Monday, September 24, 2012

DC VegFest 2012

DC VegFest was this weekend!  I wait all year for this one day festival of a celebration of all things veggie in the DC/MD/VA area (and even some from farther away)! It had a new location, tons of new vendors, great speakers and beautiful, sunny weather.  It was great to see so many vegans, vegetarians, veg-friendly folks and curious omnivores in one place!

Beautiful baked goods from Vegan Treats

Yards Park, the new location for DC Vegfest, had some beautiful views.  It was also nice to be able to get away from the crowds for a bit to have some lunch by the water!

Posing with the DC VegFest carrot!

Jesse trying loads of delicious vegan food.  I think this was Jamaican.  I had a delicious lunch from Dama Ethiopian restaurant. There was so much to choose from!

This beautiful guy or girl was up for adoption!  We so wish we could've taken him/her home with us!

We already can't wait for next year!

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Walk for Farm Animals

This past weekend we participated in the 2012 Walk for Farm Animals to benefit the work of Farm Sanctuary.  It was absolutely perfect weather and we had such a good time!

 Jesse posing in front of the Washington Monument before the walk.

Someone brought their pet pig to the walk.

Mid-walk:  Love this picture of the cow and pig with the Capitol building in the background.

 Posing with the mascots!

At the end of the walk, we were treated to a talk by Gene Baur, the founder of Farm Sanctuary.  The bottom line of his talk?  Go vegan!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Revelry Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

How is it possible that I had never read We Need to Talk About Kevin?  It won the Orange Prize in 2005 and yet I had never heard of it until Tilda Swinton was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the film adaptation.  Even then, I am not sure I realized it was a novel until I stumbled across it while perusing the stacks in The Strand in New York City.

Here is the synopsis from the Orange Prize website:

"Kevin Katchadourian killed seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher, shortly before his sixteenth birthday. He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband Franklin, the story of Kevin's upbringing.

A successful career woman, Eva is reluctant to forgo her independence and the life she shares with Franklin to become a mother. Once Kevin is born, she experiences extreme alienation and dislike of Kevin as he grows up to become a spiteful and cruel child. When Kevin commits murder, Eva fears that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become. But how much is she to blame? And if it isn't her fault, why did he do it?"

I think because I am a part of the generation that was perhaps most impacted by what happened at Columbine (I was a junior in high school), I desperately seek answers to why people commit these kinds of violent acts.  I pore over news articles, books, videos, etc. every time something of this nature happens, with both intrigue and fear coursing through my veins.  As an aside, if you are interested in learning more about the Columbine massacre, I highly recommend you read David Cullen's book, Columbine.  It's fantastic.

We Need to Talk About Kevin provides another (albeit fictional) perspective to the mix: the novel is told from the point of view of Kevin's mother.  I cannot even begin to understand a fraction of the anguish, guilt and other mixed feelings that the parents of these teenagers feel, but this book makes one attempt.  How much are the parents or other family dynamics to blame?  How is someone's behavior shaped?  Where is the line between a moody teenager and someone who will commit this type of heinous crime? 

I inhaled this book. It had my absolute attention every night for a week. The writing was superb and the form (of letters by Kevin's mother written to her estranged husband) provided insights that might not have otherwise existed.  By the end of the book, I was begging everyone I know to read it so that we could talk about both the book and the bigger questions it raises.  This one would be excellent for a book club pick.  And the movie version?  It was good but due to the time limits, they had to leave out a lot of small moments and details that held so much meaning.  Read the book first!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Planning a Vegan Wedding

Remember a few months ago when I mentioned that my love and I had gotten engaged?  We've spent the past few months researching, planning, changing our minds, planning again and simply trying to find a way to create a wedding that has meaning to us without totally breaking the bank and without totally giving into the craziness that is the wedding industry.  The only non-negotiable is that we want a vegan wedding.  You would think that this would have been a given to our  families and they would be completely on board with it, but you would be wrong.  My parents in particular seemed a bit shocked that you could have a wedding without serving animals.

