Friday, December 22, 2006

Peppermint Chocolate

I want to buy a case of this stuff. I think you can get a 10% discount by doing so. Mr. Beloved said I should just enjoy it during the holiday season. But this just wouldn't be Binge Cafe if I could handle sweets in small doses.

I can't tell you how good it is in sort of reminds me of that powdered stuff in a can, which doesn't sound appetizing I realize.

The strong peppermint and thick choclate-y flavor should not be missed this holiday season. I can further appreciate this beverage following an attempt to make my own last week by soaking a candy cane in soy milk. The candy cane did in fact evaporate, leaving a slight sticky peppermint flavor, but I won't be repeating the experiment.

This morning I made blueberry muffins for breakfast. I used the infamous egg substitute.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How to Make an Egg, Buttermilk, Gravy, and other Strange things

Here is the most simple way to replace an egg in baked goods:

One Egg
: With a fork, whisk together:

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons water

That's it. If you prefer to have more moist baked goods, use about 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/2 of this recipe, and so-on. Bananas work well too, or soy yogurt.

Thanks to Dilip for the recipe.

One cup of buttermilk can easily be substituted with one cup soy milk and about 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon.

The best non-hydrogenated, no trans fats butter is Earth Balance by far (see pic). They also have a great shortening that I use for frosting or biscuits.

Why replace?

For gravy, I like to use a combo of corn starch and flour for a thickener, and the aforementioned Earth Balance for the fat.

Here is a simple GRAVY recipe:
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 portobello or other mushroom
  • The rest as below.
Saute these in about 1 Tablespoon of Earth Balance until the onion is a little translucent.
Add about 3 Tablespoons of Bragg's, to taste (more can be added later) and saute for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often.
Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup flour. Stir all around.
Add about 1/8 cup corn starch to 1/2 cup water. Mix, then add to pan.
Add another cup or two of water. Whisk until thick.

I am totally guessing at the measurements here, folks, but the basic idea is here and I think you'll make a fine gravy. If you don't, send me pictures of your failed experiements.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scrappy Tree & Chocolate Chips

I haven't decorated to celebrate Christmas, X-mas, the Holiday season, or the Vegan Goddess Tofia since I don't know when. I've never bought a chopped tree, and agree with Charlie Brown that those aluminum things just don't do me right.
So this year, I thought, why not make my own tree? We have this handly little store, which I've mentioned previously here, called the Scrap Exchange, in downtown Durham. They sell a bunch of recycled products like old medical equipment, fabric, tubs, paint, wood, etc. Kids can go there and create all sorts of things in their workshop...and grownups can do the same.
Today Mr. Beloved and I braved the warm rain and walked down to the Scrap Exchange with Syba, and the hunt for tree-producing products began. We found the items in the picture above, including three tubes, a candle, some fabric scraps, two old wreath wire holders, two rubber pad things, and a couple pieces of wrapping paper. Most of the items were from .10 to .50 cents. The most expensive was the bag-o-fabric, which was $2.75.
As you can see, I began to assemble it by using a wire hanger to secure the 1st wreath holder, then string for the 2nd. Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not. You will notice here that there are more pictures of Mr. Beloved than of me decorating the tree. That's because I'm taking the pictures. Though Mr. B. said, before I thought of making a tree: "let's buy a plastic tree!" today he shamelessly tried to take entire credit for my scrap-tree epiphany. Please also notice Mr. Beloved's new "haircut." To save money he bought a razor and trimmed his own head. Things went wrong during the back part. Let's just say he has a higher hairline now than usual, and the hat is coming in handy.
We staple-gunned the fabric on the cardboard tubes, cascading them very tree-like. I put the candle on top, and we put the tree on the piano in the library. As you can see, Mr. Beloved again attempted to sabotage my efforts and took a blurry dark picture of me lighting the candle. I was able to brighten it a bit in Photoshop. Some who follow this blog might also notice that I used Rob's Homer beard from Halloween as a tree decoration. Below are some pics of the finished product, including the candle on top. Seems like that could be a fire hazard, no? Mom, if you're reading this, don't tell Nana about that part. When I was a kid, there was always this constant battle over the christmas lights. Mom would turn them on, and Nana, the moment Mom turned her back, would unplug them. It seems blinking lights would've been a good compromise, but I didn't come up with that back then.

