Thursday, 30 October 2008

armoured turnip!

Aaaand the prize for best named recipe so far goes to.... armoured turnips: baked sliced turnips with white bean boursin (made with urad dal, because some of us have managed to run out of white beans even though we could have sworn we had a giant jar of them somewhere) from the Uncheese Cookbook. Basically layers of sliced turnip, cheese and the ubiquitous cinnamon/ginger/clove combo. These are clearly the predecessor to scalloped potatoes. I ate them on kasha with greens. I will do this again with pumpkin or kabotchka squash or sweet potatoes. Something bright orange.

I was a little apprehensive about anything called "boiled sallet", but I tried this, staying remarkably close to the actual instructions, minus the egg: boiled broad beans and leeks (I figure anything green counts here) drained and tossed with with oil, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and currants. This was remarkably yummy and comforting on polenta. The recipe calls for chopped boiled egg and harps on about how important it is, so I added an okara burger (okara, capers, liquid smoke, garlic, cilantro, chickpea flour, tamari) to my plate.

Here's what I followed:
Source [A new booke of Cookerie, J. Murrell]: Diuers Sallets boyled. Parboyle Spinage, and chop it fine, with the edges of two hard Trenchers vpon a boord, or the backe of two chopping Kniues: then set them on a Chafingdish of coales with Butter and Uinegar. Season it with Sinamon, Ginger, Sugar, and a few parboyld Currins. Then cut hard Egges into quarters to garnish it withall, and serue it vpon sippets. So may you serue Burrage, Buglosse, Endiffe, Suckory, Coleflowers, Sorrel, Marigold leaues, water Cresses, Leekes boyled, Onions, Sparragus, Rocket, Alexanders. Parboyle them, and season them all alike: whether it be with Oyle and Uinegar, or Butter and Uinegar, Sinamon, Ginger, Sugar, and Butter: Egges are necessary, or at least very good for all boyld Sallets.

Medieval food is not pretty. But is is yummy. Things I've noticed so far: I miss chilli, and it's amazing how different food is without tomatoes (I'm still eating the ones that come in my vegbox, but I've not been buying extra ones, because they're a new world food, and so aren't in any of the medieval recipes). Also, I think I may end up with a cinnamon addiction and start adding raisins/figs to everything by the end of the modern medieval project. Quinces are underappreciated, and I love them.

Music that is also not pretty and yes yummy: The pubcrawlers.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Pease porridge hot...

Comfort food at it's finest, as people have known for..oh... 5 or 600 years, at least.

Boil split peas, onions, basil, thyme, cinnamon, a smidge of dried ginger, some cloves, and a bay leaf in Rauchbier (smoked beer...which is an excellent way to sub that smoky richness that french canadian pea soup has. I find liquid smoke just doesn't measure up for this one. It's just too... thin... for lack of a better word). Salt. Nothing could be easier. Eat with irish soda bread (whole wheat spelt flour and oat flour at about a 3:1 ratio, baking soda, salt, soured soy, soy milk with vinegar). We also had some baked cauliflour with this, both the flower and the big leaves. Just pop it in the oven with a little olive oil and salt while the bread bakes.

dance warmly to something much more modern: musique pour 3 femmes enceintes

Friday, 24 October 2008

Oh the cinnamon!

Continuing on with my Modern Medieval project, here are three things I made. I'm getting the hang of this stuff in terms of techniques and seasonings. Basically, everything is either a stew or a pie. Salt was hard to come by, but sugar (honey...or in my case, agave and maple syrup) were not. My flat smells like a combination of a persian restaurant and my parents house at Christmas. This is fun.

Stewed Pumpkin.
2 large onions, chopped, with half a pumpkin, also chopped and some tvp. baked in water, marmite, white wine, sage, pepper, liquid smoke. When it's done, add salt and saffron, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. We ate this over spelt pasta, with a tomato and parsely salad on the side.

bastardized from:

10. Gourdes in Potage. Take young Gowrdes; pare hem and kerue hem on pecys. Cast hem in gode broth, and do þerto a gode pertye of oynouns mynced. Take pork soden; grynde it and alye it þerwith and wiþ yolkes of ayren. Do þerto safroun and salt, and messe it forth with powdour douce.

- Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

Cinnamon Soup.
...veganized, with tofu! and green! And holy shit, will I ever be making this stuff again! YUM.

