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The theme is: Vegan

11 Nov

I was having a conversation recently with this girl I’m friends with In Real Life. About being vegans.

Just a couple of vegans (kinda) talking about being vegans.

I’ve thought about this and I don’t think that vegans talk especially extensively about being vegan as humans generally just talk about food a lot. But since being vegan has become so polarized lately, those that fall on the less than favorable reception of vegans notice all the self glorifying talk of greens and sacrifice and martyrdom because they just don’t like the idea of anyone eluding that they are wrong in one of their most basic, most personal choices they can make as humans:

What they eat.

Which is understandable.

And funny because then vegans walk around being all “why is everyone so mean to me” but really it’s because by being vegan you are inadvertently making a statement about the “other”  people who aren’t making such an obvious choice to refrain from meat. Should vegans keep their veganism a secret? Should they not participate in one of the human race‘s greatest fascination of food and what kinds of things to do to it!

Should they not rejoice in the delight of talking to others about what they eat? I will say that I feel vegans do derive joy from sharing a discussion on their food choices with non vegans. But the way I feel about it is, if you have the stamina to maintain such a lifestyle, then you should by all means gloat about it.

Gloat away!

Obviously, treating vegans unfairly would be silly, we are all equals here and all have a right to their opinion. Democracy! Fraternity! Plus vegans need to get over it and the idea that you need other people to agree with your choices just like everybody else. If you want support with your issues, talk to other vegans.

You can’t change anyone’s mind with self-righteousness.

We came up with a list of things that prove we (as vegans (or aspiring vegans <–that one’s me) ) are right and others (devil meat eaters who are basically bad people) are wrong. Just in case some people out there are unclear, here it is:

1. It’s like those people that say the Holocaust never happened!

Seriously how many findings and long, arduous nutritional studies and experiments need to come out that confirm most of our known lifestyle diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, the other one’s I don’t remember the name of… ) are perpetuated by consumption of processed and animal products before the general human population will actually believe that they are saying the truth and aren’t just neo-food-nazi propaganda fascist LIARS that are creating untrue stories for the benefit of sickly self-righteous deluded vegans.

These findings are real, truthful and sincere. It isn’t a farce. It isn’t made up. Where do I get protein from? Everywhere else. I could eat a leaf from a tree in the common and get protein from it (I don’t actually know if that’s true). Are we done with that question forever yet? Calcium? Do you even understand how many things have calcium in them? So many things have calcium in them… how much milk do you even drink?

2. It’s like those people that are like “I’m going to bikram yoga tomorrow! JKJKJKJKJK….”

Then there’s those out there that do recognize that these findings are true and this isn’t a huge ploy like that Al Gore guy who keeps talking about the planet MELTING?! (wtf right?)

… which actually narrows it down quite a bit: People who looooove being healthy but are addicted to opiates cheese (the whole cheese being addictive thing affects a lot of people… most of them think that’s a lie too) so they keep trying to be vegan but fail because their desires for animal products are too strong to battle their laziness and lack or originality/planning (I live in this category when I’m not being “vegan”. Or they haven’t read Skinny Bitch yet.

I have.

3. This is secretly the most important factor, don’t let number ranking fool you.

I don’t know that people really understand the benefits: You will look younger. That means you don’t need to save for plastic surgery when you’re rich and old! Your skin’s elasticity greatly improves. Basically every part of your physiology gets healthier (that’s why it cures all those deceases we mentioned in #1. Duh.).

Oh yeah. Being vegan makes you thin…

4. Death and Destruction.

The animals suffering thing… is kind of a factor. Considering how messed up that gets. Basically the cruelty rivals the treatment feuding African war torn nations inflect on each other. Which is pretty bad, in general. Actually, I would say it’s a combination of that and the Holocaust (again with the Holocaust…). It’s basically a dysfunctional, unsustainable, endlessly destructive tornado of suffering, chaos and inhumanity. Since we are doing these things to animals, I think people feel like it doesn’t count. But if you’re severing limbs, genitally mutilating and sexually mistreating (in the billions), does whether you do it to an animal or a person matter?

No. The answer is no.

