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How many cans can a canner can if a canner can can cans?

November 6, 2011

Why, as many cans as a canner can can, if a canner can can cans.

 

Which is 7.  At a time.  Unless you have one of those monster canning pots, but really, who does?

 

Canner canning cans.

 

Hooray, canning season!  Every Fall since we both moved to MN to start our  respective Conservation Biology Grad programs, my friend Lorissa and I can tomatoes.  Growing up on a blueberry farm, she’s canned things her entire life, but my experience was pretty limited.  I helped my Grandma make her deliciously amazing blackberry jelly one time, but I was pretty young, and the details of the whole “canning” process were beyond me.  And there are some important details, friends!  More on that later, but suffice it to say that my foray into the world of preserving food has been relatively recent in terms of my life.

 

And it’s totally awesome!  You’ve never had tomato sauce until you’ve had home-canned tomato sauce made with Farmer’s Market (or garden!) fresh tomatoes.  Suck it, Heinz.

 

We eat Farmer's Market tomatoes in January. Why? Because we can.

Some may say that canning is a dying art, but in recent years it has started to make a comeback as more and more people are making the decision to be more connected to their food.  Take for instance the Master Food Preserver program, a University Extension-run program offered in most states that trains people in the art of food preservation, and helps them to teach others.  Or how about the adorable community project that’s started up in California called “Yes, We Can”.  The bottom line is, Grandma knew what was up; and people are starting to realize it.

 

If you have never canned before, there are a few things that you will need to know to make sure that you do it safely.  The USDA Guide is a good place to start.  There are only certain foods that you can can (<–HA!) with the standard jar-boiling method.  Specifically, only acidic food can be boil-canned, such as tomatoes, salsas, jellies and jams, fruits such as peaches and applesauce, and pickled things (the vinegar is acidic).  Meats and other non-acidic things need to be pressure-canned, which requires…well, a pressure canner.  The idea is that acidic foods – paired with proper sterilization and heating – help prevent bacterial growth that can cause botulism poisoning.  Non-acidic food requires much higher heats to kill the bacteria, so a pressure canner is needed.  Botulism is BAD NEWS, but as long as you follow the rules, canning can be done safely and relatively easily.  Pro-Tip:  Use a recipe (the USDA Guide provides some) that lets you know when and how much acid you need to add to certain foods (citric acid, lemon juice, and vinegar are common), as well as what other ingredients you’ll need.  Second Pro-Tip:  Some varieties of modern-day tomatoes have had the acidity bred out of them, and may need to have acid added to be at a safe pH (we add lemon juice to our tomatoes to be safe), so make sure to check a modern Low-Acid Tomato recipe.  The More You Know!

 

Next week:  apple sauce!

 

“When I go to see my Grandma, I gain a lot of weight. With her dear hands she gives me plate after plate. She cans the pickles, sweet and dill, and the songs of the whipperwill, and the morning dew and the evening moon, and I really wanna’ go and see her real soon, because the canned food I buy in the store ain’t got the summer in it anymore.” ~Greg Brown, “Canned Goods

 

Canning:  It’s Not Just for Awesome Grandmas.
Happy preserving-for-future-eating,

~AMK

Apple Season: Do Tell, William.

October 4, 2011

Mmm… Autumn.

The air has been warm here in Minnesota the last few days, as we enjoy the final moments of our Indian Summer.  But the last few weeks have had the unmistakable signs of Fall, with the air turning crisp at night and the trees lighting up like matchsticks.  Fall is always a bit of a double-edged sword for me here, because I know What’s Coming Next, yet at the same time…it’s hard to be bitter about Fall.  I’m almost certain that without this short but glorious season, no one would live in the upper Midwest over the Winter months.  It’s Nature’s Grand Finale, her persuasive and deliciously extravagant way of saying. “If you enjoyed the show, just wait and see what we have planned for the Spring!”  And it works; we stay.  Perfect temperatures, brilliant sunlit afternoons, and crimson-colored evenings with hardly any bugs.  Explosions of fiery color as trees burn slowly from the top down.  Warm, freshly-pressed apple cider, steeped in cinnamon.  Men in mock turtleneck sweaters.  Mmm.  It’s hard to be bitter about Fall.

