Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do I Still Have Non-Vegan Stuff in my Pantry?

I've been seeing this brown carton in the pantry out of the corner of my eye for quite a while now. It's a carton of Pacific chicken broth. I'd bought a case of it before going vegan and haven't been able to figure out a way of using it up. There are a couple of other food items like this still in the house. Things that only I would cook with in that former life.

Boyfriend is still buying milk and cheese and breaded, frozen fish. My son is still eating it, too, though he's consuming way more rice milk and almond milk as time goes on. I continue to try and be an example. I continue to not exert pressure or anything like that. As I've said before, it's not like flipping a switch for everyone. And everyone makes mistakes even once they've tried to flip the switch. Intentionally or not. I know I have had those moments.

I read a kind of heated exchange on Facebook recently where someone was saying that he excluded all the meat-eaters out of his life and actively went out of his way to shame them, etc. That he wasn't "making excuses" for them any more or giving them any free passes or whatever. The thing about it... the person who was saying all this said it in this way that indicated he was a pretty big asshole. So, shunning those people and excluding them from his life was probably a big relief for the people on the other side. And I'm sure his attitude about it did nothing to promote veganism and may have even bolstered the resolve of his friends to continue eating the same way they always have. Maybe they even attributed his behavior to his diet!

If someone like that had treated me that way back when I was still eating meat, I probably would have gone and celebrated their shunning of me with a giant pot roast.

At any rate, two things my son said to me recently:

A) Are we out of rice milk? I think I like rice milk better than cow's milk. It just tastes better.

B) I'm thinking about going vegan. Maybe soon.

After ground beef recall #bajillion, boyfriend is once again not eating meat when we dine out.

So, back to this box of chicken broth in the pantry. I'd already eaten last night and was going to make them both some dinner that would make enough for leftovers. I decided I'd finally make something with that broth. Why I can't throw it out, I don't know. Seems like it's worse that way. Wasteful. I don't know.

I made this pasta with sauteed mushrooms and red peppers, thyme. It called for butter but we don't buy that at all any more so I used Earth Balance. It called for cream but I used the cow's milk. I knew I wasn't going to eat it because of the broth anyway.

Then I get to the part where I need to pour the broth out. I open the box and start to pour it into a measuring cup and what comes out is this pinkish-brown milky looking stuff.

What. The. Hell. ?

I turned the box around and realized that it was not chicken broth at all, but instead, it was a box of Pacific hazelnut milk!! I swear, they look just the same from behind if you're not really paying attention and you have the notion already in your head of what it is.

LOL. Very quickly, I grabbed some vegan bouillon mix and added that instead. So, I could have had this meal anyway, but I'd already added the cow's milk.

Nice to know I don't have to figure out what to do with the rest of the chicken broth, since I would have only used a cup of it. Now, however, I need to figure out what recipe it was that called for hazelnut milk, because I bought it for a special recipe.

Other pantry items that need to go... 2 cans of evaporated milk, 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, 3 cans of salmon, some non-dairy creamer (that of course, isn't non-dairy). I think I will donate the milk cans to a food pantry and then keep the salmon cans on hand for luring ferals that need to be taken to get spayed or neutered. My son is taking care of the Nutella.

Once those things are gone, I won't feel like I have contributed to any non-vegan items in my pantry any more. Now it's time to take care of furniture and wardrobe violators...

Share with me, if you will, how you handled this when you went vegan. Did you just get rid of everything at once, overnight? Did you get rid of it slowly? Give it away? Throw it away? Why did you decide to do it the way that you did? I mean, what was your thought process. If you have already written an entry about it, please do point me in that direction. It really helps me (and I know it helps others) to see how others have handled these situations.

Now, back to the asshole guy who is shunning all his friends who eat meat... I could understand this if he was doing it because being around them bothers him. I could get it if it makes him uncomfortable or he doesn't like to watch them chow down on carcass and gnaw on bones, etc. I could get it, too, if he was spending less time with them because he was spending more time with new vegan friends who he has more in common with. Kind of like an alcoholic that comes out of rehab and realizes that he can't hang with his old crowd or he'll go down a bad path... or like when you were a kid and came back from summer break only to realize that you have nothing in common with your old friends any more, so you go your own way and find new friends.

I mean, for instance... a year ago, I could not have told you about this Chili's commercial. This commercial talks about how two can eat dinner for $20 and there's all these choices... the camera pans over plates full of all the choices and eventually, front-and-center are these baby back ribs. A rack of them. The camera stops, focuses on them and then, the ribs SPLIT APART revealing their pink, jagged insides.

That commercial makes me just about pass out every time I see it. Thank God for TiVo. I mean, I can't do anything but touch my own ribs. I feel something there, you know? I realize what my ribs are made of and suddenly every time that I've ever eaten ribs flashes before my eyes and I have this image of looking square into the eyes of a roasted pig on a table and I can see myself eating my own ribs, my cat's ribs, my kid's ribs. And I know. I know what I've done. I know what ribs are. And I could not be more disgusted by it. And I don't exactly ever want to be around someone eating ribs in the future.

A little over a year ago, however, I attended a wedding reception and they had a whole, roasted pig. I didn't eat any of it because I was not eating meat at that point, but it didn't exactly bother me to see it there. And after a few drinks, I stuck my tongue out at its head while someone snapped a picture. Even though I didn't eat it, that image sticks with me when I think about eating meat, when I think about how much I used to love the taste of ribs. Talk about shame. But that's my own shame. My own realization. Nobody could have done that to me. For me. No friend or family member could ever have said, "Hey, you eat meat and I don't want to be around you any more and I think you're a shameful person, but we can be friends when you're not such a murderer." I would have thought that they were the one with the problem. Not me. Of course. And I don't think that this feeling that I have toward images of meat could ever have happened when I was still eating it, either. It's only happened with distance from it. Distance from touching it. Distance from cooking it. Distance from eating it. Distance from accepting it. I have become separated from it. Yet, at the same time, I have been reconnected to it in a different way. It's kind of like that picture where you either see the young woman or the old woman depending on how you look at it.

