23 December 2007

Meat Free Holiday!

Boss man decided to close on xmas day, so I get to spend it at home with Steve. Of course, if there's any New York City or Jersey vegans who want to come over for some cooking and eating (and light drinking), let me know in a comment, and we'll set something up. I can't have /too/ many people, because the space in the house is limited, but no matter! It'll be fun even if it's just me and Steve. He's not too thrilled with going all the way to Chicago, only to have his sensibilities ignored for the sake of a corpse on the table, so I figure if we can get some vegans out to our place, we can have a family dinner by a family that we create ourselves, right!?

Of course, I'll be making my special lentil soup that everyone loves. We might do some frying, depending on how much oil I can trace. Chances are good that we'll do some deep frying, just because it goes so well with everything. The bodega down the street sells excellent vegan French bread, so I'll probably grab a few loaves of that on the day before, if I remember. I may ask Steve to run down to the store before he gets home tomorrow, and snag a bit of produce. If anyone wants my famous kale with cocoanut milk, bring on the cocoanut milk and kale, and we'll make it happen. Either way, the possibilities are endless, right?

Steve and I tend to give each other gifts all year long (and immediately, as soon as we find said gift), so we're not going to be exchanging any for each other, but I know he wouldn't be averse to a few nice things (like a good solid 3/4 or full length winter coat, some nice button down shirts [we take a medium] for work, or a good pair of trousers in size 32 without wool). I'm big on hats and cute bracelets. :-D

While I'm here, let me remind you to check out my fellow vegan's podcast, The Angry Hippie Podcast Check out his blog as well for some of his neat poetry. Think Dr. Seuss meets Emily Dickinson. In particular, check out the Vegan Helliday Special.

I've found that it's becoming harder and harder to cope with other peoples' carnism in my face, because of the extent of the vegan bubble I've found myself in. I go to sleep every night with my vegan husband in our vegan home, to my vegan place of work, where I work with other vegans. I don't have to ask what's in the soup, because I know of every ingredient in the restaurant, and the owner's commitment to cruelty free (actual, not just labelled) everything. I still read the ingredients so that I never get out of the habit, but I don't /have/ to. On top of all that, when Cliff (owner of Sacred Chow) says the word "sustainable, healthy (for the earth, the animals and people), tasty, comforting food," I know he's actually being serious about it, instead of having it be a marketing concept. And my coworkers aren't rabidly corporate-loving.

So when I leave that protective, nurturing nest, it freaks me out a lot more than it used to.

I am making new friends every day, and my Spanish is getting more and more fluid, fluent, and rapid. I don't search as hard for commonly used words anymore, and I can more or less get across what I need to with Alonzo (he's one of my coworkers; doesn't speak English yet). It's promising, because it means that I don't have to stop at Spanish, and that I can finally start working on my ABYSMAL French and German. So far, I can only struggle through the written forms, and even then, I can only pick out the /gist/ of what it's trying to say. Eventually, I'm hoping to get the Spanish up to the level of (at least) the Tamil, if not at the level of the English.

17 December 2007

The Shock Doctrine

A brief film by Alfonso Cuaron.

Making a Killing and much more

Animal (human and nonhuman animals) rights activist Bob Torres's long-awaited book, Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights finally arrived today, and we're looking forward to plunging in headfirst. From the website at AK Press:

Suggest to the average leftist that animals should be part of broader liberation struggles and—once they stop laughing—you'll find yourself casually dismissed. With a focus on labor, property, and the life of commodities, Making a Killing contains key insights into the broad nature of domination, power, and hierarchy. It explores the intersections between human and animal oppressions in relation to the exploitative dynamics of capitalism. Combining nuts-and-bolts Marxist political economy, a pluralistic anarchist critique, as well as a searing assessment of the animal rights movement, Bob Torres challenges conventional anti-capitalist thinking and convincingly advocates for the abolition of animals in industry—and on the dinner plate.
Making A Killing is sure to spark wide debate in the animal rights and anarchist movements for years to come.

Bingo. It's been a long time coming. Basically, what's been happening thus far is that the widely based movements, such as civil rights, worker's rights, animal rights, and women's rights (to name just a couple) have been struggling on their own, oblivious to the plight of the others. For some reason, people have not made the connection that we are all fighting for the same thing, and allowing our struggle to be coopted by oppressive forces is playing right into the slavery. Finally, someone brings up a critique of how the movements have been waging their battles, and how they can improve.

