Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumnal Equinox Smoothies

I've been making smoothies most mornings for breakfast. It involves preparing a bunch of raw veggies and fruits and blending them all up. Here's a template:

CHOOSE ONE, 1/4 c.:

CHOOSE ONE, 4 oz. frozen:

3–5 kale leaves
1 beet
1 yellow/orange/red pepper
1 banana

1/2 lemon, juiced
1 apple

I wrote a cranky review of a mediocre movie.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jumbo's Death Day Pasta

Jumbo the African Elephant worked in P. T. Barnum's circus for three years before being struck and killed by a train in St. Thomas, Ontario on September 15, 1885. He'd helped Barnum make a fortune after Barnum had paid just £6,000 to transport him from England. Thousands of schoolchildren had written to the Queen to protest the sale. After being hacked up and dragged off the tracks, Jumbo's remains were exploited for profit. Barnum was a paragon of American greed and industry—a true villain. Jumbo's trainer, William Scott, who'd come over with him from England, was a much different person. He died in the Bridgeport almshouse in 1914, destitute and heartbroken.

serves: 2
prep. time: approx. 20 mins.

1/2 lb. pasta
5 beets' worth of beet greens, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 can navy beans
black pepper
walnut oil
red wine vinegar

1. Boil water. Cook pasta.
2. Sauté onion in pan over medium heat. When translucent, add squash and beet greens.
3. Season. Strain beans and toss with contents of pan. After a few minutes, turn off heat and serve.

In a manner of speaking…

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pledge of Allegiance Lentil Soup

On September 8, 1892, Francis Bellamy's "Pledge of Allegiance" was published in the children's magazine The Youth's Companion. I wonder if kids in 1892 refused to pledge their allegiance. The original composition is good — much better than the current version, which is marred by a few inelegant revisions. Who knows, maybe I wouldn't have been a brat about reciting it if we'd been reciting I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

When is patriotism not jingoism? Give me cosmopolitanism, not military strikes on Syria.

My parents bought me a Vitamix! It's a wonderful machine. I'm going to make smoothies for breakfast every day. Tonight I made lentil soup.

serves: 2 or 3
prep. time: 1 hour

1.5 c. red lentils
1 c. short-grain brown rice
6 collard leaves, chopped
1 white onion
3 cloves garlic
coconut milk
curry powder
cayenne powder

1. Bring rice and 1.75 c. water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 mins.
2. Bring lentils and 3 c. water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for however long the rice has left.
3. Put onion in Vitamix and blend on lowest speed until chopped.
4. Sauté onion with whole garlic cloves in oil. Add collards after a few minutes.
5. Put everything in Vitamix and blend, slowly increasing speed until desired consistency is attained. You might have to add ingredients in batches if they're too voluminous for the container prior to blending.

My friend H. recently moved to Brooklyn. She took me foraging for fruit last weekend. We picked a bunch of crab apples and made jam! It was super simple. Wash and cut up apples; cook in a pot with lemonade, agave nectar, two cloves, and some cinnamon over low heat until mushy; eat on bread.

I wrote a film review for the first time in months. This one's about crows and a cat. You can read it here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tilikum Tofu & Broccoli on Shells

I saw Blackfish two nights ago. It's a documentary about orcas in captivity. It includes testimony from scientists, former Sea World trainers, and a grizzled old guy who captured orca calfs decades ago and now admits that it was the worst thing he's ever done in his life. The film is commendably level-headed and even-handed. If I'd have tried to make it, it would've come out a vitriolic propaganda piece and call to action. There's no explicit appeal to action at the end of Blackfish, but I can't imagine anyone watching it could leave without feeling sickened by the thought of an orca like Tilikum living most of his life in a tiny enclosure without stimulation or company. It's easy to feel horrified that he's killed three people, but it's neither surprising nor reprehensible. If I'd grown up abused in captivity I can only hope I'd try to kill everyone I could get my teeth on.

Shut down Sea World and all the rest of the marine life "amusement" parks! Shut down aquariums! It's cruel and unusual to do what we do to sentient beings, perhaps especially so when they're as incredibly intelligent and social as whales.

serves: 2 or 3
prep. time: 25 mins.

1/2 lb. shells
1 medium white onion, chopped
2/3 lb. firm tofu, cubed
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
curry powder
soy sauce
apple cider vinegar
nutritional yeast
ground flax seed
chili garlic sauce

1. Bring water to a boil. Simmer pasta until al dente.
2. Place onion and tofu in a medium-sized pot with oil and cook on high heat. After it's gotten noisy in there, splash some vinegar and soy sauce on it. Season with curry powder.
3. Add broccoli, nutritional yeast, and ground flax seed. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally.
4. When the broccoli tender but before it loses all of its snap, shut off heat and mix in chili garlic sauce.

