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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: vegan, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Wear your Sparky tees and get a FREE print!

tofu-strong_ltblueGot a Sparky Firepants tee? Put it to work for you to get free stuff!

Yup. We’re offering our loyal fans a free print or $5 off a stock tee when you wear any Sparky tee to Vegan Oktoberfest. We’ll be performing our world famous, live screen printing magic throughout the festival. We’ll be printing two Vegan Oktoberfest commemorative logos and our own unique designs on blank stock tees and on any apparel you bring!

If you’ve never experienced our live printing, it’s a blast. We’ve printed on skirts, blazers, leggings, vests – you name it. Exhibitionists welcome (we’ve had people strip). For the more modest, you can change in a port-a-potty like a superhero. Either way, you get to see the awesome spectacle of ink being laid down on a shirt right in front of your eyes!

This year, we have a super secret new design just for our vegan friends. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I have a feeling it’s going to be crazy popular. Psst – keep an eye on our insta and you may get a sneak peek.


We’re also partnering with our very favorite vegan apparel friends, Cowhugger and Threads for Love. Our free print offer is extended to their tees as well! Yup. Just wear one of their super cool vegan tees and we’ll give you a free live print, or $5 off a stock tee.

Come join us at Vegan Oktoberfest. It will be a ton more fun with you there.

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2. Does the meat industry harm animals?

Should we eat animals? Vegetarians often say “No, because the meat industry harms animals greatly.” They point to the appalling conditions in which animals are raised in factory farms, and the manner in which they are killed. Meat-eaters often reply that this objection is ill-founded because animals owe their very existence to the meat industry.

The post Does the meat industry harm animals? appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Peace & Parsnips

Lee Watson’s Peace & Parsnips: Vegan Cooking for Everyone looked so good from the preview cover art and blurb that I went out of my way to see if I could obtain a review copy of it. I mean, who wouldn’t be sold on the adorable cover with almost-stamped images of pears, broccoli, and what […]

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4. So Long to Wait

Last month we had a Barnes and Noble gift card and a coupon. We placed an order and to get free shipping we had to check the box to have everything delivered at once. Bookman ordered a new Stephen King book, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I ordered a new cookbook. Many of you probably already know I don’t cook, I can, but at my house the kitchen is Bookman’s domain. I, however, am the one who buys cookbooks. I love cookbooks. Twenty years ago when we went vegan it was nearly impossible to find a vegan cookbook. We had a book called Simply Vegan and one called Tofu Cookery. We still have them. Their pages are written on, smudged with sauces and chocolate, and dimpled from liquid spills. They were our life raft as we learned a new way to eat.

These days there are so many vegan cookbooks available I can’t keep track of them all anymore. Our own collection has grown quite large and there are probably enough meals that could be planned from all of them we could eat something new every day for a year without repeats. Nonetheless, I always get excited when I come across a new cookbook that is not quite like the ones we already own. This time I ordered Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. I already know I will love it because I borrowed it from the library first and drooled all over the library copy.

But we have not gotten the cookbook yet because it turns out the King book was a preorder. When I discovered it, I figured we’d get our books in September sometime and my mouth watered and my stomach growled in anticipation of all the delicious meals I would get Bookman to cook for me. Autumn is an excellent time for a good curry in my opinion. Heck, any time of year is.

But here it is the end of September and the books have not shipped yet. I had just supposed it would be this month without knowing for sure and Bookman had no idea. So I started thinking, well, early October. Some little voice told me today to check the order to find out when exactly to expect it. Turns out, it won’t be here until early November! I’m going to be really hungry by then! And Bookman is going to have a lot of cooking to do to make it up to me for having to wait so long.

Waiting so long for a book you ordered is it’s own special kind of torture, isn’t it?

Filed under: Cookbooks Tagged: curry, delicious food, I am so hungry right now, Stephen King, vegan

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5. Our diet and the environment [infographic]

Our diets are a moral choice. We can decide what we want to eat, though more often than not we give little thought to our diet and instead rather habitually and instinctively eat foods that have been served to us since a young age.