So that brings me to planning a vegan wedding.  I give thanks every single day that my fiance is also vegan.  I can't even imagine planning our wedding otherwise.  Jesse and I are vegan for the animals, the earth and ourselves and we want a wedding that is in line with those beliefs.  Here are some things we need to consider:

-The Food:  What will we serve our guests (other than us, only one that I know of is vegetarian)?  Will they like it?  Will we?  Can we find gluten-free options?  Will it be too expensive?  Do we want a traditional wedding caterer or to hire a vegan company/restaurant/person?  What about the cake?  We want to be sure to serve something that lets our guests know exactly how awesome vegan food can be.

-The Favors: What type of favor is most useful/meaningful?  What can we give our guests that speaks to who we are as a couple?  Should we make a donation instead of having favors?

-The Dress/The Suit:  No silk.  No wool.  No leather shoes.  I don't want to spend the first day of my married life wearing an animal, thank you very much.

-The Invitations:  I would like to have them printed on recycled paper with soy ink.  Do we let people know on the invitation that we will be having a vegan buffet?

-The Honeymoon:  Where should we go?  Does the place have lots of vegan options?  Do we want to somehow incorporate animals?

It seems like a lot but I've found our parameters more helpful in terms of decision-making rather than limiting.  So far we've met with one vegan caterer (who served us a whole meal instead of just giving us a tasting--it was awesome!) and did some research on vegan cakes.  I've also been soaking up inspiration from the VegNews annual feature on vegan weddings, as well as the blog Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings.  While writing this, I also came across PETA's Top 10 Vegan Wedding Ideas.

If you have planned or been to a vegan or vegetarian wedding, do you have any advice?  Are we missing anything that we need to consider?  If you were a guest, would you prefer to be told on the invitation that it will be a vegan wedding or not?

Stay tuned for most posts on wedding planning and thoughts on weddings and marriage (vegan and otherwise)......

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Revelry Review: Vedge

Oh my, dear readers, a few weeks ago I had the best dinner of my life at Vedge in Philadelphia.  Vegan fine dining of deliciously prepared vegetables in a beautiful setting.  It was amazing.  Here is some of the evidence (taken on my phone in a dark dining room):

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Revelry Review: Beyond Meat

I was strolling through our sort of local vegan-friendly grocery store last weekend and came across Beyond Meat!  I had heard of this new chicken substitute through Mark Bittman's article in the New York Times a few months back and the fact that the founders of Twitter were financially backing this product.  While we don't eat too many meat substitutes in our house, I was particularly looking forward to giving Beyond Meat a try since it is gluten-free and could open up some new dinner ideas for us.   Here is the nutritional information.  Here it is in the package:

Up close (this stuff looks and feels JUST like chicken!):

We added some to burrito bowls that followed this recipe

Also got this new product on our grocery jaunt (melts really well but I think I prefer Daiya):

The completed bowls (with Tofutti sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and avocado over brown rice):

Another quick weeknight dish with Beyond Meat: brown rice pasta with tomato sauce, Beyond Meat, olives, dino kale and chickpeas:

The verdict?  I had to keep checking the package for the word "vegan" because this stuff tastes just like the real deal (without the cruelty).  It would have been a great transition food for me (chicken was the last thing to go!) and we may get it again when we want to cook something that calls for chicken.  Beyond Meat is a huge step forward in the faux meat category!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vegan Baking Class

Last night I went to a vegan baking class with Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats here in the DC area. It was put on by Living Social, which recently opened a location downtown, as a part of their new gourmet series. I didn't see much of the space, but they did have an art room and a phenomenal cooking class space. I felt like I was a student at the Culinary Institute of America! First we made S'mores Brownies. Here are my (and my partner's) brownies, fresh out of the oven:

We also made the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Spiced Rum icing that helped Doron to win Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. We used an ice cream scoop to make them all the same size (and to have less of a mess). I'll definitely be doing this from now on!

The class included drink pairings. We had a beer with the brownies and a dark and stormy with the cupcakes. I don't know why I haven't had a dark and stormy before, but I think that is all I might drink from now on! It's ginger beer, rum and lime. Perfection!

