Friday, November 28, 2008

vegan cupcakes are stalking me

The other night I had to go hang out at an uber-trendy craft fair downtown because the kind folks who organized it (Erin from Rebel Rebel clothing store) were running it as "admission by donation to the Madrona Farm campaign" so we the farm fundraising team decided it would be a good idea to be there, to answer questions and get people to give the gift of food security this christmas instead of trendy little gifties that would get worn/used/played with once or twice then freecycled 6 months later. Turns out, people don't go to craft fairs to buy anything OTHER than trendy little gifties, so we didn't have much success with that, but it was heartening to see the pile of entry-donations accumulating. Thanks ever so much, Rebel Rebel!!!

BUT. We got parked next to the vegan cupcake ladies. I've ranted about the cupcakes before on my other blog, but I think it deserves a longer mention here because they are attempting, after all, to be food. They are not food, and in fact I maintain that they are anti-food and a really stupid idea to boot.

Consider this. If you ARE vegan, the LAST thing you need is gobs of sugar and white flour (the primary ingredients in cupcakes) because not only do these take up valuable tummy space without giving you any nutrients whatsoever, there are some good reasons to believe that refined sugar and flour actually TAKE nutrients from your body to digest. Vegan diets are really quite deficient in a lot of nutrients, and if you're really set on being a vegan, you ought to be living on a strict, strict diet of soaked nuts, seeds and grains, fermented organic non-GMO soy products, and very high-quality organic vegetables, preferably NOT washed so you might slip in a slug or bug or something that would give you a bit of a nutritional boost. You do not have room for cupcakes. Sorry, but if you're going to go with a diet that your body isn't adapted for, you're going to have to make trade-offs (like not eating cupcakes) or suffer. More. I think the point to veganism is that you're suffering so the animals don't have to, right? Well, I'm pretty sure the animals wouldn't want you to compound your suffering just to eat frickin' cupcakes. They might also have something to say about your squandering precious resources and energy churning out fake processed margarine-type crap and monocropped soy plantations. But I digress.

If you're NOT vegan, why the hell would you want a vegan cupcake? The company doesn't list ingredients on their site, but at a guess I would say that there is probably soy milk in them, not enough to get uptight about, likely, but still, it's yucky stuff. White flour, for sure, white sugar, for sure, and various flavourings. Where you get really nasty is the icing, which unless it is made with actual yummilicious trans fats, is most likely made with interesterified fats, which are just as bad as trans fats, just harder to spell and thus not as prone to media attention. Interestified fats have a bonus over trans fats in that they raise blood sugar levels more. Because a sugar-laden cupcake is not enough of a buzz already. If you're not vegan, just go get a REAL cupcake. It'll taste better, and it won't do you any favours nutritionally, but it won't hit you quite as hard as the vegan one.

The cupcake company claims the motivation for the vegan cupcakes is that soooo many people are lactose intolerant and thus incapable of eating regular cupcakes. (They say, on their website, that 70% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant. That might even be true, but MOST OF THOSE PEOPLE LIVE IN ASIA AND ARE NOT BUYING YOUR STUPID CUPCAKES.) I fail to see how eating cupcakes is such a huge need for the much smaller percentage of lactose-intolerant people (many of whom tolerate butter quite nicely, I should point out) that they had to go make a whole company out of it. I would bet money that MOST of their customers are poor normal lactose-loving people who are duped into thinking "vegan" = "healthy". It makes me angry.

But, back to the craft fair, I was heartily amused that the vegan cupcakes were stuck right next to the table of... stuff? hard to classify... made from bits of animal fur. Yeah.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Strawberry Cupcakes

It's Rowan's birthday today, and she wanted strawberry cupcakes. I employed my usual recipe-finding method (google, pick one that only contains stuff already in the house) and made these.

I did my own icing though - creamcheese with strawberries in it - and the strawberry tip on top of each is my own garnish. (I was worried they'd look a little boobalicious, but nobody said anything so I guess not.)

They turned out really well, so I give that recipe a big thumbs-up. I didn't follow it exactly though, because I didn't have cake flour and it called for blending the oil with the flour, oddly, and whacking that around for some 2 minutes. With non-cake flour, that would be a nice recipe for bricks so I did the usual muffin method of mixing wet and dry separately and combining gently, which worked nicely. Also, I didn't use vegetable oil because I don't believe in it, so I used melted butter instead, and because I didn't have unsalted I also cut the salt in half. It all worked fine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to Cook Cabbage

I cannot for the life of me understand why cabbage is not everyone's favourite thing to eat. Or at least favourite vegetable. I have been led to believe that it is because everyone is cooking it wrong, so here is how to cook a cabbage:

1) Take off outer leaves that look kind of yucky.
2) Remove core bit.
3) Get out a nice big frying pan, with a lid.
4) Chop cabbage into 1"x1" pieces, approximately.
5) Put cabbage in frying pan with approximately 2/3 cup of water and two generous pats of butter. And I mean generous! Like a tbsp each. Or more. This is no time to be stingy on the butter.
6) Turn heat on stove element under frying pan to med-high. (Like on a stove that goes 2-9, put it on 7.)
7) Put the lid on.
8) The water should start boiling fairly quickly - boil with the lid on for about 2-3 minutes, no longer. The cabbage should be a lovely bright green.
9) Remove the lid, keep the heat up. The water will boil off quickly, then you need to stir to prevent sticking and burning. When the bottom of the pan starts to show some browning, TURN THE HEAT OFF!
10) Sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over the cabbage and continue stirring until the sizzling stops.

Serve immediately. The cabbage should be sweet and delicious with a faintly caramel-y flavour. If it doesn't taste good, it means you're buying crappy cabbage and you need to find a new source. I highly recommend the Madrona Farm cabbage, of course, but any freshly picked local cabbage should be fine. If you are buying cabbage from California you deserve what you get.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

giggle giggle snicker

Hee. Look what I grew!!!!

We all got a good giggle out of this, and it was spared the saucepan fate of its neighbours. This is one of my balcony carrots, most of which are large, delicious, perfectly formed Scarlet Nantes. The balcony carrot pot was one of my more successful gardening experiments this year.

Also, I am plowing through my excess of red peppers... most of them are delicious and sweet, and I will definitely grow the Corno del Toro ones again, but I am still perplexed by some of my supposedly sweet peppers turning out frighteningly hot. WTH???