Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please Don't Mock Me

Eating vegan for three days hasn't provided any insurmountable challenges, it's just that you have to think/talk/dissect food so much! "Is this vegan? Does it contain milk solids or egg whites or honey?" In a way, that's probably a good thing. It's easy to sleepwalk through your food life, eating whatever you want whenever you want - which isn't the healthiest way to go and something I'm very guilty of. Veganism has forced me to consider every bite. It's made easier by having backup options always available - Holy Land brand jalapeno hummus and vegan crackers, plantain chips, peanut butter, Ezekiel brand sprouted grain bread, and fruit are always available to fill the void with little thought. But vegan woman does not live by hummus alone. Sometimes one must branch out and try canned mock duck.

Canned mock duck, available at Asian grocery stores like United Noodles, sounds disgusting. Truth be told, it looks disgusting, too. The producers add that duck-like skin texture to the mock duck that is both intriguing and creepy at the same time. Doug has used canned mock duck in the past and though he warned that it can have a canned flavor, he volunteered to make us a mock duck lemongrass soup from a vegan website that I had found. He released the mock duck from its tin environment and marinated it in shallots and soy sauce and ginger and other delicious things and then finely julienned red peppers and onions and created a plate of toppings that included fresh mint and cilantro. Meanwhile, organic vegetable broth from an aseptic package simmered on the stove with fresh ingredients that Doug had added. At dinner time he put them all together with rice noodles and made a pretty nice bowl of soup. To be honest, the vegetable broth left something to be desired, now we know this particular brand wasn't anything to write home about. But the rest of the meal was quite delicious, including the mock duck. I was surprised, but I liked it. Doug separated the remaining mock duck from the soup when we were done and I think it will make a great salad with all the same fixings, just not the broth.

So, while I would love a big Buffalo chicken sandwich, the alternatives are not so bad. Canned mock duck - who knew?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Guess Camel Meat Is Out

I work in a creative workplace where food ideas are constantly being bounced around and dissected and reworked, so I shouldn't be surprised when I open my big yapper and end up agreeing to eat vegan for a month!

Recently my coworkers and I were having an important (ha!) discussion about our favorite TV show, Top Chef. Our favorite chef on our favorite show, Richard Blais, had returned to the all-star edition looking much thinner than he did during his season of the show. There was an article about him in one of our work magazines and he explained that he kick-started his weight loss by eating vegan for one month in order to sort of detoxify his body and get back to the basics. Without much thought, I innocently volunteered that we should try that, but I don't think I really meant it at the time. However, Lizzie, ever the willing subject when it comes to food experiments, leapt at the idea and said "Let's do it!"

Still cautious about enlisting myself for this silliness, I suggested we really figure out what it means to eat vegan. Most importantly, could we still drink alcohol? Turns out we can, and so the decision to do it became that much easier! There are alcoholic beverages that are not vegan, but most are, so even if eating vegan sucks, we can drown our sorrows in booze to forget the pain. We tried to encourage our coworkers to join, but after a few false starts, only three of us are in. Chickens.

We agreed to start on Monday, March 28 so that I would have one week after returning from a whirlwind three week trip around the world (Amsterdam, India, Hong Kong and Borneo) to eat all my favorite meats and cheeses that I had dearly missed while traveling. We will continue through the end of April. Before agreeing I totally forgot that Easter falls in the month of April this year. No Easter ham, no deviled eggs, none of my mom's sweet bread, no seven layer salad, no buttery mashed potatoes. I could go on and on. As I am usually in charge of preparing some of the desserts, I have already researched one vegan dessert to make (lemon coconut bundt cake!) so that I can have something, and will have to make some side dishes as well! I will happily make non-vegan food, I just won't be able to eat it. Phooey.