tasty, tasty harmony

October 26, 2009 at 10:38 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17I have less than no time for VeganMoFo these days (my parents just left 20 minutes ago, less than 1 week until I interview Garth Nix, Thursday I leave for WFC) but here are some pics from Tasty Harmony, a lovely restaurant in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Tasty Harmony is not all vegan but it is very very vegan friendly (including all their desserts). John, me, Raech, and Jesse met our friends Becca and Shawn up there. Not all the pictures came out, but here are the highlights.

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big news and awesome stuff

October 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm (this and that, writing) ()

It’s official: I just confirmed with Garth Nix and I’ll be interviewing him at World Fantasy! This is so exciting, not only because I’ll be, well, interviewing one of my favorite fantasy authors (everyone go read the Abhorsen trilogy, now) but also because Mr. Nix has been incredibly nice and approachable, even though he is obviously super-busy. More details as they come, but for now, this has lent a beatific glow to me this blustery Monday morning.

Also: Friday night I rolled into Denver with my homedawg Jesse and we saw A Hawk and a Hacksaw live at the Hi-Dive. Oh gosh and golly, it was the best show I’ve ever seen, no exaggeration necessary. I really, really love that band, and they played most of the tracks off their most recent album, Delivrance, which is one of my favorites, and also, uncannily, most of my most beloved tracks from their other albums, as well. They did an entire set on stage, wherein Jeremy Barnes rocked out on his accordion and Heather Trost melted my soul with her violin and also a Balkan contraption like a violin with a trumpet bell in lieu of a resonating chamber. They also had a trumpet/coronet player, a tuba player, and a dude who alternated among an oboe, drums, and what I think was an amplified balalaika. Afterwards they came down into the center of the Hi-Dive and played an acoustic set, which was just as amazing. All in all, pretty much The Best.

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busybusy, and also, stress-free bibimbap

October 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Not that it matters to VeganMoFo but I am super-busy and starting to feel a little stressed out. I’m preparing for a parental visit next week as well as World Fantasy Con, while slush reading for Fantasy Magazine, blogging every day, prepping myself for a still-in-the-works secret project, and trying to keep up my recent gangbusters pace on my novel (that part not so good this week, but that’s how it goes). Yeesh. Not that I’m complaining– this is the kind of work I love– but yeesh. So I guess what I’m saying is that today’s entry will be pretty bare bones, but there’s some recipe love in there.

I made myself hungry yesterday posting about Raechel’s bibimbap and so decided to make some for myself last night. Not wanting to be cooking for hours I decided to a “quick” bibimbap, rice with bap sauce and only three sides. I wanted the kitchen to be relatively un-crazy and I get really upset when I have more than a couple of pans going at once (Raech somehow doesn’t, but I am a very “focus on one thing at a time” kind of girl) so I settled on baked tofu, ginger/garlic/shallot bok choy (recipe follows), and modified Korean cucumber/daikon salad (recipe also follows). This way I would only have one oven recipe, one stovetop recipe, and one cold bowl-needing recipe. And the bap sauce. That said, even though it seems complicated, my kitchen was relatively un-destroyed and it took about an hour all told. Nice! The rice cooker helped. Here’s a general tutorial for my Stress-Free Bibimbap For Two:

Set your rice cooker to cook up two or three cups of rice (I used sushi rice and did not regret that decision). Then preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut one block of extra-firm tofu into strips and halve them, then set them in a 9×9 baking dish with 1/4 c. soy sauce and enough peanut oil to coat. Turn them over once while your oven is preheating then stick them in and forget about them. Flip them once, when you think you’re about halfway done with everything, but it’s not a science. They’ll be fine

Make your bap sauce, courtesy Fat Free Vegan.

bap sauce

I used less sweetener than the recipe called for, instead of a tbs. of sugar I used a tbs. of agave nectar, and added no additional sugar at all. The sauce was pleasantly sweet but I think I’d only do two teaspoons of agave next time. I also thinned it out with several tablespoons of water so it would be more spreadable.