Ahem. Tofu marinated overnight in: soy sauce + water, nutritional yeast, oregano, ground coriander, finely chopped garlic and onion, light miso. This is what i do to tofu that's still edible but definitely past it's prime. If you want a richer marinade, add a good swig of balsamic vinegar and a dollop of mustard to the marinade. Bake or fry this while you make the soup. If you fry it, dredge it in flour first. I usually bake it because I'm a lazy ass and I don't like fried stuff (which I suppose makes me a weird lazy ass).

Soup (for one):
1/4 - 1/2 cup ground almonds
1 person worth of veg broth or water + marmite (dude, i have no idea how big your soup bowl is. make your own decisions here)
a bit of leek, finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon. heaping if you have a big soup bowl.
a smallish bit of grated ginger
sprinkle o ground cloves
sprinkle o anise seeds
chopped broccoli ( broccoli is so fabulous that i'm sure medieval cooks would have added it to everything if it had been available.)
salt if you need it (check AFTER you add the marinated tofu, cuz it's quite salty)

dry roast (brown) ground almonds. add everything else except the broccoli and simmer until thick. add broccoli and simmer until it's done right (slightly crunchy). Add tofu. Eat. I will definitely make this again. Possibly with chickpeas and eggplant instead of tofu and broccoli. Either way: winner. I had some bread and tomatoes (aka "a tomato sandwich") with this, but I think it would be amazingly good with cooked kasha added to it. Just a hunch.

bastardized from the original (and modern omni) versions at:

Greens (no's just a pile of kale on mashed spuds). I was cinnamoned out, so I made this:

Kale and leeks, simmered in veg broth and pepper, drained, mixed with nutmeg and okara ricotta (okara, vinegar, agave, salt, miso). On mashed potatoes. Potatoes had not yet been introduced, but they're in my veg box. I figure that mashed is about right, since most medieval recipes I've seen serve the main dish on some sort of stewed grain gruel (like rice pudding or soupy polenta).

...again from

Poree de cresson

PERIOD: France, 14th century | SOURCE: Le Viandier de Taillevent | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Stewed cress and chard, tossed with cheese


153. Poree de cresson: To Make Stewed Cress. Take your garden cress and boil it (var: parboil it), along with a handful of chard, then chop it up fine, sauté it in oil and then put it to boil if you so wish. On non-fasting days (it may be cooked) either in meat broth, or in butter, or with cheese added, or just plain without putting anything in it, should you like it that way. It should be salted to taste, and the garden cress should be well culled. It is good against gallstones.

- Scully, Terence, ed. Le Viandier de Taillevent. An Edition of all Extant Manuscripts. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1988.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

i wanna be a chocolate god post 8: booze

When I drink whiskey, my brain often searches through my catalogue of chocolate tastes and pairs it with a chocolate. I don't know why. It just does. I told this to Spanky and....

a few months later, Spanky and I had a whiskey and chocolate tasting evening at our place. Spanky knows alot about whiskey. I know a lot (perhaps too much) about chocolate, mostly through a good decade of dedicated tasting. Soooo... one night, Spanky and I went through his whiskeys and tasted and smelled them, and I wrote down which chocolates I thought would go with each one. Then I hunted down these specific bars to go with these specific whiskeys, using mail order, calling in favours from friends in Germany and France, and well... walking down the street to Coco of Bruntsfield. Because Spanky and I are very, very serious at all times, we named each of the pairs. In cases where the whiskey comes from the Whiskey Society, I've given you the cask number.

Some of the pairings are whiskeys and chocolates that are very similar (such as the "One note wonders"), while some are linked by a single aspect of each of their tastes (such as "Vanilla Sex"). The most interesting one, and the one I was most proud of, is a case of the two complementing each other so that the combination of tastes is quite different than you'd expect based on the two individual tastes ("Rum Punch", but see also "the old man and the sea").

Enjoy. In all cases, our clever name for the pairing is in red, followed by the name of the whiskey and then the chocolate. My comments follow, and then the "official" description of the whiskey. As usual, in feeding your chocolate addiction, don't use slave chocolate. Most of the chocolates here are from small companies that deal more or less directly with producers.

Whisky-Chocolate Tasting

One-note wonders
Nikka Black AND Pralus – Madagascar 75%

Both the chocolate and the whiskey are clean, single tastes. The chocolate has a strong red fruit taste that hits the front of your tongue and then just disappears with almost no aftertaste. Very minimalist on both counts, and they go together very well. Pralus has really seduced me over the past few years by making such consistantly fabulous chocolate where they really know how to bring out the character of each single origin bean.

