Archive | October, 2012

MoFo #21: A very vegan bday, part 2

21 Oct

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Since we stayed at the cabin on Saturday night and the farm is not open to the public on Sunday, we got our very own private tour! We started off in the visitor center, where we watched a short film about the origins of Farm Sanctuary and the cruelties of factory farming. I could barely watch the factory farming scenes…even though they were pretty tame, I’ve become a complete crybaby when I see any animal suffering.

Our guide, Autumn (OMG we have the same name!), was super sweet and gave us an amazing introduction to the animals. We walked over to visit with the geriatric herd, who were sweetly munching grass and were happily ignoring us. Hanging out with them was a former veal calf, Elliot, who was just the coolest dude. He let me give him big hugs and ear scritches and nearly knocked me over just by swinging his head! Then he got interested in my jeans and gave me a bath. Cow tongues are rough!

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We then walked over to the chicken barn, which was filled with rescued hens from an egg farm that had been abandoned by the owner after he didn’t have enough money to pay for the slaughter of the spent hens. I don’t even know what to say. I remember the news story — 50,000 hens were left to starve to death. By the time authorities realized what was happening, 45,000 had already died. The surviving hens were rescued, thank goodness, but my heart grieves for all the souls who didn’t make it. Despite all they’ve been through, the hens we visited were friendly and perky. They came right up to us and gently pecked at our shoes and pants. When I bent down to pet one of the girls, the rest started pecking my behind! That was a big surprise!! I loved their sweet crooning; it just made me melt!

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Even though the hens are considered “spent” by the egg industry (i.e., they don’t produce enough eggs to be economically viable for the farm), they still lay eggs on a regular basis. It was really cute to see the girls squeezing together two to a nest box even though there were plenty of empty boxes for them to occupy! They just wanted snugglez! If you’re curious, the eggs, shell and all, are fed back to the hens because it’s a great way to return the calcium and protein that gets depleted from their little bodies due to continuous egg laying.

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Saying goodbye to the hens, we went over to the pigs’ barn, where everyone was cuddled up in big mounds of hay. We got to give belly scratches to giant smiling piggies!!

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One of the pigs was separated from the rest of the herd because she had injured her leg. Unfortunately, this happens a lot because their bodies are bred to be so gigantic (just like cattle) that their joints can’t support all that weight and they get hurt really easily. This poor girl was obviously bored and totally unhappy to be separated from her friends. She immediately came over to greet us and was full of impatient little snorts.

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Next to the pig barn were the goats and sheep, and one of the first to greet us was Madeline, followed quickly by Ivan, the old man of the group. He wanted all the attention and just leaned up against us. I almost lost some body parts to his horns!

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Molly was another sweetie pie who demanded scratches. I love her little underbite!

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And here are some sheep and goat butts for your viewing pleasure. I had no idea sheep’s tails are usually docked.

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At that point, our official tour was over and we got a chance to just wander around the farm a bit. We said hello to the turkeys, who were very friendly and curious about us! One of the turkeys walked right up to me and made the sweetest little chirps and coos. We just hung out like that for 15 minutes!

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At that point, all the animals started to get excited because it was lunch time! We ran into some steer who were waiting patiently for their hay and butting their heads together. It was pretty cute.

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Once their hay was set out they insisting on eating from the same trough, even though they had lots of room!

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We made our way back to the visitor center at the people barn, where I picked up a Farm Sanctuary shirt and said goodbye to Autumn, and then were on our way!

Since this is the vegan month of food, I suppose I should actually have a little section in today’s post about food. That day for lunch we made hummus, veggie, and tofurkey wraps and snacked on chips, salsa, and guacamole hummus. I didn’t get any pictures of anything, though, except for this dorky one in which I am a dried mango pirate. Ha ha ha!

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Hope everyone had a good weekend! Keep on MoFoing!

MoFo #21: A very vegan bday, part 1

21 Oct

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The main reason I love my birthday is because it is a great excuse to do fun stuff! Mr. Chickpea and I have a birthday tradition of gifting each other cool experiences or taking each other out to fancy restaurants. OK, usually I make him a fancy homemade meal and he takes me out for a cool dinner. Best of both worlds!

This year we had kind of a birthday…er, month. Mr. Chickpea’s b-day is in August but I planned a dual birthday weekend for us starting with his present, a day of white water rafting on the American River, followed by my present, a night at Farm Sanctuary’s country cabin and a tour of the farm.