Then make your salad-type dish. I riffed off this recipe.

cuke salad and bap sauce

This was basically similar to the above recipe, but I have a horror of raw onions and so used the following recipe:

Modified Korean Cucumber Salad

2 small daikons, cut into rounds

1 large hothouse cuke, seedless or seeds removed, cut into rounds

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp. peanut oil

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

the juice of one lemon

3 tbs. white vinegar

2 tbs. sesame seeds

Mix everything, cover, throw in fridge until ready to serve.

****

So after that was made, I started on the bok choy. I again riffed off of this ginger-garlic bok choy recipe, but I streamlined it and added shallots. When done, it looked like this:

bok choy

Ginger-Garlic-Shallot Bok Choy

2 golf ball sized shallots, minced

1 tbs fresh ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, pressed

4 heads baby bok choy

2 tbs. soy sauce (I used tamari)

2 tbs. peanut oil

Fry the shallots in the peanut oil until soft, then add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Then add your bok choy stems. I do my bok choy like this: I cut off the weird ends where you pull them off at the bottom, then slice off the leaves with a v-shape, leaving the stems. I chop the stems into half-moons (put the stem down horizontally, slice once vertically– just look at the picture, already! Throw the stems in with the garlic/ginger/shallot mix as well as the soy sauce and saute until the stems are tender. Chop the leaves into big pieces while this happens then add them until they wilt, then cut the heat.

****

That’s it! Everything worked out well, when my rice cooker beeped my tofus were ready to come out as well as my bok, and my salad had chilled long enough that the cukes were vinegary and crisp and lemony. I served up everything with the bap sauce and tucked in. Serious delish!

bibimbap final

Sorry I’m such a wretched food photographer. So blurry! But anyways, I hope tomorrow to post pictures from a local Boulder Thai place that does amazing yellow curry. I’m going there tonight with my beloved husband for a date night that I’m sure will be wonderful as our plans currently are Thai food and then playing World of Warcraft. I’m a lucky girl, yes, yes I am!

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important stuff, and a rant fueled by my x-chromosomes

October 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm (this and that, writing) ()

Taking a break from all the MoFo-ing, I’d like to announce that I’ve joined The Outer Alliance. The Outer Alliance is, in their own words, “a group of SF/F writers who have come together as allies for the advocacy of LGBT issues in literature. Made up of individuals of all walks of life, our goal is to educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions in the science-fiction and fantasy genres.” This is important stuff, especially these days, what with all the conservative backlash to Obama’s election and the fact that Obama himself is dragging is feet on making good on the promises to the gay community that helped him get elected in the first place.

SPEAKING OF CONSERVATIVE BACKLASH, I was inspired to join The Outer Alliance for two big reasons. One, Jesse joined, and was saying good things about the group, so I took an interest. Two, someone on the PPK posted an article entitled, of all things, “The War on Science Fiction,” about how people with vaginas and non-straight sexual orientations are destroying science fiction (Maybe through talking about human relationships instead of, like, robots and stuff? And making Starbuck a woman on the new Battlestar Galactica? Maybe?). Though I’m sure linking it here will only make the author wipe away a tear of pure, unbridled, righteous joy with the corner of her “Official Ursula K. LeGuin Book Burning ’06” t-shirt it’s worth noting that these sorts of frightening, anti-woman, anti-LGBT attitudes still exist, somehow, incredibly, in 2009. So no, Virginia, feminism is not obsolete, nor is fighting for human rights for all humans.

This quote from the article pretty much encapsulates both the terrible prose style and the upsetting sentiments voiced therein:

“Slash fiction is a form of fan fiction written primarily by women where characters in science fiction TV shows are gay and have homosexual relationships completely contrary to the established canon of the show.  The first slash fiction was about the original Star Trek series where women wrote stories about Kirk and Spock in a homosexual relationship.” (Emphasis mine.)

