vegan living


First—I totally forgot to link my latest Dahl post, the March edition. Mostly it’s about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but I also read The Vicar of Nibbleswicke. Fun times!

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So, I went to Utah for the first time! It was amazing. My mom had heard about a place called Red Mountain Spa from a friend, and we decided to spend a few days out there, girls-style. Basically, it’s a retreat where there’s plenty of exercise classes of all types, including tabata (new to me!), TRX, yoga, etc. There’s also a spa, where you can be pampered, if you so choose. They also have amazing food, with plenty of vegan options, so I ate really well. I mean… they had vegan prickly pear/coconut/lime sorbet one night. Who knew about prickly pear syrup? I mean, other than everyone who lives in/has visited desert climes. It’s so good!

Maybe most exciting to me, however, was that Red Mountain backs up to Snow Canyon  State Park, which is… well:

Snow Canyon

Omg, right? I was awed by the vistas the first morning, when my mom and I took their “Nature Walk” where we learned all about  plants and animals native to Snow Canyon. Really interesting stuff. I got to rub my hands in sagebrush and sniff creosote. I also got to learn that apparently ephedra grows in the desert, and people will just like, chew on it, coca-leaf style, on long hikes. I declined.

Hiking on sand and sandstone was a new experience for me. Colorado is all about Red Sandgranite, which is super-slippery. I’ve fallen more than once, not just because I’m a klutz, either. But sandstone… you can Spider-man right up it! It’s amazingly sticky. Also, in Snow Canyon, the sand (and the sandstone) are a glorious red-orange, as you can see.

I got to experience a lot of that sand, as the first major hike I took was called Fern Gully, which has like, an ocean of sand in the middle of it. We tore ass through it, though, like true badasses. Actually, that’s what I loved most about Red Mountain—all the guides were so hardcore, but also so encouraging, you always felt like a barbarian hero tramping through the wilds no matter the level like you were taking. And I do love feeling like a barbarian hero.

Summit of Joan's BonesFor example… the second day, I took a hike called Joan’s Bones, which takes you up to a summit—and while usually I’m all about summits, this hike impressed me because the descent took you down the side of a cinder cone. Yes, can now say I’ve hiked down a volcano! What!

But, as the volcano was less scenic, the summit is to the left.

PetroglyphMy final day, I saw some thousand-year-old Anasazi petroglyphs. I mean, really. That is just too awesome.

My mom and I had a great time. She enjoyed the hikes she took, including one where she hiked with shelter dogs (so adorable!), and took her first TRX class. We also attended  a seminar on mediation, which was fun! We both agreed they had great staff, everyone was extremely encouraging,  positive, and enthusiastic about hydration.

Me and my MomI mean, what more could you want?

After departing from Red Mountain, we took the St. George Shuttle back to Las Vegas, where we spent the weekend. I’d never been to Vegas before… I’m not a gambler, and I also hate crowds. But I have to say, I had an unexpectedly great time! Part of that was undoubtedly the quality of the cocktails that you can (apparently) get in Vegas—some of the best I’ve had. Part was discovering that recently, Vegas has added a surprising quantity and quality of vegan food to their menus.

But mostly it was fuckin' vegasspending time with my mom and my husband (who flew in for the weekend), laughing at people and being simultaneously impressed and skeptical of the entertainments. I mean, John and I saw an animatronic frog in a cowboy hat rise up from behind an artificial waterfall to sing Garth Brooks at us. I… what?

Also, we ate beneath this friggin’ dragon!

Good times. Now I’m back, and peace and quiet is most welcome. Though honestly, I’m already missing the serenity of Snow Canyon! I hope to get back there some day.

In England, I had the most perfect scones. Stop the presses, I know—great scones? In England? Do tell. But really, as a vegan, finding real vegan scones anywhere can be challenging, as typically they are just full of butter and cream. Thankfully, there are vegan versions of butter and cream readily available to the home baker!

Anyways, these aforementioned perfect scones were at a little cafe called Infinity (they also have a health food store). Moist, dense enough that you could brain an ox with one, not too sweet, with plenty of rich sultanas (American translation: golden raisins). They were so, so good. Thus, upon my return, I 2013-11-22 15.19.02vowed to recreate these perfect scones, as Americans tend to think scones are muffin tops. They are not. Real scones are pastry, which, ugh, I know. Contemplating making pastry always gives me Olympic Gymnast Face, but scones are actually pretty easy. Trust me, if I can make these, you can.

