Apple Custard Pie | About “Ethnic” Recipe Titles…

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In this largely white community of vegan and/or healthy-food bloggers (of course, there are plenty of bloggers of color and I don’t mean to erase them, but in my experience most of my fellow food bloggers are white, including myself), I see many recipe titles that reference different cultures and their cuisines: “Tiki Tempeh,” “Asian-Style Greens,” “Moroccan Chickpea Soup,” just to name a couple. And I’m troubled by them. Though I’m confident that those in this community hold the best intentions in creating and naming their recipes, I can’t help but feel that these “ethnic” recipes titles reflect a larger phenomenon of cultural appropriation.

To illustrate the forms cultural appropriation can cake and its implications, I’d like to quote at length from antiracist organizer Paul Kivel‘s book Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice:

“It is difficult for white people to become multiculturally competent. Wherever we look, we see ourselves — our language, values, images and history. We have learned how great European-based US culture is. … We have been trained to think that other cultures are less literate, less civilized, less efficient, less practical. It is impossible to make a good-faith effort to respect and learn about other cultures when we hold a core assumption that they are inferior to ours. … US culture has drawn from many different cultural traditions. We have valued them enough to appropriate their strengths and achievements. … One way we retain our assumptions of white superiority while increasing our cultural competency is to split off the culture from the people who live it. White people have appropriated music, art, spiritual practices and stories from other cultures while killing or excluding the people who created them. … There is also the danger that we will use our knowledge of another culture to feel superior to the people whose culture it is. Even if we know a lot about the holidays, music or beliefs of another culture, we still have a lot to learn from the people who live it” (285-286).

As a couple examples of the white exploitation of other cultures whose practices we have incorporated into US white culture, think of the Native American peoples whom we all but obliterated in the name of stealing their land, while today we wear moccasins and clothing with “Native” patterns because. Or perhaps some of us have become connoisseurs of jazz while remaining complicit in the systemic suppression of full Black participation in society. Often, we tend to think we’re “cool” for wearing trendy clothes or listening to certain types of music, contributing to our internalized sense of superiority to peoples of different cultures: we become “cultured” by perpetuating the mindset that we are entitled to aspects of other cultures, which has historically resulted in the very real exploitation of the peoples of such cultures.

In the case of titling recipes with “ethnic” references, I think this subtle sense of superiority comes through when we judge it acceptable to call something “Thai” or “African” or “Spanish,” or to name a dish “sushi” or “mofongo,” without having an understanding of those cultures or dishes. Just because a food is cooked with corn and chili powder doesn’t mean it’s Mexican, nor does mashing eggplant with tahini necessarily constitute baba ghanoush, and our readiness to apply these titles to our recipes strikes me as yet another way we casually acknowledge other cultures while not actually taking the time to reflect upon the ways we harmfully treat the peoples who identify with them. In regard to recipe titles that specifically reference broad groups of people like “Asian” and “African,” these generalizing terms fail to recognize the vast diversity of cultures and cuisines within them – a failure that happens quite often, considering our propensity to think of Africa as a country.

I do hope that white folks won’t stop cooking dishes or publishing recipes inspired by the cuisines of other cultures, since I think that seeking out unfamiliar forms of eating can contribute to our fostering of the “cultural competence” that Paul Kivel describes as “the ability to understand another culture well enough to be able to communicate and work with people from that culture,” and to accept them as potential leaders rather than non-agential members of our society (284). To me, publishing recipes inspired by the cuisines of other cultures has different implications than explicitly titling those recipes as the particular dishes or cultures from which they’re drawn. For example, calling rice and veggies wrapped in seaweed “nori rolls” instead of “sushi” can signal that even though you’ve used ingredients commonly featured in a certain cuisine, you’re not purporting to be familiar enough with that cuisine to have created something that can really be called “Ethiopian” or “injera,” and are by extension recognizing that you are not in a place to take from this culture as if it were your own.

Another aspect of this continuation of multicultural cooking that I would call absolutely necessary is a commitment to examining how we contribute to the systemic oppression of other cultures in our daily lives, and how we can challenge ourselves to act and think differently. This everyday change may involve not asking Black people if you can touch their hair (and then often proceeding to do so even without their permission), working to place people of color in positions of leadership in an organization with which you’re involved, intervening when someone tells a racist joke, or not getting defensive when people of color talk about instances in which they’ve been discriminated against.

