Thursday, January 26, 2006

egad, i think we might actually be getting somewhere.


i didnt mean to imply that your blog was your only contribution to the world. its just the forum in which this debate is taking place.

now that thats out of the way i feel you totally skirted the issue. because had you simply answered the hypothetical situation you would had to have said that you would use direct action possibly even violence. you failed to acknowledge that in certain cases you would indeed physically intervene. it would just take an extreme circumstance involving other humans or your own family. which goes for every single person i have ever met. i have yet to find a person who said they would not intervene if a loved one especially a child were being subjected to violence. but you may say i would simply call the police. that wouldnt be ok either using sn principles because you would just be advocating another individual do your violence for you.

in choosing my hypothetical situation i simply changed fur bearing animals to babies. it definitely sounds more gruesome to most to say human babies but its a very real situation on fur farms all over the world.

your charge that direct action creates more of a problem by actually expanding the offending operation rings hollow. you used the two elk lodge in vail as an example. hers your link you were looking for

they have rebuilt the building slightly larger but the expansion wasnt larger.

this one action isnt an all encompassing example of the failures of direct action as a tactic. its much much easier to find many examples of businesses that have been closed down, fur farms forced out of business and research projects halted because of direct action. the same cant be said of those following gene sharps tactics. i have yet to read of any real success in animal rights from the proponents of sn since it has been tried for the past 8 years. the greatest thing has been a handful of chicken liberations that were great for the chickens liberated but totally ineffective against the battery cage industry because it was so easily ignored by the farm. had the sn campaign been effective why is not still ongoing? it certainly didnt close any farms. the conditions at the targeted michael foods arent any better. its been five years! i think its time to move on to other proven effective tactics like those utilized by s.h.a.c. do you feel their campaign is failing? they certainly arent swept under the rug by hls like crystal farms did to ca4a.

i appreciate this debate. its fun. even if i did start it being really confrontational.

on another note the millenium restaurant is hands down the best there is. for those who have a chance to go there and cant afford much then skip the meal and order dessert. theirs are the best anywhere. the food is indescribably fantastic.


i'm not sure how it is that i skirted the issue; rather i think that i expanded it to include my point or platform or whatever, one that you have further explained in this last round that you disagree with; not sure where that leaves us...agreeing to disagree?

i will say this, however. initially i drew parallels to martin luther king; he was influenced highly by gandhi, and while both men might have had some minor skirt-chasing issues, their movements were incredibly successful and a testament to the efficacy of nonviolence. conversely, i've no doubt that violent direct action can make similar claims of success (you do above, and to be honest, i'm not familiar with those cases and so i'll withhold comment). ultimately, then, i think it comes down to personal choice.

minor point one: as a somewhat recent victim of some random-ass violence (cited elsewhere in this blog, see last september), i understand the impulse towards same. i was attacked and mugged down the street from my house and it was all i could do to keep myself from getting in the car and running down my attackers. ultimately i had to look at the larger picture; i work with kids very much like the ones who attacked me, and if i were to do violence to my attackers, i may as well do violence to every student i work with, robbing them and myself of the very reason i'm working there in the first place. not a direct parallel to animal rights, i understand, but an illustration of how our well-intentioned and easily justified actions can often have far-reaching consequences that we have to squint to see.

minor point two: while i agree that an infant is a cat is a chicken, i also understand that many people aren't there with me, and if i want them someday to be my ally, the best thing i can do is to not engage in something they're likely to call terrorism.

minor point three: should we just agree, then, that all that combustion and paint and whatnot is bad for the environment?

minor point four/subject changer one: i've often wondered how much thought goes into the aftercare of animals that are "liberated" from their situations. seems like i here a lot of stories about very dependent animals wandering confusedly about cityscapes after being freed, and i wonder if this can truly be looked at as a positive outcome. i also understand the phenomena of urban myth and media spin, so i really am asking with a certain degree of sincerity.


i didn't make it to milennium when i was in san fransisco, probably because i didn't know it existed. i'll have to go back one of these days, and hope to maybe live in southern california (it's really much better than it's reputation) in the next few years.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

further discourse regarding direct action, etc.


i'm not sure that you can say with any degree of confidence that "EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabotage." i'm constantly re-evaluating my own position on this issue, and i imagine i'm not the only one."