My recipe is adapted from this one here, and yes, you need a kitchen scale. Also, instead of sultanas, because American raisins are often bizarrely enormous, I sought out currants. They’re so tiny, they distribute really well.

I promise, pastry-fearing people: you will find yourself eating marvelous scones in no time if you just take a deep breath and plunge ahead with confidence. Go for it! Serve with this butter because damn it’s good. Also jam.

Perfect Vegan Currant Scones

(makes 8 scones)

Ingredients:

300g of self-raising flour OR 300g of AP flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt mixed in (but still use the baking powder and salt listed below)

50g whole wheat flour

A pinch of salt

One tsp. of baking powder

85g of vegan margarine such as Earth Balance

3 Tbs. of caster sugar

One tsp. of vanilla extract

A good squeeze of lemon juice

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

175ml of soy(a) creamer. Not soy(a) milk.

85g of dried currants

1 lemon’s worth of grated zest

 

Make the Scones:

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.

In a measuring cup, measure out your soy creamer, then add your lemon juice, ACV, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Mix well, then set aside.

Sift your flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the Earth Balance until the mixture looks crumbly. Don’t overwork the dough, which means work quickly so your margarine doesn’t melt. Mix in currants, then form a well in the center of your crumbly flour mixture, then add your wet ingredients. Mix by hand in the bowl, quickly, until it keeps together.

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured board and work it lightly it until everything is mixed in. Then pat it into a disk, about 1 inch thick, or slightly thicker.

Use a biscuit cutter and into eight thick rounds. You’ll have to cut them, put on a baking sheet, reform the dough, and cut again a few times. Bake for 12-17 minutes, but check the bottoms at twelve. When they’re golden brown on the bottom, they’re done!

I know I said I’d post pictures from my San Francisco trip, but omg you guys!! Check out what I made last Sunday:

vegan eggs

Look at them! They have yolks! They’re adorable! They tasted so much like eggs my egg-hating husband almost gagged when he tried them! SUCCESS!

Anyways. My friend Raechel was making ramen for dinner, and I felt inspired to make an egg to put on top. These are definitely more like deviled eggs than poached (they’d totally be great at a picnic with some paprika on top) but they worked great in a soup application, too. Here’s how:

Vegan Eggs

For the “whites”

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed as well as you can press it
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c strong chicken-flavor broth
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tb nutritional yeast
  • pinch turmeric

Cut your tofu in half, lengthwise (two long blocks) then in half, then in half again, to make triangles. Submerge in marinade (after pressing) for at least an hour but longer is better. Meanwhile, make your “yolks.”

For the yolks

  • 1 cup chickpeas, pureed
  • 1 tb mayo
  • 1 tb mustard
  • 1 tb nutritional yeast
  • 1 tb rice wine vinegar
  • two pinches turmeric, or until the color you want
  • black salt (to taste)

Mix everything into a paste. Chill in a little tupperware or something, until your eggs are ready to be yolked. I say black salt to taste because some people really can’t handle that sulphur taste; others really like it.

To assemble

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a baking sheet, and arrange your “whites.” Then take a little spoon and carefully cut a shallow, quarter-sized divot in each white, discarding the divots. Spray tops of tofus. Bake 15 minutes, flip, bake 10 more. Remove from oven, flip over again so divots are face up, set oven to broil. While your broiler is heating, spoon scant tablespoons of the yolks into the divots. If you felt like it, you could totally put this stuff in a pastry bag and pipe it into some real deviled-looking eggs. Broil until the yolks are a little crunchy-looking and golden brown. Remove, cool. Eat!

Seriously pretty atop some ramen:

 2013-08-18 18.45.59

Eden Foods makes that soymilk you see everywhere, the one with the pastoral landscape on it:

(Credit: Photo treatment by Salon)

(Credit: Photo treatment by Salon)

They also make a ton of other natural foods products, like beans and oil and vinegar and flour and cereal and all kinds of shit. Anyways, they are suing the Obama administration because they don’t want to cover birth control for their employees.

Fuck them. Fuck that shit!

