Have I ever told you about how much I procrastinate? I’ve probably been putting it off.
Would I? Oh yes.
My beauty routine is fairly minimal. I sometimes go days without combing my hair (the brush just gets caught in all the split ends, okay??), and while friends have commented that one can gauge my mood by how much eye makeup I am wearing (just mascara = normal, a little eyeliner = feeling good, full-on-raccoon = feeling bad, none = I’m slowly giving up on life), I don’t tend to use many other cosmetics, so this opportunity seemed like the perfect excuse to get out of a rut.
It’s now December, but here’s my review!
Beauty Without Cruelty lavender shampoo: I’m a huge fan of BWC’s mascara and face wash and have been enjoying a sample bottle of their Vitamin C lotion from VVC, but their shampoo didn’t de-grease my hair as thoroughly as I would like from a hair-cleansing product.
Earth Science Pure Essentials Fragrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner: these, on the other hand, made my hair look/feel/smell (JK — it’s unscented) awesome. I’ve never going to give up the hippie mud shampoo I’ve been using since high school, but I did go out and purchase a bottle of this conditioner at Central Co-op for a fairly reasonable price ($8.95), even though I’m pretty sure that conditioner is an unnecessary luxury that Big Soap has manipulated us into thinking is critical to our hair not falling out. (Maybe this is where all my split ends come from. Or maybe I should get my hair cut more than twice a year.)
All Natural Face Matte Cream Blush: This stuff makes me feel so pretty, and works as lipstick or rouge — I like wearing both simultaneously for a natural(ish)-looking glow. Vegan Cuts gave us Dusty Rose, which is more neutral than the whorish pinks and reds that I usually pick. Use your fingers to apply it — super easy, and the case even has a little mirror to prevent you from giving yourself clownface when applying on-the-go. Plus, using your fingers allows you to spread it to the contours of your kisser better than any stick — I apply lipstick like a toddler. But wait — there’s more: it’s only $5.75!! ZuZu luxe lipstick is going to cost you three times that. Hells yeah.
Concrete Minerals eyeshadow: okay, I don’t know how to wear dark purple eyeshadow without looking like I’ve been in a bar fight, but I like the eggplanty color and shimmer of the eyeshadow that was in the box. It’s easy to apply, as long as you, umm, know what you’re doing, and at $7 a pop isn’t too unreasonable a price. Plus, Concrete Minerals’ products have fun names like “Blood and Guts” and “The Vaccine.”
Bare bones facial cleanser: this stuff is kinda an IQ test. The first time, I got my face all damp like I was going to be applying normal soap, then was all “MY FACE FEELS LIKE CRAP” after using it. Turns out, I just did it wrong because… it’s not soap. Ahhh. So, the next day, I applied it to dry skin, and, voila, squeaky-clean face — very nice. I’m fairly acne-prone so I’m hesitant to change my face routine much, but this stuff was developed with sensitive skin in mind. I’m going to use the rest of the tester bottle before I decide whether to buy again, but I like that the company is a one-woman operation and would like to support her!
Lotus Moon Vitamin E hydrating gel: you know that scene in Alien where they’re playing the knife game and that one cyborg guy cuts his hand and that white goo comes out and everyone’s all “OMG, he’s a robot”? It’s basically the first scene in the movie, so I’m not really giving anything away. (Spoiler alert: AN ALIEN POPS OUT OF A GUY’S CHEST LATER ON!) Well, the color and consistency of this stuff sorta reminds me of that goo. That said, I like the way it makes your skin smooth, soft, and hydrated without feeling greasy or heavy — it’s designed for oily, acne-prone skin like mine. My mom says I need to moisturize, so I’m thinking of buying a vial, even though it is a spendy $27.95. Who can put a price on looking good though, right? (Me, that’s who.)