Come the fuck on. Seriously. I dare anyone, ANYONE, even Heinlein enthusiasts, even people older than 15 who think Ayn Rand’s Anthem is a really good, original piece of science fiction, even, I dare say, whackjob bloggers with an axe to grind about the new Doctor Who, to go watch some original series Star Trek, most notably, off the top of my head without even thinking about it for a second, “The Paradise Syndrome” (ep. 58) or “Turnabout Intruder” (ep. 79) and tell me that a Kirk/Spock makeout is “completely contrary to the established canon of the show.” Bull. Shit.

Joking aside, the amount of self-hatred contained in this vitriolic rant about how women and women’s issues (and teh gayz, too) are destroying science fiction (the author is female) is incredibly sad and depressing. Though slash/fic is not really my bag per se, I think it is a cool venue for anyone to express themselves, especially women eager to write something “for them by them,” or, alternatively, an opening market for people nervous about the wall of Western, masculine names in the SF/F section of Borders to get into speculative fiction writing. Is that really such a travesty? Of course it isn’t, but why be reasonable when you can nail sixty years of progressive feminism and LGBT activism square in the uppity jaw with your violently jerking knee? Why view non-white, non-straight, non-male folks as valuable when you could spend your time writing this inspiring sentiment:

“As we know science fiction has inspired boys to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology as men.  With women killing science fiction on television, the current generation of boys won’t have this opportunity to be inspired to work in these fields.  There is still a great deal of written science fiction that is real science fiction so all is not lost.  However, many boys who would have gone on to make scientific discoveries and invent new technologies will not do so since they will never be inspired by science fiction as boys.”

Holy freaking crap.

At this point, I really do wish some dude (you know, the kind with balls and a penis, those genetic prerequisites to understanding science fiction and also technology and math and stuff) would please just invent a time machine (because he read some H.G. Wells) so this blogger, and all of the people who wrote comments in support of her, could go back to 1948 or whatever time period they genuinely believe to be “the good old days.” Please. For the good of humankind, some man, any man, please do this. Save us all!

So the long and short of it is that women, LGBT folks, straight allies, and other such types are ruining not only science fiction, but science itself. Really! We lefties are just basically banging rocks together, calling for us all to return to the caves.

It’s funny, you know, this kind of ignorance. The author implies that it’s women who insert women’s issues into science fiction, but really, that’s just total lunacy and self-delusion. Five minutes of research would have told her that Gene Roddenberry– the very same man who put absolutely no gayness into Star Trek, really– actually wanted the character of Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, to be a girl. Leslie Crusher. I’m not making this up, it’s in the official ST:TNG Companion which yes, I have read. Anyways the network said no way, because it would limit the number of storylines for the character, since lady issues would have to be addressed. Geez, Gene! Why would you want to ruin ST:TNG like that? It’s almost as crazy as having a woman of color on the bridge of the original Enterprise! Or a lady doctor! Roddenberry was obviously an Obammunist before his time, excise Star Trek from the Sci Fi Canon immediately! Also, five more minutes of research would have told her that Jonathan Frakes– you know, the dude who plays super-macho Commander Riker– complained that his asexual love interest in the 5th season episode of TNG, “The Outcast,” was played by a female actor and therefore made less of a point about love transcending gender.

And that’s just Star Trek, yo.

Is it just that these men were pressured by screeching harpies and swishing predatory homosexuals? Of course not. They were intelligent men who realized that their own sexual orientation and gender made them uniquely able to advocate for the representation of “others” in science fiction, which is always what science fiction has been great at doing– taking us away from our immediate selves and allowing us to consider the problems within our own society with more objectivity. Or maybe that’s just my x-chromosomes having some girl talk about how The Foundation Series should be more like Bridgit Jones’s Diary. Probably.

