Thursday, November 30, 2006 week late

I just realized I better blog about our Thanksgiving before November is up! (Which, on the east coast, is less than 4 hours away). Daiku and I spent a lot of time designing the local menu that we entered into the TreeHugger 100-mile Thanksgiving contest. (You can read more about that here) However, the contest deadline was 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, and by the time the actual day came around, we had either used up the local ingredients we had procured (you can see some in this post) or had grown tired of the recipes that we had already eaten. So our actual Thanksgiving meal turned into a mix of the TreeHugger menu and more traditional fare. Most of our ingredients were still local, though.

But first, here is what Daiku and I are thankful for this year:
  • Whisper the turkey, who arrived just in the nick of time (read about her here)
  • The incredibly warm weather (it was in the 60's in Syracuse today! yesterday, I walked around the neighborhood in a t-shirt)
  • Our wonderful blogging community of friends who teach us so much and inspire us
  • The chance to participate in the TreeHugger contest - and the fact that the menu we designed won!
  • And, just the fact that the two of us were together, able to eat (out of the last 6 Thanksgivings, we have been apart for 3 and one or both of us had been too sick to eat for 2, so it was a treat to be together and feeling well enough to cook and eat!)
I will give you photos without too much description. Everything we ate was homemade except for the pie we had for dessert and the gravy. (There was just a limit to how much we could cook/bake with time, kitchen size, etc.) We deliberately made too much food to have leftovers, which were all happily gobbled up in the next 3-4 days.

Thanksgiving Day breakfast: banana chocolate chimp muffins from the October issue of VegNews magazine (p. 63) so easy, SO good!

Roasted pumpkin seeds with cocoa powder, sugar, Earth Balance margarine, and chilli powder

Homemade rolls, rise 1

Homemade rolls, rise 2

Homemade rolls fresh out of the oven (plain, poppy seed, sesame seed)

Stuffing for the main course: cornbread, Gimme Lean sausage, celery, carrots, onions, pecans, vegetable broth, sage, marjoram, rosemary

Main course: portabella mushroom caps with stuffing, about to go into the oven

Soup: Daiku's take on French onion soup, French leek soup (slow-cooked leeks, vegetable broth, red wine)

Sweet potato casserole, made from Jess's recipe on Let's Get Sconed

Mashed potatoes (organic heirloom corola potatoes, you can see a before picture of them here)

One of our 2 cranberry sauces: cranberries, local apples, chilli, orange juice

salad: the yellow tomatoes you see are survivors from our summer garden!!

Roasted brussels sprouts and leeks

the pie: perhaps those horrible cracks are our punishment for getting a store-bought pie?...

Dinner table (hard apple cider and sparkling water in background)

Dinner plate

One last thing to be thankful for: When we went out to clear our garden from the summer, we found that one of our pepper plants had kept producing, even though our garden had been neglected for over a month and the weather has been cold. You can see those peppers, along with some bell peppers from our container plants in the above picture.

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving, whether for the time with friends and family, the food, the time off of work or school, or any other reason!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Meme Experiment

Won't you link to this meme and help out a fellow graduate student conducting an experiment?
Click on:
The results will be discussed at a talk at the annual MLA (Modern Language Association) meeting about how fast memes travel on the web. These conferences are huge! Blogging will be famous! ...
All you have to do is link to the above page and ask your readers and friends to do the same.

Whisper: A Thanksgiving Miracle

WHISPER the turkey

This little girl is our Thanksgiving miracle. We had sent in our adoption forms to Farm Sanctuary way back in September, but there had been some delay and administrative difficulty, so we didn't get word back for a long time. As the weeks passed, Farm Sanctuary promised that they hadn't lost our application, but we started to get worried. Last week, it began looking like a possibility that Thanksgiving would come and go and we wouldn't have word about our adopted turkey.

