Archive for vegan

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Day Three – Buffalo Trace, Town Branch, Evan Williams

Posted in Distilling, Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections, Vacations with tags , , on July 26, 2014 by Verge

After a busy first three distilleries on a guided tour, we decided to head out and explore on our own.  Buffalo Trace used to be on the official trail, but it isn’t anymore.  We went anyway early in the morning to check out their delicious libations.  Then we headed out to another official stop in Lexington and included a tour of their brewery as well.  Town Branch was the most modern facility on the tour, but it was well worth the trip.  I doesn’t have the charm of a 150 year old distillery, but it was a really great tour and our host, Steve, was hilarious.  Then we headed back to downtown Louisville to go on the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience tour, which is kind of like Disney for bourbon drinkers.

 

We had vegan chilli dogs and cole slaw for dinner like true Americans at the local ice cream stand

 

Then we watched some fireworks with our new friends (our hosts from BnB and their chickens) while sipping bourbon on the back porch until the middle of the night, and lit off some of our own.

We really couldn’t have planned for a better Independence Day than they way this trip turned out.  We got to see a ton of distilleries by this point, met some great people and hung out at a bunch of local places, and met some really great people.  And got to blow shit up drunk in the middle of Louisville.  Can’t wait to go back.

The Difference Between Vegetarian and Vegan

Posted in Recipes, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on August 27, 2013 by Verge

Monika and I buy a lot of groceries.  The reason for this is two fold, I suppose.  Firstly, we struggle to find healthy, vegan options when we dine out, although I can recommend some great places to eat if that’s what you’re looking for.  Secondly, we honestly truly enjoy cooking at home.

When you prepare most of your own meals, at home, you need a lot of raw ingredients.  Other than having ridiculously cheap toilet paper, kitty litter and contact lens solution, BJ’s and Costco also have great deals on raw ingredients.  A short list of them includes:  walnuts, pine nuts, raw sugar, peanut butter, tea, canned beans, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, olives, pickles, cashews, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, canned any vegetables, flour, sugar, olive oil, cereal, rice, etc.

Now, I have appreciated these “big box” clubs carrying vegetarian and vegan and low-sodium options.  I’ve even gone as far as sending them letters telling them that every new vegetarian product has indeed been seen, recognized, appreciate and purchased.  And, I truly do appreciate their buyers looking for newer options for those with “dietary needs.”  I do believe in supply and demand, and I do politely demand what I wish a store would supply.  That’s just common sense, even when you’re dealing with a huge company.  Honestly, sometimes they listen to customer feedback.

In any case, asking for vegetarian is a pretty darn big dietary restriction, I suppose, although we don’t really feel like it’s a restriction but more of a liberation, to be honest.  However, I will admit that taking the next step to becoming a vegan is most definitely restrictive.  It’s downright aggravating, in fact.  I just can’t understand why so many companies, with good intentions and good hearts, still insist on adding just a tad of milk or casein or gelatin or egg or butter or fat or any number of other things that can be substituted to their products!!

That is all besides the fact that thousands if not millions of products could easily already be vegetarian but are not.  Honestly, most products add salt and animal fat for flavoring in the US, and it’s absolutely ridiculous.  I understand why chicken soup has chicken broth, and clam chowder has clams in it, but why the hell does vegetable soup has a multitude of animal products in it??  Especially when there are absolutely, positively the same tasting, but vegetarian,  products to flavor soup on the market!???

Here are a few examples from some stores that we shop with that show how difficult it is to find enough products to truly be a vegan.  Obviously some of these can’t be made any other way, but I’m putting them out there just to illustrate how frustrating it can be sometimes to find good food that has no animal products, which is why Monika and I do most of our cooking at home.

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Morning Star Farms is a great company that make many delicious products. And, I still enjoy most of them. These breakfast sausage patties are really quite tasty, have a great texture, can be fried, toasted, baked or microwaved and make great little English Muffin sandwiches. Made from organic soy products, they are low in fat compared to the real thing.  Unfortunately, they are also NOT VEGAN. They contain egg whites and milk.

