Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole (or banana, apple, other fruit)

This is basically my lazy, casual rendition of French toast, with less work. This recipe is about using what you have on hand or things that you may have no other use for or are about to get up and leave you.

The original Recipe is from Vegan Brunch by Isa, amazing book and worth your hard earned money.

This recipe is great for when you have some stale or dry bread that is past it's prime. Because this recipe is the my lazy vegan version, you can use any old bread or an assortment of breads. No matter how old, dry, stale, hard, broken or decrepit it is, because instead of perfect slices our bread is going to be cubed, torn and shredded. I also made sure to save and add all the bread crumbs I had laying around, so dump out those bags and scrap your cutting boards! Waste not, want not.

This recipe is all about using what you already have, so experiment and substitute to suit your needs. If you don't have pumpkin try squash, banana, fruit compote, sweet potato, apple sauce. Anything!

What you will need:

Baking Dish
Cutting Board

1 cup canned pumpkin (alternative, depending on what you have could be apple sauce, compote, mashed bananas)
1 cup almond milk (or any other vegan milk)
2 T corn starch (again, it you like potato or other starches use them)
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
two shakes of all spice

optional: Earth balance for buttering the baking dish and dotting the top
Optional add ins: Anything you have laying around, nuts (whole, broken, ground), coconut, dried fruit, chocolate chips, oats, flax seeds, this is your dish and it is about using what you have.
More Options: If you don't want to serve the casserole with syrup or sugar, I would add brown sugar or maple syrup directly to the pumpkin mix to bake in the sweetness so no toppings will be needed.

Also, if you bread mixture looks a little dry once all the juices are absorb splash some more almond milk on top.

Add ins can either be mixed with pumpkin mixture, or tossed with the bread, or even sprinkled over top of the dish! Whatever you want.

a little liquid from jarred ginger or a little bit of grated fresh ginger (again, this is to taste so for stronger bite add more)
expired bread, I had a good 3/4 loaf but you could round this out with fresh bread, all bread crumbs or any bread like items you have around.

Dice your bread into bite sized cubes or tear into chunks if using soft bread save all end pieces, crumbs, fluffy bits and odds and ends. Set aside.

Mix everything else together in a bowl and preheat your oven to 350.

Place all your bread into a shallow rimmed baking dish (you can use a casserole dish or deep dish, this will result in a softer casserole. As the pumpkin mixture is pretty wet, and depending on how hard/dry your bread is you may want more layers to keep in moisture.) Since I like mine less moist and a little crispy, I'm using a shallow baking dish so my bread is effectively in a single layer.

Pour pumpkin mixture over bread and let sit until oven is ready, the longer it sits the more it absorbs and the softer it gets. So depending on the tough/dryness of your bread and your preference for soft/pudding style eats you may want to let it sit longer.

I added broken walnut pieces to mine and mixed them in last. Mine also looked a little dry so I added a splash of soymilk on top and dotted it with Earth Balance.

Alternatively you can prepare this and place it in your fridge to dish out smaller amounts to cook on an as needed bases. Or even fish out your bread cubes to fry, traditional French toast style throughout the week. MMM

But since I'm being lazy, I'm just gonna plop the whole mess in the oven and not let it sit very long. About 12 minutes, stir let it sit another 12, then bake.

Baking time was around 15-20 mins, again if you'd like a more pudding style dish you could stir/mix it as it cooks and reduce the cooking time.


Now because I didn't add any sugar to the casserole the end result isn't overtly sweet. I prefer to sweeten it to taste on the plate with icing sugar and maple syrup (I also lived with my dad, who hated sweets so I tend to let people add their own sugar). However, if you're looking for a sweetened dish ready scoop and eat, I would mix in some maple syrup or brown sugar right into the pumpkin puree.

Serve alone, dusted with sugar, spices, citrus zest, berry sauce, syrup, ice cream or w/e.

alternatively if you like pumpkin, you could make this a savory dish by adding sauted garlic, Rosemary, thyme and onions to the pumkin mixture and extra earth balance.

Mentioning "Vegan" in your profile, and why it results in debates, attacks and general craziness

Subject: HMMM

user wrote:

Why are you vegan?

me wrote:

Primarily because I found out what when on in the meat, dairy and egg industry and decided it wasn't something I felt comfortable supporting.

user wrote:

Oh? And what happens in those industries?

me wrote:


If you are looking for a comprehensive overview, I would suggest downloading/renting Earthlings as it does a great job of covering various forms of exploitation.