Monday, July 29, 2013

No Gun Ri Massacre Fusilli

On this day in 1950, the No Gun Ri Massacre ended three days after it started. U.S. forces were retreating from advancing North Korean soldiers and rounding up refugees when they decided—someone(s) decided—to simply kill them. Planes began to attack the villagers, joined by the 7th Cavalry Regiment, which continued to shoot civilians for four days.

"I shot, too. Shot at people. I don't know if they were soldiers or what. Kids, there was kids out there, it didn't matter what it was, 8 to 80, blind, crippled or crazy, they shot 'em all," Joseph Jackman, a G Company rifleman, told the BBC. Norman L. Tinkler, an H Company machine gunner, remembered white-clad people coming down the railroad tracks toward the bridge, including "a lot of women and children. ... I was the one who pulled the trigger." He fired about 1,000 rounds and assumed "there weren't no survivors." Said ex-rifleman Herman Patterson, "It was assumed there were enemy in these people." Thomas H. Hacha, dug in nearby with the sister 1st Battalion, witnessed the slaughter: "I could see the tracers (bullets) spinning around inside the tunnel ... and they were dying down there. I could hear the people screaming."

The U.S. government still hasn't issued an apology or granted reparations. A South Korean committee formed in 2005 investigated over 200 cases of "civilian massacre by U.S. soldiers."

On an unrelated and much less important note, I've been on a roll in the kitchen the last several days. I'll  try to put up a couple more recipes this week.

prep. time: approx. 30 mins.
serves: 2

8 oz. fusilli pasta
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
handful grape tomatoes, sliced
couple handfuls spinach
couple splashes hazelnut milk
dollop Veganaise
sprinkle red wine vinegar
couple hearty shakes nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
black pepper

1. Boil pasta.
2. Sauté onion in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add garlic after a few minutes.
3. Add mushrooms after another few minutes. When things are sizzling and smelling good, add tomatoes.
4. Add spinach and cover for a few minutes. Uncover and add everything else. Lower heat and stir until desired consistency.

Monday, May 20, 2013

First US Speeding Infraction Lentil Stew with Collards

On May 20, 1899 taxicab driver Jacob German was arrested for doing 12 mph down Lexington Ave., 4 mph over the speed limit in New York City. No ticket for dear Jacob, but imprisonment! I wonder how long he had to sit in a cell for.

An even stranger and sadder fact is that Jacob and 90% of the other cabbies drove electric vehicles. I mean, sad because it hasn't been the case in so long.

I got the details of this story, as well as good information about the effects of alcohol consumption on brain function (it doesn't kill brain cells!), from, which I just found out existed today.

serves: 3
prep. time: 1 hour

1 c. short grain brown rice
1 c. red lentils
3 small yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced

3 small yellow potatoes, cubed
2 serrano chiles, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
black pepper
collard greens, torn

1. Simmer a pot of your favorite kind of rice.
2. Sauté onions, garlic, and chiles in a medium-sized pot for a few minutes.
3. Add water and lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Add potatoes, tomatoes, and seasoning. Cook until potatoes are tender and lentils break down. Continue to cook until desired thickness is attained.
4. Sauté collard greens in a pan. Salt lightly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fire Concludes the Branch Davidian Siege Collards and Mushrooms with Polenta

On this day in 1993, exactly 20 years before the BPD take Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect, into custody, 76 people died in a fire at the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas after a 51-day siege following a bloodthirsty, foolhardy raid by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Luckily, this time law enforcement resisted the temptations of brutality and vigilantism. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is merely a suspect, a fact some seem to have forgotten, along with all sense of compassion or mercy. Not the most cooperative suspect, it has to be admitted, but it would have been a disgrace had the police scratched itchy trigger fingers.

ما شاء الله

God bless the dead and wounded of Monday, as well as those of Wednesday when a fertilizer plant exploded in West, Texas.

serves: 1 or 2
prep. time: approx. 20 mins.

