Friday, October 28, 2005

annual fall fun secular gourd festival of the abundant non-pagan harvest

I'm pretty sure that's what the school district wants us to call it, otherwise it looks like we're giving preferential treatment to satanists and Iron Maiden. You know, separation of church and state and all. No to jack-o-lanterns, yes to confusing Judeo-Christian reactionary terms.

Oh, but that's not what I meant to say. I meant to apologize for the absence...The Surly Vegan headquarters is getting ready to move across town this weekend, so I've been a little busy. Not too busy to notice (gleefully) the unraveling of the current administration (is this legacy mode?). The White House recently picked a fight with the Onion regarding their use of the Presidential seal. The Onion, for their part, is doing the honorable thing and taking it all in stride. Enjoy.

And just to tie it all together somehow, pumpkin beer is vegan, but bad, and I'm not sure about candy corn, but it's once a year, so you should probably just live a little.

EDIT: I just learned that candy corn contains egg whites, and that makes the baby chickens cry. The adult chickens would cry, if they weren't veterans of the de-beaking machine. Uhm, that link isn't for the squeamish. That's why the squeamish avoid candy corn. Don't expect me to make any sense.

Friday, October 21, 2005

vegan cycling part two

Somebody asked me not long ago about vegan cycling, and all I had to offer was opinions. Now I can offer a website (not mine).

Note that the author is Canadian, and has already discussed thanksgiving, in case you were looking for ideas.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

When you really stop and think about it, blogs are idiotic.

It's true. I read somewhere that a new blog is created every second. I'm sure there are plenty of nice arguments about how empowering it is that the media is finally in the hands of the people et cetera et cetera, but to me, this information is alternately incredibly ridiculous and severely depressing.

At the same time, I'm something of a paradox, equal parts idealist and cynic. I suppose that's how I came to write this particular blog.

And so it isn't a secret that I believe very strongly in populist causes. I work at a public school, I am absolutely smitten with the idea of public libraries, I support public radio even though the fund drives make me want to kill someone, I'm a proud member of a natural foods co-op, and I frequent a local bike co-op.

[Hark, and hear tell of how good a person I am...]

The point of the above is not to be self-congratulatory, though I definitely understand how it looks. In fact, I wrote an itemized list because I feel that community is more important than just about anything else in life (and that breakdown of same is the cause of many social ills, muggings and the nightly smattering of gunshots I've been hearing lately among them), and that maybe public ownership of good and useful things is a way of building strong community.

I know that I would love it if post-high school education was free and available to all Americans, and don't even get me started on health care, but those seem lofty and impossible (for now) goals.

I wonder if there are other, smaller steps that could be acheived in the meantime, other ways to build community (and to figure out what that even means or looks like, aside from some bizarre and abstract lefty phrase). I don't have any more ideas, and that's frustrating for me, because I feel like everyday I'm forced to peer directly into what's wrong with society, and I'd like to be more actively involved in figuring out how to do things right.

My wife rightly points out that we are in a stage of our lives (mid-college) in which it is easy to feel frustrated by these things, because we want so badly to be agents of change but first need to get to a place where we're able to do anything about anything, i.e. become degree-holders.*

I want to ask for ideas from you all (are you out there?) about ways to effect change in society and the world. The cynic in me wants to point out a couple of things, however: I live in Minneapolis, which is home to many well-intentioned hippy wingnuts. Often their causes look nice on paper but aren't necessarily practical. Either they only serve a very small community (who often share the same pale pigment) and are therefore not very comprehensive, or they are of the aforementioned lofty and impossible variety.

I should also mention that I'm not interested in joining groups like Acorn or PIRG. I want community, movements that don't involve canvasing. It probably sounds like I want it all but don't want to do anything, and maybe that's true - I certainly don't have much to offer in the way of time and money. Maybe what i want more than anything is to be encouraged. Can you do that for me?

*The degree-holder bit is based on the personal goals we've set for ourselves, not on what would certainly be a misguided belief that only degree-holders can do any good.
UNRELATED NEWS: someday i will make a clock out of an avocado (not sure how yet) and call it Clockamole and become very wealthy.

FURTHER UNRELATED NEWS: number of house majority leaders embroiled in scandal...
Bush Administration: 2
The Surly Vegan: 0

i am a very humorous individual.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Omnivores, how's about we leave each other alone?

Today a woman I work with inquired about my veganism. Her inquiry was then followed by her asking if my wife is vegan (she is). She then went on to ask what we're going to do, you know, for milk, when we have kids.

"You mean breastmilk?" You never know how dumb people might really be. You just don't.

Turns out she meant when they're little, what will we do to insure they get what they need, to quote Dead Prez, their "vitamins and minaroos."