And it’s hard to be bitter about trees laden with gorgeous, juicy apples!  I have had the opportunity to go apple-picking twice so far – once with my family in Missouri, and once here in Minnesota with friends – and I can’t even promise that I won’t be going again.  It’s a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I wasn’t able to cart back too many of the Missouri apples, but my roommate and I hauled back about 40 pounds of apples betwixt the two of us from Afton Apples  in Hastings, Minnesota on Sunday, so I think we’re still pretty set.  We’ll probably just slowly nosh our way through the FACE-sized Connolly Reds; but the tarter Haralsons will likely find their way into future pie, apple galette, and maybe even apple butter!  Stay tuned :).

Apple booty.

Connolly Red

My cousin's son, August. This is the adorable, adorable Future right here, folks.

Haralson

My cousin’s 3-year-old son, Dominic, disproving the myth that kids won’t eat apples unless they come peeled, sliced, coated in sugar, and paired with a McDonald’s toy.

Happy crrrrrrunching,
~AMK

In Which I Became an Herbivore: a Personal Experiment in Veganism – Summary Thoughts

September 2, 2011

Well, friends, I have returned to the way of the omnivore.

The transition was not as quick as might have been expected though; and in fact, almost another fortnight had passed since my two-week experiment in veganism ended and I probably had less than eight ounces of meat in that time.  However, with State Fair season upon us that figure has been soundly undone; so before all memory of my vegan days have been purged from my brain by sundry fried stick-food, I thought I would share some of the things that I learned.

First, I should make a few disclaimers.  I did not exclude honey as a part of this trial.  I know some vegans that eat it, and I find very little grounds for argument against locally raised honey, especially.  Also, this was a food-only trial – clothes and personal care products were not included.  But beyond these exceptions, I tried to avoid eating anything that consisted of or contained animal products.

So – did I cheat?  Well, not knowingly.  But as it turns out, animal products are used in all sorts of things that one might not normally expect.  I tried to avoid these products if I knew about them, but there were a few times that I threw caution to the wind.  Was isinglass (fish bladder) used to clarify my hard cider? Was the powdered sugar in my mojita bleached with animal bone char?  Where did the “enzymes” in that sourdough I ate come from?  Were the vitamins that were so often used to ‘fortify’ or preserve the packaged food I bought derived from plant sources?  The truth is, I didn’t know for sure, and decided I just didn’t care to know.  One part of me feels that it’s exactly this sort of nearly religious fastidiousness to the details associated with veganism that prevents the average person from wanting to try it.  On the other hand I can’t help but think…. Damn.  Shouldn’t I just be able to *know* this shit?  And furthermore, are these traces of animal really all that necessary?

Wheat berry salad with chopped cucumbers, cherries, dried cranberries, peas, and almonds

Beyond the frustrations with minutae mentioned above, was it hard?  And how did it make me feel?  In short:  it wasn’t that hard.  And I felt awesome.  But I’ll elaborate a bit.

Though I don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, I do eat some; and I’d certainly never gone anywhere nearly that long without dairy before.  Ever.  I also rely fairly heavily on eggs for protein and easy dinners.  So I was a little nervous.  Would I get intense cravings?  Would I feel weak from lack of protein?  Would I get bored with my options?  Would I be hungry and cranky all the time (you do NOT want to see me hangry.)?  The truth is, I didn’t experience any of that.  I ate full, satisfying, delicious meals.  I had a lot of energy – enough to power bike rides, swimming, dancing, and a week of free hot yoga at Core Power.  And I just felt good.  Healthy.  I’ve been blessed with fairly great health, but I do have a few GI issues; and I found that these felt more balanced than usual during my vegan days.  Of course, I only did this for 2 weeks, which really isn’t long enough for me to know how it would affect my health/energy long term.  But in the short term, I felt totally rad.

My standard breakfast - thick rolled oats cooked in almond, hazelnut, or oat (I know!) milk, with ground flax seed, local honey, chopped raw almonds, and fresh blueberries

I think I owe my good experience to a variety of factors.  A)  I planned.  I did my homework, and really made an effort to eat balanced, healthy meals with a lot of nuts, beans, and whole grains for protein.  I wanted to try a lot of different things, so that kept variety in my diet.  And I cooked.  A lot.  B) I made other efforts to be healthy (see: yoga).  C) As I’ve mentioned before, I have access to a lot of vegan options here.  And D), I’m German.  And we can beat most things with stubbornness.

Whole wheat penne with fresh tomatoes cooked with herbs, kale, summer squash, and vegan cheese (Will to consume vegan cheese...read: stubborness. For SCIENCE!

