Tuesday, November 24, 2015

holiday time

It's that time of the year again and it will be my second vegetarian Thanksgiving. Neat! I still haven't crossed over into vegan land, although I have been make a lot of progress in that avenue. My vegetarian to vegan stats are 20% vegetarian and 80% vegan.

Last year, I made my own Seitan Roast with Old Fashioned Stuffing for Thanksgiving. This year I am going to try an all vegan Thanksgiving.

The first recipe is Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing from Chowhound.com. This is a fully vegan and gluten free recipe which is awesome since I have been cutting back on my gluten as well.    

Image Source: Chowhound.com
For a side dish I plan to make a vegan dupe of the following recipe. Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic-Sage Brown Sauce from Aidamollenkamp.com. I will be using Energ-G Egg Replacer to bind the gnocchi and agave nectar to replace the honey. For the butter sauce I will be using Organic Earth Balance Vegan Spread and I have a gluten free flour ready to go. I haven't decided what route I want to take to replace the Parmesan but a ground cashew and pistachio mix sounds good.

Image Source: Aidamollenkamp.com
Next, I am planning to make my favorite holiday dish, a vegan Swiss Chard Gratin from Chocolateandzucchini.com. I use a homemade seasoned cashew cream base for the béchamel and a generous amount of Daiya Mozzeralla Style Shreds, instead of the comté. Yum!

Image Source: Chocolateandzucchini.com

Monday, November 16, 2015

What do I think of the attacks on Paris?

I was asked what I think of the attacks on Paris today. This is my response.

First, I will say that what happened in Paris is tragic. There is really not more to be said on that level. My heart bleeds and I am deeply concerned about the whole situation. It takes a very twisted and confused person to not be hurt by this. Yet, I can't help thinking about the bigger picture.

The day before the Paris attack, ISIS(Daesh) also bombed Beirut which killed at least 43 people and injured roughly 240 more. This story cycled through the news media so fast it was barely noticed. The question begged to be asked, "Why did Paris gain the attention of America?"

The morning after the attacks on Paris, I was still clueless. My phone (which has Facebook alerts) informed me that Bernice (named changed for privacy) was safe in Paris. I was confused. Why was my phone telling me that? This lead to the discovery of the Facebook "safety check" for Parisians and thereby I learned about the attack itself. 

I knew that those superimposed flagged faces would immediately marginalize the lives lost in Beirut. How many of us knew people in Beirut? For that matter, how many people knew where Beirut was? 

FYI: It is the capital and largest city of Lebanon.

I couldn't help notice another image dominating my social media. It was the Eiffel Tower peace symbol that Jean Jullien, a french artist, created. I wondered, "Would anyone have noticed a similar artist from Beirut creating an artistic rendition of the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque?"

We romanticize Paris. The city of love. The city of art. The city of baguettes and Jerry Lewis marathons. Even if we have never been to Paris, it is in our culture, our stories, our film, our music and our art. So, the attacks on Paris, that is personal to us. It is personal to us regardless if we have an immediate connection through family and/or friends. It is simply too close to home.

I can't tell you how much it saddens me to see people trying to compare apples to oranges. People lashing out and calling names. People using really bad comparisons to prove misguided points.

For myself, I am a humanitarian. That is just who I am. I will always be a humanitarian. During the early days of America, I would have been helping slaves on the underground railroad. In the days of Nazi Germany, I would have been an active member of the White Rose. Even as I child I remember throwing myself in front of a school bully to protect an Indian girl that he was calling a "dot head". That being said, I will always choose kindness and compassion before I allow any fears and threats control me.

The mass psyche has so quickly went from being horrified, to being angry. It has given me whiplash. The result is a passionate debate of, "Do we or don't we allow refugees into our borders." On one side, people say, "All humanity is ours. We need to help. We are all in this together!". On the other side, people say, "We need to take care of our own first and we do not want to invite violence to our homeland."

Logically, I understand all of the arguments. There are some very valid and invalid perceptions on all sides. I am on the, "Let the refugees in" side. There are a lot of arguments I could make. But I won't. If a person has chosen a side, that is where they will stay. They are entitled to their opinion. The only time I open my mouth (uninvited) is when someone is sharing grossly false information or they are bordering on hurting people. 

However, I am frustrated that we aren't looking at this differently. We are becoming a people of forced choices. We are made to decide who's life is more important. We should NEVER be placed in that position. We should NEVER EVER feel comfortable with making that kind of choice. 

We really should be thinking about terrorism itself. No, I do not mean in that, "bone crushing fear" sort of way. What I mean is that terrorism breeds power in fear. Terrorists use violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. They use us. They use our fear and our self preservation against us. It makes me feel like a battered wife trying to mitigate the damage. This is all about intimidation and to the big bag bullies of the world, I for one refuse to be intimidated.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The 500 Hundred Hats of Me...(Okay, maybe less than that but bonus points for catching the reference.)