Friday, December 31, 2010

Lessons Learned & Resolutions

I just want to keep this post organized, so I’ll be using a “top 3” list. It should help me sort out my thoughts into distinct points, instead of a run-on sentence.

Top 3 Lessons Learned:

(1) Just because you care for someone doesn’t mean that person feels that to the same degree.

(2) The level of loyalty that I expect in my friends is (apparently) uncommonly high. I never realized how lucky I was to have friends as wonderful as those in Baton Rouge. Our loyalty ran deep, like that of family. I feel like the level of honesty and loyalty that I want in a friend is uncommon in South Florida. It’s disturbing that people can be so inconsiderate of the feelings of people that are supposed to be their friends. A lot of bullshit has gone on behind my back this year in Jupiter, which I believe could have been prevented if people would have just considered the feelings of the other people involved in the situation. I would think that anyone around me could guess how I would react (uh badly, duh), plus I know that other people tried to drop hints about the inappropriate nature of the shit going on behind my back. There are certain things you just shouldn’t do. If you consider the feelings of others, you should be able to sort out what’s the best decision to make. Too bad I had no idea what was going on for months and that the people that knew didn’t tell me until I started asking very specific questions.

(3) My intuition is always right. I have second guessed my intuition. I was absolutely right, so I don’t understand why I felt like I had to dismiss my intuition with some lame excuse. I could have saved a couple critical experiments if I hadn’t dismissed my intuition! It's nice to see that my scientific intuition has developed so much this year. :)

Top 3 Resolutions:

(1) Save money. I would love to have money set aside at graduation time, because I don’t know if I’ll immediately have another source of income. I already have my bank account to automatically transfer money into my savings when I get paid, so that keeps me from spending my raise. I'd like to save more than just my raise this year though. We'll see if I can reach my goal.

(2) Control my temper. I’ve worked really hard to control my temper ever since my cussing out my labmate and making her cry last year. I’m known for picking out a person’s insecurities and turning screws into people over those insecurities during arguments. I usually don’t mean what I’m saying; but if I’m in a heated argument, I have a tendency to want to emotionally crush the person I’m arguing with. The combination of vicious insults and hardcore belittling will usually cause the other person to fuck off (… and cry). It’s not something that many people have witnessed, but I’ve been told it’s scary. In my attempts to control my temper this year, I’ve let things slide until they reach a tipping point. At that time, I try to peacefully talk through the situations instead of yelling and wanting to spit on the other person. (I consider spitting on someone to be the worst insult ever.) Given some of the unpleasant situations of the year, I really tried to handle them without snapping at people. Both of my closest friends (Heather and Jenn) were shocked to hear that I didn’t cuss anyone out or flip a table on anyone. Haha.

(3) Work on professional style, including not biting my nails! I make this resolution every year, but it’s time to really try to stop biting my nails. I went three weeks without biting them this year (a record!). That didn’t last when the worst of the drama was bubbling up. So here’s to trying again since the new year should be more peaceful!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cooking at My Mom's

While I was home for the holiday, I made two new dishes. One was an Italian tofu from VwaV and the other was falafel. These photos aren't the best due to poor lighting in my mom's kitchen and the fact that I took them on my iPhone.

Italian Tofu
I didn't use the white cooking wine called for in the recipe, because this review said it was overpowering. I also didn't measure anything, but it was still tasty. I pan-fried the tofu instead of baking it, because I cut it in chunks to marinate overnight.


Sadly, the fried falafel doesn't store well in the fridge, so I didn't get tasty leftovers. I served the falafel in a wheat pita with lettuce, cucumbers, and Atheno's roasted red pepper hummus. (Recipe)


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From the Petco ad, kitties dressed for a Merry Christmas:


While I'm home for the holidays, I get to see the baby goats born around Thanksgiving. If I ever wonder where I get my crazy cat lady behavior, I'd say it's from my mom. That's her holding a baby goat like a puppy.


Today, I enjoyed some great food and a wonderful present. My vegetarian aunt prepared some tempeh and white bean patties for me at brunch with my grandfather and his wife. (Just noticed that there is a recipe for these in VwaV.) When we moved to my grandma's house, she brought a spicy vegetable soup for me. I asked my mom for a Sun beach cruiser, which is exactly what she bought me. :) I also received some Kitchenaid attachments, a dough press (perfect for pierogies!), The Kind Diet cookbook, and gift cards that I will use to get baking supplies.


I'm still contemplating the lessons I've learned this year and forming my resolutions, so I'll write that up next time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Secret Santa

Last night, Cristin hosted a Secret Santa party for some of the lady scientists. I felt so special because everyone made vegan dishes, so I got to eat a bunch of different things. It was nice, because I felt so left out earlier in the day because my labmate gave Christmas cookies to everyone but me. [A candy cane or something would have been nice, it's not like I expect everyone to bake vegan stuff just for me but she didn't even acknowledge my existence or the fact that she gave cookies to everyone else.]

Cristin made the tofu ricotta lasagna from Appetite for Reduction. She bought the cookbook recently, so I flipped through it during the night. I think we will be making knock-off (healthy!) Hamburger Helper with tempeh in the near future. My contribution was a strawberry cake. I had never made a cake like this before, I just assumed it would be a yellow cake with mashed strawberries in it. Oh no, it had a banana, coconut milk, vegan jello, and strawberries in it. Crazy! Turned out really well though, so that was a huge relief. The jello only arrived at 4:30 P.M. and the party started at 7! Needless to say, I was freaking out that I'd need to use the unflavored jello I found and more strawberries.


My Secret Santa was Ling. She bought me a spatula, as well as these cat measuring cups. So cute!