Stubbornness aside though, I think it’s also simply this:  the body adjusts.  Throughout the trial, as people learned about what I was doing, I would have people tell me something along the lines of “That’s pretty cool.  But I could never do it.”  The thing is, I didn’t think I could either.  But I did, and with the right amount of planning, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much.  Because I was eating a lot of fresh veggies and more fiber, I felt satisfied after meals.  Sometimes when I got hungry I craved meat or eggs, but after a healthy vegan meal I felt fine.  And I found that I rarely craved dairy at all, which was super weird and unexpected.  With all the veggie and grain-laden meals, cheese sounded heavy.  I love dairy.  But I guess I don’t need it.  The body adjusts.

Also? There was coconut milk ice cream. And homemade vegan dark chocolate blueberry brownies. (click for recipe)

Speaking of other people, not only was this trial an interesting personal experiment, but a fascinating social experiment as well.  I do not mean by this that I was attempting to willfully manipulate my friends.  In fact, at the start of my vegan stint, I fully intended to drag them into this as little as possible, making the necessary sacrifices on my end without forcing others to change on my behalf or rocking the social boat too much.  But that’s not exactly what happened.

Dinner with the Withams of quinoa salad, roasted herb potatoes, honeyed beets, and sweet corn

In social eating situations, despite my assurances that I could make due, my friends would often choose to join in – adjusting recipes and eating vegan with me.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; I have wonderful friends, and their willingness to support me in my wacky endeavors is only further evidence of their awesomeness.  But I still found it interesting how curious people were.  People would message me out of the blue, wanting to know how things were going, and it was certainly the topic of many a conversation I had during that time.  Perhaps it was the novelty of the matter, or the fact that it was short-term, and therefore they humored me.  Or maybe people just thought I was crazy, and crazy people are interesting.  But regardless of their motivations, people were drawn in – more so than I anticipated.  So…do we influence, inspire, intrigue, or challenge our friends and peers with our decisions?  I suppose it is naïve to believe that we do not.

Veggie medly fettucinni with parsley pesto courtesy of Anna, mango sticky rice and homemade mojito courtesy of Stephanie, and tomato cucumber wheatberry salad with homemade lemon ginger dressing courtesy of moi. About a dozen people enjoyed this vegan meal that night :).

So to return to a question that I posed on the first day of my veganism:  why did I do this?  Curiosity, in part; I wanted to understand more about the lifestyle, and I wanted to see how it affected my body.  But despite the fact that I labeled this trial a “personal experiment,” our decisions are never made in a vacuum, nor do their consequences remain in one.  Our personal, day-to-day decisions can have far-reaching consequences, especially when aggregated to the population level.

And so:  what if everyone went vegan for two weeks a year?  One week? One day?  What if everyone in the U.S. ate vegan for one day a year – Earth Day, or Lights Out Day or a random Monday in August?  If everyone in the U.S. went vegan for just one day, it would prevent 2.5 billion pounds of CO2 emissions (8 lbs a day saved in vegan vs. non-vegan diet, multiplied by a population of nearly 312 million)  If the same population ate vegan for two weeks?  34.9 billion pounds of C02 saved.  This says nothing of the other, more potent green house gasses such as nitrous oxide and methane that would be prevented.  It also says nothing about the water saved, the erosion stymied, the antibiotics that would go unused, the land that would go untilled (to grow the crops to feed the animals…), and all the other waste that would never be generated if America abstained from animal products for a fortnight.  Or even just a night.

At the end of the day, I think I am still decidedly a “flexitarian,” as the new buzzword goes, which I would define as someone who tries to make the best eating decision possible in the given situation.  And sometimes that means eating locally pastured chicken in the winter, instead of fruit salad shipped from South America.  And sometimes it means eating meat because…you just really want to eat meat.  Veganism isn’t something that I would want to do all the time.  But it is something that I can do some of the time.  This trial run in herbivory taught me that I don’t need as much meat and dairy as I thought I did, and in fact, might feel better if I cut back on the cheese and replaced it with plants more frequently.

Lemon Basil Almond Pesto, a.k.a. The Pesto to End All Other Pestos. It subs nutritional yeast for parmesan, and it was so friggin' good (I can provide witnesses). Recipe below.