yes i can. what i cant say with confidence is that everyone will support it in all instances. there is difference between saying that you would like to always choose nonviolence and saying that you absolutely 100% are against direct action. what it really boils down to is that you just dont feel as strongly about animal rights as you do human rights. heres proof. hypothetical of course. imagine that you are at home blogging away and you read your neighbors blog that he has a lot of human infants and toddlers locked up in his basement. every few months he takes the older ones and brings them out back and sticks electric probes in their anuses to electrocute them. you are of course dismayed at this so you peek over his fence to see for yourself. sure enough its actually happening. being that you want to be strategically nonviolent about it for some reason, you begin to tell others about it. after quite a bit of time some people are sympathetic to you while others dont want to listen to you. (sound familiar?) but really nothing has happened to stop the horrible man from doing his awful deed. he doesnt care if you say please. so next he ends up coming into your home and doing the same to your family. how many times would you ask him nicely and respectfully strategically nonviolently before you try to physically stop him? of course you couldnt ever try to stop him any other way besides saying please because that would be direct action and you want to distance yourself from supporting direct action or violence. but you wouldnt actually do that would you?

the problem with sn people is that they always use the argument that direct action distances social justice movements from widespread social support. although i have yet to find one scientific study to back up this claim. societies as a whole are violent. like it or not. another problem with the sn mindset is failing to seriously look at successful liberation movements throughout history. they all were won using a variety of tactics in combination. with violence being at the forefront. i think that the reasons that sn people think they are being more effective is that they never really encounter any serious opposition. in my experience sn by itself is really ineffective. if it were really more effective then caa surely would have made more progress than s.o.a.r. by now wouldnt it have?


first of all, it should be mentioned that caa is compassionate action for animals, and s.o.a.r. is the student organization for animal rights. both are based in minneapolis, though it appears as though ca(4)a also has something going on in richmond, virginia, and i believe that there are s.o.a.r. chapters or groups at different college campuses across the country, although the degree to which they are affiliated is something i'm not sure about.

full disclosure: as i'm a full-time student and full-time worker bee, i am not a member of these (or any other) groups. i did attend a handful of s.o.a.r. meetings about nine years ago and attended one or two actions that they organized.

none of that is really relevant.

i attempted to clarify last time around that this blog was really created as kind of a fun outlet, and so far it has been that, but i take issue with the implication that i view blogging as my contribution to the world or the full extent of my politics in action. that seems to be a recurring theme in this discussion, and again, as you somehow stumbled across this blog and took the time to comment on it, i'm afraid we're going to have to walk down the road to dorkville together.

having gotten the housekeeping out of the way, i'd like to talk about another accusation, this one is that i don't feel as strongly about animal rights as i do about human rights, followed by a hypothetical example as an offering of proof. while i'm increasingly certain that jeremy and i used to know each other, i'm quite sure that we don't know each other well enough to be making such statements about each other's moral ideologies. i don't believe i've said anything here that should indicate a preference for humans, and in fact have offered evidence to the contrary. as such, i'm not sure that it's necessary for me to address the electric-baby-anus scenario.

i will, however, because i think there is a problem with hypothetical scenarios. the problem is that they tend to be narrow oversimplifications with awkward parallels. i could just as easily say this:

imagine that i'm the baby-killing neighbor. imagine further that some well-intentioned citizen takes it upon him- or herself to liberate some babies from my basement while i'm out buying new electric probes. i come home to a bunch of empty bassinets and i'm furious, as this has really cut into my baby-killing operation (i really don't mean for this argument to sound as much like an abortion debate as its starting to). now imagine me on the phone to my cousin in cleveland, explaining how we've taken a hit and need to aggressively expand our operations.

that's my point, that's the documented evidence with the situation in Vail (i really need to find that link), and that's what continues to happen in the factory-farming industry. i don't pretend not to be frustrated with the molasses-esque pace of social change, but i also understand that if things are going to change, we should at least make sure we're moving in the right direction.

points that remain unadressed include the hypocrisy of the use of aerosol paint, plastic milk jugs, and the combustion of construction materials, because to me, that's the larger issue: destroying the environment/animals to save them. it just doesn't make sense to me.

