Vegan MoFo #27: A Day with Carol Adams & Catering Her Vegan Reception

vegan mofo 2013

Well, folks—the time has come to conclude the festival of Ferry dinners, Vassar Animal Rights Coalition shenanigans, and vegan-related musings that constituted Vegan MoFo 2013 here on Farmers Market Vegan. After one month and 27 posts, I’m thrilled to have set a personal Vegan MoFo record, failing to post on only three days out of the whole of September. While most of my posts proved quite short (though not lacking tantalizing photos and much culinary creativity), I feel that this final post of Vegan MoFo will adequately conclude the month with an exciting, action-packed summary of Carol Adams’ visit to the Vassar campus to present her acclaimed Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show.

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Taking place yesterday evening, the event attracted 80 students, faculty, and members of the Poughkeepsie community (thus garnering a larger turnout than any VARC event in the past four years), and analyzed images in popular culture that animalize women and sexualize animals. During the Q&A session after the lecture, the audience asked curious, genuine, and non-antagonistic questions, such as “Is it hard to go vegan?” The smiling audience then migrated to an adjoining classroom to chat with Carol, have her sign their newly bought copies of The Sexual Politics of Meat, and nosh on a smorgasbord of vegan hors d’oeuvres, all prepared by yours truly with the help of a couple wondrous VARC members. A handful of event attendees approached me during the reception to offer their high praises of the food and the lecture, and to inform me that they were planning on transitioning to veg*nism. On the reception menu

–Homemade seitan (based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe) marinated in a chimichurri sauce, skewered, and broiled.
–Mini sundried tomato, spinach, and mushroom tofu quiches (inspired by this recipe from Oh She Glows).
Crostini with cashew cheese, pesto, and tomatoes.
–Peanut butter-coconut cream tarts in a raw date-nut crust.

Preparing the lecture food.

Preparing the lecture food.

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Attendees of the lecture gobbled up nearly all of the 500-some bites that we prepared, and my Ferry housemates happily devoured the rest.

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VARC’s Carol Adams experience did not begin with her lecture, however. The same morning, a handful of VARC’s most devoted members plus my fabulous Gender and Nature professor met Carol in front of Main building to drive up to New Paltz and visit Lagusta’s Luscious, the vegan/fair trade/ethically sourced/power feminist/activist oriented chocolate haven of my life (Lagusta makes the only chocolate that I feel 100% confident about eating in terms of ethical considerations). Lagusta contributed a beautiful piece to the Defiant Daughters anthology inspired by The Sexual Politics of Meat, and has a long-cultivated relationship with Carol. As such, Lagusta volunteered to lead VARC and Carol on a tour of her small (yet hugely inspiring) shop in celebration of Carol’s visit to Vassar.

Lagusta's also sells Treeline cashew cheese!

Lagusta’s also sells Treeline cashew cheese!

Tiny, rich hot chocolates courtesy of Lagusta.

Tiny, rich hot chocolates courtesy of Lagusta.

A vintage, yet still functioning, (vegan) milkshake machine.

A vintage, yet still functioning, (vegan) milkshake machine.

Lagusta's makeshift tempeh incubator.

Lagusta’s makeshift tempeh incubator.

Gifting our group with chocolate vulvas and rich, whipped cream-topped hot chocolates, Lagusta welcomed VARC and Carol into her eclectic shop, chatting about how she cultivated a responsible, non-hierarchical business model that subtly promotes the importance of veganism, feminism, and social justice to an ever growing demographic. After touring the shop—which boasted a 25-pound bucket of coconut oil, caramel simmering on an induction stovetop, a homemade tempeh incubator, and a pastry dough sheeter used for creating vegan croissants—I and the rest of VARC eagerly purchased a hefty amount of the darn best chocolate in existence.