I’m certainly not saying that by pressing “publish” on a recipe that makes cultural references, white food bloggers are consciously thinking how superior they are to the peoples of the culture they’re referencing. I am, however, suggesting that such an act is indicative of unrecognized participation in an historic legacy of valuing other cultures only when it suits us, and either actively or passively subjugating them the rest of the time. And I’ve done it, too! Heck, I’ve published recipes for “Thai Coconut-Baked Tofu” and “Moo Shoo Veggies with Mung Bean Crepes” (the names of which I’ve since altered). But I intend to do so no longer, and instead continue to analyze my internalized beliefs of white superiority and the ways in which I manifest them.

So now, because I have no adequate transition, please enjoy this pie. It’s a yogurt-based version of this ice cream pie from Hannah Kaminsky with a crust adapted from a recipe in Fran Costigan’s new book Vegan Chocolate. It’s yummy. And it uses apples, which are all the rage around this time of year.

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Apple Custard Pie

Makes one 9″ pie.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry or light spelt flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a fine powder in your blender, food processor, or spice grinder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond or hazelnut extract

1 lb apples (about 3 medium), cored and cubed
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 24-oz container non-dairy yogurt, plain or vanilla
2 tbsp agar flakes or 1 1/2 tsp agar powder

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

First, make the crust: in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and ground oats. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup/nectar, and extracts. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir well to form a moist dough. Spoon the dough into the center of a 9″ springform pan and press to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are slightly darker than golden-brown. Refrigerate until completely cool before filling.

Make the filling: in the bowl of a food processor, combine the cubed apples, lemon juice, yogurt, and agar. Run the machine for about 3 minutes to ensure a super smooth filling. Pour the puree into a medium-sized saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking often. Once the crust has completely cooled, pour the puree over the crust into the springform pan and let cool to room temperature to ensure that the agar sets properly. Once cooled, transfer the pie to the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour. Serve with additional apple slices fanned over the top and drizzled with maple syrup, if desired.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {10-10-14}

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 well-being of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Wowza, it’s the 19th edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)! This week’s recipes move into intensely autumnal fare, highlighting the hearty veggies that provide the substance to get us through the cold months to come. As for stories, I’m pointing you toward three articles that showcase grassroots resistance to the neoliberal powers that perpetuate the ever-growing wealth gap, both in the U.S. and internationally; an important reminder that the intellectual history of our nation did not consist solely of white people; and a book that envisions truly transformative justice more concretely than any text I’ve yet encountered. Happy Friday!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad
via A House in the Hills

Photo by Sarah Yates.

Photo by Sarah Yates.

Vibrant and substantial, this epitome-0f-fall salad promises the creamy succulence of roasted squash, the chewy smokiness of sauteed kale, the crunchy richness of hazelnuts, the plump tanginess of dried cranberries, and the silky brightness of miso-tahini dressing. A prime example of transforming unpretentious ingredients into a dish that far surpasses the sum of its parts.

Sweet

Pumpkin Pie Popsicles
via Fragrant Vanilla Cake

Photo via Amy Lyons.

Photo by Amy Lyons.

Not even the cooling weather can dissuade me from enjoying my dessert of choice: creamy frozen treats (did I mention that I basically lived on vegan ice cream over the summer?). This iteration of such goodies employs a creamy base of bananas for the pumpkiny star of the popsicles, accentuated by warming spices and imbued with richness from nut butter (the recipe calls for pecan butter, but my goodness, how expensive does that sound? I trust that homemade almond butter or even tahini would quite suffice). Plus, look how gorgeously orange they are!

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Za’atar Eggplant over Lemon-Tahini Greens
inspired by My New Roots

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Certainly the least seasonal of the recipes highlighted today, this roasted whole eggplant still provides a warming dinner to enjoy on bracing nights. Adapting Sarah’s recipe, I sprinkled the eggplant halves with homemade za’atar seasoning, roasted them until tender, then set them atop a generous pile of mixed salad greens coated in an adaptation of Sarah’s Spicy Tahini Sauce. Filling and flavorful, this dish adequately showcases the smooth texture and buttery flavor of the mighty eggplant.

Must-Read News Stories

Because I’m perpetually interested in examining instances of community-based challenges to hegemonic power structures, I felt compelled to showcase today not one, but three articles that spotlight grassroots resistance to the various iterations of the neoliberal powers that perpetuate the ever-growing wealth gap, both in the U.S. and internationally. Each of these instances of resistance of course prove hugely valuable in and of themselves, but they also point to the infiltration of the neoliberal framework into all aspects of life, and the consequent need to challenge it in a multiplicity of locations.

