Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News Tracker: Forks Over Knives

You never know when someone will send you an e-mail about something interesting and important. This was sent to me from a VP at my company that works in Tennessee, who is not a vegan, but who knew I was a vegan. It was a single FYI e-mail that should really constitute as an announcement. So I’m posting it.

A new documentary film.

Now, before you’re all like. 

“Wait – is this film going to find me in my seat and expose my love of like chicken nuggets? Are people screaming through blow horns and holding signs that say “Long Live Veggies.” Have they developed 3-D technology where if you’re in the audience and not a vegan, the screen starts throwing broccoli at you?! I don’t want to go! I don’t want to go!”

Stop. Breathe.

I can assure you. No. You will not have broccoli thrown at you. I’m not sure about the veggie signs, since that would actually be pretty awesome. But honestly, you will most likely be asked to sit, observe, think, and participate if appropriate.

Unfortunately I’ll need to wait until February to see the film because my schedule is pretty packed and viewings are limited. But I encourage you to go.

To calm any non-veggie fears. Here’s a brief assumption on what type of person might be interested in seeing this film. If you self-identify with one or all of these statements, then I think a viewing would be worthwhile.

This film is for a person that:
  • Can entertain the idea that there is a possibility to change their lives just but by changing their diet.
  • Needs motivation to put down their knife
  • Wants to see our kids grow healthy and strong
  • Can think independently when it comes to food
  • Is interested in the medical patterns of humanity
  • Wants to see a shift in the way our food structures could work
Official Website: www.forksoverknives.com/

Happy Viewing! 


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here's to Craft Beer: A Trip to the Maine Beer Company

The Famous Pair: Zoe & Peeper Ale

Craft beer is called craft beer for a reason. The process and details have been planned so meticulously that when you open a bottle you experience deliciousness from beginning to end. It’s crafted for perfection. Hence the name craft beer.

At least it is at the Maine Beer Company in Portland, Maine. Where timing, temperature, and ingredients are matched to give you a hoppy, bubbly non-pasteurized sensation of deliciousness.

And thanks to David and Daniel Kleban, business partners and brothers, the recipe and the process are completely vegan.

“We started with a home brewing kit,” David Kleban explains as he points to the smaller boiling pot now shining from a storage corner of the brewery, ready to be sold to another owner. Beer was an interest that brewed into a hobby.

The pursuit of making beer for a business had started to form in the back of David’s mind around 2001. However, the distinct knowledge of refining the brewing process and logistics of starting the business grew over the next few years.

While David stored the idea, working on details in his head and hoping that his vision would come to fruition in the near future, Daniel finished law school and upon graduation moved to Maine. The next few years were crucial for the brothers who studied the process and decided, after enough experimentation, that they should craft a business plan and, more importantly, a recipe for ale.

In April 2009 they took the plunge and created the Maine Beer Company. The team invested in a hot liquid tank, a mash tun, and a boil kettle and started brewing Peeper-Ale.

Within the year success started to show itself. They invested in even larger equipment to accommodate the growing demand, now producing more than double their original volume. Peeper Ale officially made it's way into the beer scene and is now sold at local restaurants, bars, and grocery stores throughout Maine.

To run a successful brewery you need someone that understands the craft beer industry as well as the brewing process. You also need someone who can shift and sort through ingredients until the recipe is perfected.

David specializes in the business portion - selling, distributing, funding etc. He takes a personal approach by going into local businesses and speaking with the staff. He is also extremely artful when selecting distributors, choosing those partners that can give great attention to their products.

Daniel is in charge of making the beer. I designated him the scientist, but I believe you beer folk use the term “Brewmaster.” Since taste holds the integrity of the product, monitoring the ingredients requires close attention to measurement and proportion.

One thing I found amazing was the reaction of yeast, which can be difficult to control because they’re snobby temperamental little buggers. They do what they want and what they want may be different every time, regardless if all other factors remain constant.

“Some yeast cannot break the bonds…” This was the response to a question I had about the different strains of yeast and how they react to different temperatures. I honestly don’t even remember the exact question (as you can probably tell my beer knowledge equated to almost nothing before this visit to the brewery.) I just remember thinking, “Right – that’s probably more complex than what he might want to explain right now. At least he knows what he’s talking about…”

And since David and Daniel both know what they're doing, in business and beer making, the brewery is a growing success.

Peeper Ale is their most prevalent brew. It’s hoppy, not too strong and not too light. I would describe it as a hearty drinking ale.

They also make Zoe, an amber ale. With a multitude of different hops in one brew, it’s designed for people with a more refined beer tasting palette.
Both brews are vegan! 

I’m not talking about the beer in this section.