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I myself partook in four truffles—a cantaloupe pâté de fruit, a plum anise pâté de fruit, a thyme lemon sea salt caramel, and a strawberry cream bon bon—as well as a “grown up tootsie roll” spiked with whiskey and chiles, and a vegan, authentically French, pillowy soft, absolutely magical macaron in apple-cinnamon flavor. Though I’ve visited Lagusta’s shop once before, I had never fully appreciated her business model or integrity-ridden success story—I can only hope that my own vegan entrepreneurial endeavors will provide me with just as much fulfillment.

Chatting with Lagusta and Kate.

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After congregating for a group photo and bidding goodbye to Lagusta, VARC and Carol took a short walk to Karma Road, New Paltz’s vegan café. Over a kale salad massaged with avocado and sprinkled with cashews and raisins with a side of homemade hummus, I enjoyed a thought-provoking conversation about the history of ecofeminism and how its tenets still hugely resonate in today’s society.

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I’m honored and humbled to have the support of two monumentally influential figures (Carol and Lagusta) in my own vegan/activist evolution. Yesterday proved truly unforgettable and will undoubtedly shape my advocacy for years to come.

VARC Exec Board with Carol Adams.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #26: Mini Tofu Quiches & Chimichurri Seitan for Carol Adams’ Campus Lecture

vegan mofo 2013

Over the last two days, I’ve found myself in an extravaganza of vegan hors d’oeuvres, preparing gourmet plant-based finger foods for the approximately 100 people that I expect to attend Carol Adams’ campus lecture tonight. This whirlwind of cooking should adequately account for my absence from Vegan MoFo yesterday—after spending a good couple of hours in the kitchen, I felt the need to take a quick mental hiatus from thinking about food (otherwise I probably would have dreamt of dancing seitan skewers and crostini). The culinary efforts of myself and my fellow VARC members paid off hugely, though, as all of the food turned out beautifully. Today requires only a bit more prep—including assembling the crostini, broiling the seitan, and cutting the coconut-peanut butter tarts—to ensure the immense success of Carol’s talk and subsequent reception/book signing. I’ll leave you with a couple tantalizing photos of tonight’s almost-ready hors d’oeuvres. Stay tuned tomorrow for a full summary of Carol’s talk as well as VARC’s trip with Carol to New Paltz.

Mini sundried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiches--adapted from Oh She Glows.

Mini sundried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiches–adapted from Oh She Glows.

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Homemade seitan marinated in chimichurri sauce--adapted from the Candle Café Cookbook.

Homemade seitan marinated in chimichurri sauce–adapted from the Candle Café Cookbook.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #25: Teriyaki Veggie Rice, Kale Salad, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Green Beans

vegan mofo 2013

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Ferry Dinner last night came courtesy of Hannah and Matt—two of the house’s newest members, who have acclimated quite well to the egalitarian, consensus-based, hippie-loving, kale-worshipping, nutritional yeast-devouring Ferry community. Indeed, all of the Ferries who moved into the house at the beginning of this semester have integrated themselves snugly into the Ferry lifestyle, leaving friendly post-it notes on room doors, baking bread, and discussing urgent social issues. The new Ferries, too, have become accustomed to the inner workings of the Ferry Kitchen, in which our entire stock of spoons disappears in the span of a single day and the refrigerator overflows with leafy greens. Last night marked the first Ferry Dinner made by only new house members, and Hannah and Matt ensured the success of this landmark event with a unique, flavorful, and well-crafted meal.

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The main dish consisted of an Asian-style not-fried rice—more of a pilaf of impeccably cooked brown rice mixed with sautéed carrots, mushrooms, and teriyaki sauce—that boasted a tangy umami flavor. Brussels sprouts and green beans roasted with tamari provided a similarly profiled side dish, while a salad of kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers in a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar offered a fresh, bright accompaniment to the many unctuous flavors in the meal.