Although I should warn you, the following is brief description of off the top of my head issues. It's not pleasant, and a bit graphic so please consider whether you want to read it before continuing.

Mostly issues relating to the constant impregnation of dairy cows, removing the calves after they are born, subsequent veal industry, hormone injections, decrepit conditions, abuses and confinement.

Laying hens kept in file drawer sized cages with 5-7 birds, again poor dirty cramped conditions.

Various slaughter house abuses, killing, skinning, dismembering, boiling etc while animals are still alive and conscious.

user wrote:

I have actually seen Earthlings for one of my classes. I subsequently set out to disprove my professor and what was shown in that video. You must understand that the footage they use is from only certain cases and does not reflect the industry as a whole. Consider beef -- here in Canada, there are a few types of cattle farms. There's the breeding farms, which only take calves away when they are fully weened, and there are feeder farms, which put cattle on a high-protein grain diet to get them bulked up to be used as meat.

Did you know the majority of beef produced in Canada obeys both Jewish and Muslim code?

I've been to a few farms around here in the maritimes, and I have seen no instance of abuse or poor conditions in them.

Hmm, how about PETA. Did you know their headquarters has a huge freezer built in it? They use it to store the corpses of animals they euthanize. They just so happen to euthanize over half of the animals they "save". They also pay people to firebomb animal shelters they suspect are "cruel".

It's fun to know both sides eh?

me wrote:

If you remember from the film, there is actually footage from a similar facility which was a kosher establishment (as in, it was supposed to be in accordance with Jewish slaughter codes).

I have also been to smaller stalk yards and farms, and have witness untreated ailments, dirty conditions, passes open trucks in freezing conditions taking animals to slaughter, and smaller Amish farms/auctions where calves where sold with wet umbilical cords.

I know very little about PETA and their tactics, as they aren't a group I particularly care for. I was aware they support euthanasia over live in shelters, as they consider a life in a shelter to be a cruelty (I'm don't agree with this sentiment, but I can understand how non-kill shelters can become negative living environments and serve as poor substitutes for lovings homes. However, because animals are unable to give us consent in ways we can understand nor are they able to express a desire to be 'put down' I don't really believe it is our place to decide when their lives are worth living and when they would be better off dead. As this likely varies on an individual basis).

I feel that no-kill live in shelters, if properly managed and run can be suitable living situation for animals. Provided that the set up differs greatly from the standard pound and these areas operate more like sanctuaries which while performing adoptions, are set up for the primary and live long care of abandoned animals.

However, as to the accusations/scandals to which you speak, well to be honest I know very little because once again, I don't support the majority of PETA's tactics, actions or campaigns. I believe their name, motto and perhaps end goals are worth while, however I feel that in their attempts to reach them they take steps and methods which should be avoided and overall give animal rights a bad name.

Although I do believe that PETA has a firm stance against direct action, injuries/threats to property or people. I do support the ALF, which a network of direct action activists who have commit felonies and destroyed private property. I however, am a fairly alone on this issue as most animal activists do not condone sabotage or destruction of personal property or breaking the law.

As I have been vegan and involved in animal rights for over 10 years, I have explored and listened to numerous versions of the other side from fundamentalists preaching religion, to people who simply believe my life choices are worthless, soft, stupid or otherwise, to individuals who have properly considered the ethical implications and simply decided they don't care. And finally to well educated individuals, who do their research and either research and purchase directly from sources that meet their personal ethical standards or who go so far as to raise their own animals for consumption to assure that they are fairly treated and slaughtered quickly.

Regardless, in the end it remains that the idea that one could ever find a source of meat, dairy, eggs ect that is free from exploitation and harm seems rather pointless. These relationships are exploitative by their vary nature, and although some may be more ethically sound than others, when it comes down to it, I don't need animal products and I don't want them. Personally, I don't believe the ends justifies the means.

Simply put, the idea of humane slaughter is hypocritical because taking the life of another (against their will/without their consent) is not a humane act. Although you may be able to find someone who will be swift and follow procedures, it remains a brutal act. As I would wish to have authority over my own body, life etc and I would like others to respect that, I feel it is only fair that I respect theirs.

