Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Cure to Seasonal Affective Disorder and Comedy in Pittsburgh

I seriously love being vegan, it makes me so happy.  Sometimes after I cook and enjoy a meal, I feel sorry for all the people who don't realize that they could be eating a wider variety of food that tastes way better than what they used to eat, and they'd be healthier and skinnier and full of energy if they did (ummm, not to mention they'd never suffer constipation again).  Just to show off, I'm going to do something I don't normally do, and that's start with dessert.

It's no secret that I've done my fair share of vegan baking in my day.  But, in an attempt to eat more healthfully, I've recently been trying to satisfy my sweet tooth with recipes that don't have cane sugar or flour.  It's been really fun and I've been absolutely floored by the sweet recipes in Practically Raw.  For instance, here is a fantastically delicious Caramel-Fudge Brownie.
If you check out the recipe here, you'll see that this is made mostly out of nuts, as well as some cocao powder and dates and agave and coconut oil.  But the version of the recipe that's on that site was the original one.  The version that appears in the book is simpler.  For instance, it does not call for lacuma powder, whatever that is; instead, the book version calls for 3 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar, which is easily found at Whole Foods.  Also, I don't have cocao butter, do you?  The book lets you know that you can just use more coconut oil instead.  And, you know, if you don't want to spring for cocao powder, you can just use good, old-fashioned cocoa powder.  I friggin' love this book!  It just gives you so many options to make delicious food even if you can't hunt down obscure ingredients.

Oh, by the way, I know strawberries are not in season, but when they WERE in season, I froze a lot of them, and that's where that strawberry came from.

Speaking of the strawberries I froze during the summer, sometimes when the weather gets cold, my body feels like it still wants a summer fruit infusion.  In fact, I do believe I've found the cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it's this Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Smoothie, again from Practically Raw.
I wish this recipe was on the internet for me to link, but, alas, it's not.  I think you should probably just buy the book because it's amazing.

Onto the savory!  From The Blooming Platter Cookbook, I made Tunisian Couscous Salad with Cumin-Pomegranate Vinaigrette (again, sorry, the recipe is not available online).
I chose this recipe for two reasons.  One, because The Blooming Platter Cookbook conveniently has either a flower, sun, maple leaf, or snowflake printed on the top corner of each recipe so you can flip through and look only at the ones that contain ingredients that are currently in-season.  Rad, right?  I think so.  This recipe has a maple leaf, and it also (reason #2) calls for pomegranate molasses, an ingredient I have on my shelf that I barely get to use.

It's a tasty salad, but the instructions were a little confusing.  In step 1, it says to "gently fold in the olives and cucumbers," but in step 3, it tells you to "surround each mound [of couscous] with an equal portion of cucumbers and sprinkle each with pistachios."  Make up your mind, will you??  Here's what I really think about this, if you want to know.  If the whole thing is going to get eaten in one day by your family or at a potluck or something, I'd say mix those olives and cucumbers in, pour the dressing on top, and serve it warm.  But if you're single like me and you'll be eating leftovers, I'd say put the dressing on the couscous but leave the cucumbers and olives in a different container so you can microwave the couscous and mix the cool ingredients in afterward.  Does that make sense?

So, what was good in Pittsburgh this past week?  Yesterday, on Saturday, I went to see my friend Davon Magwood headline a comedy show at Club Cafe on Pittsburgh's South Side.  It was packed to the gills in there!  Sold out, I do believe, but he was kind enough to put me on the guest list.
I hate most stand-up comedy, but I thought Davon was funny!  I've seen him do shows a couple times, and so much of it seems to be off-the-cuff, or made up in just the few days prior.  I've very rarely seen him repeat jokes.  Plus, unlike some of the other people doing comedy that night, he didn't have any animal cruelty jokes.  It's interesting, I never used to be much of an animal compassion person.  I went vegan BEFORE I started to become sensitive to the plight of non-human animals.  But I guess clearing my body of toxic effects of consuming animal protein also cleared my brain for greater compassion, and now I feel sensitive even to jokes about hurting animals.  Also, I find cute animal pics on the internet to be CUTER THAN EVER.  Especially this one:
Please stop it, this is killing me.
The very first comedian who went on (Solomon something?) was also funny, I thought, and he even joked about how he's a vegetarian now because he can't afford meat.  You know, I do believe that brings this post full circle, to one of the other huge benefits of plant-based diets!  Yeah, this:
Oh, hey, awesome vegan musician Ted Leo will be at the Mr. Roboto Project on Tuesday, and he won't even have to go hungry because Spak Brothers is right across the street!  See yinz there?