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In Vassar news, I recently crafted an infographic for my Cities of the Global South geography class that highlights why radically shifting away from animal agriculture constitutes a necessary step in maximizing global food security and minimizing environmental impact as the world rapidly urbanizes. Many of my courses at Vassar present me with opportunities to incorporate animal/vegan activism into the classroom—a rather unsurprising (yet no less exciting) fact given the college’s largely activist-oriented student body. I become heartened every day as I witness social justice activists from all movements beginning to consider animal rights, and hugely value the immense amount that I continue to learn from the activists surrounding me. Ah, Vassar.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #24: Balsamic Veggie-Bean Salad, Roasted Brassicas, & Quinoa

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Over the course of last semester, I became relatively familiar with each of my Ferry housemate’s individual cooking style: Gabe D. favors casseroles; Alan likes to get fancy with veggie burgers and pizzas; Gabe B-G prefers simple three-part meals of veggie, grain, and protein; Franny serves as Ferry Soup Master; etc. While I appreciate the creativity, skill, and uniqueness of every Ferry cook, I do tend to become particularly excited every two weeks when Eric takes over the kitchen. Sharing a deep adoration of well-seasoned dishes, simply roasted vegetables, and generous amounts of tangy salad dressings, Eric and I jive quite well in terms of our outlook on cooking and what constitutes high-quality food (though Eric carries out the whole “seasoning dishes well” thing much better than I do). Indeed, for Ferry’s house-wide Valentine’s Day gift exchange last year, Eric presented me with a copy of one of his favorite cookbooks—The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley—and forever solidified our cooking-style solidarity, which revels in fresh, deeply flavored, unpretentious, nourishing, and simple fare.

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Last night, with the help of fellow healthy eating enthusiast Tamsin, Eric produced a dinner perfectly suited for my palate and preferred style of eating. A zippy salad of navy and pinto beans mixed with a medley of tender and finely diced green beans, carrots, and eggplant constituted the highlight of dinner, shining in all of its balsamicky glory. Accompanied by golden brown, impeccably tender, and nicely oiled roasted broccoli and cauliflower, as well as a pot of impressively fluffy quinoa, the salad offered a meal to satisfy my soul as well as my taste buds. Eric and Tamin’s dinner—rife with minimally manipulated fresh veggies, ample seasoning, and a cold composed salad—reminded me quite closely of the meals that my mother and I enjoy preparing together, offering a taste of my Madison home in my Vassar home.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #23: Peanut Butter Noodles with Veggies and Beans, Garlicky Green Beans, & Roasted Sweet Potatoes

vegan mofo 2013

Last night’s dinner, artfully prepared by dearest Alan and Rhyston, featured a sumptuous noodle dish inspired by Veganomicon (the inimitable vegan cookbook tome) and two flavorful vegetable sides.

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Brown rice noodles coated in a creamy peanut sauce and tossed with a mix of navy and pinto beans as well as roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini provided a savory meld of toasted, caramelized, nutty, and umami flavors—though also one that proved quite difficult to stir, according to Ferry cook extraordinaire Alan. As a one-pot meal, the pasta could have easily constituted dinner all on its own, but Veggie Master Rhyston had other plans…

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Simple roasted sweet and Yukon gold potatoes with garlic served as one side dish, while tender green beans sautéed with ample amounts of garlic provided the other. I also added a bed of mixed greens to the meal to meet my daily leafy quota. A quite well-executed dinner, I must say.

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In Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) news, tomorrow marks the onset of my weekend whirlwind of cooking in preparation for Carol Adams’ campus lecture, during which she’ll present her renowned Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show. After the Slide Show, VARC will host a book signing and vegan reception, featuring the following menu of homemade hors d’oeuvres:

–Crostini with cashew cheese, kale pesto, & heirloom tomatoes.
–Grilled herb-marinated seitan skewers (get excited to hear all about my first experience making seitan).
–Mini sundried tomato, spinach, & mushroom tofu quiches.
–Coconut-peanut butter tartlets with raw date-nut crust.

Seeing as her mother works as a pastry chef, my VARC co-president Katie has easy access to a large number of mini tart pans, hence our decision to include mini quiches and dessert tarts on the menu. After grocery shopping tomorrow with money from VegFund (one of my all-time favorite vegan organizations), I’ll spend the vast majority of Friday and Saturday in the Ferry Kitchen, whipping up gourmet vegan appetizers for about 100 people. Wish me luck!