Go out and get yourself a copy (or request that your local library carry one if you can't afford it!), and be prepared for an excellent read. The reason I know anything at all about it is because Bob and Jenna have been making mention of the book on their podcast called Vegan Freak Radio. Even if you're not traditionally "into" politics, give the book a read for Bob's rather engaging writing style. If you've read his blog, or his other work (such as the book Vegan Freak: Being a Vegan in a Non Vegan World), you'll recognise how he takes complex concepts, and explains them in an accessible manner.

In other news, I get X-Mas off, so Steve and I are going to spend the day together. Most likely, it'll be a quiet dinner in, and maybe a movie or something. We tend to give each other our gifts as soon as we get them for a couple of reasons. For one thing, x-mas isn't my holiday. It means nothing to me. For another, we'd really like to avoid double buying. That is, if Steve wants something for himself, chances are that he'll buy it when he sees it. I do the same. Why should we have double of things? Easier to call immediately, and say, "Hi babe. I got you ______ when I saw it." When your time is measured in minutes, every minute that you're not wasting is precious. And, on top of that, seeing the reaction to the gift immediately, is a pleasure we'd like to experience over and over again. If we saved it all for the day of, it'd only be one set of reactions all in one day. This way, we get to experience the joy of giving many times.

While I'm at it, let me remind you to make copies of your identification cards, and store them some place safe. While you're all out there in the mad rush, things get lost, stolen, or misplaced. Don't take chances. Make the copies now, and be safe. Also, while you're at it, run a backup of important documents and such into your email. Just send it as an email to yourself as an attachment. Gmail provides excellent email capabilities, and is free. Why chance losing your stuff? I've got my documents backed up on three different media devices, but I also put it on email, so that I can pick it up anywhere I go.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy few days off that we're getting (hopefully, you do too!).

07 December 2007


World renowned cookbook author and chef Dreena Burton is quite a kitchen alchemist. She can spin gold from pretty much any dietary need, be it wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, soy free, or just free. She really knows her stuff, and I'd definitely suggest that you ask your local libraries to stock her books, so that everyone can share in her talent.

Guess what? She emailed me! I couldn't believe it when I saw it, but apparently, she tried my black eyed peas daal, and enjoyed it! I'm still trying to process it all, and get over my fanboy-ness, but there it is.

05 December 2007

To anyone out there who's been made fun of.

OK. I admit it. I have a secret love for Tyra Banks. I was on YouTube, and found this rant of hers. I love it.

Just a reminder to be kind to your fellow creatures, animal or otherwise.

Back from CT

I left from New York to go to Connecticut (again!) to see my parents before they went back to Florida. Because plans change all the time, I couldn't be sure when I'd get the chance to see them both in person again, so I figured that Sunday evening was as good a time as any. I jumped on the Metro North train again, and began my journey.

I called my mother to let her know that I was on the way. She let me know that my dad had totalled the car, because of the icy roads. He was going too fast down a curve, and couldn't regain control of the car. Worse, they hit two other parked cars. It was bad. Fortunately, he and my brother-in-law got out of the car without any injuries. The layer of ice on the ground was so thick that you couldn't even walk on it (unless you were wearing cleats or something) without flailing madly, and almost falling to the ground. It was really scary for both of them. They somehow managed to get the demolished car home to my sister's (Radhika) house.

After much shuffling around, they figured that it would be best if my dad didn't drive again (and no voice was a bigger proponent of this position than my dad) for a little while, so my brother-in-law (Raj) took over instead. [Side note: Yes, it really is soo cute that my sister and her husband have alliterative first names! What's even weirder is that his surname is the same initial as my family's surname!] I got there at 8:00, and they reached the New Haven station at 8:30.

NOTE TO CONNECTICUT: Your mass transit SUCKS. It took an additional hour from New Haven to Middletown, where my sister is. And no, I'm not about to spend $12 on a Peter Pan bus. For all that money, Raj or Radhika can come get me from the station. I pay like $14 to get from Manhattan to New Haven. There's really no reason for me to shell out almost that much for a 30 minute drive.

So anyway. The walk to the car was a ... challenge, as the parking lot was extremely slippery, and near impossible to walk on. For my friends in Florida: Imagine you're walking with your shoes on an ice skating rink. Or, that the latest rain storm has sloshed water all over your granite (or other smooth surfaced) tile, and you forgot to wear your flip flops on the way across the living room. Now imagine that there's a layer of oil on top of all of this. Not fun. We got into the (heated!) car, and made the drive out to Radhika's house. It was a relatively slow and uneventful drive, and we chatted about this and that on the way. Dad mentioned something about how all day, Radhika had been complaining about general stomach upsets, and was in a more or less sickly mood, but had immediately perked up when she heard that I was coming for a visit. He also mentioned how my mother postponed her ticket to go to Florida, rather than head back with him on Monday.

