Winter Squash Soup with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil | Where Did the Recipe Labels Go?

Congratulations to the winner of my Vega prize pack giveaway: Andrew Rogers!

When I launched my blog way back in August 2011, I had only just begun my journey of recovery from an anorexia-like eating disorder. (I say “anorexia-like” because, similar to most all individuals suffering from disordered eating, my experiences proved much too complex to neatly pathologize). While both my weight and comfort with eating/food in general increased – the former steadily, the latter sporadically – I still harbored a fear of putting foods I deemed “unhealthy” into my body. Essentially, as my anorexia-like disorder subsided, my orthorexia-like disorder endured, masking itself as a well-intentioned desire to make food choices that would nourish my body, but basing itself in the pseudoscience and trends that circulate among food blogs and Pinterest recipe boards.

squash tomato soup 2

Recovering from this aspect of my eating disorder required re-imagining food outside of the false dichotomy I had created that categorized food into “good” and “bad,” as well as understanding that truly healthy eating involves both physical and mental wellbeing (read more on this subject in a previous post that also contains an awesome recipe for Ranch Potato Salad!). Removing these categories helped me to avoid seeing foods both as the effect I presumed they would have on my body (i.e., kale would turn me into a superhero while sugar would slowly dissolve my insides) and as a measure of my self-worth. It also helped me to re-root my veganism in a consideration of and respect for the bodies and minds of non-human individuals, rather than in an oft-touted belief that one can only achieve good health on a vegan diet – an assertion that erases the many cultures that have enjoyed long histories of vitality while including animal flesh and secretions in their eating habits.

squash tomato soup

Since de-categorizing my food choices served as an integral tool of my recovery, it seems only fitting that I also de-categorize the recipes on my blog. Previously labeled as “Low Fat,” “Low Sodium,” “Oil Free,” “Gluten Free,” “Nut Free,” and more, my recipes now only fall under one category: food. Of course, while I recognize and respect the reasoning of other bloggers to apply such labels to their recipes (allowing folks with food allergies to more easily find appropriate recipes, for example), doing so on my own blog now feels antithetical to my past and continued efforts to fully reconcile my relationship with food and eating.

squash tomato soup

To usher in this era without recipe labels, I’d like to share with you a creamy, full-bodied soup ideal for bridging the summer and fall as we undergo this period of seasonal transition. In late September-early October here in the Northeast, we’re seeing winter squashes popping up alongside summer’s fading basil bounty, and it only feels natural to me to follow the earth’s logic and combine them in a warming concoction to enjoy on the chilly days starting to weave through the waning heat. Sundried tomatoes provide richness and umami, while a touch of vinegar brightens the soup at the very end.

Is this recipe low in or free of anything? Only fear.

Winter Squash Soup with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

2 tsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium winter squash such as butternut, buttercup, or acorn, cubed
4 cups vegetable broth or water
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the kind not packed in oil)
1/2 of a large bunch of basil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a large soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Saute the onion for 5-7 minute, or until it turns translucent. Add the salt and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the squash cubes and saute for another minute. Add the sundried tomatoes and broth/water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then partially cover, lower the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Stir in the basil.

Puree the soup either with an immersion blender, or (carefully!) in batches in a standing blender. Add water to thin, if desired. Stir in the apple cider vinegar. Bring back up to heat on the stove, and serve when the soup has reached your desired temperature.

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

corn polenta w shiitakes & tempura watercress (1)

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?”

vega (5)

vega (8)

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.

vega (3)

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!).

vega (1)

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.

Liquid Gold Dressing 2.0 | Reflections on Two Decades

Thanks to all who entered my latest giveaway for two pints of ice cream and an ice cream sandwich from the socially responsible, vegan company Three Little Birds! Congrats to the winner: Katherine Earnshaw.

Unfortunately, due to the class readings calling my name and the Vegucated screening I’m hosting on campus tonight with the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) (complete with a vegan ice cream sundae bar), I’ll need to keep this post a bit abbreviated. However, as yesterday marked the beginning of my twentieth year on this earth, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly reflect upon where I’ve found myself after two decades of living and learning, particularly over the past year.

liquid gold dressing 2 (2)

Since September 14, 2013, I’ve successfully completed my second year as a Geography major at Vassar College. I’ve led VARC through a year of campus animal rights activism, helping to grow our humble organization such that we now enjoy a team of seven executive board members. I’ve increased my blog readership substantially and developed a concrete idea of what exactly I want to accomplish with my small space of the interwebs. I’ve returned to a place near to my heart – Florence, Italy – for the first time in three years. I’ve interned with the multimedia hub of animal activism known as Our Hen House (and now officially work for them as their Media Coordinator), falling head over heels in love with Brooklyn in the process. I’ve fostered a number of fulfilling relationships with some truly wondrous individuals who have taught me important lessons about the world, being a decent human being, and myself.