The post Our diet and the environment [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Superlegumes

You need a solidly designed cover to sell legumes, and that’s exactly what Chrissy Freer’s Superlegumes part cookbook, part guide has. With vividly displayed and shot legumes, it’s the kind of cover worthy of more enticing ingredients that would not only inspire you to pluck the book from the shelves but even buy it. For, […]

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7. Easy Vegan

Winner, winner chicken dinner is not perhaps the most appropriate response for a vegan to make to anything. And especially not in response to reviewing a vegan cookbook. But that’s the phrase that sprang to mind when I cracked open Sue Quinn’s Easy Vegan, which arrived as a review copy from Murdoch Books. My other […]

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8. Peanut butter: the vegetarian conspiracy

There is something quintessentially American about peanut butter. While people in other parts of the world eat it, nowhere is it devoured with the same gusto as in the United States, where peanut butter is ensconced in an estimated 85% of home kitchens. Who exactly invented peanut butter is unknown; the only person to make that claim was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the chief medical officer at the Sanatarium, the fashionable health retreat in Battle Creek, Michigan. Kellogg, a vegetarian who invented Corn Flakes, was seeking an alternative for “cows’ butter.” He thought puréed nutmeats might work, and in the early 1890s Kellogg experimented with processing nuts through steel rollers. He served the nut butters to his patients at the Sanatarium, who loved them. Remarkably, in less than a decade peanut butter would emerge from the province of extremist “health nuts” to become a mainstream American fad food.

America’s elite visited the Battle Creek Sanatarium to recover their health, and many fell in love with the foods served there—particularly peanut butter. It soon became a passion with health-food advocates nationwide, and newspapers and magazines quoted vegetarians extolling its virtues. A vegetarianism advocate, Ellen Goodell Smith, published the first recipe for a peanut butter sandwich in her Practical Cook and Text Book for General Use (1896).

Homemade peanut butter was initially ground in a mortar and pestle, but this required considerable effort. It was also made with a hand-cranked meat- or coffee-grinder, but these did not produce a smooth butter. Joseph Lambert, an employee at the Sanatarium, adapted a meat-grinder to make it more suitable for producing nut butters at home. He also invented or acquired the rights to other small appliances, all intended to simplify the making of nut butters. These included a stovetop nut roaster, a small blancher (to remove the skins from the nuts), and a hand grinder that cranked out a smooth, creamy product. In 1896, Lambert left the Sanatarium and set up his own company to manufacture and sell the equipment.

Lambert mailed advertising flyers to households throughout the United States, and some recipients who bought the equipment started their own small businesses selling nut products. As nut butters became more popular, these machines proved inadequate to keep up with demand, so Lambert ramped up production of larger ones. He also published leaflets and booklets extolling the high food value of nuts and their butters. His wife, Almeda Lambert, published A Guide for Nut Cookery (1899), America’s first book devoted solely to cooking with nuts.

Vegetarians — who at the time practiced what we may now consider veganism — enjoyed all sorts of nut butters, which weren’t simply novel spreads for sandwiches but also sustaining, high-protein meat substitutes. But peanuts were the cheapest nuts, and it was peanut butter that dominated the field. It was first manufactured in small quantities by individuals and sold locally from door to door, but before long, small factories sprang up and peanut butter became a familiar article on grocers’ shelves. The American Vegetarian Society (AVS) sold peanut butter and actively promoted its sale through advertisements in magazines. In 1897 the AVS also began promoting the sale of the “Vegetarian Society Mill,” with an accompanying eight-page pamphlet encouraging vegetarians to create home-based peanut butter businesses. Vegetarians all over the country began to manufacture commercial peanut butter. The Vegetarian Food & Nut Company, in Washington, D.C., sold a product called “Dr. Shindler’s Peanut Butter” throughout the United States for decades. The company also produced private-label peanut butter for grocery store chains, and non-vegetarians quickly adopted the tasty new product.

The Atlantic Peanut Refinery in Philadelphia, launched in December 1898, may have been the first company to use the words “peanut butter” on its label. The term was picked up by other commercial manufacturers, although a New Haven, Connecticut, manufacturer preferred the term “Peanolia,” (later shortened to Penolia), and registered it in 1899.

By 1899, an estimated two million pounds of peanut butter were manufactured annually in the United States, and by the turn of the century, ten peanut-butter manufacturers competed for the burgeoning US market. From its origin just six years earlier as an alternative to creamery butter, peanut butter had established itself as an American pantry staple and a necessity for schoolchildren’s lunch pails.

Headline image credit: Peanut Butter Texture, by freestock.ca. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Peanut butter: the vegetarian conspiracy appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Meet us at WorldFest!

Woop-dee-do and yippy-kay-ayy, we’ll be at WorldFest this coming weekend!

So if you’re in the Los Angeles area, come out and join us on Sunday, May 19th. This is us officially inviting you to hang out in a beautiful park for a day listening to live music, sampling tons of vegan food, plus a beer and wine garden hosted by Lagunitas Brewing Company. Um, beer. Yes? Beer. Yes. The event is all about promoting health, environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare issues. No reason we can’t have some fun doing it!

