No-new groceries check-in

I’m still three days away from pay day and I have bought zero new groceries, true to my goal.

Gotta say, I’m quite impressed with my own pantry-stocking skills. And the beginning of CSA season was admittedly a great help.

I cheated financially and went to dinner with a friend and got drinks with more friends last Friday night, but those were plans made before I knew I’d be strapped for cash. But because I’m using some creativity in the kitchen, I’ve still been spending very little.

Here are some highlights: More

The no-new-grocery challenge

Budget- and mental health-wise, I hope the days are behind me of eating chips and leftover s’mores ingredients from an old camping trip for dinner.

But I’m still a writer trying to make rent in Seattle, where the cost of living and taxes are high (I love you so much Seattle, but you hurt me sometimes).

I got paid on Friday, but after going over my budget, I realized that I’d still have near-nothing left by the time my checks for rent, my CSA and a health insurance thing clear.

Not wanting to swim in more credit card debt (which is where I put my car repairs and birthday presents to loved ones), I challenged myself to not buy any more groceries until I get paid again June 13. More

What are you doing not buying this book?

In the past year or so, I’ve had a beautiful culinary experience.

I mean, I love cooking just about all of the time, but I got to do something really special.

I recipe tested for Vegan Richa, a vegan recipe author you need to follow right now if you don’t already. She assembled her first cookbook full of Indian delights, pushing out recipes to the testers, copy editing, taking our feedback and committing the most beautiful acts of food photography.

And, now that her book is out, I can tell you about it!

All of the drool.

All of the drool.

It was excruciatingly hard to keep it a secret on this blog. I was blowing my own mind with the dishes I was able to churn out in my tiny Seattle kitchen with Richa’s guidance. I never thought I would be able to make authentic homemade Indian food, but now I can! I wanted to post my crappy cell phone pictures up here every time I cranked out a Richa dish.

But now you’re going to make them, because you’re going to buy this book.

Admittedly, you’ll probably have to acquire some Indian staples over time, like fenugreek leaves, mustard and cumin seeds and mung dal if you don’t have those on hand already. But once you pick them up, you’ll be able to create Richa goodness forever. (Who knew I’d ever keep nigella seeds in my spice cabinet?) More

Aziz Ansari on meat

Last week I watched Aziz Ansari’s Madison Square Garden special on Netflix.

I anticipated his feminist commentary because of the media coverage it attracted (and I read tons of feminist blogs), but the part that excited me the most was something that, afterward, I couldn’t find much coverage on at all.

He lampooned the meat and egg industry.

He starts by asking the audience to clap if they don’t eat meat … and then clap if they don’t eat meat because they read books or watched documentaries that turned them off of meat … and then to clap if they don’t eat meat because they saw factory farm footage that fucked up their ability to eat meat.

Then he continues:

Clap if you saw that (factory farm footage) and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, that’s disgusting, it’s cruel, it’s inhumane, the government definitely needs to properly regulate the meat industry, there’s no excuse for this – the government definitely needs to properly regulate the meat industry … but, in the meantime, I kinda still gotta eat meat, because I don’t wanna feel weird and hungry all the time.’

Isn’t that so frustrating? Because no one wants to support that stuff.

This is where most people I know are at. Like, they inherently know meat comes from a fucked up place, but they exist in willful denial because they don’t think they have the willpower to give up meat or they think humans were built to consume meat and so we should or they have no idea what they would eat in the alternative … whatever. More

Wut

Interrupting my hiatus of laziness for this important message.

I cannot wait.

Food and depression

Some people reach for food when they’re sad, stressed, grieving or depressed.

I starve.

I suffer from depression. It’s totally under control and has been for a couple years now. But once in a great while it can still come creeping back, with or without a trigger.

When I was in the depths a few years ago, I lost between 20 and 30 pounds. One of my great loves – good, wholesome food – was rarely interesting to me. I had no motivation to cook. I was also poor at the time. Dinner would be tortilla chips or graham crackers. Anxiety drove me to throw up what little I could choke down. More

What should be on every restaurant table

Mike and I sometimes eat at Razzi’s Pizzeria in Greenwood because they have whole separate menus for omnivores and vegans (and another for gluten-free folks, too) and we can both have calzones when we’re in the mood for a treat.

When we went there last week, I noticed a special condiment on every table that I hadn’t seen there before:

Hi there!

Hi there!

I’ve never tried the Go Veggie! parm before. I use my own homemade Happy Herbivore parm when I cook at home.

It was delicious! I haven’t quite tasted that flavor in a very long time and it was a welcome topping to my vegan calzone.

Here’s to hoping vegan parmesan shows up on every table in America.

I’m not holding my breath.

Vegan vanity: Liquid eyeliner

When I first became vegan, the only transition that really occurred to me was the dietary one.