And that’s because doing these things is fucked up in general.

And I mean I get it. I really do.

Who wants to worry about the animals? That’s heavy. Let’s not. I don’t want to think about the sad stories about animals suffering just like I don’t really want to talk about the horrors of Africa or Typhoon Haiyan or all the other things that are going on in the world that have nothing to do with me in any way because we aren’t all connected at all and my decisions don’t affect a global scale because I am so small and the world is so big! What butterfly flapped it’s wings where?

I didn’t feel a thing.

Friends not food. 

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Thanksomuchgiving

24 Nov

Well!

I’ve made a few Thanksgiving contributions for good measure. With as many invisible layers of love as I could fit. Roasted acorn squash, chocolate/peanut butter chip cookies, and cake! Strawberry, with sprinkles and multiple layers. Two.

Also this is an appropriate time to thank people who read this blog. Out of the trillions of pieces of information available readily to us on the web, some of you read this! Which is so very nice. This is also a good time to let those of you that are local know that there’s going to be a theatre production at Boston Center for the Arts on Tremont St. during April 1-8, 2012 called Boston BlogoLogues. Featuring Formula 457! It’ll be a series of vignettes (8-12) and one of them is going to be one of my posts!

What started as a hobby, an escape from drudgery and a need to celebrate all things pretty and nice (and sometimes vile and unpleasant); has blossomed into something that now has a life of its own. Our one year was actually at the end of October, but I think Thanksgiving will be my official year-end mark. I hope there will be many more eventful years to come! I’m very thankful for the attention that this Blog has gotten.

I’m also thankful for my friends and family, who are so very reliable, nurturing and exciting people–all of them. Their vitality and enthusiasm help shape me everyday and I’m lucky to have you, new and old. Please know I review this sentiment often and I’m grateful for every memory. Every person I may call a friend embodies what I perceive to be most beautiful about human nature. Thanks for a very funny, entertaining, loving, exciting, adventurous and fruitful year!

You may dry your tears now.

The results:

Cookies. I’m essentially an expert at making them now.

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Cake.
I got these rubber cake holders from Ikea. Scary when you hold them in your hands and behold how …rubbery they are. But they do hold their own in 350 degree temperatures.

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Before.

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After!

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In case you want to make them too: Cut the acorn squash into quarters, put butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, black pepper, nutmeg and a single clove on each quarter. Put in oven for 40 minutes or until your fork sinks into the flesh with minimal trying. I loaded the butter on these a bit too much methinks…

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If you’ll notice the pools of butter that have collected in the valleys of each quarter…

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

Zebra Tea Time

21 Nov

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You really have to treat yourself every once in a while. Money’s only good for so much, and, really, paying for an experience is a gift– a privilege that isn’t bestowed on as many as you might think. One of my friends took me to tea at Upstairs on the Square. I had never been before, it felt like being inside Alice’s Wonderland.

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I’ve found a blog that’s gone out and rated places that are open for tea. They gave Upstairs on the Square a 90%. As did I. I’ll always knock off ten percent points for not having macaroons. I don’t see what the big deal is. I know they aren’t necessarily easy to make, but they’re never around. I’m in the midst of a confectionery dream, sitting on a firm, stuffed pastel purple suede booth–next to a three tiered silver platter–anticipating macaroons. There were little finger sandwiches, profiteroles, tarts, scones and cakes. Everything but macaroons. Why.

The Taj reigns supreme– the only other establishment to beat out Upstairs on the Square–with 96%.

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Next up: The Taj. Then the Athenaeum. Then Novel Cafe at BPL. Julien Lounge at Langham hotel has flower teas that open up in hot water just like in that scene from Marie Antoinette! L’Espalier has tuna profiteroles in the shape of a swan! From what I understand, none serve macaroons.

Follow up, Mr. Chocolate Part 2

29 Sep

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So, my dough has had time to chill out. I took an ice cream scoop to put them on a giant metal pan. Here’s the finished product:

I don’t think they’re the best. Not because they aren’t great- it’s just not my place to say.
All cookies taste great when they’re warm.
Bitter chocolate bits are very bitter, which I guess is nice when counterbalanced with the saccharin sweetness of the mountains of sugar and butter that went into this batter.