Most notably, in my opinion, I’ve gained some clarity as to where I want to focus my activist energies. After becoming increasingly disillusioned with the animal rights movement thanks to fellow activists and a growing consciousness regarding the multiplicity of human oppressions in our world that much of AR perpetuates, I took the summer to immerse myself in progressive media and literature on movement organizing, critical race theory, feminism, and social critique in general. I sought to develop a fuller understanding of what I feel called to offer to the world at this point in my life, and think that I’m now well on the path toward that understanding.

liquid gold dressing 2 (5)

Staunchly committed to animal liberation, I want to continue my activism in that struggle (always grappling with the social privilege that allows me to do this work rather than having to fight for respect and well-being based upon my very identity). But just as I see the urgency in shifting societal paradigms in regards to our conceptions and consequent treatment of non-human animals, I see another urgency in ensuring that the AR movement does not uphold forms of human oppression in the process. Collective liberation involves all marginalized groups – whether human or non – and forgetting about or co-opting one of these groups in the name of furthering any particular struggle maintains the very social ills we strive to combat. Working as a critical voice within AR feels right, accessible, and valuable to me right now, and I what I’m calling my “Big Ol’ Project” has begun to formulate in my activist psyche. It’s this project (sorry I can’t say more on it yet!) that I hope will serve as a driving force through to next September 14 and beyond.

liquid gold dressing 2 (1)

Speaking of driving life forces, I’ve taken one recipe with me throughout high school and into college, from Madison to Poughkeepsie to Washington D.C. to Brooklyn, treasuring it on a near daily basis through all of life’s travails. I published the original iteration of the Liquid Gold Dressing I adapted from Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan over three years ago now, and have tweaked it to suit my needs and taste preferences many a time since. The recipe below constitutes the version of LGD I’ve been loving most recently, and its improvement in depth of flavor hasn’t at all subtracted from the substantial nourishment it has dependably provided over the years (can you say over the recommended daily supply of omega-3 fatty acids and 40 percent of the RDA of Vitamin B12 in just two tablespoons of the stuff?). Here’s to another year of this life-defining salad dressing.

Liquid Gold Dressing 2.0

Makes 2 cups.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flax oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 cup water
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp tamari
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric

Combine all ingredients in a large jar. Shake well before using.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {9-12-14}

If you haven’t already, please be sure to enter my latest giveaway for my new favorite vegan ice cream from the admirable, socially conscious company Three Little Birds!

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 pre-birthday edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (#NewsandChews) – can you say 20 years old on September 14, woot woot! – we’ve got the crispiest of potatoes, the most spectacular of cruciferi, an essential feminist critique of the animal rights movement, the practice of calling each other in, a pivotal court ruling in the battle against climate change, and what I consider one of the most important books in the world of veganism and animal rights to date. Allez-y!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Best-Ever Breakfast Potatoes
via Minimalist Baker

Photo via Minimalist Baker.

Photo via Minimalist Baker.

We eat a pretty hefty amount of potatoes in my on-campus 21-person vegan living cooperative (one of my housemates recently testified to eating at least 11 potatoes on a weekly basis), due to their price accessibility, nutritional value, and downright comforting tastiness. Though we enjoy a variety of potato-based dishes in our house dinners (salads, soups, mashes, etc.), we’ve all but officially voted on roasted potatoes as our preferred tuber preparation. Each time a housemate offers up roasted potatoes for a communal dinner, they enter an informal contest judging who can produce the crispiest potatoes. With this recipe from Dana at Minimalist Baker, I feel pretty confident in my abilities to trump the competition.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Cauliflower Steaks with Mushroom Gravy
adapted from Olives for Dinner

cauliflower steak with mushroom gravy

Though my good friend Kaden may resent me for saying so, I’ve come to the conclusion that cauliflower far surpasses broccoli in the battle for the title of Best Floret-Based Cruciferous Vegetable. While cauliflower’s versatility (creamy soups and sauces! raw and dipped in hummus! hidden in baked goods!) certainly plays a role in this thoroughly contemplated judgment, I believe that the superiority of cauliflower lies mainly in its roasting capabilities (can you tell that I’m really into roasting vegetables? Potatoes, cauliflower…you name it, I’ll roast it). In fact, in my humble opinion, cauliflower resides on the pedestal of Best Roasting Vegetables, along with brussels sprouts and squash (cauliflower holds a lot of titles, in my book). So when a recipe tells me to roast thick slices of cauliflower in sage leaves to yield hearty, tender bites with crispy edges and douse them in a mushroom-based gravy, how can I refuse?

Must-Read News Story

For the Animals, By the People…Not the Man: A Vegan Feminist Critique of Social Movement Hierarchy
by Corey Lee Wrenn at The Academic Abolitionist Vegan

Photo via TAVS.

Photo via TAVS.