Since we run an environmentally sustainable screen print shop – not to mention being vegan – we couldn’t think of a better way to participate than with our goofy vegan t-shirt designs. Naturally, we’ll be exhibiting our super soft vegan t-shirts at our booth. We’ll also have stickers, window decals, tote bags, and prizes to give away. So aside from the beer, food, and Ed Begley, Jr., you can score some very cool stuff from us!

We’ll also be educating people on what it means to run an environmentally-conscious business. Especially in the screen printing industry, there are a lot of chemicals that are used for preparing and cleaning screens. We only use drain safe, biodegradable, citrus and soy-based cleaners in our tiny little shop. There are a lot of things we plan to do as we grow (we’d love to be 100% solar-powered), and we’ll be learning about some options at WorldFest.

We hope to see you there!

David & Jenni

WorldFest eflyer

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10. Señorita Margarita


Consume it. Just don’t sit on it.

Agave: Pointy. Vegan. Delicious.

Okay, so maybe just gnawing off a hunk of agave from your neighbor’s yard is not so delicious (or cool). You have to do stuff to it, like distilling, which is my favorite way of enjoying agave.

When you combine distilled agave (also known as tequila, people tell me) with limes and ice, magical things happen. I like to call it a “margarita.” Don’t steal that, I’m already working on the trademark.

Jenni and I have sipped a plethora of margaritas between designing, printing, shirt-folding, and child rearing. A few things we’ve decided:

  • Tequila. If it’s not 100% blue agave, it’s crap.
  • Expensive does not necessarily equal awesome (see above).
  • Throw away the mixes. They’re crap.
  • Margaritas are a valid source of vitamin C.
margarita t-shirt

Don’t forget your margaritawear!

Jenni’s Superifico Margarita Recipe

Combine in a blender:

  • 1 cup tequila (100% blue agave)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar (we like Tres Agaves)
  • Ice

Blend it up. Serve in ginormous margarita glasses.

Technically this makes four margaritas. But who’s counting?

Do you do ‘ritas? What’s your secret recipe? Favorite tequila? Share with us in the comments!

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11. Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herby Green Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I was craving a rice salad, but without the rice. Something that’s all about soaking up a good sauce. Roasted cauliflower has been my recent go-to sauce-soaker-upper, and I was really happy with what I came up with. Here’s the skinny:

Olive Oil

1 head Cauliflower, finely chopped

2 or 3 handfuls Grape or Cherry Tomatoes


2 cloves Garlic

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

1 T Dijon Mustard

tiny drip of Honey (or something else if you’re vegan)

Lemon Juice

a few tablespoons or more Minced Chives

a few tablespoons or more fresh Oregano, chopped (basil or parsley would be good, too)

1 T Capers

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Oil a baking sheet and throw the cauliflower on it with a couple of garlic cloves. Roast at 375F, for about 20 minutes. Halve the tomatoes and roast them for about 20-30 minutes as well. This brings out their flavor like crazy.

I’m not really a measuring kind of person when it comes to dressing (or, let’s be honest, for a lot of things). If you really want measurements, you could use a basic vinaigrette and add the extras. I think I’d add even more herbs next time. I really wanted something that was so green it would color the cauliflower, but my herb garden wasn’t quite in full swing when I made this.

Chop up the roasted garlic and whisk it together with the other dressing ingredients.

Toss the cauliflower with the dressing and tomatoes. Add walnuts. Yum. I realized later that the dressing flavors were inspired by the broccoli gribiche recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

What are you cooking this summer? I’m always on the lookout for interesting salads. Hope you had a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day.

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12. What do I feed a vegan?

veganWhen I’m not printing t-shirts or wasting time online comparing Michael Jackson pre and post-surgery photos, I’m usually eating. I can eat a lot. And I do eat a lot.

I also travel quite a bit and find myself in situations where there’s catered food, or a group dinner at a fancy steakhouse. Because I’m vegan, organizers get the tangy zip of a challenge when finding stuff for me to eat. Which most of the time they do very well.

I’m not shy about sharing my dietary choices. I also don’t whine or complain if things aren’t exactly right all the time. That would leave them with the impression that vegans are fussy douchebags. Which I’m sure some are, just as other people pick their noses in glass elevators when they think they’re alone (Telegram to Man Across the Lobby: STOP IT). And some vegans have an obsession with celebrity plastic surgery. I’m digressing. My point is, we all have something in our nose.

Wait. No. My point is that when we eat differently than most of the population, we have a duty to educate. And event organizers have a duty to learn.

So if you’re a meat eater and you’ve been given the challenge of feeding one of those… vegans, I’ve crafted a short list of helpful hints for you.

