Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 and Moving Ahead

     2010 has been an interesting year.  So much has happened this year in my personal life, in my Animal Rights Activism, and in the world.  I think the biggest lesson for me this year is that I have finally learned to trust my heart and intuition when it comes to fellow human beings.  If my heart tells me someone is scum, fake, and not worth it, I now listen.  If my husband backs up this opinion, than I don't want to waste my time on people.  Often we can tell if a person is a backstabber by the company they keep, or what they value in life. I value nature, the simple life, amazing food, great wine, my family and friends and I don't value boob jobs, vanity, name dropping or social climbing.  I want my life to be guided by good deeds and good people with true hearts.  I guess it just takes awhile.  I jump into my 7th year of life in Italy with better prospectives, better language, and better friends...out with the old, in with the new.    This year has taught me I can be a gourmand without exploiting animals.  When people ask, "What do you eat?"  I have to laugh. 

In Rome, the Animal Rights community lost a true Angel, Miss Maya.  She was a colleague of mine, and whenever we saw each other we only spoke about animals.  She would always talk about her dogs and cats and we would complain about how violent humans are as corpse eaters.  She always said, "They are better than us."  She gave her life for a fellow sentient being, trying to save a cat from a train.  She taught me a lot about how to care for a feral cat community, and I will really miss our random meetings at the pizza spot near the Vatican.  Her death is a true loss, because we need more veg people and people who respect the lives of other sentient beings.  It is sad for those she leaves behind and a real loss for non human animals.  Maya was a glittery eyed firework.  I remember the first time I saw her at the Vatican she was putting her clients in a Taxi at a Taxi stand where there was a long line, and some priests just cut the line and got into the Taxi.  She had none of it.  She practically pulled them out of the Taxi so her clients could have it, after all why shouldn't they wait in line like the rest of us?  Maya lived her life to the fullest, and I want to as well.  I can no longer waste my energies where they are not needed, and I need to have a louder voice for all sentient beings.  I am dedicating my year of animal rights activism in 2011 to Maya.  I hope she works through me.

To honor her, I am going to do more for animals this year.  My activism is going to be peaceful.  I know that the only way to have peace on earth is to go vegan.  Veganism is the only way to love yourself, fellow sentient beings, and the earth.  If you love animals, and you still consume their bodies and products, please stop.  Get informed on why animal agriculture is violent, polluting and unhealthy.  Animal products are killing us and the earth.  If you support meat and dairy you support exploitation of both animals and humans.  The workers in these industries are exploited.  The industry is the most polluting of any on earth and produces more pollution than all transportation(cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes) worldwide.  Do it for the animals, the planet, and for fellow human beings.  If you believe in peace and a non violent future, GO VEGAN in 2011!!!!!!

Please do not buy pets, adopt at a shelter.

Here are some links:

The Vegan Society

Abolitionist Approach

Why don't  I eat meat, eat animal products, wear animals or exploit them?  They feel, have complex social lives, and deserve LIFE.   All Sentient beings deserve to live out their natural life in a way that is natural to them.  Not as our property, food, labor,  entertainment or clothes.  I don't eat meat, animal productss, buy animal skins like leather or fur, wear wool, go to Sea World (one of the most evil places on earth).  You are what you eat, so don't eat dead animals!!  GO VEGAN!  It's the compassionate choice. 

Which image is more peaceful?  Animals alive or animals killed so you can chew on them?

