A Mini Adventure in Raw Apple Pie

Due to the magic of the internet I started 2018 off right, by receiving an email in error from an Italian woman gifting me with three raw vegan recipes.

The second of those is a raw apple pie recipe and I was skeptical, but also intrigued, especially because I had a tip from the lady: “Yesterday I think I blended the apples too much. If you can shake them a little I think the “cream” might remain consistent.”

So I have no clue what she actually meant in her actual Italian version of this email by “shake them a little.” But. I tried.

I used a huge trifle dish or whatever the hell this horrible thing is. I bought it to make tiramisu in and I don’t know what it’s really for, but the point is that my pictures end up awful because the dish is always in the way.

But this is what it looked like:

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lookit that masterful decoration there

I did not blend the apples too much.

Here’s my translation of the recipe:

Il Tortino di Mele

Ingredients:

6 Apples
1 cup Raisins
1 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
12 Medjool Dates
3 tablespoons Coconut
1 or 2 tablespoons Cinnamon (adjust the quantity to taste)

Instructions:

Soak the dates for one hour. Soak the raisins for 15 minutes.

For the crust: blend the sunflower seeds in a food processor to reduce them to a powder. Place the sunflower seed powder in a small bowl. Next, use a food processor to blend the drained raisins in into a paste, and then mix with the sunflower seeds until a solid and homogeneous dough is obtained.

Spread the dough thus obtained in your monstrous trifle dish or something else suitable to hold the shape of a raw apple pie. The dough should have a thickness of about one centimeter and will serve for the base.

For the filling: use a food processor or a blender to blend the drained dates into a paste. Place blended dates in a medium bowl. Peel and cut the apples into reasonable slices, then place them in a food processor or a blender. Blend gently and not too much. Shake them a little. I guess. Add the apples to the dates and then add the cinnamon. Mix carefully so as to mix the ingredients and their flavours well. The whole thus obtained has to be poured over the previously prepared base and then leveled with a suitable spatula.

Add the coconut to cover everything. To finish decorating, arrange nicely sliced pieces of apple in a decorative fashion (see photo) (for what not to do).

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

I bolded the parts that are AMAZING thank you Google Translate and also the Italian Language.

What I didn’t leave in are that “soak the dates” is my translation from “put the dates in the bath” and once again I have to mention that the direct translation from Italian of “food processor” is “robot of the kitchen.”

ROBOT. OF. THE. KITCHEN.

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I honestly don’t know if the apples were supposed to be blended more thoroughly than that, but the way I did it was pretty good. Surprisingly, with zero flour and zero vegan butter and zero cooking, this tasted like apple pie. It tasted like a simple apple pie that had gone in the fridge after cooking. I liked it.

Well, next up is the cheesecake.

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A 2018 Mini Adventure

On New Year’s Day I got an email from an Italian woman that she was trying to send to her friend, but I guess our email addresses were similar so I ended up with it instead.

It went like this:

Buongiorno, 

Ecco il pdf della ricetta della torta di mele. Ieri credo di aver frullato troppo le mele, se riesci a frullarle un pò meno forse la “crema” rimane più consistente..Ti allego anche la ricetta di una torta crudista al cioccolato che ancora non ho provato a fare ma sembra mooolto golosa…

Sotto trovi il link al sito di ricette crudiste da cui ho tratto quella del cous cous di cavolfiore + tante altre.. (a proposito mi sa che ho dimenticato l’insalatiera di vetro che lo conteneva. Non ho fretta di averla, alla prossima occasione..)

http://www.ricettecrudiste.it/ricette/couscous-crudista/

Dalla classica ricetta Nordafricana un couscous crudista a base di cavolfiore e ortaggi. Una meraviglia per la vista e per il gusto, scoprite la ricetta!

Grazie ancora per l’accoglienza e la gradevolissima serata. 

Di nuovo Buon 2018 a tutti.

In other words:

Hey.

Here is the pdf of the apple pie recipe. Yesterday I think I blended the apples too much. If you can shake them a little I think the “cream” might remain consistent. I also attached the recipe for a chocolate cake that I haven’t tried yet but it seems soooo decadent.

Below is the link for the website I got a lot of raw recipes from, like the cauliflower cous cous (btw I know I forgot the bowl, I’m in no rush to have it back, next time).

Thanks again for the reception and the pleasant evening.

Again Happy 2018 to everyone.

So I checked out the recipes, using Google translate because though I am Italian I’m nowhere near fluent. As luck would have it, they’re all vegan. All of them. Also raw, which, I think, was more the point, but still. I’m always saying I could use more raw vegan in my life.