Well guess what came in the mail last Wednesday, the last possible day? An information packet and photo introducing us to... Whisper. She is a young turkey that was part of a group that a man was trying to sell over the internet. When he realized that his deals were not going through, he decided to let the turkeys (hatched from eggs he had bought) die. Fortunately, Farm Sanctuary convinced him to surrender the surviving turkeys and they will now live happily ever after on the farm.

I hope to visit Whisper some day soon, and take her some of her favorite snack, butternut squash to enjoy. Her photo certainly completed our Thanksgiving table.

You too, can adopt a turkey or any other farm animal for a monthly cost. Please visit the Farm Sanctuary website ( and look into their adoption programs. Help save a farm animal!

More turkeys that need your help: click here
Farm Sanctuary's Adopt an Animal Project: click here


Monday, November 27, 2006

100-mile Thanksgiving Contest, pt. 2

Hi Everybody,

I am tickled pink to announce that I have won the 100-mile Thanksgiving contest. (You can read more about the contest here). The details are on this page:

First of all, I want to THANK YOU, fellow bloggers for the incredible support and encouragement that you gave! I feel really proud that we live in a time when it's possible for a vegan (!!) Thanksgiving menu to get votes, and you play a big part of that. I also want to thank my friends and family (shout-out to cousin Mel!) and everyone else that took time out of their holiday to go to the site, vote, and pass the word on.

Finally, I want to thank all my fellow contest finalists (Robin, thank you also for your comment below!) who showed that a commitment to the environment and sustainability can have some delicious results.

P.S. I will keep everyone updated on the prize... as soon as I work out the details. ;-)


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Local Thanksgiving Contest

UPDATE #3: Just heard back from TreeHugger, and they said the official winner of the contest will be announced on Monday. So we will find out after this weekend! Thanks for checking back, everyone. (Nov. 25, 12:10 a.m.)

UPDATE #2: Hi everybody. A big thank you to everyone who voted and followed the contest yesterday. Like all of you, I'm still waiting for official word that the contest is over and whether I've won. Right now, it's in limbo, but I'll let everyone know as soon as I find out! Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I'll be posting again as soon as this contest is finalized. (Nov. 24, 2:15 p.m.)

UPDATE: Thank you all for your votes! There is still 12 hours until the deadline, midnight on Nov. 23. To vote, click here:

Are you a TreeHugger??

I recently entered a contest on the environmental website called the "100 mile Thanksgiving Challenge". The goal was to design a Thanksgiving menu comprised entirely of ingredients from within a 100 miles of where I live. Well, tonight, I found out that I'm a finalist! I need your votes to win this thing, so will you please go to and vote for me? Bonus: you get to learn my real name- ha ha!! Hint: my initials are "B" and "Z" and I live in Syracuse, NY! Out of the five finalists, I'm one of two vegetarians and the only vegan menu, so I could really use all you guys' votes! Deadline is tomorrow at midnight!!

(NOTE: I found out after I entered this contest that the grand prize is a year's worth of organic milk- which I definitely will not be taking! If I win, I'm going to either see if they would give me soymilk, or whether I could donate my winnings to a charity. I really entered this contest because of the challenge of finding locally grown, seasonal foods and creating a menu with them!)

Deadline = Nov. 23, so please vote for me fast!


Buy Nothing Day!

Friday November 24 is worldwide Buy Nothing Day (BND).

For the last 4 or 5 years, taking a stance against the consumerism that Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season represent has been one of my favorite traditions. It's ridiculously fun and liberating to spend the day after Thanksgiving buying nothing.

As children growing up, we are taught that Thanksgiving is a timeless tradition of togetherness and gratitude, an unbroken chain of goodwill passed down from the time of the Pilgrims. Did you know that American Thanksgiving wasn't even made an official holiday until the 1940's and that FDR was forced to choose the date on the basis of how advantageous it would be to retailers? There was never Thanksgiving without mass consumption. But all around the world, people play their small role in saying no to this insidious ploy.

What can you do? Don't go shopping, and don't buy anything on "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving. (You don't want to be those freaks they show on the 11 o'clock news who lined up since 3 in the morning to get a T.V. on sale at Wal Mart anyway, do you?)