So I didn’t get pics of the rafting, but it was suuuper fun and at the end the guides BBQ’d burgers for us and even made me my own little veggie burger. Yay! We had a lot of time left in the day before we needed to get to Farm Sanctuary, so we took a detour to the apple farms east of Sacramento to eat some sweeties and guzzle cider.

We started off at one of my favorite places, Boa Vista Orchards, which has the biggest selection of apples, pears, other produce, and apple treats.

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Unfortunately for vegans, all of Boa’s baked goods contain butter! I drowned my sorrows in cider.

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And free samples
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Lots of free samples…
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And I ate leftover vegan deep dish (is it too gross to show half eaten pizza?? I forgot to take a pic until I was half way through!) And more cider. WHAT? DON’T JUDGE MY LOVE OF CIDER!

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Finally we found a farm stand that used only Crisco in their baked treats. So yaaaaay no dairy, but boooo trans fats!! I got a sugar-free apple something or other. It was pretty dang good, even though I was half dying with a gallon of juice in my belly.

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Later that afternoon, we drove north a few hours to Orland and made it to Farm Sanctuary right at sunset. It was so quiet and peaceful on the farm. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and the views were brilliant!

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The country cabin was totally adorable. It was a little bit away from the animals and right next to the “People Barn”. I felt at home right away!

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The cabin is decorated with photos of the animals at the farm and is filled with lots of animal rights books, brochures, and board games.

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There was even a little basket of bath goodies to try!
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I knew we would have a kitchenette, so I loaded up at Trader Joe’s. Look at that spread! And I love love loved the little sign in the kitchen! It says, “Please refrain from eating animal products here.” Yeah!

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We had planned to make veggie wraps for dinner, but decided instead to check out a local restaurant, Farwood Bar & Grill, that was supposed to have a vegan menu. Yay for supporting vegan options at omni restaurants!

We were brought some bread and butter the waiter was super cool — he brought me my own little dish of oil and vinegar for the bread!

We also ordered some avocado fries that were absolutely delicious, and I ordered the vegan Thai salad (which was huge — yessss!) for my main course. Everything was really delicious and the restaurant staff were really cool towards vegans. Their vegan menu was basically a few options from the regular menu with meat/dairy removed or, in the case of the avocado fries, with a vegan dipping sauce instead of the non-vegan aioli. It just goes to show how easy it can be for restaurants to be veg-friendly with minimal effort and I bet they get a ton of folks visiting the sanctuary who want to support their efforts (that’s why we went!).

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The next morning we had a breakfast feast in the cabin — cinnamon raisin bagels with tofutti cream cheese, bananas, dried mango, cashews, and of course, more cider! Then we got ready for our farm tour. The animals deserve their own post, so check that out in part 2 tomorrow!

Happy Herbivore giveaway winner!

20 Oct

Congrats to Amy, the winner of this giveaway!

Amy wrote, “Favourite Autumn food has to be pumpkin soup for cool evenings, and the arrival of feijoas on the trees. Best!!”

I’m definitely making a lot of pumpkin recipes this month, too! I’ve never had feijoas, I wonder if I can find any around these parts 🙂

Thanks to everyone who wrote in! I’ll be doing another giveaway towards the end of MoFo…probably hand knits and some sweet treats!

MoFo #19: Chard-guacamole Quesadillas & Applejack Toddies

20 Oct

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You guys, I am so incredibly pleased with myself tonight. I mean, I just followed a recipe, but DAMN. If it were possible to marry a food, I would marry the heck out of these puppies.

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Tonight’s appetizer comes from The Inspired Vegan (see, I told you it would pop up again!). I’ve made these before and thought they were delicious but do you ever have those nights where a certain food really hits the spot like nothing else? That was me tonight. These are like the perfect healthy vegan quesadilla — rich, spicy guacamole and sweet & tangy chard smooshed inside a nutty whole wheat tortilla. Wowzers.

You start off by blanching a bunch of finely chopped chard. And then this….
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….becomes this. In addition to just draining the chard, I hand squeezed a lot of the liquid out because it helps in the sautéing step that comes next. I don’t think I’ll ever not be amazed by how much greens cook down!

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After the chard has cooled, you saute it with some garlic, currants (I used chopped raisins), and orange juice. I’ve made this greens recipe a lot just as a side dish, too. It’s a nice light way to cook up collards or chard.

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The mix goes into a tortilla along with some spicy guacamole and you pan fry them together for a few minutes so the tortilla gets nice and crispy. Then fold it in half, and you’re good to go!