We got to their house, and made our slippery way to the door. My mother and sister were sitting on the couch, having a chat. Both were wrapped up fairly snugly. I didn't think that the house was all that cold, but those two seemed to be freezing. Mind you, I was wearing about four layers of clothing and 2 layers of socks under my shoes, but that's immaterial. We got past the hugs, and went on to catch up on whatever has been going on thus far. I, of course, made a beeline to the kitchen, and started grazing. The fridge was, as usual, full of goodies that my mother had cooked, and I wasn't about to delay eating, since she might get upset if I didn't. Yeah, that's it ... upset ...

We're all just having a general good time, and started to wind down around 10:00. My sister excuses herself, and starts making the most hideous noises in the washroom. "Oh my god, what is that?" My mother replied, "That's pretty much how it is all day." So, I flippantly remarked, "Haha, she's pregnant, isn't she?" They all looked shocked, and said, "Wait, you didn't know!?" Apparently, they forgot to let me know. I congratulated them both, and we kept chatting. In essence, the rest of the weekend is a blur, because it was mostly eating, talking to my mother and sister, and lots of sleeping. I left around 5:00 on Tuesday afternoon, to come home to Isabel (my landlady) and Steve doing an early (or is it late?) Spring Cleaning. What a week!

I'm going to be an uncle again.

03 December 2007

First Snow on Sunday

Sunday, just before walking out, I asked Steve to lock up behind me, so that I could leave my gloves on. He opened the door for me, and said, "Oh!" In about a second and change, I saw what got him surprised. The first snow.

I don't like snow. Everything was covered in a thick, white blanket of the stuff, and the floor was slightly unstable, as my shoes crunched against the piles of the flakes on the ground. I could see the testament of the little pawed and clawed feet that had passed in the night before on my way to the train.

I stepped into the train, to feel my body finally warm up as the heating kicked in. When I got to work, there was still more snow falling, and now it was drifting onto my face and eyelashes, and melting on the spot from the radiating heat that my body gave off (due to the multiple layers of clothes I had on). It took me another minute of trudging through the veil of snow to get to work, at which point we flipped on the ovens (both to get work done and to get the kitchen warmer). The day progressed at the speed of light, with me learning how Brunch is done at the restaurant. I learned a whole lot, and sat with my fearless leader to hammer out the upcoming schedule. He gave me Monday and Tuesday of this week off, so I decided to take advantage of the consecutive days off. I got out of the train at Union square, and called my mother in Connecticut.

I told her I'd be heading up that night itself, and staying till Tuesday afternoon. She said it'd be fine with her, and that she'd see me when she sees me. My dad would be leaving for Florida on Monday, so I wanted to get in to see him one last time. I got on the Metro North train, and we headed out around 6:00. I promptly fell asleep for most of the rest of the journey. By 7:00, I called my sister's house, and told her that I was getting close. Apparently, my dad had an accident, because the roads were icy to the point of being unable to even walk on it. It crashed and totaled the car he was in, but left the other cars unscratched. Fortunately, it also left him physically untouched. He was shaken (as was my sister's husband), but otherwise, was OK. The two of them headed home, and shuffled around a bit. Finally, they headed out to come get me at the train station. It was only 30 minutes after I arrived at the station that they got in to get me back, but this means that it's already 8:30.

We made it to my sister's house around 9 and change. I had something to eat, chatted with the family for a couple of hours, and promptly at 30 minutes past midnight, felt tired and ready to sleep. And, of course, this means that I wouldn't be waking up till noon the next day, by which point my dad would have left. So I guess our goodbyes on the night before would have to suffice.

I'll be here in CT tomorrow as well as today, and should be back in NY by Wednesday. Be safe, because those conditions are really dodgy.

01 December 2007

Got the photos up (Finally!)

As I mentioned in my last entry, Thanksgiving was a wonderful, outstanding weekend for me; more so than ever before. In the past, it'd always be with my family that was living in the same house, because it really wasn't a huge deal for us. We'd certainly cook, but never anything special. This year, however, was different. My friend came in from the city, and we hung out here in Brooklyn. We cooked quite a few dishes (most of which I don't even remember).

Then, of course, Sunday the 25th was that day in Jersey, where we started cooking things at like 2:00, and wound up around 9 or 10. And I'm talking nonstop cooking. Something was always going down in the kitchen, and although quite a few people helped, there was a core group who was curious about how everything goes together, and I really had fun showing them all how the food was made.

For anyone who's curious, there's photos of it on my Photobucket page. Feel free to browse through them! Of course, the kitchen with the white walls is the kitchen in my house, and the one with the brown walls is the kitchen in New Jersey.