Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Vegan Y'all/Corny Dogs

The State Fair of Texas opened today!

Living in the Dallas area has given me some unusual opportunities. Probably none was so strange as the day I was invited to ride an antique fire truck in the company of a group of jokesters known as the Boneheads. A few hours before the official opening of the State Fair of Texas, they would arrive at the Fair's front gates. 

Until this year, it had been a ninety-year ritual.   

The Boneheads created this tradition of going to the Fair before it opens, because they claim the previous year’s State Fair was never closed. How can a parade filled with dignitaries arrive at the front gates of the Fair to open it, if the previous year's Fair has never been closed?

It’s all great fun, traveling on top of the old fire truck, very slowly, from downtown Dallas through Exposition Park and ending at Fair Park. We clamber off  and watch as the Boneheads solemnly close the fair, “locking” the front gate. 

The Dallas Morning News, in its guide to the Texas State Fair, features a photograph of a child eating a corny dog. Someday soon, only boneheads (lower case boneheads, not you, oh venerable Dallas Boneheads), will eat the non-vegan kind of corny dog.

Here's a do it yourself corny dog from Shirley Wilkes-Johnson. As we lament the end of an era, the Bonehead's "closing" of the State Fair, let's celebrate this corny dog -- the treat of tomorrow. 

Corny Dogs

Makes 8-10

This is a good batter for frying different things.  Try it on onion rings, peppers, etc.  These are quite easy to make and delicious. 

8-10 vegan hot dogs (I use Worthington Big Franks)
8-10 popsicle sticks
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup corn meal
1   tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
1 & 1/2 teapoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teasppon salt 
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teasoon cayenne pepper (or to taste), optional
1   tablespoon Egg Replacer by Ener-G
2   tablespoons water
1   cup soy milk 
Oil for frying

1.  Drain and dry vegan hot dogs and insert popsicle sticks to make a handle.  Set

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, corn meal, nutritional yeast, baking powder,
     mustard, salt and pepper and cayenne, if desired.

3.  In a measuring cup, whish 2 tablespoons water and Egg Replacer until well mixed.
     Fill cup with soy milk and whisk until well mixed.  Whisk liquid into flour mix. 

4.  Dip vegan hot dogs into batter to coat and then into hot oil in a deep fryer or
     electric skillet.  Fry until golden and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot. 

Variation:  You can also make “corny pups” by cutting each veggie dog into four equal pieces, then dipping into batter to coat and frying.  Serve as an appetizer with toothpicks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The New York Times: Leading the way in the sexual politics of meat

Dear New York Times,

Of course, meat advertisers sexualize dead bodies. They've been doing it for years. How do you make dead flesh that, when alive, suffered in living and dying, attractive? Just fall back on the classic, misogynist, "make a body consumable approach." Make it seductive. Appeal to the reader you imagine, a heterosexual male.

But, what is this trend in the New York Times of doing the work for meat advertisers? This book cover? It's from the Times in the 1990s--an article about low fat meat, so, of course you showed a weight loss advertisement with an aneroxic calf all but saying, "I used to be an old cow, but look at me now!"

Your review of the Penthouse restaurant? Where the only thing properly dressed is the lettuce? You were eating steaks there. So many strippers have reported to me their awkward feelings as they take off their clothes while men watch, eating bloody bodies.

Two weeks ago, celebrating the sexualized ads for a butcher shop?

Hey, New York Times, you are in a rut.

This is not original. This is the Sexual Politics of Meat. It is disgusting, shameful, animal-hating, misogynistic. Here's one of the original images in your genealogy. It's from a meat company:

But you feature, today, the headless seductive chicken; as with sexist barbecue images, the headlessness is the best reminder--these bodies, they exist only for you.

The chickens I enjoy are alive. They live their lives without having to be seductive for human beings.

Perhaps you could visit an animal sanctuary near you and meet them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Vegan Y'all/Carrot Pecan Cornbread

Here's another great recipe from Shirley Wilkes-Johnson. 

In the weeks before her death, Shirley and I had been talking about what recipes a Vegan Barbecue Book should contain. Our vision for her cookbook had been that it represent all the cuisines found today in Texas. It seems that people prefer a regressive view of Texas--that it's all cowboys wearing leather cowboy boots and shooting it up (does Rick Perry come to mind?). People come from all over the world and settle in Texas. The main street of my city (Richardson), has Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants. It has a Whole Foods, a Chinese grocery store and an Indian grocery store. 

But, mainstream publishers with whom we talked over the past year, wanted us to focus on the traditional Texas fare. Shirley and I had lots of discussion about this, and finally decided that we'd begin with the Vegan Barbecue Book since we were about to be offered a book contract if we focused on this. 