It is sad, but it is also inspiring, because while there will always be allies who are willing to speak up for the inclusion of women and LGBT folks in science fiction and fantasy, more and more we are just having to get in there and write the stories about ourselves and our friends and our world that we want to hear. So it’s time for me to stop blogging and get back to my fantasy novel, which has, right there on the page, some lesbians.

There I go again, destroying genre like it’s no big deal.

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bibimbap

October 13, 2009 at 1:32 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Bibimbap is a Korean dish that is basically a bowl of warm white rice surrounded by various side dishes, including sauteed veggies and tofu, all served with a specific kind of chili sauce. Raechel makes it (I want to try soon, but I am lazy) and her version is zawesome beyond belief. In particular, the bap sauce is. . . it is soooo good. It is spicy, and usually that makes my mouth cry, but something about the plentiful rice and veggies tames that beast down to the point where I can eat loads of it. Here are some pictures from Raechel’s last bibimbap masterpiece, first up, her baked tofus:

tofus

Veggies! Here, from top left to bottom right, are garlicy red peppers, sauteed winter radishes (daikon mostly), and bok choy. Oh. Yeah.

bok choy

My plate, all arranged. Pickles are often a part of bibimbap so I used some of the leftovers from the ones I made earlier in the month, so the plate line up is, from beside the fork, the bok choy, pickles, daikon saute, bap sauce, tofus, and peppers. In the center, just plane white rice. I think Raech uses sushi rice because the texture is so lovely.

plate arranged

A recipe for vegan bibimbap can be found here at Fat Free Vegan, and a recipe for the bap sauce can be found here, on the Fat Free Vegan blog. I link to this recipe specifically because Fat Free Vegan is an awesome website filled with a ton of healthy, really delicious recipe ideas, the best part being its organization. You can search by diet plan (if you have one) or, how I usually do it, by region of food or by main ingredient. Check out the sidebar for all the ways you can find something simple, tasty, and nutritious to put on your table. I really like this recipe, for Three Layer Mexican Pie. Delicious, and the cheez sauce is really great.

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denver meetup!

October 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17As part of VeganMoFo a couple PPKers in the Colorado area held a pot luck! Yay! The theme was “Fall Foods” so we had a lot of tasty squash and apples.

Hosted by the lovely Becca and her husband Shawn in their condo in Denver, we had a nice turnout. Raech and Jesse, me and John, Becca and Shawn, Abbi and her boyfriend Danny, and Lacy all hung out yesterday and ate too much food. I didn’t get pictures of everything or everyone because I am rotten at taking pictures during events, but I think I captured the general awesomeness. Most notably I didn’t get a picture of my pumpkin pie, which needed. . . recipe tweaking. . . nor did I get a picture of Abbi’s caramel corn (omg so good) or Abbi herself. . . oops. But look! People happy that they are at a potluck (Becca’s going out to get more cider for hot toddies):

peeps

Left to right: Lacy, Shawn, Becca, Raech. On to the food! This was supposed to be the garlic-herb crusted brazil-but cheez ball from Vegetarian Times. . . but something happened. It didn’t come together at all. That’s OK, it got served as a spread and was fine, but it certainly didn’t come out for me the way it did for Kittee. Oh well! It was tasty.

garlic-herb brazil nut cheez

John’s contribution was a tofurkey:

tofurkey

NOM!

So, OK. Raechel made this. . . dessert. It was apples and cream cheez and streusel topping and woahmigod. You can’t tell in this pic so much but when we cut into it it was pink as the devil’s own toenails! Woo! Above that is Becca’s delish butternut squash lasagna. I’ve never had a lasagna like this, it was really good! I used to make a regular lasagna with a butternut layer, but in this, the butternut really popped as the main flavor:

desert and lasagna

Mac and cheez courtesy me. I made it with sage and onions in the sauce (recipe follows), which made it officially a Fall Food and therefore part of the theme. I guess I should warn that my mac-n-cheez pictures always look terrifying, but don’t be scared. It would have been prettier had I put a breadcrumb topping on it and baked it but I ran out of time. As it is it was really really tasty, but BEWARE THE HORROR:

