turns it green.

Spoon a tablespoon or so into the hollow middle of each blossom, handling the delicate blossoms carefully so as not to tear them. As you stuff the blossoms, lay each one on a large plate.

Place the arrowroot or cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Lightly coat each stuffed blossom in the starch, tapping the blossom against the side of the bowl to knock off any excess starch. Lay back on the plate.

Heat over high heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large-ish skillet with about a 1/2-inch of oil. While the oil heats, place two layers of paper towel on another large plate. Once the oil is very hot and starts crackling (350°F), place half of the stuffed and coated blossoms in the oil. Fry for 2-4 minutes on each side, or until both sides are golden brown, using a tongs to turn the blossoms over. Once the blossoms have finished frying, turn off the heat and carefully transfer them with the tongs to the paper towel-lined plate. Place the skillet back over the heat, and add more oil as needed to bring the level back up to about a 1/2-inch of oil. Fry the remaining half of the blossoms, placing them on the paper towel-lined plate when they’ve finished frying. Serve immediately.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-15-14}

Before launching into today’s post, I’d like to point you toward the giveaway I’m currently running for a free pack of savory, vegan, gluten-free snack bars from Slow Food for Fast Lives, as well as toward my recent review of the eBook series entitled “Socialists and Animal Rights” on Our Hen House

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the 11th installment of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! This one’s recipes feature two items of summer produce that I hold near and dear to my heart, as well as the non-dairy cheese that occupies an equally cherished place…in my stomach. As for news, we’ve got gender norms, the denial of racism, non-military solutions to the situation in Iraq, corporate efforts to privatize education, and the government’s labeling of activists as terrorists. Fun stuff today, folks!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory
via Veggie Belly
Photo via Veggie Belly.

Photo via Veggie Belly.

 When summer rolls around, one vegetable that I can’t seem to put into my mouth fast enough is sweet corn. Growing up the in Midwest, I devoured the juicy corn-on-the-cob my mother would boil every week during the warm months, smearing corn bits all over my adolescent face. Naturally, I’ve held the majestic sweet corn dear into adulthood, now chopping it into salads, roasting it in the husk, and pureeing it into soups, but always appreciating its familiarity as a childhood family favorite. This recipe for Masala-Coated Corn, however, introduces a completely new application for my longtime summer veggie pal, coating it in a succulent Indian-spiced tomato sauce. Yes. Yes, please.
Sweet
via My Whole Food Life
Blueberry-Bliss-Bars-My-Whole-Food-Life

I don’t know how the folks at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket grow their blueberries, but whatever they’re doing comprises the work of a genius. I honestly cannot remember ever experiencing plumper, sweeter, and more flavorful blueberries than during my time in Brooklyn this summer. With a mere four ingredients –one of which is the true delicacy of coconut cream –the fudgy bars pictured above would surely showcase the perfection of my Brooklyn blueberries (how’s that for alliteration?).

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Broccoli Quesadilla with Avocado, Garlic, and Dill
Adapted from Mountain Mama Cooks

broccoli-avocado quesadilla (2)

During my daily perusing of the latest recipes published in the foodie blogosphere, I tend to bypass those that contain animal flesh and secretions rather than seeking to veganize them. With such a plethora of creative, masterful vegan recipes out there that replicate and far exceed the non-vegan online fare, I see no reason to bookmark the recipes that imply animal exploitation. There exist exceptions to every rule, however, and this verdant quesadilla recipe represents one such exception. Boasting a saute of crisp-tender broccoli and sharp garlic contrasted with the refreshing smoothness of avocado and the slightly sweet note of one of my favorite herbs, the original quesadilla recipe required only a substitute of the king of all non-dairy cheeses on the market (aka, Daiya shredsto provide a veggie-loaded and ooey-gooey vegan entree.

Must-Read News Article

Today I’d like to highlight a pair of articles that touch upon two forms of hegemonic oppression that profoundly affect all of us, though about which most of us remain either unconscious or in denial: gender conformity and white supremacy.