Here’s the Salon.com article where I initially found out about Eden Foods’ conservative agenda. It’s awful:

Eden Foods … says in its filing that the company believes of birth control that “these procedures almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices.” The complaint also says that “Plaintiffs believe that Plan B and ‘ella’ can cause the death of the embryo, which is a person.” (Studies show that neither Plan B nor Ella interfere with fertilization, which is the Catholic definition of the beginning of life, if not the medical one. In other words, not the death of an embryo. Also, at that stage, it’s a zygote, not an embryo — let alone a “person.”) The filing also said that “Plaintiff Eden Foods’ products, methods, and accomplishments are described by critics as: tasteful, nutritious, wholesome, principled, unrivaled, nurturing, pure.”

As if the above wasn’t awful enough, Eden Foods’ CEO is just so goddamn enthusiastic about their taking a wholesome, principled, nurturing stand against women’s health that he called Salon to respond to their article! And comes off as a fundamentalist asshole!

I floated by him the fact that contraceptive coverage is cheaper to pay for than, say, maternity coverage.

Potter replied, “One’s got a little more warmth and fuzziness to it than the other, for crying out loud.”

For crying out loud!

…he opposes “using abortion as birth control, definitely.” But the mandate doesn’t cover abortion, I reminded him, only contraception, and emergency contraception is not abortion.

“It’s a morass,” Potter said. “I’m not an expert in anything. I’m not the pope. I’m in the food business. I’m qualified to have opinions about that and not issues that are purely women’s issues. I am qualified to have an opinion about what health insurance I pay for.”

Morass indeed. Read the whole thing here.

So, yeah, fuck them! Don’t buy their shit, and even more importantly, write them a letter or go say something on their FB page or something.

Obviously lots of natural foods companies are owned by parent corporations that suck, or are shitty in some way, but when they sue to make this country even more goddamn backwards, and then come right out and enthuse about their fundamentalist, religious, conservative ideologies, well. As I said: Fuck them. 

 

Yesterday I saw a bunch of vegans I know online sharing this article, “The 19 Most Annoying Things About Being Vegan,” and it was pretty good for a laugh. It’s sadly true that most vegans I know (including myself) have experienced most it not all of the items on that list, including dealing with the hand-wringing of people who become suddenly concerned with our protein intake, or obviously take some sort of bizarre pleasure in playing “gotcha” by pointing out that abstaining from cheese and meat is (allegedly!) pointless because there’s pig fat in tires and animal by-products in plywood. It’s also an amusingly self-aware article about veganism, for friggin once, since instead of taking the but why do you refuse to think about the screaming of murdered baby pigs and cows you omni asshole tone so rampant in internet articles about veganism, even the “funny” ones, it instead points out that yeah, some of us do miss the taste of cheese sometimes, and yeah, we do laugh at jokes aimed at vegans because we do have a sense of humor, and yeah, while it’s frustrating to be fed plate after plate of grilled veggies at catered events, it’s super-nice of people to ensure there’s a vegan option.

But another reason that Buzzfeed piece made me laugh so much was that last week I saw at least (at least!) fifteen thousand people posting and reposting a Guardian article called, absurdly, “Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?” Upon seeing it for the first of far-too-many times, I immediately felt my expression becoming frown-cat face because I’ve been vegan for nearly 7 years at this point and I can smell a finger-pointing, smug-but-misinformed locavore article a million miles away. It’s a talent, what can I say?

Anyways, the article starts out with a description of quinoa, a grain-like seed native to South America, and talks about how it’s become increasingly globally popular in recent years because it’s good for you and tastes pretty okay too. It’s also a “credibly nutritious substitute for meat” (reputable nutrition journalists without an obvious bias against vegans would simply call quinoa a “good source of protein”, btw).

It then talks about how the global appetite for quinoa has begun to affect Peru and Bolivia negatively, alleging that farmers in those areas no longer can afford their staple food and are eating less healthy, more processed alternatives. If accurate, this is obviously extremely distressing. I say “if accurate,” as it turns out that NPR ran a similar article in November of last year, but there has been some question about the truth behind some of their claims, which are similar to the concerns raised in the Guardian article. I don’t know for sure which side of the story is true; both sides raise interesting issues. Regardless, this concern for Bolivian and Peruvian farmers is certainly something I’ll be considering when making future food purchases.