I replied and told her she got the email a little wrong but thanked her for the recipes anyway because I’m going to try them. I replied in English, and then she replied with “Hey sorry thanks for telling me enjoy the recipes there’s no gluten or dairy in any of them,” also in English, so I felt like a jerk for not trying to reply in Italian. But it’s fine. Google is a thing.

Look. This is perhaps the most magical thing that’s happened to me via email. And I’ve been offered jobs via email. A job I like, even, once. The first time I talked to my long lost brother was via email.

BUT THIS TRUMPS EVEN THAT.

It probably has something to do with that one terrible guy who has texted me by accident twice now thinking I’m his (probably) terrible friend, telling him to date exclusively virgins, sometimes virgin sixteen-year-olds.

I keep meaning to reply one day pretending I’m someone he knows and say “Bro help I keep obsessing over whether the hotties all my friends are dating are virgins is there a support group do you know help me” or “Bro I’ve started dating this teenage virgin hottie but bro help if we have sex she won’t be a virgin anymore do I then have to dump her and find a different teenage virgin hottie but then if so the cycle starts again or I get arrested so what do, help.”

But I never get around to it.

The point is, someone contacted me by mistake and bequeathed three raw vegan and gluten free recipes and one of them is a chocolate cheesecake.

Thank you, internet.

Anyway. I’m going to blog the three recipes because unlike some people I could mention I’m not worried about anyone’s virginity status, and therefore I have lots of time to do things where otherwise I would be occupied thinking about who’s a virgin and who isn’t a virgin. Fancy that.

I’ve made the first one already! Technically I should have started with the apple pie, and then done the cheesecake, and then the cous cous, but I started with the cous cous because I’m a lot more excited about dessert so I figured I’d just get the vegetables out of the way.

INGREDIENTS

For the cous cous:

1/2 of a cauliflower
Cumin
Turmeric
Curry
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil

For the toppings:

1/2 of a bell pepper
1/2 of an onion
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons olives
5-6 cherry tomatoes
1/2 T of peas
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
The zest of half a lemon

Blend the cauliflower with the food processor*** so as to obtain a grain similar to the classic semolina. Transfer the cauliflower couscous into a large bowl and season with cumin, turmeric, curry, salt, pepper and oil.

Cut the pepper, the onion into cubes (you can marinate it with salt and vinegar first), the tomatoes, the carrot and the celery. Add the capers, previously desalted, the peas (fresh or frozen) and the olives. Season with salt and pepper Add the cous cous to the dressing, top with the lemon zest and decorate with fresh mint.

***Food processor in Italian is “robot da cucina” which is pretty great news. A direct translation of that is “robot of the kitchen.”

I forgot the peas and cherry tomatoes. I also “forgot” the lemon zest and the mint (I was too lazy for that) but it would have been good. Even without those four ingredients, I actually liked this a lot. The fact that there aren’t any measurements for any of the spices meant that I just added until I liked the taste and I have to say, that makes a difference.

I also DID NOT marinate the onion and pepper in vinegar first, because I HATE THAT. I HATE THAT SO MUCH. I HATE WHEN I BUY FUN LITTLE SALADS ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT IT ALL TASTES LIKE VINEGAR AND ONLY VINEGAR.

But if that’s what you like then go for it. It’s definitely missing a tang and that’s probably because I didn’t add the zest.

Well, that’s it for now. Next time is a raw apple pie. So. Yeah.

Sistah Vegan: A Review

(Image is from Wishing Well Sanctuary)

I finished Sistah Vegan this month and decided it was worth its own post so here are my very inexpert thoughts on intersectional veganism and the book that compiles some essays dealing with the topic.

sistah vegan

**Disclaimer: am white person whiting it up over here.

Prologue: The Uncomfortable Reality of Racism in Animal Rights

Here are a couple of comments I stumbled upon recently, in response to an animal advocacy group sharing an article that said Canada was badly ranked for it’s treatment of animals (unsurprising).

halal comment

The first comment is frustratingly ignorant. The SPCA can only do so much, guys, because the laws suck and need to be updated. Pay attention to who you’re voting for. The laws also require law enforcement officers who are actually interested in enforcing the laws in order to be effective. Pay attention to who isn’t doing the enforcing and give them hassle when they fail to act. Don’t break into people’s houses and steal animals and ruin animal cruelty cases that the SPCA are building up legally. Come on, now.

The second comment is, you know, racist.

It’s ignorant, too, because, really. What is the SPCA supposed to do about an industry practice that is entirely legal and defined as “not animal cruelty” and instead one of the acceptable methods of slaughter?

I should expand on the “racist” thing though because I happen to know some people IRL who would take issue with that label, annoyingly. “It can’t be racist if it’s about a religion” OK Brent, best case scenario you’re a bigot, congrats, but I’m still going to call it racism because Islamaphobia gets directed at anyone who looks vaguely brown.