And I get what that guy is trying to do and the stand he is trying to make. This guy either actually imagines that he is going to turn them all into vegans by shunning and shaming them or he is at least taking a strong stand and saying that killing animals is killing just like killing people is killing. And if you wouldn't hang out with a serial killer of humans, then why would you hang out with a serial killer of animals? I get it. I'm just not there. Maybe not yet. Maybe not ever. I still don't think that *at this time* he's going to affect change that way.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vegan Ricotta Cheese

I made some ricotta cheese out of tofu a while back when I was making vegan tortellini. I was going just off of memory and it turned out pretty good. Basically, though, I just mixed silken tofu, olive oil and some lemon juice.

Last night, I was about to get started on some pizza dough and -- serendipity -- the Whole Foods newsletter hit my box just as I was about to shut the lid on my computer. I skimmed through it, went to the site to see if there were any good coupons and happened upon this tofu ricotta recipe. I was intrigued because it uses extra firm tofu instead of silken and has stuff like tahini and white miso (which I just bought and want to use in everything).

Bad phone pic taken by boyfriend who has a camera but insists on using my phone instead? He tasted it and said he got a hint of pickles off of it. I thought it tasted good. Something about it was really nice and I kept sneaking bites of it as I was making pizzas.

It was much firmer and really held up to cooking on top of my pizza. This was a nice change for me since I've just been eating just tomato sauce and veggies as toppings. I'm not too much of a fan of any fake mozzarella cheeses that I've tried. Now I've got another option and that rocks.

I'm going to use the rest to make some lasagna. YUM!

More recipes for vegan ricotta you might want to give a try:

  • Vegan Ricotta Cheese Substitute - This one uses half a block of firm tofu and you push it through a potato ricer. Why didn't I think of that? I have one of those and I never use the thing.
  • Chive Ricotta Nut Cheese - This one uses soaked, raw cashews instead of tofu and there are lots of flavor variations you can try.
  • Vegan Ricotta with Sausage Stuffed Shells - I love this one because it uses vegan sour cream to make it creamier. Just what you need when you're making stuffed shells.
  • Vegan Ricotta - This recipe is more like actual cheese making. It doesn't use pre-made tofu or nuts, but rather, soy milk and nigari, which is a tofu coagulant. It's fresh tofu that isn't allowed to drain and compress completely like the cakes we find in the store.
  • Vegan Ricotta Ravioli - The recipe here uses soy yogurt for the creaminess. Sounds good, although I've yet to find a soy yogurt that wasn't too sweet to use for something like this.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Impromptu Super H Mart Haul

We just got a new Toyota Yaris and with the gas mileage savings, we decided to take a drive. We went and had lunch at Which Wich where the guy loaded up my Tomato and Avocado with so much hot pepper mix I thought I was going to die.

And go to heaven! Except a fiery version of heaven where the burn is so good.

Then, we went to Frys and wandered around aimlessly looking at video games and computers and whatnot. I did not buy Little Planet 2 despite its low price because, at boyfriend's urging, I realized with school starting it might clash a bit. And by clash a bit I mean derail me completely.

Then, I got a hankering for some Super H Mart so we just drove right over there and grabbed a ton of tofu and other treats. I love that store more and more every time that I go. It's super easy to find vegan, stuff, too. Although you do have to watch out a little bit for things that sound like they might be innocuous enough, but then turn out to be completely meat. Like bonito. Everywhere I went, there was some product PLUS BONITO!!! Turns out bonito is fish. Watch out.

It's kind of weird, though, because stuff has either 8 million ingredients or like, four ingredients. It's pretty safe to just see a long list and put it right back on the shelf. The more ingredients, the higher the chance that one of those ingredients is going to be a type of fish or shrimp.

Was sad that they only had the Patak's Hot Curry Paste and not the Mild. That stuff is getting harder and harder to find. I'm going to have to learn to make real curry if this continues.

Am going to try and make some Jackfruit tacos with this stuff. Just realized I need two cans. Oh well. Guess I'll make a half batch.

Instant Tom Yum Paste. Yum. Literally.

Organic Tofu is getting easier to find here and this company (Pulmuone) I like overall. I got soft and firm here.

It's also Kosher (parve). I find that if I can't find something that's certified vegan, then knowing it's parve is pretty close because it means that the product doesn't contain meat or dairy. You can't rely on it alone, however, since to be parve fish or eggs don't count as meat or dairy. So, something could be made with gelatin and it might be agar agar, but it could also be fish gelatin. Luckily, though, since fish and eggs are highly allergenic, if they are in the product, then a bold warning has to be with the ingredients list. So, it's a three-fold process to figuring out if the item is vegan using this tactic. First, see it's certified parve. Second, check for known insect ingredients or other offenders that aren't meat or dairy (like dyes or honey). Third, check for an allergy statement for eggs and fish.

That same company makes these noodles that are fresh, refrigerated noodles. I'm about to eat some of these for lunch and I just can't write this entry fast enough so I can make them!

We've gotten these before and they're really firm and hold up to just about any kind of cooking where there's a lot of stirring.

I have no idea what this is going to be like. I've never had it before.

This is what I make banh mi and tortas out of. I may try Philly Cheesesteaks or a French Dip type thing this time, though.

And finally, soybean paste (or miso) in both white and red. I've been needing this forever. Not only do I love miso soup, but there are a ton of vegan recipes I've been wanting to try that call for a little miso.

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