In other news, I did a mass edit on my personal blog to make all the entries private. Now that people I don't really know read this blog, I'd be uncomfortable if they found my personal blog maintained under a similar name on another blog site. I am considering switching my photo-hosting to Flickr or something similar, since some of my photos weren't showing up on my phone today. If it continues to happen, then I'll know it's a problem with Photobucket and I'll switch to something else.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Food and Food for Thought

It was finally my turn to cook for the rotating supper club on Tuesday. I made seitan and dumplings from American Vegan Kitchen, a great resource for veganizing American diner classics. I didn't want to cut out biscuits, so I opted for the drop biscuits mentioned at the top of the recipe. However, the recipe does not include altered cooking times for drop biscuits. My biscuits disintegrated! As I tried to skim the biscuit-y layer off the top, it ended up completely falling apart and thickening the soup part. It was tasty, especially since it was a hearty dish when the weather was so cold outside. I didn't photograph the result, because it looked like gravy/vomit. Anyways, the seitan recipe involved rolling the seitan into a cutlet shape, then cooking it in a flavored broth in the oven with foil over the pan. It was a new way to prepare seitan for me. The recipe makes 10 cutlets, but you only need 4 for the dumplings recipe. I decided to pan fry the other cutlets later in the week and serve them with baked potatoes and a green vegetable. Very American.


Jess invited me over for dinner on Thursday. She made curried soup with squash and chickpeas. The recipe (from Vegetarian Slow Cooker) originally called for lentils but she didn't have any. I personally LOVE chickpeas so I enjoyed the substitution. I served my soup over rice.


I had mentioned to Ling that I wanted to grab the Crock-Pot on sale at Costco. She went very early this morning and grabbed me one! I paid her back, but I'm so excited to use it soon. I bought the slow cooker cookbook because I knew I couldn't find a better deal than a Crock-Pot for $40. I finished most of my Christmas shopping today, as well as picking up a few canisters to store my specialty flours with all the 20% coupons I've received from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I'm tired of keeping them sealed in Ziploc bags, so this will allow me to label the canisters for organization and have a pretty cabinet. :) I wish they had another one in the size I bought so I could have one for pasta, but I will look for another one when the next 20% off coupon comes in the mail.


I also finished reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. The first section of the book is about corn. It reminded me of the documentary King Corn. Corn is so cheap due to government subsidies, thus allowing the excess corn to be fed to livestock animals. The cheap, inedible corn serves to fatten up cattle and other animals, as well as getting processed for a variety of food and non-food items. What's crazy is that cows are not even meant to eat corn. It causes acidosis, where their blood pH drops and can make them really sick. The cows are slaughtered before it gets that bad, but it's really strange that we advertise "corn-fed beef" so proudly when cows were never meant to eat corn. The second section is about grass and sustainable farming. Michael Pollan goes to stay at Polyface Farms, owned by Joel Salatin. I'm pretty sure this was the same guy featured in Food, Inc. (I meant the movie, but it's likely Joel Salatin would have contributed to the book as well.) At Polyface Farms, Joel Salatin rotates crops, grows a variety of plants (instead of a monoculture), allows cows to eat a variety of grasses he grows, allows chickens to roam free after the cows graze in a certain patch of grass, and raises other animals. When you buy "free range" chickens or eggs, it is extremely likely that the chicken NEVER went outside. To get the free range label, the only requirement is that there is a door allowing chickens access to the outside. On an industrialized factory farm, the door is only open for about 2 weeks prior to the animals being slaughtered. At the farm, Michael Pollan actually helps slaughter chickens and then is concerned about whether or not he can eat a chicken again. He seems very appreciative of the experience to see animals living freely and to have the chance to decide whether he wants to be involved in killing an animal that he will ultimately eat. The third section of the book is about foraging and hunting. Michael Pollan wanted to gather enough food to make an entire meal on his own. He learned to forage mushrooms, to hunt wild boar, and to gather salt and little mussels from San Fran Bay. He writes about the people who help him learn how to do these tasks, as well as how he thought he'd be repulsed by hunting. He seemed to enjoy the experience, but was again struck by whether or not he could eat the animal. I really respect that Michael Pollan did a stint as a vegetarian and took responsibility for killing an animal he wanted to eat, but I ultimately wish he had taken a vegan stance as an alternative to factory farming. He instead justifies eating animals that are produced in a sustainable way, like on farms similar to Polyface. It was an interesting read.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living Your Values

I was on fb yesterday when I saw a friend’s status talking about boycotting several brands, including Sabra hummus (who makes the spicy hummus I’m addicted to lately). After running a Google search, I discovered these brands are being boycotted in conjunction with Sabra. The reason for boycotting brands like Motorola, Sabra, and Tribe (another hummus maker) is that they are based in Israel or owned predominantly by Israeli companies. So what’s the deal with boycotting Israeli products, as noted here, here, and here? Given the history of human rights abuses against the Palestinians perpetuated by the Israeli army, the fact that Sabra donates to an elite army unit (the Golani Brigade) with a history of nasty behavior is justification for boycotting the brand. Fair enough. This article points out that Sabra has removed information about donating to the Golani Brigade from its website, as well as saying that caving into the boycotters was a weak move on part of the Strauss Group (the parent company of Sabra).

What should I do? What is the appropriate choice? I'm leaning towards boycotting until I can find out where Sabra now stands on donating to the Golani Brigade with its record of violating human rights. It's better to err on the side of caution. If the donations have stopped, then I see no reason to not buy their products.