We took my brownies out of the pan first, so we sacrificed beauty for taste. I ended up with essentially a giant s'mores brownie cake (with deeeeeelicious Sweet and Sara marshmallows):

Here are the finished cupcakes. I need to work on my icing skills.

And here is me and Doron! What a great night! I would definitely go back and take other Living Social classes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


These past few weeks have been something of a whirlwind! First, I celebrated my 30th birthday on February 10th. I took the day off from work, planning on just relaxing and not doing much of anything. However, Jesse booked me a massage, took me out to dinner at Agora and sent me these beautiful flowers:

We also had a fantastic Valentine's Day. Jesse again gave me beautiful flowers and we had a delicious dinner date at Oyamel.

Even though all of that was wonderful, the best part came on February 18th, when this happened while we were in New Jersey visiting my family:

I said yes! He proposed in the sweetest way imaginable and totally took me by surprise. We went out to dinner to Buddakan in Atlantic City to celebrate.

I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Since today is a day to celebrate love, I thought I would share some things I've been loving lately:

-The adorable Valentine's votives pictured to the right, which I saw on Pinterest and are from the Homemade Serenity blog. I love, love, love how sweet these are. Next year, for sure.

-On Style and Systems from the Pink of Perfection blog.

-Gena's take on the disturbing PCRM "your thighs on cheese" ads. I had been waiting for someone to write a thoughtful and carefully laid out critique of these ads since I first saw them. While I love most of PCRM's work, these ads are really out of line. Here's to hoping they choose a different way to get their message across in the future.

-Kris Carr's new ebook, Crazy Sexy Juices and Succulent Smoothies. 80 pages of green drink goodness.

-The documentary "Life in a Day". At first I felt a bit like a creepy voyeur, but I came to appreciate this look at life on a single day around the world.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Just say no to horse diving

My heart is so heavy (and angry!) right now. I have just learned that Atlantic City is going to bring back horse diving, which was at its height of popularity in the 1920s but continued until the early 1990s, as a way to increase tourism this summer.

I grew up in a town just outside of Atlantic City, hearing romanticized stories about this time period. I watched the movie "Wild Hearts Can't be Broken" over and over and over again. I used to wish I had been able to witness--or even perform!-- such a feat.

And then I learned that the horses didn't just willingly jump. They are walked out onto a platform with their rider and then the platform is dropped out from underneath of them. Diving like this is NOT natural for a horse, so it causes trauma and fright, not to mention any injuries that can be sustained to both rider and horse upon hitting the water (such as retinal detachment or spinal cord injury). And all this doesn't include any mistreatment during their care when they are not performing.

The owner of the Steel Pier, where the diving will take place, has said: "We know the diving horse is controversial, but I think people need to look at the bigger picture. A diving horse is going to be iconic. It's going to be a small piece of the development project that will bring family entertainment back to Atlantic City." Please join me in telling the owners that NO, we do NOT want to see their "iconic" act. The Steel Pier website is here, which contains their phone number, address, Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also sign this petition, as well as boycott and not visit this summer should these plans go through.

Friday, February 3, 2012

28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge

This month I am participating in the the Whole Foods 28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge, which is affiliated with their Health Starts Here work.

For five weeks, I will attend a class at my local store, with sessions to include: Whole Foods core values and wellness lecture, a healthy eating demo and a healthy eating on a budget store tour, navigating your way through a healthy lifestyle change, a cooking class with the store chef and a supper club with a panel of experts. Additionally, they will be screening the film "Forks Over Knives", but since I've already seen it, I won't be going to that session (but you should see it if you haven't! Fantastic film!). All this, plus a book and a bag of healthy starter groceries (lentils, quinoa, steel cut oats, Lara Bars, digestive enzymes, etc!), for just a $30 donation to their Whole Planet Foundation. This is the third time the store near me has ran this program, so if you are interested I would suggest that you see if a Whole Foods near you already is holding the class or let them know that you are interested.