mac

Abbi made phyllo pockets stuffed with delicata squash, rice, and greens, and won for prettiest contribution, at least in my opinion. Raech made a curried potato soup with mint flecks from Vegan Fire and Spice, and it was really really good:

phyllo pockets and soup

Plated up: I shared my soup bowl territory between Lacy’s wonderful chili and Raech’s potato soup. My plate has everything pictured above, including gravy on the tofurkey. It was all so good! I wish I had gotten more pics, but ah well.

plated up

So good. As I said, unfairly, some of the best offerings went unpictured, like Abbi’s caramel corn (like fresh, meltingly-fluffy Cracker Jack) and the hot toddies. Oh gosh, those toddies. I’ve never liked them but I think it was that John always made them with some sort of reputable whiskey and what you really need is cheap stuff. Really. Anything else kills the apple cider flavor instead of complimenting it. I can’t recall what brand Becca and Shawn used but I’ll probably be making these with my beloved Lord Calvert Canadian Whiskey. I’m immensely happy this great secret has been revealed to me because I used to pick up a handler of LC in the summer to drink with lime and ginger ale (before you turn your nose up, try it), and it would sit all winter with nothing to do except acquiring toxins from the plastic bottle. So huzzah! New friends met, new drinks drunk, new foods enjoyed: a successful pot luck all around.

Now here, as promised, my favorite mac n cheez recipe, with added instructions for the best way of making it, which is baked with breadcrumb topping.

Yet Another Vegan Mac Recipe, or Thanksgiving Mac (more charitable title)

8 c. rotini noodles, cooked, drained, tossed with 1/2 c. yellow mustard (yes, yellow, don’t use anything classy here with visible grains or anything, save it for your Tofurkey brats or something)

While the noodles cook, sauté one large yellow onion in a tbs. of olive oil until the onion is soft and clear. Add cracked black pepper to taste as well as 1/4 c chopped fresh sage and sauté one minute. Reserve 1/4 of the onion mixture (if making this with breadcrumb topping, if not, don’t reserve anything), take the rest and dump it into the cheez sauce after blending everything.

What cheez sauce? This cheez sauce. In a blender, combine the following:

8 oz tofu

1 c water

1 c plain, unsweetened soymilk

1/3 c soy sauce

2 tsp. paprkia

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. salt

1/2 c nutritional yeast flakes (or more, if you really like it, which I do)

While blending this, pour in a scant 3/4 cup of olive oil. You could go as low as 1/2 c. After blending, dump in the onion mixture, stir. Pour over hot noodles and mix thoroughly. THIS WILL THICKEN UP. It will look like soup, but wait 10 minutes and it turns into a thick, rich mac sauce. Trust me!

If making baked mac n cheez, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 c breadcrumbs with the reserved onion-sage mixture. Prep a lasagna pan with cooking spray and pour our the sauced noodles into it. You may have more mac than will fit, but who cares? Eat it later after you finish eating the bake. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top and do that thing where you put your (clean) thumb over the top of the olive oil bottle and drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are brown and tasty-looking. Eat with extreme prejudice.

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holy crap.

October 10, 2009 at 10:37 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Not the most erudite blog post title but really, seriously, I think I found the food I would serve to an important or royal person if he or she were coming over to dinner. I know, I know, it just looks like pizza, but I, uh,  VEGANIZED GOAT CHEESE, PEOPLE. Well, Vegetarian Times did.

Goat cheese and I. . . when I was vegetarian, I loved it. A lot. It was my favorite. I haven’t really missed it since going vegan but when the PPK and other internet folks were raving about this VT recipe, I had to try it. It is so worth it. I got the inspiration for pizza from C’est La Vegan who made a log of it into a tart.