This was after I explained that I would try to strike a balance between giving a child a choice while still engaging in the unavoidable parental task of imposing my own morality upon said child. (That sounds horrible, I know, but every parent must do it, and no one - save for the insane - complain about parents imposing their opposition to racism upon their children, so why shouldn't I impose my opposition to dairy?)

So I delicately explained my knowledge of nutrition, how calcium is most easily absorbed by the body when it is not accompanied by animal protein, how I try to be very low-key about my veganism (uh, I didn't mention the blog) for fear of coming off like so many self-righteous vegan fucks tend to.

"You know, you catch more bees with honey and all that, or however it goes."

But damn, by then, my lunch break had been ruined. And why is it that I have to be the adult, the one who acts with civility? She gets to ask me all sorts of questions that are none of her business, laced with her own judgements about my decisions, and I sit politely and explain myself, when all I really wanted to do was say something like this:

"Look, bitch, your fat, conservative, 'racisim-doesn't-exist'-saying ass would do well to get back into college, as you sure as hell don't know how to teach and maybe you'd be able to catch a nutrition class or two, or, shit, I don't know, be forced to be surrounded by ideas different than the dusty, antiquated ones you've managed to cram into your misinformed skull. And while you're at it, leave me alone!"

Now all that remains is to accidentally forget to erase the signature in my e-mail, the one that advertises this blog, when sending something to the entire staff at school, and be summarily canned, or, for those in the know, dooced.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Just another Sandwich Sunday

I may as well be a cartoon character. While my love for the sandwich rivals that of Dagwood Bumstead, Homer Simpson, or that guy from G.I. Joe, the fact remains that I will never taste a porkchop sandwich.

But that didn't stop me from eating a sandwich for every meal today. And godammit, it was a good time.

Disclaimer: I've talked shit on this blog about the Seward Cafe. That shit talking stands. Since writing my scathing critique, I made the prophesied return trip, ordered something with soy cheese, only to be told that they were out of soy cheese. This place is right next door to a co-op. We're talking 100 feet tops door to door. These motherfuckers couldn't pony up and go get me some damn soy cheese for my food, and weren't about to offer me my money back (soy cheese is extra) so the incendiary remarks continue. Why do I bring this up? Because, in an ironic move, two of the three sandwiches eaten today are Seward Cafe menu items. I made them all at home. (I did get my dollar back, thanks for asking).

tofu mock muffins...what you do is you take some tofu, and if you got time, you press it. If you don't, you skip that, slice it thin and marinate it in some tamari, soy sauce, or, if you're like me, some Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Then you take some Gimme Lean (sausage style), make yourself a little patty there, and fry 'em both up. Toast an english muffin, grab some sprouts, some nutritional yeast, some ketchup and mustard, throw it all together and enjoy. I ate two of these bad boys this morning and thought I was going to die, or, at the very least, slip into a coma.

Lunch was very basic. We used Tofurky deli slices, hickory roast flavor. I'm a pretty big fan of just about every flavor I've tried. I love these things. Add to that a brandywine tomato from the back yard, more sprouts, some cucumber, Vegenaise, mustard and salt and pepper, and I was set.

Another Seward Cafe concoction, the Tofu Pesto Sandwich. I got to use the new griddle on this one, the kind that leaves sear marks on the tofu. About that tofu, it was pressed and marinated again, this time in both Braggs and some teriyaki marinade I found in the refrigerator. I also grilled up some mushrooms and onions, which I splashed with some Chablis and a little salt and pepper, and my wife had the idea of brushing the tofu with a little bit of the pesto to give it some flavor. When everything was pretty well cooked I toasted some bread, threw on some Vegenaise, lots more pesto, and the rest of that brandywine. This was a great sandwich, but if I had it to do over again I would slice the tofu in half as it was a bit too thick.

My wife wants me to lie to you and say that we enjoyed some (non-dairy) ice cream sandwiches after dinner, and we really did mean to do so, but we didn't have any, and forgot to go get some. Creative non-fiction makes me want to kill somebody, and since I already feel a bit guilty that a few poor saps from as far away as Norway, Buenos Aires, and Kuala Lumpur have unwittingly stumbled upon this site, I'd hate to compound that guilt by pulling the wool over your eyes (or whatever the acceptable vegan figure of speech would be). We had no dessert, and really, there wasn't any room.

But my wife did have this to say, shortly before calling me an "asshole writer," saying that no one would ever want to hang out with me for fear of appearing in my writing:

"This is your chance to change our reality for the better. It's like you're one of those guys who gets to rewrite a history book and leave out the Civil War and stuff."

Civil what?