World Versus Bank: The Return of the World Bank and the People’s Resistance
by Martin Kirk and Alnoor Ladha at Truthout

Homeless Bill of Rights aims to protect life-sustaining activities
by Renee Lewis at Al Jazeera America

Developers Aren’t Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco
by Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke at Truthout

Photo via Truthout.

Photo via Truthout.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Black Prophetic Fire: Cornel West on the Revolutionary Legacy of Leading African-American Voices
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!.

Photo via Democracy Now!.

Despite what the vast majority of our history books taught us, the construction of this nation did not hinge upon white people alone. Indeed, our entire economy would not exist without the brutal enslavement of millions of African peoples, and African Americans as a population have inhabited U.S. land for longer than any other immigrant group. Yet, despite the fact that Black people played a vital role in building our society, the white supremacist powers that be have all but erased their contributions – economic, social, intellectual – and thereby upheld the myth of Black people as worthless and expendable to this day (as we can see with the mass incarceration of Black people. They’re useless, so let’s throw them in prison…or so the rhetoric goes).

On this segment of Democracy Now!, the inimitable Dr. Cornel West brings Black voices to the fore, reminding us of the astonishing, revolutionary individuals who devoted their lives to fighting for justice.

Book Recommendation

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law
by Dean Spade

Photo via South End Press.

Photo via South End Press.

An example of a truly intersectional text, Dean Spade’s Normal Life lays out the three formulations of power – individual, disciplinary, and population-based – more clearly than any other work I’ve encountered. Though his book includes “critical trans politics” in its title, Spade makes clear that the power structures that compromise the life chances of trans people operate in the same way to wreak systemic violence upon all vulnerable populations (and to render them vulnerable in the first place). Spade fiercely challenges the “individual rights” framework of the legal system in which many social justice movements currently operate, specifically critiquing the mainstream lesbian and gay movement for centering their efforts on securing legal reform that will only benefit the most privileged in their community, and in doing so strengthening the very stratifying power structures that generate their subjection in the first place.

Not only does Spade offer this necessary critique, he also provides a framework for how to re-enact such social justice movements currently focused on reform rather than revolution, such that they can fulfill their transformative potentials. Read this and be inspired.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {9-26-14}

If you haven’t yet entered my giveaway for your chance to win a Vega prize pack, be sure to do so!

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 well-being of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Today’s edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (#NewsandChews) features a hearty soup for the fast-approaching cool fall days, a creamy tart studded with one of my personal favorite fruits, a multidimensional dish from a restaurant cookbook that required an entire day to prepare, a more collaborative notion of charity, a call for resistance against climate change to come from below, and an upcoming book that needs pre-order support!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Persian Lentil Soup
via Sweet Paul

Photo via Sweet Paul.

Photo via Sweet Paul.

When I return to my parents’ house for winter break from college, my mother puts soup on the dinner table nearly every night, much to the content and comforted bellies of my father and myself. I fully intend to ensure that this soup – rich with earthy lentils and brightened with Iranian flavors like mint, black lime, and sumac – weaves its way into our soup repertoire this January.

Sweet

Saffron Custard Tart with Figs & Blackberries
via Harmony a la Carte

Photo via Harmony a la Carte.

Photo via Harmony a la Carte.

I think that fresh figs will always seem like a huge treat to me, special and novelty no matter how often I purchase them (which proved pretty darn often this summer…). Though eating these perpetual personal delicacies right out-of-hand satisfies me to no end, I certainly wouldn’t pooh-pooh a dessert that incorporates figs – especially if that dessert also happened to involve a rich vegan custard in a sticky date-nut crust. With orange blossom water and saffron, this tart would provide a complementary ending to the soup above, now that I think about it. If saffron is out of your price range (aka, if you’re not swimming in a pool of dollar bills), turmeric will do the trick in imparting a deep yellow tone to this tart.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Stone-Ground Grits with Pickled Shiitakes and Tempura Watercress
via Dirt Candy: A Cookbook

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Day before: make the shiitake pickles and allow their flavor to develop overnight. Morning: simmer the corn stock. Afternoon: blend the corn cream. Before dinner: cook the grits, fry the watercress, and assemble the dish. At dinner: marvel at the symphony of flavors you’ve created over the course of the last 24 hours. Yes, this dish may require a full day of preparation, but over my breaks from school I got time to kill and that means that I’m killin’ it in the kitchen. While I recreated this dish from Dirt Candy executive chef Amanda Cohen’s trailblazing cookbook/graphic novel last winter break rather than this week, my October break slowly approaches, bringing with it the ability to spend some good quality time with my pots and pans. Perhaps more grits are in their future…

Must-Read News Story

The Charitable Society or ‘How to Avoid the Poor and Perpetuate the Wealth Gap’
via Fred Guerin at Truthout

Photo via Shutterstock.