I didn’t want to do the puff pastry thing last night so I got some pre-made pizza dough from Whole Foods and went to work. Instead of doing the whole “drain for 14 hours” I just made the cheeze and kept it like a spread. I kneaded out the pizza dough into a sort of rectangle, set it on my baking sheet, and covered it with torn, fresh basil leaves. Then I spread the cashew cheeze over it. I forgot to take a pic of just the basil so here’s it halfway spread with the cheeze:
half n half

Then I ground some fresh black pepper all over the cheeze. As in the tart linked above I seeded organic tomatoes and arranged them attractively:

fresh tomatoes

I drizzled olive oil over the top and baked it for 16 minutes at 425 and voila. Pizza.

baked and glorious

If you try one recipe from my blog this whole month, let this be it. Seriously. We ate the hell out of this, while this was happening outside:

bikes at night

And I woke up this morning to this.

out the door

So pretty! OK, now I have to go because I made the mistake of reactivating my World of Warcraft account and I need to level my druid. FOR THE HORDE!

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boulder farmers’ market

October 7, 2009 at 9:29 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17I only have a few weeks left of the Boulder Farmers’ Market, so I figured I’d dedicate today’s post to the amazing produce available every Wednesday and Saturday downtown in my fair city. I’m really lucky to live so close to such a great market, I’ve been munching out on tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, shallots, bok choy, the list goes on. I’ve tried to make the most of the market while I’ve had it: my freezer is full of red lentil pasta sauce with fresh veggies, two loaves of zucchini bread, and a few tubs of pesto for when basil becomes disgustingly expensive in the supermarkets.

Today here’s what I got to see. First up, the market itself. Hope none of you are in the witness protection program. . .

market

It’s fall! Did you know? How can you tell? Oh right, squashes!

punkin

If I were to nominate a vegetable for “Prettiest Veggie that I Can’t Stand” it would be radishes:

radish

Beets!

can't be beet

This stand still had more summery stuff: peppers, fairy-tale eggplant, fingerling potatoes, summer squash:

eggplant

Gosh! I will miss the market when it’s gone, but good times I have had there yes indeed. This post doesn’t include the glorious plum jam I’ve been buying too much of for weeks, nor the bread, nor the popcorn, and yet look at the amazing variety of delicious produce! I love being able to have such variety in my diet, and I’m very curious to see just what the market will have to offer me this spring, when it re-opens.

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back to basics

October 6, 2009 at 11:11 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by the problem of “what to make for dinner” I take a moment to stop, breathe, and reconsider my approach to cooking. Instead of looking up some complicated recipe and buying ingredients to make it, instead I look into my fridge and see what’s up, and let the ingredients guide me. Last night I saw that I had green beans from the farmer’s market, a mix of organic potatoes (French fingerling, baby reds, and purple), and some Gimmie Lean sausage. OK– breakfast-for-dinner time. Why go out to buy a bunch of stuff when I can just make the veggies the spotlight through roasting?

My friend Brad has a theory about breakfast foods: they’re good in the morning, unacceptable at lunch time, really good for dinner, and best during the hours of midnight to 3:00 AM. I happen to agree. I think my favorite breakfasts have been had at dinner-time or later, and last night’s meal was no exception.

The lineup:

the greenest of beans

The pretty-pretties:

whats taters precious

I let the potatoes roast at 425 for about 20 minutes with their coating of olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and then stirred them. I added the green beans to the same pan and roasted for another 15 minutes, during which time I put on the snausage patties. The smell of them caused some interest in the household community:

dinner smells good

Everything assembled:

dinner done

Serious nom-noms.