1 white onion, diced
4 collard leaves, sliced
4 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped
4 rounds of polenta
coarse-ground black pepper

1. Sauté the onion over medium-high heat. When it starts to go translucent, throw in collards and mushrooms, as well as seasoning. Lower heat to medium.
2. When things are fairly well along, pour oil into a pan and heat polenta.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Typhoid Mary Second Quarantine Soup

Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant working in New York as a cook. She was also an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever. She didn't wash her hands before preparing food, so unsurprisingly her employers got sick. At that point she would vanish and find work elsewhere. When a doctor tracked her down, she refused to admit the possibility that she was infected and responsible for infecting others. She was quarantined for three years, then was released on condition that she would find a different line of work and start washing her hands. She did neither thing, infected more people, and was quarantined a second time, on March 27, 1915. She lived her last 33 years in confinement.

Please, wash your hands before cooking.

serves: 2
prep. time: approx. 30 mins.

3 small leek, chopped
1 large handful of Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped (I know it seems weird, but it kind of works!)
1 can of pinto beans
miso paste

1. Sauté leek and mushrooms on a pot over medium-high heat.
2. When it starts to smell good, add potato and enough water to cover it all. Toss in seasoning, but not too much.
3. Add cucumber and beans toward the end. You want the cucumber to get soft but not too soft.
4. Stir in miso paste after you turn off the heat and the water's no longer boiling.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Edward Albee Red Lentil Dal

Happy 84th, Edward Albee! Thanks for writing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

At the end of the week I'll be selecting the recipient of a free copy of Veganissimo A to Z. Will I have to select a ghost or other supernatural entity? You decide!

I've been totally winging amounts of things when I cook, so unfortunately I can't provide any measurement guidelines.

serves: 3?
prep. time: approx. 40 mins.

sweet brown rice
red lentils
half a large eggplant, peeled and cubed
half a clove of garlic, diced
1 large tomato, chopped

1. Simmer the rice until tender.
2. Sauté the eggplant in oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. When it starts to brown, add garlic.
3. After a couple of minutes, add lentils, water, and seasonings.
4. When the dal starts to thicken, add the tomato. I like it to get soft but not totally disintegrate.

That's all, friends! ♥

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Svetlana Alliluyeva's Defection Soup

[Contest update: I misused the word "flaunt" at the end of my last post. If you comment on this post with the word I should have used—I still can't think of what it is—I'll consider that a bid for the book. Unless the situation undergoes a rapid alteration, you'll practically be a shoe-in.]

A slew of notable events and births and deaths fall on March 6, but the one that struck me hardest tonight was that on this day in 1967, Stalin's only daughter defected to the U.S., one year after her would-have-been husband, Brajesh Singh, died. Judging by her Wikipedia entry, Alliluyeva had a tumultuous, eventful, less-than-happy life. Sounds like she might not have found what she was looking for after Singh's death. May we not all be unlucky.

Давайте выпьем за то, чтобы мы испытали столько горя, сколько капель вина останется в наших бокалах!

serves: 2
prep. time: 30 mins.

green lentils
green onion, chopped
2 jalapeños, diced
basil, sliced
1 lime, juiced
two spoonfuls of miso

1. Simmer the lentils in a pot of water. (Use a big pot. Mine was too small,which is why my soup turned out too crowded.)
2. Add the jalapeños and coriander after 10 mins. or so.
3. Add the spinach, onion, and basil 5 mins. or so before the lentils are tender.
4. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and miso.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Contest and Review of Veganissimo A to Z

The kind people at The Experiment recently mailed me two copies of their new resource book, Veganissimo A to Z: A Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Avoiding Ingredients of Animal Origin in Everyday Products, one to review and one to send to someone else! First, the review:

This book will be undeniably helpful for anyone concerned with where their food comes from, vegans most of all. It has instantly replaced my old guide, which I bought in London three years ago, AK Press's Animal Ingredients A to Z. It's sort of weird that Veganissimo uses the same "A to Z" trope, especially since the first edition of the EG Smith Collective's work and the first German edition of Proctor and Thomsen's work both came out in 1995. (I wouldn't want to guess whether they've ripped off the device or whether they've never heard of or read Animal Ingredients or what.) Titles aside, Animal Ingredients has the advantage of a preface by Carol J. Adams, but it pales in comparison to the scope of the research evident in Veganissimo.

Other positive comments: I like the design and typography. Plus, I didn't catch any typos!

On to the problems! My first gripe is with the title, actually. It makes me sort of uncomfortable that there's this fake dictionary entry for the word "veganissimo" at the top, complete with pronunciation guide. How is the first definition (of two) a noun?! "Grrrl, you're a veganissimo." No, I can't imagine anyone ever saying that. It's a turn-off to be told that the book is designed for vegans of "the highest possible standard." People will use it according to their desires and capacities and circumstances, and it's a shame to think they might be dissuaded to some degree from the jump by the prospect of failing to attain to "veganissimo" status. Of course, the authors say no such garbage in the introduction or anywhere else in the main text, but a cover's a cover and we should judge it.