David and Daniel believe strongly in giving back to the community. They are a member of 1% for the Planet, donate to Adopt-A-Whale and the Gorilla Fund. They also use 100% wind power for electricity and donate used grain, yeast and grain bags to local farmers. Go team.

Whether you want to try it, already like to drink it, or just like the way it’s packaged - you should look for Peeper Ale and Zoe the next you’re in Maine.

So where can you find it? Maine Beer Company products can be purchased at Whole Foods, Novare Res, Great Lost Bear, Fore Street and mounds of other restaurants. Look for it on the menu!


So I know what some of you may be thinking, "All beer is vegan. What the heck is she talking about?" And the truth is that, no, sometimes beer contains ingredients that make them unable to be consumed by fabulous vegans. Here is some more information on ingredients and resources:

    If everyone served Peeper Ale, all happy hours would be vegan friendly.


    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    Stickie Saying…#6

    Beer App & Beershadowing

    True Story: Me, two co-workers, and our media planner decide to go to grab a drink after a meeting discussing 2011 advertising plans. Everyone has ordered and I arrive late.

    Server to me: Would you like a drink?
    Me: What do you have on tap?
    Server says list containing no recognizable vegan options.
    Me: OK, I just need to look at the menu.
    Server: (Gives me a look) OK. 

    I take out my handy iPhone and start up "Is your beer vegan?" App. Review my options. 

    Server: (Returns to the table) Ready?
    Me: Yep, I'll have a Long Trail. 

    Beer served. Problem solved. Thank you vegan app. 

    This may be a "beershadowing" of tomorrow's post… 


    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Being Vegan in a Portuguese (Meat-loving) Family

    They don’t like the word “no” and they don’t like the sight of an empty plate. They go a little nutty on the garlic. And although they’re only 5 feet small you better be ready to defend yourself when you enter their homestyle-decorated kitchens, because they’ll be in your face, kissing you on both checks in a matter of seconds. So who are “these people” you ask?

    My family. My Portuguese, meat-loving relatives.

    The Crew keepin' it real on Thanksgiving. I'm the little pilgrim on the left.

    They love their food. They love the creamy potatoes with extra butter, and crisp baked ham, and home-grown seasoned turkey, and sausage, and succulent sweet bread, and goat cheese. Really, it’s endless. So when I visit you would think that meals might not be that difficult. 

    They could eat their meat lovers feast and I could be satisfied with the slim pickings of veggies. Right? Wrong…

    In Portuguese culture food equals love. A “No Thanks Tia Maria” to the homemade family stuffing is a punch in the stomach. “I don’t think so” to the garlic shrimp, a kick in the shins. And denying the finely decorated, oh-so-sugary, succulent dessert options may be taken like a body check from behind. 

    I love my family so I don’t want to hurt them, but I’m not going to eat anything on the table, so what’s a vegan to do?

    It may vary depending on your family and the temperaments of your aunts, grandmothers, chefs, etc. but this is what worked best for me: Tell them what you want. Be cautious about offering to bring anything (No, you don’t make anything!) as this may offend, but rather tell them “If you make the peas without the butter, I will gladly eat some.”  And they appreciate that.

    They may not understand why I chose to be vegan, they may not agree with my moral or ethical decisions, but they’re my family and they love me. So they help to accommodate my needs. 

    Their efforts really make me enjoy the holidays now. With two sets of veggies, and a house full of family, the dining space is a little squishy. However, because more food is more love, I think they secretly love it.  

    Some vega-fied family recipes are below thanks to my Tia Olga and cousin Jessie aka "Bitty".

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    Tia Olga's Shrimp (Tofu) Recipe

    Tia Olga use to make this dish for me around the holidays. It's so delicious.

    What You'll Need
    1 Package Firm Tofu
    2 Large Lemons
    1/2 Cup Minced Garlic
    1/4 Cup Curled Parsley
    Red Pepper Flakes
    Dry Cooking Sherry

    Day 1
    STEP 1: Drain tofu. Cut into tofu blocks as desired. Press any remaining water out of tofu with paper towels. Place into container that can be stored in the refrigerator over night. 

    STEP 2: Cut & squeeze 1-2 full lemons over tofu. Add red pepper flakes. Making sure everything is covered in liquid, cover and place in the refrigerator to soak overnight.

    Day 2
    STEP 3: In a frying pan put 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon parsley, margarine, 2 tablespoons sherry and 1 tablespoon cocktail sauce. Stir and let the garlic simmer.

    STEP 4: Take the 1/2 the batch of tofu and place into frying pan. Stir in mixture until covered and cooked. About 5 minutes. Place into glass bowl.

    STEP 5: Repeat step 3 with the remaining half of tofu.