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #22: Curried Coconut Quinoa Stuffed Squash and Garlickly Black Beans, Kale, & Roasted Tomatoes

vegan mofo 2013

Last night, I happily served as Ferry Dinner Cook to fill in for my housemate Rocky, who found herself stuck in the Atlanta airport after journeying to Alabama for a weekend wedding. I normally choose what to cook for Ferry Dinner based upon the veggies that are in greatest abundance in our kitchen, and/or upon the veggies that no Ferry member seems particularly enthusiastic about eating on their own—last night’s dinner decision process proved no different.

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With an influx of leafy greens and heirloom tomatoes, as well as a large pile of acorn and carnival squashes that no one had touched since last week, my housemate Andrew and I whipped up two hearty, comforting, and complexly flavored dishes for the Ferry team.

The first dish—curried coconut quinoa with dried apricots and almonds stuffed inside baked squash halves—drew inspiration from this recipe on Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes. Succulent, fragrant, well spiced, and multi-textured, the stuffed squash provided a quintessential autumn dish. However, acorn and carnival squashes always taste rather bland to me, and indeed did last night, as well. I’ll stick to my butternuts and kabochas from now on.

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The second dish, however—a stew of heirloom tomatoes roasted with rosemary and marjoram, home-simmered black beans, and garlicky sautéed greens—offered a multiplicity of flavor to counter the blah-ness of the squashes. I tend to become a bit verklempt over the unparalleled beauty of heirloom tomatoes (especially those pictured below which harbor a rainbow of hues), so this dish verily excited me. Paired with tender greens and creamy black beans, the roasted heirlooms constituted a winning dish, the recipe for which I’ve provided below.

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Garlicky Black Beans, Kale, and Herb-Roasted Tomatoes

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dried black beans
2 bay leaves
4 large heirloom tomatoes, halved then cut into thirds
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
Generous sprinkling of dried marjoram
Drizzle of olive oil, plus oil for sauteeing
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mixed leafy greens

Soak the black beans in enough water to cover for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans, then place in a pot with the bay leaves, cover with fresh water, set over high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer for 60-90 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Meanwhile, place the heirloom tomatoes, rosemary, and marjoram in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until very tender. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes, then add the greens and cook for 5-10 minutes or until tender.

In a large pot, combine the beans, tomatoes, and greens. Serve.

Recipe submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Wellness Weekend.

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Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #21: Chickpea-Mixed Veggie Curry & Brown Rice

vegan mofo 2013

Though the title of this post may suggest an inconsequential dinner (curry…been there, done that), Ferry cooks Gabe and Franny revolutionized last night’s dinner from humble curry to multilayered, complex deliciousness. Beginning as a stir fry of generous chunks of eggplant, carrots, green beans, and boldly flavored leafy greens, the curry received a smartly portioned helping of curry powder and whole allspice berries before realizing its full potential of scrumptiousness with a dash of coconut milk, a couple tablespoons of coconut sugar, and a big ol’ batch of home-simmered chickpeas. The finished curry provided a satisfying, flavorful, and quite comforting meal, especially on a rather gloomy, blustery day.

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Up for the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) this week: a volunteer orientation session at the Duchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DCSPCA) and Carol Adams’ lecture!

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #20: Leafleting the Arlington Street Fair

vegan mofo 2013

Yesterday afternoon, the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) showered attendees of the annual Arlington Street Fair with educational leaflets and vegan-inspired smiles. The Fair, which always coincides with Vassar’s Freshman Families Weekend, provides an optimal outreach venue in that it attracts a youthful, familial, friendly, and curious crowd. Indeed, fair goers responded so positively to our leafleting ventures that our team of eight VARC members distributed 1,200 leaflets in just under two-and-a-half hours.

Half of the fabulous VARC leafleting team.