Whisky Magazine Tasting Notes
Nose: Fresh pear, then richer notes quickly develop. Custard, apricot, touch of hazelnut. Hint of pine. Delicate smokiness in the back. Caramel with water.
Palate: Sweet and flowing. Well balanced. Nutty. Drying on light oak.
Finish: Medium, firm but retains sweetness. Ginger.
Comment: Easy-going, well-balanced. To be enjoyed as a refreshment with water and ice.

The Prince and the Pauper
Rosebank 1990 Gordon & MacPhail AND Hachez 88%

Rosebank is really well balanced, and a fairly snooty fancy whiskey. I love it, even when I'm not feeling snooty or fancy. Hachez has this mellow, almost peanut buttery, fatty feel to it and is remarkably un-sweet without being in the least bitter. I believe the word is "comforting". One of those rare grocery-store gems. Each of them makes the other seem more themselves, yet they somehow work together.

JMWB p. 183

The Society consensus pairing
Single Malt Whiskey Society 46.17 AND Chocolate Society 85%

A tribute to the dangers of trying to please everyone. A perfectly good, though not terribly exciting whiskey paired with a perfectly good, though not terribly exciting chocolate.

46.17 Comfort in a glass

This distillery, 4 km south of Elgin, is next-door to Mannochmore and a dark grains plant. This pale gold dram is from a refill barrel. The nose has pear, apricot, strawberry starbursts and apple flapjack, along with some toffee and salt. It has an interesting, almost sneeze-inducing dustiness reminiscent of cocoa powder or honeysuckle pollen. With water, the nose is chalky and lemony, like Swizzler lollipops. The palate is sweet, hot, juicy and salty, reminding one of salted melon, gooseberry fool and Black Forest gateau. Reduced, it has apple, ginger cake and brandy snaps. A well balanced, pleasantly comforting dram.

Vanilla sex
Glenmorangie Cellar 13 AND Bachhalm Shitake

Both have a nice undertaste of vanilla, and the muskyness of the mushrooms keeps the whole thing from getting too cloying. Plus, mushroom are so... I'm gonna leave it at musky... Bachhalm also uses super-silky chocolate (in that luxurious super silky underwear kinda way).

Notes on the whiskey:
JMWB p. 120

The particularity of this selection is the warehouse where it was matured: cellar 13, close to the ocean.
Aging happens in bourbon casks for 10 to 12 years.
The colour is pale yellow. The nose is sweet with wood and fresh sandal, vanilla and wild menthol hints.
The mellow taste recalls malt, toffees, vanilla and honey.
The very long juicy finish recalls the fragrance of the buttercup.
Normally, Cellar 13 is only available in tax free shops

The Balancing Act
Highland Park 12 yr AND Dunkles Gold Cacao de Cologne with Salt

Sweet and salty. Dunkles Gold is a small chocolate shop in Cologne that I had the good fortune to happen upon when I lived there. They guy who runs the place is very, very knowledgeable about his chocolate, and has exquisite taste. His house bars make me so very happy. They're quite sweet, though, and I find that a little sprinkling of salt rounds it all out nicely.

JMWB p. 133

Peter Pan
SMWS cask 116.12 Yoichi 21 yr “Tinned Peaches and Tobacco Pipes” AND Coco dark with rosemary.

Both the whiskey and the chocolate are playful yet oh-so-grown up. The Yoichi really *does* taste of tinned peaches and a faint whiff of pipe. It's all very "Daddy's study after dinner", which is odd, because my dad didn't have a study, nor did he smoke a pipe. ... Coco of Bruntsfield is a chocolate shop here in Edinburgh that makes divine flavoured bars (as well as good bars of plain chocolate). They use a good quality chocolate, but their stuff tends to lean towards a bit sweet for my tastes, so I favour the bars that incorporate a savory element, such as this rosemary one, which is my current favorite from their selection of flavoured bars. I go there every saturday that I'm in town, for a chocolate and an espresso. Life is so much better if you spend 30 minutes a week completely surrounded by chocolate, no? They also get kudos for having a "suitable for vegans" list posted on their wall. So anyone who wants to buy me vast amounts of chocolate can do so there without having to read labels....