At our first session this week, we reviewed what we should be eating during this time period by learning about their four pillars of healthy eating: eat whole, unprocessed foods, lots and lots of plants, healthy fats and foods with a high nutrient density. They are stressing eating a plant strong diet, which could include eating meat or dairy as as more of a garnish to a dish, but stated they aren't there to make everyone into vegetarians. While I know they are trying to not push people away, they are basing their course on the work of Dr. Fuhrman and Rip Esselstyn, so I wish they would at least touch on the benefits of a plant-based diet. They also brought in an expert on wellness who talked about reducing stress levels for a healthier lifestyle. He taught us a breathing exercise to try to combat cravings and explained how chocolate, dairy and sugar all temporarily increase your relaxation response, which is why you want to eat them when you are stressed.

This is supposed to be a challenge and I am sure that it will be. This month includes the Super Bowl, my birthday, Valentine's Day and a trip to New Jersey to visit my family. All of these are potential pitfalls for a healthy diet. However, I am hoping to learn some new things (such as more ways to cook greens!) in this course and apply them for the long term. For the next 28 days, I plan to follow their suggestions as closely as possible. It's time to go from eating vegan junk food to really focusing on eating good, whole, nutritious food. So far, after just one class, I have a lot of new information and resources. I'm looking forward to seeing where these next few weeks of class take me.

(Picture from the Whole Foods website)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Revelry Review: The World We Found

Ever since taking a post-colonial literature class in college, I have been obssessed with Indian literature (both literature about India and literature by Indian authors). My favorites include Salman Rushdie, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rohinton Mistry and Thrity Umrigar. I've read most of Umrigar's novels and loved them all, so I didn't hesitate to pre-order her latest, The World We Found.

The synopsis from the Amazon page: "As university students in late 1970s Bombay, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta were inseparable. Spirited and unconventional, they challenged authority and fought for a better world. But much has changed over the past thirty years. Following different paths, the quartet drifted apart, the day-to-day demands of work and family tempering the revolutionary fervor they once shared.

Then comes devastating news: Armaiti, who moved to America, is gravely ill and wants to see the old friends she left behind. For Laleh, reunion is a bittersweet reminder of unfulfilled dreams and unspoken guilt. For Kavita, it is an admission of forbidden passion. For Nishta, it is the promise of freedom from a bitter fundamentalist husband. And for Armaiti, it is an act of acceptance, of letting go on her own terms even if her ex-husband and daughter do not understand her choices.

In the course of their journey to reconnect, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta must confront the truths of their lives—acknowledge long-held regrets, face painful secrets and hidden desires, and reconcile their idealistic past and their compromised present. And they will have to decide what matters most, a choice that may just help them reclaim the extraordinary world they once found."

This was not my favorite Umrigar novel, but it was a quick and interesting read that contained great characters that will remain in my mind for a long time. You will definitely root for these characters and weep with them. The book's weakness, however, might be that it tried to deal with so many themes--friendship, love, belonging, the past, religion, feminism, same sex relationships, illness, women's rights, family, classism, politics, regret, modern day India--that it didn't settle on any one for quite long enough to do it justice. By the end of the novel, I still felt like there were a few loose ends that weren't quite followed through to their end.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vegan Seafood

In my pre-veg early twenties, I very suddenly developed a severe shellfish allergy. I was forced to cut them out of my diet cold turkey (cold shrimp?). Now I wouldn't eat them even if I could due to ethical reasons, but I would be lying if I said there weren't times over the years when I missed shellfish. A few weeks back when I saw Sophie's Kitchen vegan seafood appear in our local market, I decided to give it a try, if only because my Mom developed the same allergy and I know she misses it badly.

They come frozen, so you simply thaw them out long enough for them to separate and then add them to whatever you are cooking.

For us, that meant a stir-fry with an orange sauce. I added them in during the last few minutes of cooking time.

We served our stir-fry over some brown rice. Since I accidentally bought prawns instead of shrimp, they were enormous. As for the taste, they were chewy and slightly gummy, but I think it's been so long since I had shrimp that I am not sure I was a good judge. Jesse really liked them, but I felt like I could take them or leave them. If I get them again, I think I will try the shrimp, which will be smaller.