Meow Meow Tweet Bergamot face & body tonic: I don’t really know how to use this – Meow Meow Tweet’s website says to mist it on your face, but the sample came in a pour bottle, so all I can really say is… it smells nice? I love the name and idea of the company, though, (CATS! TWITTER!) and may explore their offerings in the future — their gift packs look like they would make adorable holiday presents (though never, ever, ever get a girl random body products as gifts unless there is some sort of additional personal meaning attached or you want her to know that you know absolutely zilch about her personality — nothing says “I haven’t bothered to figure out what you really like” more than miscellaneous lotion and soap. If it’s a scent she likes or something fancy she’s been wanting or smells like kittens, sure, but just generic stuff, no. Since these are vegan and small-batch and artisinal and cute, these fit in with the “additional personal meaning” part and are acceptable.)
The culmination of it all:
TELL ME I’M BEAUTIFUL, INTERNET!! IGNORE THE CROOKED PHOTO BEHIND ME!!
Not gonna lie — I Photoshopped out some blemishes and fine lines here. I already admitted I don’t brush my hair — girl’s gotta maintain some vanity.
Like the Vegan Cuts snack boxes, the beauty box makes a great gift and is wonderful for discovering new favorites — I bought some Earth Science conditioner, and ordered another pot of All Natural Face cream blush for me (in a whorish red), the dusty rose for a friend, and a couple of tubes of their lipstick just to try them.
I can’t see myself subscribing regularly, since I don’t realistically need that much cosmetic stuff, but the beauty box is a sweet little boost out of the occasional rut. I highly recommend it as a fun sometimes treat!
Parsnip? Sounds weird. Heck yeah!
We split the shopping. Jameson still has a little bit of parsnip PTSD from this super chatty chick at the Broadway Farmer’s market who would. not. stop. talking. about parsnips, while I found Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies to be a decent vegan crust option — the recipe calls for vegan gingersnaps, which I could not find, so we added a bit of powdered ginger to increase the spiciness. I bet TJ’s Speculoos cookies would make a delightfully decadent alternative.
The photography in Pies and Tarts with Heart is beautiful, but I think that this is the first time that my version of the recipe actually looks better than the book’s (the actual pie itself, not my gross blurry yellowy crappy lighting iPhone photos); Dynise’s version is a little chunky, while when smoothly pureed (as we did) the filling is gloriously silky.
We ruminated on all of the different possibilities that one can take with this pie. Sub out the cookies for saltines and make a savory version with caramelized onions? Add some dried cranberries for color or candied pecans for crunch? The possibilities are endless. The parsnips are constant.
The parsnips add a slight hint of earthiness to an otherwise decadent experience — this pie is the new millionaire who’s still a country boy at heart; you can put some fancy clothes on him and give him the keys to a fancy German car (and I ain’t talking Jetta) and stick him in a luxury condo, but he still enjoys rustic pleasures like Budweiser and cowboy boots and treating a lady right. I’m not entirely sure whether we’re still talking about pie or the 50+ erotic novel that I’m about to write.
Umm, pie. right.
Despite the sweetness radiating from every custardy bite, it’s a health food compared to other pies gracing your autumn table — the filling is mostly parsnips and tofu instead of your traditional egg and condensed milk variety.
The other recipes in the book look equally delicious. I haven’t cooked any of them yet, but I’ve drooled a ton over the cheeseburger pie, the “yo rocky” road pie, frozen grasshopper pie, and so many others. At first, I was all, “how many different pie recipes do you really need?” but Dynise’s variety of crusts, from traditional to exotic potato-based delicacies like hashbrowns, and styles make you want to buy another pie plate (I totally did — thanks, Grocery Outlet!) and eat (n/360)πr2 after (n/360)πr2 (where n is the number of degrees in the central angle of the sector — get it? A wedge?) of pie, glorious pie.
Jameson brought over some fortified wine leftover from another article for us to sip with our pie: a dry Madeira, a sweet Madeira, and a port. I was a newbie to all of them, and found them to be quite drinkable and similar to vermouth: the port and sweet Madeira were sweet and smooth, while the dry Madeira would make a nice compliment to green olives in a Martini glass. Maybe?