Forcing Kids to Stick to Gender Roles Can Actually Be Harmful to Their Health
by Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress

Photo via Shutterstock.

Photo via Shutterstock.

It should come as no surprise that forcing children to conform to an identity with which they don’t actually, well, identify would cause them severe stress and mental anxiety. Indeed, a recent study has confirmed just this intuition, suggesting that the pervasive societal assumption of gender as biological (aka, “natural”) leads to insecurity and low self-esteem in children, who feel the need to exert constant effort to perform in line with established gender norms. Unlike many articles concerning entrenched social issues, though, this one concludes on a hopeful bent, noting that young folks are far less indoctrinated into society’s notions of gender than are older individuals.

We’re Not a Post-Racial Society: We’re an Innocent-Until-Proven-Racist Society
by Danielle Henderson at AlterNet

Photo via AlterNet.

Photo via AlterNet.

Turning to a second hegemony of white supremacy, this article points out with specific examples the general resistance to labeling clearly racist incidents as “racist” (kind of like how only recently did the New York Times promise to start calling torture “torture”). The author astutely attributes this problematic phenomenon to the the promotion in the 1990s of colorblindness, which encouraged whites to pretend not to “see” race, and therefore to deny the existence of racism while at the same time perpetuating it (in the words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”). Indeed, if we pretend that racism does not exist, we can not as white folks start to cultivate the anti-racist consciousness necessary in fostering a just society for all.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Two multimedia segments for you today, as well! One on the U.S. intervention in Iraq, the other on the corporatization of the educational system.

As U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq Begin, Will Military Intervention Escalate Growing Crisis?
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

On last Friday’s episode of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez spoke with Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies who has written extensively on Middle East-U.S. relations and actively opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Recently, Bennis published an insightful piece entitled “Don’t Go Back to Iraq!: Five Steps the U.S. Can Take in Iraq without Going Back to War.” Emphasizing an end to military “solutions” and a collaboration with other nations, Bennis’ piece counters the U.S.’ patriarchal discourse of war as the answer to all of our problems. Bennis discusses the details of her piece and more on this episode of Democracy Now!.

Debunking Ed Reform
via Radio Dispatch

Photo via The Colbert Report.

Photo via The Colbert Report.

Moving to another war – this time the war on public education by conservative self-titled “ed reformers” – John and Molly of Radio Dispatch debunk in detail claims that we must abolish teacher tenure in an effort to improve the performance of schoolchildren. John and Molly explain that standardized testing does not necessarily adequately reflect a student’s capabilities, and that the low-income students performing the worst based upon this standardized testing is largely the result of their poverty, not their teacher’s presumed incompetence. For more on this important discussion, watch the Colbert Report episode with ed reform advocate Campbell Brown that John and Molly reference on the show, as well as a Washington Post article entitled “Fact-Checking Campbell Brown: What She Said, What Research Really Shows.”

Book Recommendation

The Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
by Jason del Gandio and Anthony J. Nocella II

Photo via Amazon.com.

Photo via Amazon.com.

I’ll finish today by recommending a book that brings together the government repression of activists (particularly animal and environmental), the privileging of corporate interests, and the shoddy U.S. legal system. Edited by powerful intersectional activists and scholars Jason del Gandio and Anthony J. Nocella II, this anthology contains important essays by intellectuals and prosecuted activists alike that concern the government’s labeling of animal and environmental activists as terrorists (even though these groups have never caused bodily harm to anyone, while white supremacist hate groups run free), the free speech-chilling Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) of 2006, and recent “ag-gag” laws. This November, the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) (for which I’m honored and humbled to serve a second year as co-president) plans on hosting a campus event week focusing on the topics explored in this book, featuring three of the anthology’s contributors and finishing on Saturday with a discussion that includes numerous activist groups on campus. An important topic for activists of all stripes to explore.

In solidarity, Ali.

Slow Food for Fast Lives Bars Review & GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, this giveaway has closed!