Photo via Shutterstock.

In the spirit of radically altering our socio-personal relationships with one another in order to cultivate a society based on respect and community, philosophy scholar Fred Guerin envisions a model of charity that drastically departs from the current self-interested, patronizing, paternal system of the 1% projecting themselves as altruistic while enabling their control over the institutions at which they throw vast sums of money. This article particularly speaks to me with its willingness to deeply investigate the implications of and propose viable solutions to a very real problem. A well-done piece of work.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

‘We Can’t Rely on Our Leaders': Inaction at Climate Summit Fuels Call for Movements to Take the Helm
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Time and time again, social movements throughout history have proven that for concrete and lasting change to take place, its driving force needs to come “from below,” from the people bearing the brunt of society’s burdens and their allies. On the September 24 (one day after my mother’s birthday!) edition of Democracy Now!, two prominent earth advocates invoke this wisdom in the context of climate change. Though the segment opens with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Leonardo Dicaprio – two voices often privileged within the environmental  movement – the broadcast focuses attention on the voices of two much less visible individuals, which I feel is important to note considering the tendency of media to prioritize advocates already receiving substantial coverage.

Book Recommendation

Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will
by Jamie Kilstein & Allison Kilkenny

Photo via Simon & Schuster.

Photo via Simon & Schuster.

While I haven’t actually read this book (it hasn’t even been published yet!), I’ve been listening to Allison and Jamie promote it every morning on Citizen Radio, and it sounds like a compelling, hard-hitting, and highly entertaining work (much like the duo’s daily podcast). Relaying the urgent news stories of our time accurately and fairly, Allison and Jamie provide a refreshing contrast to the corporate-controlled mainstream media. If you have the funds, I’d highly encourage you to pre-order the book in the hopes of generating popular attention for these groundbreaking journalists.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vega Review & GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

In the past decade, the vegan community has borne more top-level athletes than the world ever expected of we sickly, malnourished, and deprived plant-eaters. From bodybuilders to fighters to endurance athletes to runners, competitive athletes fueled by animal-free diets have demonstrated not just the viability, but the power of plants(Of course, many non-Western, largely plant-based cultures have demonstrated this for years, but for the most part we haven’t been willing to look).

Photo via BrendanBrazier.com.

Photo via BrendanBrazier.com.

I first encountered the world of vegan athleticism after picking up a copy of Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health by Brendan Brazier, Canadian vegan ultramarathoner and creator of the award-winning line of whole-food nutritional products known as Vega. After developing an increasing concern for how individual food choices affect the lives of human workers, non-human animals, and the planet, Brendan became determined to create a conscious diet that would also enable top performance in his endeavors as a professional Ironman triathlete. With a focus on nutrient density, alkaline-forming foods, and nutrient-to-resource ratio, Brendan succeeded in developing just the diet that would maximize his athletic performance and minimize his environmental impact: one based on whole plant foods.

Photo via MyVega.com.

Photo via MyVega.com.

Three years after the publication of Thrive Foods, Brendan’s line of Vega products has aided countless nutritionally and athletically minded folks in their health- and performance-related endeavors, receiving numerous accolades along the way. Brendan launched Vega with his plant-powered protein powder – based in pea protein, seeds, brown rice protein, chlorella, and maca – now known as Vega One and available in french vanilla, chocolate, berry, vanilla chai, and natural flavors. Since that first protein powder, Vega has expanded its meticulously formulated line to include meal and snack bars, sacha inchi seeds, chlorella, maca, and an antioxidant oil blend – all completely vegan, nourishing, and selected for peak athletic performance and environmental sustainability.

Photo via MyVega.com.

Photo via MyVega.com.

The Vega team generously provided me with three products from their line: the Vega One Nutritional Shake in French Vanilla flavor, the Antioxidant Omega Oil Blend, and the Maca Chocolate bars (recommended by the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List!).

Imparting a warm sweetness and full-bodied mouthfeel to my morning smoothies, the Vega One Nutritional Shake contributed to a fantastic pre-workout meal without the chalkiness from which many other protein powders suffer. With 15 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, three servings of leafy green vegetables, and tons of antioxidants, omega-3’s, and probiotics, Vega One can provide a comprehensive answer for the oft-asked question, “Where do vegans get their nutrition?”