finally, i'm not sure how well you understand strategic nonviolence outside of the rhetoric and debate in the local animal rights circles, but you might want to check out writings on the subject by Howard Zinn and/or Eugene Sharp. People often misunderstand just how involved the strategizing can actually be, and while i don't want to presume or sound patronizing, your "tone" (i understand we're on the internet) sounded as though you may be in this camp as well.

i'd also like to encourage other voices to join the discussion.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

ALF/ELF controversy, part two

this is interesting to say the least. mostly i just wanted to create a space where people could get on-line and find out what the deal was with different restaurants from a vegan perspective. that's why i started the blog. it was actually going to be a zine my wife and i were going to start when we lived in chicago, but it never really happened. then when it did start as a blog, i thought maybe people were tired of restaurant reviews and so i started putting up other things, like recipes and weird vegan tidbits (not to be confused with tofu tidbits). then, the other day, when i saw on CNN something about how vegans and vegetarians who agree with the aims of the ALF can consider themselves members, i figured it was time for a little cover-your-ass excercise. see, i understand the current political climate in this country, i read the crucible, i saw goodnight and good luck, and the last thing i need is someone seizing my computer the night before the big paper is due, right?

well, what i didn't count on was jeremy, who i hope won't be offended if i refer to him as an ALF sympathizer. he's giving me a run for my money in the comments section, and has engaged me in what i think is an important conversation (even if we did get off to a rough start) regarding tactics. it's a conversation as old as MLK and Malcolm X, i suppose, but the issues have changed (because, you know, racism is over, right?) and so must the discourse.

there's a chance i know jeremy, if he lives in minneapolis (or ever did), but i worry that if i ask too many questions i'm going to look a little bit like the law, so we'll have to just leave it at that. here's what he has to say:

"big deal so my puctuation wasnt spot on. it doesnt change the base of my argument argument. the point if actions fromt the a.l.f. or e.l.f. should be to stop whatever harm is being done. second is to cause economic damage. corporations and even countries stop what they are doing when they suffer enough economic or physical damage. not from asking them nicely. EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabatoge. the only points at which opinions differ are the situations in which to utilze them. just for the sake of argument lets change the beings at question.
if tomorrow brown eyed children were suddenly placed in the very exact same situations as animals are
in laboratories, who would stand outside and ask nicely for them to stop hurting the poor little children? are you going to advocate spending the next several decades leafleating and blogging about it and distancing yourself from someone who said enough is enough and broke in to rescue the children? who would not call the rescuers heroes? anyone who said otherwise would probably get a much deserved ass kicking. the only reason more people dont support the a.l.f. and the e.l.f. is because they dont deem the causes worthy enough. not because they disagree with the tactics. right wing morons everywhere justify economic sabatoge and direct action and even go further to advocate murder to "liberate" people in afghanistan and iraq. but are against using the exact same tactis sans the murder used by the a.l.f. and e.l.f. because of the beings being liberated arent human.

one more thing...while you didnt actually say yes these people are guilty of said did say.. "They did, however, use plastic milk jugs to burn down other factories and developments, such as the one in Vail" which is libel and the same thing as calling them guilty."

here's me:

i understand that the ALF/ELF aim to stop whatever damage is being done. my point is that if in doing so, more damage is caused, perhaps theirs is too narrow of a perspective and needs to be reassessed. i make no apologies for the developers/factory farmers, strictly the methodology as it relates to animals/the environment.

i'm not sure that you can say with any degree of confidence that "EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabotage." i'm constantly re-evaluating my own position on this issue, and i imagine i'm not the only one.

now, i have brown eyes, but if you read elsewhere in this blog you'll discover that i'm not shy about putting humans and animals on the same level. there was a discussion not long ago about whether it is morally sound to defend oneself against a bear if your life is threatened, and i suggested that it makes as much sense logically to lay one's life down for the sake of the bear. it's on here somewhere, i promise, and i apologize that i don't have time to find the link. my point is, if we're talking about whether or not i'm an idiot for taking the position that i did, it had nothing to do with not understanding the severity of animal suffering, or needing to put a "human" face on it. again, i worry that when we become too "radical" (two words i never would have imagine myself placing next to each other) we alienate the people we would ultimately like to have as allies, and in so doing, harm more animals.

i do not nor have i ever supported this or any war, just for the record, and have put my time in marching against them, and i am certainly not right wing, in case that needed to be cleared up.