I know, I know – the amount of Farmers Market Vegan giveaways this summer has gotten a wee bit out of hand. Somehow, though, I feel that you, dear readers, don’t really mind all of these chances to win free, high-quality vegan products…so what the hey? Howsabout a fifth summer giveaway here on FMV?

slow food for fast lives bars (1)

Today I’d like to introduce you to a truly unique line of products from the on-the-go, health-conscious folks over at Slow Food for Fast Lives. Finding themselves with hectic schedules that made sitting down regularly for a nourishing meal quite difficult, the company’s founders – Danny, Mel, and Patricia – combined their appreciation of good food with their desire to provide healthy options for individuals with bustling agendas. With Danny’s innovative idea of launching the market’s first savory snack bar and Mel’s entrepreneurial skills behind her, Patricia employed her imaginative cooking skills in combining farmers’ market produce with nuts, spices, and unrefined sweeteners to create a line of vegetable-based bars in a variety of globally inspired flavors. Not only did these bars far surpass a taste test, they also each contained 1-1.5 servings of veggies and ample amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

slow food for fast lives bars (2)

Since Patricia emerged from her kitchen with that first batch of sumptuous home-cooked bars, Slow Food for Fast Lives has shared its breakthrough products with retailers in California and the Southwest, as well as online, in the hopes of helping busy folks across the U.S. to “eat present, not tense.” While the company’s line currently features four bars – California, Indian, Moroccan, and Thai – the founders constantly have their culinary thinking caps on, perfecting such future flavors as Italian, Japanese, and Mexican. They also eagerly welcome suggestions from consumers on what slow food flavors they’d like to enjoy in their fast lives at info@eattruefoods.com.

While all of Slow Food for Fast Live’s bars are gluten-free and kosher, the California bar does contain honey; the rest of the three are completely vegan! (Check out why I don’t advocate the consumption of honey here.) As such, in this post I’ll only be reviewing the Indian, Moroccan, and Thai flavors.

SFFFL collage 1

I first journeyed into the world of Slow Food for Fast Lives with the Moroccan bar: a vibrantly hued blend of crunchy pistachios, chewy currants, sweet carrots, protein-rich lentils, attractive black sesame seeds, and smooth tahini spiced up with lemon, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cumin. Featuring hearty chunks of each ingredient instead of constituting a homogeneously blended bar, the Moroccan bar offered a multiplicity of interesting textures mingling with bold flavors. Of the three bars I sampled, I might just prefer the Moroccan bar the most.

slow food for fast lives bars (9)

The Thai bar made the next appearance in my Slow Food for Fast Lives tasting tour. Boasting a double whammy of peanuts and peanut butter, crispy brown rice, succulent red bell peppers, and zippy green onions in a bright and spicy mix of lime juice, dried basil, garlic and onion powders, and chiles, the Thai bar definitely got the spice sensors on my tongue all a-tingling. Though I didn’t expect such a pleasant piquant-ness in my snack bar, I found gastronomic memory harkening back to my favorite Thai restaurant in my hometown of Madison, WI after biting into this bar.

slow food for fast lives bars (10)

My snack bar trip around the globe ended with the Indian bar – a close second favorite behind the Moroccan bar. Reminding me of a samosa dipped in mango sauce or a coconut curry (but in snack bar form), the Indian bar made supremely savory use of rich cashews and coconut, cauliflower, lentils, hearty potatoes, sweet peas, and buttery mangoes accentuated with tomato powder, turmeric, onion, chili pepper, ginger, and cumin. Redolent with the flavors of curry without being overwhelming, this smooth, chewy bar proves warming and satisfying.

slow food for fast lives bars (11)

Have I engaged in enough culinary wordplay to persuade you all to incorporate some slow food into your fast lives? Well, lucky for one of you, the folks at Slow Food for Fast Lives have generously offered to gift a pack of their nourishing, tasty, and inventive bars to a Farmers Market Vegan reader. Simply click on one of the links at the top and bottom of this post, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter giveaway, and get those fingers crossed. Also be sure to connect with Slow Food for Fast Lives on Facebook and Twitter!