Another thing we haven't done for years...stockings. So when I went to look for mine, it was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, while I was writing this blog, blaspheming Mr. Beloved, he was in the tv room sewing me a stocking from scratch! He even made it big enough to fit my favorite rice milk bar. Aww.

Though I have sworn off making cookies, cakes, and frosting until a cookie party I'm attending this month, I did happen to make these chocolate chip cookies the other day before the swearing. They turned out great - I just made the recipe off the brown sugar package, substituting an egg with Dilip's famous mixture (try it!): 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda, 2 T flour, 3 T water.

I darkened the background in Photoshop to highlight these beauties rather than the rusted-appearing sheet upon which they were born.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving meal...

And ladies and gentlefolk, the vegan lasagne I made for thanksgiving post-oven. Below is the filling for the lasagne. In the pan is the bechechemel sauce that is layered with the filling. On top I sprinkled a mixture of nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, and veggie "chicken" broth with some olive oil.

Lately I've been addicted to making the long-lost Russian Tea Cake. As you can see I got a little carried away with the sugar-sprinkling. For Thanksgiving, I naturally changed the teacake into the "soy white russian teacake" by coating the cute little balls in kaluah as well as adding same to their soft dough. Instead of butter, I used the always amazing Earth Balance spread (found at Whole Foods and many other places).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Soulful Turkey *or* Fowl Soul

The cover text reads:

American Beauty
Why Turkey is the most soulful bird--plus four fine ways to cook it.

Webster's definition of Soulful:
Function: adjective: full of or expressing feeling or emotion <soulful music>

taken, the magazine is describing the dead animal pictured here as full of feeling, emotion, and expression. Tied up, no less. One can almost see the animal jamming with Charlie "Bird" Parker, missing head and all.

What we as consumers infer, however, or translate silently, is the true meaning - that this dead creature, at the center of our tables, creates a deep sense of love and connectedness.

Whether or not that love and connection is at the expense of another being has seldom been a conscious issue for the majority of the population. Historically we need only point to the pioneers we are celebrating and their treatment of the Native Americans and subsequent further establishment of slavery.

In recent times, there are still obvious examples such as war and social injustices, but one may also simply look at our own pattern of buying the cheapest products (Walmart) even though there may be a direct negative impact on others: closure of family-owned businesses, abuse of cheap laborers, unfair labor practices, etc. However – I am not trying to debate the merits or demerits of Walmart. This is merely a modern illustration of our choices as consumers, and how we make choices that benefit us at another’s expense.

Despite their obvious similarity to humans (see my sadly doctored Photoshop picture below of the soulful baby) most of us fail to truly extend our circle of compassion to include species outside our own. The picture, above, illustrates to me the deep disconnect we have as a species with other beings we share the planet with. The turkey’s life was neither soulful nor joyous.

I must insert here, however, the words of a very wise barista in Seattle when asked by her family why she doesn’t eat animals (paraphrased). Most people are compassionate at heart and do not wish pain upon other beings. For the majority of us, if we truly realized and accepted the suffering the animals endured, away from our sight, we might look at the plateful of animal before us differently.

Free Range products are a direct response to the marjority of individuals natural discomfort with creating suffering due to their desire to eat anything they wish to eat. Unfortunately, free range is not fulfilling its promise. Investigative footage is here as well.

For those who may say -
But I can't be vegetarian, let alone one of you crazy vegan types! (said with the accent of Jethro from Green Acres)
check out the philosophy of reducing consumption.

The debeaked turkey picture below is courtesy of Farm Sanctuary:
Most people don't envision physical mutilations as part of their "natural," "free-range" or "organic" turkey. But mutilations, from debeaking to toe removal, are still performed at "free-range" farms.

The bound feet also bring an interesting undercurrent to the conversation.


So - what to eat, if not a soulful turkey? A souless turkey? Free-range Tofurky?

Nah. Here are some things I make:
    Veggie Pot Pie. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Apple pie. Pumpkin pie.
Today I'm fixing creamy mushroom lasagne and soy white Russian Teacakes.

Check out this creative woman's
blog for recipes.

The magazine with the headless turkey picture is courtesy of Binge Cafe's good friend Lynn. She took at Whole Foods under threat of severe persecution, apparently, as pictures are not allowed in Whole Foods, according to one stiff-lipped bearded man who stopped her post-picture. Luckily he did not ask her to hand over her memory chip, and she was able to keep the controversial photo.