finally, as to the libel charge, the pronoun "they" in my statement which you quoted above was not in reference, necessarily, to those named by the authorities, but to whomever committed the acts of sabotage. i don't think there should be any dispute about whether or not plastic milk jugs were used, and as someone had to use them, i felt safe in using the pronoun "they" to refer to those someones, whomever they are. that's all i meant. sorry that wasn't more clear.

i mentioned mlk and malcolm x at the outset; as for myself, i'll always advocate for nonviolence (and i can already hear the arguments about whether or not arson should be considered violence), but i will also say that nonviolence needs to be strategic, thoughtful, and comprehensive, and unfortunately rarely is, which is why i suppose direct action is so attractive. i think this is a topic worth exploring further.

Monday, January 23, 2006

i never said i wasn't an idiot.

from the comments section:

"youre an you want to know why of course you do. first off you are making the assumption that the people arrested are guilty of the things they are charged with. what the hell do you know. the one thing all the arrestees have in common is that they were named by paid fbi informants. the very same informants that admitted to the arsons they are accusing the recently arrested of. does this make them guilty? of course not. the last time a similar situation happened the infformants went to prison and those they "snitched" on were found not guilty in a trial. doesnt mean that will happen in this case but it very well may.

the other reason you are an idiot is this. if you were an animal in a lab, slaughterhouse, fur farm or other horrible place who would be your hero? the a.l.f. activist or some moron with a blog sitting around doing nothing?"

just when i'd been lamenting the lack of traffic to the comments section, too. where to start?

one: punctuation, punctuation, punctuation. Suggested reading: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

two: i don't believe i ever said that i thought the people arrested were guilty. as a matter of fact, i was very up front about my aim in writing the post: to distance myself from the ALF.

three: anyone who knows me should also know that i'd be the last person to jump on the FBI's team. of course they use paid informants, of course the justice system is corrupt. you'll never catch me defending them. you lost me on the whole thing about whether the informants were the ones who committed the crimes, but i do understand that snitches get stitches and all of that.

four: that doesn't mean, however, that the people who committed those acts, in the name of the ALF and ELF (which are the people i was originally talking about) get off the moral hook just because the FBI is fucked up.

five: let me quote you one more time -- "the other reason you are an idiot is this. if you were an animal in a lab, slaughterhouse, fur farm or other horrible place who would be your hero? the a.l.f. activist or some moron with a blog sitting around doing nothing?"

see, you're missing the point. it isn't about one animal sitting in a lab. sure, to that animal it is, but what if in liberating that animal you do more environmental damage and actually cause more animal abuse than you prevented? direct action is like a mosquito buzzing in the ear of the industry when what is really needed is comprehensive change. that is what the ALF and the ELF are missing.

six: shit, i don't pretend to be anything but a moron with a blog. that doesn't mean i'm not doing anything, nor does your challenge mean that i need to prove myself. of course, if we're honest, you're someone surfing blogs and responding anonymously, so if i'm an idiot, i wonder how that refledts on you.

now go bake that lemon rosemary tofu. it's good stuff.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

distancing myself from the animal liberation front

Not sure if anyone saw the news yesterday, but some people from both the animal and earth liberation fronts, eleven of them to be exact, were fingered by authorities yesterday (in the most non-sexy sense of that verb) for a string of ecoterrorist attacks over many years and five western states.

As those wingnuts are working towards a murky notion of animal rights, and I profess to be doing the same, I thought it only prudent to note that I have never claimed affiliation with the aforementioned groups. What's more, I wish they would go away. Do you want to know why?

Sure you do. Anyone who's ever watched CNN knows about how they must be getting kickbacks from the ADHD drug manufacturers, given the constant barrage of split-screen images and ticker-tape news updates. Images played in a loop yesterday during this breaking story included a shot of a parking lot wherein the cars had been sprayed with "polluter" and "i [heart] pollution" and my personal favorite, "killer".

There was no word as to whether this group, known as "the Family" (but not the long-shirt cult variety), staged actions at any aerosol paint factories.