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So these are great by themselves but I strongly recommend a little cashew crema on the side (my recipe comes from Viva Vegan). The rich and tangy cream is a great complement!

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That drink you see on the right is the second half of tonight’s post and is another Bryant Terry creation, this time from Vegan Soul Kitchen. It’s pretty much the perfect fall cocktail, drawing its flavor from cinnamon and apple brandy. The cinnamon stick is steeped in boiling water for a minutes, then you add apple jack, agave nectar, a little lemon juice, and some apple juice (I used cider!). I’m usually not a big fan of warm cocktails because the evaporating alcohol always burns my nose, but this was so tasty I’m willing to overlook that! I bought applejack specifically for this recipe but had decided to try it on its own first to get a good idea of the flavor. Blech — I am definitely not a brandy girl! It was way too strong and I couldn’t really appreciate the apple undertones. Mixed with juice and a cinnamon infusion, it was just right!

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Alright, that’s it for me tonight! I’m off to get my daily dose of snuggles from this guy! 🙂

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MoFo #18: Fast food night at Chipotle

18 Oct

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I wanted to cook so badly this week but I’m stuck working late nights, which means I’ve got to find something easy for dinner. I’m really lucky to work where I do because there are loads of vegan options (I’ve even started a guide on my blog, which has its own page); unfortunately, a lot of them are pretty pricey. So that’s where I ended up tonight…in need of something quick, cheap(ish), and healthy. There’s a Taco Bell down the street but yeah, that’s cheap and quick and not very healthy. So the second least expensive option was Chipotle. Mr. Chickpea doesn’t like Chipotle but I have always enjoyed their vegan burritos.

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I even managed to take a cruddy pic with my phone before chowing down. Burritos don’t photograph very well, so I’ll just give the run down of what I always get: brown rice, black beans, veggies, hot salsa, corn salsa, guac, and lettuce. And of course, plenty of chipotle tabasco! I love that they don’t charge for guac if you leave off cheese!

What’s your favorite weeknight vegan fast food?

MoFo #17: Acorn squash, pear, and adzuki soup with sauteed shiitakes

17 Oct

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Whew, another long recipe title from Veganomicon! When I told Mr. Chickpea I was making this soup for dinner, he was…skeptical. He did not think the ingredients would go together *at all* and I just kept repeating “but, but, but Isa & Terry said this is a ‘precious jewel of a soup!’ Precious jewel, I must MAKE THE PRECIOUS!!!” Plus, I needed an excuse to test out my b-day present from Mr. Chickpea, a Vitamix! Wheeeeee! I foresee a long beautiful friendship between me and this blender.

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I do admit, it’s a weird combination of ingredients — onion, red bell pepper, ginger, Chinese five spice, pears, acorn squash, beans, and mushrooms. But I figured, Isa & Terry have never steered me wrong before, I’ve got the faith! Big surprise, it all came together really well to give a warm, comforting soup. The soup itself is slightly sweet, with a creamy broth and chunks of onion, squash, and pear, and beans mixed in. I really enjoyed the mix of textures. The mushrooms added a great savory flavor, but I have a weird texture issue with them so I think next time I might make really thin slices instead of just cutting them in half. Also, I don’t really think you need the adzukis — any mild bean would do well. One small can of the things cost me $2.65!!! Oh, the sacrifices I make for MoFo…

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MoFo #16: Portobello salad with spicy mustard dressing

17 Oct

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Well, the inevitable has happened: I’ve falled behind on my MoFo posts!!! Yesterday was supposed to be my salad day and even though I made the dish, I was too tired to write and upload photos. So here it is, to be followed in rapid succession by tonight’s soup post!

I guess this salad from Veganomicon isn’t necessarily a fall food, but it does have warm roasted mushrooms and a mustard maple dressing, which seems like a perfect cool weather salad. You start off by marinating some portobello caps, then roasting them in the oven for 30 min. Usually I just marinate my veggies (including mushrooms) in olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian seasoning, but I might switch to this recipe — a mix of wine, olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Pretty simple, but the wine really made it delicious!! I used some old chardonnay that’s been sitting in the fridge for a few months and it came out really well.

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The rest of the salad is pretty easy — greens, red onion, avocado, and chickpeas. The dressing is like a honey dijon, but the sweetener is maple syrup.

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We were both really impressed by this simple salad. The flavors just melded together really well and we were too stuffed to eat the rest of our dinner. Definitely a keeper!