Tinned peaches and tobacco pipes Cask No. 116.12
The only distillery on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, was built by Nikka’s founder, the legendary Masataka Taketsuru in 1934. It produces a range of styles of malt whisky for use in its blends, and this bottling is highly phenolic. The immediate scent is of tinned peaches and charcoal scattered with lavender. There is lilac blossom in the background, and traces of bath oil, so the taste at full strength – which is like chewing charcoal or licking the bowl of an old pipe – comes as something of a surprise. Water develops the fragrant theme, with floral notes, scented honey and sugar soap; slightly waxy, and only a hint of tar. This passes across into the flavour at reduced strength: a nice smooth mouthfeel, pleasant balance of sweet and vinegar-sour, and only an ash-like trace of smoke. A common descriptor for this whisky is ‘welcoming’.

The Comfy Chair
Ardbeg 10 yr AND Luento Santoro Grand Cru Blend South America

Ardbeg 10 is an easy, comforting, whiskey. Luento Santoro make the best blended bars I've ever tasted. In fact, their blends are so genius, I prefer them to their single origins. Both the whiskey and the chocolate are really complex, but not overwhelming, and oddly enough, mash together well, sort of like when someone manages to wear several different plaids at the same time and look good.

JMWB p. 28

Lap of Luxury
Port Ellen (Royal Mile Dormant Distilleries Company bottling) AND Domori Porcelana

Um. Perfection. Times 2. Really. In both cases, turn off the music. Sit down. Shut up. Close your eyes. Smell. Taste. The platonic ideal of a whiskey paired with the platonic ideal of a chocolate. It's hard to move on to anything else once you taste these. Porcelana beans are fan-fucking-tastic. (Bonnat also makes a Porcelana bar that I love). Clean and complex, with a taste of raspberry and a whiff of tobacco.

Seriously, if you want to see what all the fuss is about "fine chocolates", but only want to buy a single luxury chocolate bar for yourself, buy either Domori or Bonnat Porcelana. They are what heaven tastes like.

The Old Man and the Sea
Compass Box Eleuthera WITH Coppeneur Ocumare

Yeah, both are kinda salty and rough and charming. Coppeneur chocolate is crumbly rather than creamy, but that's a good thing. Trust me. Ocumare is earthy and has a bit of an iron taste to it. Love it. A friend of mine actually mails me a few of these bars from Germany on a regular basis.

This Vatted Malt Whisky (blend of 100% single malts from different distilleries) is made from combining the strong, smoky complexity of traditional island malts with the smooth richness of mainland malts. The result is a whisky which is rich, smoky and silky with a long, spicy finish.

The Rum Punch
Tyrconnell Madeira Cask WITH Stainer Peperoncino di Espelette con Ananas

For some reason, if you take a sip of Tyrconnell and then a bite of this chocolate, it tastes like rum punch. Now, usually I find chocolate with peppers boring. Stainer, however, has elevated it to an art form. They actually take care about the peppers so that they *match up* with the taste of the chocolate. Here they've added some dried pineapple, so you have sweet-hot-rich (not unlike thai food). The quality of their chocolate is only okay, though, with some waxiness. But it's worth trying for their chilli ingenuity alone.

JMWB p. 265

Lagavulin 16 yr WITH Bonnat 100%

Lagavulin 16 is briny, iodinish, and superb. It's strong, and can be overwhelming. But if you like espresso, olives and such, it's probably your thing. Bonnat 100% has NO SUGAR. Just cocoa mass. Yup. It too is iodinish and superb, strong, and can be overwhelming. Again with the espresso and olives. It's surprisingly sweet for a chocolate without sugar, and is one of my all-time favorite bars that I just keep around all the time (that I can... the stuff sells out.)

boozy sweet music: Cheap drunk by Ember Swift.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Leek pies and potluck survival tips

So here we go, kicking off Ducky's Modern Medieval. See an earlier post for how I'm doing this. As for the why... it's just a different method of cooking and new (old) spice combos. I love the mix of sweet and savory, and how most of the recipes I've seen lend themselves well to the Scottish winter of root vegetables and homey, heady food. It's also fun to see how many of the foods look familiar (this one just looks like a quiche), but uses flavour combos that aren't terribly common in european cooking anymore, though I did find myself thinking of persian food while the smells of this baking filled my kitchen.