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pickles

October 5, 2009 at 11:27 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Hannah Wooley is one of those women from the past that history, privileging things more “important” than mere household management, tends to overlook. She lived in 17th century England, and spent most of her life as a housewife, though she also was a schoolmistress, a governess, and an author. After her husband’s death she made money writing books on embroidery, managing as a wife, etiquette, medical advice, and cookery, and along with Aphra Behn, was one of the first women to support herself as a professional writer. A few of her books have been digitized here, but today I am going to focus mainly on her recipe for pickles, published in 1762 in her work The Queen-Like Closet, or Rich Cabinet, Stored with All Manner of Rare Receipts for Preserving, Candying and Cookery: Very Pleasant and Veneficial to All ingenious Persons of the Female Sex.

Here’s the original “receipt” as it was published:

To pickle cucumbers: Take the least you can get, and lay a layer of cucumbers, then a layer of beaten spices, dill, and bay leaves, and so do till you have filled your pot; and let the spices, dill and bay leaves cover them, then fill up your pot with the best wine vinegar and a little salt, and so keep them.

Okay. Using era terminology, according to my Stuart England book, “least” here means smallest, and the author interprets the meaning of “beaten spices” to be a blend comprised of mace, pepper, and fennel seeds, all spices relatively available during that era. Mace, for those of you troublingly unacquainted with this tremendous spice, is related to nutmeg, and I learned about it long ago from the Two Fat Ladies, a (very) British show that ran on the Food Network during its early days but is now obscure, not even available on DVD as far as I can tell. Sad times. The Fat Ladies taught me that nutmeg is the seed, and mace is the ground outer husk. It’s not used so much today, but it was once a very common preserving spice (cheaper than the nutmegs themselves), and I always keep this pumpkin-hued delight on hand to add to recipes that call for nutmeg. I find that adding it along with nutmeg brings out a different spice “chord” than nutmeg alone in things like pumpkin pie or zucchini bread or whatever. Anyways. Setting up to make pickles, here are my ingredients (ignore the sugar sitting there, I thought I needed it but did not):

ingredients

Next I layered them, as I was told to do: sliced pickles in a “pot” (here a lovely empty jar of Bhakti Chai, a delicious chai locally micro-brewed here in Boulder), with two bay leaves and about a teaspoon of each the various spices and dried dill just kind of dumped on top:

layering

Then I poured in equal parts white vinegar and water, with about a tablespoon of salt dissolved in it:

vinegar water

I did not “preserve” these pickles by canning them, as you find pickles on the supermarket shelves, because such methods were simply not in existence back during the Restoration. Most households would have instead possessed a root cellar beneath the ground floor to keep apples, root vegetables, onions, carrots, and preserves very cool during the leaner winter months. Thus, this jar got a week in the fridge:

done

I was genuinely surprised how delicious these were. They were outrageously tasty. I was afraid the fennel would overpower everything with its licorice taste, but it was really just a pleasant note along with the dill, mace, vinegar, and salt. Really, really crisp and fresh and clean-tasting. I will make these again, probably in the summer, to put on tempeh burgers and such. I’m not even that much of a pickle person but these shocked me. Everyone should make these. They’re so easy, and wow are they good.

So there we go! Before I conclude, however, I am going to continue my interview theme with a little bit of time spent with my cat Penelope, who wanted to have her day in the sun during this Month of Vegan Food.

warm butt

Q: Penelope, VeganMoFo is the month of vegan food. I know what goes into your cat food, and it is not appropriate blogging material for this endeavor.

A: I like vegan food!

Q: What? What vegan food do you like?

A: SEITAN SAMMICHES!! Please can I have a bite? PLEASE?

gruffled

Q: Penelope, that is Jesse’s seitan sammich, so– hey! Keep your paws to yourself!

A: GIVE IT TO ME!

gimmie

Q: OK, you are grounded. Sheesh! And you, Lemmy– you’re not supposed to be on John’s desk and you know it! Cut it out!

A: It’s only my toes! At least I’m not swatting a sammich! Can I have a sammich?

what no toes

This interview is cancelled! These cats are not well-behaved enough to be interviewed. And I think, despite Jesse’s protestations on the subject, that photo above shows conclusively that his face really is, as I said, too terrible.

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