Yet, setting aside the core of the article for a moment, I think it’s fascinating that the finger in the Guardian article is pointed directly at vegans. Vegans, it basically says, can you handle the truth that you’re also morally suspect when it comes to making ethical dietary choices?

Yes?

Duh?

Protip: That’s exactly why many of us vegans are vegan in the first place! (Shockingly enough, it’s not just that we hate fun and bacon and also really enjoy being a giant pain in the ass to everyone when traveling or deciding where to go to dinner!) Thus, the finger-pointing (and finger-waggling) the author utilizes to make the various points she’s trying to make beyond the whole quinoa thing that defined the first part of her exposé is kind of … stupid. Like this, for example:

Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction. Embarrassingly, for those who portray [soy] as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations.

What’s actually embarrassing is that even the Guardian, who ran that dumbass article, can’t even stand behind the author’s claims—they have, since publishing the piece, added a footnote to the above quote I cited clarifying that, in their own words, “while soya is found in a variety of health products, the majority of production – 97% according to the UN report of 2006 – is used for animal feed.” Yep, it’s not actually those pesky vegans ruthlessly destroying the rain forest with our appetite for fake bacon bits and plant milks! Because—again, another protip—as vegans, we eat neither the animals fed with soy beans nor do we consume the products of animals fed with soy beans. (We just eat the soy beans. Yum!)

Additionally, the notion that such a small group of people out there—vegans are, I think, less than 2% of the population in the U.S.—could be the ones responsible for this problem is deeply silly. The bias in the Guardian article is so absurd, so obvious, so pointlessly, misguidedly accusatory, that it’s pretty cringe-worthy that this was presented not as an op-ed but as environmental/world news. Because, despite our efforts to vote with our dollars, vegans simply don’t have enough economic clout, enough large-scale buying power, to impact such an enormous change on the world. (The reason there’s ten jillion kinds of plant milk at the natural food store isn’t the vegan clientele—it’s that vegetarians and omnivores also like hemp milk.) While it’s true that I bought one bag of Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa a year and a half ago, and I have genuinely no idea if it’s South American or not … I’m still using it. Compared to, say, Whole Foods’ (omnivorous) salad bar, or the Boulder yuppievore restaurants around here who serve it alongside elk steaks and farm-to-table chicken and whatever else, I’m statistically insignificant. Not that my insignificance excuses my actions—like I said, I’ll be considering this issue whenever I think about buying quinoa in the future—but as a vegan, I simply don’t matter as much as the vastly larger population of rich omnivores who control the market for “health foods.”

Why am I bothering to point out this article’s bias against vegans? Surely the issue as regards farmers in South America is more important? Yes, definitely! And because of that, I feel that it’s important to note that the author’s ridiculous sputtering over those people who make different ethics-based dietary choices than she does is so extreme that she herself gets away from her point, wasting valuable space and time ranting about those troublesome vegans instead of doing actually good investigative journalism on what seems like a major issue. Instead of keeping her focus, her article devolves into an attempted ha-ha about soy, and asparagus, and how locally-raised meat and dairy are so much better for the earth and for humans (though she is just plain wrong about that … at least, so says the extreme leftist vegan propaganda engine called, uh, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.)

Anyways. I guess my overall point is that when it comes to talking about global food markets, shortages, economics, and the ways we can be better people … unless one’s goal is simply to get as many hits and comments as possible, surely focusing on the truth behind what our appetites are doing to the planet and the people living on it—and what we can do to change things for the better—is probably a better way to raise awareness about those issues?

Pho! So good. It’s perfect for hot days or cold, being under the weather or on top of the world. It’s noodle soup with flavors of cilantro, lime, chili, pepper, basil, cinnamon, omg yum.

I can’t vouch for this recipe’s authenticity; the first pho I had was vegetarian, so that’s my frame of reference! But I like this recipe, and others who’ve tried it seem to, as well. It’s compiled from a few different recipes, the main ones linked here, and here. The big difference with mine is that I’m allergic to mushrooms, so those have been excised. I bet adding some dried shiitakes to the broth while it simmers would be delicious, though!