I try to live my life in a way that promotes social justice. I’ve boycotted several brands before, so I’ve got some experience on my side. Listed below are some of the companies I have or currently am boycotting, as long as the reasons why.
- Yum Brands: The parent company of Taco Bell and KFC refused to initially reach an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to increase the price paid per bushel of tomatoes to reduce the terrible working conditions of tomato pickers in Immokalee, FL. The situation in Immokalee has been compared to modern day slavery. Several fast food companies (MacDonald’s and Burger King) had reached agreements with the CIW prior to my learning about the situation. This was during my first year of college with the Students United for Peace and Justice (SUPJ), because some of the SUPJ members were really involved in working with the CIW. I rarely eat fast food now because it’s generally not vegan, so when I do it's burritos usually.
- Chipotle: When I read that Chipotle had rejected a proposal from the CIW, I decided to email Chipotle to find out what was going on. Some of the labs at work get together once a month for Chipotle club, so when it was my turn to pick up the food I was boycotting Chipotle until I received a reply about their agreement with the CIW. I went to Moe’s and brought everyone else their burritos from Chipotle. I did finally receive a reply from Chipotle that the company had reached an agreement with the CIW, thereby allowing me to feel good about eating there again. From the reply: "Under the agreement with East Coast Farms, farm workers who pick tomatoes for Chipotle will see their pay go from $.50 for a 32-pound bucket, to $.82 for each 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick. That translates to a 64 percent increase for all of the tomatoes they pick for Chipotle." Yeah, can you believe that's all they get paid?!
- Best Buy: Now that corporations are allowed to donate to political campaigns, Best Buy donated money to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, claiming the company supports the job creation agenda of the candidate. However, the candidate speaks publicly against gay rights. I can’t support a company that supports an anti-equal rights candidate.
- Target: Same reason as Best Buy - donating to Tom Emmer. What’s sad here is that I love Target and the company actually offers great benefits to same-sex partners of employees.
- Domino’s: Besides their founder starting a Catholic town, I had really terrible service from Domino’s in Baton Rouge one time. My friends were over and I placed an order for a ton of pizza. We waited and waited for delivery. When I called back asking why it was taking so long, they said my friend’s card was declined. They never called us to tell us that our pizza wasn’t coming. How freakin’ rude. We had a dozen people waiting for food. When I tried to get contact information for the managers and owner, I was basically told that the owner never comes into the store so good luck.
- Walmart: I try to avoid shopping there as much as possible due to their terrible history of shortchanging workers of overtime pay, sexual discrimination, and poor health care options for employees. I honestly don’t think I shopped there in my first year of college.
- Whole Foods: I try to avoid shopping here too, unless I absolutely can’t find what I’m looking for in another shop. (I know I can order certain vegan things online, but sometimes I can’t wait.) My issue with Whole Foods has to do with their CEO’s comments about health care, even though Whole Foods prides itself on offering fair trade items so workers are paid a fair wage for their work. After John Mackey's comments angered people, he issued a statement that Whole Foods as a corporation has no opinion on healthcare reform.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegan Hot Chocolate for These Chilly Days

Yeah, there are recipes out there to make hot cocoa from soy milk powder, cocoa powder, and what not, but I have a shortcut.

Vanilla soy milk, Green & Black's organic hot chocolate drink, and Sweet & Sarah vanilla marshmallows (they make other flavors, but I didn't want flavored marshmallows in my hot chocolate). See, you really can have anything you want when you're vegan. I bought the soy milk at Costco, the hot chocolate mix at a local health food store, and the marshmallows at Whole Foods. Easy-peasy. :)


Because I'm a crazy cat lady, I served my drink in one of the new cat mugs I bought recently. I bought two different styles, so my roomie and I could both have one. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Party Season

Given that it’s the holiday season, it’s time for holiday parties. So far, there haven’t been any ugly sweater parties. If you’ve never hosted an ugly sweater party, you totally should. Here’s a photo of my Baton Rouge crew (a mix of physicists, bartenders, a mechanic, and a Marine) doing ugly sweater and Secret Santa in 2007.


One of the neuroscience post-docs had an international cuisine potluck on Friday night. I brought this vegan baked mac and cheese as my American dish. I used bread crumbs, instead of making my own. It was completely devoured. I was happy to see that no one complained about its nutritional yeast taste. I tasted it when I finished making the sauce, but the lemon was a bit overpowering. I added another tablespoon of nutritional yeast, since it’s somewhere in the salty/savory spectrum. (Look at that alliteration! S – S – S.) I had some great group shots that I was excited to show Cristin and some photos of the spread, but I lost my camera.

Last night, my workplace had its holiday party. There were absolutely no vegetarian entrees. The catered portion of the meal was ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, salad, and rolls. Luckily, people signed up to bring other dishes so I made these amazing red velvet cupcakes. [Again, I modified the recipe to be 1/3 cup oil and 1/3 cup apple sauce, as well as using original almond milk instead of soy milk.] I had two cupcakes and salad. Not a meal, in my opinion. I left the party a little early to eat some addictive spicy hummus and baked pita crackers before hitting up my next party stop. I had a decent time talking to some of my work friends that I don’t see often, but they were all heading to good ol’ Jumby afterwards.

Cristin and I headed down to Clematis in West Palm Beach. We have a friend who has a nice apartment in that area. He was hosting their social circle’s yearly holiday party. One of the things I love about that social circle is that most of guys work in engineering. It’s nice to talk to SMART people outside of the workplace. I know people complain there aren’t a lot of smart young professionals in this area, but there really are if you look in the right places. An undergrad degree in engineering is demanding and is scheduled to take 5 years at many universities. Anyways, one of the guys mentioned that he was interested in going to law school soon because he is “too young to settle for $100K a year.” He said he’s not making that much yet, but he will be in a couple years, but he thinks that he can do better than a yearly 2-5% raise and sitting at a desk all day. That type of ambition and drive is sexy. He’s a cute guy, but I was really impressed to hear him say that. The best part is that by the end of the night at Cucina on Palm Beach Island, he had untied his tie and was dancing. I love that untied tie look - it allows for some very seductive, flirtatious gestures. We danced a little, but I ended up laughing some when he started to get a little provocative.

One part of the night that I feel the need to rant about is when my friend Jeff told me to gain some weight. (That's us in the photo below. Yes, I have two cups. One is Cristin's. Don't judge.) Normally, when I see these guys, I’m in kickball clothes or jeans and a t-shirt. Real simple look. Because I was going to end up on Palm Beach Island, a super ritzy area, I wanted to wear something classier. I absolutely love the classic 50’s high-waisted skirts – they’re great if you’ve got a nice shape to show off. As Cristin told me recently, I should show off my assets every once and a while.