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 17, and I will announce the winner on the following day.

Sorry, this giveaway has closed!

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with free product samples. All opinions are completely my own.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-8-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy 10th anniversary of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! Exciting, no? Throw some aluminum foil at me! Right? 10th anniversary is aluminum? Anyway… Your jaw will hang wide open at the lavender-spiked grilled cheese sandwich, the creamy green dessert, and the simple yet complexly flavored side dish featured on today’s post. Then, you’ll get your Friday fix of feminism, anti-racism, anti-militarism, and current events. Let’s dive in!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory
Photo via Keepin' it Kind.

Photo via Keepin’ it Kind.

Okay, so this sandwich isn’t necessarily a savory recipe, but that fact certainly does not detract from its ability to make my mouth water after one glimpse of its photo. A huge fan of toasted sandwiches and creamy nut cheeses, this recipe combines two of my gastronomic propensities with my flower of choice: lavender. My past housemate and I share an obsession of sorts with the scent and taste of lavender, though his passion proves so intense that I could smell him walking down the hallway even if the door to my room was closed. Gabe, I would share this sandwich first with you. Though blackberries don’t seem to be in season right now (at least not in Brooklyn), I’m certain that this sandwich would taste just as lovely with raspberries or blueberries.
Sweet
Ethereal Pistachio Mousse
via Clean Wellness
Photo via Clean Wellness.

Photo via Clean Wellness.

I’ve found myself on a rather unstoppable ice cream kick this summer and, judging by my excitement for this recipe, this kick apparently extends to all desserts of the creamy, dreamy, smooth, decadent, delicious, oh my goodness gracious I love ice cream….ahem, persuasion. Anywho, this dessert combines the impeccable texture of creamy desserts with a little green nut that holds a special place in my heart, reminding me of the pistachio gelato over which I swoon whenever I’m lucky enough to return to Italy.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Roasted Scallions, Okra, and Green Beans with Za’atar and Olives
Adapted from Gourmandelle

za'atar veggies with olives

A simple recipe, yet one with enormous flavor. After discovering sumac at the Brooklyn Whole Foods – for which I had been on a quest since last December – I eagerly compiled all of the recipes on my “Recipes to Try” document that featured the brightly flavored seasoning, ubiquitous in Middle Eastern cuisine, known as za’atar (of which sumac is an integral ingredient). The first za’atar-y recipe with which I experimented, this multidimensional side dish pairs the fresh lemon-thyminess of za’atar (homemade with this recipewith the charred succulence of roasted scallions. Since the green beans and okra at my Brooklyn farmers’ market are at peak season right now, I threw a handful of each veggie in with the scallions, yielding fabulous results.

Must-Read News Article

The Problem with Men Explaining Things
by Rebecca Solnit at Mother Jones

Photo via Hypestock/Shutterstock.

Photo via Hypestock/Shutterstock.

I’ve long found myself feeling unimportant, questioning my intelligence and worth, during conversations with many of the men in my life, including those about whom I care very deeply. Feminist scholars like Rebecca Solnit (author of Men Explain Things to Me, which I’d highly recommend) have helped me to realize, name, and understand the origins of this feeling of disenfranchisement that I’ve experienced since childhood when interacting with most men. These feelings arise when, after nearly every mild assertion I make, the man with whom I’m speaking questions it, corrects it, or otherwise explains the correctness of a contrary point. An exhausting feeling to host on a daily basis, I’ve definitely internalized a sense of inferiority when in speaking situations with a male presence. This article by Rebecca Solnit at Mother Jones does a fantastic job of demonstrating the male tendency to explain things (EVERYTHING) to women, and has helped me to start combating that sense of inferiority.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Brennan lies, NYPD misdemeanor arrests are up” and “We tortured some folks
via The Radio Dispatch

John & Molly, hosts. (Photo via The Radio Dispatch.)