The week she died, Shirley and I discussed which of her recipes would go in this reconfigured book. Shirley had developed four different cornbread recipes. This one was one of her--and my--favorites. Even people who don't like cornbread love this recipe! (I know; I have pushed the envelope on this several times.) There's something about the roasted pecans and the moist shredded carrots that makes this delectable. It's comfort food, from the kitchen of the Shirley Wilkes-Johnson. 

She wrote, "I created this recipe for Fiesta Culinary School inside the Fiesta Markets in Houston. Everyone loved this recipe. Cornbread has absolutely no need for eggs and milk, as this recipe will show.  Delicious!"

1   cup yellow corn meal
1   cup unbleached white flour 
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
4   teaspoons baking powder that does not contain aluminum (such as Rumford)
1   teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 cups soy milk 
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans *

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a mixing bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix soy milk and oil together  and stir into cornmeal mixture.  Gently stir in carrots and pecans.  Pour into a cast iron 10” skillet (or muffin pan** or corn stick pan) that has been sprayed well with non stick spray.  Bake for 20-22 minutes.  

** Use a sprayed ice cream scooper to put batter into a sprayed muffin pan.  Makes 12 muffins.

* Bake pecans in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Amazon Makes Shoddy Books

Two copies of the same book? Well, you might think so, but being the author, I can tell immediately when Amazon has produced yet another shoddy book. See the one on the right? It's a different size; Jane Austen (bless her), looks a little different, and the font colors are slightly off. 

What happened?

A good friend of mine ordered 18 copies of this book from Amazon. She was going to to give them to the young people attending our Young Writers Workshop as part of the lead up to the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

When the books arrived, it was clear that Amazon had violated their contract with my publisher and produced some of the copies through their own print on demand resources. Apparently, it is common to have an agreement with publishers that they can produce copies of a book if it is out of stock. However, Amazon is apparently determining what being "out of stock" means in a very flexible, self-interested way. If they receive an order and they, Amazon, are out of stock of the book, they are producing their own rather than obtaining the book from the publisher's warehouse.

This happened last year, too, and I complained then. I thought it was a one-time deal, but it isn't. And it isn't just happening to this book. Other authors have complained as well.

Why does this matter? 

Well, for one, they are making shoddy reproductions. The cover, the paper, the size of the print. Here's the side view:

See the book on the right? It's thinner. It's Amazon's version of the book on the left. They use a different kind of paper and they glue the book together differently.

How many authors is this happening to?

If you order from Amazon, look at the back page. If the book is from an established publisher and yet it shows something like this, you have just bought a shoddy reproduction of the book you wanted, rather than the book itself:

Besides getting a poorer quality book, this matters for other reasons as well. Perhaps Amazon's Print-on-Demand business needs some propping up, I don't know. But, certainly this is one way to keep their own presses, er, copiers running. For established publishers, it is a problem because at the end of the year, publishers are taxed for the books they have in their warehouse. This creates pressure for them to "dump" some of the copies at a reduced rate. How many extra books do they have in their warehouses because Amazon produced their own copies? 

It's unfair to the publisher; it's unfair to the author; and because of their low quality, it's unfair to the reader. If you want to read a book in print, rather than an electronic version, you should be able to read the book as it exists in print, not Amazon's (faulty) reproduction.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another feminist rationalizing eating animals

Over at the University of Minnesota blog, Kathy Rudy, an asssociate professor of Women's Studies at Duke University, has posted a blog introducing some of her reasons for a writing a book on animal ethics. I don't know how much of the blog reproduces arguments in her book, but her blog benefits from mischaracterizations. As a feminist-vegan, I wanted to challenge the mischaracterizations. My response is apparently too long to be posted in whole at UMinn's blog site, so I have moved it here.

Kathy, your post helps me understand why, when Duke's Women's Studies Program devoted a year to the issue of Animals, it made such a studied pronouncement that distanced itself from earlier feminist writers on animals--earlier feminist writers who had advocated a vegan diet--and why they (we) were characterized as "essentialist" ecofeminists.

This also explains why, in a year-long study, none of your invited speakers were feminists who advocated veganism as part of their scholarship (Marti Kheel, Josephine Donovan, Lori Gruen, Greta Gaard, or myself, to name a few).

What confounds me though, is why any ethical issue is determined by whether it is "hard" or not. There are many days when it is "hard" to be a feminist, and to see the world as a feminist--does that stop any of us from maintaining a feminist consciousness? After all, it was my generation of feminist-vegans who pioneered the idea that oppressions are interlocking and difficult to see.

Like Ginny Messina, a dedicated nutritionist, I am sorry that your experience of veganism was difficult and had such side effects. But your characterization of the doctors associated with PCRM is a little unfair, and I wonder if you reached out to vegan nutritionists like Ginny. 