But then Daniel forever ruined Madeira by introducing me to the song above that apparently his mother used to sing to him as a kid. Looking back as an adult, he agrees that was a little weird that his mom would sing ditties about date rape to her child.
Have some Madeira, m’dear.
Surprisingly Sweet Parsnip Pie
Thanks to Dynise for letting us publish this!
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) pie
- 1 All-Purpose Cookie Crust made with gingersnaps (see below)
- 2 pounds (908 g) parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks (about 4 cups [520 g]
- parsnip chunks)
- 1 (12-ounce, or 336 g) box aseptic-packaged tofu (do not use refrigerated tofu; it is too
- grainy for this recipe)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (170 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7). Prepare the cookie crust and press into a pan. Refrigerate until the filling is ready.
- Boil the parsnips until soft, about 15 minutes. Place in a large bowl and mash until creamy.
- Blend the remaining ingredients in a food processor or in a blender until well incorporated, then add the parsnips and process until smooth-ish and well combined. You’ll need to scrape down the processor every now and then.
- Pour the filling into the crust, leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm) of space to the crust edge. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pie top is golden. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing.
All-Purpose Cookie Crust
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) crust
- 11/2 cups (150 g) crumbs from dry vegan wafer cookies or graham crackers (try chocolate, gingersnaps, lemon snaps, animal crackers, or just the tops from Oreo-type cookies minus the creamy filling; you’ll need about 3 cups [150 g] cookies or crackers to get 11/2 cups [150 g] crumbs)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (55 g) margarine
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whiz the cookies/crackers and salt together in a food processor until very powdery and fine. Add
- the margarine and whiz again. Press into your pie pan. That’s it!
If you need to prebake, bake for 10 minutes at 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4).
Natalie Slater of Bake and Destroy is definitely one of my biggest food blogging ladycrushes. She’s beautiful yet tough, has great style, and comes up with the awesomest vegan dishes (Doritos encrusted tofu, anyone?). Plus, she named her son Teno, which rhymes with Zeno, and y’all know how much I love my Zeno. Also, my childhood cat was named Natalie, so there’s that too.
Basically, I love her because she cooks badass food and reminds me of various cats.
Anyhow, a while back, my friend Jameson Fink approached me with a proposition (not as shady as that sounds): he had received a copy of Natalie’s new book (also called Bake and Destroy) from the publisher, and suggested that we bring our blogs together for vegan meal paired with wine. Jameson writes Wine Without Worry and hosts the podcast of the same name, and while he is not a vegan, is a general lover of deliciousness, meaty or planty.
Jameson and I met when we were both with Foodista, me as an intern (also not as shady as that sounds) and him as a freelance wine writer. We’re both huge history buffs (he has a masters in it) and adore Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Jameson started to build up his own wine writing business a few years ago and I’m always envious of his travels – we had to postpone our initial cooking session because his flight back from a wine tour of Italy was delayed in Heathrow.
He told me to pick a couple of recipes from the book, one sweet and one savory, and he would find a wine that matched. I went for a circular theme with the green bean casserole pizza (pg. 106 – recipe also on GoodVeg, h/t to Jameson for finding that) and frozen lemonade pie (pg. 20), and he selected a couple of dry rieslings to go with them: Pewsey Vale’s Eden Valley Dry Riesling (Australian) and Weingut Stadt Krems’ Steinterrassen Reisling (Austrian).
You can read his thoughts on the pairing, including probably the best quote on vegan wine I have ever read. And is much better edited than this long and rambling one.
Jameson says of these selections,
Dry Reislings compliment lighter dishes but also have enough liveliness to cut through a rich sauce — like a hot knife through cold vegan margarine. They’re vegetable-loving wines, for sure.
Green bean casserole is my absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving (aside from the family and gratitude, I guess), and this pizza is kinda like when you’re a kid and you make little sandwiches of everything between Grandma’s dinner rolls because food isn’t fun enough on its own.
In the interest of saving time, we subbed out Natalie’s pizza dough recipe for Trader Joe’s (whole wheat, gross, because they were out of the regular type), which worked pretty well. Except don’t use whole wheat pizza dough. You’re already indulging — might as well go for the real deal. It’s pizza, not salad, for crying out loud.