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These are one of several vegetarian “burgers” (which kind of sounds like it’s hamburgers made out of vegetarians). The have great flavor, hold together rather well when frying or even grilling, and don’t look like some of the mush some companies put out and call veggie patties. You can actually see the real vegetables in the burgers. You may recognize these as the burgers they use as Burger King Veggie Burger.  The main ingredient is hydrated wheat gluten, but unfortunately also contains egg whites, and calcium caseinate derived from milk. NOT VEGAN

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Morning Star Meal Starters Crumbles are a great substitute fro ground beef. The main ingredient is a flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein). For tacos, burritos, and chilli, this products is a great vegetarian substitute. Unfortunately it as also NOT VEGAN as it contains skim milk and egg whites.

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Next up, Morning Star Chipolte Black Bean Burgers. These are quite delicious, although a little hard to keep together on the grill. I usually bake these in the toaster over to make them nice and crisp. These are used by many restaurants, including TGI Fridays, as their house bean burger. We’re always happy to find major chain restaurants serving any vegetarian options, but again dining out as a vegan is sometimes impossible. These are also NOT VEGAN as they contain egg whites and calcium caseinate.

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Okay, this finally brings us to the last Morning Star product that my local BJs sells, the Grillers Vegan. This product actually is VEGAN, and says so right in its name. And, considering it doesn’t have any of the egg white “binder” included, they hold together and grill up quite well. They stay juicy and are very versatile. I even use them to crumble up and put in my veggie chilli and have used them in tacos before as well. I highly recommend them as a vegan substitute for a burger.

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BJ’s, form time to time, carry other brands of Veggie Burgers, I guess to see how they sell. These came from Harvesland.We tried these and actually, they weren’t too bad. Again, you could really see the veggies that made them up. What you couldn’t actually see was the egg whites that make the NOT VEGAN.

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These Crispy Tenders made by one of our favorite companies, Gardein, starting showing up about two years ago and quickly became a staple in our house. They bake up beautifully crispy. It’s what I ended up using in this recipe, and we would also just eat them like nuggets with some bbq or ketchup. They are really a quite diverse product and we still buy them when we can. Unfortuantely, BJs stopped carrying them a while back, which was a shame because not only did they come in an extra large package that was a great value, this product is TOTALLY VEGAN.

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I’ve been shopping at BJs for years, and I had some perennial favorites that had to go when we went vegan completely. This one barely needs any further explanation since Cheddar Cheese is right in it’s name. I always liked boiling a frying up some of these with some onion late night and having some with a little oil. Oh well…NOT VEGAN.

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And these ready to go Eggplant Parms from Michael Angelo’s were awesome to pop in the oven for a full, delicious meal. It’s a shame because not only were they delicious, the company made a product with very little ingredients, and no fillers, additives, or preservatives. The ingredients always tasted fresh and of great quality, including the three varieties of cheeses that they contained, making the NOT VEGAN and off limits.

Next time I stop by Whole Foods, I’ll snap some pictures and update a second page of examples, which will be available here.

You’re Vegan!?!…What do you eat?

Posted in Daily Pictures, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on July 5, 2012 by Verge

Yeah, the vegetarian thing is one thing.  People always ask vegetarians what they eat, especially for protein.  Never seemed to have a problem with that.  Americans seem to be protein obsessed.  Vegetarianism isn’t so extreme.  Plenty of animals in our world are vegetarian.  Sure, I guess I’m still an omnivore because I’m capable of eating plants and animals.  It’s just not really necessary for the human animal to consume large amounts of protein mostly because when I’m hungry, I open my fridge instead of running a few miles across the plains to hunt down some prey to feed my family to survive.