Why is it a problem that people are against Halal? Well – it’s not. Halal is not a great thing where animals are concerned. It requires animals being slaughtered for food to be alert during slaughter whereas otherwise the animal would be stunned first. Personally I think it’s not the biggest difference because animals slaughtered for food tend to be at least somewhat aware of what they’re heading for before they get stunned, especially if the slaughterhouse is badly designed or not following the top guidelines, but it makes enough of a difference to the individual animals that really that sort of practice shouldn’t be allowed.

But why single out Halal? Kosher is exactly the same. Also, why single out either Halal or Kosher? Why not single out the industry standard practice of grinding up male chicks while they’re still alert? That is not done because of religious laws, just for, I don’t know, expedience, maybe. Or what about gestation crates for pig mothers, which is a practice that causes immense suffering for years on end rather than for just a split second at slaughter? How about going after gigantic quotas that lead to massive stress among the already stressed-out workers, which of course leads to physical abuse of the animals, either as a necessity for reaching quota or as an outlet for frustration?

How I deal with Halal and Kosher is that I’ve just resigned myself to being mostly silent about it, because there are, in fact, animal advocates of both the Muslim and Jewish persuasions who are having these conversations within their own communities and it isn’t my place as some rando Catholic to butt in. Why not allow them to take care of their own cultural practices, particularly these days, when their communities are under quite a bit of stress because of certain unmentionable somehow elected officials? Really, ever since September 11, 2001, it hasn’t been the opportune moment to start browbeating Muslim people about one of their cultural practices that isn’t good for animals. Especially when non-Muslim Canadians aren’t exactly lining up to tidy up our own garbage practices.

Canada has plenty of animal rights issues to tackle that are not specific to our Muslim communities. Like the seal hunt. Like all of those other meat industry standard practices I mentioned. How about the transportation of pigs for slaughter? That was kind of a big deal a while ago.

Also, Islam is in many ways a pretty animal-friendly religion. Sure, Halal requires animals to be alert for slaughter and there are the sacrificial animals during Eid, but Muslims are technically not supposed to eat pork ever (good for pigs), and a lot of their fasting rituals require them to abstain from meat for lengthy time periods each year (good for food animals in general). Christianity could learn a thing or two.

I don’t know this commenter and for all I know “Halal” was just the first thing that popped into their head when it occurred to them to email the SPCA. But probably not. I think it’s more than safe to say that this is an example of someone who probably does care about animals, but who also is upset about Muslim people existing nearby and has decided to kill two birds with one stone and join the two pet causes.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t speak up here. I seriously considered it. I think things like this hurt everyone, because first of all, it’s racist, which is never good, and then there’s the fact that there easily could be a Muslim person scrolling through these comments, and animal rights needs allies, and to have allies we need to make people feel welcome, and not make them feel like they do anywhere people enthusiastically voted for Stephen Harper and his low key Islamaphobia. Finally, it does delegitimize us a bit. People are looking for any excuse to dismiss animal rights as a thing worth discussing, and if you’re using it as a platform to be racist, you’ve basically handed them a perfect reason to stop listening forever.

The reason I didn’t speak up is sort of complicated. The first problem is that Facebook will then plaster that conversation on the walls of my friends, some of whom are my coworkers, and I didn’t want them to see me calling a stranger an Islamaphobe. And that’s basically what it would have been, because the second problem was that I couldn’t come up with anything calm and reasonable to say.

I still think the right thing to do was to think about it for a while and then post something along the lines of, “Hi there – Islam is a pretty animal-friendly religion, actually, considering the fasting and such, and there are lots of other, non-Islamic and totally legal industry practices that cause a lot of suffering to food animals, none of which the SPCA is capable of ending on its own. We need to vote smarter and put pressure on our elected officials so that they know we want animal welfare improvements. Have a LOVELY non-Muslim-hating day!”

Alas. Next time.

And that said…

The Actual Review

The book is a collection of personal essays about the broad experience of black women vegans. A lot of the essays focus on health veganism. Health veganism is cool and all but for my part, I’m not really interested in hearing about the health benefits of being vegan these days. What I actually want to hear about are the pitfalls. I’d like in depth examinations of B12 deficiencies and where to get calcium, vitamin A, omega 3s, iron, and zinc, because although I do have vague ideas about all of those things, being nutritious is really tricky and I think it can only help to be honest about how complex it is. My sister has talked about some of that before but I’d like to see more of that from vegans regularly because it’s helpful stuff. (HERE’S THE PART WHERE I UNSUBTLY SHOUT OUT TO THREE TO WRITE MORE NUTRITION STUFF.)