Think of me as your vegan ambassador.

How to Feed a Vegan

Vegans are like vegetarians in that they don’t eat beef, chicken, fish, or squirrel. They do not eat anything that comes from an animal. That’s right. To be on the safe side, that means you should leave out:

  • milk
  • eggs
  • fabric softener (kidding)
  • honey
  • cheese
  • goat cheese
  • ricotta cheese
  • cottage cheese (no tabloid swimsuit photos, either)
  • any kind of food that ends in “cheese”

There are cheese substitutes out there. Don’t try to track them down and replace it. Just let it go and don’t worry. No cheese.

I’ll  just make a Salad

No. Look, I know that after the list above you’re probably thinking that the only thing left is iceberg lettuce. That may be the only thing left in your fridge, but come on now. You’re better than that. Here’s a short list of things you can feed a vegan that you can probably get at any grocery store:

  • pasta with marinara
  • pasta with pesto
  • veggie burgers
  • veggie dogs
  • pizza (no cheese!)
  • black bean burritos
  • refried bean burritos (no lard)
  • nachos
  • bean dip
  • chili (no meat)
  • risotto
  • stir fry
  • soup
  • salad

Okay, I tricked you with that last one. Yeah, salad is good. It’s just that you don’t want your vegan guests to be munching lettuce while everyone else chows down on something hearty. You don’t have to think like a vegan, you just have to think like somebody who is hungry… and doesn’t eat squirrel cheese.

The Secret Vegan Cookbook

There’s no secret tome locked away in Atlantis that describes the perfect vegan meals, but there are plenty of recipe books and web sites out there these days. It’s 2013. Use your magic Google machine and search “vegan recipes.” See what magic awaits you.

Choosing a Restaurant

Most good restaurants these days offer vegan options on their menu, or at least something that can be made vegan. A great favor you can do for vegans is to tip them off about the place beforehand. I like to look at menus online and prepare for what I might order in advance. Sometimes I’ll even call ahead and ask if they can make one of their dishes vegan. Again, good restaurants are happy to do this. I’ve even eaten at full-on steakhouses where a polite request has scored me some fantastic vegan meals.

This way, when everyone sits down there’s no uncomfortable moment of panic because the menu is chock full of beef entrées. Which leads us to…

Under the Radar

My last little nugget is about etiquette. Suppose you had a weak bladder. You go to a dinner party and in front of everyone your host loudly announces, “Now, I seated you closest to the potty so if you have an emergency you just get up and go! Oh, and there’s a fresh towel on your chair.”

Vegans aren’t like the incontinent. But remember that most everyone just wants to hang out and fit in at social gatherings. So consider not complaining to the room that you had to go through hell and high water to feed them. Most people won’t notice, and conversations can be about scintillating topics like celebrity plastic surgery instead of dietary choices.

That’s all I have for now. What questions do you have about feeding vegans? Or Michael Jackson’s nose? Hit me up, I’m here to help.


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13. Summer Journal: Homemade Orange Creamsicles

Homemade Orange Creamsicle

The kids and I have made a list of fun things to do this summer, and one of them is to make popsicles.

This was our first batch, made with this recipe, from the blog Oven Love, found through Pinterest. I love that they’re non-dairy, made with coconut milk and real orange juice. They were a hit. Next I think we’ll freeze our favorite peanut-butter-chocolate-banana smoothies. With maybe a little coconut milk. Do you have any favorite popsicle combos?

Meg of elsiemarley.com suggested that readers share short posts about fun summer activities . If you’d like to play along, leave a comment on Meg’s blog and use the words “Summer Journal” in your blog title or as a hashtag if you’re instagramming or whatnot. While you’re at it, let me know in my comments, too!

For more posts on food, including recipes, click here. I like to cook with less meat and dairy, more veggies, and I do a lot of gluten-free stuff, too.

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14. Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Chickpea SaladThis is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. As I may have mentioned, I’m not doing wheat these days (long story), and in general I’m trying to eat more veggies and fewer grains. I miss my tabbouleh, though (usually made with bulghur wheat).

So, I changed up Mark Bittman’s tabbouleh recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Instead of bulghur wheat, I used a can of rinsed chickpeas, then added chopped cucumber and tomato as well. If you do dairy, you could add feta. Mmmmm…

As usual, the full-of-fresh-herbs dressing is the key ingredient, and it tied everything together nicely. Even got a thumbs up from the hubs. I planted a whole hedge of parsley this year and have been so, so happy to have it for salads like this. It’s really easy to grow from seed (basil, too).