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The Antioxidant Omega Oil Blend starred in the latest rendition of my famous Liquid Gold Salad Dressing (which in turn stars in my Everyday Salad!), lending it a vibrant green hue thanks to the blend’s inclusion of hemp seed oil. Also featuring flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut seed oil, green tea seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, black cumin seed oil, black raspberry seed oil, blueberry seed oil, and cranberry seed oil, the blend boasts a balanced two-to-one ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, in accordance with widely accepted nutritional recommendations.

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For dessert, I sampled Vega’s 70% dark chocolate bars, infused with the unique malty flavor of maca – a Peruvian root touted for its ability to improve energy, stamina, fertility, and libido. While I cannot definitively say if I experienced an increase in any of these characteristics, I can say that I wholeheartedly enjoyed the silky smooth texture and complex flavor of the bars (slavery-free!).

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vega (2)

While expensive and not-widely-available “superfoods” like maca, chlorella, and sacha inchi seeds do not play necessary roles in a diet for quality athletic performance – indeed, insisting they did would prove quite elitist – at the heart of Brendan and Vega’s work lies a passion for the health and environmental benefits of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds: foods available to many more people (though still not enough). Showcasing this passion, the Vega team offers a bounty of free, nourishing, performance-minded, vegan recipes and meal plans on their website.

In my increasingly privileged position as an established blogger, these foods have become very available to me thanks to vegan companies attuned to the benefits of collaborating with prominent online presences. As such, the availability of products has increased for blog readers, as well, showcased by the constant flurry of giveaways on the blogosphere.

And you, dear readers, have the opportunity to experience Vega’s products: one of you will win a prize pack of surprise goods from the Vega line. Simply click on the links at the top or bottom of this post to enter the giveaway for your chance to win! And of course, don’t forget to connect with Vega on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, September 28, 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 {9-19-14}

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 well-being of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

On this 16th edition of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews), I’m sharing with you all a simple yet thoughtfully composed bowl, flower-infused cookies, hands-down the most awe-inspiring birthday cake with which I’ve ever celebrated, some critical thoughts on this weekend’s People’s Climate March, a firsthand account of the neoliberalization of higher education from progressive journalist extraordinaire Mychal Denzel Smith, and a book that will expand your notions of slavery beyond what you’ve ever imagined. Onward!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Sprouted Rye Berry & Roasted Cauliflower Bowl
via Naturally Ella

Photo via Naturally Ella.

Photo via Naturally Ella.

I’m not one to turn my nose up at a good vegan bowl, especially when it involves my favorite vegetable to roast (cauliflower) and my number-one legume of choice (chickpeas). Combined with the toothsome chew of hearty grains and the full-bodied crunch of pepitas, these humble ingredients promise a dish that amounts to much more than the sum of its parts. Of course, I would either omit the feta or replace it with a creamy, tangy, homemade cashew cheese, and would wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same!

Sweet

Calming Chamomile Cookies
via The Little Green House

Photo via The Little Green House.

Photo via The Little Green House.

The use of unorthodox herbs and spices in sweet applications woos me to no end, and chamomile has presented me with my latest culinary seducer. I would expect a soothing flavor and crisp bite from these chamomile-infused cookies, ideal for enjoying with a steaming cup of afternoon tea. Sub coconut oil for the vegan butter and coconut sugar for the regular sugar, and you have a less refined version of these comforting treats.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Matcha Green Tea Tiramisu
adapted from Eat Plants, Pray, Love

Photo credit to Rhyston Mays.

Photo credit to Rhyston Mays.

As I reflected upon in my last post (in which I also shared a recipe for my go-to salad dressing), I celebrated my 20th birthday this past weekend. And celebrate I did, with music, friends, and this: the uncontested dreamiest cake I’ve eaten in recent memory…perhaps ever. With layers of moist vanilla sponge cake soaked in a matcha-infused syrup and spread thickly with a brightly flavored, oh-so-luscious matcha cashew-coconut cream, this green tea tiramisu took my breath away, along with that of everyone else in the room. Garnished with raspberries freshly picked from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project from which my living cooperative receives a weekly CSA share, this cake permeates my gastronomic dreams to this day. It may just make another appearance around this time next year…

Must-Read News Story

Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate ‘Farce’
via Quincy Saul at Truthout

Photo via NYC Light Brigade / People's Climate March via Facebook.

Photo via NYC Light Brigade / People’s Climate March via Facebook.

