Friday, January 27, 2012

food food food

Well, I guess there is a first time for everything. Today at Whole Foods I had a rude cashier. Usually they're so nice! Weird.

Here are a couple of my current food obsessions.

I got some of this almond milk yogurt today, and tried the coconut flavor. IT WAS AWESOME. Looking forward to trying the other kinds.I love peanut butter, and Earth Balance with flaxseed is the best peanut butter I've ever tried. It's natural, but doesn't have to be refrigerated. Seriously, it's the best.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recipe: Savory chickpea stew

When I was a kid, my mom used to make stew with leftover chicken and gravy. This is my vegan version of it. I suppose you could use fake chicken strips if you want, but I use chickpeas because I tend to always have them in the pantry and I love them.

Savory Chickpea Stew

1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
4 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
6 cups veggie broth or water
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
1 tsp sage
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook about 5 minutes.
2. Add the flour, nutritional yeast, and liquid aminos. It will form a thick paste.
3. Gradually add the broth, stirring to mix well.
4. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, chickpeas and sage. Bring stew to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are cooked, about 30 minutes.
5. In the meantime, make some biscuits! Here's my favorite recipe:
6. Before serving, add the peas, salt and pepper. Serve with biscuits.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yet another thing to scold pregnant women about

So, I read this article from the LA times via Balancing Jane (who has a good analysis of it), and I find it annoying on several levels.

Basically, the theory is that the obesity epidemic was caused by pregnant women in the 50s and 60s doing three unhealthy things: smoking, striving to gain as little weight as possible, and not breastfeeding.

First of all, though the article briefly mentions the growing popularity of fast food, suburban culture that leads to more driving, etc., it seems to come to the conclusion that these 50s and 60s moms are a larger cause of increased obesity. I have my doubts about that.

Further, the article clearly states that doctors were telling women to do these things. If that's the case, why don't we call a spade a spade here and blame doctors for the obesity epidemic? But no, we can't do that, of course. Because they're always right (well, except for all those times in the past when they were wrong, but they're right now! So listen to your doctor. Remember, they're smarter than you). It must have been those naughty pregnant women acting up again. Don't they care about the children?

Also, the expert behind the theory flat-out states that overweight women should not have children. I'd rather that jerks not have children, personally. Because, I don't think that being fat is so horrible that we should try to make sure fat people are never born. This is not to say that it's not important for individuals to try to be healthy - I'm a bit of a health nut, myself - but come on. I mean, let's look at this "unhealthy" generation that was born in the 50s and 60s - I know some excellent human beings that were born in those decades! Some of them are even *gasp* fat! And if they want to try to do something about that, that's up to them. But I'm glad they're on this planet, regardless.

There are many systemic causes for the health problems we're currently facing. I think our priorities need to shift to value health more. Blaming it all on mothers is both incorrect and unfair.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Parenting and happiness (or lack thereof)

This is a very interesting article in NY Mag about whether kids make one happier or not, and I like this analysis of the article on the Golden Notebooks blog as well. As the article mentions, I sometimes worry that I'm not spending enough "quality time" with Anton. Because, these days, he spends a lot of time either in his ridiculously festooned "activity center" or his Jolly Jumper. He seems to enjoy them, but I feel guilty sometimes for not coming up with bonding/educational activities all day long. Yet, he seems content, stopping every few minutes to look up at me and grin.

Does he make me happier? That's a complicated question. I've heard people say that if you don't have kids, you'll never know how much you could love someone. I think that's true. My love for Anton is a different kind of love than I've ever experienced. But it's also scary sometimes, to love someone so tiny and vulnerable. It causes me a lot of worry.

I certainly have moments of joy with him - many of them, every day. I like taking walks with him, giving him baths, snuggling in the morning, etc. In this way, ours is one of the most rewarding relationships I've ever had. But I don't so much like trying to figure out why he's fussy, trying to get him to sleep, and having him cry while I'm attempting to cook dinner.

But then, isn't that always the way, with someone or something you love? I think about my relationship to theater. There were certainly times when I was so busy and stressed and disappointed in others' behavior, and disappointed in my own results that it seemed absurd that this was something I was choosing to do, for very little (or no) money. Yet, I adore theater. I miss it, when I'm not involved. I would never quit theater for good.

I think the article's focus on the importance of useful, productive activity is a good point. I disagree with the idea that children's lives should be all play and fun. I like the idea of working on something with Anton someday, like a theater project...teaching him "the trade" and all that. His father feels the same way about getting him interested in science, I think.

And, interestingly, having Anton gives me more moments of feeling accomplished, simply because doing anything while caring for a baby feels like an achievement. So when I manage to write a revised chapter for my novel, cook a fabulous dinner, complete a workout DVD, etc., I feel pretty damn good about myself. In less busy times of my life, I often wasted all day online or whatever and didn't get anything of substance done, and that made me depressed. Having too much free time can be dangerous. Knowing you only have an hour or so before the baby wakes from a nap can be an excellent motivator.

So, am I happier overall? I know I'm happy not to be pregnant anymore. I know I'm happy to be married. And, while I don't always feel that I "have it all" (who does?), I know that I can't even imagine my life without Anton, now that he's here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A new low for football fans.