Gary L. Francione: The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights Make the world a more just and less violent place in 2011: go vegan and talk with your family and friends about veganism.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bucatini al (non)Cacio e Pepe

Bucatini al (non)Cacio e Pepe
     One of the things I love about the Roman-Laziale kitchen is the use of simple ingredients that make amazing food that is full of flavor.  I could say the same thing about my own personal vegan kitchen.   I spend most of my kitchen time bringing out the best flavors of fruits and vegetables.    I don’t really do a lot of substitution cooking because I like to eat a mostly whole foods diet.  I do eat tofu, but that is because I really love the taste, texture and flavor of tofu, not because I am trying to substitute meat. 
     Most of my non-vegan friends in Italy tell me that the reason they are not vegan is because they love all the cheeses of Italy.  In fact there is an abundance of cheese made from the milk of sheep, goats, cows and even water buffalo.  Not for me, thanks.  In Rome, the cheese that is sprinkled on top of pasta is not parmigiano but pecorino and one of the most simple and tasty dishes is called Cacio e Pepe, cheese and pepper.  It is best with a long pasta like spaghetti, but if you want it to be really Roman, get some bucatini.  It is like tube spaghetti.  The word cacao is referring to cheese, even though in Italian, the word formaggio, is closer to the French.  Cacio is derived from the Latin word casio, which means cheese.  Cacio e Pepe is a very poor Roman dish, and it is VERY easily veganized.  All it consists of is olive oil,  pecorino romano,  and fresh black pepper. 
Ingredients for 4 people
For the( Un) Pecorino Romano
   200 g of blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon agar agar POWDER
1/2 tablespoon Celtic sea salt (NEVER table salt, not even cheap sea salt from the grocer)
3 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper to crush
One package of Bucatini or Spaghetti
     In a food processor almonds, nutritional yeast, agar agar, and salt until blended very well with no chunks of almonds or salt.  In a large pot, boil water, add salt when water is boiled and add the pasta.  When the pasta is al dente, drain and place back into the pot.  Add the contents of the food processor, about 2 tbsp of crush black pepper and the olive oil, also about 2TBSP of the starchy water saved from boiling the pasta.  Stir all of the ingredients together until the pasta is covered in the sauce.  serve in small pasta bowls and add more crushed black pepper as desired. 
    Enjoy with a bottle of Lazio Malvasia. 
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Food of Goths

I have not had much time to blog lately.  My house was struck by lightning and my internet and phone line were burnt out for about 10 days.  I have been busy with work, Thanksgiving, and planning Chanukah this year.  
     This blog is dedicated to three people, first of all,  Leilani Clark who  is a great friend and amazing writer of culture and literature.  She is also editor and co founder of a group of people who host writing workshops and publish a zine with a theme each issue.  This past issue, the theme was Dark, to celebrate the coming of Autumn and Winter.  Many different types of people collaborate including writers, artists, and photographers, so my contribution was dark and gothic foods.  The creativity workshops are run by Petals and Bones.  Thanks Leilani for having a place for creatives and helping me with my grammar.  She's also a college English teacher.  
     Secondly, Ms. Heather Hanson who was kind enough to come all the up to the boonies to share Totally Truffled Thanksgiving with us.  My favorite California girl in Rome and fellow wine lover.  She is also a wine educator at a University in Rome and leads wine tours.  Check out her great blog Italy Decanted and read her wine notes!
   And finally, to my favorite vegan food blog , Veganize it...Don't Just Criticize it by Ms. Jenn Shagrin.  A funny, beautiful and delicious vegan blog that inspires me everytime I read it.  I am now much more iinspired to take non vegan recipes and make wonderful veganized versions of them.  