Yes, veganism can be done badly. But there are many wonderful people working to help educate the public about good vegan eating (whole foods, not Whole Foods). Vegans understand that none of us lives a pure life.

The goal of feminist-veganism is not to position ourselves as "eating well" in Derrida's terms, but as always struggling with the question of how do we do the least harm.

Your discussion of all the hidden animal ingredients that make it impossible to actually be a vegan mischaracterizes the vegan community and the ways we have addressed these issues for many years. (Even books like Animal Ingredients from A-Z" contains a foreword by Bruce Friedrich saying, "don't think you can eliminate everything.") This is really old news and a straw dog.

You say humans have been eating meat for thousands of years. Which humans? Not all societies ate meat at all. And in the Western world, it was actually mainly upper class humans and royalty who ate much meat at all. There has always been a politics to meat. And especially in the United States, where, as I argue, meat eating was democratized.

Earlier you mention subsidies--government subsidies of meat and dairy contribute to keeping their costs down. Only if you are eating a lot of vegan processed food are the costs great; beans, lentils, rice--these have always been the food of low income and poor people. As for turning back the clock and returning to small farms raising animals to be consumed, even writers like Michael Pollan admit that it is currently impossible to feed everyone from local not factory farmers.

Most people are perfectly happy eating vegan food--as long as they don't know that's what they are doing; this shows that the issue is more in the brain, and about assumptions about what is proper for them to eat (politics again) rather than about taste. I don't understand the pessimism that gives up on humanity and says they aren't going to change, before giving people a chance.

Your discussion of and justification for the locavore movement requires more space and time than is currently available. But let me ask, why do you assume all domesticated animals disappear if we don't eat them? You presume an equation between their current ontological status as edible and their existence. This seems to be a major flaw. We don't eat dogs or cats in the United States but there are plenty of them. There are many ways to be in relationships with animals.

Moreover, where does the locavore movement get their chickens? From institutional farming situations. Did you know that cows from organic farms are more likely to be killed earlier than cows in industrialized farming situation because the organic farmers don't want to use antibiotics to help them recover from illnesses; so if they get ill, they are dispatched to slaughter? As for that, if you look at the fat content of cow's milk versus the fat content of human mother's milk, it is very different. Why do you presume that it is even healthy to be consuming milk from cow's? (feminized protein as I have called it).

Finally, the feminist ethics of care has provided an alternative position to that of animal rights and animal liberation. We argue that one cannot love other animals, be in relationship with other animals, care for other animals, and then kill them and eat them. As Josephine Donovan argued in her classic Signs article on this subject in 1990, animals don't want to be eaten, and if we listen to them, they are telling us so.

It would have been interesting to have been in a dialogue with you about any of these things, but, oh, that's right--we represented the positions you were re-appropriating and massaging into... into this? Surely the new ecofeminism would at least discuss the environmental costs of meat eating and dairy production. Do we really need a muddled way, er, a middle way?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Living Among Meat Eaters

Living Among Meat Eaters is a very special book for me. I wrote it because I had done things wrong for so many years, and it was so liberating when I realized that and found a different way. I realized that people who aren't vegans or vegetarians need our interactions to be about us; as long as it is about us, what WE are doing, what WE believe, it doesn't have to be about them and what they are doing. They, who really do feel defensive, want us to be the ones who are on the defensive. So Living Among Meat Eaters proposes a way to reorient the dynamics. 

I really appreciate hearing from people who have been moved and touched by the book. The idea was to help people so they didn't have to spend as many years as I had coping with the meat eating world. I want us to thrive! While the book is directed toward vegetarians and vegans, it presumes veganism, and all the recipes I provide are vegan.

So I was heartened this week to get this email from Ruth in Perth, Australia:

Dear Carol,

I'm sure you hear this a lot but I had to write and say a very warm thank you for your book "Living Amongst Meat Eaters". 

After being a vegetarian for five years I was ridiculed for making this small but important step in ethical eating. The questions "but you eat eggs" and "what about the leather you're wearing" were constant attempts to berate what I was doing. But they also stimulated me to think deeper; what about the leather I was wearing... After pondering veganism for about a year I finally worked up the courage to watch a few small videos on you tube (meet your meat and one about bobby calves, then Earthlings) I made the jump and wish I had done it sooner.

What I wasn't prepared for was the feeling of total elation; for finally having my lifestyle choices in line with my ethics, being aligned with a sense of total isolation. I was making a massive lifestyle choice that not only went against that of my friends and family, but of the majority of the world. Still, because you are doing something that is compassionate, it gives you the strength to pursue it and be proud of it. 