11 comments:

  1. I loooove the caramel brownies from Practically Raw! I made them with the exact same substitutions as you and they were shockingly good. I need to try that smoothie!!!! I'm sorry to hear that you lost your job! However, I really think it happened to give you the opportunity to use your talents and do something you love. The same thing happened to me last year so I decided to get certified to teach yoga. I commented on your blog a couple times a few weeks ago during the storm but my comments never went through. Weird. I do think the hurricane had something to do with it. Anyway, I'm still enjoying your blog : ) !!!! On another note: people really make jokes about animal cruelty?!?! What??? I'm happy to hear that you've developed a soft spot to animals : ) Take care! -- Tara

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    1. I'm sad your comments got lost! Sandy was hard on us all. Some folks lost their homes, but I lost something more important: blog comments. WOE IS ME! Seriously, though, thank you for being such a long-time reader and supporter of my blog, I really appreciate it.

      Mostly, people make jokes about bestiality, and also about eating meat. I mean, they talk an awful lot about killing baby humans too. Seriously, there were at least three abortion jokes and at least another two about killing already-born human babies. It's not that I'm offended by such jokes--I'm not--it's just that they're neither funny nor original. "Look how edgy I am, I talk about killing babies, WHOA!" It's lame, in my personal opinion. But I recognize that it's difficult to be a stand-up comedian, and there's all this pressure to be shocking and surprising and stuff, and most people will not have success with it because they're just not funny, and they're not usually shocking either, though they're trying very hard to be. Whatever. Still, I thought some people were funny. I'm a harsh critic.

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  2. I love being vegan too! Whenever people ask me about it or say something like 'that must be hard', I'm all like, "are you kidding? It's the best thing ever!" Even those times where you're in a strange place looking for food...because then it's more like an adventure. :) And I think I need to go have a chocolate strawberry smoothie RIGHT NOW.

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  3. I love your opening paragraph!! I'm going to be posting soon, looking for a collection of vegan "comebacks" (or arguments, if you will). After I posted my stories about being verbally attached for being vegan, I got such feedback from others who had been in the same situation, but couldn't think of anything to say. SO, I think if we have a nice collection of things to say (ranging from informational to..?), people could choose one or two that they feel comfortable with, maybe memorize them, and always have them at the ready! When I do this, I totally think you should submit that first paragraph :)

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    1. Thank you! I think I'm going to write about what I believe motivates the the weird anger many people have toward vegans very soon, and try to calm it with a little level-headed understanding. Then I'll finally have something else to tag with the words "conflict resolution" over on my Label section on the right, and that will make it all worth it. :-)

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    2. "Conflict resolution" is always a good thing!

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  4. I agree about the comedians feeling pressured to be edgy...Oh and lol at your comment about losing blog comments. You could do some abortion-joke free standup, haha : ) You are very welcome for the support, you certainly deserve it : ) When I sign up for Twitter I'll be sure to follow you there, too. By the way, have you managed to get onto Instagram yet? If so, I'd like to follow. And I'd love it if you checked out my vegan food photos as well. My IG name is Mariee1982
    Happy Thanksgiving, by the way : )
    --Tara

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    1. Someone actually told me yesterday that I should do stand-up! But I don't know. I think there are other things I ought to do more. ;-)

      I haven't managed to make Instagram not crash my phone yet. Really annoying.

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  5. Practically Raw sounds like a great cookbook that I will have to look up. I have a couple of raw cookbooks that I like a lot but I always feel compelled to try new ones. ;D I actually have some lacuma powder that I won in a blog giveaway but I'm still not sure what to do with it. I put it in smoothies sometimes. It's supposed to taste like caramel but I don't think it does.

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    1. Oh, interesting! The sauce that goes on top really does taste like caramel, even without the lacuma powder, so I think you should make the brownies using the recipe that is linked above, since you have lacuma powder. It'll blow you away, I think.

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