For more of my recipes and cooking posts, click here. You’ll notice I seem to have a thing for chickpeas.

What about you? Made any interesting salads lately? My new herb garden is keeping me inspired.

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15. Grilled Squash with Basil Puree

Grilled Squash with Basil Puree

I often feel compelled to buy summer squash even though none of us are huge fans of it. It looks so cute! So versatile! But then I get home and have to scheme to get anyone to eat it.

Truth be told, I still love the deep-fried squash I grew up with in South Carolina. Ilios Noche, a local restaurant, serves a fantastic updated Greek version of fried squash—with tzatziki!

But I may be onto something here with the basil puree. It definitely gave the squash a nice punch. And it was way easier than making pesto. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto, but I hardly ever make it.

The basil puree from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is super simple, basically basil in the food processor with olive oil, lemon juice, a tiny bit of garlic, plus salt and pepper. I can see it with roasted veggies, potatoes, chicken, pasta…lots of possibilities. So glad we planted basil seeds. I had no idea it was so easy to grow from scratch, and now we have an overabundance.

What are your summer squash (and garden veggie) go-to dishes? I’ve also found that soaking the slices in Italian dressing before grilling is pretty yummy.

7 Comments on Grilled Squash with Basil Puree, last added: 8/16/2013
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16. Roasted Green Beans with Almonds and Onions

Roasted Green Beans

This is a really simple way to do green beans and a favorite in our house. Until I was in my twenties, I had never had a crunchy-ish green bean—always the soft and soupy kind. I still like the soft ones now and then, but roasting is my go-to way to cook them, and the garlic, onions, almonds, and vinegar give this dish lots of flavor.

When I roast the beans and onions, I keep the onions all to one side of the pan so they can be easily separated. The kids won’t touch anything with a visible onion attached to it. They don’t eat the almonds, either. More for the grown-ups, right? The kids do like the flavor the finishing vinegar gives, though, and even my six-year-old, by far the pickiest, asked for seconds when I served this dish.

The Mollie Katzen recipe, from The New Moosewood Cookbook, is here. I just substituted sliced almonds for pine nuts, since I always have almonds on hand and pine nuts are crazy expensive.

For more of my cooking adventures, click here.

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17. Vegan? You’re doing it wrong.

Are you doing vegan wrong? It depends on who you’re asking.

Sometimes, if you ask the wrong person, you get painted with the brush of Wrongness. It doesn’t wash off easily.

you_are_doing_it_wrong_35In our little vegan cult– er, community, the Wrongness rears its ugly head early and often. Even if you’re a 10-year vegan veteran like I am, consuming no animal products, there’s always somebody poised to tell you that you’re doing “vegan” wrong. Your tires aren’t vegan, your iPhone isn’t vegan, that little thing that hangs down your throat is a uvula and if meaty air accidentally touches it because you were breathing again, you are doing it wrong.

The tiny problem with “You’re doing it wrong” is that wrong is not always black and white. For example, what if the cheerleader is holding that sign for a lady hanging upside down on monkey bars? It could happen. So there needs to be context involved in the accusations of Wrongness.

However, if the ink on that sign is derived from monkeys in bars, she would be wrong. Maybe. We’ll get into that another time.

With veganism, our approach is always to educate and let people make their own choices. We rate “trying to be vegan” pretty high, because it’s at least taking steps toward being more conscious. Everyone isn’t equally successful, but you get bonus points for moving in that direction.

But all vegans aren’t, shall we say, tolerant. Some are downright militant. And scary.

Around the time we first went vegan, we went to a kid’s birthday party. The family wasn’t vegan, but they knew there would be vegans coming so they provided a pizza with soy cheese on it. Wasn’t that nice? We thought so.

Enter the militant vegan. Host confrontation in 3…2…

“Hey. You know this has casein in it, don’t you?”

If you don’t already know (and how dare you not know), casein (KASE-ee-ehn) is an element found in dairy. It does something like bind together the whats-it molecules with the enzymes in the… whatever. It makes cheese work. Some fake soy-type cheese products use the stuff, but it’s not truly vegan. Now you know.

However, our militant vegan -ahem- friend didn’t stop at educating the host. Nopity-nopity-no. She went full-on vegan rant monster to everyone in earshot. Message sent?

You’re doing it wrong.

Message received?

You’re wrong. I’m right. You are being a bad vegan and I’m here to stop these evil proceedings. And don’t get me started on those goddamned balloons.

It’s Not the Message, It’s the Delivery

In this world, there are certain things you could truly be doing wrong. Jumping out of a plane without a parachute, for example. There’s not much wiggle room on that rule (try to trust me there). However, when it comes to things that aren’t particularly life-threatening, like starting a business or going vegan, there’s enough wiggle room to samba with Harry Belafonte.

