Thursday, October 14, 2010

Read this, then get ye' onto the ground. Also, Vegan Soul Kitchen!

 You know how I claim in my bio on the right that I am "serious as a heart attack"?  This post is mostly about that.

The other night, some friends of mine and I went to a bar in Spring City to watch the Flyers game.  It wasn't as crowded as a Phoenixville bar because Spring City isn't as happening and also, the whole town is totally haunted, or so my friend Morgan tells me.  Sitting across from us at the bar was a young guy who was wearing a hat advertising his love of fishing.  Our friend Steve ended up getting into a conversation with the guy about hunting and fishing, about which they both knew a great deal.

Round these parts, there are a lot of deer.  It's pretty dangerous to drive down Route 23 through Valley Forge Park at night, but, truth be told, there are so many deer that they're not even shy during the day.  I read a newspaper article about how the deer are getting smaller because they're literally starving -- there isn't enough green space to sustain them.  And it's no wonder.  We've killed off all their predators.  So, I hate to say it, but I understand the need to hunt them, although it seems really messed up.  But you know what's really messed up?  Ever see that show Meerkat Manor?  The way the meerkats sneak away to kill their rival sisters' pups?  Man, that show is almost too sad to watch (as a side note, it is the ONLY show that my cat Rory is interested in).  In any case, I didn't say a word during their hunting conversation because, let's face it, there's no convincing a hunter that hunting is no good.  At least he's not out hunting elephants on safari.

But fish are another story.  Actually, I didn't have to tell him the story.  He knew, and he told us without any prompting.  He said that he throws all the fish he catches back now because there are hardly any left.  He said that when he was a kid, there were more fish, but now they've "cleared out."  That's right, "cleared out."  As if they just decided to go elsewhere instead of what has really happened, which is that they've been commercially fished close to extinction.  I decided to speak up for the first time in the conversation.  I told him that if he cares about fishing, he should advocate for marine preserves and drastic commercial fishing regulations.  That fish are well and truly going the way of the dodo.

Did you ever see the video for the Radiohead song "Just"?  If you haven't, watch this before you read further.  I can't embed it because it is the official video and they won't give the embed code for it.  My sister and I were blown away by this video in 1995 or 1996 when we first saw it.  "What could he have said?"  we asked ourselves with characteristic youthful exuberance.  Well, a few nights ago, she told me that I reminded her of the guy on the ground in the video for "Just."  That to make everyone else lie down too, he could have told them about fish, or peak oil, or water supply issues, or any of my other pet causes.  She didn't mean it as an insult, mostly because she and I are the same kind of people, and we understand each other.  Really, she was just pointing out that it is terribly isolating to be the first guy on the ground.

It's true.  I'm kind of a downer, and I suffer the consequences.  I'm willing to take on this morbid responsibility because I really, truly think it is important to spread the word.  Sometimes, I hope that there is such a thing as God, because I hope for divine retribution of wrongdoing and, even more, I hope that after people die, the truth will be revealed to them.  That all the wrong beliefs they once held will be dashed and their eyes and minds will be truly opened.  But I doubt very much this is the case.  Sometimes, I really feel overcome with despair about everything that's going on.
Yeah, this seems about right.
 A friend of mine just got back from Palestine, where she went basically to support the local people's peaceful protests against Israeli military occupation.  She came home and was telling me about it, and I was thinking about how, ok, she's younger than I am -- not even 21 yet -- and when I was her age and younger, I was protesting first our invasion of Afghanistan and later our invasion of Iraq.  I totally respect her commitment to doing what she sees as clearly the right thing.  But for me, although I still become upset about all of the truly awful political/humanitarian problems that are going on, I also really believe that things are going to fall apart so much that all politics will have no choice but to become completely localized.  What I'm saying is that people are going to be worried, first and foremost, about their ability to procure food and water.  That transportation will not be easily accessible.  That energy resources will be scarce enough that we can no longer rely on technology to solve our problems (all the time, people tell me that technology will save us from these problems -- what they don't seem to realize or understand is that technology requires energy resources to first create said technology and then to use its fruits).  It makes me want to join a commune.  Of course, I rely on injecting myself with insulin to live, so it is unlikely that I'll survive the upcoming energy scarcities unless I'm exceedingly lucky.  As MLK, Jr. said the night before his death, "I intend to live a long life -- longevity has its place."  But, like the good reverend, I doubt very much that I will make it.

On that happy note, I'll return to our regularly scheduled program and tell you about making Jamaican Veggie Patties from the book Vegan Soul Kitchen.  I first bought this cookbook because gmail featured this exact recipe at the top of their page, yet I never got around to making it until last night.

I have some problems with Vegan Soul Kitchen.  I want to like it, but I find I almost always have to change the recipes.  Also, I've had some recipe fails with it.  For instance, for his Black-Eyed Pea Fritters, he wants you to fry it in five cups of coconut oil.  Five! Cups! Of! Coconut! Oil!  Is he freaking kidding me?  There aren't five cups in one jar of coconut oil, and each jar costs $8-$9!  When I made those, I fried them in canola oil.  Still, it was a total fail.  First of all, it calls for freakin' RAW peanuts.  Nothing is more gross than a raw peanut, but when I made them, I didn't know this (I thought that, like cashews and almonds, raw peanuts would taste good), so I actually bought a bag of raw peanuts, individually shelled them, and then used them to make the recipe taste like dirt.  To add insult to injury, the fritters completely fell apart in the oil.  I was not a happy camper.  But I learned two important lessons about this book: I simply must replace expensive ingredients with more reasonable ones, and Bryant Terry likes to eat things a lot more raw than I do.

The dough of the Jamaican Veggie Patties also contains coconut oil -- 3/4 a cup of it.  I used about 1/2 a cup of the oil and replaced the other 1/4 cup with non-hydrogenated organic shortening.  Other than that, I pretty much stuck with the recipe.  And you know what?  It turned out well!  Yay!  Not a recipe fail!  The only problem was that I made the patties a little too big and had more filling than dough.  I saved the filling, though, and I can make some more dough tonight if I want to.  The filling is good on its own, but, truth be told, it's a heck of a lot better cooked in the dough and eaten with hot sauce, as Terry suggests.

I also made a side of his Chilled Citrus-Broccoli Salad.  He only has you flash cook the broccoli (one minute in boiling water), but I said screw that and cooked it for just under three minutes before putting it in ice water.  I was lucky enough to be able to steal the basil from the garden of my favorite local bar, which is a really good thing because if I had bought basil for this recipe, I would have been pissed.  I don't like the recipe.  Firstly, I want my broccoli hot, not chilled.  Secondly, I put three cloves of garlic instead of the two it called for because I like garlic and my cloves were small, but I shouldn't have done that.  Maybe if the garlic was roasted instead of raw it would have been good, but it wasn't, it was gross.  Thirdly, there's no salt in the recipe.  I think there should be salt in it.  Of course, I added salt before eating it, but overall, I thought I wasted a perfectly good lemon, lime, orange, and two heads of broccoli.  Still, somehow I keep eating it, mostly out of some dislike of wasting food and a belief in eating one's vegetables.

I do recommend the patties, though.  They're a lot of work, but worth it.

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