Look at the official Buy Nothing Day website for ideas for creative and fun things you can do to spread the word. In the past I've made fliers, held non-consumption parties, and put up posters--what are some of your ideas?

Brought to you by your friendly culture jammers at Adbusters.

Adbusters website:
Buy Nothing Day website:

image thanks to:


Monday, November 20, 2006

An early Thanksgiving

As some of you know, Daiku teaches philosophy at a small liberal arts college. For the last 2 weeks, his ethics classes have been doing a unit on animal rights. Happily, the discussion seems to have had an effect on some of the students, because they decided to cook a vegan Thanksgiving feast in their residence hall on Sunday and invited us along! We were happy to go and contribute dessert. All in all, the meal was a success. About 12-15 students showed up to enjoy the food, and everyone loved everything and was surprised that it was all vegan. Hopefully, this was a positive experience that left its mark on some students.

I want to apologize because I didn't have a chance to take really good pictures of the meal, the lighting in the dorm lounge wasn't that great.

Here's what the students cooked:
  • 2 different kinds of veggie and tofu stirfry with rice
  • stuffing from scratch
  • broccoli (so delicious steamed with garlic & lemon juice instead of water--I just learned a new technique!)
  • salad with tangerines and almonds (with a yummy ginger dressing)
  • bread
  • tea and coffee
We were so impressed that you can do this much cooking in a dorm!

We contributed:
We are very thankful to the students for taking the initiative and cooking up a vegan Thanksgiving feast.

Here are some photos:



Yes, I'm still using Halloween cupcake liners! It's marginally seasonal!

l to r: stirfry, bread, cranberries, stuffing, salad, apple blueberry crisp, cupcakes

Now we better get cracking for our Thanksgiving menu for Thursday!


Friday, November 17, 2006

friday food round-up

Hi everyone, and welcome to yet another Friday food round-up. Today, I'll try to keep the wordiness down so you can just look at the food photos. Enjoy!

What did we do with the sprouts?

Salad with: steamed broccoli, chickpeas, yellow bellpepper (homegrown) and sprouts with a flax oil and tahini dressing. (flax oil, lime juice, tahini, raw garlic, pepper)

Apple and sprout salad with creamy dressing. (Nasoya ranch dressing diluted with apple cider vinegar and spices)

Tacos! With sprouts, cucumber, radish, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, and black beans.

Anatomy of a Focaccia:

I'd been craving home-made bread and this black olive, onion, and rosemary focaccia recipe from the Vegan Chef sounded delicious.

Black olives, garlic, onion, fresh rosemary

Go into the delicious olive oil-y dough.

Cooling on rack

Sliced up and ready to be chomped up with soup. I tell you, make some focaccia, you will thank yourself! Especially good this time of the year since we're all eating so many hearty soups.

And there will be leftovers the next day so you can eat grilled cheese (Tofutti American Slices) and focaccia for breakfast and feel awesome.

Speaking of soups?

Lindyloo posted this recipe for sensational sun-dried tomato and chickpea soup on her blog and I just had to try it. Loved it.

Yet another squashyssoise! (Click here to see our previous squashyssoise experiments) Steamed butternut squash, leeks, pears, blended with veggie broth and pumpkin puree. Served with sunflower seeds.

What else did you do, squash-wise?

Made this fantastic roasted squash recipe from Whole Foods. Butternut, onions, cranberries, sage-it was great! (And so easy) Make some, but I warn you, if you are more than 1-2 people, double the recipe, because this stuff goes fast.

Any other salads?

But of course! Here is one of my all-time favorite vegetables, choy sum. It looks like a mix between bok choy and broccoli rabe, and tastes wonderful. Mild enough to be eaten raw, or you can grill or stir-fry it. Notice how just one veggie creates a whole salad, providing the crunchy white bits, green leafy bits, and even little yellow flowers. Dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. YUM.

Any cupcakes this week?

Uh, yes.