    STEP 6: Serve warm with rice and green beans.


    Danie's Portuguese Style Rice

    Yummy, tasty and the closest thing to linguiƧa I could find. 

    What You'll Need
    1/2 Cup Soy Chorizo
    1 1/2 Cups Jasmine Rice 
    2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
    Red Pepper Flakes to taste
    Soy Margarine 

    STEP 1: Measure and rinse rice. Place in small sauce pan on stove. Bring water to a bowl and let simmer until cooked. 

    STEP 2: Place 1/2 cup of chorizo in pan with margarine on simmer until fried. About 7-10 minutes.

    STEP 3: When rice is cooked place in large mixing bowl. Stir in olive oil, chorizo and garlic. Once rice is mixed thoroughly, include red pepper flakes to your liking.



    Vegan Cocktail Sauce

    For me, cocktail sauce is all about the horseradish! 

    What You'll Need
    2 Roma Tomatoes
    1-2 Tablespoon horseradish sauce
    3 Tablespoons vegan ketchup
    1 Chopped Scallion

    STEP 1: Slice tomatoes and chop scallions. Measure ketchup and horseradish sauce.

    STEP 2: Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until sauce is smooth. 

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Thankful for a Friend: Images of Ali

    Ali is not a vegan - heck she's not even a vegetarian. She likes a good burger every now and again. But I will tell you that Ali has been one of the most eloquent and supportive people in my quest to become a vegan. She does not judge. She does not degrade. She does not question with negative intention. She is open to every and any vegan option, as we do sometimes grab dinner to catch up and realize that everything we've ordered is vegan from start to finish.

    In honor of Thanksgiving I want to thank my friend and co-worker Ali. Thank you for always lending a listening ear, a thoughtful response and cracking jokes as we float down the halls at lunchtime

    * * *

    Here are some additional reasons why I appreciate Ali.

    1. She gets it.
    She knows when to laugh, when to leave me alone and when we need to catch up. 

    "Yes, tell him he can come to dinner but we'll be talking about him."

    2. She is an intrepid soul. 
    There may have been a few times when we've looked each other laughing hysterically saying, 

    "Do you think we're a little over dressed for Portland on a Tuesday night?"
    "Oh well - who cares?"

    3. Laughing is normal and usually constant.
    If laughing makes you last, Ali and I will be laughing in the corner of El Rayo, margaritas in hand, for the next 80 years. Come visit us - we'll be ones being a little bit too loud with our chips & salsa.

    4. She appreciates the little things.
    The two us work hard at what we do. Ali definitely appreciates what she's been given and what she's made for herself.

    5. She has the spirit of a child.
    Surprisingly she never thinks my ideas are ridiculous. When I say, "Maybe you should rake in heels - that would be hilarious!!" Her response is, "Yes, let's do it!" 

    We've gotten ourselves into mounds of fortuitous adventures just by sharing the light-hearted spirit of a child.

    I hope you have a friend that brings out the best in you, like Ali brings out the best in me.


    So Thankful: Guest Blogger - Ali

    Last year at this time I was one month into home-ownership, was "knee deep in alligators" (as my father would say) with learning the ins and outs of what to do when your sump pump fails in the basement during a monsoon-like rain storm, what to do when a 70-foot evergreen tree does a 10-point landing across your entire backyard during aforementioned monsoon-like rain storm, and what to do when chunks of horsehair plaster wall come off with the 90-year old wallpaper that you're stripping in preparation of bringing your walls into the 21st century.

    Somewhere in between all the excitement of buying my first house solo, the whirlwind of renovation frenzy and late night painting after I got home from the office, I got the bright idea of hosting Thanksgiving at my house. My mom has her culinary arts degree and is a phenomenal cook; I had big shoes to fill. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it centers on togetherness and reflection as well as an all-day eating affair. My first Thanksgiving was a success -- even though I got a late start cooking because I overslept, and dropped an entire pan of Brussels sprouts on the floor.

    I was able to celebrate the hard work my family and I had done to the house, gather my family around an antique table in my dining room, and start to compile my own holiday memories and traditions.

    One year later, I cannot believe how fast time flies and how truly blessed I am. I am thankful. For my parents who have sacrificed so much to raise my sister and me. Thankful for my beautiful sister, who shares my same sense of humor, love of Sephora and appreciation of rap music. Thankful for my furry little kittens who always seem to know when I need to cuddle. Thankful for music so gorgeous it makes me cry when I sing along, thankful for books and fashion magazines. Thankful for Miss Danielle, who puts up with me at the office, and still wants to hang out with me even though I have incessantly pestered her about going dancing for a good two years.