Veganism is pretty tough, though.  It’s hard to find a lot of things you’d consider safe that don’t also contain some form of animal product:  milk, casein, gelatin, butter, fat, chicken lard and flavoring, beef flavoring, whey, etc.  Milk and it’s products can be some pretty nasty stuff.  Adults aren’t even really supposed to drink milk at all if you simply look at the animal kingdom.  Let alone the milk and dairy products on the shelves at your store, which are loaded with hormones, steroids, antibiotics and all kinds of garbage.  Not only are a staggeringly huge percentage of people lactose intolerant to some degree, milk can actually cause osteoporosis.  There are other ways of getting calcium and vitamin D, and milk might be one of the worst.

If you go for a raw diet, then it’s pretty straight forward.  Nuts, fruits and veggies, legumes.  But, Monika and I like to have some good old American-type food, too.  For the 4th of July, we’d still like to have hamburgers and hot-dogs, baked beans, chips and dips, and the like.

Here’s what a vegan can buy at Whole Foods for $192.78.  None of this food contains any animal products, though I will admit, some of them are a bit over-processed, and not as healthy as one would ideally like in a perfect world.

Whole Foods can be expensive, but you can’t be their variety. You still have to search for the vegan stuff, and reading labels carefully has been a habit of ours for years, but certain brands you can pretty much trust. A lot of Whole Foods 365 Brand products carry small icons to tell you whether or not the products are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. I really wish this was a national standard. That, along with non-GMO, Organic, Kosher and Local labels. It’ll never happen until this country demands it. Don’t see that happening any time soon.

Of course, We’re huge fans of the bulk foods section. Great deals on loose ingredients. Lentils, TVP, Nutritional Yeast, Beans, Rices, Teas, Grains.

This is the processed stuff. So, if you’ve ever wondered what a Vegan eats, this is it. At least, this Vegan.  All those containers in the front are vegan yogurt, and on the left is some bulk lentils and wild rice.  Tofurky and Field Roast sausages and meat loaf.  Sprouted whole grain bagels…

Oh yeah, and some veggies thrown into the mix. Celery, peppers, broccoli, carrots, snap peas, cauliflower, onions and organic spring mix and spinach.  We still get a weekly box from Suburban Organics, and now that it’s Summer, we switched over to all fruit. Most of the veggies, like tomatoes and peppers and zucchini, we grow ourselves this time of year…

Vegan burgers, re-fried beans, chicken strips, burgers…

waffles, tofu, more burgers, sauerkraut…

hot-dogs, shredded cheeses, breakfast sausages…

vegan sour cream, cream cheese, lunch meat, sliced cheese, meatballs, waffles, Parmesan cheese, ribs…

Yeah, that’s not all of it, just what we shopped for on the 4th.  We have a ton of other things we eat, and I guess I can post pictures of our panty to prove it.  Plenty of pastas (whole wheat of course), potato products, anti-pastas, breads, crackers, and all kinds of other meat substitutes.  But, when people ask us what we eat because we’re vegans, I usually say, “the same stuff you do, just vegan versions.”  July 4th isn’t the same without burgers, hot-dogs, corn and all the other American foods that we all love.

Robyn O’Brien @ TEDx in Austin

Posted in Cinema Reviews, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , , , on May 8, 2012 by Verge

Please take a look at this video.  It’s only 18 minutes long, and explains what’s wrong with the food industry in this country today.  I know I’ve posted movies before.  Some of you might not want to see slaughter houses, or sit through 90 minutes of slanted documentaries.

I can understand why.  But this one is very different.

Robyn O’Brien was just like every ordinary American eater and mother.  She wasn’t a health food nut, or a vegan, or an organic non-GM eater, and never thought there was a problem with food in America.  Then something terrible happened which lead her down a path of discovery about the truth of modern food in America.

I highly encourage all of you, but especially the skeptics who think genetically-modified is fine, organic is expensive and un-needed, and kids with allergies are the result of paranoid parents, to watch this video with an open mind.  It doesn’t come from PETA, but instead, someone just like you.