I imagine I will do this experiment again next year, maybe even for longer next time.  And in the meantime, I think I’ll be making a conscious effort to incorporate more vegan meals into my diet (after all, they were delicious!)  Being vegan gave me a sense of empowerment over my food, because I found that I was stronger than I thought I was.  So to people who say “I could never do that” – you can.  Start with just one day – go from there.

Besides...dark chocolate is vegan. What more do you need?

Happy eating,

~AMK

Lemon Basil Almond Pesto

I sort of combined two recipes that I found, but it’s based mostly on this one.

1 1/2 cups whole almonds, peeled and lightly toasted
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
~4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon…though I think I added the whole thing, for extra lemony-ness)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to preferred consistency
sea salt to taste (1/2 – 1 tsp or so)

1.  Finely grind almonds in a food processor.
2. Add the basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Puree.  Slowly add the oil and process until smooth.  Blend in salt to taste.
3.  Consume, with great joy.  It makes some wicked bruschetta sprea on toasted sourdough slices, with diced tomatoes tossed in EVOO and salt/peppa.

Makes 2 cups.  They won’t last long.

In Which I Became an Herbivore: a Personal Experiment in Veganism – Fake Meat

August 15, 2011

When my younger brother and I were in middle school/high school, our parents went to Hawaii for about a week and a half.  Our older cousin, who was probably in his early twenties at the time, came to stay with us, as we weren’t quite old enough to be left to our own devices yet.  As our combined culinary prowess didn’t extend too far past stovetop Kraft Mac and Cheese, my parents left us well-stocked with pre-made or easy to prepare meals, including a few store-bought frozen entrees.  Not being as familiar with the Frozen Foods section of the grocery store, as he didn’t often get things for us there, my dad accidentally bought a box of Boca chicken nuggets – not realizing that when Boca says chicken, they mean “chicken.”  For my bro’ and I at least, we hardly knew what vegetarianism was, and had almost certainly never heard of veganism yet.  The three of us, upon realizing the mix-up, were perplexed by this strange new food substance in our household that looked like chicken nuggets and tasted like…nothing at all.  “It’s a vehicle for the ketchup,” my cousin announced.  And he could not have been more right.

 

I think that the “meat substitute” industry has become a bit more savvy since that time, but I still find the concept of ‘fake meat’ a bit hard to swallow (SORRY, sorry…).  While researching his book Food Rules, Michael Pollan collected hundreds of people’s everyday guidelines for eating, including the sage advice submitted by one reader, “Never eat something that is pretending to be something else,” going on to list examples like fake sugar and a variety of animal product substitutes.

 

I believe there is great wisdom in this rule of thumb.  The only things I really haven’t liked during my vegan experiment were a couple products that too closely tried to mimic the real deal; namely, the fake cheese (“Melts”! “Stretches”!) and the Tofurky dogs (“Italian sausage style”!).  While I understand that many vegans and vegetarians avoid processed soy products, I also realize that Boca, Tofurky, and the like still do a pretty big business; so in order to explore the full spectrum of a vegan diet, I thought I needed to give the fake meat a shot.

One of these things is not like the other...

I brought the T-dogs to a grill out with some friends.  Sitting on the grill, they looked unsettlingly like real brats, except that they lacked the characteristic curve.  “They’re just so perfectly cylindrical,” a friend noted.  Yeah…  I ate mine on a roll with sautéed onions and diced tomatoes piled on top, to further convince myself that there was totally real food hiding underneath.  And it wasn’t too bad, tasting mostly like the Italian spices used to flavor it.  But about halfway through (and I experienced this with the “cheese” too) my body, realizing it had been duped, seemed to begin to say “STOP.  YOU ARE NOT EATING FOOD.  PLEASE EAT SOME FOOD.”  Hrm.

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that, for most cases at least, when trying to eat a plant-based diet, ‘tis better to start over and create something new and different that is delicious in its own right than to try to fake it.  As my friend Ricky noted, “I’d just be super confused if they managed to ACTually make something indistinguishable. I don’t think I’d race out to buy “I Can’t Believe It’s Not MEAT!””  Indeed.  Plants taste wonderful, there is no need to try to make them taste like animals.  Attempting to do so seems too often to yield products that taste like Ambiguity and leave us with the phrase “Soylent Green is PEOPLE!” echoing hauntingly in our minds.