    As we enter into the holiday season, I am honoring the year that has passed, looking forward to spending time with the amazing people in my life and remembering just how lucky and fortunate I am.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!


    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Starting with Silence

    The buzz of an office is unbearable at times. It’s not just your voice or your chipper co-worker who shares the space next to you and discusses statistics and broker satisfaction surveys all day long (I kid Lori, I kid). But there's e-mail and music and phone calls and conference calls and YouTube and Facebook and texting 24 hours a day and the beeping from your handheld while your child is asking about puppies and ice cream and movies and PlayStation… It’s constant. A constant buzz.

    I could go on for months talking about the noise that permeates our lives.

    Why is silence so rare? Have the roles been reversed? Do we now have to create periods of silence instead of creating periods of noise?

    Silence seems so arbitrary, so pure, and so extinct all at the same time. While I was driving back from the beach one Sunday this past summer I had an urge to turn off my music. Music is a constant for me. I be-bop to a steady stream of music everywhere I go. I find a song for everything I do – curling my hair, driving to work, designing a flyer, grocery shopping, running, going to sleep. 

    My hand took the dial to zero and I just listened to the wind that was fluttering through my sun roof and tossing my blonde hair in a mad disarray across my face. It was a mad hair entanglement which only wind can create. It was perfect. It was silent. And in that moment I couldn't help but appreciate the lack of noise. It was as if something had been freed and I was now allowed to listen again. Truly listen, to things that matter most. Only my thoughts, or lack there of, in those remaining seconds as I exited the highway. 

    The noise rules our lives. Babies cry when they're hungry. You laugh when you're happy. We communicate through language and sound. Music is an artistic form of expression that is blasted from radio stations, TV, and handheld devices. We've created artificial sounds and magnified organic sounds. But the truth is, when all I hear is silence, I feel more alive. I notice things that I couldn’t before. My mind works in ways that it didn’t when I was skipping around cooking and cleaning to Nikki & Rich.

    My point is that if you need a 30-second break. If you want to enjoy the things around you or you have an important decision to make. I recommend starting with silence.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    The Vending Machine Is Not Your Friend

    Just a few more hours and if you’re lucky you’ll be preparing that quinoa special dinner or running, or doing other fabulous things. But right now you’re staring at a computer screen and you’re hungry, gargantuanly hungry. 

    The type of hungry where everything, including the one vegan option and 15 non-vegan options in the vending machine (with the exception of the meat and cheese jerky packet - ewwwww) are starting to look good. 

    So you think to yourself, quarters in hand, “I should have brought another snack. An easy snack. A vegan snack that I could feel good about.” And that’s when you stumbled upon this entry and noted five snacks that I bring for times when I really don’t want to take the 3:05 vending machine walk of shame.

    Beyond the staple fruits and veggies here are my suggestions:

    1. Justin’s Almond Butter with Maple Packet. Good with just about anything or split open and eaten alone. Perfect for traveling and perfect for lip smuckering. They have quite a few vegan friendly choices if you're lucky enough to have a store in your area that carries the complete product line. You can view all of their fabulous products here

    I have to say when they switched to their new white packaging I was a little bummed - the old, not so clean-cut, peanut butter package, wore a warning on the back that always made me laugh and said something like, "Warning: May make you want to hug a tree."


    2. Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack. So sue me I like seaweed. They're about a dollar a pack and nice little wispy things to crunch on, add to a soup or a salad. 

    3. Mini Bars from Larabar. I call these my “treats.” They’re great for snacks and come in a variety pack. I am always amazed by the ingredients in these foods. You truly see no preservatives or any other hard to pronounce garbage. For example, if you look at the Banana Bread bar the ingredients listed are almonds, dates, and unsweetened bananas. 

    I would recommend the full bars as well. You can check out all of their lovely flavors here.

    One Tiny Caution: Beware of the new chocolate chip flavors. They look tempting but are not vegan. And since Larabar has provided traditional vegan goodies, I grabbed for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and then halfway through realized I was not eating vegan chocolate chips. Just a friendly reminder to myself and all of you fabulous vegans that we should always double check the labels. 

    4. 100 Calorie Almond Packs – Easy to find in the grocery store or to make yourself. Great for pairing with a nutty personality, easy to make during the week and easy to store at a desk. If you're making them yourself, they could also be available in cashew, walnut, soy nut, and pumpkin seeds flavors - or really any other flavor you want. 

    5. Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn – I blame the administrative assistant in my area for getting me hooked on Little Lad's Lemon Herbal Popcorn. I refuse to surrender a name, but you know who you are. If lemon doesn't satisfy your taste buds it also comes in regular and BBQ flavors.

    Happy Snacking!