Then when people started asking me if that meant I would start to do away with non-vegan clothing and makeup and all the rest, I didn’t really know what to say except that I was in the process of evaluating that issue.

So part of my plant-based journey is an effort to more consciously understand what’s in the products I use, even the non-food ones. A big part of that includes my beauty products.

For about five years my attention my decision-making on the personal care and beauty product front has focused on finding naturally-based and paraben- and phthalate-free goods. Most of the new cosmetics I use are from Burt’s Bees* and Physicians Formula because of they’re good to my sensitive skin, cruelty-free and they seemed to lack nasty fragrances and irritants.

But I was surprised to learn that so-called “natural” and “allergen-free” and even non-animal-tested products aren’t necessarily vegan. Ugh, so much to worry about! What the hell!

Now that I have this new consideration to inform my choices, several assumptions have been turned on their head and I still have my budget to worry about. As much as I would love to shop exclusively at Petit Vour and Arbonne and not have to worry about the contents and quality of my products, the reality is that most of my products will come from the drug store. And testing out budget items has meant trying products that are vegan, but contain many of the synthetic ingredients I once eschewed (though my thoughts on parabens have shifted, thanks to posts such as this one).

Anyway, come on this cosmetic journey with me as I try to jazz up my amateur makeup routine and find affordable vegan products to love. As with every post on this blog, my efforts are exploratory and educational and aren’t meant to be authoritative.

Today: Liquid eyeliner!

I’ve futzed with liquid eyeliner a bit, namely trying to look schmancy on special occasions with a black line on the lid (possibly a cat eye if I have 15 minutes to kill on eyeliner), but I want to experiment with different colors and brands.

A few months ago I purchased two liners from the ultimate budget brand, Wet n Wild. I mean, it’s a cruelty-free brand and I’d heard its quality is improving, so why not check it out? The brand’s website also makes vegan shopping easy with this list, which I kept open on my phone while shopping at a Seattle Bartell Drugs.

Mega Liner Liquid Liner in Indigo and H20 Proof Liquid Liner in black

Mega Liner Liquid Liner in Indigo and H20 Proof Liquid Liner in black

More

A very vegan Christmas party

I hosted a party on Saturday.

My bestest friend who lives in D.C. was visiting Seattle and I needed to show her how many awesome people are in Seattle so she can move back here. Also I hadn’t thrown a boy-girl party in awhile.

Said bestest friend, Johanna, helped me calm down by reducing my planned menu in half. I tend to get carried away.

This was a great help, but even then I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to clean and I cut my pinky on a can of artichokes, causing a great gushing forth of blood, so there was enough stress.

Regardless! I threw together awesome food with the help of my friends and everyone loved it and none of my omnivore friends made a big deal about how everything was vegan.

This particular bash was a Happy Herbivore affair. Her recipes are sans bullshit and delicious.

Because of my gushing finger that delayed the food-making process, I didn’t have time to take any photos, but I can show you evidence of the demolishing of the food:

My menu:

From the new Happy Herbivore Holidays and Gatherings

Spinach and artichoke dip (with home baked tortilla chips)

White bean dill dip (with veggies)

Mac and cheese bites (which got rave reviews from the guest of honor)

From Happy Herbivore Abroad

Decadent brownies

Hot chocolate (with vanilla vodka on hand for spiking)

Then from Nigella, the mulled cider I make every fall and winter.

One friend brought pesto. Others brought chocolate-covered almonds, salt and vinegar chips (DROOL) and other snacky items that went great. More friends brought pastries and Rice Krispies treats that probably weren’t vegan, but I was happy that my friends cleaned those up, too.

Cooking is one way I show love, so I’m glad my friends enjoyed everything and had a great time. Just more proof that you, too, can fool your friends with wonderful plant-based goodies.

Thanksgiving!

Doesn’t matter that I no longer eat turkey. Thanksgiving is still a fantastic holiday, perhaps even more so because my approach to it is so new and wonderful and I have more ownership and pride in my feast than ever before.

This was my second plant-based Thanksgiving, so a few things remained the same as last year as I dined with my omnivorous family in Olympia. Mom set aside some potatoes and stuffing for me to load with veggie broth instead of chicken broth and cream. I also brought my own pie, made my own gravy and threw together an appetizer and salad to share.

However, I tried a few new things. Whereas I drew most of my inspiration from Isa last year, this year I turned to the newest Happy Herbivore book, Holidays and Gatherings.

I had been paging through my H&G book for a few weeks now, but this was my first time using it. It is so great! It collects a lot of recipes from books past, so there aren’t tons of surprises for someone like me who has all of Lindsay’s recipe books. However, it organizes the recipes into the perfect holidays and occasions to cook them (even though I took from other chapters to work into my Thanksgiving) and also brings in some new delights.

When all was done, I was so pleased with the results. Check out the highlights:

What were some of your Thanksgiving revelations/highlights this year?

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