Major issue number two has to do with the Key to the Icons. Each ingredient heading is flanked by an icon or icons that denote whether that ingredient derives from a vegetable, animal, synthetic, mineral, or microbiological source. Each icon comes in two colors, orange and gray. Orange denotes "always or often," whereas gray denotes "sometimes or rarely." Here's the kicker: almost all the entries come with a bull head, because the guide is designed to help you avoid animal ingredients, but many of those bull heads are paired with other icons, some of the same color! This is harder to explain in words than to understand by glancing at an arbitrary page, but here goes. How is it logically possible for the source of Ammonium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, for instance, to be always or often animal, always or often vegetable, AND always or often synthetic? It's not possible! (Or else I have a different notion of "often" than do the authors.) This probably won't bother some or many or most or few or a number of people, but it bothers me, not just because it's imprecise but because it's confusing. However impressive all those little icons look, the only information you can glean from them is whether you have to avoid something outright, worry about it, or whether you can eat it without hesitation. To that end, I'd like to see the next edition organize the ingredients list completely differently. One section should include all animal ingredients that are always animal-derived. Another section should include all ingredients that come from more than one source, in which case you'll have to contact the company if you want to sleep soundly. The final section should include all the ingredients that aren't animal derived but deserve mention for various reasons, whether because a vegetable-derived ingredient could be confused with a more common animal-derived ingredient or because an ingredient is made out of petroleum or yeast. There's a lot of valuable information in this book, and I trust that the authors have good reason for including every item they've included, but they need to revise the structure of the book.

Okay, that said, if you're vegan or vegan-leaning and you don't already have a solid guide to the numerous esoteric, arcane substances that pepper the packaging on packaged food goods in this country, you should totally enter the following contest and win a copy!

Here's the deal, then. For the next two weeks I encourage anyone and everyone interested to submit a comment. At 1:00 PM on Friday, March 15, I'll pick my favorite and ask the winner for their mailing address so that I can send them a copy of Veganissimo A to Z free of charge. The catch is that you can't leave any old comment (e.g., "Give it to meeeee"). In order to qualify for consideration, you'll have to write me either 1. an anagram poem (I recommend this generator); 2. a short anecdote or fable (or proverb?!); or 3. a charm, spell, prayer, or other incantation. If you flaunt the rules you better flaunt hard.

If you need some inspiring music to bob along to while you write your way to a slightly heavier bookshelf, you should probably listen to something other than the album I just released.

Monday, February 25, 2013

George Harrison's Inception Day Stir Fry

George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943. He would have been 70 today if he hadn't died from lung cancer. Harrison was a Hindu and became a vegetarian in the late 1960s. Bless him! It's funny to think of him now on top of cloud rather than stuck inside one.

Jaaska isn't George Harrison, but s/he makes music that clears away the clouds. Well, only the ones that George Harrison isn't floating on.

serves: 2
prep. time: 40 mins.

sweet brown rice
1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
2 broccoli heads, chopped
6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
two small vine tomatoes, chopped
soy sauce
ground cumin
ground turmeric
cayenne pepper

1. Pour some rice in a pot. Pour water over the rice. Simmer for approx. 40 mins.
2. Pour some oil in a large pan. Cook tofu over medium heat for 20 mins.
3. Lower heat a bit and add broccoli and soy sauce and seasonings. After 5 mins., add mushrooms.
4. Add tomatoes 5 mins. before the rice is done.

I reviewed an incredible film, Bestiaire, a documentary about the Quebecois zoo amusement park Parc Safari.

On Wednesday, I'm going to announce a contest!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Audre Lorde's Birthday Pasta

Audre Lorde was born on February 18, 1934 in New York City. For those who don't know: she was a Black lesbian feminist socialist warrior mother of two, as well as an incredible poet/writer. Her work has meant a lot to me. Thanks to A. for sending me a link to this Audre Lorde & Adrienne Rich marathon reading at the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope last November. I attended (and participated) for a few hours and had a wonderful, powerful time. Further thanks to A. for informing me earlier today that it's Lorde's birthday.