In these past couple of weeks leading up to the People’s Climate March on September 21 – billed as “the biggest climate march in history” – I’ve heard only positive talk regarding the event. Of those I’ve encountered, students on my college campus and progressive media sources alike have spoken with high aspirations and revolutionary spirits of the event. And rightly so – the March will constitute a massive public demonstration highlighting a deeply and urgently felt concern for the future of the earth and its inhabitants. However, as this article from Quincy Saul points out, the March does not come without its drawbacks and potentially negative implications. I highlight this story not to squelch the well-meaning intentions of the climate activists involved in the March, or to pooh-pooh the spectacle that an event of this scale has already generated. Rather, I think that – as with any action, campaign, or organization working toward large-scale social change – we must constantly think critically and reflexively about our means of activism and their effects. This article does a fantastic job of applying this necessary critical energy to the otherwise largely unquestioned People’s Climate March.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Episode 42: An Education
via Mychal Denzel Smith on Katharine Heller’s “Tell the Bartender”

Photo via Tell the Bartender.

Photo via Tell the Bartender.

After hearing him voice his always thought-provoking insights on my favorite progressive podcasts and reading similar insights in his pieces at The Nation, I’ve become an enormous fan of Mychal Denzel Smith. As such, I was thrilled to see his name on the lineup of the most recent episode of Tell the Bartender – a storytelling podcast hosted by vegan actor, writer, and comedian Katharine Heller. In the episode, Mychal tells of his tumultuous college years, focusing on his relationship as the editor of his campus activist newspaper with an administration invested in stifling the publication’s journalistic freedoms. Honest and compelling, Mychal’s story provides a firsthand account of the increasingly threatening phenomenon of neoliberalism’s effect on higher education.

Book Recommendation

The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World
by Greg Grandin

Photo via Macmillan Publishers.

Photo via Macmillan Publishers.

Included on the syllabus for my sociology course entitled “Black Intellectual History” is this eye-opening text on the Atlantic slave trade. While I (and I expect many others) grew up learning about slavery almost solely in the context of the southern United States, Grandin’s Empire of Necessity illuminates the integral role slavery played in the economic development of the Americas more broadly. Indeed, as Grandin effectively demonstrates, the economic successes of the Americas absolutely could not have happened without slavery. Grandin employs vivid firsthand accounts of African peoples’ experiences traveling, working, and struggling to survive in the New World of the 1800s that viewed them only as commodities, highlighting not only the physical but psychological traumas forced upon them. An important work in understanding slavery’s unwavering pervasiveness in North and South American societies.

Check out this segment on Democracy Now! for an interview with Empire of Necessity author Greg Grandin.

In solidarity, Ali.

Three Little Birds Vegan Ice Cream Review & GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

I’m fairly confident in estimating that about 62% of my diet this summer consisted of vegan ice cream (no complaints here). Over the past few months, I’ve come to consider myself somewhat of a vegan ice cream connoisseur, familiarizing myself with which brands boast the silky-smoothest, richest, most full-flavored dairy-free frozen treats (check out my past reviews of Coconut Bliss and DF Mavens for two such brands). Of course, obtaining an ice cream maker of my own remains an ever-present fantasy of mine, but until then, commercially packed pints will have to satisfy my ice cream desires.

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Today, I’m dancing with excitement in introducing you all to my new favorite among these commercial vegan ice cream purveyors: Three Little Birds. Derek and Wei, the company’s founders, launched Three Little Birds out of NYC’s East Village just back in July, and have since found great success with their 100% handmade, hand-packed, organic vegan ice cream at health food stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as at the monthly Vegan Shop Up and the weekly Hester Street Fair. Vegans themselves, Wei and Derek know quite well the vegan ice creams currently available on the market, and sought to best them all. With Derek as a co-founder of Lula’s Sweet Apothecary (aka the most magical place on earth), and therefore a veritable genius of the nuances of vegan ice cream, this goal certainly doesn’t seem too lofty.

Photo via Three Little Birds.

Photo via Three Little Birds.

I had the immense pleasure of chatting with Derek and Wei at Dunwell Doughnuts on one of the last few days of my summer stay in Brooklyn, and immediately felt drawn to their ethos and outlook on the current animal rights movement. Discovering that we shared a critical eye toward the various forms of human oppression (racism, sexism, ableism, classism) that prevail in AR today, Derek, Wei, and I conversed animatedly about our histories of activism and future plans. I’ve never felt more connected to a company whose product I’ve reviewed on my blog, and am overjoyed to offer my support.

Three Little Birds' ice cream at the Village Farm Grocery in Manhattan (photo via Three Little Birds).