That said, there are some widely accepted standards for what makes a vegan. I would say the overwhelming majority of vegans don’t consume any animal products whatsoever. If you eat eggs or fish, you may be trying to be vegan, but you’re not technically a vegan by widely accepted cult–er, community standards. But are you doing it wrong?

We don’t wear leather or fur, but Bill Clinton does (well, hopefully not the fur). Yet he’s still a vegan in our book, because he doesn’t eat food that comes from animal sources. His reasoning? His health. Do we care? Nope.

Some people would care very much about that distinction and say he’s doing it wrong – or for the wrong reasons. All we care about is that he’s going in a good direction for his health, animals, the environment, and his appearance – which benefits us all when we have to see him in the media. If we took our time and energy to focus on the negative aspects in his Wrongness of Reasons, we would lose any momentum in our cause. People would be afraid to approach us to ask any questions about being vegan, because they would be afraid of our Mighty Vegan judgment.

With our militant vegan acquaintance, we know she’s passionate about her vegan beliefs (so are we). We can respect that passion, but passion alone doesn’t change the world.

You Probably Aren’t Doing It Wrong, but What If You Are?

If someone calls you out on doing vegan wrong, hang up and then dial your operator. Seriously, do some research, call a friendly vegan friend, gather as much information as you can. Then make your choices. Your choices will vary from our choices. That’s what makes us individuals. If your choices come from being fully conscious and educated in what you’re choosing, then you can’t be doing it wrong.

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18. Chickpea-Battered Fried Leeks

Fried Leeks

I made this as a quickie-quick appetizer on Christmas Eve. No, the kids didn’t eat them, but the hubs and I thoroughly enjoyed them. A repeat performance definitely has to happen.

I’d been thinking about this onion fritter recipe, found on Pinterest, for a long time. I ended up using a simpler recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but I love the ideas in the first, too. I was just short on time.

The brilliance of this concoction is that the ingredients are so few, the flavor is more than the sum of its parts, and it’s painlessly gluten-free—–without even trying. Given my well-documented obsession with chickpeas (here, here, and here—oh, and here and here) it really hit all the points on my checklist.

So, here’s the skinny:

1 part chickpea flour, 4 parts water, salt. A sprinkle or two of cumin and cayenne. I used 1/4 cup chickpea flour and 1 cup water for 1 sliced leek. Drag leek rounds (or onion rounds) in extra chickpea flour, then dunk in batter. Fry in a generous (but not huge) amount of oil. Drain and enjoy.

Mr. Bittman says battering veggies with chickpea flour and frying is a traditional Indian preparation and can be served with chutney (oooh!). Sadly, I didn’t have any chutney on hand and didn’t feel like making any, but maybe some other time. I poured out the last bit of batter and made a lacey pancake with the last scraps of leek. Yum! I may have to try this with other veggies.

Poking through the blog I found thru Pinterest (a bit of this and a bit of that) I see lots of exciting Indian recipes. I’ll have to browse some more…

In other news, I’m still working on my nonfiction picture book, and things are starting to gel. So exciting. And the other night I got to attend the Women’s National Book Association book swap. Check out my instagram feed (it’s in the right hand column of the blog) to see my haul.

And for more of my cooking and eating adventures, click here.

Frying leeks

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19. Tofu and broccoli, steamed.

For all you tofu fans out there.

©2014 Sparky Firepants

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20. Super Quick Italian Bean Salad

Italian Bean Salad

This is my weeknightified version of a Foster’s Market recipe. It’s super simple and really hits the spot when I want a tasty deli-style salad with next to no work. You could dress it up as much as you like with fresh veggie add-ins. The original recipe is lovely, though not super fast (you cook the beans yourself and make their delicious dressing from scratch, among other things). Again, this is more a list of ideas than a real recipe, but it’s not hard to eye the proportions.


Rinsed and drained canned white beans (I like navy beans)

Italian dressing—-I like the Penzey’s mix


Sundried tomatoes

Chopped fresh parsley

Mix beans with enough dressing to coat and enough capers and tomatoes to give it a little color. Let marinate a few hours if you have time. Add parsley. Enjoy!

Got some more feedback on my nonfiction manuscript this week. Things are finally moving forward. So excited.

Still working on the last few chapters of my young adult novel. It’s slow-going, but I do think I’m getting somewhere.

And in other news this week, I’ve been talking to 4th and 5th graders about writing an early reader (i.e. Slowpoke). Fun times! Love getting their questions.