The ridiculousness of the concept aside, this stuff is fantastic and could fool even the most sensitive omnivore palate. My one recommendation is to cut the green beans into bit-sized pieces instead of halving them, like Natalie recommends, which will make it easier to slice and then eat — it’s basically knife-and-fork pizza.
I also can’t follow directions, so we elected to sub out the flour for corn starch, as I neglected to add the flour before the stock. Jameson worked in a bakery when he was in grad school, so he was skeptical of adding a warm sauce to a pizza and we let the sauce cool a little, but it all turned out okay. Perhaps that’s why the directions instruct you to pre-bake the crust? We also debated whether to maaaybe use a little less sauce, but ended up putting all of it on.
So. effin’. good.
Our frozen lemonade pie was a disaster (mea culpa), as I had never used my roommate’s ice cream maker. So, while we weren’t able to taste the finished version, the flavors of the soupy pre-churned filling were wonderfully zesty and creamy, and I bet it would have been awesome. Sigh. We did collaborate on another dessert pie from another vegan cookbook, which I am super excited to tell you about in a separate post.
The other recipes in Bake and Destroy, ranging from savory nacho cupcakes to spaghetti pie to falafel waffles (but also including your classic mac and yeast and green smoothie), are fun and unconventional and mostly not the healthiest (with some exceptions).
Bake and Destroy is too weird to be your one and only vegan cookbook (unless maybe you aren’t vegan), but will convince new vegans that plant-based cuisine isn’t boring and is also great for long-time vegans who want to rediscover the magic of cooking. If you have young’uns at home, I bet you’d like this too.
As Jameson said, the dry Riesling cut through the richness of sauce and fried onions like a lightsaber through Luke Skywalker’s wrist. Dry Riesling isn’t that stuff you might have gotten sick off when your idea of class was chugging cheap wine instead of cheap beer (if you’re anything like my roommate Daniel, who paled when I offered him a glass) — it’s more robust than a chardonnay, but with a bit of a bite instead of cloying sweetness. I’m a fan.
Even better, Jameson also confirmed with the distributor that both of these selections are vegan. I don’t know where you would find them in Seattle, but Jameson might. Go over to his blog and ask him.
You can also do a quick Barnivore search to find a vegan dry Riesling — those of us here in Washington State will be please to know that Chateau St. Michelle’s dry Riesling is considered vegan.
So, this is where the post gets a little technical, because I’m going to talk about vegan wine. If you already know about what makes a wine vegan, you can skip this part and scroll to the picture of Zeno wearing a scarf at the end of this post.
If not, read on and educate yourself.
Though wine’s ingredients are all plant-based products, many people (even a lot of winemakers I’ve talked to) are unaware that wine is not always animal-friendly due to how it is fined (the process of removing impurities).
Basically, after you foot-stomp your fruit and leave it to age in barrels, there are a lot of little grapey and yeasty particles floating around in the liquid that need to be removed so that so that the consumer isn’t drinking wine with pulp.
Here is an artist’s rendering of what that looks like:
Traditional fining agents are animal based — gelatin, egg white, or isinglass, made from fish bladders. The vintner throws these into a vat of wine, and they float around eating up particles like Pacman.
Vegan wines use benonite, a clay, to filter out impurities and ensure that a purple stain is the only thing caught in your teeth.
According to Wikipedia, some countries, like Australia and New Zealand, require their wines to list animal-derived fining agents as potential allergens, so if you’re concerned about vegan ingredients, you might start there. (I don’t know if this actually is true in the US. I should ask Jameson.)
So, in conclusion, check out Bake and Destroy and drink more wine.
Here’s that picture of my cat wearing a scarf.
Have you cooked anything from Bake and Destroy? Do you have a favorite wine? Isn’t my cat the cutest? I’d love to hear your thoughts (especially about how jaunty my cat looks in his scarf).
I adopted Zeno when he was 8 weeks old from Purrfect Pals. He was super cute (see below), but I am never, ever getting a kitten again.