I brought this to a (work) potluck, where I was pleasantly surprised that some people brought vegan food. But that was a bonus, and over the past few years, I've learned not to expect that. I go to (non vegan) potlucks to see my friends or socialize with my colleagues, not for the food. Keeping that in mind:

Vegan potluck strategies (for an omni potluck):
1. Bring something super extra duper yummy. Now is NOT the time for your low-fat, quick or "love it or hate it" foods. Like it or not, you are probably going to be "the vegan". And thus your food is "the vegan food". See this as an opportunity to show people that we don't live on twigs and apples alone.
2. Put some of your food aside for yourself BEFORE leaving. Yes, as in a separate tupperware container that you leave in your backpack, purse, tote bag...whatever. That way, you know you'll have something to eat even if no one other than you brings anything vegan, and if everyone swarms the dish you bring and wants to taste "the vegan food", you won't be stressed about having to spend the entire time hungry or sugar-buzzed or regretfully drunk in a room of work colleagues etc. Plus, you want to be generous with the vegan food, because you are "the vegan". Sorry if you didn't apply for the ambassador posistion; it comes with the territory.
3. Bring a main dish. Why? Because you need dinner. If you are a cupcake warrier, just make sure you bring a dinner-ish thing for yourself, like some hummous and veg and bread. Or a sandwich, or whatever.
4. Bring a dessert too. Since you've cooked a fancy main, just pick up a nice dark chocolate bar or something. If you are a cupcake warrier...grrrrrrrrr! Amaze them!
5. Chill. If you're at an omni potluck, you're clearly not there for the food. You're there to socialize. Focus on that. If it all goes horribly wrong food-wise, eat the bag of nuts that you cleverly stashed in your bag beforehand, dig into that chocoalte bar, drink abusively, and enjoy time with your friends and/or colleagues. It won't kill you to skip dinner for one night. If you *really* are miserable, leave politely.

...and we don't need advice for a vegan potluck, now do we? Except for don't eat too much earlier in the day. Maybe go for run. And wear elastic-waist trousers...

Enough about my winner "how to survive an omni potluck" strategies.

Modified from Amber Day Tart
(modern omni recipe on

My veganized version, which is by now only loosely based on the original: 3 leeks, chopped in rounds and boiled in water and white wine until all the liquid has evaporated and the leeks have lost the will to live, a few raisins, about 1/3 tps each of sage, cloves, nutmeg, generous pinch of saffron. Tofu bit (replacing eggs, and cheese etc): mashed silken tofu, sweet white miso, chickpea flour, salt, white wine vinegar, mustard. Baked in a pie shell made of pizza dough (flour, yeast, salt olive oil, water). Mix leek bit (no water left) with tofu mash. Add 2 big bunches of chopped parsely. Place in prebaked pie shells (Bake the pizza dough at high-ish heat until it is not-quite-done. say half the time you would usually bake it for. The point here is to just make sure it has a crust so you don't make it all soggy when you add the filling). Top with walnut chunks. Re-bake on lower heat (180C/350F) until set. Huzzah!


173. Tart in ymbre day. Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese [brede AB] & bray it in a morter, and temper it vp with ayren. Do þerto butter, saffroun & salt, & raisons corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

- Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

modern medieval music: dead can dance

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

why ethical vegetarianism isn't

(alternate title: How to alienate your vegetarian readers and spark a bunch or really really defensive comments on your blog)

Sometimes I've been asked why I call vegetarians "omnivores", as if I don't make a distinction between a life that includes eating meat, and one that does not. The short answer is that I actually *don't* see a difference ethically. Aesthetically, yes. There is a huge aesthetic difference between vegetarian food and meat-including food, though this need not be the case, especially in cuisines where meat is used in small amounts, basically as a seasoning, much like vegetables are in the standard western diet. Being vegetarian is like not eating wheat or something. It may have a large impact on the taste of your dinners and your choice of entrees at restaurants. In that sense it is different than a standard omnivorous diet. But ethically? Nope. No difference at all. Either way, you're killing animals. Whether you do it sooner or do it later and then make someone else eat the evidence makes no difference to how dead they are.

The frustrating bit is that I know several people who are vegetarian for ethical reasons. I was. And the fact that this is even possible speaks to the frightening level of misinformation about animal use and treatment, as well as to the strength of denial and degree of cognitive dissonance that people live with.