The Food of Goths
By Sarah May Grunwald

    My partner and I suffer from “opposites attract syndrome.”  He is the dark to my light, appearance-wise, but his skin is about as deep as his darkness goes.  He is the sun to my moon, he is Cat Stevens where I am Diamanda Galas, his cup is half full to my cup is half empty, but he laments the passage of summer as if he is mourning a lost friend or relative.  As soon as the light turns to dark, he becomes embittered, whereas I welcome the short days and rainy weather.  Fall is the season of darkness. The days get shorter; we want to stay inside by the warm fire. It is perfect for gothic tunes about darkness. Tanorexics lament the passing of sunny days.
 For my own part, I celebrate the coming of fall.  Fall gives birth to the darkest of Mother Earth’s gifts, the elusive truffle. They grow under oak trees deep in the soil. In fact, light is not their friend. For a gourmand like me, dark days mean delicious days. What is darker and more gothic in the world of food than a black or white truffle? Once you’ve had the occasion to have the perfume of one linger in your nasal cavity or palate, an addiction will be born. They are sweet-smelling, like old roses; hormonal, barnyardy (a word often used in the wine community), and a known aphrodisiac. They are humble and ugly--a fungus, nothing more.  But they are the most coveted of the fungi family. During the White Truffle festival in Alba, Piedmont, people who own these darlings must have a body guard. In divorce proceedings between couples who are perhaps in the food industry, when the proceedings turn to custody, they aren’t speaking of children. 
Yes, a simple fungus has driven many a woman or man insane.  I know I have my own anxieties the few weeks before I am to go to a truffle festival. I squander money, hide it around the house, plan elaborate menus around the truffles I am to buy, close my eyes and imagine that sweet aphrodisiac perfume. It is the food of the goddess. Surely the milk of mother earth is a white truffle.  I cannot imagine anything else as divine.
One of my favorite recipes that I have veganized includes the friend of the truffle, the porcini mushroom. I took the recipe from a favorite book on the Umbrian kitchen in Italy and adjusted it to make it vegan and still delicious:
Sformatini di Ricotta con Funghi Porcini e Tartufo Nero
Baked Ricotta with Porcini Mushrooms and Black Truffle
200g of raw cashews
300g of firm tofu (about one small/medium package)
2tsp of course Celtic Sea Salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 large cloves are garlic (go by your love of garlic)
Equivalent of 2 eggs Egg Replacer (Ener G works best)
Juice of half a lemon
1 large handful of dried porcini mushrooms(make sure they are well rinsed so as not sandy)
1 bay leaf
One sprig of fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Black or white truffle, or, if not available truffle paste or truffle oil (make sure no dairy is added)
Day old rustic Italian bread, cut into soldiers (like lady finger size) and toasted
Preheat the oven to 180° C.  Soak the mushrooms in warm water for at least half an hour. Mix the cashews, tofu, sea salt, nutritional yeast, garlic, egg replacer, 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until totally smooth, with absolutely no nutty chunks. If you need to add a tbsp or so of warm water, if you have problems blending.  Keep aside until ready for use. 
Drain the mushrooms and keep the dark water on the side for later use.  If the pieces are large, cut them into about ¼ to ½ inch pieces with scissors.  In a small pan drizzle about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, a splash of white wine (I would use whatever wine you are serving this with), salt to taste, one spring of rosemary, the bay leaf and mushrooms.  Sautee with medium heat and slowly add 2-3 tbsp of mushroom water.  Sautee until it has dried out and the mushrooms are done. 
Now, in aluminum panna cotta cups/molds(which are similar to cupcake cups, or in a cupcake cup if you can’t find panna cotta cups), scoop up a large spoonful of mushroom mix, making sure there are no sticks from the rosemary and the bay leaf has been removed, and put it at the bottom of the cup.  Fill the rest of the cup up to the top with the cashew ricotta mix.  This mix should make 4-6 depending on the size of the cup.
Put each cup on a cookie pan, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are toasted and golden brown.  Make sure not to let them go dark.  Once cooked, reverse the molds onto a small plate, grate the toasted bread over it, and serve with toasted bread that has been brushed with olive oil.  Grate black or white truffle over the mushrooms and dish.  Or, if using truffle oil, drizzle the truffle over the mushrooms, letting it drizzle slightly over the sides. 
If you are serving with black truffle I suggest a light bodied Riesling from Germany, or Alto Adige in Italy.  With white truffle, bring out the more aromatic whites like a Gew├╝rztraminer from Alsace, or, strangely enough, a buttery California Chardonnay
Buon Appetito!!
Play the Black Celebration album by Depeche Mode