Not only does this astounding take-rate reflect the growing open-mindedness of Poughkeepsie’s general public (and hopefully of our greater society), it also serves as a testament to the passion and enthusiasm of VARC’s members. Not only did four long-time VARC-ers show off their leafleting skills, but four new members truly outperformed during their first ever leafleting opportunity.

Ali in leafleting action!

For me, yesterday’s outreach activities provided a bit of nostalgia from the summer, during which I handed out approximately 6558 pieces of literature while interning with Compassion Over Killing. Leafleting never fails to remind me of the effective simplicity of interacting with and educating individuals on a more personal level. For example, studies show that by merely handing 60 people each a booklet regarding factory farming, a leafleter has inspired at least one of those people to adopt a veg*n lifestyle. From these statistics, at least 20 Arlington Street Fair attendees have become veg*n, and will collectively spare more than 600 land animals from a lifetime of torture each year.

Three of VARC’s fabulous new members.

While leafleting the Arlington Street Fair undoubtedly provoked tangible change in many lives (both human and non), it also rendered palpable a theoretical notion that I’ve long pondered, thanks to an encounter I had with a member of Vassar’s maintenance staff. After taking one of my leaflets, skimming through it, and doubling back to speak to me, this man divulged that he unfortunately could not become a vegetarian since his second job as a seller of the meat produced by a small family farm accounted for much of his income. However, he did attest to sharing my abhorrence toward factory farming, and told me to “keep fighting the good fight.” I bade him a lovely day, appreciated that we shared similar sentiments (in some respects), and continued leafleting. Later, the man passed me by again, gave me a thumbs up, and began to eat a hamburger. This act left me a bit perplexed. Considering that the man understood the detrimental implications of factory farming and regarded himself as actively combatting such facilities by virtue of his work, I wondered why he felt comfortable eating the meat of a factory-farmed animal (I can only make a rather confident assumption that the cow did indeed come from a factory farm, since the meat offered by most food trucks does not usually harbor the “humane” label).

I immediately connected this act with a concept articulated in an essay of mine that challenges Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma on the basis of his carnistic conditioning—that small-scale animal agriculture inadvertently supports factory farming. And I quote, “the small-scale agriculture which Pollan so ardently supports does not decrease consumer demand for meat—a necessary step in eliminating the egregious abuse inherent in industrial animal agriculture. Instead, the agriculture for which Pollan advocates perpetuates the notion of the acceptability of eating animals raised according to a rather arbitrary standard of “humaneness”—but what omnivore truly constrains his or her meat-eating to include only animals raised in such conditions? Invariably, “humane” farms contribute to the functioning of industrial farms by inspiring in consumers a sense of complacency toward eating animals—a fact that carnism obscures from the view of both Pollan and his readers.”

Clearly, yesterday’s outreach proved both effective and thought-provoking. I duly look forward to what the rest of the semester holds for VARC.

All the best, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #19: Ferry Kitchen Charts, Comics, & Songs

vegan mofo 2013

While clearly the abundance and variety of vegan food enjoyed in Ferry House could provide enough incentive to tempt any Vassar student to join our 21-person co-op, the house’s supportive and playful community serves as my favorite aspect of living in Ferry. Together, we nourish our bodies and souls, challenge each other’s assumptions, celebrate the full moon by dressing in costume and playing Cards Against Humanity, read on the roof while watching the sun set, cry at Meeting when discussing heavy issues, and give lots and lots of hugs.

Ferry also plays hosts to an influx of posters, notes, signs, and artwork. Post-it notes on housemates doors serve as legitimate means of communication, while a bulletin board in the living room plastered with job charts denotes who cleans which room, cooks dinner on which day, picks up our farm share, etc. Recently, three more poster-y forms of correspondence appeared in the Ferry Kitchen, all of which prove extremely adorable and only contribute to the sense of camaraderie that we seek to foster in this house.