1. Milk and eggs are no less cruel than meat. Leather is no less cruel than meat. We all know this if we do even a tiny token amount of poking around on teh Internetz on sites that are not directly funded by the dairy and egg industries. Dairy cows are killed when they don't produce milk anymore. No mammal should produce that much milk anyway (mammals lactate only to feed their young, so dairy cows have to be repeatedly impregnated). Half of all calves are male, and since males don't produce milk, they are used for meat (veal). Same goes for chickens. Show me the "happy chicken retirement home" for the spent egg layers and the "foster care" where all the male chicks are reared with adequate space and food and opportunities to act like actual birds despite being useless in terms of egg laying (hint: slaughterhouse and garbage bin, respectively).

Leather is not a byproduct of the meat industry. It is important in of itself, and is part of the reason that we slaughter animals. "Meat" is only part of the money value of an animal body. The demand for leather and other "byproducts" is just as important as that for meat. Plus, what could be better advertisement for endorsing killing than wearing a dead skin out in public?

2. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that milk and eggs are actually worse than steak. If someone was going to kill me horribly, I'd rather they just do it, rather than rape me repeatedly and force me to bear several children first, which would then be taken away from me and either killed or sold into the same horrific "life" that I was leading. I would find it laughable (though I can't picture myself laughing under those circumstances) that people who only benefited from the part of my "life" that preceeded killing me were considered "kinder" or "more ethical" than those who also benefited directly from my death. Of course, I'd rather not be owned and killed at all, horribly or otherwise, which brings us to...

2.5. Empathy. If you thought that point 2. was a bit over the top, stop and ask yourself why. Our idea that it is wrong to kill (assuming you think that it is) is based on empathy. We understand that a cow wants to live. All I did there was to follow that empathy through rather than cutting it off where it would have been convenient to do so if I had a leather fetish or a deep and meaningful love of cheese pizza. It requires doublethink to say that killing is wrong but a little torture is okay. It requires turning off empathy when it interferes with our selfish wants or with our image of "who I want to be". If one wants to be caring, then the way to do that is to look at our actions and see if they actually reflect that, changing them when they do not. Realizing that I am doing something wrong doesn't make me uncaring. We all fuck up, and we all sometimes make decisions based on incomplete or untrue information, peer pressure or habit. However, realizing that I am doing something wrong and subsequently doing nothing to change it makes me uncaring. It also makes me a hypocrite.

Ethical vegetarianism goes about this whole "I am a caring person" business ass-backwards and says that instead, we first define ourselves as caring, and since we are caring, our actions are de facto caring because they are motivated by this, no matter what the actual consequences of these actions are (also known as "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"). So yes, I think that ethical vegetarianism is uncaring. It can be so because the actual person is uncaring or in denial, or because of wrong or incomplete information, peer pressure etc. But the reason doesn't change the action itself.

And actually, it's not about us. It's about whether or not one species is soooo important that it gets to own others. Even the gentlest, kindest farm where the cows are cuddled constantly, allowed to frolic through the cow-friendly fields and given handjobs every day is still us owning them. If you can't see why this is wrong, think about the recent property status of women. I'm sure that some women were happy in marriages where they were the legal property of their husbands. I'm sure that many of these men were nice and kind and let the women do pretty much what they wanted. But that ultimately doesn't matter, because women shouldn't be property, no matter how nicely you treat them. The fact that you can make the best of a terribly, terribly wrong situation does not make the situation itself right. We, and cows, exist for our own sake. Okay, that's a whole other post on abolitionism vs welfarism, and we may get there eventually, but not today.

3. Free range is just greenwash to make us feel better. You cannot purchase a clear conscience, no matter what the glossy green recycled paper adds with a Prius in the background tell you. You still kill animals. If you don't look too hard, you can pretend like it's a slightly less horrible way to treat them, and then indulge in killing without guilt. However, happy meat is about people feeling good, not animals feeling good. And again, there's still that nasty killing. When you look at what "free range" actually means, it isn't usually all that wonderful in terms of treatment. For chickens, free range just means theoretical access to the outdoors. So to put this in perspective.... if we put several hundred children into a small classroom with no room to sit or move and then opened a small window at one end that they could theoretically get out of, that would be "cage free". And free range stuff can be more profitable for the meat and dairy industries than conventional farming because they can charge higher prices that more than compensate for any extra cost incurred. This supports the meat and dairy industries, which don't care about the health of animals (or of people, really), but are industries like any other, with the primary goal of turning a profit by telling you what you want to hear.