NB: There are lots of “vegetarian” pho recipes online that call for fish sauce for seasoning. Fish sauce, being that it’s made of fish, is not strictly vegetarian. There is vegetarian fish sauce out there, you can make it at home or find it at specialty markets, but most stuff you’ll get at the store is indeed made of fish. There are vegetarians who eat fish, of course, and I’m not going to tell anyone what to call him- or herself because whatever, so all I’ll say on the matter is if you’re making this for vegans or vegetarians, best to make it completely vegetarian—meaning sans fish—or ask to find out your guests’ preferences. <3

Easy Vegetarian Pho

Serves 3-5 people (for larger groups, make more rice noodles)

Broth:

2 “beef” bouillon cubes (link to my fave brand)

6-10 smashed garlic cloves

1-3 tbs soy sauce (to taste. I like it salty!)

1 tb brown sugar or palm sugar

2 tb rice wine vinegar

1 tsp black peppercorns

2 cinnamon sticks

handful of basil stems (leaves reserved for garnishing soup)

handful of cilantro stems (leaves reserved for garnishing soup)

1 yellow onion, quartered

5-6 thick coins of ginger, smashed w/skins on

4 whole cloves

1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and sliced down the center

4 dried red chiles japones, seeds removed

1 tbs siracha chili sauce

8 c water

My method is, I swear, dump all this in the crock pot … and let it sit for 4-6 hours at a low simmer.

Then, about an hour before serving, strain the broth of all the gross used-up veggies and spices and stuff, and dump in 2 blocks of cubed or triangled tofu and the white trimmed stalks of a head of bok choi (reserve the greens for later). The bok choi will cook beautifully and the tofu will absorb the delicious flavors of the broth, even without being pressed. Traditionally, fried tofu is served, so you could totally do that—or press and bake the tofus after marinating them in a mixture of siracha, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce—but it’s so much easier to do it this way and I like it almost as much.

While your tofu is poaching, arrange the following prettily on a plate:

1-2 jalepeno peppers (seed if you want less spice), cut into coins

sliced green onions, whites and green parts

whole cilantro leaves

whole basil leaves

lime wedges

fresh bean sprouts

Also, just before serving cook up a package of rice noodles according to package directions, then drain and rinse in cold water.

When ready to serve, get big bowls and put the bok choi leaves in first, then the rice noodles. Then ladle out the hot broth and tofu and bok choi stems on top, making sure everyone gets lots of broth. Then allow your guests to garnish their soup the way they like best!

Starfest/DigiFest/HorrorFest/etc is this weekend! If you’re going to be there, say hi. Here’s where I’ll be:

Friday, 6PM: Asian Cult Cinema Panel

Saturday, 3:30: Writing the Dark Side

Sunday, 12 noon: Multimedia Reading w/Jesse Bullington. We two are collaborating for ours as we’ll be reading our co-authored story “Tubby McMungus, Fat From Fungus.” If you’re looking for it in the program, David Boop, Mike Hance, and Quincy Allen will also be reading.

But! Here’s what you really came here for today: Tahini Blondies!

So I wanted halva but I couldn’t be bothered to buy a candy thermometer. Thus: Tahini Blondies. Adapted from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar, these are amazing tahini-ful squares of sesame bliss. Not for tahini-haters. If you’re on the fence, try ’em—they just might change your world. Or at least your ambivalence about tahini.

Tahini Blondies

3/4 cup tahini (I used Joya)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 c. non-dairy milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1  cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tsp sesame seeds (I used a mix of white and black)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8×8  baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix  together tahini, oil and sugar. Stir in milk and vanilla. Stir in  flour, salt and baking powder. The batter will be very very thick and won’t spread on its own. Transfer to baking pan and press it into place. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds and lightly press them into the top.

Bake for 22-27 minutes, the edges should be just barely brown. The top will appear soft, that’s okay. Remove  from oven and cool completely before slicing. I bolded that because they are super gooey if you don’t. Also, I had to go the whole 27 because of altitude, so check yours at 22.

 

I know, I know. I leave for a million years only to come back with nothing more than THE ULTIMATE RECIPE FOR TIRAMISU.

Yeah. Look at that. What’s that? An inside shot, you say? Oh, no big deal:

Tiramisu. Holy hell. I love this dessert, and always have. It was the first dessert I made my husband during our courtship. I’ve made it a million times, but for the last six years, I’ve only made it in the form of the tiramisu cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. And those cupcakes are great, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not the same.