Last summer, as an intern for Compassion Over Killing, I attended the 2013 national Animal Rights Conference in Alexandria, VA. As a main attraction, the event highlighted a debate on the most effective form of animal advocacy – welfarism or abolitionism – between Farm Sanctuary’s Bruce Friedrich (advocating for welfarism) and Gary Francione (the figurehead of the “abolitionist approach” to animal rights). In speaking to conference attendees, I found that many folks thought ill of this movement “in-fighting,” espousing a sentiment along the lines of, “why can’t we all just get along?” This sentiment in part inspired my recent blog post on the need for animal activists to critically engage with problematic practices of our movement, and I’m thrilled that the ever-insightful Corey Lee Wrenn has penned a clear and concise post informed by similar concerns. Not only does Corey Lee affirm that “factionalism is both normal and healthy for social movements, and is something to be expected,” she also does not shy away from speaking out against forms of human oppression within the animal rights movement; in this particular post, “a patriarchal social structure of command within our organizations.” I highly recommend that you subscribe to Corey Lee’s mailing list on her blog immediately.

Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable
via Ngoc Loan Tran at Black Girl Dangerous

Image via Black Girl Dangerous.

Image via Black Girl Dangerous.

In response to my aforementioned recent post on “The Importance of Calling Each Other Out,” fellow progressive vegan blogger Raechel of Rebel Grrl Living shared with me this post from the truly important blog Black Girl Dangerous (another one to which you must subscribe in the next twelve seconds). The piece advocates for social justice activists to cultivate a practice of calling in along with calling out, the distinction resting in a sense of compassion behind our reason for speaking to someone about an action of theirs we consider problematic. Author Ngoc Loan Tran explains in hopeful, profound terms what they see as the value behind calling in: “Because when I see problematic behavior from someone who is connected to me, who is committed to some of the things I am, I want to believe that it’s possible for us to move through and beyond whatever mistake was committed.” I’m definitely going to actively try to start practicing this more caring form of critical engagement. Thank you, Raechel, for sharing the post with me!

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Exclusive: DA Joins the Climate Activists He Declined to Prosecute, Citing Danger of Global Warming
via Democracy Now!

Untitled

Photo via Democracy Now!.

In a hopefully precedent-setting court ruling, Massachusetts’ Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter dropped criminal charges on two climate activists who blocked the shipment of 40,000 tons of coal to a local power plant with their lobster boat (of course, I find it rather ironic that two environmental activists employed a boat engaged in an industry tied to the wholesale destruction of our oceans…but that’s a topic for another post). Not only did Sutter take the very real and urgent concern of climate change into account when carrying out this ruling, he also plans to march with the two previously arrested activists – Ken Ward, Jr. and Jay O’Hara – in the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City. I wholeheartedly appreciate Sutter’s consideration of social context in his ruling, rather than attempting to rule “objectively” as the judicial system strives to do (an impossible goal considering the fact that everyone – even supposedly objective actors like lawyers, judges, and scientists – carry personal prejudices, preferences, and subjective experiences with them).

I do, however, want to point out the whiteness of both of the activists as well as Sutter. Considering the U.S. criminal justice system’s disproportionate targeting of people of color, I can’t help but wondering whether the activists would have enjoyed dropped charges if they were not white. Additionally, I’d like to point out that the environmental movement and the media tend to highlight the activism of white folks despite the significant contributions that people of color have made to the struggle for the well-being of the planet, and this story – though indicative of an important social shift – plays into that tendency. Just as with the animal rights movement, we have to work to make the environmental movement a more inclusive one.

Book Recommendation

Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society
edited by A. Breeze Harper

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An anthology of perspectives on veganism from Black females, Sistah Vegan constitutes a phenomenally important work in that it gives voice to a group habitually silenced both within the animal rights movement and in a broader societal context. Combating the mainstream vegan culture dominated by wealthy white folks and that focuses on the proliferation of expensive novelty foods and capitalist-driven consumer choices, this anthology highlights the marginalized views of women of color who see veganism as a practice of holistic health and anti-colonialism. Thanks to the incredible work of A. Breeze Harper, Sistah Vegan has expanded from a book into a larger project, the details of which you can find at The Sistah Vegan Project. There, you can also read Harper’s introduction to the anthology, and I sincerely hope that you do.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Saffron Cantaloupe Butter | The Importance of Calling Each Other Out

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saffron Cantaloupe Butter

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups cubed very ripe cantaloupe

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Juice of 1 orange

1/2 tsp saffron (or cardamom)

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

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

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

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

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

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

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

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

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

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

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

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Photo via Our Four Forks.

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

Sweet

Grilled Almond Butter Mango Sandwich
via Connoisseurs Veg

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

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

Best Recipe I Made This Week

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

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

Must-Read News Article

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

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

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

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

The Rubble Bucket Challenge
via Ayman al Aloul at AlterNet

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

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

Book Recommendation

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

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

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

In solidarity, Ali.