I also picked up some vegan breaded calamari, which I will review here once I get a chance to give them a try.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dinners Lately

Lately, I've been cooking lots and lots of bowls for dinner, meaning a grain or base of some sort, steamed veggies, a protein and a sauce. They are a perfect dinner, usually provide leftovers for lunch and are a great way to use up what you have in the fridge. I've been trying to cook gluten-free (more on that in another post) as well, so these bowls are good for that purpose too. If you pile on the veggies, it looks and feels like a ton of food for not a ton of calories. For great ideas, check out the section on bowls in the back of Appetite for Reduction (love, love, LOVE this cookbook!).

Soba noodles, black beans, steamed broccoli and zucchini with green onion miso vinaigrette from AFR.

Brown rice, steamed broccoli, sesame tempeh and peanut lime dressing from AFR (BEST SAUCE EVER!!!! I want to put it on everything everyday.)

Quinoa, steamed broccoli and green beans, baked tofu with spicy orange sauce (from a bottle).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Revelry Review: ShopHouse

This past weekend Jesse and I tried a new-ish fast food restaurant, ShopHouse, the latest creation of the founder of Chipotle. Touted as a "southeast Asian kitchen", you can either build a bowl or have a banh mi sandwich with a variety of possible fillings. I had been looking forward to checking it out for a few months now. If I had checked my expectations at the door, I might have liked this place better than I did. I had dreams of yummy warm green curry and firm chunks of tofu with a variety of delicious veggies.

However, as a vegetarian, there was no green curry for me. In fact, the only sauce that did not count fish sauce as an ingredient was the tamarind vinagrette. Okay, fine. I was disappointed but I figured I would just appreciate that they told me and move on. The tofu looked more like the tofu scramble I make at home than any tofu I have ever had at an Asian restaurant. It was very tumeric-y and SUPER spicy. I wish I had been warned.

When you are essentially eating a bowl of brown rice and tumeric-y tofu, it would be great if you were allowed to choose more than one vegetable. My sauteed long beans were delicious but I wasn't given that many of them. I would have loved to try the charred corn, eggplant and Chinese broccoli too. Chipotle lets me have whatever toppings I want and I wish this place did too. The saving grace was the green papaya salad, which provided some relief for my super spicy lunch.

Overall, I thought ShopHouse had large portion sizes and I appreciate having a new fast food vegetarian option, but I just wish it had been less spicy and contained more veggies. Hopefully they will refine their menu over time.

ShopHouse is located at 1516 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Intentions

I'm very late to the New Year's resolution party (it seems like I blinked and it went from October to January!), but I still thought it would be worthwhile to post my 2012 intentions here.

~Eat a healthy vegan diet, particularly adding in lots of greens.
~Journal regularly.
~Visit at least one new city.
~Savor turning 30 and all that lies ahead of me.

My word for 2012 is committed--to myself, my health, my growth, my relationship and my happiness.

{Image from Martha Stewart}

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

South African Scenes

A sign at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg
Jesse next to an anti-poaching rhino in Mandela Square. Poachers get $100,000 per tusk. Heartbreaking and disgusting!
A mama monkey and her baby
Bourke's Luck Potholes (or as we call them, a giant canyon)
Jesse and I at Bourke's Luck Potholes
Two giant mangos and an entire bag of lychees for less than $3. I love traveling to countries that have summer when we have winter!
An elephant asleep on a tree at Kruger National Park
Lions at Kruger National Park
Baby warthogs at Kruger National Park
A field of giraffe at Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Cape buffalo at Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Zebras at Hluhluwe game reserve
A male giraffe at Hluhluwe game reserve
A hippo during our estuary cruise in St. Lucia
The view of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain
A rock hyrax that lives on the top of Table Mountain
Jesse and I at the top of Table Mountain
Baboons hanging out on the side of the road (there had to be at least 100 of them!)
The District Six Museum in Cape Town. This is on the floor. It's a map of where people's homes used to be before the government tore them all down during apartheid to make room for white people's homes, though they never built anything. The District Six area remains empty to this day.
Langa, the largest township in Cape Town
The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town
The beach in Cape Town
African penguins at Boulder Beach in Simon's Town
Cape of Good Hope