Three Little Birds’ ice cream at the Village Farm Grocery in Manhattan (photo via Three Little Birds).

Not only are Derek and Wei phenomenal people, they also craft phenomenal ice cream, the likes of which I’ve honestly not encountered in vegan ice creams I’ve enjoyed in the past. Currently, Three Little Birds offers ten classically inspired flavors, seeking to perfect the basics before diving into experimentation: Death by Chocolate, Peanut Buttacups, Wafer Thin Mint, Strawberry, Cookies n’ Cream, Chocolate Fudge Swirl, Coffee Almond Fudge, Vanilla, Neapolitan, and Mint Chip (all of their chocolate flavors use products sourced from areas whose chocolate industry does not employ conditions of slavery). Excitingly, Three Little Birds just started offering ice cream sandwiches, as well!

Three Little Birds' just-launched ice cream sandwiches (photo via Three Little Birds).

Three Little Birds’ just-launched ice cream sandwiches (photo via Three Little Birds).

During our conversation at Dunwell, Derek and Wei informed me of a couple of their taste-testing requirements: they seek to eliminate the subtle cashew aftertaste present in many other cashew-based ice creams, and they strive for generous and even distribution of mix-ins within the ice cream (to this end, Derek goes so far as to hand-place every nut, cookie piece, and fudge swirl in each pint).

Derek and Wei offered me three of their flavors to review, and I more than happily obliged.

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Intensely peanutty, fantastically rich, and creamier than any ice cream I’ve ever put into my mouth, the Peanut Buttacups flavor embodies the magic of peanut butter in frozen dessert form. This ice cream left me completely satisfied after only a couple of spoonfuls – a meaningful testament considering how much ice cream I can pack away at any given time. I would have loved to find more of the chocolate-coated peanut butter cups distributed throughout the ice cream, but the chocolatey fragments I did encounter offered a gorgeous crunch for textural contrast to the superbly smooth ice cream. I may need to start sleeping with this stuff underneath my pillow.

three little birds (8)

three little birds (10)

Next, the Coffee Almond Fudge boasted a ribbon of fudge sauce of impeccably sticky-smooth consistency masterfully swirled throughout the coffee-flavored ice cream. Laughing in the face of the nut crumbs I encounter in many other vegan ice cream brands, this pint’s heftily sized almond pieces are distributed in ideal proportion throughout the ice cream. Though I would have enjoyed a bolder coffee flavor, my difficulty sleeping the night after consuming this ice cream for post-dinner dessert suggests the adequacy of its coffee level.

three little birds (6)

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Finally, the Neapolitan transported me right back to childhood, when enormous tubs of tri-colored ice cream packed the grocery store freezers. All three of the flavors featured in this ice cream prove spot-on: the vanilla proves delicate yet harbors character; the strawberry boasts an intense berry flavor, surprising because of the fact that Wei and Derek use no flavor-enhancing ingredients; and the chocolate offers an ideal combination of bitter-sweet that all good chocolate should strive to attain.

three little birds (7)

three little birds (15)

In my effort to spread the word about Three Little Birds far and wide, I’m thrilled to offer one of you lucky readers a selection of flavors from Derek and Wei’s burgeoning line of exquisite vegan ice cream! They’re offering one pint of Peanut Buttacups, one pint of Neapolitan, and an ice cream sandwich. Simply click on the links at the top or bottom of this post to enter the giveaway for your chance to win! And of course, don’t forget to connect with Three Little Birds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, September 14, and I will announce the winner on the following day. Please note that due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is restricted to residents of New York City and its five boroughs.

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 {9-5-14}

In case you missed the edit to Monday’s post, please hop on over to the top of my “Saffron Cantaloupe Butter | The Importance of Calling Each Other Out” post and check out a very important retraction. Thank you!

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 well-being of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy Friday and welcome to your weekly dose of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)Today’s recipes feature an original take on the classic kale chip, a delectable interpretation of a quintessential flavor pairing, and a vegan taco bar for a crowd. Turning to news, we’re looking at an enlightening perspective on women’s lack of advancement in the workplace, Hong Kong’s powerful Occupy Central movement, and a book that explores a myriad of problems within the U.S. food system through investigative journalism. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Baked Pesto Kale Chips
via Sweet Simple Vegan

Photo via Sweet Simple Vegan.

Photo via Sweet Simple Vegan.

I’ve crafted many a crispy leaf of smoky kale in my time, from rich savory treats coated in cheesy cashew sauce to simply roasted greens coated in coconut oil and smoked paprika. I’ve even coated to-roast kale in hummus, but never before encountering this recipe had I contemplated the same use for pesto. Bound to yield deeply yet brightly flavored kale chip fabulousness, this recipe will certainly enter my repertoire in the very near future.