While the love of a cat is a priceless joy, kittens are (adorable) little terrors. They wake you up at 5 a.m., poop and pee themselves and your bed indiscriminately, and scratch your face while you’re sleeping. Plus, they get into little crevices and cracks that you can’t really reach into and bite you when you try to get them out.
Ugh. The worst.
Zeno, while still a jerk, is much mellower as a full-grown fuzzball. When I do get a friend for Zeno (not in the near future, since my roommate already has two cats, though I already have a ton of future cat names picked out), it will be a grown up. Adult cats are calmer, their personalities are already formed, and there isn’t as much of a demand as there is for kittens (suckers).
Adult, and especially senior, cats just aren’t adopted as much, which is why Seattle Humane Society’s Meow Mixer on October 24 from 6 – 8 p.m. is such a good idea.
We hope that our Meow Mixer event will spotlight some of our overlooked adult senior cats who are in foster homes. For foster cats, coming back to the shelter can be a stressful change of routine and environment so this event held in our offices will help create more of a home setting for them. Foster parents always have plenty to say about their foster cats who have been with them for a month or many months!
Plus, Seattle Humane is serving vegan wine from Northwest Cellars (confirmed vegan by Megan) — if Zeno is my best friend, vegan booze is a close second.
So, drive/bus/bike to Bellevue on October 24, enjoy a glass of vino, and possibly go home with your new best friend.
My last name is Pitlick (pit-lick), which is Czech for “scrotum.” Yup, hard to believe that it’s even worse in its native tongue.
Technically, it should be spelled Pitlyk (or was it Pytlik?), is pronounced peet-leek, and is the diminutive form of the word “bag” or “sack,” literally translated as “little sack.” Which, of course, colloquially means… scrotum.
Now that we have that out of the way, the only other reminder in my life of my Bohemian heritage are kolaches.
If you’re Czech or Texan, you are well aware of kolaches. Kolaches are sweet buns filled with jam or poppy seeds. Texans make savory versions too. Weirdos.
My dad would bake these every once in a while when I was a kid with jam from our apricot tree. I highly doubt his Czech dad made them for him while he was growing up — he confirmed that the recipe he used come from an aunt.
However, when I asked him for her kolaches, he forwarded me an email from a few-times-removed cousin with a couple of recipes from a cookbook, which I combined to suit my own needs.
This version takes much less time to make than I recall, but time passes differently to a child. My dad would add a streusel stopping to the jam, which is delicious but unnecessary.
- 2 cups lukewarm non-dairy milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cups flour, divided
- 1 can poppy seed filling or jam of your choice
- Add sugar to lukewarm milk and stir in yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for a few minutes until foamy.
- Stir in oil, 3 cups flour, and salt and mix until combined. Stir in remaining 3 cups of flour.
- Shape into small balls and place on a greased baking pan about 1 inch apart. Let rise until more or less doubled in size.
- Press down centers with your thumb and fill with desired filling.
- Let rise again and bake at 350° for 15 – 18 minutes.
Chai is really big in Russia.
Not the spicy sweet chai that we drink over here — chai is usually plain ol’ black tea, but it could be green or white or whatever. Chai just means tea.
Russians like tea and Russians like vodka, so why not combine them? Sweet tea vodka ala Firefly is really really easy to make. You just soak 4 or 5 black teabags in vodka for a few hours, remove them, and add 1/4 cup of vegan cane sugar and let that dissolve over a few days. This is easiest in a large mason jar.
BAM — alcoholic Arnold Palmer in no time.
As I’ve written before, mushrooming is a popular pastime in Russia and other Slavic countries.
It’s also a favorite hobby of my new roommate, Steve, an all-American dude from Wisconsin who spends a lot of time on Mt. Rainier for his job.
He returned yesterday from a few days of collecting data with three bags of assorted species of fungi, all of which, he assured me, are edible.