The first chart, crafted by Job Wrangler Tamsin, denotes the schedule for the “goodie makers” and “protein makers” in the house to follow. For example, on Tuesday, Gabe D. should bake bread (as symbolized by the precious slice of bread that exclaims, “I’m the best thing since me!), while on Wednesday, Andrew should provide the house with some sort of protein (hummus, a batch of lentils, homemade seitan, etc.).

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The second poster comes in the form of a comic, drawn by my dearest Gabe, that narrates the life of a Ferry House Bowl. Attesting to leading an “overall pretty good life,” the bowl reveals the deep sadness he experiences when, after a Ferry member washes him and leaves him right-side-up in the drying rack, he cannot adequately dry…until, of course, “a nice person turns him upside-down.” Thanks to this heart-wrenching comic, no Ferry member can leave bowls right-side-up in the drying rack without feeling a profound sense of (most adorably provoked) guilt.

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The final poster features the lyrics to “The Kitchen Song,” composed also by Tamsin. It reminds house members to put away two dishes from the drying rack when they put one in to dry, to retire washed knives directly to their drawer so that fellow Ferries don’t cut themselves when removing them from the drying rack, to mind the sponge-corner-washing-code system, to take special care of cast iron pans, to use only wooden and plastic implements on non-stick pans, and to clean up after oneself. Yay for an effectively functioning kitchen!

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Not only do these posters play an important role in reminding house members to maintain kitchen protocol, they also brighten and provide an air of conviviality to the Ferry Kitchen.

Do you have any posters in your kitchen?

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #18: Dinner on Empty & Dinner on Full

vegan mofo 2013

Every month, Ferry House experiences a complete reversal of our food supply levels. As the weeks after our most recent bulk food order wear on; as our stock of dried chickpeas, brown rice, and peanut butter wanes; as the 21 house members clean out the refrigerator’s veggie-laden shelves within mere hours of grocery shopping, Ferry members must employ their utmost culinary intuition in order to adequately nourish themselves on the lone eggplant, bag of sweet potatoes, and dregs of lentils left in the house.

Obviously, these so-called “food shortages” don’t actually prove dire, seeing as all of us Ferries can easily access campus dining and off-campus grocery stores. I would never even fathom suggesting that any house member actually faces a danger in the kind-of-lack-ish of food in Ferry that occurs every so often, for to do so would essentially crap privilege all over the groups of people who live in food deserts and harbor legitimate worry regarding the origins of their next meal.

In any case, I thought that comparing Ferry meals made from an abundance of supplies with those made with a dwindled stock would prove fairly interesting. Ooh! Let’s play a game: guess which meal came from empty, and which came from full.

Meal #1: Vinegar-brined roasted potatoes, curried cauliflower casserole, tamari-ginger green beans, millet, and baby kale, all sprinkled with nutritional yeast (courtesy of darlings Gabe and Tim).

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Meal #2: Gluten-free flatbread, farmers’ market cherry tomatoes, curried lentil stew with garlic and carrots, and roasted brussels sprouts (provided by the always fabulous Noah and Lanbo).

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And here’s where you contemplate.

And here’s where you guess.

And the reveal…

Meal #1 came from a largely empty pantry and fridge, while Meal #2 came from a house stuffed full of newly purchased groceries and bulk supplies. If you’re so inclined, be sure to leave a comment professing your guess.

If perhaps you’re curious to know what sort of food sustains a 21-person vegan co-op for a month, below I’ve listed a number of the supplies included in our most recent bulk order:

1.) 24 packages of tempeh
2.) 25 lbs each of brown rice, quinoa, navy beans, and black beans
3.) 64 cartons of non-dairy milk (a mix of almond and soy)
4.) A 9-lb container of crunchy peanut butter
5.) 12 jars of tahini
6.) 12 cans of coconut milk
7.) 5 lbs each of almonds and dried figs
8.) 6 bottles each of balsamic vinegar and agave nectar

Quite understandably, house excitement surrounding bulk delivery parallels that of a house member’s birthday. Ah, bulk. How I love you so.

Until next time, Ali.