Sweet

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookie Bars
via The Honour System

Photo via The Honour System.

Photo via The Honour System.

In my 21-person vegan living cooperative, we devour our fair share of chickpea-based desserts, thanks to our monthly supply of 25-pound sacks of dried chickpeas. Similarly, I’m fairly certain that we consume up to 41% of New York state’s peanut butter supply. This 8-ingredient treat, therefore, proves more than well-suited for the Ferry Haus kitchen and bellies, once again marrying those three letters made for each other: PB & J.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Ferry Taco Bar with Roasted Chickpeas, Dirty Rice, Crispy Cabbage Slaw, & Salsa
Original Recipe

tacos

Speaking of Ferry Haus, last week I packed up my Brooklyn apartment and completed the short journey to my on-campus cooperative in Poughkeepsie, where this Tuesday I began classes as a junior Geography major at Vassar College. With 21 creative minds – both culinary and otherwise – to fill the kitchen, our nightly communal dinners never fail to wow, surprise, and disappear within minutes. Inspired by the corn tortillas that turned up in our refrigerator, I felt compelled to prepare a summery taco bar for the Haus, complete with smoked paprika-roasted chickpeas, tomato-laden dirty rice with plenty of spices (cumin, oregano, cilantro, Spanish paprika, cayenne), a bright and crunchy cabbage-carrot slaw for contrast, and a canned tomato classic-style salsa with onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Who can argue with veggies, grains, and legumes rolled up in a soft tortilla? Almost as good as a sandwich. ;)

Must-Read News Article

Why Aren’t Women Advancing at Work? Ask a Transgender Person.
via Jessica Nordell at New Republic

Photo via New Republic.

Photo via New Republic.

This eye-opening article from New Republic explores the fact that women advance in the workplace at a much lower rate than men, specifically the notion that this happens because of personal choices or cognitive and emotional characteristics, whether innate or socialized. Through interviews with individuals of trans experience who have remained in the same careers/jobs after their transitions, author Jessica Nordell reveals that individuals experience starkly different treatment in the workplace depending on their gender, even though they’re essentially the exact same person.

To take an example from the article, when a man named Ben still presented as a woman and solved a difficult math problem, his biology professor insisted that “Your boyfriend must have solved it.” However, after Ben’s transition, that same professor – unaware of Ben’s transition – commended his work, commenting that Ben’s work was “so much better than his sister’s.”

A fascinating article that sheds light upon the clear anti-woman bias that still exists in our society of supposed gender equality.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Hong Kong ‘Occupy Central’ Protests Call for Political Freedom After China Rejects Open Elections
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

In Hong Kong, an outpouring of protestors have united under the name of Occupy Central to oppose the Chinese government’s rejection of demands for Hong Kong to freely choose its next leader in 2017. The oldest global faction in the Occupy movement, Occupy Central has proven its determination through huge numbers of protestors and international recognition, and is currently threatening to blockade the city’s central business district.

I don’t highlight this story to bash the Chinese government, for I don’t feel that it’s my place to do so as a Westerner whose government has its fair share of problems with its democratic leadership. Instead, I seek to act in solidarity with the protestors, who have publicly requested that individuals in the Western world spread the word of their struggle. Additionally, I hope that seeing these powerful protests against an oppressive government will inspire U.S. actors to more actively speak out against our less obviously exploitative system of rule, especially in regards to its regards to its treatment of already marginalized peoples.

Book Recommendation

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table
by Tracie McMillan

Photo via American Way of Eating blog.

Photo via American Way of Eating blog.

In this acclaimed book uncovering a myriad of problems existing within the U.S. food system, award-winning and working-class journalist Tracie McMillan worked undercover in three jobs that feed America, living off of her wages in each. Reporting from California onion and grape fields, the produce aisle of a Walmart just outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a NYC Applebee’s, McMillan investigates how most folks living in the U.S. eat, while a much smaller group happily spends $9 on organic heirloom tomatoes (guilty as charged). Most insightfully, McMillan explains the national policies (especially their racist dimensions) that lay the groundwork for this “American way of eating.” Though McMillan does not explore the problems within the U.S.’ system of animal agriculture, I think that it proves especially important for vegans to educate ourselves about the non-animal-related issues surrounding our nation’s food, so as not to ignore the plight of farm workers and other individuals exploited in various forms of food service.

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.

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.