Here’s the thing though. I made some test cookies yesterday and this morning, though they were left out all night, they were still soft and moist. I don’t know how that’s even possible.

Maybe that’s why they’re the “greatest”. Perpetual moistness.

I just think they look beautiful.

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Cookie Mountain

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Notice high propensity to crumble

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20110929-185853.jpgGONE

Thank you, Mr. Chocolate

27 Sep

A woman that lived across the street from me in my old neighborhood in Roslindale when I was a kid used to make chocolate chip cookies for me and her husband almost on the daily. Mostly they were for her husband but I knew she made them everyday so I always made time to see them. You know.

I’ve never actually made them. Ever. I don’t know why; I’m completely open to making them, it’s just the way it worked out. I’ve decided to tackle chocolate chip cookie making head on and have sought the googled council of one of the most present, successful and trustworhy chocolatiers, Jacques Torres. Or Mr. Chocolate. What savvy branding that is. My aunt and I took a trip to New York a couple of years ago and we stopped at his little boutique, which is nice.

This is his infamous chocolate chip cookie recipe. Behold:

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content

sea salt for sprinkling

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My stomach churns when I think about how much butter I had to put in this recipe. 2 1/2 sticks.

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Here’s the thing. People who bake often have mechanically powered tools. I have a whisk. I couldn’t whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter. I attempted it but all the butter collected into the whisk. So I used my hands, which worked out well. Also it exfoliated my hands.

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That’s nice.

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2 eggs, remember, and vanilla extract. I used my hands for this too…

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Now this is all the powdered stuff, cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt. I used a whisk for this. Because I COULD. Back to this:

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I had to combine the dry stuff with the wet stuff. This was the worst part. I tried to use the whisk but that really didn’t work out because…

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The result is a dough so sticky, I had to use a fork to scrape it off my hands. We made plaster masks in art class when I was a fifth grader. This dough felt like plaster. The ripples you see in the photo below are actually from the fork…

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Chocolate time! The recipe actually calls for “bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content”, which Shaw’s didn’t have, so I used Nestle semisweet chips and Bakers unsweetened choco-cubes that I chopped up with a massive knife. Should be fine. Unless doves cry every time Mr. Chocolates recipe isn’t honored.

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Don’t cry.

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There it is.

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The catch is, this magic dough needs to sit for anywhere between 24 and 72 hours. Which I think is an absurd amount of time to wait for cookies. But actually, it’s genius. Mr. Chocolate wants us to do this so they may be doused in holy anticipation, feeding our building, burning desire for consumption. That clever, clever fox.

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I’m making these tomorrow. I’ll let the world know if these are, in fact, the best chocolate chip cookies ever then! Unless I messed up, which I may have when I was measuring the baking powder and baking soda. I used the half teaspoon spoon in place of the whole teaspoon spoon(at least I think I did), accidentally, so I threw in an extra half teaspoon of each to even things out.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

The West, America, Urban Loving, Animals

24 Jul

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Really, I frequently think about what massive a country we live in and how little I know about what it all is. Flying over places like Nebraska and Kansas is terrifying. Huge crop circles. All corn. So huge there’s no doubt in my mind they have something to do with aliens. I had the pleasure of taking a domestic trip recently.

I stayed with a friend. Her family had ordered a half beef from Nebraska, which is a great deal of red meat. One particular night, we had a sirloin. A beef sirloin that had the elegance and tenderness of a filet. It was incredible.

My destination was western Colorado. Grand Junction. So many horses just hanging out in people’s backyards. None rideable. Open space. Lots of it. And while this may be liberating to so many and while I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, I realized that not living in a congested, urban area could kill me. The open space was suffocating. I kept thinking about what would happen to me if someone came up out of nowhere, shot me and left. No one would know for days. I had spotty service. The only way my remains might be discovered is months from the fact, when someone noticed that a patch of land was yielding uncharacteristically verdant grass. The result of my decomposing tissue fertilizing the ground.