Health veganism, from the perspective of all of the essayists is especially beneficial for black Americans, however, and that’s where my own perspective is limited. I may not be all that excited about how useful a vegan diet can be for combating obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, but because black Americans are disproportionately more likely to die from these health problems than other races in America, it’s clearly worth more discussion.

There was also a really intriguing conversation near the end of the book between women discussing being fat, black, and vegan/vegetarian, and that was one of my favourite parts. Fellow vegans: FAT SHAMING. IS NEVER. OK. FAT SHAMING. ONLY. DOES HARM. THANKS.

Perhaps my favourite essay was “Being a Sistah at PETA” because I’m a PETA apologist. I love PETA criticism and here was some really well thought out criticism written by a former employee. She says she wanted to apply the intersectional message of a vegan diet being good for black Americans’ health considering they are more likely to face certain health problems made worse by animal consumption, but PETA wanted to focus on fur-wearing in hip hop and getting various black celebrities to be publicly anti-fur. It seems clear from this essay that their goals were really short-sighted and, like, extremely white. Outreach to any community that focuses on “what animal rights can do for you” would probably be more effective in the long run than patronizing “let’s get celebrity role models to say stuff for us and that’ll do it.” Sigh, PETA. While you may like your bad publicity and your celebrity partnerships, sometimes maybe try reaching out in a thoughtful manner. Cover your bases, is all I’m suggesting.

Finally, we arrive at “the dreaded comparison.” The biggest takeaway I got from this collection was that it’s really, really important to be thoughtful about rhetoric. Comparing animal exploitation to human atrocities is important, and probably essential, both for understanding how animal exploitation works AND for understanding how human exploitation works, but, especially if we’re white, we need to think carefully about when and why we’re doing it. Mainly, we need to not scream all day about how the meat industry is just like slavery or the Holocaust, because in doing so we may be hurting marginalized people. There are several accounts of hearing black people say they were viscerally disgusted by “meat is like slavery” rhetoric and never gave the issue more careful thought afterwards. If someone has observed throughout our culture that animals are worth far less consideration than humans, and also that their own humanity will always be up for debate because of systemic white supremacy, this sort of rhetoric will never help animals, and instead will always hurt people. If we’re doing comparison, it needs to be in specific contexts only, thoughtful, studious ones, looking at the similarities and differences between human and animal exploitation. We can still ask people to begin to value animals more and to consider their suffering when they make decisions, and we can absolutely use strong rhetoric to do so, but I think white animal rights activists especially need to take several steps back if we’re going to use human atrocities that didn’t affect our ancestors and don’t affect us currently as easy rhetorical devices, and, like, not do that.

Sistah Vegan is good reading for anyone who wants to help make the animal rights community less racist and therefore much, much better. We need to be accommodating and intersectional. It’s the only way forward.

Guest Blogger: Fantastic Mr Fox – A Fable for Our Times?

Good morning all, and happy Friday.

Today we bring you a guest post from one of our favourite like-minded wordpress bloggers, Animalista Untamed. Be sure to click on that link for some un-censored yet beautifully-articulated animal rights blogging goodness. We promise you’ll learn something!

Animalista was kind enough to enter our realm of analyzing children’s lit, with a fabulous animal welfare tie-in. We hope you enjoy the result as much as we did.

– erm & three

Subversive is the word for Roald Dahl. That’s what he is. His stories’allure for kids (and for us adults of a more rebellious inclination) lies in his demolition of accepted social norms with a few deft flicks of the pen. His fiction inhabits a realm that the ‘acceptable’, ‘normal’ grownup world frowns upon, but a realm we wish real life resembled and into which we can momentarily escape. That’s why kids love him. He’s the merry Lord of Misrule.

Continue reading “Guest Blogger: Fantastic Mr Fox – A Fable for Our Times?”

Why do I Feel Guilty About Dietary Restrictions?

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My aunt once described my uncle as such: “He would go to a restaurant and order a steak, and when the waitress brought him a burger, he’d say ‘thank you very much’. Then she’d bring the bill, and it would have a steak on it, and he’d pay and give her a 20% tip.”

I’m not sure if this is a genetic thing, or if it is a thing nurtured in a few members of our family, but erm and I share whatever this trait is, and it kind of sucks.

We’ve always had a horrified fascination with restaurant staff. When they’re friendly, they make us uncomfortable. As soon as they remember our names or orders, we get freaked out and stop visiting the establishment. When they’re rude to us, we tip them anyway, and we shrug it off as “their job sucks, can you blame them?” Then we probably stop visiting the establishment.

Introvertedness? Maybe. Social anxiety? More likely. But also a trait, perhaps the Highly Sensitive trait we both have (and is unusually prevalent in our family types). Continue reading “Why do I Feel Guilty About Dietary Restrictions?”