They did, however, use plastic milk jugs to burn down other factories and developments, such as the one in Vail, which I read somewhere (and I can't remember where, so I apologize for not being able to link to this to verify it) was rebuilt even bigger than the original blueprints called for. Apparently the developers figured that if it was a pissing contest the environmentalists wanted, they were up to the challenge, and so the end result was that the environment was even more screwed over than it would have been, sans Family. Way to go.

Not to mention the enviromental damage/air pollution caused by all of that combustion, especially combustion of so many man-made materials.

As it is, Colorado is struggling with a real greenhouse gas problem, partly due to the mountainous terrain, partly due to human interference. For further elucidation on this, check out this PBS special hosted by everyone's favorite Canadian, Alanis Morisette.

Now, that doesn't mean that I believe that the authorites make any sense when they say that ecoterrorism is their number one priority when it comes to fighting domestic terrorism, as these people haven't killed anyone, and, uhm, I don't know, plenty of other hate groups, street gangs, etc. have, but just because the law has its head up its ass doesn't mean that the green anarchists and company don't.

When I first became vegan it seemed like all the vegans that I knew in this town were of the nutty animal liberation type, and a few of those have purportedly gone down the E.L.F. path, and one of those told me on September 11th (when he came in to eat the leftovers at a restaurant I was working at back then) that "this is a great day in American history", proving what a fucking idiot he is/was. So next time you're at a rally, fist in the air, chanting "free all political prisoners!", be sure to say "except for that dipshit I read about on the Surly Vegan" under your breath. (Surprisingly, his name wasn't mentioned among the eleven, nor were any others that I recognized.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

restorative justice in the animal world

Us humans could learn a thing or two from these guys.

Be sure to note the "See also" box on the left of the page for further examples.

Monday, January 16, 2006

bourgeoise, vegan style

I'm spending my morning planning a fancy meal from a cookbook called The Artful Vegan: Fresh Flavors from the Milennium Restaurant (a place in San Francisco I've never been to - have you?) by Eric Tucker with Bruce Enloe and desserts by Amy Pearce. This is easily the most challenging cookbook I've ever attempted to use; I routinely find ingredients listed that I've never heard of or don't know where to find, and I consider myself fairly cultured and food-knowledgeable. This cookbook is straight gourmet, and I'm thankful for it, I just wish I didn't have to plan on Monday for a meal that I might not have until next weekend.

Actually, it's a whole lot of fun to plan for an ultra-fancy meal. I just hope I don't blow it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

tofu is not the enemy

My mom called me tonight to report that she and my dad had eaten taco salad for dinner. Her mental health is typically in top notch condition, so I was a bit confused about why she might have felt the need to call and report her menu to me. There was pregnancy in her tone, however, as if there was more to tell but her excitement had prevented her from delivering it all in one bundle. As it turned out, she had crumbled up some veggie burgers in lieu of ground beef and passed the whole shebang off onto my dad without saying a word. She happily reported that my dad had devoured the meal without complaint.

"...And last night we had tofu in a stir-fry."

Of course it makes me happy that my parents are considering meatless alternatives in their meals, but tofu can be tricky.

"Was it kind of squishy and weird?"

It was. I really think that tofu should come with instructions, because I'm sure my parents ate their stir-fry, weird tofu and all, knowing full well that it wasn't that good but thinking that maybe this was how tofu is supposed to be. We've all been there, but these are avoidable tragedies.

In keeping with my New Year's resolution, I've decided to list a few tofu recipes. I tend to prefer tofu to its cousin, tempeh, and prepared properly it can be one of my favorite things to eat. [my comments appear in brackets.]

(this recipe courtesy of The Angelica Home Kitchen by Leslie McEachern)

YIELD: 4 Servings
COOKING TIME: 40 to 50 minutes

This is the version used for our famous Tofu Sandwich with Roasted Vegetables and Basil-Walnut Pesto (see page 163). We love the combination of lemon and rosemary. The balsamic vinegar lends a pleasant sweetness to this marinade, which has an amazingly rich flavor and very low fat.

To prepare the tofu for baking, we press it for 20 minutes to firm it up by extracting excess water [this is always a good idea when working with tofu]. Normally, you would buy it in the store firm and cook it as is [hogwash]. But if you like it even firmer and chewier, try taking the extra step of pressing it between two plates with a quart container of liquid on top [or whatever's handy] to weigh it down, discarding the water that's squeezed out. For sandwiches, we omit the pressing and the tofu remains softer [yuck].

