November 2009


The Autumn leaves have almost all fallen from the trees and it is that time again to prepare for the rush of holiday season. This week’s vegan recipe of the week is Thanksgiving themed. With the feasting holiday approaching it is important to have vegan options to the traditional standbys. Whether you are attending a dinner and want to impress your omnivore relatives or if you are cooking an entire vegan feast, the traditional recipe for stuffing is essential to the Thanksgiving menu. This week we have a recipe for Vegan Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing. So enjoy the fall send off in vegan style!

fruit and nut stuffing Photo By scaredy_katVegan Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing 

5 Cups of Stale or Toasted Vegan Bread

1-2 Cups of Wild Rice

2 Cups of Chopped Celery

1 Cup Chopped Onion

1 Cup Vegetable Broth

3/4 Cup Chopped Cranberries

3/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

3 Tbls of Earth Balance Vegan Margarine 

1 1/2 Tsps Thyme

1 Tsp Sage

1 Tsp Rosemary

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Fully cook the wild rice before hand.  Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a large pan heat up the margarine and cook the onions, celery, and cranberries for about 15 minutes or until soft and tender.  Add in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. In a large  bowl mix the bread crumbs, rice,walnuts, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour hot mixture over the dry ingredients and mix. Grease a pan with margarine and  pour mixture into pan. Dot the top with extra margarine and cover with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until the top is crispy. Serve with Tofurkey and other Thanksgiving dishes.

foraged apple Photo By artethgrayThe idea for taking it upon myself to forage for my own foliage in an urban setting was introduced to me by one Joe Medeiros, biology and ecology professor at Sierra College in Rocklin, CA.  A scruffy and adventurous man, he would often entertain his classes with tales of surviving bear encounters in isolated wilderness and complaining intelligently about the earth’s rapid over-populating of humans, all with wry wit and heartfelt sincerity.  We all trusted him immediately.  Thus, it was not so surprising that, on frequent field trips around campus and in the nearby Northern Californian foothills, I thought it ingeniously resourceful and just plain rad that he would stop, bend down and pick some random green-leafed herb on the side of a sidewalk or trail and cram it into his mouth.  We watched and were amazed, realizing that, contrary to a vague assumption we all seemed to have, every little green thing growing in your backyard isn’t horrifyingly poisonous.

Hand Picking Blueberries Photo By lepiaf.geoOver the years, the impulse he instilled in me to be curious about the plants that surround us on a daily basis never died.  The more obvious edibles, such as oranges in the historic trees growing on the landscaped sidewalk plot in front of my apartment in downtown Sacramento or the plethora of Himalayan blackberries encroaching on my aunt’s backyard in Berkeley were easily taken advantage of, for urban foraging may encompass all available resources.  Questions of the right people have to eat from plants growing on public and easily-accessible private land have been raised, but I must confess that no fence nor fear would stop me from stuffing a few ripe peaches, fallen on my then-neighbor’s lawn in Oakland, into my pockets.  In fact, once caught doing so, she encouraged me to continue to help myself.  This tendency to consume what others might neglect has resulted in a number of organizations designed to connect people in communities with plant locations and people willingly providing fruit surplus, such as Urban Edibles in Portland and Fallen Fruit in Los Angeles.  The wonderful, humanistic benefit of such organizations, in the spirit of social charity, is that individuals in local settings become better-acquainted through the very old and even sacred act of food gathering, using what the Earth is already providing to share and sustain themselves.

Weeds on a Philly Sidewalk Photo By Eric__I_EBut the idea of urban foraging doesn’t need to be limited to easily identified fruits you’ll also see at the market.  So many plants that you might pass on the way to a corner store are very-likely palatable and nutritious.  This ventures into what is now commonly called Wild Food, plants that sprout up naturally, where they please, entirely uncultivated by people, be they native species having existed in an area for eons or invasives accidentally introduced by people in the last century or less.  Recall my former professor, Joe; he had an expertise at identifying and discriminating seemingly obscure edible plants from inedible or occasionally poisonous ones.  Such an in depth knowledge requires much practice and perhaps a guide for the new forager; a notable one would be the famous “Wildman” Steve Brill of New York City who leads many of the curious on tours through the city, helping them sort through available resources (his website also offers an extensive identification guide with color pictures).