John & Molly, hosts. (Photo via The Radio Dispatch.)

John and Molly Knefel, the hosts of The Radio Dispatch podcast, have produced especially tremendous episodes all this week, discussing in an accessible, thoughtful, and entertaining manner the urgent social issues of the moment, such as CIA Director John Brennan lies about his group’s spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the perpetual fucked-up-ness of the NYPD, the casual nature of Obama’s admission that the U.S. “tortured some folks,” and, of course, Gaza. These are the podcast episodes in which to immerse yourself on your next run, cooking bout, or evening unwinding time.

Book Recommendation

We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America
Edited by Elizabeth “Betita” Martínez, Mandy Carter, and Matt Meyer

Photo via Amazon.

Photo via Amazon.

This summer, I’ve found myself devouring all the literature on social organizing and feminist/anti-racist/anti-capitalist theory that I can possibly consume. As a burgeoning activist, I see the immense importance of understanding the histories of the movements and issues to which I want to commit myself, as well as their contemporary state and significance. This anthology of essays by prominent anti-racist and anti-war activists writing at various points in the 21st century has greatly contributed to just such an understanding, featuring pieces by late revolutionary organizers and activists at the forefront of today’s struggles alike. An important book for engaging in the important work of linking racism, militarism, and other forms of oppression.

In solidarity, Ali.

Kale-Cranberry Pilaf | Guest Post from Lindsay Greenfield of Vegan 101 Girl

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Before I get into today’s extra special guest post, I’d like to make two announcements:
1.) On Episode 238 of the Our Hen House podcast, I share a review of five unrefined, versatile, vegan sweeteners to incorporate into your whole-foods eating habits. Maple syrup, coconut nectar, date sugar and more! I’m honored to be featured alongside the powerful intersectional activist Mickey Z, who just recently published his book on activism entitled Occupy this Book. Check out the episode here!
2.) I’ve selected the winner of my giveaway of 4 pints of DF Mavens vegan ice cream! Huge congratulations to Sharon Smithline; I’m certain you’ll fall madly in love with this ice cream. 

Onto the guest post! I’m ecstatic to welcome vegan blogger, health coach, and animal cruelty investigator extraordinaire Lindsay Greenfield  of Vegan 101 Girl to Farmers Market Vegan. As she’ll tell you, Lindsay and I met three summers ago in a vegetarian cooking course at a culinary academy in my aunt’s longtime home of Florence, Italy (to which I just recently had the pleasure of returning!). Little did I know that we would reunite virtually after discovering each other on the vegan blogosphere. Astounded by this chance re-encounter, I immediately invited Lindsay to contribute a guest post to my humble corner of the internet, and am thrilled to share her and her mouthwatering Kale-Cranberry Pilaf with you all. Make sure to follow Lindsay on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Also be sure to check out my guest post over at Lindsay’s blog, which features concurrent recipes for Tofu “Egg” Salad Sandwiches with Avocado, and Buffalo-Maple Cauliflower.

It amazes me how life sometimes reconnects people with each other, even years after first meeting. When Alessandra and I first met three years ago, I remember thinking how strong she was. We were the only vegans in our vegetarian cooking class during a study abroad in beautiful Florence, Italy. I could barely call myself a vegan though, as I had just committed to veganism before heading abroad, and I found myself frequently giving in and gobbling all things egg, cheese, and milk. Alessandra meanwhile would give a firm “no” to tasting all the cheesy, eggy treats our class whipped up. It wasn’t until I came home from that trip that it clicked and I realized I could never ever eat animal products again. Alessandra really was an inspiration to me, and that is why I am so incredibly honored that she reached out and asked me to share a recipe with all her fabulous readers. I love what a brilliant blogger she has turned into, and I just think it is so neat how we were able to find each other through the blogging community years after first meeting on the other side of the world.