Steve displayed his finds on a plate, educating me on each variety and how comfortable he felt eating them. The chanterelles — two varieties, golden and blue — for sure, the chicken of the woods — probably, the porcini — mosttttt likely.
He invited me in on the tasting, starting with the safest: the chanterelles. He washed a large one (even though you supposedly shouldn’t, as it makes them waterlogged), chopped it, and sauteed it in olive oil with some sea salt, garlic powder, and black pepper until the flesh reached a golden sear. He said that I was under absolutely no obligation to sample it, and he would understand if I didn’t.
With eager trepidation, I took a small piece. It was delicious: buttery, savory, earthy, in a familiar way. Definitely a chanterelle.
We put the others in the fridge, and I don’t think I’m brave enough to try them. Steve has a scientist’s eye and they all resemble the pics of safe mushrooms in his mushroom hunting book (no white gills — “white gills kill“) but I’m going to let him confirm.
Supposedly the most common cause of mushroom sickness is the placebo effect — the stress of thinking you’ve eaten a poisonous mushroom when it’s really the edible variety.
I’d just rather not find out.
Sour cream — smetana — is a staple in Russian (and presumably other Eastern European) cuisine.
Tofutti’s vegan version is awesome, but not great for people with soy sensitivities. I also worry about eating processed foods, though you wouldn’t know it based on how often I eat them.
While watching football at the Redwood recently, a friend got a little too liberal with malt vinegar — its flavor on french fries reminded me of dairy sour cream. So, I combined 1 cup cashews (soaked overnight), a couple teaspoons of malt vinegar, a pinch of salt, and about 1/3 cup water in my Vitamix for a creamy, soy-free, no-cow alternative.
It’s okay, though I might just stick with a recipe from the pros.
“Russian food is heavy and your host mother will want to feed you,” they told me. “If you eat a lot on your first day, she will be offended if you don’t eat that much at other meals. You’re setting a precedent.”
With visions of gaining 25 pounds in a semester*, I tried to restrain myself when my host mother served me a giant plate of fried potato croquettes and mushroom gravy several minutes into my stay, but the hunger of a four-hour train ride and deliciousness of her cooking compelled me to devour the entire plateful, thus sending me on a downward spiral of food consumption that would persist for the next few months.
My attempt to recreate this meal turned out to be similar to large, fried gnocchi, not crisp deep-fried patties like hers were, but I’m not complaining. I’d try to deep fry them more next time, and if you have pointers for how to make them more croquette-like, please share.
- 1 lb potatoes, skinned and boiled
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 small onion, diced and fried until brown
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 TBS water
- 1 tsp oil
- Mash potatoes and stir in all other ingredients.
- Fry for a few minutes on each side.
- 4 oz. mushrooms
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils
- 1 cup broth
- 2 TBS flour
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- Saute mushrooms, onions, and garlic until basically cooked.
- Add broth, lentils and salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in flour to thicken.
* yeah yeah yeah, body shaming blah blah — I know. I was 20, okay?
I was going to post this yesterday, but I got all distracted painting transitional housing for AIDS patients as part of United Way’s Day of Caring. Then I was going to take better pictures this morning, but I had to rush off to Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Animals.
I’m just going to take a moment to pat myself on the back and to let you fully grasp what a good person I am.
Okay, that’s enough.
There are a lot of disgusting vodka flavors on the market right now. I don’t know why or how this trend started (FYI — commercially made Strawberry vodka is the grossest stuff ever) but, like Russia’s laws on homosexuality, I’d like to see it go.
However, if you are intrigued by the whipped cream or marshmallow flavors and question whether or not they are vegan, do I have the equally disgusting solution for you: make your own by soaking half a package of Dandies in 750 mL of vodka for a few days and then straining.
The vodka will take on a marshmallowy flavor and a delightful cloudiness, and the Dandies will turn into these weird opaque blobs.
I wish I could better capture the otherworldly jiggle of a vegan marshmallow that has been soaking in vodka for three days, the plop of alcohol-soaked Dandies hitting alcohol-soaked Dandies as they’re poured into a strainer.
Drink it in juice, cocktails, or never.