When I lived in the French Quarter, I found the college football crowds to be pretty intolerable. And yeah, living in the Quarter and complaining about obnoxious drunk people is kind of like, I don't know, moving to Alaska and complaining about the cold? But seriously, they took it to another level. Still, I was very disturbed when I heard about this "teabagging" incident that happened after the big LSU-Alabama game in New Orleans last weekend. Seriously, what possesses a human being to treat another human being like that? Watching the video was pretty horrifying for me. I said to David, "this is sexual assault."

Well, the NOPD agrees, and is taking it seriously. And now the perpetrator has turned himself in, and has already lost his job, and I hope he faces criminal charges. Because sexual assault is not a joke, and it doesn't matter what team your victim roots for, or how drunk they are, or if they're a man. I'm glad that message is getting out, because while I wish that people would treat each other decently, and not seek to degrade and punish others simply because of alcohol consumption and football team affiliations, that is clearly not going to happen, so maybe criminal charges will be a deterrent - especially in this day and age where it seems everything is being filmed.

My favorite vegan cookbook

I own 15 vegan cookbooks. I love vegan cookbooks. But I love this one the most.

This is my Betty Crocker/Joy of Cooking/all-purpose cookbook. Of course, I love Veganomicon as much as the next vegan, and Vegan Soul Kitchen has some really interesting stuff, but this one takes the egg-less cake because there are so many recipes that don't call for rare or expensive ingredients. It's really accessible and simple to find something yummy to make, mostly with stuff I already have on hand.

I decided to count how many of the recipes I've tried in the year or so that I've owned this cookbook. The result? 23. Only 23! That means I have 977 more to try! There are entire sections of the cookbook I haven't even explored!

Since I've been on my soup-for-dinner kick, I've been stuck in that section quite a bit. I tend to stick to soups with some kind of bean in them, since it's all we're having for dinner and I want to make sure we get some protein. The split pea and minestrone I've made several times. Last night I made the "Mulligatawny" soup, which incorporated some of David's favorite things (cilantro, Granny Smith apple) and some of my favorite things (coconut milk, lentils, ginger), and it was fabulous, if a bit on the labor-intensive side.

I don't know how Robin Robertson came up with 1000 Vegan Recipes, but I am very grateful that she did. If you only buy one vegan cookbook, this should be it! I would also recommend this to non-vegans who want to incorporate more veggies and healthy stuff into their lives.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

That thin line between dream and reality

So, the dream I had last night was a pretty good dreamworld interpretation of my life right now.

I was at a party hosted by my Aunt and Uncle (who live in Massachusetts, I have no clue where we were supposed to be though, because it was this building with endless hallways and rooms that I've never seen before). There was lots of food, but I couldn't find anything vegan. Various relatives took turns holding Anton while I searched for something I could eat. My sister told me there were several huge pizzas in one room, but of course they all had cheese on them.

I would see something that looked vegan, only to find it wasn't once I put it on my plate. For example, what I thought was a plain salad turned out to be a Caesar salad, and cut up fruit turned out to have cottage cheese on it.

Then, somehow, there was an NTI reunion going on in the same building. We were divided into groups, and given a scene to work on and present. My group's scene was from Shakespeare's Coriolanus. The group decided I should play the title character. But then I realized I hadn't seen Anton in what seemed like hours. I searched all through the building, running into various relatives, and none of them could remember when they'd last seen him, or who had been holding him.

So I ended up full of anxiety, wanting to find him but knowing my group was waiting for me to rehearse our scene. I was also worried that if I didn't nurse him soon I would leak onto my shirt and therefore fail to portray a male character convincingly (ha!).

I began to wake up, and realize that Anton was sleeping next to me. I was torn between relief that he wasn't lost and sadness that I had to leave the dream world before I got to act in the scene from Coriolanus.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Where there's smoke...

I went into town to go mail some Paperback Swap books, and, on my drive back, noticed a huge plume of smoke ahead. I worried at first, wondering if it could be coming from my neighborhood. But as I came closer, I saw that it was a pile of recently felled pine trees, burning away. There were dozens more piles - a huge swath of woods had been rapidly cut down. A sign proclaimed that it was the site of the new "Evangeline Trace" subdivision.

My heart fell. If all these trees had to die, couldn't they at least be used for something? I had heard about "slash and burn" practices in the rainforest, but I was honestly ignorant that it happened so close to home.

And then I turned into the "Livingston Trace" subdivision, where I live.

I almost wrote "not really by choice" after "where I live" in the sentence above. Because, sure, this isn't where I would choose to live - my husband bought this house before we met. But that was just me trying to make an excuse for my part in this whole thing.

I'm vegan, we cart our recycling into Baton Rouge once a month, we compost, we use cloth diapers and napkins, I do Paperback Swap...but it all seems so insignificant when I'm forced to really see the kind of environmental destruction caused by my lifestyle. I'm sure there's so much more I'm still ignorant about.

Things I used to do, like walking or biking for work and errands, aren't even possible with this new suburban lifestyle. The roads are narrow, with no sidewalks and ditches along them which make it dangerous. Besides, there's nothing within walking distance.

I don't want to be a part of this, but I feel powerless.