Serving suggestions: Cut baked tofu into cubes and toss into a salad [I can't even begin to tell you how good this is] or serve with noodles in Dashi broth (see page 129), garnished with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

[We usually do two blocks of tofu at a time as goes very quickly; also, we've found that it's good to half the marinade again, so that we end up using 1.5 times the amount of marinade listed below per block of tofu. Trust me.]

1 pound firm tofu, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
* Slice the tofu into thirds horizontally.
* Stack the slices and cut them crosswise to make 12 triangles.
*Place the tofu in a single layer baking dish.
* In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients for the marinade.
* Pour the marinade over the tofu
* Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the tofu is nicely browned and the marinade has been absorbed."

It is to my great shame that it took me nearly ten years of vegetarianism to realize that one could bread and fry tofu in the same manner that one breads and fries chicken with comparable yumminess. In my defense, I've never fried a chicken, so I suppose it makes sense that I would be ignorant on the matter. At about the same time that I had been wondering about this, I bought a wok and a cookbook in my favorite Chicago Chinatown shop - a cookware store that doubles as a hardware store. The cookbook is called Tofu! Tofu! Tofu! Chinese Style and was put together by the Wei Chuan cooking school. What follows is the secret to restaurant-style tofu, and as the only recipe I use in the whole cookbook, it was well worth the $5.95 I paid for it:

"Deep-fried Tofu

1/2 lb. (225g) tofu
4 T. cornstarch or flour
oil for deep-frying

1 Pat tofu dry, cut into 12 pieces then evenly coat with cornstarch [or flour].
2 Heat oil, add tofu and deep-fry over high heat 4 minutes [or] until both sides are golden brown [this usually takes longer than 4 minutes]. Remove."

I cut this recipe short, as it includes some dipping sauce recipes that I've never tried and which don't sound that good to me. I think this recipe is best for preparing tofu to be used in other recipes, such as my mom's stir-fry, or a curry, or whatever. The trick is to add the tofu last when making such a dish, otherwise it has a tendency to become kind of soggy and gross. I've found this one out the hard way.

Finally, I give you the tofu spanish omelette. Two caveats: one) there are many other things that can be done with tofu, this is just to get you started. two) this is not an omelette. anyone looking for a real honest to God no shit vegan omelette should travel to Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California. This is more of a scramble, and it comes to us courtesy of
Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson:

"Spanish Tofu 'Omelet'

In this vegan version of a Spanish omelet, tofu stands in for the eggs, while the tangy tomato salsa adds flavor and saves chopping time [the premise, I suppose, is that you don't want to have to work very hard for your breakfast]. I prefer the salsa on top of the 'omelet' rather than use it as a filling [which would be damn near impossible].

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, mined
One sixteen-ounce package firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh tomato Salsa (page 174) or your favorite salsa [or whatever your hungover ass reaches for]

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tofu, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to blend the seasonings into the tofu. Cook until heated through and all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

2. Divide the tofu mixture among 4 individual plates, top each with a spoonful of the salsa, and serve hot [step two is very complicated].

Serves 4"

My wife reminded me of a great tofu lasagna recipe, so let this serve as a teaser. These ought to get you started, and then when you're feeling more adventurous you can try to tackle the lasagna. When I feel more awake, I'll transcribe it.


We bought a microwave today. We haven't had one for years, but more and more our fears seemed unfounded and Art Bell-ish. It seems like a significant shift in the running of our kitchen, so I guess that's why I felt moved to share it. My mom had taco salad for dinner tonight. Did I mention I'm tired? Anyway, this one's for my parents.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Recipe...for cuteness

In perhaps one of the most striking examples of human kindness to our animal friends, I give you penguins wearing sweaters. I think this is fairly old news, and the program is over right now (as there haven't been any recent oil spills in the region, thankfully), but I was so enamored with the whole thing that I had to share it. It kind of makes me wish for some kind of environmental condition that would require raccoons to wear Sherlock Holmes outfits.

Penguins aren't the only aquatic animal making news, however. Again, pardon me if you've already heard about this, but it seems increasingly clear that the octopus (plural: octopii) is staging its takeover of planet earth. First order of business? Walking bipedally. Spend some time at this link to learn all about it and to watch the different videos they have up. I'm not saying that I believe in Nessy (although I'm fairly sure that my wife does), but I think there is much about the deep that we've yet to discover.