4. As a certain little wrinkled jedi master has pointed out: There is no try. In kindergarten, there is a gold star for effort, but that's because in kindergarten, the point is to learn how to make an effort. However, the reason we learn to make an effort is not merely to expend energy and accumulate gold stars, but to actually *accomplish something*. I shit you not. That's the point. And in some cases, such as ethical vegetarianism "trying to be more vegan" is code for "I want credit for being ethical but do not actually want to bother being ethical. Give me a gold star." Vegetarians who tell me that they "try" to be vegan or are "moving towards" being vegan (often for years... sheesh... how slowly do you move?!!) make my head spin. If you think you are acting immorally, than fucking change what you're doing! Do you really expect me to respect someone who has just flat-out TOLD me that they're unable to act in accordance with their own morals on something this simple? Being vegan is easy if you are not dependent on parents or such and can afford access to the internet or a library. There are books and websites. There are a kazillion blogs. There are vegans who would be bloody delighted to help you and cook for you and cheer you on. Hell, I would not only help with cooking and finding vegan replacements for household stuff and some clothes (and the all important sex toys etc.), but I would do little dances of encouragement complete with cheerleader skirt and pompoms! So no, I don't think trying or "moving towards" is enough. If you think it's okay to kill animals, then say so. If you don't, then act like it. Would you respect someone who told you that they were "moving towards" being okay with homosexuals, but "occasionally" indulged in a few rounds of gay-bashing or homophobic slurs when it was just too hard to hold back or when they would feel left out because everyone around them was doing it? Or someone who was only racist on thanksgiving because of tradition?

Just to be clear, I respect ethical vegetarians as people (just as I respect Republicans or those who drive SUVs), but that doesn't mean that I agree with or will pretend to ignore their inability to act in line with their own stated morals. Just because something is legal and done by the majority of people, that does not make it morally okay. You can respect someone without condoning their behavior.

Much as I disagree with meat eaters, I find that I can handle them better than ethical vegetarians. At least there is some level of consistency in saying "I have no problem with killing" and then acting accordingly. While I find it terrifying that most people don't have a problem with killing, and that we have stunted our ability to empathize so fully that this is "normal", at least it is consistent. You can disagree with consistent. You can argue with consistent. You can at least see where consistent comes from and where it's going. Whereas when somebody tells me that they're an ethical vegetarian, all I can think is "that's an oxymoron". Either you lack information or you lack balls. I have enough for both of us, so tell me what you need, and if I can help, I will.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

stewing in afog

AFOG: another fucking opportunity for growth. And you know what they say. If you wanna grow, you should eat your veggies. This is warm and comforting and will make you reek of garlic. Good for those slightly blue, slightly misanthropic, vaguely antisocial evenings. Also useful if you anticipate any vampire encounters after dinner or if you're fighting off a cold.

Roast these: a whole head of garlic in cloves, half a large head (or a whole small head) of cauliflower, a pepper (I used yellow because it was what I have, but red would be prettier) an onion in large pieces, an eggplant in large pieces, a dozen or more whole cherry tomatoes, four or five sun-dried tomatoes cut into strips...I just chop them up with scissors. In this: enough water to reach halfway up the veg, a good swig of balsamic, a whole lemon worth of juice (you can throw in the peels as well if they're organic, and just pick them out when you're done roasting) oregano, thyme, mint, salt. This will make a stew with little blackened roasty bits where the veg poke up out of the liquid. When it's done, add more hot water (to cover the veg), some cooked white beans, chopped green olives and chopped capers. If the beans made things too cold, simmer. Stir. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Eat with crusty bread and a salad. Drink dark red wine and listen to soulful violin music if you're so inclined. I'm more of a Nick Cave and whiskey girl myself, but you get the idea.

That's the homey version. If you want to fancy it up for company, roast the veg in olive oil, the spices and balsamic first, then move the whole mess to the stove, deglaze with water and a touch of wine. Add the other stuff then bubble, bubble, toil and trouble for a few minutes. Squeeze in some lemon juice, garnish with parsley and toasted pine nuts and make the bread into garlic bread (because if your guests don't like garlic, they're screwed anyways, so you might as well just go with it). The homey and fancy versions are both damn good, but the homey one is ... homey-er, and less work, and way less futzy.

Use the leftovers for pasta sauce tomorrow.

Now kiddies, go eat a little something healthy before I hit you with several chocolate posts in rapid succession.

Music in afog: Cowboy Junkies, played real quiet.