IMG_3890 Photo By beggsYears after learning from Joe I found an incredibly useful book: Wild Edible Plants of Western North America, written by Donald Kirk and expertly illustrated by Janice Kirk.  Living in Sacramento at one point, equiped with this guide as well as a friend conveniently enrolled in a plant taxonomy course, I decided to stroll a few blocks to the American River parkway to try to come home with something to cook.  Hardly ten minutes into our search, my friend identified mustard plants with broad, dark leaves and little hairs on the underside.  Certainly not something you would immediately think to be edible, let alone tasty in a salad or stir-fried in a wok.  Shrugging, I cross-referenced them with the illustrations and descriptions, picked some, brought them home, and did just that: put them in a salad and stir-fried them in a wok.  They were great.

This Turns out to be Minor's Lettuce! Photo By RuTempleAnd this easy find is minor compared with the variety and availability of wild and once-cultivated plants permeating our urban environment.  For example, not long after at a local farmer’s market, I found a vendor selling twist-tied bundles of dried oat straw, yellow and hay-looking, intended to be boiled as a tea, with a pantheon of reported health benefits ranging from B-complex vitamins to assuaging depression to helping cure forms of cancer.  Looking it over, I realized that this stuff grows frickin’ everywhere, in open lots and unkempt front yards all over any city I’ve lived in California.  The farmers themselves just harvested the bundles in their backyard before market.  I thought of Joe back at Sierra College and his mouth full of what I later learned to be tangy, vitamin C-fortified Miner’s Lettuce he found next to the science building, and couldn’t help but smile. 

Do you need to be crazy to start eating the stuff that grows in the cracks in your driveway, or crazy not to?  

-Jeremy Pearson

photo-1This weekend marked the 14th annual Boston Vegetarian Festival and we had a blast! It was wonderful to meet some of our fans and make new friends! We also enjoyed sampling the many vegan goodies from around the country. With tasty bites from Teese Cheese, Crazy Camel Dessert Hummus, and many local eateries, the festival was a bountiful display of veganism. We definitely enjoyed every second of the goodies, however we must say the highlight of our time there was meeting and tasting the desserts of Vegan Treats Bakery from Bethlehem, PA. This amazing bakery is every vegan’s dream offering the old staples of doughnuts and pies to more involved items such as French pastries and whoopie pies!

IMG_1651

Death By Chocolate

Although we have yet to visit their storefront, we tried several different treats from their very full display of mini cakes! The first day we had the honor of diving into a delicious Carrot Cake and a Death By Chocolate. We tried the Carrot Cake first and it was flavorful and very moist! However, we couldn’t wait to sink our teeth into the Death By Chocolate. It was chocolate cake with a hardened chocolate shell, sprinkled with crispy balls, sprayed with gold dust, and a pretty chocolate star to top it off! One bite and we instantly went into a choco-gasm. This mini cake was packed full of chocolaty flavor and the crisps were just a perfect touch. It was extremely hard to believe these were vegan!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

The second day we knew we had to try as many mini cakes as possible, since we don’t know the next time we will be in Bethlehem. For Sunday we thought we would try the Peanut Butter Cheesecake and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake. Both were so creamy and there was no way you could tell either of these desserts were “lacking” any ingredients. Although we enjoyed both cheesecakes to their core, the Peanut Butter Cheesecake floored us! There are almost no words to describe the fudgy chocolate and gooey peanut butter mixed with the creaminess of cheesecake that touched our tongues! This was is by far the best cheesecake, vegan or not, we have EVER come across!!