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A lot has changed for me over the past three years. My passion for veganism, and sharing veganism with everyone I could, quickly grew after returning home from Italy. I went from being a “junk food vegetarian” to being a certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator through the Main Street Vegan Academy, and having a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and Cornell. I was also diagnosed with Celiac disease. I started my blog two-and-a-half years ago after discovering a love for healthy cooking, as well as photography. I wanted to show people that you can eat and be healthy, and still enjoy cooking and eating, while helping animals and the planet along the way. You can find me on my website Vegan 101 Girl and on all social media sites as vegan101girl. These days, I do admit, my presence in the blogging world has dwindled. I work for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in animal cruelty investigations, and that work has kind of consumed my life (in a good way!), but every free second I have, I’m sharing my love for all things vegan with the blogging world. I absolutely love whipping up vegan and gluten-free recipes, and I’m so excited that I get to share this one with you all today!

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And now, for the good stuff! Years ago I came across a non-vegan, non-gluten-free pilaf with raisins in it and I thought, “Oh, what I great idea to have dried fruit in a pilaf, yum!” Over the years, my own pilaf recipe has morphed bit-by-bit into what it is today. I love serving this colorful dish during the winter holidays, and it makes for a great entrée or side dish. Feel free to swap out the cranberries for your favorite dried fruit, and the kale for your preferred dark leafy green, but trust me when I say that kale and cranberries are a phenomenal pairing and your taste buds will seriously love this surprisingly delightful combo. Both kale and cranberries are absolute powerhouse foods, too. Kale is high in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium, and is rich in antioxidants. Cranberries are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals and multiple vitamins and minerals, and are famous for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which help alleviate urinary tract infections as well as other types of infections.

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Kale-Cranberry Pilaf

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cup no-chicken broth (or homemade veggie broth if you aren’t in a hurry)
1 tbsp olive oil (can omit and use water for cooking veggies if following an oil-free diet)
1/2 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
5 cups kale (any variety), stemmed and roughly chopped (about 3/4 lb)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how much you like garlic!)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup nuts, chopped (optional; I like cashews)

Cook rice with no-chicken broth in pot or rice cooker according to the rice package or rice cooker instructions.

Meanwhile, when the rice has almost finished cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the diced onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the kale and cook for another 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for another minute. Add the cooked rice and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until the rice is warmed through.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cranberries and chopped nuts. Serve immediately.

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Another huge thanks to Lindsay for sharing her wisdom and culinary prowess on Farmers Market Vegan!

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-1-14}

Don’t forget to enter my latest giveaway for your chance to win 4 pints of DF Mavens’ vegan ice cream! Remember, this giveaway is only open to residents of New York City and its five boroughs.

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the ninth installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (#NewsandChews) here on Farmers Market Vegan! This one will have your mouth watering with intensely flavorful summer dishes that feature heirloom tomatoes and zucchini, along with a dreamy milkshake that offers an homage to the most perfect sweetener on the planet. Then, get ready to have your activist energies inspired with the urge to make the environmental and animal rights movements more inclusive, to combat government surveillance, and to continue the radical energies of a past uprising in my very own hometown.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory
Photo via Alexandra's Kitchen.

Photo via Alexandra’s Kitchen.

Whenever summer rolls around, I rekindle my amorous relationship with zucchini, whose watery texture and insipid flavor during the colder months yields to the succulent smoothness of the warm-weather squash. This verdant side dish from Alexandra’s Kitchen features my preferred preparation of zucchini – caramelized and meltingly tender – alongside a couple of flavors I’ve been craving lately (say hello to my BFFs mint and capers!). This will certainly make an appearance on my dinner table within the coming weeks.

Sweet
Photo via VegaLife.

Photo via VegaLife.