So, this has much more to do with cuteness and animal welfare than it does with veganism, but I think that not eating things because they are cute is as good a reason as any. My dad hates those little corn cobs that come with certain Chinese dishes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

would a little more miscellany be okay?

1) I saw Brokeback Mountain for a second time, and while it was still a beautiful movie and story, I wondered this time around about the animals. There is a scene in which one of the gentleman (Heath Ledger, I believe) is dragging a sheep, which is none too cool. I suppose it fits nicely into the historical model wherein one oppressed group unbound becomes the oppressor to another.

2) Apparently, no one from Chicago reads this blog, as I haven't received any lists of favorite Chicago haunts for vegans. Or maybe my list was just so perfect that no input was needed. That could be, as I hit just about every place on there, with the exception of Mr. Salsa and Andie's. Also, to my great disappointment, Merz Apothecary was closed the day I tried to go there. They've always been pretty nice about helping me find vegan hygiene items. I suppose I should be happy that they were able to take a holiday.

2.5) I had every intention of making business cards for the blog to leave in restaurants and different places while traveling, but didn't get to it. Is anyone out there a graphic designer?

2.75) It was brought to my attention this weekend that while Minneapolis is all about the mock duck, Chicago is all about the seitan. What, in your opinion, is the proper pronunciation of this last word?

3) I bought some Earth Shoes a couple of weeks ago. Not only are they vegan, but they are comfortable and stylish. I'm pretty sure my flat feet are still somewhat fucked, but these shoes have been an improvement all the same. (Not all Earth Shoes are vegan, but they do make a handful of vegan designs and seem fairly excited about it).

I'm pretty sure that's all.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

now with resolve

Okay, hangovers are subsiding with each sip of herbal tea, right? Happy New Year, and welcome to 2006. I hope your celebration was a good one. As for me, I enjoyed good company and a comfortable couch in one of my favorite towns and got drunk while watching VH1's "I love the eighties." It was just what I needed.

But I got to thinking, maybe a New Year's resolution is in order. When I first became vegan, I was helped along by cookzines like Soy Not Oi! and Ahimsa (Spectacle 3.5), and I am still very grateful for both of them even if I no longer use them. To that end, please receive my promise that, in 2006, the Surly Vegan will contain many more recipes than previously. It seems that there are some in our audience who are trying to do their best to reconcile their diet to their ethics, and maybe some dinner ideas will help out in that difficult task. Maybe not, but at least you'll eat well.

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(adapted from Edward Espe Brown's bizarro Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, a cookbook I've had for a long time but never had occasion to use until now)

3 1/2 cups soy milk
4 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
4 tablespoons flour
salt and black pepper

Start the soy milk heating. Melt the buttery sticks in a saucepan, and stir in the flour to make a "roux" (this is the first thing I was ever taught to do in the kitchen, by the way). Cook for several minutes over moderate heat, taking care not to let the flour brown. Remove from the heat and wait for the roux to stop bubbling, then pour in the hot soy milk and stir with a wire whisk.

Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper, and a few scrapings (or the tiniest dash ever) of nutmeg, without adding so much that all you can taste is nutmeg. A tiny amount of nutmeg will bring up the flavors of the sauce. Remove from heat.

Notes: I was thinking that maybe this would be best with an unsweetened soy milk; these can often be found at asian supermarkets. The soy milk I used was Soy Dream, and seemed a bit sweet. I was also thinking that some roasted garlic might be a nice addition along with the salt and pepper and nutmeg, and might do well to mask the sweetness. Let's face it, if you've got soy milk around, you're not going to make a special trip just for this recipe.

How I used the sauce: Gardenburger makes those great fake chicken patties. I fried two of them up in some olive oil along with a very small amount of sesame oil. I then cut them into one-inch chunks and set them aside. Reusing their oil, I sauteed some snap peas (which I de-stringed for once) and some Cascadian Farms Thai syle stir fry vegetables. As this was going on I was also cooking some spaghetti noodles, and I bet you know where this is going. I put the "chicken" and the veggies together on top of the noodles and topped the whole thing off with the white sauce. Kind of a strange little recipe, I know, but I thought it was great.