For more food-related posts, click here. Have a great rest of your week.


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21. Vegan Zombie

©2014 Sparky Firepants

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22. Falafel from Scratch

Falafel mixture

When we were living in Hannover, I became a falafel addict. Might not sound typically German, but there’s a large Turkish population in Germany, and you can buy inexpensive, fresh, delicious falafel (as well as other yummy treats) at almost any corner. The guys at my imbiss (fast food joint) knew my falafel order by heart.

You can get excellent falafel in Charlotte (try Zeitouni), but I miss being able to walk across the street and get it, so I often make it at home. Box mixes are actually pretty good (Far East has a good one) but I’d always wanted to try making them from scratch.

So what’s in there? Dried, soaked (uncooked) chickpeas, onion, parsley, spices.

How hard was it? Well, if you’ve made from-the-box falafel before, it’s really not that hard, but it does require more planning and more cleanup. Big bonus if you have trouble with gluten is that making them from scratch requires no flour, which most mixes have. I find the difficult part is that I want to make all the fixin’s, too, which also take time—yogurt sauce, tahini sauce, chopped veggies.

Since I spent most of my energies on the falafel, I put my daughter to work on the yogurt sauce (she loves this) and dressed the veggies with just a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

This time I think my husband was right: I really DID use every dish in the house.

Results: delicious. Was it worth making from scratch? I have to say that, while I loved them would make them again, the box-mix kind are a close second.

Bittman’s recipe here.

Homemade Falafel

Next on my list: making harissa from scratch, and Egyptian falafel. They’re green!

For more of my posts on cooking and food, click here.


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23. Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger

I’d been wanting to try these for a long time but never got around to it until last week. There were a few mishaps, but all in all, I was psyched about how they turned out, despite their less-than-photogenic looks. They even got the hubs stamp of approval—-as in, he not only ate them without complaint (he pretty much always does that) but says he’d like me to make them again. He even chose them leftover the next day instead of grilled chicken.

The recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Here’s the original recipe. I’ve cooked a lot, lot, lot from this book. Check out my archives if you want to see more posts about food and cooking.

1 can black beans, drained

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (I used gluten-free)

1 TB chili powder

1 garlic clove

a generous squirt of Sriracha sauce

a nice blob o’ ketchup

3 pickled jalapeno slices

Pulse everything just a little, not a lot, in the food processor. I accidentally left out the egg, but it didn’t seem to matter much, so I doubt I’d add it back in. I also goofed and blended the ingredients too long.

After processing, let it all rest a few minutes.

Form into patties and chill in the fridge for a little while.

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium, add oil, then brown the patties on one side, then the other.

The next bit was tricky for me. The burgers actually had to be cooked a long, long time to get the right texture. You want the texture to be kind of burger-like. The right kind of chew, not mushy and damp.Maybe I had trouble because I added too much moisture and pulsed the ingredients too long. I don’t know. I may try browning and then baking next time.

What I ended up doing was just turning the heat down to low and cooking them forever very slowly so as not to burn them. I was afraid the whole experiment would be a wash, but lo and behold, they turned out very well in the end.

I didn’t think they were more than mildly spicy, but my daughter (who likes to remind me that children have more taste buds) said the spice factor was too much for her. I hadn’t expected the kids to flock toward bean burgers anyway and had made them turkey burgers instead.

You could totally crank the spice factor up or down. These are definitely going into the rotation.

If you want more detail about all kinds of tips and variations, do check out the original recipe.

I’ve been reading Jennifer Worth’s memoir, Call the Midwife, since I love the show so much. I was surprised that the show actually follows the memoir fairly closely. I’ve been watching old episodes of Foyle’s War, a British WWII detective show. Also tried Outlander (no, I’ve never read the books) and The Knick. I’m definitely on a mostly British historical kick. Not sure what I think of those shows yet. You?

Also doing some patchwork, some of which I hope to show you soon.

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24. To My Fellow Horrible Acne Sufferers

It’s been a long time since I had acne. Thankfully. Because I had severe cystic acne–the kind that looks like open sores all over your face and chest and back–all through college and well into my late 20s. I think I saw the last of it when I was 29, and that was only after two full rounds of Accutane. Accutane is some scary stuff. I had to sign all sorts of waivers and promises to stay on birth control because the drug causes horrible birth defects. Over the course of the two years I used it, I couldn’t wear contacts because my eyeballs dried out. I had to put lotion on every inch of my skin several times a day because it was all so parched and flaking. I felt itchy and sore. But yes, the drug finally worked. And I was incredibly grateful.