Why have I never made real tiramisu, then? Ladyfingers, that’s why. The cookie upon which tiramisu is founded. None of the store-bought brands I’ve seen have been even close to being vegan, and I had no notion of how to veganize such a thing. So imagine my delight when, upon googling “vegan tiramisu” (I wanted to make it for my friend Raechel’s birthday), I found this recipe.

It looked amazing! And let me tell you, it was. But I tweaked and messed with the original so I’m posting my update. My version has a tangy raspberry layer and some raspberry jam in the cream that tints it the most precious My Little Pony pink. The original cream recipe also calls for cornstarch and flour, but I figured reducing the heavy cream would work as well to thicken as any thickener. It did. Oh, and as written, the original recipe makes waaaaaaaaay too much cream if you’re doing the 9×9 version (which I did). Like, more than twice as much as is needed. What you see in the above pictures, by the way, is a full 9×9, a full 4.5×4.5, and that wasn’t all of it. I also had a bowl full of the stuff.  So, yeah, it needed some tweaking for us lazy scrubs who love the ease of 9×9 cakes. There will be too many cake slices, but that’s … easily dealt with. Om nom nom.

ULTIMATE TIRAMISU

For one 9″ dish cake.

Ingredients

For the Lady Fingers:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup water

spray oil

1 square 9″ pan

For the Cream:

3/4 c Tofutti sour cream

1 cup Tofutti cream cheese (1 container)

1/4 cups heavy unsweetened soy cream

1  teaspoons vanilla

1 tbs raspberry jam

1 tsp coffee liqueur

¾ to 1 c organic powdered sugar, sifted

For Assembly:

1 “shot in the dark” (12 oz coffee w/one or two shots espresso), cooled. Really, go out and get this at a local place, it’ll taste a jillion times better than making instant espresso from powder and then letting the rest go stale in your freezer.

1 tablespoon coffee liqueur

¼ to 1/3 cup good raspberry jam

cocoa powder

dark chocolate bar for shavings (I got an espresso chocolate bar)

one 9×9″ glass pan

Directions for Cream Filling:

Beat the sour cream, cream cheese, soy cream, vanilla, and liqueur to combine using a handheld or standing mixer. Sift the powdered sugar into the mixture. Do not put too much sugar in, taste it frequently (no problem!). If it’s too sugary, it’s going to overpower the espresso and the whole thing will be too sweet to eat. I added ¾ cup of sugar and then taste, add up to another 1/4 cup a little bit at a time. Beat until thickened, stick in the fridge.

Directions for Lady Fingers:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the dry ingredients, including sugar, and stir just to combine.

2.  Add the oil, vanilla, and water.  Stir until most of the lumps are gone.

3.  Spread into pan, bake for 35 mins. Toothpick test for doneness, then set aside to cool.

4.  Unmold the cake, then slice into 8 equal strips. Line up on a cookie sheet, rebake at 350 for 15 minutes until just brown, flipping once.

5.  Set the cookies aside to cool.

6.  Once cooled, cut the strips in half, then cut each cookie—carefully—in half again. This will give you more strips than you need, but who cares! Use the prettiest ones for the tiramisu and make an ugly one with the leftover cream to eat by yourself whilst watching Parks & Rec reruns on Netflix.

Directions for Assembly:

1.  Pour the cooled espresso into a shallow bowl or pan, and stir in the liqueur.

2.  Line up the cookies, espresso, cream, and 9×9 pan.

3.  Carefully dip each lady finger into the espresso mixture for a few seconds. Do it fast so they don’t fall apart!

4.  Line the cookies along the bottom of a glass dish, pressed together.

5. Take ¼ to 1/3 cup good-quality raspberry jam and spread over the layer.

6. Cover the layer completely with cream.

7. Dust with cocoa powder using a fine mesh strainer

8. Cover with a layer of chocolate shavings.

9.  Repeat process with another layer of espresso-soaked cookies, and cream.

10. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for the day. Before serving, dust with another layer of cocoa powder and chocolate shavings on top.  This is best done with the chocolate bar on the hard side.

Oh, and if you need more dessert—or just a dessert more suited for a picnic/bbq—how about cookies that look like burgers?