Rum-raisin cupcakes with rum glaze from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (p. 123)

Here they are in all their beglazed rummy goodness. (Warning: not one for the kids!!) These had a wonderfully spicy, holiday flavor to them. I decreased the sugar in the recipe a bit and they were just fine. HINT: the recipe gives you the option of using mace, definitely use it if you have it! It gives it a woodsy flavor that is really unique, and again, perfect for this time of year.

Any breakfasts?

Vanilla-walnut pancakes.

Fresh persimmons, sweet and fragrant, ready to transport you back to childhood. (If your childhood was filled with persimmons like mine was, of course!) These were much more widely available back in California, so the few times I see them in New York, I snap them up.

Anything else?

Chinese food- the good, the bad, and the ugly:

Our local Chinese restaurant was nice enough to veganize everything for us: veggie dumplings, vegetable fried rice with no egg, veggie chow mein with no egg, General Tso's tofu, etc. We were having a great time last night eating Chinese and watching a scary movie until something truly frightening happened: one of our 8 veggie dumplings was a pork dumpling! I actually bit into this and was shocked! We were saddened, but since this was clearly an accident that had never happened before, decided not to complain. Has this ever happened to you? What did you do? It definitely put a damper on a fun dinner.

One question: We are looking into a kitchen sink-mounted water filter and one for our shower. Do you have any particularly good water filters you would recommend? (Or any that you know are awful?) Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The little frother that could

I just had to post about my favorite little kitchen tool, this battery-powered foamer. IKEA used to sell them for 99 cents, but after a series of clearance mark-downs, I snagged it for- get this- 29 cents! They were making way for a more expensive model. I've seen frothers like this sell for 10 or 15 dollars, and I always giggle, since my little one has worked so well for over 3 years now.

What does it do? It emulsifies salad dressing effortlessly. It mixes up sauce and broth before you add it to a recipe. But my favorite thing is to foam soymilk with it for the perfect faux cappucinos. Here is a chocolate mocha concoction I whipped up. Depending on which soymilk you use, it creates a stiff foam that lasts a long time! I use the tool to foam up the warm milk first, and then pour in coffee, cocoa, chai, maté, whatever strikes my fancy.

Don't be caught without a little frother! =)


Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Trip to the Farm

Yesterday Daiku and I drove to some local farms and orchards. First stop, Elderberry Pond, an organic farm, food market, and restaurant in Auburn, New York. There, we had the pleasure of tasting and buying a wide variety of organic heirloom apples.

Here are some of the varieties we found:

Golden Russets were crisp and tangy, with brown skin resembling a potato and a very intriguing texture. How have I lived so long without tasting this old variety of apple? I remember Martha Stewart talking about these on her show once. It is so great that these old varietals are being kept alive-for biodiversity and preserving history, but they taste so good too!

Enterprise is a newer variety that is great for organic growing, since its thick skin is naturally pest and disease resistant. These are big and tasty apples.

Criterion- another variety I'd never tasted before. Reminiscent of a golden delicious, with a more perfumey, assertive flavor.

Macouns- I'd had these before, and they are great. Tangy, crisp, perfect size for snacking.

We also bought some Corola potatoes, an heirloom variety of potato that is said to have a creamy yellow interior. (We haven't tried these yet)

In addition, we bought some fat leeks, some asian pears, and these wonderful radishes that were pink and purple in addition to the usual red.

Next, it was on to Beak & Skiff apple orchard, which is a large farm and food store. They even make apple wines! Their apples are not organic, even though they are experimenting with growing some organic apple trees. Here, we bought pounds and pounds of Empire apples (perfect for snacking) and some seconds for cooking and baking with.

As you can see, the apple trees are all bare, but the orchards are open for a couple of weeks more. Daiku and I were giddy inside the store, sampling apple butter, applesauce, apple jam, hot spiced cider, granola, and many varieties of apples. So fun!

We drove through Skaneateles on our way home. This time, the lake was grey and a foggy mist covered it. That didn't stop people from enjoying the view, though. We are so lucky and surprised that we have not had any snow yet. I don't think I'm ready!