Recalling Cristin’s advice, I decided to wear the high-waisted pencil skirt that I have. It’s much more form-fitting than anything he’s ever seen me wear and he said, “What’s going on? Looking thin. Gain some weight.” This my NATURAL weight! When I was telling my roomie this morning that it bothered me, she replied with the comment everyone does, “Well, you’re vegan, of course you’d be thin.” I was THINNER than this when I was an omnivore. As a teen, I drank a ton of regular soda (usually a liter bottle by 10 AM), ate more than my fair share of fried foods and pizza, and didn’t do anything resembling exercise (other than walking the half mile to and from my bus stop before I could drive). When I was sick earlier this year and was down to 115 lbs, people were telling me how ill I looked. I was that size when I graduated from high school. My frame is just not built to carry a lot of weight. When I was bigger during my time in Louisiana (about 15 lbs heavier than I am now), it was all gut fat. You could tell that I really liked drinking and eating late night snacks. I had gut fat, the least attractive type of fat; there was no sexy increase in my boobs or butt (I already had 36” hips at that time, so my trademark booty didn’t need to get any bigger). I dropped the 15 lbs in a few months by not drinking as much and not eating cheese (just dietary changes, no exercising), returning to what I consider my normal weight. After dropping down to high school size this March, I’ve managed to gain back most of the mass, although I don’t think I’ll ever get the 2” lost off my hips back. I know people always talk about how we shouldn’t judge fat people for being fat, but a lot of people have negative feelings about being overweight. I feel that there are also negative feelings against people that are very thin. On an average day, I would estimate that I eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories, so I'm definitely not starving. It’s like you just can’t win! If you’re on either end (too thin or too fat), people are judging you (either you have an eating disorder or no self control). Combination of genetics and a healthy lifestyle go a long way. Too bad people don’t think about that before they speak.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Sucks.

I bought a new camera, an Olympus Stylus Tough 3000. I took it out last night to use it for the first time ever AND LOST IT. My last memory of using it was in Jumby Bay, where I used the wrist strap to put it on my elbow. I don't know if I set it down or dropped it, but I've checked with both bars, mall security, and my friends without any luck of finding it. Someone must have picked it up.


Goodbye, camera. Hopefully you're bringing someone else lots of joy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Some Great Photos

These photos appeared on fb today. Love it.

Keith, Heather, Me, & Greg

Greg wants my tiny hat, I think.

Work it if you've got it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Random Mix of Thoughts [Edited]

After dining at Sublime, Cristin and Jess decided to embark on a month of mostly vegetarian eating. I am thrilled! We have decided to do a little supper club where we each select a dish to prepare for everyone else. So far, we've enjoyed couscous stuffed peppers and chili with cornbread. I wish I would have known the peppers were supposed to have feta because I could have grabbed faux feta from Whole Foods. For the chili, Jess omitted the beef, used red beans instead of black, omitted the sour cream, and added butternut squash. I managed to photograph my leftovers with my new camera. Also, I can't say enough good things about Wildwood soy yogurt.


Elliot made a beet, lime, and lemongrass soup from my new cookbook The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Jess bought a baguette to serve with it, but apparently the lady working in the bakery at the local grocery store laughed at her for asking for a bread without eggs. Totally silly that the bakery worker would act like that, because artisan French breads should never contain eggs or dairy! She clearly is not a foodie.


I also finished reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. It was definitely an odd book. It's focused on analyzing issues with tons of pop culture references, some of which were a little before my time or were totally obscure. I did appreciate the sections on internet pornography, Christians who interpret the Bible literally, and how apples and oranges really aren't that different. I'm debating which book to select to read next from the stack I borrowed from Cristin.

I recently noticed that the author of Vegan Lunchbox has decided to give up veganism and become a "nutritarian." No offense, but wtf?! This label is a fancy term for health conscious omnivore. It's her choice to make, but it's sad that people will find her books and blog and possibly think that veganism is about only eating a little bit of animal products. Hopefully it doesn't confuse anyone about what is and is not a vegan lifestyle. It's strange to think that she's launched her writing career based on being vegan and has made money from her cookbooks, only to switch to this new "nutritarian" bit. Lame. When I read her entry describing this change, I was immediately reminded of this shirt that says Never Trust an Ex-Vegan. Nothing against ex-vegans, but it's just kinda funny to see that printed on a t-shirt.

It's starting to look like the holidays. It's chilly outside, people are decorating, and I've started buying gifts. My camera and Eclipse DVD have arrived, so my presents to myself are here. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Weekend for the Record Books

For those of you sauntering over here from Cristin's blog, this might seem a bit repetitive, so I apologize in advance. I do have something after the food stuff that isn't included on Cristin's blog, so stick around for that! :)

This past Friday, I went to Sublime, an all vegan restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. My roomie, Ling, just passed her candidacy exam before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, so she didn't really get a chance to celebrate. She organized a trip to Ft. Lauderdale as her celebration. The restaurant was extremely cold, but the ambiance was nice. The bathroom even sings a song about washing your hands when you enter. Our party included myself, Ling, Bri, Cristin, Jess, and Elliot. Everyone coordinated to order something generally different from each other so we could try as many dishes as possible. I was hell bent on getting a bite of everyone's food and forced everyone to order dessert. Mean, I know, but it's not every day I can order ANYTHING on the entire menu and not have to worry about what the ingredients are. As Cristin pointed out, there were a lot of substitutions made in the cooking. Not all vegan cuisine relies so heavily on faux ingredients, but I think the restaurant thinks it will show people they don't have to give up all the foods they love. There's still "beef" and "cheese" in veganism. I would have preferred a few more dishes that didn't rely so much on substitutions. I'm glad that I went to Sublime and got a chance to try their food. It was delicious overall. Interestingly, they were doing a promotion where you received a $20 gift card if you spent more than a certain amount. We clearly did, so we got the gift card. I said as the lone vegan in the group that I should get the card. Everyone agreed, but then Cristin stipulated that I could only have it if I would use it to take someone on a date. Since I'm not ready to date (in any way, shape, or form!), the gift card is hanging on the fridge at Cristin and Jess's house for when I am ready. It's going to be super dusty by the time I'm ready. *le sigh

I'm happy to have friends that are willing to be adventurous in their eating habits, so that way I have someone to share the alt-cooking experience with. I'd like to try another nearby vegan restaurant - Darbster in Lake Worth. Since raw food was suggested as the next adventure, I found these two places online: Pure Living Food in West Palm Beach and The Soma Center in Lake Worth.