If I have no reason or need to cause harm, why do it?

surprised at his responce

user wrote:

Well done madam, I applaud you.

I respect people that know what they stand for and can back it up well. There are too many "fakers" out there who just rant and roar about issues that they know nothing about.

However, you're obviously not one of them. You know whats up, you've done your homework. If someone says what you stand for is "worthless" or "stupid" you should give them a big whup upside the head, eh?

Oh, and yes, I knew about the Jewish factory thing from Earthlings, I figured you'd bring it right back up.

But now, I am so fighting the urge to mention that it is not difficult to retort responses which have no logical bearing on the discussion.

peta =/= nothing to do with veganism, our discussion of veganism, my veganism or any sub category there of
earthlings validy = hear say
jewish/muslim killing codes =/= ethical, moral, or king treatment of animals, just slightly less horrible


But i feel like I should resist and end with this good view on vegans.
I choose a median ground, not attacking the random retorts and confrontational nature he adopted but the faker comment

me wrote:

I don't believe that individuals who choose a lifestyle more intuned with their own personal ethics are 'fakers'. They are simply doing what feels right to them, regardless of their ability, experience, or knowledge relating to debates.

You don't need to conduct extensive research or explore the issues to decide what feels right or wrong to your own living or ethical standards.

Feeling strongly about something you believe in, in and of it self is note worthy. Knowing the issues, debates and politics around things are always good and worthy endeavours but they are no means pre-requisites to choosing compassion.

user wrote:

Nono, not so much a lifestyle in tune with what they believe. Consider genetically altered foods. Someone could have heard from someone else that they're going to wind up causing multitudes of adverse side effects if they eat the stuff. Thus, they decide they're not going to eat it, and nobody else should either.

There's a big difference between those who know why they are doing something, and those who don't.

me wrote:

I would agree however, when taking your previous statements/discussion into account the 'fakers' you are referring to would be people who have scene earthlings or other such documentaries and decided that they didn't approve of that kind of thing so they went vegan.

And it appears the argument you are proposing would be that, because not every single farm consists of that level of cruelty/abuse etc that those individuals shouldn't give up purchasing animal products. However, the issue being the lacks control system, check ups and general status of animals in this society means there is very little going on to prevent the kinds of situations depicted in this/similar media.

As such, the decision to avoid animal products, due to the correlated risk that such abuses are occurring at the facility from which your particular product came from would be deemed invalid. When in fact, in my opinion, not supporting an industry which allows those practices to occur would be a fare more logically conclusion than seeking out a farms and slaughter houses within that system that guard against those abuses.

because a) you would continue to support and industry in which the thing your opposed to, occurs in (i.e. the really bad abuses, hypothetically assuming you are fine with all other forms of abuse which occur).
b) slaughter houses deal with more than one farm, and vice versa, meaning the $ you input would be trickling back to both the farm and slaughter house you support and also others which may not uphold your ethical standards
c) one again, although not as cruel, chances are you would still find some discomfort to the overall treatment of animals as non living things, as this is the primary issue to which earthlings and other documents speak to (and what allows the lack of policing and abuses to occur in the first place).

Finally, that to imply that individuals who choose compassion based on a limited exposure to surface problems in the meat/etc industry as fakes, well just doesn't make sense. Fake would imply falsehood, dishonest pretences or attempting to appear as something they are not, when in fact they have simply made a gut ethical choice, without going into extensively exploring all issues and sub-issues. They are not claiming to be experts on the meat industry or veganism, they are just claiming to be opposed to factory farming and it's practices, of which they are actually opposed to.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jonathan Safran Foer on Ellen DeGeneres

Today, Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the bestselling book Eating Animals appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Ellen, a committed vegan and quite possibly Oprah's heir as daytime TV queen, is in an unequaled position to advance veganism into the mainstream.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lights. Camera. Activism!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps it could be said that a film is worth a thousand pictures. In my experience, there are few things more effective in veg outreach and education than screening films like "Peaceable Kingdom" or "The Witness."

There's no doubt, however, that there's a major dearth of short, pithy, and compelling films about animal issues. The Palo Alto Humane Society has set out this year to change that by inviting young filmmakers and activists to submit films to its first annual Humane Planet Film Contest. So, if you know how to get a good shot, have some editing chops, and most importantly have something to say, you should definitely check this out. The deadline is the end of March, and winners will take home a cash prize and get their films publicly screened.