Wednesday, October 24, 2007

VegFest and Lots of cookin'

Ok, so last Saturday I headed to the Boston Vegetarian Festival. In the morning I volunteered which entailed setting up chairs in the lecture rooms and setup of the children's area. Later, I helped exhibitors bring their products inside and locate their tables.

Getting to the fest early worked out to be a huge advantage. At 10am I started to wander around before it got too crowded. The first table I stopped by was Herbivore. Lolo was there and I said hi. Isa and Terry hadn't arrived yet.

I met some nice folks from Stark Sister's Granola. The Potent Foods people were friendly and their maca bars were mighty good. There were many tables showcasing awesome vegan baked goods. I steered clear as I am on junk food cut back. Later, I attended two of the lectures. The second one on nutrition labels was really eye opening. I'll likely post about it in the future.

Freebies this year were not as generous as previous years, but I guess you can't complain about free. I scored some mini Lara bars, tea, Trader's Joe's rice, some popcorn samples and a bunch of coupons.

After the lectures I headed back downstairs. The festival had gotten so crowded, it bordered on fire hazard. While I was glad to see so many people interested in vegetarianism, I was disappointed at the pushy, angry crowd. Many people must have been put off by the attitude. I looked over and saw Isa, Terry, and Veganomicon. The crowds were relentless though and I decided to leave. On the way out I grabbed some pumpkin ice cream from Wheeler's Vegan Ice Cream which will soon have a Cambridge location. If BVS sticks with the same location next year, I may have to skip it unless I stop by as soon as it opens.

That night over 20 PPKers met at Elephant Walk in Cambridge for dinner. It was a lot of fun to meet everyone.

I forgot my camera early in the morning, so unfortunately I have no pictures of the festival. How about some food pics to make up for it?

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting (Terry's from VegNews)
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Cheezy Crackers from Celine's blog
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More Sourdough Pancakes (strawberry and regular)
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Since I'm on junkfood cut back, but wanted some pumpkin cookies... I adapted this recipe from The Healthiest Diet in the World Cookbook. They were originally chocolate chip cookies. I added 1 cup of pumpkin. Then used hazelnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The cookies have oat flour, whole wheat flour, no refined sugar besides the choc chips (1/3 cup of maple syrup) and only 1 Tbl of oil! They are both hearty and yummy.

Healthy Pumpkin Chip cookies
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When I was hiking on Sunday, I saw the coolest tree ever.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Catching Up...

First, I've got another auction on Ebay to benefit America's Second Harvest. My original auction made $62.36 for the charity.

The new item up for bids is a brand new I-fish that was sitting around my house. This would be great for kids or those that are young at heart if they have an Ipod. 50% of the proceeds from this one will also go to Second Harvest. Check it out, here.

Moving along...

The Boston Vegetarian Food Festival is tomorrow. I'll be volunteering there in the morning and then wandering around. Quite a few bloggers that I know will be there as well. We've got a plan to meet for dinner at Grasshopper, so drop me a line if you want to hang with us.

How about some food posts?

This is a tester recipe for Hawaiian Bread from the next Don't Eat of the Sidewalk zine.

Sourdough crust, filled with mushroom curry that I found on 28Cooks.
Sourdough pizza,with FYH cheese, veggie sausage, and oven dried tomatoes.

Another tester from the Don't Eat of the Sidewalk zine. Chipotle seitan on sun dried tomato bread. The side is roasted butternut squash from my very last CSA share.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day Post

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is the environment. I'd been thinking about what to post for the past two weeks or so and time just flew by.

Hunger has been at the top my activist concerns lately, so I thought I might write a little about that. Many of my blog readers are already vegetarian or vegan, so I feel like I am really preaching to the choir.

Over 800 million people suffer from hunger. Yet 43% of the grain we grow, goes to feeding livestock. It takes approximately 7 pounds of corn to grow 1 pound of beef. Other animals including fish require 2-3 pounds of corn per each pound of bodyweight. This is an incredibly inefficient way to feed people. Let's link the hunger issue to the environment.

US farmed animals create 1.3 billion tons of waste per year. This roughly equal 5 tons of waste per every American. None of this goes through a water treatment like human waste. Does anyone wonder why our food and water has contamination problems? Let's also think about erosion, green house gases released by livestock, and the inefficiencies of land/water use. (It takes 100x more water to grow a pound of beef versus growing 1 pound of vegetable protein.)

Here's another factoid for you. According to National Geographic, it takes 3/4 of a gallon of oil to produce 1 pound of beef. 283 gallons of oil are used to raise one cow.

One more tidbit that I ripped off from GoVeg, "According to the USDA and the United Nations, using an acre of land to raise cattle for slaughter yields 20 pounds of usable protein. That same acre would yield 356 pounds of protein if soybeans were grown instead—more than 17 times as much!"