Our dishes & some comments:

- Appetizers: pesto polenta, bread with garlic margarine, and eggplant rollatini. I've never had polenta before, so I was unsure of what to expect. The texture is obviously gritty, but the taste was pretty good actually. The eggplant rollatini had tofu ricotta (similar to what is in the VwaV cookbook), faux mozzarella, and was breaded and crispy. It was delicious, but I also really LOVE tofu ricotta.

- My dish: Shepardless pie with a side of brussel sprouts in a yellow Hollandaise-type sauce. The shepardless pie was a little salty, probably due to the mashed potatoes. The beef was replaced with Gardein crumbles. The menu said the pie would include jalapenoes, but I didn't taste any. I also ordered a side of mac and cheese, just because there are a million variations of vegan mac and cheese on the internet. It was not a faux cheese melted onto pasta, it tasted like the cheese was a mix of margarine (likely Earth Balance) and nutritional yeast. It was baked in a little ramekin so it had breadcrumbs on the top. It was as good as I expected it to be, so I think I'll try to find a similar style recipe for the next time I want to cook mac and cheese at home.

- Bri and Jess's dishes: Penne Puttanesca - The noodles were tossed with tomato, basil, capers, olives, and roasted peppers. The sauce had a nice little kick to it, but we all agreed there should have been more veggies included in this dish. Not only for flavor, but also just for color.

- Cristin's dish: Broccoli and cheddar quiche with a kale salad - Cristin ordered a quiche when she went to Sublime before, so she knew what to expect. It looked like a giant slice of tofu cake, haha. The taste of the quiche was good, but she said the kale was bitter because it wasn't cooked. Very strange to serve a bitter vegetable raw.

- Elliot's dish: Mushroom ravioli - The menu said the pasta was made in-house. The ravioli were very flavorful; they had an intense mushroom flavor, so I don't think I could have ate several of them. I have only recently started eating mushrooms, so I don't think I would have been able to enjoy a full order of the ravioli.

- Ling's dish: Margherita pizza - As simple as it sounds. It was a wheat crust topped with rice cheese, diced tomatoes, and basil. I really like rice cheese, so I was happy to see it being used in a restaurant. Pizza Fusion offers Follow Your Heart for their vegan cheese, but that's soy based. Not that there's anything wrong with soy, but it's not for everyone.

- Desserts: Coconut cake, chocolate nirvana, and pumpkin cheesecake. The coconut cake was very moist and had a nice texture to it. The chocolate nirvana was extremely decadent and definitely way too rich for one person to enjoy alone. The pumpkin cheesecake was the dish I was the most curious about because I wasn't sure how the cake would be textured. I couldn't tell if the cheesecake was made from really soft tofu and a soy-based cream cheese. I mostly tasted a cinnamon apple sauce taste over the pumpkin, which I was fine with because I don't particularly care for pumpkin flavor. The cheesecake was not as firm as I remember dairy-based cheesecakes being, but it was still tasty.

- Cocktails: Tangito (looked great with chunks of citrus in it), watermelon margarita (mine!), Lychee, and a spiked cider (sake and cider, odd combo).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tiny Hat

I have a love of ugly/unusual clothing. I usually don't wear stuff that is too revealing. I do own stuff that is extremely revealing, but I think it's best to leave a little to the imagination. ;) However, I frequently wear stuff that is ungodly bright or a little abnormal. I just have an incredibly odd sense of humor. I think that if you wear something ridiculous and are totally confident that you own that look, go for it! You can't take yourself too seriously all the time. So throw on the silliest item in your closet and have a great time! I know it would be easy to say I'm just looking for attention, but that's really not the case. I absolutely loathe most attention-seeking behaviors -- figure out why you crave attention so desperately and stop acting like a jackass.

Anyways, case in point for my love of unusual clothing items: a tiny hat.


When I saw this tiny hat in Arden B on Saturday, I absolutely had to have it. I paired with a vest with ruffles from Arden B. Ta-da! A little ridiculous but totally worth the laughs. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time for a New Look

Since my blog will turn 2 in a few weeks, I have decided to pick a new template. This was a very hippy background and it caught my eye. Hope I don't blind anyone with it! I can't believe this blog turns 2 but only has about 30 posts. I didn't live up to my goal of one new recipe per week, but I learned a lot of new stuff about cooking and I was able to thrive in my vegan lifestyle. :)

This means that my private blog (maintained elsewhere) turns 7 in December! My personal blog should be closer to 8 or 9 years old, but I had to get rid of my modblog account in 2003 because I was being harassed by the friends of my first boyfriend. I never imported those entries into my second personal blog. Whoops. Not that I was doing anything super exciting at that age, but it would be nice to have them for completeness. I was already focused on graduating at the top of my class at 15 (yeah, nerd alert), so my social life was just okay. You don't get any recognition for graduating 3rd, so I was determined to become our valedictorian by the spring of my freshman year of high school. In high school, I had friends and a boyfriend, but I was reasonably tame in my behavior (read: my wildest moments were sneaking out of my stepmom's house for late night bowling with my sister and making out with my boyfriend when my mom wasn't home).