Sunday, October 09, 2005


You've probably heard about the earthquake in Pakistan by seems we're living in a world in which it is getting more and more difficult to keep up with catastrophic events; I'm not sure if this is because they are occurring with a greater frequency or because we have so much media available to us. Either way, the fact remains that I am sitting around writing a blog, and, theoretically, you are sitting around reading one. These are luxuries, even if the blog is lousy, and those of us who can afford luxuries have a responsibility to help out those who are struggling for life's most basic needs.

Please, if you're able, consider giving to one of my favorite charities:


Take some time to peruse their site and see some of the great work they're doing around the world.



Public radio nerds: Did you hear that lost Monk/Coltrane concert tonight? I'm listening to it right now. Hot damn. They keep making allusions to one of my favorites, "'Round Midnight"; I wonder if they're actually going to play it.

The Surly Vegan's Famous Black Bean Soup

We made a batch of this the other night, and it's perfect for the cooler autumn weather. It goes well with a glass of whiskey or a pot of French Press coffee.

3 cups cooked black beans, in their juice (you can also use canned if you prefer)
4-5 small potatoes, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 -1/2 cup frozen corn, more if you like
1/4 cup vegetable broth (vegan bouillon works well also)
2/3 tbsp hot sauce, preferably something smoky, like chipotle*
4 tbsp soymilk
1-2 tbsp soy margarine
1 small handful cilantro, chopped (more or less to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

*the other night we soaked a dried chipotle in hot water for a while and threw the whole deal in the soup, water and all, and it ws great.

Bring beans to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add potatoes, vegetable broth, garlic, hot sauce, soy milk and margarine. Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning (zing!). When potatoes seem partially softened, add onions and corn. Keep stirring, cooking until corn is hot and onions are desired tenderness. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot, preferably with saltines. Enjoy.

[EDIT 10.17.05 - Please note that it's 3 cups cooked black beans. I'm not sure how many dry ones that means you have to start with, but using canned works fine as well, or maybe you are going to use black beans for another recipe, or maybe you know how that reverse conversion works? At any rate, don't start with 3 cups of dried black beans, because I don't have the slightest idea how many cooked beans you'll end up with if you do. Also, I increased the number of potatoes from 2-3 to 4-5, so, you know, if you wrote this shit down already, uh, be advised.]

This is pretty much the first recipe I ever created and wrote down, and to date it's the only such recipe. It's not rocket science, obviously, so feel free to tweak it at will. What's great about it is that most of the ingredients go in at once, so when you're doing your prep you can just throw everything into the same bowl or pile or whatever. The soy milk and margarine and bean water combine to create this great creaminess, which balances nicely with the smokiness of the hot sauce.

Let me know how it works out.

Also, if you've got some of your own recipes to share with the world, send them my way, won't you? I'll be sure to credit your grandma or uncle or whomever, and I'm pretty good at keeping my snide comments to a minimum.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

hey, how about those recipes?

I have to admit, it's kind of a pain to transcribe recipes from a cookbook on to a blog.

But then I've come to learn that veganism requires doing things a little differently, at times, a little more old-fashioned perhaps, and sometimes I think vegans spend more time in the kitchen than a lot of our omnivorous counterparts, simply out of necessity.

So what about you? Are you spending time in the kitchen? Have you tried any of these recipes? I only ask because it's starting to get a little frigid out there and I'm trying to figure out whether or not you can handle my homemade black bean soup recipe.

I bet you're up to it. Sometimes, in the spririt of the old Soy not Oi! cookbook, all you need is a good soundtrack. Well, let me recommend the Hold Steady's debut album, ...Almost Killed Me. Once you hear the writing on that shit you'll wonder why you ever wasted your time reading my drivel. Here's a nugget: "half the crowd's callin' out for "Born to Run" the other half's callin' out for "Born to Lose"/maybe we were born to choose/we got the last call bar band really really really big decision blues/we were born to bruise/we were born to bruise"

Maybe it's not your cup of tea, but it does it for me every time, and the comparisons to the Boss are right on target. You should really look at that photo, too. Do you think that if Bruce Springsteen dies and they make a movie of his life, he'll be played by Ralph Macchio?

temptation! temptation! temptation!

temptation! hands down, no shit, the best vegan ice cream on the market. i say this with full confidence having only tried one flavor (chocolate chip cookie dough) yesterday.

buoyed by this revelation, and the recent discovery of vegan omelettes, i harbor a renewed faith in the advent one day of a vegan cottage cheese. what an odd thing to want so badly; weirder still are the multiple nautical references in that last sentence. do sailors eat a lot of cottage cheese? i wouldn't know, i grew up in the midwest.