Still further thanks to A. for sharing with me a while ago this quotation from Harold Rosenberg's 1953 essay, "Revolution and the Idea of Beauty": "The most radical changes have come from personalities who were conservative and even conventional—a powerful recoil from the present threw them backwards, so to speak, into the future. The artist who concerns himself with angels or stained glass windows may produce effects as devastating as the designer of a new cosmos in plexiglass." From Rich's 1979 interview with Lorde: "I was working nights, and I'd apprenticed myself to a stained-glass window-maker…" I love small cosmic alignments!

I'll leave you with some words of Lorde's I don't think will ever stop resonating with me: "Rationality is not unnecessary. It serves the chaos of knowledge. It serves feeling. It serves to get from this place to that place. But if you don't honor those places, then the road is meaningless."

serves: 1-2
prep. time: 20 mins.

1/2 lb. pasta
1 mid-sized eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 massive portobello mushroom and its single attendant cremini mushroom, chopped
1/2 bundle of spinach
red wine vinegar

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta. Remove pasta when it's done.
2. Sauté eggplant in a large pan over medium-high heat. Turn down to medium or medium-low after several minutes.
3. Add mushroom. Season. Sprinkle red wine vinegar over the whole shebang.
4. Add spinach and cook till wilted.

I published a paper in the Journal for Critical Animal Studies. Not sure if I've plugged that already or not, so here goes: ‡†‡

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Don't Select for Not-Me, Darwinian Mechanism Soup

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. "Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history." There you have it!

I've got a cold. Better than what I had a couple of days ago. If you're fitting to get sick (or caught it already) and want to get sick in the kitchen, there's few better health-charm soups than this 'ere. I guess—I don't really know what's good for you.

My roommate's listening to bad screamo!

serves: 2 or 3
prep. time: 30 mins.

1 large beet, peeled and diced
some kale leaves, ripped and torn (Grrr!)
1/3 lb. tofu, cubed
a couple of handfuls of green lentils (I don't measure things much!)
veggie bullion
nutritional yeast (supererogatory!)

1. Throw everything in a pot and let the magic happen. (That's what Darwin said.) 

A very sad thing happened recently: RIP Collin Anderson

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Voyager 2 Gets "Close" to Uranus Pumpkin-Tangelo Curry

This is my first post in almost eight months. Anybody out there?

On this day in 1986, the Voyager 2 space probe passed within 50,600 miles of Uranus, discovering the moons Cordelia, Ophelia, Bianca, Cressida, Desdemona, Juliet, Portia, Rosalind, Belinda, Perdita, and Puck A real diversity of names! Are all moons women? Oh wait, what's Puck doing in there? That trickster. Apparently Miranda is an exceptional lady; might even have reformed after being obliterated at some point. Uranus's rings, which are younger than the planet herself, might be the remains of a moon destroyed by violent impact or "tidal effects," which is the name for what happens when a celestial body's gravitational force is so overwhelmed by another's that the body completely disintegrates. Oh, the metaphorical possibilities! Voyager 2 sent us back some incredible photos, including this blue doozy. That pic you're looking at was snapped at least 1.6 billion miles from the planet you're dallying on. (If you'd like to get a move on, try Mars in ten years.)

Voyager 2 contains a Golden Record (as does Voyager 1, which was launched after Voyager 2 but outstripped her in the race to no place). The cover has these incredible markings that might give someone the suggestion that what's inside contains something that can be extracted through some process of transmutation. The record itself bears the title "The Sounds of Earth," as if extraterrestrials are going to be able to decode four English words in isolation. Jimmy Carter says: "This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours." Amen. Carl Sagan chaired the committee that selected the record's sounds and images. In addition to greetings spoken in a bunch of languages (including whale—no mention of which whales), there are songs of which the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" is not one, because EMI didn't want the material traveling anywhere that didn't have strict copyright laws in place already. (Maybe.)

Okay, so on to the recipe.

prep time: 1 hour
serves: too many

some rice
2 small eggplants, cubed
2 small sweet potatoes, cubed
1 can of puréed pumpkin
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of cannellini beans
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 tangelo, peeled and relieved of seeds
most of a head of garlic, sliced
nutritional yeast (optional)
spices (make your own blend or just use pre-mixed curry spice)
cayenne pepper


1. Cook some rice. I used brown sweet rice.

2. Sauté the sweet potatoes in oil in a large pot over medium-high heat while you finishing prepping. Toss in the eggplant and tangelo for a minute or two, then add pumpkin and coconut milk. Cover and reduce to medium heat.

3. Add tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings at some point. Don't wait too long, if at all. Then sit back and let everything mingle.

Okay, and now here's Malachi, my roommate's wonderful rescue kitten!

Oh, and then here's an album I released in December. And a film review published last week.