Me at 14

Oh well, I definitely let that wild side come out hardcore at FSU. I do not regret picking a party school that just happened to have a decent science program. My other scholarship offers were from USF and University of Tampa. Both were back-up schools because they were too close to home for the freedom that I wanted. I didn't want debt (thanks Mom for that advice), so I took the scholarship at FSU and spent my Honors stipend on partying. Thanks, Honors College, I'm sure you'd be thrilled to know how I wasted that money.

Fast forward to FSU

This post highlights the fact that I need to scan some older photos of myself. I had quite a different look once upon a time and I think my friends would find the humor in it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Although this year has been REALLY rough, I am thankful for the friends that have helped me through everything. I think Ling, Bri, Cristin, Jess, Elliot, the kickball guys, and some of the guys from work have helped me the most through the drama and the hell that is your existence during exams.

Ling, Bri, and Me

In an attempt to expand my friend circle, I went out of my way to meet some of the external graduate students at my institute. I got some cookbooks as a gift from Cristin and I was introduced to Jess through a guy in our environmental health & safety department. It's nice having friends that are a little older, so they can offer advice for situations with a different perspective from my other friends. The three of us have really hit it off, and I truly appreciate all the advice they've given me as I've struggled with school and life. When we played kickball this summer (Bri was also on our team), we met some hilarious engineers and we've become friends with them too. It's nice to feel like I have a life outside of the workplace, even though my work friends are really great.

Cristin, Me, and Jess

Outside of my friends, I am thankful for my family. We might be the definition of dysfunctional, but I love my mom very much and my sister even told me she loved me over the holiday repeatedly. (This is a rare event, I usually get a single "I love you" when we talk.) I was disappointed that my dad was drinking and everyone in our family ignored it. *le sigh* Anyways, I didn't cook a very elaborate meal for the holiday. I made chicken-less nuggets, baked potatoes, and fruit salad for my Thanksgiving meal. Not traditional at all, but simple and reasonably healthy.

In the American spirit of materialism, I went shopping today with Ling. I bought 2 identical pairs of jeans from Express, a corset-style top and a vest with ruffles from Arden B, and an Olympus Stylus Tough digital camera and pre-ordered the Twilight Saga: Eclipse DVD set from Amazon. Ling bought a TON of stuff, but she definitely deserves it after taking her candidacy exam last week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four Loko Friday


If you live under a rock, you haven't heard the news about the evil that is Four Loko. For those of you out of the loop, Four Loko is an alcoholic energy drink. In a 24 oz can, there is enough caffeine to equal 3 cups of coffee and 12% alcohol (that's 4 to 5 beers). FOR $3.50!!!!!! Considering a single mixed drink costs $7 here, no wonder these drinks are so popular on college campuses due to their low cost and high alcohol content! I never would have wanted to drink one if the FDA wasn't pushing to ban alcoholic energy drinks. I convinced some friends (Jess, Elliot, and Lee) that we had to try this monstrosity before it became illegal. The manufacturer also said they'd release a caffeine-free version to appease the FDA prior to a decision being made about a ban.

Jess, Elliot, and I went to an ABC liquor store, only to find out they pulled the drinks a week ago. Lee called to say he found some at a local gas station. We immediately went there and bought one can each. We weren't trying to end up in the hospital or die, so we agreed one each. We sat out on the public green space in our neighborhood, where the movie Inception was being shown. Since the movie is supposed to be weird, the logic was, "Hey, let's get drunk and watch a crazy movie!" We didn't end up seeing any of the movie, because we were goofing off!

Jess, Elliot, & Me

Me and Lee

I would agree with this evaluation of the taste. I bought Cranberry Lemonade It tasted like cat piss + carbonated water (like you get at the soda fountain when the soda syrup runs out) + cheap cranberry/Koolaid taste. That was the flavor that Jess and Lee selected also. Elliot wanted to be different and bought the Orange flavor, which he described as Tang + cat piss. So a very nasty taste. Literally, one of my first comments was, "How did people drink several of these?"

The caffeine definitely hit me before the alcohol. It's a very weird feeling when the caffeine is already in effect and the alcohol starts to kick in. We were being loud and goofy. I drank my can in a little under two hours. The taste is so gross, so I can't understand how people pounded 4 cans to end up in the hospital! We walked down the little Main Street strip and ended up at our "favorite" neighborhood bar. (I put that in quotes because it's a little dirty considering how nice the area is.) A few friends from work ran into us and said we seemed really hyper. There was a polar bear there.


No, I was not hallucinating. Someone was in a polar bear costume promoting Ursus Vodka. They were handing out free shots and slap bracelets, like the ones from elementary school. The shots were blue and red, so I picked red. It tasted like cough syrup. Just gross. I had ordered a Bacardi and Sprite, so I used that to get the cough syrup taste out of my mouth. I did manage to finish that Bacardi and Sprite, causing someone to buy me a second one. I ended up dropping that second Bacardi. I like to think it was for the best. I don't know if being 7 drinks into a Friday night is the best choice... Thankfully, we walked to and from the bar (no DUI!).

Overall, I would say it was a fun night. However, I can see how the caffeine makes people unable to realize how drunk they are. I was afraid to fall asleep in case I threw up in my bed, so I managed to position my small trash can between my desk and my bed at a height where I would be able to just roll over and throw up if needed. Thankfully, I did not get sick in my sleep. I woke up the next morning feeling like I drank gasoline. My entire GI system felt like it had been burned, literally everything from my throat to my intestines hurt. I ended up swallowing toothpaste on accident, which caused me to gag. Yuck. Never again. Nice to know you, Four Lokos, but I won't be sad to never drink you again. The FDA effectively banned the drinks this weekend. I spent the rest of the day: (1) having Cristin drive me to Chic-fil-a for hangover-curing lemonade and fries, which taste different since they switched to canola oil, (2) eating Panera with Jess, Elliot, and Cristin, (3) running errands with Cristin, including getting an amazing raspberry jelly-filled vegan yeasted doughnut at Whole Foods, and (4) watching History of the World while eating pizza with the three of them. When the shit hit the fan this year, I never would have imagined making three such great friends. Too bad Cristin passed out after Indian food and didn't make it to Four Loko Friday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Massive Update: Book Review, Food, & More :)