 

As Michael Pollan writes, “Eat real food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  There is indeed a happy area of overlap on the Venn Diagram between subbing for animal products and eating real food.  Case in point: these homemade veggie burgers from Oh She Glows that I whipped up the other day, made from fresh veggies and herbs, whole grain, nuts, seeds, beans, and spices.  They didn’t taste like meat.  They tasted like fresh veggies and herbs, whole grain, nuts, seeds, beans, and spices.  And they tasted incredible.

Nommmmmmmm.

Good food is best when shared among friends/willing guinea pigs! (FTR it received two thumbs up :))

I loved the flavors from the herbs and cumin, and they were very hearty, with a bit of added crunch from the carrots and almonds.  Give them a try sometime, they aren’t too hard to make, and they are amazing with sliced tomatoes and homemade guac’ on top!

For as we know, a great *many* things are better with guac' on top.

Happy eating,

~Amanda

Plants needed:

  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Flax eggs: 2.5 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl (I grind whole flax seeds in a coffee grinder to retain the most nutrition, but you can buy flax pre-ground.  If desired, you could probably sub an egg or two here)
  • 1 cup oats [sticks together better if you can grind up the oats in a food processor or coffee grinder first]
  • 1.5 cups bread crumbs [I used Panko flakes that I had on hand, but you can process about 3 pieces of toast instead]
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and roughly pureed or mashed
  • Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped basil [original recipe called for parsly, use fresh herb of choice]
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped (toasted if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, (toasted if preferred)
  • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Tamari (soy sauce)
  • 2-3 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chili powder (original recipe called for 1.5 tsp chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin, so just season to taste I s’pose)
  • 1 tsp. oregano [I used fresh]
  • Sea (or Kosher) salt and black pepper, to taste

Whadda’ do:

1. Sauté onions and garlic in 1/2 tbsp oil. Mix your flax egg together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Mix all ingredients (except spices and salt) together in bowl, stir well. Add seasonings and salt to taste.

3. With slightly wet hands, shape dough into patties (packing tightly to help it stick together).

Plant Tar-Tar

The easiest way to cook them to just pan fry them over medium heat in a bit of oil for about 5 minutes on each side.  You can bake them though (30-36 mins – 15-18 minutes on each side – at 350F) or grill them (pre-bake in oven for 15 minutes, then grill until golden and crispy on each side).

In Which I Became an Herbivore: a Personal Experiment in Veganism – Comfort Food

August 11, 2011

“What do vegans eat when they’re sick?” queried my roommate as I moped around the kitchen yesterday morning, feeling achy and vaguely flu-ish.  Good question.  When I’m under the weather, all I want is comfort food, and most of what sounded comforting wasn’t vegan: grilled cheese sandwiches, cereal and real milk, chicken noodle soup…

What is it about chicken noodle soup that seems so right on sick days?  I’ve heard that there is an enzyme in chicken that can help boost immunity; not sure if that’s true, but maybe that’s it.  However, the things that make that can of Campbell’s comforting have little to do with the bits of chicken floating in it, methinks.  I’m guessing it has more to do with the warm salty broth, the starchiness, and the reduced need for mastication.  I figured I could probably manage something along those lines.  I had some brown rice and vegetable broth.  There was some celery, carrots, onion, and green beans in the fridge.  What else? Fingerling potatoes!  I’d gotten them at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, where the teeny tiny lady scooped them from a pile of teeny tiny potatoes heaped on the table.  Hearty and comforting, potatoes seemed the best substitute for chicken in my time of need.  Especially such bitty, happy little potatoes :).

Yay, soup! Soup, yay!

Anyway, feeling much better today than I did, hooray!

~AMK

(P.S.  There’s not really a ‘recipe’ for this one, folks; just chop, boil (in the veggie broth, add a little H2O if necessary), consume.  I did cook the rice separately though (not sure it’s necessary).  Season/herb to taste.  Or don’t.  I like bland things when I’m feeling meh.)

What to Do with That 3-Foot-Long Zucchini That’s Lurking in Your Garden

August 8, 2011

I mean, okay, maybe it’s not quite there YET…but if you turn a blind eye to it, by September it will be eating the other poor produce in the garden.  And possibly your pets.

My advice?  Pick that sucker now (or get some from a farmer’s market, they are probably the cheapest thing there) and use it to make this:

Shhh... the secret ingredient is chlorophyll.