These I made after seeing a version in Martha Stewart Living. I made 12 peanut butter cookies (I think I used the recipe in Joy of Vegan Baking, but do whatevs, just not too crispy), and pressed sesame seeds into the tops after flattening. Then I made a pan of the brownies from Joy of Vegan Baking (my favorite recipe!), but in a 9×13, not a 9×9. I baked them less but I wanted thinner “patties.” After everything was completely cool I picked a cup of appropriate size and cut out the “patties” from the brownies, and drizzled them in “ketchup and mustard” icing I made with just powdered sugar, soy milk, and vegan food color. They’re super-good!

We take Thanksgiving seriously around these parts. This year was no exception. Behold:

Clockwise from the top: John’s tofurkey (recipe was my dad’s for perpetually perfect tofurkeys), garlic mash n’ gravy courtesy Jesse, whole berry cranberry from the can, because I like it better than anything I make myself, off-brand vegan crescent roll, mac n’ cheeze, garlicy roasted brussels sprouts, and enshrined in the center, Raechel’s stuffing, from her grandma’s recipe.

Everything was even better than it looks here, which, woah.

We also had pie. I didn’t get a picture of Raechel’s pumpkin cheezecake, regrettably, but here’s my motherfucking deep dish apple pie (second picture has my salted caramel ice cream on top, because, well, you only live once:

The next day we went on a 10+ mile hike up in the high country, in one of my favorite areas we’ve hiked in, the Hall Ranch Preserve behind Lyons. It’s so beautiful, and I wish I had more pictures! But here’s me, looking sort of perplexed:

And then, at the midpoint, I ate one of my finest Frankenstein creations of all time: EPIC LEFTOVER SANDWICH!

I hollowed out the end of a ciabatta, and stuffed it with thinly sliced leftover tofurkey, fresh spinach, some leftover sprouts, gravy, mac n’ cheez, gravy, and cranberry sauce. YES! Also vegenaise and Sierra Nevada Porter mustard on the bread, in case you ever want to reproduce this magnificent creation.

All right! Tomorrow: back to reality. Oh and also, Future Lovecraft is available for pre-order! You should definitely buy it for someone this Christmas because that book is awessssssommmmme.

The end of October and the first weeks of November have been very busy what with turning 30, signing my first book deal, finishing up a major goddamn project that ate my life for a year (huz-fucking-zah), and whatever else has been occupying my time. Jesus Christ, it’s Thanksgiving next week! (Or, rather, “Thanksliving,” as Article 10, Section 2 of the Vegan Code mandates I call it: “Vegans shall be required to rename and/or feminize any and all foods associated with meat or meat-consumption, e.g. “Thanksliving” “shepherdess Pie” “cheatballs” “pepperfauxni”, etc.”)

But seriously, it’s been a good few weeks. My dad was just approved to be part of an experimental study for pancreatic cancer patients, which means he’s off of traditional chemotherapy and taking a combination of pills to combat the tumors. Also, he turned 64 today. (My mother says this answers the eternal question of “Will you still feed me/will you still need me/when I’m 64, because she is adorable.)

Additionally, I had a rockin’ Big 30 Birthday. My homeslice Brad and his ladyfriend Suzanne came to visit, and we went hiking, ate too much food, and had a big old Halloween party. Pics!

Here’s me at the Halloween Party as Han Solo. Who’s scruffy-looking?

Raech as a vampire hunter:

John and Jesse as 24 and 21 from The Venture Brothers:

Brad as one of the dudes from this awesome OK Go music video, and Suzanne as the girl with the dragon tattoo:

aaaaaand the punch I made that gave Jesse one of the most hilariously awful hangovers I’ve ever witnessed. Recipe here!

The next night, at the 30th Birthday Bash, me and John:

Jesse and Raech:

aaaaaand me getting all red-faced and teary-eyed upon being given the complete Jem and the Holograms DVD box set:

Woo! So yeah, good times. I’m excited for upcoming things too, like eating too much and going on a long hike next week, starting a new fitness regimen (with part of a birthday windfall I purchased a new program from Sandra, who guided me through her Virtual Boot Camp), and, I dunno, some other stuff.

Oh shit, I almost forgot! I got tattooed for my 30th b-day! Here’s a picture of the tattoo, and also part of my right boob:

Soon: a recipe for delicious Thanksgiving-flavored Cheatballs!

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