Please visit her webpage to learn more.

Recent Random Pictures

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by Verge

a recent batch of beer chilling off in my kitchen. I can't remember which one this is partially because...

...Kreg and I have been making a lot of beer lately. On the left is Mojoito Wine, Imperial Pale Ale (now on tap at my house) American Ale, Mexican Cerveza. The little guy in front is a yeast starter after I added an air lock.

this is Winston Churchill, my brother's family bunny. He pretty damn cool and I had to pay him a visit the other day when kreg and I stopped by his house.

faux Colosso. this is probably the wild cat that got kreg's cat pregnant last year. If you have one of his kittens, this is the father.

Eno defends his palace! kind of looks like Batman.

a shot of my hops growing like wild fire.

they shot up to 6 feet so quickly I added another 6 feet to the top using the bamboo tomato stakes from last year's garden.

I blogged about this earlier, but seriuosly, what chance did this little girl have when you named her "Misery?"

Recently subscribed to Suburban Organics, who wend you locally grown organic fruits and vegetables on a schedule every week. They are awesome. This was what we got last week for 25 bucks, delivered to our front door.

The Sixth of August, Two Thousand and Ten (Our Weekend with Sam and Tuk)

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , on September 9, 2010 by Verge

So, our last  night in Ohio was spent late night with Tuk’s sister and husband again. The next morning, Sam was off early and Monika, Tuk and I were very hungry.  Only on place to go…

The Wawa of the Western PA...Sheets!

Monika contemplates whether to order or plunder

okay, they had whole wheat rolls for us veggie dorks.

Lunch, a beer and....

...

...

...

...

...

...

...Goodbye Shots!!

so long Tuk, and thanks for all the memories

oh wait...you can buy fireworks legally in Ohio

I chose the biggest ones that they had

400 miles home

going through a tunnel or two

...

Franklin Square, the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge

We love those two, and their friends, and road trips.  And, finally coming back home to see our cats…and friends too.  Next time we see Sam and Tuk, they’ll be in costumes, and the leaves will be red and orange and yellow, and my garden will be dead, and we’ll be sure to have plenty of whiskey when they arrive, and a nice, warm bed for them to sleep in for as long as we can keep them here.

The Fifth of September, Two Thousand and Ten (Our weekend with Sam and Tuk)

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Verge

I think at some point the night before, we decided to set up Rock Band.  That was a huge mistake.  I fell asleep on the couch shortly after.

The next morning, we cooked a huge vegetarian breakfast, and it was truly epic delicious.

Monika makes crepe batter, Sam cuts fresh fruit

we ate breakfast in the backyard on a beautiful morning

fresh oranges, plumbs, peaches; vegan fried sausage; pepper, mushroom, mozzarella egg omelet; jam filled crepes!

Tuk enjoys the feast!

Rocky Big Head enjoys the company, or maybe the smell of vegetarian sausage

Sam's eye darkens. Good thing Tuk didn't have to tell her twice.

After a solid breakfast, we went back to Mill Creek Park to go kayaking.  When we got there, though, there were non kayaks, only paddle boats, so we went paddle boating for an hour.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take the camera cause I was thinking we were going in kayaks.  It was a pretty good time that was spent mostly peddling as hard as we could into one anothers boats.

at the flaming ice cube, the girls bought TVP. We used it to make Vegetarian Cheese Steaks for lunch, and it was just as good as always.

The Canfield Fair was in town, and we had to go.

later, we got dressed for an evening at the county Fair

the girls prepare to impress on the drive in.

horses are huge, but very gentle, and very hungry

sometimes they ate, but most of the time, the animals just shat or slept.

don't get me wrong, though, they were all adorable, especially the bunny section

Sam entices a bovine

then off to the carnival side of the fare

to ride some rides. We all enjoy crazy, upside down, rickety carnival rides (except Steve)

a fist full of fun

and another day full of great adventures

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