All 21 members of my vegan living cooperative know supremely well of my unwavering devotion to maple syrup – the first substance that comes to my mind when asked, “if you had to sit in a bathtub filled with one thing…” (I’d happily drink myself out of that situation, thank you very much). I’ve also had such a taste for a nice, thick milkshake of late, so this concoction from the folks at Vega fulfills two of my deepest culinary passions of the moment. Plus, what doesn’t experience tremendous improvement from a sprinkling of coconut bacon? Nothing, that’s what.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Grilled Shiitakes and Green Goddess over Heirloom Tomatoes
via the Vedge Restaurant Cookbook

tomatoes & shiitakes w green goddess (1)

I’ve spoken before on the ol’ blog of the wonders of Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia and its cookbook, and I’m thrilled to once again lend it ample appreciation. This summery dish from culinary genius Rich Landau features thick, juicy slices of heirloom tomato topped with meatily textured and charred shiitake mushrooms, all doused in drizzled with an herby Green Goddess-style dressing of my one true love vegan mayo, plenty of herbs, and capers. Licking the plate is mandatory.

Must-Read News Article

New Report Expounds on Old Problem: Lack of Diversity in Green Groups” and “Think People of Color Don’t Care About the Environment? Think Again
via Brentin Mock at Grist

Photo via Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Photo via Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.

In both of these stories, Brentin Mock highlights the problematic lack of inclusion of people of color within the mainstream environmental movement. As he notes, this exclusion proves particularly ironic considering that environmental racism causes communities of color to experience much more intensely the consequences of climate change. For example, Mock cites in the article “a recent study from the University of Minnesota [which] found that black and brown Americans are more often trapped in neighborhoods laden with nitrogen dioxide than their white fellow Americans.”

Of course, people of color don’t currently make up a notable portion of the environmental movement not because they don’t care about the state of our planet, but because of systemic inequalities that, for example, bar people of color from securing jobs in the environmental sector. Additionally, because of the mainstream environmental movement’s overwhelming whiteness, it may not feel like a welcome community for many people of color.

I certainly see this phenomenon present, too, in the animal rights movementa predominantly white movement with racist, classist, sexist, and ableist tendencies. In order to work toward collective liberation for all, regardless of species, race, class, gender, etc., we must confront the oppressions present in the social movements in which we are most involved.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Jeremy Scahill: Leaked U.S. Terrorist Watchlist Rulebook Reveals ‘Global Stop and Frisk Program‘”
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

This Democracy Now! segment features progressive journalists extraordinaire Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept, a recently launched platform dedicated to reporting on the documents provided by NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden and producing “fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues.” The Intercept’s most recent report focuses on a leaked copy of the secret government guidebook that outlines the characteristics used to classify an individual or group as a “terrorist” target. Democracy Now! lists some of these categorization guidelines:

Both “known” and “suspected” suspects are tracked, and terrorism is so broadly defined that it includes people accused of damaging property belonging to the government or financial institutions. Other factors that can justify inclusion on the watchlist include postings on social media or having a relative already deemed a terrorist.

This guidebook constitutes just one of a plethora of evidence pointing to the creation of a state of complete government surveillance in the U.S.

Book Recommendation

Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street
by John Nichols

Photo via Amazon.com.

Photo via Amazon.com.

The other day after stocking up on vegan macarons and Cinnamon Snail doughnuts at the Vegan ShopUp, I hopped a short distance over to Bluestockings, a radical and collectively owned bookstore and activist center (read: my heaven). Not looking for any book in particular, I stumbled upon this book by John Nichols, which caught my eye with its Wisconsin-shaped fist – a symbol I know well from my days as a high school junior in Madison during the ongoing protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, and the subsequent occupation of the state capitol. As a youngin’ who lacked a meaningful understanding of class issues and social movements, high-school me didn’t fully understand the pivotal importance of the goings-on of my hometown. This book in part helped me to realize the enormity of all of those marches we students took from our school to the capitol building, those nights spent in sleeping bags on the marble floor of that state building, and the visits of movement leaders like Amy Goodman and Jesse Jacskon to what I thought was my humble city. Now, as I look back on the events of early 2011 in Madison, I’m hugely proud to hail from such a hub of progressivism, and yearn to return to my original community to contribute to the radical energy that helped to shape my current commitment to activism. On Wisconsin!

In solidarity, Ali.