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The great part was that I saw lizards, falcons, horses, hummingbirds, cows, sheep, bear carcass, deer carcass, a variety of wildcat hides, a siamese cat, a plethora of beautiful monarch butterflies and, one day during dinner, a mallard couple flew into my friends backyard and walked around ten feet away from us. For about twenty minutes. It was neat. And startling. Their public stroll was far too casual in comparison with the normal animal baseline behavior I’ve been assimilated to. It was such a quiet, graceful moment and they knew they were safe. Because what spiritual being could disrupt such a gift? They were almost daring me to throw my discarded olive pits at them. They knew I wouldn’t. I didn’t, obviously.

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Mountains: I used to think that people who went on and on about mountains were annoyingly granola. Now I understand.

1. It’s cool.
2. It looks like nothing else in the city.
3. It’s beautiful.
4. Imagining the force and weight of that giant landmass is impossibly challenging.
5. Being that high up sort of makes you feel inebriated or, at least, that it would be irresponsible to handle heavy machinery. Or a cellular telephone. Which I fumbled with a little bit.
6. It’s strange how horrifically mediocre the pictures of the mountains came out. Like a Bermuda triangle of BEAUTY– I didn’t know where it went. On camera, dull. Off camera, beautiful. Mountains aren’t photogenic it seems.

I’d like to try and see more of our country’s bountiful natural wonders. Next up: the Redwood forests, the Grand Canyon, the waves of Hawaii, that funny place where you can extend each limb and be in four states at once, glaciers of Alaska, Mount Rushmore and any horse riding place. I’m sure there are more impressive things out there but if I experience the aforementioned, then that’s a pretty good run.

What I will travel great distances for again is another steak like that Nebraska steak. I’ll dream of that for years. Years. I think I wish I never had it. Every piece of steak I’ve had so far since this trip has been a huge letdown.

I now feel the true depth of Flowers for Algernon.

Making up for lost time!: From Zurich with Love

22 Jan

One more! I had a layover in Zurich… I alerted as many people as I possibly could of this because, well, it was torture. I know. “Shut up. You have no idea how stupid you sound when you complain about being stuck in Zurich, meanwhile it’s been snowing snowstorm after snowstorm back home and we all hate you. Stop.” I know. But look:

I hadn’t slept. I had arrived at 5:30 in the morning. My flight back home was going to be at 5 that evening which is 11 hours of doing nothing time in a foreign country where everyone is creepy looking. I had no where to go, besides places where I would spend money, it rained, it snowed, it hailed, all not for very long–that is, just long enough to make my hair look crazy, my eyeliner rub all over my face, my boots and socks wet, and my magazines crinkly. Plus it was dark there until like 9 AM!? I wouldn’t know what the morning daylight situation in Greece is since I’ve never woken up there before 11… Ah vacation.

At one point I decided that I would look for the river. Because I found out there was a river and I thought it would be nice for chick-pictures. It was, as you’ll note the feigned romanticism and girlization of an otherwise boring, cold and unpleasant city.

But first I’m going to tell you about the man that shot a pigeon. I found the river. Took some quasi-scenic pictures, found a couple of docks that were swarming with pigeons, swans and ducks. All playing nice with one another. Then a man comes in with this huge musket. Well I don’t know if it was a musket since I don’t really know what a musket is… exactly. I could Google it, but even then I wouldn’t know if it actually was or not. Regardless, it was long and intimidating but when he pointed and SHOT at a pigeon, it didn’t make a sound. Or at least I didn’t hear anything, so it must have had a silencer. Although from time to time I convince myself that I’m hard of hearing and this is actually becoming one of those moments where I’m wondering why I didn’t hear anything at all…

Anyway so I risked death and went over to him and asked him IF he shot the pigeon and, when I realized he had because he scooped the dead pigeon into his hand and into a black plastic bag, why he would shoot a pigeon. He said there were too many and that last year he has shot 5,000. So there you have it.

I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of him secretly. He looked like that photo-place repair guy from Amelie.

A very nice woman sold me fantastic macaroons. I made friends with a Harvard student who had a layover in Zurich as well, but she only entertained me for a few hours because her layover time wasn’t as long as mine.

Zurich:

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