But when I saw your book in the one-and-only vegan outlet I am aware of in Perth, Western Australia, the title completely spoke to me. They had ordered in about ten copies - obviously anticipating the demand. I flicked through it and read half in the first night, only stopping so that I could get a notepad and re-read the whole book, this time taking notes.

Your book is exactly what I needed and I'm sure, what hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting for. We all know the reasons why we are doing it, but when faced with ridicule and scorn, it can be hard to express all the positivity of veganism without becoming defensive. Your point (or referencing someone else's point) about us all having a hole in our conscience, where we love animals but feel slightly guilty about eating them - resonated within me. This will help me immensely when I speak to my friends and family because I know that they, like me, have the same doubts about what they are doing, they just haven't taken the jump yet. I will now look upon everyone I meet as a blocked vegetarian and try my best to portray my lifestyle exactly how it feels; with ease, calm and happiness because I am at complete peace with the choices I am making.

Thank you so much! I can't wait to read your other titles.

That's one thing about books--they are a gift that keep on giving: first to the writer as she crystallizes what she wants to say, and learns from the process of writing how to say it; then, if the writer has been successful, the book goes out into the world touching people while the writer stays at home wondering what her book is getting up to!

Here's a link to the publisher's website for Living Among Meat Eaters:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's Vegan Y'all/Cajun Eggless Salad and Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

This sandwich is vegan leftover heaven. It's made from Cajun eggless salad and sweet and sour red cabbage. While Reuben sandwiches combine tempeh and sauerkraut, and Texas bbq sandwiches add cole slaw to barbecued tofu, here I took two separate recipes from Shirley Wilkes-Johnson, and added just a little melted Daiya cheese. I love leftovers because they challenge us to be creative!

A friend recently asked for some tofu recipes.  Everyone needs a favorite eggless egg salad recipe and Shirley came up with a fantastic recipe. Shirley didn't just use this in sandwiches! It can be an appetizer with crackers or served stuffed in jumbo pasta shells, cooked and chilled, and arranged on a deviled egg plate. Have fun with it! Did I say it's quick? It is. 

Cajun Style Eggless Salad
Serves 6

1   pound hard style tofu, drained, rinsed and dried well
2   tablespoons yellow nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2   green onions, sliced thinly
2   tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
2   tablespoons sliced pimento olives
1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise, more if desired
2   tablespoons yellow salad mustard
1   tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, optional

     Crumble tofu into a bowl.  Add rest of ingredients except paprika and mix it with a fork until it is the consistency of deviled egg salad.  Sprinkle paprika over top.


Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

About this recipe, Shirley wrote, "Antioxidant polyphenols abundant in red cabbage have a protective benefit of brain cells suggests a study published in Food Science and Technology.  This simple recipe is a delicious way to protect your heart, brain, prevent cancer and promote good digestion.   It is nice served with just a dollop of vegan sour cream on top before serving, if desired."  

1  head of red cabbage
2  tablespoons vegan butter
1  cup chopped onions
1  apple peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
1  tablespoon Tamari
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Cut cabbage into half.  (I love that a halved cabbage looks like a tree with graceful limbs.) 
Remove core and very coarsely chop cabbage.

2.  Melt butter in a pot large enough to hold the cabbage.  Add cabbage, onions and apple.  Saute over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.

3.  Add sugar and toss to coat.  Stir in vinegar, Tamari, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

It’s Vegan Y’all: End of August Feast

My friend Pat was back from Croatia and coming for supper.

The challenge--use as little oil as possible, have it be colorful and no shopping! (I was trying to meet a deadline.) So, what foods did I already have from the refrigerator, pantry, or the Texas-heat wilted garden?

I found canned and fresh tomatoes, red peppers, basil, canned beans, kale, cabbage, tofu, and some sweet potatoes desperately needing to be used. 

I made: lazy gazpacho (using canned tomatoes, but without cucumbers since there were none in the house), Cajun eggless salad, sweet and sour cabbage (not cole slaw since I was using Vegenaise in the eggless salad), three bean salad (I had to borrow green beans from Holly the collie's jar in the refrigerator),  raw kale salad with roasted peanuts (the recipe called for pinenuts but I had used them up last week), sweet potatoes with hoisin sauce, and some quickly-broiled slices of whole grain sandwich rounds (with a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on top). Those sandwich rounds I had been ignoring in the refrigerator for weeks.

And here’s what it looked like:

Of course, a couple of recipes were from Shirley Wilkes-Johnson. I'll post them separately. 

The key to being a vegan, truly, is knowing what to stock in your pantry and your refrigerator. Once you've got a well-stocked kitchen, food preparation is easy and fun, and the result is both tasty and beautiful.