This vegan kick that I’m on has been a great excuse to make my favorite zucchini bread recipe, which I’ve been making for a few years and which just so happens to be totally vegan.  I got the recipe from Beth Martin, a classmate of mine a few years back, who was selling the bread at a fundraiser bake sale on campus.  It was so delicious that I had to ask her for the recipe.  It was only after she sent it to me that I realized it was vegan – go figure!  It’s friggin’ delicious, and while it is good with butter, it stands fine alone or with Earth Balance spread (or jam, I imagine).

Zucchini:  eat it before it eats you!

~AMK

 

Beth Martin’s Zucchini Bread [with a few twists by moi]

* 2 cups sugar [AMK note:  I like to use raw sugar]
* 3 cups flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp salt [sea salt is super tasty!]
* 2 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp nutmeg [Beth’s recipe called for 3 tsp cinnamon only, no nutmeg; but I like a lot of spice, and nutmeg is awesome, so I add that too. Do as you please!]

Mix dry ingredients together and then add:
* 1 cup vegetable oil [I use 100% canola, or sometimes half canola and half olive, which doesn’t affect the taste, in my experience]
* 2 cups grated zucchini [can be done easily in a food processor instead of hand grating.  I squeeze out some of the water afterwards]
* 3 tsp vanilla

Mix until well saturated, will be a quite thick dough.  Grease and flour pan(s) – I usually do it in mini loaf pans (makes 8 – bake at 350 (Beth does 325) for ~30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean), because Beth said they bake through more easily.  I’ve done it as 2 larger loaves before too, and you could probably do it as 1 big one, but you’d have to vary the cook time and be careful not to burn the loaf/loaves.

Enjoy!

In Which I Became an Herbivore: a Personal Experiment in Veganism, Day 1

August 2, 2011

August 1st,2011

 

“Dude, being vegan is awesome!” exclaimed I to my roommate, while sipping red wine and noshing on chocolate coconut milk ‘ice cream’ which I had melted some dark chocolate wafers over.  This followed a dinner of rice and bean burritos with Farmer’s Market sautéed veggies and roasted garlic hummus (which for a period of time last year had been a pretty standard meal for me, actually).  Yeah.  Pretty rough life.

 

To step back a moment and explain:  I’ve decided to do a brief personal experiment in eating vegan.  I’m going to shoot for around 2 weeks, which I figure is just long enough to prevent me from just getting by on wheat crackers and almond butter the whole time.  Why am I doing this?  A variety of reasons, which I will more thoroughly detail at the end of the trial.  But in large part: it is said that that eating vegan is the diet with the lowest environmental impact.  I imagine that, when done correctly, this is largely true.  But there are aspects that I am quite skeptical about, which I will also explain later on; there are many shades of veganism, and I think that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to do it, and I am interested in exploring both ends.  This blog centers on eating real, local food, and there are certain aspects of veganism that are inconsistent with this philosophy; so in some ways, this experiment is a digression from my usual focus.  However, it’s not a coincidence that I’ve timed this little test to coincide with peak harvest season here in MN.  With the Farmer’s Market stands overflowing with fresh produce, why *not* go vegan for awhile?

 

It turns out that there’s a lot more to veganism than fresh veggies, though.  Today was the Buying stage of the vegan diet (for non-Farmer’s Market things, that is), which consisted of going to the Seward Co-op…and having access to anything vegan I could ever want ever, ever.  Veggie brats? Check.  Tofu?  Well, duh.  Soy mozzarella, seitan, vegan energy bars, mountains of ripe avocados for guacamole, coconut date rolls, almond/oat/hazelnut milk? Ain’t a thing.  It almost felt like cheating, really.  Going vegan in the Cities is like going camping in an RV – you can still say you’re doing it, but it hardly feels like “roughing it”.  And maybe that’s the point – that being vegan doesn’t have to be an overly arduous lifestyle if you don’t want it to be (and you are willing to spend the money).  But it also did not escape me that for many parts of the country, tofu isn’t an option at grocery stores, much less coconut milk ice cream.  Not to mention the odd and somewhat disturbing realization that I didn’t have to change my lifestyle all that much, just the brands I purchased.  You have to hand it to the American Marketing Machine – they see a niche, they fill it.  With convenient soy/wheat/nut versions of <insert your favorite animal food here>.

 

Anyway, I am stuffed, satisfied, and sleepy from wine.  I’m not sure exactly what I pictured the vegan lifestyle as, but this wasn’t exactly it.  So far, kinda awesome!

Then again, the cheese withdrawal symptoms have yet to kick in. 😉

 

~AMK

Plants!