Let's start with the book review, since it's something that I don't do often enough. I've decided to go back to reading more, since I prefer non-fiction it gives me something non-science to contemplate. I have been slacking lately on reading and working out (two weeks off - oh no!). I recently finished reading Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. I definitely think the book was written from a reasonably conservative (in the family values sense) perspective. I wish the book had a stronger classical feminist stance against porn. I think that porn should be legal and regulated at a certain level (no kids, limited access to kids, documented consent - although there is a whole other argument to be made about consent we won't go there now!). However, personally, I am a classic feminist in that I believe porn is absolutely degrading to women. Just because I think it should be legal doesn't mean I condone porn. I don't find anything sexy about watching women being treated like objects in real life, much less on film for a profit! Let's face it, porn is about men getting off, not women. The emphasis is on how the woman is there to serve the man, to help him climax, etc, but she could easily be replaced by another woman willing to get paid for sex on camera. (Note: How is porn legal but prostitution not? It's all sex for money really...) Anways, I would much rather focus my sexual energy on being with someone I am close to. I find that my desire is driven more by the person I'm interested in than in the act of sex itself. I mean, everyone has moments of "omg I want sex!" but for me I find that my desire is almost always focused on a particular person. I found two points from the book to be really interesting. The first is the paradox of a porn user saying that a certain act is demeaning to women, so they'd never want to do it to a partner or have someone do it to their daughter, but yet they get off to it while watching porn because it's a fantasy. Fantasy or not, I don't get how demeaning women can ever be sexy. That woman is someone's partner, someone's daughter, so how is it okay for her to be treated that way? Just because she's getting paid it somehow makes it okay? This goes into the "she's consenting to it" argument. Yes, she is, but why? Like I said, I think the idea of whether or not women can truly consent to be in porn based on the patriarchial structure of the industry is a whole other argument. Is she "consenting" because she thinks she's liberated, as pro-porn feminists claim? Is liberation really allowing yourself to be objectified? The pro-porn feminists claim she's liberated and is taking control of the situation. Have you seen porn? The women are almost never in control. She's not controlling her sexuality, she's being tricked into thinking she's liberated so that porn companies can turn a profit on her body. The system tells her lies that she's liberated but ultimately she is an easily disposable vagina. Even companies run by female directors who claim to be making more female-friendly porn are still producing porn that places the emphasis on a man's pleasure. The second point is the concern of how younger people (teens, even young teens who are not sexually active) will have access to internet porn and how this will shape their views on sex, the roles of each partner in sex, etc. It is definitely going to be interesting to see how young people develop their view of sexuality and what's appropriate with such easy access to internet porn. Will younger generations treat each other with intimacy and respect? Will they be able to separate the "fantasy" of porn from real life when they're exposed at prepubescent ages?

Speaking of objectifying women, I see more and more girls going along with being objectified in public. (I've been doing WAAAAY too much people-watching lately.) If you treat yourself like crap, no man will ever respect you. If you stand up for yourself and say I'm more than just a nice pair of tits and a girly figure, then you can gain the respect of the people around you. To just roll over and allow men to talk down to you will never get you anywhere. I think many people could benefit from knowing, "Treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you." People may think I'm a bitch because I'm blunt, but they certainly don't get away with objectifying me based on my appearance. I guess I wish I had been born in an era where classical feminists existed. It seems so hard to find these days. Everyone wants to be hip and they forget the struggle for equality along the way. :(

Now on to the food!

Baking for my fall kickball team, The Narragansett Lagers, "sponsored" by the brewery:
- Peanut butter coconut bars - would not make again, I left out the peanuts so there was no texture whatsoever. :(
- Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies - always a winning combo, I used the tiny chips from the cookies I made in January.
- Chocolate glazed mini doughnuts - used regular wheat flour, instead of pastry, so they were tough and nowhere near chocolatey enough.
- Coconut oatmeal drop cookies - decent but not spectacular
* Note for the substitutions, I used Ener-g egg replacer powder for eggs and Earth Balance for butter.

Other links:
- Made Beach Cookies for a Sunday Funday with the lovely Cristin (I could write a whole entry about what a blessing she has been in my life, but I won't). So good, but they got crushed in the cooler.
- Made these simple tortilla cups but I didn't like the canned green chiles. They were really slimy and nasty. I will definitely pick a fresh chile next time and dice it.
- Attempted making Mac and Cheese bites but messed up the pasta portion. Not enough pasta so it was nasty. They ended up in the garbage.
- Made a simple pasta with veggies dish for NWIS. It was my first time cooking zucchini so I was happy that it turned out okay. I used the leftover zucchini and cherry tomatoes to top the leftover pasta from the mac and cheese bites. I added white beans and Italian seasoning for protein and flavor.

Photographed food: I absolutely want a new digital camera so I can take better quality photos. Black Friday goal: Acquire kick-ass digital camera. The Canon Powershot A400 from 2004 needs to be officially retired.

Spicy Thai-style red beans with coconut milk - SOOOO ADDICTING! Would definitely make this again.


Mexicali sliders with Cajun yam fries - These were also really good, but they don't freeze well at all! I ended up tossing out 4 of them after defrosting them. Also, never burn sweet potatoes! The sugar becomes really disgusting and they taste terrible.


Cajun chickpea cakes - baked them and they fell apart really easily. Served with Cajun creamy rice - rice recipe should be cut in half!


Quinoa loaf with mushrooms and peas - This recipe was recommended to me by some friends. It sounds really weird, but it is so damn good. I learned the proper way to store mushrooms is in a paper bag and they're only good for a week max. I had to toss my baby portabellas and buy new ones.