Can you really be an omnivore and an environmentalist? For that matter, how can you not feel selfish eating a quarter pound hamburger that cost 1.75 pounds of grain to grow when people are starving? If you didn't do the math, the burger also required almost a 1/5 of a gallon of oil to produce. Next time you complain about gas prices, think about your food choices. In general grains and veggies require 1/18 the amount of fuel that livestock requires.

Other topics I considered writing about...

What exactly do carbon credits get you? If you drive an SUV and buy carbon credits, are you really helping? One of the sustainability leaders at my company says they do enough for the environment in other parts of their life and that they are buying carbon credits to offset the effects of their SUV. What if everyone just bought carbon credits, but didn't make changes?

Biofuels like ethanol actually aren't carbon neutral.

For an interesting read re: carbon credits and biofuels check out:

or check out this cool article on about carbon credits.

Also, some of the facts or ideas above were taken from an awesome pamphlet called 101 Reasons Why I'm Vegetarian. You can learn much more about environmental, ethical, health, and socio-economic reasons why veg is really the way to go. The extensive footnotes list gives you tons of reading and learning opportunities.

If you wrote a Blog Action Day post today, drop me a line so I can read what you had to say!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Testers, Vegan 4 course Dinner

Thanks everyone for the comments on my last post. Like I said, my goal is to do more this year. That being said, I ended up with a $100 Blockbuster gift card that I'm not going to use. I've posted it on Ebay. 70% of whatever the card makes will go directly to America's Second Harvest via MissionFish. It works in stores for rentals or purchases of used games or DVDs. Anyway, if you could use it or know someone who could, check out the auction.

Onto the food...

A few weeks back I picked up carrots at the farmer's market as they closed. The nice guy gave me a bunch of beets for free. On the way home I decided I would saute beet greens. The bright green carrot tops caught my eye and I wondered if I could cook them as well. A quick google search said yes. Carrot greens are on the bitter side, but mix well with other greens.

Tempeh Teriyaki, a Melomeals tester with sauteed beet and carrot greens.
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Veggie Planet had a 4 course vegan dinner on October 1st. The menu was created by chef Amie Swanson. The special nights are pricey and crowded, but the the creative meals are worth it. Unfortunately, I only remembered to take photos of three courses.

Lentil and swiss chard soup. Check out how the peppers are cut into little shapes.
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Spinach salad with roasted carrots, spiced pumpkin seeds, and apples with a maple dijon vinagrette.
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The missing photo is sweet potato gnocchi in a vegan butter and sage sauce.

Dessert: Chocoloate hazelnet layer cake with chocolate ganache
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Last photo, I was farm sitting at my friend's place in Maine again. Three chickens decided to roost in the bushes next to the house for the night. Apparently the leaves were cozier than the coop. Can you find them all?
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I've also got a few other pics from Cafe Indigo and Crazy Burger on the new blog as I was able to stop by both places recently.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Are you grateful?

A couple of weeks ago my family observed Yom Kippur. It is a somber, holy day where we reflect on on our actions during the previous year. We note where we could be better and we say we are sorry for the things we did wrong. This is accompanied by a 24 hour fast. Of course, I'm skipping a bit of the theological significance here.

Though I am normally not particularly religious, this is a holiday I look forward to. People that know me well, often give me a bit of flack for what seems like a sudden surge of religious inspiration. I'm a very spiritual person, but I honestly can't say I am particularly religious. I'd like to think if I wasn't Jewish and just stumbled upon the idea of Yom Kippur, it would still interest me. We don't often get to put aside a whole day to reflect on our lives. So, why am I mentioning all this?

Well, the rabbi's sermon was about hunger. It is a fitting topic for a day when you are fasting. She spoke a bit about the food stamp challenge. If you aren't aware, a number of groups have been pushing politicians to try living on $21 per week. That is the amount currently allotted to someone collecting food stamp benefits. Living on $21 per week is difficult and most people who tried it, found it nearly impossible. You certainly can't afford much fresh fruit or vegetables with that money.

The number itself is accurate, but it is a simplification. Many people getting food stamps are also receiving other benefits. Also food pantries, shelters, and charities provide a buffer for the needy. Perhaps the food stamp program does need reform if it is really the sole means for a recipient to get their food.

While fasting, I looked around my kitchen which is filled with food. I noted my blog where I write about food. Honestly, I even checked out the PPK food porn and some of your blogs. We're all pretty dang lucky. We aren't worried about whether we are going to be able to find a meal, we are busy thinking about what we are going to cook for dinner.

Normally, I donate to charities like America's Second Harvest because 98% of my donation goes to making a difference rather than overhead. I also donate to the local food pantry collection bins at my supermarket. My goal is to do this more regularly.

I challenge you to do something whether it is talking to your friends or family about what they can do, making a donation to Second Harvest or a local food pantry, volunteering somewhere, or even just clicking at the HungerSite every day.

I've got a backlog of food posts which I will get to soon. I've been thinking about this entry for awhile now and wanted to get this out there first.