We can hardly wait to feast upon those delicious little cakes once again and have been brainstorming on how we can travel down to Bethlehem for AP. That way we have an excuse to overeat and spend our money on these incredible vegan goods! If you are ever passing through the area, this Vegan Treats Bakery is worth visiting. We unfortunately didn’t have a chance to try all their items, but one look at their menu will make one want to make a special trip to the town!

We want to thank our new friends at Vegan Treats and look forward to indulging in many more of their desserts. In fact, until we taste another Vegan Treats cake, we’re not sure anything else is comparable.

Treasuremytext for iPhone: SpringBoard Photo By katielipsTechnology has brought many notable changes to the way we live modern life. The personal computer, cell phones, surgeries performed by robots….all of these pale in comparison of the evolution of the abbreviation “app”. Once upon a time an app’ was a fun way to describe a pre-meal whistle wetter, often times used in the sentence with the name your favorite chain restaurant and the words “fresh margs”, example; “Let’s go down to the local T.G.I AppleBottoms and order some delicious apps and fresh margs, I hear their flowering onion is to die for!”

Fast forward to the future, aka right now, with the advent of iPhones, the abbreviation app has become ubiquitous with the word application. As in “there’s an app for that”, as in, really, do you have an app featuring chronological photographic history of the great thespian Corey 

Feldman? (Hint, hint…magical makers of iPhone apps, give the public what it wants!)

iPhone app organization Photo By Mat Honan

These iPhone apps may not be battered and deep fried, but they are just as desirable. While the CoreyNow app is just in the dream stages, countless other applications are available for iPhones. They rank anywhere from useful to pointless fun. On the more useful end of things, numerous Green Apps currently exist and seem to be multiplying with every passing month. Below are just a few examples of iPhone’s socially conscious side, the tip of the electronic iceberg, if you will. But there are many more out there!

Go Green: This free application gives users a helpful tip for living green each time it is opened. Each tip accumulates into a handy, running tip list, making it a great tool for both newly minted environmentalists and green living devotees, alike.

FindGreen: Helping you locate thousands of green and sustainable businesses throughout the United States and Canada, FindGreen is an outstanding iPhone application. Locating where you are through the magic of computer technology – some type of ritual in the woods, involving sacrifices and fire, I’d imagine- FindGreen gives you step by step directions to nearby green businesses that are approved through a thorough evaluation process at GenGreenLife.com. When you are done paying patronage to these lovely businesses, feel free to get your Roger Ebert on and submit your own business review to FindGreen. Two thumbs way up for this free application!

Irecycle: This application does exactly what its name would lead you to believe it does; it finds nearby recycling locations for its users. With access and directions to over 110,000 recycling locations, this completely free application will make the excuse of not knowing where to recycle something of the past. Thank you magical internet devices, you are so mighty and wise, please accept my sacrifice of a gaggle of empty, recyclable cans.

GreenCard: No, this free application does not bestow upon its users residency in the good ‘ol U.S of A, but what it does do is change the way its users exchanges business cards. Allowing you to create and exchange business cards digitally, this application eliminates the need for paper waste, it also notifies your contacts to any modifications to your personal card immediately. I am sure both trees and your wallet alike will thank you for sparing them the suffering of producing/ holding archaic printed business cards.

VeganSteven: For all you tech-loving vegans, this app, complete with its own adorable carrot mascot, gives you environmentally friendly walking and biking directions to all your local vegan eateries. The GPS in your phone will locate the closest vegan or vegan friendly restaurants no matter where you are traveling to or in your hometown! Vegan Steven may not be Corey Feldman, but he does have a certain charm to him, plus he has a job, so plus one for the carrot. (Burn on Feldman, sorry buddy!)

While calorie rich-apps are quickly becoming a thing of the past, I take comfort in knowing that this abbreviation lives on for a much more noble cause; advancing our lives through the almighty magic of technology.

Remember to live green and to keep your iPhones happy through frequent human sacrifices…hmmm, I mean, frequent charges of their batteries.

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