Which is why I’m posting this video. Because if I had known when I was younger what Randa and Nina have discovered, I would have changed my diet right away. Acne like the kind they and I had destroys your self-confidence and makes you want to crawl into a hole and not let the world see you. And in my case, unlike theirs, I was also obese in college, so between that and the acne, you can imagine I wasn’t really enjoying my 20s.

If I could go back to the young woman I was and whisper in her ear, “Hey! Look at this!” I would. But until I’ve worked out all the mechanics of time travel, the best I can do is to help any of you who might be suffering from the same problem. Because it is suffering–I know that too well.

Best of luck to all of you! And thanks Nina and Randa for sharing your story and your pictures. I know that was hard!

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25. Is it wrong to laugh while you’re saving humanity?

Vegan Zombie tee ©2013 Sparky FirepantsHere’s something to muddle over this week:

Is it possible to be passionate about a cause and keep a sense of humor about it?

While you ponder that with your own passionate beliefs, here’s our story. Jenni and I are both vegan. We care about things like animals being tortured and our water being polluted. While we’re at it, we’d love to see every person in the world have enough to eat.

Our efforts toward these causes are serious and dedicated. For example, here are just a few things we do:

  • We eat a plant-based diet.
  • We use environmentally-friendly products and practices in our screen print shop.
  • We buy from companies that support our values and ideals
  • We get involved with events and organizations that support the causes we believe in

In all of these activities, we interact with people who care about the same things we do. Some of these people are serious, too. Very serious. Very… very serious.

Here’s a quick self-check guide to see if you’re getting a little too serious about your cause:

  • Have you ever thrown red paint on anyone (frat parties don’t count)?
  • Have you ever crawled into a grocery store meat case and snuggled the packages, whispering, “You didn’t have to die for us?”
  • Do you have any tattoos of Al Gore’s face? Anywhere?
  • Have you angrily shouted the words “bone char” or “fracking” more than once this week?
  • Do you get tweets from Alec Baldwin telling you to lighten up?

If you said “yes” to more than one of these, you may be too serious. And, you may actually be hurting the causes you’re trying to promote. For example, there’s nothing wrong with being passionate about rescuing animals from slaughter. If your end goal is to convince someone that slaughtering animals is wrong, getting up in their business with a few choice accusations probably isn’t going to do it. And they’ll go away convinced of only one thing: Those damn animal lovers are freaks, man. Message lost, mission unaccomplished.

I read somewhere that if you can get people to laugh, you have their attention. I read a lot of things “somewhere” and then forget the source.  It sure sounds like somebody said it. Lucille Ball? Dale Carnegie? Hannibal Lecter? Let’s say I made this up and move along.

Sometimes when people find out I’m vegan, I instantly become a target for teasing and animal rights jokes – not to mention dissecting my whole way of eating and thinking. I get it, I’m weird. If people realized truly how weird, they would forget about my diet. So it’s good that I have that to distract them.

In those situations where people are testing me, it would be easy to get angry and put up my dukes to defend myself and my cause. I could get all huffy (or Schwinn) and whine, “You just don’t understand the kind of evil the meat industry perpetrates! Your food is shit! You are gonna die! You’re assisting in the mass slaughter of cuddly critters and the careless destruction of the Earth, you non-caring animal-wearing meat whore!”

Instead, I answer questions and deflect “testing me” questions with humor. Then I let it go. It’s not that I’ve changed my beliefs or even hinted at agreeing with them. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And yes, I just advocated the use of honey for catching flies. Double-bad vegan-whammy to me on that one.

Surprisingly, what typically happens is that those testing people approach me when I’m alone and start asking more earnest questions about how to make vegan meals (which I then hand over to Jenni because I never remember how to cook anything).

When we decided to launch a line of vegan t-shirts and totes, it took a few months to sort out what the designs would be. My initial sketches all had some sort of serious “We are all one world” kind of message. Which is fine. I’m not knocking the sentiment. But jeez looweez, don’t we see that everywhere? After a while we get desensitized to the ubiquitous messages of love all, serve all. We start branding people who sport those messages by saying, “Those damn hippies again.” I’m guilty of this myself.

So we went the other way. We went the weird cartoon humor route by creating some goofy t-shirts. In fact, we even have a bacon shirt (a bacon-destroying video game). Plus, we’ve got more vegan and non-cause-related t-shirt designs on the drawing board. See? We’re so serious about our health, animals, and the Earth that we can’t help smiling about it.


Vegan Zombie tee ©2013 Sparky Firepants  Tofu Strongman ©2013 Sparky Firepants     Bacon Bits ©Sparky Firepants

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