Cajun meatloaf with a Bourbon glaze - boiled the tempeh for 10 minutes before breaking it up for the recipe, because I heard that removes the bitter taste. I'm undecided on my taste for tempeh... Served with mac and cheese, which made a little too much.


Gumbo with Andouille-style Sausage - Definitely not spicy enough and okra is disgusting. Way too many leftovers that I threw away.


General Tso's Tofu - definitely could become a regular in my menu planning.


Peppers stuffed with bulgur and herbs - This was served at a Greek-themed girls' night at Jess's house (another blessing!). The other dishes included hummus with pita bread, Greek salad, eggplant, and a couple other dishes.


Thai-style sweet and tangy noodles - I didn't really get sweet and tangy from this recipe, but it was still good. I wish I had thought to separate the rice noodles a little more before dropping them in the boiling water. They were tough to separate once cooked.


Recently, we had our yearly student symposium at the lovely UCLA conference center at Lake Arrowhead, CA. It was fun to meet students from the other campus, plus we got an afternoon off to have fun! After the trip, I stayed with my friend Eric in Solana Beach, CA. Although I didn't get a photo of the two of us together, I did snap this one of the beach with my phone.


I had time to myself, since he had to work during the day. I did a lot of thinking and read the book The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist by Richard Feynman. It was an easy read. When I wasn't sleeping, doing p90x, or reading, I was cooking. I made this beautiful curry from a mix of ingredients I picked up at the grocery store. Another iPhone photo, so don't judge too harshly.


In other non-food news, I went to see Ryan and Marigny for Halloween. Again, I failed to get a photo of us together. Whoops. Ryan and I went out to the local bars in costume and bicycled, as usual. There's nothing greater than drunk bicycling with Dr. Boostie. We went to see Bad Religion, the best punk band ever, at the Orlando House of Blues. I have been waiting since the 8th grade to see them live, so I jumped at the chance to go for only $30! The venue is really small, so I was only about 8 people back when I went on the floor. I got pummeled in the pit but luckily some big dudes rescued me. My Converses ended up getting stepped on repeatedly, so I lost my shoes. I found one because a guy was carrying it around the pit waving it in the air. Several people told me they saw a similar shoe go on stage, so I had a roadie throw it back to me once the show was over. This concert was definitely better than the Kings of Leon show I went to recently where I got separated from my group and missed the entire show. The Cruzan Amphitheater gets absolutely no cell phone service so I got lucky to find a friend who parked near us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Loads to Update

I joined a kickball team through WAKA. I've been baking every week for our games. Here's the round-up of what I've made since the season is almost over.

- Chocolate chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengenance
- Oatmeal raisin cookies - omitted the walnuts
- Mini donuts from VeganYumYum - used almond milk
- Oreos-style cookies from Smitten Kitchen - veganized by using Ener-g instead of egg and Earth Balance instead of butter
- Brownie bites dusted with powdered sugar
- Peanut butter cookies - veganized by using Ener-g instead of egg and soy milk instead of milk
- Gingersnaps - veganized by using Ener-g instead of egg
*I noted that the peanut butter cookies and gingersnap doughs did not look like they really needed the Ener-g.
- Red velvet cupcakes were for a dinner with kickball folks so it counts. I used 1/3 cup apple sauce and 1/3 cup oil, instead of the 2/3 cup oil in the recipe, definitely improves the texture!
- Tried to make the chocolate oatmeal cookies from Garden of Vegan, but because I portioned my dough into smaller balls than the recipe called for, they burned. I should have reduced the oven temp, but didn't think of that. The dough in the center that wasn't burned was delicious, so I will try again one day. I ended up making a double batch of the Coffee Break Muffins from the same book, which had a cinnamon-sugar sprinkling on top of the dough before making. Made it taste like a little coffee cake.

I have also made sloppy joes lentils, Berbere stew, and the apple pie from American Vegan Kitchen, but didn't get any photos.

Chana Masala


Tofu and Sweet Potatoes over Cajun Quinoa


Black Bean Salad - cooked it on the stove and served with quinoa in a whole wheat wrap


Chickpea and Potato Curry - did not serve with rice because potatoes have enough carbs for me


Vegan English Muffins - had these for breakfast, but also used them for mini pizzas with Daiya mozzarrella and Yves pepperoni


Breakfast for Dinner - from top left clockwise: seitan bacon, tofu scramble from Vegan with a Vegenance, waffles, and hash browns


Chick'n Burgers - used one cup white beans and omitted the chickpea flour


Mexican Grilled Tofu on skewers with pineapple and tricolor sweet peppers - used chipotle chili powder instead of regular chili powder for an extra kick - I have made the BBQ sauce listed with the recipe but it's waaay too much for one person to use up


Seitan Madras with Naan Bread - used a lot more seitan than I think the madras recipe called for because I had a lot on hand and I veganized the naan bread using soy yogurt and Earth Balance


Chickpea Curry with Thai Basil - got fresh Thai Basil from a friend, but I wish this recipe had twice as many chickpeas


Thai Tamarind and Cashew Tofu - Since I didn't make the tamarind/chile paste from scratch, I used 3 Tbsp tamarind paste from the local Asian market + 2 Tbsp Asian chile garlic sauce. It had a strange flavor at first bite but by the end I was hooked.


Creole black-eyed peas - these froze really well. I know the photo is crappy, I took it on my iPhone.


Curried split pea soup with homemade wheat bread - Turns out I should have cooked the split peas to the point of falling apart. I only cooked them until they were tender. I didn't have black mustard seeds and I hate fennel. Either way, I thought it was bland in flavor so I added black pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, and a little shake of salt. I would not recommend this recipe as is. However, the bread was good. I made it in my bread machine using a modified recipe from Bread Machine Magic. I picked the Heavenly Whole Wheat bread recipe, but left out the instant potato flakes and optional vital wheat gluten and used Earth Balance instead of butter.